Poetry Wednesday #38

Today’s entry “Away” for Poetry Wednesday is all about my wanderlust


I have been ‘round the world

I’m far away, when I travel and even when I rest at home.

Further than the winds wanderlust in my head has swirled


I have winged my way through the clouded sky to the seas white with foam

Tomorrow, I’ll set out along the sea, the boat making way

Hide that I’m a tourist and do as the natives do when in Rome


Let’s get lost, down the overseas path, find some lost little cay

Too much of everything back home, need to wash it away, maybe as far as Shambala

My trip is over I’m already waiting and saving to leave each and every payday


Morning awakens me with amber and crimson  just like last night’s sunrisen Tequila

Let’s roll to another joint, let’s head on down those narrow little roads

My feelings and motions race to more travel deep in my mind, way back in the amygdala


I want some girl who’ll thrill me and come away with me before my mind explodes

For soon, too soon life halts ‘neath it’s crushing loads


© Ryan Stroud 2019

History Monday #41

Today’s #HistoryMonday involves an event witnessed by millions around the world and the tragic end shortly thereafter.

January is in its waning days at the start of this week. So, begins another installment of #HistoryMonday. Today’s event was set to be an historic event on the day it was planned, but unfortunately become historical for an unintended tragedy.

On this day in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida at 16:38 UTC (11:38 a.m. EST). On board the shuttle was Christa McAuliffe, a high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire. McAuliffe had won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. She had undergone months of shuttle training. Her inclusion on the shuttle was heralded for what it meant for civilians.

Shortly after the shuttle’s liftoff; a mere seventy-three seconds later, the shuttle fractured apart and was engulfed in a giant cloud of smoke and fire. Hundreds in attendance on the ground along with millions more observed the entire tragedy unfold live on television. Sadly, there were no survivors.

Ronald Reagan appointed a special commission to determine what went wrong with Challenger and to develop future corrective measures. The investigation determined that the disaster was caused by the failure of an “O-ring” seal in one of the two solid-fuel rockets. The failure of the O-ring was blamed on the cold temperatures at launch time.

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NASA took the results of the investigation and used them to further improve the other space shuttles. These improvements and repairs would eventually resume in 1989 with the successful launching of the Discovery. Sister shuttles Discovery, Endeavor, Atlantis, and Columbia would continue launches until the retirement of the shuttle program in 2011. These missions resulted in 133 successful launches and landings. Sadly, On February 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated upon reentry of the Earth’s atmosphere. This was only the second failure of the shuttle program. Again, all aboard Columbia were killed.

Somewhat coincidentally, 19 years earlier Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished on January 27, 1967 during the first Apollo mission.

Out of the 135 launches, the Columbia and Challenger disasters were recorded as the only failures of the Space Transportation System (STS) or shuttle program.

After the program was retired in 2011, NASA in an affiliate relationship with the Russian Space Federation has agreed to send astronauts on mission using Soyuz spacecraft.

NASA had planned successor to STS dubbed the “Shuttle II”, shortly after the Challenger disaster as well as a program named Constellation. Neither program came to fruition.  Shortly before the retirement of the STS program, NASA received approval for the current planned project named Space Launch System (SLS). The first mission of this program is set for June of next year and will be unmanned. Its primary task will be a lunar orbit and deployment of satellites. Upon successful launch and reentry, the second mission in 2022 will send a crew for trial of the system with humans. If these continue to prove capable, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) will launch in 2245 and be captained by James T. Kirk. 😉

Current Event Friday #44

A #CurrentEventFriday that makes me look back on what I’ve learned from blogging.

Happy Friday everyone, I am back with another #CurrentEventFriday. This one is more localized and personal, but hey I’m the one who decides what I’m writing—it’s for sure an event and it’s relatively current. I think it qualifies.


So last Friday while I was up at O’ Dark-Thirty preparing to return to Winter I saw this badge in my WordPress notifications center. A year ago, I signed up for a WordPress domain and registered my blog and decided to share my thoughts with whoever might listen. I expected much of my family and several close friends to follow but have been happy to encounter other WP bloggers who follow my posts and I’ve returned the favor. I mentioned in my first blog post ever that I started this as a way of catharsis and to help my writing by getting my thoughts written down. Since taking this journey just over a year ago I have observed the following about myself and my writing.

1) I still struggle with self-image, self-doubt, and resentment.

2) Blogging challenges me to be a better writer.

3) I have new interests, and old ones are able to find an outlet.

With these three observations in mind, I want to explain them more in order to get my thoughts done and open myself up for feedback and critique.

