Monday 28 July 2014

"Oh My God, I'm Wearing a Dad Shirt!" - A Lesson in Dressing for My Body Type.

Prior to our trip to Thailand last month, I looked at my wardrobe and decided I needed a few lightweight articles of clothing to wear. It's winter here in Australia, but it's monsoon season in Thailand. Aside from the requisite t-shirts and shorts that I would bring, I felt that one more short-sleeved shirt was needed for this trip. 
I headed to a nearby shopping mall that houses numerous clearance centres from a variety of brands. Now, I wasn't worried about labels, I was more concerned with comfort. I trawled through the centre, bought a t-shirt or two (you can never have too many) and wound up at a Jeep clothing store. I was also looking for a decent pair of lightweight cargo pants. My theory being that I would be carrying a wallet and possibly all four of our passports at all times, in case the military (there's a coup on in Thailand, remember) stopped us on the street in Bangkok and asked to see our papers.
Now normally, I avoid brands that are known for one particular product, but venture into a completely different product. This is one reason why, no matter how nice their wristwatches are, I will never buy a Mont Blanc timepiece. Or a Hugo Boss one, or an Emporio Armani one, or a Ralph Lauren one, etc.
However, this Jeep clothing store had everything on sale and all of their items were going cheap. I found a pair of cargo pants for $30.oo. And they had sections of the leg which you could unzip to turn them into long shorts (that fell just below the knee) or conventional length shorts (that fell just below mid-thigh). These would do. 
I also found a nice jumper (sweater to you boys in The States, pullover to you chaps in Blighty. Either way, silly names one and all) for $40.oo and even though it wasn't ideal for the trip, I would get much use out of it when I got back to wintry Melbourne. 
And finally, I found a nice light cotton short-sleeved shirt. It had a blue window-pane styled check pattern running through it;

That looked summery. This shirt would do. It was a 'Small'. I tried it on and buttoned up the collar (not that this is how you'd wear this kind of shirt) and it fit properly around my neck. I could still slide two fingers between the collar and my skin. Yep, right size. Twenty bucks. Sold. 

Fast-forward to Day 2 (or was it 3?) of our stay in Bangkok. In the lobby located on the 23rd Floor of the hotel, I got into the empty lift (elevator) and pressed the button for the Ground Floor. Then I turned around and caught my reflection on the mirrored walls of the lift.
And the cold and sudden realisation hit me, somewhere between the 21st and 20th Floors; I was wearing a Dad shirt.
I hadn't noticed this before, but as I stood there, with the knuckles of my right hand casually resting against my hip, I saw just how much fabric there was in this shirt. Yes, it was the right size, but it did have a generous amount of fabric in it. It made me look like one of these middle-aged guys (which I am) whose wives go out and buy all their clothes for them (which I'm not). This shirt billowed on me. 
So what is a Dad shirt? Hard to explain, really, but I know one (eventually, wasn't fast enough this time around) when I see one. They are kind of like the top-half equivalent to Dad jeans. The kind of jeans that you saw Seinfeld wear on his TV show 20 years ago. Here, read this;

I guess that this type of shirt would be a better fit on somebody with a thicker build or a guy with a little bit of middle-aged spread. But if you've got a slim to medium build, then this kind of cut will not do you any favours. 
My wife said to me a couple of years ago; "When I met you, you were always well-dressed, but you never dressed properly for your shape. You'd always buy stuff in medium sizes when small would have suited you better." 
I argued that I always felt that I would bulk up a little and grow into the medium sizings.
She replied that one should always dress for how their body looks 'now' rather than how they think they're going to look later. 
This is true. If you have a thin build and wear something that's cut full rather than something that has a 'slim cut', then you end up looking like you've been on a starvation diet.
Now, I'm a skinny dude. I got a Jaggeresque frame. I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash with two kids and a mortgage. I always used to wear jackets, shirts and jumpers that disguised my build a little. This was a mistake. Something that I became aware of only in recent years when I would see well-dressed thin guys walking through town. Some of them knew exactly how to dress for their shape. Rather than hide how thin/skinny/starved they may have looked, these men were unconcerned. And more power to them. They ended up looking sleek and cat-like in their well-cut suits. Other guys I'd see would wear suits that appeared to hang from their frames. 

