History Monday #84

Mexico gave up land by the border, and the United States paid for it

¿Cuánto cuesta la parte sur de Arizona y Nuevo Mexico? A question that was easily answered and approved through a treaty acknowledging the new Southern border between Mexico and the United States in today’s #HistoryMonday.

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The Gadsden Purchase highlighted in yellow

On this day in 1853, James Gadsden the special minister to Mexico met with General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico to sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. Gadsden had been appointed as minister by the Secretary of War Jefferson Davis to negotiate the treaty with Mexico. The parties initially agreed to the price of $15 million, but eventually settled on $10 million for approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now New Mexico and Arizona. For Gadsden’s efforts, the treaty and the region became known as the Gadsden Purchase in the United State.

Mexico agreed to the treaty and the sale of land after racking up debt in the Mexican-American War as well as seeing Americans settling in disputed lands without penalty. Agreeing to a new border and settling territorial disputes made much more sense.

From the American perspective, this allowed for more land to be used in a Southern railroad route as well as expand Texan interests. Chief among these interests were the expansion of slave territory. Abolitionists resisted efforts by the U.S. to push for a deeper Southern push into Mexico that would have reached the Yucatan Peninsula.

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The Gadsden Purchase was quickly settled by American from the nearby Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico Territories. Central Pacific Railroad authorities established a Southern Pacific branch of their company and began building a railway through the newly purchased region.

Much of the settlement in this region of the Southwestern United States are cities like Yuma and Tucson. With the settlement of these cities and the construction of the railroad, Southern settlers expanded the influence of slavery since the areas were below the 36°30′ N line of longitude that defined the Northern limit of slave states.

After the Civil War, the region became known for much of what we know of Western culture in film. One of the more infamous cities in the Gadsden Purchase is Tombstone, AZ. While Texas beef ranchers drove their herds through the region, outlaws called “cowboys” would rustle the cattle and pick fights with the ranchers. Eventually, a group of these cowboys became embroiled in a battle with the Earp family, a set of deputized gunfighters in the town.

This region also has become strategic in the current Mexican-American border dispute, but even the borders agreed to by the two nations in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo are still dealing with issues such as the City of El Paso.

Mining of precious stones and other minerals in the Gadsden Purchase could provide more funds for the United States, but much of the area of mineral deposits is occupied by Native American territory, so any mining profits are provided to the tribal communities.

Have you traveled to any of the cities in the Gadsden Purchase?

Current Event Friday #88

A Cat-astrophic reception for a recently released movie

Christmas vacation affords families the opportunities to watch feature films playing in theaters, but one of those meow playing is on hardly anyone’s list. In a surprise to Hollywood studio executives, both critics and moviegoers are avoiding the movie. Today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at some of the problems with the film and its icy reception.

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While a new Star Wars movie is in theaters, a critically-acclaimed Broadway show should achieve respectable numbers, but Cats hasn’t lived up to the expectations. Based on the original play written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats details the lives of alley cats and an abandoned kitten named Victoria,

The film is directed by Tom Hooper, who adapted Les Misérables to film in 2012 to much acclaim. Somehow, that magic didn’t translate to this film. Even top stars like Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Jenifer Hudson, and Taylor Swift don’t seem to help either.

Released last Friday, the film has already been re-edited with CGI effects as some panned the film for its portrayal of the feline singers and dancers. Jason Derulo’s natural ‘human anatomy’ has been a target of much maligning and was edited by the studio to be removed in the re-released format. Meow that it’s been re-edited since theatrical release drew even more negative attention.

Meow, the subject material is too adult for kids, so you’ll expect that they aren’t coming. They likely are watching Frozen II or Jumanji: The Next Level. The male demographic is likely watching Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker or Richard Jewell. Women might be watching Little Women. Plus, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is still in many theaters drawing families, Knives Out is offered for the horror fans. So, Cats was going to have an uphill battle anyways.

I’ve never seen the Broadway show, but I’ve heard several people who loved seeing it. I saw a preview for Cats recently when I watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and could tell it was probably going to be a dud. Even James Corden who stars in the film, is rumored to have avoided watching it in theaters. Of course, a movie about cats is probably not a film worth watching, since dogs are the superior pet anyways.

Have you seen the Broadway version of Cats?  

Current Event Friday #87

A food company has egg on its face

Some may be hard-boiled when they realize they are at risk of being infected by dishes using ingredients contaminated by Listeria. The recall and what it means for the public is today’s #CurrentEventFriday.


