Five hundred and twentythird Asic – The Grapes of Wrath- A Sort of Book Review

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read ”Of Mice and Men” in school as a teenager, and I guess my teacher picked the novel for a few different reasons, among one was the endurable length… I was however thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but a summer a couple of years ago, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

 Although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2018. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans and hopes are not always fulfilled…

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems.

vindruvor

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

A good book is a book you never forget…

That is what ”The Grapes of Wrath” was to me…

 

cotton-capsule

Annonser

Four Hundred and Eightieth Asic – The Grapes of Wrath- A Sort of Book Review

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read ”Of Mice and Men” in school as a teenager, and I guess my teacher picked the novel for a few different reasons, among one was the endurable length… I was however thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but last summer, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

To me as a Swedish reader, both when I was young and now, I  must say Steinbeck really made a difference. I can see his deep engagement concerning important issues in society and although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2016. In Europe where I live, migration is an every day topic, since many thousands of people are on the move between different countries. Some end up in camps or in asylum seeking procedures where bureaucratic systems cannot handle the massiv number of applications quick enough. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans may be delayed or sometimes changed, and for a few the plans and hopes may never be fulfilled, due to accidents or other problems along the way.

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter, since it is walking on a thin line between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow. When the story begins we meet the American state Oklahoma when the weather conditions have been very poor for a long time. Draught and winds have left the land destroyed and every corn field has a layer of dust that makes the corn worthless. The protagonist Tom Joad, is an ex-convict from Mac Alester, where he sat four years for homicide. Now he is out on parole. Tom Joad comes back home in company with an old friend of the family, Jim Casy. In order to find job and better opportunities the Joads decide to leave Oklahoma for California. During the long trip from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to California both Grandpa and Grandma die. Tom’s brother Noah, and his sister’s boyfriend Connie leave the family for different reasons, but the rest of the family stick together. Ma and Pa, Tom and his brother Al, their sister Rosasharn who is pregnant and the younger children Ruthie and Windfield all come to California after a very tough trip through several states, over mountains and finally through the desert.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Joads and the other Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems. For several reasons Tom gets in trouble again.

vindruvor

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

For a period of time, the Joads live in the Weedpatch camp, which is a state camp. For the first time in their lives, Ruthie and Windfield see toilets. The workers are all involved in taking care of the camp together, making sure it is kept clean. Here the Joads meet other people they can trust and make friends with and for a moment the reader is fooled to think this book has a happy ending…

I highly recommend ”The Grapes of Wrath” if you would like to get a glimpse of migrant life from the inside. The novel reveal several complex issues and through the Joads and their discussions throughout the novel, you and I get a chance to consider those issues, too. With the coming election in the USA last year when I was there, the voters could decide whether there would be harder times or not for migrant workers from abroad, picking fruit and cotton in California for the benefit of American producers. Some of the migrants came there just like the Joads, with the hope of a better future. Some of the current Californians are likely to be decendants from Okies who came in the thirties.

Let us read books like ”The Grapes of Wrath” and never forget what made us the ones we are today.

cotton-capsule

Fourhundred and twenty-third Asic- Trump or not, that’s the question! Part 2

#American flag, #stars and stripes, #asaole

The battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has been one of my favorite soap operas last year, but as we got closer to Election Day I must admit that I was surprised that Mr Trump could actually be a possible future President of the United States of America. To me, he seemed to be far away from the person I had assumed the general american would like as their president.

But having said that, I also know that a number of Americans I talked to this past summer, were not at all as surprised as I was. This was clear to me when my family and I were visiting the USA as tourists in Florida, California and New Jersey. Since I enjoy talking politics I kept asking people I met about their opinion in the coming election. Interestingly they all seemed to enjoy the topic and shared their viewpoint with a stranger like myself.

The first person I talked to was a cab driver in Miami. He was a Haitian and on my question about the potential of the two candidates and their chances to become presidents he said that neither of the two were good enough for this wonderful country, but if he had to pick one, he would vote for Mrs Clinton AND…he said; the Cubans around Miami would most likely vote for Mr Trump, for the reason that they were all still very disappointed with the JFK leadership in the sixties. They would not likely change their opinion no matter what candidate would run for president now… They would all vote Republican, according to the cab driver.

