History Monday #101

Merry Christmas in August!

As we’re all trying to deal with everything going on in our world, many are already looking forward to the wonder of Christmas. Even Hallmark got in on that idea and celebrated Christmas in July just a few weeks ago. Today’s #HistoryMonday looks at a town and its local attraction that celebrate the wonder of Christmas (bonus points: it has Hoosier connections).

Santa Claus Land, the first theme park, opened 70 years ago
Santa Claus Land sometime in the 1960’s, two decades after its opening

On this day in 1946, Santa Claus Land opened in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. The amusement park was opened by a Southern Indiana industrialist as a way to highlight the town’s connection to Christmas by virtue of its name. The local post office in Santa Claus receives most of the mail addressed to Santa at the North Pole and has fun with the name.

While amusement parks were nothing new in 1946, the idea of specifically themed amusement parks is what made Santa Claus Land important. Louis Koch felt that having a location that allowed children to see Santa not just during the Christmas shopping season was important for a town that bears Santa’s name. The amusement park featured rides, themed displays, and restaurants connected to Christmas. Eventually, a deer pen was constructed that featured fallow deer that were meant to evoke the idea of Santa’s reindeer.

fast forward

As the theme park grew, it eventually added more of the usual amusement park rides decorated with the Christmas theme. Expanding on the idea of holidays year-round the park was renamed Holiday World in 1984.

Currently the park features 4 holiday-themed areas—the original Christmas, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Each area has their own themed rides and features along with music appropriate for the holiday played on speakers hung through walkways. Additionally, a non-holiday themed water park named Splashin’ Safari that was added in 1993.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari | LinkedIn
Santa Claus Land with its current name and layout

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari also is known for its 3 large wooden roller-coasters: The Raven, The Legend, and The Voyage. The coasters have worn awards both nationally and worldwide for safety and entertainment quality. The park itself has also earned awards for cleanliness and family-friendliness by industry experts.

Just over a million visitors frequent the park each year. While not as ubiquitous as Six Flags, Cedar Point, or Kings Island the park still maintains a popularity in Indiana and much of the Midwest. Since the park offers free drinks and sunscreen as well as reduced admission compared to the larger parks it does provide better value and many of the annual visitors will come multiple times during the year.

Growing up within an hour’s drive of Holiday World, making visits or seeing pictures from friends and family at the theme park were fairly common growing up and are still common even today. Since I can’t ride the coasters and many of the rides, I don’t make it over there that often but if given the invites I’ll go and enjoy the water park or being the coat tree for the more adventurous.

Have you ever been to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari?

Poetry Wednesday 112

Celebrate International Chicken Wing Day by “Winging It” with today’s original poem

“Winging It”

On the wings in the style of Buffalo

tough guy, but he’s young like the night though

Snorting & choking, needing some relief

Feeling the burn on your tongue, your throat, and your teeth


Late at night you will find them on the cheap in every little dive bar

Now they’ve become classic like rock music and the electric guitar

Never give in until you’ve peeled the meat away from the bone

Dip them in some blue cheese dressing until it’s all gone


How can I keep from winging it?

A simple sauce made from red pepper and that was fine for a time

Got popular and needed a new spin, now chefs are using rum and a lime

Not sure, but this had to be invented after a late night  drinking fit

You might think I’m crazy, thinking I‘m eating something wild

Little do you know, I usually get BBQ flavor or the mild

© Ryan Stroud 2020

History Monday #100

A sweet discovery for diabetics on this day in history

A new week begins and that means it’s time to look at an important day in history. Today’s event for #HistoryMonday has significance for me and nearly 400 million people worldwide. So, let’s look get into the topic.

Insulin: Definition and Overview -Diabetes Self-Management

On this day in 1921, scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolate the hormone insulin. The isolation of this hormone allowed Banting and Best to treat diabetes mellitus more effectively. For more than fifty years, doctors had understood there was a link between the pancreas and diabetic patients. By isolating insulin, the scientists working at the University of Toronto were able to treat those suffering with diabetes mellitus.

Banting and Best were able to make the discovery and treatment possible by studying the pancreas and insulin in dogs and soon after tested their new discovery in humans and allowed prolonged life for diabetics.

fast forward

As Banting and Best continued their experimentation with insulin and announced their discovery of the hormone they eventually won the 1922 Nobel Prize in medicine. The University of Toronto continued to support Banting and Best and shared their methods with other pharmaceutical and medical experts who created purer forms of insulin for human treatment of diabetes mellitus. By 1923, the hormone had become widely available in North America to be used for diabetics.

Of course, as technology advances scientific discovery, insulin has been produced by synthetic methods. Starting in 1982, a biosynthetic insulin was produced using genetic engineering with human RNA. By 2006, truly synthetic insulin became widely produced by pharmaceutical companies and has become the primary insulin product used by diabetics.

