Friday, 19 May 2017

Friday 19/5/2017 - Back To The Movies, RIP Chris Cornell (dammit!) & This Week's Wristwatches.


I was still wearing the Tudor hand-wound, on an expanding bracelet, last weekend. I must admit that I do like this look. Reminds me of the men of my Dad's generation. Uncles and family friends that I knew when I was a kid back in the '70s. There's a certain simplicity and ingenuity in the design of these bracelets. Perhaps the most famous brand would be Speidel, but there was a time back in the 1950s and '60s when other brands such as Kingsway and Jacobi-Bender Champion made these.
Once adjusted to your wrist size, they are very comfortable. The Speidel one up above was an absolute dog to adjust, and I think a might have lost some of the microscopic hooks that hold the links together when I last re-sized the bracelet. No matter. I've got two more of them coming from eBay.

Can't remember the last movie I saw at the cinema. Oh, wait a sec, yes I can. It was La La Land, sometime back in February. I had planned to catch a few more movies, but life got in the way.
Went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II last weekend. The cinema that we saw it in was very, very small. Twelve rows, but they still managed to charge us full price for the tickets. The dogs. 
I wore a blast from the past, the Hamilton Khaki Officer's Mechanical;

Is it just me, or do modern movie tickets look crappy to you, too? Thermal-printed tickets mean that, if you wanted to keep it as a memento, you'd wind up with a little blank piece of paper in a few months. 

The film was good. Chris Pratt is carving out a nice career for himself. I read rumours that he could be playing Indiana Jones in a reboot which, personally, I would rather see than Harrison Ford don the fedora again at his age. The last Indy movie, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (2008) wasn't bad, but Spielberg and Co really did wait a little too long after Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade in 1989. 

Okay, maybe I'm running out of steam this week. Or maybe that third glass of red just kicked in.  

Switched over to the Omega Seamaster 300 mid-week;



Switched back to the Tudor for work today. I dressed a little sharper, in a never-ending battle against Casual Fridays;

Later in the day, I asked the watchmaker about the clicking sound that my watch makes whenever it's wound. I thought there might be a chipped cog somewhere to do with the winding mechanism or crown. He opened up the case-back and had a look inside.  He then told me that he'd take a crack at repairing it early next week. Said he had a bunch of parts for this movement (ETA Cal. 1080) and could get it working smoother. So, there I was, without a watch on my wrist and beginning to feel antsy. 


"Never let them see you bleed...
...Always have an escape route."

-Q (Desmond Llewellyn) The World Is Not Enough (Dir: Michael Apted, 1999) 

However, I learned a long, long time ago to always have an escape route, a Plan B, a back-up plan. Sure, here I am, working for a wristwatch brand, but it's not like I can just grab something out of our stock and just put it on my wrist.

So I made my way to the car-park and grabbed my 'Q Branch' kit out of the glove-box of my car. Aside from the nail clippers, head-ache tablets, USB stick, Burt's Bees lip balm, BIC lighter, sugar sachets, Swiss Card, Band-Aids, etc, etc, there is also a mechanical wristwatch on a Waterborne NATO strap;

This was a moment-of-weakness eBay purchase from a few years ago. It's a Trident (yes, a bullshit brand that some guy came up with), a 1950s Rolex Submariner 'homage'- and I'm being very generous with that term- that is flimsy and cheap-assed in so many ways that I would use up the rest of the internet describing everything that's wrong with it.
But, it does have a Swiss ETA movement in it. And I just needed it to keep ticking for the next two and a half hours or so until I got home.

It would do. Not nicely, but it would do;


I was extremely disheartened to hear of the death of singer/songwriter Chris Cornell yesterday, and it was heartbreaking to learn earlier today that he had taken his own life.
I didn't know much about him beyond his work with Soundgarden and his fantastic title song for Daniel Craig's first Bond film Casino Royale in 2006. It wasn't long after that that I got hold of his album Carry On and developed an appreciation for his razor-sharp voice.
I thought 2016 had been a bastard-coated bastard with bastard creme filling* and I'd hate to think that this year will bring us more misery as the Grim Reaper takes away more talent.

Cornell was only 52 and tributes have flooded the news and social media in the past day or so and, aside from a prolific body of work and a respected place in rock history, he leaves behind a wife and three children.

