Sunday, 9 March 2014

What's new? What's shakin'?


The introvert in me makes it almost impossible for me to participate in small talk with people. I just can't talk about the weather and the state of politics for half an hour. 

So, when I meet someone I haven't seen in a while, I usually say "Hey, what's new? What's happening in your world?

It is because I genuinely want to know, rather than to fulfil the need to make small talk. 

Hence my title to this blogpost. Since I haven't posted in a while, here's what's new; in "things", and "things that are happening", because sometimes the two are related. These are the things I'm currently reading, studying, watching, planning to do, and otherwise enjoying!

So above, from top left to bottom right, here goes....

1. The Dirt 100; the ultimate Mountain Bike products of 2014. Having an acceptable level of physical fitness is really important to me. I have young kids and I want to be around to see 'em grow up. I really got into cycling in 2007 as a way to keep my fitness up. I rode 45 km a day. I really got absorbed in it; the whole shebang, except Mountain bikes. (Sydney was the perfect place to have a road bike because of the fantastic network of new, smooth bike paths near Rouse Hill, where I lived). Now that I live in Ballarat, riding on the road is really dangerous, due to the state of the roads (and poor weather six to eight months of the year). It only takes one inattentive fool to kill you on a road bike. The bike paths here are good, but dirt, and not suited to a nice shiny carbon fibre road bike with tyres that are inflated to 120psi. We also live 600 metres away from an amazing Mountain Bike Park, so I'm looking at a (Canadian) Norco Fluid trail bike or a Giant Glory 2 if I'm going the full downhill insanity.

2. Canon AE-1 Body from about 1978. I love old cameras. I have a bucket list of cameras to buy and keep hold of, which will be the subject of another post. I picked this one up at the Ballarat Swap Meet a couple of weeks ago.

3. Central Tokyo Map. We are going again, in 49 days! We were there for a family trip late last year, and we vowed to go back. This time, my wife and I are going for our 23rd wedding anniversary. I can't wait!! 

4. Japanese Phrasebook. I need all of the help I can get.

5. Citizen Eco-Drive watch in black chrome. I love watches. I have never really had the chance to wear a good one, because, like sunglasses, they always get smashed or lost. When I fitted tyres for a living, many years ago, I had really cheap dull plastic watches from K-mart. In my earlier years in the military, particularly when I was in an Expeditionary Squadron, (i.e. never home and sleeping next to an airstrip, or in a hole in the ground with a sub-machine gun), having a shiny watch just wasn't practical. Or good for your survival. This Citizen is just fantastic. Solar powered quartz movement. Relatively light, but feels like a quality watch. Purchased in Shibuya, Tokyo.

6. Seiko stainless steel watch. As per above, I've always wanted a good watch that I can wear every day, without worrying about it too much. I hate cheesy (gold) watches and wanted a classic, conservative style. Enter the nice, safe Seiko. Purchased in Nagano, Japan. (Winter Olympics city).

7. The Idiot Factor, by Larry Winget. "The 10 ways we sabotage our life, money, and business". 

This guy is abrasive, offensive to some, but right on the money. My favourite lines: 

"People spend millions of dollars a year on Psychics. Come on people.......psychics!!!!!" 

Here's the clincher: "seven per cent of society believes that Elvis is still alive." Yep, people are indeed idiots". 

Ha! I love this book (And yes, he DOES offer solutions, not just criticise)...

8. Superself; doubling your personal effectiveness, by Charles J. Givens. I've had this book for about 20 years and I re-read it every year. It gives me the perfect "kick along" that I need. It also gives me a lot of helpful habits to live by. If you take heed of this book, you will have the best goal list imaginable. On a practical front, you will never run out of fuel in your car. You will never lose a key, answer a ringing home phone, or be unnecessarily interrupted again. You will also question how you spend money vs time on stuff you hate doing.

9. SEAF Standard Magazine. Japan has incredible magazines. They are incredibly specialised (focused on specific subjects). In Japan, newsagents are packed three people deep around all of the magazine stands. They love their magazines!

Their magazines are extremely detailed and of very high quality. This is no exception. It categorises a man's collection of cool vintage treasures in his shop, near the (albeit fictitious) SEtagaya Air Force (SEAF) base. 

10. Nikon D7100 Digital SLR body. My wife's little Nikon D3100's SD memory card holder gave up the ghost a short time ago, after taking thousands of product shots (resulting in thousands of sales) for her online stores. Time to upgrade. The larger, heavier, high-end enthusiast body has dual SD card ports, 24 megapixel sensor, usable low light capability to  ISO 6400, and full HD video. It's the undisputed best cropped-sensor camera on the market at present.

11. Nikkor 50mm f1.8D lens. Our most used lenses are a 50mm f1.8G and a 35mm f1.8G. The new lens goes nicely on the body listed above. Light, small, inexpensive. Best bang for the buck, so to speak.

12.Nikon FT1 Lens adapter. This little (outrageously expensive, but brilliant) gadget allows me to use my larger DX DSLR lenses on my smaller Nikon 1 body, retaining full autofocus and light readings. I haven't used it to its full capacity yet, as it creates a crop factor of 1.7 (in plain English, it means that a 50mm DSLR lens attached to the little Nikon 1 body becomes a longish- 85 mm lens equivalent (50 times 1.7 = 85). 

13.High Fidelity Blu-Ray starring John Cusack and Jack Black. I simply love this film. The music, the actors, the "top five" lists for everything,  the incredible Saab 900i convertible driven by Cusack's love interest, etc. 

And...... who hasn't dreamed of owning a vintage vinyl record store?

14. Sony 1 TB hard drive. I realised I had 28,000 photos on my laptop, all of which my wife and I took over the past couple of years. They were later safely stored on this lovely hard drive.

15. Car keys. We take our cars pretty seriously. Folks, this blog isn't meant to come across as some bragfest thing, but we had a a pretty special year in 2013, hit a few goals and had some good things happen, and didn't want to remember it as "the year we bought a Hyundai i30 and had a trip to Dubbo". (Sorry, Dubbo!)

Oh, the CAR KEYS. Look out for a full road test for my wife's new Mercedes coming up. This little thing is a pocket rocket when it needs to be.

16. Vintage "Kershaw" leather case for compact camera. I love old bags and satchels, particularly leather ones. I also collect vintage leather jackets, my favourite being a vintage Camel Cigarettes pilot's jacket from the 1960's. 

This case though, fits my small backup camera, a Nikon P7100, really well. The case is made in England and is from about the 1940's. Purchased in Daylesford, Victora on one of our regular scavenging trips.....

So, that's all for now. What's coming up in your life? What are you looking forward to? 

One of my favourite (related) quotes is from the film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off": 

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Till next time, happy hunting! Plan (and have) great adventures!