Friday 31 December 2021

XXXXday, November XXth, 2021 - Back on Tracks, Bond Off/Bond On, Covid Headaches & Recent Wristwatches | P.S.- This is an older post that I should have put up a month or so ago.

Saturday January 1st, 2022 - 5:28pm AEDT. 


Dammit, I never got around to putting up this post back in November. Life has been very busy in recent months and it just slipped my mind. 

Anyway, since I started it, I figured i'd better post it, even if just to show that I'm still alive and kicking. 

November 7th

Quick re-cap from my previous post - My wife was under 14-day home isolation last month after a few of her co-workers tested positive for Covid. We all got the requisite tests done during the first week of her quarantine period and all tests came back negative. 

On day thirteen of her quarantine period, she went to get tested. Next day, she got a  negative result. SO that's that all sorted. Personally, we were 100% certain that she would be okay, but we had to cross our t's and dot our i's. 

I went back to work after a week of annual leave - plus an extra couple of days of staying home after Covid tests - and found a mountain of work waiting for me. Always happens. Took me two weeks to get it all under control. We moved offices. For the last five years, our office was about ten kilometres out of the city centre. Late September, we began the move into the CBD. So, I'm back to catching trains in to work, and I have to say that not much about this commute has changed since I last took trains back in 2011. 

I'm none too thrilled about having to leave home at least 40 minutes earlier in the morning, plus the added expense of a daily train fare. Although, I plan to reach a point where I get to the station well before 8:00am so that I can get to work by 8:30am. 

The recently-purchased Seiko SKX009K has gotten a lot of wear since it arrived. Great legibility, comfortable on the wrist, and its day and date capability has been very handy. 

Back around August of 2019, the Melbourne State Orchestra announced a special screening of the Bond film Skyfall, with the orchestra playing a live rendition of the movie's score while the film played on the screen. As soon as tickets went on sale, I snapped up four of them. It would take place in April 2020 at Hamer Hall, a theatre that usually hosts MSO performances. 

Well, Covid lock-downs soon delayed this performance, as virtually all theatre, concert and cinema venues closed throughout the pandemic. Skyfall in Concert, as it was known, was postponed three times. And then in September this year, I received an email stating that I would be refunded the ticket price and would be invited to re-purchase them once a new venue was confirmed. Well, the new venue and performance date was confirmed in the first weeks of October. The concert would now take place on December 8th at the Myer Music Bowl and I would receive an email soon to allow me to purchase early-bird tickets. 

Hmm, the Myer Music Bowl is an outdoor venue. I wasn't crazy about that idea. Anyway, I received the invite via email and hit the link which re-directed me to the ticket buying page. Whereas the original tickets that I purchased cost me $90.oo each, these new tickets would be anywhere between $74.oo and $149.oo AND I couldn't see a tab or section on the webpage that would allow me to choose my preferred seating. I was now ticked off. 

I understand the change of venue. These theatres book events often many months in advance, and I get that Hamer Hall (the original venue) was probably scheduled to have other performances booked throughout the remainder of this year. So, if it was now to be held at an outdoor venue, I could probably cope with that, assuming the weather held out on the night. 

However, no clear indication of seating preference, coupled with a possibly steep hike in pricing was a deal-breaker for me. After stewing for about half an hour, I didn't bother purchasing tickets for this event. My family provided further logic to my own view. If the weather's no good, it won't be any fun, if the prices are $150 bucks, then that's way too much, etc. 

I soon felt better about it all. In the meantime, my family snagged tickets to a Gold Class session of No Time To Die on opening day. Gold Class tickets are $38.oo each and you get to sit in an reclining armchair in a theatre with 20 seats. You can order food and drinks beforehand and they'll bring them in to you at pre-arranged times throughout the screening. So, there's that to look forward to. Finally, after so many delays, the new Bond flick opens here in Australia on November 11th. 

I'm hoping it's a good film. Reviews - which I haven't read - have been positive for the most part. There have been a few spoilers online, in the most unlikely places. One Instagrammer whom I followed put up a photo from the film with a three-word caption which, for me, turned out to be a major spoiler. I promptly hit the 'Unfollow' tab.

Been waiting years for this film, what with all the added Covid-related delays,  and some knob throws a major spanner in the works with three little words.  And that, hepcats, is just another problem with social media. I'll be closing my Twitter account at some point. I set it up nine years ago as part of my Social Media module when I was doing Library Studies and have no real use for it. For me, it's just one more bit of mind clutter, and another thing that I have to tend to. 