I'll leave you all with this clip off YouTube, of his acoustic rendition of Prince's song Nothing Compares 2 U. 
It showcases his wonderful voice and further demonstrates just what the world of music has lost this week.

Thanks for reading.



* that term came from a fellow member on a wristwatch forum that I frequent. Funny, funny line.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Friday 12/5/2017 - This Week's Wristwatches

Short post this week, methinks. I have been feeling a little tired over the last two weeks, so I think tonight's post will be brief. 

My wife recently got herself a laptop computer, which was great news because it meant we could finally get rid of the Dell desktop that she'd been using for almost ten years. I spent a couple of hours saving worthwhile files, docs and photos before taking a panel off the casing of the hard drive. 

I once read in an issue of Popular Mechanics about the most effective method for wiping a computer hard drive;




















I wore the Oris Diver SixtyFive. And gloves. I have found that the drill bit can sometimes catch on some portion of the steel, turning the drive into a swinging, sharp-edged block of metal. To avoid this, it is advisable to don a pair of work gloves and then hold the hard drive down hard.

Sometime next week, I think I'll take the Submariner 5513 in to Rolex to get a quote for a service. In the meantime, I'll decide on which organ or limb to sell in order to pay for the service.
I called them the other day to ask about what the service work would entail, since I think the watch may have some issues that might have been overlooked (doubtful) the first time I took it in to get quoted about 18 months ago. 
The crystal appears to have a slight warp along one edge and I'm not sure as to whether or not I should have it replaced. Some members on a watch forum had mentioned that the crystal on my watch may have been a non-genuine aftermarket one. Wouldn't surprise me. The seller turned out to be an ass when I e-mailed him a few weeks later with some questions regarding originality of some parts of the watch. 
I got into a heated back-and-forth e-mail chain with him;  

ME: Are the crystal and bezel insert original?
SELLER: You wouldn't expect to buy a vintage car and still find the original tyres on it, would you?

This song-and-dance went on for a couple of days before it dawned on me that perhaps there was an issue with semantics going on here. I wrote another reply to the seller, stating that by 'original', I was meaning 'genuine', whereas I think he thought I meant 'original' as in the same crystal that was fitted to the watch back in 1982 when it was manufactured. 
Once we got that sorted out, he was adamant that the bezel insert was a genuine Rolex part, but I was 100% certain that it wasn't. I had wanted one of these watches for four decades, as regular readers of this blog may recall, and I had well and truly done my research prior to purchasing. 
Those of you who aren't aware of my obsession with this particular wristwatch should maybe put the kettle on and read this. See you in a few days;


Anyway, I will get the bezel situation sorted out. What irks me the most about it all is this. Here is a picture that the seller sent me of the watch I was buying;


See that triangle on the bezel with the luminous dot? See the little metal frame around the luminous dot? Good! 
Now, here's the watch that I received;


No metallic frame around the dot, and the dot is a smaller size than the one in the seller's picture. 
Now, the seller did offer me a refund, once I'd voiced my frustration, but all I ever wanted was some honesty about the product prior to the transaction and/or maybe an apology for deceiving me once he had been caught out afterwards. 
Instead, what I got was an e-mail response in which the seller said; "Send it back if you're not happy. I don't have one of these in stock at the moment and could easily sell it." 
Attaboy, think about your own concerns, right to the end!
And this, boys and girls, is why I'll never recommend PlusWatch in Italy to anybody. 

Got home from work this evening and switched over to this;

The hand-wound Tudor Oyster, which I have put onto a Speidel  expanding bracelet to really Sixties it up a little more!

Okay, the minute hand is about to roll on to the thirty-minute mark of the dial, and the hour hand is sitting between nine and ten. 
Think I'll call it a day with this week's post. 

I'll see how I go next week. These posts might just get a little shorter. I still want to write about the Rome leg of our trip last year, but the Paris post really took some work. 
We'll see how I go. 

Anyway, thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Friday 28/4/2017 - Mixing With Mix Tapes, Here's That Camera Strap, Joe! & This Week's Wristwatches.

