Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Just One Chapter Of The Seiko 5 Story

WHY IS IT NAMED 5?

"From the very start, Seiko 5 was created to be a watch whose performance would serve the demanding needs of the new 1960’s generation, who cared less for tradition and more about life. The watch had five key attributes :
1. Automatic winding
2. Day/date displayed in a single window
3. Water resistance
4. Recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position
5. Durable case and bracelet


"Because it grew out of the watch itself, the name Seiko 5 was deemed to express what made Seiko great and was chosen. A simple and memorable name for a simple but serious watch.

"The technology behind the legend.


"From the start, Seiko 5 was designed to break the mold of watch performance and to bring to the young 1960’s generation a watch that belonged to their age and that fitted into their lives. As perhaps never before, young people of the day saw no limits to their aspirations. Seiko 5 needed to be a watch that could go anywhere and everywhere. The first challenge was durability. To be durable, a watch needs to be impervious to two threats; water and shock.

"Water resistance was built in as standard to every Seiko 5 watch, and metal bracelets were used so that, from buckle to buckle, the watch was resistant to water and sweat. Shock resistance was assured with two Seiko inventions. First, the mainspring was made from “Diaflex,” an unbreakable alloy, and the “Diashock,” system was created to protect the movement from shock within the case.


"Legibility was the next vital attribute. Today, we take for granted that day and date are presented in a single window but, in fact, this was an idea built in to Seiko 5 to enhance the legibility of the dial. The genius was to create a unique system that allowed both day and date to be shown in one plane.


"The final challenge was to create a distinctive look that defined the brand. Thanks to the extraordinary Seiko invention of the ‘Magic Lever,’ the winding efficiency of Seiko 5 is very high, and the wearer rarely needs to use the crown. So the designers made it smaller and hid it under the lip of the case at 4 o’clock, giving Seiko 5 its signature look."


Monday, February 27, 2017

A Short Manifesto

Whether or not someone believes that God or gods exist is much less important to me today than before I met a lot of New Atheists who proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that atheism is no guarantee that a person is even a little bit bright. I'm pro-environment, pro-multi-culture, pro LGBT rights (which are just human rights, no more and no less), I'm in favor of universal health care and helping homeless people and refugees. Where people stand on issues like those is much more important to me than their religious beliefs. And despite what some New Atheists and some right-wing Christians will try to tell you, a person's religious beliefs or lack of them is no indicator of where they stand on any of those issues.

I'll admit that I tend to think of theology as worse than useless, but I've read enough philosophy to know that theology and philosophy aren't synonymous, even though many theologians and New Atheists seem to disagree. I think that studying history and philosophy is as important as studying science, and for similar reasons. (And history includes the history of religions, plural.) I like Nietzsche's statement (he was a philosopher, kiddies) that life without music would be a mistake. All the arts do is make life bearable. Many New Atheists are very strong in science, but they tend to cultivate the antagonism between science and the humanities, and that antagonism is very unfortunate -- and only a few centuries old, and much more pronounced in the US than in, for example, Germany. Milton wrote about science and Galileo wrote sonnets, and of course there was Leonardo da Vinci. You don't have to choose between science and the arts; in fact, it's very unfortunate when anyone is antagonistic toward one in the supposed name of the other.

"Amazing That W Seems Much More Presidential Than Trump"

No. Not amazing. Almost anyone would be a much better President than Trump. I mean that completely seriously and literally: human beings could have been picked completely at random for the office of President, almost all of the choices would have been better than Trump. W was and is wet-brained and sort of slow, but he grew up in a family of politicians, watching up-close how politics is done. It's unfortunate than Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gonzales wielded so much power in W's White House, tending to drown out the better advice of people like Colin Powell and, if W ever listened to them, his parents.

People may be allowing the W of today, and the positive contrast he makes with Trump -- no difficult task, that -- to obscure their memories of President W. For the past 8 years, W has been hanging out with people, such as the Clintons and other philanthropists, who've clearly had a good influence on him.

It's true that W said, in the days following the 11th of September, 2001, that Muslim did not equal terrorist. I remember him saying that, I remember it very distinctly. But I also remember that he didn't say it nearly often or forcefully enough to prevent his party from descending into abysses of Islamophobia. I also remember the lie about the WMD's in Iraq, very conveniently used against the very personal enemy of W's family, Saddam Hussein.

I'll never forget the signs held in front of TV cameras by Iraqis celebrating in the streets of Baghdad in the spring of 2003, after Saddam's regime fell: "Thank you, Americans. Now please go home." Could Iraq possibly be more fucked-up than it is today if we had obeyed that request? The Patriot Act happened on W's watch, Gitmo became America's shame on his watch, children and mentally handicapped and demonstrably innocent people were executed on W's watch. I haven't forgotten any of it.