A few days later we met another cab driver in San Fransisco. He was of Swedish origin and had his opinion crystal clear. Mr Trump was his choice… The reason was that Mrs Clinton was not to be trusted and had been involved in too many political decisions that she could be criticized for. I said that from  my point of view, there were plenty of things that one could easily criticize Mr Trump for, too, but the cab driver claimed that the most important issue for the President of USA, would be keeping an economic balance and who would be better at doing that but a billionaire?

A lady whom I talked to for a while when lining up for the ferry to Alcatraz shared the viewpoint that Mr Trump was just playing around. In her opinion Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump were involved in a conspiracy, since they have known each other for many years and may have decided that Mr Trump would be running for President only to make sure Mrs Clinton would easily win…

Last but not least, a member of staff in the National Constitution Center, held the viewpoint that there had to be NEW THINKING and then Mrs Clinton would be disqualified for the reason that she had been a politician for way too long…

Four different opinions from four different Americans, but with one thing in common… They all seemed to be fed up with the SYSTEM and just wanted the Election Day to come, to get it over with. Lately when the tone in TV debates was worse than ever, I wanted the Election Day to come, too, so we would get the answer to the thrilling question: Who would be the President of the United States?

When that answer actually came, I was truly surprised and the many questions in my head about the future for the ordinary citizens of the USA piled up. What would happen to the Obamacare? How about the Mexican Wall…? Can that truly be of any interest for the general tax payer? And the Dakota Access pipeline… Who would go against so many people’s protests? What about the multilateral agreements with East Asian countries? Who would want to disagree with China in any matter concerning money? There were many more issues that was brought to the surface this last week and a few of them made more impact than others.

Women’s right to decide for themselves what their future will be like is closely linked to legislation for abortion. The last week Mr Donald Trump wrote his signature over and over again on executive actions, when surrounded by his crowd of ”yes-sayers”. Many of the executive actions meant changes for the worse for people in other parts of the world, such as the one where President Trump ordered that federal dollars cannot go to organizations that provide abortion services. What kind of LIFE will mother and child have if the pregnancy is a result of a rape? In this matter I would say that:

One step backwards for the American President is a giant leap backwards for women worldwide

Today’s news was all about the twitter battle between Mr Trump and the Mexican president concerning the Mexican wall… They are like little boys in the sandpit. Why write official tweets with offending content when they would be better up talking, just the two of them…

Luckily some officials dare to go against stupidness… One of them was obviously the Mexican president when he decided to cancel his trip to Washington DC. The other brave act was when the staff in the foreign ministry decided to resign, all of them, as a group, because they did not wish to work for Mr Trump and last but not least the 24th of January Gov. Jerry Brown promised to stand up for ALL citizens of California, including the immigrants.

The country I visited last summer is divided…

What an extremely difficult task someone else will have four years from now, to make America UNITED again, after being ”GREAT” for four years…

Fyrahundratjugoandra åseriet: Turist i USA- 24 Bloggposter med erfarenheter från kända turistmål i Florida, Kalifornien och Pennsylvania!

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Valresultatet i USA har på många sätt ändrat världskartan. I somras när vi turistade i USA förvånade det mig att så många verkade hoppas på att Trump skulle vinna, eftersom jag själv trodde att Hillary Clinton var en starkare kandidat, men i takt med tiden blev det ju alltmer sannolikt… NU när vi vet hur det gick, har politiken redan svängt i 180 grader och det USA vi mötte i somras tillhör tiden ”before Trump”.

Planerar du att turista i USA så kanske de 24 blogginlägg jag har skrivit kan intressera dig. Här nedan följer en förteckning över texterna i den ordning jag skrev dem. Vill du läsa andra inlägg som jag skrivit, så hittar du dem till vänster på webbsidan. Ibland skriver jag även på engelska och de inläggen kan du hitta genom att välja ”In English” till vänster.

