Friday, 6 June 2014

Friday 6/6/14 - Another Funeral, Another Assignment, Remembering Hammett & This Week's Wristwatches.

-Friday 6:20pm AEST-

Last Saturday
                    We sat down to watch "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (Dir: Ben Stiller, 2013). I thought it was a great film, but from what I can recall of the 1947 original, starring Danny Kaye, this version didn't seem to have much in common. Which then got me thinking that Stiller could have called it something else entirely, along with changing the main character's name, and it would have stood on it's own feet rather than be regarded as a remake. 
Either way, I liked it. Certainly, its message was presented in a simple fashion, but sometimes, that's all that's required. And the cinematography was beautiful. Lots of metallic tones throughout.

             I sent off an e-mail to the plumbers, voicing my disappointment over the work that was done last week. In attempting to grease a stubborn tap (faucet), numerous deep scratches were left. I got a phone call within 20 minutes. They apologised and said one of the managers would come over to inspect the damage. I replied that I know that accidents can happen, but the fact that both taps were scratched implied that the tradesman continued with the second tap after he had scratched the first. I wasn't demanding that his head be served to me on a silver platter, but I wanted some kind of response as to how they were going to rectify this. 

And, since the weekend, I've been wearing the Omega Speedmaster Professional. This pic was taken last week, I think.

Meanwhile, I got a text message informing me that my next-door neighbour (growing up) had passed away on Sunday. His name was Dimitri, but my family had always known him as Mitch. From what I know, he had been a mathematics teacher back in Greece before coming to Australia. For as long as I had known him, he had driven cabs. I recall having many chats with him in the wee small hours when I would be coming home from a night out and he would be sitting in his SilverTop taxi with the LPG-powered engine idling, getting ready to start a shift on the road. He always had a pleasant demeanour and he laughed often. I visited him and his wife about three months ago and his health wasn't the best. Still, it was good to catch up with him as he looked at my son and said "little Teeritz! He look just like you."
I thought of how good a neighbour he had been over the years, especially towards the end of my Mother's life when he had helped her with various house-related chores like rusty door hinges and stuck windows.

              The plumbing manager came over in the morning and took a look at the taps. He gave me two options- partial refund for the work that was done or two replacement taps supplied and fitted at no charge. 
I knew which option I would take, but thought I'd let my wife know and see what she thought. 
And so, I called them back before end-of-day to say I'd like the taps replaced. That way, they keep the money I've already paid them and I don't have to worry about going out to buy new taps and then calling to have them fitted. They seemed amenable to that and we organised a time for later in the week.

I switched over to something a little more legible. The Omega Seamaster 300. Lousy photo, but it gives a good indication of the readability of the dial;

I texted Mitch's daughter to find out about his funeral. It was scheduled for the next day, dammit. I had a class that I just had to be at, since I'm working on a project with two others and we'll have to present it in-class next week. 

                   Had my afternoon class. I sat down with my two colleagues and we worked out the structure for this assignment. It's pretty straight-forward, but there's a little bit of research to be done.
My wife went to Mitch's funeral. She said it was the right thing to do. I'll go visit his wife (feels a little early for me to be saying 'widow') in a few weeks to say hello. 

               The plumber came over to replace the taps. Same guy who scratched them last week. Here's a picture of his handiwork;

He seemed a little surly with me this time around. I made him a nice cup of coffee last week, too. 
How quickly they forget.
Maybe if I'd charged him three-fifty for it, he might have remembered. 
Oh well, if he wants to stay shirty, that's entirely up to him.
It's one thing to put these kinds of marks on a tap. Accidents happen. It's another thing to then attempt the second tap and put similar scratches on that one. But, the real kicker in all of this is that he did not tell me that he had caused these marks in the first place. I noticed it after he left.
I would be mortified if I had done this kind of damage. So yeah, if he was in a bad mood about having to come back and correct his mistake, then that's just too bad.

I switched over to the Omega Planet Ocean because I wanted something more water-resistant that I wouldn't have to take off for washing dishes or clothing.

