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!


  1. Nice update. By the way, I blame you for my recent interest in NATO straps, they’ve given second life to my meager watch collection.

  2. Beautiful watches. I don't know much about watches other than they tell time, but I do know about the Opinel Knives. I've got quite a few from very small to very large. I mainly use them in the kitchen. I was so impressed with the first one I bought over 30 years ago (and I still have and use it) that I bought the different sizes. The only knives I ever purchased that I could shave with right out of the box.

  3. @ Joe V, I love NATO straps. Very comfy, a million different colours to choose from, cheap as all get-out, and very, very secure way to keep the watch on your wrist. I'ce trimmed a couple of mine in recent months because I was sick of the extra fabric. Might have to put up a quick tutorial on how it's done, in case you may wanna trim some of yours.

    @ Bill M, yes, the Opinel is obscenely sharp. A very impressive blade, considering the low cost of these knives. And so French, too!

  4. Great to read another post! Until recently, I've found the Bond comics quite good, but I haven't warmed to The Body just yet. It's got one issue left. What do you think of today's Bond 25 official director and screenwriter announcement?

    1. Danny Boyle to direct sounds like a good thing. Let's just hope it's more like "Skyfall" and less like "SPECTRE".
      I read about who would be writing the script, but the name escapes me. I think it's somebody who has collaborated with Boyle in the past.
      Looking forward to it, but it's so far away at the moment. For now, we have the new Horowitz book due out next week. Cannot wait.
      Hope you're well, Javi.