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25 July 2006
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A Time-Saving Sockret

In my diatribe a couple of weeks ago about how much time we waste doing things more often than seems necessary, I neglected to mention one tiny oasis of joy in my repetitious life.  I am pleased to announce that I have fulfilled my sock requirements for, at the very least, the next decade.  Given the dire statistics with which we're all familiar, it may be that I will never, ever, purchase another sock.  And if I do, it will be a joyous occasion, rather than the irritation it had become before sockal enlightenment.

Sockal enlightenment!  It came to me at the moment that I realized that a particular pair of socks was lasting for an unusually large number of wearings.  I am one who subjects these versatile foot protectors to a greater than normal ordeal.  I am fortunate in that my office environment is one that does not require shoes, and so when I arrive at work I remove them and galumph about in my socks during the day.  As they have not yet developed self-healing properties, these socks tend to require replacement more often than the feet that give them their characteristic shape.  Eventually they develop a second hole, and then a third, or more.  Eventually, therefore, they become an embarrassment even to me, and must be discarded.  I've always been puzzled about the natural lifespan of these paired garments; some last for only a few wearings, others as many as 30 or so.  Their durability doesn't seem to be related to price, or to anything I do or don't do.  My feet and my activities remain similar over a typical group of sock-lives.  Long past are the days during which I'm exposed to the risk that a strategically fallen 74LS38 will puncture my sole (In 14 locations)!  Fallen electronic components are much flatter now.

So there I was with a pair of long-lasting socks, and a revelation.  If I had enough of these socks, I would have enough socks!  Tautological as this may sound, it had never occurred to me that one could buy a lifetime's supply of socks, and thus alleviate one minor but perpetual irritation.  As I thought about it more, I realized that I had not only the opportunity to save time, but an investment opportunity as well.  Assume that the price of socks increases with the rate of inflation.  If you were to invest the money you would otherwise spend on socks, you may beat inflation by a bit, but you have to pay tax not just on the amount you beat inflation but on the inflation as well.  The IRS does not (yet) have a blank on any of their forms for you to enumerate the contents of your sock vault, and doesn't tax you on its contents.  Furthermore, since you will eventually destroy them, they will have no residual value for which you may someday be called to account.  Just as importantly, if you purchase socks-pairs by the hundred instead of by the each, you're in wholesale territory, and can get them for half price or less.  What are the risks of this investment?  Well, you could lose a foot in a tragic accident, in which case they'd last twice as long, or, of course, your need for socks could diminish with death, at which point your concern for your investment would concomitantly diminish.  Another useful consideration:  If you have multiple heirs, it's easier to divvy up remanent socks than it is, say, a house.

Unstated above, but probably obvious:  This is not a prescription for everyone.  For example, in quizzing a number of people, I have found that some, especially those of the female persuasion, will wear socks of different appearance on successive days.  Somehow they have been inculcated with the notion that people look at their feet for reasons other than this kind of research.  Ha!  Not this guy person, and not most of my conspecifics.  To paraphrase G. Stein, a sock is a sock, and that's the answer.  If they're all the same, you don't have to match (or eccentrically de-match) them before selecting your ensemble for the day.

The amount of time I have saved on sock purchases alone over the past couple of years is easily sufficient to allow creation of several blogitems, not just this one.  Profit!  And I'm on the track of yet another clothing item that will benefit from this modus vivendi.  I'll tell you what it is when I've secured a supply as I don't want to distort the market.  Hint:  you need them in co-ed swimming pools, and they are eventually rendered almost transparent by an excess of chlorine.  I'm having my sockretary qualify potential vendors.

2006
Richard Factor