Archive for the ‘Things I Love’ Category

As many of the local readers of my site know, I lost my mother on July 22nd. I haven’t written anything about it because frankly it was just too difficult. I’d already written several stories involving Mom, including A Right Cross With Love, Traveling Through History With Mom, The Greatest Teachers, and one I simply titled Mom. They all tell, in different ways, what my mother meant to me.

My sister Sara and I have been going through our mother’s house, trying to sort through everything. The other day we found a box containing notes that family members had written to Mom for her birthday a few years ago. My late sister Karen had asked that everyone in the family write notes to tell Mom what she meant to them. I went through them and found mine, and I think they are a pretty good reflection of my mother’s influence on me. Some are funny, some are sad, but together they paint a pretty accurate picture of what my mother meant to me.

Here they are, the notes I wrote to Mom . . .

  • Mom, you taught me to be independent. On my very first day of school in 1st grade I panicked on my way there with my sisters and I turned and ran back home. When I got there the door was locked. I’d just left so I knew you were in there. I knocked and knocked but there was no answer. After awhile I simply turned and went to school by myself. Only when I was older did I realize what you were doing – teaching me independence. Thank you Mom.
  • Mom, I have so many great memories of you as I grew up. I remember that you would let me lick the icing off the mixer after you made a cake. I loved those times.
  • Mom, you were my teacher in 4th grade. I thought I had it made! My Mom was my teacher! Woohoo! You paddled me the 4th week of school. And yes, I deserved it. I was pushing my boundaries and you were sending a message to not only me but the rest of the class. The message was received, Mom. Loud and clear.
  • Mom, I love our regular trips to Jerry’s for pizza. We’ve been doing it for over 20-years now and I cherish every moment.
  • Mom, you believe with all your heart that I can do literally anything I want in life and be the best at it. You always have. Thank you for loving me and for always, without fail, believing in me.
  • Mom, you are always, without fail, happy to see me. That means everything to me.
  • Mom, you are without a doubt the toughest person I’ve ever known. I guess growing up on a farm with two brothers will do that, right? I’m so lucky that you’re always on my side.
  • Mom, I became a teacher because of you. You impacted so many students in your career and I saw that. I wanted to be just like you. I wanted to try and have an impact just like you did. If I have impacted students positively, you are the reason for it.
  • Mom, I love you because no matter how badly I’ve screwed up or how many stupid mistakes I’ve made in my life, you’ve always loved me and supported me unconditionally.
  • Mom, I know without a doubt that you’re the best person I’ve ever known.

Last summer my mother lost her oldest daughter and her husband of 70-years, yet throughout all the loss she stayed amazingly strong. Even recently, as the end neared, Mom remained the same kind, sweet, loving person she’d always been.

I passed by Mom’s bedroom window when I’d go into her house over the past several months. My sister Sara would too. When I did I’d always stop and look in at her, both on my way in and out. When I left I’d always do something dumb, like acting like I was on an elevator, walking down stairs, or just making a funny face or something. Mom would always laugh and laugh. I just wanted her to be happy in her last days, and I think she was.

When Mom finally passed she was in her home with her family, where she was comfortable and where she knew she was loved.

Quite simply Mom was the toughest, smartest, sweetest, most honest person you could ever hope to meet. Oh sure, if I messed up she’d let me know about it but I never, ever felt as if she was disappointed in me. Unconditional love like she gave to me was priceless, and I will miss it.

There won’t be anymore trips to Jerry’s, but the lessons my mother taught Sara and I will stay with us the rest of our lives.

Mom had some flowers she called Naked Ladies, some call them Resurrection Lilies or Surprise Lilies, that grew every year just outside her bedroom. Every year several would sprout up about this time of year. This year just one single Naked Lady popped up, and it’s beautiful. It’s almost as if Mom is letting us know she’s OK, and that Sara and I are going to be OK too. And although Sara and I are the only ones left and we both feel a tremendous void in our lives, we will be O.K. We have to be. We have to carry on and be strong, because you know what? That’s exactly what Mom would want us to do.

