Friday 26 February 2016

Friday 26/2/2016 - Stencil Headaches, a $30 Trip (35), Training Continues & This Week's Wristwatches.

As I race toward completion of the final bookshelf, I find that this one will pose a few problems. I knew this would happen. After all, I was being a little ambitious with this one. This shelf is meant to hold all of my Bond books. With a bit of luck, there'll be enough room left over to house all of my other espionage fiction as well. Although, now that I think about it, the Le Carre's, Deightons and the rest of the spooks may not all fit when all is said and done. Find out soon enough, I suppose. 
Anyway, like I say, I was being a little ambitious with this one. I wanted to give this one 'something' besides two coats of varnish. 

So, I printed out the lettering that I planned to use. I used a font called 'CargoCrate'. It basically looks like this here on the right------------->

Yep, the stencil lettering, as seen on those classic Richard Chopping Bond covers of the '50s and '60s.  
Now, my printer didn't manage to print this lettering out as large as I wanted it, so a trip to OfficeWorks was in order. I would photocopy it onto A3-sized paper. As a precaution, I ended up making six copies. Just in case I stuffed up the next stage of my plan. 

I waited till the weekend before attempting the next phase. I had a feeling it would take me some time. I placed a sheet of the lettering onto a cutting board and then got to work with a Stanley knife (Exacto blade). This took quite a while because I wanted to be sure not to cut the thin portions of the letters. 
Managed to cut them all out. So far, so good. Next, I taped the edges of the paper to the panel of timber. I raided the art box and got out some black acrylic paint. 
Using a thin brush, I dabbed at the inner edges of each letter. Admittedly, I was aware at times that I had too much paint on the brush, but I persevered regardless. And this was the result, dammit!;

As you can see, the paint bled through in some spots, and seeped into the edges in others. All in all, it was a little more half-assed than I would have liked. 

Once the paint had dried, I got the sander out and spent about ten minutes erasing this attempt. Would have taken me less time to just cut another panel of timber. Here's what I've learned about Dressed Pine; it is thirsty, thirsty wood. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that this black acrylic was absorbed half-way into the timber.
Back to the drawing board.

I grabbed copy Number 2 and some Contact paper, or whatever the hell kids call it these days. You know, that adhesive clear book covering plastic. Actually, now that I think about it, I doubt there are many kids these days who even bother with covering their schoolbooks in plastic. 

I cut out a sheet of Contact and laid in over copy Number 2. Then I got to work with the blade again.
Stupidly, I once again used the paintbrush to colour in the lettering. And once again, I ended up with a blotchy result. Now, I wasn't after perfection. I wanted it to look like a human hand had done the stenciling, but I did want a sharper result than this. 
I reached over for copy Number 3.

Okay, one more try. If this didn't produce a suitable result, I go back to my original plan of photocopying the letters onto the thinnest tracing paper I could find and then using decoupage to apply it directly onto the timber. However, given all the 'learning' I've been doing lately- Studies, routers, optometry, ERP software- I really didn't want to stumble my way through something new. 
I could have used a can of black spray-paint and given it two quick passes, but I couldn't be faffed going to the hardware store again. 
So, I fished around for some sponging that I had stashed away someplace. Yep, there it was, in amongst some watch polishing cloths. While I was doing this, the sheet of cut-out Contact paper had dried. Good. I was gonna use it again.
I dabbed some of the acrylic onto a scrap piece of timber and gave that a quick dab with the sponge. Working quickly, and with a light touch this time, I tapped at each letter. 
Did it work out? I'll tell you at the end of this post, ahh, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, haaaa!!!!!

As for wristwatches, I spent a couple of days this week wearing a watch that barely gets any time on the wrist- The Oris Modern Classic;

This two-tone piece measures 37mm in diameter. It's a smart, modern take on the kind of wristwatch that Switzerland used to churn out by the truckload back in the Golden Age of Watchmaking (circa 1952 to 1967, if you ask me). Reason I don't wear it often is because my daughter saw it once and commented on how nice it looked. I got it originally on a two-tone bracelet, but switched it over to a leather strap a year or so ago. This particular model is no longer in production, but Oris does currently make a very similar model in both 37mm and 40mm, available in all steel or two tone like this on above. What attracted me to this watch originally was the rose-gold and stainless steel mix. I do like rose gold. I find it a little more understated than yellow gold. 
Next day, I swapped the strap over to something darker. Nicer contrast;

Meanwhile, I went in to work a couple of times this week. Still so much to learn, but I'm getting the hang of what I've been shown so far. I start officially next week. 

