Archive for the ‘Fun Facts’ Category

New studies show that having a dog as an inside companion can lengthen your life by as much as 24%.

So yeah, I ran across this site called The Loon Preservation Committee and now I can’t get enough of loons, man. I swear I watched their Loon Cam for 7 1/2 hours straight last night. Just went into a trance like you read about. Anywho, the site has awesome links like “Mortality and Nest Failure”, “Loons and Lead”, and “Banding and Tracking Loons”. They even have a Loon Census and a link that shows you how to build Nest Rafts for Loons:


Dude, that’s a man-made Nest Raft for Loons. Cool. I guess nesting loons face a variety of challenges during their 27-day incubation of eggs. Loon nests are vulnerable to natural or human-induced water level changes that can flood nests or leave them stranded out of reach of parents, which makes me sad. Floating nest rafts rise and fall with water levels and help loons cope with these water level changes. Nest rafts also provide alternate nest sites to help loons displaced from traditional sites by shoreline development or recreational use of lakes, and offer protection from raccoons, eagles and other scavengers whose populations have increased due to the availability of human refuse.

They even have Loon Cruises up in New Hampshire on Squam Lake. The route of the cruise (which lasts 90-minutes) is chosen to maximize loon observations, because hell yes it does. Tickets are $27, which seems a little steep but how often do you get a chance to observe a loon up close? The answer is never, man. Can you say Bucket List?

Did you know that loons have solid bones, making them less buoyant? Because of this they are extremely powerful swimmers. They can also dive to depths of up to 200-feet for durations of up to 5-minutes which is freaking incredible. And get this – loons can achieve a flying speed of up to 80-miles per hour! Finally, the amazing loon can stay in the air for hundreds of miles in one flight! That’s crazy, dude.

And because their legs are located towards the back part of their bodies, it is very difficult for loons to walk or to take flight from land. In fact, it is often difficult for them to take off from water; the loon will usually need the help of wind. To take off, loons will need to use a runway – first they will figure out which way the wind is blowing, and then run straight into it while flapping their wings like a boss. Once they have enough air rushing beneath their wings, they can become airborne. Because of the loons need for a runway, they must be careful only to land in areas where there will be enough surface water for them to take off again.

You can find this and much more on the website. Here’s a link, because I know you’re dying to find out more about loons:

https://www.loon.org/

Enjoy!

As of yesterday, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy had been a major league manager from 1995-2019. His career record? 1995-2019. Mind blown.

According to data gathered on all 50-states by the National Federation of State High Schools Association, more girls are playing on boys football teams than ever before. For the 2018-2019 school year 2,404 girls played 11-man tackle football on boys teams at the high school level. That’s more than has ever been recorded in the NFHSA’s history.

Depending on the time of day or time of year, there could be anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 planes mid-flight at any given moment over the United States. In addition, an average of 2,789,971 passengers a day fly in and out of U.S. airports.

Sea Otters hold hands when they sleep so they won’t drift apart. Animals, man.

According to a French study of social interactions, men who approach a single woman on the street will get her phone number one out of 10 times. If the same guy approaches women while walking a dog his odds go to one in three times. The research says that a man with a dog signals that he has the resources and the willingness to care for others.

Las Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer could buy the 15-most valuable NBA teams and still have 5-billion dollars left in his bank account.

 

Coyotes are impossible to exterminate. The more coyotes get killed, the more they procreate. This occurs because the coyote howl acts as a roll call. A normal coyote litter size runs between 4 and 5 puppies. However, if the female does a roll call howl and the population is sparse based on these calls, the female will generate more pups. They’re effectively taking a census with the howling. A low census causes a chemical or metabolic change in breeding females and they’ll have as many as nine puppies in the litter to make up for the population loss. Coyotes are now in 49 states.

The album “Let It Be” by The Beatles was supposed to be a trip back to their roots – pared down, simple, no orchestration or strings, no overdubs, and no overwhelming production. They wanted the album to have an almost “live” feel. This from a band that had recorded albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in which the studio work and production were groundbreaking in their complexity. Bottom line, The Beatles wanted to get back to their roots.

