Archive for January, 2020

We’ve all heard stories of ghosts, paranormal activities, or maybe just weird, unexplainable events. Heck, sometimes it can be as innocuouos as simply losing your car keys. The point is events happen in this world that defy explanation.

I’ve had my fair share of baffling experiences, and I’ve written about some of them on this site. For those interested, just click on any of the links below:

The Man in the Tuxedo

A story about a foggy night, a car wreck and my encounter with an old man in a tuxedo.

The Scariest Christmas

One Christmas morning long ago, somebody or something looked into our front door window. I can still see it today.

A Strange Phone Call

If you have an explanation for this one I’d sure like to hear it.

And I haven’t written about this since it happened over 20-years ago, but I’ll tell you a story now. A few people have heard about it, but not many . . .

It was June of 1996, less than a month after my friend and brother-in-law Jigger had passed away suddenly. We were best friends, took many trips together, and he was even my school principal. When he died it took everyone by surprise and hit us all very hard. Jigger was was married to my sister Karen and we’d all been going to Oak Island, North Carolina on vacation since 1978. Jigger had passed away in late May, but as a family we decided to take our annual trip in June because we knew Jigger would want it that way. For some reason I had to leave the beach a couple days early, so I decided to stop halfway home to rest. I checked into a hotel near Winston-Salem, NC and made it to my room. It was one of those rooms that was actually three rooms, one just inside the door with a little seating area and an extra TV, the other with the bed, and of course the bathroom. There was actually a little area between the rooms with a closet and little bar area for coffee and whatnot. Anyway, I was bushed so I had room service and fell asleep pretty early.

Sometime that night I had the dream. In the dream I woke up in that very hotel room, and I noticed a lamp was on in the other room. I knew I hadn’t left it on because I always leave the bathroom light on and leave that door cracked open a bit. I got out of bed to go turn the lamp off and there, sitting on a chair, was Jigger. I wasn’t scared at all, just surprised. He was wearing khaki pants, a flannel shirt, boat shoes without socks, his trademark Micky Mouse watch, and he was smiling at me. I asked what he was doing there and he proceeded to tell me that I needed to take care of Sis, that she wouldn’t be able to handle his death very well, and that she was going to need me. He also told me to let her know that it was ok to move on, that she had a lot of life left to live. I told him I would, and he stood up, hugged me, and as we let go of the embrace I woke up.

I sat up in bed and immediately walked into the other room, but of course the light was off and nobody was there. Everything was just as I’d left it before I went to bed.

Yes, I know it was just a dream, but it was so vivid. And who dreams about a hotel room they’d just walked into a few hours earlier? The same exact hotel room? To this day I believe that, somehow, Jigger reached out to me that night.

Another incident, which I wrote about in my story entitled Losing Tim, details the day one of my best friends was laid to rest and what happened when I returned home that night.

While thinking about ghosts, paranormal activities and other strange occurrences the other day I had the idea to reach out to my friends on social media and ask this question: What are your stories? Have you experienced unexplained events?

What follows are the stories that were sent to me. I’ve left out full names and used only initials, and in some cases changed the initials entirely if the writer asked me to do so. Enjoy, and pull those covers up tightly tonight . . .

A.F.

I grew up in a haunted house. It was old, built in early 1900s. We found old tin pictures of the house during construction. My sister and I used to hear a little kid crying for us in the middle of the night. Our dog would growl with every hair standing up while staring at our stairs. My grandparents lived on a farm and my papaw had a stroke. While he was in rehab, my grandmother stayed with us. One morning at breakfast, my grandma asked my dad why he had been so dressed up the night before. Confused, he said that he went to bed when she did and hadn’t been up. To this day, she tells of a man wearing a suit and top hat that visited her that night and kissed her softly on the forehead and told her to sleep well. Fast forward about 20 years, my parents were selling their house and moving. My sister and I had our old high school friends over for one last slumber party. We were playing games and taking pictures on our cell phones. My sister started freaking out because she took a picture of me in our rocking chair. Looking at the picture, I was sitting on a tall mans lap and he was wearing a suit and a top hat. We ALL saw the picture that night. We uploaded it to a 1 hour photo place and eventually fell asleep. We woke the next morning and the picture was just of me. No man. We rushed to town to pick up the printed photos and EVERY picture we took that night was blank. My mom would be reading and the touch lamp would turn on and off continuously. She would finally say “pick one, you’re making me dizzy and I’m trying to read” and every time it would stay on!!! After I had my daughter, every picture we took of her in that house she was surrounded by orbs. We lived there about 25 years, so obviously they were kind spirits.

And one more freaky thing that happened. My grandpa passed when I was a junior. I still visit his grave; he was my best friend. When my oldest daughter was about 3 and my youngest 1 they were with me.  My oldest, in a tiny voice said, “Sissy, look at all those beautiful people dancing. They look happy and pretty in white.” We were the only people in that cemetery.

C.M.

