Poetry Wednesday 119

Ever felt “Chewed Up” like today’s original poem?

“Chewed Up”

Hoping I haven’t bit off more than I can chew

Sticking to only one piece, okay maybe two

Troubled on every side, but not destroyed

Sweet and tacky, such an odd thing to be enjoyed

Need something to block my sinuses when my ears start to pop

Finally my mood is better as the pressure begins to drop

Let my tongue meet it in the middle, meet it with some air

Careful not to let the bubble get to big and get stuck in my hair

For what it’s worth, it can be either a mint or fruit flavor

This habit ain’t spurned like biting your nails or sucking your thumb

Goodness gracious, pop another ball the secret ingredients we call gum

Wanting this feeling to last so long, something to truly savor

Hate when I get chewed out like I’m a stick of gum chewed up and spit out

Moving on, realizing where I’ll be soon, lose all that doubt

© Ryan Stroud 2020

History Monday #104

The focus of women on the Supreme Court first began on this day

Everybody has been talking about the Supreme Court all this weekend, and fittingly today’s #HistoryMonday looks at history made with the Supreme Court on this day. It’s interesting how the subject of today’s post lines up with current events by chance and not wholly by design.

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court

On this day in 1981, Pres. Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee was confirmed, and the first woman was appointed to serve in the Judicial Branch. Sandra Day O’Connor was officially named as a nominee for the position August 19. She began her confirmation hearing on September 9, and just days later was approved by the Senate for the position.

Pres. Reagan had promised in his 1980 Presidential campaign to appoint the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court and according to his diary dated in June of 1981 that he had decided O’Connor would make a worthy nominee. Some of the evangelicals and members of the Religious Right that had helped elect Reagan were uneasy about O’Connor because of her views on women’s issues, particularly abortion.

Three Senate Republicans were reluctant about confirming O’Connor as a Supreme Court Justice but eventually approved her nomination. The approval of O’Connor was nearly unanimous with 99 yea votes, 0 nay votes, and one absence. O’ Connor sought through her tenure to inspire women to serve as judges and through her efforts she received more mail than any justice given the significance as the first women appointed to the Supreme Court.

fast forward

Sandra Day O’Connor’s tenure as the only woman on the Supreme Court lasted until 1993, when the now late Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed by Pres. Clinton. Pres. Obama would appoint Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court. Pres. Trump announced this weekend that Justice Ginsburg’s replacement will be a woman as well making possibly the fifth woman to serve on the court.

O’Connor would serve until 2005 when she retired to care for her husband and was originally to be replaced by John Roberts, but was replaced instead by Samuel Alito when Roberts was named to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist upon the death of the Chief Justice.

After retirement, O’Connor served as an occasional substitute judge for federal appellate courts and contributed commentary for legal scholars and interested parties. Besides these continued professional efforts, O’Connor helped with fundraising for Alzheimer’s organizations because of her husband’s struggles with the disease until his death in 2009. O’Connor would eventually retire from the public eye in 2017 and disclosed her own diagnosis of an early Alzheimer’s-like style of dementia.

What major case do you associate with Sandra Day O’Connor?     

Current Event Friday #107

Changes coming to restaurant menus soon?

Hope this holiday weekend finds you well. Maybe you’ll be going out tonight to a restaurant/pub and enjoy the weekend ahead. For folks in Nebraska, if one man gets his way the menus at local restaurants and potentially nationwide will change. Today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at the menu item in question.

Nebraska man pleas to city council to rename boneless chicken wings - ABC13  Houston
Ander Christensen addresses the Lincoln, NE City Council about boneless wings 

Lincoln, Nebraska resident Ander Christensen made a plea to the city council that boneless chicken wings are a misnomer. Christensen and others who feel the same way have suggested that changing the name to chicken tenders is more appropriate.

It’s 2020 and everything is ridiculous, so this request shouldn’t be surprising. Since chickens’ wings are defined by bones, there is no way to produce a boneless wing naturally. Boneless wings are usually chicken breast meat that has been pulled from the bone and breaded before being tossed in sauce. Without the sauce, boneless wings are the same thing as chicken tenders, fingers, or nuggets.