Started the weekend wearing the Camy Club-Star;

Thirty pages left of The Whites. It's been a great read so far. Richard Price has always had a great ear for dialogue. I've read a few of his earlier works and I didn't mind them, but when he started writing crime stories, I really began to take notice. He's also known for writing screenplays, for films such as Sea of Love, The Color of Money and Mad Dog & Glory.


Finally got around to switching the NATO strap back to steel bracelet on the old Seiko SKX031;


And put a leather strap onto the Omega Speedmaster that I was wearing on Sunday;



 Speaking of straps, Joe Van Cleave commented on my last post, asking how I made the wrist strap for my camera. I thought I'd put up this quick post outlining what was involved in turning an old leather belt into a short wrist-strap for my Olympus OM2n SLR.

It was, by no means, a perfect job, but I think it should hold for quite some time, and it makes a bit of a change from your standard over-the-shoulders camera straps. Although, this type of wrist strap is usually made for smaller cameras. I've seen quite a few Fujifilm X100s sporting these short straps. 

Anyway, I had recently purchased three leather belts from a website that was running a special deal. Three  belts, in three different colours, for $99USD. Seemed like a good deal. I was looking to get myself some belts with brass hardware. This set comprised of one black, one dark brown, and one tan coloured belt, all featuring shiny brass buckles. 
I was extremely, and I mean extremely, disappointed when these belts arrived. They basically looked like something I might have made in a leather-work class back in high school. The end of the belts were uneven, there were some pen or pencil lines visible on the reverse side where they had been measured, and the leather was very stiff. Not only that, but the Chicago screws that held them together were loose, not even fully tightened.

Worst of all, they were a little too short. Sure, they buckled up, but I was fastening them on the last hole. I had followed the sizing instructions correctly, since it was very basic and I was majorly ticked-off to receive these 32 inch belts which had so little leather left in them once adjusted. This stiffness of the leather was something that I figured would soften up over time, so that wasn't a major issue. I had bought these belts with a view to looking after them to see if I could get a couple of decade's use out of them like the cheap ten-dollar belt that I got at a market stall back in the Eighties. 
If you buy yourself a decent-quality belt, it will grow old with you. If you give it a once-over with leather conditioning cream every now and them, it will outlast you. 
These three pieces of crap looked like they wouldn't last until the end of the year! 
I was tempted to write to the website to let them know how disheartened I was, but I didn't want to get the old what-did-you-expect-for-a-hundred-bucks? line from them. Factor in shipping and the exchange rate and I paid around $140 Aussie dollars for these.
Ahh well, maybe my son will get a year or two's wear out of them. Mind you, he's sixteen now and already as tall as I am. But he also has my Jaggeresque snake-hipped waistline, so these might fit him okay. 
If he ever wears those chinos that we bought him last year.

 
Notice the vertical measurement line on the end of the belt? And the ends are uneven. AND the leather has a nick in it! Sure, that means that this thing was hand-made, but it seems to have been done by a kid. On his first attempt.
Shoddy, shoddy work. 




Anyways, time to turn this lemon into some form of lemonade. I wasn't going to use the belt itself for this strap because it was far too wide for my linking, so I rifled through my bag of leather samples and dug out this belt that I had snagged for a few bucks some time ago. It was about one-and-a-quarter inches wide.

What I was gonna use from the new belt was one of the Chicago screws that were used to fasten the belt closed near the buckle.  I would be keeping the brass buckle too, so that someday I can take it to a leather-worker and ask to have a much better belt made.
I've been meaning to buy a bag of Chicago screws off eBay for a while, figuring that I could make a new carry handle for one of my typewriter cases using them. I'll get around to it someday.

So, back to the old, three-dollar belt that I was using for the strap. I cut a 17 inch length of the belt and then folded it over so the the two ends would meet. I then used a drill to bore a hole about 1.5 inches from the end. This is where the Chicago screw would go. Ideally, I'd have preferred a slightly longer one because it seemed that this would be a very snug fit, but this was a minor issue.

I pushed the Chicago screw through the drilled hole and tightened it as best as I could. It would probably be a good idea to use a little LocTite on the screw threading, but anyway. 
The idea with using this screw was to create a small stopper for the ring that I would be using. Also, the screw would look a little decorative, contrasting nice and brassy against the dark brown leather.