I was 11 yrs old and living in Cedarville at the time. 1977 was the year. I’d been told of a friend of mines house being haunted. One day I went home with him after school as I had many times before. We walked to his house. As we walked onto the porch the phone was ringing. We walked in (door was unlocked as always) and the ringing stopped as Randy walked towards the wall phone in the kitchen. We then heard a thump upstairs and he started calling out for his mom who wasn’t there, which wasn’t unusual. We both walked up the stairs (the only stairs in house) into his mom’s room where the only other phone was in the house. The phone was laying on the floor off the hook. This was way before cell or even cordless phones. Anyone who knows about these type of phones knows with one receiver off the hook the phone rang busy and was impossible for the phone to be ringing when we got there. We’d heard the thump, which had to be the phone hitting the floor. Randy was an only child and nobody else besides his mother lived there. There was no other way besides the stairs (that were in full view of us} to leave the 2nd floor, just an attic hatch in the upstairs hall that couldn’t be reached without a chair or ladder. Needless to say we both ran after realizing what had happened. I never went back inside that house, ever. I played in the yard but never walked in.

M.J.

I remarried 10 years ago, the same year that my mother passed away from a car accident. My husband and I were setting on the front porch the day before the wedding (we already lived together), and we heard my youngest son yelling inside the house and another running through the house. Thinking the boys were just carrying on like boys do, we just shrugged it off. That night I woke to go to the bathroom, and as I stepped out into the hallway I froze. I saw a figure at the other end of the hall. I stood there a couple minutes and it just disappeared. Flash forward a few days. We are sitting at home talking, and I proceeded to tell them about what I saw that night when I woke up. My husband says the hair on his arms stood up, because that very same night he awoke at about 3am and saw a figure standing at the end of our bed. My son then chimed in and said, “Didn’t you hear Logan yelling that day in the house?” I said “Yeah, but I just figured you guys were goofing off.” Adam proceeded to tell me that Logan had been lying in our bedroom and started yelling, so he ran down the hall to check on him. When he got to our room Logan was under the blanket, scared, because he’d seen a figure at the bedroom door and it wouldn’t let him out. I am a believer in paranormal, but also believe many things can be debunked. But this many things happening all within the same 24 hrs to different people within the same house who never spoke of any of it until days later was just too much for me to write off as coincidence. I’ve always believed it was my mother coming to see me on the eve of my wedding, and my husband believed it was his mother who passed away when he was 9 years old.

R.S.

I’m kind of surprised how many people are willing to share there ghost experiences. The ghost I saw used to live in the house next to J.H. I immediately recognized who it was, R.G. (a familiar figure around town who’d passed away). He’d always worn a wide brimmed hat and always carried a basket on his arm and that’s exactly the way he looked, totally unchanged. It was real as real can be. He walked into the bedroom, was about five feet from me, looked at me, turned and walked out. I then heard the back door along with the storm door open and close.

T.T.

There was a picture hanging above the piano in my house growing up in Idaho Falls of a young boy and girl holding hands on the front porch of an older house. Black and white photo. One day I was passing through the living room and glanced at the photo and rather than the kids sitting on the porch there was a portrait of an elderly woman with gray curly hair to the shoulders, staring at me. It was just a glance and by the time I looked back the picture was as normal, just the boy and girl. It was really weird. I still remember her face vividly. Still not sure what to think about it but I’m sure my mind was just playing tricks on me. Fun fact though – we purchased the home and moved in after an elderly widow died in the home.

M.W.

The house we lived in when I was a baby was located where the hospital parking lot in my town is now. They would often find me out of my crib and asleep on the hallway floor. Neither of my older brothers were big enough at the time to get me out and do it. They said there would be times that a man would walk into their closet at night, take his hat off, place it across his chest and just stand there. Dad said he finally told him he was scaring his family and it was time for him to go. He placed the family Bible on a shelf in the closet and the guy never returned.

The house I grew up in had a lady that we all saw several times. She would be seen walking up the stairs or just appear then be gone. My brother Bill swore she hit him and knocked him down the stairs one evening. On another occasion we were in the dining room playing a board game and one of my oldest brother’s friend was sitting beside me. We both looked up at the same time to see her looking at us. Without even looking toward the stairs my brother said “You just saw her didn’t you.” That guy didn’t come back in the house for a week.

Several years later after mom and dad had divorced, my youngest brother found a locket with a lady’s picture it and gave it to mom. When her then boyfriend opened it he threw it across the room and said “that’s her.” Mom asked who and he said the woman that lives in this house. We didn’t know that he’d ever seen her.

J.I.

I have seen some unexplained things in the past but won’t say for sure I have seen a ghost. My son on the other hand came out of his bedroom one night when we lived on near Bourneville and said that he was worried about the black guy holding a gun that was standing out side of his bedroom door (his bedroom was the last door on the left just for reference). Naturally I got up to see what he was talking about. No black guy. He told me I probably wouldn’t see him but he was there every night. Commence the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. The more I asked about him the more intrigued I got. He was 4-5 at the time and told me the guy was there every night for as long as he could remember. He only showed up when it was dark and would be gone if he got up in the night. He told me that he was always holding a gun and it was like he was watching over him or guarding him. Maybe even like an old man or something. I don’t know how he got the old man thing since by “black man”, he meant like a silhouette. Small back story, I had to “install” a switch in my son’s room that would turn on a “forcefield” to not let the monsters and bad things into the house. He told me that he had even tried to flip the switch a couple times in the beginning to see if it would make the guy go away, but it did not. He said he was never afraid of the guy because he seemed like he was there to help or protect him. When he would happen to mention him again I would go check and see if I could see what he was seeing, like a shadow or something. Nothing. I even laid in bed one time with him and waited a while, at one point he said the creepiest words I have ever heard – “There he is”. Holy shit man, there wasn’t a damn thing in that hallway, not even a shadow. I have only one conclusion for this story and that it was my grandpa looking over him. Never the less it’s a creepy, yet interesting, story.