#grodshow i Everglades

#grodshow i Everglades

Tvåhundranittiofemte åseriet-Turist i USA- Everglades: Toby är ingen prins!

”Att åka in i Everglades påminde litegrann om att befinna sig i de låglänta delarna av de svenska fjällen, med den skillnaden att man inte hade de vackra fjälltopparna i fjärran att vila ögonen på. I stället var det sawgrass såggräs, så långt ögat nådde. Jag hade fått uppfattningen att det skulle lukta av vattnet, att man skulle känna det som att man åkte omkring i ett avloppsdike ungefär, men trots att det verkligen var vatten och gräs eller vass i alla riktningar, kändes inte någon unken lukt därifrån. Det är det som är poängen med såggräset förstod jag senare. Det är som ett reningsverk för Everglades.”

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Colorful Flip Flops Vector Set

Tvåhundranittiosjätte åseriet- Turist i USA- Miami Beach, sol, bad och flip-flops i massor!

”Vart man går på Miami Beach ser man lättklädda människor i allsköns kreationer. Det finns ingen dress code, men ändå är den där, på ett sublimt sätt under ytan… För män gäller att man bör vara vältränad och gärna visa upp sin tatuerade överkropp och för kvinnor är det välsittande baddräkter eller minimala bikinis som gäller i första hand. ”

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rain-on-window (1)

Tvåhundranittiosjunde åseriet- Turist i USA- Regn och åska i Miami!

”I en storstad är det egentligen inte svårt att hitta saker att göra även om vädret inte är vad man hade tänkt sig… Men som turist i en stad man aldrig tidigare besökt, så som det är för mig i Miami, medger jag att det är nedslående att regnet strilar i en envis ström på fönstret, ibland avbrutet av ett ihärdigare spöregn eller en åskskur…”

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Danskurs i skriftlig form

Danskurs i skriftlig form

Tvåhundranittioåttonde åseriet- Turist i USA- Miami- Sinnena samlar sommarminnen för vintern!

”Vart man går här i Miami så hör man spanska talas och eftersom jag har läst franska men inte spanska, så blir det spännande att anstränga sig att försöka förstå ”ändå”… Det är väldigt intressant för mig som språklärare att göra den där ansträngningen! ”

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Glitter och stänk...

Glitter och stänk…

Tvåhundranittionionde åseriet:Turist i USA- Miami Beach- Shop ‘til you drop!

”Det finns massor av tatuerarverkstäder överallt på South Beach. Flera av dem har fotografier med vackra och välgjorda tatueringar på personer som i sin tur är vackra. Där kan man ju kanske lockas att själv gå in för att placera en dödskalle på sin ena axel och en taggtråd runt överarmen…”

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Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Trehundrade åseriet: Turist i USA- San Francisco i ottan…

”På grund av tidsskillnaden var vi vakna tidigt imorse och eftersom det var fint väder kunde vi lika gärna ta en promenad i grannskapet resonerade vi. I Fisherman’s Wharf där vi befinner oss, är det massor med turister och det märks på affärsinnehavare och andra som bor här, att de är vana att visa folk till rätta. Vi gick inte mer än två kvarter så hittade vi en perfekt plats att fånga Alcatraz på bild.”

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Trehundraförsta åseriet: Turist i USA- San Francisco

”Vid San Francisco Bay finns en lång rad affärsverksamheter som är direkt knutna till havet och vad det ger. Idag besökte vi en marknad som på många sätt imponerade, både i omfång och kvalitet. Både fisk och skaldjur, köttprodukter, svamp och annat såldes där, liksom vad som växer i trådgårdar och på fält…”

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Prideflaggan är hissad i San Francisco

Trehundraandra åseriet: Turist i USA- Gemenskap för alla i San Francisco?

