Friday, 16 June 2017

Saturday 17/6/2017 - Cars, Cameras, Cats & This Week's Wristwatches.

It's been a busy couple of weeks. Work is flat-out busy at the moment. Aside from that, I've been looking at a few cars, a new camera, and we got another cat too.

CAR
              My 1993 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is reaching its end-of-life. Sure, I could spend some money on sprucing it up, but I think it's time to go for something else. I've had this car for the last ten years...okay, I just found my original paperwork. Make that twelve years. 
It has served me well. Obviously, it was never a glam automobile, but I have to say that, in terms of reliability, this car has been bullet-proof. No major dramas, this thing has purred along nicely, requiring nothing more than routine servicing. 
I had owned a couple of late 1970s Volkwagen Golfs (did y'all in The States call them 'Rabbits'?) and they were great cars. My second one was fraught with issues, though, and I stupidly kept taking it back to a Volkswagen mechanic when I would have been better served going to a local guy instead. 
Anyway, the ownership of this second Golf left a sour taste in my mouth and I resolved to go for something Made In Japan because I wanted a car that would be relatively trouble-free.
The Toyota Corolla wound up being just that.  
However, like I said, this car has reached the end of the road. Time to look at something else. Some other brand. Still Japanese, because Made In Japan has always had a certain cachet to it, as far as I'm concerned.
And so, I landed on the Mazda 3 Series. Went to a local used car-yard and took one for a spin. It was a 2006 model, manual, with about 160,000 km's on the clock. It was a nice driver, smooth and with a little bit of zip. My Toyota had gotten a little sluggish in recent years, so it was refreshing to get behind the wheel of something that had some pep. I wasn't crazy about the black paint-job, but I could live with that.
I spoke to the dealer afterwards, telling him that I would arrange to take the car to my mechanic later in the week and, if it got the thumbs-up, I'd take it.
We shook hands.
Somebody else bought the car a few hours later.

Anyway, I'll just keep an eye out for any others that come up for sale. This dealer will let me know if he gets any more of them while I scour a couple of car sales websites.
Something will turn up sooner or later.

CAMERA
                          I've gotten a lot of use out of the Olympus EPL-5 Micro 4/3rds camera that I bought a few years ago. However, my biggest gripe with this camera was the lack of built-in viewfinder. I did end up buying an external viewfinder for it, but this meant that I couldn't slip the leather cover over the camera while the viewfinder was attached.
I began thinking about replacing the EPL-5, and gave some serious consideration to the Fujifilm X100T;

Gotta love the Leica-esque design of these instant classics. Fuji knocked one out of the park with the first iteration of the X 100 was released back in early 2011. 
One thing though- this camera has a fixed lens. I considered that, while I'm no master photographer, I would prefer to have a camera with interchangeable lens capability. So I began to look elsewhere.
(pic courtesy of www.amateurphotographer.co.uk)




The Olympus Pen F takes its name from a 35mm rangefinder camera of the mid 1960s. It was a half-frame camera, which basically used half of each frame in a roll of film for each photo. This meant that a 24 exposure roll of Kodak would yield 48 photos by the time you were done.
Olympus seems to have done well with its EPL series of Micro Four-Thirds digital cameras in recent years. I have high praise for the EPL-5 model that I've had these past few years.
The Pen F model would require me to bone up a little more on digital photography, which is not a bad thing. Now that I've settled into my job, I find myself wanting to learn new things and/or get better at the things I already know. With photography, be it film or digital, I'm still quite an amateur. At least with digital, I can delete a bad photo.
So, I did my research and landed on the Pen F. I wanted it in two-tone;


Photo taken from -->   www.popphoto.com | Hands-on with the Olympus Pen F Camera

However, the store I visited only had it in black. Since their pricing was around $180 less than their closest competitor, I figured I'd go for the black. Now, I already have the 14-42mm lens from the EPL-5, so I just opted for the body only of this camera. My plan is to sell the EPL-5 on eBay, along with the external viewfinder and other accessories. Might re-coup some of what I spent on this new camera.
I've had it for about two weeks now and I haven't messed with it too much as yet. This camera requires a little more fiddling around with settings and other functions, so I think I'll want to load the full instruction manual onto my computer so that I can have a closer read of it.
Next month, I'll get a cheap leather case for it off eBay. I've got a thing about looking after my stuff.

Here's a link to a review of this camera, if you'd like to know more;

ephotozine.com | Olympus Pen F - Full Review

CAT

The kids had been saying for quite a few years now that our cat could do with a companion.
We had been putting this off for a while now - When we get a new house, when we come back from the trip, when we get new jobs, etc, etc.