1) Struggling with self-image, self-doubt, and resentment. My first blog post detailed why I decided to name the blog On the Radar and its particular backstory. In that post I mentioned that over the course of my adolescence and adulthood, I have been particularly targeted for my small stature and the consequences thereby of that stature. If you notice much of my Poetry Wednesday selections, that theme still runs deep. Much of other early blog posts lamented my singleness, my seemingly adrift notions of the future, and being caught between mid-life and early adulthood. I know that many times I’ve been accused of having a negative or pessimistic outlook. I receive that warning and work to balance my perceptions and my written or oral communications should reflect that balance.

2) Challenged to be a better writer. One of my continuing education professors encouraged me several times in class that I should write more than just for academics. Honestly, I’m used to getting decent grades and my writing usually isn’t dinged too hard by graders. My dad has often praised my writing ability but I to some degree brush it off because of who he is—our parents always gush about our abilities, it’s their job. I have never struggled to write my papers for class. I have however struggled to want to write them. But with blogging, I actually want to write, but many times I find myself challenged that I have come face to face with the dreaded phenomenon known as writer’s block. Written assignments for class have specific instructions and deadlines and I can type just about anything close to what others in class have typed and we all receive passing grades or higher. Yet there are times when I’m determined that I should write something worthwhile on the blog and hardly anything comes. I’ve learned that’s okay though. Forcing it likely leads to a sloppy product and not necessarily anything that I’ll be proud of. I want to take pride in what I choose to write about. I want to get passing grades and move on in the things that are chosen for me to write about and therein lies the biggest difference.

3) Discovering new interests, rediscovering old interests, and directing the old interests.  Partly connected to the second observation is how I meet those challenges of writing. My workspaces have never been accused of being orderly and clean. Sure, they might be for a day or two, but it’s short-lived. The hemispheres of my mind are in nearly constant turmoil—the hemisphere that desires order and control is usually overcome by the creative and imaginative hemisphere. I have my topics listed and scheduled for the blog and that helps. It’s that organized calendar that has helped though to tap into my creativity. By dedicating 3 out of the 5 days to a particular theme, I can focus the creative efforts. Ny focusing those efforts, I have learned something about myself I never thought I could say, “I like poetry.” As a kid, I liked Dr. Seuss & Shel Silverstein because they had funny nonsensical stories and poems that rhymed. As you get older, more of the poems you read are in antiquated English and worse they don’t even rhyme. But as I started writing one poem and then another and another still, I discovered I liked poetry—well at least the poetry I wrote. I’m still not exactly sold on the free verse and modern poetry that has a stilted kind of rhythm and obscure viewpoints, but that’s true of a lot of modern art. I have also enjoyed that both the beginning and the end of each week are dedicated to my interest from school when I was younger—social studies. I have always been a student of history and been keenly connected to current events. I find immense joy in using Mondays as a means of being what I would want to be If I were teaching history. Fridays allow me the opportunity to engage everyone about a particular current event going on locally, nationally, or globally. Again, this is my attempt at being that social studies teacher that encourages and facilitates discussion with their students about the sundry events that happen to be unfolding that particular season. All of this to say, most of this third observations shows that teaching in some form or other is still part of the driving force in me.


What have you learned about me from my blogging?

History Monday #40

Today in 1977, the President provides amnesty to a controversial group.

I’m back after much needed vacation to sunny Key West and back to the land of the ice and snow of Indiana. Now that I’m back, it’s time for another edition of #HistoryMonday. Today’s topic of historical significance is all about amnesty and presidential support for the dodgers—but not the baseball team formerly of Brooklyn and now Los Angeles

On this date in in 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned all Vietnam War draft dodgers. This action was a fulfillment of a campaign promise.  During a debate with Pres. Ford, Carter announced an intention to pardon those who didn’t register for the draft or left the country in order to avoid conscription.  Both candidates for president that year had announced plans to offers some relief for those who had avoided serving. Ford was only willing to provide clemency to those that applied or otherwise qualified themselves to receive a pardon. Carter, in keeping with his evangelical Southern Baptist faith decided a blanket pardon would be more appropriate and move the country forward. The pardon was only extended to civilians who had been convicted of violating the Military Selective Service Act by draft-evasion acts or omissions committed between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973. Provisions of clemency and pardon were not available to servicemembers who had deserted or went AWOL.

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Much of public sentiment had turned against the war by the time of Pres. Ford’s ascension to the Presidency and Carter was likely continuing Pres. Ford’s attempts to move the country forward after a two-plus decades long war. Still the hawkish members of congress on both sides of the aisle were unhappy with Pres. Carter’s decision. They argued by pardoning these draft-dodgers, it would only encourage further disobedience by potential draftees. Additionally, critics argued that rewarding disobedient draftees, it esteemed the sacrifice of willing servicemen who had fought and died in the war too little—a dishonor to their memories.

The so-called doves in congress, were unhappy that Carter did not also extend pardons to the servicemen who had went AWOL or deserted during the war. So, the decision by Pres. Carter wasn’t popular with either of the major factions of congressional leadership.

