Sock Strategy Success

May 31, 2024

Last year I embarked on a journey. A journey of research. A journey of hope.

Last year, after weeks of deliberation, I had finally reached the optimal point in crafting the ideal strategy for managing my socks. Would you like to learn it? Perhaps you would...

Nerd Alert

Puzzles of efficiency are my favorite puzzles. This is because the net result is to minimize resources used, which I think is simply a noble goal. I seem to have more patience or interest in solving these kinds of puzzles than most people. It takes all kinds of people with all kinds of skills to build a village!

The target audience for this perhaps is a very thin slice of the population.

See, I actively try to be a simple person. By simple I mean minimizing any effort toward my image or appearance. The only person that has cut my hair in the last 30 years is me. I literally wear the same thing every day and it's cargo shorts and a tee shirt. I kind of like being a source of predictability in this regard. We all need a little more predictability in our days. And when I show up in pants -- watch out! It must be a special occasion! All you chumps have to take it to the next level because you already played the pants card.

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Ha-Ha!

So all this then leads to the fact that I wear the same style of socks every day. No need to get fancy here, amirite?

So if you agree that this is The Way, then read on. This is for you, other person out there.

Statement of Problem

Socks in my world were in an unacceptable state of chaos.

I would have four pairs of this one that I got two months ago, three pairs of that one that are a month old, and five pairs of these older ones that are starting to get holes, but randomly it seemed.

Folding clothes was a pain in the ass because there were four kinds of socks to match up. Nobody got time for that!

They would wear out at random times, spaced out quite a bit. So I ended up just limping along buying three packs when I started to run low. The problem was that frequently they were different kinds. I could have seven different kinds if I kept that up. No thank you, SIR!

Furthermore, once the clothes were folded, I would just haphazardly dump the paired socks into the sock drawer, with no rhyme or reason for what was happening. Maybe I'd even stir them around a little bit like they were sock soup in their big sock cauldren or some other masculine shit like that.

Back to reality - the net result of this is a chaotic pattern of sock washings / wearings / holes.

Call the Whaambulance

I had finally had enough and decided to reboot my sock stores! This took a lot of willpower because I am proudly frugal, but this was driving me bananas. So I tossed (recycled?) my current crop of various socks and bought a 12-pack of the same damn sock.

With this as the only change, I was just doddling around in a fool's errand. Again, one sock would wear out here, a month would pass, then two would wear out, then a month, etc. Unpredictable and spaced out far in time. That leads back to square one because do you really have space for 20 pairs of socks in the drawer if you got another 12er? So you buy a three pack and you're back on the sauce, buster!

Rock Bottom

Science needed to prevail. A solution was starting to show itself and after some dramatic and cinematic sequences we started to find that elusive optimal path.

Then it appeared.

FIFO

It was the washing machine's fault! The washing machine was the primary source of wear of the materials. The more times a sock is washed, the more likely it is to get a hole. We need to make sure all the socks are washed within 1 cycle of any other sock. This should result in all socks wearing out at approximately the same time, and minimizing the toil of replenishing the supplies, perhaps even opening the possibility of changing sock type in one fell swoop.

The socks needed to be operated in a First In, First Out (FIFO) order. With a drawer, this is easy.

Here's the Deal

Socks go in the drawer in an orderly fashion, like lovely logs.

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The new Hanes boys with the sole surviving Saucony out front, about to take his last tour.

When removing a sock, take the frontmost one.

When replacing washed socks, pull any socks in the drawer forward and put the freshly washed ones in the back.

So, socks feed forward. Get it?

And this means that they will all have wash counts within one cycle of each other!

This was the theory that I put to the test last year.

So one more heave-ho of the old former-dozen that was down to 6 pairs and in with a new dozen pairs of black low cut socks.

I operated in a strict FIFO with them all year, and lo and behold they have all worn out within a few weeks of one another!

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Holy Sock. Mine always wear out here.

Sharing this discovery with you brings me much joy, especially if it also helps you to find peace in your own sock situation.

Ah-men. 🙏