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How is it STILL March Madness?!

Friday, April 3, 2015 1:06:00 PM America/Chicago

So, today is April 3rd. As in the third day of April. As in no longer March. Then how is it still March Madness?!

March Madness, or NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament (WOW what a mouthful), coincides with the end of the basketball season. So the whole division falls away by the end of March. Unfortunately this usually pushes the championship game and playoffs into the month of April. That's why even though today is April 3rd, there are still 3 outstanding games left in the tournament.

But what is March Madness anyway? Why all this mayhem for a month made up mostly of springtime sunshine and showers? There's a certain appeal to college sports that a lot of spectators are drawn to - the youth and vibrancy, the sincerity and fervor, and the interpreted purity of the game, given that teams and players generally lack - and are barred from - professional sponsorships. So it's no wonder that the NCAA tournament has garnered such hype and popularity.

The term March Madness itself, however, was initially coined around an Illinois high school sports association. Coach H.V. Porter, an official for Illinois High School Association, released an essay of called March in 1939, and again used the term in a 1942 poem about basketball. "March Madness" spread quickly across the midwest, but almost exclusively only referred to high school basketball.

It was during the 80s when "March Madness" first met college basketball. Legend has it that CBS Sportscaster Brent Musburger, who spent a good amount of time casting from Chicago, brought the term from the Midwest into the national spotlight. More often than not, however, the NCAA credits Bob Walsh for coining this term at the collegiate level.

Over 10 years pass before either the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) or the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) thought to trademark this iconic term. In a historic ruling in 1996, both associations were granted the right to trademarking the term in what is considered the precedented concept of "dual-use trademark."

The IHSA and NCAA joined forces to form the March Madness Athletic Associate, making the licensing of the trademark much easier to manage and protect. Today, however, the NCAA is sole owner of the trademark as the IHSA relented ownership in the 2000s.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

Texas History Is ShoeBacca History

Saturday, March 7, 2015 8:30:00 PM America/Chicago

March is an important month to people for several reasons: NCAA March Madness begins, it's the first calendar month of spring, and Texas declared its independence over 150 years ago.

Texas was no stranger to sovereignty. Over the course of 300 years, this region passed four time between 3 different nations: Spain for over 150 years, France for a brief 5 years before its ownership was rescinded back to Spain for another century until civil unrest yielded the nation of Mexico in 1821.

Mexico, perhaps much inspired by her northern neighbor, made great strides away from the monarchy that once ruled and established a Federal Republic. In 1825, the young nation began to colonize the remote province of Coahuila y Tejas. After a decade of targeted federal regulations and settlement auto-militarizations, the Texas portion of the province began its revolt in what would become the move toward an independent nation.

Stephen F. Austin, the spearhead for colonization, originally wanted Texas to be recognized as an independent state from Coahuila. After a year in prison, he published a document outlining his stance. However, in a few short months, dissent escalated in Mexico and Austin was freed in July, only to recant his stance. War was Austin's battle cry, and independence his spoils.

Rebels rallied to his cry while Mexican President Santa Anna sized control from the states. The clouds of war that had been brewing finally burst forth the Revolution with The Battle of Gonzales. "Come and Take It" was the rebels' mantra, a phrase that still echoes from the annals of history. President Santa Anna, in a token of good faith, had given settlers in the northwestern area of Coahuila y Tejas a cannon in 1821 - as means of protection against the Comanche. However, in attempt to curb the onset of war, federal forces were sent to retrieve the weapon. "Come and Take It!" the rebel settlers cried and forced the Mexican military to retreat under a rain of bullets and cannon fire.

Blood flowed across the land in skirmish after skirmish as the war raged on. Texians gained land and support over the course of the next six months. President Santa Anna, a general first and politician second, rides for battle to turn the tides of war. On a Cold February afternoon, a day that started in celebration ended in siege as Santa Anna's forces fell upon a small Catholic Mission.

Nearly a week into the Siege of the Alamo, as standing commander of the garrison William B Travis rallied his mere 200 troops against an army of thousands, The Texas Declaration of Independence is signed. The Republic of Texas is born. David Burnet is interim Commander in Chief and Sam Houston as Commander General. Much gained, and much lost. The Alamo falls within a few days, and with her fall patriots William B Travis, David Crocket, and Jim Bowie.

