A Dimm View of Life

Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Get To The Truth

Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth has not special time of its own. Its hour is now-always and indeed then most truly when it seems unsuitable to actual circumstances.
-Albert Schweitzer.


Things were so much simpler in the old days. Just a few years back, President Clinton lied to us. It was obvious. It was easy to prove. It didn’t mean much in regards to anyone’s daily life, but that made it all the more aggravating.

In today’s world, someone else is lying to us. Or maybe a whole group of people are lying to us. The Iraq cache of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” could have been a lie, or it could have just been “bad intelligence”.

The Iraq insurgency could be a lie by the media, or it could be a truth.

The truth is harder to determine because the liars have safety in numbers. Much like the group of liars in the Nixon administration, those lying will be doing much finger-pointing and God-finding in the years to come.

Now I’m not pointing fingers or naming those doing the lying. It is simply obvious that somewhere, someone (or several someones) is trying to mislead the public.

We need to find the truth. As Schweitzer said, “It’s hour is now.” We need to determine who is feeding us “bad intelligence” and who truly has the longest nose.

Where do we start? We need to find our sources. The internet is a treasure trove where you can discover truths and lies. In our quest for the truth, we need to determine a specific question. Pick any question. Try: Did President Bush mislead us about WMDs in Iraq? Try: “Did President Bush encourage a connection between 9/11 and Iraq?

If you read and listen to pundits, you will get their views. Their views are not necessarily lies. They are also not necessarily the truth either.

Al Franken, Rush Limbaugh, Arianna Huffington, Brit Hume, George Will, Robert Scheer, Tony Blankely, Joe Conason and Molly Ivins are just a few of the pundits out there willing to share their opinions. Listen to what they have to say.

Don’t listen to all of them because there’s too many, but pick a few and listen. Don’t just listen to those you agree with either because that’s cheating. Pick a couple you don’t like and hear what they are saying.

Don’t spend hours and hours doing this. Take fifteen minutes each day and read what two or three have to say.

Remember that Sean Hannity, Will Durst, etc. are not news reporters. They are “commentators”. Sometimes people pretend to be news reporters and speak as if they are authorities providing endless facts, but the truth is that many of these people are simply “entertainers”. They say things they don’t really believe when they are alone with their own thoughts. They want to put on a good show, so they come up with outrageous comments. Many spout the same gibberish over and over until people believe they are hearing true news reporting and thereby are hearing the truth.

What you really should do is search and find the truths. One good place to start is www.c-span.org. Tonight, I’ve included their link on this page. C-Span provides the words from the “horse’s mouths”. You want to look back and hear what they really said? Start here. There are many transcripts, podcasts and streaming video broadcasts available.

Don’t be spun to the right or the left. Listen carefully to what is being said and search for the answers. C-Span doesn’t provide everything. In the weeks and months to come I hope to provide more sources for you to search for answers. www.c-span.org, however, is an excellent place to start.


Friday, April 28, 2006


"All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws." -- John Coltrane

"I don't care too much about music. What I like is sounds." -- Dizzy Gillespie

"Don't play what's there, play what's not there." -- Miles Davis

"The true musician is to bring light into people's hearts." -- Bobby McFerrin

Jazz speaks to the whole person. The heart, mind, spirit, senses and soul are all touched by the sound of jazz. Those who publicly state they dislike jazz do not even realize that much of what they listen to is either jazz or jazz influenced.

There are several jazz websites I intend to contribute to my podcast list, but I want to start with Detroit JazzStage for several reasons.

For one thing, it is my favorite jazz podcast. For another, like my blog, it is fairly new. It was started late last year by Dean and Rodney (who keep their last names carefully in the background). Earlier this year, they enlisted Jim Gallert to assist with the interviewing of these great artists.

What I especially appreciate is that they aren't pigeonholed with one specific style of jazz. With Phil Ogilvie's Rhythm Kings, they explored the more traditional jazz sound. With Jazzhead, we heard an interesting style sometimes referred to as "acid jazz".

Most recently, I was knocked out by pianist Buddy Budson who exhibited one of my favorite styles of jazz and also showed us during Gallert's provocative interview that he is a very thoughtful performer and writer.

