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

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. 
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!