Saturday 28 September 2019

Still Here, Still Busy - Part 3 | 8:00pm, Saturday, 28th September, 2019 - Car Headaches, Bad Books, & New (old) Watches

Took another stab at cleaning my desk. Time for a typecast, since it's been a while. I can't say that I'm overly happy with the photos throughout this post. The Windows Photo Editor's enhance feature seems to be playing up and I've been unable to lighten the pics. I've looked up various methods for fixing this, but nothing seems to be working. Guess I'll just have to wait for the next Windows 10 updates. 

I can download a Free Trial version of Adobe Photoshop Elements and give that a bash! Which is what I did. So, I'll attemptto tidy up some photos here wherever possible.

And a close-up. I love the four different textures of the dial. Five if you include the applied numerals. Basically, the numbers at the hour markers aren't painted on or glued on. They're attached with thin metal prongs that are slotted into tiny holes drilled into the dial.

Car Trouble.
                     My wife and I took a drive out to a seaside town a few weekends ago. On the freeway coming home, I took the last major turn-off and heard a sharp snap, while at the same time seeing a small crack instantly appear along the lower edge of my wind-screen. Dammit, a stone chip.

I called a windscreen replacement company the following Monday on their 1300 number. I was hoping that it could be repaired rather than replaced.

Is the crack bigger than a five-cent coin?, she asked.

No, it's a little smaller than that, I replied. The crack was about 15mm in length, with a chip in the centre.

Whereabouts on the windscreen is it?

About ten centimetres from the lower edge and around 20 centimetres from the right-hand side edge.

So, it's on the driver's side of the windscreen? (Right-hand drive in Australia, folks.)

Yes, it is, I replied.

Oh, well then it'll have to be replaced if it's on the driver's side. That would be $295.oo.

I then decided to call on their regional repairer, which was located five minutes from home. This would be the place where they would send my car. The guy there had a look at the windscreen and he said they could fill in the crack with a resin. For $95 bucks.
Cool. I asked him if the crack might get worse if I hit a pot-hole or something and he said it might, in which case, he could offer me a six-month warranty on the work with the option of then replacing the windscreen for the $295.oo price minus the $95 that I would have already paid for the repair.
Sounded okay to me, so I booked it in for the following Friday morning. It would take about an hour.

The next day, on the morning drive in to work, the battery warning light came on. Driving home later that evening, I  noticed that my headlights didn't seems as bright as I thought they should be. As a precaution, I lowered the instrument/dashboard lighting and switched off the heater. My windscreen wipers also appeared to work a little more sluggishly than I thought.

I managed to get home and then called my mechanic the next morning to tee up dropping it in for repair. Was it the battery? Was it the alternator? I'd find out soon enough.
Driving it in to the workshop the following morning, the battery light was on and, whenever I'd drop into second gear to turn a corner, the steering would stiffen up and the power steering malfunction light would flicker briefly.
Man, I was gonna kill myself on a six-minute drive to the mechanic.

Got the car and myself there in one piece and they gave me a Jaguar(!) as a loaner. It was a model from about fifteen years ago and it drove lousy. Sluggish on take-off and it took a while to get up to speed. Nice enough once it cruised along, but took a while to get there.
And I'm no expert on cars.

Left work early that day because I wanted to be sure I had the car ready to take in for windscreen repair the next day.
The mechanics told me that it was the alternator. They reconditioned it and said it was as good as new.

DO YOU WANNA KEEP THIS CAR CRAP IN? It's pretty poorly written. Your heart and/or mind wasn't in it, really. Ahh, what the hell...leave it in. They can skip it if they get bored. God knows I did!

Anyway, I picked up two new watches recently.

Australia phased out one and two dollar notes in 1984 and 1988 respectively, and replaced them with coins. I have some small metal tins that I throw all of my loose change into. Over time, I take these coins to the bank and deposit them into my account. Like a ten year-old kid.  I have a small Whitman's Sampler tin which is probably the same size as an Altoids tin. This holds about fifty one dollar coins. 
I have another tin which holds about $240.oo in $2 coins, and another round tin that holds about eight-five bucks in 50c coins. 
Sure, it can probably take a year or so to save any meaningful amount, but it's a nice casual way of saving for the frivolities.

These coins pretty much paid for the two new watches. Well, that plus a small chunk of my recent tax return. 