When insulin was isolated and produced at the University of Toronto, the university chose to offer the formulation of the hormone free of royalties to pharmaceutical companies so that the hormone could be produced on a greater scale. Capitalism and profit incentives though have driven the cost of insulin much higher and diabetics will often ration insulin and choose only to use it if their blood glucose levels are dangerously elevated. This alarming choice based on the price of insulin has caused politicians and angry diabetics to push for a reduction in the costs. Hopefully, with Pres. Trump’s recent bill that pushes for lower drug costs insulin will become more affordable again.

Have you ever used insulin injections?

I Scream, You Scream!

A day to chill

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere you’re probably dealing with the dog days of Summer right now and that means you’re trying to find any way you can to stay cool. Some of you are drinking cold drinks like water, lemonade, or sports drinks. Others may be eating popsicles. Yet, today is a day to enjoy another cold treat—vanilla ice cream.

Some of you may have noticed I mentioned vanilla ice cream specifically which wasn’t by accident. National Ice Cream Day was Sunday, so Vanilla Ice Cream Day isn’t that strange. For what It’s worth, I’m happy to celebrate either day, but vanilla ice Cream needs some love.

Most ice cream bases begin as vanilla ice cream, but other flavorings and mix-ins are added. Even at home, I like to add flavorings and mix-ins to augment vanilla ice cream to change the flavors. Other options to enjoy vanilla ice cream also include the ever popular sundae which uses flavored syrups, Of  course, many also enjoy floats as a means for consuming vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla ice cream is great because it is simple with its flavor and as mentioned can provide a complement to other flavorings. You can thank Pres. Thomas Jefferson for introducing ice cream to America, and vanilla ice cream in general. Besides ice cream, Pres. Jefferson is also responsible for introducing French fries and macaroni ‘n’ cheese to America.

Hopefully, you can find an opportunity to celebrate Vanilla Ice Cream Day by visiting your favorite Ice cream shop or picking yp your favorite brand of ice cream at the store if your local ice cream shop is crowded like most around here will be.

What’s your favorite place to get vanilla ice cream?

Poetry Wednesday 111

Let’s have some “Adventures in Spoonerism” in this jumbled and nonsensical poem

“Adventures in Spoonerism”

Everyone knows that size men weigh

Hoping they don’t go broke in a real wig bay

Heavy men don’t live on a lack of pies

They’re the kind who are leaving wise

At the full soon their ship mails and wades a fay


Thumb sings are bent to me

I know now, maps are set by tree

Wake my toll file too

Caught between a blob and the sea of moo

Here I’ll carefully knight on your lea


The lemons wanted to plumb out and cay so I debt them out

Quit them just as caulk in a dare of snout

Get your feelings low for a ride

You watched as the whistling wall bent wide

Show ahead and gout that you’ve bought a cig trout

© Ryan Stroud 2020

History Monday #99

A big day for space exploration on this day

After a longer than expected break, a new week begins and that means it’s time for #HistoryMonday. Today’s event we’re looking at is an event the new Space Force and NASA can find inspiration for in the near future.

Viking spacecraft.jpg
Viking 1 Orbiter

On this day in 1976, just seven years after the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Viking 1 lands on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft that landed on the Red Planet on this day was unmanned yet was the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars and explore the surface.

Panoramic view of Mars from Viking 1

Viking 1 launched 11 months earlier August 20, 1975 and began orbiting Mars for a month on June 19, 1976. NASA used the images gathered in the month-long orbit to find appropriate landing sites. After finding an appropriate site, the Viking 1 lander separated from the orbiter, and touched down on the Chryse Planitia region of Mars. The lander was then able to send back the first close-up photographs of the rust-colored Martian surface.

fast forward

Eventually, NASA would send the Opportunity Rover to Mars to explore the planet more comprehensively. The Opportunity Rover would eventually eclipse Viking 1’s Martian exploration period by more than 100 Martian solar days, reaching the milestone in 2010.

NASA’s more famous Mars Rover, Curiosity sent back some of the more well-known and recent images for Earth’s citizens and continues to spark interest in continued exploration of the planet. NASA and American space explorers have had more success exploring the planet, but the Russian Federation, the Former USSR, and British have also made attempts to explore Mars as well.

The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin which encourages human exploration of mars in earnest 


Surprisingly, NASA and other space explorers have yet to land any humans on Mars. Given the success prior to Viking 1 with lunar explorations by humans, many wonder why no humans have set foot on the red planet. Possibly with Elon Musk and SpaceX’s deep pockets and scientific pursuits, this will happen sooner than later. Of course, the lunar colonization that was predicted in the late sixties will come to fruition before Martian exploration by humans.

Do you think humans will explore Mars in the next decade?