”Ett par dagar i San Francisco har lärt mig mycket om livet, kanske inte nödvändigtvis om mitt eget liv, utan om de livsbetingelser som råder i en storstad. Idag, lördagen den 25 juni 2016 drar firandet av PRIDE igång här i San Francisco. Det märks på en lång rad olika sätt, både genom färgsättningen vid shoppinggallerior och längs gatorna, där flaggor och banderoller med regnbågens alla färger är placerade och genom att många personer som troligtvis tänker fira redan har ”tjuvstartat” och syns på gatorna i diverse olika kostymer.”

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Trehundratredje åseriet: Turist i USA- Muir Woods

”När man kommer in i skogen hörs förstås alla samtal mellan människor från världens alla hörn, för vi är många där…turister i stort antal, men vi verkar dela en ödmjuk fascination inför skogen, för samtalen som förs är lågmälda och många går ganska långsamt mellan jätteträden i djup beundran.”

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Sardinburksomslag från Cannery Row

Sardinburksomslag från Cannery Row

Trehundrafjärde åseriet- Monterey Bay Aquarium, en räddningsplanka för många arter!

”Betydligt mer intressant är stadens akvarium, där ett stort antal sjölevande däggdjur och fiskar finns representerade. Med den fantastiska placeringen alldeles vid havet, får man redan innan man går in i byggnaden en maritim känsla. Monterey Bay Aquarium är det tionde största akvariet i sitt slag i världen. De bedriver forskning på plats och har en mängd olika program på gång för att bevara sällsynta arter och deras möjlighet att klara sig i naturliga miljöer.”

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Stillahavskusten i Kalifornien

Stillahavskusten i Kalifornien

Trehundrafemte åseriet: Turist i USA- Med enastående utsikt längs kusten på Highway 1

”Hemma vid köksbordet kan man ha en uppfattning om hur det är att som landkrabba följa en kustlinje och uppleva havsutsikt under mil efter mil, men när man äntligen sitter där vid ratten i sin hyrbil så är intrycken så mycket rikare än man trodde. Verkligheten överträffar drömmen, helt klart!”

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Trehundrasjätte åseriet: Turist i USA- Hearst Castle, Ett drömbygge med enastående utsikt längs kusten på Highway 1

”Om jag hade haft obegränsat med pengar och en stor bit land, vad hade jag gjort då? Jag hade nog inte orkat bygga detta fantastiska slott, men jag är glad att William Randolph Hearst fullföljde sin dröm och därmed visade just det; Om man har en dröm så ska man följa den.”

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Interiör på Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

Trehundrasjunde åseriet: Turist i USA- Två drömhus i jämförelse, Hearst Castle vs. Madonna Inn

”Om man har en dröm så ska man följa den, menade Hearst… Madonna Inn i San Luis Obispo är en annan slags livsdröm och hotellet är väldigt roligt att jämföra med Hearst Castle, tycker jag. De är i mångt och mycket varandras motpoler trots att det också finns många likheter…”

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Gloucester Outlet

Trehundraåttonde åseriet: Turist i USA- Naturliga vägvisare på resan? Ett pärlband av Outlets längs vägen…

”Men så mycket KUND är jag ändå att jag inser vad smarta de har varit längst Highway 1 och även i andra delar av USA, de där affärsidkarna som öppnat Outlets i varje liten byhåla. Faktum är att det är väldigt tätt mellan stora och fina Outlets med många olika märkesaffärer sida vid sida i ett gemensamt koncept.”

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Trehundranionde åseriet: Turist i USA- Los Angeles vid första ögonkastet 😉

”Innan vi började resan från San Francisco för några dagar sedan, hade jag en felaktig bild av Kaliforniens kustland. Det har varit lärorikt för mig att köra bil här. Det är så mycket som jag inte hade klart för mig. Dels trodde jag att kustlinjen skulle vara lägre och inte ha så djupa vikar, dels trodde jag att bergen skulle vara lägre. Men förutom det så hade jag inte lyckats speciellt väl med att föreställa mig naturtypen heller…”

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Trehundrationde åseriet: Turist i USA- När logiken sätts på prov blir det fel ibland… 🙂

