A Dimm View of Life

Location: Illinois, United States

Tuesday, February 27, 2007



That is how I feel today. It was announced that Ron Santo has again been passed over for entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I have already read others who have waxed more eloquently than I. Just let me say that Ron has given more to the game of baseball than baseball can repay. He is a good man who has had two strikes against him from the start and has always made the best of it.

He will make the best of this as well. He will admit his disappointment. Then he will climb back into the booth and yell and cheer and shake his head at the current roster of Cubs.

In a funny way, Santo has become the Cubs. Wait ‘til next year, Ron. Wait ‘til next year.


Joke of the Day

My son told me a joke yesterday morning:

Question – “What did the escalator say to the person riding it?”

Answer – “Nothing. It just staired.”

I love this joke. My eight-year-old son has a million of them. Some, like this one, are pretty good.

As you read this, you may tell me that you read it somewhere before, and that’s fine. As far as I am concerned, my son made this up and told a great joke.

I grew up trying to be funny. I was not blessed with an athletic body. I am not a member of Mensa. Being funny was an outlet.

As I get older, I realize that I am not that funny either. I could never be a Billy Crystal or Robin Williams. There are some great comedians out there. There are some poor comedians too. I doubt I could compete with the poor ones.

Comedy is precious. Like mercury, what is funny today may not be tomorrow.

On the news today, the report that Dick Cheney was the target of a suicide bomber. Somehow the smirking imitation by so many comics and writers is not so gratifying. I do not care how much you dislike Cheney, he is our Vice President. No one wants to see him killed.

But I digress.

I hope my son can develop and nurture his great sense of humor. I don’t want him to be a stand-up comic. That is a hard life I would not wish on him. I do want him to get along with people and a sense of humor is a great place to start.

In the meantime, my son is now my comedy writer. “It just staired”. Makes me smile each time I think about it.

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Monday, February 26, 2007


The broadcast of the Academy Awards last night was one of the most enjoyable in years. From Ellen DeGeneres, who was near-perfect, to the back-lit dancers, to the various short compilation films and musical performances, the show was fantastic.

For a program that was three and a half hours (actually three and three-quarters, running just fifteen minutes long), it moved at a nice pace, rarely dragging down. Speeches were quick and heart-felt.

For those reading this who did not see the show, there were wonderful “live” moments, such as when Will Smith’s son moved a little too quickly to the next award. He is a pro already, finding a way to recover nicely. Clint Eastwood, who is an incredible man, didn’t wear his glasses to the stage and had to ad lib an introduction to Marconi. After the award was presented, he needed to act as interpreter. Both situations made for great television.

Alan Arkin, another actor who is wonderful, brought home an Oscar for his wonderful performance as a dirty-old grandfather in “Little Miss Sunshine”. I applaud anyone who has Chicago roots.

Melissa Etheridge got the upset of the night, fending off three tunes from Dreamgirls and a good Randy Newman piece with her song from “An Inconvenient Truth”. After listening to all five performances, and without criticizing any of the others, hers was the absolutely the best.

Then there is Al Gore, who is beginning his career as a comic actor in Hollywood. He and Leo DiCaprio worked out a bit that they pulled off well. His eloquent documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” (which I can not mention enough) brought home a couple awards including Best Documentary Film. I have not seen the others to say if it truly was the best, but it certain was a great film and I hope more people see it.

Jodie Foster delivered a fine introduction to my favorite segment, “In Memoriam”. I wish they had used a clip from “Pleasantville” when remembering Don Knotts, and presented the audio clip of the awards where Maureen Stapleton won for “Reds”. When she won, she came up to the stage and said, “I would like to thank everyone I ever met.” It was sincere, wonderful and as great an Oscar moment as you can find.

There were a few moments that left me scratching my head, but there really was not anything glaring or worth mentioning. It was a great night for everyone and I am glad I didn’t wait to watch the tape. Let’s hope the same team does it again next year!


Sunday, February 25, 2007


The Oscars are presented tonight. Whoopie!

Actually, Whoopi has not hosted for years. Tonight it is Ellen’s turn.

That said, Ellen DeGeneres is the best reason for watching tonight’s show. She is hysterical. We used to watch her do stand-up on Comedy Central long before her first sitcom. She is even funnier today.

This is a good venue for Ellen as well. She has done the Emmys and other award shows. She is very comfortable with the crowds and communicates well with both the in-house audience and the television crowd.

Jon Stewart did a great job last year. Billy Crystal is always good. I even liked Steve Martin. This year, however, will be a fun broadcast.

That said, what is the real point of watching the Oscars? The clothes!!

Of course, I am a guy and do not really care about the clothes. I am happily married and do not have an interest in leering and some of the revealing outfits. I do appreciate a pretty flower, but I have my own, thank you.

That said, what is the real point of watching the Oscars? The stars!!

Still, I am a guy and I do not read People magazine. All this talk about Brittany Spears and Anna Nicole Smith bores me. They have their own lives (of course, we lost Anna, which is sad). Let them be. Sometimes I feel that our constant preoccupation with celebrities causes the mayhem.

That said, what is the real point of watching the Oscars? The movies!!

Hey, that’s right! It is an award program about movies!

The sad part for me is that I have only seen four of the movies that have major nominations. Ready?

Cars. It is nominated for best animated film and best song. It will likely win the first, but not the latter. Pixar always does the best work in the industry.

Dreamgirls. Nominated for a ton of statues, it will probably only bring home two. Jennifer Hudson is the favorite for best supporting actress and it could bring home a best song trophy. Hudson was fantastic in this movie, as was most everyone and everything. If you have not see this yet, go this afternoon before the awards show tonight.

Little Miss Sunshine. Nominated for a slew of awards, it will likely be shut out. It is a great film that voters will overlook because it is too much of a comedy. Voters hate to vote for a comedy. Just ask Bill Murray.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Like Cars, there are not a lot of nominations here, but a few major ones. I didn’t appreciate the film and its non-ending.

That’s it. Click, Superman Returns and An Inconvenient Truth (great film everyone should see) are on the list, but only once so they don’t count. The fact is, my wife and I did not slip out enough during 2006 to see these other “great” films. Likely, we will see them after the awards on DVD, if they bother to win.

