Thursday, March 25, 2021

Sewn Shoes

"He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."   (Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett)

Years ago, I had a sole of a pair of sandals come unglued at the toe, leaving the sole flapping.   I found a replacement pair. I thought to myself "At least ths sole is sewn on to these, they should last a long time".   I was wrong on both counts.  When that sole came loose I found out that the stitching was just decorative and didn't attach anything.  As I got older i learned that a non-sneaker shoe over $100 was far more likely to last more than a year, but I still had some trouble telling the difference between $100 worth of durability and a $50 shoe with $50 worth of fashionable brand name tacked on.  A few months ago Youtube suggested a video by Bedo's Leatherworks where he recrafts shoes as he explains, and I learned the difference between stitched on and cemented soles. 

A leather Goodyear Welt is the traditional American construction.  A strip of leather (the welt) is stitched to the uppers and insole, then the midsole and usually the outsole is stitched to the welt.  Bulkier and stiffer than most other methods, but durable and easy to re-sole.  The construction leaves a cavity in the shoe between the insole and midsole that needs to be filled, often with cork or foam.  If care is taken while recrafting the welt can be re-used through multiple resoles, and the welt can usually be replaced.  (Click to enlarge the pictures--and my blog reader is mangling the layout, you may want to read this directly on Blogger)

A couple of generations  ago Goodyear welt was the normal construction for even mid grade shoes, now it is limited mostly to mid-grade or better work boots.  Dressier GYW shoes still exist but are relatively rare.  Not all GYW shoes are quality--in particular boots that advertise it as a feature often use a plastic welt that is likely to crack.     Pictured is a vintage GYW shoe with the outsole and midsole removed, showing construction details at the welt joint.  The upper picture shows the welt sewn through the upper, the lower picture is the same area from the bottom.  This particular shoe has Poron sheet foam filler, better shoes would generally have cork or leather. 

Blake Stitch is relatively simple in concept--the whole stack of insole, midsole and outsole is stitched straight through by a machine that can reach all the way into the toe.  Sleeker and more flexible than Goodyear Welt, may need less break in.  They can be re-soled, but not all cobblers have the machine to do it. They also can't be re-soled as many times--you can't re-use the holes, and when too many new holes have been made the leather will tear and there's no welt to replace. 

Hand Sewn--The toe of a moccasin style shoe is hand stitched, then the sole is usually Blake stitched to the upper.    The shoe pictured is a blake stitched hand sewn loafer with the sole stitching visible inside the shoe.  Blake stitched shoes may have a liner covering the inside stitching, you may be able to see traces of the sole stitching between the upper and the sole.  On the shoe pictured you can see that there is no stitching visible on top of the sole, ruling out GYW without looking inside.

Blake Rapid is sort of a hybrid between Blake and Goodyear welt.  Instead of a welt, the midsole is Blake stitched to the insole and upper, then the outsole (bottom layer) is stitched to the midsole .  Eliminates the direct path for water to wick.  It can be hard to tell the difference between Blake Rapid and Goodyear welt without disassembling the shoe

Stitch Down--The upper is folded outward, then stitched to the sole.  More common on boots, and especially chukka or Desert Boots.  This picture isn't entirely typical of stitch down, usually the upper leather will extend all the way to the edge of the sole rather than being inset like this one.  

A few sneakers (mostly from non-athletic brands) use a cup sole sewn through the sidewall.  Born uses a similar construction on many of their shoes they call Opanka.  Many of the sneakers are at least technically resoleable, Born says their version isn't.   

Most other sewn sole shoes are variations and combinations of the above...but sewn soles are a tiny percentage of all shoes, mostly in work boots where the durability is more important.  Most shoes are some sort of cement (glued) construction.  

It turns out my floppy sandals were bondwelt, a form of cement construction that mimics the look of GYW.  Bondwelted shoes have a welt that is only decorative with stitching that is only decorative, the sole is held on with glue.  These often look tidier than a true GYW because it is easier to stitch in a straight line on a roll of flat welt than to follow the shape of the shoe with an upper in the way.   

Shoes don't have to be sewn to be fairly durable--there are plenty of good non-sewn shoes that will  last until the sole wears through.  However, sewn-on soles are far more likely to be economically reasonable to resole or recraft, and with care can last through several recraftings.   I also object to fake details--If there's a welt I want it to be real, if there are stitches I want them to do something. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Trying Google Fi

I decided to try Google Fi, their wireless phone service.   At the same time, I purchased a new phone for Wife since her phone is ancient with horrible battery life, and wasn't fully compatible with Fi.  The new phone was a Moto G Power, a mid-grade phone with excellent battery life.  The phone was advertised as carrier unlocked so if Fi service didn't work, I should be able to use it on Verizon.

