Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Occupy Wally's

Yesterday some of the occupy protesters made more news in Utah as they blocked the entrances to three Walmarts along the Wasatch Front, so that no trucks could get in and dock.  They also held protests inside the buldings.

Can someone please explain this to me?  I am all sorts of confused on what the actual goal of the Occupy movement is.  One day it's standing in front of the universities complaining about tuition, the next they just won't leave the big city park, some people are driving up and down State Street in SLC all day just to cause traffic, and now they're preventing Walmart from doing business.

You want to know what happened after the trucks were finally able to get in?  No, this wasn't in any news story, but I guarantee it happened.  Whoever was in charge of unloading those trucks probably stayed late (at least half of them) to unload the truck anyway, or a bunch of managers would have stayed late who work 12 hour shifts each day already.  I'm not trying to say "Oh, poor Walmart workers," just simply that they still stayed and got the work done.  Why?  Because some of them actually need the money (since that is what the protesters are protesting - they say Walmart doesn't pay enough), and you know what?  Some people actually like their jobs there.  They don't mind, and they make things work.  Yes, a fair portion of those workers are on welfare and such, but I also personally know these people - the workers who intend on staying there forever are (in general) literally not capable of holding a different job.  And the ones who don't plan on staying there - they're just trying to get through school, or find a better job, or anything as a means to an end.

I'm also not sure if the protesters have considered the economic consequences of what they're suggesting.  If Walmart has to pay their employees more, as the occupiers demand, prices are going to go up on the products.  How else are prices kept lower, on average, than other stores?  (And if you don't believe me, that's fine.  That is just my experience in this valley - 9.5 times out of ten, if I look at the same item in another store, it is less expensive at Walmart.)  I can hardly imagine they'd be happy once all the prices increased.

Maybe I'm missing something - I seriously don't understand the purpose of a lot of this 'movement.'

Care to enlighten me?

Monday, December 12, 2011

If the Shoe Fits

My final English paper:

If the Shoe Fits:  When it Doesn’t, and What to Do
            It’s no secret that we Whitings have large feet.  My grandpa wears a men’s size 15 in shoes.  Consequently, all of his 10 children have larger-than-average feet.  All seven of his daughters struggle to find shoes that are cute, reasonably priced, and fitting all at the same time.  Many of his granddaughters also have this same problem.  I am one of them.  I wear a size 10 ½ in women’s shoes.  Contrary to the belief of many, not all department stores have this shoe size in stock.  My purpose here is to show you how important it is to wear properly-sized shoes, as well as where to find those properly-sized shoes.
            How many of us have worn the wrong size shoe in order to have that really cute pair of shoes we wanted, to get a good deal, or simply so that we had a pair to wear rather than nothing at all?  When I was 15, I needed a pair of black ballet flats to take on my high school orchestra trip in order to match the required uniform.  This seems like a simple request, right?  I remember searching store after store, trying to find just one pair that didn’t either pinch or fall off my feet.  I finally gave up and purchased a 20-dollar pair of flats in size 11 at Target.  The entire week my feet fell out of those flats, and they continued to slip around in that pair of shoes for 6 years, until this past summer, when I finally found a pair to replace them.  I’m sure there are many similar stories out there; whether the decision was to purchase a pair too big, too small, or nothing at all, we’ve all experienced the frustration of an improperly-fitting shoe.  In fact, you may be wearing that pair of shoes right now.
            According to a study performed last year on the relationship between wrong shoe sizes and foot pain, more than 48% of women are wearing the wrong size shoe (de Castro et al, 218).  Another similarly-performed study showed 72% of people (both male and female) were wearing either too large or too small of shoes (Burns, 345).  Both studies show that a significant amount of people in both the United States and the United Kingdom are wearing the wrong size of shoes!  Wearing men’s larger shoes is not going to cut it either.  When compared against each other, men’s and women’s lasts (a last is what is used to mold the inner shell of a shoe) are not similar enough in what should be comparable sizes (i.e. women’s 10 vs. men’s 8-8.5) (Grau, 151-154).  Just because a man’s shoe and a woman’s shoe both have the same length does not mean they will both properly fit the same woman’s foot.
            There are consequences to wearing incorrectly-sized shoes.  I am sure most every woman who has worn poor shoes has had at some point in time foot pain of some kind.  One study performed in 2009 found that for women specifically, past shoewear was a good predictor for whether or not they would have foot pain years down the road.  The authors even go so far as to say outright, “Young women should make careful choices regarding their shoe type in order to potentially avoid hindfoot pain later in life…” (Dufour et al, 1357)
            Poorly-fitted shoes can cause foot deformities as well.  Bunions or hammer toe, anyone?  Painful, as well as potentially long-lasting, it is no secret these are unpleasant.  Not only can wearing the wrong size shoes cause painful foot problems, but it can change the shape of your feet.  A previously mentioned study found that there were differences in foot measurements. This study measured 16 different spots on each participant’s foot.  For those wearing an incorrectly sized shoe, 14 categories of measurement had higher average values than those of the participants wearing correctly sized shoes (de Castro et al, 220).  So wearing too big or too small of shoes can actually cause your feet to be bigger!  I prefer to think of buying well-fitting shoes as a prevention method.  If you were told you could help prevent a common disease with medication, you would likely take it.  Likewise, when you wear the right shoes, you are helping to prevent foot problems and pain later in life.  If you want to know more about foot deformities, do not do a Google image search unless you have a particularly strong stomach.  Really.
            Now that it is clear why it is so important to wear well-fitting shoes, the question has likely already risen:  “But we can’t find any shoes that fit in the first place!  Where can we find them?”  It’s no secret that fewer women have large feet:  it’s a basic normal statistical truth that if a value is larger than the average, it is less likely to occur.  Department stores don’t have as much financial incentive to stock larger shoes when there are not as many women purchasing them as there are the smaller and more average sizes.  Below is a breakdown of the most commonly purchased shoe sizes in America.  It should be noted this is from 1998.  Many sources suggest that the average woman’s shoe size is growing from 7-8 to 8-9 (Baghdjian, “Bigger Feet a Growing Shoe Problem for UK Women”).
A breakdown of women’s shoe sales by shoe size, taken from 525,375,000 sales through April 1998
From Footwear Impression Evidence:  Detection, Recovery, and Examination by William J. Bodziak.