Here’s the album track list:

Side 1

  1. Two of Us
  2. Dig a Pony
  3. Across the Universe
  4. I Me Mine
  5. Dig It
  6. Let It Be
  7. Maggie May

Side 2

  1. I’ve Got a Feeling
  2. One After 909
  3. The Long and Winding Road
  4. For You Blue
  5. Get Back

The songs range from the silly (“Dig It”, “Dig a Pony” and Maggie May”) to the rockin’ (“Get Back”) to the almost country sounding (“One After 909”) to the beautifully legendary (“Let It Be”, “Across the Universe” and “The Long and Winding Road”). It was a truly a wonderful album in spite of the cracks that were beginning to show, fissures that would eventually tear the group apart.

Quick note – although “Let It Be” was the last album released by The Beatles, it was actually recorded before Abbey Road.

As I mentioned before, during the recording of “Let It Be” the relationships between all four Beatles was strained severely, almost to its breaking point. It was so strained, in fact, that the guys became so tired of the in-fighting they allowed manager Allen Klein (who Paul hated but John liked) to take over the finishing touches on the album. Klein ended up handing the project over to legendary “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector, who proceeded to completely defeat the original purpose of the album by adding orchestras and female background singers (which The Beatles had never used before) to songs like “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let It Be.” Paul McCartney has stated publicly many times that when he first heard the final product he was aghast at the results.

Years later, in 2003, the album was re-released by McCartney as “Let It Be . . . Naked” in an attempt to rectify the mistake and let the public listen to the album as it was originally intended. The result was a beautiful album of simple songs in which the voices and musicianship stand magnificently on their own.

Here’s a comparison of the original release of “The Long and Winding Road” with strings and background vocals, followed by the originally intended pared down, simple version:

Long and Winding Road (with added vocals and orchestration)

Long and Winding Road (original “naked” version)

Big difference. Sure, the first version is beautiful, but I much prefer the second one, especially since Paul wanted it to be heard that way originally. Again, all the added fluff went against the spirit of the album, which was to “get back” to the roots of The Beatles.

Here are some videos from the movie “Let It Be” which was basically a documentary regarding the making of the album. It includes the legendary surprise “rooftop concert”. Great stuff:

Let It Be

The Long and Winding Road

Get Back

Let It Be Factoids:

  • Piano legend Billy Preston played keyboard on the album.
  • During the recording sessions, tensions between George Harrison and Paul McCartney, grew so heated that Harrison left the studio.
  • Although recorded in 1969 and released on “Let it Be” a year later, the song “One After 909” was one of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s first collaborations, dating back to 1959.
  • In the United States, advance orders for the album were the largest in the industry up to that point – over 3.7 million units.
  • Legend has it that when McCartney sang “Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged” he was looking directly at Yoko Ono, who was in studio during the recording.

 

 

In the wild there have been no fatal attacks on humans by Orcas (Killer Whales) and only one reported bite. In captivity there have been several non-fatal and fatal attacks on humans since the 1970s.

 

So I run my website through WordPress, and they make available pretty detailed statistics besides your typical hits per day and whatnot. You can actually see where people are viewing the site in the world, and the results are pretty fascinating. It’s cool because they put little flags by the country’s name. I mean, it’s weird to think of somebody sitting in Vatican City taking a look at one of my blogs about Sparky, but that they did. Maybe it was the Pope? Because that would be super. Hey, only about 1,000 people live there, so you never know.

Anywho, what follows are the Top 25 countries (according to views) that have visited Shoe: Untied, followed by some of the other rather odd countries on the list. I included their flags because it’s my site and I like flags. Roll on . . .

1. United States

 

 

 

 

 

2. Australia

 

 

 

 

3. Canada

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4. Philippines

 

 

 

 

5. United Kingdom

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6. New Zealand

 

 

 

 

7. Germany

 

 

 

 

 

8. India

 

 

 

 

 

9. South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

10. Singapore

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11. France

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12. Thailand

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13. Netherlands

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14. Malaysia

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15. Romania

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16. Ireland

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17. Mexico

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18. Spain

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19. Italy

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20. Sweden

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21. Brazil

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22. Poland

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23. Greece

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24. United Arab Emirates

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25. Japan

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In all, 217 countries have visited Shoe: Untied, including (as I said) some that are very interesting. Intrigued, I researched some of the more fascinating ones. Take a gander.

