A Dimm View of Life

Location: Illinois, United States

Monday, May 28, 2007

Little League

My father was never a baseball fan or a sports fan. He never missed an opportunity to put down my beloved Cubs. He didn't like Fergie Jenkins or Ron Santo. I admit he never made fun of my hero, Billy Williams. Then again, Billy was not as outspoken as Fergie or Ron.

My father often listened to WGN-AM in Chicago. That is where he picked up most of his information about what the fellows were doing. Maybe some of his friends talked about them as well.

When the Cubs were not playing well, he liked to say they were playing "little league". I do not know if he thought of that on his own or heard someone else say it, but it always made me angry. This was a professional sports team, not a little league team. Sure, they are going to make mistakes and lose sometimes, but why beat them up.

I was reminded of all of this late yesterday afternoon, watching the Cubs lose in the eleventh inning in Los Angeles. There were fine pitching performances lost (again) in that game. Rich Hill is back on track after a couple of rough outings. Michael Wuertz and Bobby Howry pitched okay after recent meltdowns.

Scott Eyre allowed a pinch-hit home run to future star Andre Ethier to tie the game at one. I could be upset about that but it pales in comparison to the later meltdown.

Angel Guzman had pitched two perfect innings. He allowed no hits are baserunners. The Cubs had squandered scoring opportunities again, but he was rolling along fine. Then he walks pinch-hitter Ramon Martinez to start the inning. Manager Lou Piniella could have pulled him there, but that is the sound of a back-seat driver. Piniella is trying to instill confidence in his young pitcher. He left him in to face pinch-hitter and back up infielder Wilson Betemit. Betemit walks. Ball four was no where near the strike zone.

After another terrible pitch to Rafael Furcal, Piniella finally lifts him for Carlos Marmol. Marmol comes in and intentionally walks Furcal to face former Cub Juan Pierre.

Three straight walks to load the bases and a weak hitter at the plate. Marmol hits Pierre with a pitch. The winning run scores. If that cannot be described as a little league inning, what can?

Do you blame Guzman for the walks? Do you blame Piniella for not pulling Guzman faster? Do you blame Marmol who has been effective, but wild in the times we have seen him pitch?

Maybe this is not going to be the great year for the Cubs we all hoped for when the pocket book was opened this winter. Maybe the bullpen is going to allow the season to drift away. Maybe Piniella is going to experiment away the season.

After a long, frustrating day yesterday, the Cubs return home for an afternoon game today. Were they too tired? Maybe. They tried to come back in the ninth, but the game was too far gone. Another decent starting pitching performance lost.

Last year is was starting pitching and lack of timely hitting that killed the team’s hopes. This year it is relief pitching and a lack of timely hitting. Maybe we can pull it together before all hopes are gone.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Graduation Day

The task I get to perform tomorrow has an ironic twist. For me, it is a preparation for what will come in years too soon. Tomorrow night, I will hand out diplomas to our area high school students.

It is a task bestowed upon a cohort and me because none of the other school board members were interested. That sounds harsh, but being one of the newest board members, some of them wanted a year off. Last Friday I went to graduation practice. I now know how to shake their hands and deliver the package. It will be fun.

I know some of the kids. Some I remember from before they started school. Others I only met this year. Few of them know much about me. That’s expected. I could not name any of the school board members when I grew up, nor could I tell you who handed me my paper.

What makes this experience ironic is that I went to college years ago and received an associate degree, I had mailed to me. It is even more interesting that when I completed my bachelor’s degree more recently and had that mailed as well. You think I would be more interested in being handed a diploma than handing it out!

So why do I consider this practice for years to come? I have two children who will eventually graduate. One will reach that mark much sooner than the other. There is a chance I will be voted off the board before I get the opportunity for delivering the paper to either one, but somehow I think I’ll get the chance.

One thing I already know is that no one in the gym tomorrow will notice me or remember that I was even there. That is just fine with me. I am proud of our school and our young people. It is there night to shine. I’ll be thinking of nights to come and warm myself in the glow.

