Current Event Friday #40

Was this an act of bullying or unwise parenting? You decide on today’s #CurrentEventFriday

What’s in a name? For Juliet she is not concerned her paramour is a member of the rival family. At least twice she encourages Romeo to renounce his Montague surname and his family heritage. This week’s edition of #CurrentEventFriday may have a child soon being encouraged to change her name and her parent’s naming conventions.

In case you may have missed it this week, a Southwest Airlines employee landed in hot water for mocking a child’s name and doing so not just with coworkers but posting the child’s unconventional name on social media which led to much more ridicule about the name.

I’m sure many would be on the side of the mother who was angered her child was laughed at for an unconventional name. Normally, reading only a clickbait headline I’d be on the mom’s side too. However, this mother gave the name ‘Abcde’ to her daughter. Abcde (pronounced ab-city) apparently hasn’t experienced mocking or amazement in her young life, thankfully since she is only five-years old.

Now, I get that kids are always surprised when their peers or others notice something about their name, personality, or body shape and are mocked for it. Any adult over the age of eighteen who is a parent should expect that anything can and will be mocked by other children and sometimes adults. This mother’s shock and outrage that someone mocked her child’s name that is basically the first five letters of the alphabet concerns me. What sane adult couldn’t predict someone, somewhere, some time was going to mock that child?

I get it, mom chose to name both me and my brother short but memorable names that weren’t exactly common when we were born. Apparently, many other mothers had the same idea about the name ‘Ryan’ that my mother had too. I’ve probably met a dozen or so Ryans in my life that are about my age and even several celebrities with that name. ‘Ross’ still remains uncommon and I know my brother laments never being able to find any of the personalized name objects at museum and zoo gift shops with his name. Hopefully, he’s preparing his boys for the same childhood experiences. Blaize, Storm, and the new baby all have fairly uncommon names, but thankfully as I pointed out to my sister-in-law they are not ‘Abcde’ or ‘Vwxyz’ or other such nonsense. (Watch, someone named Vwxyz who pronounces it Vicks is going to get mad at me for this post.)

I’ve seen several unconventional names as I’ve subbed for a decade and I’m amazed at the creativity or pretension of parents with what name they have created or how to spell it. I’ve always said that if I have children, I refuse to be too creative for my own good. I’d like to have a son follow the naming convention established in our family for sons. I’m named Ryan and bear my father’s given name as my middle name and his middle name is his father’s first name. So, I’d like my son to be named Nolan Ryan Stroud, because I’m a baseball fan and it also keeps the First Name-Father’s First Name-Surname pattern as well. Of course, much of this conversation is dependent on finding a wife to become my children’s mother and we’ll see where that may be in the near future. Of course, if my significant other already has a kid I might not have as much say, and that’s perfectly okay.

Would name your child ‘Abcde’ knowing that others might have fun with the unconventional name? Was the Southwest employee wrong?

Poetry Wednesday #30

Today in honor of National French Toast Day, today’s Poetry Wednesday is titled “The Bread Lives Again.”

“The Bread Lives Again”

Uh-oh, another day has come and gone, and I’ve let stale le pain

If only there was something I could do

Regrettably, it’s never going to be fresh again

Aha! I’ll make it into pain perdu.

That’s the ticket to reinvigorate the grain


Crack a couple eggs and beat them well

Rub-a-dub-dub, two eggs in a tub; With dairy they will be together mustered

The nooks and crannies in that day-old slice soon will swell

Shimmering and now full with yolk, albumen, and cream—a rich custard

Aromas fill the kitchen with spice and sweetness, that’s cinnamon you smell.


Morning has broken along with the eggs to make this French Toast

As I sit down to eat, I pray, “Give us our daily bread.”

Bread now has been altered, yet not altared like the Host

Once-stale bread thankfully too like the Savior has been resurrected from the dead

Set the table, and plate the meal; each slice shaped like a truss supported by a king post

© Ryan Stroud 2018

History Monday #36

Though the odds weren’t great, a new college would be founded after all on this day.

Ave Maria, adiuva nos inventus est collegium. No, St. Elizabeth never told this to the Virgin Mary and most Roman Catholics don’t actually pray this prayer on a regular basis, but it’s at least likely that a handful prayed this prayer for the new college they were planning to found and we look back on that college’s founding in today’s #HistoryMonday.

Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. | First President of the University of Notre Dame du Lac

On this day in 1842, Father Edward Sorin and seven brothers both of Irish and French descent and belonging to the order of the Holy Cross arrived in South Bend, Indiana to establish a college. The establishment of the college was blessed by the Bishop of the Vincennes diocese, Célestine Guynemer de la Hailandière. Bishop Hailandière was hopeful that a college in his diocese could expand the Catholic presence in the state of Indiana. With Bishop Hailandière’s blessing and encouragement to instruct the faithful, Fr. Sorin named the new school in the name of Mary and a nearby lake—University of Notre Dame du Lac.

Early seal of the University (1876-1901)

The University began life as an all-male school for primary and secondary education. As it grew beyond the original buildings, it received an official charter as a college by the Indiana General Assembly in January of 1844.

The original campus was comprised of only three buildings: a log chapel, the priest’s house, and a shed. At the time of the college’s founding, most of South Bend was mostly frontier and predominated by Protestant believers. Eventually, more buildings were constructed as the college also served as a missional outpost to the local Potawatomi tribe and a church for the local parish.

fast forward

Notre Dame rose to greater prominence with their football team in the early 20th Century. Led by James L. Morrison and Jesse Harper, the Fighting Irish would gain attention to their use of the forward pass as part of the offensive strategy. One of Harper’s star talents, Knute Rockne would take over and become the team’s winningest coach. Thanks to their success on the gridiron, several primary and secondary schools would choose their fight song with appropriate words to the tune of “Victory March” the university’s fight song. (My own high school being one such school).

Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo.svg

Notre Dame has also garnered attention for its commitment to quality undergraduate and graduate programs including law, business, and religion among others. Even student athletes have often been tasked with maintaining high academic standards during their college careers.

Current seal of the University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame is also integral as a Catholic institution. While at times this has drawn negative attention, including the 1988 Notre Dame v. University of Miami (FL) football game dubbed the “Catholics v. Convicts” game. Outside of this event, strong anti-Catholic skirmishes have also happened off the football field. In particular, Ku Klux Klansmen have had negative involvement with faculty, students, and other officials at Notre Dame. Luckily, as the KKK’s influence waned in Indiana, the near-violent conflicts subsided. The Catholic influence is still felt at the university as an overwhelming majority of the student body identifying as Christian, and in particular as Catholic. Mass is celebrated over 100 times each week, and each residence hall on campus has a chapel located in the building for a total of 57 chapels on campus. While the student body is by majority Catholic, there are faith organizations including Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), Orthodox Christian Fellowship, Jewish Club, Muslim Student Association, as well as others. Notre Dame is likely one of the top symbols of the Catholic world outside the Vatican.

Notre Dame has also been the object of reference in television and film. Pres. Josiah Bartlett in The West Wing is an alumnus of Notre Dame with degrees in economics from the university, Pres. Ronald Reagan played star halfback George Gipp in the Knute Rockne biopic, and of course Sean Astin starred as Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger in the eponymous film Rudy.

Admittedly, I grew up being a fan of Notre Dame football and the university itself. However, as my secondary education continued, my academic efforts languished, and I realized that the University of Notre Dame might not be where I’d complete my post-secondary education. That, and the climate of Northern Indiana helped seal the deal.

What connections do you make with the University of Notre Dame?

Current Event Friday #39

Thankfully, everyone survived a potentially dangerous wildlife encounter this week.

Happy Black Friday, hoping you’ve bought all your exclusive deals for Christmas gifts or anything else that you need at a deep discount. For today’s #CurrentEventFriday it could also be Black Bear Friday. Well at least for folks here in Kentuckiana.

Earlier this week, residents of Floyd County, Indiana were glued to their emergency frequency scanners listening to the exploits of a wild bear coming into contact with human beings. For folks living in or visting Gatlinburg and the Smokies, that wouldn’t be a surprise. But for those in Indiana around the Louisville Metro area that’s an unexpected sight. Much of the focus on this Black Bear coming into contact with humans was on the bear’s apparent injury due to being struck by a vehicle. As bears are injured, aggression is always a concern.

