A Father’s Perspective

Posted in Parenting with tags , , , , , , on January 27, 2014 by hendu

I have a four and a half-year old daughter.  I am blessed to have her in my life but there are some unfortunate side effects to having a young girl in your house.

One of them: Princesses.  Lots and lots of princesses.

To go along with the absurd amount of princess gear, princess movies.

Now, I love how Avery goes and dresses up as; and pretends to be a princess.  The girl loves her gowns, tiaras, shoes and septers.  She also loves her princess movies.  She knows almost all of them by heart.  Seriously, name a movie and she can tell you the characters, the plot, the casting director, the key grip and the lighting director.  I think obsessed is a good word for it.  

That’s where the problem lies.  Those old Disney princess movie, while entertaining to a young impressionable girl, I believe they send the wrong message.  In all the movies, the princess comes across as the victim, always needing a man to come and solve her problems.  Or changing who she is just for a certain prince.  Seriously, Cinderella can’t stand up to her sisters and needs a miracle to doll herself up.  Sleeping Beauty, needs a prince to come and kiss her and save her.  Snow White was told NOT to eat the damn apple, did anyway and needed a Prince to come save her.  Ariel needs to change who she is to attract a guy. These messages are so wrong and it has been that way for decades.  From Sleeping Beauty all the way to the Little Mermaid princesses have been relying on a man to save them from evil.

Thanks to the past two Disney releases, that seems to be changing.  Both Brave and Frozen have central girl figures that one: took take no crap from anyone and two: don’t need a guy to save them.  Also, while the earlier movies always focused on the princess falling in love with a prince and her relationship with them, these two movies have a much more important and healthier focus.  The love of a mother and daughter and the bond and love between two sisters.

Now, both my wife and I try to teach our daughter how to be a strong independent girl.  We try to teach her how to do things on her own and not to rely on others to solve her problems.  These teachings are great and all, but if the movies that she watches send a different message, how well do these lessons stick?  This is why I love love love Brave, Frozen and their stories.  

Both these princesses are tough, independent strong-willed young girls.  They take problems on themselves and don’t wait for Prince Charming or daddy to come and rescue them.  I think these movies finally reflect where society has been and is heading too.  I have no idea what it was like to raise girls ten or twenty years ago but I have to imagine this is a better age to do so.  There are so many strong, smart and secure women to be seen as role models and if that can start at a young age with Princess’ like Merida braveand Anna frozenthen Avery has a head start on life.

Thanks Disney for finally catching up with the times and giving young girls movie characters that aren’t wussy princess’ or evil women.

Things that piss me off

Posted in rants, religion with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2014 by hendu

When a small thing gets blown up into something bigger because someone in power feels the need to interject themselves.

I saw two things like that this morning.  The 1st involved UCONN’s new running back coach and the comments he made in the Hartford Courant.  Here is a link to the article.

Now, I’m not a religious person.  I do believe that Jesus Christ existed but I don’t believe he’s the son of god.  Again, I’d rather not get started on a religious tirade.  I see nothing wrong with what the football coach said.  That’s his beliefs and I don’t think he’s pushing any religion on anyone.  In his terms, I think he’s talking about a higher power that kids need to believe and trust in.  Lets not forget that he came from Notre Dame, a fairly big catholic school.  UCONN is a public school and the President doesn’t want any university employee to push religion on kids.  Well, I looked through their course catalog this morning and they have classes that teach about Hindu and Jewish faiths and cultures.  So, the school can offer classes in other religions and cultures, but your football coach can’t bring up his?  Seems strange to me.  One counterpoint to that was brought up this morning that a football or athletic field isn’t an educational  setting and he’s not a teacher.  I couldn’t disagree with that sentiment more.  I think one of the best places for any person to learn is on the sports field and from really good coaches.  There is so much that they can offer in real life teachings that you can’t get from a book.  UCONN hired these men to lead their football team and it’s football players.  I say let them do what you hired them to do and if one of the way he gets through to his players is the teachings of the bible, then so be it.  Kids are smart enough to filter out what they don’t need and to take the meaning of teachings as it applies to them.

Wanna hear something even more ridiculous?  A bunch of US Senators are bashing the Golden Globes for “glamorizing” the use of cigarettes.  Yep, this is exactly why we elected these guys, to bash a hollywood award show over a skit where grown-ups are smoking a fake cigarette.  boy, there must be nothing else for these guys to do.  That whole immigration thing is solved, the budget is balanced, gun control is figured out and the debt is erased.  I mean all the big stuff must be settled for them to focus on this.  C’mon guys, I am as anti-smoking as the next guy but lets use some common sense here.  These are adults on a movie award show having fun and making fun of the movie industry.  Lets not get all high ‘n’ mighty now Senators.  Learn to pick your battles a little better.  Is this really about the message it’s sending?  One, how many kids are up watching  and two do you think these kids are now running out today because Julia Louis Dreyfuss took a drag of a fake, water vapor cigarette.  I don’t think you give kids these days enough credit.  How bout you guys in Washington try to focus on the bigger issues like trying not to run our country into the ground, thanks.