Thank you for reading. We’ll talk again soon.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Open Letter to Samuel David Cheney

Welcome to the world, Samuel! It is a bright and beautiful world we live in and I am glad you are here to join us!

You are a very lucky boy. Your mother, Mary, seems very nice. I have never met her or her partner, Heather, but I have heard your mother interviewed. It sounds to me like you are going to be in a home surrounded by love.

When it comes down to it, love is all that is important.

Now, there are those who are going to criticize your mother and her partner. Ignore them. They are people who do not understand about love. They only understand about the importance of their own personal opinions. Ignore them and they will go away.

There are also people who criticize your grandfather. I admit that I have criticized his choices and decisions from time to time. Ignore us, too. Your grandfather is a good hearted person. I may not agree with some of his ideas, but he is still your grandfather. That is good enough.

Not that you have asked for it, but I do not have a toy or money to offer as a gift, so I will offer this advice instead: Listen. Listen to people. Listen to what they say. Watch what they do. Make very few comments and make the choices that will benefit the most people.

A writer named William Shakespeare once said, “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” These are good words to live by.

I wish you well, young Samuel David. Good luck and do good work. We know, with the good people looking out for you, you will have a good life.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Benji” is one of those movies that feels out of place. Recently, my wife and I found a copy of the movie after bringing a Lhaso Apso into our family. The name they gave it at the shelter was Benji and it looks a little like the movie dog.

Watching the Joe Camp production was a little like opening a time capsule. There were some interesting things there, but you definitely feel like you going through someone else’s closet. In both cases, you have been given an open invitation, but it still feels a little odd.

In short, the movie is about a “dog with no home” in a non-described, rural southern town. We see the dog’s daily routine. We meet the dog’s friends.

Then we get to the plot. The home where the dog lives is broken into by young, well dressed people who are preparing to kidnap someone. Of course, those kidnapped are the dog’s friends.

In the end, the bad guys are caught, the dog is adopted and everyone lives happy. In 1974, it was the top “family” film and one of the top films of the year. It was Camp’s most famous and popular film. Several more “Benji” movies were made, but none could top the original.

The sad truth is that “Benji” will never be held in the high esteem of “The Wizard of Oz” or “Snow White”. It is simply a poor film. There are too many slow scenes of dogs running and real time and in slow motion. We see Benji travel through the same parts of town over and over again, to the same old Charlie Rich song.

There are cameos by Francis Bavier (Aunt Bee from “The Andy Griffith Show”) and Edgar Buchanan (Uncle Joe from “Petticoat Junction”). It was obvious both filmed their short scenes in one day, but both added nice warmth to the film.

Patsy Garrett, a “former child star” (I can’t find a thing about her career as a youth), had the best human role as a nanny and good friend to Benji. She went on to do plenty of guest starring roles on television and became a spokesperson for Purina Cat Chow (huh?).

Still, the star of the movie is Benji. Camp knew how to make this great little actor shine. The dog was also rescued from a shelter to co-star on the “Petticoat Junction” series before starring in this movie. He made one more Benji movie before leaving the role in subsequent movies to other look-alikes.

I was pretty young when I saw the film in 1974. I had never seen it until recently and was a little embarrassed. I remembered it as a nice warm film, and it was. What I didn’t remember was the slow pace and repetitive score. Nonetheless, it was worth the time to see it again and enjoy it with my family. If you have already seen “Crash” and “Hotel Rwanda” and need a change of pace, check it out sometime. You may just find out why we needed a new dog.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Cell Phones

My current employer is a major communications company. I work in customer service and assist representatives by providing the information they need to answer questions customer have about their equipment.

That sounds very vague so I will be clearer. I work for a wireless telephone company. If you have a question about your bill or cannot get your phone to work, you call my department. I try to find answers that the people you talk to do not know instantly.

When I started with the company, about three mergers ago, cell phones were very simple. There was no text messaging or internet. There were no cameras. You could not download ring tones. It was much simpler just a few short years ago.

They did not cell “bag phones” or “brick phones” when I started. I have not been working there more than ten years yet. Those types of phones stretch back to the 80’s and 90’s. I worked for a man who owned a brick phone. It worked, but it wasn’t very practical.