Eggs-actly what caused this outbreak is still unknow, but the FDA & CDC are warning customers to throw away store-bought egg salad and other prepackaged products with hard-boiled eggs. This comes after the FDA & CDC discovered that hard-boiled eggs packaged by Almark Foods of Georgia. The eggs have already infected a handful of people and has been blamed for one death in Texas.

This recall and warning seems to affect restaurants and stores using hard-boiled eggs packaged in plastic pails. Some of the hard-boiled eggs in plastic bags may be affected and if in doubt, throw them out to be safe. It’s more likely that stores and restaurants bought these hard-boiled eggs in bulk for preparation of other dishes and products. Be sure to ask the grocery store or restaurants if dishes containing hard-boiled eggs if they used Almark as their egg purveyor so you can avoid the risk.

I would hope most would avoid this by making their own dishes with hard-boiled eggs at home. With Instant-Pots, microwave egg cookers, or a saucepan making hard-boiled eggs is fairly easy. I’ve discovered the egg setting on my Instant-Pot and will use it to make hard-boiled eggs for my own egg salad. Many will plan on deviled eggs being part of their Christmas meals and home boiled eggs should be fine.

Surprisingly, as noted by the more sarcastic, food recalls only seem to affect healthier foods like lettuce, green onions, and eggs; yet unhealthy foods like Oatmeal Crème Pies and frozen pizzas don’t seem to be recalled. This point has been turned into memes that argue that eating the ‘bad’ foods are actually safer than the ‘good’ foods. While it’s an over-simplifying and a convenient reading of news, it is humorous in the midst of unwelcome news being shared all over social media.

What’s your favorite dish with hard-boiled eggs?

History Monday #83

It’s a party, and the British will cry if they want to

The best part of waking up…is rebelling against unfair taxes. Well, maybe not for everybody, but at least for some citizens who inevitably switched America’s drink of choice from tea to coffee that would be their wakeup call to others. It’s also today’s #HistoryMonday.

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On this day, in 1773 a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and boarded British tea ships and proceeded to destroy or jettison the entirety of the ships’ cargo—342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor.

This rebellious act soon became known as the “Boston Tea Party” and continues to be referred to as such even today. Colonists were led to this act of civil disobedience thanks to the Tea Act of 1773 enacted by the Parliament earlier that year. The bill was written as a way to protect British trade particularly tea.

Parliament was charged with assessing and collecting taxes for all manner of goods and services from their citizens, including tea. But the Tea Act of 1773 helped the East India Company reducing its tax burden substantially, thus empowering a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. Parliament’s efforts with adjusting the taxes paid by the East India Company allowed the company to undercut tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders. This proved colonists’ concerns that Parliament was unfairly using its taxation powers.

Chief opponent of the Tea tax and other Parliamentary efforts was Sam Adams. He and other distressed colonists in the Sons of Liberty, a secret resistance group decided something demonstrative was needed to prevent Parliament’s efforts. When Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to dispense with three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, sending the ships back to England, these rebels organized the “tea party” in response. Some 60 or so partygoers took part and destroyed tea that was valued at some $18,000.

The Boston Tea Party was the only open rebellious act by Americans against the Tea Act. Ships arriving in the other colonies had been successfully discouraged from unloading their tea in the respective harbors and instead returned to England. Gov. Hutchinson chose not to permit legal rebellion by colonists, since two of his sons were tea merchants in the Massachusetts colony and they would benefit from selling the tea.

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For their efforts, the colonists were rewarded with The Coercive Acts by Parliament. These acts were labeled the Intolerable Acts by colonists since they closed Boston’s harbor for shipping by private merchants, gave British officials immunity for criminal prosecution in America, enacted British military occupation in Massachusetts, and required colonists to quarter the troops who now occupied the colony.

Sam Adams’ cousin John Adams propagated the efforts of the Sons of Liberty for their civil disobedience and encouraged other colonists that the Parliament was acting beyond its scope with the Tea Act and was being heavy-handed with the Intolerable Acts.

The occupation of Boston by military troops would eventually lead to the Boston Massacre and even more resentment towards these troops by colonists. As the British soldiers were cleared in the trial, the several acts by Parliament for that last decade eventually led to calls for a Constitutional Convention, the Declaration of Independence, and the American Revolution.

Of lesser consequence, colonists also followed advice from John Adams to refuse tea and find another suitable beverage, which ended up being coffee. While some Americans still drink tea and refuse coffee, the switch from tea as the unofficial beverage happened shortly after the Boston Tea Party.