And it all pales compared to Trump.

So, yes, today, naturally, W is an ally against Trump. Lots of people are allies against Trump right now. Now, if the vast majority of the people in the world can just somehow convince the Republicans in the House and Senate to do the sane thing and fire Trump, soon, like, today...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Great Big Fat Guy, Day 484

I had another of those dreams last night in which I ran really fast for very long distances. Those dreams of running are so powerful and vivid. They're they only dreams I can recall which are so lifelike that later, I've become confused about whether I was remembering dreams or actual waking experiences. Last night's dream got me fired up and wanting to make those experiences real, to actually run long and fast.

If I'm going to do that, I've got a ways to go. Lately I've been having some problems, and it's been difficult just to keep up to my usual amount of exercise, let alone the great increase which any significant amount of running would represent. A while back I stopped doing push-ups, because they were giving me an intense pain in my lower abdomen. Instead of push-ups, what I've been doing is: I stand a little less then 2 feet away from a doorway, get up on the balls of my feet, fall toward the doorway, catch myself on the frame of the doorway with one hand, let myself keep falling until my arm is in the position it would be if I were doing a push-up and my chest were all the way down to the floor, then I push myself back to a standing position with one arm. Then I repeat with the other arm, and back and forth, one arm and then the other. Not as difficult as one-armed pushups, but it feels like I'm getting a good workout. It feels like maybe my arms have gotten bigger. I was doing pushups every day. I'm doing this exercise once every 48 hours, giving my muscles time to recover. Maybe I would've gotten bigger arms if I'd only done push-ups every second day, I don't know.

Whatever the pain in my lower abdomen was, it never interfered with my daily crunches.

I still have not done a bridge --


-- during the current Great Big Fat Guy era. I am still attempting a bridge every day, right after the crunches. My lifetime record for bridges in 1 set is around 12. It'd be nice to break that record. It'd be nice to win some 5k races. It'd be nice to lose a lot of weight.

There are injuries which are aggravated by exercise, and pains which are relieved by exercise. Recently I was having some severe pain in both knees, especially severe first thing in the morning, and I was worried that those pains might be a serious injury or some other incapacitation, but exercise has relieved the pain to a great degree.

Losing weight would result in reduced stress to my knees and some other joints. It would improve my sexual performance, as well as increasing the general amount of interest in my sexual performance on the part of potential sexual partners. It would improve my circulation (which would be part of the reason for improved sexual function) and my body's ability to fight off infection. There's really no downside, as far as I can see, to ceasing to be fat by means of proper exercise and healthy diet.

There are dangerous and unhealthy ways to lose weight. I'm not going there.

The movie Central Intelligence, in which Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays a formerly fat person, may have played a role in my recent increase in exercise, and in last night night's dream about running. It's not an overwhelming masterpiece of a movie, but it's not bad. It has a positive anti-bullying message. It's good enough that it's entertaining for me to think about how it could've been made into a masterpiece. Like for instance, how's this? Change the back story with Aaron Paul, Johnson's former partner, so that Johnson, but no-one else, knows from the beginning of the movie that Paul was the Black Badger, and knows that Paul also set him up to make everyone else think he was the Black Badger. Then Johnson could suppress the pain of knowing that the partner he thought was his best friend had betrayed him, along with suppressing other things, such as the trauma of having been bullied in high school. Make more of the movie about Johnson coming to grips with his issues, and give Kevin Hart more opportunity to help someone who he sees is in great pain. Yes, it would make the movie darker, but a comedy can be dark and a masterpiece, look at The Fisher King. Just spitballin' here. Like I said, it's not a bad movie as is.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I'm Having A Nice Day

This is my Seiko 5:


There are many others like it, but this one is mine. This is what it looks like today. Some of you may sense that there is some difference from the previous photo of it which I shared:


(Let me know if I'm moving too fast for you.)

One thing that's nice about today is that several different people volunteered to help me with my watch, and between all of us, it now has a strap long enough to fit comfortably all the way around my wrist. Another nice thing is that I know I can make each of those people smile just by showing them the Seiko 5 on my wrist the next time I see them.

A lot of people are really nice. They're not trying to defraud or deport or assault anyone. And I know some nice ones. Maybe all together we can instigate some progress.

Look, riddle me this: just who TF exactly do Putin and Trump think they're going to sell all that oil to? Solar and wind just keep getting bigger and bigger in the US. And some countries are doing it a lot faster than us. Like the Netherlands, where sales of non-electric vehicles will be banned after 2025. Like China, that's right I said China, whose Longyangxia Dam Solar Park is big enough to be very easily seen from outer space. China invested $103 billion in renewable energy in 2015, they're going to invest over $300 billion between 2017 and 2020, I don't know how much they invested in 2016 but I bet it was a lot, they're now the world's biggest producer of solar energy. You get the feeling maybe they don't want any of Vladimir and Donald's oil? Remember when opponents of renewables said, "Hey, China isn't doing it!"? That was then. You get the feeling the renewables sector is accelerating more quickly than a lot of people thought, although not as quickly as you personally would like? Me too.