Next step was to drill two smaller holes on the opposite edges of the joined up belt. This is where I would stitch some thread through, to mimic the stitching on the minimalist watch strap like the one on the Omega Speedmaster up above. I used the second smallest drill-bit I had. 

I had some kind of cotton thread that I took off some old curtains years ago.  This is what I threaded into the largest-eyed needle that I could find in my wife's sewing kit. The actual sewing process was heavy going because I had to use quite some pressure to get the threaded end of the needle into the drilled hole. Sorry, Joe, I didn't take pictures of the process, but I hope it becomes clear as you look at shots of the finished product. 
The idea with this minimal stitch is to just loop the thread through each hole once or twice. You sew it through one hole and then snip off the end of the thread, tie a knot in it (optional, in my case. I forgot) and then sandwich it into the middle of the two ends of the belt/strap. 
I finished one side and then re-threaded the needle and did the other. The plan with this set-up was to put a ring through it, so that it sat captive in between the stitched end and the Chicago screwed end.


I made a slight hash of the second pass through the hole when the strap caught on the inside edge of the belt. No big deal.
Once done with the stitching, I spent a few moments slowly edging the ring through until  it was secure between the two ends of leather. I got a smaller ring and threaded that through the larger one. The small ring would be the one that would attach to the camera.

Lastly, I used a thinner strip of leather (from an old pair of lady's leather boots), cut an oval piece about the size of a quarter (or maybe a dime), cut a small slit through the middle of it and then pushed it through the eyelet on the camera body. I've seen variants of this on camera straps, designed to prevent the ring from scratching the camera body, I imagine.

And that's it, Joe. If I had to do it again, maybe I'd just use two Chicago screws and the large ring in between them, with maybe a stitch of thread at the end to act as a brake if the lower Chicago screw fell off.

All in all, this was not a perfect job (far from it!), but it should suffice for my purposes. Besides, I've been toying with the idea of making my own watch straps and this endeavour was good practice.





I hope this was of some use to you, Joe.












Tuesday - ANZAC Day

Public holiday here in Oz as we (and New Zealand) commemorated the sacrifices and efforts made by those who served in the armed forces. 

I decided to make another tiramisu. My daughter would join me in preparing this dessert and I figured we needed some background music as well, so I flicked on the iPod dock and we got to work. I chose a Mix Tape compilation (showing my age there. The kids these days call 'em 'playlists', but I'm old-school, as you'd know by now) and cranked up the coffee machine for the two cups of black coffee required. My daughter separated three egg whites as Shari Nelson filled the room with her incredible voice;

"The curiousness of your potential kiss
Has got my mind and body aching,
Really hurt me, baby,
Really hurt me, baby,
How can you have 
A day without a night"         
                                                        - Unfinished Sympathy (Massive Attack) 

I wore the Omega Speedmaster, seen here with the ingredients for this dessert;





We didn't have the required caster sugar, so we made do with raw sugar. The recipe called for a 1/3 of a cup, but I went with a quarter. This is a rich dessert as it is. I hand-mixed the sugar and egg yolks for a couple of minutes while the iPod shuffled over to the next song;

"You didn't know what Rock & Roll was
Until you met a drummer on a Greyhound bus,
I got there in the nick of time
Before he got his hands across your state line"
                                                                           -Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Ian Hunter)

We then mixed up 300ml of cream and 250g of Mascarpone cheese. I began to lament the fact that we didn't have an egg beater as my forearm muscles began to warm up and ache. We then added the sugar and egg yolk mix before my daughter gave the separated egg whites a light whipping, while I poured the two cups of coffee into a bowl and added a 1/3 of a cup of Marsala as the next track reached its third verse;

"It's fair thee well, my old true lover,
I ne’er expect to see you again.
For I'm bound to ride that Northern Railroad,
Perhaps I'll die upon this train"
                                                    - I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (Dan Tyminski, from the soundtrack to "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" , Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen, 2000)
 
"Hey, Dad, did the Rolling Stones call themselves that because Rock & Roll was getting bigger and more popular?", asked my daughter. I paused the next track on the iPod and searched for my favourite exponent of the Blues, Mr McKinley Morganfield, otherwise knows as Muddy Waters. I found the song I was looking for, and it opened with a deep-voiced "Ohhhh, yeah" before we hear one of the classic blues guitar riffs of all time. I played the song until we got to the line "I'm a man! I'm a rollin' stone."