Personally, I grew to love jazz when I was in the radio business. I was an announcer (I dislike the term "D.J.") who played plenty of Basie, Duke and Goodman as well as Grover Washington, Jr., Ramsey Lewis, Dave Grusin and Spyro Gyra.

I have found through the years that you can appreciate the stylings of the masters without being beholden to them. I love Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but I really enjoy hearing stories about their growth.

Some of the people you will hear on Detroit JazzStage may be newcomers, but you will also hear people who have been playing in national obscurity for years and years. Each one has a fascinating story to tell.

The podcasts are available about once each month. Each one is roughly ninety minutes to two hours in length. Occasionally, they offer a thirty minute or so treat mid-month to whet your appetite for what's to come.

The podcast is getting great press lately, so if you have any sort of interest in jazz, check out the website and download Detroit JazzStage.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Where Did All the Homeless Go?

One lesson that was taught to me as a child, out of many lessons, was the axiom: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Usually this admonishment came after I called one of my brethren “stupid” or something similar. Never mind that they may have been teasing me with similar comments.

Although I learned the words to the lesson and tried my best to apply this thought, there were still mistakes made along the way. In an ideal setting, I would not talk ill of anyone. However, life doesn’t work that way. Therefore, sometimes I have said things from time to time that I regret.

This brings me to the topic of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. I have never met the Governor. I have heard a few of his speeches and listened to an interview on C-SPAN. I cannot say I like him or do not like him.

Recently, I wrote about Governor Romney is a post entitled “Hurtful Things”. In this article I fell back into a familiar pattern of praising and then damning. Rereading the article, I notice that I didn’t call him names or even specifically show disrespect.

What I did do was ask some pointed questions. I stand by those questions. I believe that what I wrote was an important statement about fostering hatred in today’s society. The Governor, much more eloquently than I, follows some of my same patterns and practices.

Today, I am not going to directly criticize the Governor, but I do have a few more questions.

In a speech given this past February in the state of Michigan, the Governor told a story about the early days of his tenure in Massachusetts. It is a great story about how the state was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on hotel rooms. Roughly 600 rooms a night were being spent by the state on hotel rooms for the homeless.

He explains that the previous administration had a policy that if the shelters were full, that anyone who needed a place to stay would not be turned away. A hotel room would be purchased on their behalf. This is a good thing. The homeless problem was being addressed.

Governor Romney made a change to the policy. Instead of the last people coming to the shelters getting a room, the people who arrived at the shelters first would be moved from the shelters to a hotel room and the latecomers would take their place at the shelter.

The Governor is proud that with that little change, no more hotel rooms were rented. After sending the first comers to the hotel rooms and keeping the latecomers in the shelter, there were fewer people looking for beds at the shelters. He saved the state a lot of money by making a simple procedural change.

Now I think that is a brilliant move. (See, here’s my old pattern kicking in.) The Governor saved the state money that could be used on other projects, etc. He certainly proved that he is a good thinking, conservative politician.

Still, I have one question. (Watch how I switch now.) What happened to the 600 homeless people? I assume they stayed somewhere. Where did they go?

According to the Governor, Massachusetts was spending money on 600 hotel rooms a night for months and years and he swept in and saved the state a lot of money. Still, I think there were 600 people who had to go somewhere.

Here are my guesses: 1) They are living in refrigerator boxes on the streets of Massachusetts; 2) They went to Connecticut; 3) They went to New Jersey; 4) They went to New York; 5) They weren’t really homeless but a) college students who were too drunk or too embarrassed to go home; b) spouses who were too drunk or too embarrassed to go home; c) friends of hotel managers.

In the blog I posted earlier (Hurtful Things) I asked some questions about his stance on same sex marriage. The Governor’s position still puzzles me.

I will quote from the speech again: “The ideal setting for a child is where there’s a mom and a dad.” I can agree with that statement and still support same sex marriage. How?

I can make statements that I fully believe in. “The ideal setting for our government is one where it can support itself without further taxes on its citizens.” However, life doesn’t work that way. As an adult I realize that taxes are necessary to fund programs to assist citizens in our country. Therefore, although I don’t like them, taxes are necessary.