Remember how I told you all how I compose terrible music in my sleep? I'm working on a song right now which I actually like. The chorus is: "Oh Amanda, I'm your panda/Oh Amanda, I'm your panda." The verses go into more detail about the ways in which I am Amanda's panda. I don't really know a woman named Amanda. I'm just using the name "Amanda" because it rhymes with "panda." And I'm using the word "panda" because I'm big and cuddly.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What Does Audemars Piguet Have Against Platinum?!

PS, 27 Feb 2017: Since writing this post I have found a number of platinum Audemars Piguet watches. To be much more precise: just now I googled audemars piguet platinum and found a lot of them all at once. I apologize to Audemars Piguet and all of their loved ones and fans. So why didn't I google augemars piguet platinum before I wrote this post? Yeah. Excellent question.


They make huge heavy yellow and rose gold pocketwatches which sell for nearly a million dollars each.

Their celebrated Royal Oak --


-- comes in rose gold, yellow gold, white gold, stainless steel, titanium, and I've seen one Royal Oak encrusted with many, many diamonds and selling for OVER a million.

But I haven't seen any Audemars Piguet watch with even a tiny bit of platinum in it.

And that makes me sad.

And surely I can't be the only one.

It's your company, Audemars Piguet. And doing things the way you see fit is part of what makes your company great. I hope you keep on doing it the way you see fit.

And maybe one day I will understand why you always do it platinum-free.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Maybe My Passion For Math HASN'T Been Ignited At Last

4 days ago I wrote on this blog that perhaps I was finally finding math interesting. But there has not been much progress on that front since then. For quite a while I couldn't find the problem in the Thomas/Finney textbook on calculus and analytic geometry about the speed at which the man's shadow moved and the rate at which its length changed as he walked toward a lamppost. It was such a long while that I actually began to wonder whether I had merely dreamed the problem, and whether calculus would actually be any help which such questions. Then I googled Thomas Finney man lamppost shadow and deduced that the problem was in the 3rd chapter. In the 5th edition it's on page 132.

But I haven't made much progress at all in studying the preceding 131 pages. Whenever I begin to try, it's the sort of torture which the other 5 friends on Friends appear to feel whenever Ross begins to try to tell them about paleontology. I have tended to give up very quickly, and read about something else instead -- the history of India, for example, or paleontology. (I've always been disappointed when the other friends shut Ross down; I feel like I would have found what he had to say about paleontology interesting. Of course, Ross is just a fictional character, and I don't know whether David Schwimmer and all of the writers of Friends all put together actually know anything at all about paleontology or not.)

Clearly, I'm a geek. Just still not much of a math geek. I even felt the torture just now when I looked at a couple of calculators for scientists and attempted to learn what the symbols mean. I know the signs for add, subtract, multiply, divide, X to the power of Y, roots, percent, and... that's about it. (And actually, the % key is only on the calculator for non-scientists.) Presumably, studying those 131 pages would explain many more of the keys for me.

It's just really hard, because I really hate it for some reason.

Is it all my math teachers' fault? No, I really doubt that. The math teachers I had represented a wide variety of personality types. There was no lack of love of the subject among them. And I had a big crush on one of them. Between all of that, and my native aptitude -- I mentioned in the previous post that I had factored 3-digit numbers in my head years before a math teacher told me that it was called factoring, and that those numbers which could only be divided by themselves and 1 were called prime numbers, and that one could refer to 125 as 5 to the 3rd power, and so on. Just to be clear: by the age of 5 or so, I had factored all of the numbers up to and past 1000 in my head, in addition to many much larger numbers such as 1 billion and 15,625 and 6561 -- between all of that, perhaps a passion for math would have been kindled in me back in school if it could at all have been.

Even the factoring in my head has never been fun. It's always been tedious. I didn't start doing it because it was fun, but because I often couldn't stop doing it when my mind my wasn't occupied with something I found interesting, like history or music.