Well, things had calmed down enough that we though now might be the time. We'd actually been looking for about a year or so, to be honest. I must say some cat breeders are just downright fruity. My wife did 90% of the calling around and she dealt with breeders who placed their phone numbers in sales listings and then would get snappy when she called them. About six weeks ago, she and I visited one breeder who lived about 45 minutes from our house. We had a look at the cat, another Burmese. Some breeders run a tight ship, with the cats sectioned off in a separate part of their home, some run things differently, with cats roaming around the house, with baskets in every corner and a few scratching posts throughout the room. This breeder was the latter type. We chatted about the kitten that she had for sale. It had a slight scratch near its right eye. One of the other cats had gotten a little defensive towards it a few days earlier. I was a little concerned that this might be conjunctivitis, and I didn't like the nutcasey vibe that this breeder was giving off. She told us a little too much about her impending surgical procedure. My wife and I learned later one that a few other people that we knew had dealt with this breeder before. None of them gave her glowing reviews.
Anyway, short answer is that we didn't end up purchasing from her. We wound up getting a new cat from a breeder who was impressed to hear that we'd done our homework regarding how to bring a new kitten into a home that already has an adult cat.
Like Madame Wispola Dusenberg (Wispy or Dussy for short, although she does have about 63 different names, thanks to my kids), this kitten is a Burmese. They are a very personable breed. Very friendly and companionable, not as loud, angular-featured or as slim as a Siamese, but quite exotic nonetheless.
Now, I know that there are cat shelters out there in the world that are filled with strays that need a good home, and we thought about getting a cat from one, but I had always wanted to get a Lilac Burmese. Careful what you wish for, Teeritz. 
My first cat, when I was a kid, was a rescue animal. Madame was a dumped stray, believe it or not, that virtually turned up on our doorstep eight years ago, proving to me once and for all that karma does indeed exist, and works in mysterious ways.
But this time around, I wanted to choose exactly what I wanted, right down to the colour.
We got a male. I'm told it's better to mix the sexes, as this removes some of the territorial battles that might ensue if both cats are of the same sex. It can also bring out the maternal/paternal instinct in the older cat. Not sure if this will happen.
The kitten is four months old, which is fine by us. I'm not sure if any reputable breeders will sell you a kitten that's eight weeks old, like back in the old days.
And he has the energy of a friggin' Duracell bunny. We've had him for eight days and he's a full-time job. It's gotten a little tricky making sure certain doors are closed, so as not to have the two of them run into each other just yet.
Getting them accustomed to each other will be a slow process. It involves getting them used to each other's scent first. This is done by the following method;
I had a few packets of baby socks that I bought last year in order to store my watches in temporarily, to prevent them from scratching each other up.
I took one of these socks and rubbed it along the sides of the kitten's mouth and along his forehead. I did the same with another sock on the older cat. Then, I placed each cat's sock next to the other cat, to get them used to the other's scent. This is meant to be done over the course of a week or so. Then, you place these socks next to their feeding bowls, to get them to associate the scent with something pleasurable, i.e- eating.
After a week, you then begin feeding each cat at the same time on either side of a door, to get them used to each other's scent and any sounds they might make while eating.
A week later, you continue doing this, but you open the door a fraction so that they can glimpse each other. If there's any hostility between them, you revert back to the closed door technique and begin again.
This, I suspect, could take a while. Madame Wispy has had free run of the whole house for years now, and is probably quite territorial.

Mister Bowie- which might end up being his name. Or Fidel-, being a very young kitten, has been overwhelmed by the size of the house when we've let him out of my daughter's room (his temporary digs) and has usually opted to run under the couch.
That's him ----->
He has a powdery look to him, and I think his face and ears will darken as he gets older.
I'm hoping for as smooth a transition as possible and I'll be relieved if they accept each other in due course. Otherwise, the house will be some kind of feline war-zone for years to come.
At any rate, there's no shortage of information on the web about how to introduce two cats to each other. I just hope these two cats have read these articles too. 
So, you can see that I haven't devoted too much time or energy to this blog in recent weeks. Work has been busy as I take on a few more tasks, but I thought I'd do a quick post (yeah, good luck wit dat!) as some kind of update.

Wristwatch-wise, I wore these over the last few weeks;

Started the month of June with the Omega Speedmaster Professional on a ten dollar leather strap. It's a nice look, but I wound up putting the bracelet back on the watch a few days later. 

The Rolex Submariner 5513. I didn't wear this watch, but I did take it in to Rolex for a service quote. They wanted to replace the hands on the watch as part of the work required. I had specifically asked them not to quote for new hands. The existing hands and dial markers have darkened slightly, from bright white when the watch was new in 1982, to a creamy patina. If the hands are replaced, they'll be bright white, killing the entire look of the watch, in my opinion, to say nothing of the drop in value of the watch once the original hands are changed. They told me that they quoted for new hands because the luminous compound on the existing hands is brittle and could flake off and get into the movement of the watch. I told them I'd take my chances. I told them not to change the hands as a professional courtesy, since I'm in the wristwatch after-sales industry too. 
No dice. They wouldn't budge.
No deal, I thought to myself. I understand Rolex's reasons. They are all about making your watch look brand new again, but since it's my watch, I'm more concerned with trying to keep it as original as possible. 
I went back to the service centre and got my watch back while I began formulating Plan B. 
More about that in a later post.