Adorable. Possibly rabid, but adorable.

In photos that have never been seen before, a couple inadvertently caught the rarest leopard in the world on camera. The Strawberry Leopard was spotted on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve in South Africa by a motion triggered camera which was pinned to a tree. Gorgeous.

So occasionally I take Sparky to a local cemetery and let him run around a little, just to get some exercise and fresh air. Of course I pick up after him and to be safe I put his leash on if another person comes close to us with their own dog, but usually it’s just a relaxing time for him to smell the smells and hang out with me.

Usually.

The other day? Not so much.

You see, I parked in our usual spot, unleashed The Spark, and of course he leaped out if the car to do his thing. He sniffed around, going from tree to tombstone to crypt, tail wagging with that dog-smile on his face.

But then . . .

As I watched he stopped, stood still, his ears perked up, and off he went like a Jack out of Hell. He bolted over a slight rise and down the other side, snarling like a dog possessed.

I gave chase, calling for him to come back, but as I reached the top of the small hill I saw what Spark was heading for.

A burial.

In progress.

With people standing around solemnly listening to the preacher’s final words in honor of the deceased.

Oh good Lord.

I still have no idea what Spark was so upset about. All I know is that there I was, in a t-shirt, basketball shorts and sandals, sort of whisper-yelling for my dog to get the hell back to me as about 50-sets of grieving eyes stared at me.

Awkward.

All I could do was mumble a “I’m so sorry” several times as I scooped up my furry ball of terror and speed walked back over the hill to my car. Oh, and just before we disappeared Sparky gave one last yap at whatever the hell he was so upset about.

Me? I didn’t look back.

If heaven was a town it would be my town
On a summer day in 1985
And everything I wanted was out there waitin’
And everyone I loved was still alive . . .

I can’t tell you how fascinated I am by these photos I randomly came across on the worldwide interweb. These are real, folks. In one Abe’s hair is a complete mess, in the other he’s sporting a do that would be appropriate for 2019. Abraham Lincoln, man. Dude was ahead of his time.

Click and scroll for the insanity.

Very cool.

Capybaras are awesome creatures, man. Their calm and motherly nature attracts animals of all varieties to them, as is evidenced in the photos below. Some say they radiate peace, which is an amazing trait, but the truth is that in the wild Capybaras live in large groups so a female Capybaras take care of not only their own offspring but others as well. This helps them to be great mothers who will adopt just about any animal they encounter. In fact, animal rescue shelters will give young animals to a Capybara because they know it will do a great job of raising them. Capybaras, man. They’re cool.

Listen, I have a soft spot for the 80s. Why, you ask? Because I started teaching in 1984 and I swear to God everyone in my Junior High classes dressed like Molly Ringwald, Ferris Bueller or Cyndi Lauper. Big hair, spandex, leg warmers, ripped jeans (yes, they existed in the 80s), neon colors, mullets, side ponytails, cut-off sweatshirts, cool hats on the girls, sweat pants rolled up to the knees, skinny ties, they were all on exhibit in the hallowed halls of Greenfield Middle School. It was glorious, man.

With that in mind I came up with the ultimate 1980s trivia quiz, designed specifically for those students I personally taught.*

*I use the term “taught” loosely.

Let us begin. Answers will be revealed in due time, so chillax.