So -- put the Nobel for Physics and the Fields Medal on hold for now. I apologize to my vast numbers of fans if they're disappointed now because I got their hopes up about the math. For now, you'll have to settle for me being a literary genius, profound philosopher and all-around adorable person, as usual, and for me being able to tell when a candidate in the primaries no longer has a chance before most people, although maybe not before Rachel Maddow and Barack Obama, and things like that.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Foreigners Of Every Kind

Percival Spear (yes, his name really was Percival Spear), a 20th-century English historian who spent much of his life living in and writing about India, who taught with distinction both in India and England, including a stint at Cambridge University, who served in the government of India for several years in the 1940's, writes of the Mughal Empire on page 67 of his book India, Pakistan and the West, 4th ed, Oxford University Press, 1967:

"A significant sign of greatness was the welcome afforded to foreigners of every kind from Portugese Jesuits to French jewelers, and the interest shown not only in foreign novelties like watches and mechanical toys, but in ideas as well. Akbar delighted in Jesuit discussions of their faith and Dara Shikoh ordered translations both of the gospels and of the Upanishads."

The Mughal Empire was a regime which ruled much of modern-day India, Pakistan and Afghanistan from the 16th to the 19th century. Akbar was a Mughal Emperor and Dara Shikoh a Mughal crown Prince. The Upanishads are the Sanskrit texts which contain the core philosophy of Hinduism.

All of the most civilized places in human history have been especially welcoming to people from all over over the world. New York City, for example, is brilliant in very large part because it welcomes people from all over the world and celebrates their cultures. The Chinese, Italian, Puerto Rican, Irish, Brazilian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Mexican, Bengali, Hindi, Bangladeshi, Korean, Dominican, Japanese, Cuban, Russian and Ukrainian communities in the city are just a few of the largest examples of the results of this welcoming and nurturing environment.

Imagine someone who lived an entire long life in New York City, exposed on a daily basis to that rich variety of languages, having such a wonderful variety of ethnic cuisines always within easy reach, having the privilege of being able to learn from people of such varied backgrounds -- imagine someone spending a lifetime in such a wonderful place, and still being so dense as to embrace the most primitive and xenophonic parts of American culture. Sad.

Trump, Brilliance, Capitalism

Don't Dismiss Trump's Attacks on the Media as Mere Stupidity. We should assume they are darkly brilliant, says Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal in Time.

Both Trump and Stephens, who begins his piece in Time with ridiculous assertions about the integrity of his employer, the Wall Street Journal, which in reality has become just another right-wing Murdoch noise machine, should be seen for the morons they are. You've got to be pretty stupid not to see that Trump is stupid, or not to see how Murdoch has turned the Journal into a joke.

I'm tired of claims that Trump is brilliant. He's not merely pretending to be a buffoon, he actually is one, unlike many other leading Republicans, who, although certainly not rocket scientists, are also not the idiots they are currently pretending to be in their agonized efforts to argue that the President is making sense about something, and/or not really saying what the idiotic things he obviously is saying. Kellyanne Conway is perhaps the most strikingly obvious example, in the way that she has said utterly different things about Trump before and after he hired her.

Many of the scientists and engineers who are improving solar and wind power and developing other green sources of energy, and many of the entrepreneurs getting them up and running, actually are brilliant. Trump, and his boss Putin, embody the stupid approach to energy policy: double down on petrochemicals. Artists, teachers, philosophers often are downright brilliant, and in the US we are pearls currently cast before the swine Trump.

Trump, along with the AIDS Medication Douchebag Martin Shkreli, embodies pure capitalism, and demonstrates that it requires crudity and insensitivity rather than intelligence. You remember the infuriatingly stupid grin on Shkreli's face as he confronted intense scrutiny by the media and by legislators after he obtained the manufacturing license for the AIDS medication Daraprim and immediately raised its price from $13.50 to $750 per dosage? Of course you remember. That sort of grin, in that sort of situation, is the sort of thing which sears itself into the memory. He was grinning because he knew that he had followed the rules of capitalism perfectly.

What he didn't know -- has he learned it in the meantime? -- is that becoming the most despised jerk in the US was going to have an effect on his life, no matter how closely he followed those rules.

Capitalism teaches that the person with the greatest amount of wealth has achieved the greatest amount of success. That's all that capitalism teaches about success: buy low, sell high, done. Most capitalists realize, sometimes consciously, often not, that there are many other factors in success and failure than the size of one's stack. When a person's ideas of success and failure are really, actually, exclusively about the bottom line, which is actually only rarely the case, the result is horrible and repulsive, like Shkreli, and like the current President of the United States.

Unfortunately, the realization that capitalism has some big problems is often not conscious. In the United States more than in some other places, the unwillingness to treat capitalism as something which can and should be examined critically, is very widespread. Capitalism is often talked about as if it were as inevitable as gravity, and as impossible to wish away, and that nothing better will ever be able to replace it.

It seems to me that the 2007-2008 financial crisis led more people to criticize capitalism as a whole than had done so previously. Maybe Trump will wake up still more people about it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Am I Finally Developing An Interest In Math?