Worth noting, Pres. Carter did reinstate the Military Selective Service Act some three years later in response to the U.S. involvement in the Soviet-Afghani War. Currently, all males age 18-25 are required to register under this act for purposes of conscription. Failure to do so affects financial aid and other federal assistance rather than punitive attempts to arrest as before. Recently, legislators have attempted to introduce bills that would eventually end the mandatory registration for the Selective Service Administration. There is at least some traction to this movement, as a study is expected to be produced by next year highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the registration. Of course, the requirement for males only invites questions about whether women should be equally considered as well as transgender individuals who identify as female but are born as a biological male. The most recent precedence for this argument still requires any individual who is a biological male regardless of transition surgery is still considered a male and required to register.

Admittedly, I’ve become much more libertarian and more of a war dove as I’ve seen how thinly our troops have been spread in at least the last two decades. Much of the war zones we’ve been fighting in have been an ‘ally’ a decade or two earlier only to be fighting us later. I appreciate the volunteer service members who fought and sacrifice for their country, I like others during the Vietnam era would like to see a more peaceful resolution and less American lives lost in wars that may not necessarily require our presence.

What do you think, should Pres. Carter have pardoned the draft-dodgers?

Tat’s Ink-credible

Can you be comfortable in your own skin when others have ink embedded in theirs?

Think before you ink. Why would you do that to your body? What will your future kids think about that? Much of these admonitions and questions have been directed at those with tattoos for decades. But it seems like more and more people have tattoos. What once used to be only reserved for motorcycle gang members or long-serving veterans is now even part of the sorority girl culture.

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Admittedly, growing up I was wary of getting tattoos and heard all the judgmental attitudes about them from my family and close family friends. But as more people in my family got tattoos, my position on them has changed. I know the argument from the traditionalist side of Christianity is a Levitical prohibition and a Pauline caution about regarding our body as a temple, or even those who cling to Biblical prohibitions against tattoos and claim only the evil have tattoos in Revelation, it’s hard to square Rev. 19:16 that says Jesus on his horse rides into town and has the titles King of kings and Lord of lords tattooed on his thigh. So what do you do with that or if someone tattoos a Bible verse somewhere on their body?

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No, I don’t have any tattoos myself and I’m not likely to get one. However, I have seen some of the subtler wrist tattoos or the wedding ring tattoos and the undersized part of my brain that urges for adventure thinks maybe that could be something I could handle. Considering the number of scars and blood test pricks I’ve endured over my lifetime; a tattoo gun would likely be similar on the pain scale (at least in my estimation).

As I mentioned, many of my relatives have sat in a tattoo chair and chosen pieces that aren’t offensive and actually have an obvious meaning. My cousin has our grandparents’ names on his arm, my brother has his wife’s maiden name on his arm, my sister-in-law has her children’s names on her shoulder. Of course, there are still other pieces that other relatives have including a decorative cross, the rebel flag, an eagle, and other traditional pieces. Even close friends have tattoos that reflect choices honoring their military service or a reminder of who they may have been before being born again.

It’s also been interesting to watch many of the older generation in my family soften their attitudes on tattoos as many of the younger generation of the family have inked their bodies. I’ve probably allowed myself to be more progressive than they are. I do realize that as with anything, there should be some common sense and moderation with being tattooed. It’s probably not the best idea to tattoo your entire face.

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Tattoo artistry is something to appreciate. Many of the artists are just that—artists. They use many of the same techniques learned by art students in a post-secondary education. These same artists have natural abilities to draw and shade their work like a painter or other visual artists. Additionally, reputable professional tattoo artists are licensed based after instruction on how to properly sanitize and clean their shop. I’ve learned to understand more of what a good tattoo artist should be by watching the  shows Tattoo Nightmares and Ink Master on the Paramount television network.

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Tattoo Nightmares features three professional tattoo artists attempting to cover up tattoos along with a reenactment of how the client got the tattoo.
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Ink Master features three professional tattoo artists who judge up-and-coming artists on their ability to use a skill every artist needs to use. It’s like Top Chef but instead of chefs the contestants are tattoo artists.

Even with the seeming ubiquity of tattoos I know that there still old-school thoughts about tattoos and I’m sure that isn’t likely to change soon. But if the worst thing a parent can say is their kid got a tattoo of a songbird that’ll look like a buzzard in old age, that’s far better than a child suffering from the harmful effects of long-term drug use. So, let’s back off on the outrage over tattoos, besides if modern culture warriors are to be believed it’s far more of an outrage that an actor who is healthy and able to walk is playing the part of a sick man confined to a wheelchair. Yes, the outrage culture has officially jumped the shark.

What do you think, is it okay that tattoos are no longer taboo? Do you have tattoos, or would you be inclined to get one?