Apparently two phone lines require two Gmail accounts and I was supposed to sign up for Fi, then invite Wife.  I tried to set her phone up first, which linked it to my account making it difficult to switch that to her phone.  I also didn't want to completely leave Verizon until at least one phone was working on Fi.  After several hours with support over several days, Support wanted me to abandon my phone numbers and get new ones.  Finally got it mostly working except with Wife's appointments showing up on my phone.  

Unfortunately coverage wasn't very good at work or while commuting.  After giving it a few months, I decided to go back to Verizon.  My computer is Linux.  Verizon's website is virtually unusable with either Chrome or Firefox on Linux.

It turns out that the "unlocked" Fi phone isn't fully unlocked--the Google Fi software  only allows phone calls on Verizon's network but does not allow data.  This caused hours of support with Verizon--got the phone working by switching sim cards from phone to phone, we assumed that data would eventually show up.  It didn't.  The phone could do calling and texting, could not send a picture via text, and anything Internet was wifi only.   I finally did some research and found that this is a known issue with the Google Fi version of this particular phone--Google's software won't let the phone connect data to Verizon's network.  The software can't be changed without voiding the phone's warranty.  Google offered to exchange phones with an identical phone with identical software. I questioned that, since if the software is the issue the problem is likely to remain.  They persisted, I asked if there were other steps to take if the same software caused the same results, they assured me that there was.   The new phone arrived, exact same results and it turns out that the "other steps" was "ask the guy at the next desk". 

I finally unlocked the phone, voiding the warranty and installed Verizon software.  The phone works perfectly--pretty much proving that the problem is neither hardware nor Verizon. 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Black Rights Matter

I'm a middle-aged white man.
I believe that genetic differences between races are almost entirely visual, obvious and unimportant.  Differences that matter to me are environmental--things like education.  Even if there were no current racism, these types of things are certainly affected by past racism.   My grandfather came to the US as a young adult in the 20's.  According to family lore, while he was a concrete laborer he was able to start a business by getting materials on credit and paying for them once he was paid.  The business grew to employ several dozen people, and my kids are better off as a result.  I believe it very unlikely that a black man would have been allowed the same opportunities at that time--as a result, his great-grandkids will likely have a harder time. 

However, based on the studies I've seen, I don't think blacks are more likely to be murdered by police than whites.   Another data point--June 2020 (the last full month as I write this), Chicago had 469 gunshot injuries, 2 shot by the police, plus an additional 87 gunshot deaths,  none of those by police.  The police aren't the major problem for life and death here.  This is my main disagreement with the phrase "Black Lives Matter"--If the studies I'm basing my opinion on are correct, the death part isn't a racist issue. We need to fix that problem, but if police murders aren't significantly different by race then looking to solve the problem via race is unlikely to work.  On the other hand, Black Rights Matter--and the racial aspect is far more likely to be important.  I do believe that blacks are unjustifiably abused by police at a much higher rate than whites.  This makes logical sense--a racist cop can abuse blacks in smaller ways and be almost guaranteed to get away with it, but a killing will be investigated thoroughly.  I also think that millions of smaller abuses are more important than a handful of deaths. 

What do we do? As individuals, I don't know what we can do, other than don't be racist and support government policies that will help. 

Policies that I think will help:

End the drug war--Not just decriminalizing pot, but legalization of virtually everything.  Whether or not a chemical is available to the general public should be based on its danger to others and not on its potential for recreational use.  Maybe pure fentanyl or LSD is too potent as a poison to allow unrestricted use, (I don't know) but then it should be treated like cyanide or similar, and more than likely dilute forms should be allowed.  The fact that some people might enjoy it should be considered a positive if it is considered at all.  I would probably support a prescription requirement for antibiotics and similar where your misuse can harm me.

Even better, eliminate all victimless crimes--If you aren't harming or seriously endangering someone else without their consent, it should not be a crime. Not just drugs, but prostitution, gambling, sin taxes, etc--you should be free to do really stupid stuff to yourself.  Reduce selective enforcement.  If we can't or won't enforce a law, take it off the books...and if you can prove selective enforcement that should be an affirmative defense.  You should probably be allowed to be peacefully drunk in public, disturbing the peace while sober should be the same as disturbing the peace stoned or drunk.  Note, DUI laws stay, that's endangering others. 

End qualified immunity  If police or a policeman violates your rights in a meaningful way, they should be liable under almost all circumstances.   Police departments should be responsible for most property damage they cause--virtually all damage to an innocent party's property, and even to a criminal's property when the damage isn't reasonable compared to the crime. 

