Saturday, 7 July 2018

Sunday July 8th, 2018 - The Daily Grind is Too Weak, Overspending, Bigger Dates + Recent Wristwatches.

I made too many errors in the next paragraph,  hence the sharp crop in the photo above. Anyway...

I bought some Teriyaki chicken California rolls from a Japanese restaurant on a lunch break two weeks ago. The next day, my stomach really let me know that it was a bad decision. So I decided not to eat cold chicken take-away food ever again. Lucky for them, they make a very nice Miso soup. So I'll be back for that some day. 
Anyway, in an effort to avoid eating too much pre-prepared fast food, I got back into the swing of making my own lunch. Doesn't have to be fancy, just as long as the bread is fresh. Otherwise, left-overs end up in a micro-wave container and I take that to work.

I bought a 2006 model Mazda 3 hatchback in July last year and spent the next eleven months paying our joint account back. T'was a good feeling when I transferred the final installment into the account a couple of weeks ago. 

And last week, I finally got around to getting a 'proper' car key cut. I cannot stand modern car keys. You know, those big rectangular plastic things with a flip-out key and buttons for remote locking of the doors. Feels like I'm carrying a bar of soap in my pocket. Hate 'em! 
About six months ago, I stopped using the remote locking buttons and got back into the habit of unlocking the driver's door by hand. I did this because I wanted to have a normal car key cut at some point. I couldn't do away with the old key completely because the transponder for the engine immobiliser is built into it. The key-cutting guy I went to told me that he could cut a smaller car key and fit the transponder into it. Good. Ten minutes and a hundred bucks later, it was done. 
The 21st Century keeps imposing itself on me, but I'm gonna go down fighting.

Our coffee grinder was producing a very coarse grind lately, no matter how low the setting was. I checked the blades and they still seemed sharp enough, but what do I know? This Sunbeam grinder, based on a Braun model in Europe, uses a conical burr, which is basically two rotating sets of blades. 

I decided to call Sunbeam on my lunch break one day last week. I dialled the 1300 number and then spent 25 minutes on hold. While I was waiting, I surfed the web to see if I could find these blades for sale. I managed to find an electrical appliance repair centre that happened to sell the blades. 
Once I got off hold, I explained what I needed to the lady on the phone. She asked for my postcode. I told her and then there were a few moments of silence before she came back on the line to tell me the name of a place where I could purchase new blades. 
It was the same place that I found on the web while I was on hold. 
"You're kidding. I found this place on the 'net while I was on hold. I've just blown my lunch break on the phone. I thought you sold replacement blades there. That's why I called you guys in the first place", was my reply.
"Oh no, this is the office, we don't keep spare parts here", she replied.
"Well, nothing against you, *******, but it's disappointing to be given information that I could find on my own."

A disappointing experience. Having worked for so long in the customer service industry, I'll be first to admit that I wasn't perfect, but I did ALWAYS offer an apology to people that I couldn't help.

So, I wound up going to this repair centre and bought a new set of blades for the grinder. The guy behind the counter told me to check the small plastic brackets on my existing blades. If they were bent or broken, this could be the reason for the coarse grind.
I checked the blades when I got home and, sure enough, one of the brackets was broken. I installed the new blade set and set the grinder to 5, which would produce a fine grind. When I tested it with some Columbia beans, I got a powdery fine grind. Looking good.
I filled the group handle of the coffee machine, loaded it up and flicked it on. A few seconds later, a dark syrupy nectar began to drip into the cup. A few seconds more and it turned to a steady trickle. Success!
I was wearing the Rolex Submariner 5513;

I bought my wife a Sinn 656 about four years ago. Seen here on the right (picture courtesy of - Modell 656), this watch has served her well. It's an ETA powered automatic watch in a 38.5mm stainless steel case. Water resistant to 200m and with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, it's a very practical wristwatch. The hands and markers are coated with SuperLuminova, making it nice and easy to read in low light conditions. She has worn it everywhere. In recent months, however, she has found it harder to read the date on this watch. You'll notice that the date window is located at the 4:30 position of the dial. Very unobtrusive. And, as one's eyesight gets older, a little tricky to read. Truth be told, this watch has a date window that is smaller than what you would normally find on a watch of this kind.
I had toyed with the idea of getting a date magnifying lens and gluing it onto the crystal, but this would upset the entire symmetry of the dial.
And so, I thought it might be a better idea to just get her a new watch. I asked her what kind of watch she wanted, but I already knew the answer;
"Don't get anything with a rotating bezel, I have no need for it. Just something with numbers on the dial and a bigger date", was her brief.
I considered something in the Hamilton Khaki range, but none of them thrilled her. Then she threw me a curve ball- "Maybe something with a blue dial, for a change."

The Sinn 656 is a great watch, without a doubt. I may put a leather strap on it and wear it for a while myself. However, you can see how the date window can make it difficult to see the actual date itself. The date wheel is slightly recessed beneath the dial as well, creating shadows when viewed from certain angles. Pictured in the background is the Oris TT1 that I bought for her in 2002. That watch has been a workhorse, although its silver dial and silvered hands don't make for the best legibility when one gets older. Still, it's a great watch.