I've always been freakishly good at doing arithmetic in my head. Not quite as good as Rain Man, but definitely unusual. However, I've never found mathematics to be interesting. I wonder whether that's an unusual combination of aptitude and disinterest. I stopped taking math classes in high school as soon as I was allowed to, at the end of 10th grade, when the algebra and geometry courses I had completed met the minimum requirements for graduation.

My younger brother took more advanced math courses. Much more advanced. My brother is literally a rocket scientist. He's got a Bachelor's and Master's of Science from MIT. As an undergrad he had a summer internship working for Martin Marietta and NASA on the Space Shuttle. Then between the Bachelor's and the Master's he took two years off from school and worked for a private company which has sent all sorts of things into orbit. A genuine rocket scientist. We're very proud of the little genius.

Every couple of years, I get an urge to study some more advanced math, and engineering and physics. The urge usually passes very quickly, but then again, it keeps coming back. About 30 years ago I had the urge, and my brother gave me this:


It's the 5th edition of Calculus and Analytic Geometry by George B Thomas and Ross L Finney, both professors at MIT when the 5th edition was published in 1979. It was a worn-out copy, my brother was done with it. I don't know whether he had studied this book in high school in preparation for MIT, or if it was the textbook for a freshman class he took at MIT, or maybe both.

I still have that old worn copy of the Thomas/Finney that my brother gave me. But I still haven't looked at it much. I'm currently having another one of those urges to make myself interested in math. But that's just the problem: math remains excruciatingly boring to me. But now I've been looking at that textbook, paging through it. And also looking at other books such as Blatt and Weisskopf's Theoretical Nuclear Physics, Rojensky's Electromagnetic Fields and Waves and Tolstov's Fourier Series. Looking for something which I can honestly say that I find interesting.

I may have found something. Thomas and Finney may have been rather sly when it came to education. There are a lot of word problems for the students to solve in their textbook, problems demonstrating some applications of calculus and analytic geometry, and one of those problems has actually caught my attention. That's right: something in a math book has begun to interest me.

I can't find that problem right now. I think it's somewhere in the first 50 pages or so of this textbook which runs to well over 900 pages. And it's a collage freshman textbook. Freshmen at MIT, which is certainly not the same thing as freshmen everywhere, but still. Early on in a freshman math textbook, there was a problem which I don't know how to solve.

Yes, it was arrogant of me, but I had wondered whether, in addition to boring me, this textbook would also teach me anything, or not. Arrogant, yes. But, for example, I was factoring 3-digit numbers in my head as a small child, years before a math teacher introduced me to the term "factor." Without finding it interesting. Just because it was there in my head.

But somewhere toward the front of Thomas/Finney 5th ed is a problem which, reconstructed from memory, goes something like this: a person of height X is walking at speed Y directly toward a streetlamp of height Z. Determine the rate at which the length of X's shadow decreases.

I can't do that. But apparently the first chapter or two of this textbook will show me how to do it. (Assuming I'm smart enough to understand what the book says.)

And that is interesting. That is definitely an example of something this textbook could teach me. And, apparently, that's just the beginning of introductory calculus. Just scratching the surface.

That's pretty cool.

So, you realize what this means, right? That's right: I'm going to be the first person to win a Nobel Prize in Literature and another one in Physics, plus a Fields Medal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Journalists Exposing The Plunder Of Politicians

Journalists are hard at work, exposing politicians who claim to be working for the little guy, while they themselves live in unimaginable wealth: the headline at foxbusiness.com:

Barack and Michelle Obama Are About to Get Even Richer

That's right: while You Know Who is busy running the country into the ditch, appointing billionaires to his Cabinet and selling as much of the US as he can to Putin at bargain-basement rates, and please let's not forget about how our new Treasury Secretary foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman because of a discrepancy of 27 cents on her mortgage check (I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that last one); while all of that is really happening, Fox Business is keeping a sharp eye on the wealth of those nefarious plutocrats -- the Obamas.

I wonder how wealthy the Obamas are in the right-wing parallel universe where he's a secret Kenyan Muslim. In the real world, it probably would be pretty easy to estimate their real wealth pretty accurately, given that they've publicly disclosed all the details of their finances going back decades. Unlike You Know You.

Nice to know that Fox Business is on the case, isn't it?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Non-Laughing Cassandra

Maybe there's some way to get the attention of someone who wields real power at a huge corporation and tell them that you have an idea that would actually help them. I am not familiar with this way.

For example, Amazon.

Years ago I tried to get a job with Amazon, just correcting the errors on the website about what languages books are in. Because there were enough such errors that correcting would keep at least one brilliant person, such as myself, busy full-time -- and it would be a good investment for Amazon too, right? Imagine, all those customers finally actually finding what they'd been looking for. No-one I was able to reach was interested in the slightest, or even gave any sign that they understood what I was talking about. Have they made progress on that problem in the meantime? I have no idea, I no longer scour the Amazon website looking for such errors.