Normally, this is an isolated incident, and everybody tells a few jokes the next day and forgets all about the story as quickly as it went viral. I’m guessing that several like me remembered a couple years ago about a bear coming into Corydon. When the Corydon Bear as he came to be known gathered much more attention as he lingered in town for a day or two. While traveling through Corydon, he confounded conservation officers who had to search for the bear with a law enforcement helicopter to aid their comrades on the ground locate and nudge the bear to safety. As the conservation officers were unable to locate the bear, animal control quickly became involved and the director of the animal control resigned his office after disagreeing about whether they should shoot the bear. Add in the usual Mayberry mentality, the local Republican party decided to raffle off a stuffed bear at the county fair and re-air an ad for Ronald Reagan about national threats similar to a wild bear.

For all of the uproar about the Floyd County bear, the only comedic effort was provided by different officers wondering if somebody from the Louisville Zoo could come and tranquilize the bear or if anybody knew somebody who worked at the zoo who could help.

Worth mentioning, the best advice for dealing with bears is leave them alone when possible. Don’t do anything to provoke the ursine creatures. You can minimize a bear coming into contact with human beings is to lock grills, trash cans, and other food receptacles. Be sure to also clean those same receptacles to remove any lingering odors that will attract bears. If you’re interested in seeing bears in a safe environment, Chicago offers two options—Soldier Field and Wrigley Field.

Have you seen bears near your neighborhood recently?  

Poetry Wednesday #29

Today’s Poetry Wednesday is an original poem inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” entitled “A Visit from Tom Turkey and All Our Kin”

“A Visit from Tom Turkey and All Our Kin”

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, when all through the land

Cakes, pies, rolls, and pastries are being prepared by hand;

The turkeys were stuffed and readied with care,

In hopes that the family soon would be there;

The salads were nestled all snug in the fridge;

While visiting kin dance slowly across the bridge;

And we spent the early evening at chapel,

Now Mama is fixin’ to bake her dumplings made with granny smith apple,

We think of the Amerindians, and we thank You providence

It was Your provision, Lord that sent the Wampanoag to the Pilgrims with their intelligence

“Praise to the Lord the Almighty” are the lingering words of the psalm

His care for us we celebrate is like a soothing balm.

After tomorrow, we’ll all have a round belly.

Full of turkey, yams, dressing, and the tart cranberry jelly.

Tonight we’ll have dinner delivered—pizza pie.

The cousins, they’re just good ole boys, they’ll enjoy themselves while drinking whiskey and rye.

Down the driveway will come Uncle and Aunt

I hope she’s making her parmesan eggplant.

Soon will come grandma, a bundle of dishes and carriers, her favorite foods in tow

Sis’s eyes—oh how they twinkle, and her cheeks like rubies, she can’t wait to show off her new beau.

It will come and as almost quickly go as the leaves have fled.

How on earth each year do we manage to eat such a massive spread?

I heard the women exclaim, ere they drove out of sight—

“Happy Thanksgiving to all, now it’s off to Black Friday, it’s starting at midnight!”

©Ryan Stroud 2018

Oh Fudge!

Just fudge the numbers on today’s date…MMMM….Fudge

“Ohhhh fuuudge!” Only Ralphie Parker didn’t say ‘Fudge.’ He said THE word you’re never supposed to say. At least that’s his memory as related in the holiday classic A Christmas Story. The bad news is that Ralphie said a word that ended up with him tasting Life Buoy soap.

The good news is I am actually saying, “Ohhhh fuuuudge!” and it ends up with something that for sure tastes better than Life Buoy soap. For you see today is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day. Yes, Virginia if you were wondering, there’s practically a day for every single food you can think of and any other random object to celebrate.

Fudge is traditionally a chocolate confection, but often the chocolate overwhelms the flavor of the candy and it ends up being too rich. Thankfully some enterprising confectioner decided that peanut butter might appeal to those who aren’t big fans of chocolate and want something a little smoother and not so rich. Admittedly, I’m one of those people. I do enjoy chocolate but I’m more likely to eat dark chocolate than milk chocolate. Peanut Butter is often a way to satisfy my sweet tooth all by itself. It seems to be inherited from my mother and she has also passed it down to Ross. A jar of peanut butter and a spoon can count as a filling snack for any of us. Adding peanut butter to candy is just gilding the lily.