Poetry Wednesday 110

When “You Kissed Me First” it was inevitable to write a poem about it

“You Kissed Me First”

I saw you come in wearin’ that little black dress

Wanted to say something memorable to you, I must confess

All I could do is match your smile with one of my own

Hoped by the end of the night I wouldn’t be going home alone


Offered to buy you another round and join you for a drink

You laughed and said I should order a shot of Jack, so I wasn’t downing something pink

I asked you for your name and number, and you wrote them on the napkin

When I went out tonight, didn’t expect something like this to happen


Walked you to your friend’s car right after last call

You said you’d hope to see me again, but only if I kissed you first

I didn’t know what to say or do, my feelings were about to burst

Tried to be sturdy but your lips met mine and I knew it was too late, I was starting to fall

For you, there was no way to hide your thoughts cause you kissed me before I was ready

I could see this was going somewhere and that you had fallen for me already


© Ryan Stroud 2020

The Key to a Good Vacation

How about a trip to Key West?

Vacation still sounds like an idea to escape the existence we find ourselves dealing with lately. As I consider where I might like to go, I thought about my most recent trip to Florida last Winter and thought writing about it sounded like a promising idea.

I’ve written on here about Amelia Island just a few weeks ago, and I previously included Siesta Key. I was familiar with Siesta Key and the Gulf side of Florida, so an opportunity to travel to Key West intrigued me when a friend from high school suggested the opportunity.

Originally a Spanish territory named Cayo Hueso which translates to Bone Key, it was corrupted into Key West by English speakers. Spanish explorers named the island for shipwreck artifacts being collected in the area. Enterprising residents continued the practice and established the city from money made off selling the shipwrecked treasures.

Traveling to Key West is best accomplished by air travel. Since the island is nearly 3 hours from Miami and the mainland, flying to Key West makes much more sense. If you choose to fly be aware to pack light, since the airport has a short runway.

Traveling around the island is a quick tour and can be accomplished in less than an hour. Much of the entertainment along the island is located on one of the main North-South streets on the far end of the island—Duval Street. If you’ve spent time on Bourbon Street, the Gatlinburg Parkway, or Beale Street in Memphis you can imagine the same thing in Key West. The advantage that Duval Street has over these locations is the near perfect weather all year given their tropical climate. Expect to park a few blocks away and walk through the shops and bars at an easy pace.

Following the compass rose straight South is Cuba

Key West is only 90 miles directly north of Cuba which is one reason Ernest Hemingway built a house on the island. Papa as his friends knew him would spend hours bending his elbow at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West and traveling on a fishing boat to Cuba while writing much of his works. Cuban-style cuisine and cigar shops feature prominently in Key West.

The Island prides itself on a laid-back attitude that both visitors and residents alike enjoy as they spend time on the island. Locals have even considered independence from the mainland and the United States so as not to be bothered by the hustle-and-bustle of America. For a few days in the 1980’s the island became the ‘independent nation’ known as the Conch Republic.

Given the distance from the mainland, the cost of living and food is a little higher but not unreasonable. Since much of the cuisine also includes seafood the cost can also be expected. Fresh & healthy dishes like crab & shrimp sandwiches or ceviche salad are favorites in many restaurants. Of course, eating lighter entrees allows room for Key Lime Pie as well.

For historical buffs, Key West features Ernest Hemingway’s home and the Truman Little White House. Both residences have become museums that offer tours daily. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park also features the remnants of an antebellum fortification to protect American interests in the Keys. A sister fortification near the airport on the Southern edge of the island has converted to an art and history museum. Key West also features 2 botanical gardens that include many local species of flora to explore.

If you’re in Florida, you can’t not go to the beach and Key West features two. One is located as part of Fort Zachary Taylor State park and another is located along the Southern edge of the island. Since the island is situated north-south to the water, waves are infrequent, and the water is shallow much further than other locations in the state. This allows beachgoers to wade and swim further from shore and see through clearer water as they are in the water. For sunsets, most head to Mallory Square on the Northern edge of the island just West of Duval Street.

Have you been to Key West?

Poetry Wednesday 108

Everyone consider “Protests” for today’s original poem


Soon it’s going to be the day that we’re going to throw it back to that ‘76 Summer

Our anger and discontent making this year’s celebration a bummer

Walking right down the middle of main street of their hometowns ready to fight

Tensions building as officers of the law and protesters waiting for the match to light


Words aren’t so sweet and simple like candy tossed in a parade

Our homeland has gotten worse, somewhere along the line we’ve strayed

Red, white, and blue people shuffling and stamping their feet

Challenging the traditions and politicians with fists and shouts in the endless heat


Rebellion started here in the City of Brotherly Love and announced we should be free

There’s a lot of people saying the enforcers would be better off dead

Neither side wants to give in and admit fault, everyone’s got rocks in their head

Everybody’s talking about the new sounds; funny, but it’s still protests to me

People of all Stripes—stars, clowns, musicians want us to live the Glory Days

You’re going to save us all— Long gone fathers and Rebels born here in the U.S.A.

© Ryan Stroud 2020