“The ideal setting for a home life is one where we do not need to purchase guns to defend ourselves.” However, life doesn’t work that way. Some people live a lifestyle where they feel guns are necessary to protect and defend, and in some cases, live off the land. Therefore, although I don’t like guns, they should still be available for sale.

“The ideal setting for a baseball season is one where the Chicago Cubs win each year.” However, life doesn’t work that way. If the Cubs won every year it would be boring. (Still, they could at least win once.) Therefore, the current system of playing 162 games to determine a winner should remain in place.

“The ideal setting for the world is where there is no war for any reason.” However, life doesn’t work that way. I have no “Therefore” for this one. I don’t have one for capital punishment or drug abuse either.

“The ideal setting for a child is one where there is a mom and dad.” However, life doesn’t work that way. Therefore, we have to hope for the best parents for the child. Sometimes mom and dad are not the best option for some children. Sometimes the best parent is a single parent. Sometimes that can be parents of the same sex. It certainly is better than no parents at all.

With the Presidential election on the horizon and the Governor being an obvious candidate, I think I need an answer to these questions before I could seriously consider supporting him. Ideally, he would explain where the homeless went. However, life doesn’t work that way. Therefore, this is the last I have to say regarding Governor Mitt Romney. After all, if I can’t say something nice, I shouldn’t say anything.

Still, I will be listening. Maybe he will have an answer.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Harry and the Trib

Sunday Night and a new week starting tomorrow. I am one who like Mondays. Not to sound to much like a "Pollyanna" but there is always a feeling a promise to a new week.

Don't get me wrong, I like the weekends. I love the time with my family and a chance to relax (sometimes). But a new week means new experiences and new things to learn.

I didn't want the weekend to end without adding a couple of new links outside of the podcast links I add on Friday. You will see what I've added off to your left.

The Chicago Tribune is a site I look at nearly every day. There is a nice balance of world news and local (Chicago) news. Being the third largest city in the nation, what happens in Chicago and the things discussed in Chicago have an impact on the nation.

When you go to the site, check out a Washington reports blog they have called "The Swamp". If you are interested in national politics, there is some fascinating reporting found there. Rarely a day goes by without my visiting "The Swamp".

I have also included Harry Shearer's website. As you may know if you read my earlier blog entry about KCRW, I am a huge fan of Shearer's "Le Show". This site is a little overwhelming in its promotion of all things "Harry", but you can find information about the program including a listing of the music he includes on the show.

Shearer has a new CD available entitled "Dropping Anchors". I haven't purchased the CD yet, but he has included cuts during "Le Show" and they are very funny.

One of my favorite bits he's done on the show that isn't included (yet) on any CDs available is a song called "Crossing Fingers". It was written when our President made a big show of signing anti-torture legislation that McCain was promoting, and then quietly signing another piece that essentially said that there maybe circumstances when torture would still be okay.

The lyrics state, "Torture is torture no more. The ceiling is now on the floor. You can do anything if you don't own the cost, as long as your fingers are crossed." If you haven't heard it, go the "Le Show" archives and find the April 2, 2006 edition. It's worth it.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Old Time Radio

Back in the late seventies I began working part-time at a radio station. I was an announcer (I dislike the term "D.J.") and worked at the station both part and full time for nine years. It was a time I look back on with fondness although I have no interest in returning to my radio roots today.

Even before I began working in radio I had a fascination for early radio programs. People would laugh about Red Skelton and Jack Benny. They would describe the "Long Ranger" and the "Shadow". Listening to people talk about the days of "old time" radio always made them smile.

In school, we would listen to the Mercury Radio Theatre broadcast of the "War of the Worlds". It was history. We could not believe how people could be misled into believing that an attack from outer space could be taken seriously.

Years later, I still love to listen to "old time" radio programs. Fred Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, Al Jolson, Orson Welles, Stan Freberg and so many more. I have read many books about people and the many successes. I love to visit the Museum of Radio and Television and see the artifacts and listen to the voices.

I'm adding a wonderful website to the podcast links. Technically, they aren't podcasts, but the Old Time Radio Show Catalog website does offer some programs and clips of programs you can download to your MP3. If you want to order collections the prices are extremely reasonable.