Vatican City

Yep, somebody there is an avid fan of The Sparkster. Sure, they read some other stuff but my little best friend is the draw for sure. And just think, there’s a 1 in 1000 chance it’s Pope Francis.

Iran

Censorship in Iran is increasing, and Facebook and Twitter are banned. So, it must be somebody who stumbled upon the site directly, or perhaps an American soldier? Do they have internet service?

Myanmar

Myanmar is also know as Burma and is just north of Thailand. I had no clue.

 

Macau

Macau is a region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. Huh. Learn something every day.

 

Jersey

This one really threw me. It’s actually the largest of the Channel Islands, between England and France. Cool beans.

 

Mauritius

Mauritius is an Indian Ocean island nation located hundreds of miles east of Madagascar, is known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs, and it looks and sounds awesome. Take a look:

Somewhere on that island somebody is reading about Sparky and all the other stuff contained within Shoe: Untied. That’s weird.

Lesotho

Lesotho is a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa. Wild stuff.

 

Isle of Man

The awesomely named Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Also, greatest flag ever.

 

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is located by the Caspian Sea in what used to be the Soviet Union. Thanks for visiting Azerbaijanians.

 

Caribbean Netherlands

The Caribbean Netherlands can be found north of Venezuela and close to Aruba and Curacao. It lies 512 miles across open water to the southeast of Montserrat. Note: They actually use the flag of the Netherlands.

 

Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands are actually a United States commonwealth and lie way out in the Pacific Ocean, 5,871 miles from the California coast.

Reunion

Reunion sounds like a quaint, friendly little country doesn’t it? It’s actually and island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, and it’s close to Mauritius. Wouldn’t it be nuts if somebody from Mauritius told someone from Reunion about Shoe: Untied? The mind reels.

Guernsey

I was hoping against hope this was where Guernsey cows came from, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t right. Guernsey is an island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. And what, no cow on the flag?

Vanuatu

Another island. Shocker. Vanuatu is located in Oceania, which is northwest of Australia. Man, my geography knowledge is exploding.

Niue

Niue is a little island (again) in the South Pacific and is south of American Samoa. And doesn’t that seem like a lot of wasted space on their flag? ‘Sup Niue?

Aland Islands

You can find the Aland Islands between Finland and Sweden and again, they look cool as hell. I mean, come on, who’s on their computer reading about the Wussification of America when they could be outside in this?

Timor-Leste

This country sits smack dab between Indonesia and Australia, and somebody there obviously loves my Cool Animal of the Day blogs.

 

Again, it blows my mind imagining somebody in one of these faraway countries visiting and reading something I wrote. Still, they do. The internet, man. It’s truly made the world a smaller place.

 

The longest straight line on land in the world starts in Liberia and ends near Wenling, China. The route runs through 9 time zones, 18 countries and is over 8,444 miles long.

At 6.6 million square miles Russia is the world’s largest country in area. But Mercator Maps make it look larger than it actually is. If you move Russia down to the equator you will see how truly mammoth the continent of Africa is. At 11.73 million square miles, it’s almost twice the size of Russia. Take a gander:

90% of Canadians live within 100-miles of the United States. They rank 222nd in the world in population density.

Interesting.

Yeah, I know, many of you will know some of these. I mean, everyone knows how the Rollling Stones got their name, right? That original guitarist Brian Jones was doing an interview over the phone for Jazz News and was asked what the name of his band was. On the floor was a Muddy Waters LP and Jones noticed the track “Rollin’ Stone” on the case. He promptly said that was the band’s name, and they stuck with with it, only modifying it to The Rolling Stones. That said, some band name origins are not well known at all. Hence, this blog. Enjoy . . .

The Beatles: Who else did you think I’d start with, man? The Beatles name was inspired by Buddy Holly, whose backing group was called the Crickets. All four Beatles were big fans, their earliest shows often featured his music and Paul McCartney later purchased the publishing rights to Holly’s songs. Prior to this The Beatles were called The Quarrymen and The Silver Beetles. They ditched the “Silver”, changed “Beetles” to “Beatles” (get it? Beat?) and the rest is rock history.