The completed mixture looked a little runny, so we decided to whip it up for a few minutes, while Rod Stewart belted out a husky-voiced classic. It starts off with a short guitar intro that would be the perfect soundtrack to barrelling down Route 66 in a rag-top '65 Mustang before we get a slower-beat chain-saw guitar riff for a few seconds before the drums kick in.
It's Stewart's best song, in my book;

"Won't need too much pursuading
I don't mean to sound degrading,
But with a face like that,
You got nothing to laugh about

Red lips, hair and fingernails,
I hear you're a mean old Jezebel
Let's go upstairs and read my tarot cards"
                                                                                                     - Stay With Me (Faces) 

The mix still wasn't thick enough. Another song, Princess!


"Well I'm not the world's most masculine man,
But I know what I am 
And I'm glad I'm a man
And so is Lola
Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lola, Lo-lo-Lo-Lo-Lola"
                                                                                   -Lola  (The Kinks) 

By the end of this song, the consistency of the mix was a little thicker. Good. Time to build this sucker.

My daughter then brought up The Beatles;
"I was singing 'Golden Slumbers' and J***** (one of her school friends) heard me and said 'Oh my God, do you know that song? Nobody in this school knows that album!' And then we talked about how it doesn't finish and it goes straight into 'Carry That Weight'." 

So I then searched the playlists until I found Abbey Road, all the while explaining to my girl that these two songs follow on from She Came In Through The Bathroom Window;

"And so I quit the P'lice Department,
And got myself a steady job
And though she tried her best to help me,
She could steal, but she could not rob"
                                    - She Came In Through The Bathroom Window  (The Beatles)

We positioned the ceramic rectangular baking dish on the bench-top and laid down a row of the Savoiardi sponge finger biscuits. Each biscuit had been dipped into the coffee/Marsala mix first.  Then we slathered a layer of the mix over the top of them. While doing this, I went on to tell her that I thought that McCartney had the best voice in the band.

"How come?"

"Oh, he just had a great range. He could hit these high notes, but he would almost be yelling. I could never get my voice that high."

"Did he go on to have other bands after The Beatles?"

"Oh yeah, he had Wings."

And then, to illustrate both points, I put on Sir Paul belting out Maybe I'm Amazed. And, of course, the lyrics. It was always about the lyrics;

"Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you
Maybe I'm amazed at the the way you pulled me out of time
And hung me on a line
Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you
Maybe I'm a man and maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand"
                                - Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney & Wings)
   
I flicked the iPod back to Abbey Road. We continued dipping biscuits in the coffee/Marsala mix and we continued to build another layer of the tiramisu as John, Paul, George & Ringo continued to weave their magic, almost 48 years since they first did so with this album;

"And in the end, 
The love you take
is
  equal 
       to 
         the 
            love
you make"                                                      

I have to say that I find it difficult to listen to The Beatles these days without getting teary. I've been this way for quite some time. I was deeply saddened when John Lennon was killed back in 1980. Back then, following the success of Double Fantasy, Lennon's first album since 1975, there was yet another rumour floating around that The Fab Four might get back together. If not to write more songs, at least to tour. That would have been extraordinary. I was further saddened when George Harrison died in 2001, and when my wife brought home the double-CD Concert for George, it was Ringo Starr's (of all people!) introduction to his song Photograph that got me a little misty-eyed.
Ringo, of all people!!!

The Tiramisu was done. Time to put it in the fridge for a few hours. But first, it needed some flourish. 
Ladies and gentlemen, The Ziggy Stardust Edition --->
 



Still had the Omega Speedmaster on my wrist on Wednesday;


Switched over to the Omega Seamaster AquaTerra on Thursday. My wife brought home a couple of books from work. Night Trains sounds interesting. It's about the Golden Age of Rail travel,  from the days when you would take a sleeping-car to Berlin or ride the Orient Express from Paris to Venice, rubbing shoulders with aristocracy, pick-pockets, and foreign spies.
Lines In The Sand is a posthumously published collection of articles by the late A.A.Gill. I'm still saddened by his death late last year. 


