Monday, June 18, 2018

Instant shoes: Things can only get more automated

Historically mass production of footwear has always been labor intensive and less than environmentally friendly . Automated technology may help and whilst the technology is not quite advanced enough yet to be fully automated,early signs are it is getting there. The use of robotics in shoe manufacture is beginning to shape the footwear industry’s growth by pushing boundaries, like same day manufacture and production. The Keen Uneekbot is a miniature manufacturing marvel that assembles shoes in six minutes. Colours can be selected from menus.

(Video Courtesy: Keen Youtube Channel)

In 2005, Keen Footwear introduced the Uneek sandal. The entire shoe was held together by a single cord that was weaven through both the sole and a lightweight upper.

The next stage was to develop a robot capable of building custom versions of the sandal, anytime or anywhere. In conjunction with automation specialists, the House of Design , they came up with “the world’s smallest shoe factory.” The system consists of two robotic arms, several custom fixtures, and a tablet which serves as the robot’s controller, allowing users to start and stop the shoe-making process or input important variables.

When activated, the two arms work together to create a custom pair of Uneek sandals, automatically selecting the proper coloured cord before seamlessly weaving it through the shoe’s other components. In fact, on its fastest setting, the robot completes its task in just six minutes, which is roughly half the time it takes someone to accomplish the same work by hand. The shoe is then handed off to an actual human, who checks the Uneekbot’s work for quality control and finishes the last few steps of its construction. The sole needs to be finished by hand. and bungee material is used to thread through the shoe loops. Bungee material is used to make it tight, and then more is added to extend room around the insole so the foot can fit.

Designers were determined to reduce the carbon footprint in shoe manufacture and the Uneekbot accomplishes this in no short measure by eliminating excess waste and dramatically reducing the time required to create a single shoe. Making shoes there and then also eliminates fossil fuel emissions (and costs) associated with shipping footwear to the consumer.

Currently to promote and educate budding designers on innovation and creativity, the little robot is on a North American tour.

More strange foot and shoe customs

In Rome respectable women wore togas or stolas. These were different from those worn by sex-workers especially during the reign of Caligula. He made a point of separating working girls from honest women who wore light togas weighted at the bottom so as not to show their feet. Only courtesans and nymphs celebrating erotic festivals were allowed to expose their feet to public gaze.

Public processions, like we see today in parades, dates back to pagan times. Many of these ancient practices still existed in the Middle Ages and the people of France, for instance, marched through the streets, appealing to the gods for a change of political, military or economic fortunes. At first the people merely walked barefoot, but with the passage of time removed more and more garments to show the gods their humility. By 1224 all clothes were removed for such marches and for the next century such public displays were frequent in Paris, though it was usually only men, not women, who stripped down to the bare buff.

In 15th century Europe it was not uncommon to see women expose their breasts in public. This was not considered obscene or ill-mannered but exposing their feet was another matter. In 17th century Spain only husbands had the right to see the feet of their spouses without shoes. This was common to both occidental and oriental societies.

The young women of Northwest Siberia (Yakut) were happy enough to have their thighs seen whilst working about their household duties. They were even unmoved, if by chance, male strangers caught sight of their bare breasts but when their father and brother-in-laws gazed upon their bare feet, that was taboo. On very hot days in Siberia, Russian women commonly walked about naked but always had their feet covered. Siberia is not associated with a warm climate so I do not suppose it happened all that very often just in case you are thinking of going there for vocation. But if you were to attend a marriage ceremony in Siberia you might witness the quaint custom of fitting stockings & sock. In these parts the bride and groom do not exchange rings at the ceremony they just exchange thermals. Seemingly the sexiest thing you can do together is remove your partner's stockings.(sic. I can do it with my teeth, how about you?). Of course, no one is sure of the origins of this fetish but it may be related to the Chinese custom of foot eroticus.

In ancient China if a man were to touch a ladies shoe this was considered "the first move in courtship", if the lady took exception great shame fell on the man, otherwise his luck was in.