Admittedly, I used to be more a fan of boneless wings because they are naturally easier to eat with utensils and that means less mess. As I have to watch my carbs, boneless wings are a challenge since the breading and sauce push my carb count past my limit, since I often like to have BBQ sauce. Plus, for the omnivorous human there’s more meat and flavor by eating traditional wings. As I’ve switched to traditional wings, I usually eat dry-rubbed wings, so they won’t make as much mess; but this means potential dryness.

The city council probably won’t adopt Christensen’s idea because it’s not a serious need but at least a neat diversion from the two main topics of conversation in the news lately. I’ll be curious to see if some other chicken wing connoisseurs push for similar changes in their own cities. Personally, I’d like to push more city councils to work with BBQ restaurants to lower the prices of brisket since that’s a true food conviction I hold—brisket prices are too high.

Do you like traditional wings or boneless wings?

Poetry Wednesday 117

Today’s poem is “Blue, but that’s a good thing


Every now and then I get a little blue

Mind is shutting down, and I don’t know what to do

Every now and then I’m losing my nerve

Paralyzed by fear, unable to move or swerve


Ever thought about blue as the color of a happy sky

How then is it possible to mean we’re sad, makes me wonder why

Struggle to love myself, and lost in deep philosophical thought

My thoughts are fixed on how I love you, and you’re the only one I got


When I’m feeling down, your love washes over me like the sea

You bring me back to this blue planet and remind me who I am

Love the way you show me the softness and comfort I need, my sweet little lamb

Sturdy and giving me the breath I need, you’re like a tall oak tree

Cause I’ve got you, I’m going to work hard to keep this ‘ship afloat

I’ll proclaim my love for you with written word or musical note

© Ryan Stroud 2020

History Monday #103

A dangerous and unlikely telegram between U.S. officials regarding South Asia

Another week begins, and for my mother and brother they’ll celebrate two important days in history as they turn another year older. Today’s #HistoryMonday is about a broader historical event that would shape U.S. policy in Vietnam.

A portrait of a middle-aged man, looking to the left in a half-portrait/profile. He has chubby cheeks, parts his hair to the side and wears a suit and tie.
Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam 1960-1963

On this day in 1963, U.S Officials with the Department of Defense and the State Department send a telegram known as DEPTEL 243 to the U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge. The telegram’s content advised Lodge that the Kennedy administration was growing fed up with Pres. Ngo Dinh Diem.

Pres. Diem had drawn considerable negative press both in Viet Nam and its ally, the United States for his brutal treatment of Buddhists in his country. Three days earlier, Diem had ordered raids of Buddhist pagodas. Along with Diem, his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu had persecuted the Buddhists. The Ngo family were longtime Catholics and showed no mercy to the Buddhists who comprised 70% of the population. As Diem arrested and, in some cases, killed Buddhists, Americans were worried that he was abusing his power.

The telegram also known as Cable 243 suggested to Henry Cabot Lodge and his staff at the United States Embassy, Saigon that Diem should encourage Nhu to resign his position in the administration or the United States would encourage the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) to launch a coup against Diem.

fast forward

Just a month later, ARVN officers along with CIA officials to organize the coup d’état. The ARVN began launching the coup attack in November and were able to chase Diem and Nhu to the presidential palace and offered exile to Diem if he surrendered peacefully. Diem and Nhu escaped by means of secret tunnels and were captured in a Catholic church where they were hiding out after escaping the palace. Rather than serving justice through due process, the soldiers instead shot both brothers at close range. Nhu’s wife and the First Lady Trần Lệ Xuân escaped to France where she lived in exile until her death.

Upon Diem’s death, Dương Văn Minh became the President and served in that capacity for only three months before being ousted in a coup himself. Instability plagued the presidency in South Vietnam for years, before Nguyễn Văn Thiệu would consolidate power.

Nguyễn Văn Thiệu.jpg
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, President of the Republic of Vietnam 1967–1975)

Thiệu also followed the same problems of persecution and corruption until the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. Much of the peace talks with North Vietnam and U.S. officials insisted that Thiệu must be removed before they could agree to the other terms of surrender. U.S. Officials were hesitant to agree on this demand after the coup and the assassinations of Diem and Nhu. As South Vietnam fell, Thiệu resigned and lived his life in exile.