  1. What alternative band did the students of Greenfield Middle School learn about long before they hit it big in the early 90s?
  2. What was the name of Punky Brewster’s dog?
  3. What was the name of the oldest child on The Cosby Show?
  4. What was Jolt?
  5. What popular toy did E.T. use as part of his makeshift communicator to “phone home” with?
  6. Who starred in “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’d Dead”?
  7. What was the name of He-Man’s home planet?
  8. What was Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign all about?
  9. Who hosted Star Search?
  10. Name all five Breakfast Club characters.
  11. Who was Balki and where was he from?
  12. What was Jem?
  13. Name 5 singers who performed on the song “We Are the World”.
  14. Who was Teddy Ruxpin?
  15. What was Melmac?
  16. What kind of animal was Bubbles?
  17. What happened to a space shuttle called Challenger?
  18. What was the Noid?
  19. Who was Samantha’s crush in Sixteen Candles”?
  20. What was the name of the pirate ship the gang discovers in The Goonies?
  21. Who was the main villain in Thundercats?
  22. What singer made a video with a cartoon cat?
  23. What was the video game Oregon Trail all about?
  24. Who was Mac Tonight?
  25. Which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was “cool but rude”?
  26. In which movie did a character wear a t-shirt that read “what are looking at dicknose”?
  27. What do you have to fight for your right to do?
  28. In what show was Alex P. Keaton the main character?
  29. What TV show was based in southern Florida and featured Crockett and Tubbs?
  30. Describe a scrunchie.
  31. ‘Where’s the beef?” was a slogan for what fast food chain?
  32. Who sang “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”?
  33. What was a Boom Box?
  34. Who said, “Follow my nose”?
  35. Who was John Hughes?
  36. What do the initials NKOTB stand for?
  37. Who was Martha Quinn?
  38. What was the green goop on Nickelodeon called?
  39. Who were “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock, B. A. Baracus, John “Hannibal” Smith and Templeton “Faceman” Peck?
  40. Neil Patrick Harris played genius who became a doctor at 16. What was his name?

So, how many do you think you got right?

Bonus 80s video! Fun fact: My guy Steve Forbert plays Cyndi’s boyfriend in this video. Awesome.

 

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.

Doesn’t look a day under 350. Seriously, that’s her though.

So I read an article the other day about a female Greenland Shark that was discovered in the Arctic Ocean and is estimated to be around 400-years old. 400-years! That shark was cruising the seas the same time the Mayflower was heading to America! Mind blown, man. They said Greenland sharks don’t even reach maturity until they’re 150. The lifespan also has something to do with the fact the sharks live in the Arctic Ocean at depths of 2000 meters, so this helps slow their metabolism and in turn the aging process.

Wild stuff.

Anyway, this led me to give orders to my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied to research the life spans of various animals. After a night of exhaustive research in our underground headquarters, here’s what they found. Keep in mind these are the known record life spans of these animals and the average lifespans are shorter.

Mayfly 

1-day

Live every day like it’s your last, Mayfly. Because it is.

Dragonfly

20-days

Housefly

35-days

Color me skeptical. I swear I tried to kill the same fly for 6-months a couple summers ago. Dude was taunting me. Fortunately he got too close and Sparky took him down.

Guinea Pig

4-years

Seriously? 4-years? Man, we’re sure setting kids up for disappointment, aren’t we? Just when they’ve really started to love little Boo Bear he kicks the bucket. Sad really.

Mouse

5-years

Rat

7-years

Say what? I thoughts rats lived much longer than that. I’m a tad disappointed.

Hummingbird

12-years

Rabbit

14-years

Sparrow

23-years

Tiger

26-years

Lion

26-years

So lions and tigers have basically the same lifespan. Not shocked.

Dog

29-years

Please, please let Sparky break this record. Please. Seriously though. Please.

The Spark.

Ant

30-years

The ant has the longest lifespan of any insect. Way to go, ants.

Eagle

32-years

‘Murica!

Cat

32-years

This is Nutmeg, who passed away quietly surrounded by family and friends last year. Rest in peace Nutmeg.

Boa Constrictor

40-years

Spider

43-years

This spider was a lab spider. It’s name was #16, which is unimaginative as hell. Why not Webster or Aragog or Hank or something? Anywho, #16 was killed by a wasp and that’s just an awful way to go.

This is #16. Seriously.

Grizzly Bear

44-years

Hippo

61-years

The hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest large land mammal, killing an estimated 500-people per year in Africa. Yikes.

Chimpanzee

66-years

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken students to the zoo and watched them jump up and down in front of the chimps, acting like chimps. And the chimp is usually looking back at them like this . . .

