Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

I thought the little one was a toy but noooo, it’s real. On a related note, everyone thinks their own kid is adorable, amirite? Same here.

So how did I live this long and not know that baby owls slept facedown? Just shocking news that has altered my life forever.

PS- Cuteness overload, man.

[click and scroll for the aaawwwws]

Nah, it’s not dangerous, but it may soon be responsible for some cool sunrises and sunsets in the southern part of the US of A. Check it:

From As the plume comes across America, the blue skies will fade and the sky will have a ‘milky’ haze to it. That milky haze is the dust! Millions upon millions of tiny dust particles will dance in the sky, tens of thousands of feet up, scattering the sun’s rays. This will give off an incredible affect during sunsets and sunrises.


I know what you’re thinking – myself and my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied must be running out of ideas. To that we say never! Hey, you said the same thing a few years ago when I ranked numbers 0 through 9 and that story received lukewarm reviews was an internet sensation! If you haven’t read it here you go:

Ranking Numbers 0-9

Seriously, I ranked numbers.

Today, however, we shall discuss oddly satusfying sounds. Before we get to the good ones, though, let’s talk about a few that don’t don’t really fit the “oddly satisfying” category yet they are special in their own way. To wit:

  • The sound the icemaker makes in my fridge can startlingly terrifying, especially late at night. To this day I cock my head to listen, thinking for just a second that some ne’er-do-well is in my kitchen.
  • The Wondering Soul – I came across this horrifying video on YouTube late one night and may or may not have sat huddled in the corner the rest of the night. Also known as “Ghost Tape Number 10” was an audio mix the US military used for psychological operations in the Vietnam War against the North Vietnamese. It played deeply on the Vietnamese belief of ancestor worship, spirits and the afterlife.The Wandering Soul was played on loudspeakers installed on helicopters, PCF boats or by infiltrating infantry ‘loudspeaker teams’ on known enemy areas usually at night deep within the jungle. Diabolical, man. So yeah, bad sound.

  • We have a lot of coyotes in our area, and occasionally you’ll hear their pups all calling out at once. Someone told me their mom is out getting them food and they’re calling to her. Whatever cause it, it sounds like somebody opened the Gates of Hell.

Some sounds can elicit completely different feelings depending on the situation. For instance, there used to be an elementary school about 100-yards from my house and it was always great to hear the kids on the playground yelling, laughing and having fun during recess. On the other hand, one time when I was teaching in a really old school building I had to go to my classroom after scouting a basketball game to pick up something I’d forgotten. As I sat at my desk, looking through a drawer with only my desk light on, I heard a child giggling in the dark hallway. I assumed another teacher had to stop in for something as I had, so I went out and looked around. Nothing. Chills, man. I got the hell out of there.

But on to the cool sounds, the sounds of life that I love to hear. I won’t include music because that’s sort of obvious, is it not? Let us proceed . . .