Should the U.S. have sent Cable 243?

Current Event Friday #106

A bad week for baseball announcers

Baseball is back but for a couple of announcers the season like this week is ending. Let’s look at today’s #CurrentEventFriday and discuss what caused problems for these MLB announcers and what may happen to them beyond their current punishment.

Hey Marquee Sports Network... NOW will you get Mark Grace out of ...
Mark Grace, former Cubs & Diamondbacks star

First up is former Cubs & Diamondbacks star Mark Grace. A star first baseman for 16 seasons between the teams, Grace has spent several seasons after retiring as part of broadcast teams for those teams. After multiple DUIs while serving as part of the Diamondbacks’ announce team, Grace was unceremoniously given his pink slip and has made sporadic media appearances. This season as the Cubs moved to a new television network, the broadcast has featured former stars of the team to join Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies in the fifth inning in an attempt to resemble ESPN & Fox’s national 3-man booth. Fans have not exactly been a fan of three announcers broadcasting the game, and Mark Grace had already been the most criticized. Last Saturday, Grace faced more criticism and received a suspension after telling a story about his ex-wife. Obviously, telling a story about a former spouse is not the best idea no matter how delicately you tell it. Grace told the story with no delicacy and repeatedly used the nickname ‘the dingbat’ to refer to his former wife. Kasper and Deshaies tried to move on from the story and not engage with Grace. Given the tone-deaf story and the announcer who ironically couldn’t live up to his surname while telling the story ended with his removal from future broadcasts. Some fans had hoped this would also mean the end of the special guest third announcer, but so far Marquee, the new network has determined only to remove Mark Grace while continuing to feature other guests.

FOX Sports Releases Decision On Thom Brennaman Calling NFL Games
Thom Brenneman, announcer for the Cincinnati Reds and Fox Sports

Even more seriously, Grace’s former commentary partner with the Diamondbacks and Fox Sports found himself in hot water Wednesday. During the seventh inning of the Cincinnati Reds first game with the Kansas City Royals, Thom Brenneman didn’t realize producers had returned from a commercial break in the Red’s broadcast and was heard saying “one of the f** capitals of the world.” Brenneman then proceeded to promote the Reds’ pregame coverage before every game as scheduled. Shockingly, the longtime announcer continued to call the game and didn’t address his error. The Reds ended up losing that game before playing the second game of a doubleheader and Brenneman was still announcing the second game before issuing an apology in the fifth inning that he briefly interrupted to call a Nick Castellanos home run before finishing the apology. After finishing with the apology, Brenneman was taken off the air and Jim Day took over play-by-play duties. GLAAD and other LGBT+ groups have already condemned Brenneman for his remarks and the Reds have apologized for them and suspended him indefinitely. Fox Sports who also features Brenneman for some of their national broadcasts of baseball and football games have suspended him as well.

I’ll admit I feel bad for Mark Grace. He was a longtime fixture for the Cubs and had maintained some respect by fans for his on-field contributions in spite his post playing day efforts. The story seemed like a cheap way to take a shot at his ex-wife and also Bud Selig who featured in the story. As Grace told the story, he struggled to speak but was determined to tell a story that slammed his ex. In regard to Brenneman, I’m not necessarily upset at what happened to him. He has criticized Chicago along with his father, a longtime Reds’ announcer himself. Oddly enough, the younger Brenneman briefly served as part of the Cubs’ broadcast team. While many MLB & NFL fans aren’t fans of Joe Buck, I’ve never been that big a fan of the Brennemans or the other Reds’ broadcasters. So, I’m fine with Thom Brenneman not being featured on baseball or football games for the foreseeable future. Given the current political climate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brenneman isn’t hired as an announcer again or at least several years. His non-apology apology didn’t help matters. He should’ve apologized during game 1 of the doubleheader and then been suspended immediately after. The fact that the Reds let him begin the second game before removing him was awkward and ridiculous. Using standard language anytime an announcer gets in trouble for on-air remarks wasn’t that shocking, but the call of the home run in the midst of it just shows that Brenneman was making a prepared statement that he barely believed or meant.