”En stund… Hur lång kan en amerikansk stund vara? Medan jag funderar över hur pinsamt detta verkligen ÄR, så kommer en kvinna ut ur sin bil. Jag ser i backspegeln hur hon går på den lilla refugen och jag gruvar mig alldeles fruktansvärt över hur vårt lilla möte kommer att vara… Jag skulle kunna beskriva henne mycket noga för er, så intensivt mindful var jag den där stunden…”

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Mimmi

Mimmi

Trehundraelfte åseriet: Turist i USA- Walk of Fame…på en halvtimme blankt! 🙂

”Vi betalar våra $10 och går ut på Walk of Fame, fullt medvetna om att vi måste vara tillbaka vid bilen inom en timme, eftersom varningsskylten precis vid vår parkeringsruta informerade om att man annars skulle bogsera bort bilen till en plats utanför staden, samt bötfälla ägaren. Enkelt val… Det fick bli Walk of Fame på tid… YOLO! Döttrarna använder uttrycket ofta… You Only Live Once…”

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Taklampa på King's Fish

Taklampa på King’s Fish

Trehundratolfte åseriet: Turist i USA- En utflykt till Long Beach

”Inte alltför långt bort från Los Angeles ligger Long Beach. Vägen dit var trots detta väldigt ”lång” på grund av köer. Hemresan gick på mindre än en halvtimme… Kontrasten mellan storstadspulsen i Los Angeles och det relativa lugnet i Long Beach är det första som slår mig. Det andra är att det är en långweekend med många lediga amerikanska familjer som har rest hit för en lillsemester.”

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Koll på gångtrafikanterna

Trehundratrettonde åseriet: Turist i USA- Trygghet, ordning och reda och behovsanpassad ordningsmakt

”Överallt där jag har varit på denna resa har jag känt mig trygg, bland annat tack vare polisnärvaron. Samtidigt har jag läst på löpsedlarna att polisen inte alltid enbart gör rätt. Till exempel blev polischefen i San Francisco av med jobbet häromdagen sedan hans poliser återigen varit inblandade i händelser där människor avlidit vill följd av övervåld från polisen.”

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Trehundrafjortonde åseriet: Turist i USA-Att flyga inrikes i USA

”Vi noterade att man som turist får kämpa lite extra för att förstå hur det går till just på inrikesflygterminalen. Alla förutsätter (verkar det som) att inrikesflygresenären är van vid hur det går till, kanske till och med bor i landet och har rest mycket inrikes förut. Vi fick verkligen fråga oss fram i Miami och fick ganska korta och snäsiga svar, ibland alltför knapphändiga, vilket ledde till att vi fick fråga på nytt.”

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Trehundrafemtonde åseriet: Turist i USA- Det stora äventyrets största äventyr?

”Något jag alltid har funderat över är hur det kan vara så lockande att spela om olika mjukdjur och andra troféer när man är på nöjesparker och tivolin. Jag tror att mjukdjuren rimligtvis har hunnit bli ganska äckliga där de hänger under taket i de olika spelattraktionerna och kan inte tänka mig något bättre sätt att hantera situationen än att avstå ifrån att spela… Men den synpunkten delar jag tydligen inte med alla…”

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Lapptäckesteknik

Trehundrasextonde åseriet- Amishfolket i Pennsylvania och deras självklara plats på turistkartan

”Under de år jag vid några tillfällen har besökt Lancaster, har marknadsföringen och turistanpassningen gått allt längre. Turister som vill körs nuförtiden i häst och vagn runt Kitchen Kettle Village mot en summa pengar och är man barn kan man skaka hand med pepparkaksgubben…”

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The president of the United States...

