Sorry about my absence last week, but I was on vacation with the family on a cruise in the western Caribbean. What follows, in large part, are observations from the last seven days.
Most daunting: Snorkeling in a strong current off Belize was a challenge, but I would give the nod to finding out that the average age of the 3,000 or so passengers on the ship was 53 years.
Almost as daunting: That I am now older than that average age.
Nothing better: Than when perfect strangers take time to complement your children for their manners and/or maturity. I never get tired of such a gratifying gesture; of course, I always double check to make sure they're talking about mine.
Nothing worse: Than karaoke. It's always better when it's bad, although I'm not sure all bad karaoke crooners think they are. Still, I always feel bad laughing at someone who's up there trying---unless he or she is sure that they just missed being discovered. Or, the people that let you know that they've done community theater, or sang in a barbershop quartet, or were in a band---as if that makes them any better than anyone who's ever hummed a tune in the shower.
Okay, seriously-nothing worse: Bigots like Donald Sterling still having a voice in America. The owner of the Clippers was dealt with swiftly and severely by the National Basketball Association after scathing racist remarks were released by his former mistress (a pretty tawdry tale in and of itself). It's amazing to me how many people still just don't get it, why is equality for all such a hard thing to grasp?
The lifetime ban from the NBA and $2.5 million fine, meted out by new Commissioner Michael Silver was the strongest statement that any professional league has made about racism since Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1947. Too many times remarks like Sterling's have been condemned, but without any real consequence. I'm glad to see that Silver has demanded accountability, it's a shame we still need it.
Most difficult: To follow American sports once you leave the country, at least in the way that we're accustomed to. I know, a vacation is meant for escaping the daily grind, but my love of sports has always superseded being in the business of sports. If I happened to be a gardener, (you wouldn't want to trust me with your roses) I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be less interested about what was happening in sports than I do now. Of course, I wouldn't have the access, but I wouldn't be any less passionate.
Yes, there was internet aboard but not at a price that we were willing to pay, especially when you don't want to be accessible to/by email. All the phones were turned off on this trip, it's amazing how much communicating you can do when you're not answering a phone all the time. I love that irony.
Most interesting: I still was able to follow some baseball, just enough to know that my Red Sox dropped a double header to the Rays yesterday (you rarely get a vacation from your struggling baseball team) and there was playoff hoops on every other night.
I was amazed that the Daily Oklahoman apologized for a headline they wrote about the Thunder's Kevin Durant, they must have taken an incredible amount of heat from readers. Besides, calling him 'Mister Unreliable' seems like a remarkably low blow to a player who, in large part, has put Oklahoma City on the map. Not only is he the face of the franchise, but he's been an incredible citizen who gives back to his community. How many players would have donated a million dollars to tornado relief? That's about as reliable as you can get.