J.B.

I have seen what’s called (after researching a bit) ectoplasm just weeks after my wife’s sister passed from a car accident. Later that morning my wife saw it also. I told her I saw something earlier that morning when I was up for work and she guessed a ghost. Two different areas of the house at two different times of the morning. Neither of us saw it again.

M.K.

I have only told my mom and dad this story but I had a dream one night that I was at my Grandma’s funeral. The only people I recognized were my mom and dad and a couple other people but I knew it was a funeral for my grandma. She’s fallen in the bathtub and she was losing her memory every day up until the end. Anyway, to finish the story I woke up and walked out into the living room and my mom and dad were both out there and they asked me why I was up. I told them I had a weird dream that Grandma died and I was at her funeral. They told me that they’d been called and told that she’d died about 15 minutes before I walked into the room.

Here’s another one. I went to Mansfield Reformatory for a private ghost hunt. There were only 40 or so people there instead of the usual 100 or so they get during a regular ghost hunt. Before it started we took a tour of the place and as it started to get later in the day, the overall mood of the place changed. It was like the energy flipped. We walked through the old part of the building where the old wardens and their families stayed and a couple of the rooms were used for the movie Shawshank Redemption. We moved to a big hallway and I was leaning against the doorway that led down to another part of the wing. As the woman was explaining about the history I heard the sound of what I can describe as somebody who is starting to cook/bake and is searching for pots and pans. I can distinctly hear pots and pans being shuffled around. Strange thing is, with a couple people around me, they didnt hear it. About a minute later I hear it again and its louder than the first time. I turn around and look behind me to see if it was maybe a staff member still walking around before they shut the doors for the night but there’s nobody there. But, a woman who was leaning in the same place I was and on the opposite side of the doorway leans over and asks “Did you hear that?” I told her yes and I asked her what she heard and she told me that she heard metal like pots and pans being moved around. I told her I heard the same thing and when we asked others in front of us if they heard it, they all said no. Now here is the creepy part. The guide takes us down the hallway to where the noises we heard came from. She goes on to explain that there used to be a kitchen where the warden’s wife would cook and bake cakes for his friends and family. The kicker is, there were no pots and pans there in that room. It was completely empty.

J.N.

In the old farm house where I was raised there definitely was a spirit in the upstairs. I was the only one who could feel it, the hair on my neck would raise up and I couldn’t breathe. I could never slept up there. Supposedly the people who built the original house kept their special needs son up there.

W.H.

My husband and I have both sited a man walking hurriedly, swinging his arms, dark brown hair, and he just suddenly disappears. Also a customer that I knew from where I work stopped one day and told me about seeing him just above us on the road. So there are 3 of us who has seen him, I have seen him twice, my husband once and not at the same time. Also about 3 months ago my husband was awakened in the middle of the night by a little girl singing in our dining room. He went to investigate but when he rounded a corner the singing stopped. Many years ago I was visited by a young spirit when I was upstairs cleaning. I just raised up from vacuuming and there she was, studying me. Dark shoulder length hair, noticeable blue eyes, dressed in blue. Then she disappeared. I later told an older friend of mine about it as she grew up here. By my description she thought it was her younger sister who passed from Bright’s disease here in the house. We are not afraid, nothing has been threatening.

So far.

 

M.J.

My brother in law died suddenly on 1/7/1995. He was 46. On 1/21/95, I woke up in the morning and got up to go to the restroom and as I turned the corner there he stood. He looked alive and smelled like patchouli, the type of incense he used to burn. I asked him why he was there and he said my sister (his wife) would not talk to him. I said Rob, you passed away! He looked at me like I was crazy. Then my damn phone rang and he just kind of popped out. I was disturbed because he was trying to contact my sister and he didn’t know he was dead. I went to a tarot cars reader and she said we need to get him to the light because he is stuck. The dark side wants him because he was such a spiritual good guy. She told me to use a special oil that was made for his star sign, Libra, pour it on top of white candles and tell him to go to the light over and over. Then tell him my sister didn’t know he was trying to contact her, that she and his daughter love him and he now can go. We did that, and that very evening and we took three of his little cast iron airplanes he collected and pointed them to the candle. That was at 10pm. At 5:00 am my sister called me screaming and crying that the planes moved past the candle. He had gone to the light and used the planes to let us know. My sister told me she kept feeling him touching her shoulder and she was scared. She never felt that again.

K.W.

I prefer to call it an angel. It wasn’t the worst of my wrecks but in college, 1996, I was driving to school and ran off the side of the road slightly, overcompensated and went off the opposite side of the road. I ended up rolling my car about three times and landed on the side of my car off the side of the road in a swampy, muddy area. It was over a bank so one couldn’t directly see me and my car from the road. It was before the days of cell phones in every car so I didn’t have one.

I remember everything very vividly, rolling and seeing the car crunch around me, putting my hands up to hold myself off the top of the car, and once I stopped, panicking that I couldn’t get out and thinking no one would see me and I’d be stuck in there. I was kicking and pushing the door in an attempt to get out but it wouldn’t open because it was pushing into the mud and the car was slightly still with the driver’s side down.