Nirvana: Kurt Cobain himself stated that they went with Nirvana because “I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans.” Previous band names – Ted Ed Fred and Pen Cap Chew. So yeah, Nirvana is much better.

Eels: I’ve heard Mark Oliver Everett explain this many times. Before Eels, Everett was known simply as E and had released two excellent albums under that name. When he formed a band he wanted a name that would allow his new CDs to sit alongside his old ones in the record stores (E, then Eels). What he didn’t consider was band names like The Eagles that would make his name choice inconsequential.

R.E.M.: No, REM doesn’t stand for Rapid Eye Movement. The truth is the band got its name by way of a random dictionary grab by Michael Stipe. Previous band names- Twisted Kites and Cans of Piss. True story.

AC/DC: Malcolm and Angus Young’s sister Margaret came up with this one. She suggested it to the guys after seeing the letters “AC/DC” on a vacuum cleaner or sewing machine, nobody can remember exactly which. Not the most exciting story in the world, but there it is.

The Doors: The boys got this one from Aldous Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception,” which Jim Morrison particularly liked. By the way, it is an amazing book.

Pink Floyd: Syd Barrett named Pink Floyd by combining the names of two bluesmen from his record collection: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Anderson Council didn’t sound right, hence Pink Floyd.

Meat Loaf: Meatloaf was the nickname given to Marvin Lee Aday by his high-school football coach. Original band name- Meat Loaf Soul.

They Might Be Giants: I’ll let TMBG’s John Linnell explain this one: “It’s the name of a movie. It’s not a good movie and it doesn’t hold that much significance for us.” Alrighty then.

Guns N’ Roses: Hollywood Rose member Izzy Stradlin spent some time in the mid-’80s as roommates with L.A. Guns member Tracii Guns. When L.A. Guns needed a new singer, Hollywood Rose’s Axl Rose came aboard. This led to the 1985 formation of Guns N’ Roses. Previous ideas for a name- Heads of Amazon and AIDS. Yikes.

Bob Dylan: Young Bobby Zimmerman was a fan of Matt Dillon – the sheriff on the TV western Gunsmoke. In 1958 he told his high-school girlfriend that he planned to devote his life to music and assume the name Bob Dillon. He changed the spelling because he thought it looked better.

Badfinger: Once the band was signed to Apple Records by The Beatles the band took the opportunity to change their name. The name “Badfinger” was derived from “Bad Finger Boogie,” the working title of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Original band name – The Iveys.

REO Speedwagon: The REO Speed Wagon was introduced in 1915 as a predecessor of the pickup truck. Fast forward to 1967 and keyboardist Neal Doughty was in a college class that studied the history of transportation. One day he walked in and REO Speed Wagon was written on the blackboard. Boom. Band name born.

Lynyrd Skynyrd: This name was a tongue-in-cheek swipe at Leonard Skinner, their high-school gym teacher who had often clashed with them for having long hair and being rebellious hippies.

Alice Cooper: Alice Cooper was originally the band name, selected as a replacement since the Nazz had already been taken by Todd Rundgren. The fictional Alice was envisioned as a demented, possibly homicidal elderly woman, and singer Vince Furnier played the part onstage so well that he ultimately became more associated with the name than the band did.

KISS: When Peter Criss brought up the fact that he had previously played in a band called Lips, Paul Stanley chimed in with the name that would accompany the band to superstardom – KISS. Original name – Wicked Lester. Note: KISS does not stand for Kids In Satan’s Service as many believe.

Three Dog Night: Supposedly, it was June Fairchild, then girlfriend of Three Dog Night’s Danny Hutton, who came up with the name. She’d heard a story about Australians sleeping with dingos for warmth on the coldest nights.  The colder the night the more dogs they slept with, and a really cold night was a 3-dog night.

Led Zeppelin: The Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle joined Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on the Jeff Beck single “Beck’s Bolero” in the summer of 1966 – leading to studio chatter about the prospect of forming a new group. Moon joked that it would go over like a lead balloon. While trying to come up with a name for a new group featuring Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant two years later, Page remembered Moon’s line – and thus became Led Zeppelin.

Def Leppard: Singer Joe Elliott initially coined the name “Deaf Leopard” while writing reviews for imaginary rock bands in his high-school English class. Tony Kenning, percussionist for the band’s original lineup, suggested modifying the spelling to make the name seem less “punk.” Def Leppard was born.