First one to arrive was this late 1960s hand-wound Seiko Skyliner. 
At 37mm in diameter, it's a slightly larger than normal size for the era. Close inspection shows that the dial and hands are in very, very good condition. 
The winding crown does feel a tad small and, therefore, it's a little harder to grip with the finger-tips, but this is such a small concern that it's hardly worth mentioning. Once you get the hang of winding it, it's not an issue.  
I can't fault Seiko. The phrase "Made in Japan" has a certain cachet to it and it conjures up memories of 35mm Nikon film cameras from the 1970s and National Panasonic transistor radios of the 1960s.
This piece is as well put-together as anything coming out of comparable Swiss brands at the same time.

Whenever I finish a bottle of alcohol, I tend to soak the labels off them. I like to use them as bookmarks. Some of these are harder to remove than others. I place the bottles into hot water for about fifteen minutes and this works with some labels and not others. A guy at a nearby bottle shop (liquor store) suggested good old WD-40. I may give that a shot.

This Gin Lane 1751 label was coming off nicely as I gently peeled it away from the glass. Only problem was that I held on to the same section of the label during removal and managed to rub away the first couple of layers of paper.
Ahh, well. Looks like I may have to get another bottle of Gin Lane at some point.
I wore the Hamilton Khaki Automatic during this exercise. I keep thinking that this watch might look a little better with a couple of scuffs and scratches on it, to give it a lived-in kind of look, but I've yet to put a mark on it. No hurry, I suppose.

I'm still reading Graham Greene's The Quiet American, but I picked up a book of short stories called Paris Noir. 
You know, gang, life is too short. I decided some time ago that I would avoid bad movies and books wherever possible, because there's a tonne of good movies and books still unwatched and unread, and I ain't getting any younger.
I got as far as the first two stories before I added this book to the pile of stuff to go to the nearest Op Shop (Goodwill/Thrift Store).

Continuing with books, my first edition hardcover of John Le Carré's third book of the Karla Trilogy arrived in the mail this week. Smiley's People concludes George Smiley's intricate game of cat-and-mouse against his Russian counter-part. Smiley is a spymaster in British Intelligence and Karla is his Moriarty.

The first book in this series, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, was filmed as a highly acclaimed mini-series back in the early 1980s with Alec Guinness as Smiley and then remade as a movie with Gary Oldman in 2011 and it concerned Smiley being brought out of retirement to ferret out a mole in MI6.
It's as far removed from Bond as you can get. I bought Tinker, Tailor back in 1981 and got up to page 48 before I stopped reading it. I was too young for it, I think, and I found the pace slow. Of course, now I'm older and appreciate character development a little more, so I think I'll take another shot at it at some point. May even re-read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, while I'm at it. That was Le Carré's breakout novel back in 1963. A classic of the espionage fiction genre.
I'll keep an eye out for the hardback versions of the two other books in the trilogy, TTSS and The Honourable Schoolboy. 

The other watch that arrived recently was this Rado Golden Horse, which dates back to 1957.
I had a 1970s model at one point and I stupidly sold it. At the time, though, my rationale was that it looked very much like a Rolex DateJust model and I felt that, if I kept this Rado, I might never get around to getting a DateJust. Well, that was about ten years ago and I still don't have the DateJust.
Anyway, this one arrived and the seller's photos did not do this watch justice. It's in very clean cosmetic condition. Rado brought out a re-edition a couple of months ago and it's virtually identical, save for the colour of the dial. For this new model, they opted for a plum-red dial. Nice.
Picture below lifted from Fratello | Hot Take: Rado Golden Horse Collection

The watchmaker that I work with told me that Rado was a very popular brand throughout Asia in the '70s and he had good things to say about these watches. Rado was one of the smaller brands coming out of Switzerland and it was acquired by The Swatch Group at some point. I sold quite a few Rado watches back in my watch selling days. The brand did very well with its Integral range which had a very thin black ceramic case and integrated bracelet with gold accents.

This Golden Horse that I got does have a few stains on the chapter ring surrounding the dial, but this is nothing that can't be solved by an ultra-sonic cleanse. We have an ultra-sonic cleaner at work. It's basically a small tank that you fill with water and cleaning solvent. The tank then heats up the water. When you turn on the cleanse function, a tiny vibration is applied to the tank. This vibration dislodges any dirt that might build up on a watch case or jewellery. You only need to leave items in the tank for about thirty seconds. They come out looking sparkly clean.
I have read, though, that prolonged exposure to the tank while in operation can actually kill the nerves in your fingertips, thus reducing their sensitivity. We always use wooden tongs.
I've noticed over the years that dive watches tend to be really dirty when they come in for servicing. Build-up of grime in between the bracelet links and on the underside where the bracelet joins the case at the end-links and lugs.
It almost seems that the more water-resistant the watch, the less likely that it has actually been in water. I'm always careful with these filthy watches. It's all too easy to handle one and then inadvertently rub your eye and, before you know it, you risk some conjunctivitis or something.  