  • The sound the sweeper makes when it pick up little rocks. I’m right, right? You know that damn sweeper is doing its job when you hear that sweet crackle.
  • A basketball swishing through the net. Of course I love that sound, especially in a quiet gym. Just a little twish or swoosh as the ball drops through. Love. It.
  • A basketball bouncing in an empty gym. I love the little “poing” sound it makes as it hits the gym floor. Of course, I also like the sound of 30 basketballs bouncing during a camp too.
  • Birds. Any birds. I got my love of birds from my mother, and I love any bird making any sound at all.
  • A screen door slamming shut. This goes back to my childhood, and I still love that sound.
  • Baby sounds. Yeah, 3-weeks ago this wouldn’t have been included, but now that I have my first grandchild I’ve been reminded how cool all the cooing and gibberish really is. Amazing.
  • Rain hitting a tin roof. I used to stay with my grandparents a lot as a kid, and they had a tin roof. As I slept in their living room with the windows open the sound of the rain hitting the roof put me right to sleep. So soothing.
  • Crowd, heard from the locker room. Sure, the crowd noise during a game was great, but there was something about being down in the locker room and hearing that muffled roar before we took the court that was always thrilling.
  • The crunch of Fall leaves under your feet. When you live in an area that has an annual Fall Festival of Leaves this has to be included, right? PS- In the Fall southern Ohio is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
  • Whir of a fan on a hot summer night. I’m talking about one of those old-fashioned oscillating fans. Like many I can’t sleep without a fan pointing in my direction.
  • Popping bubble wrap. Ah, the age old favorite, universally liked by almost everyone.
  • Walking through crusty snow. There’s something satisfying about that crunch, amirite?
  • Waves crashing ashore. This, this is why I always leave the windows open when I’m at the beach.
  • Opening an airtight jar. Something about that little “pop” that is cool to hear.
  • Sparky’s nails clicking on the floor when I get home. Of course I love most of the sounds The Spark makes, from his gentle snoring to the way he growls and whimpers while having a dream.
  • Bacon sizzling. This also happens to be a top smell. Bacon is at the top of many a list with me.
  • Fire crackling. Preferably during a cold Winter’s night or around a campfire.
  • Outdoors at night. – Frogs, crickets, it doesn’t matter. I’ve always been a night owl and I love the sound of being outdoors in the country.
  • The electric click of a mosquito flying into a bug zapper. Weird? Come on. You know you like it.
  • Popping open a can of beer or soda pop. Something about that click and hiss, that pffft, that . . . whatever you call it I like it.
  • Horse trotting down a street. That clickety-clop is sort of mesmerizing, no? Plus it gives me an excuse to post one of my favorite videos of all time:

Man, I love that video.

I also like certain words, like hush, serendipity and shenanigans. Hell, I wrote a few articles about words called Cool Beans! Words and Phrases That Need To Make A Comeback , Here Are 7 Words That Are Older Than You Think and Word Up: Snorkel, Curds and Uranus. Check ’em out!

So whaddaya say? What sounds make you happy? Let’s hear it!

Just some random photos of life in the Land Down Under. Home to the BeeGees, Olivia Newton-John, Hugh Jackman, Keith Urban, Mel Gibson, and a bunch of these guys . . .

[Click to enlarge, then scroll through the cool pics]

Proof that the Mississippi River is indeed mighty.

[Type “Map of the Day” into the search box to see more cool maps]

Check out that Desert Rain Frog, man. Just cute as a button. Dude looks like a tiny, sad beanbag chair. Sometimes called the Black Rain Frog, this guy is only found on the southern slopes of the Cape Fold Belt in South Africa at elevations of up to over 3,300ft. Since it is a burrowing species, it inhabits forest fringes and doesn’t even need the presence of open water. Cool. Anyhoo, Desert Rain Frog.

PS- Type “Cool Animal” into the S:U searchbox for more amazing animals.

[click, scroll, and be sure and watch the video to hear the adorable sound he makes]

Imagine sitting in your living room in Alta, Norway, just chillin’ and nibbling on some Elk Nuggets, and the next thing you know your house is dragged out to sea by a freakin’ mudslide. Had to be a tough day for Bjorn Johansen or whatever his name was. On a related note, that white house will not be defeated. All the other houses are crumbling and crashing into the sea but that bad boy is just floating on the surface undeterred. That’s Norwegian craftsmanship at its finest.

PS- 2020, man. Can’t get much worse, amirite? Well, at least until that asteroid hits.

What a bad rap they’ve gotten over the years. They’ve been called Flying Rats, Street Shitters, and many more unseemly names. But get this – pigeons are beautiful. Take a gander and be amazed. Pigeons, man.

[click and scroll]

Check out this little dude, man. Just casually walking while being stalked by a damn 800-pound grizzly. Cajones of steel I tell ya. Me? I’d have immediately broken the bear rules and started running, the bear’s chase instincts would have kicked in, and I’d have been bear supper. Impressive move, kid. Impressive indeed.

Wait. Who the hell wants to camp with 13 other people in the same tent? Isn’t the point of camping to get away from people? And if you do go with others isn’t it better to sit around the campfire, roast some marshallows, have a couple barley pops, and then retreat to the privacy of your own tent? This is like staying 14 damn people staying in the same hotel room. I don’t get it. Anyway, here’s your 14-person tent. No thanks.