I then noticed a lady walking down from the road area. She had a long dress on and glasses, I think. I simply remember thinking that I hated she was going to get her dress all messed up. I yelled to her so she would know I was stuck in there and couldn’t get out. I remember I could just fit my hand out of the top of the door because that was the farthest that it would open.

She didn’t say a word that I remember, she just walked down to me and very simply moved the door. I remember thinking for a split second that it seemed unusually easy for her to open after I had been struggling and kicking to move it.

The next thing I remember I was standing on the road. At this time a car had pulled over and had one of those “bag cell phones” and offered to call the ambulance and asked who I needed to call. I called my daddy. BF came on the squad from Waverly, I think, and several people stopped in what seems like a few quick seconds before my dad arrived from Richmond Dale. The fire squad had arrived by then and a EMT kindly offered to get anything out of my car that I may have needed before they towed my car.

I told him I desperately needed a school project that was due that had been on my front passenger seat.
He went back and forth several times, getting pieces and parts, reports, poster boards, until he got everything. He brought the last thing up to me on the road and handed it to me. He was covered head to toe in thick, wet mud from the swamp my car was sitting in the middle of.

He looked at me confused and asked how I had managed to get out of there without any mud on me?
It was the first time it dawned on me. I looked down at my completely clean clothes, even down to my shoes that didn’t have even a small speck on mud on them.

At that time my dad asked how I got out of the car. I just replied that a woman in a long dress had helped me out. He asked me to identify her from the people at the scene and she was nowhere to be found . . .

A.J.

My brother and I lived in an old house that was built in 1929. We were about 5 or 6 years old, maybe 6 and 7. Mom and Dad were downstairs watching TV in the living room. Aside from us four, our baby sister was sleeping in the nursery. I was in the lower bunk, my brother in the top, and by sitting up on your back you could see out into the hallway. If you entered the hallway from our bedroom, immediately to your right was the doorway to the bathroom. My brother and I were both looking out into the hallway when we saw a black, hunched over being pass in front of our room and into the restroom. Facial figures or arms and legs weren’t visible. It was just black. We were both a little freaked out, but thought it might have been our mom. We were old enough to not instantly think otherworldly. Not wanting to confirm it was our mom by entering the bathroom, we went downstairs and into the living room. That was almost freakier as both Mom and Dad were sitting on the couch downstairs. They obviously checked out the bathroom but found nothing. My brother and I can still describe the image the same way to this day. It was also in this same house that our dog had the horror movie classic scene of barking over my sister’s crib one afternoon. My mom rushed into the room to check and grab the baby as the dog continued to look at the ceiling above the baby’s crib. I am not making any of this up. I am a very logical person, but that house was haunted and there were obvious signs of spirits/ghosts.

R.N.

As a kid we lived in in a house on Mountain Street in Bainbridge, Ohio. I guess at some point in time a fellow named Clyde Beatty had lived there. I learned later he’d been a world famous animal trainer. The house was built over a small graveyard. We had gotten this information from a fella named CD so we found it to be credible. But anyway needless to say there were numerous times seeing ghosts in that house. And not to mention a number of strange things that have happened during the time we lived there as well.

K.W.

Ghost is such a relative term to me. I’ve seen such strange things- more like undeniable coincidences. Other times I write it off to active imagination. I just lost my Dad on a Thursday morning. I was sitting on Cleveland Avenue while getting a message that Mom and Mil were watching over me (both also passed away).That exact moment a white hearse coasts by my car with its blinkers on, but no procession. A few seconds later an identical white hearse passed by. Gave me the willies. I have tons of stories like that.

P.P.

I have seen some things I can’t explain. I saw a perfect shadow of a person walking towards my car once. There was no one around or a near enough light source to create a shadow. Plus, as it walked through the shadow of my car, it didn’t disappear or become harder to see. It was unsettling to say the least.

K.C. 

I was staying with my Great Grandma and was staying in the room my uncle had died in 15+ years before. I got an overwhelming familiar smell, turned over to see a very large white blur in the corner and it looked just like my uncle.

R.S. 

When I first saw one I tried to rationalize what I was seeing, I thought it was my imagination. But the dog I had at the time confirmed it was real. The dog, who always slept on the floor on my side of the bed, was what woke me. She was scared, really scared. Then she crawled under the bed, which she never did. After the ghostly figure left she came out from under the bed but remained restless as I did as well, the rest of the night.

B.K.

I know I’ve seen an Orb. When I was little we were staying at Grandma’s and sometime in the night I noticed something floating up the stairway and hover over the foot of the bed. When I focused on it, it went real fast back down the stairway. It reminded me of one of those large size soap bubbles.

Another time I was on night watch at school overnight so seniors wouldn’t prank. At around 2am I made my rounds through the school to check on things. Since it was graduation weekend all the chairs were set up in the gym and on the stage. The lights were on in the gym and on the stage . I decided to go up on the stage and I entered from the right side entry. As I walked onto the stage I saw a figure that appeared to be walking across the stage. It took three steps toward the podium then vanished. It was wearing what appeared to be a light blue or blue blazer. When I told this story to others, I was told that I saw the ghost of Jigger, out former principal who had passed away years earlier. I was told he wore a blue blazer.

A.H.