In Tanzania, the Turu females were extremely well mannered but this did not stop them from soliciting sexual favours from men in the tribe. A code was developed and if the man was asked for a hoe or the lady stole his sandals, then it was green for goes. The women of Laos were not permitted to go barefoot or wear sandals. To expose the female toes was considered very obscene and husbands would punish their wives by taking away their shoes and forcing them to stay in their hut until their penance was complete. Only then were their shoes returned. Among some tribes in Africa it was common for women to go topless and men to have minimal covering for their private parts. However, it was considered obscene by many for a man or woman to be sitting down with the sole of their feet exposed.

In the Island of Banoi, Papua New Guinea, a new son-in-law was virtually a slave to his new mother-in-law and required to provide her with firewood for the rest of his life. The poor man had to approach her on his knees as the sight of his feet pointing towards her was considered a real insulted.

Urine held much fascination to our forebears and was used in the First World War to soften the leather of hard army boots. In Africa many tribes considered urine to be "holy water." The Bakitara king in Central Africa kept a female chamberlain who was responsible for golden showers to his feet every morning so that he could have a successful start to the day.

I can think of better ways myself , but there you go.

Rancier L The sex chronicles Santa Monica: General Publishing Group

Reviewed 18/06/2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Conrad Cantzem: Best foot forward and never say die

In the English language, left and right are not opposites and originally left meant weak or the weak side. Our lexicon contains many references including and when you are paid "a left handed compliment", i.e. an insult. Starting off on a journey with the left foot in days of old meant bad luck for the journey. In days gone by, people always put their best foot forward for a journey and that was usually the right foot for good luck. Anatomically, for most the right leg is stronger because of the way the foetus sits in the womb. Marching armies were the exception and started their campaigns with the left foot forward e.g. "left, right" etc. This was deliberate and sent a clear message to all foes there would be no mercy given to them.

From Roman times the significance of colours of shoes was established as a means of social classification. The more expensive the dyes the more exclusive they were. Red was at first the colour for high magistrates but later became the Emperor's prerogative. During the reign of Caesar Nero, senators suspected of being Christians were stripped of their red boots. Black or white was the preferred colours for senators and women's shoes were ornamented with pearls and embroidery and included subtle or brighter colours.

In modern fashion red is considered the most daring an outrageous shoe colour and designers consider the wearer to be blatantly sexy. Black and navy are more sombre inhibited shoe colours and tend to be worn by sensible thoughtful types. The exception to this rule is black patent leather which might infer the wearer prefers an exotic life style. The colour white has become associated with Chavs e.g. Essex girls (an English euphemism for flighty types of girls). Leather shoes are favoured by committed types who like their lives to be structured. These people are not impulsive and tend to be duty bound. Buckles show a desire to be in control, with the bigger the buckle, the more important you are. Through the century’s styles and colours reflected class distinctions.

Conrad Cantzem (1867 - 1945) was a "down in the heel" Broadway actor in the thirties and forties. He was more often seen wandering the New York theatre streets peddling than on "the boards" and in front of the footlights. However, it was not until his death in 1945 did anyone know Conrad had saved all his life and left a trust which guaranteed fellow actors, devoid of money, the opportunity to buy good shoes. As the actor stated in his will he had suffered enough indignities in life and always associated his bad luck as an actor with his worn out shoes. Not for his fellow thespians because Conrad left a trust which to this day provides hard up actors with good shoes. Provided they are card carrying members of the actor’s union and can present a receipt of purchase for shoes, they are entitled to forty dollars US subsidy. The only stipulation is shoes must cost less than 80 dollars and actors may claim rebates only once per year, but can claim every year.

(Video Courtesy: loafersguy Youtube Channel)

World Cup Telstar 18: The baw's burst

Inspite of all the scientitic testing and ‘bla ‘ from adidas about their new Telstar 18, being tough and durable, it burst during the game between France and Australia. A strong tackle on Lucas Hernandez (France) by Trent Sainsbury (Australia) sandwiched the ball and it burst.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Nike-lees Iran win their first game

According to VOA Persian TV, Nike said its refusal to provide Iranian players with boots at Russia 2018 was down to the White House’s decision to re-impose US sanctions on Iran as part of its exit from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Nike had previously said in a statement: "The sanctions [from the White House] mean that, as a US company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time.”