Bonus Photo: The tent I used whilst crossing the American Northeast back in ’77 with my dog Hank. That’s right, no floor. That’s what sleeping bags are for.

Check out that Mutated Golden Australian Possum, man. Just as gold and mutated and adorable as can be. What a pet she would make, amirite? Little dude looks like Pikachu, a rat and a rabbit combined. Also a gerbil. The golden color occurs due to a mutation which causes a low level of the pigment melanin which gives them their normal color. They’re really rare in the wild, and although their bright color makes them look cool to us, it also makes them stand out to predators. Not good, man. Luckily for this little gal she’s going to be raised in a wildlife sanctuary so she can live a long, happy life. Anywho, Mutated Golden Australian Possum.

We all heard ’em while growing up. Old Wives’ Tales. Some are so embedded in the fabric of our lives they’re nearly impossible to remove.  Without further ado, let’s take a look at 15 of the most popular ones and I’ll promptly debunk them. I’ll start with an Old Wives’ Tale (OWT), followed by the truth. Sorry in advance old wives, but you are about to be debunked.


You can catch a cold by going outside in cold weather without a coat or with wet hair.


You catch a cold through exposure to bacteria or viruses, not by actually getting cold. It’s just that viruses survive better in colder temperatures.


Reading in dim light hurts your eyes.


Reading in a darkly lit room might give your eyes some dryness or fatigue, but it won’t cause any serious or long-term damage. Chillax.


Humans only use 10% of their brains.


In reality, the entire human brain is constantly active—even when we are sleeping. That said, I had a kid in class we called Cheese Cracker who I’m pretty sure only used about  7% of his brain.


Humans eat an average of 8 spiders a year while sleeping.


Scientists say it highly unlikely that a spider would ever end up in your mouth. Spiders tend to be found either tending their webs or hunting in nonhuman-infested areas. They usually don’t intentionally crawl into a bed because it offers no prey. Why in the world would they enter your mouth? Spiders ain’t dumb. Everybody settle down.


You should pee on a jellyfish sting.


Uh, that doesn’t work, but this does – first, remove the tentacles (that’s what’s hurting you so much) with something other than your fingers unless you want get stung again. Next, pour something acidic, like vinegar, lemon juice, or battery acid, on the sting. Finally, use a flat object like a butter knife to scrape off the stinging cells. Do that and you have treated your jellyfish sting, all without having Uncle Roger pee on you.

PS- I was joking about the battery acid. Don’t do that.


Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritus.


Scientists have never actually found a link between knuckle cracking and arthritis. Still, it’s annoying as hell so stop. Also stop popping your gum. And chewing with your mouth open. I’ll stop now.


Eating too much turkey makes you sleepy.


While meat does contain an amino acid that helps to create melatonin, a brain chemical known for making people tired, turkey does not actually cause more fatigue than other foods. We’re actually tired because of the large quantities of carbohydrates and alcohol that a lot of us consume on Thanksgiving. What I’m saying is that daddy is in the recliner sleeping because he’s drunk.


Sitting too close to the television will harm your eyes.


This one stems from the fact that General Electric produced color TVs back in the 1960s that emitted up to 100,000 times more radiation than federal health officials considered to be safe—and while the  television sets were recalled almost immediately, the Old Wives’ Tale hangs around (even with our new TV technology and whatnot).

PS- I’m not expert but 100,000 times more radiation does seem a tad high.


You shouldn’t swim for 30-minutes after eating.


This Old Wives’ Tale assumes that after eating the body diverts blood from your limbs to the digestive tract, thus depleting your arms and legs of enough blood to swim. While it is true that digestion requires extra blood, the body does not drain the limbs of enough blood to work properly. Bottom line, you might get a small cramp. Deal with it.

PS- I fondly remember swimming at the Mead Pool. It was amazing. I also fondly remember a girl about my age named Tammy that swam there. I had a remendous crush on her and would immediately look for her upon our arrival. I long for a simpler time.


