Archive for December, 2012

Well, that went by quickly. Mercy, 2012 seems like it just started and now it’s gone. Anyway, it was a big year of change for me. Here’s a brief rundown of my year:

  • In January I was on my own again for the first time in a l-o-n-g time. To be honest it’s taken some getting used to, but all things considered I’m in a better place. As Seger said, “Turn the Page.” Now that I think of it, maybe REO’s “Roll with the Changes” would’ve been a better reference. Whatever. I could quote rock songs all night, and enough with the personal stuff.
  • On April 12th 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 1/2 months. They’re pretty incredible. Let’s just say I’m kind of a big deal in Belgium.
  • Later in April I did something that, only a few months before, I would have never thought possible. I took over the basketball program at Paint Valley, a team I last coached over 15-years ago. I’m glad I did.
  • In late June I finally met the love of my life. I was visiting a friend in Kentucky when an 18-pound 4-legged whirling dervish of fur came barreling into my life. My world hasn’t been the same since. Yep, the World According to Sparky is a special place to be. Just type the name Sparky into the search box at the top left of this page and you can read about all that is The Spark.
  • In December a simple request of my students to raise $100 for a needy family turned into an amazing experience for everyone involved. The Christmas Spirit was alive and well in the Paint Valley 5th Grade.

I also attended several concerts, including Carbon Leaf, The Avett Brothers, The Summerland Tour with Gin Blossums, Lit, Everclear, Sugar Ray and Marcy Playground, and a few other shows. Good times indeed.

But as promised, on to this website and how it has grown. Like I said, I started out on April 12th, 2012, and the stats are rather interesting . . .

I’ve put up 344 posts, 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. United Kingdom – My site’s biggest ally.
  3. Canada – Canada: America’s Hat.
  4. Australia – Australians get me.
  5. Germany – The fact that Germans get me sort of worries me. You now, the Hitler thing.
  6. India – Can you imagine folks in India sitting there laughing uproariously over my Assclowns: My Top 10 post? Me either.
  7. France – The Frenchies love me and Jerry Lewis. Old people will get that.
  8. Belgium – Huh? What the . . .?
  9. Ireland – They can relate.
  10. Italy – Not sure what brings Italians to the site, but “Ciao” Italians!

I’d also like to add that Malaysia is ranked 13th. Malaysia? Seriously?

Here are my Top 20 Most Popular Posts According to number of pageviews:

  1. OSU vs. Michigan and the Road Trip to End All Road Trips: This was my account of a crazy-ass trip my friends and I took to Ann Arbor years ago. How we avoided arrest is a mystery.
  2. Remembering Delaney: Just my memories of the best little dog I ever had.
  3. Killer Toys, Soft Kids and a Sobering Realization: Sobering realization indeed.
  4. Weird, Disgusting and Inappropriate Food Names: My Top 10: Pretty self-explanatory. I just re-read it and I have to admit it’s pretty funny.
  5. Hats. What happened?: I would never have DREAMED this would make the Top 20, let alone Top 5. It’s simply a blog about, well, my take on the history of hats.
  6. The Festival of Leaves Parade and the Legend of the Renegade Float: Yeah, that happened.
  7. From the “Don’t Ask if You’re Not Prepared for an Honest Answer” Department.: This was simply a short story about one of my former players and an honest answer he gave to a simple question.
  8. Harold, Max & Me: Quite simply one of the funniest things that ever happened to me.
  9. Assclowns: My Top 10: People really seem to like to hear me make fun of others. Not sure what that says about my readership.
  10. New American Baby Names. You can’t make this stuff up. Then again, I guess you can.:  Again, I’m making fun of people. In this case they truly deserve it.
  11. Huh?: 15 things that make no sense. : Just some random thoughts that popped into my head. My head sometimes goes to weird places.
  12. 27 Requirements of a Man: One Woman’s List: Here I basically just posted a woman’s list and gave my witty responses to her “requirements” of a man. Let’s just say I didn’t measure up. Big shocker I know.
  13. Sandy Hook Elementary, 12.14.12: This one was just written a couple of weeks ago, so it’ll probably be at the top before long. It was simply my thoughts, as a teacher, regarding the tragedy in Connecticut.
  14. Summer’s history, so here’s my take on going back to school. : My thoughts on going back to school and teachers who complain about it.
  15. A Very Special Story. Or so I thought. : A short story about my son Kip, when he was just a little guy.
  16. Shoe’s Dos and Don’ts of Death and Dying. : Yeah, I went there. I was sort of surprised this one didn’t upset more folks than it did.
  17. A Christmas miracle? Pretty close to it. : Another recent story that’s racing up the charts. It’s about my amazing 5th Graders and their fundraising efforts.
  18. If I could just have a minute . . . : Once again, this was me airing my grievances about a few things that irritate me. I’m tellin’ ya, people like me better when I’m annoyed.
  19. Basketball, An Island, and a Volcano: My Journey to the Caribbean. : My true story of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Really an incredible story.
  20. Shoe Shocked: My Near-Death Experience This Morning.: No describing this one. You just have to read it.