Okay, back to the current dilemma. I looked at affordable military and/or pilot's style watches from reputable brands. I knew of one watch that would fit the bill, but it wouldn't be on the market for another couple of months. That's okay. I could do a little more research. Size-wise, the case would be 41mm, which is a little larger than the Sinn, but not overly so. Besides, a large watch on a woman's wrist becomes a fashion statement, whereas on a guy, a too-large watch just ends up looking like a too-large watch.
Okay, a 41mm case. No problem. One hundred metre water-resistance? Good for days at the beach. Sapphire crystal? Yep, she can be hard on her watches. Larger date window than the Sinn? Definitely. In fact, the date window would be a tad larger than most watches, so this was a plus.
Blue coloured dial? Yep, but would it be a shade of blue that she would like?
I looked at the Monta Triumph;

Link:  Monta Watch | Triumph

Certainly a nice looking watch. Ticked almost all of the boxes, but I wasn't sure if she'd go for the vibrant electric blue dial. And she may not go for a new brand that hasn't been proven yet and has no history.
I myself am always wary of a new watch brand.
Here's why - You buy yourself a nice wristwatch. You wear it day-in, day-out. It accompanies you through life, throughout all of your travels, adventures, etc. And it becomes a part of who you are.
Then one day, five, ten, fifteen years later, it gets damaged and requires a new dial or set of hands. You contact the company and they tell you that they no longer produce those parts for your watch. Or worse, the company went bust in this very competitive industry and no longer exists.
Now, I'm not saying that this will be the case with a brand like Monta. I wish them the very best of luck for a long and fruitful existence. But this is, as I say, a very competitive industry and bringing out a new brand is always a hard slog. The Monta Triumph is a handsome looking watch, but at $1,550.oo USD, way more than I was looking to spend.
So, I went back to my original idea. The watch that wouldn't be available for a few more months. Of course, by now, that watch was soon to be released, so I placed an order for one.
When it finally arrived, I took a closer look at it and thought it would do just nicely. The Oris ProPilot Big Date;

My only worry was the colour of the dial. In low light, it's a muted shade of blue. In bright sunlight, you can see a metallic sunburst pattern on it and it looks great. Like having two watches in one. 
I needn't have worried. She loved it.
"I can see the date nice and clear."

It met all of her criteria. The Oris ProPilot range has been on the market for a few years now and they've done very well. The first model had a deep matte black dial. This model was soon followed by one with a slate grey dial, and this new blue version is the latest model. The 41mm diameter case means that it will cover the entire top of her slender wrist, but that's okay. That's the look she was going for. Something slightly flamboyant.

This is a watch that she'll wear to work every day. To the gym. While gardening. At the beach. It will be put through the ringer, to be sure. Which is fine, as I'm sure it will handle whatever she throws at it.
The stainless steel case and bracelet will accumulate scuffs and scratches over time. And that's cool. After all, it's those little scuffs and scratches that will make this watch truly her own.
Mission accomplished.

Okay, time to wind this post up. I got the photos that I took with the Yashica Electro 35 GSN developed. They turned out nicely, I have to say.

I did ask the photo lab to print the pics on matte paper (rather than glossy) and to put white borders around them. Looks like an oversight on their part. Dammit.
Still, the camera works as it should. I kept getting reminders from eBay to leave feedback for the seller of this camera, but I obviously wanted to see the results before I left one word. As soon as I checked the photos, I got on eBay and left the seller a glowing review.
Now, All I have to do is finish a roll of film in my Olympus OM2n and then I think I'll load up the Yashica again.
I wore the Oris Movember Edition  Diver Sixty-Five, The Omega Speedmaster Professional, and the Longines Heritage Paul-Emile Victor Expeditions model.

And a few others that I wore over the last few weeks. I'm definitely at a point where I'd like to thin down the collection. I just have to figure out the best avenues for this. Jennifer Lawrence kicks ass, by the way!

Here's a better close-up of the old Oris Big Crown Pointer Date model from the mid-Nineties.

Anyway, it's now just passed one o'clock Sunday afternoon on this winter's day in Melbourne. I've been wearing the Omega Planet Ocean all weekend.
And, here comes the rain. Time for lunch. 

Feels a little large on my wrist these days. I gotta build up my forearms a little, methinks. My wrists won't get bigger, but the watch may look better proportioned. Like it used to.

And one last shot of my wife's new Oris;

Yep. The date is easier to read.

Have a good upcoming week, and thanks for reading!

Friday, 22 June 2018

Friday June 22nd, 2018 - New Data Laws, RIP Miss Gayson, The Guy Who Stayed In With The Cold & Recent Wristwatches.

Okay, so it's Friday night, June 22nd and I'm sick again. Here's a quick timeline;

May 21st - I went to see my doctor to have a 'flu shot. 

May 27th - I caught a morning session of Avengers | Infinity War and noticed half-way through the movie that the cinema had cranked up the air con. I felt quite chilly for the rest of the film.
Later that evening, my throat felt raspy, like a had a spikey golf ball jammed in it. 

May 28th - Blocked nose, chesty cough, feverish. I end up feeling ragged for the next two weeks. 

June 10th - Feeling better. Back to my old self.

June 16th - Throat begins hurting again, and my lower back aches. Uh-oh, is this now  a 'flu? 
We had the air conditioning attended to at the office recently and it now feels a little too warm every day. One co-worker likes it cold, another likes it hot. End result is that the ambient temperature is all over the place. I wear layers, in an attempt to combat the situation and it works well. When I'm not sick. This time, though, my body temp is having a hard time regulating.

June 18th - Went in to work, though I probably should've stayed home. Same with the next day. It's busy at the moment and, corny as it sounds, I want to go in and do the work, even if I feel bad. 

June 19th - Spent the night coughing and coughing. By one am, my wife suggested the old honey & cinnamon mix. I stumbled to the kitchen, poured two spoons of honey into a small glass, and threw in a couple of liberal shakes of ground cinnamon powder. Then put it into the microwave for 10 seconds. 
I then mixed the cinnamon thoroughly through the softened honey until I had a golden syrup. Then I ate it. 
Sure enough, the coughing stopped a few minutes after I got back into bed. I slowed down my breathing and tried to relax. Not easy. 

June 20th - Called in sick. Stayed home. Slept in. Tried to nap on the couch later in the afternoon, but got a little too cold in there. Went to bed that night and coughed until one am. Then lay awake until 5:00am, trying not to cough. 

This morning - Sent a text to my boss, saying I wouldn't be in today. He replied, telling me not to come back to work until Monday. 
We'll see how I'm faring by then. 

