Trackballs in Paradise

It's been a while since I posted because Dr. Trackball and I went on vacation to Maui (with no computer). Minnie and Micro Trackball went to hang out with their Grandma and Grandpa Mouse up in My Shire.

This trip was a big deal because it was a 10th wedding anniversary thing, a much belated honeymoon thing, and a kidfree thing. Such a big deal that now the after-trip portion of our lives feels a bit unexpected, like we didn't really think we'd make it to the trip, so why bother thinking of what comes after? But the biggest, most omnipresent aspect of the trip (other than being just with one another) was being in Hawaii's tropical climate.

The Trackballs have been finding themselves becoming more sensitive to weather over time. Partly it's because moving to an area (Maryland) with four seasons annually makes one appreciate the advantages of warmer weather. Also, we've become more adverse to cold weather and more tolerant of hot weather. This is most likely because we weigh less, eat better and spend more time outdoors than we did when hunkered down in the Northeast. In Maryland, we live in AC all summer, at home and at work.

Imagine how weird it was that the airport in Kahului, Maui had no windows or AC. And how right. The condo we rented on Napili Bay had no windows, just wood shutters and screens. To those from lands that suffer from the scourge of fall, winter and spring, this looks ludicrous. Even if the temp is between the 70s and 80s ALL YEAR ROUND it's hard to get one's snow-navigating mind around never needing thick glass windows. Even when you're inside a building on Maui, you feel like you're outside on a lanai: it's mostly open (no) windows and ceiling fans. It's all very relaxing.

The Trackballs have been dreaming of living in places where you're not cold outside, and Hawaii fits the bill very well. Minimal clothing is perfectly comfortable - it's a climate designed for the human body. You can go exercise or just be outside all year round. It does get hot in the afternoon and the sun is relentless, but there is shade and a nice breeze blowing most of the time (at least while we were there). In a small sense, that climate is our natural environment, and now we're back in the zoo in our gilded cages, living large but noticing the temps are starting to drop a little each day already.

Everyone says that once you go to Hawaii that you'll want to move there. Despite the perfect climate, I didn't feel that way. Maybe I'm still too East Coast. But Dr. Trackball is mentally still somewhere on Napili Bay beach. I think it's her new happy place. So here's the plan - all you cold weather neo-polar bears who are stuck in paradise - go take your money and your sweaters and move up north. That will make all the perfect weather paradises cheaper for us humans to live in.

The National Museum of Boomer Nostalgia

It was a two family trip to the Smithsonian's American History Museum in DC today. We went because the 2-3 year old boys would love the "America on the Move" exhibit. And they did. But I got a near lethal dose of the dreaded BN.

A note of full disclosure: the Trackball has had it up to here with the Boomer Nostalgia. I was born in 1973, which unfortunately was the same year that BN started - "American Graffiti" came out. It's a great movie by a great director. But it lead to Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Grease, Back to the Future, the Wonder Years, American Dreams, oldies stations, Forrest Gump and all the other stuff that is anchored in the Boomer's golden age, which apparently stretches from 1955 to about 1965. Maybe 1968 or 69. Then, as we all know, the world effectively came to an end (maybe because the oldest boomers had to get real jobs for the first time). I'm not saying that I don't like any of these things, but could we let some other generations get a word in, say the ones who fought WWII, or the Revolution, or how about Gen Y, which is bigger than the Boomers? (And no, movies and History Channel specials about WWII are just Boomers reliving their childhood.)

So here I stood, in this exhibit that is supposed to stretch from 1876 to the current day, trying to figure out if my Boomer nostalgia antennae were getting a false reading or not. The exhibit moves through the 1876-1920s pretty quickly, except for the parts that Boomers had some connection to, like trains, trolleys and street cars that were still around when they were kids. The whole horse and buggy thing was dispensed with kinda quickly. Apparently America also never had waterways or air travel.

And then the cars portion came and went on and on and on. The glorification of the 1930-1960s cars included Route 66, a car dealer showroom, hotrods and neon and sleek Buicks and Fords. Drive-up diner thingies straight out of American Graffiti. Even the mass transit was all set in the 1950s.

The exhibit only soured on cars when it got to the 1970s, where sprawl, the gas crisis, and foreign imports all help evoke Boomers' feelings that the party was over. If it was too subtle to make this point with the placards, they stage a huge traffic jam with a minivan and a 1977 Honda Civic. For modern day they showed a depressing map of L.A.'s sprawling cityscape and a digital tickertape of old news about terrorism, the 1999 Seattle riots and general misery. Oh, happy modern day.

I wasn't convinced though until we went into the exhibit's gift shop. It was like walking into a toy store in 1966. It was all 50s and 60s toy cars, a couple of WWII-type planes thrown in and lots of other toys from Boomer childhood days. There should have been a sign: no one admitted unless they are a Boomer grandparent who will want to give their grandchild the EXACT same toys they had as a kid. I've felt less out of place in Victoria's Secret pushing a stroller.

The museum will be closed and completely renovated. When it reopens, one can only hope that it doesn't turn out like the retro Tomorrowland at Disney World: a tribute to a previous vision of the future that ignores its current visitors, who must be wondering why no one seems to care about what happened before 1947 or after 1969.