And that's another week done. I have to say that tiramisu section of this post got somewhat out of hand. Anyway, I think I'll have a little slice, with a cup of Earl Grey. 
Oh, I wore the Seamaster 300 today.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Friday 21/4/2017 - RIP Clifton James, Camera Straps & This Week's Wristwatches.





It was a busy week at work as I tackled a bunch of admin tasks. Processed a bunch of outgoing spare parts, then processed a bunch of spare parts coming in, updated (actually, I created) the warranty database. Brother, that took longer than I thought it would. And then there was the flood of e-mail enquiries that had piled up over the Easter break. That chewed up most of Tuesday.


I was saddened to hear of the death of character actor Clifton James. He starred as Sheriff JW Pepper in the first Roger Moore Bond film, Live And Let Die (Dir: Guy Hamilton, 1973). While it was by no means anywhere near a great Bond movie, and James' portrayal of JW Pepper was cliched caricature, he nevertheless gave us a funny character, playing the part as a bigoted Southern lawman ("Step out of the vee-hickle.") which probably paved the way for the likes of Jackie Gleason in Smokey & The Bandit and Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane in the '70s tv series The Dukes of Hazzard.
As a (very) young movie-goer in the mid-1970s, I found his role in this OO7 film a highlight. It was quite a few years later when I saw him on-screen again in a scene in Brian Di Palma's The Untouchables (1987).
Clifton James made it to the ripe old age of 96. 
Gotta hand it to him for that alone. 

                                                                                                                       (Pic courtesy of imdb.com)


By Monday, I was beginning to lose track of the days. Always happens when a public holiday falls on a Monday. It'll happen again next week as Tuesday April 25th is ANZAC Day here in Australia, where we commemorate the efforts and the lives of those who served in the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand.


Speedy Tuesday was first started by a wristwatch blog some years ago. The regular writers (from my understanding) would put up a random photo of an Omega Speedmaster every Tuesday. Soon, it began to appear on various wristwatch forums, where members would post a picture on a Tuesday of a Speedmaster on their wrists. It has become something of a phenomenon in recent years. So much so, that Omega has produced a limited edition Speedmaster Professional, to be released later this year.

Here it is, over on the right ---->
You can read all about it if you tap on the link below;

I think the watch was available for pre-order and I think it may have sold out already. It's due out sometime later this year. I have to say that I do like the reverse-panda dial. A panda dial is where the watch dial is usually white and the chronograph sub-dials are black, thereby mimicking the colouring of a panda's face. 
A reverse panda dial is where the colouring is uh, reversed! 
It definitely makes for a sportier look. 

I had a Breitling Shark Chronograph back in the late 1990s;

It served me well, but I did find that, if the hands were positioned in front of the sub-dials, at-a-glance readability went out the window. 
So basically, at 8:45, midday/midnight, and 6:30, the hands would 'disappear' if you happened to look at the dial quickly. Or, they did for me. Maybe my brain was too slow to process what my eyes saw. 
I was working in hospitality back then, and there were times where you felt like you only had a split-second to glance at your wristwatch. Especially if you were chained to the coffee machine and were cranking out cup after cup after cup.


Thursday felt like a Friday. I hate it when that happens. I get half-way through the day thinking here comes the weekend only to suddenly remember that I still have another day to go before Saturday rolls around. Still, not the end of the world. 


And so endeth another week. I got paid today, so now all I have to do is pay a bunch of bills and squirrel away some dough for the next stage of my root canal in June. 
Once that's done, it'll be time to save for a new car. Nothing fancy, just an eight or ten year old Mazda or something. I've had my 1993 Toyota for almost ten years and I think it's reaching its end-of-life. It has been a very reliable car, I must say. Not exactly glam, but it has never let me down and it's been economical to run and maintain. 
A flashier car would be nice, but I don't think I'm quite ready to spend big bucks on something newer and European. One day, perhaps. Although, I don't know if I could be bothered with the cost of parts and pricier upkeep that would be involved in maintaining an Audi or a Merc. 
My attitude towards cars has changed somewhat since my carefree twenties.
Right now, though, there are other things to concentrate on. 