By now, you're all probably aware of the New Data Laws being rolled out across Europe. I don't know what it all means, but I've had this message up on my Blogger dashboard for a few weeks;

I have underlined the confusing part of this message. I hit the "Learn more" tab and then tried to view my blog using a European .com (,, etc) at the end of my blog's address, but it keeps reverting back to the Australian '".
So, I'm wondering, if any of you are reading this blog from somewhere in Europe, are you getting the cookies notice somewhere on my blog? Thanks in advance!

The first Bond film, Dr No, was released in 1962. Bond's creator Ian Fleming died two years later. The director, Terence Young, has been gone for almost 25 years. 
However, it always strikes home for me when one of the actors in the early films dies. 
Eunice Gayson died earlier this month at the age of 90. She has the honour of being the First Bond Girl, Sylvia Trench.
She is first seen at the chemin de fer table at a London casino. She stands out because, amid all the men in dinner jackets, she wears a red off-the-shoulder gown.  
Aside from how she looks, she also comes across as very self-assured. Gambling alone, she engages in light reparteé with the unseen stranger across the table, the only worthy opponent in this game, it seems.
The cinematic introduction of James Bond is the stuff of OO7 lore. And, unrealistic spy movies aside, it is considered one of the greatest intros in film history.
But, don't take my word for it (thanks, YouTube!);


The next time we see her, she has managed to get into Bond's flat (probably bribed the doorman) and is attempting to slice golf balls into one of Bond's hats...wearing nothing but a pair of high heels and one of Bond's silk pyjama shirts. Bond arrives at the front door and, hearing sounds coming from inside his digs, draws his pistol and bursts in. To be pleasantly surprised.                        Thinking about her character now, she seems like the right kind of girl for 1960s cinematic Bond. Confident, flirty, and sexy as all get-out. She was intended to be a recurring character in the films, the girl back in England whose plans for intimacy with Bond would always be thwarted by his duty to Queen and Country. She appeared in the next film, From Russia With Love, but was never seen again after that. Shame, really. And so, I raise a glass (of orange juice) to you, Miss Gayson. It was performances by people like you that went a long way towards getting big-screen Bond off the ground.

Wristwatch-wise, these are what I've worn in recent weeks;

The Submariner still gets worn sparingly throughout the week and tends to see a little more daylight on the weekends. I'm careful with this one, given that it offers no water-resistance due to its age, but I'm glad that I've gotten to the point where I don't baby it the way I did when I first got it.                                                                Having wanted one for four decades, I knew there'd be a possibility of my treating it with kid gloves, but that's slowly faded since I got it overhauled last year. 
I ran some film through the Yashica Electro 35 GSN that I got recently;

I took the roll of colour film to my local mall to get it developed at Big W. They're like a Kmart or Target store.  The guy behind the counter told me that it would take around two-and-a-half weeks now because they no longer have the machinery to process film on the premises. Damn! Oh well, what choice did I have?                                The eBay Seller keeps sending me automated messages, asking me to leave feedback. I keep replying that I will do so once I check out the photos that I've taken. Seems fair, don't it? Anyway, he can wait.

I've been home since Wednesday. I've had a few very lousy sleeps. Wore the Oris Diver Sixty-Five Movember Edition for most of the week. I spent this morning paying some bills online before parking myself on the couch with a cup of tea and a couple of books. I have about a hundred pages left of Ernst Jünger's account of his experiences as a younger officer in WWI. The book is called Storm of Steel and it's up there with Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Once I finish this book, I can get started on the new Bond book, Forever And A Day. That should tide me over until the next Bond movie, which is still just a glimmer in EON Productions' eye at the moment.I later switched over to the Omega Railmaster, a watch that I haven't worn for some time.                                            It's now about ten past nine pm. I'm gonna have an inhalation made up of boiling water and a teaspoonful of Vicks Vaporub. Hopefully, this'll open up my airways a little. 

Anyway, thanks for reading, and have yourselves a good weekend!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Friday 1/6/2018 - Organ Donations, Shots in the Arm, Sons of Asgard Playing for Laughs + Recent Wristwatches.

Here's one more pic of the Laguiole knife, showing the 'Shepherd's cross' inlay of the handle. More about this knife in my previous post. 
I've been wearing the Oris Diver SixtyFive Movember  edition quite a bit over the past month and felt it was time for a switch. 
Have to say that this is a great watch. Oris really nailed it with this vintage-inspired design. Their Diver SixtyFive range has done very well for them over the last three years and I think this design will be a future classic for the brand. 

I'm currently writing a review of my other Diver SixtyFive model, but I've hit a bit of a snag with regard to the little story that I'm writing for it. 

Those of you who've read my other watch reviews may know that I tend to throw in a little story along with the review of the watch. That's just me keeping my hand in the fictional waters. I tend to place the watch in a scenario outside of what many watch reviews place it in. The Diver SixtyFive is a dive watch, but you won't find a face mask or pair of flippers anywhere in my review. I'm trying to show that this watch works just as well on dry land as it does 50 metres below the surface. 
Anyway, the story has hit a snag, but I think I've found a way through it. Just letting it simmer on the back-burner of my mind, to see if any holes appear. 

I didn't learn the whole song, just the first verse. But by the time my wife got home from work a couple of hours later, I'd forgotten how I learned it.
I still think La La Land should have won for Best Picture last year. The Oscar went to Moonlight, after the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway announcement confusion/fiasco. Moonlight was a good film, but in a year which gave the world Donald Trump as President, while taking away Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman and George Michael way before their time, we all needed something a little light, escapist and hopeful, something that harked back to the last flicker of the Hollywood musical. 
Like I said, Moonlight was a good film, but it was a little too 'real life'. 
And real life really sucked in 2016.

