Monthly Archives: March 2009

Totally Skewed: Walking shoe woes



Treading Lightly



“Hey, neat shoes,” I said to my daughter-in-law Julie.

“Yeah, I just got ‘em,” she replied jutting out one foot and examining it. “They’re AVIAs.” 

I tried to think which of her friends was named Avia.

Julie noted my expression. “You know … the brand?

“No, I don’t know athletic shoe brands. I buy a pair once every four or five years,” I confessed. I kicked out one leg, offering a wrecked Reebok™ for inspection. “I think I got these back in 2004, when I went to Disney World with you guys.”

“Mom!” my son the competitive runner chimed in. “Don’t you know you’re supposed to replace your running shoes every six months?”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you break them down, wear ‘em out.”

“Only if you do something strenuous in them, like actually run,” I clarified.

“No,” he insisted, “even if you’re just walking in them.”

“But I’m mostly walking indoors, on carpet,” I explained. To damage soles, I figured I’d need to be doing something athletic—like maybe cleaning out the garage.

According to what I’ve since verified from a Google search, my shoes could have aged before I ever bought them. It’s possible I’ve had a sort of “dead shoe walking,” if you will. One website suggested that the glue could have already been drying out and the air pockets dissipating before my footwear ever left the store shelf!

I had to admit the only thing I wanted to find deflated about my sneakers was the price.

The article I was reading suggested asking the sales clerk how long the sports shoes had been in the store. But given the current environment, I suspect it would be difficult to find a salesman who’s been on the job longer than the merchandise has been on sale.

One report I checked said that running (or in my case, shuffling) shoes should be replaced every 500 miles. I did the math. I walk about 15 miles per week—when I get motivated. That happens only when the outdoor temperatures climb above 50 degrees or I’ve eaten a platter full of pasta.

By my calculations, I should be able to go 9 months before wearing out a pair of sneakers. At a cost of roughly $60 a pair, if I follow the 500-mile replacement rule, by the time I’ve walked 50,000 miles I will have spent $6,000 on athletic shoes.  

So my question is simply this; if a set of auto tires that cost $600 will carry me 50,000 miles powered by a gasoline engine then why the heck should I pay 10 times that much for tread to help me walk the same distance? mpj031413400001

Even after factoring in fuel cost, it’s cheaper to drive than use my own two legs.

Excuse #964: With shoe prices at current levels, I simply can’t afford to exercise.


Diana Estill is the author of Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life. This book has been nominated as a ForeWord Magazine 2008 Book of the Year. For more information, visit:


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Irish lies: funny facts about St. Patrick’s Day


For one day each year, on March 17, anyone can claim to be Irish. Forget whatever your family might have told you. On St. Patrick’s Day, you’re Irish if you’ve ever worn plaid, eaten a potato, or seen Riverdance.

So how can you distinguish between those who really are Irish and those who are simply looking for an excuse to spend their day drinking green beer? Here’s a clue; if the person in question resembles a Hobbit, probably they’re a true Irishman. Ask this individual to tell you his idea of dinner and a movie. If he answers, “A six-pack of Killian’s and a Rocky rerun,” then he’s actually Irish.

I know it’s unfair to presume that all people of Irish heritage are drunk and violent. Pulitzer prize-winning author Frank McCourt wrote Angela’s Ashes, which just goes to prove that the Irish can be drunk and literary.

Here’s another fact that may surprise you. Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish! Nope. He was born in Britain and sold into slavery as a teen. Patrick then became imprisoned in Ireland, where he was forced to work as a shepherd for six years. It was there, in the fields, during his endless hours of isolation, that he, like so many modern day prisoners, found religion.

Eventually, Saint Patrick, who was then known only as Patrick, or, by the sheep, as “the guy with the big staff,” escaped to freedom and returned to his homeland.

Now, my first question was this: Why the heck did it take a guy who was out in the middle of nowhere SIX years to escape his captors? The only explanation I can offer is that it was the sheep’s fault. They kept following him and giving away his whereabouts.