That said, I do not have to watch the show to find out who won. So why am I taping the show tonight (besides to hear Ellen’s monologue)? In Memoriam. I love this segment of any and all awards shows. I admit that sometimes I am brought to a few tears. They always do a great job of presenting this portion and it helps with my personal grieving process.

So if you have the time, watch it live. If not, tape the show and fast forward to your favorite spots later. Advertisers will hate you, but at least you keep up with what’s happening on the Amazing Race!


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Delaware's Joe Biden

Senator Joe Biden of Delaware has joined the race for U.S. President. He got off to an inauspicious start by inadvertently insulting former African-American candidates.

Of course, being a long-term Senator does not mean you are perfect.

Biden has been a Senator for close to thirty-five years. He first gained my attention while chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. During his eight year run as chairman, he presided over two heavily publicized U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings when Robert Bork was nominated in 1987 and in 1991 when Clarence Thomas burst on the scene.

In the case of Thomas, the committee was divided by the elder Bush’s nomination. They failed to make a recommendation before sending the candidate before the Senate. In what has been described as the closest vote in the twentieth century, Thomas won approval 52-48.

The Senate hearings in both situations made great television and made temporary stars of such people as Illinois Senator Paul Simon and Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter. Simon parlayed his notoriety into a 1988 Presidential candidacy of his own.

Biden also announced his candidacy in 1988, but the run went down in flames. This was a time when not everything you said and did was video taped, but Biden was caught repeating a speech by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock and claiming it for his own.

Aides to eventual Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis spotted the plagiarism and got the media’s attention. Dukakis made a show of reprimanding his team, but their actions did propel the Massachusetts governor into the spotlight.

So what about all this history? What does Biden have today that none of the other candidates have?

If you weigh the pros and cons you will notice that Biden still does not have the best decision making skills. He made a poor choice in 1988 on what speech to deliver. He made a poor choice of comments when asked about Obama.

Sure, one was a speech and the other was off the cuff, but I want a president who is intelligent, whether writing a speech or speaking candidly.

Biden still does not have great leadership skills. He was unable in 1991 to lead the judiciary committee to offer more than a neutral vote on Clarence Thomas. Recently, he was unable to garner support for the non-binding resolution to condemn the Bush build-up of troops in Iraq. He voted among the 56 senators, but even with seven Republican senators joining up, they still fell four votes short.

Now we could blame a lot of Senatorial Presidential candidates for missing the boat, but Biden is a long-term Senator who should be bringing leadership to the table in his run for office. Even if it was a non-binding resolution, would it have been a nice feather to say he helped drove this through?

In the long run, I like Joe Biden. I like what he says about Iraq. I like the five point plan he has presented for finishing the war and leaving Iraq.

Biden may just be the best choice among the candidates for U.S. President. To get there, he will have to make some changes. He will have to speak more eloquently and convince people to change their minds on important issues.

Overall, Biden must be a leader, more than a smiling face. Let’s see what happens.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

The Apprentice

At the risk of having Donald Trump come after me and call me a fat slop and an idiot, I believe it is time for the reality show “The Apprentice” to close up shop.

When the show first appeared, I hated the idea and shunned the program. Trump was not someone I wanted to emulate (and he still is not). From a format standpoint, it is a direct copy of Survivor, and considering that both shows share the same creator, etc., that is not a surprise.

There were friends of mine who fell in love with the program. They listened and wrote down the tips Donald offered each week. When the program offered a competition between “book-smart” and “street-smart”, my daughter and I decided to tune in.

Not to change the subject, but here is my theory of reality programming: Reality television is like cocaine.

Now, I have never tried cocaine, but from what I have read, the first time you try it, it is a great feeling. The subsequent uses of cocaine are attempts to get the same feeling you did that first time. It never feels as good as it did the first time, but you always hope it will. Again, that is not my experience talking, but what I have read. Please do not hammer me if you have other beliefs about cocaine.

My point is that reality shows share the same experience. The first time you watch a season of a reality show is the best. The first Survivor I watched was the Survivor: All-Stars. None of those that have followed have measured up. The first Amazing Race I watched was Season Five (I think). The people were more clever and the tasks more fascinating than anything that has followed.

On each show, including The Apprentice, the people were more fun and the tasks were the best. Each season that follows you hope will match or exceed that first season you watched.

Some reality shows drop farther than others. Joe Millionaire disappeared quickly after a hot first season. Once the joke was out, there was no point to doing it again. The same is true with other reality programs.

Shows like Survivor and Amazing Race have lasted because it is fun to watch the exotic locales and the human interaction. You always hope to see something “Amazing” but it does not happen often enough. It does happen enough, however, to keep us hooked.

The Apprentice has lost its steam. My wife and daughter have lost interest in the program, but my eight-year-old son still likes to watch. We tape the Sunday show and watch it Monday night. Or Tuesday night.

My son likes the competition. He is not fond of the board room, which is my favorite part. The problem with recent editions of The Apprentice is that the show has become predictable. You know who won the task before they announce it. You know who is going to be fired before they walk in.

The recent text message game the show has adopted has not helped. Last week they chose five people you could guess would be voted off. Four were with one team and one with the other. When the team with four people offered won the task, you knew Amy would be voted away. The show was over with fifteen minutes to fill.

Moving to sunny California has not helped the show. Cutting Mr. Trumps little business advice segments at the top of the show has not helped. Switching the “eyes and ears” people from his daughter to his son to past Apprentice winners has not helped (I miss the older guy).

I do like the idea of letting the winner from one team fill a chair to help decide (ho, ho) who gets fired. That is a cool move that is adding some interest to the board room scenes.

Otherwise, we have learned as much as we can from Trump. Ratings are down. Once this season is over (and Heidi has won) it will be time to say, “Donald, you’re fired.” (Please don’t hurt me.)


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chief Illiniwek's Last Dance

As I stated in an earlier blog, we have been hearing about the potential loss of Chief Illiniwek for close to twenty years. When the news first broke, it was met with disbelief.

People said it would be impossible for the University of Illinois to part with a symbol as popular as the Chief. This day, the day after the Chief’s last performance, would never happen.

As the years passed, we heard many people shout the praises of the beloved Chief. They yearned that the NCAA and the University would forget all the talk of sending the Chief away.

Many fans became downright angry, ranting and raving about how there was only a few people who did not want the Chief and that the majority of people wanted the Chief to stay.

Then, once the NCAA laid down the law and the University began to make statements they may make a decision, some of the angry voices died down (but not all) and there was a sadness in the land. Many of the Chief supporters had given up and were to depressed to fuss anymore.

Then came last night. One last hurrah. One final dance.

(I admit, I did not see it live, but will likely see it on ESPN or somewhere else soon.)

The proof that Urbana-Champaign has finally accepted the loss of the mighty Chief is in the final score. Then fans did not go home after half-time, but cheered their weak Illini basketball team to a 54-42 win over Michigan.

So there you have it. Disbelief, yearning, anger, depression, acceptance. Unlike recent scientific studies, these five stages of grief took nearly twenty years.

Is everyone over the passing of the Chief? No, and I do not expect them to be. Many people invested a lot into the Chief.

The time is now to move on and remember the Chief for what he was. It is a new day and a new century. Long live the Chief.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


In today's Chicago Tribune, there is a headline that reads, "Scientists measure five stages of grief". I was shocked when I saw this. I had no idea the concept was being questioned.

As a high school student close to thirty years ago, we were taught the five stages of grief. Never was it presented that people do not respond in this way. The five stages came to mind during a movie we saw this weekend. I won't tell you which because I do not want to spoil the movie for you. Still, the main character went through each stage: disbelief, yearning, anger, depression and finally acceptance. It did not take the character six months, but they needed to wrap up the story.

Ronald Kotulak's story is interesting, although I am still not certain why we spent three years determining something we already knew. I realize that the scientists were not just determining if the stages were true, but the length of each stage, etc.

There are some thoughts found in this article about coping with grief and how to recognize when counciling is necessary. Kotulak, the Tribune science reporter, does a good job of presenting the facts.

No offense to Kotulak or the Trib, but I cannot wait for the next article, where they share that scientists have determined that gravity exists on the earth!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chicago Radio (& TV)

This past week reminds me of when I was a teenager and school was called off because of snow. I often spent the spare time in my room, reading, playing and listening to the radio.

No, I did not listen to the great rock and roll songs of the late 1970s. I was often listening to WGN radio. These people were my friends, including Wally Phillips, Roy Leonard, Bill Berg, Floyd Brown and, of course, best of all, Robert L. (as in “loveable”) Collins.

I discovered WGN through my dad. Dad often drove us somewhere. Sometimes we were driven to school. On the weekends we were often taken to old car shows. Dad liked to listen to WGN in the car.

Wally Phillips had a program that young people could appreciate. He had these drop-in voices that he had on cartridges and were speckled throughout the show. Voices included Tonto, politicians and comedians added spice to the deadpan sound he offered. Harry Shearer does a similar thing today, although on a much smaller scale, by having tapes of Dick Chaney saying “I shot Harry,” pop up every so often on his program, “LeShow”.

Snow days remind me of these people and WGN still has a good lineup of friends with whom you can enjoy and relate. John Williams is my personal favorite, but Spike O’Dell and Steve Cochran do a great job, as do the mid-day team of Kathy and Judy.

For a couple years now I have wished for a consummate website that kept up with the changes in Chicago radio. I believe I have finally found it.

http://chicagoradiotv.com is a relatively new site. It looks like it started last fall.

It is a blog, and is pretty bare-bones, but I like that. It has a number of links to great Chicago area radio information. Mostly it talks about the comings and goings of the current people working in the Chicago market.

Although it calls itself “radio & TV”, it looks like mostly a radio blog. Since it has only been available a few short months, there are not many people responding with comments (like my blog here), but I imagine that will change soon.

If you have an interest in Chicago radio and the people, both past and present, check it out!


Monday, February 19, 2007

Ron Santo for the Hall of Fame

Ron Santo became a member of the Chicago National League ball club, known to many as “the Cubs” on June 26, 1960. He had three hits in seven at-bats including a double and five runs-batted-in. It was a good day for the twenty-year-old from Seattle, Washington.

His first major league home run came on July 3, 1960. That year he was fourth in the Rookie of the Year balloting, losing to Frank Howard overall. Pancho Herrera and Art Mahaffey both received more votes. Howard went on to have a distinguished career but Herrera and Mahaffey both faded away.

Over the course of his career, Santo his 342 home runs and gathered 2,254 hits. Neither statistic was monumental. There are lots of statistics we could discuss, none of which mean a hill of beans.

Ron Santo was a fantastic baseball player. I was young when he was nearing the end of his playing days. I preferred Billy Williams at the time, but Santo always was there. He always made the game fun.

Here was a guy who could field his position and was a long-ball threat. At times he could carry the team, although he recognized the stars were Banks and Williams.

After ending his baseball career (after an unfortunate year with the Chicago White Sox), he stayed away from the limelight for sixteen years, returning as a broadcaster for WGN radio.

The great story of Ron Santo cannot be contained in a blog such as this. Find a copy of his book “For Love of Ivy” at your local bookstore. He talks about his playing days, Durocher, and his fight with diabetes. The documentary “This Old Cub” is fantastic as well.

Ron Santo belongs in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, for more reasons than I have touched on here. He was an inspiring baseball player who continues to contribute to the game.

There are at least two meaningless online petitions (I signed one). There are also several stories about Santo that can be found at http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com/. They are well written and tell his story so much better than I can.

This week the veterans committee votes for ballplayers missed by the writers. It is my hope they do the right thing and bring Ronnie into the Hall. If they do, it will be the best start the 2007 season could have.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Words of the Candidates

The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more - and it is time for our generation to answer that call.” Barack Obama, February 10, 2007

That is why this campaign can't only be about me. It must be about us - it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams.” Barack Obama, February 10, 2007

And so I ask you, will you stand up for that tired father forced into emergency rooms to get health care for his little girl?

Will you stand up for the brave young boy in the refugee camp?

“Will you stand up for the working men and women in our labor movement who have to fight for decent working conditions and living wages?

“Will you stand up for the young man who knows that education is his way out of the cycle of poverty and yet it seems beyond his grasp?

“Will you stand up?