Thanks for reading, all, and have yourselves a great weekend!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Good Friday 2017 - The Daily Grind, Waiting for Spools, Remembering Mum & This Week's Wristwatches.

I finally got a slightly more heavy-duty coffee grinder last weekend. It's just a domestic model, made by Sunbeam, but I've read and heard good things about this model, so when I saw it at the local department store selling for an extra ten percent off its already reduced price, I snapped it up. 
Got it home and spent about 30 minutes messing with it until I'd gotten a grind setting that I was happy with. 
Perfect. 
No more going to a cafe 25 minutes away from home to have some new staff member grind a bag of beans too coarse or too fine. I only find out how bad the grind is once I get it home and make a cup. Those days are over, thank God.


This photo ain't gonna win any prizes, that's for sure.

This one's a little better. Black and white can hide a multitude of sins.
We decided to take a drive out to my old house last Sunday. I already knew that they were building a block of apartments on the corner of the old street and I was curious to see how bad it would look. I wasn't disappointed. My parents' old house, where I grew up, is one house block away from a main road in the northern suburbs. There was a Greek family on one corner of the street, next door to us, and across from them there was an automotive workshop that worked mostly on trucks. Next door to that was a car body-work shop. I walked past these two workshops every day on my way to school as a kid, catching whiffs of diesel fumes, arc welding smoke and buffing wax. These two workshops are long-gone. The body-works place had been empty since the mid-Eighties, but the building itself remained closed up and intact. Until a few years ago. The truck mechanics next door had also closed down sometime in the '90s. This too remained empty for a few years. 
Anyway, somebody bought up these two premises and decided it would be a great idea to put up a three or four storey block of apartments. Complete with underground car-park for the residents. I didn't check how many apartments this building will contain, because it soon began raining. My wife did comment on how small the kitchens looked, based on peering through the window of a vacant one. These are not yet completed. No furniture, no window curtains, no people in them, and the lane-way behind them is fenced off. 
Looking at the house directly across the road from my old place, I saw an auction board with the 'SOLD' sticker plastered across it and felt a small twinge of regret. That sticker meant that our old neighbour Silvio must have died. He would have been in his mid-'80s. I wanted to go ask Margerida, the Greek neighbour next door, but it looked like she wasn't home. I'll have to go back sometime and ask her. Would be good to catch up with her. She's also getting older. 
"It's not the ********** you grew up in anymore, T", said my wife, echoing my thoughts. My kids took a quick walk down the laneway next to the old house. My daughter took a quick iPhone snap over the back fence. She came running up to me moments later. 
"Dad, I don't think the garage kitchen is there anymore. There's a big gap, but I can't remember how it used to look."
I can't blame her. She would have been seven or eight the last time she visited this house. She's fourteen now. Half a lifetime ago.
I looked at the blurry picture on her phone. My folks, as was common practice among a certain ethnic generation and mindset, had a second kitchen set up next to the garage. It was here that pasta was prepared from scratch, with nothing much more than flour, olive oil and eggs. It was here that old beer bottles were given one final rinse-out before being filled with pureed tomatoes which would become the sauce for that pasta.
It was here where my wife would lean against the wood-stove in the corner to keep warm, back when we was a' courtin', after we got married, after the kids came along. 
Looking at this picture now, it looked like this kitchen was gone. 
Another twinge.
We'll get out own wood-stove one day. Put it in the garage. Give the place a nice, log-cabin kind'a feel.                                                      
                                        

Wednesday marked five years since my Mother passed away and I suppose this was one reason why I wanted to make the trip back to the old neighbourhood. 
Knowing her, she would have hated to see that three-storey block of apartments towering over the front porch of her house. I lit a candle for her.


The spools arrived on Wednesday. They're plastic, but they're the right size for the Skyriter. I'll load them into this typewriter and then hammer out a few lines to make sure the ink is dark and that the ribbon advances the way it should. If all goes well, this machine will be on the 'bay soon. 
All up, the spools cost me about forty bucks. The postage was scandalous. 

Another week down, folks. I got a lot done this week at work. Still have to finish a list of spare parts that will be returned to our Head Office in Switzerland, but aside from that, everything is pretty much up to date. Then, I'll go through our stock of straps and bracelets to make sure that what's on paper matches what's actually in stock. From experience, though, I've found that there's always at least one strap that can't be accounted for and requires a little more hunting around. 
At any rate, I won't have to deal with any of this until next Tuesday. 