Anyway, I hope this new Bond film makes up for the last one. 



Some of the watches I wore since my last post. 

The Tudor Ranger. I had the case-back opened up to get a look at the movement. It appears that the original rotor was replaced with a generic one. I was slightly ticked off at first, but as I plan on keeping this watch, it's no big deal. Also, I can get an after-market rotor off eBay, which is something that I should have done when I saw them for sale a few weeks ago. Otherwise, if I ever do sell this watch, I'll just be transparent regarding the rotor. 

Also in the frame is this Montecristo ashtray. I don't smoke cigars, but I've always liked the Art Deco-fonted Montecristo logo and colourway. It's such a pleasant shade of yellow.

Continuing to get regular wear is the Tudor Black Bay 58. I write down in my diary each day the watch that I've worn, so that I can write up a Most-Worn Watch tally post early in the new year. I thin the Black Bay will be in the Number 1 spot this year. 
I took this photo with my iPhone and then ran it through the Mosaic filter in the Prisma editing app to produce this effect. I like the fact that, even through this filter effect, the watch is clearly legible. For me, that's the main criteria for any wristwatch, especially as I get older. Since I now pretty much have to put on glasses to read anything from a novel to a list of ingredients on a biscuit packet, I like my watches to be easy to read.


The Rado Golden Horse was perfect for those days when a simple time-and-date watch was required. To give myself a break from sports watches. I'm somewhat tempted to get another watch in a similar style, but I'm not really sure why. About a year ago, I started writing myself a document outlining each watch in the collection and why I have it. This was done as an exercise to help me determine what kind of watches I like, which ones in the collection will stay (most of them) and which ones will most likely be moved on. Needless to say, this document is a work in progress and I'm not even sure if it will ever be finished, as my tastes tend to change a little over time. However, it has been good to get it all down on paper, so to speak, as I've found that my tastes have changed over the years and I now seem to have a better understanding of the kinds of watches that I like.
The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic spent some time on the wrist. As mentioned, since it's a beater, it gets worn for yard work and handyman duties around the house, but I've yet to really put any marks on it. Which is probably a good thing, even though I think it'll look good with a few scars on it. I seem to have accumulated a vast array of leather straps over the years, so I thought I'd put this one on this watch. My idea is to leave a strap on a watch long enough to actually see the strap deteriorate over time. Worn daily, a leather strap will last anywhere between 1 and a half to 2 and a half years, depending on exposure to water, perspiration, or any other fluids, be they chemical or organic. Moisture can weaken the adhesives and stitching used in the manufacture of the straps. This is normal wear-and-tear, and it's sometimes the hardest thing to explain to customers who contact me to complain that their leather strap only lasted them three years. That's a pretty decent run, if you ask me. Having been in the industry for so long, three years is at the upper end of a leather strap's life-span if the watch has seen regular wear. Oh, and of course, plain old exposure to air and sunlight will weaken the leather too. Leather dries out, boys and girls. And speaking to the girls out there, ladies, a little bit of perfume or fragrance applied to the wrist will have an acidic reaction on the stitches of your leather strap. 

The trains have been relatively quiet during this (hopefully) last lock-down that we had in Victoria. It was lifted in late October, but it seems that not everybody has returned to their original workplaces. Here's my train carriage at around 5:45pm on a Wednesday afternoon in late October;

Of course, since then, there are more people traveling by rail as life enters 'Covid normal'. Masks are no longer required outdoors, but I still tend to wear mine on cold days, moreso to keep my face warm than anything else. I'm seeing a lot of people who are not scanning the barcodes outside of various establishments before going in. This is still a contact tracing requirement in the event of another major outbreak. 
Service Victoria has created an app that you download onto your smartphone and after you scan the barcode outside a store, it registers that you've visited this location, along with a link to your vaccination certificate if you've had both Covid vaccines. Most places now won't let you in unless you are double-vaxxed. There's still a large segment of anti-vaxxers in our country who think that the vaccines are injecting some form of population control technology into our bloodstreams, etc. Seriously? 
I ain't gonna get into it. We had a couple of staff at work who had no plans to get vaccinated. Until management told them that it was a requirement of the job under current State regulations. One of them said to me; But you don't have to worry. You're double-vaxxed. 
I'm also a mild asthmatic who smoked for 35 years, so my respiratory system is already compromised and I don't need to risk it, I replied. 
His wife is a nurse, so he gets a lot of anecdotal info regarding Covid cases at the hospital where she works. He says most of the Covid fatalities are due to patients already having some pre-existing health issues that already compromise their immune systems, etc. 
I understand that, but I don't plan on chancing it if I can. Just as well he got vaccinated, because if he didn't, I'd be recommending to management that he posed a potential risk to the rest of us in the workplace. 