I also wore the Oris Diver SixtyFive, seen here on a blue & cream striped NATO strap which I snagged off eBay for twelve bucks. The cream stripe picks up nicely off the luminous numerals on the dial



Ended the working week with the circa 1969 Omega Seamaster Chronometer. I'm seriously considering a major restoration of the dial on this watch. Might need to source some new hands for it too. Should look pretty nice once it's done. 

Got home from work and switched over to the Omega Railmaster. Just between you and me, I think my wrists have gotten smaller. I didn't think that was possible, but I've noticed in recent months that many of my watches feel a tad looser on my wrist than they used to. Sure, winter would be one reason for this, since your wrists don't swell up as much from the heat the way they do in summer, but I think that, since my gym membership lapsed early last year, I'm sure I've thinned down a little. Might have to get into some regular exercise routine over the next few months and then re-join the gym come springtime. Sounds like a plan. Of course, I have a few other things to deal with between now and spring. Ah well, better to be busy than not. 

And that's it, gang. Not sure if I'll maintain weekly posts. Life has a way of getting busy. My wife and I are in a de-cluttering stage at the moment. September will make two years since we moved into this house and there are still a few unpacked boxes scattered here and there. Time to clear some stuff. 

Okay, I'm running out of steam, and it's only 4:00pm Saturday. 

Thanks for reading and have a great rest-of-the-weekend!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Friday 26/5/2017 - Bond Fan In Mourning.

At around 10:45pm (AEST) on Tuesday evening, I crawled into bed and did a quick check of the web on my iPod Touch. I tapped the tile for the BBC News app. A few seconds later;
"Oh no! No!...Roger Moore died", I exclaimed. 

Regular readers of this blog may know that I became a Bond fan as a kid in the mid '70s when  I went to see a Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun double-bill on a summer's Sunday afternoon with my dad and my brother. 
I thought this English secret agent was super-cool, with his nifty gadgets (loved his Rolex wristwatch), snappy one-liners and exotic missions. I took it all very seriously.
As I got older, I watched Moore in his earlier roles in the 1960s TV series The Saint and his later show, The Persuaders, which co-starred Tony Curtis. 
And, due to his success as Bond, Moore made a slew of other films throughout the '70s and '80s, such as Gold!, Shout At The Devil, That Lucky Touch, The Wild Geese, Crossplot, Escape To Athena, and The Cannonball Run (in which he played a fellow named Seymour Goldfarb Jr who thinks he's Roger Moore). 

I really liked Moore as Simon Templar, the gentleman adventurer/thief who stole from the rich and got caught up in various adventures. He drove a cool car (a Volvo P1800) and had a sharp hairstyle. He never killed anyone and I don't think he ever kissed anybody either. He was The Saint, after all. 

As I caught up with the Connery Bond films and read the Ian Fleming novels, I soon began to realise that Roger Moore's take on 007 was a lot more light-hearted than the earlier films and the books. But this was the 1970s. The era of the Carry On movies, Dick Emery and Benny Hill. His Bond was the one that the era demanded. 
But I took my Bonds seriously, remember? Sean Connery became the Bond that I liked because his was closer to the books.

However, I will always have a soft-spot for Mr Moore. He was always an amusing talk-show guest. And the last few days have shown a host of celebrities and fellow actors who have had nice things to say about him. 

This story here has gone viral in recent days;


My mother liked him, too. She referred to him as 'the man who throws punches' before she learned his name and pronounced it 'Rodge Maw' in her Italian accented English.

Roger Moore was born in August 1927 and died earlier this week after a short battle with cancer. 

I feel as though a part of my own personal history is gone. Inevitable, I guess. Nobody lives forever, after all, but I feel a certain 'hollowness' this week. A hero of mine has died.

Moore played Bond lighter than I would have liked as I got older, but he kept the Bond film franchise cranking for over a decade. In lesser hands, the franchise might have fizzled out sometime around 1980. Also, I can recall numerous moments from my teen years when I would make a comment with a raised eyebrow and an innocent expression. It would appear that Mr Moore had a greater effect on me than I thought.
Moore was the Bond that I first saw on-screen. The poster for Live And Let Die hangs on my lounge room wall, a perfect example of guns, girls, car chases and Bond's cool demeanour. And, as I mentioned, he was a great talk-show guest, never taking himself or his industry too seriously.

And so, I raise a glass to Roger Moore. 
Thank-you for services rendered, Sir. Your work and your very being has brought me much pleasure. 

Thanks for reading.

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!

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!