Astute readers of the SOC (Sound Of Cannons) will notice I took a respite from my daily posts for a vacation. I went to the sunshine state for some much needed sun and to take my family to the world's happiest place. For a jaded 41-year old, vacations are a conundrum. Going to a place where the masses tend to congregate takes a lot of the relaxation out of time off. And adding a genuine tourist trap to the equation just adds numbers to your systolic. But being a father means your ideal Vegas sinfest of a vacation takes a far backseat to the smiles of a 3-year old taking her picture with a gendernonspecific mouse in the Florida heat.
You get to see the best and worst of American culture in places like this. Horrendous slums down the street from brand-spanking-new construction. People concerned about making a great experience out of your time spent there and shameless charlatans whose only intent is separating you from your money.
Americans themselves are a hard lot to label. There were men who hadn't seen a barber in months standing next to immaculately dressed individuals with their picture perfect families. Fat slobs walking behind trim and fit people who looked to be professional atheletes. Overaged hippies with pristine manners and articulation sharing space with $200 haircut professionals you wouldn't let your daughter talk to.
The world's happiest place is showing some cracks in the foundation. When I first went there 20 years ago I was in awe of the operation that had cleaners following the parade to keep the grounds spotless. Now, the booths are unmanned at peak attendence and one gets the idea that some staffers are less than enthused with you being there. Headline rides and attractions not running during park openings and indifference from the operators. Yeah, the glass is always half-empty in my world, so I will say that the characters made my daughter absolutely giddy and one of the new roller coasters in one of the most unique experiences I've ever had. It's not all bad, and with park attendence up over 8% in the past 2 years tells you people still want to go. But it does tell you that quality is something very hard to keep up year after year. Bean counters tend to decry quality in defense to the bottom line and things start rollling downhill from there. But, the world's happiest place seems to have a monopoly on that "single-destination-vacation" marketing and we'll probably have to wait for a new entertainment giant from China to dethrone them.
One of the more interesting items I saw on the local Orlando news made me chuckle. There is a public works bill being debated to the tune of over $300 million dollars. New amphitheaters, stadiums and concourses funded by the John Q. Public tourist who seems to be in unlimited supply down in Florida. What made me laugh was the local anchors reporting on a local (Libertarian minded) civil watchdog group that wants the spending bill to be (GASP!) put to a voter referendum. You'd think the poor guy was asking for voluntary spleen donations excised with a butter knife! The anchors gave a condescending "Tsk! Tsk!" and said that the decisions like that should be left to "elected" officials. How dare the simpleton taxpayers have a say in that matter! How can "Joe Six-pack" comprehend the intricacies of a project like this!!!?
I'm not a big fan of the average "Boobus Americanus." People who don't read newspapers or watch TV news or listen to news radio but devote endless hours to "American Idol" & "Dancing With The Stars" probably need some sort of intelligence alignment, like you align the wheels on your car. But I still think we need to hear both sides and there needs to be a checks and balances system to local officials who believe themselves architects of local empires.
So my vacation was informative and somewhat restful. I'm glad to be back home and blogging again. I hope you enjoy and form some opinions of your own.