Peanut butter fudge can also be made even better with a coating of chocolate to make the candy known as Buckeyes. Sorry, Ohioans this is about the only Buckeye I can see supporting. Don’t @ me bro!

Sadly, as most fudge is just straight sugar, I have to be a little mindful of how much I eat. Yet I know the holiday season is just on the horizon and I know mom will be making at least two or three varieties of fudge and holiday calories don’t count. I read it somewhere in the Book of Paul that calories over Christmas don’t count because Jesus’s blood cancels it out somehow. It’s in there somewhere. I’ll leave it someone more theologically trained than me to find it.

If this post has you craving peanut butter fudge, here’s a quick microwave version made by Alton Brown:

Alton Brown’s Peanut Butter Fudge

What about you, are you a fan of Peanut Butter Fudge?

History Monday #35

La Historía de Puerto Rico

As the impending winter season has seemed to let the cold in, it’s worth looking to warmer locations. Thanks to an enterprising Italian geographer working for the Kingdom of Spain named Cristóbal Colón we have such a location for today’s #HistoryMonday.

If the name Cristóbal Colón doesn’t ring any bells, you’ve no doubt seen or uttered the Anglicized version of his name — Christopher Columbus. It was on this day in 1493, that Columbus established the Spanish claim of possession of an island he would name San Juan Bautista. The naming of the land he settled on that Caribbean Island was meant as an honor for St. John the Baptist. Columbus had spotted the island a day before and chose to explore it and claim it as a colony for Spain. Eventually, traders and other seafarers would refer to the entire island as Puerto Rico, while San Juan Batista would become the main trading/shipping port while shortening its name to San Juan.

File:Flag of Puerto Rico.svg
The Flag of Puerto Rico

Columbus had previously discovered and claimed the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba during his first voyage approved by the Spanish crown during 1492 as we all learned in the grade school rhyme.

After returning to Europe in 1493, Columbus was approved for a second voyage. It was during this second voyage that Columbus spotted an island inhabited by the native Taíno people. They called this island Borikén, meaning “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord”. The Taíno at that time lived in small hamlets, each led by a cacique (chief). Their livelihood depended on the efforts of the men to hunt or fish, while the women gathered and processed both the root and fruit portions of the cassava.

Columbus’s successful first voyage had entitled him to even more freedom and reward by the Spanish monarchy as well as the papacy.  At the time of his voyage, Columbus was authorized by both parties in order to expand the Spanish Empire and proselytize the Christian faith unto the native people. As the Spanish Empire continued growing its influence in Puerto Rico, they would appoint their first governor—Juan Ponce de León. Ponce de León was appointed thanks to his service as Columbus’s lieutenant during Columbus’s voyages. For more on Ponce de León’s contributions to Spanish colonization, be sure to read History Monday #8.

fast forward

Spain was able to maintain control for just more than 4 centuries over the Caribbean island. Significant overtures were attempted towards the end of the 19th Century, but full independence from Spain was not realized until 1898. Although, the independence was essentially a transfer between the United States and Spain. The U.S. initially operated their new territory as a military possession and renamed it Porto Rico. Shortly after the American occupation and possession of the island, a new government was put in place in 1900 that allowed for many of the liberties mainland Americans enjoyed, including congressional representation and gubernatorial elections for the island. As the United States has continued to aid and assist the island, reforms including the reverting of the name back to Puerto Rico in 1932 have occurred.

While there are at least more freedoms given to Puerto Ricans under American control, there are still debates about full independence for the island or else the recognition of statehood for the island. In the midst of these debates, many Americans enjoy traveling to Puerto Rico for vacation while many Boricuas (Puerto Ricans) travel to the United States to take advantage of many of the same rights as mainland citizens. The unrestricted trade and mobility between Puerto Rico and the United States has seen the rise of popular celebrities like Alex Rodriguez and popular products such as Bacardí rum just to name a few.

What do you know about Puerto Rico? Should they be independent or become a state?