A Dimm View of Life

Location: Illinois, United States

Friday, December 29, 2006

New Year Wishes

Apologies in advance, but here are some “New Year” wishes to share. (Each sentence begins with the phrase “I wish that by the end of 2007…”)

I wish that by the end of 2007 that Chicago will be still celebrating a World Series on the north side.

I wish that by the end of 2007 that Chicago will be gearing up for a second Super Bowl.

…that the United States economy will have some real growth that benefits all segments of society and not the artificial growth that only benefits a small percentage as we have seen in recent years.

…that Detroit continues to have a great Labor Day Jazz festival and that I’ll get the chance to be there.

…that people will remember that religion is a personal belief and not a contact sport.

…that people will remember that a difference of opinion does not entitle you to curse, condemn and/or show disrespect to those with whom you disagree.

…that people will recognize that “The New Adventures of Old Christine” is one of the funniest sitcoms on the air.

…that people will recognize “The Office” as well.

…that TV networks will go easy on stop with the dangerous reality programs, such as those that give badges to D-List performers.

…that more people will listen to public radio stations on a regular basis.

…that more people will be involved in their communities, on any level.

…that Donald Trump will stop picking fights before a new season of his reality show is about to start.

…that Paul McCartney and his ex-wife will stop bickering in public.

...that Carlos Zambrano will have signed a long-term contract with the Chicago Cubs.

…that Barack Obama will announce his intentions to run for President.

…that Mitt Romney does not announce his intentions to run for President.

…that people will not be sick and tired of the 2008 Presidential race, which will be one of the most important of our lifetime.

…that Jimmy Fallon gets a star turn in a great movie.

…that people realize that Fred Armison is the funniest cast member currently on Saturday Night Live (with apologies to Darrell Hammond).

…that Kurt Vonnegut will publish another book.

…that our people return home from Iraq.

…that the people from the United Kingdom and other countries return home as well.

…that President Bush will admit that he and his team were wrong and are sorry.

…that you will have had a safe and happy year!


Thursday, December 28, 2006


George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara were on ABC’s “This Week” on Christmas Eve morning. They were talking about the Salvation Army and their hopes for the group during this holiday season. It seemed a little late to listen to Mrs. Bush imploring people to put their spare change in the kettle, but it was probably taped a week or two before.

It was a nice piece. There was nothing offensive about it. I haven’t heard many complaining about the Salvation Army or any other group this year.

Last year a national chain asked the Army not to put their people in front of their stores. They wanted to “position” themselves as “high end”, or at least “higher end”. They felt the Salvation Army tended to put their stands in front of discount grocery stores and Wal-Marts. They did not want to be “positioned” as that type of store.

It is sad how volunteering money and time has changed through the years. It is less about the “goodness in your heart” and more about how we may benefit.

If a person donates money they want some type of receipt for their taxes. That’s fine, but it takes some of the shine off the donation since there is a benefit to the one giving. That said, I believe in getting the tax break and if you do give a substantial amount you should take advantage of it.

What is bothering me recently is the push to buy products with a “Product RED” designation. This has been most obvious to me with the Motorola V3 “RAZR” phone. If you purchase one of these phones, a donation is made to help “eliminate AIDS in Africa”, or so says the “Product RED” website.

I read a “letter to the editor” recently in a local paper that complained that the donation was considered a “marketing ploy”. Initially, I just thought the writer was a Scrooge and did not see it that way. As I reflect on it, I do follow their thinking.

Keep in mind; I have nothing against Bono, “Product RED” or eliminating AIDS in Africa. I hope we can eliminate AIDS in Africa and everywhere. Most causes that request donations are worthy causes.

My initial thought when I heard about the Motorola V3 RED was that people would not buy a cell phone just to make the donation. If they were already going to get a new phone, they would be persuaded to buy the “RED” phone over the Nokia or LG by believing they were doing a good thing for the world.

