Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Ritz Carlton

I just got back from a three day meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Virginia. My organization’s annual Fall Board of Directors meeting took place at the Ritz and they like for the senior staff to stay at the hotel.

It’s nice to know that in an age when travel seems to have transcending into a low budget, low expectations environment that a hotel chain with a focus on service and class still exist. I’ve had the opportunity to stay at a few Ritz Carlton’s in Florida, California, Ohio and Louisiana through my business travel and I’ve rarely been disappointed. It sure beats the cattle call sensation that flying seems to invoke these days…and not even flying on Southwest.

Thank you Ritz Carlton for trying buck the trend into travel mediocrity!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

McCarty Returns to Red Wings

Nice to see the Red Wings re-sign Darren McCarty to a one-year deal. This can only help the Wings keep that edge on the ice as McCarty has always been a gritty player with talen to get the puck in the net. Great move Red Wings!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NHL 2008-2009 Only 20 Days Away...

The Hat Trick is very happy that the NHL regular season begins in approximately 20 days. On Saturday, October 4, 2008 the NHL season begins with a game between the Tampa Bay Lightening and the New York Rangers in Prague, Czech Republic and the Pittsburgh, Penguins and the Ottawa Senators in Stockholm, Sweden. The same two teams will play each other again the next day, switching who is the home team and who is the visiting team.

Following a short break the regular season really gets down to business on Thursday, October 9 with four games including the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at the “JLA” and a great match-up between two Original Six teams. For my readers who are not as well versed in all things Red Wings, the “JLA” stands for Joe Louis Arena, the home of the Red Wings and named after the famous boxer Joe Louis who was from Detroit.

Two highlights from the 2008-2009 schedule that the Hat Trick is particularly excited about is the games on January 1 and January 31, 2009. The New Year’s Day game is between the Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks and will take place outside in Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs. At this juncture the Hat Trick and Mrs. Hat Trick are scheduled to attend…even more special as Mrs. Hat Trick is from Chicago and a huge Cubs fan, having lived near Wrigley Field during her time in Chicago. This will be particularly helpful in finding watering holes to warm up before and after the game! The January 31 game is also exciting, at least for the Hat Trick, because it is the first time the Red Wings will return to Washington, DC to play the Washington Capitals in quite a few years. Even better is the timing of the game…a Saturday game with a 12:30 PM start. The Hat Trick is already making plans for that game…

Needless to say, the Hat Trick is pretty excited about the upcoming NHL season as well as the return of football and playoff baseball. From a sports standpoint, the Hat Trick’s favorite season is the fall because of the convergence of these three sports and the Hat Trick’s wide screen TV is put to the test during this time!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chelios Returns For 25th Season!

It’s hard to believe it but Red Wings defensemen Chris Chelios is coming back for another year with the Red Wings! Chelios, who is 46, is the ironman of hockey…he spends his offseason following an intense workout regime in Malibu, California that has allowed him to continue his career at an age where it is almost unheard of to keep playing professional hockey. The 2008-2009 season will be Chelios’s 25th season playing professional hockey with previous stops with the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks before joining the Red Wings in March 1999. As the linked AP story notes, Chris Chelios will become the second oldest player in the history of the NHL, behind another famous Red Wing: Gordie Howe

Once again the Red Wings stock up with young, fresh talent and some wise veterans that promises for another great hockey season as we defend the Stanley Cup again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thank You Jimmy Carter

It’s nice to see that former President Jimmy Carter is still staying in the news. During the Democratic National Convention in Denver Carter offered up his thoughts that Senator John McCain was “milking” his POW experiences during the Vietnam War.

I have to say I’m once again disappointed by the former President’s actions. I’m sure President Carter is a decent man but whenever he inserts himself into this type of partisan situation he shows an incredible lack of respect for the office he once held. A former President is certainly entitled to his own opinions and certainly is entitled to disagree with a sitting President or a candidate for the office. However, to drop down into a partisan arena best left to hired political consultants and party officials doesn’t show dignity to the office. I don’t know why he does it…is it some type of chip on his shoulder after being defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980? Is he angry that many (including the Hat Trick) view his administration as having more failures then victories? It’s a little shocking that a fellow Naval Academy graduate would make such a derogatory about someone who spent SIX years in captivity and was repeatedly tortured in the process. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree on the issues this is something you shouldn’t touch. The Hat Trick certainly respects President Carter’s service to this country and wishes he would show the same respect to Senator McCain and the many other POWs from the Vietnam War.

You don’t see this type of behavior from former President George H.W. Bush who generally makes news with his several skydives to celebrate You also didn’t hear a lot about former President Gerald Ford except when it involved a golf course so apparently President Carter has not gotten the memo that you need to act a little more dignified in your post White House years. President Carter has done a lot of good things since he left office, noticeably on human rights issues with the Carter Center and his work with Habitat for Humanity. Unfortunately I think they get clouded over when he jumps into the political arena. It’s his choice but it certainly makes the Hat Trick have a lot less respect for the former President.

Analysis of McCain Running Mate Choice

The Hat Trick realizes he promised a post on his views of Governor Palin and Senator McCain choosing her to be his running mate. Unfortunately the Hat Trick’s day job got in the way…plus I also admit having a lot of mixed feelings about the pick. The Hat Trick sees this pick as both good and bad…the Governor did a fantastic job in her speech Wednesday night. She was poised, funny, serious and connected with the GOP delegates. She discussed energy issues and showed that she probably knows more about energy issues then Senators McCain, Biden and Obama. She also brings the GOP base vote together which is critical and has been a problematic area for Senator McCain given his maverick image and having gone against conservatives on many issues such as campaign finance reform and climate change. The Hat Trick thinks that having Palin could be critical in a state like Ohio: Senator John Kerry lost Ohio in 2004 because evangelical Christians came out and voted for President Bush in enough force to allow him to win Ohio and the election. If the 2008 contest comes down again to Ohio (although other states, noticeably Virginia, are in play this year) the excitement Governor Palin brings to the ticket could be the deciding factor in winning the state. An excited conservative base could really bring out the conservative vote in Ohio, plus potentially attracting some conservative Democratic support that went to Senator Clinton in the Democratic Primary. This could be enough to blunt Senator Obama’s excitement and get out the vote efforts with minority voters within the urban centers of the state (Cleveland, Columbus). Once again the presidential contest could come down to Ohio.

However, the Hat Trick really is concerned about Governor Palin’s lack of experience in national governance. One of the biggest critiques against Senator Obama is relative lack of experience with having served just under four years in the United States Senate. The argument that Palin has “executive experience” resonates with the Hat Trick but the Hat Trick is a lobbyist and political junkie…the average voter may not be as impressed with the difference…or even care…or even understand the difference. Senator McCain will be the oldest person to begin his Presidency if he wins and it is relevant to ask if Palin can take over if Senator McCain dies. A colleague of the Hat Trick thinks that Senator McCain will never finish his presidency…the Hat Trick isn’t so sure of that after watching Senator McCain’s 96 year old mother at the GOP convention but you never know. Ultimately the Hat Trick is going to associate his views with that of syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer who sums up his (and my) concerns over the pick in his column yesterday.

Time will tell if Governor Palin can handle the arena of national politics. Her start looks good but it’s a long campaign and she will have to debate Senator Joe Biden in October, a politician with tremendous experience on the national scene. While the Hat Trick is always favorable of giving someone a chance to prove themselves, the stakes are so high in this case that the experience level, or lack of with Palin, is going to cause some skittishness in the coming weeks.