Oh buddy you’re going to love this. It was one of my boyfriend’s and mine first few nights in our apartment and it was pretty late at night. He was fast asleep next to me and I was struggling to fall asleep. So it finally happened. I sleep really weird. I have to sleep with a pillow over my ears because it’s like a comfort thing? So anyway, I’m asleep and it’s like something decided to wake me up (at least I thought I was awake). It was almost like a blur, but someone was crouched down in front of me just staring at me. I then fell back asleep. It was almost like I acknowledged what was happening but was way too tired to care. Some time goes by and I’m in a new sleeping position and my eyes are closed but I am full on having a conversation in my head with this Victorian women. She was telling me how she hated what we did with the place “aka the apartment” and was mad at me. I just kept tossing and turning thinking I’m losing my mind. I finally fell asleep and told my boyfriend all about it the next morning. Needless to say we ended up using sage on the apartment and I’ve only had like one more weird experience after that but so far we’re still in the clear. So, yes I believe in ghosts.

M.P.

I had a terrible time dealing with my granddad’s death and could not get through a day without crying. One night I was dreaming about him and I woke up feeling such a chill in the room and something touched my foot. I heard him saying “It’s okay Sissy” at the same time I saw him at the foot of my bed. I stopped crying after that night. I still tear up when I think about him but I don’t cry like I used to. He was my hero. I would love to sit and talk with him again.

S.G.

I live in a old farm house, built in 1903. It has pretty stairs and servant stairs. I was cleaning in the front upstairs and heard with out a doubt footsteps coming up the stairs. I was skeptical, but nobody but me was home. Another time I kept hearing a girl’s voice saying “Mommy.” My daughter’s room was upstairs, but I couldn’t figure out why she’d be saying it. Mind you this is a big house, she coulda called or texted, so I hurriedly go to her room and she’s sitting on her bed on the laptop, headphones in and doing homework. She looked as surprised as I did. It wasn’t her. I later found out by talking to a gentleman that lived here in the 50’s that his young sister passed away in this house.

Another time I came home to find that my sweet sweet dogs had gotten into a whole bag of flour and my entire kitchen looked as if it has snowed. I’ll send a pic of one of their flour covered faces. Anyway, I had a little tantrum, threatened them with the pound and such, then the light in the kitchen went out. It’s a ceiling fan, you have to pull the string to turn it off. I calmed down, then the light came back on. I pulled the string a few times and it worked just fine. I’ve also felt cold spots and seen blurs. I’ve had things come up missing, like stuff you just don’t lose.

S.H.

When I was in high school an old friend of mine and I drove out to Elizabeth’s grave (a famous local haunted spot) to smoke some pot. It was in the middle of the summer and hotter than hell. We had all the windows down. Middle of the day. About half way thru, we heard a couple of men talking and could hear their footsteps close by in the gravel. We both freaked and started the car the leave so we wouldn’t be caught. Looked all around, and there was no one. Not a soul in sight. We both doubted what we had heard and thought maybe we were imagining it, but that would be impossible to hear the same thing at the same time. We split. Now, I’ve never had any kind of pot cause hallucinations before, so it was either real or some really good pot. Have never been back since.

C.W.

When we lived outside of Hillsboro my was 4-5 years old and he could never sleep in his room. He kept saying there were people in his room and they wouldn’t quit talking and let him sleep. After 3 years of this we moved back home to Bainbridge and found out after some research that we’d been living on an indian burial ground. It was the most eerie thing, hearing your child speak this way at such a young age.
So those are the stories I’ve received so far. If you have anything to add message me and I’ll update! Sleep well my friends . . .

Wait. What? This is according to Google searches over the past week.

Looks like a work of art, man.

So I was perusing a website called Terribly Terrier today and found an article entitled Jack Russell Terrier: The Adrenaline Junkie of the Dog World. It contained info and facts about Jack Russell Terriers, so of course I couldn’t help but see if Sparky fit the stereotype. Let’s take a look . . .

If you’ve never heard of a terrier who can jump 5-foot fences, spend hours tenaciously pursuing a rodent, and keep the whole family continually entertained with its antics, then you don’t know Jack.

The Jack Russell Terrier is arguably the epitome of terrier-ness, possessing in spades all the traits that make terriers what they are.

Jacks were originally bred to hunt foxes in England in the late 1700s. But like other terriers who started as hunting dogs, they have more recently leveraged their intelligence, charm, and scruffy good looks to become beloved household pets.

Jumping 5-foot fences? Check. Keeping me entertained with his antics? Check. Intelligence, charm and scruffy good looks? Yep. That’s my Spark.

Jacks are feisty, funny, affectionate, loyal, smart… and entirely too much for many people to handle.

My Sparky is all of those things and more. In fact, I know for a fact that my little dude is smarter than many of my former 5th graders and more loyal than most of my friends. Affectionate? You tell me.

The Spark, as we speak.

These active pups need lots of daily activity. They a chance to burn off their excess energy in positive ways.

Hence my hikes and trips to the cemetary and soccer fields. Dude loves to run.

Jacks are generally good-natured, especially toward members of their own pack. However, they’re not afraid to mix it up with other dogs – even dogs that are several times bigger than them.

Gee, ya think? Sparky has not only scrapped with dogs several sizes larger than him, he’s had scrapes with possums (it bolted after a quick scuffle, didn’t play dead), nutrias (OBX critter), raccoons (thankfully he didn’t get bitten), stingrays (seriously, in the shallow surf), geese (it attacked first, bad decision), buzzards (it was eating something in a field and Spark took offense), skunks (somehow he didn’t get skunked), snakes (it lunged and was dead in about 3-seconds), and yes, coyotes (he won). Click on that link for the story. We won’t mention chickens due to the Statute of Limitations.