I used to lament the fact that I was so thin. My wife would say; "See some of the other Dads when you go pick the kids up from school? Some of them have huge beer guts and double chins, and they're younger than you. I bet their cholesterol levels are through the roof. And their risk of heart disease is probably greater than yours, despite all your years of smoking. You're better off being thin. And yes, you could probably stand to put some weight on, but you're better off than most of those overweight guys."

I took the shirt off when I got back to the hotel room, folded it up and put it back in my bag.  When we got back from our trip, I put it on, took a picture below, and then folded it up and put it in a plastic bag for the next time I go to the Salvation Army shop. Here's how I looked in it;

You may think it's not too bad, but whenever I raised my arm, the width of this shirt seemed to increase. Made me look like a flying squirrel. And then there were the sleeves;

I could probably fit my leg through them, they were so wide. They were too long, too. Nope, this shirt was the wrong cut for me. Here's an older shirt of mine that has a slimmer cut;

It sits closer to the body, the sleeves are a more conservative width and their length is correct. 

About six months ago, I got two plain white cotton business shirts off eBay for twenty bucks each. Size 39, which is my proper size, but man, oh man, were these a billowy fit!;

Too much fabric. Now, I usually tend to have trouble with sleeve length when I buy shirts off-the-rack (short arms, I guess), but I'm not ready to go for tailor-made shirts just yet. 
What am I, Jay Gatsby? 
I can live with a slightly too-long sleeve, since a jacket can tend to keep the sleeves in place, and when the jacket comes off, I roll my sleeves up anyway. 
Now, here's a 'slim-cut' shirt that I bought seven or eight years ago;

The sleeves still seem a little full, but nowhere near as puffy as the shirt up above. And this shirt here has a closer fit to the body. And I've found that, because it's a slimmer cut, this prevents it billowing out at the waist after raising your arms to get something off a high shelf or bending down to tie a shoelace.

As I said earlier, I used to lament the fact that I was so thin. It took me a long time to be comfortable with my body shape. Took me even longer to dress appropriately for it. 
These days, I try on both a small size and a medium. In fact, I bought a short-sleeved shirt a couple of days ago at GAP and it was an extra-small. I said to the sales girl; "Hell, I think I'm shrinking. At this rate, I'll be about ten inches tall in an hour." 
She stated that the brand tends to cut their garments a little on the oversized end of the spectrum.

Now that I'm older, maybe I have a little more confidence and swagger. Or maybe I just don't worry so much about how I look.
At any rate, I no longer make a beeline for the Medium sizes racks and maybe I don't worry so much about what is printed on the label on the collar and just rely on my own instincts and judgement.
It's early days, but it seems to be working out okay.
No more Dad shirts for me.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday 24 July 2014

Friday 25/7/14 - Happy Anniversary Apollo 11! , Happy Birthday Messrs Hemingway and Chandler! , A Peek at a Gutenberg Bible & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 4:19pm, AEST - 

Things are beginning to get busy around here.

Last Weekend
       My wife took the kids to see "Dawn of The Planet of The Apes" (Dir: Matt Reeves, 2014). I went looking for a cheap briefcase. While I would have gone along to the movie, I suppose I still have fond memories of the Charlton Heston one from 1968 and therefore didn't feel a strong urge to see this new one at the cinemas. No doubt I'll catch it on DVD when it's released. 
I found a nice case at a travel goods store. Black leather, no-name brand, and it was a decent size that would be able to hold my laptop, a paperback book and a sandwich, among other paraphernalia that I would be tempted to carry. Here's a quick pic taken with my phone;

However, I didn't buy it. I wanted to think about it a little more. It wasn't expensive, as far as leather briefcases go. It was on sale for seventy bucks, down from $130.oo. That's cheap. Actually, it's a little too cheap, but I didn't want to spend big bucks just yet.
I wanted to have a good think about its use. I will be undergoing industry placement in a library next week. I'll work full-time hours Monday to Friday for the first week and then do two days a week until I've completed the requisite 80 hours of this placement. And I'll bring the briefcase with me, to carry my (paper) notebook, log-book, and sandwich.
After that, the bag may go into the wardrobe until I find some paid work. Hopefully, it won't gather too much dust before it gets put into service again.
Wristwatch-wise, I wore the Omega Speedmaster Professional. As it happened, last Sunday (the 20th) marked forty-five years since man first walked on the moon;

That's my driveway, doubling for the Sea of Tranquility.