OK, I’m done.

Lone Survivor

Posted in Lone Survivor with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2014 by hendu

Yesterday, I had the experience of going to the theaters to see this movie.  The only word I can use to describe the movie: Intense.

As many of you this movie is an adaptation of the book by the same name: Lone Survivor.

I read this book about a year ago and I couldn’t put it down.  This is one of many books that I have read lately about Navy Seals and their missions.  Trust me, it’s not because I secretly desired to be one.  They are the top 1% of 1% of men.  I read these books to try to understand how and why they do what they do.  I read it as a form of respect for the sacrifices that they made and continue to make.  Many of the books start with what it’s like for these men to go through the BUD’s training and what they have to endure just to make it out and earn their trident.  I don’t think anyone can question the methods of training that happens in BUD’s, it is a proven system that shows its’ benefits on every mission.  This one was no different.  The story of fight, pride, anger, sacrifice and ultimately death and survival are what makes this book and story stand out above the rest.

I will warn you, if you are squeamish in any way or do not like violence and war, don’t go see the movie.  Read the book instead.  It is that graphic and in your face.  The director Peter Berg really does an amazing job of putting the viewer in the middle of the gunfight.  I’m not sure any other hollywood director could make this movie.  There are no hollywood-style stunts or special effects.  The action in the movie is just like it’s described in the book.  The cinematography is just outstanding and in this case really helps tell the story.  But it is violence.  Normally, movie violence doesn’t bother me.  This was different though.  Probably because I knew that the graphic violence was so real.  Since I read the book, I knew, for the most part, what was it going to be like.  I saw the movie with my step-father and I think the violence took him aback a bit.

While there wasn’t a lot of people in a 2pm showing on a Monday, the silence after the movie was over was deafening.  Not one person said a thing.  I know for myself, it was tough to catch my breath.  It’s an emotional movie and it wears on you.  I described it this morning as the best movie I will probably never see again.  I don’t think I want to go through that for two hours.  Now, I’ll go back and read the book again just to piece together the missing pieces, but it would take a lot for me to see the movie one more time.  Please, don’t take this as a recommendation to not see it, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I think it’s important to watch the movie and realize that there are men out there who do this for our country.

There are parts of the movie and book that really piss you off.  Without going into too much details, there are points that these warriors actually have to debate how their actions will be perceived back in the states.  It’s sad that things have gotten to this point.  These men are trained to be the best of the best.  Truly, the greatest soldiers in the world.  They have their instincts honed to be razor-sharp.  In no way should anyone question their gut feelings and their instincts in a war zone.  Especially people who have never, ever stepped into their boots.  I know that whatever they do, they will do whats best for their team, their mission and their country.

Reading books written by the men who lived through these missions and wars gives me a new appreciation for all the service men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  This is one of the many things that make our country so great.  There are men and women who volunteer to defend what is so great.  they volunteer to protect you and I without ever asking for anything in return.  I know that as a country we don’t do enough for our military members.  These should be some of the more respected members of our society and I think they tend to get cast aside because our political view doesn’t agree with the war they were fighting in.  It’s not like they had a choice, to them it’s a job.  That’s a different subject for a different day.

I am so glad that this movie was made.  It is unlike anything ever put on the big screen and I can say that fairly confidently.  It is a true representation of the book and it’s description of the war.  To get the true back story, I highly recommend reading Lone Survivor.  If it doesn’t make you think and reflect than I am truly sorry for you.

Finally, to all the men and women who put themselves into the face of danger and terror everyday for my freedom, Thank You.  I don’t take you for granted and as small of a blog that this is, I hope that doesn’t take away from the sentiment.  You are all truly the best of the best and it’s an honor to live in this country that you defend every day.

The Baseball Hall Of Fame

Posted in baseball, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by hendu

I wanted to write about this yesterday but I just ran out of time, so instead I’ll give you my insight on the voting, the process and how absolutely ridiculous it has become.