            In a recent interview I had with my aunt, Jennifer Wood (a Whiting by birth), she expressed her frustration with the lack of shoes available for larger feet.  One day a few years ago, after many unsuccessful shopping-for-shoes trips, she said, “I went into a store, and I was determined that I was going to find some shoes.  At about the third store I went into, I asked, ‘Do you have any pair of size 12 shoes?’  Their answer was no, and I had tears start running down my face, right in the store…Then I decided, this is reality.  Are you going to cry about it?”
            Armed with the hard truth that finding good shoes in a size 12 was going to be rough, Jenn decided that she would have to be willing to search in less usual places, and perhaps be willing to spend a bit more money.  My aunt has found success shopping for size 12 shoes at Payless Shoe Source, which, according to their website Payless.com, carries women’s sizes through 13, with half-sizes stopping at 9.5.  However, due to quality issues, more recently she has taken to shopping at Zappos.com, an online company which supplies just about anything you might reasonably want.  Jenn purchased a few pairs of shoes from them recently and needed to return one she didn’t like as well.  She said of the experience, 
Zappos is really great because if you do have to return something, it’s free shipping I believe.  When I called and said I wanted a different pair, I found the pair I wanted first; they said, ‘Ok, we’ll send you that one out right away and we’ll send you a packing slip so you can send that pair back.’  I didn’t have to wait to get my new pair of shoes.  They’ll mail them to you within usually a day.
            Zappos’ website confirms that they offer free shipping on returns, and at the time this was written, they are offering free returns for 365 days (likely as a Christmas incentive).  Their shoes are offered in multiple widths, and range from size 2 to size 15 in women’s.  When compared with Payless, their prices are higher; however, as my aunt puts it, “I’ll wait for a year and save up and buy a pair of shoes that I really like rather than buy a cheap pair at Payless that will fall apart within a few months and not fit me as well.”  Oftentimes better quality comes with a higher price.
            Both Kmart and Walmart often carry shoes up to size 12, though most shoes run only to size 11.  My experience in department stores has been that most of them carry through size 10, some up to 11, and there is a very occasional 12.  If you are willing to pay the price (their “starting” price online is $25), Nordstrom’s online store carries through women’s size 14, and carries half sizes through 11.5.  Nordstrom even tends to have most of these sizes in stock in their store as well.  I found similar results with the department store Macys.
            Other online sources for specialty shoe shopping include (but are not limited to):  6pm.com, eccousa.com, drewshoe.com, sanitaclogs.com, aetrex.com, dsw.com, famousfootwear.com, footsmart.com, and shoesofyourdreams.com.  These are just the tip of the iceberg.  So many other sources are there, waiting to be discovered.
            When it comes to finding the right shoe, if you have large feet, you have to be willing to possibly pay a larger sum, take extra time to research out all your options, and deal with the (in)convenience of online shopping.  When you shop online for something like shoes, the opportunity is missed to try on the actual shoe.  However, at minimum, return shipping is paid in many cases, so if the shoe doesn’t fit when you receive it, you can return the shoe for free to the company and choose either another size or go with another option/company.  These are all drawbacks to the art of large-shoe-shopping, but in order to have healthy, pain free feet, you must be willing to make this sacrifice.  After all, this is “reality,” as my Aunt Jennifer states, and your feet are not going to magically get smaller. 
Shoe size is one of our unchangeable features as human beings, and we all need shoes.  The foot-health benefits far outweigh the cost and inconvenience of finding the right shoe to wear when you have large feet.  There is no shortage of shops out there with the right shoes; the key is finding them, whether in person or online.  Once you find your store, an entire world of shoe options can be opened up.  Sometimes it takes time to find the one shop or shoe that will be your best fit.  However, the sacrifice is still worth it; I would prefer to wear shoes that are comfortable because they fit, don’t hurt, and look at least mildly attractive.  Wouldn’t you? 

