Archive for the ‘Fun Facts’ Category

Color coded with each team’s colors.

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

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.

Hey kids, remember The Wonder Years? The Wonder Years aired from 1988 and 1993 and depicted the years between 1968 and 1973. When I watched the show it felt like it was set in a time long, long ago, which it was – way back when I was a youngster. But get this- if a new Wonder Years premiered today, it would cover the years between 2000 and 2005.

Think about that for a second.

Interesting.

Interesting stuff.

I met Lex Wexner once. Seemed like a regular dude.

Yikes.

Interesting.

For readers of Shoe: Untied that are from areas other than Southern Ohio, the mascot of the local school where I taught and coached for many years is a Bearcat. I actually wrote about our mascot in a blog entitled The Origin of the Bearcats and the Black & Gold. However, do any of you know what a Bearcat actually is? Let’s take a gander . . .

An actual Bearcat is a glorious creature. It has a body like a small bear and a tail like a monkey, not even kidding. It’s scientific name is Binturong, which is cool but not nearly as cool as Bearcat. They have long, low, stocky bodies covered with coarse, shaggy black fur tipped in gray, so they sometimes appear speckled. Long ear tufts protrude from their small, rounded ears. Just look at that guy on the right. Their faces have slightly lighter fur and stiff, white whiskers that can reach up to 8-inches long. They grow to be about 6-feet long including the tail and weigh between 25 and 50 pounds.

Binturongs live in the dense tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and are not often spotted in the wild. They’re currently classified as vulnerable, with populations declining more than 30% over the past 30 years. The main threats to binturongs are habitat destruction, hunting, and the wildlife trade, and that’s just sad. Save the Binturong, man!

Their secretive nature has kept many aspects of their behavior hidden until recently, but my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied has unearthed some fascinating nuggets for your perusal. Read on for my list of facts that make the Bearcats a weird, awesome and wonderful animal . . .

1. Although the Binturong is also known as the Bearcat, it’s not closely related to bears or cats. The Binturong belongs to the Viverridae family, an ancient group of small to medium sized mammals found only in the eastern hemisphere. A bunch of them live in Vietnam.

2. The meaning of the word Binturong is unknown. The language it was derived from is now extinct. That means it goes waaaaay back.

3. Binturongs are in the order Carnivora, but they mostly eat fruit. In the wild, they eat a varied diet which can include carrion, eggs, plant shoots and leaves, small invertebrates, fish, birds, small mammals, and fruits like the strangler fig. In captivity, a Binturong could enjoy dog food, leaf-eater biscuits, ground meat, carrots, yams, tomatoes, apples, bananas, and their favorite, grapes.

4. They smell like buttered popcorn. True story. Like other members of the Viverridae family, the Binturong has scent glands, which are located just under its tail. As it moves about, the Binturong drags its tail, marking branches and foliage in its territory. To humans, the smell is reminiscent of buttered popcorn, but to other Binturongs it communicates that the area is occupied and they should move along. It can also help male and female Binturongs find each other when they want to mate. Cool.

5. Binturongs make lots of noises to communicate. A happy Binturong will chuckle (seriously), but an irritated one will utter a high-pitched wail or growl fiercely, sort of like Monica, a girl I dated in college. On the prowl, it may periodically produce a series of low grunts or a hissing sound made by expelling air through its partially opened lips, also reminiscent of Monica. A female Binturong in the mood for love will purr. Again . . . never mind.

6. Binturongs live high in the forest canopy and rarely come down to the ground. They are excellent climbers, moving slowly and cautiously through tree branches, aided by strong feet with semi-retractable claws. Their hind legs can even rotate backwards so their claws still have a good grip when climbing down a tree head-first. Due to their large size, Binturongs cannot leap between trees; they must climb down to the ground to move from one tree to another. Binturongs even sleep high in tree branches, curling up with their heads tucked under their tails.

7. They have prehensile tails. The Binturong is the only Old World mammal and one of only two carnivores (the other is the kinkajou) with a prehensile tail. Its tail is almost as long as its body and acts like another limb when climbing. At the tip of the tail is a leathery patch for extra traction when gripping branches. The binturong’s tail might be its most important climbing tool. Even when sleeping, its tail is anchored securely around a branch.

8. They walk like bears. Binturongs walk flat-footed, like bears and you and I. This results in an ambling, side-to-side gait. A strut if you will. Bearcats are cool.

9. Females can delay implantation of an embryo. Binturongs mate throughout the year, yet most births occur between January and March. Scientists think this means Binturongs are one of the approximately 100 mammal species capable of delayed implantation. Say whu-u-u-u-u-t? This allows them to mate whenever they encounter a male, but time the birth of their young to a season with favorable environmental conditions. Bearcats can control when they give birth. That’s wild, man.

10. Binturongs have a special relationship with the strangler fig. Binturongs play an important role in their rainforest habitats by spreading the seeds from the fruits they eat in their droppings. This is especially true for seeds of the strangler fig, which cannot germinate without assistance. The Binturong is one of only two known animals with digestive enzymes capable of softening the tough outer covering of the fig’s seeds. This special relationship makes the Binturong a keystone species in the rainforest ecosystem.

And finally, get this – Bearcats have 5 toes. This means all those paws you see on our school’s walls, shirts and other logos are wrong. The paw prints actually look this:

We need to fix this. It’s not too late, people!

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.