Victory is on the horizon, but to whom she belongs is yet to be seen. Texas rebels and Mexican militants both had their wins and losses. Santa Anna assembles his war council to plan a final assault. Rebel forces, after receiving the Alamo's distress cry, flock to her aid. The force led by Colonel James Fannin, as they dispatch from Goliad, are ambushed and overwhelmed by General Urrea in the Battle of Coleto. Over 300 Texan rebels are captured, marched back to Goliad, and imprisoned. Nearly 400 prisoners of war are held at Fort Defiance.

In a cruel twist of fate, the Mexican government had enacted a law at the onset of war that "any foreigners taken in combat were to be treated as pirates and executed. As it so happens, the mass of POWs held were Anglo immigrants from the North. General Urrea had left Goliad in the command of Colonel Portilla. Urrea saw these rebels for what they were - as soldiers, men just like him, fighting for what they believed at the behest of their leaders. He wrote vehemently to President Santa Anna for clemency, who wrote back with equal fervor to comply with the law. Unable to stop Colonel Portilla from carrying out his duty, over 300 Texians were marched to their death on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, better known as The Goliad Massacre.

Santa Anna, who had conquered first for Spain, then conquered Span itself to help bring Mexico to fruition, had dealt a great blow and sent Texas reeling. The Texas army drew forces east in an effort to amass them all at a central point. Sam Houston was mocked as a coward, urged to move west and meet the Mexicans in open battle. Santa Anna was not called the Napoleon of the West. Emboldened by the retreat, he pursued the Texan forces to San Jacinto River, setting the stage for what would be his Waterloo.

Small skirmishes took place for a few days between scouting parties as both armies probed for each others forces. Drunk on confidence, Santa Anna maintained very relax defenses around his encampment, disregarding the need for sentries and lookouts. On the dreamy afternoon of April 21, the tides of battle came crashing down on the Mexican forces in a flurry of gunfire and artillery shells.

"Remember The Alamo!" the rebels cried, storming hastily built fortifications constructed from packs and baggage. "Remember Goliad!" the shrieked, pouring over sleeping Mexican army like the tide reclaims the beach. Much like their siesta, the lives of Mexican Soldiers were cut short this day. Though outnumbered, the Sam Houston's bold gambit to lead an attack in broad daylight had paid off. Although Santa Anna far outnumbered the rebel forces, hubris and traditional ranked tactics cost him the war.

The Battle of San Jacinto was a landslide victory. Texas suffered only 9 casualties, while half of the Mexican forces were slaughtered and the rest taken captive, among them Santa Anna himself. The Battle was won. The War was ended. Texas was a sovereign nation all her own.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

Season's Greatings

Thursday, December 25, 2014 4:30:00 PM America/Chicago

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Team Shoebacca

'Twas The Shoe Before Christmas

Friday, December 19, 2014 3:25:00 PM America/Chicago

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a sneaker was squeaking, not a thing like a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes for some Nikes that would soon be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Pumas dashed through their heads;

With Ma in her slippers and I in my cap
We’d just settling down for our long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I threw on my shoes to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I bound at a dash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash

The moon on the sole of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to lining below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight kinds of footwear,

With a baller old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than sandals, his footgear they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Now ASICS, now Gravis, now Woolrich, and Eastland!
On Converse, on K-Swiss, on Skechers, and Justin!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now sprint away! rush away! bound away all!

So up to the house-top the footgear did spring
With the sleigh full of Shoes and St. Nicholas too.

As I pulled back inside, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his boot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of Shoes he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a cobbler just opening his pack.

His Oakleys -- how they twinkled! his Dickies how merry!
His Klogs were like roses, his Keds colored cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

A wink of his eye and a tilt of his head,
Put me right at ease - I had nothing to dread!

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his kicks gave a whistle,
Away they all scattered like the down of a thistle.

Then I heard him cry out, as away they all flew,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good shoe.”

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Sarah Barnes

The History of Christmas Traditions

Friday, December 5, 2014 3:14:56 PM America/Chicago

During the past few weeks we here at Shoebacca have been talking about holiday traditions from pumpkin carving to turkey trots to fun family winter activities. Christmas is steeped in traditions possibly more than any other national holiday.

We put up lights and hang stockings by the fire. We make gingerbread houses and go caroling. Children write letters to Santa Claus and take pictures with him. But where do these activities come from? And what is Christmas like in other countries?

Here in the United States, Santa Claus is accompanied by elves and Mrs. Claus who work together to bring nice things to good children. Santa is not always accompanied by such nice companions in other parts of the world.