Works Cited
Baghdjian, Alice. “Bigger Feet a Growing Shoe Problem for UK Women.” Reuters. 4 Aug. 2011. Web. 22 Nov. 2011.
Burns, S.L., Leese, G.P., McMurdo, M.E.T. “Older People and Ill Fitting Shoes.” Postgrad Med J. (2002): 78: 344-346. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
de Castro, Alessandra Paiva, José Rubens Rebelatto, and Thaís Rabiatti Aurichio. “The Relationship Between Wearing Incorrectly Sized Shoes and Foot Dimensions, Foot Pain, and Diabetes.”  Journal of Sport Rehabilitation 19.2 (2010):214-225. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
Dufour, A. B., Broe, K. E., Nguyen, U.-S. D. T., Gagnon, D. R., Hillstrom, H. J., Walker, A. H., Kivell, E. and Hannan, M. T. (2009), “Foot Pain: Is Current or Past Shoewear a Factor?” Arthritis Care & Research, 61: 1352–1358. doi: 10.1002/art.24733.
Grau, Stefan et al. “Comparison Of Female Foot Morphology And Last Design In Athletic Footwear—Are Men’s Lasts Appropriate For Women?.”  Research In Sports Medicine 18.2 (2010): 140-156.  Academic Search Premier.  Web.  5 Dec 2011.
Nordstrom.  www.nordstrom.com 3 Dec 2011.
Payless Shoe Source.  www.payless.com 3 Dec 2011.
Wood, Jennifer.  Personal Interview.  29 Nov 2011.
Zappos.  www.zappos.com  3 Dec 2011. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Long and Slow Death Called Finals Week

Hey - if one of my ancestors died from a blister, I could die from finals, right?

This has been one of the best semesters of my life. It may have to do with a boy, but I'm not so sure.

I started out the semester right, with just the right amount of hours at work that I thought I could handle. I've been able to balance 20 hrs a week at work, 15 GPA credit hours (5 classes), one early-morning gym class, and a boyfriend. Well, at least my definition of balanced.

I have not had to pull any all-nighters this semester (a first), and I've only had a few weeks where I've had nights getting 3 hours of sleep each night.

Seriously, it's been fabulous.

So here I sit on the night before finals start, with a terrible headache/beginning of a migraine.

I've always found it ironic that things like this tend to happen at the least convenient hour.

Or is it just that whenever a migraine happens I think of all the things I could be doing? And when a migraine doesn't happen I ignore those things? I'm more inclined to think I am a lazy bum who only complains about things like that when it is convenient.

Well, wish me luck! And good luck to everyone out there with finals in the coming couple of weeks!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Temple Square-ing It Up

I went to the First Presidency Annual Christmas Devotional this past Sunday with my sister, friends, and boyfriend.

Here are the pictures:

Please also listen to my new favorite version of "Feliz Navidad", as performed by Michael Buble:

This is the end of the post.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Es lo que Está Pasando

Yup, if you speak fluent Spanish, don't check the title.  It's probably all wrong.

However, I am getting quite good (I think) at my Spanish skills.  I help customers nearly every day in Spanish; some days I'm more helpful than others, but hey - at least I try, right?

I have been busy with work and school and spending time with Caleb (don't barf).

Classes are done next week, and then one week of finals.

After that, one more semester until I graduate!

I leave for the Dominican Republic in 3 weeks!

Kaitlin, Caleb, Kendra, Clayton, Megan and I are attending the Christmas First Presidency devotional on Sunday.   Look for us in the nosebleed section.

Caleb, Kendra and I are attending the Music and the Spoken Word/Christmas Mormon Tabernacle Choir Concert on Dec 18.  Also look in the nosebleed section for us.  I can't believe I was lucky enough to get tickets to both!

I still haven't gotten the promotion at work, but I'm working on it.  I guess they want to work me as much as possible, for as little as possible, for as long as possible.  Which financially makes sense.  However, ethically it does not.  According to corporate policy, they are allowed to work me up to 12 weeks in a position without extra compensation for the higher-paying work.  If I work more than half my shifts in a higher-paying position consistently for more than 12 weeks, then they will give me the higher-paying position, as well as give me back pay for the 12 weeks.  I don't know that that would hold up with the law, but whatever.  Oh well, at least I have a job.

The snow is mostly nonexistent here so far, thank goodness.  I don't plan on it staying that way much longer, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.  I will never complain about heat again in my life.  Probably.

Well, I'm off to get my snow tires put on.  Just in case, you know, it SNOWS.

Also, wish my mom a happy birthday today!  She's    years old!

(Blogger must have censored the age there.)