Jack Russells love to dig. If you have a garden that’s precious to you, you might want to consider another breed.

Well, Sparky once spent nearly an hour at my Mom’s digging and trying to get to some sort of critter. He’d still be there if I hadn’t bribed him with a Chicken McNugget.

Some pooches just aren’t cut out for social hour at the dog park, and that includes a lot of Jack Russell Terriers. If they aren’t acquainted with other dogs thay may show aggression. 

Mmmmm . . . yeah. I shall plead the 5th on this one.

Unfortunately, because a lot of people get Jack Russells without realizing how much attention they need, you can also find a lot of these dogs surrendered to shelters and rescue organizations. If you’re up to the challenge of owning a Jack Russell, consider adopting an adult dog that needs a home.

First off, anyone who surrenders a dog to a shelter should be beaten about the head and shoulders with an 18-inch Nylabone Big Chew Toy Bone. Secondly, sure Jacks are a bit of a challenge. They’re energetic and need attention. However, if you want a loyal, affectionate, intelligent, charming and funny companion, Jack Russells are the way to go.

Seriously, rescue a Jack Russell. Sparky coming into my life is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Basketball rules have changed a lot over the years, even some dramatic ones in the last 30-years or so. Some of these might just surprise you . . .

1900-1901

A dribbler may not shoot for a field goal and may dribble only once, and then with two hands.
Wait. What? What does that even mean?

1908-1909

A dribbler is permitted to shoot. The dribble is defined as the “continuous passage of the ball,” making the double dribble illegal.
Great that they finally allowed the dribblers to shoot, man.

1910-1911

No coaching is allowed during the progress of the game by anybody connected with either team. A warning is given for the first violation and a free throw is awarded after that.
Hear that? NO COACHING ALLOWED. So strange. Then again, maybe they were onto something.

1921-1922

Running with the ball was changed from a foul to a violation.
If traveling was a foul James Harden would be out of games very early.

1923-1924

The player fouled must shoot his own free throws. Before this rule, one person usually shot all the free throws for a team.
Designated free throw shooters, man. Steve Nash would have averaged 50 a game.

1937-1938

The center jump after every made basket is eliminated.
Yes kids, before this rule was changed there was a jump ball after every basket.

1939-1940

Teams have the option of taking a free throw or taking the ball at mid-court.
This would actually lead to some intersting strategy.

1944-1945

Defensive goal tending is banned.

I’m guessing the advancement of player athleticism led to this rule.

1944-1945

Offensive players cannot stand in the free throw lane for more than 3 seconds.
Good rule. Congestion on the court is not a good thing.

1948-1949

Coaches are allowed to speak to players during a timeout.
And thus the modern basketball coach was born.

1956-1957

The free throw lane is increased from 6 feet to 12 feet.
Look at that old 6-foot lane. So damn small.

1956-1957

Grasping the rim is rule unsportsmanlike conduct.
Players be jumpin’ higher!

1967-1968

The dunk is made illegal during the game and during warmup.
Ah, the famous Lew Alcindor rule.

1972-1973

An official can charge a technical foul on a player for unsportsmanlike conduct if the official deems the player ‘flopped’ to get a charging call.
Aaaand flopping is still not called today.
1972-1973
Freshman are now eligible to play varsity basketball.
This is why Alcindor’s UCLA freshman team used to beat the hell of of the varsity all the time.

1973-1974

Officials can now penalize players away from the ball for fouls for acts such as holding, grabbing and illegal screens.
Great rule and hard to believe it took this long to add it.

1976-1977

The dunk is made legal again.
And a nation rejoiced!

1981-1982

The jump ball is eliminated except for the start of the first and second half, and overtime if necessary. An alternating arrow will indicate possession of the ball in jump-ball situations in a game.
And the Possession Arrow was born.

1985-1986

The 45 second shot clock is introduced.
The shot clock is coming to high school basketball as well . . . soon.

1985-1986

If a shooter is intentionally fouled and the basket is missed, the shooter will get two free throws and the team will get possession of the ball.
Hard to fathom that I was coaching before the addition of the intentional foul.

1986-1987

A three point shot was introduced at 19’9″.
And everything began to change . . .
1989-1990
Three free throws are awarded when a shooter is fouled from three point range and misses the shot.
Oddly enough, for a couple years after the advent of the 3-point shot you only got 2 free throws if fouled while shooting it. Dumb.

1993-1994

The shot clock is reduced from 45 seconds to 35 seconds.
Will it get shorter?

1997-1998

Timeouts can be made be players on the court or the head coach.
Seems odd now, but before this coaches could not call timeouts. You had to yell for your players to do it.

So yeah, the game has changed. A lot. I wonder what it will look like in 50-years?

Nope. Not that Moses. There’s another one.

It all started way back in 1983, when my my brother-in-law and great friend Jigger asked me to coach the 7th grade basketball team at Paint Valley. Jigger had coached high school basketball at Bishop Flaget in the early 70s, and since this was my very first coaching job he gave me some old books about coaching.

