Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Hat Trick. I hope your holiday was enjoyable and filled with joy as well as a nice visit from Santa.

The Hat Tricks Christmas will be memorable for some of the negatives going on. One of our Little Hat Tricks has been in the pediatric ICU with a very bad case of pneumonia. Luckily Santa did visit the ICU but didn't help his overall mood.

And if this wasn't enough the cherry on the proverbial sundae was Christmas morning when the Hat Trick discovered his hot water heater had blown over the night, flooding our basement. Needless to say that was not how I envisioned spending Christmas morning...

Still, it's important to remember that a lot of other people are in much worse shape compared with our family. Still, it wasn't the Christmas we had hoped for in our new state and new home. I think we are really ready to put 2010 behind us!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Class Warfare | The Weekly Standard

An interesting article in the Weekly Standard discussing the recent deal President Obama made with Republicans to extend unemployment benefits in exchange for a one year extension of tax rates that were enacted in 2001 and 2003. The big issues in this is that many Democrats are "morally opposed" to extending these tax rates for the "perceived wealthy"... those making over $250,000 a year. But Republicans remained united that all Americans should benefit from extending these lower tax rates. It will be interesting to see how this plays out politically but the enclosed article...granted from a conservative magazine...brings forth some interesting arguments that challenges the philosophy of Democrats opposed to the extensions.

Class Warfare | The Weekly Standard

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hat Trick Returns

I've been offline for a little while and haven't even commented on the 2010 midterm elections...although I do have a post drafted. Unfortunately a combination of family illness and computer woes have "infected" (ha ha ha...pun intended) the Hat Trick household over the past few weeks. The computers are fixed (yes, both had issues) and we are back on track to some regular posting soon.

On a happy note during the hiatus...did anyone notice the Detroit Red Wings have compiled a 12 - 3 -2 record since the beginning of the 2010-11 season? Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2010 Mid-Term Election

This post is a little late but unfortunately some travel and some sickness going through the family has interrupted my ability to post on the November 2 elections. Needless to say it was another "Vote for Change" to borrow a phrase.

As expected the House of Representatives flipped back to Republican control with over 60 seats switching back to the GOP. Three very senior Democratic chairman were part of the GOP's tally (John Spratt, Chairman of Budget, James Oberstar, Chairman of Transportation and Ike Skelton, Chairman of Armed Services) as well as many moderate to conservative Democrats who could not survive the onslaught. The Senate tally was equally good to the GOP although not good enough to get to the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster...although most political writers felt that 60 was out of reach, the Hat Trick included.

In January President Obama will now face divided government with the House firmly in the control of the GOP. We'll see what happens...will he be like Bill Clinton and learn to work with this new scenario or will he still insist on forging ahead with a liberal agenda? Only time will tell.

Once not so positive post-election occurrence if you are a Democrat (and a positive one if you are a Republican) was the election of soon-to-be former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic minority leader in the new Congress. Although there was some objection to her running for the top leadership post by some surviving conservative Democrats, she won handily and will continue to be the face of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. Given that she was the face of what many voters voted AGAINST in the 2010 Mid-term elections I'm not sure of the logic of electing her leader...except for delusion among the liberals in the House combined with a sense of entitlement on Pelosi's part. We'll see where this goes but I suspect this will be helpful for the GOP as they were able to label Pelosi in the last election as the "face of the problem" of expanded government and a health care law that many did not want.

Needless to say there have been some big changes but Republicans should go forward with caution compared with 1994. After the colossal 1994 change in power the GOP thought for sure they would take the White House in 1996 which did not even come close to happening. Two years is a long time to recover politically and the GOP now has some responsibilities to govern now that they control one of the Congressional chambers. Still, it was a good night for conservatives and those in the center-right who have had some significant concerns about the way our government has operated in recent years. Hopefully some good will come out of this change...we can always hope.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Obstructionism reaps its reward

Interesting commentary by conservative Patrick Buchanan on the current political state and the 2010 Midterm Elections. I'm not as conservative as Mr. Buchanan but he does bring up some interesting points that are worth thinking about, especially for Republicans.

Link: Obstructionism reaps its reward

Wings Lose 4-2 in Phoenix

Giving up three goals in the first period while not scoring any goals yourself is not a recipe for a win and the Red Wings proved that Thursday night with a 4 - 2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard was out of the game with back spasms so that didn't help the situation as Chris Osgood wasn't able to stop the onslaught.

You can't win them all but this one was kind of ugly...glad it wasn't broadcast nationally so the Hat Trick didn't have to watch it!

Next up: The surprisingly hot Nashville Predators at the JLA Saturday at 7:00pm.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Women's Hockey Will Return for 2014 Games

Despite concern that Women's Olympic Ice Hockey is dominated by Canada and the United States it looks like the sport will return for the 2014 Sochi Games. Apparently the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is worried about some of the scores from the Vancouver a 18 - 0 beat down of Slovakia by Canada.

For the Hat Trick it's alarming to hear that the IOC is willing to consider eliminating a sport simply because some countries aren't as successful in the sport. Got to love the mantra of "making it fair for everyone" and punishing those athletes who are successful in their given sport. Wonderful. How about this idea: Get Better? If we have learned anything about the Olympics it should have been in 1980 when the U.S. men's team beat the Soviet Union in their run for the Gold Medal.

Obviously some sense of sanity is still with the IOC and women's ice hockey will return.

Upset in the Making?

Interesting political news from Alaska...sitting Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost her primary race to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller this past summer, has a chance to win in the general election as a write-in candidate. This hasn't been successfully done since Senator Strom Thurmond pulled it off in South Carolina in 1954 and Senator Murkowski seems to have a reasonable chance at winning.

Good write-up The Fix from the Washington Post.

The Russian Five

It's hard to believe that it was 15 years ago yesterday (October 27) that the Russian Five first played together. This was the first time in the NHL that five Russian players played on the same line. The Russian Five or sometimes called the Russian Unit is a great moment in Red Wings history. There is a nice write-up of this day in history on NHL Fanhouse.

Check out this clip from Fox Sports talking about the Russian Five...and a very young James Brown! Go JB!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wings Continue Strong Start

Red Wings continue their strong start with only one loss in the last six games, currently showing a 5 - 1 record. They currently sit in second place behind the Nashville Predators who are undefeated at five wins. Goalie Jimmy Howard is playing strong and the offense has been strong. Nice to see after some of the disappointments during last year's season.

Next game for the Wings: Thursday, October 28 against the Phoenix Coyotes at the JLA.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanks Malts

While not unexpected at all the day finally arrived for long-time Detroit Red Wing (and "Grind Liner") Kirk Maltby on Tuesday. "Malts" is the quintessential Red Wing...a role player, a grinder, a hard worker and a player with a lot of heart. He will be sorely missed as the game moves on.

Yahoo Sports has a nice write-up on Maltby's retirement and career.

Thanks Malts for all the great memories!

Wings Lose in Overtime

The Red Wings lost their first game of the 2010-11 with a 5 - 4 defeat that ended in a shootout against the hated Colorado Avalanche. Regardless of the loss the Red Wings played solid hockey for three periods and Goalie Jimmy Howard looked great in goal...he blocked some tremendous shots, particularly during the shootout. It wasn't until the sixth round of the overtime shootout that Howard gave up a goal to Brandon Yip.

Next up for the Wings: The Dallas Stars

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The College of Wooster

The Hat Trick doesn't normally delve into college football and my educational background but my Alma mater had a unique occurrence during homecoming this past weekend. Needless to say, very unique and a positive solution to a bad situation. Check out this link to see how they handled this interesting problem.

Enjoy...and Let's Go Scots!

Great Start to Red Wings Season

The Detroit Red Wings opened the 2010-2011 with a bang this weekend. On Friday night the Wings pounded the Anaheim Ducks 4 - 0 at the JLA (with a goal scored by new addition and great player Mike Modano) and then went to Chicago on Saturday and beat the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks 3 - 2 in their home opener. A great start for the Red Wings that will help relieve some of the disappointment of last year.

This is not to say the Wings are "going all the way" this year. Chicago is still a great team and the season is long. Still, it's nice to see the team get off to such a strong start.

The Wings will face the hated Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night...let's hope for a three game winning streak after Tuesday!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Red Wings 2010-2011 Is Almost Here!

In a little less than an hour the Red Wings begin another "March for the Cup" with a home opener at the JLA (Joe Louis Arena for new readers) against the Anaheim Ducks. Needless to say the Hat Trick is happy to have Red Wing hockey back, even if I'm going to miss the game in my new home in South Jersey.