Many of the players have boot contracts with Nike but now face playing without their Nike soccer cleats. Iran head coach, Carlos Queiroz understandably, has revealed his anger at Nike after they refused to supply football boots to his players. He believes his players have been brought closer together by Nike’s decision to cut their supply of World Cup kit. It has been reported the late decision disrupted Iran’s preparations, with some players having to buy their own footwear from Russian shops or even ask club team-mates for help.

(Video Courtesy: Sky Sports News Youtube Channel)

Iranian born Socceroo, Daniel Arzani will continue to honour his contract with Nike despite the sports manufacturer refusing to supply Iranian players with football boots for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Nike’s Australian branch is responsible for providing equipment to the overwhelming majority of the Socceroos' squad and the supply falls outwith the US ban.

Iran won their group opener after Morocco's Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an own goal in stoppage time to give Carlos Queiroz's team the three points and top spot in Group B thanks to a draw later on Friday between Spain and Portugal. Nike-less Iran recorded only their second-ever win in a World Cup, 20 years after beating the U.S. at the 1998 World Cup. Now there is an irony.

And then, there was the cowboy boot

The origins of the Cowboy Boot are well researched and started life as riding boots for the marauding Mongol tribesmen. Horsemen wore red wooden heels and conquered all before them. The fashion caught on and was popular for centuries among nobility and horse riders.

English Cavaliers took the style to extraordinary lengths wearing thigh high riding boots with Cuban heels. Once defeated by Cromwell, the Cavalier Stuarts immigrated in their droves to the New World. They took with them their boots and many settled in the south forming the southern plantation class. After the civil war many southerners migrated west to Texas taking with them their noble footwear. Standard cavalry issue during the American Civil War was the Wellington Boot.

In 1815 Arthur Wellsley, First Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. The popular victor became a national icon and both men and women emulated his sartorial style of footwear. The modern Wellington had a low cut heel which was calf high and not thigh high. This made them easier to mass produce.

Unfortunately during the American Civil War unscrupulous contractors supplied below par footwear and many of the cavalry boots were mass produced using reinforced cardboard. Climatic conditions took their tool and horse soldiers suffered deep cuts to their feet. A Chiropodist General to the US cavalry was appointed at this time. Our lexicon was enriched with the word shoddy meaning manufacturers willing to compromise for profit. Right and left boots were introduced and they were most unpopular. As a result shoe manufacturers decided not to introduce right and left shoes to the masses for another half century. At the end of the war the federal government had half a million pairs of boots surplus to requirements. Systematically during the following years troops stationed on the frontier were supplied with the shoddy boots. Shoe historians believe the foundation of the cowboy boot trade in the frontier was based on the simple necessity for civilian bookmakers to replace defective military footwear. By the 1880's the cowboy boot was beginning to emerge as a distinctive style. Starting life as a dress Wellington or full Wellington, the fashion merged with the hard wearing lace up boot (or packer), worn by drovers. Later the three piece military boot was incorporated and worn by Hollywood's Cowboys.

Tejas (or Napoleon style boots) with their peacock flair and ostentatious inlays were worn by megastars Tex Ritter and Tom Mix and became incredibly popular during the 30's and 40's. Somewhat surprisingly today’s cowboy boots are really fantasy footwear fabricated by Hollywood but the history of their development mirrors the history of boot manufacture from Genghis Khan to modern man.

(Video Courtesy: Steven Foreman Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 16/06/2018

Legendary slackliner Faith Dickey crosses canyon in heels

(Video Courtesy: CGTN Youtube Channel)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Zeevy Customs (aka Zac Vine) Shoe artist extraordinaire

Zac Vine was working with inner city youth in Toronto. and noticed how imported kicks were to his class after a fight nearly ensued when one kid damaged another kid’s shoes. Intrigued, he began researching shoe and sneaker culture. At first, he showed his classes how they could repair their favourite trainers and make them look brand new. One of the class members asked him to customise his trainers and they were so impressed with the end result they suggest Vine post his artwork on Instagram.