End civil asset forfeiture and other forms of policing for profit.  There should be no permanent forfeiture without a conviction.  Fines and forfeitures go to the general fund, not to the department, and the general fund can't give them back or otherwise incentivize fines. Where state law forbids civil forfeiture, end loopholes where departments can partner with federal agencies for a percentage of the seized assets...or just end federal forfeiture.  While it may be reasonable for some items to be held by police until trial to make sure they aren't hidden, the bias needs to be towards the owner.  Very early in the process there should be a hearing, and the government should have to show the criminal connection with at least the same standards as a civil trial. The police should be responsible for damages to items they hold, and if they are found to hold something without cause they must return the item plus a percentage of the item's value that's similar to the interest rate that the owner would qualify for.   

End investigatory no-knock warrants, or more likely all no knocks except to capture dangerous, violent felons.  In particular, the potential for the destruction of evidence isn't justification for a no-knock.  We also need to verify that no-knock warrants are following proper procedures--that the application isn't just a cut and paste, and that the judge is actually reading and reviewing, that there isn't a less risky method available.  Judges should be random, police should not be able to judge shop.

As much as possible, end "the process is the punishment".  Bail needs to be reasonable and based on how likely that person is to show up for trial, with a basis in statistics for that particular crime.    There need to be incentives against excessive bail or a high bail used as leverage for a plea bargain.  I would probably like to see some process for refunding bail bondsman costs for someone found innocent, or for a substantially lower crime.

Get coercive plea bargains and over-charging under control.  I do want incentive for a guilty person to plead guilty, but we need to make sure we don't have incentives for innocent people to plead guilty.  Plea bargains should never be for a tiny fraction of the potential jail time or fine.  I think I would like something similar to the English system where an early plea to the crime charged gets half your sentence reduced, with less reduced as you get closer to the final verdict.   I'd also like to require that prosecutors prove the crime charged or the suspect goes free--in other words if you charge someone with attempted murder but only prove assault then there's no conviction.

End pretextural stops, where "you crossed the center line, I haven't decided whether to give you a ticket, may I search your car for drugs and weapons?"  The officer should have to record what the justification is in a timestamped form before the stop is made, and there should be a bias towards dashcam or body cam evidence.  The recorded justification doesn't have to be fancy, just a verbal announcement on the cam prior to the stop would be enough.  This goes for stop and frisk as well--if the policeman doesn't have a reason, he doesn't get to stop.  There also needs to be some tracking of how often the suspicion is correct--if a particular officer suspects a gun often but rarely finds one...

None of these are racial, all of them will have a disproportionate benefit to blacks.  None of them depend on having just the right people with power.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Selling fear

I recently heard a presentation by Strategos International on workplace safety and suicide prevention.  The speaker almost immediately set off my BS detector.

Bits and pieces of the speech, paraphrased and filtered through my memory:
We're a big deal with major clients.  I'm Vice President of... (If your company is a big deal, why is a vice president doing a routine speech?)
We love companies like...who hire us before they have an incident.  (Incidents are inevitable without their help?)
I bet the White Settlement Texas church wished they had a security plan before there were 3 dead (The murderer was shot and killed by a member of the security team, while several other parishioners drew guns and advanced on the shooter.  That sounds like they had a plan, even if it didn't turn out perfectly)
The world is a more and more dangerous place  (except statistically it isn't, murder is at or near the lowest level it has been in my lifetime)
We've had XXXX school shootings since... (No definition given, so what counts as a school shooting?  What does it have to do with workplace safety?)

The speech was padded to be half an hour, but could be summed up in a few lines--Most suicides and spree shooters show signs, talk of violence before they strike.  so "see something, say something NOW"

According to Google, their headquarters is a little one-story building next door to a strip mall.  Google Street View shows the strip mall's parking lot to be oddly empty.   It turns out that the strip mall is entirely occupied by the International House of Prayer University.  Strategos main focus appears to be church security, but they got their start with a grant to teach defense against school shooting.  According to their website, the Vice President for Operations is a black belt in Sho-Lum-Tae Karate.  Searching "Sho Lum Tae", the top results are all that the vice president of operations is a black belt.   Basically nothing I found on Google helped to disarm my BS detector, it just got more and more odd.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Weight maintenance and random thoughts

According to my diet gurus, almost everyone who maintains their goal weight 2 years will maintain it 5.  I'm  past 3 years well below target.  What was my target?  211...(based on my max allowed weight in the USAF)...then 200, then 192 which is what I consider my real goal--that's based on Metlife's maximum longevity.  I got down to a one-day low of 176.  Now I'm around 183, plus or minus a couple.  If I get above 185 for more than a day I get a bit stricter until I'm back down.