Now, when I say old I mean old, like 1940s old. They were so old in fact that I put them on the shelf, only occasionally glancing through them. I mean, what could I possibly learn from a book that was written when coaches weren’t allowed to talk to their teams during timeouts?*

*Dead serious. Coaches weren’t allowed to do this until the 1948-49 season. Look it up. 

Anyway, at some point during that first year I coached we needed a baseline out of bounds play (a BLOB – sideline out of bounds is a SLOB) and on a whim I revisited a couple of those books. Low and behold, in one I found a BLOB that looked pretty damn good. It was fairly unique because it was a BLOB that flooded the baseline. At the time everyone played zone defense while defending out-of-bounds plays, although that’s completely changed over the years. Because of this the top guys on the zone weren’t used to coming all the way down to the baseline and by flooding it with your players you could catch your opponent off guard. Here’s the initial setup, as drawn on an idex card by me a million years ago:

When the play started this was the initial movement, although we added wrinkles that I’ll talk about in a bit:

You put your shooters on the blocks, and they would sprint to the corners. We’d put our best shooter on the opposite block because the corner he ran to seemed to be the one that was open the most. The player in the middle was our best post man and the player at the top of the key was usually our point guard. When the post player screened the point guard, the opponent had to either switch or not switch. If they switched the post man would be open and roll straight to the basket. If they didn’t switch the point guard would be open. If defenders sagged to help that action one or both of the corners would be open. Simple but effective, and it was just as efficient against zones as it was against man-to-man.

Over the years we added wrinkles, such as having the players on the blocks cross and go to opposite corners, or moving the two players in the middle to different spots. We also added extra movement if nobody was open, but to be honest that rarely happened.

I can’t recall what we called the play in its early years, but I do know how the name that stuck came to be. It was in my first year at Paint Valley and of course I was showing it to my players. After explaining how it worked I asked the team what they wanted to name it, and my all-league point guard Todd Shoemaker said something like this:

“Everybody parts like the Red Sea and I go right down the middle. Let’s call it Moses.”

And so it came to pass.

I’ve had a lot of former players become coaches, guys like the aforementioned Todd, Craig Kerns, Josh Case, Clay Archer and others. Many of them have used it and used it effectively. Hey, my team from Montserrat has used it as well.

Not only that, and I won’t name names but college coaches have watched the play at camps, asked about it, and have used it over the years. I’m talking Division 1, big-time Top 10 college programs. Some even call it Moses. In fact, next time you watch a college game look for the set I showed you on a baseline out of bounds play and see if you can hear the player taking the ball out yell “Moses!”

It happens. True story.

I don’t know how many points my teams scored on Moses over the years but I do know it was a lot. It got to the point where our opponents knew the play, so we disguised it. Anytime we yelled Noah, Abraham, Abel, Adam or any other biblical name it was essentially Moses. In reality though, it didn’t matter if they knew. It was that effective.

Yep, a simple little play I got from a book written in the 1940s is still used today in all levels of basketball. And you know why?

Because it works.

 

Some guy recorded his son making baby noises, figured out the notes he made, and arranged them into “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. Listen at your own risk.

Check out that Werewolf Cat, man. Just Werewolfy as all get out. It’s scientific name is Lykoi, which is cool but not nearly as cool as Werewolf Cat. Roughly translated, Lykoi means “wolf cat” in Greek. Lykoi cats are derivatives of feral cats, and as such they have retained their strong prey drive. They very much enjoy stalking other smaller animals and children, so if you get one you best keep an eye on little Ainsley and your pet Chiweenie. Anywho, Werewolf Cat.

Accurate.

This gorgeous creation is known as the green Regal flowerbird and Crotalaria cunninghamii is the stunning plant’s scientific name. It’s a member of the legume family that includes chickpeas and alfalfa. The perennial shrub is native to inland northern Australia, where it thrives along sandy dunes. Its ties to Australia are quite ironic, considering that no hummingbirds live there. That’s wild, man. Mother Nature doin’ her thing per usual.

Freddie Krueger beat out Alex P. Keaton in Ohio? Shocking.

Color coded with each team’s colors.

I’ll take The Block at #1.

These map percentages indicate responses to the question: “Do you wash your hands automatically with soap and water after going to the toilet?” Faring the worst: The Netherlands, which clocks in at only 50%, and Italy, where a mere 57% of respondents said that they adhere to this hygienic practice. I’m not sure about you, but I might reconsider my craving for a hand-tossed pizza with the works whilst in Italy from this point forwards.

I shall henceforth start a movement to make these name changes.

[click, scroll, chuckle]

Cows can talk to each other using their moos, a new study has claimed.

Researchers in Australia studied Holstein-Friesian cows and found that the animals can communicate with each other, and respond to positive and negative emotions. Scientists from the University of Sydney used a special programme – dubbed the ‘Google Translate for Cows’  to analysis the pitch of their moos.

Alexandra Green, the study’s lead author, said: “They have all got very distinct voices. Even without looking at them in the herd, I can tell which one is making a noise just based on her voice.”

The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that cows can express a range of emotions, including distress, excitement and arousal.

Nothing sexier than an aroused cow, huh? Anyway, has there ever been a more obvious result to a study than finding out that cows talk to each other? Of course they do. All animals do. Hell, I once saw a gerbil tell a tufted titmouse a story about a sea urchin. Seriously though, this study was a complete waste of time. And there’s one sure-fire way to tell if animals can communicate with not only each other but humans as well – LISTEN TO THEM.