I grew up reading The Amazing Spiderman comics in the 1970s. I watched the late-Sixties cartoon series on Saturday mornings. I sat through the dreadful movie in 1977, which starred Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker and became incensed years later when I learned that it was originally a TV show.
Throughout this time, I would occasionally buy a Captain America and The Falcon or Fantastic Four comic, and I was also aware of other Marvel heroes like Iron Man. Thor and The Submariner.
I occasionally bought Spiderman comics in the early to mid 1980s, but by then, Marvel Comics had three or four different Spiderman titles out each month and I couldn't justify the cost of them.
Marvel dipped its toe in the movie waters back in 2000 with the release of X-Men, directed by Bryan Singer. Its $75 million dollar budget was rewarded with a box office gross of just under $300 million. Sequels soon followed.
When I saw the first of the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies in 2002 (Dir: Sam Raimi), I remember thinking that FINALLY, everybody's favourite web-slinger had been been brought to the screen the way he was meant to. Technological advances in CGI meant that Spidey swinging across the streets of New York looked as real as could be. It would only be a matter of time before we'd see other Marvel hero movies.
So, I've been a fan of the Marvel movie series released over the last ten years. I thought the IronMan films starring Robert Downey jr were great, and I really enjoyed the Captain America films as well. Coupled with The Avengers saga, we end up with a huge cross-referenced story arc beginning with the origin stories of these heroes before involving them in a quest for the Infinity Stones, a collection of crystals that will give unlimited power to their possessor.
Once Spiderman and Iron Man hit the big screen, it would only be a matter of time before other Marvel heroes would follow.
The first Thor film (Dir: Kenneth Branagh, 2011) contained Shakespearean overtones as it told the story of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, son of Odin the King of Asgard. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has landed on Earth after being banished from Asgard by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for violating a peace treaty.
He lands in New Mexico and is found by a group of scientists led by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). The professor, being Swedish, is well aware of Nordic mythology and it is he who first makes the realisation as to who this stranger with the long blonde hair, huge biceps, and big hammer (with carry strap) really is.
Compared to the other films in the Marvel Studios canon, this one presents us a smaller story as we find Thor having to save this New Mexico township from an attack by a Destroyer, a robotic sentinel sent to Earth by Thor's mischievous half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Anyway, onto this new movie. If the first Thor film gave us a story filled with Norse mythology and the fate of Asgard, this new one, Thor: Ragnarok has an overall sensibility that's closer to the Marvel films Antman and the Guardians of the Galaxy double.
Directed by New Zealander, Taika Waititi, this film has a more comedic tone in terms of dialogue and line delivery. Waititi seemed to me an odd choice when I thought of his 2016 film  Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a quirky (hated term. Used a lot by reviewers when referring to Australian and New Zealand films) movie about a kid who runs away from home and is grudgingly helped by a grizzly old man as they both end up on the run from authorities.
I'm always surprised when I read of a director going from a small-scale, low-budget film to a big Hollywood blockbuster, but Waititi does a wonderful job with this film. Absolutely confident in his approach to a film that's part of a winning franchise.
These movies aren't everybody's cup of tea, I'll be the first to admit. But does that really matter? They're mind candy, meant to take us away from real life for a couple of hours.
However, they are very well done. The effects are flawless, the casting is great, the writing (especially the dialogue) is sharp, and the storylines do touch on greater themes which help elevate these films beyond the likes of the Fast & Furious franchise, for example.  

Wednesday May 30th

"You know that shot you gave me for the 'flu? Well it worked. I've got it."
         - Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda)
           "Carry On Hawkeye" , M*A*S*H , Season 2, Episode 11 

I went to see Avengers | Infinity War last Sunday morning (movies are my religion) and noticed about half-way through that they'd turned up the air-conditioning in the cinema. Feeling quite chill, I buttoned up my denim jacket and flipped up the collar. Still felt cold. 

Later that night, my throat began feeling raspy. By this morning, my nose was blocked, I was coughing, and there was a headache on the horizon, which ended up moving in by early afternoon and stayed until about 8 o'clock this evening. 
And remember, I got that 'flu shot a week or so ago? 

The movie was good. Earth's Mightiest Heroes (TM) have their work cut out for them in the next - and probably final - installment in this series. I was told that they filmed two movies back-to-back. I think the next one ain't due out until around this time next year. 
The movie posters in this blog post were taken from I could spend days sifting through that site.

May 28th was a few days ago. Ian Fleming was born on this day back in 1908. My Folio Society copy of From Russia With Love arrived two days later. Here it is with the watches that I've been wearing over the last couple of weeks. Lousy photo, sorry.

Here's another shot of the Submariner, along with a snap of the inspiration. 

Okay, it's 7:24pm Friday night and I think I'm gonna crash soon. I hope you're all well, and that you have a good weekend. 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Sunday 20/5/2018 - Still Here, Cat Wrangling, DVD Headaches, Gentleman's Knives & Recent Wristwatches.

It's been a busy few months, gang. Work's been hectic, but manageable, and I've found that once I get home and have dinner, cranking up the laptop to post on my blog seems to be the last thing that I feel like doing after spending all day staring at a computer screen.
Posting on a Friday night is tricky as, no matter how motivated I think I might be, my brain tells my body that it's the end of my working week and all bets are off as far as sitting down to post is concerned.

However, too much time has passed since my last post. So away I go.

We took our older cat to the vet recently to discuss methods and strategies in the hopes of getting her to get along with our newer cat, which we've had since last June. Basically, these two cats are never gonna be best buddies, but they may get to the point where the older one tolerates the presence of the younger cat.
It will involve separate eating spaces and separate entrance/exit points for them. The older cat, is called Dussy or Wispy, plus a hundred other names. Her full name is Lady Wispola Dusenberg. At least, that's what it says on her passport. She has had full run of the house since we got her in March of 2009. Here she is in 2013.