Some initial previews have the Wings winning the Central Division and having a much better year compared with the 2009-2010 season. We'll see where the pucks fall (ha ha) but I feel more confident at the start of this season then I did last year.

Let's Go Red Wings!

Wings put Kirk Maltby, Derek Meech on waivers; Lightning claim Mattias Ritola | | The Detroit News

Not a huge surprise but still a little sad to see another member of the great Stanley Cup teams of 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2007 leave the team. There aren't many left at this point...Draper, Lidstrom, Osgood...

Wings put Kirk Maltby, Derek Meech on waivers; Lightning claim Mattias Ritola | | The Detroit News

Monday, September 27, 2010

Southwest Airlines to Merge With Air Tran Airways

Major airline news this Monday morning that the Hat Trick did not see coming with regard to Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Orlando-based Air Tran Airways. According to news releases this morning on Yahoo Finance and CNBC, Southwest Airlines and Air Tran Airways have entered into a merger agreement with Southwest as the surviving carrier.

This is a major announcement that will have significant ramifications for several other carriers, most notably Delta Airlines who shares a hub with Air Tran at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) although Delta's hub is significantly larger. Southwest does not currently serve Atalanta. In addition, Southwest has a large presence at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) and Air Tran operates a mini-hub at BWI so the merger will essentially make the airport a hub even though Southwest does not use that terminology in their business operations.

The Hat Trick will try to get some more analysis as I digest the merger news and its impact on the airline industry.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ohio Swings Back

Good article by Washington insider Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard and Fox News. While I agree with his assertion that you can't say "So goes Ohio, so goes the rest of the nation" but it is striking that the same state embraced now President Obama in 2008 and sent three Democrats to the House of Representatives in Republican-leaning districts. Looking more and more like a rough political year for Democrats...

Ohio Swings Back

Monday, September 20, 2010

62% Say Congress Is Doing A Poor Job

This recent Rasmussen Report paints a bleak picture for Congress in general but particularly for Democrats as they attempt to hold onto control of both chambers in the upcoming midterm elections. Of particular interest in the survey is that only 19% of Democratic voters surveyed felt that Congress was doing a good job. Apparently Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are not getting the message at all.

62% Say Congress Is Doing A Poor Job

Friday, September 17, 2010

2010 Midterm Elections Heat Up

This post is a little late but better late then never!

The post-Labor Day period is usually the official start of the campaign in an election year. 2010 promises to not be different and things are heating up significantly. Republicans smell blood in the water and Democrats are scurrying to hold off what many feel will be a VERY bad year for Democrats. The possibility exists, based on current polling, that the House of Representatives could flip back to Republican control and even the United States Senate is in play although that is a long shot...however Democrats appear poised to lose several seats including the seat of current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. This would be a wonderful development personally for the Hat Trick given my intense dislike of the Senate Majority Leader, discussed previously in this post.

So the big question now is why is this happening?

Basically the economy still sucks and the unemployment rate is still hovering around 10%. Add to this continued ethical problems with the Democratic Congress (I thought they were going to "drain the swamp" and be "the most ethical Congress in history?) and frustration with the Obama Administration, a political strategy of "Blame Bush/Take NO Accountability" and you have a recipe for disaster if you are a Democrat.

Another issue going on is the American electorate and some of their fickleness. The electorate through out the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 but are having buyer's remorse now, especially with the fact that the Administration and the liberal leaning Congress have gone far to the left. By throwing out the Democrats in Congress they can right the ship somewhat and essentially force the President to come more to the center if he wants to get re-elected. This is how it played out in 1994 when Bill Clinton went far to the left in his first two years in office (1992-1994), was handed a major political defeat in the 1994 midterms and then eased back to the center, allowing him to be re-elected in a good economy didn't hurt. The question is whether Obama will go more to the center assuming the worst in the midterm elections. He is a much more liberal than Bill Clinton so it may be more politically difficult for him to do this. I also question his political skills compared with Clinton's...sometimes the President just seems to have a deaf ear to what is going on around him.

I'll try to get some good posts and analysis as the election season progresses. Should be exciting for political junkies, that is for sure.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Greetings From Ocean City

I'm writing this post from the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland where the Hat Tricks are taking a family vacation. It's been a busy summer with out move from Washington, DC to Southern New Jersey so it's been nice to relax (somewhat) and not worry about movers, temporary housing, mortgages and everything else that goes with a move of this magnitude. Luckily Hurricane Earl didn't ruin our trip although he did provide some impressive waves as he passed by the Maryland coast.

Not sure how much posting I will be able to do this week but will try to get a few in here and there. I hope all my readers had a great Labor Day Weekend and are now gearing up for the fall...and the arrival of a big midterm election and the 2010-11 NHL season!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jersey Shore and the NYSE

Occasionally the Hat Trick wonders where this country is going. This week the cast of the obnoxious MTV reality show Jersey Shore rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Oh my.

I understand having some celebrities open the market but the Jersey Shore cast? Isn't there 15 minutes about up? It kind of cheapens the experience for the firefighters and first responders who opened the market after 9-11.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Continental tries out new self-boarding system - Houston Business Journal

A little aviation news to keep with the theme of this blog...and to break-up some of the political warfare that has been coming out lately...

Continental Airlines is doing a limited self-boarding test at their Houston Intercontinental (IAH) hub to see how this system goes (click on the link above to read the whole story). The Hat Trick is not sure how this one is going to work out. I like the concept a lot...the Hat Trick has gladly embraced the self-service world that technology has created...from airline reservations, airline check-in, banking, bill paying and a host of others. But from my observations in the travel world I'm wondering how well a majority of the traveling public, particularly the leisure travel segment, will adapt to this system. I realize their will be an agent available to assist passengers and manually take boarding passes, as needed, but I still think it could create a train wreck in various circumstances (think Florida...especially Orlando and West Palm Beach!) if they open this up system wide.

However, the Hat Trick could be wrong on this and, more importantly, I would be interested in the outcome of the testing. Needless to say I would love to see it implemented but then I realize I'm a very small majority of the traveling public. We'll see where this goes but kudos to Continental for trying something new.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pat Sajak Gets Into the Mix

Great little piece written on the blog Ricochet by Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak on the "czarism" that is engulfing the Obama Administration. Sajak, tongue firmly in cheek, discusses how he is about to be named "Game Show Czar" by the Obama Administration.

Funny stuff, for sure.

But the underlining theme brings up a serious issue with this administration. Democrats, including then-Senator Obama, raised holy hell when President Bush used recess appointments for judicial nominees bogged down in the Senate swamp due to Democratic filibusters. The Democrats argued that the judicial nominees needed to be fully vetted by the Senate, as is written in the Constitution. They had a valid point during the Bush years and that point still stands today in the Obama Administration: under our form of government the Senate has to confirm judicial appointments, including Supreme Court justices, and cabinet appointments. These are the rules and (this is where the Hat Trick is going to get on the Republicans a bit) BOTH sides need to respect that, not just raise hell when the opposition party controls the White House and you want to make a political point. All this does is make the process more toxic and slow government down even more. Not a good solution.

However, these "Czars" that have become popular in the Obama White House are very problematic. The czars have quite a bit of authority, much like cabinet secretaries, yet have NEVER gone through a confirmation hearing. This is a real problem from a public policy standpoint. I understand the theory behind them: make government work better, more accountable, focus on specific public policy problems, etc., and avoid the toxic politics of the Congress, especially the Senate. However, by granting these sweeping mandates the Administration has created an opportunity for significant public policy decisions to be made without the blessing of the Congress and, indirectly, the blessing of the citizens of this country who elect the Congress.

You may not like the players in the sandbox (the Senate) but those are the rules that we are governed by in this country. To continue down the road of these "czars" only seems to me to be another step towards Directive 10-289 and the world of Atlas Shrugged.

The Hat Trick is Feeling Political Again

Now that I've been out of Washington for a few months and in the real world I have to admit I'm starting to feel a little political again. My readers may have noticed a significant lack of political fodder on the Hat Trick over the past few months...ironic since politics covers one-third of this blog's topics! I think the Hat Trick was feeling a major case of political apathy plus the stress of continued joblessness/career implosion and a move to New Jersey.

But lately I'm feeling more political and more interested in commenting on the public affairs issues that we are expect more political-oriented comments in the near future. For the liberal readers of this aren't going to like it much because the Hat Trick is decidedly concerned about how the Obama Administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress are performing.