The images soon caught the attention of Aroldis Chapman (then Cincinnati Reds), who arranged a meet. Chapman’s interest sparked an invitation from Nike and they invited Vine to their headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., where he was given an inside look at their design process and some of the materials they work with. He was also offered work with their sponsored athletes.

For professional reasons, Zac works under the tag Zeevy Customs and the shoe artists strips each sneaker removing any of the manufacturer’s finish, before re-dying and refashioning the sneakers by hand. He then customises the shoe to the client’s request using paintbrushes. He likes to avoid airbrushes or stencils preferring to work freestyle.

The artist painstakingly recreates images of family members or pets submitted by clients, and popular scenes such as José Bautista ’s infamous bat-flip for a pair of Jays-themed sneakers. He regularly accepts celebrity commission from people like, The Weeknd , Drake and Logic . According to the artist, it takes about 40 hours to complete one pair, or a week's work. He charges about $30 an hour to customize a shoe and sells his one-off sneakers from prices ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.

Despite his resounding success the Canadian shoe artist missed helping kids, so he started teaching again as a substitute at Journey Middle School. After going full time, he combined the two interests and created the Fresh SOLES program, where students are able to paint their own sneakers.

(Video Courtesy: Sneakerphiles Youtube Channel)

Foot morphology

Now if you have a planned trip to Europe in mind and hope to idle away your r&r visiting the castles and stately homes of medieval England and Poland, spare a thought for the size of the furniture. Or more particularly the size of the people the beds and chairs were made for. You will note the people of yesteryear was smaller. Science tells us, as a species, we are getting bigger and our feet are changing shape. Records show in North America in 1895 the popular size range in women's shoes was 1 to 6, on D and E widths. One hundred years later the popular range is between 7.5 to 8 and B width in most demand. Women's feet are longer and thinner, according to the sources. Whilst this might seem to conflict with the popular belief feet get flatter and broader as we get older, the statistic does not cover this issue.

US Army records maintained since the War of Independence show recruits were significantly smaller and weighed much less than in the past than they do now. Shoe sizes have almost doubled in 150 years. More interesting is the rate of change has accelerated from the time of the second world war to the present. Recruits have grown 2", gained 23 pounds and now takes shoes that are two sizes up.

Scientists pondering this conundrum believe there may be two causes, improved diet and health care. Changed diets and public health the children of each succeeding generation have become taller and heavier, (not fatter), that their parents were at the same age. These dramatic changed have been witnessed in countries like Japan, where after the war western food and diets supplanted much of the traditional fare. Children grew 2" and put on 15 pounds more than their parents were at the same age.

There is no data available on Australian populations, but much of the population early years of settlement were European, and many malnourished. Changes to their diet and improved health has certainly resulted in bigger and taller Australians, and I guess with longer and narrower feet to win gold medals with.

The true story of shoe sizes New York: Sterlinglast Corp

Reviewed 15/06/2018

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Feet: Your are in the army now

In 1690, it was expected the musketeers would perform their rifle duties with a graceful readiness and exactness, which entailed being trained to adopt the appropriate stance when using the early rifles. Solders were required to shoulder their musket with feet one step apart and their heels parallel with the toe slightly turned outwards. This position was thought to balance the body mass evenly. (Bennet, 1989). Today this would be called the "at ease", stance. In 1792 the position was changed to what we now recognise as the "attention" position. Knees and ankles together with the feet pointing outward to form an angle of sixty degrees. This caused the centre of mass to lie forward over the pelvis causing body weight to be taken on the forepart of the foot.

By 1739, solders were trained to stand to attention, awaiting their officer’s command. Sometime between 1867 and 1870 the foot angle was reduced to 45%. The army recognised the position of attention was detrimental but did little to change the tradition until 1909 when a committee was formed to look at the physiological effects of food, training and clothing on the soldier. The report acknowledged the position of attention was detrimental to body physiology, anatomy as well as wasteful of energy they did however, defend it as a mark of discipline and ceremony. Eventually an amended position was adopted by the infantry in 1911.