Admittedly, I will drink both tea and coffee now which has seemingly become more normalized as American in the last few decades. I will have a cup of coffee with breakfast and drink iced tea throughout the day and lately I’ll have a cup of decaf coffee sometime before bed.

Do you drink hot tea or hot coffee?

Current Event Friday #86

Lights! Cameras! Christmas Activities!

Less than two weeks until Christmas is upon us, and that means lots of traditions and happenings over the next few weeks along with those same traditions and happenings that have already been going on for possibly a month or better. Part of those traditions is today’s #CurrentEventFriday.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Last year around this time, I covered the tradition of Christmas Movies on my watchlist, while today’s post is about Christmas lights. Decorating houses and businesses with Christmas lights is a fitting Current Event during this holiday season.

I can remember growing up going with my parents to see Christmas lights in town. We all have our opinions of what makes a well-decorated house. For us, the motto ‘less is more’ seems to be the guiding principle. The more colors of lights and decorative objects make a house or business confusing and as if the decorators are trying too hard.

Surely some might object to this opinion, and that’s perfectly fine since everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I can appreciate that people want to add several objects or colors to their display because that’s their style. There are ways certainly with a larger house and property to spread out the objects, so they don’t clutter the overall look.

As for my own decorating I usually wait until after Dec. 1 to add lights and decorations to the house. I also keep the decorations simple and clean, using a spotlight shining on a wooden silhouette of the Holy Family in the manger with a star above. One of the benefits about being relocated to a parsonage last year means that my house is close enough to neighbors for them to see the decorations. Prior to that, I lived in a house at the end of a dean end road so only mailmen and family saw the decorations.

I shared a post on Facebook that wished for a date to travel around and look at Christmas decorations while drinking hot cocoa and eating Christmas cookies and candy. Obviously, if I had the S.O. we could go to the Lights Under Louisville and around the neighborhood while enjoying Christmas treats. While I’m tempted to be flip about how to go about that, I guess I could ask Santa for a girlfriend. Not exactly sure if that’ll happen though.

Do you drive around looking at Christmas lights?

Poetry Wednesday 81

With inspiration from many sources, how to be “A Better Man” is a worthy Poetry Wednesday topic

“A Better Man”

Heading out for another Friday night, my habit well-known

It’s the same old neon signs calling out the same old places

Hostess asks if anybody else is coming, or am I alone

Same old question nearly crushes me, hangs from my neck like a millstone

My sheepish look gives it away, she’s a master of reading between the lines on so many faces



Cheer up, cast out the bitterness; leave none of its traces

Haven’t you been given what most man receive—love and graces?

You may not have a sweetheart, but how many others can you count on their embraces?

Live your life quotidian—on a day to day basis

Take a slow Tuesday night and refocus, find a way to be the life of the party

Tell a joke or two, get al of them laughing loud and hearty

Better you to be a better man, turn it around, turn the bend

Better get going just as fast as your feet can fly; Leave the sinking feeling behind

It’ll all work itself out eventually, it’ll work out in the end

Stop paying attention to what everyone else has, be transformed and renew your mind.


© Ryan Stroud 2019

History Monday #82

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye

Normally when an organism goes the way of the dodo it’s a sad day in history. However, today’s #HistoryMonday features an organism that nobody will miss thanks to its dangerous effects on humans for centuries until it met its own mortality.

Scientists reading news of the eradication of the smallpox virus

On this day in 1979, a commission of scientists issued a statement of their findings that smallpox had been eradicated. The disease’s last naturally occurring case was diagnosed just two years earlier, which prompted the scientists’ announcement.

Smallpox or some form of the disease existed for much of human history extending from BCE to the Common Era. The virus is caused by one of two variants, Variola major or Variola minior. The virus was responsible for nearly a 30 percent risk of fatality for those infected. Smallpox is the only infectious disease afflicting humans that has officially been eradicated.

Prevention of the disease began late in the 16th Century in China which utilized inoculation. This technique would eventually spread to the West during the 18th Century and is credited for the Continental Army’s survival during the harsh winter at Valley Forge during the American Revolution. Inoculation involves usage of a weak strain of the virus being introduced to patients to trigger the immune system to create antibodies and establish immunity to the disease.