The new cat is named Bowie, since he was born one year and one day after David Bowie died in 2016. He looks almost as cool as David Bowie did, but his songwriting skills suck. 
We were feeding them near each other for the last few weeks, thinking that this was a breakthrough in their relationship and that maybe Dussy was getting used to Bowie being around. 
The vet told us that feeding them near each other was not a good idea. Reason being that cats, like any other animal, will place food at the top of their priorities. So, feeding her near Bowie means that she's fighting every impulse to run away, in the interests of getting fed. This makes for a very stressful meal for her. 
Cats are sticklers for routine. I once read that moving furniture around in a room can upset them. Wispy's routine has been thrown out of whack since the arrival of the new cat. He keeps his distance from her, even though he has this intense look in his eye at times that almost says 'let me come near you'. 
And cats are territorial, taking ownership of various corners of a house and the people in it. So, you can maybe see that the introduction of a new cat can upset the balance. 
Here here is, back in September last year.

We'll be putting in another pet-door somewhere in the house, so that Wispy has access to an exit, since she doesn't go near the cat-flap in the back door anymore, ever since the little guy came to town. 
I'm confident that we'll reach a point where Dussy will tolerate this smaller cat, if not get chummy with him. We have a couple of Feliway diffusers set up and the two of them get fed in different spots at slightly different times of the day. 
Frankly, I have no idea if all this will work, and that's a notion that I find sad and stressful. My son and little Bowie are as thick as thieves, so we're reluctant to re-home the new cat just yet. 
We'll give it all eight to twelve months and see how it goes.

I wore the Omega Railmaster Co-Axial at some point during the past month. 
I'm not sure if I'll ever read this book. The racism and British Imperialism of Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond's world of 1920 has most surely not dated well at all. 
Although, as a precursor to Fleming's Bond novels of the '50s, I should probably take a jolly good stab at, eh, old boy?

The DVD player saga that I've been dealing with recently had been getting on my nerves. I had the Sony BluRay player chipped so that I could play movies from the US and UK that aren't available for Australian regions.
I wasn't planning on piracy. I just wanted to watch my Region 1 Gilda DVD and my Region A Chinatown BluRay - with the commentary from it's screenwriter Robert Towne and film director David Fincher- and I wanted to be able to pick up a few films that I haven't seen since the Eighties. Like that classic French film The Wages of Fear (Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) and maybe even William Friedkin's 1977 remake, called Sorcerer. And I just gotta get The Criterion Collection version of Howard Hawk's 1940 absolute classic, His Girl Friday. 

So, I got our player chipped about eight weeks ago. It worked just fine. Until about two weeks ago, when I loaded up an all-region copy of Captain America: Civil War. We got about 12 minutes into the film before we paused it to get a cup of tea. Five minutes later, when we hit the 'resume' button, nothing happened. Well, actually, something DID happen. My blood pressure began to rise.
We switched to some other DVD and watched it on the PlayStation 3.
A few days later, I called the guy who chipped the player and he explained how to re-set it. I got home from work, unplugged the player and left it alone for half an hour before plugging it back in and loading a DVD into it. Then I pressed play and heard the familiar sound of the disc spinning in the player.
About seven seconds later, the 'There is no disc" message came up on-screen. By now, I was more than a little ticked off and feeling pretty disappointed at having gotten the machine converted to play all zones and it only lasting about six weeks.
I decided on two options; call the guy and ask him to give me a step-by-step run-through of the re-setting procedure over the phone while I'm in front of the player, or scour eBay for a new pre-chipped Bluray player.

I wore this gold-striped NATO strap on the Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive. Didn't last long. The colour of the stripe didn't look good against the colours of the hands and markers of the dial. 

Besides, the watch was looking just fine on the minimal-stitch brown leather strap that I had it on. That strap has been broken in and is showing some nice wear.

I ended up calling the guy first and explained the situation to him, again outlining what happened when we tried to play the Captain America BluRay.
"Oh, you got the message that there was no disc in the player? It's the laser, then. It could be dirty and it's not reading that there's a disc inserted', he ventured.
Seemed plausible. I thanked him and then spent my lunch break looking for a Bluray cleaning disc. No luck, but the guy at an audio store that I went to suggested blowing out the dust from the laser lens if it was visible from the disc tray.
I figured I'd give it a shot. Grab a drinking straw and blow a few short bursts of air at the laser.
Got home from work, plugged in the player, switched it on and popped open the disc tray. I shone a torch (flashlight) into the player, but couldn't see the laser lens.
Dammit. I was gonna need some screwdrivers.

I closed the disc tray, unplugged it and took it to the kitchen table. Turning the player upside-down showed no screws underneath the machine. There were, however, three small screws at the back, next to the ports. I should point out that this is a neat little machine, about the same length and width as an iPad and about as thick as a hardback novel, so handling it posed no problems.

I undid the screws and the top of the player's case slid off. I love you, Sony! Getting the front section off required a little more patience or a third hand. I took my time with it.
Sure enough, like much of this kind of equipment, two-thirds of the cases are empty, with just some strip-wires and low-lying circuitry visible. To the left of the case was a smaller black plastic box, about the size of a DVD. This is where I had to be.

No screws on this thing, just four little stub and slot arrangements that you had to prise apart. Gently, I found out after applying too much force to one of them and it snapped. That's okay, I'm sure this thing'll still work on three engines, said the captain mid-flight.
Lifting the lid on this black box revealed the meat & potatoes. Toothed cogs and gears that slid the disc tray back and forth, more circuitry and a little glinting something that looked like the laser lens. There was some dust on some of the cogs and near the drop-down flap that covers the opening that the disc tray slides out of. I brushed it out gently with a blower brush and gave the laser lens a few squirts of air for good measure.
Satisfied that I'd done all I could, I took my time carefully putting it all back together and then I returned to the lounge room and plugged it in.
I'd either have a fully working BluRay player again or the lounge room would burst into flames while I got electrocuted.
Hindsight makes it funny, gang. Hindsight makes it funny.