If you have any interest in the early days of radio and entertainment, or if you have an interest in history, etc. Check out the website. You'll be amazed at what you'll find.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hurtful Things

Remember the term “ranking”? You don’t hear the term much anymore. During the 70’s, one popular sitcom was “Welcome Back Kotter”. Gabe Kaplan, who played Mr. Kotter, talked about “ranking” in his stand-up comedy routine. The writers and producers developed the concept during the run of the show.

What is “ranking”? According to a “Welcome Back Kotter” website, http://www.rollanet.org/~khigh/kotter.html, ranking is “a competition between two people where each tries to top the other's insults.”

On the sitcom, the insults were pretty benign. “Up your nose with a rubber hose,” was considered scathing. Kaplan has another phrase he uses on stage that’s more descriptive and more anatomically possible, if uncomfortable.

On the program, insulting someone was funny and harmless. It was thought to show a quick wit and allowed you to appear impressive.

The purpose my blog today isn’t to reminisce about old, dated sitcoms. However, remembering the show and my experiences of the 70’s did flood my mind with a number of thoughts about what we hear today.

In today’s society, you don’t hear much about “ranking”. What I hear about today is something similar. Today it is called “labeling”.

I am a Caucasian male. When I was a teen I had no outstanding abnormalities. I would not have been “labeled” by nationality. I would not have been “defined” by size.

What I do remember was being “labeled” with the term “junior jerk”. I went to a relatively small high school and there were about thirty or so in our graduating class. Of that thirty, the male/female ratio was split fairly evenly.

For some reason, during our junior year, our class earned the label “junior jerks”. It seemed to stick because a year or so later I visited the school. A former English teacher tripped as she passed by several of us who were talking together. She turned and saw me and muttered the epithet “junior jerk”.

Likely, this was meant to be funny. Hopefully, it was meant to be a term of recognition and maybe an endearment toward a member of her old class.

Still, it tweaks me to remember it years later.

I know it is silly to complain about such a simple remark, but I find that simple remarks grow into more complicated remarks and sometimes less endearing comments.

I am not immune to making such comments. When watching various reality shows as “Survivor” or “American Idol”, I have been known to utter such descriptions about various contestants as “knucklehead” or “freak”. I do my best not to curse in front of my children, or in front of anyone, so I’ve adopted such language.

Yet today, I find myself working to phase even such minor sounding terms from everyday use. I can still forge colorful language if I lose my temper but losing one’s temper does not excuse poor behavior. Nor does another person’s ignorance or lack of verbal elasticity allow us to use unbecoming descriptive language.

There is a radio broadcast I like to listen to as a podcast. It is political and discusses issues from a more progressive attitude. On this program, one of the two hosts likes to refer to the President of our country as “the shrub”. He may begin the discussion using the President’s true name, but then he will slip into an attitude of superiority and start referring to “shrub”.

Although I agree with some of the points the host makes and understand and consider the others, I feel that the insulting name is not necessary to make the point. It is easy enough to get your point across without being demeaning.

To be clear, I also have listened to Al Franken’s program on Air America radio. Mr. Franken won’t hesitate to call someone a “liar”. I feel differently about that. Franken backs up his point with facts. Calling someone a “liar” isn’t so much a “ranking” game of being “one-up”, but simply describing someone for what they are.

In my original example, the President is not a “shrub”. The term clearly intended to be insulting, and thereby making only the host, and those who agree with him, feel good about themselves at someone else’s expense.

Let’s take this concept and broaden it some. The Governor of Massachusetts is Mitt Romney. Governor Romney is forsaking his current role to run for President during the 2008 election year. He has not officially announced, but has already begun to make speeches in places such as New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Now I like some of the things the Governor has accomplished. Universal health care for all state residents is huge. He did a great job with the Utah Winter Olympics a few years back.

Still, I have listened to the Governor speak (C-SPAN is wonderful). He is very charismatic. He can truly energize an audience. However, he loses me every time in one simple spot.

During most speeches, he likes to complain that the Massachusetts legislature “made a mistake” regarding same-sex marriage. He goes on about how he feels that same-sex marriage is a problem where the family is concerned.