Bulls hate the color red.



People believe this because the bull charges at that thing the matador waves around, called a muleta. Actually, bulls are color blind. They’re agitated by the motion of the muleta, not its color. On a related note, I hate bullfighting. I always root for a good old fashioned goring. Leave the damn bull alone.


The 5-second rule.


This Old Wives’ Tale infers that if you drop food on the floor and snatch it up within 5-seconds it wasn’t on the floor/ground long enough to gather germs. Nobody really believes athat anymore, right? We say that jokingly, right? Right?

PS- This Old Wives’ Tale is sometimes known as the 3-second rule. Or in my case the 3-minute rule.


It takes 7-years to digest a piece of gum.


Negatory. The truth is gum doesn’t digest at all. It travels through your digestive tract and then, you know. On a related note, who swallows their gum?


To cure a hangover, just have a little “hair of the dog.” In other words have a drink.


Seems sort of obvious but you can’t drink your way out of a hangover, although many have tried. Der.


Eating chocolate will give you acne.


I heard this one a lot whilst growing up. It is true that a high fat or high sugar diet can exacerbate acne and sugary stuff can often cause hormone fluctuations, which can increase acne. However, there is no evidence that eating normal amounts of chocolate directly triggers acne. In reality dark chocolate actually promotes numerous health benefits. Snack away kids!


Rubbing whiskey on you baby’s gums will ease teething pain.


Actually, experts recommend using natural remedies, such as massaging a warm washcloth on your baby’s gums.

Yeah, it hasn’t been a good week for those notorious Murder Hornets. First we saw them getting diabolically roasted by the Honey Bees from Hell, and now video has emerged of a damn Praying Mantis just kicking the hell out of one and eating it’s head. Sad times for Murder Hornets. Sad times indeed.


Remember those Giant Murder Hornets I wrote about the other day? The ones that recently arrived in America? Their sting can kill you and they are able to kill honey bees by the thousands. Well, it turns out these psychos can be taken out by bees as well – Japanese Honey Bees to be exact. And how do these Japanese Honey Bees kill Murder Hornets? Read on because the answer is awesome.

Murder Hornets are best known for their ability to decimate honeybee hives, decapitating bee after bee during what the Washington State Department of Agriculture so eloquently described as a “slaughter phase”, destroying one hive within a matter of hours. However . . .

In Asia the bees have learned to fight back, and I mean really fight back, as in kicking some serious Murder Hornet ass. Japanese Honey Bees are able to form hot defensive “bee balls” in order to collectively cook hornets at a temperature that the bees can withstand but the hornets cannot. Man, that’s diabolical. They do it by surrounding the hornets and vibrating their rear flight muscles. Bee twerking if you will.

The video below shows a Murder Hornet scout approach a Honey Bee hive as a means of checking it out and marking it with a pheromone that will allow its fellow hornets to find it. But no so fast, Murder Hornet. The video shows the hornet being swarmed by hundreds of bees all at once, with thermal photography revealing the temperature increase as the honeybees raise the temperature within the bee ball to a precise temperature and roasting the hornet alive.

Nature, man. Doing her thing per usual.

PS- I don’t know how those little bees get the signal to attack, but attack they do, and all at once. Just a chilling sight to behold.

The other day I saw a guy working on a streetlight that was sitting on the ground and I thought, “Man, that streetlight is big.” So, I decided to put my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied to work finding other big things that we might think are smaller. The results were astounding, befuddling, stupefying and downright flabbergasting. Take a gander and prepare to be dumbfounded.

[click a pic and scroll to read the witty captions by Shoe: Untied intern Naitee Aggarwal]

Listen man, I know the animals are making big comebacks all over the damn globe. We have wild beasts walking casually through city streets, birds are flying lower and becoming more brash, and alligators are walking through city parks like they own the damn place. But you know what I never thought I’d see? Monkey motorcycle gangs making toddler kidnap attempts. That one surprised even me. Be careful out there kids. It’s a new world. I swear I even caught Sparky looking at me funny today.