First, a DVD. There was a library copy of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II next to the player. I loaded it in and hit 'start'.
That familiar whirring sound hummed gently, promising nothing. Then I got the captions on screen; "ENGLISH", "ENGLISH WITH SUBTITLES", plus a few other languages.
Looking good, I thought. A few more moments passed and then the Menu screen came up. Bingo!

I removed this DVD and went through the same procedure with the Captain America BluRay. Same whirring sound, same little pauses here and there, and then the Marvel Studios logo came up on-screen and a smug smile formed across my face.
Part of me is still a little cautious though. I'll keep that pre-chipped player on my eBay watch-list for another week or two.

Pardon the lousy photo, folks. I wore the Omega Speedmaster at some point and this watch seems to wear larger than I recall. Now, I know you can't build up your wrists, but I'm fairly certain they were a tad larger a couple of years ago when I was regularly hitting the gym. I just might get back into some regular exercise. Build up the forearms a little. That oughta do it.

I also wore these three pieces in recent weeks. The Rolex Submariner has been getting a little more wear in my spare time. 
One watch that I haven't worn very often is the 44mm Hamilton Khaki Officer's Mechanical. It's a damn big watch on my wrist, but there are some times when that's exactly the look I'm going for. 
Although, if I decide to go for a smaller Khaki model - Hamilton have a great range of these - I may move this one along. Not sure. One main reason is that this one houses the Unitas 6487 hand-wound calibre. It was first produced in the 1950s for pocket watches and it winds as smooth as butter. And I still have a soft-spot for the review that I wrote on this watch five or six years ago.
Rounding out this trio is the Oris Diver SixtyFive with black and blue dial. It's become a favourite in a very short time. 

I wanted a knife. Nothing 'tactical', nothing huge, nothing crazy. Just a plain and simple folding knife that I could keep in the kitchen or liquor cabinet, for those times when I want to slice up an apple after dinner, cut a wedge of lemon for a Gin & tonic, or skive a sliver of cheese (lactose-free these days) off a block. 
Sure, the kitchen drawers have a few small sharp knives for any of the tasks I mentioned, but I wanted my own. Something that would only be used for culinary duties. 
Years ago, an elderly couple walked into the watch boutique I worked at and the man asked me if we sold knives. 
I told him 'no'. Then I asked what kind of knife was he after. Did he want something along the lines of a Swiss Army knife, for example? 
He explained that he wanted 'a Gentleman's knife'. 
Ahh, I knew what he wanted now. Something for cutting the end off a cigar, or cutting a loose thread off a shirt sleeve, or carving a wedge out of a watermelon, or whittling down a twig while sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. Something with a plain, clip-point blade and with a handle made from some nice timber. Pocket-sized, slim, workman-like. 

EveryDay | 10 Classic Gentleman's Knives 

I suggested he try a nearby store that sold kitchen cutlery, but also carried a selection of Leatherman and Victorinox knives and smaller pocket knives that may just suit what he was looking for. 

Anyway, enough about him. Back to me. If you wanna know what knife he ended up getting, maybe he has his own blog.

So, I wanted a gentleman's knife. I had been thinking about the Opinel knives. These are the classic French folding knife that's available in a range of sizes and prices. 
My boss, who's got a collection of knives, said he had a R. David Laguiole folding knife that he'd be happy to swap for a Mont Blanc 147 fountain pen that he had given me in an earlier swap; I gave him a Parker Centennial, he gave me the Mont Blanc. 
Are you sure?, I asked. I'd be happy to give you something for it, I added. 
He reminded me that I'd already given him the Parker pen and was now giving him the Mont Blanc.

He brought it in last week. It has a classic shape. Last year, I bought a set of cheap steak knives whose design is based on the Laguiole knife. Needless to say, the difference in quality between these two is poles apart. Might have to get the Real McCoy steak knives one day. 
The Laguiole, seen on the right in the photo, has a very strong spring in it. This means that it feels quite tight when you hook a thumbnail into the mark to swing out the blade. And when you close the blade, you'd better have all fingers out of harm's way. It snaps shut with a resounding 'thwack'. The handle of this particular one is made from snakewood and it has an inlaid 'Shepherd's cross' in the middle. I have to say the build quality is very slick. 
As I say, this knife is for home use only. I have no plans to carry this, or any other, knife out in the streets. The laws here in Victoria are quite strict regarding knives. This is due to a spate of knife crimes that occurred in the CBD over the last ten years, to the point where it became illegal to carry any kind of blade. This included the venerable Swiss Army knife and Leatherman tool. Offenders could face very hefty fines or even jail time. This knife has a four-inch blade. That alone could get me into trouble with the law.
So, this knife stays in the kitchen. 

I love the attention to detail on this thing. The spring has a neat little pattern cut into it and the bee or fly (jury's still out on exactly which one it is) sits at the edge of the handle. The design of this knife dates back to around 1860, according to wikipedia and there were various modifications made over the years. These were called Laguiole due to the region in France where they were, and still are, made. Much like true champagne is only found in the Champagne region. The insect logo was added after the Second World War. About ten years ago, I thought about getting a Laguiole bottle opener/corkscrew, but I couldn't justify the $130 AUD that it would cost me, considering that I'm not a wine connoisseur or a big wine drinker.

I wore these three too since my last post seven weeks ago(!)
The Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive has been getting a lot of wear. The Longines Heritage model (middle of pic) looks a lot nicer since I put a tan coloured leather strap on it and the Omega Seamaster 300 on mesh bracelet still brings a smile to my face. I realised long ago that I tend to have a penchant for dive watches. I like the clarity and easy readability of the dials, the water-resistance that means I don't have to worry about the watch around water, and the rotating bezels come in handy more often than you'd think. 

My boss came back from an interstate trip and handed me an Opinel No. 8 knife. I reached for my wallet, but he wouldn't hear of it. I'll have to snag him a bottle of something.