It's about to get a little warm at the Hat Trick so strap in and make sure your seats are in the full and upright position!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Humor Alert: Gulf Oil Spill and Obama Administration

The Hat Trick is definitely amused by this one. A good friend of the Hat Trick's provided this interesting video on the Gulf Oil Spill and the Obama Administration's response to it. After watching this administration in action (or inaction in some cases) I have to say there is quite a bit of truth to it...especially in the area of "blame assessment" as I like to call it. When you are almost two years into a presidency there comes a time when you have to take accountability for some things, not just wine and blame your predecessor. Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Trip Report: Amtrak Acela First Class

Last week the Hat Trick had the opportunity to travel on the Amtrak Acela service between Washington, DC Union Station and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. The Hat Trick, while primarily being an airline fan, also has a soft spot for train travel as a result of spending a lot of time in Europe while growing up and getting to experience train travel first hand.

For this trip the Hat Trick splurged and upgraded for the the First Class compartment of the train. I've traveled on the Acela before (and enjoyed it immensely!) but have always been in the Business Class section, which is the remainder of the train, so this seemed like a good opportunity to try out the upgraded product. In addition to curiosity I also made this choice due to timing and a need to eat and relax before a job interview!


The reason I even needed to take the train from Washington to Philadelphia was a last-minute, third interview with an organization. As my readers know, the Hat Trick has been unemployed for a year and a half and not liking it. Luckily Mrs. East Coast Wing was able to secure employment in New Jersey, hence our move to the state. We were in DC last week to supervise the move and close on our house which is chronicled in this previous post. We decided that instead of having me drive back and forth I could travel down with the family, take the train back for my interview and then come down with the second car after the interview. This is probably more information then my readers would care for but anyone who knows me knows that I am thorough when relating information!

The Trip:

I traveled to Washington's Union Station via the Washington Metrorail. After a hot trip on the Metro Yellow and Red Lines I arrived at the Union Station and proceeded to the ticketing level. Amtrak has several convenient self-service kiosks available and within two minutes I had my ticket purchased and was heading to Amtrak's Club Acela lounge. Club Acela is similar to an airline club (with the VERY noticeable exception of not having a bar!) that allows passengers to relax in a fairly quiet environment while waiting for departure. Soft drinks, juices, water and light snacks are available and clubs are located in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. The Washington, DC location was a little worn and needed updating but was a much better option compared with the crowds in the main departure area given that it is a typical hot Washington summer with lots of tourists! One of the best advantages about the Club Acela is that First Class customers are invited to board the train first through doors that lead directly from the club to the tracks, bypassing the crowded departure lounge filled with people jockeying for position in the line to go out to the train (yes, even in an all-business class train!). Another bonus is that they enforce who can board first by turning back business class customers...a nice touch.

I was greeted upon boarding by one of the two cabin attendants and immediately asked if I would like a beverage. The service throughout the journey was very prompt and my vodka tonic was always quickly refreshed throughout the journey. Acela First also features sit down meals during the trip: the choices from my particular journey included the following (I traveled during the dinner hour):
  • Starter: Tom Douglas Rub with Love snack mix
  • Entrees: Small Plate (sliced fruit, cheese and almonds), Thai Chili mint salad, pan seared halibut or wheat ravioli (vegetarian option) and a lemon bar for desert.
I chose the halibut and found it pretty tasty and warm, which is a pet peeve of the Hat Trick. The beverage selection was comprehensive and included soft drinks, juices, red and white wine and a good selection of spirits even though they labeled Jack Daniels as a bourbon which my bourbon connoisseurs and readers from Kentucky know is really Tennessee whiskey...a minor point but something that still made me smile.

We departed and arrived on time and the trip was extremely pleasant. Overall the Hat Trick liked the First Class service on Acela but I'm not sure I would always pay for the upgrade. Regardless, it's a solid offering and I'm happy that it is available for individuals who regularly travel on the Acela and the Hat Trick, in the right circumstances, would definitely try it again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Move Complete

The "Big Move" is finally over and the East Coast Wings are now residents of the State of New Jersey. This past week was pretty busy with having to cart the whole East Coast Wing family down to Washington, DC (including our dog who is not adjusting well to any of this).

While in DC we got to supervise packers and movers in our house putting our whole life into boxes and loading it onto a truck...kind of amazing that they could get it done in two days. We also had the chance to say good-bye to some close friends who we will miss and to take a last walk in Old Town Alexandria. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Alexandria which I will review in a later was a nice stay although it had a little drama as well.

Mrs. Hat Trick and I also got to do something special...swim in the Potomac River across from Mt. Vernon, President George Washington's plantation home. A good friend took us out on her boat one afternoon as a farewell present and it was great to have that experience. The Hat Trick has ridden his mountain bike from DC to Mt. Vernon many times on the Mt. Vernon Bicycle Trail.

There was an added twist to the week. The Hat Trick got a call for a third interview with a company in Northern New Jersey so I had to make a quick trip back to attend the meeting. This included a trip on the Amtrak Acela which I will review in a separate post. While it was a long week of travel and craziness we got it done and ended the Washington, DC chapter of our lives.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moving Week For The Hat Tricks

Well's finally here! This week the Hat Tricks end almost 15 years in the metropolitan Washington, DC area and make the final jump to the Philadelphia/South Jersey area!

As I mentioned in June, my blogging abilities has been greatly reduced as a result of our impending move to the Philadelphia/South Jersey area. It's been a crazy few weeks with numerous experiences, both good and bad, but we are adjusting to life in New Jersey, coping with a small two bedroom corporate apartment (two adults, two young children and a dog...not fun!) and house hunting.

Currently the Hat Trick is blogging from the Alexandria Embassy Suites (a nice hotel by the way) as movers are packing our home in Alexandria, Virginia and will be loading the big moving truck today later today. Needless to say this experience has been filled highs and lows and some drama in-between but it seems to be coming together.

Our home in Virginia sold in a record eight days (!) and we have a contract out on a home in South Jersey that we hope to officially close on in late July. The new him is nothing like our Virginia actually has four REAL bedrooms (compared with two bedrooms and a loft in Virginia) and a huge yard for the junior Hat Tricks and our dog. The cost of this home was about $100,000 LESS (not a typo...LESS) then we sold our home in Virginia. Clearly there are some things to like in New Jersey!

I suspect that I'm supposed to pen something poetic about leaving Washington, DC and the memories I have compiled over 15 years but I have to be honest and say that I'm happy to get the hell out of here. The Hat Trick has always had an uneasy relationship with the city, particularly the crowds, cost of living and the types of people that live here. I've met good people and will leave some good friends behind but it is a lot hard to meet quality people here and I'm kind of tired of the search. All in all I think this is going to be a good move for the Hat Tricks and an opportunity to start fresh after a frustrating 15 months (and counting) of unemployment.

Wish us luck as we take the plunge!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wings Sign Lidstrom, Stevie Y Departs

The Hat Trick is back for the occasional post as we work out way through the move from Washington, DC to Philadelphia. One nice thing about this move is the Hat Trick does get to enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals living in a city that is in the Finals...although the mood was a bit bleak after the Blackhawks took a 2 - 0 series lead but it appears the Flyers are back in it after a 4 - 3 victory on home ice this past Wednesday. This should set up an interesting Game 4 tonight here in Philly.

Red Wings Captain Nicklas Lidstrom signed a one year, $6.2 million contract this week to play another season for the Red Wings. There had been a lot of speculation that Lidstrom would retire after the 2009-2010 season, especially with the Wings being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. At 40 Lidstrom has definitely had a long and solid career but The Hat Trick is happy to see him come back for another year. He is one of the few players left from the great Red Wings teams of the 1990s and I still remain nostalgic for that time, even though the Red Wings teams of 2000s have been pretty solid as well. Good luck Nicklas and I hope you have a great year, especially if it is your last in a Red Wings sweater!

On a sad, though highly expected, note the Red Wings will finally lose "Stevie Y" Steve Yzerman. After almost 25 years of service to the Red Wings organization as a player, team captain and team vice president Steve Yzerman will join the Tampa Bay Lightening as their new general manager. While it's sad to see him go, this is the next logical step for Yzerman's post playing career and the Hat Trick congratulates him as he makes this next big step. Maybe after some time in Florida Stevie Y will be able to come back to Motown and lead the Red Wings as an executive! Congratulations Steve and thank you for all the contributions you have made to the Red Wings over these many years.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Hat Tricks Are Moving!