My wife got me this photo!

It's a reproduction, sure, but it's still nifty having his autograph on it. Judging by how he looks in this picture, I'd say it was taken in the mid-1940s.

Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart are my two favourite movie stars of the Old Hollywood era. My daughter's been binging on old movies in recent months and she's developed a liking for 1920s fashions, Lauren Bacall's eyes, Ingrid Bergman's nose, Katherine Hepburn's cheekbones, and black and white movies.
We watched Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) recently and I mentioned that I have a poster of the film somewhere. I'll have to dig it out and frame it. I got it back in the late 1980s and I'm sure it would be near impossible to replace.

And, just in time for my daughter's birthday, a couple of black leather straps arrived for the Oris. I put one onto the watch and it suits it nicely. It's got a crocodile pattern embossed on it. Gives it more of a 1930s flavour.

I presented the watch to her after dinner. She'd forgotten that I even had this watch. Good. It packed more of a surprise wallop that way. That was a couple of weeks ago and I'm happy to report that she hasn't taken the watch off since.

Anyway, that's another month down. This year has flown by, that's for sure. I trust you've been well, reader, and I'll see how I go before my next post.

Thanks for reading, and take care, all!

Thursday 5 September 2019

Still Here, Still Busy - Part 2 | 10:11pm, Thursday, 5th September, 2019 - My Kingdom for a Shirt Pocket!

The Oris Diver SixtyFive (40mm, blue & black dial) got a lot of wear in recent months. Here it is, back in May,  in a restaurant while I awaited some calamari. It was a lacklustre meal, to be honest. Lightly (actually, too, too lightly) grilled, it was an entire tube of squid with cuts half-way through it. If you think that doesn't make any sense, then neither did the taste. 
And it wasn't very hot. Barely warm, in fact. Just as well it was on the company dime.  I was having a quick dinner before a work function where there wouldn't be any food. It was gonna be a long night. And it was.

The Rolex Submariner also got its fair share on the wrist. I took this pic for my Instagram and then felt like adding some text to accompany it;

Ritts glanced at his left wrist. The mixture of perspiration and grime between the bracelet links had produced an oily residue that left a stain on his skin. 
He glanced at his watch on the table. He’d been at the safe-house since 4:00am and Al-Waleed never showed. Nothing more to do for now. He’d try again tomorrow. Ritts took a deep breath before letting a sigh hiss through his teeth. He then picked up the pressed rose that the inn-keeper’s daughter had given him when he first walked in. The inn-keeper himself, upon seeing Ritts in this disheveled state, reached under the bar and produced the bottle of single-malt. Ritts could have kissed him. After the second glass, he caught a brief whiff of his own body odor as he reached forward to put the rose back on the table. He needed a shower. A dead rose couldn’t disguise that fact. But he needed a drink first. ‘These people are beautiful’, he thought to himself as he dropped fifty Dirham on the table before he reached for his wristwatch.


In my previous post, I mentioned a jacket that my wife had found for me in a thrift store (in Australia, we call them Op Shops, which is short for 'Opportunity Shop') and I put an asterisk at the end of the sentence;

                   My wife is always on the lookout for clothes for me whenever she visits an Op Shop. I never tend to have the same kind of luck whenever I visit them.

Like I said, I put an asterisk at the end of that sentence, with the intention of elaborating a little on the subject. 
And then I forgot to elaborate on the subject. 
Anyway, here I go... 

You see, I have this theory about men and women, and the kind of stuff that they donate to thrift stores, and the methods and thinking behind their respective donation strategies (if any). 

Let's talk about something such as a tailored jacket. You know, corporate-style cut and design, in a sober colour, made from a nice wool. Women may buy said jacket and wear it for an entire season. They'll look after it, get it dry-cleaned when required and then they might take it to a thrift store as soon as they've had it for a couple of years or it's style or cut has gone out of season or fashion. 