During a February speech in West Bloomfield, MI, Governor Romney stated that he felt his state of Massachusetts “struck a blow against the foundation of the family.” He continued, “The right and ideal setting for raising a child is where there’s a mother and a father. The development of a child is enhanced by having both genders in their life. And even if there’s divorce or separation or even death the individual child can look at the father or can look at the mother and can learn from their attributes. The ideal setting for a child is where there’s a mom and a dad.”

So in a very subtle way, single parents of all shapes and sizes are not considered favorable to this Presidential contender. Anything outside of a theoretical nuclear family is not considered “ideal”. Male single parents. Female single parents. Single foster parents. Single grandparents. Single guardians. An uncle or aunt raising a niece or nephew. None of these children have it as good as families with two parents that are of opposite genders.

This bothers me. This type of thinking sets people back. I don’t have a personal axe to grind. I had opposite sex parents as did my wife. I have no homosexual members in my family (that I know for certain). However, I know a lot of single parents. I know some same sex partners who raise children. I feel strongly that most, if not all, of these people make better parents than some opposite sex parents I know and have known through the years.

You can’t look at two adults and say, “You are a man and woman. You’ll make good parents,” and then say, “You are two people of the same sex. Too bad your children won’t have as good a chance.” Guess what? They won’t have as good a chance because they won’t have the same benefits that opposite sex families have. By prohibiting same sex couples from the benefits available to opposite six couples, the children, or potential children, in their care will be limited.

Why would someone as intelligent as Governor Mitt Romney make some a statement? I could be wrong, but I think it is because we have many people in this country who foster destructive feelings toward other people. The sad part is that these people vote. The express their hate in many ways and one way is in the voting booth. I find it sad that the Governor, and undoubted other candidates, feel they have to pander to such a crowd.

On Sunday morning, and every morning, I listen to someone who believes all people are created equal. There are no labels. There are no ranks. There is no footnote that says “all are created equal, except for those with whom we don’t agree.” They don’t say, “All are created equal, except those who believe in other forms of religion.”

I know, I know. I need to get off the soapbox. I’m not really trying to change anyone’s opinion. Really. In order to foster change in today’s society, we need to stop ranking, labeling and otherwise hurting one another. We need to stop trying to make everyone the same and let people have their own beliefs and ideas about life.

As an individual, I can’t make the people of this world stop picking on each other. All I can do is control one person.

I believe that a God made and loves all people. I am going to do my best not to berate other people and value how they choose to live. From the neighbor next door to people of other races and religions countless miles away, as long as they are not picking up a stone against another, they have my respect.

Anyone care to join me?


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Write or Read

It is Wednesday morning and I realize have not posted a thing since Sunday. That is longer than I intended, but I have been reading.

Before you can write you must have something to write about. I have several posts started. They are not ready for publishing just yet.

As you read this blog in the months ahead, you will find that I love to spend time with my family and I love to read. (I also love the Cubs. I admit, instead of posting last night I was also watching Wil Ohman give up the winning run to the Dodgers. Sigh.) Sometimes the blog will have to take back seat to other passions.

Still, I have thoughts to share about immigration, the Cubs, podcasting, books and the way we treat one another. I may even be ready to share later today.

But first, there is a life to lead before I can share. Better get started.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Improv Wisdom

"Improv Wisdom" is a fine book published sometime last year by Bell Tower. It's written by Patricia Ryan Madson who has been on the Stanford drama faculty for nearly thirty years.

She starts each chapter with old quotes that I had not seen before but really appreciate, including this one from Sir Isaac Newton: "If I have made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent." This simple statement speaks volumes for all of us in our daily lives. Simply paying attention can help each of us understand.

Following a lengthy prologue where Madson explains where she's coming from, she offers thirteen (yes, thirteen) maxims which incorporate her improv drama teaching with ways to approach everyday life.

Along with simple activities that you can try from your chair, she offers insight and understanding. The book is less about "improv" and more about "wisdom".

I have read longer, similar books (Steven Covey's "Seven Habits for Highly Effective People" springs to mind.), but Madson's quick insights make this book a real find. She gets to the point quickly with short anecdotes and easy ways to apply her techniques.

It's a fast read if you want to read it once. I recommend taking more time with it.

Have a great week!


Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Podcast

This past holiday season I did something I hadn’t done as long as I can remember. I took a holiday!

By that I mean that I left work on 12/23 and didn’t return until 1/3. I don’t remember doing that since high school.

During that time my daughter, for whom we purchased an I-Pod the holiday prior, informed me that I could download “podcasts” to my Palm Tungsten E that I purchased the holiday prior.

I had heard about “podcasts” but didn’t think much about them. I gave them the same amount of thought as I did “blogs”.

Anyway, I started looking into this mysterious new idea. I began to find a whole new world. There were actually things available in this “podcast” format in which an old guy like me might be interested.

There were jazz music programs and humor programs. There were political programs and writing programs. There were audio rebroadcasts of television shows I’ll never have time to watch and radio shows where I’ll never be around the radio to hear.

Just like when I go to be great restaurant, my eyes became too big for my stomach, or in this case my ears. I began to download everything in site.

Now, it has been a few months and I’ve calmed down. I’ve tossed things that I really was not that interested in and others that I was, but realized that I could live without or come back to another time.

Each Friday, for awhile anyway, I will add a podcast link to this blog. These will include favorites and new discoveries.

KCRW of Santa Monica, California is the first podcast website I will showcase here. I love it because it has so many things to offer for so many tastes. I haven’t listened to every program, but I have listened to a half-dozen or so.

The programs I continue to enjoy include Harry Shearer’s “Le Show”. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a wonderful satire of what’s going on in today’s news. Shearer truly is one of America’s fine talents who does not get enough visibility or praise.

He has been successful in nearly every medium including television (“The Simpsons”, SNL, etc.), movies (A Mighty Wind, etc.) and here on the radio. He even has a new CD coming out entitled “Dropping Anchors” which includes skits where he deftly adopts the voice of various network news anchors, present and past.

Another fine program is “Left, Right and Center” which is celebrating its tenth anniversary. The show includes pundits Tony Blankey, representing the right, Robert Scheer, representing the left, and host Matthew Miller, representing the center. Arianna Huffington also contributes. She originally represented the right when the show began, but over the years has become more progressive.

The mix is fun and informative. It is at its best when the four let loose, which they do more than the Sunday morning roundtable “experts”. They are obviously good friends who know how to disagree and walk away without scars.

Finally, my third favorite is Michael Silverblatt’s “Bookworm”. This program is a slim thirty minutes long and even though it sports strange opening and closing music (Jimmy Dodd as Jiminy Crickett introducing the ‘Book of the Mouse Club’), it includes very insightful commentary from authors and poets about their writing. This is very much for the avid reader and/or writer.

Another program I have enjoyed, but have had to set aside for now, is an excellent daily news program entitled “To The Point”. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time in my week for this excellent program, but I hope to return to it sometime in the months to come.

In the Fridays to come, I’ll be sharing other podcast websites where you can find multiple programs or single efforts. Feel free to leave your comments about podcasts you find interesting or entertaining. I would love to take a listen!


Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Recently I was reminded about a part of my past. Growing up, my parents often had unexpected visitors. At least, I believe they were unexpected.

These were friends they had made over the years, simply coming to say hello. Sometimes it was a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Sometimes it was an evening. Usually it was anywhere from late spring through early fall. Sometimes it was winter, but not that often.

People would stay for two or three hours and chat. Sometimes they would go to the kitchen for coffee. Sometimes Dad would take a fellow to the garage.

Rarely did they bring children with them. Usually, it was just adults. There was often a lot of talk of cars (my Dad’s favorite topic), but there were other bright and lively topics as well.

The kids, meaning me and my siblings, would sometimes sit quietly and listen. After all, the only TV in the house was in the same room as these extended chats. More often, we would find games to play outside or in other parts of the house.

Among the people who would visit were former classmates. Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts and friends of theirs would occasionally drop by. We lived in a town of between five and ten thousand. Some lived in town. Others lived in surrounding towns.

My Dad had a former Army buddy who would bring his wife to visit once in awhile. They would rarely call first, but would drop by a couple times each year. This was interesting to me now because they were driving over one hundred miles for these visits. We would sometimes order pizza or Mom would cook for them during their visits. They would return the favor if we traveled to see them.