Poetry Wednesday #36

“Pigskin” a poem about the remaining teams in the NFL Playoffs this weekend.


You want to play Cowboys and Indians?

Hop on the rocking Colts, azure horses

Toy soldiers, Revolution ‘mericans

Lightning bolts & Rivers joining forces


Sainted are Mississippi resources

Eagles still rely on their workhorse Foles

A lone score for the lone star tauruses

Youngest billy goat Goff dodges the trolls


Hawkish water birds lost like ancient scrolls

“Nevermore this season.” quoth the Ravens

The wind had some bearing on missed field goals

Who’ll come out on top, offense or defense?


No one could predict who would be the champs

When all thirty-two teams broke training camps


© Ryan Stroud 2019

Read Anything Good Lately?

I’m an open book about my need to open more books.

♪ Take a look, it’s in a book, a Reading Rainbow! ♫ Many like me grew up hearing these lyrics for the PBS television show promoting reading to children. I enjoyed reading most of my childhood but tapered off during adolescence. Much of the waning interest stems from my aversion to required reading and subsequent analysis during my middle and high school years. I was fine reading books for entertainment and personally analyzing them for my own benefit but arbitrary books and writing papers are not my favorite activities. Additionally, the books and stories were revealed to have a deeper more hidden meaning that I was suspect of based on one person’s supposed educated opinion.

(Sometimes I feel like literature class professors are like Prof. Turner who think they know what the author meant. However, the actual author wrote what he meant and the professor doesn’t accept that viewpoint.)

Up to this point, you’re probably reading this and thinking, “Oh, great there he is ranting again.” Yes, I’m prone to ranting, but I’m also taking stock of unhealthy habits that need fixing, and one is not spending time reading. Like many during this New Year, I’m considering resolutions. I decided that one such resolution I should practice more is reading. I need to set aside more time to read books, magazines, and even blog posts. What I need to consume less of is television.

I’ve already pinned a list of 100 Books Men Should Read from www.ArtOfManliness.com as a starting point of books worth reading. I’m also hoping to take time during my upcoming vacation to read while sitting at the beach or by the pool.

Reading will no doubt help me professionally and in my education. Being more well-read will almost necessarily produce quality papers that I’ll have to write for classes. Plus, it’ll help me with my aversion to reading the required texts since I will be in a better habit of reading. Hopefully, spending time reading will improve my entries on this blog. Yay!

Worth realizing, trying to follow New Year’s resolutions often end up pass/fail for many people. Too much value is placed on what happens when you don’t live up to following them. I’m not foolish enough to punish myself if I slip on my reading. I’m focusing on trying to read more, but I’m not necessarily putting a number that has to be met—quality over quantity will be my approach.

Any recommendations on books to read or tips for reading more?

History Monday #39

On this day in 1947, a Christmas song makes the top spot on the U.S. pop charts

♪ You’ll go down in history. ♫  Yes, the historical figure in question is a fictional reindeer but the song is important for today’s #HistoryMonday. After a lapse in my #HistoryMonday postings thanks to the holidays, we return with a more whimsical historical event.

On this day in 1947, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” reaches #1 on the U.S. Pop Charts. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” began as a children’s story almost a decade earlier in 1939. The story was created by advertising executives from department store Montgomery Ward.  Robert L. May, a copywriter for the company was responsible for creating the story.  Montgomery Ward gave away more than 2 million storybooks with the Rudolph story to their customers in 1939. Johnny Marks, May’s brother-in-law adapted the story into a song and the rest is history. Marks was a professional songwriter and had connections to top music artists and saw potential to capitalize on making the story into a song. Two years later, the song would become even more popular when Gene Autry recorded his version of “Rudolph” for the Christmas season. Autry’s version would sell more than 2 million units in its first year. This popularity earned the song a record as being one of the most successful Christmas record in history, second only to “White Christmas.”

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“Rudolph” would earn May a healthy income from 1947 on. Montgomery Ward in an unheard-of move, signed the copyright over to May for his own personal claim in perpetuity. Normally, the story and any connected projects would have belonged to Montgomery Ward, but as an act of charity and compassion, Montgomery Ward’s CEO agreed to giving the royalties’ claim to May in order to finance health costs for May’s wife who suffered from a serious terminal illness. Marks would go on to write other popular Christmas songs including “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas” to round out the repertoire.

Rudolph’s impact has also been seen as the story and song were used for the made-for-tv special in 1964, that airs every Christmas season (even over modern objections to the bullying message of the story).

Several parody or connected reindeer stories have been spawned after the song and story. Among these include Olive, the other Reindeer. The name is a mondegreen (pun) on the line “all of the other reindeer…” from the song. Other reindeer include Rudolph’s son Robbie, brothers Ralph and Rusty, and a redneck cousin named Leroy.