History Monday #12

In 1803, after a few weeks of negotiation the U.S. doubled in size.

Another week begins and so it’s time for History Monday once again. Like Mr. Peabody and Sherman let’s go back in time to an important event in history. Today’s event is a commemoration of a real estate purchase agreement after a relatively short negotiation process.

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On this day, 215 years ago in 1803 representatives of the nations of France and the young United States of America signed the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. Of note, one of the main signatories and representatives on the American side was James Monroe who would become President a short time later.

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The impetus for this sale was caused by a loss of shipping ability by American merchants thanks to shaky allegiances and hostilities by European superpowers. American merchants had been able to use the Mississippi River tentatively by Spanish for the first few decades of America’s existence beginning in the Constitutional period. Yet, in a surprising and abrupt move the Spanish ended the treaty that permitted Americans to use the Mississippi River and the Port of New Orleans a year prior to the Louisiana Purchase.

Americans had already seen trouble on the horizon after the Spanish had ceded the Louisiana Territory and its significant waterway the Mississippi River to the French a year prior. U.S. officials feared the French, led by Napoleon Bonaparte would constrain the Port of New Orleans and the river in an attempt to cause burden upon Great Britain and by consequence the United States.

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Pres. Jefferson sent James Monroe and Robert Livingston to negotiate a purchase of the Port of New Orleans to guarantee access to the Gulf of Mexico for international trade. One day before Livingston’s arrival, the French official in charge of the negotiation sent word to Livingston that France was interested in selling not only New Orleans but the entire Louisiana Territory.

As this same message was communicated to Pres. Jefferson and other U.S. government officials, the negotiations to purchase the Louisiana Territory and New Orleans were expedited. In less than three weeks from the offer and the ink drying, the United States doubled its land area and expanded its borders from one end of the continent to the other.

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The impact for us today is seen in the expansiveness of the boundaries of the United States of America. Pres. Jefferson announced the United States acquisition of the Louisiana Territory on Independence Day in the same year — 1803. Nearly a year later, Pres. Jefferson ordered explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to survey and report the features of the new territory.

Today, we see the monument to that expedition in St. Louis in the Gateway Arch. As more and more Americans experienced the idea of Manifest Destiny in the first few decades after the Louisiana Purchase, the Western half of the United States became more populated. No longer were the population centers in the U.S. named Manhattan, Philadelphia, Richmond, et. al. Now included, the names Los Angeles, New Orleans, Dallas, and Seattle are included as American population centers.

We also see the effects of the Louisiana Purchase whether we realize it or not based on the transport of products in the commodities market. Barges travel down the Upper and Lower sections of the Mississippi River carrying coal, corn, soybeans, and much more to various markets.

For others, we see the influence of the Mississippi River in our American culture thanks to a short-tenured steamboat Captain named Samuel Clemens who would later write novels and short stories under the name Mark Twain.

We see recognition of the first American explorers of this territory in various cities located in that territory on the names of buildings, schools, monuments, etc. Even in their hometowns, we see similar commemorations. Even as close as 25 miles from my current town, U.S. Route 31 is labeled the Lewis & Clark Parkway in Clarksville (named after William Clark’s Brother, George Rogers Clark).

I’d argue that as the United States started its initial expansion from the first 13 colonies into the Northwest Territory, this led to the Louisiana Purchase, which led to the Annexation of the Republic of Texas, and in turn the Gadsden Purchase, and eventually the purchases of Alaska & Hawaii. This ambition to expand our borders and our influence into new frontiers led even to our drive to land on the moon and eventually other planets. Americans, as a nation have an innate sense to push past the boundaries and establish themselves in new settings. Of course, extraplanetary expansion might be a much more unique acquisition for the U.S. since there’s not really a recognized owner of the Moon or other planets. I don’t know that will stop Americans from expanding to these locales.

Additionally, we see that many Americans travel to view much of the Louisiana Purchase that is still unspoiled by human influence each year on vacation. Travels to Yellowstone, Badlands, and Yosemite National Parks are common among Americans annually. Likewise, Americans have embraced a romanticized exploration of the Louisiana Territory by modern steamboats traveling the Upper & Lower sections of the Mississippi, Columbia, and Missouri Rivers. Admittedly, any of these particular cruises are appealing to this wayfaring soul.  So, I’m glad there’s that much more of the United States to see thanks to the French officials selling the Louisiana Territory to our nation.

Current Event Friday #14

Up, Up, and Away with another #CurrentEventFriday

Time for #CurrentEventFriday again. I almost discussed the Alfie Evans case and the multiple officer shootings in Louisville this week, but I know there’s plenty on Alfie Evans and I’m taking my own advice about feeding the media beast regarding the officer-involved shootings in Louisville and bypass that story. I decided to instead discuss the current events connected to the safety of U.S. Airline companies.