Andean Condor

79-years

Alligator

80-years

His name is Muja and he is still alive in Latvia. He was brought there in 1937 from America. You go Muja.

Actually Muja.

Cockatoo

83-years

Anybody remember Baretta’s cockatoo, Fred? Nobody? Never mind.

American Lobster

100-years

Olm

102-years

Killer Whale

110-years

Her name was Granny and she is feared dead after disappearing from her pod awhile back. I’m going to need a minute here.

Macaw

114-years

Her name is Charlie. She lives in England and is known for imitating Churchill’s rants about the Nazis. Charlie is awesome.

Meet Charlie!

Human

122-years

Her name was Jeanne Calment and she lived in France. And get this – when Jeanne was 12-years old she met Vincent Van Gogh. Sweet.

Box Turtle

138-years

I painted my name on probably 50 Box Turtles when I was a kid. Just a small “Dave Shoemaker” above the tail on the shell. Sooo, theoretically many of them are still out there roaming the Southern Ohio woods.

PS- Out of curiosity I looked up how far Box Turtles roam in their lifetime. Turns out they stay within 200-yards of their homes. Dang, some of those turtles could still be near me as we speak.

Crocodile

140-years

This guy lived in Australia and was named Mr. Freshie. Cool.

Geoduck Clam

160-years

No comment.

Sea Urchin

200-years

Bowhead Whale

221-years

Koi Fish

226-years

Tortoises

250-years

Greenland Shark

400-years

See my remarks above.

Ocean Clam

507-years

I know. Sort of anti-climactic that this guy is almost the oldest, no? Dude looks like a  . . . sorry, I can’t go there.

 

Again, I got nuthin’ here.

Turritopsis Nutricula Jellyfish

Immortal. Yep, you read that right. Since it’s capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. That’s nuts.

So there ya go, kids. That’s all my crack staff could come up with. Have a great day.

Check out this bird bouncing a golf ball off a cart path, man. Just having fun like you read about. I wish we all could be as happy as this bird bouncing a golf ball off a cart path. Animals, man.

PS- You fun haters that are telling me the bird thinks the ball is an egg and is trying to break it open can go straight to hell. That’s a bird having fun. End of story.

 

So a guy was staying at the Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire the other day and walked out of his room to go grab some breakfast. There, leaning against the railing, was a bear checking out the sunrise. Probably climbed up there to get a better view, ya know? Bears, man. Appreciating nature’s beauty.

PS- Also probably looking for some free chow or a random stray toddler.  

Hero.

DAVIDSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A dog suffered multiple snake bites Monday night in Davidson County while protecting his owner.

Haley McCormack was headed inside her home after work and said she didn’t see the copperhead snake that was lurking near her front porch. “As I pass the corner of my front porch, the snake is already recoiled back,” McCormack explained. “Arlo lunged out and actually grabbed it by its tail.”

Her pit bull, Arlo, proceeded to kill the copperhead snake before it could bite her. While trying to kill the snake, McCormack said Arlo suffered at least three bites to his face.

The dog was rushed to the emergency vet and doctors administered antivenom.

According to McCormack, doctors gave Arlo a positive prognosis. “He’s my hero. He didn’t hesitate to jump in and save me.”

Hell yes Arlo jumped in to save Haley McCormack. That’s what dogs do, jump in front of dangerous animals and save their owners. Arlo didn’t think twice about ripping a highly poisonous snake to shreds, even if it meant getting bitten in the process. A cat would have hightailed it out of there and eaten your corpse after you were dead. Dogs, man. We don’t deserve ’em.

PS- Somebody in Ross County has been driving around and calling the authorities on people who leave their dogs tied outside when it’s too hot.

PPS-

 

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

Check out this scientist who wanted to get up close and personal with a Polar Bear, albeit from the comfort of his Arctic Buggy thingy. And I’m sorry but I’m always rooting for the animals when I see this stuff. This bro is in the Polar Bear’s natural habitat, and that bear is hungry. Am I the only one who was hoping the bear would bust that glass and have himself a tasty snack? That’s what I thought.