Eventually, vaccines that used a similar disease that affected cattle but was safe for humans helped the eradication of the Smallpox virus. By using this vaccine along with many other vaccines in the middle of the 20th Century by government intervention, many dangerous diseases have been kept in check.

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The use of mass vaccination from the smallpox virus led to modern societies developing a near-natural immunity to the virus. Yet, tribes who have resisted outside contact would likely be susceptible to the virus as observed during the Colonial period in the Americas and Oceania.

Smallpox was at least a passive actor in helping Europeans to conquer Native American populations in the Americas as there is anecdotal and scientific evidence that the Native tribes had no prior history with the virus.

Historical accounts differ, but intentional use of smallpox scabs and infected materials being used by Europeans against native peoples has given the idea of using remaining strains of the disease as modes of biological warfare. After the last few cases of smallpox were discovered, the World Health Organization (WHO) ordered the remaining supplies of the virus be stored at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR) of Russia. The WHO has attempted to install safeguards to keep the virus from being used for military purposes. Although some anti-biological warfare advocates suggest that all remaining strains be destroyed so nobody can use it for evil.

Other scientists working in epidemiology have demonstrated that similar viruses can be modified to affect humans like the smallpox virus but did so as part of an effort to research the history of the virus and create new vaccines.

Anti-vaccination efforts by concerned parents are also a concern if the disease’s is reactivated as well. If nefarious agents find ways to use the virus or a similar specimen as a biological weapon unvaccinated children and adults would be susceptible. This is why the supervision and restrictions from the WHO or CDC are important in keeping the virus in check.

Should the WHO destroy all the remaining smallpox strains?

Current Event Friday #85

It’s a vicious bi-cycle!

Here’s hoping you’ve got either got a good start on your Christmas shopping or finished with it. One product that won’t necessarily be recommended based on its commercial is today’s #CurrentEventFriday.

A young wife trying her Peloton bike the first time after receiving it as a Christmas gift

If you missed it, Peloton rolled out an ad touting a couple’s yearlong use of their stationary exercise bike. The ad begins with last year’s Christmas and an objectively attractive young wife being gifted a Peloton bike from her husband. She documents her usage of the bike and presents her video diary of her exercise to her husband in appreciation as her Christmas gift to him this year.

The ad drew sharp criticism for promoting sexist and misogynistic themes. One critic alleged that the husband’s gifting of the bike amounted to torture since the wife’s facial expressions were clearly evocative of facial expressions torture victims display during their agony. Also, the ad panned out to show the husband had a handgun fixed on the wife demanding she ride the bike an exercise. Oh wait, that was just an imagined scene from that critic.  For all the criticism that Peloton faced, it experienced a backlash in the stock market and cost the company and its shareholders just over $1.6 Billion.

Getting your wife a gift that encourages exercise or housework isn’t exactly recommended for the modern household, but it can be appropriate in some circumstances. If your wife suggests she needs a Peloton bike so she can stay fit and the accompanying program will help her, get the bike. Similarly, if your wife has complained the vacuum quit working or she needs a new skillet, that’s fine for a Christmas present.

The outrage at the sexist gifts is somewhat bewildering since it patronizes the women featured in them. Christmas commercials featuring husbands who buy their wives cars are far more shocking and burdensome than an exercise bike. I can’t see how a husband is going to secretly spend $30,000 without telling his wife or her noticing. Even if she didn’t know I can’t imagine she’s going to be thrilled that he spent that much without cluing her in.

You could always get clothes or jewelry, but I’d safely guess that as most Americans enjoy the benefits of a nation with plenty those aren’t really worth buying. The fact we have Goodwill, Salvation Army, Plato’s Closet and other second-hand clothing stores is evidence most of our clothes and jewelry are too much anyways.

Anymore, I’ll ask for books at Christmas and probably one Lego model, because I’m a guy that still likes Legos. Buying books for my parents is my usual go-to present and I can see that books, music, or other artistic projects would be worthwhile.

Of course, homemade presents whether food, crafts, or whatever are probably worth more since they are unique and made out of love for the giftee. And even if you can’t think of anything to give, time spent with friends and family are more important. Speaking of which, most of the Peloton ad did seemingly show that the wife enjoyed being involved in the exercise program the entire year she documented as well as sharing time with her husband this Christmas thanks to him helping her stay motivated to be fit. Personally, I would like to see the critics of the commercial spend less time on social media that is overwrought melodrama divorced of actual human contact and spend their time with real people having real conversations about meaningful topics.

Should the husband have gifted the wife the Peloton bicycle?