Yesterday was one of those days that help me get through the cold, long winter.  Between Hall Of Fame election day, Truck Day(Feb. 8th), pitchers and catchers(Feb. 15) and spring training games these are my little glimmers of light and hope.  Yesterday, the voters almost got it all right.  In fact, theycamethisclose to nailing it.  At least it’s good to know that Craig Biggio will get in next year more than likely, but to come up two votes short has got to be a killer.  Hey, on the plus side Armando Benitiez and Jacque Jones and Kenny Rogers each got one vote.

There is no argument that Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are all more than deserving of these HOF nominations.  Maddux was the best pitcher of his generation, Glavine the 2nd best lefty and Thomas the best right-handed hitter.  I think all baseball fans know what these three have done so there is no need to rehash their credentials.

This year the voters missed on Biggio.  He’s a HOF player and if you look at his numbers he was a model of consistency.  Some of the players he is most similar too are Robin Yount, Jeter, joe Morgan, Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar; all HOF’ers.  He played his entire career for one organization and played 5 positions(C, 2B and all 3 OF positions) at a high, all-star caliber level.

I think what irritates me the most about the results and the process is the lack of respect for the new numbers in the game.  We all get that if you win 300 games or have 3,000 hits you are getting in to the hall.  What drives me nuts is those players who don’t have those #’s and may never see their name enshrined.  Players like Curt Schilling, Tim Raines, Jack Morris, Jeff Kent and Edgar Martinez.  Jack Morris may never get in now that his 15 yrs of eligibility is up.  The man was one of the best pitchers of the 80′s.  He was an old school kind of hurler who had 175 complete games in 18 yrs.  1,000 more punchouts then walks.  Over 3800 innings pitched and one of the best big game pitchers of any generation.  I get it that he had a higher ERA and only had a .577 win percentage but my eye test always told me something different.  It just always felt like I was watching a HOF pitcher.

I feel that Curt Schilling will not get the love that he fully deserves.  If you compare Glavine’s numbers to Schilling’s stats the raw numbers don’t necessarily compare.  Glavine was more wins, more innings pitched anda better win percentage.  Lets not forget that Schilling pitched on some awful Philly teams in the late 90′s that really hurt his cause.  Schilling has more complete games, he gave up less than a hit per inning, he had 2300 more k’s then walks.  2300!!!  That’s unheard of.  The man walked only 711 hitters in 3260 innings.  He had a 4:1 k to bb ratio.  Lets also not forget what he did to the Yankees in 2001 for Arizona and in 2004 for the Red Sox.  The man was a winner, a gamer and maybe the best control outside Greg Maddux.  He had a better WAR and a much better post season record.  In fact, Schilling can stake a claim to having some of the best post season stats ever.  What I’m saying is, if Glavine received 90% of the vote his 1st year eligible, then Schilling is just as worthy a candidate and the voters need to get him in next year.

Jeff Kent and Edgar Martinez I’m worried are going to get lost in the steroid era.  Both players have .290+ BA, 300+ HR’s.  Kent had 1500 RBI’s and an OPS of .855.  Martinez had more walks then K’s and an OPS of .933 (which is just crazy).  In an age when getting on base was higly regarded, Edgar was the poster child.  Kent may go down as the most undervalued player of his era nd he just happens to be one of the best 2nd basemen ever.  I hope that the addition of Thomas who spent a good chunk of his time as a DH can clear the path for Edgar who has a DH almost his entire career.

Finally, Tim Raines.  The poor man’s Rickey Henderson.  All the numbers, none of the flash. A great OPS, good average, more BB’s then K’s.  800+ stolen bases.  Triple digits in 2B’s, 3B’s and HR’s and if he stayed a full time player, probably would have gotten to 3000 hits.  Raines is a long shot but I think a worthy HOF candidate.  You want guys that are anti-steroid, Raines, Biggio, Schilling  are your guys.

Next year could be a very interesting vote.  Pedro, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz are all eligible for votes.  All three are worthy and all three represent the cream of the crop of steroid era pitchers.  Those three and plus the five I mentioned along with a players like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza who seem to be moving closer to the Hall and could make this vote these next few years very interesting.

I think that the voting is as antiquated as the members of the BBWA are.  Open the whole thing up.  Let voters vote for whoever.  Don’t limit the number of votes to just ten.  If a writer thinks 15 should get votes, let them vote that way.  It’s also sad that some voters have written less about baseball in the past years then I have.  They simply renew their membership just to keep the vote.  A lot of these voters skew the direction of the vote.  Many are anti-steroid era guys.  With guys like these voting, players like Clemens and Bonds may never get in, and frankly they should.  MLB has done a great job cleaning up the game, now its time for the Hall to clean up it’s process.

A New Year, A New Start

Posted in family, Happy New Year, happy places, life with tags , on January 1, 2014 by hendu

First off, I hope that all of you had an enjoyable holiday season.