So I was perusing the Wordwide Interweb the other day and decided to randomly type “Great Ideas” into The Goggle. What happened next boggled my brain, blew my gourd and rattled my sensibilities. For what I found was a treasure trove of ideas that could, dare I say, change the world as we know it. I picked some of my favorites to share, and here they be. Enjoy . . .

Your car horn should be just as loud on the inside of your car as it is on the outside.

Brilliant! This would discourage those assclowns who feel the need to lay on their horn constantly!

If you don’t use your turn signal your car won’t turn.

Yes. YES! Seems obvious, right?

Smart traffic lights. You shouldn’t have to sit at a light when nobody else is around.

Hey man, it’s 2019. We’ve sent rockets to Mars. Why don’t we have smart traffic lights? Unbelievable.

Car horns that make a “womp womp I’m sorry” sound.

Love it. In this way you could let people know that it was your fault. I’d also like a “womp womp you’re an ass” sound.

Anyone who comes to a complete stop at an on ramp should immediately lose their driver’s license.

Can’t argue with that one. Keep your speed and blend, man. That’s my philosophy.

Get all the one hit wonder bands together for a huge concert, and they all get to play their one song.

How great would that be? Come on Eileen, Kung Fu Fighting, Electric Avenue, Spirit In The Sky, Thunder Island, it would be EPIC.

Pen Cap Cutlery (see photo)

Brilliant!

So whaddaya think?

PS- I just noticed that 5 of the 7 involved driving. Not sure what that means.

I wrote about Bullet Ants in one of my “Cool Animal of the Day” posts, and this chart pretty much explains it all. Bottom line? Don’t get bitten by a Bullet Ant because it will hurt. A lot.

PS- If you like cool animals, just type “Cool Animal of the Day” in the S:U search box and you’ll be provided with hours of entertainment. You’re welcome.

For various reasons many cities have been the center of musical revivals, places where something special either started or was centered. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme (get it, rhyme?) or reason why the seed was planted there, but planted it was. Sometimes big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Cleveland are New York City are involved, other times it’s a small college town like Austin, Texas. Some of the most famous musicians in the world came from places we don’t even associate with music. Hell, John Mellencamp grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. James Brown? Macon, Georgia. And although everyone thinks of Manhattan when hearing the Velvet Underground, they’re actually from Long Island. Of course, we all know what that hot-bed of music, Tupelo, Mississippi produced, right? The King himself, Elvis Presley. And Cleveland? While the term Rock ‘n’ Roll actually originated there with legendary DJ Alan Freed, it doesn’t really have its own sound, right?

I guess the old saying is true – it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. 

Anyway, what follows are 10 of the most influential musical cities, cities that changed the world of music as we know it. Let’s start our travels now . . .

DETROIT

  • We’re talkin’ Motown, baby. The Jackson 5, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey

    Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

    Robinson, and Stevie Wonder all began their careers in Detroit in the 1960’s. Berry Gordy started Tamla records there in the early 60’s, and it eventually evolved into the legendary Motown Records. Without Motown we wouldn’t have songs like “Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas, “Please Mr. Postman”by the Marvelettes, “My Girl” by the Temptations, “Super Freak” by Rick James, or “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. ‘Nuff said.

LIVERPOOL

  • Back in the 1950’s Liverpool was one of England’s biggest seaports. Sailors brought all sorts of American goods into the United Kingdom, including books, clothes . . . and records. A lot of these records were of the R & B variety. This made Liverpool one of the centers of American culture and American R & B music, and a couple young men named Paul McCartney and John Lennon were listening. The rest, as they say, is history. The British Invasion was on. Soon came not only The Beatles, but Gerry and the Pacemakers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Las, The Searchers, The Wombats and more.

The King

MEMPHIS

  • Come on, man, Memphis could be argued as the birthplace of Rock and Roll. It had two legendary record labels, Sun Recored in the 50’s and Stax in the 60’s. The Memphis Sound was an eclectic mix of country, swing, gospel, and blues, and when you put them all together you got Rock and Freakin’ Roll. Legendary producer Sam Phillips once famously said this – “If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.” Two years later Elvis Presley walked into his studio, and the rest was history.