The problem with working for a cell phone company today is that people expect you to be an expert. There are so many different models of phones, superphones, blackberrys and PDAs that it is nearly impossible to be an expert on all models.

With ring tones, answer tones, text messaging, multi-media messaging, video, mobile television, 3G, mobile internet and so much more, it is amazing what phones can do these days.

We are just getting to the tip of the iceberg as well. Someday, you will use your phone, not only at vending machines, as has been discussed for years, but at restaurants and gas stations, in lieu of cash or credit cards. Just charge your purchase to the phone.

Earlier today, my daughter had a simple request. She wanted to download a couple ringtones and set them up for different callers. I know it could be done, but I could not explain how. My area is more about the bills than the handsets.

We went to the company website and discovered that her handset could not do what she wanted. My daughter has a phone that is already outdated.

In my mind, it is only eighteen months old. In the cell phone world, it is the equivalent of a Ford Model A during the 1980s. Nice to look at and maybe it works, but it is no longer practical.

Already I am adding “cell phone” to the list of things for my daughter’s next birthday. She is going to have to suffer with this one for the summer, but by the time her birthday rolls around, it will be worth it.

Thanks for reading. We will talk again soon.

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Shortly after the first of May I predicted that my postings would become fewer and farther between. I did not expect to take more than a week between posting, but here it is Monday, May 21st and I have not posted since Wednesday, May 9th.

It has been a busy couple of weeks. Our new dog is settling down. We have had several band concerts and other school and church functions. Nothing terribly disturbing has come into our lives during this time.

I have been sad, however. My creative flow has been stunted. It has made me down and nearly unlivable. I find I need to write to survive. Therefore, I am still searching for the best time of day to develop my thoughts, but I am committed to writing on a regular basis once again.

Thank you for your patience. We’ll talk again soon.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

National Honor Society

Tonight, the family went down the street to the high school. We gathered with other parents and students in a room that holds seventy to eighty people. There were forty or so school desks. You know the kind. It is a metal one-piece there the desk surface is attached to the chair. Think of the desks that Jake and Elwood Blues sat in at the Catholic Church to talk to the nun.

My wife and I sat in the back row. There were people standing in the back, including the school principal. There were a few teachers in attendance, but not many.

For the most part, the students ran the meeting. The officers of the local chapter of the National Honor Society handed out awards and inducted the newest members. My daughter was one of those inducted tonight.

There is nothing that can say how proud I am of my daughter. She gets 98% of her intelligence from her mother. She has good work habits. She cares about the world around her. From a fellow student being treated badly by others to the mismanaged war, she understands and does what little she can to make the world a better place.

My daughter has no greater fans in this world than her mother and I. We knew from the day she was born that she was special. She keeps on proving it to us every day. She also writes. She plays the piano. She gets involved in community social action events.

Okay, she is also a sixteen year old. She spends a lot of time on the phone. She does a lot of socializing with friends. Yet we both know that this is not just what her life is. She budgets her time and makes certain what needs to be done gets done.

I know I am bragging and I am getting to a point of being boring. I apologize. It is just that it needs saying. I love my daughter. She is the best.

Thank you for reading. I will write again soon.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Sometimes things sneak up on you. I have mentioned recently that my wife and I bought a dog. We gave a home to a young dog from a rescue shelter. We have had it now for a few weeks. It is wonderful.

It is also having an effect on my routine. For instance, for months now, my routine has been to get up of a morning, take my shower, and sit down at the computer and write something for this very blog. It does not work that way every day, but most days I am successful at building something.

This morning the realization hit that things are going to have to change. Exactly how they will change I am not certain, but I have an idea.

The dog has taken up residence in our room at night. That means the dog must go out first thing of a morning. Admittedly, my wife takes our dog out most of the time, but I do not want her to feel she must be the only one to take the puppy out. I try to jump up first two or three times a week.

