Well, that went by quickly. Mercy, 2012 seems like it was yesterday and now it’s 9-years in the past. Sad but not really.

It was on April 12th, 2012 that I started this website. It’s been quite a therapeutic way for me to blow off steam, vent, and otherwise put my thoughts out there for people to read. Surprisingly, a lot of folks enjoy reading this junk. Later I’ll show you some website stats from the past 9-years. They’re pretty incredible. Let’s just say I’m kind of a big deal in Belgium.

But on to this website and how it’s grown. Like I said, The stats are rather interesting . . .

I’ve put up 7,045 posts (that’s slightly over two a day) which have been seen by a LOT of people, more than I could have ever imagined. Shoe: Untied has had visitors from 111 countries, with the most views being from these:

  1. United States – Ya think? I would be really disappointed if the US of A was #7 or something.
  2. Australia – The Aussies get me, man.
  3. Canada – America’s Hat digs my insight and sense of humor, eh?
  4. United Kingdom – My site’s biggest ally.
  5.  Philippines – I know. Makes no sense to me either. I read where they’re really into basketball so maybe that’s it.
  6. New Zealand – Close to Australia so I sort of get it.
  7. Germany – I got a nasty message from a German dude after my blog about clowns, so maybe most of the hits are from him checking on me.
  8. India – Can you imagine folks in India sitting there laughing uproariously over my Marauding Cow Invades Hospital Waiting Room, Wreaks Havoc post? Me either.
  9. South Africa – No idea, kids.
  10. France – The Frenchies love me and Jerry Lewis. Old people will get that.

I’d also like to add that Belgium is at #11 and Malaysia is ranked 13th. Malaysia? Weird.

Also, Fun Fact: I’ve had one view in 9-years from North Korea. I checked, and with the strict censorship policies there apparently only high level government authorities have internet access. Interesting.

Here are my Top 25 All-Time Most Popular Posts According to number of pageviews:

  1. My Side of the Story. This was something I wrote after my coaching contract was non-renewed in the Spring of 2018. Incredibly it was read by nearly a quarter of a million people at last count.
  2. Losing Tim. A story I wrote about a friend who died way too soon.
  3. How Peter Cetera Once Ruined a Relationship. Mine. A tale from my bygone days of the 70s, an era my father used to refer to as his son’s “hazy period.”
  4. Trusting Robbie. A simple story about trust and believing in someone.
  5. Remembering Andy. Once again, a tribute to a friend who passed long before he should have.
  6. A Right Cross, With Love. This one is about my mother, the greatest human I’ve ever known.
  7. Regarding Beach Midgets. I have no clue as to why folks like this story so much, but damned if they don’t. It’s just a short anecdote about an incident I experienced on the beach many years ago.
  8. Basketball, An Island, and a Volcano: My Journey to the Caribbean. The story of my first trip to the beautiful Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, Montserrat.
  9. Sara’s Last Wish. A tribute to one of my former students and athletic director aides. She was one of a kind.
  10. The Festival of Leaves Parade and the Legend of the Renegade Float. You’ll have to read this one to believe it.
  11. Requiem for a Tradition: The Demise of High School Sports. This one was actually picked up by some major US websites and posted, hence the big numbers.
  12. Cool Beans! Words and Phrases That Need to Make a Comeback. Big word guy here, and I’ve written several stories about them. However, this one has been read the most.
  13. 1991-1992: The Craziest and Greatest Year in SVC Basketball History. The title explains it all.
  14. Jigger. A story about one of the most influential people in my life.
  15. Jigger’s Tree. In front of Paint Valley High School there stands a tree . . .
  16. Running Routes With Greg. The Greg in the story is Greg Cook, former quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  17. The Craziest Game. Another one that is hard believe, but it happened. Trust me.
  18. The People of Facebook. This one touched a nerve with many people. And yes, I was talking about you.
  19. 1996: Montserrat vs. The World. The story of the time my team from Montserrat took Boston’s Bob Cousy Tournament by storm, shocking the northeast and beyond in the process.
  20. Sis. About my beautiful sister Karen. I still think of her every day.
  21. A Man Called Pop. Another tribute to an amazing man.
  22. For What It’s Worth, Some Tips For New Teachers. Just my take, so chillax.
  23. And Just Like That, It’s All Over. I’m Retiring. My retirement came as a surprise. Thsi explains why, and also how I felt at the time.
  24. Harold, Max & Me. Another tale from my misspent youth.
  25. Music’s Eternal Questions Answered! Sort Of. I just reread this and I have to admit it contains some funny.