Some big changes are in store for the Hat Tricks. Due to my continued unemployment Mrs. East Coast Wing has accepted a position with a company in the Philadelphia area and we will be leaving Washington, DC. After almost 15 years in the DC area it's a little strange to be leaving like this...I almost always thought if we got a chance to leave we would be heading back to the Midwest and not another East Coast city. Still, it's a great opportunity for Mrs. East Coast Wing and at least there is a history (and interest in) hockey with the Philadelphia Flyers. I'm not sure what will happen to my own career but am looking at this as an opportunity for a new start. We'll see where it goes...

With this big change upon us East Coast Wing's Hat Trick is going to take some time off as moving preparations take center stage. Hopefully I will have some time to post once the move is complete. As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Season Ends

The Hat Trick is sad to say that the Red Wings official season has ended with a loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 5. Not surprising but still sad after seeing the Wings make the Stanley Cup Finals the past two years. The Hat Trick is just happy they made the playoffs (which looked shaky last winter) and made it to the second round. They also didn't get swept in four games which is good for the pride of the Hat Trick.

Unlike past years in the early 2000s when the Wings got knocked out when they had a lot more talent on the team, I'm okay with this ending of the season. We knew the salary cap was going to be an issue. The Hat Trick is also clear on another issue: Goalie Jimmy Howard has the talent to be a great goalie in the NHL...however he lacks the same thing that other great playoff goalies lack...experience. He can't get it if he doesn't experience it and sometimes the end result of that isn't what the fans want. The fans also didn't want the collapse of the Wings after the 1995-96 season but the result of that was back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in '97 and '98. The bottom line is that losing this year could be good for Howard, as well as the entire team. You can't win them all and Wings fans are really blessed to have had the run we have had this decade, minus the lockout.

There are always things that can improve, personnel moves that can be made, talent that can be signed. But ultimately you have to be realistic in what you can expect from a squad in a certain year and I think the Wings did well for what was possible. The Hat Trick feels strongly this will be a good learning year for the Wings (and their fans) and puts us in good position for the 2010-11 season.

Thanks again Wings for a great season. Let's Go Red Wings!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

When Hockey and Travel Collide...

It looks like the Red Wings will start their series with the San Jose Sharks on the wrong skate. According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News the Red Wings team charter violated the landing curfew at the San Jose International Airport by 49 minutes after arriving late from Phoenix. The fine will likely be $2,500...not a huge amount for an professional sports team but still raises an interesting principle.

The fine has been established to discourage takeoffs and landings so as to not disturb the local residents. According to the article the fine cannot be implemented if a flight is delayed due to weather or other issues beyond the pilot's control. Interestingly the San Jose Sharks charter company is allowed 15 passes a year for curfew violation.

The Hat Trick has two observations:
  1. Given the reason for the lateness of the Red Wings charter it seems the San Jose airport needs to wave this fine. All it does is make them look small and vindictive to allow it to go through. The Red Wings can pay that fine from the petty cash lets use our brains San Jose and actually think about why the plane landed 49 minutes past the curfew.
  2. Let's remind people that CHOOSE to live close to an airport that noise is a potential side-effect to your CHOICE. Much like living near the ocean could involve increased seagull activity or living near a sports facility can cause traffic jams you need to evaluate your CHOICE in where you live. An airport is a business and air travel is a 24 hour global business. A consequence of the Hat Trick living in the Washington, DC area is that I have to occasionally deal with closed streets due to the Presidential motorcade. Not always fun but it's part of living in the nation's capitol (and a great excuse to being late for a date!). Get over it and stop trying to legislate every problem away wonder nobody wants to do business in your state.

Okay, rant over. Let's Go Red Wings and let's get some reality San Jose airport!

United-Continental Deal Appears Close

News reports today are reporting that a United-Continental merger could be announced on Monday. Various news sources are stating that the new company will be called United, headquartered in Chicago (United's current headquarters) and Continental CEO Jeffrey Smisek will be the new CEO and current United CEO Glenn Tilton will be chairman. The combined carrier will be the largest airline in the world.

While this is a big improvement compared with merging with US Airways, it still concerns the Hat Trick that we will abolish another legacy carrier and decrease competition. But, like the merger mania of the mid 1980s we appear to again be in that same mindset. We'll see how this one plays our over Friday and the weekend.

Wings Win Series!

This is a bit tardy and will be short and sweet but the Detroit Red Wings won their series against the Phoenix Coyotes late Tuesday night! The Wings dominated the Coyotes from the start, rolling to a 6 - 1 victory and the privilege to play the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup playoffs semi-final round.

The Wings won with a combination of constant offense and domination in the net. The Hat Trick had his doubts about whether the Wings could win this one and I'm happy that I was wrong on that score!

Thursday night brings on the San Jose Sharks in Game 1. Should be a good one and a real test for the Wings. Enjoy it today have a tough series ahead of you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wings Routed By Coyotes, Game 7 Tuesday

The Wings were destroyed Sunday by the Phoenix Coyotes at the JLA, losing 5 - 2 and setting up a Game 7 in Phoenix on Tuesday night. The Wings blew a couple of golden opportunities on the power play, including several overlapping 5 on 3 scenarios. Goalie Jimmy Howard didn't exactly have his best performance but the lineup in front of him didn't exactly impress either. The less said about this game the better.

The bottom line comes down to this: A Game 7 in any series is generally a toss-up so instead of putting away the Coyotes on home ice they have to travel to Phoenix and hope they can pull it off on enemy ice. If they play like they did on Sunday then there will be no need to stay up late to watch the game.

Let's Go Red Wings but the Hat Trick has a bad feeling about this one.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

United and Continental in Merger Talks

The merger that has been predicted for long time appears to be closer than ever to fruition. It is being reported that Chicago-based United is in merger discussions with Continental Airlines, based in Houston, Texas. The surviving company would be called United and headquartered in Chicago. This has come about after merger discussions between United and US Airways recently fell apart, as discussed in this Hat Trick post.

This could be an interesting merger. Both Continental and United have attempted to distinguish themselves as premium global airlines, with Continental known for their good customer service. This would be a good combination compared with US Airways, a company not known for its stellar relationships with customers. Continental and United have also formed a close partnership since Continental joined the Star Alliance last fall including providing complimentary upgrades to elite status customers, an arrangement that Continental previously had with its Sky Team alliance partner Northwest (now Delta). While United and US Airways have been Star Alliance partners for several years they have never extended upgrade benefits to each other's elites.

The Hat Trick has some thoughts on this potential merger, both positive and negative, so let's take a look at this merger.


  1. Overall Network: Both airlines have a global network, including solid coverage in both Europe and Asia. Continental is stronger in Europe, United stronger in Asia.
  2. Domestic Network/Hubs: United and Continental both have strong domestic networks with coverage on the West Coast, Midwest, South and the East Coast. United has hubs at Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Denver (DEN) and Washington Dulles (IAD) as well as focus cities at Los Angeles International (LAX) and San Francisco International (SFO). Continental has hubs at Newark Liberty International (EWR), Houston Intercontinental (IAH), Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE) and Guam (GUM) where Continental Micronesia is headquartered.
  3. Newark Hub: The Newark hub has a strong hold on the New York City market and a strong gateway to Europe.
  4. Product: Continental has a strong in-flight product and United's is not terribly far behind Continental's.


  1. Competition: it's never great when you lose a competitor. Airlines always make the case that consolidation is consumer-friendly but it generally works the other way. Cities in the Midwest and some cities in the West could see higher fares as a result of a combined United-Continental.
  2. Labor Issues: United hasn't exactly had the best labor relations whereas Continental has pretty good labor relations with its workforce over the years.
  3. Fleet Commonality: United has designated the Airbus 319 and 320 as its primary domestic workhorse after retiring the 737-300/500 fleet last year (as well as assigning a lot of this flying to their regional affiliates). Continental is all Boeing, all the time. Their only crossover aircraft is the 757-200/777-200 but I believe they operate different engines on these jets and I believe Continental has more ETOPS jets.
  4. Cleveland Hub: If you live in or travel to Cleveland Hopkins like the Hat Trick (my mother lives in the Cleveland area) then you can expect to lose your hub status. This would be a blow for the city even though Cleveland has experienced a serious decrease in Continental flying over the past few years, particularly with the loss of mainline flying.

These are just some initial thoughts on this potential merger. We'll see where it goes and what type of response, if any, you will see from both companies' competitors, notably American. Could be some interesting times ahead!