Still others were people they met through Dad’s hobbies. My Dad had an interest in antique cars. Sometimes people they met through car shows, etc. would stop by to share ideas or simply talk cars with Dad.

This came back to me when I realized that we rarely have drop-in guests at our house. If anyone does drop by unannounced, they refuse to sit and stay for any length of time and then go.

Talking to friends and co-workers, they’ve noticed the same thing is true. In today’s society, people don’t often go visiting neighbors and friends unannounced as was done years before. Today, plans are arranged ahead of time. These often include sporting events, music concerts, children’s activities, truck or tractor pulls, demolition derbies, product (Tupperware, Pampered Chef, etc.) parties, carnivals, etc.

There are logical reasons for this change. I have only one former classmate that lives within fifty miles of my home, as far as I know. We see each other occasionally, but mostly we email or talk on the phone.

Neither my wife nor I served time in the military, so we didn’t develop close friendships there.

We both have developed some strong workplace friendships, but we see those people all week. Who wants to spend your two days off with people you see the other five days?

I worried about this until I started talking to some of my co-workers. Most, but not all, noticed the same things. People today just don’t drop in unannounced anymore.

I remember when the weekends meant relaxing. Today, between school activities that extend into the weekends, athletic competitions for children, church activities and responsibilities and more. There isn’t much time to simply read or watch a baseball game.

Just so you know, as I write this, I have one eye on the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals, and am hoping for a big comeback for the Cubs.

The answer could come down to privacy. With the growth of the internet we have become a planet that finds itself smaller and exposed. Remember when the earth was referred to as the “big, blue marble”? That marble is getting smaller and smaller every day.

There are satellites in the air that can take pictures of our neighborhoods. There are people who call on the phone who already know our name, address, phone number (obviously), and other information about us. We only get to hear their first name and who they (might) represent.

Gas prices are so high they can’t afford to drive one hundred plus miles one way to find no one home. So, with cell phones offering free nights and weekends, plans are made ahead of time, or not made if there are other activities that prevent a visit.

At our home, we like our privacy. We like to focus on our children and on each other. We like to do “spur of the moment” things like travel to a museum or have a rousing game of miniature golf.

We like our friends and as our children grow up and move onward, we’ll be able to make more time for them. We’ll probably go to a ball game or see a play. We might invite another couple to an opening of a new restaurant.

We may even take the time to drop by someone’s house just to have a visit. Maybe even an unexpected one.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Start of Something Dimm

Thank you for visiting my blog.

This is the first of what hopes to be many, many postings over many, many years.

I call myself Alexander Dimm. Obviously, this is not my real name. There are not many personal details that I will be sharing in the weeks and months ahead.

Here is what I’m willing to share: I am male (Alexander is a male name. If I called myself Alex, you could have taken it either way).

I am young to middle aged (30s or 40s).

I have a wife and children (sorry, no clues).

I have pets (hmmmm…I may share more in other blogs).

I have a full time job (White collar, or sometimes gray if I’m really busy).

My parents are still alive (and well, thank goodness).

I am involved in local politics, but in a very minor way (I’m not the mayor).

As far as personal details, that’s about as far as I’ll go.

What will this blog be about then?

Considering that I hope to add something to this blog three or four days each week, there’s going to be a lot to discuss. As my pseudo-name indicates, I will be taking a “Dimm” view on a number of topics, from politics to baseball, podcasts to the high cost of living.

Unlike some blogs I’ve seen, I don’t view this as a journal, but a conversation. I hope that you choose to leave thoughtful comments that lend to opening a discussion and sharing opinions.

There are a few obvious ground rules regarding comments. I’m not selling a product so I ask that you don’t leave a commercial endorsement in the form of a comment.

Also, while I appreciate originality and someone’s ability to express themselves in unique ways, I ask that obscene language be limited. I’m a big boy and know what all the words mean. Surely you can get your point across without burning the hair from a sailor’s scalp.

Also, I would like for people to respect your privacy, so please avoid any personal details relating to your life as well. I don’t need names, email addresses, etc. Share your ideas. Bring your opinions. Help create a discussion. You never know, we might make this world a better place.

Wouldn’t that be funny?