The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. 

Published in 2006, it's set in the mythical city of Camorr, a blend of medieval Venice and 18th Century London, and centres around a young orphaned street urchin named Locke Lamora, who is sold by The ThiefMaker to The Eyeless Priest. The ThiefMaker is glad to be rid of this child, who has caused him nothing but grief. 
And the kid is only seven years old. 
The Eyeless Priest sits outside his temple, blind and blind-folded, and chained to the building by his wrists. He is the Priest of The Crooked Warden, the patron saint of thieves, and is the caretaker of a bunch of other orphaned boys that make up The Gentlemen Bastards, a group of sneak-thieves, pick-pockets and con artists, all well under the age of eighteen when the story begins. The Eyeless Priest, or Father Chains, as he goes by, teaches them the skills of thievery and the art of the con. 
This first book is part of an initial trilogy, and Lynch has just completed Book 4, due for release soon. It's the kind of book that my son likes to read and he offered it to me as a way for me to take a break from my usual literary diet of thrillers. 
I have to say this book is fantastic. And that's not just coming from somebody who doesn't usually read fantasy. This book is beautifully written. Lynch has a wonderful way with words and turns of phrase. Beyond that, he's vividly created this world that exists in a realm made up of glass skyscrapers, dark alchemy, and a vocabulary and terminology which appears confusing at first, but is soon understood once you get into the story. I was hooked about a dozen pages in. And then there's the plot. Think of Oliver Twist crossed with The Sting. Locke Lamora is slightly-built, not good at fighting or handy with a sword, but he makes up for it with his conniving. He and his gang are soon in the midst of a long con involving a shipment of rare wine and a rich Count that they plan to swindle. 
And that's just the start of the story. The city of Camorr is overseen by the Duke Nicovante at the upper reaches, and Capa Barsavi at the criminal end. Crime in the city is tolerated by the upper classes as long as certain conditions are not breached, and Capa Barsavi is there to ensure that nobody, including Locke and his gang, upsets the status quo. Barsavi also collects a commission from the proceeds of all crime in Camorr.
A lot more happens, but I'm only about three hundred pages in, just over half-way. The characters are foul-mouthed at times, richly detailed and layered, and the story flashes back and forth between Locke's apprenticeship under Father Chains, and ten years later as Locke and his gang get their con underway. Meanwhile, to complicate matters, along comes The Grey King, who is systematically killing Barsavi's most trusted underlings and associates, threatening a major battle in the underworld. 
The chapters are broken down into smaller sub-chapters, but this book rewards being read in big chunks, as so much occurs in the story. 
I've been very impressed by the book's 'English' feel, in both the language and the sentence construction, considering that Lynch is American born and bred.
He's captured the nuances of British English very well.
As I  mentioned, this isn't the kind of tale that I'd normally read. I prefer stories set in places with cars on roads and elevators in buildings, but this book is so well written and plotted that I was drawn into it very easily. 
So far, short of it all falling to pieces in the next 200 pages, I highly recommend this book. 

The Omega Planet Ocean got some wear since my last post. There's been so much coverage of the new James Bond Omega watch from No Time To Die in recent months in the lead-up to the movie's release date. Aside from write-ups on various fashion blogs that have dissected Bond's wardrobe and accessories in this film, wristwatch forums are abuzz with chatter about this watch.
Personally, I'm not a fan of it. 
I think there are too many elements in its design which have dated since the original design from 1993. Of course, it's been a strong seller since its release, so what do I know? Either way, I have three watches as worn by Bond in the movies, so my OO7 wristwatch stable is pretty well stocked.  
The Omega Railmaster also got some time on the wrist. Here it is on a Forstner flat-link bracelet. It's not a bad bracelet, but I don't think it suits the watch 100%, or maybe I've just gotten to used to the original bracelet, which will go back onto the watch at some point.

January 1st, 2022
                            Anyway, I'll stop it here. I hope you all had a pleasant festive season (for those who celebrate it) and here wishing you all a good year ahead. 
I hope 2022 treats you all kindly.

Keep safe, and thanks for reading!