Wings Win Game 5!

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Phoenix Coyotes solidly last night in Arizona to take a 3 - 2 series lead. The Wings can win the series Sunday in Detroit and go on to the next round.

Offensively the Wings didn't come alive until the third period but goalie Jimmy Howard kept them in the game until the offense took off. An impressive empty netter at the end of the game sealed it for the Wings. Goals by Tomas Holmstrom, Henrick Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk took care of business. Both Howard and Zetterbert are having a very impressive series and are a big reason why the wings can clinch the series on Sunday.

Don't let up now Wings...victory is in site! (Thanks to Getty Images for the victory photo)

United-US Airways Deal is Off...Thank God!

On Thursday media outlets reported that the merger discussions between United Airlines, based in Chicago, Illinois and US Airways, based in Tempe, Arizona, have ground to a halt. Apparently labor issues were a problem as well as who would run the airline...according to various news reports the merged airline would have been called United and headquartered in Chicago. US Airways CEO Doug Parker would not have been at the helm of the merged carrier (yeah!).

This is good news from the Hat Trick's perspective. I've never been a fan of the "customer service" (or lack of) that I've experienced from the new US Airways (really America West Airlines in US Airways colors...see this post for a further explanation) so I'm glad to see United not get caught up with these jokers.

We'll see where this leaves both companies. It looks like United is refocusing on its first choice in merger partners (and fellow Star Alliance partner), Continental Airlines (see this post). For US Airways it looks like they will be left out for now. Aviation/airline blogger Marshall Jackson over at Boarding Area (a great site for airline and aviation geeks like the Hat Trick!) makes a compelling argument for an American/US Airways combination. The Hat Trick is less sure of this combination given fleet commonality issues (American is entirely Boeing and former McDonnell Douglas aircraft, US Airways almost entirely Airbus) plus some very different views on customer service. Still, crazier things have happened in this industry so it's possible...the Hat Trick never really thought Delta-Northwest would ever happen!

Regardless, the US Airways invasion of United appears to be off for now. Yeah!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wings Crush Coyotes

The Detroit Red Wings came back big-time from a lousy Game 3 performance by crushing the Phoenix Coyotes at the JLA 3 - 0. Goalie Jimmy Howard came back mentally and stopped all 29 shots and two goals by star Henrick Zetterberg and a goal by Pavel Datsyuk sealed the win.

Nice job Red Wings!

The Wings really needed to come back and play better in this game and they accomplished that goal. It was good to see that Jimmy Howard could also respond and put a bad playoff performance behind him...having backup goalie (and former starter) Chris Osgood help him with this was key.

The series now returns to Phoenix for Game 5 and it is a tied series once again. It's looking very likely that this could be a seven game series. Let's Go Red Wings!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wings Lose Game 3

The Wings lost 4 - 2 after a not-so-great third period in the goal tending department. To quote my Detroit cousin's Facebook post: "Stupid Coyotes"

While I'm not usually a big fan of some of the NBC announcers and generally ignore their "advice" they did note that the Wings seemed to be playing "businesslike" when they needed to be playing passionately. I'll agree with that one...they had some good scoring chances but it was incomplete at times.

The Hat Trick knew this was going to be a series and not a cakewalk for the Wings. Detroit could even get knocked out in the first round which hasn't happened in a long time. However, Jimmy Howard is getting the one thing lacking in his consummate skills sets as an NHL goaltender: playoff experience. This will last him a long time and benefit, and the Red Wings, in the future.

Now, the Hat Trick isn't throwing in the towel just yet...but being realistic. We'll see what happens in Game 4.

Game 3, Second Intermission

The Coyotes scored a late period goal to go ahead with a 2 - 1 lead. Still plenty of hockey to be played in the third period...hope the Wings generate some more offense and get ahead. They definitely have had their chances but just need to get one in the net and not Bryzgalov's glove!

The third period is set to start shortly...pot roast is still simmering.

Watching Game 3 Now

The Hat Trick is spending Sunday afternoon watching Game 3 between the Red Wings and the Coyotes on the wide screen in HD. Cold beer is in hand and the youngest member of the East Coast Wing clan (my eight month old daughter) is trying to master crawling and actually taking a slight interest in what is going on with the game. The family dog is in her typical position...asleep on the couch. The weather is a bit cool, almost fall-like and a pot roast is simmering in the kitchen so it's a great Sunday at that!

The game has been good with a lot of physical play and good scoring opportunities. The score is 1 - 1 with about 8:00 minutes left in the second period. Goalie Jimmy Howard has been solid with 14 saves to this point. Lets go Red Wings!!!

Wings Split Games in Phoenix, Game 3 Today

The Detroit Red Wings did what they needed to do and split the first two games in Phoenix, losing Game 1 but winning decisively in Game 2 by a score of 7 - 4. Henrick Zetterberg delivered with a hat trick to help give the Wings the victory. Game 3 is today (Sunday) at 3:00 P.M. EDT at the JLA (Joe Louis Arena), Detroit, Michigan. The Wings can go up to a 2 - 1 series lead with a win on home ice. This game will be broadcast nationally on NBC.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Red Wings Make 19th Straight Playoff Appearence

It was looking bleak two months ago but the Red Wings surged in the last third of the season and now are making their 19th straight playoff appearance. While they are not seeded as high as they usually are with the number five seed they look solid going in. Goalie Jimmy Howard is playing very well and the Wings have returned several key players from the injury list.

The Wings will take on the fourth seeded Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning tonight at 10:00 P.M. EDT on Versus (did you know the Phoenix Coyotes used to be the Winnipeg Jets?) This will definitely be an interesting series as both teams are coming off a strong finish to the end of the regular season. Add in the fact that the Coyotes are no longer a cellar dweller NHL team but a well-coached, offensive minded club that will not be easy to beat, especially given they have home-ice advantage in this series. Still, the Hat Trick likes the Wings chances given the relative health of the team and the strong play of Goalie Jimmy Howard.

I'll say the Wings win the series in six games...not surprising given this blog is all about the Wings! Still, the Hat Trick does think that playoff experience and good goaltending will bring the Wings victory in the end.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

United-US Airways Merger Talks Continue

From the Hat Trick's perspective this is not great news but better compared with my post on this subject yesterday. According to an article in The Street published last night merger talks between United and US Airways have become "very serious" and are at a "very sensitive stage" at this juncture. The deal could still fall apart, particularly given the opposition to the merger from the pilots and flight attendant unions, but could also very easily go forward given the strong interest in consolidation by both airline CEOs. The United States Department of Justice may also have some concerns given that US Airways has a large mini-hub at Washington Reagan National Airport and United's East Coast hub is located at Washington Dulles International Airport. A combined carrier would have a real choke-hold on this particular market and that might give pause to Justice. Remember when United tried to merge with US Airways in 2000? It eventually was shutdown after serious anti-trust concerns in were raised in 2001 by the Bush Administration's Justice Department...and a Republican department at that!

One positive note in the article is that it appears that United would be the surviving carrier in this merger. This is good news from the Hat Trick's perspective but I still have concerns. Mergers always seem to look good on paper but in actual implementation can be exceptionally tricky and have long lasting effects on the newly merged company and consumers. Recent history illustrates this quite well when America West Airlines merged with US Airways to become the new US Airways in 2005. Five years later the company is still dealing with significant labor and customer service issues. Other examples from the annals of airline history include (surviving carrier/name is listed first) the following:
  1. American-TWA
  2. Northwest Orient-Republic (Northwest)
  3. US Air-Piedmont
  4. Continental-Frontier (first incarnation)/New York Air/PEOPLExpress.
Even the recent merger of Northwest into Delta had its moments. Another serious concern for the Hat Trick is also the reduction in competition that takes place in any airline merger. Not every airport in the country can benefit from having a Southwest/Air Tran/jet Blue serve the city and at least some competition by major carries creates competition and keeps them honest.

So we will continue to monitor this story and see what happens...and at least be thankful that it appears the current US Airways management will not be running the merged carrier if this all goes through.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Week in Review

It's been a busy week in several of the areas that the Hat Trick blogs about so I thought I would try and pull it together in one post...which might not work out if I start pontificating!
  • The Detroit Red Wings: The Detroit Red Wings continue to solidify their playoff position with two wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets this week. The Wings are firmly in the fifth playoff position with 100 points and one game left on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wings cannot catch the fourth seeded Phoenix Coyotes who are at 106 points as of this morning or the Blackhawks who lead the Central Division with 111 points. The Los Angeles Kings can pass the Wings if they win their last two games but the Nashville Predators cannot pass the Wings (both teams are at 98 points) as they only have one game left. A first round match-up of the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings looks like a real possibility at this point.