NEW ORLEANS

  • I mean, the Birthplace of Jazz has to make the list, right? Not only Jazz, but Ragtime, Dixieland, Cajun and Zydeco all have strong bases in The Big Easy. Want some names? How ’bout none other than Louis Armstrong, Dr. John, Fats Domino, Harry Connick Jr. and Jelly Roll Morton? And oh yeah, we can’t forget a famous rapper – Lil’ Wayne.

NEW YORK CITY

  • Hip-Hop, Punk, and Disco all have strong roots in The Big Apple, and the artists from NYC are as diverse as music itself. What city could boast such wide-ranging artists such as Lady Gaga, Simon & Garfunkel, Beastie Boys, Santana, Billy Joel, Lou Reed, Talking Heads, KISS, The Ramones, and Jay-Z? New York has so many different sounds that you can’t really choose just one. PS- I can choose one because it’s my website – Punk. 

PHILADELPHIA

  • Now you’re in my wheelhouse, baby. The Philly Sound! The Philly Sound combined the rhythms of Motown but added symphonies and dare I say Beatlesque production to make some of the best damn sound ever created. God how I loved the music coming out of Philadelphia during the early 70s. I loved a million of these artists, but I’ll list my absolute favorites – Blue Magic, the Delfonics, Hall & Oates, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, The Spinners, and The Stylistics. Also, there’s another legend that emerged from Philly during this time that doesn’t really fit any musical genre – Mr. Todd Rundgren. Put him in the Hall of Fame! Fun Fact: The O’ Jays were originally from Ohio!

R.E.M.

ATHENS

  • As in Athens, Georgia to be precise. In the late 70s-early 80s Athens became the city that produced a big part of the sound that was to be called Alternative Music. Bands like The B-52s, Love Tractor, Drive-By Truckers, Pylon, Widespread Panic, The Whigs, and the greatest of all, R.E.M. began playing in the little college town of Athens.

MINNEAPOLIS

  • Around the same time Alt Music was kicking off in Athens, another alt music revolution was taking place up north in Minneapolis. Bands such as Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Babes in Toyland and Semisonic all came blasting out of the Twin Cities with their unique take on Alternative Music. Oh, and there was another sound coming out of the area as well – a nasty blend of funk-rock by some dude who called himself Prince.

CHICAGO

  • Although being famous for a lot of genres, Chicago is probably most famous for one – The Blues. Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, and Bo Diddley all sharpened their skills in the Windy City. Other famous bands or artists that originated there? How about Chicago, The Chi-Lites, Rufus, REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick?

SEATTLE

  • Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Need I say more? Actually I need to. Why? Because bands

    The Melvins

    like Mudhoney, Green River, Screaming Trees and most notably The Melvins, all started the whole Grunge movement of the early-80s to mid-90s. Alice in Chains too! By the way, Grunge music was, in a nutshell, music that was loud, tough . . . and molasses slow.

So there ya go. My Top 10 Cities that influenced music. What did I miss? Who ya got? Lemme hear it.

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.

This baby was invented by a Frenchman named Franky Zupata and it is outstanding. Man, if I had one of these “personal flight systems” I’d be flying all over town like a boss. I’d put Sparky in one of those doggy backpacks and we’d be off. Be sure and check out all three videos. Wild stuff.

PS- Actually I’m 90% sure if somebody flew one of these contraptions where I live some redneck would think it was an alien and blast it out of the sky.

 

Get it, little dude. Get it.

I’ve written about octopuses before because they’re fascinating as hell. Check out the blog Someday, Octopuses Are Going To Rule The World for some cool octopus facts. Anyway, this is a video I first ran a few years ago and it is absolutely astounding. I can’t watch it enough.

Slingshot leaped 35′-3″. The world record for humans is 29′-4 1/4″. Good boy Slingshot. Good boy.