Archive for April, 2006

The Cruise

My wife and I recently returned from a week-long cruise in the Western Caribbean.  It was our first real out-of-state vacation since our honeymoon, and it was nice to get away.  It wasn’t nice to come back to work and have 658 emails in my inbox, but that’s a different story for a different time. 

This was my first cruise on, as Forrest Gump might say, a big boat.  The following are some observations I made while cruising over the sun-kissed waters of the Western Caribbean: 

The first thing anyone ever talks about on a cruise is the food.  “Oh my GOD,” they say, “the food is TOTALLY UNREAL!” 

The food was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t “drool on your pants and forget your last name” good.  Every night the dinners were solid, with usually a beef choice and some other fancy dishes that were really tasty, but I have to admit that, on some level, I was a little disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong, the food was very good, but I was expecting it to be jaw-dropping.  There was, however, an incredible amount of food, and you could eat at any moment, 24-hours a day, which I found strangely comforting… 

…While the food is included in the price of your ticket along with water, fruit juice, and iced tea, any other drinks, specifically soda and alcohol, are extra.  You sign up for a little on-boat credit card, called a Sail and Sign card, that you can use to buy drinks at any time without worrying about cash. 

There are waiters everywhere on board, too, looking to push drinks.  Hawks could learn how to circle their prey from these waiters.  So, when the omnipresent waiter asks you if you want another drink, the natural response is, “Hey, I’m on vacation.  Why not?” 

The problem with this setup is, because you are not dishing out cash for each drink, you end up spending insane amounts of money (well, if you drink as much as I did, anyway).  One of the comedians on the ship called the card the “Drink and Sink Card”.  

Just to make it even more “convenient”, they even allow you to use the Drink and Sink Card at the onboard casino, with a 3% service charge for your convenience.  I didn’t dare step into that tiger trap. 

Anyway, at the end of the trip, they slip a printed list of everything that you spent on the cruise.  This is the cruise equivalent of “sticker shock”.  My report was 12 pages long and broken up into chapters.  “Chapter 1, in which Tim briefly falls into an ill-fated romance with a temptress named Tanqueray.”… 

…I was a little concerned about getting seasick on the cruise.  I’ve been on deep sea fishing trips before, and being seasick is just rotten.  It is so rotten that I won’t go deep sea fishing anymore, just because there is a chance that I might get seasick. 

Before the cruise, I was watching the TV show MythBusters and they were testing non-pharmaceutical remedies for motion sickness.  On that show, the only remedy that worked was ginger pills.  So, since the store didn’t have ginger pills, I bought myself some ginger gum in case I started feeling a little queasy. 

And I did.  At one point, we were taking a tender to shore – I learned on this trip that a tender is a boat.  I have to remember to check with my accountant about whether I can now write off the cruise as an education expense.  Anyway, we were on a small boat and the seas were rough and people were getting sick all over the place and I was starting to feel a little queasy, so I popped a piece of ginger gum in my mouth and voila!  Instant serenity. 

On the way back, on that same tender, my wife was feeling a little queasy, so she took some ginger gum and instantly felt better.  Does anyone know the stock symbol for ginger gum?… 

…Another thing I learned on the cruise is that the first week in April is a vacation week for most of the schoolchildren in the South.  My wife and I figured that we would miss any kids by avoiding the Massachusetts version of April vacation, only to find a cruise ship full of Southern high school kids… 

…My wife and I played a trivia game on the boat, and I am proud to announce that we are the undisputed champions of Tuesday Afternoon Trivia on the Lido Deck for April 4th.  We have a trophy and everything… 

…I learned during our sting ray excursion that, although sting rays do not have teeth, they still can bite you; especially when you don’t let go of the calamari fast enough… 

…We weren’t able to go to Costa Maya on this trip because the seas were too rough for us to dock, so we had an extra day on the boat.  In order to pass the time, I decided to take a jog on the treadmill (no, I can’t believe I did this, either).  If you are a true thrill seeker, the type of person who goes on every roller coaster in the park, then I highly recommend that you try jogging on a treadmill that is swaying with the motion of a ship in rocky seas… 

So, to sum up, it was really nice to get home.  I mean, a person can only take so much eating and drinking and watching the sun set on an ocean horizon every night.  It was nice, sure, but the ship didn’t have the Red Sox on TV, so I had to come home.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 28 Apr 2006 No Comments

Hot Flashes

It’s a bit strange for me to hear all of the announcers for baseball today talk about pitch counts. It is a part of every broadcast on television. For the Red Sox, if Don Orsillo doesn’t bring it up, Jerry Remy is sure to mention it. The other night, Curt Schilling threw 133 pitches, and it was big news. Everyone on sports radio was talking about it the next day, and debating whether Red Sox manager Terry Francona should have dared to risk Schilling’s health by allowing him to throw that much.

Now, I understand that there is a relationship between throwing too many pitches in an outing and a pitcher getting hurt, but it was strange to hear the pitch count as such a focus. I looked it up, and when he struck out 20 Tigers on September 18th, 1996, Roger Clemens threw 151 pitches, and I don’t remember the pitch count ever being mentioned.

Here are some more thoughts I had while I waited for Schilling’s arm to fall off:

The weather lately has been great. It’s been warm and sunny during the day and I have been wearing short sleeves for about a month. Yet, this morning, when I went out to my car I had to use an ice scraper to clear my windshield.

I understand that I could have simply warmed up the car and avoided the scraper, but that would require me to get up earlier. Sleep is too precious a commodity to be wasted like that. Besides, who warms up their car in April?…

…David Lee Roth has been mercifully removed from his position as a morning talk show host. He lasted 4 months, and that was far, far too long. I tried to listen to him a couple of times after he took over from Howard Stern, and he was, to put it simply, awful.

I thought it was interesting that they would take someone with such a limited background in radio and simply hand him a big money contract to host what was among the biggest radio shows in the country. I wonder if anyone at CBS Radio had him do any practice shows; and if they did, who made the decision that he would be ok? I have to think that any talented local DJ in the country would have done a better job, but that’s just my opinion…

…On the topic of morning radio, I have an admission to make: When the sports radio guys get to be too much for me to handle, lately, I find myself listening to Don Imus; and enjoying it. I listen mostly for the interviews he has with authors and political figures, which is a refreshing change at times from hearing the same argument over and over (and over) again on sports radio. I change the channel when Imus attempts humor bits or when he starts yapping about all of the products he wants me to buy (I have never heard anyone turn their show into an infomercial like Imus).

Either way, now that I have admitted that I listen to Imus, I figure that my AARP application will show up any day now…

…I was thinking that I might want to watch the NFL Draft this weekend, but then I remembered that there are 15 minutes between each pick in the first round. That means that the first round might take more than 7 HOURS to be completed. The Patriots pick at number 21, which could take more than 5 hours to come up. That’s a lot of time for the announcers to fill in between picks, and unless you are drunk or a huge football fan it is, to put it politely, a little dry. I plan to just watch the news afterwards…

…Finally, some people approached me and asked me whether I actually had fun on my cruise. Apparently, my column on the subject leaned a little towards the “I didn’t have fun and here’s why” side of the spectrum.

Well, that’s not what I meant to say, at all. I had a total blast on the cruise. I ate good food and drank and sat in the sun. I swam with DOLPHINS, for crying out loud (note: The look of total joy on my wife’s face when she was swimming with the dolphin alone made the whole trip worthwhile). I fed sting rays. I got TAN. I read great books. It was a fabulous trip and I really needed it.

I think that when I wrote my column I was just thinking about the 678 emails that greeted me when I came back and I got a little nit-picky…

…I have decided to attempt the Clinton Tribute Road Race (5 hilly miles) on May 13th. I have been running a little, so I might actually survive the ordeal. It would be nice, though, if they had a category for people over 250 lbs. As slow as I am, I have to think that I would seriously contend for that title…

That’s it for this week. Be good and don’t forget to vote in your local elections.

Sports &The Day to Day Grind Tim 21 Apr 2006 No Comments