My wife and I took a quick trip to a local OpShop this week. I visited this store about a week ago and saw that they had an Olympus Trip 35 on display. Price was $45. I took a look at it, fiddled with the lens a little and noticed that the aperture blades appeared to be a little stuck. Hmmm. The saleslady asked me if I was interested in it, but I explained my concerns, saying that this would need the lens removed and the blades would need to be doused in lighter fluid or graphite powder in order to loosen them up a little. I passed on it. 

Anyway, when I went back this week with my wife, the camera was still there, but the price had been dropped to $29. Okay, that's better. At that price, I could run some film through it to see if it worked. If it did, great. If it didn't, then I'd have a spare parts camera to use for my other TWO Trip 35s. These are a great camera. Oh, I was wearing the Omega Seamaster 300 on mesh;

Yessir, it'll be good when these tales of foreign intrigue are all arranged in their proper order.

 And how did that stenciled panel turn out? Here's the finished product, with two coats of varnish;

I'm happy with how this turned out. Not perfect. Looks like it was stenciled on by a lowly-paid dock worker in Kingston, Jamaica. Circa 1960. He does this a hundred times a day, and he's a little slap-dash about it.
Which is perfect.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!


Friday 19 February 2016

RIP Alice Denham, Training Days, & This Week's Wristwatches

I caught Ida reading my archived files again. She has a habit of threading the pages into her typewriter. Says she can't read them otherwise. Another of her quirks. She's got quite a few of them.

"You know, Marlowe, someday, somebody's gonna write about some of your old cases and nobody'll believe 'em. They're gonna think a guy who talks like this is just a little  too...uh...'poetic' to be a gumshoe. A little too educated, what with your fancy descriptions and stuff. Know what I mean?", she said, as a jet of smoke hissed out through her teeth like steam through a broken pipe.

"You could edit them if you like. Tone 'em down a little, remove some of the 'poetry' ", I answered, reaching for the pack of Fatimas on her desk.

"You kidding? Like I don't have enough to do around here. Maybe you should hire me an assistant. I could use a little support."

'No. You've got all the support you need, sister', I thought to myself.


While seeing this famous photo earlier this week over on the Typewriter Talk Forums, somebody mentioned how noir and Chandleresque this photo was. They said she looked like Philip Marlowe's secretary. Marlowe never had a secretary- although, my memory is a little sketchy, and I have yet to read The Long Goodbye. 
Anyway, I quickly tapped out that piece above. Any creative writing I do can only be a good thing, right? Keeps me off the streets.

Then I remembered how often the lady in this picture was mistakenly thought to be the famous opera singer, La Divina herself, Maria Callas. 
The lady in this photo was in fact Alice Denham, Playboy Magazine's Miss July for 1956. 

She was also once Adjunct Professor of English at City University of New York. She went on to write a few novels during her lifetime, as well as a memoir about her years among the New York literati in the Fifties and Sixties. Thanks again, wikipedia!

Here's a pic from the same photo-shoot. Definitely not Maria Callas, but just as divina.
Miss Denham died of ovarian cancer on January 27th at the age of 89. 
I tip my hat to her. It would seem that there were considerable smarts to match her considerable beauty. And anybody who can make looking at a typewritten page look sexy as all get-out deserves special mention. 
That cigarette in her hand ain't the only thing smoldering in that picture, bub.

Of course, if you trawl through the internet looking for pictures of  20th Century celebrities looking and acting cool, sooner or later you're going to come across a few more glaringly obvious errors of perception. 
For example, there's an entire segment of folks on Pinterest who think this lady (below right)... Marilyn Monroe. Well it ain't, see? This lady is Eva Six, a Hungarian actress who starred in a few B-movies in the early 1960s. Still, one could be forgiven for thinking that it is MM. The resemblance is pretty uncanny, but not quite 100%.
And, if you know Monroe's face well enough, you'd know that the beauty spot on her cheek is too high.

