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  • These are the times that try men's soles

  • Why did the chicken cross the road? In my case, the answer more than likely would be to get to a pair of socks.
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  • Why did the chicken cross the road? In my case, the answer more than likely would be to get to a pair of socks.
    Wait a minute "
    I don't know about you — well, I do, thanks to the tracking device in your running sock that monitors where and how you place your feet — but for me, the simplest things in life are saturated with hidden mousetraps waiting to be sprung.
    Such as your standard, everyday pair of socks ... which is different than a pair of pants, obviously; since there are two socks in a pair of socks and only one pants in a pair of pants, creating the oddest paradox since Allan Sherman pondered what would happen if Ben Casey met Kildare.
    (Yes, I know the idea is that there are two pant legs in a pair of pants, but there are two sleeves in a shirt and see what happens when you tell your muddah or faddah that you're going to your room to put on a pair of shirts to look for a pair of scissors.)
    Sometimes it's hard enough to put one foot in front of the other — never mind the dilemma of whether to get dressed sock-sock, shoe-shoe or sock-shoe, sock-shoe.
    And then there's the decision of whether to start on your right or your left — and which sock goes on which foot.
    No two socks are ever precisely alike — Ever notice how one sock always feels more comfortable on a particular foot, and nags the heck out of you when it's pulled onto the other one? — which not only renders moot the entire "pair" conundrum, but causes all sorts of issues for the wearer.
    In this case, me. We'll presume for a moment that you have your own issues — but for our purposes here, we'll stick to those pertaining to articles of clothing that either arrive in pairs or are sold separately.
    In weather of the sort we've had recently, your skin dries out and brings the high point of the sock ever tighter to your shin. It's not a pleasant sensation and diverts unnecessary attention to how your feet are feeling.
    Frankly, they have enough problems, beginning with the entire toe-ridge question. In short, do you wear your socks with the ridge on the inside or the outside of the sock? (We can get into why these ridges exist at another time.)
    Me, I'm a member in good standing of the outside ridge tribe, since the ridges ruffle my toes and I inevitably find myself manipulating the end of the sock to find the perfect spot for it in the end of my shoe.
    Where it stays for about 10 seconds or so " and reboots the process again.
    As you might be able to tell, I have a lot of time on my hands to think about my feet.
    Thus inspired, I let my fingers do the walking through the Internet to discover whether any advances in sock technology had been made to alleviate wearer discomfort — or anything else to ease my troubled soles.
    For instance, the Hazda peoples of Tanzania were subject to a study that monitored how they went about their business. Turns out they meandered in a systematic pattern called a "Levy walk," which was described by one scientist involved as prevelant throughout the animal kingdom for hunting puposes.
    "We tend to take short steps in one area," he said, "and then take longer strides to get to another area."
    We're in the wrong business, you and I. I was in the mall during the holidays and saw the same thing ... and no one gave me a research grant.
    Speaking of the holidays, to celebrate the New Year, the good folks in Taiwan were about to have a harbor festival when the star of the show — a 60-foot rubber duck — was attacked by eagles, exploded and left itself and the crowd deflated.
    Meanwhile, a team of scientists (there they are again) in China announced a major breakthrough, creating "the most efficient production of glow-in-the-dark pigs yet," while scientists in Turkey (the country, not the main course) are about to add sheep that glow a mint-jelly green to their menagerie that already includes fluorescent bunnies.
    Yes, a 60-foot rubber duck.
    Back in this country, thankfully, the good folks of Wisconsin are improving the conditions of ice-slicked roads by spreading not sand, not kitty litter, not gravel " but cheese on their highways. Provolone and mozzarella apparently work best, officials say, due to their salt content.
    Just when it appeared I had found myself lost while looking for a proper pair of socks, in walked D. Turner Swicegood!
    No, I wasn't reading Dr. Seuss.
    Swicegood (who works with the good folks at the Pentagon, by the way) has hitched up with a couple of Navy officers to create the latest in designer dress socks. They've already spent $10,000 on eight pairs of socks to feature in their — what else? — Kickstarter campaign, from which they want to get $36,000 more in seed money to get their line running.
    Think that's a tad pricey for socks? The good folks of the Falke knitwear clothing company in Germany have taken things a step further. (Why do I feel as though Paul Fattig has taken control of this keyboard?) The Falke folks have gone to Peru for the ultra-fine hair of the vicuna and produced a pair of socks that runs for $594.
    Each.
    Yup, a pair will cost you $1,188, but at least they'll arrive at your doorstep in their own presentation box, with a plaque swearing to the authenticity of your treasure — which you can then shove into the old shoe of your choice and hide under a pant leg.
    Better hurry, though. The Falke people have made only 10 pairs of their vicuna socks " so you might want to buy two pairs, in case one gets lost in the dryer.
    Finally, we came upon the Elite Ultra Light No Show Tab sock by Feetures! — which, corny name aside, was apparently invented with people such as me in mind.
    Made from a thin blend of nylon, polyester and spandex, the Elite Ultra, etc., socks have no toe ridges, deflect moisture from your feet and have a chafe-guard to protect shoes from chafing your weather-dried-out skin ... and separate designs for your left and right feet.
    Reading on, it also " dang it, it's a low-cut sock that doesn't protrude above the top of your shoes. Who wants their ankles exposed to the inside of their pants while they're hunting and gathering in Levy walks?
    The battle continues, but whoever it was who told we foot soldiers not to sweat the small stuff never walked a mile in my socks.
    Wait a minute "
    Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com
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