Should either announcer be fired after their comments?

I Miss Mayberry

A quick guide to a few under-the-radar towns to visit in the Old North State

Rascal Flatts found success with a song celebrating the nostalgia of The Andy Griffith Show titled “Mayberry” and for fans of the show and its star you can visit his hometown to think back to simpler times. Today’s post will look at a trip I made a few years ago with my dad to Andy Griffith’s hometown in the fall of 2014.

First, I will point out there is no town in North Carolina named Mayberry. The actual town is Mt. Airy, but the name was changed for television. The nearby larger city on the show, Mt. Pilot is also made up for the show but is based on the geographic feature nearby named Pilot Mountain.

Dad asking Sara to connect him to Mom in the Courthouse/Sheriff’s office downtown

Much of downtown Mt. Airy features buildings and businesses that have been preserved or restored to look like the town of Mayberry. Visitors can ride in taxis that are made to look like the sheriff vehicles on the show. Additionally, the town includes a museum dedicated to Andy Griffith and includes memorabilia from the show and Andy Griffith’s life.

Pilot Mountain

The nearby Pilot Mountain is a large knob that was originally used by native tribes to track game and invaders and eventually by early European settlers for the same reasons. Visitors can enter Pilot Mountain State Park to trek up the pinnacle of the knob by foot and vehicle and different points. We made the not-so-wise decision to visit the park on a rainy day. When the skies are clear, the lookout from the pinnacle is vast and stretches for dozens of miles, during a rainy-day visibility is limited as we soon learned. It was still a decent view but could have been more impressive if the sun were out.

As we learned that Mt. Airy and the surrounding area are part of the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, we also visited nearby attractions in the Winston-Salem and other cities. We of course visited Wake Forest University and toured the downtown of Winston-Salem which has been impacted by the negative image of tobacco and the R.J. Reynolds company doesn’t hold the same sway in the city anymore.

North Carolina is famous for many NASCAR race teams, and we discovered the King of NASCAR has a museum nearby, so we visited the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman. We were of course excited that shortly after we arrived, Richard Petty himself was on the property and waved and greeted us. The museum features many of the Petty family’s cars used by Richard, Lee, Kyle, and Adam Petty and cars used by Richard Petty Motorsports throughout the years.

Dad and a Bison statue at the Asheboro Zoo

We also spent a few hours in Asheboro. The town features many local shoppes and restaurants that featured quaint decorations and just outside of town the Asheboro Zoo. We also spent time after walking through the downtown visiting the Zoo.

The Pineapple Grilled Chicken at Chile Rojo in Mt. Airy, NC

Admittedly, I’m always a fan of Southern food and the food we sampled did include local North Carolina foods as well as some unexpected dishes. We sampled food at Aunt Bea’s kitchen in Mt. Airy and enjoyed the barbecue which is defined by slaw made with tomato sauce or ketchup rather than mayonnaise and comes on sandwiches. We also ate at another barbecue restaurant that featured standard American barbecue. While we didn’t expect it, we did eat at a Mexican restaurant near our hotel. Dad got his typical chimichanga, but I tried a pineapple chicken served in a grilled half pineapple along with the usual Mexican sides and tortillas. A few Mexican restaurants here in Indiana feature pineapple and chicken, but don’t serve it in the pineapple itself. We also were able to eat at a German restaurant in Asheboro that featured traditional German fare. Dad and I enjoyed the lunch special that day which was Sauerbraten meatballs over buttered noodles. Dad opted for the boiled cabbage while I opted for the sauerkraut.

Taking all this vacation into account, Dad and I were excited that as we traveled to Mt. Airy and the nearby towns that they are not far from the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains. Naturally, we were excited that much of the locations were a couple thousand feet above sea level since we are more familiar with the hills of Southern Indiana that are all less than 1000 feet in elevation. Traveling through the mountains of West Virginia & Virginia on the way to North Carolina allowed us to experience views from elevations that would be the envy of many Hoosiers.

Have you been to any of the cities in the Piedmont Triad in North Carolina?