Allen Edmonds

Allen Edmonds is a mens leather shoe and belt company located in Wisconsin, USA.  They have a variety of dress shoes and boots, as well as matching belts.  Now I have gone for comfort over appearances my whole life, but as I am getting older I am being drawn towards the desire to dress-up a bit, but without sacrificing comfort.  Enter Allen Edmonds.

During a sale I purchased two pair of shoes and a belt.  When received(as I live overseas and had them shipped) I was disappointed to find that the shoes were too narrow and too long.  I always knew I had very wide feet but I didn’t know they weren’t as long as I thought.  All these years I have been using length to make up for lack of width in generic shoes.  These shoes would have to go back but first I inspected them and was extremely impressed with the quality.  Never before had I seen such nice shoes.  The belt was of the same quality and also fit perfectly so it quickly found a spot in my closet.

Back my shoes went with a request for replacements a half size smaller and much wider(EEE to be exact).  Allen Edmonds make there shoes in most widths, from AAA to EEE, so you can get darn near a perfect fit.  With absolutely no hassle at all I received the replacements extremely quickly.  To my dismay they were still too long.  Unbelieveable.  Back they went again and again the replacements came, half a size smaller yet again.  This time though I was a happy camper.  They wrapped my feet perfectly.  The leather was perfect(so soft and beautiful).  The craftmenship likewise perfect.  They took very little time to break-in and now stand at the ready for work.

I was so impressed that I ordered four more belts and two more pair of shoes.  All the belts were perfect but one set of boots came with a tiny but deep cut and a crease.  Some people might have sent it back but I plan on my boots being damaged from use anyway so I kept them.

So Allen Edmonds makes a fantastic product for a fair price(especially when on sale).  The shoes and belts are worlds beyond the mass produced items I have always used.  But this company goes beyond with their service.  Items are shipped quickly, returns are easy and free, shoes come with nice cloth bags to store them in, even the boxes they come in are beautiful.  But their customer service is what really sets them apart.  One set of shoes I ordered was out of stock, and it took a few days for the warehouse to pass the information on.  I received a nice personal email informing me of the fact and apologising for the delay.  They offered me my choice of shoe as a replacement for a heavy discounted price as compensation.  Of course I jumped at such a deal.  It didn’t end there though.  When my new shoes arrived(by next day air!) I found included a set of shoe trees, a bottle of leather lotion, and a hand written card explaining that these items are free gifts.  What amazing service for only being out of stock of an item!

If you need, or want, leather shoes or a belt go and get them from Allen Edmonds.  They have stores in major cities so you can get a perfect fit and not go through my tiresome trial and error. Or do use their website and browse the clearance items.  They also sell other items such as shirts, socks and leather bags.  I can speak highly of the shirts, the socks are in the mail, and a bag is soon to be ordered.

If I see you on the street in your new shoes and with a smile on your face I will give you a nod of approval.  Please extend the same courtesy to me in my new Higgins Mills.

Chicago – Exploration

The Second City has given us Second City, an improvisational theater that has left its mark on the world by being the launching pad of many a famous comedians.  Those familiar with “Whose Line is it Anyway” will understand what Second City is about, especially since most of those people came up through Second City.  I had two goals on my visit to Chicago.  Watch a Second City show and try a deep dish pizza.  One was good and one was terrible, but which would let me down? 

Ready for a Day Out in The Second City


I do not find pizza to be a breakfast food and all shows are in the evening so that left a full day for exploring the city.  Only taking three hours to make myself beautiful, the misses and I headed out in search of a Starbucks.  Our hometown doesn’t have a Starbucks if you can believe that.  We are a bunch of savages, so a sugary coffee on vacation is a special treat.   It was not a very involved search.  Stepping out of the hotel we found one, and one more on the next block, and the next, and two more after that.  I can assuredly say no one will suffer from caffeine withdrawls in this city.

Roaming the Streets

After our sugar rush we roamed the streets towards Magnificent Mile.  Braving the cold for all of ten minutes we decided to try some local cuisine for lunch.  A cozy little restaurant called Chipotle sounded interesting so we favored them with our business.  All was well and good.  People must be familiar with this Chicago eatery as we are always asked if we got ill from eating there.  It is an odd question and no, we did not get ill.

Not Quite Manhatten, but Close Enough

With heavy bellies we continued to roam the city, admiring the shops and skyskrapers, until we cam upon the Chicago River.  We were impressed with this waterway, and not just for the looks.  It has interesting traits, such as it flows backwards, which is extremely impressive. The view along the waterway is also impressive.  A path along the South side allows a view of the triple decker Wacker Drive and of the waterway.  A must visit area of the city.