. The experiences of the Great War provided a window of opportunity for testing many theories including screening for flat feet. Logically it was better to screen out civilians who were not in both physical and mental A1 condition. The feet presented a problem albeit the stereotypical ideal foot was easy to recognise i.e. because of the well-formed arches. Some recruits appeared to have normal feet but many failed to complete their basic training and required to be discharged. This came at considerable cost to governments and politicians were eager to keep costs to a minimum.

By 1924 it was recognised to frame effective regulations to prevent enlistment of men likely to develop flat feet was impossible. Medical personnel however, had to distinguish between apparent flat feet which had no effect on efficiency and genuine pathological flat feet which had. Due care and attention was given to the management of recruits reporting painful feet. This included forced rest and deployment and the development of a recruitment boot or modified army boot with modified training regimes. Major concerns were expressed at this time in history as to the general lack of fitness of young men in particular. Much was blamed on the poor nutrition caused by the Great War. Between the wars improvement in living conditions became a priority as did the promotion of healthy pursuits such as exercise and sport. All in an endeavor to have available fit young met to defend national borders.

The role of the Army Medical Officer took on greater importance in screening potential recruits. This has fashioned the direction and approach of orthopaedic care of the feet to the present time. Sadly, many young men served their country because they had arched feet and in the case of rigid pus cavus, rather painfully too. On the other hand, or should it be foot, probably more men avoided the services because they had mobile feet which collapsed on weight bearing. Life has never a dull moment.

Reviewed 14/06/2018

Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson : Sneakers podcast

From an actual jail in England to a pretend jail in Nike advertisements, sneakers have always made a statement without saying a word. In this episode, Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson looks into how they fit into the sport and fashion landscape – both on and off the field of play.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Héctor Castro (1904 - 1960)

Hector Castro was born in 1904, Montevideo. As a young boy (aged 13), he accidentally amputated his right forearm while using an electric saw to cut wood. This did not stop him from playing football and in 1923/24 sesssion, aged 19, he signed for Club Nacional. His team went onto win three Uruguayan Championships (1924, 1933, 1934), before he retired in 1936.

He made his debut for the Uruguay national football team in November 1923. He played his final match for la Celeste in August 1935 having played 25 times, scoring 18 goals. Castro neither asked for nor received special consideration for his handicap and often put his stump to good use by pushing other players out of the way as he lept to head the ball. He was loved by his fans and respected by his peers. Off the field he enjoyed the fast life and had a reputation as a ‘bad boy,’ with his drinking and gambling antics. Several times he had his life threatened but dismissed any attempt to imtimidate him as a player.

'El Divino Manco' (meaning 'the one-handed god') was picked for his National Team and scored Uruguay’s first-ever World Cup goal, against Per. He also scored the winning goal at the FIFA World Cup final in 1930. Héctor Castro played twenty five times for his country scoring twenty goals. After he retired from the playing, he went on to coach Nacional, and won the Uruguayan championship in 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, and again in 1952.

(Video Courtesy: FIFATV Youtube Channel)

What is adidas Boost?...

adidas Solar Boost: Recycled ocean plastic fantastic

The adidas Solar Boost, was inspired, at least in part, by NASA engineering and is one of the new lightweight running shoes (295 grams - 10.4 ounces in a men’s 8.5 UK). According to adidas, the shoe uses data-driven Tailored Fibre Placement that implements Parley material (recycled ocean plastic) within its fibres at the midfoot for support. The shoe is precisely stitched and constructed using data from the Aramis system motion capture system, and the shoes are available in a wider fit with a counter designed to allow free motion of the Achilles tendon.

By comparison, according to the manufacturer, tests conducted by independents, showed the adidas Solar Boost gave higher energy return with each stride than the Nike Epic React Flyknit, which was attributed to the cushioned Boost midsole, supported by the Stretchweb outsole, used for extra traction. The shoe has a new mesh upper, made of Parley yarns, and connected to the sole via the brand’s patented Solar Rail. This plastic-like layer runs along the sole and gives support for your foot, and works in partnership with the Torsion Bar stretching from heel to forefoot.