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A few weeks ago, CBS’s investigative program 60 Minutes aired a report about the safety record of Allegiant Airlines. The report was a damning account of the company’s safety protocols and overall performance. Droves of travelers jumped into the milieu and added their own harrowing and not-so-harrowing tales of their disgust with the company. The report shocked me to hear about Allegiant Air since I’ve flown 6 times on this airline in the last couple years with rarely any trouble. I think the only flight that was anything less than ideal was a half hour delay on our flight down to Florida last summer, but that wasn’t terrible by any means.

Less than a day after the report about Allegiant, ironically one of their lauded competitors Southwest Airlines suffered a tragic engine explosion and emergency landing that caused one fatality. Thankfully, the pilot of this flight was well-trained and managed to land the plane with only the single fatality. Obviously, the destruction caused by the engine failure could’ve caused more fatalities than just the one passenger.

Needless to say, as Southwest released their quarterly earnings statement this week the numbers were less than good. The company had already tried to tamp down expectations anticipating the lost revenue due to the accident. I’m sure that as the next quarter passes and people still follow through with their plans to fly anywhere and everywhere the numbers will rise to normal levels for Southwest and Allegiant alike.

I discussed these incidents with my family last week, and I’ll say it again, you assume the risk. If I learned anything from my Economics class during my Senior year of high school was the Latin phrase, caveat emptor. For those of you who never studied Latin, failed it, or don’t remember it means, “Let the buyer beware.” An airplane is a large, heavy, metallic structure that is expected to overcome the forces of nature and remain in the sky. You can inspect engines after every other flight, you can test every mechanical component in the factories, you can hire the most intelligent engineers and designers to improve the components in the factory, but inevitably fate, providence, or happenstance will see something fail in that airplane. It’s also worth noting, there’s more automobile deaths each year in the United States but automobile companies are still in business and their quarterly earnings demonstrate that. There’s much more dangers in our houses and in our lives that cause fatalities, but we still purchase the products that cause dangers: furnaces, fridges, or prescription drugs to name a few. Here’s the simple truth, we live in a fallen imperfect world that has been beset with death since The Fall in the Garden of Eden. What we can control is what happens to our souls after death, we must place our faith in Jesus Christ who gives eternal life. That’s not to say we should take excessive liberties and reckless endanger our lives so long as we have faith in Jesus. We should also not eremitic lives wrapped in bubble wrap waiting for eternity either. We should be responsible with the grace that underpins that faith and live our lives in a manner pleasing unto the Lord.

Kids at Work

Work, work, work, and kids at work.

Today is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The holiday takes place on the fourth Thursday of April each year. The holiday originally started in 1992 as Take Our Daughters to Work Day. About a decade later, in 2003 the day was renamed to the more gender-inclusive Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

While the day was set aside for children to visit their parent’s workplace one day a year to learn about their parent’s occupation, it was never really anything I or my brother considered. Since mom was an elementary school teacher, we were always at her work every school day anyways. So, there wasn’t much to absorb. Plus, mom brought her work home with her many evenings and we could observe what she did at her job from that. Now, I’ll admit that I considered momentarily each year in high school just to get a free day off from school, but that just meant double homework when I’d return. I’d suspect my brother might’ve considered more than me, because he admittedly wasn’t the best student in high school. We also never considered taking the day off to visit dad at his work either. Again, we visited his insurance office pretty frequently after school and about an hour there was enough. Sitting in an office with adults and boring forms all day was never appealing.

I will admit that even as every day Mom took us to work her occupation did rub off on me. I started my undergrad as an elementary education major and eventually transitioned to Spanish Education before finally settling on just a language degree with a focus in Spanish when I graduated. I’ve already discussed that the interest in education is still there. Like Mom though, I’m not interested in what education has become with bureaucratic top-down style evaluations and an industrial approach to teaching. Thankfully, that has not yet made its way to private schools, so those are still an option.

I’ve had a few conversations with my brother about his career pursuits and interests. He has followed the path of dad closely to this point. But I know like dad, he’d rather be in an office setting like an insurance agent or other similar occupation. Maybe, like dad he’ll find a way to move into that workplace in a few years as my nephews are old enough to go to preschool and elementary school.

 

What about you, did you ever go to work with your parents on this day? Or did you think you might want to follow in your parents’ occupational footsteps when you’d spend time at their workplace?

Poetry Wednesday #3

My latest edition of Poetry Wednesday entitled “Strength”

“Strength”

This man is obviously weak.
I can tell there’s something I lack.
What all it is I cannot speak.
I’ll never be handsome or chic.
Often this life I cannot hack

Is there strength in my profound mind?
It’s simply a human’s small brain.
Thoughts grow like a forest tree-lined.
Gears are turning, starting to grind.
Yet, many thoughts circle the drain.

