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The long and the short of it

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This should probably be a column about the holidays, but it isn't.

It's about shoe laces, or for that matter anything else that is man made that is disturbing. It's not that shoe laces themselves upset me, but it is the length of them that is irritating.

When you buy a new pair of shoes you check for fit, you walk around in them to make sure the feel good, you view at how they look on you in a mirror and then you buy them.

But seldom do you (or I) check to see if the shoe laces are right.

Let's put it this way. I have never bought a pair of shoes that had the right length of shoe laces in them. They are either way to short to tie easily or so long you have to wrap them around your lower ankle 42 times to keep from stepping on them.

Who the hell makes the decision about the length of laces to put in a shoe?

Well I started to do some research and of course through the magic of the internet found a site called Ian's Shoelace Site.

I'm serious.

Under the name of the site it says "Bringing you the fun, fashion and science of shoelaces."

What would possess someone to be that interested in shoelaces. And since when are they "fun?"

But really the site taught me a lot. There are formulas for shoe lace length, some of them quite complicated.

I was also amazed to find that there are different kinds of shoe lacing formats. There is Angled Checker Lacing, Army Lacing, Asterick Lacing, Bow Tie Lacing, all kinds of what is called "Lug" Lacing along with many others. Altogether, I counted 62 different ways to lace up footwear.

And each has a mathematical (or should I say algebraic) formula for matching the right length of laces to the kind of lacing done on the shoe, boot or other foot paraphernalia.

Take Angled Checker Lacing. Its formula is H+(V× 4+√(H²+(V× 3)²)× 6)×(P− 1)÷ 5+L× 2. I can just see some 10 year old in a sweat shop in Bangladesh figuring this out as he sticks the laces in the shoes he makes for 10 cents an hour while you pay 150 bucks for them on the rack.

Okay I'm sure that he isn't the one to determine this, but someone. somewhere does. It would seem common sense would dictate that a lace is too long or short, but common sense is not quantifiable. I know that to be true because there is so little of it in the world these days.

Turns out by reading further into the site that manufacturers do not use their formulas to give you the right length of shoe lace when you purchase your footwear. Instead they go with "stock" lacing sizes, because having the exact shoe lace to fit everyones needs on a shoe would be too expensive.

To me that would be like buying a new car and having them put tires of different quality on each of the four wheels, because "that is what they have in the warehouse."

It shows a lack of respect for their customers, even if it is just a little thing. Obviously shoelaces are more complicated than I ever thought they could be.

So if someone ever tells you doing something isn't rocket science, just mention shoe lace length to them.

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