A lot of people seem to enjoy it when I write about my experiences as a teacher or my dog Sparky, so if you want to read those stories just type in Tales from the Classroom or Sparky in the search box up top and all those stories will pop right up for ya. Enjoy.

So that’s it. The last 9-years really flew by, and I’d like to give a big thank you to those of you who are regular visitors to Shoe: Untied.

I hope you stick around.

Well done, El Arroyo sign guy.

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All those years and I never noticed. Many a scene showed people walking up a straight hallway and turning left into Jerry’s apartment. Kramer’s place was directly across the hall. I’m shaken.

The Kailasa Temple in India is nearly the size of the Taj Mahal and get this – it’s carved from a single piece of rock. Incredible indeed.

Perfect. On a related note, I’ve found the more expensive the hotel the more pet friendly they are.

I’ve always been a big gym guy. I love to walk into high school gyms when I’m out of town, look at the banners, old team photos, all of that stuff really fascinates me. I also love the college and NBA arenas too, although I’ve been to many more college facilities than pros. That said, I was talking with a friend the other day she was asking me where my favorite place to watch a basketball game would be. Aha! Writing material. What follows are some of the favorite arenas I have been to personally and my thoughts regarding each. I’ve omitted high school gyms because really, nothing compares to Donald E. Anderson Gymnasium, better know as The Jigger. Aaaaand we’re off . . .

Cole Field House, College Park, MD – Ah, Cole Field House on the campus of the beautiful University of Maryland. I worked summer camps there from 1989-2003 and became a big Terrapin fan, thanks to my friends Billy Hahn and Gary Williams. Cole was an old, hangar shaped, no air conditioned monstrosity, and God was it awesome. I was behind the bench for many a Maryland game, and when Duke, North Carolina or a number of other teams rolled into that place it rocked. The Maryland student section was insane, man. Here’s something I wrote about my experiences there: Memories of College Park. The story I tell at the end illustrates what Cole Field House meant to Hall of Famer Gary Williams. Bottom line, I put Cole Field House at the top of my list regarding basketball arenas. And oh, the new Xfinity Center is great but it ain’t Cole.

St. John Arena, Columbus, OH – Once again, a case of the old being better than the supposed newer, and better, arena. St. John Arena, which still stands on the campus of The Ohio State University, is an incredible venue. When you’re on the floor it appears as if the seats and crowd go straight up, and when it was filled to capacity it was loud. Its replacement was The Schottenstein Center (or Value City Arena) and its antiseptic, industrial feel where the fans in the upper seats seem a mile away from the action. Nope, it has never come close to matching the atmosphere of St. John Arena. Note: Nationwide Arena, Columbus’s other downtown arena, is better too.

Shoemaker Center, Cincinnati, OH – Shoemaker Center has succumbed to the corporate naming game and is now sadly known as 5th Third Arena. It’s a place that’s near and dear to my heart because 1) It was named after my late great Uncle Myrl Shoemaker, and 2) It’s the home of the Cincinnati Bearcats, a team coached by my friend Bob Huggins from 1989-2005. I have many great memories of Shoemaker Center, but none better than the night Huggs returned to the city with his West Virginia Mountaineers and I was behind the Neers bench.

Good God.