Here on the left is a pic of the real Miss Monroe (man, if you need me to tell you that, where the hell have you been for sixty years?). You can see the mole on her cheek is about an inch away from her upper lip. Where it belongs. 

Much has been made of Monroe, both during her short life and in the decades since her death. Me, I thought she was the bee's knees. Sure, she made some silly choices in her personal life (who hasn't?), but I think she was heavily exploited by the industry she worked in and some of the people around her. She didn't have a long film career. Fifteen years at best, but the first six were filled with minor roles. Nineteen fifty-three was her breakout year, with Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How To Marry A Millionaire and the silver screen lit up when she was on it. And I think she had great comic timing. One can only wonder how she would have gone throughout the remainder of the Sixties and into the Seventies, had she lived. 

Another celebrity constantly misrepresented (by one photo!) is Sophia Loren. I chose the picture on the right because it shows Miss Loren the way she looked sometime in the mid to late Sixties, I think.

Back in 2008, the GUESS clothing company ran an ad campaign (and they've had some great ones) for its Spring/Summer Collection featuring a great photo, taken by Canadian rocker and photographer Bryan Adams, of a gorgeous model named Line Gost;

Wearing a low-cut top (and a bra struggling to keep things contained), neck scarf and a pair of skinny-leg jeans, and sporting a very '60s era Loren hairdo, one could almost be forgiven for thinking this was a picture of Sophia Loren. I said almost. Miss Gost has an extraordinary look, but I can easily tell it isn't La Loren. 
Mind you, if I was in some hotel in Rome and somebody said; "Sofia Loren's coming down to have a drink with you in the bar", and then in walked Miss Gost, I probably wouldn't argue. 
So, for the record, this lady on the left is not Sophia Loren. But this one just below is. Got it, internet?

(Blogger won't let me lift this typecast page up into this area. Or more likely, I don't know how to do it)

Started the week with the watch on NATO strap;

Switched it to the mesh bracelet;

Seen here on a 2000/2001 Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue showing the Master Grande Taille model.
This is a nice watch from a brand that I've liked since I first saw it's classic Reverso range of watches back in the mid-Nineties.

When a watch brand sends its movements to the Chronometer Testing Institute in Switzerland, the movements are tested for a total of fifteen days, to gauge their accuracy and to determine whether the movement will receive a Chronometer Certificate from this institute. This fifteen day test equates to 360 hours. Jaeger-LeCoultre doesn't send any of its watch movements to this institute. Instead, it does its own in-house testing. However, whereas the institute conducts a 360 hour (fifteen day) test, Jaeger-LeCoultre tests its movements for a total of 1000 hours, which works out to just over forty-one and a half days.

Jaeger-LeCoultre doesn't mess around. The company is well-known for having created the world's smallest mechanical watch movement back in 1929, the Calibre 101, see here on the left. 
Absolutely amazing!

I've met many watch collectors over the years who have waxed lyrical about venerable Swiss watch brands such as Patek-Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, to name a few. For my money, though, I would place Jaeger-LeCoultre easily within this respected group of Manufacture Swisse. 

The Master Grande Taille model in the picture above is such a simple and beautiful wristwatch. Just the time and date, clearly presented. And the in-house Calibre 889/2 inside the watch is a pleasure to listen to.
Whereas the rotor in most automatic watches that use an ETA movement can tend to sound slightly coarse or hollow at times, a quick flick of the Grande Taille elicits a whirring sound similar to that made when casting out a line from a finely made fly-fishing rod. 
It's a wonderful wristwatch and still part of J-LeC's collection. Although, the model from 2001 measures an exquisite 37mm in diameter. The current model is 40mm. For me, that's a deal-breaker for this style of wristwatch. 

Still nice, though.

Been wearing the Omega Railmaster today. It's sitting on the last of the bookshelves that I've built. An hour after this picture was taken, I was out in the carport giving this shelf its first coat of varnish. Took less time than the other two because this is a shorter shelf. 
It'll get another coat sometime over the weekend and then I'll go get the backboard. Once that's cut, varnished and hammered into place, I'm done. Oh, no I'm not. I'll be putting a decorative panel on the front of this shelf. Just to jazz things up a little. Hope it works. 