Then I realized that some people may purchase a “RED” cell phone, even when they were not thinking of buying a replacement cell phone. Maybe their phone was perfectly fine, but they want to be seen as “good people”, not by making a real donation of time and money, but by buying the “RED” phone. It’s the “Get Out of Jail (donating) Free” phone. If they pay an extra $100, so be it. At least they have a cool phone out of the deal.

Maybe the thinking is that there are people who don’t donate at all? Maybe convincing them to buy a phone or a watch or a shirt will somehow force them to donate. Is that the belief? Do we really think that little of people that we think we have to trick them to donate to a charity?

Is this what has become of marketing in the 21st century? Buy a product that donates for you? The company is not losing. If the ploy sells a hundred more phones or five hundred more, they are making a profit above what donation is made. The donation is figured into the cost of the phone.

The cell phone company is not losing anything. They gain a few more customers for the cost of some advertising dollars saying “Hey, we provide service to the RED phone”!

I took a minute and looked at myself. I donate money. Not a lot, but I don’t have a lot. I donate time to my community. Could I do more? Maybe.

So here is the plan. When I become a millionaire, I will donate lots of my money to these and other organizations. But, in order to do that, I need your help. Send me an email. I will send you an address to a post office box. Send a check to “Alexander Dimm Millionaire Fund”.

If ten thousand people donate one hundred dollars apiece, the fund will reach a million. Then, I’ll invest that money and donate to charities based on the interest earned.

Of course, I will have some expenses involved in setting everything up, so you may want to send more than one hundred dollars. If just five thousand people send one hundred and fifty dollars that will give the fund an extra two hundred fifty thousand dollars. That should cover the costs involved with the post office box and the investment company. It could also guard against any potential losses. It will pay for fees to the government for setting up the organization.

It will also offer me a small stipend for putting all this together. At the end of a year, everyone who donates will get a pamphlet in the mail telling you what a great job you did in sending me one hundred fifty dollars.

It will also remind you to send another one hundred fifty dollars. After all, I will need another small stipend. And that donation money we gave away last year won’t be going as far this year, so we need more money.

Before you reach for your checkbook, there is no “Alexander Dimm Millionaire Fund” and there won’t be. If you did not take my idea for the joke it was, it shows you how easy it is to get caught up in the sticky world of charity.
As you get inundated by people asking you for donations, please don’t turn a total deaf ear. Please by mindful of any money you choose to donate. Be careful of the marketing of charities.

Also, are great donation is your time. There are so much complaining and not enough doing. Do you see something that should be changed? Do something about it!

I had a boss who taught me “do not come to me with a complaint unless you also have a solution to offer.” It is a lesson that can be applied everywhere.

If you do not like an advertising campaign, do not go to that store. If you do not like a particular TV show, do not watch. If you are unhappy with something going on in your city, take an alderman to coffee and explain your position. If you want the war to stop, email your congressman, or senator. Explain your position. I know it is hard and time consuming. Do it anyway.

Every donation of money does not have to be thousands of dollars. Every donation of time does not have to be on display before the world.

My wish for 2007 is that you give these ideas thought. Have a great year!

Alexander Dimm


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands Wrap

It’s been a week since the final episode of Survivor: Cook Islands. What stared with the promise of angst filled, competitive and thought-provoking editions, finished as one of the franchise’s most bland seasons.

So bland that I skipped the three episodes leading up to last week’s finale. I did catch up during the half-hour review that precedes the final episode. It seems that with Nate being sent away by Yul and Jonathon the week before, Candice became the odd person out and was sent packing. Then Jonathon had run out of options. That Parviti was sent home before Adam was a surprise, but not that important.

So as the final episode opened, there were five contestants, including one from each of the original four tribes. I didn’t expect that at the onset of the season, but it is interesting that it played out that way. In a previous season, they divided into four tribes, using age and gender as dividing lines. On that edition, the final four included one from each of the four original tribes.

It almost seems too good to be true. Still, there is nothing to be gained from chasing that tangent.

With Adam dropping out, that left no Caucasians to possibly win. That is a more interesting tangent. At one time there were four Caucasians and four Asians left. In the end all Caucasians were booted out and two Asians made it too the final four. Does that mean the Asians are stronger? I don’t think so.