OK, now that the formalities are out-of-the-way, let’s get down to it.  I have not written a post since mid-March.  It’s really too bad because maintaining a blog was something that I really enjoyed doing.  I enjoyed connecting with a variety of people and I loved that I was able to give readers a glimpse into my world.  I wish I could sit here and explain to you why I stopped.  I don’t think there was one  specific reason but more of a bunch of little things that tended to take up my time.  Maybe it was a little bit of laziness.  Maybe it was a little bit of disinterest.  Maybe a lack of passion.  Whatever it was I felt like it seeped into my life as well.

This past year wasn’t great.  It wasn’t horrible just one that I’d like to move on from.  We lost a grandfather, a grandmother  and a father this year from our extended family.  Losing loved ones is always difficult.  Losing three in a year can wear on people.  Those weren’t the only reason 2013 was less than ideal.  Professionally it wasn’t great.  Now, I still have a job so nothing is that bad, but it just felt like I didn’t get enough satisfaction out of my job that I have in the past.  I still love what I do but for some reason this year just didn’t seem enjoyable.  Maybe it was burnout.  I had a tough time trying to get that work/life balance thing going.  There were times that while I was at work all I could think about was stuff at home and vice versa.  That’s not fair to my family at work or my family at home.  unfortunately it became just a job, and that’s the last thing I wanted to happen.

For some reason, I felt less passionate about things in my life.  I know for a fact that my passion for baseball became misplaced and I do know why.  After three years of coaching three sports at the high school level, this past spring I was done.  Basketball took so much from me.  We had a lousy season.  The varsity won 5 games and my jv team won 0.  0 games.  That tends to make a long season even longer.  I felt like I lost the passion to coach.  That most definitely carried over into the spring and the baseball season.  I’ll be honest with you, I felt I sleep-walked through the season.  Felt like I just went through the motions and I hated it.  Not only do the kids deserve better but I also demand myself to be better.  That’s why one big change has me not coaching basketball this season and I really can’t wait for the baseball season to start.  (BTW, six weeks till pitchers and catchers report for the BoSox and ten weeks till we start our season).  I felt like that lack of passion seeped into other parts of my life.  I felt less excited about football season this year.  It didn’t help that Michigan, UCONN and the NY Giants all had less than stellar seasons.  To me, the games became more like work than enjoyment.  They tended to feel more like “have-to” events then “want-to” events.  That never was the case before.

I think that can all go back to my original point: a lack of passion for the things I love.

It wasn’t all bad though.  I was able to earn and coach my 1st year as a varsity high school coach.  A longtime goal of mine.  Now, it wasn’t in the sport I thought it would be (baseball) but in the unlikely sport of girls soccer.  My passion for coaching came back during this time.  I felt like I fell in love with it all over again and it came from girls soccer!  While not the season I had promised to the girls or had wanted for myself, it was so very rewarding.  We finished with the best record in 10 years.  We had a girl set the single game scoring record.  We had our goalie make 2nd team all conference and I felt that we built a foundation of success that I hope continues into the future.  Even writing this now, I am getting excited about the possibilities come this fall.  The other event that helped me rediscover that passion, the Red Sox run to an improbable World Series win.  I rediscovered my love for the game and for that team.  That Sox team was so much fun to watch play the game.  They played it like kids and not like spoiled millionaires.  You had guys on that team that ate up baseball everyday.  Guys would go to games on their off day.  It just showed to me what you can get out of something if you put 100% of yourself into it.

I know going forward I need to stop worrying about so many little things.  I feel I let the minutia of everyday life put a damper on all the things about life.  I didn’t like that about me.  I didn’t like the way I was around my family.  I felt like I let that attitude get in the way of friendships.  Overall, I just felt that 2013 wasn’t the best year of myself.  I am willing to try to fix these things this year.  Try to rediscover my passion for my job, my family and other outside ventures.  try to let little things slide and enjoy my time off more.  Try to reconnect with longtime friends before they become one-time friends.  Call these what you will.  I’m not saying they are resolutions but just things in my life that I’m not happy with.  I think I need to get back to being what makes me, me.

That includes more blogging so better get used to it :)!!

A Silver Lining

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 28, 2013 by hendu

When you are forced to cover a story like the Sandy Hook shooting, your only goal is to get the correct information out to the viewing public as quickly as possible.  You try to be accurate, dependable, credible and reliable.  I believe we did our absolute best that day and the weeks that followed as a TV station.  You never, ever have the chance to think, hey you know what, this is award-winning material we got going on here.