       My son stayed home sick with the 'flu. He got it at the same time I did, but seemed to be getting better last week. He woke up this morning coughing, so we figured he should stay home. He didn't argue.
I still had the Speedmaster on;

       Holy mackerel, it was Ernest Hemingway's birthday yesterday (21st) and I didn't have a drink in his honour!

Much has been said of Hemingway and whether he was as masculine as he made out, but I don't care what anybody says. If he had never existed, you would have had to invent him.
My favourite novel of his is "The Sun Also Rises", written in 1926. I read it back in the early 1990s after plowing through most of his short story collection. "The Sun Also Rises", sometimes also referred to as "Fiesta", is a wonderful book about a group of American expats who are in Spain for the annual Running of the Bulls festival. The main character is a journalist named Jake and the story concerns his heart-breaking yearning for the beautifully drawn British aristocrat, Lady Brett Ashley as they make their way through Pamplona and the bull fights. Of course, there's more to the story, but I'm going by my memories of the book rather than picking through Wikipedia or the rest of the internet.
It is one of the finest books of the 20th Century.
Naturally, the Speedmaster was the wrong watch to wear for Papa's birthday. I had already switched over to something else that morning, so by the time I poured myself a shot of Bacardi, I had the Longines 1951 Expeditions Polaires Francaises on my wrist. My wife did the lighting, and a hotel room in Bangkok supplied the booze;

I gotta get around to reading "Papa Hemingway", a biography by his friend A.E. Hotchner, who was also a very close pal of Paul Newman. It was Hotchner and Newman who set up the Newman's Own company, based on the success of Newman's wonderful salad dressing. The best part? All profits have gone to charity since the company was created back in 1982.

                       "Not far from the city of Mainze there appeared a certain Johann, whose surname was Gutenberg, who, first of all men, devised the art of printing, whereby books are made, not by a reed, as did the ancients, nor with a quill pen, as do we, but with metal letters, and that swiftly, neatly, beautifully."
                  - Guillaume Fichet, Paris, 1470. Earliest mention of Gutenberg as the inventor of printing by moveable type in Europe.

There is a copy of one of the first Bibles ever printed, currently on display in a library of Melbourne University. As part of our Conservation & Preservation class, we went along to view this important piece of printing history. Johann Gutenberg (c. 1400-1468) is considered the father of the printing press and it is only when you take a close look at something like a Gutenberg Bible that you realise the level of painstaking work and artistry that went into printing a book in past centuries. Gutenberg printed 180 copies of this Bible before he died and it is thought that about 48 of them still exist.
The copy that we viewed is believed to have been printed in 1455.
I was looking at a 650 year-old text.
Needless to say, photography in any way, shape or form was not permitted, so a search of the internet was in order. Here's a detail from the page that I viewed, showing the illuminated first letter of the paragraph;

 Two pages of the Gutenberg Bible that will be on display in the Dulcie Hollyock Room of the Baillieu Library from July 18–27. Image courtesy University of Manchester.
picture courtesy of The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, UK, as seen in The Age- From Manchester to Melbourne: A rare treat for booklovers. ,10/6/2014.

It was displayed open, on a stand under glass with dim lighting, similar to this arrangement (of a different copy) from the New York Public Library in 2009;

Picture taken from - Gutenberg Bible. Photograph taken by NYC Wanderer (Kevin Eng).

The level of detail and clarity of this work was extraordinary. Sure, it was printed in Latin, but the sharpness of the paragraph edges and their alignment on the page shows just how much care and attention would have been taken with this process. From what I was told, each copy had space at the top of each new chapter to allow for the owner to have the first letter of the paragraph drawn in illuminated font. Looking at the letter 'P', I began to wonder if the golden sections decorating the letter were done with gold leaf or molten gold. Either way, I would imagine that no two copies of this book would be the same, given that different owners might have employed different artists to do the work.
There were about 12 to 15 other works on display, showcasing the efforts of other printers over the following 400 years or so, but it was this Gutenberg Bible that I'm sure most people would be coming to see.
It was an amazing thing to see.