Yul and Becky played a smart game. Jonathon tried to play a smart game, but panicked into several strategic blunders. Likewise, Adam and Candice played as if they just assumed the game would be handed to them. Parviti tried to play a game similar to Becky, which was stay tight with the ones you know and hide in the shadows. Unfortunately, she tied herself to losers.

Sundra had a good chance with the final immunity challenge. The final challenge was the boring balance and stamina challenge. They play this each year in different ways. Sometimes it’s holding on to a bar. Ozzy looked several times as if he was going to lose it, and Sundra looked like she could stand there for twelve hours without breaking a sweat, but ultimately, Sundra dropped.

That brings us to the fire making tie-breaker. Becky was smart not to take the immunity that Yul offered. Ozzy was steadfast that Sundra and Becky should do the tie-breaker. There wasn’t much suspense there. Instead we were treated to ineptitude.

Neither Sundra nor Becky can make fire. Even with matches, Sundra couldn’t do it. Remember previous seasons where the fire making tiebreaker was finished in about thirty seconds?

Finally, Becky won the tie, but was considered inconsequential by the jury. None of the jury members took her seriously in deciding who do give the million.

Yul and Ozzy were tightly matched. Ultimately, Yul made fewer enemies than Ozzy and came away the victor.

So, if you get the immunity idol, you will probably win the game. That seems to be the pattern since the game adopted the “Exile Island” feature.

Next season, the program will go to Fiji where the producers say the contestants will “battle more” and there will be two hidden immunity idols.

I’ve enjoyed writing about the program, but am disappointed with myself about not keeping up each week. I don’t think I’ll write about the show going forward, at least in this same manner. As busy as things get, it’s hard to say if I’ll get the chance to view the next season of Survivor.

I do hope the next season is more angst-filled, competitive and thought-provoking than this one. The reunion special showed people genuinely happy for Yul. There were no villains or even interesting characters (outside of Cao Boi). Not even a true romance (the whole Adam/Candice thing was just for show).

It’s possible that Survivor has “jumped the shark”. We’ll see how it reinvents itself next time.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands Wk 10

I realize I am two episodes behind. Hopefully, I can get caught up before this Sunday’s finale. Keep your fingers crossed.

The “week ten” edition of Survivor is one I like to call the “Jonathon” show. It was all about how Jonathon survived getting kicked off the island.

Has anyone noticed that Jonathon’s voice is similar to M*A*S*H star Alan Alda? Listen closely next time you get the chance. The cadence and tone smack of one of the best actors of our time.

That said, I’m sick of listening to Jonathon. He thinks too hard. He should have been sent home. If we’re lucky, he may go during episode eleven.

Ignoring how the producers leaned on Jonathon throughout the program this time, his strategy makes sense. He tried to get Aitu to think a bit about their strategy, but they wouldn’t budge. It was an easy decision for Jonathon.

When they sit back at the reunion special next week, the Aitu members are going to have to acknowledge that they were our worked and out played by the Raro team. That said, there are still four Caucasians left!

The Aitu members were comfortable believing (again) that they had the numbers so they were safe. Little did they suspect (duh) that Jonathon would defect (again). Think about it. Aitu members were pretty clear that Jonathon wouldn’t go to the final two. It was obvious that if they were the last five left that he would be the next to go. I’m surprised Parviti and Nate both didn’t jump with the Raro team. Adam and his girlfriend are still expecting to go to the final two together.

Let’s stop a minute and take a tally. Four Caucasians, Two Asians, One African-American and One Latino are left. That’s after Nate was sent home.

I guess I can take Nate being sent home over Jonathon. At the merge, coming a week after Jeff declared “the merge may happen next week or it may never happen”, there were four Raro and five Aitu members. I don’t know who Jeff thought he was fooling. What the “Survivor” team thinks are twists and turns this year are just so much wind.

Here’s hoping that either Jonathon or Adam go home next week. Let’s also hope that the program remains “Survivor” and doesn’t become “All About Jonathon”.