“Will you stand up for America?

“Because if we don’t stand up, who will?”
John Edwards, February 2, 2007

We need to rebuild our families. We need stronger families! We need people belonging and committed! By doing so, we will reduce poverty, strengthen our nation, and increase hope.

“We need to support the foundational institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman for life. We should support marriage, not tax it? It's wrong to take away welfare benefits just because someone gets married. Marriage remains the best place to raise children—not the only place, but the best.
” Sam Brownback, undated letter found at website

In addition to demographic numbers, we must pay attention to the human condition. The human condition always drives world events. Roughly half of the world’s people live on less than $2 per day. More than one billion people do not have potable drinking water. Two billion people lack proper sanitation, and another 2 billion people do not have electricity.

“All of these numbers tell an important and complicated story that we must pay attention to. The greatest force for change in the world is the next generation. For America and the world to continue to improve the human condition it will require the trust and confidence of the world’s next generation. If we fail, our children and grandchildren will inherit a very dangerous world.”
Chuck Hagel, February 10, 2007

Americans know we need health care. But they doubt Washington understands what it feels like to lie in bed, like 47 million Americans without health insurance, looking over at your pregnant wife, and wondering what happens if your baby is premature. Will I lose my home?

“I understand because I remember being rolled into a operating room 20 years ago, after they told me that my chances weren't good, but thanking God that at least my family wouldn't be left in debt because I had insurance.
” Joe Biden, February 3, 2007

Listen to what our candidates are saying. Listen to how they say it.

Before choosing these quotes, I searched several websites for candidates. I was surprised that the democratic candidates had their speeches available and easy to find. The republican candidates rarely had speeches available. After sifting through various candidates I found Chuck Hagel’s site that included recent speeches made.

Please search for information. Find out what they are saying. Decide for yourself what it important to you.

Most importantly, when it is time, go out and vote!

I know it is early in the process, but do not wait until it is too late.

As I write this, it is early Sunday morning. If you have a day off, spend an hour searching for what these people believe.

Below I have included the websites where I found these quotes. Also you will find an excellent website explaining the current presidential race and offering more websites with information about your future leaders.

Please, do not waste the day. Take a hard look for your sake, your family’s sake, and for all of us.

Sam Brownback
Chuck Hagel



Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chief Illiniwek

The dance may be over but the “Chief” will live on forever.

Of course, in this case, we are talking about the fictional “Chief Illiniwek” who roamed the halls and sports stadiums at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1926. Since 1988, the question of whether it was morally right to continue to present the Chief during sporting events has been debated.

Let me be more accurate. Whether the University should continue promoting and presenting the Chief and his ceremonial dance at sporting and other activities has been pondered, questioned, argued, discussed, talked about, thrashed about, fought about, bickered, squabbled, disputed and fussed about for close to twenty years.

Let us think about that for a moment. For a quarter of the Chief’s existence, the point of his existence has been under fire.

In Urbana-Champaign, there are two types of people who live there. No, I don’t mean the democrats or republicans. No, I don’t mean the smokers or non-smokers. No I don’t mean those who are pro-choice or pro-life. No, I don’t mean men or women.

In the area you will find those “For the Chief” or those “Against the Chief”. There are few (Outside the Board of Trustees) on the fence.

Those who support the Chief have been called insensitive, arrogant, bigoted, unfeeling, unsympathetic, uncaring, callous, cruel, cold and heartless.

Those who support the retirement of the Chief have been called oversensitive, over politically correct, touchy, prickly, thin-skinned, over-emotional, whiney, moaning, complaining and bleeding hearts.

The debate will never be totally over, but hopefully it has been tempered. The Board of Trustees for the University of Illinois has announced that after Wednesday night’s performance, the Chief will be retired.

I have been one of those who have not voiced their opinion. I have always viewed the Chief as a character, like Paul Bunyan. I never felt he characterized a specific tribe or a specific, “true to life” lifestyle. He has always been a fun story that symbolized strength and pride.

The University could have used space gladiators or Roman gladiators. They could have used a pack animal or revolutionary war soldier. Instead, they chose an American Indian.

Considering the time and non-white attitudes of the day, it was an easy choice. Still, it is not 1926 anymore.

This is the twenty-first century. What our country did to minorities of all types through the past two hundred plus years is reprehensible. We continue to fight with those whose beliefs are contrary to ours overseas. In many ways, we still have not learned our lessons.

In the small community of Urbana-Champaign, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees have taken a brave stand (thanks to a gun to the head by the NCAA) and said that since the Chief is offensive to some, we must find another way to promote bravery, persistence and honor among the students, faculty, alumni and just plain fans of the University.

It is not a popular move, but it is the right move. Maybe the decision was not made for the best reasons, but it was the right decision.

In the hearts of the supporters of the Chief, I hope they will take the good that the Chief represented and find new ways to express themselves. Many things were said that should not have been said. Much money was spent that could have been spent elsewhere.

Let us enjoy the last dance and then move forward. The Chief will always be remembered, if not displayed. That is as it should be.

Long live the Chief.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Recent Comments

Recently, a couple of people have left comments. I thought I would take a moment to respond.

Bryan from Seattle, WA left a comment regarding my recent writing about Barack Obama. He writes, “Don't cut Mitt Romney short either, take a look at him, he has an excellent chance, very well balanced.”

Unfortunately Bryan, I have already spoken up about Romney. Take a glance at a blog I wrote last April titled “Hurtful Things”. In it I write, “During a February speech in West Bloomfield, MI, Govenor Romney stated that he felt his state of Massachusetts “struck a blow against the foundation of the family.” He continued, “The right and idea setting for raising a child is where there is a mother and a father.”

I write more about this in that blog, but my feelings remain the same. Romney’s attitudes towards the issue of same sex marriage and basic rights for homosexual couples remove him from my list of candidates I will consider supporting. We do not need any more closed-minded individuals running our government.

Bryan, please don’t take offense, because I do like some of the other ideas Romney has shared, such as health care reform. I do not feel like he is a horrible person. He is just someone I will not consider supporting.

Bryan also wrote, “As for Obama on the issue of tax reform and how people aren't paying their fair share, well this is kidna complicated. When 5% of the nation pays approx 90% of the taxes, well it isn't fair is it? The 5% being the top 5%, the wealthy, most people disregard this, just thought I'd let you know.”

Again, Bryan wrote a very nice, polite comment and I hate being arguementative. The math Bryan presents may be accurate, but it certainly is short sighted. If the top five percent is paying 90% of the taxes in this country, it is because, being the top five percent, they have most of the money. If you look at how much of the money they spend on taxes relative to their income and compare that to how much money the middle class pays in taxes compared to their income, I think that you would see the unfairness of our current tax system.

Thanks for commenting, Bryan! Just because I see the situations differently does not make me right and you wrong, or vice versa. I like the chance to consider other views. You never know what you might learn.

I also heard from Andrew who said, “If you are interested in the accuracy of House, MD, "The Medical Science of House, M.D." by Andrew Holtz is NOW available.”http://astore.amazon.com/holtzreport-20/detail/0425212300/002-1506485-5696031 or http://doiop.com/HouseBook

He was responding to a blog last August where I wrote about the Fox series “House M.D.”. In a nutshell, I wrote that the storylines were interesting, even is they were implausible. “House” is known for being medically accurate, but the idea that this doctor in one hospital could run into so many crazy illnesses each week is beyond belief. Most doctors are lucky to run into these occasional cases once or twice in their career.

But it is television. It is not supposed to be believable. I have to admit, the recent episode titled “One Day, One Room” was one of their best.

Thanks to Andrew for the tip and good luck with the book. When I get the chance, we will take a look!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dimm View of Winter

Winter has finally arrived in Central Illinois! Certainly there are hundreds of other things to write about, but the one thing on my mind, and my family’s mind, is the snow. Before all is done there could be over a foot of new snow outside.

I do not remember the last time we had this much snow. I do remember the last terrible snow was on New Year’s Eve in 1998/1999. I remember because my (then) sixteen year old daughter was stuck in Nashville, Tennessee trying to get home.

Despite the recent cold temperatures and the blizzard-like conditions today, I still believe our world is a victim to global warming. It is just that days like today make it a hard-sell.

So today, my wife and I are not going to work. The roads between here and my job are shut down and, although my wife can get to work, nobody else can or should. Schools are closed so my daughter is still asleep (at 10:00a) and my son has spent a good portion of the morning playing video games.

I have been playing with the blog a little since last night. If you have not noticed, I have added an “Atom” to the blog. You can spot it off to the left. The “Atom” allows you to subscribe to the blog. That way you do not miss anything brilliant I may write.

Please sign up for the blog and let your friends know. If you are stuck at home in the middle of the Midwest snow storm, take this opportunity now to call or email your friends. Of course, you could be reading about global warming, or watching the Al Gore movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”, since you have the extra time (by the way, the movie is excellent). Still, emailing or calling your friends about “A Dimm View of Life” is just as important from a “making the world a better place” standpoint.

While you are talking to your friends about the blog, do not forget to remind them that Barack Obama is running for president. They may want to do some reading.

If they enjoy jazz, tell them about “Detroit JazzStage”. If they like baseball, let them know that pitchers and catchers are starting to show up in Arizona and Florida. If they like political humor, tell them about “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” and “LeShow”.

Or better yet, ask them how their family is, or how work is going. See if you can’t get together as a family, or maybe just for coffee. Not today, of course.

The point is, do not let the weather cut you off or get you down. The world is still bright and beautiful. It is just a little whiter right now.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Missing States

This blog has been around now for roughly ten months. I find it interesting that there are still twelve states that haven’t been represented when I look at who has visited this blog.

People from Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming have deftly avoided stopping by and seeing the Dimm View of Life.

It causes me to ponder, “Is there broadband in these states?” Do people from these states know about the internet? Is Google available?

Certainly the internet would be available in states like Nevada, West Virginia and Rhode Island.

All kidding aside, I am aware that the internet is available to all our fifty states (Puerto Rico has been by for a visit). So why have these states avoided Alexander Dimm?

Maybe it’s content. I tend to write about whatever comes to mind. Politics, sports, entertainment, books that I have read that I really like, and podcasts (of course) are main topics that spring to mind.

Maybe this is too varied. Maybe I need to be more categorical.

Over the next couple of months I am considering a change in format. I am considering a full-blown website and maybe a couple of blogs. Being a sports fan/Cubs baseball fan, and the season starting to rev up, I am considering a separate “Dimm View of Baseball” blog. With election season starting (huh?), I am also considering a separate “Dimm View of Elections”. That way I am not tied to only talking about the Presidential election, but can vary my writing about any races that are interesting.

Of course, I will continue a “Dimm View of Life”. There I will talk about some of the more conventional things, including books and podcasts and what is the state of life around us.

My thinking is that if I develop this blog into a full website, maybe people from Rhode Island will visit me. Maybe Delaware people will stop by. Maybe Idaho will stop from farming their potatoes long enough to read about the Boise Cubs, if I write about the low-A Cub farm club.

Or maybe I am just too anal retentive. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it and just write something interesting.

Maybe I will try that.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack Obama for President, Pt. 2

As I write these words, it has been two hours since Barack Obama made his announcement declaring his run for the office of President of the United States. My wife and daughter and I watched him speak on C-Span.

You can read a copy of the transcript here: Obama’s Speech.

Among the statements made this morning were these: “In the face of war, you believe there can be peace. In the face of despair, you believe there can be hope. In the face of a politics that's shut you out, that's told you to settle, that's divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what's possible, building that more perfect union.”

It was here (in Springfield) we learned to disagree without being disagreeable - that it's possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst.”

Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more - and it is time for our generation to answer that call. “

And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.”

Senator Obama can certainly speak well. I will enjoy listening to him over the next two years.
It is my hope that whoever lands in office at the end of 2008, will have the actions that can back up the words. In the case of Barack Obama, we may be looking at the “real deal”.


Barack Obama for President

Roughly two and a half hours from now, as I am writing this, Illinois Senator Barack Obama will formally announce his candidacy for the office of United States President.

I wish I could be there. I wish I could take my whole family there. It will be a historic moment.

Even if he doesn’t win either the nomination or the office, Obama’s candidacy will be an exciting story to watch. If the election were held today, I would vote for him. However, the primary is a year away and the general election is nearly two years from now.