Later that night, it was time to have another celebratory drink. It was Raymond Chandler's birthday.

 Picture taken from Raymond Chandler- Dead Fifty Years Ago Today , 2009.

This time, it would be Scotch. That's what Philip Marlowe kept in his desk as his office bottle, so that's what I'd have.
Not too much. Just enough to "give me the right amount of swagger and guts, should I run into a couple of Boy Scouts intent on giving me Hell", as Marlowe might have said (maybe not). I grabbed the camera, and the only Raymond Chandler book of mine that's not currently packed away in a box. Oh, and a pair of Chandleresque spectacle frames that my wife has yet to have fitted with prescription lenses.
I was still wearing the Longines;

Couldn't decide on which pic to include, so I figured I may as well throw in all three. No drink in these photos. I downed it before I took the pictures.

       My wife had the day off, so we headed out to GAP to check out their sale items. I managed to get change out of $130.oo. I had switched to the WatchCo Omega Seamaster 300 before we left;

I do like a decent denim jacket. I bought one from GAP about five years ago and it has served me well. I've always worn Levi jackets, but they weren't making any with side pockets five or six years ago, so when I saw one with pockets at GAP, I pounced on it.
This one in the photo was down from $109.95 to $43.97. I really couldn't say 'no' to that kind of price.
Man, that shirt's going to need a wash and iron before I put it on. That collar's a mess.

Anyway, it's raining here in Melbourne right now and I'm about to get in the car to go to the supermarket. "What a thrilling life you lead, Teeritz!"
And next week, I'll be doing industry placement from nine to five. Yep, things are beginning to get busy around here, alright.
But it's all good.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Friday 18 July 2014

Friday 18/7/14 - Still Coughing, Back To School, Replacement Cars & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 5:17pm, AEST - 

Okay, I've been back from Thailand now for over a week and I still have a nagging cough associated with the 'flu that I caught while I was there. Ahh, well, there are worse ailments I could have. And this too shall pass. 

Last weekend
       Who remembers? But I was wearing the Omega Seamaster from 1962. I had worn the Sinn 103 chronograph for over two weeks and felt like something lighter and simpler;

Hmm, not a great photo. Here's how it's supposed to look, photo courtesy of my hard drive (which is fast filling up with photos);

       I switched over to the Omega Railmaster. The money clip was more for effect in this photo. It's a basic stainless steel clip with different coloured shell segments glued to it. I liked how it looked, even though I don't tend to use a money clip. Bought it at Jatujak Weekend Market in Bangkok for about six dollars and haven't used it since we got back, but I'm sure that there will be days when all I need to carry is my driver's licence, a credit card, and a twenty dollar note. That should keep me out of trouble.

       A new semester of classes started today. I've signed up for three modules. One of them concerns Health, Safety & Security in the workplace, another has to do with preservation & conservation of library items, and the third class is all about using internal network resources to obtain information. I'm looking forward to the preservation and conservation class, since this one has to do with repair and restoration. We'll be going to view a copy of a Gutenberg Bible next week. It's currently on loan to a university.
I was a little concerned that one of the classes wasn't showing up on my online timetable. I've already paid to do these three subjects this semester and I wanted to make sure that I didn't miss any classes. Turned out that this class doesn't begin until Week 41. I am currently in Week 29. Would have been nice if they had told me this when I enrolled. Perhaps they did, but I went in to enroll the day after my wife flipped her car last month, so I may have forgotten. No matter. I have a hectic few months coming up and it's probably better if I do the bulk of two subjects rather than three. 
Speaking of my wife's car, now I remember what we did last weekend. We went hunting around for a replacement. I have to say that used car salesmen are depicted in popular culture as snakes for a reason. Because a lot of them are. 
We wound up dealing with a pleasant fellow who had a red version of my wife's Toyota for sale. It was in reasonably good condition. I took it to my mechanic who gave it a quick once-over on the hoist and said; "It's a pretty honest car."
He gave me a list of things that would need to be taken care of in order for the car to be deemed roadworthy. They were minor, but necessary. I gave this list to the seller. I didn't haggle over the price, but I did expect that he would get these things taken care of before my wife took delivery of the car. I suppose we'd find out soon enough.