The Opinel is another French-made knife available in a myriad number of sizes. This one has a walnut handle and a very sharp 3-inch blade - I found out the hard way - and  it has a rotating steel collar or ferrule at the base of the handle which locks the blade into place, preventing it from swinging shut if you happen to apply too much force to it. When you fold the blade back into the groove in the handle, this lock can be twisted into place to keep the blade safely tucked away.
Looks like I'll be eating a little more fruit in future.

Picked up a few books. The Le Carre hardback was a good score. I can now get rid of the dog-eared paperback copy that I have. Avalanche Express is a 1970s 'airport thriller'. Probably a good travel novel, whereby you can read it without having to think too much about it, and not be too bothered if you don't finish it before your vacation is over.
The Sisters is a Cold War spy thriller that sounded intriguing. I have another Robert Littlell book, The Company, which is a fictional account of the history of the CIA. It's a thick book and I've been meaning to read it since I got it about ten years ago.

I wore the Rolex Submariner 5513 a few times in the past month or so. I still baby this watch a little. Not only that, but it seems that whenever I do wear it, it comes into risky contact with water. Sure, it's a dive watch, but it's no spring chicken as far as water-resistance is concerned. The watchmaker who restored it for me recommended that I don't get it wet. So, I err on the side of caution. 

The first of the Dynamite Comics James Bond stand-alone stories arrived in the mail last month. I haven't read it yet, as I'm currently still reading Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger's novel based on his experiences during World War I. It ranks alongside Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front as one of the finest novels about The War To End All Wars. 
We bought Storm of Steel for my son when we visited Paris a couple of years ago and he liked it and suggested I have a read of it. I've fallen out of the reading habit over the past six or eight months. I kept stopping and starting this book, to the point where I got to page 24 and then left it alone for a few months. Sloppy. 
So I'll just make more of an effort to get back into reading. 

And that's pretty much it as far as what I've been up to lately. I have a couple of day's off from work, so that I can take care of some nine-to-five related tasks. 

- Flu shot
- tyres to get rotated and balanced
- appointment with my son's teachers
- maybe head into the city on Tuesday. 

I'll see if I can be a little more regular with my posts, even if they're only short ones. 


Oh, one more thing; in my last post, I mentioned that the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, unveiled at the BaselWorld Watch and Jewellery Fair earlier this year, was a re-edition of the first Tudor dive watch from 1958. 
I was mistaken. I got an e-mail from a reader named Nicholas who pointed out that the Tudor brand had released its first dive watch back in 1954.
(pic courtesy of Monochrome | Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight - Review

This here on the left is the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner, Reference 7922, which came out in 1954. Certainly there are plenty of design cues from this vintage piece that have found their way into this new re-edition, but the Tudor brand, in an effort over the years to put some distance between themselves and Rolex, made a change to the hour hand on their dive watches sometime in the 1970s. This hand design became known as the 'snowflake' and it has since become synonymous with the Tudor brand. 

Info on vintage Tudor watches can be hard to come by, so thanks for the correction, Nicholas!

Hope you've all been well, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Thursday March 29th, 2018 - A Clean Desk, BaselWorld Standouts (for me, anyway) + This Week's Wristwatches

Okay, it's now 7:23pm Sunday night. Let's see how far I get with this post. 

I spent most of this weekend clearing my desk. Hopefully once and for all. Business cards that I've accumulated over the last few months were put into a card index box, to be dealt with at a later time. Various notes and other jottings were either thrown away or transcribed into other notebooks for posterity or future reference. 
I got sidetracked numerous times by some obscure note that I wrote ages ago or some article torn from a magazine. The OUT tray was filled to the brim with info that I no longer found interesting or relevant. The paper recycling bin therefore filled up pretty quickly. 
When all was said and done, though...

It hadn't looked this tidy in quite some time. I took the IN/OUT trays off the desk and positioned them on top of a small steel IKEA drawer unit that sits next to the desk. Over on the left is a letter caddy which holds notepads and index cards while the right rear edge of the desktop has a small wooden catch-all. This is where my wallet, phone, car-keys and glasses are parked when not in use. 

An old IWC watch catalogue works as a blotter in the middle of the desk. As each page gets covered in jottings and scribbles, the page is torn off and thrown out.  

To the left is my diary/planner. Under the desk on the left-hand side is a small box filled with various props for photo shoots. On top of that are a few manila folders, and my laptop sits on top of these when not being used. Against the wall under the desk is the Olympia SM2, for when I need to type something like a typecast, etc. Because the desk has been so cluttered for so long, though, I've tended to type in the kitchen using one of my other typewriters. So, this SM2 hasn't seen much action. 
I'll see if I can change that. 

Anyway, We'll see how long this desk remains tidy.  

The BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair is currently in full swing. This yearly event is a must for watch nerds, as the Swiss watchmaking houses unveil their new models. 

While I have a soft-spot for Omega, this brand only released one (or rather, two) watches that got my heart beating a little faster - the 70th Anniversary Seamaster models (right).
The one on the left - with the sub-seconds dial- is based on the first Seamaster from 1948, while the central seconds model shares design elements with the later Seamasters of the early to mid 1950s. Measuring a sublime 38mm in diameter, these watches house the latest in-house Master Co-Axial movements from Omega.
These two will be released as limited editions of 1,948 pieces each. That's a shame. These could have been produced as regular production models. I think they'd sell quite well.

Two brands that really caught my eye this year were Oris and Tudor. Oris had a runaway success with the introduction of their Diver Sixty-Five range in 2015. The release of their commemorative Movember Special Edition late last year created quite a buzz, so it seemed inevitable that they would follow this sought-after piece with a range that borrowed some elements of that watch, but with a few twists.