A lot can happen during that time.

I like Barack Obama for several reasons. First, he is from Illinois. Not really. He is from Hawaii, but he is an Illinois Senator and that’s good enough. We are proud to have him represent our great state.

Second, I appreciate most of his positions. He believes in tax reform, which I agree is necessary. He believes everyone should pay their fair share, which is not happening today. He believes in committing as a nation to alternative fuel sources. That means more than the lip service provided by the current administration. He believes changes need to be made to our health care system.

There are issues I wish he was stronger and bolder in his support, such as education and homeland security, but it is early in the process and I may have missed strong, bold statements he has already made on these topics.

Third, he wants the war to an end. Simply put, we must find a way out of Iraq and Obama may be open-minded enough to find the way.

Fourth, he is a leader. He is not afraid to do the hard work necessary to find solutions and works hard to get his message out. He listens and is able to respond to what is said, not twist the conversation over to his own talking points.

Overall, I believe in Barack Obama. I believe, as a country, we are ready for Barack Obama. Let’s sit back and enjoy the next few months and hear what he has to say.

There are other candidates I enjoy listening to, and will give them a listen. I like Joe Biden and John Edwards. There are even a couple republicans I will follow, including Senator McCain. It will be a long election season. Names will drop in and drop out of the running.

For today, however, it is Barack Obama’s day. We still have a little more than two hours before he steps up to the podium in Springfield, Illinois. I cannot wait to hear what he has to say.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Molly Ivins 1944 - 2007

I didn’t even know she was ill. Apparently, Molly Ivins had been fighting breast cancer since 1999. On January 31st, the beast finally claimed one of our finest writers.

It is amazing to me that I had not heard about our loss until listening to last Thursday’s NPR podcast of “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”. They made a passing reference during the broadcast which was taped just a day after her passing.

My discovery of Molly Ivins happened a little over a year ago. I found her at the workingforchange.com website. Workingforchange.com features many funny and insightful writers such as Joe Conason, A.J. Dionne, Will Durst and Arianna Huffington. Quickly, I realized that Ivins was my favorite.

The program “Wait, Wait…” referred to a story from early in her career. The California born, Texas raised Ivins somehow secured a writing job at the New York Times from 1976 to 1982. She covered the nine western states as the paper’s “Rocky Mountain” bureau chief. Her style finally clashed with the paper’s editors when she wrote about a community chicken-killing as a “gang-pluck”. Somehow, the Times failed to spot the humor.

The wonderful aspect of Ivins was that she had intelligence, confidence and a sense of humor. Among her best lines include, “Good thing we've still got politics in Texas - finest form of free entertainment ever invented.”; As they say around the [Texas] Legislature, if you can't drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in office.”’; “You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to.”

The last comment was pursued in the final column published at workingforchange.com. In she says, “We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war.”

In yet another example of how she felt about people being involved in the world, Anthony Zurcher wrote this for the Creators Syndicate, “Last fall, before an audience at the University of Texas, her voice began as barely a whisper. But as she went on, she drew strength from the standing-room-only crowd until, at the end of the hour, she was forcefully imploring the students to get involved and make a difference. As Molly once wrote, ‘Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don't much care for.’"

If we learn anything from the life of Molly Ivins, it is that all of us have a voice. Some of us may write a blog. Others may participate in a rally or run for office. Others may donate money or work to raise money for a good cause. All of us need to vote!

As for me, I may not be nearly as “funny, intelligent or insightful” as Ms. Molly Ivins. I may not be able to inspire people to get up and fight to make the world a little better. There can only be one Molly Ivins. But the best tribute I can think of is to say, “I’m going to try.”


Thursday, February 08, 2007


Early this morning, CNN posted a story on their website stating that Iran will fight back if attacked.

It must be a slow news day.

Do you not think that any country would fight back if attacked? Iraq did not fight hard, but there was some resistance at the start of this “war”. Today there is less war with the U.S. and more squabbling among themselves. U.S. soldiers are dying because they are there, not because the Iraq people are trying to accomplish overthrowing our country.

The Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this morning, “The enemy knows well that any invasion would be followed by a comprehensive reaction to the invaders and their interests all over the world."

This is supposed to put fear in our hearts as citizens. Personally, it does not bother me at all. I expect statements like this. When I get worried is when our own President and Vice-President make statements about fighting Iran. Then I get nervous.

As a country, we need to listen more to leaders like Russ Feingold and Barack Obama who are constantly trying to find solutions and ways to bring our soldiers home. They are not talking about sending more troops and finding other wars to battle.

Molly Ivins would have said it better, but it is time for a shift in our foreign policy. It will be two years before we swear in a new President. I hope we don’t wait that long to demand a change.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Astronaut Love

As a comedian once said, “What’s the matter with you?” Astronaut Lisa Nowak, a forty-three-year-old married mother of three tries to kidnap and murder the thirty-year-old girlfriend of another (male) astronaut. “What’s the matter with you?”

As a forty-something year old husband and father, I don’t get it. You have the world! You have a great career. You have, presumably, a great family. What more could you want?

Your fellow co-worker is a forty-something man. I haven’t read if he is married with children, but let’s presume he isn’t. “What’s the matter with you?” You already have a husband and children!! Leave the poor man alone!

You told police that your relationship with the fellow astronaut was “more than a working relationship and less than a romantic relationship.” That’s the way it should be.

If he wants to go off with some thirty-year-old woman, that’s, presumably, his choice. Again, presuming he has no wife and children of his own.

This is worth talking about because my impression of the NASA community was that these people were incredibly intelligent. They were high achievers who were organized, controlled and set high goals for themselves.

Apparently, behavior cannot be judged by jobs, hobbies or religious affiliations.

This situation reminds me of a high school cat fight. Actually, it is a little more than a cat fight when you bring up the pepper spray and the carbon-dioxide powered BB pistol. Not to mention the steel mallet, folding knife with the four-inch blade and the garbage bags. Someone was planning to do more than fight.

How many of these do we have to read about before people remember that these always turn out badly. No one wins in a three way relationship. In this case, the male co-worker could be as much to blame as Nowak. If he saw any signs of interest, he should have shut things down immediately.