       I drove my wife to work, but we got there about 20 minutes late. Apparently, a fruit truck lost a load of apples when it hit a sound-wall on a major freeway at 4:30am. This had a ripple-effect on traffic along major parallel roads for about six hours, causing bumper-to-bumper grid-lock along nearby intersections. Anywhere we turned, we saw lit-up brake lights. Although, once we turned at the last major intersection, the road was pretty clear.
When I got home, it was time for a wristwatch change;

I got out the Tudor Prince Oysterdate. I haven't worn this one for quite some time. I had the dial changed over from a black re-paint (the eBay seller didn't mention that he'd had the dial redone. It was an okay job, to be sure, but clearly not exactly like the real thing) to a blue linen dial that I'd acquired some time ago. The dealer who had the work done for me neglected to tell me a few things about the finished repair and I have to say I'm not happy about the work that he did. I'm in two minds about this watch. Do I sell it as is, obviously mentioning to a prospective buyer all of the watch's faults, or do I keep it and try to get it back to all original parts?
It is a nice looking wristwatch. Dates back to the mid to late 1970s, I think, but it will require some work. Ah well, something to deal with at a later stage. I really like the linen pattern of the dial, however;

Later in the afternoon, my wife's car was ready to be collected. I picked her up from work and we headed over to the lot and took a look at it. It had a few paint chips along both sides and these had been taken care of by a detailer. However, the bonnet (hood) had numerous little chips along it. I asked the dealer why these hadn't been attended to. "Oh, you didn't mention that when you looked at it the other day", he replied.
Ah, and the dealer doth become the snake, I thought  to myself.
When I looked at the car the other day, it had just rained. Whereas gravity allowed the rain to roll down the sides of the car, thus showing the scratches on the doors, the bonnet was covered in fine droplets of rain, which disguised the paint-job.
The dealer, after I politely reminded him that I didn't haggle on price the other day, offered to go halvies with me on the cost of getting the bonnet touched-up and detailed. I gave it about thirty seconds of thought. My wife stood firm. She didn't want to take the car is it was, but we both knew that she needed a car sooner rather than later. He told us we could drop it off to him any day and he'd have it ready for us 24 hours later. Good enough, I supposed.
I paid him the remainder, in cash, and we took delivery of the car. I was a little nervous as my wife pulled out of the dealer's lot, thinking about the irony of some other distracted driver coming along and rear-ending her new car just seconds after she's gotten it. Paranoid, aren't I?

      Woke up coughing. This damn 'flu! Time to pay some bills. My car registration is due early next month, but I figured I'd pay it early. Seven hundred and fifty seven dollars later, ouch! I drive a 1993 Toyota Corolla hatchback. Sure, it's not glam, but this little car has been a friggin' workhorse over the almost ten years that I've had it. It doesn't drive as smoothly as it once did and I may look at getting something else sometime in the first quarter of next year, but for now, this thing runs well enough. Although, another summer without decent air conditioning may just push me over the edge.
I also paid a $180 speeding fine. Bastards. It occurred on a downhill stretch of road where the speed limit is 70kph before it abruptly changes to a limit of 40kph. I'm sure this catches out many a driver who doesn't want to ride the brakes on the downhill slope. I was, apparently, doing 48 k's in this 40 zone. And I also got one demerit point. Bastards. With a full licence (i.e.-somebody who's been driving longer than the probationary three years),  you start off with 12 points.
"If you get 12 or more demerit points in any three year period, you may lose your licence." That line is straight off the VicRoads website.
I fully understand the purpose of all of this, but I am a pretty careful driver. I keep my nose clean, which is why it irks me whenever I lose a point. Granted, it hasn't happened often throughout my 30 year driving life, so I suppose I really don't have anything to worry about.
There was an uproar about speed cameras about a year ago. This service is outsourced to local councils instead of being done fully by police and many of these traffic officers would park out of sight of oncoming traffic. This meant that they were clocking up huge numbers of speeding motorists. Somebody argued, therefore, that, since the presence of these cameras wasn't clearly evident, this did not provide a deterrent for speeding motorists, and it was therefore seen as an obvious attempt to gain revenue.
These traffic camera operators park their nondescript cars on the nature strip. The speed cameras are mounted on the front grille. All they have to do is sit there and read Playboy while the speed radar and camera do all the work.
I read of a funny incident where two guys approached one of these cars and began speaking to the traffic officer behind the wheel, asking him a bunch of inane questions. Meanwhile, they had an accomplice who crawled underneath the car and unscrewed its licence plate.
They then attached this plate to their own car and drove over the speed limit past the traffic officer's car a total of seventeen times. The council later went through its procedure of sending the speeding fines out in the mail to the offending driver and they were very surprised to receive seventeen speeding fines in their letterbox a few days later.