Now keep in mind we are a household of four humans and two pets. The young boy does not need a shower of a morning, preferring a bath of an evening, but does use the bathroom in the morning. I usually shower first because my wife drinks coffee first thing and I do not.

Since we acquired the canine, I am sometimes putting the finishing touches on my Pulitzer Prize winning work when my wife is ready for her turn. I tell her to leave the “nearly housetrained” dog with me.

Because the “nearly housetrained” dog is not “fully housetrained”, my wife has started to insist that I come downstairs and be with the dog instead of leaving the dog upstairs with me while I finish my work. What that means is that I cannot post a blog first thing in the morning.

This is not my wife’s fault. To be real, it is not the dog’s fault either. The dog is just being a dog. My wife is trying to get her day started. It makes sense that I move a little faster and spend a little more time with our newest family member.

Where does that leave my writing? I work nine hours, not counting a half-hour one way commute. That’s ten hours out of the day. When I come home, we eat supper together as a family and then do “whatever needs to be done.” Sometimes that “whatever” is homework. Sometimes that is school functions, like band concerts or open houses. Sometimes it is paying the bills or just watching a favorite show on T.V. with my son or daughter.

Sometimes “whatever” is taking the dog for a walk or playing fetch. All that “whatever” leaves writing low on the list of things to do in the evening.
I love to write. It is my favorite thing to do. It is taking the ball of clay and making something that is alive. Yet, writing takes time. In the morning, my mind is fairly clear and I can make sense of the ideas. Of an evening, thoughts of the day make the mind scramble.

I am still going to try to post each day to this blog. I was going to try to post to four blogs regularly, but I knew weeks ago that it was too much. There is a new routine to be found. It will present itself eventually.

Sometimes things sneak up on you. Pets enter your life. Daughters earn their drivers licenses. Sons wake up.

I have a son who will be turning nine this month. For years, when there is little to say, I have heard him go on about jokes he remembers from “Jimmy Neutron” and “Fairly Oddparents”. The latest thing he enjoys quoting is old Bob Saget jokes from “Funniest Home Videos”.

But now my son is beginning to show signs of waking up. Tonight, we were riding home from pizza. It was just the two of us in the car. He says, “Dad. Did you hear about the tornado in Kansas?” I had read about it but patiently listened to my son explain the damage the area received. He showed concern for the people of the area and marveled at the size of the storm.

Still, he is just a boy. He admitted that it was funny that it was a “tornado in Kansas” just like in the “Wizard of Oz” books he has been reading.

My son is starting to take notice of the world. I remember when my daughter was that age and was reading about Anne Frank and having great interest in Bible stories and historical figures. She wanted to know about real things and grew away “children’s stories.”

Now my daughter is a young woman thinking about college and other aspects of her future. My son is starting to realize there is a world outside of computer generated movies and video games.

I am starting to realize that there will be time enough to write and make my postings.

If you notice that I have missed a day or so, do not worry. It may be because I am walking the dog or at a band concert or simply playing a game of “Sorry” with my son. Soaking up the inspiration of my family gives me more perspective and makes me a better writer.

Just remember that I will be back soon enough. The days with each of my family, even the dog, are preciously numbered. After all, computers may never go away, but family memories keep you warm forever.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Dimmer than Normal

I have not been writing here as regularly as normal and I apologize. There has been a lot going on in the Dimm household.

First of all, I learned last week that the people who installed our furnace the past February also sabatoged our air conditioning system. They were hoping we would buy a new air conditioner, so they chose not to hook up the old unit. I was amazed they owned up to it. I am still trying to decide whether to take legal action.

Our brand new, ten-month old, Lhaso Apso became sick last week. Although we were careful, we were very worried that he was infected by bad pet food that came from overseas. He seems to have recovered and all is well again.

Between end of the year school band concerts and church activites, sick dogs and school board meetings, non-functioning air-conditioners and other happenings, life at the Dimm home has been crazy.

This is the start of a new week. I am excited. Nothing special is planned (except the air-conditioner people are expected tomorrow and I have a meeting to attend tonight). The blog will go merrily along.

That is good. There is a lot to talk about. Feel free to let me know what is on your mind.

Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Paula Poundstone

One of my guilty reading pleasures is books written by stand-up comedians. Paula Poundstone joins a group of funny people from Fred Allen to Bill Cosby to Paul Reiser, who become funny authors. Her book is the aptly titled “There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say”. According to Poundstone, it took nearly eight and a half years to complete, largely due to a personal legal issue that she discusses within the covers.

It is no secret that Poundstone was arrested and spent six months at a rehabilitation facility. It had to be a horrible time in her life. Still, she finds a way to look back with a jaundiced eye and comes up with a way of looking at her problems to make us laugh.

The book consists of seven lengthy chapters which give us capsule views of famous people in history as presented by someone with attention deficit syndrome. The truth is Poundstone does not have to repeat the story of Helen Keller. We know the story.

Poundstone’s versions do not change the facts like a Stan Freberg satire, nor does it add in odd sequences like a Dr. Floyd podcast. Poundstone simply tells the store of these famous people of history, but often gets sidetracked by telling you her own thoughts and experiences.

Sometimes she even gets sidetracked from the story where she was sidetracked. While explaining the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright, she mentions how Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution. This gives her a chance to talk about her visit to the Smithsonian Institution, but before she can get to deep into her story, she begins to talk about museums in particular before waxing poetic about seeing Debbie Reynolds perform a Judy Garland tribute onstage.

The stream-of-consciousness writing style works well for Poundstone. She knows this is not going to be a reference book appearing on a sixth-grader’s biography report. The point of the book is to make us laugh and make us think.

She points out things that simply do not seem right in this world. She reminds us of how a Today show report on Somalia was interrupted with the news of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s separation. She tells about her son’s elementary school classmates telling her what would happen during the rapture. “I guess it’s not important to decide whether (my son) should brown bag or have hot lunch next week then.”

Among the spare observations are autobiographical references. She talks frankly about why she is not married. She tells how she came to own so many animals. Most importantly, she talks about being a foster parent and her love for her adopted children.

The book is never going to replace “The Power of Positive Thinking” as a book of inspiration, nor will it make us forget the work of Mark Twain. What this book will do if find ways to make you laugh and realize that no matter how hard you have it, some people have it worse. Just ask Joan of Arc.

Thank you for reading. We’ll talk again soon.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Seven Wonders of Illinois

The Illinois Bureau of Tourism announced a list of “seven wonders” of Illinois. All make sense, although none of Lincoln’s landmarks are included.

I have had personal experience with three of the affirmed ‘wonders’ and can say they are indeed wonderful. Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois is a splendid location. I visited as a youth and have wanted to return with my children for years now. The stories and the rock formations make for a fascinating adventure for young and old.

Last summer, my wife encouraged us to visit Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello. It is hard to get a guy to go look at flowers and bushes, but she had been there a year or so ago and wanted us to come. With a name like Allerton Park, she could have told me it was a horse race track and fooled me into going, but she is not that conniving and I am not that goofy.

I admit, it is a beautiful place. It is amazing the thought that went into such a place. The statues are amazing and the design is such that you do not see in Central Illinois. I encourage anyone who can appreciate the beauty of a flower to visit Allerton Park.

Black Hawk State Historic Site near Rock Island is on a list of places we may have to visit this summer. Last summer we were near to the “Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway” but did not to there or to Rend Lake near Benton. Appearing on the list give us all the more reason to travel that way again soon.

We also have not visited the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, but may have to go that way on our way to find Krispy Kremes and White Castle sandwiches.

So where on the list should we put any of the Lincoln landmarks? What should we bump? Wrigley Field? Do not start that with me. All of my family has been to Wrigley Field and it is my personal sanctuary. For me, Wrigley Field is at the top of the list.

This list is for the places of spiritual, architectural and botanical wonder. Lincoln’s landmarks are a bounty of historical facts and feelings. Lincoln’s landmarks stir your mind and your heart. This list is filled with places that stir your soul.

The people who voted for the seven wonders picked a great list. Nice job to each one. It is going to make 2007 fun for me and my family.

Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.

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