Work = Force x Distance

Today I explored several blogs from recently signed up followers. What amazes me is that most of them are selling something. Grumpajoesplace does not sell anything. My blog is a place where I can vent about almost anything or everything. For me writing is a cathartic drug. In times of grief writing allows me to express feelings I cannot express audibly. Writing relieves my stress when that is my issue. Writing allows me to communicate with bloggers who have become my friends over the internet, and whom I miss when they don’t comment or go missing.

I often thought about selling, but selling has never been my thing. In order to sell, I’d have to go back to work subscribing to blog sites for the simple reason of getting attention to my product. If I wanted a job, I would apply for one. Of course I am a hypocrite in this regard because I offer my books for sale on my site. In the twelve years I have done so I have sold two copies of my life story as told in games I played as a child. Today, if you actually click on the button that says “buy my book” it will lead you to Amazon Kindle books and the price is $0.00. So you will see that I can’t even give my book away, so why would I make a concerted effort (work) to subscribe to followers for the purpose of selling my free book?

On my to do list of big projects I have listed finishing a book I began writing when my wife Peggy was still alive and lucid about ten years ago. The working title is Space Rod. It is a story of a man who loses his wife and in his grief he buys an antique pick up truck which he intends to restore. Of course restoration is work, which he likes to avoid. He meets a man named Mort whose interest is also in street rods. They become friends, and before long Mort introduces the widower to Trey a man whose business it is to restore old cars. That is when the story finally gets interesting, and that is where I stopped writing to care for my wife full time. Peggy has been gone since 2019, and I am first now getting a tickle of an urge to finish this story. I picked up the manuscript a few months ago and read it to refresh my memory about the characters and the direction it was taking me. Throughout I kept mentally editing passages to clean up the grammar and to make it more readable. It occurred to me that this project is huge and will be considerable work. Do I really want to spend all that effort on something that no one will read?

PSA-230406-Book Report

Reading Main Street by Sinclair Lewis is another line ticked off my bucket list. I scored it four stars. Lewis was an accomplished writer and told a good story in Main Street, but I thought it was a little too slow. Of course that is exactly what he was writing about. His story takes place in a small town in Minnesota called Gopher Prairie. That name struck me as being a funny. I had to look it up. Gopher Prairie is a fictional town patterned after the author’s home town of Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

The main character in this story is Carol a native Minnesotan who gets the idea that she wants to change the world one town at a time. The problem is that she can only see that a town is not to her liking. She really doesn’t know, nor can she describe what an ideal town looks like, only that Gopher Prairie is not to her vision. She meets and marries a local man Will Kennicott a local country doctor who is several years her senior.

Although she agreed to live in Gopher Prairie with he husband Will, she never finds a single thing she likes about the town, or the people who live there. At best she tolerates the people and endures the simplicity of the town of three thousand people. As she described the town I got an image of a place I would like to live.

Carol and Will have a baby, a son. One would think that the child would change the mother’s attitude. Even though she loves the child she he does not change her idea about the town. In the mean time her husband being a country doctor is on the go and out of the house long and often. Carol is not satisfied with keeping a house and raising a baby, she wants more.

My personal opinion is that Carol needed a therapist, but therapists didn’t exist in Gopher Prairie in the early 1900’s. After suffering for several years with this dilemma she decides that the best thing for her to do is to move away to a big city where her vision of perfection would be satisfied. She reminded me of actress Cher in the movie Moonstruck when her fiancee is hopelessly complaining, and Cher hauls off and slaps him across the head, and shouts “snap out of it.”

I did enjoy reading this story, but I couldn’t give it more than four stars. It was slow at times and the author tried to get into the heads of his characters a little too much for my comfort.

Sinclair Lewis is a renowned author having won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, and Main Street was his most successful book. Regardless of Carol’s opinion about Gopher Prairie, I would have loved to grow up there. At the time the town population was 3000. That is very similar to the population of Frankfort, IL when I moved here. I thought the town was idyllic, quiet, pastoral and close to rural. Over the past thirty years it has grown, as has the entire surrounding area, and the charm is now replaced with excessive vehicle traffic, huge schools, oodles of franchises, and too many policemen. The historic district is where all newcomers want to live because it most closely resembles small town America. My ideal town is featured in an old movie titled “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. This type of town still exists in the USA, but they are far away from big cities and are dying out.