My daughter mentioned last night there were two fights at her school yesterday. Two girls fought about a young fellow. Two boys fought over a girl. Which one of these six will turn up in the newspaper twenty-years from now? Will they learn their lessons now, or will this pattern follow?

Luckily, I don’t have to worry. I am very much in love with my wife. I have wonderful children. There is nothing (and no one) more I need in life. So when I read a tragic story like this, I can only think of one question: What is the matter with you?


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

2008 Primary Season

There was a time in the “not-so-distant” past when a state primary election meant something. Voters were given a chance to meet and learn about candidates. All the announced candidates had an equal chance during the early primaries.

As the season wore on, some moved into the front while others faded away. The process was sound and sometimes provided very interesting stories. Remember Gary Hart’s campaigns in 1984 and 1987? Remember Howard Dean’s imploding chase for the nomination?

The disappointment in recent years is that nomination decisions are being made earlier. During my lifetime, I remember when the republican and democratic conventions were the places where the final decisions about who would run were made. Today, the choices are formed months before, even before the primaries have completed their cycle.

Unfortunately, we cannot turn back the clock. Such changes are part of the new world where we live. Communication is faster. We want our news faster. We move faster. If we could hold the election this November, we would. You know that candidates are ready.

The disappointment for me is how the primary season is changing. New Hampshire and Iowa used to kick off the season in late January and early February, while “Super Tuesday” played out during March. During 2008, Nevada will be moving their primary to match Iowa. South Carolina has moved theirs to match New Hampshire. Many other states have announced moves to those weeks as well, including Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina and Utah will be moving theirs up as well. Those still debating include California, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois.

As disappointed I am that all these states will be voting at the same time, I understand how no one wants to be left out. No one wants the decision to be made without their voice being heard. In my state, Illinois, the statement was made that we want to give candidate Barack Obama a boost. Moving the primary up from April to February will let their opinions mean something because by April a primary may be redundant.

That is why so many candidates have made announcements so early this year. They need a year to campaign before the nominations are decided next February. In 2008, the nominating process will go quickly, months before the conventions and eons before the November election.

Is faster better? No irony intended, but “time will tell”. Democrats need to be the most careful. A bunched up primary season may produce a candidate to whom they are not totally committed. Both parties need the time to sort through what is important to them and who is the best person to present the message. Unfortunately, that process must begin now and not in 2008.

After years of so-so candidates, let us hope that the next election produces candidates we can be excited about and support with fervor. Let us not ignore the process.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl is Over

It would be easy to dump on the Bears quarterback, Rex Grossman. He, who allowed two interceptions and a goofy fumble, did not play well.

Still, it has been written that the true course of the game would be fought between Payton Manning, Colts quarterback, and Brian Urlacher, of the famed Bears defense.

By 9:00p CST last night, Manning was the victor. The Bears defense was intimidating for about half of the first quarter. The Colts adjusted and the Bears were just another tough defense.
Don’t get me wrong, the Bears defense played well. They just stopped overpowering the Colt offense. With “Bad Rex” showing up in Miami, the defense needed to do more.

I cannot feel too bad, however. The Bears did put up a good fight. They made it to the Super Bowl itself, which was only the second time in forty-one years. You still have to be proud, even if you want to criticize the quarterback.

The Colts were favored. Tony Dungy is a great coach. It was their turn to win.

Maybe next year it will be the Bears turn.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

DJS: Paul Keller and Jesse Palter

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. Bears fans and Colts fans, and football fans in general, will be gathering in their favorite places all day long to prepare for the beating the Bears will provide to the Colts.

At least, that is what I expect will happen when the dust clears. Bears by ten.

Of course, I am not a great student of football. For me, football is a mild pastime. I prefer baseball or listening to jazz. For me, the Super Bowl winners of jazz are the people behind “Detroit JazzStage”.

The most recent holidays provided a couple nuggets of joy from Detroit. First, DJS has developed a new program concept they call “DJS Jazz Spotlight”. The initial outing brings attention to twenty-one year old Jesse Palter and her new song “Lovesick”.

“Lovesick” is a song she co-wrote and is included in her CD “Beginning to See the Light”. During the podcast, Palter freely talks about the song and CD and the inspiration behind her work. For someone so young, she has a mix of intelligence and youth that is very appealing.

The song “Lovesick” has crossover appeal. It is very much a jazz song, but I believe it would appeal to R&B and rock audiences as well. She attributes Stevie Wonder’s music as inspiration and it is truly felt in Mike Jellick’s keyboards. She may say, “I don’t need a remedy, just steal the thoughts of you from me,” but the feelings of joy and love she feels are clear. The scat she provides leaves me remembering Minnie Riperton, which contrary to some opinions, is not a bad thing.

The song may be “Lovesick”, but the feeling is a happy one. I hope we will hear more from this young talent. To hear the podcast, click the “Detroit JazzStage” link to the left. The program is shorter than a regular JazzStage offering, clocking at just under ten minutes. It is a perfect length for those of us with short commutes. Palter’s CD can be found at http://cdbaby.com/cd/palter.

The DJS crew then followed this up with a forty minute podcast featuring a live performance by the Paul Keller Ensemble. I have listened to this one more than any other DJS podcast they have produced to date. Keller’s song “NTK” is a big reason why. This is a joyful romp which is great morning listening to get your day started right.

Keller, a University of Michigan professor, removes crass commercialism and embraces what good jazz truly is. He understands the history of jazz and is not afraid to attempt to bring what he has learned to original compositions. Hopefully, one of Michigan’s best kept secrets is ready to be exposed.

“Detroit JazzStage” continues to live up to my previous statements that it is the most professional and enjoyable podcast being produced to date. If you haven’t taken the time yet, to coin a phrase: “What are you waiting for?” Click on the link provided and download the “Paul Keller Ensemble recorded at Live at the Max”, and “DJS Jazz Spotlight featuring vocalist Jesse Palter”. You will not be disappointed.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Not Enough Indians

Yesterday I mentioned “LeShow”, Harry Shearer’s witty radio exercise that is as thought provoking as it is funny. Shearer has been doing the show weekly since 1983 and archives are available as far back as October of 1995 at the Harry Shearer website (look for the link off to the left).