And then there are fake luxury-watch reviews. Not paid-for reviews, but reviews by people who think they're funny, saying things like, "This Rolex is great, and having to sell my house in order to buy it was a small price to pay. I'm very happy living out here in the woods," etc. There are who knows how many thousands of such reviews of expensive watches on Amazon, which are basically the same joke: "This here watch is real expensive, hyuck hyuck hyuck!" and none of which are funny. Or at least there were many thousands of such reviews. It's been a while since I've looked at any reviews of watches on Amazon. I sent a couple of messages to Amazon describing the problem, and I moved on. They could fix the problem by limiting reviews of expensive watches to people who've bought those watches, or similar ones.

Where's that on-ramp between me and things I could do something about?

Is it crammed with exactly the same morons who make all those lame jokes about the watches, making me a needle of reason in a haystack of stupidity?

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Newbie In The World Of Watches

If you comment on the ads on Facebook which are called "suggested posts," Facebook will show you similar stuff. If you click on the links, Facebook will show you a lot of similar stuff.

It's too bad that 2 of the links to watch sellers or watchmakers which looked more interesting led to websites where you have to register before you can browse. PITA, later, bye, Touch of Modern, which sells various high-end brands, and Minus-8, a somewhat affordable brand.

Minus-8 says they're from San Francisco. Can it be that some interesting-looking mechanical watches are actually Amurrkin?! I surfed around some watch forums and watch-review sites, and by God, yes! Minus-8 makes automatic watches! With Seiko NH35A automatic movements. And the watches are actually assembled in China. (Seiko is a Japanese company, but some of their movements are actually made in places like Malaysia.)

And speaking of sites which review watches: other than the legendary Watch Snob®, I'm not sure whether I've seen anyone yet who is more interested in uncompromising critical evaluation of timepieces than in having a place on the Web where a lot of watchmakers will advertise. I may have come across a couple such. I'm just not sure yet. I did a Google search for best watch reviewers, and literally all that got me was some remarks on several different sites about how they were the best watch reviewers. So, I'll keep looking. This is all still very new to me.

Like Seiko, Casio was a brand name I'd heard forever without realizing that they make some stuff which some people get really enthusiastic about. I've got a couple of pocket calculators on the table here next to my computer, and one of them ... *checking* ... hey lookit that, actually both of them are made by Casio. I bought them both back in the early 1990's, I rarely use either of them or give them much thought, I bought the SL-100B, which folds in half and has large keys, much more for the physical design --


-- than for any other reason, although the physical design is very important, I think. Using the SL-100B is a pleasant experience for me -- and the other one has many more functions, not all of which I know what they are. They both run on indoor lighting, never had to get a battery for either of them or recharge them or do any other sort of maintenance on them. They both still work just fine, is that remarkable for pocket calculators made in the early 1990's? I don't know.

The reason I mentioned Casio is because they make a watch called the G-Shock, which is renowned for its unbreakability. I went through a number of sites dedicated to the G-Shock looking for info about the movement, about whether there were any G Shocks with mechanical movements. I found only references to quartz movements in G-Shocks. On one G-Shock fan page a G-Shock fan patiently tried to explain how all watch movements should be quartz, basically because they're much, much more unbreakable. Whaddygonnado, quartz is quartz and mechanical is mechanical and never the twain shall meet. There are those Casio G-Shock fans over there, and there are us Seiko 5 fans over here, and perhaps most of the people in one group will never understand what the other group is so excited about.

This is my Seiko 5, by the way:


There are many others like it, but this one is mine.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Anxiety

There's no doubt, I worry too much. I have problems with migraines and high blood pressure, anxiety aggravates these. And then there's the part where anxiety makes me unhappy.

Today, not, unusually, I worried all morning and into the afternoon about whether I would be able to perform certain errands. Then around 2:30 PM I suddenly realized with a start: nothing more to worry about there. I was done. I had performed all of those errands, and for the rest of the day I was free either to worry about other things, or not to worry at all.

And that, sadly, has made it a pretty typical day for me.

Naturally, we all have to be concerned about a number of things in order to lead more or less normal lives. But anxiety is concern which has become exaggerated and counter-productive. It doesn't help get anything done. It offers hinders me to a great extent. Besides feeling horrible, it is inefficient.