West Virginia Coliseum, Morgantown, WV – I’ve had some amazing times in the WVU Coliseum, seeing some great games and having some incredible experiences thanks to my old friends Huggs and Billy Hahn. WVU Coliseum is unique in that, although it holds 14,000 people, seems almost like a high school gym. I mean, you walk in and it seems everyone knows you. People are friendly and extremely rabid in their love for their ‘Neers. And when that muzzle loader fires after a big win or important moment in the game? Good God man, you will jump. And I’ll never forget the night I met Hot Rod Hundley and Freddie Schaus. You can read those stories by clicking on these links: My Father, WVU and Meeting the Legends and Helping Hot Rod Hundley.

Convocation Center, Athens, OH – If you’re a high school coach in southern Ohio “The Convo” is the mecca of basketball. It’s where you want to make it to and it’s where the District and Regional Tournaments are played. My teams played there 9 times in my 13-year high school coaching career, and every single game was special. It’s the crown jewel of Harvard on the Hocking.

UD Arena, Dayton, OH – Dayton may have the most underrated facility in the country, and they have a rabid, basketball smart fan base to boot. There’s really not a bad seat in the house, and during games there’s something about those dark upper corners that are intimidating. Home of the NCAA play-in games.

Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN – Ah, the home of the great Bobby Knight. It’s now Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and I spent a weekend there back in the mid-80s and even got to meet The General himself as well as Shawn Kemp. Good times and great memories indeed. The arena rocks, and it’s also the site of the 1979 National Championship game between Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores. Classic.

The Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN – I’ve only been to The Metrodome once, but the games were doozies. It was the 2001 Final Four and my Maryland Terrapins were there playing the Evil Empire, Duke. Arizona vs. Michigan State was the other matchup, and when Duke took the floor the fans of the three other teams booed them mercilessly. Looooved it. Maryland lost the game after losing a 17-point lead (I won’t blame the officials but damn they had their heads up Coach K’s ass the whole game), but bounced back the next year and won it all in Atlanta.

Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY – I haven’t actually watched a game there but I did take a tour of this legendary arena. Knowing that The Fight of the Century between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier took place there as well as the legendary Will Reed game in the 1970 NBA Finals gave me chills. Can’t leave out all the rock bands either as virtually every famous band has played there.

Cintas Center, Cincinnati, OH – LOVE the home of the Xavier Musketeers. It seats a little over 10,000 but seems much smaller. It really has an intimate feel. I was on the floor for Xavier’s upset of #1 Villanova a few years ago and the place was electric.

Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY – I’ve seen several games at Rupp, the first being when I watched the Rex Chapman’s team in the 1980s. The place was huge, holding 23,000 people. My best memory though? Attending the last show of the 1978 Peter Frampton Tour and J. Geils Band lead singer Peter Wolf pouring champagne into my mouth from the stage. Weirdly memorable, man.

Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV – Long story here, but I became acquainted with UNLV legend Jerry Tarkanian after I met him in a bar in the aforementioned Lexington, Kentucky. It’s actually a pretty cool story that I called Meeting Tark the Shark. Tark was a cool dude, man. A few years after I met him I gave him a call when I was in Vegas with my friend Jigger, and long story short I was given a tour of the arena and locker room facilities by The Shark himself. I even got to meet Stacey “Plastic Man” Augmon, a starter on the 1990 National Championship team and future NBA player. All told Tark probably spent an hour that day with me, a guy he’d met in a hotel bar years prior. Unforgettable memory, and I’ll never forget Tark’s kindness and generosity. I never saw a game in the Shark Tank, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t sit in Tark’s chair and look around in wonderment at the arena. Thanks, Tark.

Breslin Center, Lansing, MI – Again, I’ve never seen a game on Michigan State campus but I did go to MSU to coach a couple summer camps back in the late 90s so I spent some time in the arena. Very cool, historic place that gave off some really cool vibes. I also spent a night in Head Coach Tom Izzo’s basement, which is whole other story to tell on another day. By the way, Izzo? Great guy.

Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, OH – I have so many great memories of Cincinnati Gardens, which was sadly demolished in 2018. My father took us to many games there to watch the Cincinnati Royals, an NBA team that featured hoop legends Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas. I also watched players like Wilt Chamberlain, Pete Maravich, Jerry West and many more there. We were once at a Royals-76ers game and I really wanted Wilt Chamberlain’s autograph. He was by far my favorite player. Anyway, not knowing any better I decided to go down at halftime and tried to get it as the players walked off the court. At that time both teams exited at the same point, right at half-court, walking together and then going into opposite locker rooms. So, I’m standing there waiting for my hero when there he comes. Listen, I was probably 10-years old but Wilt looked 20-feet tall to me. He was walking right beside Jerry Lucas, and they were yelling at each other, saying words I’d never before heard in my young life. Then, right in front of me they stopped. They were nose-to-nose, just completely going at it. Other players came in and broke it up, but before Wilt left he looked down at me, rubbed my head, and shook my hand. I guess I should say he shook my forearm because his hand gripped mine practically all the way up to my elbow. Hell, even then I realized that was WAY better than an autograph. And years later, in 1992, I got to watch one of my former players Roman Diekan play in The Gardens as a member of the Xavier Musketeers. Special for sure.

Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN – I only visited Mackey once, but I loved it. My friend Jimmy Patsos was coaching at Siena and they played a game at Purdue. I loved the atmosphere of the arena. The floor is elevated which is always a unique feature. Siena came close to winning, too.

Millett Hall, Oxford, OH – My memories of Millet Hall are special because my cousin John Shoemaker played there from 1974-75 to 1977-78. Miami was really good back then (made the NCAA tourney) and the crowds were insane. Loved that arena.

Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, OH – I attended many a rock show at this arena, and I even had tickets to the infamous Who concert on my birthday in 1979. Yep, my buddies Tom, Andy and I had tickets the night 11-people were crushed to death, and we were actually on the way to the concert. Fortunately, since it was my birthday we thought a party in Chillicothe would be more fun, and that fact might have saved our lives. And yes, I know about a million people claim to have had tickets to that show. We actually did. We went to the party, and we found out what happened when we returned to Andy’s house around 2:30 in the morning and found his wife sitting on the floor in front of the TV, crying. She thought we’d gone to the concert, and when she saw us walk in she leaped up, hugged us all, and told us the news. Chilling stuff, and I’m glad we turned back. I also saw the Elton John Yellow Brick Road Tour, the Eagle’s Hotel California Tour, Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton, ELO, R.E.M. and many more acts there. On the sports side I watched my cousin Mick play his home games for the University of Cincinnati there and it was generally not a good experience. UC students actually had to be bussed to the games. Fun Fact: My Uncle Myrl (Mick’s father), unhappy with this setup, soon directed funds so a new on-campus arena could be built – the soon to be named Myrl H. Shoemaker Center.

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA – This arena holds a special place in my heart for one reason and one reason only – it’s where Gary Williams and his Maryland Terrapins won the NCAA Championship in 2002. I’ll never forget it. Sadly, the Georgia Dome has since been imploded.

Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC – Yes, I ventured into this den of iniquity several years ago just to have a look-see. I was actually offered a personal tour by a friendly Duke employee after I stopped in on the way to the Outer Banks. It’s bigger than I thought and holds 9300 idiot Duke nerds named Hunter, Chase, Bradford, Geoffrey, and well, you get the idea. Anywho, overrated.

Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC – Of course after visiting Cameron Indoor I had to make the 12-mile drive over to the The Dean Dome, and once again I simply walked in an open door and sauntered around. What can I say? People generally leave me alone for some reason. Anyway, Dean Dome? BIG. It holds 21,750. Place is cavernous, man, and sort of had that antiseptic Schottenstein Center feel to it. On a positive note it lacked that Duke stench, so there’s that.

United Center, Chicago, IL – Ah, yes. The United Center. Famed home of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. It is with a heavy heart that I tell you I have not watched a game in the United Center, although I have been in the lobby. Sigh. Ah, hell, it’s too embarrasing to type again. Just click this damn link: Regrets, I’ve Had A Few: Missing One Of The Graetest Moments In Sports History. I’m sorry. I truly am.

PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA – I was invited to watch some NCAA tournament games there a few years ago (2012 I believe) when some coaching friends all happened to have teams playing there on the same day/night. Those friends were Bob Huggins at WVU, Dave Dickerson at Ohio State and Jimmy Patsos at Loyola-Maryland. Gonzaga was also there. I watched Ohio State beat Loyola and Gonzaga beat WVU. It was a very cool experience knowing coaches from three of the four teams though. Cool venue as well.

So those are the arenas I can think of off the top of my head, arenas I’ve either been to or had some type of involvement with. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but if one comes back into my addled barin I’ll let you know.

Man, some of these are dead on.

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Looks like a cool place to worship.

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Did you know the movie was Cannonball Run was actually based on a real event? The original Cannonball Run was a pedal-to-the-metal, totally illegal, cross-country sprint for glory.

Originally started to protest the 55 mph speed limit in the 1970’s by Car & Driver Editor Brock Yates, the Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash was a coast-to-coast endurance race from New York City to Los Angeles. Drivers would punch a clock at the Red Ball Garage on E. 31st Street in Manhattan and cross the finish line at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, a distance of nearly 3,000 miles. It doesn’t get more American than that, my brothers and sisters.

I remember when I was a teenager reading about a black C4 Corvette which had been outfitted as the ultimate stealthy Cannonball car.  It had the latest radar detector, a Beartracker mobile Police scanner and switches to disconnect the brake lights and disable the inner tail lights to change the appearance of the car at night.  That car and the idea of high speed travel while remaining out of sight to the po-po is an idea that I always thought was cool as hell. 

I was thinking about the race recently and decided to check up on it via The Goggle. Turns out the Cannonball record was broken as recently as 2020, as the dudes breaking it were aided by empty roads due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doug Tabbutt of Twinsburg, Ohio (Yay! O-H!), and Arne Toman of Chicago (and also aided by navigator and police spotter Dunadel Daryoush) managed the 2,816 mile drive from New York City to Los Angeles in just 25 hours and 39 minutes, setting the new unsanctioned, Cannonball race record. They beat the old record by 16-minutes. The drive, which was completed in secrecy in early May, bested their November 2019 record-making runtime of 27 hours and 25 minutes by nearly an hour, assisted by largely empty roads. Their average speed for the trip was about 110 mph, although they did reach 125 mph averages across multiple states in the midwest and managed to get the car up to 175 mph at one point. Jeebus! By checking their map it looks as if they shot across Ohio on I-70 and I’m shocked they didn’t get stopped by our over-zealous staties.

The boys completed their trip in a 2016 Audi S6 which had been modified to look like an unmarked Ford Taurus Police Interceptor, believe it or not. That’s diabolical.  Also, to help masquerade the Audi sport sedan’s proportions, Tabbutt and Toman reshaped the front grille and even added a decoy Ford badge. They also added a 45-gallon, trunk-mounted fuel cell to help reduce the need to refuel the car during the trip.

Anywho, it soothes my soul knowing the Cannonball Run is alive and well. Good job, men.

PS- The Cannonball Run movies (three I think) are gold. If you haven’t seen them they’re a must-view for any discerning and self-respecting cinephobe.

Harrison Ford was once a roadie for The Doors.

It’s true. Here’s a pic of him and Jim Morrison (Ford on the left, Morrison in the middle), followed by a video of him talking about the experience. Wild stuff.

From beginning to end, this is the most comprehensive interactive map on the Civil War I’ve seen. Very well done.

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Life can be pretty amazing sometimes, especially when you least expect it. Be sure and watch the whole video because the ending is fantastic.

Stunning. Check ’em out. If you want descriptions of any photo gimme a holler.

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See, it wasn’t all that bad.

Check out that Fire-Proof Spiney Anteater, man. Dude fights off Dingoes and survives bush fires like it ain’t no thing. Incredible really. Fire-Proof Spiny Anteaters, also known by the less interesting name Echidnas, are found in Australia. These spiky creatures lay eggs even though they’re mammals, they eat termites but they’re not related to anteaters, and they evolved from an ancestor shared with the duck-billed platypus. That’s wild. And now we’ve learned they also have one of the most impressive bush fire strategies ever – they just go to sleep, even if they end up a little less spiky afterwards. Anywho, Fire-Proof Spikey Anteater.

