Justin, This is from me to you, by way of an explanation, a peace offering and hopefully the seeds of understanding... I think it was June Swann or maybe Thomas Wright who said shoemakers have always been philosophers...probably because they usually work alone at occupations that require some intense bursts of highly concentrated mental activity interspersed with lots of rote. I don't know which came first, the hat or the cattle, but I'm afraid that I fit the description, although I don't consciously think of myself in those terms. Nevermind whether I'm a good or wise philosopher, I tend to slip into thinking about shoemaking in ways that seek to understand more than what is readily apparent and how it relates to the larger story. I don't claim to be a world traveler or particularly well educated but I am a curious fellow and I've dabbled and turned my hand to many things. I can't think of too many occupations that engage the mind and the heart so completely as shoemaking. What's more it brings together so many different disciplines, so many eclectic techniques and materials. And even if one isn't formally trained, one has to have a working sense of mechanical engineering, chemistry, biophysics, geometry, and metallurgy, to put names to a few, as well as aethetics--colour harmony, spatial relationships, line awareness, etc.. All of which brings me to the point...namely, that in post #207 my remarks were not personal. They were not directed at you. There was no disrespect or offense intended. Your post turned on a switch and in response I riffed off your ideas...as. I. perceived. them. It was a set of philosophical observations about the world we live in and how we got there. Like yourself, I'm sure, I am to some degree a self-made man. I work alone and answer to no one. My livelihood and everything I own...my house, my shop building, my equipment, my automobile--all free and clear...comes straight from my hands and my heart and a compassionate God. All by way of saying I'm not a particularly social person but neither am I a suck-up...or a stool pigeon, for that matter. I don't get my feeling hurt easily and I don't go running to other people to solve my problems if I can deal with them myself. For the record, I have never reported or whined to a moderator about anyone or any post. We have fundamental philosophical disagreements, you and I, but we have much more in common than that which separates us. If nothing else we both know shoemaking in a way that few here do--in the calluses, the scars, the wax under our fingernails. In passing, I would urge you to re-read, at least all the remarks that prompted your #200. I have. I don't see where I said anything that you might have disagreed with...based on your own subsequent remarks. I see in your post #200 that you are bothered by an interpretation of my comments. But that was not me, those were not my words. My comments ...my thoughts...have consistently (five years here and 40+ in the Trade) been that the major manufacturers could never go back to HW. Can never recapture the quality that made their firms famous to begin with. Not and maintain their profit margins and investor satisfaction...Lobb St. James notwithstanding. They can emulate the superficial aspects but they can never go home. It is a slippery slope that they find themselves on, with the quality of materials declining all around them--almost certainly and entirely as a result of the choices they have made pursuing the bottom line--and being forced to take yet additional measures to compensate....which only serves to further degrade objective value/quality. All that makes me sad for the Trade. It's ouroboros--the mythic snake eating its own tail. And finally, I am sure that there are those who will find fault with all of this. For any number or reasons not the least of which is that I myself am imperfect. It's long winded, if nothing else, and few tender the respect that they themselves reserve to themselves--namely to be read thoroughly and with an open mind. But I am what I am. And like most people I have strengths as well as weaknesses. I am an experienced...and some would say accomplished...shoemaker (despite those who bitterly resent that fact). I have immersed myself in it--the history, the techniques (even lost techniques)--the details. I am also open-minded enough to read for content (and not just openings for argument), and if I engage I try to be sure of what I am responding to--I don't kibitz--and if I cannot be sure, I will almost always ask for clarification. Those are my strengths--a paltry list, no doubt. I'm not going to delineate my flaws as there are other people who are so much better at it. But they (my faults) are admittedly numerous. In any case I was always taught in my creative writing classes to make a point and, in closing, reiterate it: We may have fundamental philosophical disagreements, but we have much more in common than that which separates us. If nothing else we both know shoemaking in a way that few here do--in the calluses, the scars, the wax under our fingernails.