I don't know what most of the lyrics to "It Keeps You Runnin'" mean, or, for that matter, most of the lyrics to many other songs Michael McDonald has written or co-written: "What a Fool Believes," "Minute by Minute," "Takin' it to the Streets." ... I got no clue what the man is trying to say to us. I love all of the above-mentioned Doobie Brothers recordings with McDonald singing lead, but I don't really know what the man is talkin'. Well, gradually, over the course of decades, and over the course of thousands of re-listenings, I think I've picked up a few things. For example, I think that "Takin' it to the Streets" may have something to do with protesting in the streets for social justice. Something like that. I don't know.

Anyway, one line in "It Keeps You Runnin'" has always really stood out for me:

"Are you gonna worry for the rest of your life?"

I don't feel that the song in general really speaks to me. I think -- I'm not sure -- but I think it's about a relationship between a man and a woman, and the man, the singer, is trying to help the woman work through some of her stuff. I wonder whether maybe a big problem in this man/woman relationship is that most of the time the woman, although she realizes that the man means well, has no idea what he's talking about, and the man doesn't understand that she doesn't understand him.

Anyway, when I hear McDonald sing that one line about worrying, I ask myself whether I might benefit from relaxing more than just a bit. When I first heard the song, when I was 15 or 16 years old, being worried all the time was sort of my default position. And although the song and some other things made me aware that I was worried all the time and that I should change that, 39 or 40 years later, although I've made some improvement, I still worry too much.

Some time during the 1980's, I was listening to John Peel's BBC programme on US public radio, and quite abruptly, with no warning whatsoever, Peel said that the record he was going to play next was the best of the year, and as quickly as that he played it: a reggae record I'd never heard before and have never heard since, with a refrain where some backup vocalists harmonized with the lead singer in a request for the listener to "Lay your worries down the riverside."

Only heard it once in my life, but it helped as well. Googled "lay your worries down the riverside" just now, in quotes. No diresct hits. Which may well mean that I'm quoting it wrong.

Still helped. It's still helping now.

Relax.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Perfect Watch

My Seiko 5 is pretty darn close to perfect. This is my Seiko 5:


There are many others like it, but this one is mine. (I'm going to keep on telling this joke until somebody gets it.) (I might not even stop then.)

Those of you who saw the earlier photo of my Seiko 5 on this blog, posted about a month ago when I first got the watch, may sense that something has changed. Here is that earlier photo:


Your keen instincts are correct. Something has changed: the nylon strap has been removed.

There's nothing wrong with the wrist strap. It is a good strap, sturdy and beautiful. Unfortunately, it is just barely too small for me to use: it took a great deal of effort for me to fasten the strap around my wrist using the last hole, and when I finally did, it was much too tight. And so I removed it, thinking at first that I would replace it.

But now I don't know whether I will. I prefer pocket watches to wristwatches, and with or without its sturdy, beautiful nylon strap, my Seiko 5 fits comfortable into a variety of my pockets. I haven't actually searched very energetically for a replacement strap. One advantage of not having a strap is that it makes it a little easier to look at the back of the watch. And the back of the watch looks like this:


Pretty cool, huh? I know!

Now, some of you maying be saying: Sure, Steve, yr Seiko 5 is awesome, clearly. But of all the watches in the world, how can you say that it is close to perfect, when we know that you know a little bit about some pretty fancy watches -- Rolexes and Patek Philippes and Audemars Piguets and what not?

Well, one big advantage which my Seiko 5 has over those fancy items is that I have never held a Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet in my hand, and I've only held a Rolex once, because a nice saleslady in a watch shop let me hold it for a moment -- but I didn't hold it long enough for it to make a strong impression. I can hold my Seiko 5 whenever I want to. I held it just now, between typing "[...]strong impression." and "I can[...]" This lends it an immediacy which those other watches, at present, do not have for me. My Seiko 5 makes me very happy. (Can ya tell?)

Nevertheless, I can imagine a watch which would be even more perfect.

Perfect for me. The perfect one for you would be different, and the perfect one for another person would be different again, because we people are all unique.

My perfect watch would be a pocket watch. I said before on this blog that watch manufacturers couldn't make a pocket watch too big and heavy for me. Well, I keep learning more about watches all the time, and I'm pretty sure that they have made some which are too big for me. There's the Patek Philippe Calibre 89, for example, presented to the watch-porn public in 1989. 89 mm wide, 41 mm thick -- roughly the size of a hockey puck -- and well over 2 pounds. It's value has been estimated at around $6 million, but that may be just an abstract estimate, because only 4 were made -- 1 each in yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and platinum -- and it may well be that none of them is actually for sale at any price.

If I ever get to the position where I can afford to spend $6 million on a watch, and it turns out that a Patek Philippe Calibre 89 is for sale, and I get to hold it in my hands, it may turn out that I don't find it too big at all, but just perfect. But trying to imagine it now, it really seems like it would be too big for me to carry around. I don't know if anyone could comfortably carry a pocket watch that big.