  • United-US Airways Possible Merger: News reports surfaced this week that United Airlines and US Airways (which is really the former America West Airlines) are in merger talks. The talks are at an early stage but the Hat Trick remains concerned because both company's CEOs are supporters of airline consolidation. We'll see where this goes but the Hat Trick remains concerned that US Airways will be the surviving company even if they take the United name. US Airways right now is the "Greyhound of the skies" for a major network carrier and their lows in customer service have included removing large amounts of their business class cabins, charging for beverages including water (this policy has since been discontinued) and removing everything from ticket folders to pillows to glasses in first class. In his travel days the Hat Trick was a big United flyer and to see the possibility of this company going the way of US Airways is very depressing.

  • Congressional Approval Rating: New polling released this week shows Congress with a 19% approval rating. Since both the House of Representatives and the Senate are controlled by the Democrats this is not good news. Adding this into the President's approval rating, which is below 50%, and you possibly have a situation similar to 1994 in the upcoming midterm elections when the Republicans regained control of both chambers. There still is a lot of time left before election day but this clearly is a problem for Democrats and this latest polling is a result of the Democrats jamming through a flawed health care reform bill that a majority of Americans did not support. How this plays out will be very interesting.

Needless to say, it's been a busy week in the worlds of aviation, hockey and politics. I'm sure I'll have more for my readers as the NHL regular season wraps up on Sunday and we see where the Red Wings end up in the playoff sequence.

Road Trip to New Jersey

The Hat Tricks were up in the South New Jersey area this past week. Mrs. Hat Trick had an interview with a company int the area and they encouraged the whole family to come up and check out the housing situation in case an offer comes. It's a little hard for the Hat Trick to imagine living in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area but stranger things have happened and at least there is a rich hockey history with the Philadelphia Flyers to enjoy!

We stayed for two nights at the Mt. Laurel Marriott. The property was an average Marriott full service hotel; not bad but not overwhelming. The public spaces have been modernized but the rooms appeared a bit dated. The housekeeping left a bit to be desired (did they really bother cleaning the toilet?) which is a sore point with the Hat Trick. However, the front desk staff and the restaurant staff were exceptionally friendly, helpful and responsive. This was particularly helpful when traveling with the Little Hat Tricks...the Hat Trick himself even survived breakfast alone with them and the help of the nice restaurant staff!

All in all not a bad stay and I would probably stay at the property again given the great attitude of the employees. An improvement in the housekeeping would definitely make me return!

The remainder of the trip was uneventful. Driving I-95 between the DC area and the Philadelphia area is underwhelming except for the "highway" robbery (ha ha) with tolls in Delaware and Maryland. Mrs. Hat Trick thought the interview went well so we'll see where this puts us. Even if the job doesn't work out for Mrs. East Coast Wing it was nice to get out of DC for a few days.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Wings Continue to Improve Playoff Position

The Red Wings continue to look strong with 95 points and sitting in the sixth playoff spot. They are one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings (94 points) and behind the Nashville Predators who sit in the fifth playoff spot with 96 points. Conceivably the Red Wings could pull into the fifth playoff spot with a win against the Predators today (Saturday, April 3) at 2:00 P.M. EDT. Even though the Wings are on a seven game winning streak it seems the best they can hope for in the playoff lineup is the fifth spot as it is unlikely they can catch the division-leading Chicago Blackhawks who have 103 points as of now. Regardless, the Wings have done a fantastic job of putting together a series of wins that puts them in great contention to compete in the playoffs.

Let's Go Red Wings!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wings Win A Crazy One, Improve Playoff Position

Last night the Red Wings played division rival Nashville in Tennessee and it was a wild one. The Wings won 1 - 0 but that doesn't tell the whole story. The game was actually won in a 11 round shootout after going 0 - 0 throughout regulation play and the overtime period. Crazy. The game was won by Niklas Kronwall on a fake and then slid the puck in the 5-hole. Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was stellar in goal and really seems to have hit his stride...he's been on fire since the Olympic break.

With this win the Wings have now won 12 of their last 15 games. More importantly, with the win in Nashville the Wings have moved into the sixth playoff position in the Western Conference. Certainly an improved position from a few weeks ago when the Red Wings were struggling to even make the playoffs. I think it's fair to say that the Wings are playing their best hockey of the year and that getting back several of their injured players has really helped. I think a lot of the higher-seeded teams in the Western Conference are going to be looking warily at the Red Wings as the season comes to a close in a few short weeks.

Nice job Red Wings...deep down I knew you wouldn't let me down!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Height of Arrogance

The Hat Trick hasn't commented on political issues lately but I feel it is time to do so regarding the upcoming vote on health care reform and the recent discussions of the Democratic leadership regarding their legislative strategy. The Hat Trick can sum up in one word his feelings toward the Democratic leadership and Speaker Pelosi: appalled.

I want to make one thing clear to my readers: while I have some deep concerns regarding the current plan, as well as previous drafts of the health care legislation, the Hat Trick has pretty much kept quiet. This is because I do think there is a significant need for reform of our current system. The issues surrounding pre-existing conditions (insurance companies ability to deny coverage based on an applicants existing medical issue), inability of small business to pool together in groups to purchase insurance across state lines (such as labor unions and large corporations can do) and tort reform/cost of malpractice insurance for practitioners are serious issues that need to be addressed. However, I still remain concerned about the scope and impact of the current legislation before the House of Representatives and I'm not alone in that assessment based on a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. This is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi is finding it very difficult to obtain the 216 votes she needs in the House of Representatives to pass the Senate-passed bill. She faces two challenges: strong opposition from moderate and conservative members of her caucus who fear electoral defeat in November if they support the legislation and opposition to the bill from ardent liberal in her caucus who state the legislation doesn't go far enough. Add in the fact that it appears not a single Republican in the 111th Congress (accounting for 178 votes) will support the bill and you can see the challenges in passing the legislation that the Speaker currently faces. A girl just can't get a break can she?

It would seem at this juncture the prudent move would be to step back and try and find a plan that will work and gain Republican votes.

This brings us to the current state of affairs. The Speaker now proposes to use a legislative technique called "reconciliation" to pass the health care bill in the House. The advantage to using reconciliation is that it would only require a majority vote in the Senate to pass the bill instead of overcoming a 60 member procedural vote to invoke cloture and stop a filibuster. The bad part about using reconciliation is that it was never intended to be used to pass this type of legislation. Rather, it was established in 1974 to allow Congress to address contentious budget resolutions without the threat of a filibuster. However, it has been used to pass other contentious types of legislation sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. The current spin by Democrats on Capitol Hill is that only Republicans have abused the reconciliation process, which is not very truthful at all. While they point out that it was used eight times during the Reagan Administration (January 1981-January 1989) they fail to point out that the Democrats controlled the House during all eight years of the Reagan presidency and control of the entire Congress from 1987 to 1989 (and beyond until 1995). The bottom line is that both parties have abused the reconciliation process but each party has been adroit at defending their (ab)use of the process.

However, one of the big issues that concerns the Hat Trick is the impact that health care reform will have on the entire population, particularly with regard to cost. This makes the gimmicky use of reconciliation all the more appalling to me given the incredible impact this will have on the population and the economy.

If this wasn't bad enough the Democrats want to take it one step further. Speaker Pelosi is evaluating using a legislative device called "Deem and Pass" which would set up a scenario where the unpopular Senate-passed package would be "deemed passed" after the House passes a package of modifications to the bill. The theory behind this is that the politically vulnerable Democrats could claim they never voted for the unpopular Senate package. Seriously? Where do we get these people? It's no wonder that the American population has such a low opinion of Congress and of politics. This is a great example of petulant politics where the Democrats are unhappy that they American people have the audacity to question their legislation so now they are going to try and "gimmick" it through instead. Absolutely pathetic.

I'm not saying the Republicans wouldn't have tried the same thing but the fact is that it's the Democrats that are doing this to avoid a legislation showdown. The Hat Trick is pretty frustrated by this...the bottom line is if you feel this legislation is the right thing for the country then take the vote and let the chips fall. Stop the stupidity and stop the shady deals and legislative gimmicks.

Congress: It's time to man up and take a stand.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wings Step It Up!

