Wooden block shoes
Peter Jin can often be seen wearing wooden block shoes in public.
Although I'm 175 cm (5'9") tall, I sometimes feel insecure about my height. I often notice that there are people who are taller than me. Feeling a bit insecure about myself, I decided to makes these wooden block shoes out of some wooden beams that I had laying around my house. They make me 3" (7.5 cm) taller, so I'm 182.5 cm (6') tall now.
ECE 110 lecture incident
Sometime during the middle of March 2019, I walked into room 1015 of my university's Electrical Engineering building, getting ready to hear an ECE 110 lecture. I was wearing these wooden block shoes. It was about 5-10 minutes before the lecture started, and someone at the podium (I don't think he was the professor) looked at me and my shoes, and said "What are those?!?!" I replied, "I just like them", without any indication of sarcasm. After a while, he said to me three words I will never forget:
"What a weirdo."
In the lecture room of like 5 people. I took that as a compliment.
ECE 120 discussion incident
One day, as I was walking to an ECE 120 discussion section, I was also wearing these shoes. But just after leaving my dorm room, I tripped, fell, and sprained my ankle. While others might think of this as "I realize that it's stupid nonsense, so I shouldn't be wearing them", I simply took it as "I just think it needs to be refined/improved more", just like how an engineering project might turn out :). I think someone at a nearby fraternity house also laughed at me for wearing these shoes.
I do have to admit that there are certain safety implications by choosing to continue to wear these shoes, but I think it's more due to a design flaw rather than something that would prevent me from wearing these shoes at all. After all, there's no reason why a scientific process could not be applied to something that people would consider silly or nonsensical; it just makes it sillier :).
These wooden block shoes were made by gluing together two pieces of wood, then using screw fasteners to mount the shoes onto the wood. The soles were removed prior to adding in the screw fasteners so that the fasteners do not have to go through too much rubber before hitting the wood.
I have often been questioned about the shoes whenever I walk around the UIUC campus:
- "What's with the wooden blocks (planks) on the bottom of the shoes? How do you stick them on there?"
- "Why??? Just why???"
- "I noticed that you were a bit taller than before. What happened?"
- "What a strange guy/weirdo."
- "This might be deeply offensive, and I apologize if it is, but what's with the shoes?"
- "They seem very utilitarian and I would love to have a pair!" (from an email of a UIUC student)
- One person even asked me to take a picture of me in the shoes.
All of these comments came from total strangers :).
Sadly, due to COVID-19, I can't really do that anymore :).