A Beautiful Fire Hydrant

Finishing our walk we head for one of the famous Chicago pizza restaurants.  We were both excited as we love New York pizza and couldn’t wait to compare.   The Battle of the Pizzas.  The restaurant itself had a fabulous atmosphere.  Dark with graffiti everywhere and photos of famous people who visited, though I didn’t recognize more than half of them.  Sitting down the first thing we noticed was the price.  It seemed outrageously expensive.  We discussed leaving but couldn’t do it.  We had to give Chicago pizza a fair shake.  Ordering our deep dish pizza and a pitcher of local beer we settled in.   The beer arrived quickly enough but the hour and a half wait for the pizza seemed a bit ridiculous.  Then things got bad.  Chicago style pizza is disgusting, plain and simple.  It is nothing but tomato soup with a block of melted cheese.  It is a gut bomb with no taste.  Chicago, you lose this competition badly.  Please stop making this pizza(that isn’t even really a pizza) and concentrate on the many things you do well.  Let New Yorkers make pizza from now on and have it shipped in.

The Chicago River. Will Have to go Back to See it Green(I Mean More Green Than it is Here)

Only able to eat half of our soup bowl we got the rest for take away and tried to give it away to a begger on Magnificent Mile. Here the misses learned a valuable life lesson.  The beggers refused this expensive pizza when we offered, saying they only wanted money.   So sad that these people ruin it for those that really need help.  Shaking our heads we leave the bread bowl of nastiness on top of a garbage can where it belongs and head back to the hotel to get ready for our night of laughs.

A Beautiful River Walk

Finishing my toilet in two hours this time and looking and feeling fantastic we head for the Second City theatre.  It is not in the city center so we hop on a bus North that takes us along the lake and into a nice area.  After a short but freezing walk we arrive at the theatre.  Chilled to the bones and quite early, we get our will-call tickets and settle in at the attached Starbucks.  Warmed a bit we hop into the theatre, which is much smaller and simpler than I expected.  It surely wont be mistaken for a Vegas showroom.  Shown our simple chairs we mentally prepare ourselves for a night of laughs.  The drink lady stops by but we pass on drinks.  She is to become a thorn in our side all night.  Annoying and mistaking us for other customers, first giving us someone elses drinks, then someone elses food, and then their bill.  Maybe she cannot see well in the dark.  I advise the company to purchase her a headlamp.

The Most Dangerous Parking Garage Ever

For a few hours we enjoy the show.  They are not as good as Ryan Stiles or others I have seen, but perhaps it takes years of practice.  It is more set routines than improv which disappointed me, but my expectations were sky high, so I blame myself.  At the end of the show they announce that they will now try new routines and those that wish can stay to see them.  This is worth skipping unless you wish to help them and provide feedback.  We stayed and missed the last bus because of it.  This wasn’t too bad as we got a taxi with an Indian immigrant who was nice and funny, telling us how he had gotten used to the cold.  He was a little perturbed at us though as he was heading to Wrigley Field, which offered much better fares, but instead we took him away from the stadium.

Second City, while not perfect, makes for an enjoyable night.  You will laugh, cringe, and leave with a smile on your face.  If for some reason you really hate the show and get depressed, go get a Chicago pizza and drown yourself in it.

USA Paris Agreement

My dearest Mr. Trump and idiot supporters,

I was extremely distressed to hear of your recent decision to pull out of the Paris agreement. I admit my reasons for the agreement to be successful are somewhat selfish but I believed it was in everyone’s interest to come together and make this happen.  I understand one of your main reasons for exiting is to save or create jobs.  I am finding difficulty in this.  I gave you coal in order to advance the civilization in the 19th century. I believe it was named the Industrial Revolution.  Looking at my calendar I can see it is now well into the 21st century.  You are now able to harness the unlimited power of wind and my friend the sun.  Why are you trying to create or save jobs of a dead industry?  Let these few people retrain and find new jobs, perhaps in the renewable sector, instead of devoting undue influence to them.

Why must the human race be such a hurry to destroy me?  Is it the materialistic culture that has taken over?  Everyone needs more money to buy the newest iPhone, or the biggest and newest SUV.  Or perhaps it is that trait of only being able to see things from your point of view.  It is still cold where I live so global warming isn’t happening.  The ocean looks clean when I vacation in Mexico so what they say about plastic filling the sea must be a lie.

I have tried to provide the best I can for your species.  Beautiful forests, coral reefs, snow-capped mountains, clean and cool rivers, cute and fluffy animals.  Sadly none of this has been enough.  My forests get torn down, coral reefs are disappearing, my most remote mountains are being covered in refuse, rivers have been turned to sludge, and animals obliterated.  All for what?  So you can watch videos of cute animals on a screen instead of in the open.  It is enough to make a host upset, and make now mistake about it, you are a guest.  Would you be the same kind of guest in a hotel room?  Of course you would, I have seen how you treat things that are not yours.  So I shouldn’t be surprised that you abuse and use me, but remember one thing, I am in charge.  No matter how important you think you are I am the one in charge.  When I get fed up all I need to do is shake, start a fire, make it rain, or conjure up some wind and you all become helpless.  Judging by this current decision of the most important of your countries(and the desire to get rid of my beloved EPA) I believe I will have to be more active in the name of self defense.

Forever(I hope) yours,