Last night the Wings did indeed step it up and won a decisive 3 - 2 victory against the Calgary Flames. With the win the Wings were able to add to their hold on the eighth seed in the playoff lineup against Calgary and to pull within one point of the seventh seeded Nashville Predators.

Great job Red Wings!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wings Need to Step It Up

If the playoffs began today the Detroit Red Wings would be playing golf instead of playoff hockey. How times have changed. The Wings, as my readers well know, went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year (for the second year in a row) and lost in seven games to the Penguins. In 2008 the Wings won their most recent Stanley Cup. Now they would not get in if the playoffs started today...crazy.

Free agency really hammered the Wings in the offseason with a lot of talent in the 2008 and 2009 teams not being resigned due to salary cap issues. Goaltending has also been a problem. Injuries have been a BIG problem throughout the season. Another issue is that the Chicago Blackhawks have really developed in a caliber hockey team and the Wings have to play the Blackhawks a lot due to being division rivals. So a lot of things are going on that impact where the Wings now find themselves.

However, all is not lost. The Wing are hanging on in the ninth spot in the Western Conference rankings (the top eight make the playoffs) so they need to win as many games as possible and hope that the Calgary Flames lose a couple themselves. The 4 - 2 loss to the Flames on March 9 was not what the Wings needed to do. There is still a lot of time left in the regular season to right the ship and slip into the playoffs in the eighth seed...and a dangerous eighth seed the Wings could be!

The last time the Red Wings didn't make the playoffs: the '89-'90 season when the Hat Trick was a senior in high school. That makes you think how good Wings fans have had it all these years.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back From Florida

The East Coast Wing's have returned from their Florida jaunt and are back in the swing of things...or the rat race as may be the case. It was good to get away from all the snow and snowstorms, as well as get away from the depressing reality of my continued unemployment. I got to experience two more job rejections while in the Sunshine State and am definitely having some significant anxiety about what the future might hold, both for my family and my career. I'm back at the job application game but it definitely is getting harder and harder to stay motivated. At least I'm not alone as the February unemployment rate stayed at 9.7%.

On a happier note I did get to have a fabulous visit with an old buddy from my College of Wooster days who lives in West Palm Beach. It was great to get away, drink a few beers and, most importantly, go out for a great day of fishing in the Florida sun. The weather was fantastic and I was able to catch dinner for the next night. My friend knows what he's doing in a fishing boat and we had a great time. He wrote up a trip report that describes what we fished for and the conditions. It can be found through this link. Thanks pal for a great trip!

Finally, in keeping with another theme of this blog (ice hockey), the Hat Trick wants to congratulate the Men's and Women's U.S. Ice Hockey teams for winning silver at the Vancouver Winter Games. While a gold medal would have been nice, both teams played with grit and determination and they should be proud of their achievements. The Men's team in particular really took it to Team Canada, staying in the game for all three periods and forcing an overtime with a goal to tie things up in the last minute of play although losing in overtime to Sidney Crosby. Congratulations Team USA...we are all very proud of you.

That's it for the Hat Trick for now...I'll be sure to pontificate on the political situation in another post real soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sweden Takes the Win, Canada Routs Slovakia

The Swedish Women’s Hockey team handily beat Switzerland yesterday with a final score of 3 – 0. The Hat Trick didn’t get to see the last half of the game due to having to take care of the “Little Hat Tricks”…Mrs. Hat Trick is spending the weekend in Miami visiting her best friend and creating havoc in that crazy city.

The Hat Trick missed Team Canada's (women's hockey) first game against Slovakia but apparently I didn't miss much: Canada routed Slovakia 18 - 0. Ouch.

Now the U.S. Women’s team is up today at 3:00 P.M. EST. Hopefully the Hat Trick can get some score updates as he travels to West Palm Beach for his boy’s weekend with an old college buddy. Should be good…a lot of fans are predicting that Team USA will eventually face off against Team Canada for the Gold medal. Should be some good hockey and hopefully not the rout that Canada put on the Slovaks.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympics Begin

The opening ceremonies took place last night (Friday, February 12) for the 2010 Vancouver Games. The Hat Trick is a big fan of the winter Olympics...obviously getting to see some great men's hockey is part of that...but for other reasons as well.

In addition the Men's Hockey, the Hat Trick is a big fan of Women's Hockey and especially the U.S. women's team. This post is actually being written while watching the opening women's game between Sweden and Switzerland (0-0 in the first period). Women's ice hockey was added as a medal sport at the 1998 Nagano, Japan Winter Games and the U.S. team won the gold medal, with Canada winning the silver medal and Finland winning bronze. The biggest difference between the men's game and the women's game is that checking is not allowed in the women's game so you see a lot more finesse in how the women play the game (Finland now up 1-0 after a nice goal). The U.S. women's team plays China tomorrow (February 14) at 3:00 EST...unfortunately the Hat Trick will be in a car driving to West Palm Beach, Florida and will miss most of it. I doubt there will be a radio option, even with XM/Sirius in the car!

The Hat Trick is also a big fan of the downhill skiing, especially the downhill and slalom. Skiing is one of the few sports the Hat Trick can do well so it's always fun to watch...especially the speeds of the skiers! The speed skating is also fun to watch along with some of the ski jumping. Should be a good two weeks for the Hat Trick...especially since it gives my Red Wings a much needed rest to stop the bleeding all these recent losses have caused to the team's postseason opportunities.

Happy Olympic Watching!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy I'm Not In DC!

It looks like the Hat Tricks made the right call in getting out of Washington last Friday. Another blizzard is hitting the DC area today with wind and snow all day today. For the first time in history the federal government has closed for three days in a row because the area's transportation systems (most notably Metro that operates Metrorail and Metrobus) can not operated. This also means that most companies in the area have also closed due to policies that follow the federal government with regard to closure due to inclement weather.

While it will only be 53 degrees here in Sarasota today we'll take least we can see the sun!

Now if only the Red Wings could figure out how to put a win together...they lost again last night to the St. Louis Blues in a shootout 4-3.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Shuttle Launch Was Not To Be

Unfortunately the Hat Tricks missed the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, originally scheduled for Sunday morning, February 5, 2010. The launch was pushed back 24 hours about 30 minutes before the 4:39 A.M. launch time. Given the uncertainty that the new launch time would actually happen, plus the cold weather made our decision to leave the campsite Sunday morning and travel to Sarasota. The Hat Tricks found out that our two young children did not do well in this environment so, unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to see Endeavour launch. According to the Hat Trick's brother-in-law it was fantastic when it launched around 4:00 A.M. Monday morning.

We did get some photos and will post them as soon as possible...only a few more opportunities left in the Space Shuttle program (no more night launches) so we'll see if there is a chance to see a launch before it ends.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Hat Tricks Take a Roadtrip!

The Hat Trick Family decided to get out of Washington and head out for a little adventure. The strain of almost one year of unemployment (and over a year of knowledge that unemployment was on the way) spurred us to take advantage of the free time we have and take a little adventure. Three rejections for jobs that the Hat Trick had gone deep into the selection process also contributed to this decision to take a break and spend time with my family.

But, where should we go?

The factors went into our decision:

1. We were tired of the cold and snow that has gripped Washington, DC this year.
2. The Hat Trick, while very interested in aviation, has also been interested in rockets, astronomy and space travel over the years.

The answer became very easy: Let's travel to Florida and watch the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch!

That's right...the Hat Trick's are heading for the next launch of the Space Shuttle, scheduled for Sunday morning, February 7 at 4:39 A.M., the last night launch of the Space Shuttle program. I'm currently writing this post from a hotel in Savannah, Georgia (got to love free Wi-Fi!) where we stayed after the drive down from DC yesterday. The drive went fairly well and we managed to get out of Washington just before the blizzard hit ("Snowmaggedon" as it is being coined at home) and drove into a lot of rain but not much snow. The plan for today is to drive to the Cape Canaveral area and camp tonight in anticipation for the launch early tomorrow morning. If the launch goes off as expected the Hat Tricks will head done to Sarasota to visit the grandparents and get a little R & R in the sun.

Needless to say the Hat Trick is pretty excited at the possibility of seeing the Endeavour launch. As a kid I had a lot of interest in the program and always thought I would have a chance to see it launch. However, much like the Concorde SST, all good things come to an end and the Shuttle Program will be shutdown in 2010. Since the Hat Trick never got his chance to fly on the Concorde, I decided to seize the moment and do my best to see a launch.