Steely Dan: It should come as no surprise that literate rockers like Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were reading some pretty twisted stuff in their college days. They got their name from William S. Burroughs’ legendary 1959 novel ‘Naked Lunch,’ in which a steam-powered, strap-on dildo is referred to as the “Steely Dan III from Yokohama.” Glad they chose Steely Dan over Strap-On Dildo.

So there ya go. Have anything to add? Let me know!

Since today is April 20th, I thought I’d post this article from Time magazine explaining the significance of the date to those of you who might be unaware. Interesting stuff.

TIME- Both marijuana smokers and non-smokers recognize April 20 or 4/20 as a national holiday for cannabis culture, but few actually know how the date got chosen.

Some say “420” is code among police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress.” Some note 4/20 is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. And some go as far as to cite Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420.

But, to put it bluntly, those rumors of the history behind how April 20, and 4/20, got associated with marijuana are false.

The most credible story traces 4/20 to Marin County, Calif. In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School would meet at 4:20 p.m. by the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to partake. They chose that specific time because extracurricular activities had usually ended by then. This group — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — became known as the “Waldos” because they met at a wall. They would say “420” to each other as code for marijuana.

As Reddix told TIME in 2017, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”

The shenanigans continued long after 4:20 p.m., too. The group challenged each other to find ever-more-interesting things to do under the influence, calling their adventures “safaris.”

Later, Reddix’s brother helped him get work with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh as a roadie, so the band is said to have helped popularize the term “420.” On Dec. 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers that invited people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One ended up with Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine, an authority on cannabis culture. The magazine printed the flyer in 1991 and continued to reference the number. Soon, it became known worldwide as code for marijuana. In 1998, the outlet acknowledged that the “Waldos” were the “inventors” of 420.

Most of the time, geese and ducks sleep at night right on the water. Eagles and hawks aren’t a threat because they also sleep during the night, and any predator swimming after the birds would send vibrations through the water, waking them up. A few geese stay up as sentinels, watching for enemies.

TextingSept2015

StreetStats- Pedestrian deaths were up 35% last year, compared to a decade ago. This is due to the rise of heavy SUVs, population growth in regions that do not prioritize walking and distracted driving, a new report shows. The Governors Highway Safety Association estimated that roughly 6,227 pedestrians were killed last year, the highest pedestrian fatality figure since 1990 and 35% more than were killed 10 years ago.

Gee, ya think? This has to be the most unsurprising statistic of all-time, man. People don’t pay attention anymore. Hell, I don’t even to stop to make a turn without keeping my eye on the rearview mirror due to all the damn people texting and driving. During my travels over the past couple years I’ve witnessed people not only texting and driving but watching movies on their iPads, doing their make-up, reading a book, and sleeping. I’m dead serious. I once passed a guy, glanced over and saw his eye closed, blew my horn, and he proceeded to nonchalantly give me a thumbs-up and proceed onward like it was perfectly normal. Hell, people aren’t looking for anything in front of them, human beings or otherwise. Keep your head on a swivel, folks. People are nuts.

Note: On the other hand, my 5′-10″ father could be driving and somehow reach into the backseat of our 1966 Pontiac Catalina Station Wagon, smack me in the head for being an idiot, and still stay between the lines. That’s a special gift right there.

 

Awesome.

The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln’s father-in-law is Ian Anderson, legendary frontman for the band Jethro Tull.

When you think people pay $50,000 to be guided up the mountain this is pretty funny stuff. Love it.

What was Dazzle Camouflage, you ask? Dazzle Camouflage was ship camouflage used extensively in World War I, and to a lesser extent in World War II and afterwards. It consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other. Unlike other forms of camouflage the intention of dazzle was not to conceal but “to make it difficult to estimate a target’s range, speed, heading, and to mislead the enemy about a ship’s course and so to take up a poor firing position.” What they’re saying is when the enemy fired on a ship from a distance they had to estimate where the ship would be when the artillery or torpedo arrived. The Dazzle Camouflage blew all this to hell. So to speak.

Fun Fact: Each ship’s dazzle pattern was unique to avoid making classes of ships instantly recognizable to the enemy. Check it out:

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