I might see if I can spend some time over the next few days preparing some more items to sell on eBay. It's all nickle & dime stuff, but A) it all adds up, and B) I'm so sick of seeing it lying around, so I think it's time to see if I can turn it all into a few bucks. 
'Cos it's all just taking up space.

                                                    

Anyways, gang, I hope you all have a safe, pleasant and relaxing holiday period, whatever your faith.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Friday 7/4/2017 - Tooth-aches, Gut-aches & This Week's Watches.

I thought I'd take a lazy way out this week and put up pics with text embedded in them. Turned out to be more work than I thought. 
I was toying with the idea of putting my name in watermark on my photos. Couldn't recall where I saw how it's done, so I just started by opening up a photo in Microsoft Paint. And then I began messing a little too much with the whole process.
Things kind'a escalated from there...


Our Sunday began and ended with Middle Eastern cuisine. We drove out to the Oasis Bakery Cafe, a popular place which started out selling Middle Eastern breads and pastries, but which now has a restaurant on one side and a supermarket on the other. Our kids are currently on school holidays and they decided some time ago that we should go to this cafe for breakfast and then return later in the evening for dinner. 
'Cos, you know, my wife and I are made of money.
And so, there we were on Sunday morning. We woke up earlier to find that daylight saving had ended (catches me off-guard every few years), so we turned our watches back one hour and then got in the car.
Once there, I had a look at the menu and ordered the Blueberry Buttermilk Hotcakes. They looked like slightly bloated pancakes, but they tasted divine. There were slices of caramelised banana, berry labneh (labneh is a kind of soft cheese), rose-flavoured meringue and a light dousing of maple syrup. Man, it was rich! I struggled to get to the end. But I'm no quitter.
While there, I bought a small container of Halva and Turkish Delight, which you see in these photos. Makes a pleasant change from biscuits.
 


I have a tooth that needs some work. My dentist examined it a month or so ago and found two small cracks in it. It's one of the molars, the workhorse teeth that do all the crunching down on food. It already had a filling in it and, to top it all off, I tend to grind my teeth in my sleep (I'm sure that's a stress thing), so he tee'd up an appointment for me to go see an endodontist about having a root canal done. 
I had one done years ago, but this Doctor that I visited gave me a detailed explanation (with drawings!) of what this procedure will entail. Like the name says, he's gonna drill through my teeth, all the way down to the roots and beyond, towards the gum line, and then he's going to fill this canal- the name says it all, don't it?-  with antibiotics, because the base of one of the roots has infected the gum, and this is what's been causing me all this pain on-and-off over the past six weeks. Then, a temporary crown will be fitted and I'll go back and get a permanent crown sometime in June. 
This procedure is booked in for Thursday afternoon so, by the time you read this on Friday night (AEST), I may not be my usual cheery self. Wait and see. 

Thursday, 8:27pm
                       My God, this tooth! Actually, it's not too bad, just a dull ache, despite the two Panadeine tablets that I popped half-way through dinner. The wife and kids had roast chicken with salad and roast potatoes while I gingerly spooned Campbell's Minestrone into my mouth. 
The endodontist was a genius! Sure, the drill made some sickening sounds as it carved its way into the tooth, but it all went quite textbook. 
This whole procedure, I was told, is a temporary one. The tooth has a crack along one-third of its length. The tooth may crack in a year, it may crack in ten, or it may last the rest of my life. 
Either way, Minties are out. 
I have to go back in eight weeks to see if the antibiotics are doing what they should, and to have a permanent crown fitted. And I suppose I should think about a titanium implant at some point. 

Okay, so I didn't have access to typewriter and Flemingesque stencil fonts at work today, so this will have to do.


That last line probably won't mean much around here, but over on a watch forum that I frequent, it'll make perfect sense. 

My stomach felt a little bloated this afternoon. Was it the takeaway? Who knows. 
Got home from work and my gut was still feeling seedy. Had a light dinner.


Again, this'll make sense more to my fellow wristwatch nerds.

Thanks for reading, all!