When Patrick arrived home, all fired up with Christianity and lacking a dry erase board, he began using three-leaf clovers (shamrocks) to illustrate The Trinity. This, of course, immediately caused him to be sent back to Ireland. “Hey, I think you might be on to something, here,” said his fellow believers. Greeting him in much the same way as I deal with multi-level salesmen, his kinsmen suggested, “Why don’t you go convert those pagans who enslaved you?”

Patrick returned to Ireland, where he not only preached his faith but also became a legend among rats. Yes, rats. You see, it is believed that one of Saint Patrick’s hilltop speeches was so terrifying that it drove every snake from Ireland. This, naturally, permitted rats to overthrow the previous animal administration and made possible the movie Ben.

Much Irish folklore has little to do with St. Patrick’s Day. For instance, I can find no valid support for the belief in four-leaf clover. From what I can tell, Saint Patrick had nothing to do with this idea. Quite possibly the search for a four-leaf (and thus, rare) clover was a myth originated by an intoxicated partygoer who needed an excuse for being found face-down on his lawn.

In any event, we currently celebrate the life of Saint Patrick on March 17—the date of his death. I find this strange, given that most ceremonious days commemorate a great leader’s birth. It’s apparent who’s to blame for the mix-up.

Everyone knows you can’t trust a bunch of snakes.


Diana Estill is the author of Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road, Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life, and Stilettos No More

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Totally Skewed Thoughts: What’s so “Green” about a Garden?


Suddenly everyone has become a gardener. Even my daughter, whom I previously thought knew how to grow only molds, announced she’s acquired some seedlings. She’s trying to grow these fragile shoots inside her high-rise apartment, one that is better suited for hosting parties than horticultural pursuits. Having a neglected quarter-acre backyard, perhaps I should be the one who’s contemplating cultivation.

My previous agrarian ventures, thus far, have been confined to the nurturing of drought tolerant native plants such as purple fountain grass, lamb’s ear, and mistletoe. Okay, I didn’t actually introduce the mistletoe. But you get the idea.

I’m thinking that, during tough economic times like these, maybe I shouldn’t let past performance influence future expectations. Possibly it’s time to ignore the claims that I’m “capable of killing a cactus.”

Aside from any demonstrable skills, I can find many reasons not to tackle tomatoes. Sure, I could probably grow something easy—like cucumbers. However, I don’t eat cucumbers. I do love pickles. But then I’d have to solve the critical question of who would make them.

Here’s what really gets me about gardening; people have a tendency to grow whatever suits their soils and not their taste buds. They pay attention to superfluous stuff, such as climate, rather than to what they might actually enjoy consuming. Otherwise, we’d witness more tobacco gardens, backyard vineyards, and mini cocoa tree orchards. Not to mention ILLEGAL crops (which I most assuredly don’t condone).

My point is this: If I’m going to have to water and weed a garden, then it had better be producing something I’ll use—besides another excuse to avoid housework.

Currently, I spend about $4 per week for tomatoes, $4 for lettuce, and another $6 or so for other miscellaneous vegetables. Multiply that by 50 (because I vacation for at least 2 weeks every year) and the result would be barely enough dollar savings to buy the extra refrigerator I’d need to store all the red globes and greens a garden would supply. If I planted a 12-foot by 20-foot patch of produce, I’d need an extra freezer, a roadside vegetable stand, or a lot more friends who cook to handle my harvests. Any added appliances would pull even more electricity than I’m already using. And, frankly, that could spur construction of another power plant!

Furthermore, all the outdoor labor required to maintain a garden would cause me to do something I seldom do now: sweat. Then I’d use more energy to heat the water for additional showers. This, in turn, would lead me to launder more towels, which would cause my dryer to further heat my house in the summertime, and that would trigger my air conditioner to run even harder than it might otherwise.

The additional laundry load also would force me to buy more detergent packaged in plastic petroleum-based containers manufactured out of state, trucked cross-country, and sold to folks like me who drive their cars several miles to acquire it.


So how, I ask, can gardening be “green?”

If I really want to be helpful, healthy, and hospitable, I should simply accept the overages my friends are surely going to be retrieving from their gardens.

From the looks of it, I’d better start clearing some refrigerator space. 



Diana Estill is the author of Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life, available at Read more humor at




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