PS- “The Pitch of Their Moos” sounds like a critically acclaimed Indie movie.

PPS- If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times. A hundred years from now we’re going to know things about the intelligence of animals that would astound us if we knew them today. 

Check out the Bilby, man. Just as cute as the dickens. Bilbies are also known as the Rabbit-Eared Bandicoot which is cool as hell. They’re believed to have inhabited Australia for up to 15-million years, and I’m no expert but that seems like a long time. Bilbies are featured in the songs and stories of Aboriginal Australians, because of course they are. Bilbies co-existed with Aboriginal people for 60,000-years, but in the 200-years since Europeans arrived they’ve been pushed close to extinction and that makes me sad. Save the Bilby! The Bilby is about the size of a domestic cat and typically lives for about 10-years. Anywho, Bilby.

[click and scroll for some amazing Bilbiness]

Quotation marks can be used when quoting someone (der), but they can also be used to show sarcasm. Here’s an example:

Everyone in the theatre could see the “surprise” ending coming halfway through the movie.

However, some folks can’t seem to comprehend that and use quotation marks incorrectly. Compare these two sentences:

Hank and his best friend Jake went to the movies together.

Hank and his “best friend” Jake went to the movies together.

See? Changes the whole meaning of the sentence, correct? Anyway, here are fifteen examples of when quotation marks have been used incorrectly, much to the amusement of all. Well, me anyway. Hope you “enjoy” them.

[click and scroll for my snarky captions]

 

Dude, that’s a 5-foot tall stork, bigger than a damn 6th grader. I’m telling you man, the glaring, dark stare of a 5-foot tall stork can be a frightening thing for a weary traveler. These bad boys can exhibit territorial tendencies, as seen in an infamous incident that occurred at the Belize Zoo. Their stork exhibit now features a roof above the visitor viewing platform after a Jabiru Stork tried to stab an unsuspecting patron with its freakin’ 14-inch-long bill. Jeebus. Jabiru storks are native to Central and South America, where they typically feed on small mammals, fish, amphibians and the ocassional lost toddler. Anywho, Jabiru Stork.

In the world today, 1 in 200 men are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Years ago my late father told me a story, a story that most kids today wouldn’t understand. It was from a time long ago, a time of hardship and poverty that most of us cannot begin to comprehend today.

My dad grew up the youngest of seven children, the son of Sadie and Royal Shoemaker. Grandpa was a carpenter and a blacksmith, and he and Grandma somehow raised every one of their kids to be a part of independent and successful families. The oldest was Myrl who ended up in the second most powerful position in the state of Ohio, serving as its Lieutenant Governor and Director of Natural Resources after 24-years as a State Representative. Brothers Hester (Deck) and Leroy were also strong figures who raised amazing families, and sisters Alice, Ruth and Millie were the matriarchs of great households as well.

Dad? His name was Ralph and he graduated from Ohio University and rose to the Head of Purchasing at the Mead Corporation, a large paper company here in Southern Ohio.

Bottom line, Grandpa and Grandma did an amazing job of raising seven children, most of whom grew up during the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world.

Which brings me to my father’s story.

It was a Christmas morning, probably sometime in the 1980s, and we were all sitting around watching the grandkids open their myriad of gifts, just tearing through the presents and tossing them aside with barely a glance. It was apparent that Dad was amazed at the sheer number of gifts the kids were getting, and he and I were chuckling about it. At some point we found ourselves in another room and he asked me this question:

Do you want to hear about the best Christmas I ever had?

Well, sure. Dad was never one to share a lot of his personal feelings so I wanted to hear what he had to say. Then he began the story. I’m paraphrasing but I remember it well . . .

“It was, I don’t know, maybe 1933 or 1934. It was Christmas morning, although we didn’t have much of a celebration or anything. I think I was in 1st or 2nd Grade. We didn’t have much at all back then, and we all had chores to do around the house each day. One of my jobs was to get up and shovel coal into the furnace. It was cold in the house, so the first thing I did when I awoke was to put my shoes on. They were always right by my bed. When I put one of them on, I felt something inside. I reached in and there, with a white ribbon tied to it, was a red pencil. A red pencil! Some of the kids at school had their own pencils but most of us did not. I was so excited. I cherished that red pencil more than any present I ever got. I promise you I appreciated that gift more than kids today appreciate theirs. And I made that one pencil last the rest of the school year.”

As he recounted the story I could see the excitement in his eyes, even after all the years that had passed.

You see, back then in that space and time for that little boy, getting a new pencil was special. So special that he remembered it vividly decades later.

I guess we should just appreciate and be grateful for what we have, right? And it’s not always the quantity or the price of the gifts, sometimes it can be something very, very simple.

Like a red pencil.

 

The Taal Volcano erupted in the Philippines on January 12th, but that didn’t stop this couple from going through with their wedding. What resulted is this amazing photograph.

‘Merica?

An absolute classic.

 

Check out that Flower Mantis, man. How have I missed this guy? Just stunningly beautiful like you read about. The little dude climbs up twigs of plants and sits there, imitating a flower and patiently waiting for its prey. It then sways from side to side, and soon various small flies land on and around it, attracted by the small black spot resembling a fly on the end of its abdomen. The Flower Mantis at once seizes the bug and the party’s over. Diabolical. Anywho, Flower Mantis.