Hopefully I will have a detailed report if all goes well...according to the NASA website the countdown is less than 20 hours...and counting!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wings Lose a Rough One

The Hat Trick got to watch the Red Wings yesterday due to a national broadcast on NBC. Needless to say the Hat Trick has missed quite a few games this year...unemployment forcing the decision to cancel the NHL Center Ice package and then the pissing contest between Versus and Direct TV has not helped matters...but I digress...

The game was a match-up of the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup teams...namely the Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Wings played solid throughout the game and kept is close forcing an overtime and getting an important point that is desperately needed for making the playoffs. Unfortunately the shoot out didn't go as well with the Penguins taking the victory on a Evgeni Malkin backhander that Wings Goalie Jimmy Howard couldn't grab.

Needless to say there is a reason why the Penguins are unbeaten in shootouts this season. The Hat Trick knew this was a problem going into the shootout but I had hope since Jimmy Howard had played very well throughout the game. At least the Wings got a point and are sitting at the number eight spot in the conference right now with the Calgary Flames.

It's been a difficult year for Wings fans...the salary cap really hurt the team by forcing them to part with several key players. Add in a really tremendous amount of injuries and it just adds up to some bad losses and bad hockey. Luckily the Wings are starting to get some players back so hopefully we'll start seeing that with the standings although even the Hat Trick could not have predicted that the Wings, if the playoffs started today, would be counted out for the first time since the 1980s. Luckily they have time to recover and hopefully we'll see that in the coming weeks, especially with the Olympic break in play that is coming up later in February.

Let's hope things improve otherwise it's going to be a boring playoff season for the Hat Trick.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Goodbye Northwest

Yesterday, January 30, 2010, was the last day that aviation enthusiasts like the Hat Trick would hear call sign "Northwest" in communications with air traffic control (ATC). Today, January 31, all former Northwest flights switch over to "Delta", the company's new masters. While not unexpected it still is sad to see an icon of the American commercial airline industry go the way of Pan Am, Eastern, National, Braniff and Western to name a few.

Goodbye Northwest...I sure will miss that red tail...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Endless Job Search...

One again the endless job search keeps the Hat Trick from blogging about anything relevant...I thought I was getting close with the last trip to Columbus (and forgot to submit a trip report, as usual) as I was a finalist with one other person. Found out Thursday afternoon...after several communications attempts...that I did not get the job. Via e-mail no less. What is the matter with people and why has it become so acceptable to use e-mail when someone really needs to pick up the phone and make the call. I know it's uncomfortable telling someone they didn't get a job but it's the classier thing to do...this has happened so much during this year + search that the Hat Trick is wondering if every one in the human resources world is crazy...or are my expectations simply out of whack? Who knows but this whole process has definitely raised the cynic in me and I dislike that intently...

I'll stop ranting now...

I'll continue to keep my readers updated on the process...maybe we'll have some good news to report at some point. Trying to stay positive...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week of January 17 - Travel for The Hat Trick

This week starts off with some travel for the Hat Trick. I'll be traveling to Columbus, Ohio this evening for a short hop to the Port Columbus International Airport (CMH). The return trip will be tomorrow, January 18, with another short hop back to Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA). US Airways Express will be the air carrier for this journey as they offer the only nonstop service between the two airports. The outbound trip to CMH will be on the very comfortable (relative to travel experience of this age!) Embraer 175 aircraft which features two by two seating (each seat is either an aisle or a window) and 33" pitch which is pretty good compared to the industry standard of 31" pitch. An added bonus is that this is the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend so most of official Washington, DC is closed for business on Monday so the flight looks fairly open as most people will return home tomorrow. The return trip will be on a less comfortable Embraer 145 regional jet but the Hat Trick doesn't mind this regional jet as much since it features a one by two seating arrangement; this means that all the seats on the left side of the aircraft is both an aisle and a window seat which gives you some level of comfort. The hotel for this trip will be the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Square.

The purpose of this trip is a third round interview with a company in Columbus for a lobbying position. Needless to say I'm hopeful that "this will be the one" as it has been a very long year in the job search area and the Hat Trick is ready to get back to work. The Hat Trick finds it a little bit ironic that I had more time to blog when I was working as opposed to not working!
Will try to write a trip report once this trip is over and provide my thoughts on the travel experience. I took the same trip in December...same flights, same aircraft, different hotel for my second round interview so it will be good to have a comparison.

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Miracle on the Hudson - One Year Later

It's hard to believe that one year ago today US Airways #1549 made its heroic landing on the Hudson River after hitting a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA). The impact resulted in the loss of both engines and the aircraft was landed in the Hudson River by Captain Chesley Sullenberger with no loss of life and relatively few injuries. Truly an amazing piece of airmanship and a positive story given the economic woes over the past year.

The Hat Trick read a good account of the water landing and the background of the Airbus A-320 aircraft involved in the accident: Fly By Wire: The Geese, The Glide, The Miracle on the Hudson by William Langewiesche. It's a pretty easy read and I highly recommend some good background on how the water landing was even made possible.

Given these turbulent times it's great to know there are some heroes still left out there.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

The Hat Trick would like to wish all of my readers a Happy New Year as we put 2009 behind us and look to begin 2010. For the Hat Trick family putting 2009 behind will be a good thing given some of the challenges we have faced as a family throughout this year. However, even though this has been a difficult year professionally, the Hat Trick is determined to stay positive and focus on the good things that happened in 2009.

In taking stock of 2009 I came up with this list that truly defines what is important for the Hat Trick:

My Family:

Most important to the Hat Trick is the arrival of the newest member of the Red Wings fan club, our daughter. She truly is a joy and has already completely wrapped me around her finger! I'm very thankful to have her as part of the family. My relationship with my son has gone from being good to being great. We have become very close since I have been home more and that has been wonderful. Playing trains with him can truly take away all of your worries and anxiety. The fact that is now very interested in hockey is a wonderful bonus! I had the opportunity to fly with him down to Florida for a visit with his grandparents and it was a special moment to fly with him and share the experience of travel. He was so excited to get on the plane and take off as you can see here. He has the same obsession with trains as his Dad does with aviation and it is really fun to share that with him A major rail line goes behind our neighborhood in Northern Virginia and on a daily basis he gets to see freight trains, Virginia Railway Express commuter trains and Amtrak passenger trains. He gets so excited when he hears the toot of their horns. I'm so lucky to have had this time with him.

My wife and I are also doing very well and this year has really strengthened our relationship in many ways. We have worked very well together throughout this stressful time and even have managed to have some fun along the way. I hear from other people in similar situations about how much their relationships with their spouses have deteriorated. I've also heard of wives who have blamed their husbands for their job loss and have acted in extremely unsupportive ways. I'm so lucky to not have to deal with that at all.

The 2009 Inauguration:

I realize this might surprise some of my readers but it is true. Regardless of political differences we have a system of government in this country that allows for a smooth transition of government between Presidents. While the Hat Trick voted for his opponent (unenthusiastically) President Obama won the election fair and square (no need to discuss the ACORN issues here...he would have won anyway) and has the privilege of leading our country for four years and possibly eight. I may not agree with him always but I wish him well. The Hat Trick also hopes that by virtue of his election we will be able to heal some of the wounds in this country surrounding race. I'm hopeful at least.

The Detroit Red Wings:

I'm happy the Wings made it to another Stanley Cup Final and took the Penguins to Game Seven to finally beat us. Even though they didn't win (and I blogged quite a bit on the poor officiating at the time) they showed why they are such a strong organization and while they are going through some salary cap growing pains this year they are still finding ways to win and stay competitive. They might not win the Stanley Cup every year but they have made it to the playoffs every single year since 1987 which is a tremendous accomplishment. Go Wings!


Even with the lack of employment and the perks of employment travel I have managed to fly a little bit...mostly to a job interview our of the Washington, DC area but have also managed two trips to Florida due to the generosity of my in-laws. Our aircraft to Sarasota on our second trip is pictured at right...first time my son dragged his "Bob the Builder" wheeled suitcase down the jetway! The industry has gone through some major pains this year but hopefully see some relief as the economy improves. And who can forget the "landing" of US Airways 1549 into the Hudson River last January?


Not sure if there is a need for a conclusion but having one satisfies my need for an organized post. Even with being unemployed I have it pretty good and am thankful for what I have. So many other people in this situation are in far worse shape compared with my family. While I'm ready to get back to work I know I need to be patient. Hopefully 2010 will reward this patience

Happy New Year!