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

So that’s it, 2012 is almost a memory. I hope 2013 is a great year for everyone, and a big thank you to those of you who are regular visitors to Shoe: Untied.

I hope you stick around.

Have mercy. I could have used these pics when I wrote this blog.


You guys know I love the nature stuff, and the Angler Fish is awesomely badass.

As many of you know, I can’t get enough of this sort of stuff. Just gold, Jerry. Gold!

83% brain, 17% mush.

Posted: December 28, 2012 in Coaching, Humor, Sports

I’m not saying I have any dumb basketball players, because I don’t. Well, I may have a couple who don’t think before acting sometimes, but you have to remember they’re 15-17 year-old kids for cryin’ out loud. Anywho, one of them was keeping the clock at our little league games last Saturday. We didn’t have the electronic arrow that shows which team has possession, so we just drew and arrow on a sheet of paper to hold up and show the referees. I handed the paper with the arrow on it to my player, and here’s the conversation that ensued:

Me: “Here’s the possession arrow.”

Player: “OK, thanks. Where’s the other one?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Player: “I need an arrow pointing the other direction.”

I then proceeded to pick up the paper with the arrow on it and turn it the other way to show him you could use the same sheet of paper to point either direction.

Player: “Oh. Thanks.”


Last summer we were in a 6-team shootout and had just finished our 5th and final game. One of my kids comes up to me, and this happens:

Player: “Coach, don’t we have another game? It’s a 6-team shootout.”

Me: “And one of those teams is us.”

Player: “Oh, yeah.”

Like I say, they’re teenagers. Their brains aren’t fully developed yet.

The stuff I write usually leans toward the funny side, with some sharp opinions thrown in for good measure. Today, though, that won’t be the case. After what happened Friday, I just thought I’d give you some random thoughts . . .

You know, I don’t understand any type of killing but you can sort of see where it sometimes originates. An argument, a drug deal gone bad, stuff like that. But the shootings in Connecticut the other day, well, they were just so incomprehensible, so senseless, that they are beyond understanding. I see kids the same age as the victims every day and it makes your heart hurt to think about what happened in that school on Friday morning.

Obviously everyone was shocked and outraged, but nobody more so than those of us who teach. I have been in education for over 28-years, and one thing I know is this – school is a place where kids need to feel safe, have to feel safe.

For some kids, school has long been considered a place to avoid at all costs, a place to go to because you had to, a unwanted necessity and annoyance of life.

For others, though, school is the very best place they’ll be all day, the best place they’ll be, well, maybe ever. As sad as it sounds, the years in school are for some are the best years of their lives.

They look forward to being able to go to a place where they can laugh with their friends, where they get attention, both good and bad, from their teachers, where they can socialize and interact with each other without fear, where they can feel safe. For some, they simply don’t get this kind of attention and protection at home. School provides that.

I have a former student from 15-years ago that I talk to regularly. He had a tough upbringing with an abusive father, an inattentive and alcoholic mother, and two older brothers who provided no positive guidance or help of any kind. Somehow, he has risen above this and has a good job and a beautiful family now. He has no contact with his parents nor does he want any. He simply doesn’t want his children exposed to what he was exposed to. It terrifies him to think how they could be affected by his own family, and that is incredibly sad. He told me once that the reason he played sports in school was that he didn’t want to go home. He said he would have slept on my classroom floor if I’d let him. School was a place where he felt like he was wanted, even needed.

It was his safe haven.

On Friday, that security was shattered for a lot of students, and aside from those who actually lost family members, I can’t think of anything more tragic.

I don’t have any answers and won’t pretend to. I’ve heard talk of arming teachers, having schools on lockdown all day, and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t really feel is practical. A school is a public place, we can’t search everyone who walks in the building, we have to go out for recess, and I don’t know if giving teachers guns is a good idea either. I just don’t know.

I know most of my kids think that Mr. Shoe would never let anything happen to them, and I would do my damndest to protect them. In reality, though, there are no guarantees.

I do know we’ll talk about this in on Monday, and I’ll try and allay any fears that might be there, lingering in some student’s mind.

Because there are many emotions a student will feel while attending school – joy, frustration, pride, sadness, even boredom.

But he they should never, ever, be afraid.

Great idea, except not at all.

Here’s Johnny “Football” Manziel and his girlfriend. Johnny Football is a famous college football player. Isn’t it comforting to know that pretty women can love an average looking dude for the person within and not for the fact that he, you know, just won the Heisman Trophy?  Comforting indeed.

PS – Grab the gusto while you can, Johnny Football. Grab that gusto.

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If you can watch this without smiling you have no soul.

So true.

It should not surprise you to learn that this guy is French.

Ouch. Block of the Year.

Posted: December 3, 2012 in Sports

Keep your head on a swivel, son.