[For more cool animals, just type “Cool Animal” into the search box on the left]

Cool, but I have questions. Do you?

This is Blue Nelson Lake in New Zealand. Amazingly, you can see to depths of up to 260-feet.

Ever heard of the United States Ghost Army of World War II? The unit of master illusionists made up of artists, architects, actors, set designers, and engineers? No? Then read on, because their story is amazing. Incredibly, they helped take down none other than Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Army . . .

The Ghost Army was a United States Army tactical deception unit during World War II, officially known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. The 1100-man unit was given a unique mission within the Allied Army – to impersonate other Allied Army units and deceive the enemy. That’s right, they weren’t an actual fighting army but were in many ways just as important as one. From a few months after D-Day when they landed in France until the end of the war, they put on a “traveling road show” utilizing inflatable tanks, sound trucks, fake radio transmissions and scripts. They staged more than 20 battlefield deceptions, often operating very close to the front lines.

Ghost soldiers were encouraged to use their brains and talent to mislead, deceive, and befuddle the German Army. Many were recruited from art schools, advertising agencies and other occupations that encouraged creative thinking. In civilian life, ghost soldiers had been artists, architects, actors, set designers, and engineers. The unit’s actors were even turned loose in French towns posing as divisional generals where enemy agents were likely to see them and overhear them “talking loose” in the local café over bottles of wine. These cats were not your typical soldiers, man. Bottom line, the unit’s elaborate ruses helped deflect German units from the locations of larger allied combat units.

The Ghost Army was equipped with inflatable tanks, cannons, jeeps, trucks, and airplanes that the men would inflate with air compressors, and then camouflage imperfectly so that enemy aerial reconnaissance could see them. They created dummy airfields, troop bivouacs (complete with fake laundry hanging on clotheslines), motor pools, artillery batteries, and tank formations in a few hours. Weapons of mass deceptions indeed.

Members of The Ghost Army even went to Fort Knox to record sounds of armored and infantry units onto a series of sound effects records that they brought to Europe. For each deception, sounds could be mixed to match the scenario they wanted the enemy to believe. This program was recorded on state-of-the-art recorders and then played back with powerful amplifiers and speakers mounted on halftracks (sort of a half-truck half-tank hybrid).

Just amazingly diabolical stuff, and get this – the story of The Ghost Army was kept secret for more than 40-years after the war, until it was declassified in 1996.

The Ghost Army – unsung heroes of World War II.

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Well, at least to me, and possibly to you. Check ’em out.

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Everyone knows my love for cool sports logos, man. One of my most popular blogs was the cleverly titled The Coolest Team Nicknames & Logos In Sports: My Top 10. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love the Montgomery Biscuits? Anywho, most of the cool names and logos come from minor league baseball teams, probably because they have these young public relations people coming up with whatever would look good on a t-shirt, hoodie or hat. That said, we have a new frontrunner in the favorite category. My crack staff here at Shoe: Untied has unearthed the latest and coolest team and logo and are prepared to share it with you, our loyal readers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you the Carolina Disco Turkeys, a minor league baseball team from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

PS- I can’t mention Winston-Salem without being reminded of this. Good times.

Spectacular.

Good . . . Lord.

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Check out that Stygian Owl, man. Dude is looking straight into your soul. Stygian means “relating to the river Styx” which seems about right since that river is in Hell. These guys live in the forest and like to hunt at night. Their prey includes birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects, so yeah, they’ll eat just about anything that moves including your pet chihuahua. Stygian Owls live in South America, parts of Central America, the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It has also been documented twice in Texas and once in Florida but was probably just visiting realtives at the time. But what about those eyes, man? Anywho, Stygian Owl.

[for more cool animals type “cool animals” into the search box on the left over there]

The Gary Williams moment brought me to tears.

Well, at least to me. Check out what people expected the 2020s to be like back in the day. Some are close, most not so much. Interesting stuff for sure though. Enjoy.

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Basketball. What an amazing game.