At first glance, these two watches look exactly like the Movember Edition, but when you look closer, the differences begin to appear. Firstly, the inlay of SuperLuminova compound on the hands and dial markers is off-white, to give the impression of faded or aged lume. This use of what collectors refer to as faux patina has been all the rage in the watch world over the last few years and some brands can tend to go overboard with it. Here, though, it goes extremely well with the rose-gold plated hands and marker borders, giving the whole dial a lovely warm look, reminiscent of some dive watches of the 1950s and '60s, the most notable being Rolex and Tudor Submariners of that era. However, this design is based on an Oris model from the mid-1960s, hence the Diver Sixty-Five designation.

The most noticeable difference between these models and the Movember one is the bezel. For this new model, instead of steel, Oris have opted for a bronze bezel. It starts off with a polished rose gold hue, but as it continues coming into contact with air and other elements, it will develop a varying level of patina and verdigree that is common with metals such as bronze or brass. While it is easily cleaned with lemon juice, vinegar or bi-carb soda, many watch nuts with bronze wristwatches tend to leave the patina alone until it resembles some artifact recovered from The Titanic.

I don't mind a little bit of patina, but this would drive me nuts. I'd be tempted to clean it once a week, at the first signs of this forming. It usually begins as a slightly dull and pale brown before darkening and then turning a bluish green before it continues until it looks like the watch has rusted. This watch here would have taken quite some time to get to this level. Kudos to its owner for being able to put up with it.

However, a quick dunk and/or light rub with organic cleaning solutions, such as the aforementioned lemon juice or vinegar, and the watch can look good as new.
Me? I just don't think I'd have the time or, more likely, the inclination to clean my watch on a regular basis.

Back to the Oris- this new model will be available in both a 36mm and a 40mm case size. This should appeal to a wide range of customers; women who want a cool looking dive watch, collectors who prefer the vintage dive watch size - there was a slew of dive watches made in the 1960s in 36mm sizing - and guys who have smaller wrists that are better suited to this smaller case.
For those who would consider 36mm too small, the 40mm case size awaits. I think these will do very well.

Tudor was the other brand at BaselWorld this year that released a couple of pieces that nobody was expecting. First up, the Black Bay GMT model.

Sure, it may incorporate design elements of the classic Rolex GMT models of the past, but Tudor has done much over the last five or so years to really distance itself from the company that used to be its big brother.
Tudor watches of the past were designed using the same external parts as Rolex. The main difference was the movements. Whereas Rolex watches had in-house calibres under the bonnet, Tudor used ETA movements. This made them affordable for many.
The Black Bay series of watches has the classic Tudor 'snowflake' hour hand, which has become as famous and recognisable for the brand as the 'Mercedes' hour hand has been for Rolex.
This GMT model measures 41mm and features the 'snowflake' motif on both the seconds hand and GMT hand, aside from the hour hand. Again, I think this one will be a popular watch.

Another Tudor release this year was the Black Bay 58. This one made me sit up and take notice, for the sole reason that it is being offered in a 39mm case size. This puts it firmly into vintage Tudor dive watch territory because those watches were of a 39mm diameter in days gone by and this Black Bay model pays homage to the first Tudor dive watch, released in, yep, 1958.
This model has a nice gilt dial and hand-set which perfectly contrasts with the deep black dial and bezel insert.

The last three or four years have seen a resurgence in vintage-inspired pieces from many of the larger Swiss watch houses and it would seem that there's no chance of this trend abating just yet
What I'm happy with is the return to more conventional watch sizes. Sure, it appears to be happening slowly, but it's good to see it happening, just the same. Aside from the brands listed in this post, it would seem that many others are offering their latest line-ups in a variety of sizes to suit a wider range of people.
Now, I will be the first to admit that these watches are pricey. They require some serious saving. What they give you, however, is a wristwatch that will last generations and can be handed down. Provided that the watch is properly maintained, serviced when it ought to be, and not banged around with reckless abandon.

Okay, that went on longer than I had planned.

Here are the watches that I've worn recently;

From left to right, The Oris Movember Edition Diver Sixty-Five has seen a lot of time on my wrist. I took the leather strap off it after wearing it for a day and put it on a no-name, straight-ended stainless steel bracelet. This gave the watch even more of a vintage vibe.

The Longines Heritage Expeditions Polaires Francaises got the 'vintage explorer's watch' touch when I put this tan-coloured leather strap on it. This was a $30 eBay buy and it really suits the watch. I may have to snag another one at some point. Although, I've been thinking lately that it's probably not such a good idea to stock up on leather straps since the leather can tend to dry out over time and become weakened. Which is the last thing you want. I've seen a few straps that look brand new, but the stitching has given way where the buckle is attached. So, I think I'll keep my strap supplies low. Of course, it would also benefit me if I can leave a strap on a watch for longer than a few days. Give it some worn-in character.

The Omega Railmaster hasn't had much of an outing for a while. I realised last year that I tended to wear my bracelet watches more during the Summer months while my watches on straps got more of a showing throughout the cooler months of the year.
Last week, though, I just had a hankering to wear the Railmaster. I still think this watch is a better design than the current model that was unveiled last year.

Rounding out last week's wristwatches was the Oris Diver Sixty-Five with the blue/black dial.

And that was last week. It's now almost 8:30pm Thursday night on March 29th. This has been a very busy week at work as the BaselWorld releases landed at the office and I spent a couple of days away from repairs as I packed watches to send to various retail partners. I think some of these new pieces will do very well indeed.

Throughout this week, I stuck to one watch,  swapping from the Diver Sixty-Five to the Movember Edition, which I still had on the steel bracelet. 
I started this post last Sunday night and worked on it a little each night. It's now late Thursday night, a couple of minutes to 11:00pm and I think I'll hit the sack. 
We're going to catch a session of Ready Player One tomorrow. I haven't read the book, but my wife has. 
Should be interesting to see Spielberg's take on it. 
Anyway, I hope you all have a nice break over this Easter weekend. If you don't celebrate Easter, then enjoy the time off. 
Thanks for reading, all!