And I lament my slight body.
“Oh, that I’d have a better frame.”
My muscle tone is so shoddy.
I don’t need pectorals so gaudy.
Who, oh who is there for the blame?

I thank the One above for my soul.
For it’s where strength is inner.
It helps better guide in my role.
I’m able to reach any goal.
Because of that, I’m a winner.

©️ Ryan Stroud 2018

Let Sleeping Hogs Lie

A holiday dedicated to a simple appetizer.

My brother and his firstborn will be happy with today’s post and I’m sure will celebrate today’s theme. Yes, it’s another obscure holiday today, but it’s amusing day worth celebrating.

Today is National Pigs-in-a Blanket Day. And no, this is not a day set aside to read Animal Farm although you certainly could. For those of you who don’t get the reference because you didn’t read the book in high school or have forgotten, the book satirizes the Russian Revolution with pigs orchestrating a coup against humans only to become as evil and corrupt as the humans they chased away.

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Pancake Pig-in-a Blanket

Back to National Pigs-in-a Blank Day, a day devoted to consuming a simple appetizer enjoyed by kids and adults alike. My first knowledge of Pigs-in-a Blanket was when visiting IHOP®. The restaurant offers their take on the meal as breakfast sausage links encased in their signature pancake batter. As this particular offering became popular through IHOP’s spread around the nation, many frozen food manufacturers began producing their own versions in the frozen food section of your local supermarket.

I’ll admit, that I’ve tried the IHOP original and the frozen food offering and they’re perfectly fine, but I’m not going to eat a ton of them. I do eat pancakes and breakfast sausage separately, so that’s why I’ve tried this particular version of Pigs-in-a Blanket.

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American Pig-in-a Blanket

Probably the version, most of us are more familiar with is a miniature hot dog or cocktail wiener rolled up in crescent roll dough. This version in particular is the one that I eat more often and will attest that I eat more in any given setting as well. That’s not to say that I eat them furiously  like my brother Ross or his son Blaize. They are voracious eaters that with proper training could probably enter competive eating events at local carnivals and fairs. Thankfully for them, they are not defined by being overweight or diabetic to complicate their eating habits.

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Sausage Roll
Other varieties of Pigs-in-a Blanket offered around the world replace the sausage with the local sausage of a particular country or the crescent dough is replaced with puff pastry. These varieties may also be called sausage roll or something similar. Texans are more familiar with Sausage Kolaches using the Czech style kolache dough and Texas-style German sausges.

Vegetarians also offer their own interpretation replacing the sausage with carrots. However, these can not and should not be referred to as Pigs-in-a Blanket. They would be better called a waste of carrots and dough and left unconsumed.

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The appropriate response when someone offers you vegetarian “Pigs-in-a Blanket” as demonstrated by Ron Swanson

Regardless of which variation you eat most often. Hopefully you’ll participate today and enjoy at least one Pig-in-a Blanket.

History Monday #11

Holy Cow! It’s time for a fun History Monday.

Time for a History Monday I’m excited to post about. Yes, I’m sure that some won’t necessarily be excited based on their MLB rooting interests, but c’est la vie. Although, I’ll give most of you reading this more credit than the Brennaman family of Cincinnati Reds fame.

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On this date, in 1914 the home of the Chicago Whales a baseball team of the Federal League was opened. The stadium was originally named for the owner of the Whales — Charles Weeghman­ and was called Weeghman Park. The Whales only survived one season in the stadium before the team folded. Weeghman convinced confectioner and gum manufacturer, William Wrigley to partner together to purchase the Chicago Cubs from the rival National League and move the team to the stadium.

The Cubs began playing at the stadium on April 20, 1916. It wasn’t until a decade later that it was renamed after Wrigley and the name it is now known as Wrigley Field. Jeers to Jeff Gordon for incorrectly labeling it as Wrigley Stadium.

The Cubs of course celebrated the 100-year anniversary four years ago with throwback uniforms and games. Additionally, the team added grass patterns and logos around the stadium to commemorate in the centennial.

To date, the Cubs have only celebrated one World Series during their time at Wrigley Field. Their previous World Series titles were won before their move to Wrigley. Hopefully, there will not be another century-long drought before more World Series titles are celebrated there again.

Worth noting, the iconic ivy-lined brick wall was added in 1937 at the suggestion of the team’s president Bill Veeck. So, that feature is not original to the initial construction. So, if the Cubs can change the original design of Wrigley Field to include ivy to the outfield walls, it’s perfectly okay to add video boards, indoor bullpens, and other creature comforts to the stadium as ownership and management deem necessary.