Then there's the Audemars Piguet 25701, a large pocket watch, currently made, not an antique, made in various shades of gold. I might find it to be actually too big and heavy as well, I don't know, I'd have to actually hold one to have an idea about that. And as they seem to cost closer to $1 million than $500,000, it may be a while before I have to decide if it's for me.

The absolute perfect watch for me might actually be a rather modestly-sized pocket watch. But I would want as much of it as possible to be made of platinum. Do you seek to know me? Then you must know that I like gold and am daffy about platinum, and that with both metals, heaviness is a lot of the appeal. Platinum is heavier than gold. It's the heaviest material -- or, to be more precise: alloys of platinum are the heaviest materials out of which a watch can be made. Anything heavier would either be brittle or radioactive.

So, my perfect pocket watch might be not remarkably wide, and not remarkably thick, but it would be remarkably heavy because it would be mostly platinum-alloy. And a remarkably heavy platinum chain to go with it would also be perfect.

Next, we come to the movement. It would, of course, be mechanical and not quartz: that is, the watch would be powered by a spring, and not by a battery. Why, and why of course? I don't know how to explain it to you. Maybe someone else could explain it to you. Maybe not. Whether there are actual reasons for it or not, I am one of a whole group of people who are fascinated by mechanical watches, and not interested in quartz watches very much at all.

Watches with mechanical movements, that is: watches powered by springs and not by batteries, fall into 2 categories: automatic and hand-wound. Most mechanical wristwatches made today, from the least expensive to the most expensive, are automatics: you don't have to wind them if you wear them on your wrist all day. The normal movement of your wrist will wind the spring.

But I'm obsessive-compulsive, and obsessive-compulsives will always worry about whether their automatic watches are going to run down even though we know it's irrational to worry about it.

Some automatic watches can be hand-wound. Not the Seiko 5. And I also don't wear my Seiko 5 on my wrist. So there's a certain amount of waving my watch back and forth to keep it wound.

Being obsessive-compulsive, I not only worry that my watch will wind down and stop because I haven't waved it back and forth enough. I also worry that maybe I wave it back and forth much too much, and that the excessive shaking is putting excess wear and tear on my beloved innocent little Seiko 5! (Yes, I just referred to my watch as if it were a living thing, like a pet which can experience enjoyment and suffering. I'm aware that this is not an entirely rational attitude. I'm fine with that. I am who I am.)

Maybe I will learn much more about what is good and bad for a watch such as mine, and maybe I will learn ways to know how tight or loose my watches mainspring is, and what effects may or may not come from always being wound up too tight (insert psychiatric joke here) and so forth.

I am not aware of the existence of any automatic pocket watches. All the ones I know about are either battery-driven, or mechanical hand-wind.

But an obsessive-compulsive person can still experience mental anguish with a manually-wound watch: What if you forgot to wind it today?

There's an answer to that anguish, called the power-reserve indicator. This is a feature on the face of some hand-wound watches (I've never seen one on an automatic) which shows how much time is left until the watch winds down and stops.

What a wonderful feature! I wonder whether it was invented with people in mind who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it definitely is suffering. For whatever reason it was invented, it's as if it was made to order, or made to disorder, for us.

Mechanical watches made today generally will run from 40 to 60 hours or more from fully-wound to stopped. Another way to say that is: they have a power reserve of from 40 to 60 or more hours. One wristwatch I know of has a power reserve of 7 days, another of 31 days and one can run for 50 days between windings, the longest power reserve I've ever heard of.

[PS, 5 February 2017: I just found out about another long-distance runner: the Calibre 947 movement by Jaeger-LeCoultre --


-- has a power reserve of 15 days.]


On my perfect, modestly-sized, platinum pocket watch, I think a power reserve of several days or more would be nice. But it would definitely have to have a power-reserve indicator in order to be perfect.

There are a lot of other things which new fancy mechanical watches often have: stopwatches, second hour hands for the 2nd time zone of your choice, alarms, etc, etc. A new Rolex or Omega may well have many complication which I don't even understand, and I'd have to read the owner's manual and hope that then I'd understand what all that stuff on the watch is. Any function other than just an hour hand, a minute hand and a second hand is called a complication. A power reserve indicator is a complication. I'm not sure whether the indicators of the day of the week and of the day of the month on my Seiko 5 are called a complication or 2 complications.

Other than the power reserve indicator, which I definitely want, I'm really not that crazy about complications. Do I like having the day of the week and of the month on my Seiko 5? Yeah, sure. Would I really miss them if they were gone or if they stopped working? I'm not sure I'd miss them much at all.

However, it's certainly conceivable that as time goes on and I learn more about complications, they will have more appeal for me.

The implication of this, of course, is that the perfect watch for me, or for any person, will change as that person changes.