At around three o'clock, I headed out to my car to go pick the kids up from school when my phone rang. It was the Library Manager who interviewed me last week. She was calling to let me know that I had been unsuccessful in landing the position. I had already suspected as much after the interview last Thursday. You may recall them mentioning that there were over 370 applicants for the position. I knew that there would be people with vast library experience applying for the job.
No biggie. I knew my chances were slim when I applied, but it was still good to have some 'interview practice'. I thanked her for calling me back.
Deep down, I didn't think it would be wise to work for the same library service that my wife works for. That can lead to friction in more ways than one. At any rate, it's all good. I can strike that one off my list. I still have my library placement due to start in July/August, so I'll be getting some practice then.

          Went quickly past Mike the watchmaker's house. He had a very nice 1967 Omega Speedmaster that he was tidying up. Here's a close-up of the Calibre 321 chronograph movement. This is a highly respected watch movement among collectors. It's robust, pretty accurate AND it's the same movement that was used in the Speedmasters worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts who landed on the Moon in 1969.

This watch has only had one owner and it has been well looked after. The inside of the case-back shows minute engravings and initials by various watchmakers to signify that they've worked on it and when. This is something that modern watchmakers don't bother doing. Shame.

You can just barely make out what's left of the 'SPEEDMASTER' lettering that was engraved on the case-back. Over forty-five years of contact with a wrist have slowly eroded most of it. It has a few annoyingly obvious scratches across the back, but any attempts to polish them out would also remove what remains of the factory engraving. Best to leave it as is.

And here's the dial side. The tritium markers have taken on a creamy patina and most of the tritium in the hands has fallen out. Most collectors prefer it like this rather than having the dial and hands replaced. Although, the main second hand (used for chronograph functions) is not correct for this model, so that will most likely be replaced at some point.

Other than that, everything else about this watch is original and correct for this model. Should make some collector very happy indeed.

And would ya believe I forgot that last week (May 27th) was Dashiell Hammett's birthday. I oughta' turn in my Pinkerton's badge for that gaffe. 
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born in 1894 in Maryland. He worked as an operative for Pinkerton's Detective Agency in San Fransisco before turning to writing in 1922. The next dozen years would be his most prolific, in terms of writing, culminating with his classic "The Thin Man", a book which has cast a long shadow since it was first written in 1934 and TV shows such as "Hart To Hart" and "Moonlighting" owe it a great debt.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army at the age of 48 and was accepted, claiming it to be the happiest day of his life.
He was blacklisted in the early 1950s by the House of Un-American Activities Committee and his health, damaged by Spanish Flu and tuberculosis during his service in World War I, and his heavy drinking and smoking throughout his entire adult life, took a dive. 
He left behind one unfinished novel, entitled "Tulip" and died of lung cancer in New York in 1961 after spending his remaining years living with playwright Lillian Hellman, who became executrix of his estate and did much to keep his works in print.
Hammett has long been considered one of the founding fathers of the school of hard-boiled crime fiction and his time working as a detective gave his books a level of realism that hadn't been seen until he first sat down t a typewriter.
He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I'd love to go visit one day. To lay a tulip at his grave. 

A couple of years ago, a batch of previously unpublished short stories of his were located. I'll have to snap 'em up.


Someday, I'm gonna copy that famous shot. It'll require me to stand in the road as a tram approaches alongside.
My luck, I'll get hit by an ageing Baby-Boomer driving a Prius. It ain't 1926 anymore, after all.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!


  1. Cool picture with the speedmaster and the camel smokes. Really liked that!

  2. Re do that with a tram, hey? I think I can help you out if you need a photographer.
    Great watch photo too.

  3. Great Hammett cover! I seem to remember he walked out on a wife and three kids before he took up with Lilian. That's "hard-boiled"!

  4. Looks like the plumber used pump pliers rather than a strap wrench. At least you got new taps. Too bad about the job. You do have some nice watches though.

  5. @ Anonymous, thank-you. That pack of Camel has one last stale cigarette in it. For atmosphere.

    @ Scott K, I'm thinking a quiet Sunday morning on a semi-deserted road. Less chance of me getting run over.

    @ writelephant, yes, a lot of these famous folks walked out on their families back then. Frank Lloyd Wright left behind a wife and six kids. Apparently, he wasn't the paternal type.

    @ Bill M, yep, the plumber made a mess of it, didn't he? Don't worry about the job. Looking back, it wasn't a good idea to apply for it in the first place. It would be tricky to deal with if I saw some rude customer giving my wife a hard time. I'd have to step into "chivalrous husband mode". And that could get ugly.

  6. Nice close-up of the Speedmaster! Incredible how someone can create tiny mechanisms like that.