As it turns out, that’s just what it was.  Our station, NBC Connecticut has been awarded the very prestigious Peabody Award for Breaking News.

The Peabody is an award that is given out annually to honor the best of the best in television both traditional broadcasting and on cable.  The winners are picked by a panel of TV professionals, critics and certain academia.  It is an award given out by fellow broadcasting professionals to others in the same field.  It is very similar to the Pulitzer Prize for writing.

While I am immensely proud of everyone here at NBC Connecticut, I thinks it’s safe to say we would give this award back in a heartbeat if it meant we could get back just one, if not all of those 26 lives lost that horrible day.

That was the worst day of my professional career.  I hope I never have to go through something like that again.  I feel even worse for the reporters and the videographers who were on the scene seeing this tragedy unfold in front of them.  Of course none of this compares to the hurt and anger those families had to live through and continue to, to this day.

In light of all that, this is a major achievement and I am honored and humbled to be a part of it.  This is a testament to the kind of hard work and dedication that my co-workers show on a daily basis.  After that day I hated my job for a while.  Today, I am proud as a *ahem* peacock.  This helps validate what we all went through those early hours and days of this horrific and it is something I can look back on and feel proud of the work that we all did.

Finally, I just want to thank all my co-workers for all the hard work and literally the blood, sweat and tears in covering this tragedy. Two of the three in particular, morning reporter Liz Dahlam and her photog John Senecal, were absolutely awesome.  To put it simply they were the best of the best that day and it was such a comfort that I had two people out in the field that I could trust fully and thought along the same lines that I did.  Having John on the other end made our broadcast do much better.  The third was producer Chris Ayotte.  the two of us joke that we are each other’s “work spouse.”  We fight sometimes like a married couple but no matter what, we know what the other is thinking in the booth.  I don’t think there is anyone besides her that I would want in the booth during a story like this.

With all that said, today some more details will be released about the shootings.  I just hope that the people of Sandy Hook continue to be strong and the employees of NBC Connecticut share in your pain,  anger and continued recovery.

Sandy Hook Elementary

Posted in Newtown shooting, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 19, 2012 by hendu

I’ve seen a lot during my thirteen years in the news business.  I’ve never had to remove myself from the booth for anything.  That all changed Friday afternoon.  I’ve never cried on the job.  Not once.  Not even during 9/11.  Not during the Cheshire home invasion.  That all changed Saturday.  I’ve never hated my job.  I’ve never dreaded coming into work.  that changed this past weekend.  I think it’s safe to say, all our lives changed this past weekend.  What we once thought as safe havens are no more.  Our definition of heroes has forever been defined.  No longer can we describe a sports play or player as heroic or a hero.  It’s safe to say they would never take a bullet for your kids.

I look at this tragedy through a different set of eyes.  Not only was I directing during all the chaos on Friday, helping deliver the unimaginable news to the state and sometimes the country, my mind kept wandering back to my wife, my daughter, my friends and my school.  My mind was just a bundle of “what if’s?”  What if this happened at a school my wife was working in that day.  What if this happened at my daughters preschool?  What if this happened at my high school where I coach or a number of the other schools I have close friends in.  For hours it became a fight in my head between what was happening and what could happen and eventually I just succumbed to the emotions.

I cried a lot on Friday.  I cried more that day then in any day since my father died twenty years ago.  I pride myself on being the rock both at work and at home.  I failed in both those aspects but I am fine with that.  At work I try to rise above the fray.  I try to stay stoic and focused on the job at hand.  That was an almost impossible task this past weekend.

It has taken a few days, but I feel like life is starting to get back to normal but in no means will it ever be the same.  If this isn’t a wake up call to the country, then I don’t know what is.  We need to improve our mental healthcare.  We need to refine and improve our gun laws and our obsession with guns in this country.  We need to change the way we look at our educators.  I will stand toe-to-toe with anyone that says teachers are over paid.  We need to treat the people who need it most and we need to pay the great men and women who cultivate learning and growing in our children more.  More guns will not make us a better country but I am confident that those first two points will.

Finally, I hope that all those families affected by this unforgivable tragedy find the strength to move on together.  Find the strength to live your lives that would make your son or daughter, brother or sister, wife or mom so proud of you.  I hope to never go through what these folks in Newtown are but I now realize how easily it could have been my town and it could be me.  I hug my daughter and wife a little tighter and a little longer now.

I hope that this finds all my readers well this holiday season and you all take the time to truly appreciate what this time of year is all about: Family.

For our fellow Nutmeggers in Newtown, your kids and teachers will always be in my heart.

Stay strong and Merry Christmas.

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