Fans of the game and especially Cubs fans see the hand-turned scoreboard as part of the charm of Wrigley as well. The scoreboard is often incorporated in marketing and commemorative logos for the team. Because of the dimensions of the scoreboard and MLB expansion teams, the scoreboard omits up to three games each day.

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The Cubs’ ownership and management have began making several improvements to Wrigley Field in the last few years hoping to attract newer and younger fans of the game. Yet because of the age of the stadium and its historic landmark status there are challenges to this facelift. Also, as a challenge is the negative feedback from older fans of the team and the game. It’s definitely been an adjustment for this Cubs fan to see the changes to Wrigley, but the changes are not as garish and incongruous as I first imagined.

Additionally, Wrigley has been shown as a way to connect with fans of not only baseball, but other sports and modes of entertainment. The Chicago Bears played at Wrigley for nearly five decades. The NHL used their signature Winter Classic game as an opportunity to showcase outside ice hockey games by featuring a game at Wrigley in 2009.  Since 2005, Wrigley has added musical concerts showcasing various artists from different genres. Particularly, Pearl Jam and Billy Joel have been featured numerous times in concerts at Wrigley. Of course, these concerts are scheduled during road games to prevent scheduling conflicts with the team. There are still complications given Wrigley Field’s unique neighborhood location. While most sporting venues are located downtown near convention centers, restaurants, and what can generously be referred to as the stadium district, Wrigleyville is located in a residential suburb away from the heart of downtown. While this is charming for fans of the Cubs, especially entrepreneurs along Waveland Ave. The concerts generate considerably more noise than the usual Cubs game. Although, I’d imagine that like any home buyer does research into the neighboring locations like factories or commercial entities, buying in Wrigleyville is not a hasty decision. While, I’d love to also visit Wrigley for concerts, right now I’m happy to have been twice to see the Cubs play against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds respectively. Thankfully, for both of those games, the song every Cubs fan loves to hear was played as the crowd emptied out of the stadium. So, I’ll close with it.

Current Event Friday #13

Remembering and honoring Barbara Bush’s memory on #CurrentEventFriday

Time for #CurrentEventFriday again. I wanted to talk about the death of Barbara Bush. Not necessarily a pleasant event to talk about, but still worth discussing as her death has impacted the politically-minded on both sides of the aisle.

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Now admittedly, I was born during Barbara Bush’s tenure as 2nd Lady in the second term of Pres. Reagan’s term. Most of my early childhood was during Barbara Bush’s tenure as First Lady. But, my memories of Pres. George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush are limited due to my early age during the first Bush presidency. My memories of Barbara Bush are relegated to the episode of The Simpsons that portrayed Pres. George H.W. and Barbara Bush as the Simpsons’ new neighbors. While Pres. George H.W. Bush was antagonistic and argumentative with Homer, Marge and Barbara bonded over their husbands’ foolish arguments with one another.

Now in the last several days, politicos and news anchors have shared fond memories of Barbara Bush and especially included the romance between her and Pres. George H.W. Bush. While it’s all second-hand information to me, it’s remarkable that the Bush’s were married for 73 years. That’s amazing that both Barbara and George lived to an age that would allow them to remain married that long, but also that the faithfulness and affection between the couple lasted for more than seven decades.

Also, worth noting, Barbara Bush is only the second woman to be both First Lady and Mother of a President. Had Jeb won the presidency in 2016, she would stand alone as the only woman to be mother to two presidents.

From portrayals through film and stories I’ve read, Barbara was very much the supportive mother for Pres. George W. Bush. While the elder George Bush certainly loved his son that bore the same name, their relationship was somewhat rocky. Thankfully, Barbara’s gentleness with her son while still being no-nonsense helped to ensure that George H.W. and George W. Bush were able to have a more tenable relationship.

To me, it’s worth noting that Barbara seemed to embody the traits for a First Lady. She conducted herself with class, grace, strength, and trustworthiness. Obviously, I was never a fan of Barbara’s immediate successor, and the fact that it’s Pres. Trump and not Pres. Hilary Clinton I’m not the only one. Her daughter-in-law Laura learned lessons from Barbara and exhibited the same class and grace during the second Bush presidency. I was never a fan of Michelle Obama either (shocker). I always thought she feigned class and was less than gracious about what she thought of her nation considering that same nation had elected her husband president. Plus, I felt her disgust towards half the country and her heavy-handed approach with school lunches was just outrageous. Melania seems to have some of the same grace and strength which is refreshing considering Pres. Trump is less admittedly less than gracious or classy. Let’s hope the next First Lady is also a picture of class, grace, strength, and trustworthiness like Barbara.

I’ll close with Barbara’s instructions for life:

“Family and friends and faith are the most important things in your life and you should be building friendships.”

What memories do you have of Barbara Bush?