With the current population influx of immigrants from everywhere, our small towns are all bound to grow as poor people look for places that are affordable, and free from too much regulation. Eventually, our cities will resemble those in China where cities like Shanghai exceed twenty millions souls. During the COVID 19 shutdown I researched Wuhan to learn that it is not a single city, but a cluster of several cities blending into one another for a whopping population of sixty million. They sure as hell can’t relate to the story of Main Street at all.

Hooked on Series

Two TV programs have sunk their hooks into me and won’t let go. The most recent one I began watching is House of Cards with Kevin Spacey. The story line intrigues me as I want to believe that our Congressmen are not as stupid and conniving as depicted. Because I love conspiracy theories this program gets my attention because it deals with behind the scene activity of our Congress. It highlights the politics of getting bills passed. More than that it highlights the amount of back stabbing and favor trading that goes on between congressmen. Spacey uses the trick of giving “asides” where he looks directly at the audience and explains what is going on in his mind during dialogues with colleagues in negotiations.

The second most watched series is New Amsterdam a story about New York City’s first hospital which treats all people. The theme is definitely pro-socialist medicine. What saves the show is the main character who is played by actor Ryan Eggold. He plays the part of Max Reynolds the hospital Director not as a stiff suited administrator but as a scrub attired doctor whose main mission is to help people.

I must admit that I have a penchant for medical drama dating back to Dr. Ben Casey in black and white television days. Maybe it is because I spent a big chunk of my life in hospitals as a patient, a parent, and a spouse.

Max is the perfect example of a positive thinking problem solver, and the writers do an exemplary job coming up with solutions to his many difficult situations. The only thing I don’t like about this series is the emphasis on socialized medicine. The stories are usually balanced between the staff wanting to help everybody against the Board of Directors who seem to only care about cost and payment.

Also, within the characters there seems to be an inordinate population of home-sexual medical staff whose personal relationships become the story. The program also highlights the difficulties encountered by hospitals during the COVID pandemic. The entire staff suffers from PTSD, and battle fatigue. Another theme that they do an excellent job with is addiction.

At third place is a program called “The Blacklist” with James Spader as notorious most wanted by the FBI character Raymond Reddington. The entire premise of this series is preposterous and unbelievable. First the most wanted criminal lives within the country yet never gets caught, second because the same criminal is partnered with the FBI in a special mission to catch criminals. Usually, the criminals on the black list are creative entrepreneurs who exist to aide other criminals. The series lacks imagination when it comes to story telling. Each episode is played off a standard outline and the entire story seems to be solved in minutes. The cast has some interesting characters such as the computer, internet expert Aram Mojtabai who can find information on anybody seemingly within seconds.

The Grapes of Wrath-2023

There aren’t too many books that I have re-read in my lifetime, but today I finished reading The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. By far he is my favorite author. He makes me see the characters, and the places he writes about with amazing clarity. His writing style is what made me read this book a second time. It has probably been forty years in between, but I still remember the story, and yet I enjoyed it more this time than I did the first. I doubly enjoyed his descriptions of the time and the sadness of the tale.

The Grapes of Wrath has so many messages such as: the effect of weather forcing a mass migration, the desperation of poor people, the strength of family, the will to live, the shame of accepting government help in extreme poverty, the effect of starvation on health, the rejection by the communities that were affected by the influx. The list goes on. Steinbeck tells the history of the era in great detail. He was born in an agricultural valley in central California and most likely witnessed the people streaming into the region looking for work. He understood the attitudes of agricultural workers forming unions, and the land owners fighting to protect their properties. It is a scary time and a sad time because the differences between the people could be likened to the differences between North and South in the Civil War. In this case the land owners against those who don’t own land.