Check out that little Black-Throated Bushtit man, just as adorable as it can possibly be. I shall call him Teddy. Teddy hangs out in the foothills of the Himalayas, stretching across northern India through Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, northern Myanmar, Vietnam, and Taiwan. These little dudes are only about 4-inches long and are really social. They hang out in groups of up to 40. Anywho, Black-Throated Bushtit.

PS- I have several one-liners about this little guy’s name but I just can’t pull the trigger.

[To see many more cool animals, simply type “cool animal” into the search box on the left]

BLAINE, Wash. — In his decades of beekeeping, Ted McFall had never seen anything like it.

As he pulled his truck up to check on a group of hives near Custer, Wash., in November, he could spot from the window a mess of bee carcasses on the ground. As he looked closer, he saw a pile of dead members of the colony in front of a hive and more carnage inside — thousands and thousands of bees with their heads torn from their bodies and no sign of a culprit.

“I couldn’t wrap my head around what could have done that,” Mr. McFall said.

Only later did he come to suspect that the killer was what some researchers simply call the “Murder Hornet.”

With queens that can grow to the size of a matchbox, Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young. For larger targets, the hornet’s potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin.

In Japan, the hornets kill up to 50 people a year. Now, for the first time, they have arrived in the United States.

Finally, some good news in 2020! Australia basically burned down, there were floods and landslides in Indonesia and Brazil, an earthquake in Puerto Rico, locusts swarmed across South Africa, Kobe was killed, Harry and Meghan quit the royal family, the Houston Astros are cheaters, and the damn CORONA19 has us all ready to punch a toddler. But hey, at least we have giant cannabalistic decapitating Murder Hornets with stingers that can pierce a goddamn suit of armor and make you feel like hot metal is driving into your skin, huh? Good times! On a related note, 2020 can go straight to hell.

Check out that little Armadillo Lizard, man. Dude looks like a tiny dragon. Armadillo Lizards get their name because they grab their tail in their mouth and roll up into a ball when threatened, like regular Armadillos. This guy likes to hide in crevices and whatnot, and enjoys fine dining fare such as termites, fleas and crickets. Tasty. Anywho, Armadillo Lizard.

PS- They make great pets! Woot!

Check out Barry the Canary, man, just chillin’ with an awesome mid-90s bowl cut. Man, that little dude’s lettuce is straight fire. And I’m guessing Barry’s a ladies bird like you read about. Barry is a Gloster Canary and his Instagram bio says he’s “the birb with the fringe!” Cool. Fringe indeed. Gloster Canaries originated in the Canary Islands but are not seen in the wild anymore. Sad really. There are several types of Gloster Canaries, but my man Barry here is a Corona (I know, tough break on the name) hence the crested head. Anwho, Barry the Canary.

PS- Barry can sing like a, well, bird.

Like cool animals? Type “Cool Animal” into the search box up yonder for all the cool animals you’ll ever need. You’re welcome.


wildlife photographer captured a moment between two penguins comforting each other as they look out over the Melbourne, Australia skyline. Both were recently widowed. Photographer Tobias Baumgaertner photographed the two animals and shared it on Twitter. He explained the two penguins had lost their respective partners and had been watching the ‘dancing lights’ of the Melbourne skyline. “A volunteer approached me and told me that the white one was an elderly lady who had lost her partner and apparently so did the younger male to the left. Since then they meet regularly comforting each other and standing together for hours watching the dancing lights of the nearby city.”

Amazing photos.


Did you know that in Antarctica around 1% of the continent is permanently ice-free? Wait. Whuuuut? It’s true. These areas are called Antarctic Oasis or sometimes, more boringly, Dry Valleys. They’re surrounded by the Antarctic ice sheet, which is what we all think of when we think of Antarctica. They develop in areas that have very low humidity and very little precipitation. Sure, it’s very cold there (der), but enough solar energy is absorbed by the ground to melt what little snow falls. That’s wild and I had zero idea Arctic Oasis existed. Anyway, it does and here it is: