Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The 2017 Crack-Up and Our Inability to Understand Others

Needless to say the past year or two have been...to provide a gross understatement...interesting.  While the Hat Trick hasn't said a lot about the current state of our politics, the fact that we are in such a chaotic time is troubling and reminds me of stories I hear from my parents, grandparents and family about the unrest in Detroit during the summer of 1967.

There is such terrible unrest, both in the forms of physical confrontations, but also in the form of cyber unrest.  Just take a look at some of the angry exchanges on Twitter and Facebook to see what I mean.  And while many individuals take the intellectually easy way out in blaming the election of Donald Trump for all of this unrest, that isn't terribly honest.  The election of Trump is the symptom of the challenges we are experiencing.  The Presidential Election of 2016 was the worst election in a lifetime, with both candidates, in the Hat Trick's opinion, having tremendous issues.

One reason the Hat Trick can see for these challenges is how we have created silos where we only associate with those who we agree with and live and work in areas that are similar politically.  Progressives and liberals gravitating to urban areas on the East and West Coasts, conservatives tending to be in more rural areas in the middle of the county.  And with that comes the disdain in which each side sees the other in our culture and political wars.  Another troubling issue that has developed and will continue to exacerbate our problems is how younger generations are entering young adulthood without any capacity to understand the perspective of people that they do not agree with.

In the August 11, 2017 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Columbia humanities professor Dr. Mark Lilla wrote about this phenomenon in an essay titled "The Liberal Crack-Up."  In the essay, Dr. Lilla writes about modern liberalism, as a liberal himself, and how modern liberals have caused their own demise by adopting a viewpoint that "political activity must have some authentic meaning for the self, making compromise seem like a self-betrayal."  Dr. Lilla also writes about the significant change in the identity of liberals and progressives.  Starting in the 1960s, we saw a shift in the foundation of Democratic Party politics from union halls to college campuses.  Lilla also notes:  "As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate."  To this end, take a look at Twitter feeds and note that closed-off minds of many so-called progressives when challenged by ideas that are different from their own.  In many, many cases this level of being uncomfortable with debate expands into attacks against the other poster instead of addressing the point being discussed.  

While this essay is one examples of the problems on the liberal side, it is most certainly not a one-way street.  Conservatives have their own significant issues, including supporting a President that appeals to the worst attributes of a disgruntled society with real concerns.  But it's very important to note that just blaming "Trump and Conservatives" is an intellectually lazy response to the real problems we are facing as a country and a society.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

For the past few years the Hat Trick has taken a new course, professionally speaking, that has been a big change from my previous career.  That is the role of Stay at Home Dad.  Back in 2012, after some excruciating health issues with my son, we decided we needed a parent more available at home.  Mrs. East Coast Wing's job was experiencing more success compared with mine, so I took on the role, along with attempting to begin a consulting practice, and a plan to apply to the Ph.D. program in Public Administration at a Big 10 University in New Jersey...because that's what washed-up lobbyists do!

I've learned a lot in this experience.  Some of the lessons I've learned include the following:

  • Starting a consulting practice and trying to pull together clients, not to mention some type of profit, is really, really hard.
  • The amount of hoops one has to jump through to take very legal tax deductions for a business in the home is truly amazing.  
  • Applying to a Ph.D. program in your early 40s is a challenge.
  • In order to apply to the Ph.D. program, taking the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) 20 years after you previously took it to get into a master's program is also really, really hard.  Even with a prep class.  Needless to say, the Big 10 University was unimpressed with my scores and invited me to not matriculate at their academic institution.  Probably a blessing in disguise given the the current environment on campuses today for anyone even remotely center-right.
But one thing that has been particularly interesting has been the issue of gender stereotypes and how they exist for the Dad who is the at home parent. While in no way am I discounting negative gender stereotypes of women, there does exist similar gender stereotypes of men and its pretty common in the domestic situation.  Examples abound in television, movies and advertising of the "Buffoon Husband/Father" who is incapable of performing any domestic task properly, thereby putting all the work on the long-suffering wife.  That's why I found this recent advertisement so refreshing:

I even commented on this in a forum:  "Nice to see some focus on these issues, and that male gender stereotypes will also be examined in addition to female gender stereotypes.  As a stay-at-home father, trying to keep up with busy kids, while also attempting to stay relevant professionally, has been a huge challenge.  Add in the tired narrative from television, advertising and movies of the buffoon father who can't do anything right and it creates a level of resentment that we (fathers who stay home) are never going to get respect in this area, as well as recognition that in many areas we can do an equally, and sometimes better, job at domestic responsibilities."

Gender stereotypes are a challenge, and I know that women have been fighting many stereotypes for years.  It's unfair and it's unlikely to be solved in a blog post that not very many people read.  But they exist for men as well, and it's been an enormous challenge for me to battle through them.  I think it's getting better, both for women and for men that stay at home, but there is still some work to do.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What Happens When You Don't Post For a While...

I have to laugh at my last post..."Senators Dominate Penguins", my post of May 18.  As many know, the Pittsburgh Penguins are now the Stanley Cup champions, winning their second cup in consecutive years.

At least the Red Wings were in the discussion...the last time this happened in the NHL was the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings in 96-97 and 97-98.

Sigh...till next year....

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Senators Dominate Penguins

While the Hat Trick really has no dog in this Eastern Conference Finals hunt, there was a bit of a smile when I saw the score of the Ottawa-Pittsburgh game last night.  The Senators went on a scoring spree in the first period and won Game 3 with a score of 5 - 1.  Again, while I really don't have any investment in this series, I can also say I haven't ever really liked the Penguins, so that might have some to do with my smile this morning.  Whether it's the feeling that the Red Wings got somewhat robbed in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Finals (zebras don't call a penalty against the Penguins until the third period?) to living in Washington Capitals country for 15 years (those two teams really don't like each other), I've just never cared for them.  And I'm kind of happy to see a Canadian team be successful...the last time a team from Canada won the Stanley Cup was in 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens beat the L.A. Kings ...I was still in college but Barry Melrose still had a mullet!

The Penguins are tough and should never be counted out, but the Senators looked strong last night so it might be worth checking into Game 4 this Friday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Personal Development - the Journey Continues

Personal growth is always something we talk about that "we need to do" but rarely make the time or effort to actually "do" it.  The Hat Trick is equally guilty of this and, when I think about it, it gets me down.  And getting down is hardly the goal of developing oneself personally so it ends up becoming a self fulfilling prophecy in some ways.

So with that in mind, I'm going to try and develop more material for this blog.  Another reason I've stayed away is that one of the major areas of this blog...politics...has been such a dismal area these past few years that I haven't really wanted to dip into the anger and nastiness in discourse that has become the hallmark of how many liberals and conservatives speak to one another.  By staying silenced, even if self-imposed, is hardly the answer so hopefully I'll find my voice at some point.  

And expect to find more aviation-related material as I've really tried to spend my time on that happier topic and have some good material that I've yet to develop.

Wish me luck as I try to focus on one area of my personal development journey...here we go!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Wings at Tampa Bay, March 30

Mrs. East Coast Wing and I had the opportunity to see the Wings in person when they faced the Tampa Bay Lightening on March 30.  This was a birthday gift from my wife's family and included babysitting from Nana, which is a huge help when you factor in the cost of a babysitter these days!

The Wings came out strong but then faltered with some shaky goal tending and Tampa Bay having a  greater need to win the game due to playoff considerations...unlike the Wings they are still in the hunt.  But, as always, it's great to see the Wings in person which is something I haven't been able to do in a very long time...when we lived in the New York City area it was really expensive and when we lived in the Philadelphia area it was terribly safe given the behavior of Philly fans!  But possibly the best result of the game was running into my cousin, who was down from Detroit, and came to the game last-minute...that was a great "Facebook worthy" photo!