Most of the migrants came from Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Most were share croppers. They didn’t own land but rented the land and the rent payment was a share of the crop they produced. When the global warming of the nineteen thirties hit the plains and water dried up the land turned to dust. The winds blew the dust away from the farms and destroyed them. Crops were lost, lives went bankrupt. Bankers foreclosed on the sharecroppers and the landowners sold to corporate farms. The tiny farms of twenty and forty acres that once provided sustenance for families became massive company farms tilled by modern tractors on thousands of acres to provide a return on investment. People be damned, it was up to them to move on, and to provide for themselves. Had the migration moved slower, and the people who left to find jobs did so in a trickle things might have been different. The combination of weather killing crops and corporations buying the land to make money fast caused the migration to happen rather suddenly. It is estimated that two hundred and fifty thousand people were displaced from their farms in one summer, and the majority moved to California to find jobs as pickers. They moved in old junky cars and trucks bought from charlatan dealers who raided junk yards for inventory and sold the vehicles to desperate people who needed to find work.

The current situation in the United States is not much different, except the migrants aren’t coming across the state line, but across the border from starving Central America, or they are refugees displaced by war. They come by the thousands because they have seen the promise of the United States. What hasn’t changed much is our attitude toward the intruders. In modern America, those coming in are not coming in junky jalopies that barely run, they walk in, and our government uses buses or airplanes to transport them all across the country to unsuspecting cities where they are let loose to fend for themselves. In some cases the receiving city puts them into unoccupied hotels, until more suitable housing can be found.

This book was first published in 1939 and the story closely relates to the current conditions in the USA. Does this mean that we have not solved a single worldwide social problem since then? Why are we paying all the exorbitant taxes? Where does the money go? One place it goes is to fuel the salaries of all the degreed people working for all the bureaucracies invented to deal with social problems like homelessness, starvation, etc.. Then there are those people who work diligently to expand those services. I often wonder how many staff people we employ to handle a single poor person.


In the new emigration the people’s wants are similar to those of the thirties. Most seek only employment so they can better themselves. They aren’t really coming here to go on welfare, they want to make their own way by working. The people who do go on welfare are those who are born here, and are too lazy to take the low paying jobs that immigrants are willing to do. What the impact will be on the USA is that the influx of immigrants will lower the standard of living for everyone.

I didn’t expect this book report to turn into my ranting about society and the ills of big government, but it did, and I am sorry for that, but now that it is in type I must post my thoughts and opinions.

Lighter than Air

Every year I set a goal to read one book a week. I missed the goal in 2022 by one book. Convinced that this year will be different I am reading voraciously. The latest novel is by author Ariel Lawhon and titled “Flight of Dreams.” Although it is fiction it has a historical theme. The fiction aspect contains two separate love stories, a mystery, and much social dialog. The history part comes from the fact that the entire story takes place aboard the last flight of the Hindenburg. Only a few references are made about these huge, lighter than air, ships being used in World War 1, in moving mail, and passengers.

The early part of the story reminded me of a cross country train trip I took on a train. Descriptions of the life in a restricted environment, and the ensuing boredom mixing with the excitement of a adventurous journey stirred my recollections. The author used a tactic that made the reading easier for me. She broke the story up by writing from the point of view of the characters. She begins new segments about a character with the title of the character, such as Cabin Boy, Navigator, Stewardess, Chef, Journalist, American, etc. Since I have trouble remembering characters in any story I read, this tactic helped me establish a connection sooner, and it was more burned into my brain.

The flight from Germany to New Jersey lasted three days and eight hours. This gave the author lots of time to tell the story of over ninety passengers and crew. Of course, she concentrated the narrative on only a select few passengers in order to get the reader into the story. Throughout the tale we know all along how this story ends, the Hindenburg blows up as it is landing. The author periodically gives us a check-point by reminding us how many hours and minutes remain until the “explosion.” What this did for me was to establish a giant curiosity about how the story ends. Would my favorite character be one of those who perish? Would the love interests perish together? Would the American accomplish his goal to revenge his brother’s death in WW I?

I felt that Ariel Lawhon did an amazing job of story telling by turning her story from a slow beginning into a frantically paced thriller in the final pages. Her story left me sad, and happy as I learned which characters survived, and which perished. I learned just enough history in this read to make me want to know more about this form of airship travel.