Shearer entered a new medium during 2006 when he authored his first novel, “Not Enough Indians”. He has had two other books published during the 1990s, including “Man Bites Town” and “It’s the Stupidity, Stupid”. Both are considered social commentary.

In “Not Enough Indians”, Shearer carefully crafts a town in upstate New York who is suffering financially. The town is like many across this great country who are searching for ways to build their economy and can’t quite find the best course of action.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the leaders of Gammage, NY are not that bright and have questionable morals. In fact, throughout the book, it is hard to discover any character that you can identify with or that you hope will be successful.

The joy of “Not Enough Indians” is not in finding a small, forlorn character that you can root to victory. The joy of the book is seeing how far people will go. In the world Shearer creates, people are willing to stretch the truth so thin you can hardly see any truth remaining. People are willing to jeopardize their values to achieve a financial goal. Does any of this sound familiar?

No, I do not believe the book is intended to be an allegory of the current Bush administration, but the way the townspeople make their decisions does appear to mirror decisions made in our country’s recent past.

If you have not heard of the book, find a copy and take a look. It is quick and funny read. If you have heard of the book, but have not taken the time to read it yet, shame on you! Yes, it is a novel and there are plenty of Iraq books you have yet to read, but “Not Enough Indians” is required reading now.

It can be found at Amazon.com. Click this link to take you straight there.

“Not Enough Indians”

Don’t forget to let me know what you think!


Friday, February 02, 2007

Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!

The MP3 player must be considered one of the best inventions of the later days of the twentieth century. Five Germans are credited with developing the audio compression technology that we enjoy today in various instruments, including I-Pods and cell phones.

Today, Bernhard Grill, Karl-Heinz Brandenburg, Thomas Sporer, Bernd Kurten, and Ernst Eberlein are my heroes. Someday I will explain where the acronym MP3 comes from, but that is not what I want to tell you about today.

Today I want to tell you about what I am listening to with my MP3. Much has already been said about the superior jazz music podcast “Detroit JazzStage”. Sunday morning political programs, such as “Face the Nation” and “This Week” also find their way to my daily trips to work and home.

Still, there is a place on my MP3 for humor. I was so disappointed that Michael Feldman’s “Whad’Ya Know” couldn’t be downloaded in its entirety. It is available as a stream on the internet, but I cannot sit still in front of the computer that long.

Feldman does offer a short snippet from the show as a podcast, but it is not one of my favorite parts of his program, so I let it go.

Since I first received my MP3 I have been listening to Harry Shearer’s “LeShow”. It is one of the most consistently funny and well written programs produced for radio today. It will get you thinking as well and get you laughing, which is why I enjoy it so.

If you find a moment, check out this past week’s (January 28, 2007) program. Along with Shearer’s dry wit, the show features a song by “The Bobs” called “Slow Down Krishna”. The Bobs are an A cappella group from California who sound great and the song is hilarious.

Recently I stumbled across a program on NPR quite by accident. How I could have missed the program I do not know but I had never heard of it until this fall.

Since 1979, NPR has produced a program titled “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”. It is a quiz program where NPR voices Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell shoot questions at such celebrities as Mo Rocca, P.J. O’Rourke, Roy Blount Jr. and Paula Poundstone.

The program has a stable of close to twelve panelists and each week three appear on the program to suffer the slings and arrows Sagal provides. What makes the program so appealing is that you hear about news you may have missed the previous week, and you find that intelligent people, like Blount and Kyrie O’Connor (Deputy Managing Editor of the Houston Chronicle), have also missed a few things as well.

Each of the people chosen to participate have an extensive list of writing credits and are known for expressing their views on what is going on in the world. They are not afraid to speak up here as well.

The program is produced live in Chicago each week, which always is a plus for me. My goal this summer is to talk one or more of my family into going to the Chase Auditorium some Thursday night for a taping.

Included is a link to the podcast off to the left. The program is usually about forty-five minutes long and worth every minute. If you like to laugh and enjoy the wit of television programs like “The Daily Show” and the “Colbert Report”, you will love this. Enjoy!

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Thursday, February 01, 2007


January clung like a dark shroud. Each day the sadness traveled deeper into my soul until there was nearly no light, no joy. I raise my head only to have in beaten down by the dull ravages of evil thoughts and feelings.

Okay, maybe January is not that bad, but I am still glad today is the first of February. For some odd reason, January and I are not on speaking terms.

It was my wife who reminded me of my issues with January early this year. It started with terrible back pain. I thought maybe I just strained it doing housework, but it just kept getting worse. Finally, around the eleventh I went to the doctor. He provided Vioxin and a muscle relaxer. A week later, I was fine.

Then the cold came. The cold ran from about the twentieth to the twenty-sixth or so, but I have a bronchial cough that won’t go away. I have tried different things that have slowed it, but not driven it away. I still believe I can beat it without going to the doctor. Besides, it is February now.

Thinking back over the years, I notice that the really difficult issues that have faced me often appear during January. Most of my serious physical problems have hit during January. Not all of them, but many of them.

Maybe it is because my birthday is during January. Maybe it is because I start thinking about taxes during January. Maybe it is because January is the toughest month to go without baseball. I know there are places in this country where baseball is played year round, but Illinois is not one of them.

February seems to be full of hope. February is full of promise. Valentine’s Day is during February. It is a shorter month. Baseball players gather in Arizona and Florida during February. The Cubs seem like winners during February. Yay!

If a year is a race, I feel that I have stumbled out of the blocks. Resolutions can be tossed aside because the fresh start has been wasted by the dark clouds of winter. February is still a tough winter month in Illinois, but we can often see signs of spring. When February ends, March appears and the real birth of the New Year is upon us.

Maybe I should abandon the calendar and consider March First the beginning of the New Year. It is a better month in which to start. You can actually see the beginning of life during March. Fresh leaves and fresh flowers begin to appear. We can begin to work on a new garden. We can clear away old sticks and leaves that failed to be cleared in the fall. Life truly starts in March.

Or maybe April.

Then again, I may just be whining. Maybe January is not such a bad month. The good news is that it is done. Welcome February! Stay and lets us enjoy you for a few weeks. Maybe four.

I feel better already!