Some of this will repeat from my last weight loss post, this is what I've settled on for maintaining.

For a few months my tailbone was sore.  That improved. 
My feet are at least a full size smaller. 
My hat is a lot smaller. 
For a while I would occasionally kick myself in the ankle when I walked.
Most candy is too sweet, when I was very strict most candy was unpleasant.
Either fewer or vastly less severe colds.
Less congestion and sinus trouble.
I can't lift as much, but I've got far greater endurance.
Rarely need an afternoon nap.

I've settled on a relatively limited diet, with days off a few times a month.

I cook main dishes ahead in big batches and freeze in pint deli containers--2 kinds of chili, several spicy bean dishes, split pea soup, hummus, Alton Brown's Winter vegetable soup.  Most of these are about 7 or 8 pints at a time.

Strong black Aeropress coffee early in the morning.  (by strong I mean 3 scoops per mug, Aeropress lets you go this strong without being bitter. The coffee being bitter, I mean)

Breakfast around 9am at work, varies or skipped at home.   A pint of raw vegetables (usually mini sweet peppers), a pint or so of fruit.  I was also drinking a smoothie with a pound of frozen fruit and a half cup of almond milk, I've stopped that.

Lunch is a pint of raw vegetables, a pint of cooked vegetables with Chipotle Mrs Dash,  a pint of main dish and a pint of fruit.  After lunch I often have about half an ounce of 70% dark chocolate. Not too particular about the brand, most 70% tastes pretty good to me, 80% or higher is too bitter.   Milk chocolate is now too sweet.

Another cup of coffee early afternoon.  I was also trying to reduce my caffeine, so I'm limited to 2 cups a day., or sometimes iced tea in the summer.  I don't drink pop anymore, I do have selzer, sometimes plain, sometimes flavored but not sweetened.

Snack is a pint of fruit or raw vegetables.

Dinner is a huge salad, at least a pound and a half, often over 2 pounds.  Kale, spinach, mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, half an avocado (when available) and about 1 1/2 oz nuts and seeds most of the time.   I alternate between a small sweet onion and homemade walnut vinaigrette dressing,  otherwise a chopped Granny Smith apple, grapes and raisins with half an ounce of commercial raspberry dressing and 2 oz lemon juice.   Another pint of main dish, or something from the air fryer--sweet potato fries or crunchy buffalo chickpeas.   I weigh many of my salad ingredients to get proportions right and to avoid too much dressing or nuts.  I may also have an ounce or so of cheese.

At first I thought a food processor was essential.  I was using it to chop salad among other things.  Now I don't use it much, instead I have a family sized salad slicer guide.  Dump salad stuff in whole or in large chunks and cut it all at once.  I also thought a high power blender was needed, but now that I'm not drinking daily smoothies it gets less use as well.  I'm glad I have them and still use them, but I don't consider them essential.  In retrospect, I might not recommend daily smoothies--very little effort for the calories, and leaving them out seems to give a bit more leeway for off diet days without exceeding my max weight. I suspect weight loss might be even faster without.  On the other hand, I lost half a pound a day for months with them, so they are at least a substantial improvement on what I ate before.  Maybe to start, then dropping them when my weight loss slowed?  Even though breakfast is usually 14 hours or more after my last meal, I'm not particularly hungry then.  I'm more hungry about 4 hours after lunch.

Restaurants are very difficult, and usually I don't even try to stay on diet if I have to eat out. Salad bars are usually limited in the greens and the dressings are generally fairly bland for the calories.  Kind of annoying to plan a day trip if I don't want to be off diet, I'll have an early lunch and a late breakfast.

My diet gurus wanted very low salt.  I eat fairly low salt--I don't add it to anything.  I try to get "low sodium" but I don't try all that hard.   I'm old enough that I usually have to get up once during the night to pee...but not the night after I've had a normal diet, or even a moderate serving of chips or similar.  I don't drink as much liquid as I did, although I'm sure I get more in my fruit.

At first normal meals would make me a little queasy, especially if there was lots of bread or starch.  That's not entirely gone if I go overboard, but it isn't usually a problem.

There's a common belief that "almost all diets fail, the few that succeed at first almost all fail within a few years".   I was trying to find the exact statistics for that...and found that it is apparently based on a single very old study where people were given a single set of diet instructions.  My experience with this has not been consistent with "so hard almost nobody succeeds"--this has not been all that difficult, nowhere near at my limit of willpower.  It's annoying, there's more time chewing and more frequent grocery visits, but not really a challenge once you're used to it. 
Worth it.