Men will buy a cheaper type of tailored jacket and wear it to death. Guys will sweat in the jacket, drape it over the back of a chair, leave it on when they get behind the wheel, rub a wet paper napkin across the sleeve to remove some spilled sauce, toss it on the end of the bed when they get home from work, etc. 
Basically, a guy won't look after his jacket. He'll keep it too long, won't look after it properly and he won't get it dry-cleaned. The back of it will be creased and misshapen from being crushed and stretched between his back and the driver's seat, it'll have that sheen across the shoulder from where the seat-belt has rubbed against it over time and the armpits will smell. 
AND THEN he'll donate it to a thrift store, rebuking his other half's protestations with something like; "What? It's still in good nick (condition). Somebody's gonna get themselves a bargain."

My wife has here own take on this. I'll let her explain it 'cos she's better at it;

Okay so....a few extra things to add. Tee is right. Men - not having been bombarded with the cultural expectation of being 'fashionable' or the peer/vanity expectation of 'looking good', are less concerned with the shallower aspects of clothing -  care, original style, and price. 

For them, if they wore a garment only a little bit, they confer a value to it that means when they are finished with it, logically someone else might want it and get a few wears out if it. It's sweet, really.

And I suppose it demonstrates that men are all about the utilitarian aspect of clothing, that it's fit for purpose whereas women are generally more concerned with the superficial aspect; is it in style or, horrors, out of style?
After all, it is said that women dress for other women.

But I also believe that when it comes to Op Shops there are two types of men's clothing; the first, as identified by Teeritz - the thrashed and trashed beloved item, donated only because it no longer fits, but with a genuine desire to pass on to the next lucky wearer an excellent piece of clothing that will stand him in good stead.

The second type is the one I bring home for Tee. New or near new, often with tags still on, and the crispness of fabric that has never been against a warm body. Why? It was the present (gift) bought for a male by a female partner/friend/relative, that was just NOT to the recipient's taste. 
Too floral, too patterned, too tight, too 'extra'. Luckily, Tee does not mind a pattern and is on the thinner side. But the racks are full of such clothing - all showing the thwarted attempts and hopeful expectations of womenfolk to get their men to be fashionable. 
Hence my 'luck' at Op Shops. I should also add that I am never restricted by size as it's sooo often misjudged by Op Shop staff. So I look through all sizes and at all kinds of items. There are always size and style mix-ups. 
A cool head, a keen eye and patience are all you need.

Yep. Thanks, hon!

Staying on the subject of clothing, I've lately been having a pretty hard time finding decent shirts with a breast pocket on them.
All I want is a cotton business shirt, with  button cuffs, a sharp collar, and a pocket, and it should ideally be a slim-cut shirt, as these are better suited to my thin build.
I'm trying to avoid a repeat of what I wrote about five years ago (my God, was it that long ago?);

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

In recent weeks, I've visited numerous menswear stores with rows and rows of shirts and not a damn one of them has a pocket. Unless I go for an 'Easy Iron' (read poly-cotton blend), which I refuse to do, since I find that poly-cotton doesn't 'breathe' like cotton does.

Okay, so I prefer a shirt with a pocket. I always carry a pen, while I'm sure that 99% of men these days don't, because they have their precious mobile phones for jotting down notes with their thumbs and stuff like that. And, from what I've seen when somebody sends in a watch with a hand-written note, legible handwriting is becoming a rare thing these days.
It's a particular shame when the note has been written by somebody who explains that they bought the watch for their 40th Birthday TEN years ago. Did they dictate this note to their five year-old kid?
'Cos that's how the writing looks.
But I digress.
Aside from wanting a shirt pocket for carrying a pen, I also wear glasses and the pocket comes in handy for those times when they're not on my face. Am I the only man in the world who wears glasses? Has everybody gotten laser eye surgery?

At one store, I asked the salesman (who was probably my age or older); Why don't shirts have pockets these days?
His reply? "Because they don't look good. They break up the lines of the front of the shirt."
Okay, I get that, but shirt pockets have been around for as long as I can remember.
"And also, nobody smokes anymore, so they don't need pockets", he added. 
Man, he wasn't presenting me with a very convincing argument. I left him to his duties and got the hell out of there.
Aside from pockets, I have a few other stipulations;