Anyway, I was a man on a mission today, so I switched over to the Omega Speedmaster Professional;

I set the camera's countdown timer and twelve seconds later;

And that's another week wrapped up. It's freezing here in Melbourne, but the sun is out. What kind of sick joke is that, Mother Nature?
However, Friday night means pizza night in our house. I got the bases, some salami, some shredded ham (in case my son decides that's what he'll have), and some mushrooms for my one. We're all set.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Monday 14 July 2014

Return To Thailand Typecast, June 2014

I began this post a week ago. I figured I'd do it as a typecast. I have already written in greater depth about our previous holiday to Thailand a few years ago;

This post will be considerably shorter. Things have been a little hectic since we got back and I've only just managed to complete it today, so here it is. Typecast on hotel stationery.
It was an interesting trip. I even managed to get some pictures of a couple of typewriters.

I managed to find a couple of typewriters.

And, like last time, they were part of a display in a ladieswear store.

I never got sick of riding in the tuk-tuks, regardless of how hair-raising they could be.

This cat had the right idea, asleep in the back of a tuk-tuk at Nopparat Thara pier in Ao Nang.

The pontoon pier at the resort. On choppy days, getting across this thing required a sure-footed approach.

A long-boat chugging along past the resort. I have to say I was slightly appalled at how fixated so many people were on their mobile phones. I thought the idea of a holiday was to get away from your mobile phone.

The macaque monkeys were up to their usual tricks, but this time, they had a new twist. They had resorted to ransacking the rubbish bins.

And of course, they got a little too close for comfort on more than one occasion. Generally, this is not a sight that you expect to see outside your front door.

And they had gotten a little more brazen since our last visit. This one was attempting to open the screen doors to our room.

But I was wise to his tricks. I locked the doors when I saw him coming. Sneaky bastard.

There was no way that I wanted to try the AK-47 or the pump-action shotgun. Still, it was an interesting experience for a budding writer.

I ate the breakfast of champions almost every day. Pancakes with maple syrup and whipped cream, topped off with shredded almonds. Like hell would I prepare this kind of breakfast back home. 
In fact, that slice of buttered toast was probably the most basic thing I ate.

Followed by fruit, that I would be too lazy to prepare for myself.

We found the hotel's best kept secret- a relaxation pool that no other guests used during the time that we were there. It was a little more secluded. And crystal clear. Too bad I was coughing so much. But the kids had fun in it. 

And I took with me the one watch that I could replace if it got lost or destroyed. The Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph. It performed like a trouper.

All in all, it was a good trip, despite the 'flu. It was a great way to relax and recharge the batteries before returning home to tackle what will be a busy second-half of 2014. My daughter was a big hit, too. One girl was handing out free samples of cranberry juice at a supermarket in Bangkok and she was quite taken with our little girl, asking to have a picture taken with her. 
In Ao Nang, a lady took a picture of our daughter because she liked her hairstyle. A few days later, we saw her in the street and she had gotten her hair cut and styled exactly the same way. We took a picture of them both. 
And most of the Thais that we encountered were extremely polite and friendly, as usual. 
Which was nice. 

Yes, despite the 'flu and other (literal) hiccups, it was a great trip. 
Gee, I said this post wouldn't be as long as the last one. Ah well.

Thanks for reading!