It will be strange next week when I won't have Red Wing hockey to watch in the post season...this is amazing considering the last time this happened I was a senior in high school and George H.W. Bush was President (have to add some politics in somewhere in this post!) and some current players in the NHL were not even born yet...amazing!  Hopefully the Wings can use the time to rebuild and continue the process of developing talent.

In the meantime I'm just happy I got to see them play again...that is never a terrible thing.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sadly, All Good Things Must Come to An End...

That was the title of a Twitter tweet I just shared...and we all knew this day was coming at some point, but many of us hope it never should really arrive.

Who are us?  Loyal fans of the Detroit Red Wings.

What is the day?  The day is the first time since the 1989-90 season that the Red Wings were mathematically eliminated from the 2016-17 NHL postseason.

I realize many will observe that the sadness that I, as well as many fans of Hockeytown, feel is just "wining" and misplaced sorrow.  And I can't necessarily disagree with that observation; as Wings fans we've had it good.  Real good as the following list illustrates:
  • Four Stanley Cup Champion teams in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008
  • Six Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 1995 and 2009, plus the Cup winning years
  • Third longest NHL playoff appearance streak, only behind fellow Original Six members the Bruins and the Blackhawks
As a Wings fan it's been a great ride and I feel privileged to have watched the Wings win four Stanley Cups in my lifetime.  Hopefully as the team goes forward they can rebuild into a contender once again and bring another Cup home to Hockeytown.

I'm going to see the Red Wings in Tampa tomorrow night and I couldn't be more excited.  I'll be sporting my #19 Steve Yzerman jersey, who ironically will be in the building as the Tampa Bay Lightening's General Manager.  Tampa is fighting for it's playoff life so it should be a good game and it's possible the Wings could be the spoiler.  Regardless, I'll be there for my team.

The Yahoo Puck Daddy blog has a nice piece on the incredible run of the Red Wings these past 25 years.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Politics in the Workplace! Yes or No?

This past fall I had the opportunity to have a piece I wrote on politics in the workplace published by my friends at inFUSION Group, a communications and marketing firm based in Michigan that I work with from time to time.  I appreciate the team at inFUSION Group finding some value in the piece that I wrote and I hope it gives readers some thoughts about where businesses and organizations can appropriately be involved during elections and support their employees or members in making informed choices.

The article can be found via this link on the inFUSION Group site.

New Year, New Era, Oh My

Happy New Year all.  While I had every intention of restarting my writing this past September, life did not cooperate.  The ongoing saga of buying a new home in our new state of Florida ended up being a far more complicated process than I could have imagined.  Add in the unexpected death of our family dog and it just didn't happen.  But, as with any New Year's Resolution (which I don't really believe in) I've decided to be more active in my writing in 2017.  Since today is January 27, I think it still counts as a resolution of sorts.

I'm also going to change the direction of the blog this year.  While I will address politics to an extent, I find myself completely dejected after the 2016 election.  To say Election 2016 was the worst election in a lifetime would be an significant understatement.  The Hat Trick was not a Donald Trump supporter at all...AT ALL...but I was also almost as equally offended by Secretary Hillary Clinton.  Considering the amount of talent in this country it's amazing that these two were the best we as a nation could do.  It is still amazing that Trump won, yet when you look at the data and the mood of the country, it becomes less surprising.  Unfortunately there is a lot of emotion and hysteria in the country right now and nobody on the left is very interested in looking at why Hillary lost.  And on the right?  Just a lot of gloating...

I have some pieces in various draft form on some of my aviation experiences plus some hockey observations...could this be the year the Red Wings miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 season?  They are looking shaky in the NHL Eastern Conference standings now but there is still a lot of hockey to be played from now and until April...added bonus, the Hat Tricks will be seeing the Wings live on March 30 in Tampa Bay.

All in all it should be an interesting winter and spring!