The president of the United States…

Trehundrasjuttonde åseriet: Turist i USA- Om jag vore president i USA…

”Det vore ju rätt så spännande att vara president för en dag… Om jag vore det, här i USA, så skulle jag ändra på några saker som jag sett när jag varit här, men jag skulle också glädja mig åt och känna mig stolt över andra saker och försöka sprida dem så att det blir lika i hela federationen. Det är härligt att drömma. Efter presidentvalet vet vi om det kommer vara Trump eller Clinton…”

http://wp.me/p4uFqc-Oy

Three Hundred and Thirtieth Asic- Tourist in the USA- I I was the President of the USA…

”In a dark corner of the Center it is possible to pretend you are the President of the United States… I simply had to stand in line for this little game…:)

http://wp.me/p4uFqc-US

vindruvor

 Three Hundred and Thirty-First Asic- The Grapes of Wrath- A Sort of Book Review

http://wp.me/p4uFqc-Vb

Three Hundred and Seventy-Ninth Asic – Nobel Prize in literature 2016, Part 1

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read several books by Nobel Prize winners in school as a teenager, and I guess my teachers picked the novels for different reasons… One of the authors I started to like by reading in school was John Steinbeck. I was thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters in ”Of Mice and Men” and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but this summer, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

To me as a Swedish reader, both when I was young and now, I  must say Steinbeck really made a difference. I can see his deep engagement concerning important issues in society and although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2016. In Europe where I live, migration is an every day topic, since many thousands of people are on the move between different countries. Some end up in camps or in asylum seeking procedures where bureaucratic systems cannot handle the massive number of applications quickly enough. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans may be delayed or sometimes changed, and for a few the plans and hopes may never be fulfilled, due to accidents or other problems along the way.

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter, since it is walking on a thin line between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow. When the story begins we meet the American state Oklahoma when the weather conditions have been very poor for a long time. Draught and winds have left the land destroyed and every corn field has a layer of dust that makes the corn worthless. The protagonist Tom Joad, is an ex-convict from Mac Alester, where he sat four years for homicide. Now he is out on parole. Tom Joad comes back home in company with an old friend of the family, Jim Casy. In order to find job and better opportunities the Joads decide to leave Oklahoma for California. During the long trip from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to California both Grandpa and Grandma die. Tom’s brother Noah, and his sister’s boyfriend Connie leave the family for different reasons, but the rest of the family stick together. Ma and Pa, Tom and his brother Al, their sister Rosasharn who is pregnant and the younger children Ruthie and Windfield all come to California after a very tough trip through several states, over mountains and finally through the desert.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Joads and the other Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems. For several reasons Tom gets in trouble again.

vindruvor

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

For a period of time, the Joads live in the Weedpatch camp, which is a state camp. For the first time in their lives, Ruthie and Windfield see toilets. The workers are all involved in taking care of the camp together, making sure it is kept clean. Here the Joads meet other people they can trust and make friends with and for a moment the reader is fooled to think this book has a happy ending…

I highly recommend ”The Grapes of Wrath” if you would like to get a glimpse of migrant life from the inside. The novel reveal several complex issues and through the Joads and their discussions throughout the novel, you and I get a chance to consider those issues, too. With the coming election in the USA, the voters can decide whether there will be harder times or not for migrant workers from abroad, picking fruit and cotton in California for the benefit of American producers. Some of the migrants came there just like the Joads, with the hope of a better future. Some of the current Californians are likely to be decendants from Okies who came in the thirties.

Let us read books like ”The Grapes of Wrath” and never forget what made us the ones we are today.

cotton-capsule

Threehundred and seventy-eighth Asic- Trump or not, that’s the question!

The battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has been one of my favorite soap operas this year, but as we are getting closer to Election Day I must admit that I am surprised that Mr Trump is still counted as a possible future President of the United States of America. But having said that, I also know that a number of Americans I talked to this past summer, were not at all as surprised as I am. This was clear to me when my family and I were visiting the USA as tourists in Florida, California and New Jersey. Since I enjoy talking politics I kept asking people I met about their opinion in the coming election. Interestingly they all seemed to enjoy the topic and shared their viewpoint with a stranger like myself.

The first person I talked to was a cab driver in Miami. He was a Haitian and on my question about the potential of the two candidates and their chances to become presidents he said that neither of the two were good enough for this wonderful country, but if he had to pick one, he would vote for Mrs Clinton AND…he said; the Cubans around Miami would most likely vote for Mr Trump, for the reason that they were all still very disappointed with the JFK leadership in the sixties. They would not likely change their opinion no matter what candidate would run for president now… They would all vote Republican, according to the cab driver.