Krampus is the “Christmas Devil” in Alpine Folklore. He helps Santa punish bad children and takes them away to his lair for a good spanking (coal isn’t so bad anymore now is it?) The Yule Lads of Icelandic tradition come one by one each night (13 total) before Christmas and scare bad little children and generally cause mischief. In the French legend of Père Fouettard, St. Nicholas rescues 3 boys from a butcher who wanted to eat them. The butcher became Père Fouettard whose job it is to dispense punishment to bad children.

Many countries around the world, such as Russia, Ethiopia, and Egypt, don’t even celebrate Christmas in December! They celebrate at the beginning of the year on January 7th. The Orthodox Church follows the old Julian calendar.

A lot of our traditions actually come from celebrations associated with St. Nicholas' Day. Which is fitting because our modern day Santa Claus is based loosely on St. Nicholas and his concern for children and gift-giving tendencies.

A great example of a borrowed tradition is stockings. In Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, children leave their shoes by the chimney. The shoes are filled with carrots or hay for St. Nicholas' horse (because the original Saint presumably didn’t have flying reindeer) and the next day they find small presents in their shoes. This probably inspired our stockings hung by the chimney with care. In Brazil where Christmas is too hot to have a fire they hang socks out the window in hopes that Papai Noel will exchange it for a present. I now know what to do with my odd socks - the ones the dryer didn’t eat.

A traditional that seems to be pocketed in the US is the Christmas Pickle. It’s prevalent in certain nooks of the country, but doesn’t seem to be national! Anyway, a pickle-shaped ornament is hidden in the boughs of one’s Christmas tree. The person who finds the pickle will be destined to have good luck in the coming year! Others practice the tradition by giving the finder a prize. We always played on Christmas as part of the holiday revelries. Many people claimed this tradition came from Germany (which I always believed since my family is German), but it turns out it’s a purely American tradition!

Caroling is often referred to wassailing. We travel from door to door singing songs of joy sometimes getting hot chocolate or cider in return. But the original wassailing involved the less fortunate demanding food and drink from wealthier citizens in exchange for toasting their good health. A traditional carol that dates to the 1800s is A’soalin, illustrating the door-to-dor singing in exchange for food - this instance a soul cake. Listen to the cover by Peter, Paul, & Mary below. These proceeding would get rowdy and sometimes violent if the demands were denied.

In fact due to some extra rowdy wassailing the city of Boston actually banned Christmas celebrations from 1659 to 1681. Boston was able to ban Christmas festivities because Christmas was not a National Holiday until 1870, but only applied to federal employees in Washington DC. It wasn’t until a century later that it truly became a national Federal holiday.

Regardless of how you celebrate Christmas (or if you celebrate Christmas at all), this is the season to celebrate friends, family, and people of all creeds. Enjoy your holidays and explore their history. Discover new traditions and keep dear the ones you know. And remember - there’s no better excuse to buy a new pair of shoes.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

Get Out Of The House This Winter

Friday, November 28, 2014 3:33:00 PM America/Chicago

The holidays can leave us trapped indoors in a turkey coma. Family from out of town is staying with you and well everyone is getting a little stir-crazy. Don’t let the cold keep you from fun. There are plenty of things you and your family can to do to relieve cabin fever. Our recommendation is to get off the couch and as a family enjoy activities that you can only do in the winter.

If you and your family are adventurous, try learning something - like curling! Watching Winter Olympics I find myself thinking, “Hey that looks like fun” and, “I could do that.” I was flabbergasted to find out that there was a place near me I could go take curling classes. It is definitely on my list of things to do with family and friends this winter.

Feeling a little silly? Take the kiddos to an ice skating rink. While circling the rink start singing songs from ‘Frozen’ and see how many people join in.

Not so adventurous? If you are lucky enough to be in a place where it snows, why not have a snowman building contest among your family. The person who makes the best snowman gets the most marshmallows in their hot cocoa. Or first slice of pumpkin pie! Growing up in Texas sometimes the only place the snow would stick was the hood of your car. So my sister and I would improvise and build tiny snowmen (less than a foot high) on neighborhood cars.

If competitions aren’t your thing, why not find a hill and go sleddin? Sledding is something the entire family can enjoy. Keep warm though with layers and warm shoes with a good tread.

Maybe you just want to get out of the house, but not necessarily spend time outside. Understandable. For most places, winter is winter because… well… It’s Cold! So pack up the family and check out your local museum! Not only are they warm, but many are packed full of fun, interact-ve exhibits (read: education masked as games.)

Regardless of where you live and what your family is like, one thing remains the same: you don't have to stay cooped up with them! Get out there and go somewhere, or just get out there! Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the holidays!

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Sarah Barnes

Strut Your Shoes This Thanksgiving

Friday, November 21, 2014 2:51:00 PM America/Chicago

Thanksgiving is filled with Family, Food, and Volunteering. We take the time to be thankful for what we have and share that with others. Here at Shoebacca we are thankful for our health. We have at least 2 employees participating in a “couch to 5k” program and many more who lead active lifestyles. We inspire others and ourselves to Get Fit & Get Active.

This year we want to take the time and encourage everyone to grab their favorite running shoes and participate in a Turkey Trot, a Gobble Wobble, or Thanksgiving Day Race. These walk/run events can be found ALL over the country. Whether it is a brand new race in your community or Cincinnati’s 105th Thanksgiving Day 10k (I mean wow, talk about a holiday tradition!), there is definitely an event near you.

Here in Texas we love to do things “bigger and better” which is probably why the Dallas Turkey Trot has been an 8 mile run since its inception. In 1984 a 3-mile Fun Run/Walk was added to accommodate the increased participation of individuals and families. The Fun Run then turned into a certified 5K in 2009. Proceeds support the YMCA and their community programs like LiveStrong, a small group program designed for adult cancer survivors.

Phoenix, Arizona’s Turkey Day Run is celebrating its 25th year. What fun quirk about this run is their themed aid stations. This year’s race will feature 1 pumpkin pie station and 1 cranberry aid station. Proceeds from this 5K go to Support our Troops – Operation Gratitude and Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix.

The ORRC Turkey Trot in Portland, Oregon sounds super fun. The trot is hosted at a Zoo!!!!! I mean do I really need to give you any more incentive to check this one out?

Beau’s Buddies Turkey Trot for Tots, held in Greenville, North Carolina is a heartwarming 5K. It benefits Beau’s Buddies Cancer Fund and encourages participants to bring a toy to donate to the kids at the Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center.

Maybe you’re not ready to run a 5k. That’s no problem. Start training now and in a year’s time, you can trot alongside the rest of the turkeys runners! A year is plenty of time to get up to speed. In fact, the C25K (Couch to 5k) app is a free app that promises to train you in 2 months (8 weeks). Or you can simply get up a hit the treadmill/trails. There are many ways to train, but most professionals agree that regardless of how you do it, the most important thing is a pair of good running shoes.

I could go on and on about all of the amazing Thanksgiving Day races around the US, about why each one is an event not to miss, but I won’t. These runs are a great activity for the whole family (some even let your dog trot along with you), many of them giving back to the community, making them good for the heart, body, and sole (wink wink).

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Sarah Barnes

Shoebacca Staff Christmas List

Friday, November 14, 2014 2:30:44 PM America/Chicago

Christmas time is fast approaching. Every store has begun to deck their aisles with decorations. Holiday music is taking over elevators and local radio stations. Family and friends gather round inevitably asking each other, "What do you want this Christmas season?" Here at Shoebacca we are asking the same questions!

As I make my list of what to get others, I realize I now have 4 nephews all in need of something awesome. My sister has made a request for fewer toys this year. As I have always been one for things that are both practical AND fun, this year I decided shoes would be ideal. What a great gift for growing boys, right? Plus not having to worry about one pair of killer kicks helps any parent's budget. These shoes should also reflect their personalities.

My oldest nephew is the leader of the pack and follows in his father's footsteps as much as possible. I think it is time for his first pair of Chucks, red ones, his favorite color of course.

Nephew number 2 is a little ladies man. He likes to wear vests and ties. Vans Classic Slip-Ons will provide comfort and style when he decides to "suit up."

Nephew number 3 is an indestructible bear who needs shoes that can handle anything. The adidas Adifaito should keep him running.

As for the youngest... well, he's not walking yet so maybe some nice warm socks.

Enough about me, let's get to the Staff! Our dapper gent Shawn is hoping for a pair of Nike Air Jordan 11 "Legend Blue". The shoe doesn't release until December 20th but he is looking forward to it. In Shawn's own words "Simply the hottest pair of Js releasing this year. It's a clean look and they haven't released this pair in YEARS."

Ro's Christmas wish is to be warm. Poor thing, she's cold most of the time in the office. In fact, she keeps an office blanket! So what should she do when it's cold outside? A pair of Shearling boots would be perfect to keep her tootsies warm on chilly days like these. Bearpaw offers a great selection of shearlings to choose from!