(Video Courtesy: Seth Fowler Youtube Channel)

Dad creates a 3D orthosis so his 7-year-old son can walk for the first time

(Video Courtesy: In the Know Youtube Channel)

Feet and shoes: In your dreams

According to authoritative sources we all dream. Some dreams are more vivid than others and some more memorable. However, a common theme involves the foot and the significance is wide and varied.

Walking barefoot with torn garments means disappointment with expectations, and bad influences hovering over efforts for advancement. Walking with a stagger means you are too influenced by flattery and to see others do the same, infers a cry for help. The dream of seeing many feet walking along a pavement, heralds material loss.

Boots too, appear in our dreams. If you see a pair of boots on another, your place will be secured in the affections of your sweetheart. If you wear a pair of new boots, you will be fortunate in business. Seeing yourself in old foreworn boots foretells sickness and trouble. If you dream of removing boots with a bootjack, then this means easy living is predicted.

New shoes foretell short journeys. Shoes that are old and uncomfortable are a sign of home relaxations and good friends. To dream of losing one of your shoes prophesies new activities that will come to naught. To throw an old shoe at a wedding is a sign that you will have family worries.

Wearing galoshes in a dream is a forerunner of being able to save a considerable sum of money. If they are too large for you, the forecast is even better, but if they leak and allow your feet to get wet, you are in danger of being called to account for some sin of omission.

Wearing comfortable sandals predicts a romance by moonlight. If they chafe your feet this foretells of an altercation with someone to whom you owe a small amount of money.

The dream of a shoemaker working at his last is an omen of finding someone who will be able to finance a business deal for you.

Putting on stockings portends the beginning of an adventure that is likely to lead to a profitable contract for services. To find a hole in your stockings is a sign that you will have to explain an absence from duty. To mend stockings is an omen that will give you satisfaction but no financial reward.

If you dream about hanging up your stocking at Christmas, you will have many friends but not much money.

To dream of callous on hands or feet predicts a new and unusual kind of work ahead. To dream of corns on your feet is a sign that scandal mongers are seeking to ruin your reputation. Pain felt from a bunion in a dream is a sign of definite comfort in old age. To dream of having a podiatrist attend to a bunion is to look forward to improved financial circumstances. If you dream you are a podiatrist, then look out you may receive news that may disgust and at the same time amuse you. Dreaming about cutting your own corns with a razor or knife is the sign of the loss of money or friends.

To dream of bathing the feet foretells a pleasant relief from anxiety. If you dream about seeing your own feet, it means that your position is insecure. Looking at your own bare foot in a dream is a sign that you will laugh before you cry and suggests that you should cultivate the habit of looking on the bright side of life. Seeing the barefoot of another signifies a new acquaintance who will prove to be an excellent friend. If the foot is deformed, you will hear disturbing news.

Stocking feet announce a mystery, with shoes on them, they point to new experiences in the company of the opposite sex.

If someone stomps on your foot, you are warned to guard your tongue lest you get into trouble. To see a person or thing that is not normal is an omen of a pleasant outcome to something that has worried you. When a person suffering from physical affliction features in the dream this is a forecast of good health.

Gout foretells postponement of a long anticipated visit of old friends. It is also a warning to cut down on consumption of alcohol. Rheumatism is a warning not to fall down on any promises you have made. Bow legs mean you should look to your own comfort. Dreaming of disease may be a regarded as a warning but not necessary an unpleasant prophecy.

If ankles fair in your dreams, then this is what they mean. A broken or injured ankle is an omen of a loss of money. A sprained ankle foretells an approach by a committee who will ask you to run for office. A man dreaming of women's' ankles means a love affair is pending. To dream of being feted with chains, ropes or conditions predict a new and successful love affair.

If you dream you cannot remove your foot from the accelerator, this is a warning against vices such as gambling and drinking.

A dream of a Sagittarius (the Patron Saint of Surgical Shoe makers) means you will be shocked by news of one of your acquaintances.

To dream about playing football in front of spectators, well you are in for a large sum of money. If the dream is about witnessing a game of soccer you are warned against making friends too easily. If you dream of athlete’s foot you should guard against conspiracies against competitors.

Dreams: hidden meanings and secrets London: Greenwich Editions 1987.

Reviewed 13/06/2018