A few days later we met another cab driver in San Fransisco. He was of Swedish origin and had his opinion crystal clear. Mr Trump was his choice… The reason was that Mrs Clinton was not to be trusted and had been involved in too many political decisions that she could be criticized for. I said that from  my point of view, there were plenty of things that one could easily criticize Mr Trump for, too, but the cab driver claimed that the most important issue for the President of USA, would be keeping an economic balance and who would be better at doing that but a billionaire?

A lady whom I talked to for a while when lining up for the ferry to Alcatraz shared the viewpoint that Mr Trump was just playing around. In her opinion Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump were involved in a conspiracy, since they have known each other for many years and may have decided that Mr Trump would be running for President only to make sure Mrs Clinton would easily win…

Last but not least, a member of staff in the National Constitution Center, held the viewpoint that there had to be NEW THINKING and then Mrs Clinton would be disqualified for the reason that she had been a politician for way too long…

Four different opinions from four different Americans, but with one thing in common… They all seemed to be fed up with the SYSTEM and just wanted the Election Day to come, to get it over with. Lately when the tone in TV debates have been worse than ever, I am likely to agree. I want the Election Day to come, so we get the answer to the thrilling question: Who will be the President of the United States?

Three Hundred and Thirty-First Asic – The Grapes of Wrath- A Sort of Book Review

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read ”Of Mice and Men” in school as a teenager, and I guess my teacher picked the novel for a few different reasons, among one was the endurable length… I was however thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but this summer, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

To me as a Swedish reader, both when I was young and now, I  must say Steinbeck really made a difference. I can see his deep engagement concerning important issues in society and although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2016. In Europe where I live, migration is an every day topic, since many thousands of people are on the move between different countries. Some end up in camps or in asylum seeking procedures where bureaucratic systems cannot handle the massiv number of applications quick enough. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans may be delayed or sometimes changed, and for a few the plans and hopes may never be fulfilled, due to accidents or other problems along the way.

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter, since it is walking on a thin line between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow. When the story begins we meet the American state Oklahoma when the weather conditions have been very poor for a long time. Draught and winds have left the land destroyed and every corn field has a layer of dust that makes the corn worthless. The protagonist Tom Joad, is an ex-convict from Mac Alester, where he sat four years for homicide. Now he is out on parole. Tom Joad comes back home in company with an old friend of the family, Jim Casy. In order to find job and better opportunities the Joads decide to leave Oklahoma for California. During the long trip from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to California both Grandpa and Grandma die. Tom’s brother Noah, and his sister’s boyfriend Connie leave the family for different reasons, but the rest of the family stick together. Ma and Pa, Tom and his brother Al, their sister Rosasharn who is pregnant and the younger children Ruthie and Windfield all come to California after a very tough trip through several states, over mountains and finally through the desert.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Joads and the other Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems. For several reasons Tom gets in trouble again.

vindruvor

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

For a period of time, the Joads live in the Weedpatch camp, which is a state camp. For the first time in their lives, Ruthie and Windfield see toilets. The workers are all involved in taking care of the camp together, making sure it is kept clean. Here the Joads meet other people they can trust and make friends with and for a moment the reader is fooled to think this book has a happy ending…

I highly recommend ”The Grapes of Wrath” if you would like to get a glimpse of migrant life from the inside. The novel reveal several complex issues and through the Joads and their discussions throughout the novel, you and I get a chance to consider those issues, too. With the coming election in the USA, the voters can decide whether there will be harder times or not for migrant workers from abroad, picking fruit and cotton in California for the benefit of American producers. Some of the migrants came there just like the Joads, with the hope of a better future. Some of the current Californians are likely to be decendants from Okies who came in the thirties.

Let us read books like ”The Grapes of Wrath” and never forget what made us the ones we are today.

cotton-capsule