After the varnishing, I sat down and tapped out the typecast above. I'm still sorting through magazines and books, culling here and there. I have too many Lee Child/Jack Reacher thrillers. Gonna thin them down a little. 
And this copy of Vanity Fair is from November 2006! But it has a picture of Eva Green in it. Makes it tough to throw out. 

Anyway, a reasonably quiet weekend and then I'm back at the new gig on Monday to learn a little more before I start in eleven days. 

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Friday 12 February 2016

Friday 12/2/2016 - One Bookshelf To Go, Drowning In Paper, Job-Hunt Updates & This Week's Wristwatches.

"Oh interviews! And yes, they do move damn fast. I have to say of all the jobs I have had in the last 10 years, I am never not surprised about the direction and outcome of things when I have one. Good luck."
- Scott Kernaghan, February 5th

"I'll add my voice to the chorus of well wishes for the interviews. You still at the optician's while searching? I meant to ask if you were still pursuing library gigs."
-B McMolo, February 5th

These two comments were made in response to last week's post of mine. Things got busy and I never replied to them, but it perhaps seems more fitting to respond with this week's post. 

So, I'm back working in the wristwatch industry! Which suits me very nicely indeed. I don't want to divulge which brand I'm working for. During my interview, I provided them details of this blog in order to showcase my wristwatch reviews. Now, I don't know if they ever read them or not, but I'll assume that they may have. Therefore, I don't want to write anything here that may go against company policy or could be viewed as casting the brand in a negative light. 
I think it's better that way. 

With regard to the actual job itself, I've done after-sales before, back when I sold watches and dealt with repairs for about a year. I can do this job. I can explain repair quotes in layman's terms. Rude or angry customers? No problem! I've diffused a fair few of them over the years. 
Best of all, it'll be great to work behind the scenes in this industry. Hopefully, I'll be able to hang up my retail shoes once and for all. 
I wore the Sinn 103 St Sa to the interview;

Don't worry. I was dressed better than that for the interview.

Various pages from various magazines that I've held onto since around 1990. Most of them were from US GQ Magazine. At one point, I began scanning them into my computer before coming to the decision that this was a time-consuming process and would likely end with me never looking at or reading these articles ever again.
So, I've put them all into a plastic folder and put it on a shelf of my bedside table. On nights when I don't feel like reading another chapter of a book, I've grabbed the odd article here and there, read it and then tossed it into the bin. Bit by bit, I'll get through them all. If there are any that I think I should keep, then they'll go back into the folder and get filed away. The wristwatch ads will be laminated so that I can frame them and put them up on a wall of the small fourth bedroom, which my wife and I have dubbed 'the craft room' since this is where my typewriters and movie posters are stored, and it makes an ideal room for sitting down at the small desk and working on a typewriter, wristwatch or other item where it can be left alone for days on end without getting in anybody's way. 

I switched over to the Omega Seamaster 300 when I sat down to typecast the first draft  on the circa 1956 Smith-Corona Silent Super. Great typer, that one, but I think I'll have to replace the feet with some rubber with better grip. I've been putting off going to the hardware store to get timber for the final bookshelf. Silly, really, since we still have books in a million different places in this house and it would be nice to have them all out of the way and in one spot. 

               So, I dropped the kids off at school, went and did a quick workout at the gym and then swung around and stopped off at the hardware store. Three planks of treated pine, 235mm wide, 19mm thick, and 2400mm long. This'll be enough to get it started. When my son gets home from school, I'll see if I can wrangle him into holding the timber steady while I rout some dado grooves into it.
I briefly wore the Rolex Submariner when I wrote page 2 of typecast draft number one. I used the circa 1966 Olympia SM9. Now that is one machine that's going nowhere.
Mixed up a quick Gin Rickey;

30ml Gordon's Gin
30ml Bickford's Lime Juice Cordial
Build in a tumbler over ice
Top up with Capi Soda Water.

Yeah, that worked.

I received my Employment Contract via e-mail yesterday. I read through it a couple of times. All good. Straight-forward, and with no surprises.  When I woke up this morning, I had breakfast and then signed the paperwork. Got changed, switched wristwatch and headed out the door. Back on went the SM300, on a black NATO strap;

Got home a few hours later and hammered out the typecast above.

It's been a busy week, gang. I stopped to think about how I got out of retail a few years ago and returned to study, in an effort to change career. I thought about the library course that I undertook, and how I made the decision last year to not pursue work in the library industry. It seemed that what libraries were when I began my studies and what they are now becoming are two different things. Less customer service, more I.T. based.
However, I'm glad that I did the studies. I'm glad I handed in all the assignments and reports and I'm glad that I passed the entire unit of study, with a few High Distinctions in a few subjects too. I have the qualification, even if I never make use of it.

I'd like to thank all of you who have wished me luck over the last few months (years!). It's been a trip, to say the least.
Hopefully, life will get a little calmer and predictable around here for a while. That'd be nice.

And one more pic of the Submariner with the drink and typewriter. In the Diorama Filter setting;

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

My, my, 12:35am! How'd that happen?

Thursday 4 February 2016

Thur 4/2/2016 ('Cos I'm Gonna Be Too Busy Tomorrow) - Short Typecast & This Week's Wristwatches.

I wore the modded Seiko 7002 on the weekend while I worked on bookshelf number three. My son reminded me about the two bookshelves I'd built for his and his sister's rooms, so technically, this one is actually bookshelf number five. No wonder I'm tired. 

Spent quite some time this week sorting through old magazines that I've hung onto for years. I really can't keep them all. Sure, these old copies of Vanity Fair have some great articles on the Golden Age of Hollywood, but I. CANNOT. KEEP. THEM. ALL. 
Same goes for the GQ Magazines. I'll keep a few issues of each, if only for the reason that one day, paper magazines won't exist and it'll probably be easier to explain to my grand-children just what the hell they were if I have an actual example to show them. 
Also, these magazines have some of the best article writing I've ever come across. I was re-reading a wonderful piece by Tom Junod...

...and for a few seconds, I thought of keeping the issue. Of course, the beauty of the internet is that you can find almost every word ever written if you do a quick search. So, I figure I'll pin a link to this article in this post so that I can find it if I ever want to read it again. 
I also came across a copy of The Age newspaper from a couple of days after 9/11;

Again, I couldn't hold onto it. For a long time, I've held onto various newspapers and magazines, thinking that I was in some way keeping them for historical or archival purposes. But I think I have enough other things to do without worrying about various forms of print media in the late 20th Century and early 21st Century. 
One other interesting bit of paperwork was this from the Ronson Repair Centre in Glendale, California;

When I first received this repair invoice in the mail, I thought it cool that I had gotten a typewritten document from Glendale, California. I kept the 'express memo' (how could I not? It's super-cool!), but threw away the invoice. I'm sort'a kicking myself now. Here's a close-up of the typewriter font;

Actually, scratch that. I just found the invoice. Because it has my name and (old) address details on it, I had it sitting in a pile of paperwork due to be shredded this weekend. Okay, this invoice is gonna get some use as a bookmark from now on. 
And, I'm thinking this typewriter is a Royal, based on the number '5' font, but I could be way off. If any of you are ever passing through Glendale, maybe look up Mr. Perry Grover (a gent, based on my few minutes of conversation with him over the phone back in 2006) and ask him directly. 

Anyway, I wore the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph for most of the week (old picture);

And then switched over to the Omega Seamaster 300 just before I wrote the typecast up above;

Here's the Omega sitting next to the Groma Kolibri and my two pairs of aviator sunglasses. One pair is by Randolph Engineering and the other is by American Optical. The Randolphs are a little worse for wear because I wore them quite a bit over the last decade. I'm probably due for a replacement pair, no doubt, but since I have the other pair by AO, I don't seem to be in a great hurry to get another pair of Randolphs. Especially while the Australian Dollar is getting me around 72 US cents. Nope. I think I'll wait a little while. 

Anyway, gang, that's this week. It's now about 10:20pm on Thursday night. Tomorrow morning will be tranquil enough, but I think things will start getting hectic when I make my way across town to go to this job interview in the early afternoon. I may get a call from today's interviewer while I'm there. Ah well, if it does end up being a hectic day, then this is the right kind of hectic. 

We'll see what happens.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!