Our fearless leader Fafnir is wishing to up his ante in the style game. He is looking for a pair of dress shoes to class up his closet. He is thinking possibly a pair of Giorgio Brutini Downing - sleek lines and neutral colors to go with just about anything, and slip-ons to boot, for those days when you are in a rush but still want to go with style.

Mark's holidays are looking so bright, he wants sunglasses as to not be blinded by the gleam. Whilst perusing options his eye lands on Oakleys. The unisex Pitbull eyewear made with polycarbonate material would be a flawless fit for this fine fellow.

Of course the list would not be complete without knowing what I'd like for Christmas too. I love ballet flats. They are comfortable, practical, and stylish. I have been drooling over the Puma Zandy NM. The various textures and POP of color makes this simple style really stand out. Definitely fitting my practical and fun outlook.

With the use of Amazon wish lists and social media we may just get what we are hoping for. What are you looking forward to getting/giving this holiday season?

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Sarah Barnes

Shoe-ffiti: The Mysterious Hanging Shoes

Friday, November 7, 2014 3:18:00 PM America/Chicago

Have you ever seen a pair of shoes thrown over a telephone wire or power line? Did you wonder where they came from and why they are there?

These are exactly the questions that Closer Productions aimed to answer when making the short documentary The Mystery of Flying Kicks. Closer Productions is a collective of filmmakers based in Adelaide, South Australia. They asked for submissions from around the world using an on-line call out and a phone message bank. The donated photographs, phoned-in theories, video, vlogs, and animation culminate to make this 15 minutes of terrific documentary.

And the theories they received are abounding.

Some shoes are tossed as memorials to those who lost their lives. This is the theory that I heard the first time I saw a pair of chucks tossed over a line.

Some shoes are to mark territories whether it is Spanish Mafiosi warning authorities to stay out of their streets and neighborhoods, or delineating gang borders. Some shoes are tossed as a notification of drug dealer’s locations.

Some are tossed out of bullying or as pranks.

In the movie Big Fish (2003), Edward Bloom finds himself in a mythical town Spectre. The inhabitants’ shoes are hanging from a telephone wire. A girl named Jenny Hill steals Edward’s shoes and adds them to the wire. Without one’s shoes, one can’t travel, right? Might as well settle down and stay forever.

Shoes have been tossed to celebrate changes in life such as lost virginity, upcoming marriage, change of job, or a graduation.

Military boots have been tossed to show a member shipping out or leaving the service. In Wag the Dog (1997) they shoe trees, power lines, lamp posts, as an allegedly spontaneous cultural manifestation in tribute to Sgt. William Schumann nicknamed Old Shoe.

Some are tossed for fun or self-expression. Skewville, twin brother street artists, have been tossing wooden “dogs” since 1999. The project has been dubbed “When Dogs Fly” and has consisted of 50+ versions. Each pair of “dogs” is an image of a shoe silkscreened onto wood then cut out and laced together. The brothers have been tossing shoes on wires wherever they go from Hollywood to NYC, London to Berlin. To find out more about these artists visit

Lines and wires are not the only places you can find these mysterious abandoned footwear. You can find a list of trees that have had shoes tossed, tied, and generally attached to them here.

Road trip anyone?

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Sarah Barnes

That's The Spirit! Pumpkin Carving With SHOEBACCA

Friday, October 24, 2014 3:00:00 PM America/Chicago

Halloween is one week out and - if you remember from last week - we here at SHOEBACCA are EXCITED! Halloween is a company favorite around here so naturally we had to carve pumpkins!

The marketing & tech departments got together and carved three pumpkins total. Sure, this is no big deal since nearly 170 Million Americans celebrate Halloween - so why share our pumpkin carving endeavors? To show that SHOEBACCA has an awesome company culture? To make us seem relatable by practicing American Halloween traditions? Because pumpkin carving is downright FUN?!

Well, all of those are true, but herein lies the rub: WE had a newbie in our midst!

Meet Shawn. He's our Senior IT Administrator. He also moved here from Belize when he was a teen. Now well into his 20s, we as his comrades in Life and at SHOEBACCA get the wonder of reliving our childhoods through him.

So we carved some pumpkins. Sarah and I helped out as well, acting as wisened guides from our 20+ years of carving experience. (You SHOULD remember us from Last Week's Blog: Night Of The Living Keds).

Needless to say, fun times were had by all! Check out the photos - and pumpkins! - below.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey
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