1) - a sharp collar. Don't ask me to name the exact style. I read about them all the time, but I couldn't tell the difference between a Spread and an English Spread, etc.
If pressed, I'd say a Forward Point, as this is the most classic collar style in my view.
Basically, something like what you see in this pic.
And I'd prefer them to have those thin sheathes underneath where I can put in my own collar stays. You know, those little plastic surfboard-shaped thingies that keep the collars from curling.
I had a small jar filled with them, but I bought three pairs of stainless steel ones some time ago and my plan is to get three or four more of them and then get rid of all the plastic ones. The plastic ones get misshapen in the wash if you forget to remove them prior to throwing the shirt in the wash. The collars need to look sharp. They're the first part of a shirt that somebody will notice when you walk in the room.
2) - Narrow sleeves. I saw a lot of shirts labelled as 'Classic Cut' or 'Contemporary Fit' and they had very billowy sleeves.
The sleeve you see here could definitely do with being about 25% narrower. In my desperation to find a shirt with a pocket, I found three full-cotton shirts at a nearby store and they had interesting patterns, POCKETS, and were a decent fit. They were a Medium size and, in hindsight, I should have probably gone for a Small, but I think these were all that they had left at the time. They're a little roomy around the neck. I read on a website that your collar sizing should allow you to get two fingers between the shirt and your neck when the top button is fastened. I think these have a little more space in them than that. No matter. I'll get some decent wear out of them.
Or maybe some lucky fella will snag them at an Op Shop sometime soon!

Anyway, the passive search continues, but it looks like I may end up going through one of these websites that does semi tailor-made shirts.

This Oris watch has gotten some regular wear lately. It's a model from circa 1995, based on an Oris watch that was first done in the late 1930s.
The Big Crown series was designed primarily for pilots, so that they could set the time and wind the watch while wearing gloves, hence the oversized winding crown.
The date consists of 31 numbers arranged counter-clockwise around the outer edge of the dial and that little crescent clicks over to each date at around midnight. Oris still makes a Big Crown model today and it's perhaps one of their more well-known pieces.
I tried it on a bracelet recently, but i have to say that it's a watch better suited to a strap. Give it  that vintage vibe.
This model is 36mm in diameter. I had originally bought the smaller 33mm model, but as soon as I tried it on, I knew that it was just too small, even for my school-girly wrist. My daughter saw it and said that she liked the 'aesthetic' of it. So, at the time of writing, it's being serviced and with a little luck, it should be ready in time for her 17th birthday in the third week of September.
So I suppose that's one more piece that will be leaving my collection. Which is good, as I continue to slowly whittle it down to a set of watches that get worn more often.

Another piece that will go soon is this one;

It's an early to mid 1970s (I think) Camy Club-Star. A nice hand-wound watch that was given to me by a watch forum member some years ago because he knew I liked vintage watches. He said I could have it for nothing, on the proviso that I don't sell it to make a profit on it.
That was a lovely gesture on his part and I wore the watch quite a bit over the years. It has a nice silver dial, with gold-plated hands and hour markers. I very nice colour combo.
However, in the interests of moving watches along, in order to replace them with those that I really want, this one is gonna go soon.
I speak to a guy from time to time who works at a jewellery store interstate and he too has an interest in vintage watches. He's sent me a couple of old watches to have serviced. I told him that I had a watch that I don't wear much anymore and I thought he may be interested in it. He said he'd be happy to take it off my hands.
So, in the interests of paying it forward, good karma, and just doing something nice for somebody, I'll be sending it off to him soon. No charge, as per the gentleman's agreement that was made when I first received the watch.
At some point, though, I'd like to get something with a similar silver-and-gold colouring, but that's a daydream for another day. For now, let's just get some watches out the door first and we'll see where we're at when the dust settles. Have to say, though, that this Camy runs quite nicely. Winds nice and smooth and keeps fairly good time, though I'm sure it could do with a service.
Still, it's a nice piece. I hope he likes it.

My Bond hardcovers collection is progressing nicely.

They're all reprints, with the exception of the last two titles, The Man With The Golden Gun and Octopussy. These were Fleming's last two Bond novels and, as such, they were printed in large quantities, which makes them reasonably easier to find.
The ones I'm missing are Live And Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker and Dr No, but those titles, while nice, don't have the classic cover art by Richard Chopping.
So, I don't think I'll lose any sleep over not having them. Pictured in the frame also is the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, which saw some wear through May. I tend to get more wear out of this watch in Summer.
Here's hoping for a hot one this year.

Okay, I think I'll stop here for now. I added more, to this post, but it threatened to become a long one.

I'll start the next post this weekend and see where it leads me.

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