A Dream Of Spring

•3 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a dream, then:

April 2017: Head up to Kingfield. Finish studying for, & take, the GMATs. Hope that the world melts enough to do some practice hiking. Spend a week in Seville (!) visiting Cousin Abigail (!!!).

May – July 2017: Start my flip-flop. Head to Harper’s Ferry and start hiking north. Hope to hit Katahdin by the last day of July.

August 2017: Come home. Perform Rosalba’s wedding. Submit my bschool applications. Hike the Long Trail.

September 2017: Perform Zach and Mary’s wedding. Take the shuttle back to Harper’s and start hiking south.

November 2017: Hear back from bschools. Head to Auckland and start hiking south on Te Araroe.

April 2018: Finish the TA. Fly home by means of Bangkok. Spend a week relaxing. Head to Sukumvhit and have a bespoke suit tailored. Fly to San Diego and start the PCT nobo.

May-August 2018: Hike as much of the PCT as God allows.

September 2018: Start business school – with a good suit.

Watch-dream

•3 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

Two watches. One for each wrist. Both based around the 5711/1A-010 (blue Naut).

Watch on left: central hours, minutes, seconds. crown on right. pushers on left force an indexing travel time hand, as the 5990/1A-001.

Watch on right: no time. crown on left. pushers on right drive a central chronograph, displayed by central hands for hour, minute, and second. rattrapante.

Watch-dream

•25 March 2017 • Leave a Comment

Central hours, minutes, seconds. Day, date, month, and year, in apertures. And a sector dial, because, sector dial. patek-annual-ideal-2-e1490453841254.jpg

Sevilla

•21 March 2017 • Leave a Comment
I will be leaving from Boston the evening of the 27th of April, arriving in Madrid the morning of the 28th. I will then be in Madrid until the 2nd (unless I take a day trip to Salamanca or Toledo.)
Then I will take a 2 hour train ride to Seville (perhaps stopping at Cordoba on the way down). I will then be in Seville until the 7th.
I will then take the train back to Madrid (probably stopping at Grenada on the way back), and then will fly home to Boston on May 8th.

Eine Kleine Uhrmusik

•6 March 2017 • Leave a Comment

A few months ago I began learning about wristwatches. (My interest was one part professional, one part natural, and fourteen parts post-surgical analgesics.)

I’m pleased to say that I now have a sound understanding of What’s Out There in the watchworld. I’m also pleased to say that I have rather exhausted my interest in the topic. It is always nice to descend, locust-like, upon a new subject; explore it; enjoy it; and burn it out. It does not do to linger. To be a dilettante of one thing is to have a little hobby and be a little man; but to be a dilettante of all things is to be alive.

But at the end of my time with the subject, something occurs to me: I don’t know what watch I want.

There are thousands upon thousands of wristwatches. But they offer more than just aesthetic variety. They have different functions – not just mechanical functions, but uses to a person. They say different things. And I’m not entirely sure what I want to say.

And that is because I don’t know what I want to be.

For example: if I was to be a businessman, I expect I would want something that is masculine, expensive, and goes well with a suit or a polo shirt. A sport-watch, maybe a diver. Probably in steel. A Subby or a Speedy if we’re being classical; a Polar Explorer or a PAM560, a little more interesting; a Ploprof or a Naut or a Bremont-WT, unconventional but still appropriate. Whereas if I was to be a lawyer I might want something simpler, dressier. Maybe something halfway between sport and dress, like a sector-dial JLC Master Control or Calatrava; or a sportier watch with a gold touch, like a Breguet Marine (5827) or a Sedna Speedy; or a pure archaism, like a Senator Chronometer or Cornes de Vache. And if I was  going into tech, I might want something simpler, like a Sinn or Stowa; or something far more complicated, like a Portugieser Perpetual or a tourbillon. And if I was going to Hollywood I expect I would want to stand out in my fashion, and would get a Snowtrooper or a Panerai LAB-ID.

Whereas, at the moment, I would be very happy to take up any of these careers. I am an ambitious and capable man, and I am unemployed as the day is long. This is not a situation to which I would like to match a wristwatch – any more than I’d like to determine what wine to pair with a Big Mac and pack of Camels.

It is hard even for me to dream. Because if I got my foot in the door at a white-shoe law firm, I expect that I should be very happy to spend the next forty years of my life at the law. And if I got my foot in the door in an investment bank, I would absolutely relish the opportunity to earn my weight in gold. And if I could join a startup I would work eighty hours a week, week in, week out, to make my fortune and that of those around me.  I know which of these I would prefer – but at this point, if one presents itself, then that is the one I shall take – shall fucking pounce on.

As a result, until my life has a bit more direction, I shall have to content myself with the knowledge that the world offers great lives and great things to complement them. And hopefully I will find one for myself. Hopefully – for the love of God.

The New Baroque

•24 February 2017 • Leave a Comment

There is a place in Cambridge with the pants-soilingly awful name “Danger!Awesome.” It bills itself as a 3D printer. You bring in a design, you pay them some money, they 3D print your design. You come back and they hand you a Thing.

There is a makerspace in Cambridge called Artisan’s Asylum. It contains innumerable tools and pieces of machinery. But a lot of its clientele are just interested in 3D printing. This means that they pay the Asylum some money, they bring in a design, they 3D print their design. The only difference is that they press their own button on the machine that hands them a Thing.

Calling that “making” is not just reminiscent of a Jetson’s joke: it IS a Jetson’s joke. (Pretty much THE Jetson’s joke, come to think.)

To be fair, some of the handmaking people do is archaic past utility. It’s a Flinstone’s joke, it isn’t really my scene either. But at least if you’re using a hand-lathe and a pterodactyl as your tools, you can legitimately call that Making. Whereas if you’re pressing a button, you can still use the thing that’s produced, but it isn’t Making. It’s just Receiving. There’s no You involved in the process at all.

However, this brings up what I think is an interesting question: in the days of mass-production and technology-assisted (or completed!) manufacturing, is there a place for handmaking outside of the baroque?

By “baroque” I mean “adornment for its own sake.” I mean the aesthetic of taking something that accomplishes its purpose and then adding shit to it for the sake of adding shit. To take something simple and make it more complicated solely for the sake of aesthetics – which is to say, by and large, to show off the skill or effort that was put into it.

In the 1700s, raisin cake was the most popular cake in America. This is because the other fruit cakes just required fruit, whereas a raisin cake required that the baker also dry the fruit beforehand. The only reason it was popular was because it was harder.

Or take another watch example. This little thing from a little manufacture made such a splash as Baselworld that other producers have started aping it. However, it is purely cosmetic. It’s like studding the watch with diamonds, except we now live in a world where diamonds are fairly common and certainly easy to bedazzle onto anything, whereas this kind of engraving shows time and skill. I honestly think it’s lovely, but I’m also aware that if it isn’t Raisin Cake, it is well on its way.

If technology has obviated the utility of many traditional forms of making, then the proper attitude for makers is either A) to do those things that technology cannot, or B) to find new things to do, that our forebears could not have dreampt of.

There is plenty of A-space left. A lot of watchmakers (my weird interest of the last few months) have rejected mechanical processes for some of the steps of construction, having compared it with human labor and found the mechanical labor to be inferior. As far as B-space, there is infinity to discover – and I will say that it won’t be discovered by a person whose only experience with materials is to press a button and receive them. No more than a robot doctor will ever discover a new surgical technique.

Sleeping System

•23 February 2017 • Leave a Comment

My lease has almost run. Having a little money in my purse, but fuckall to interest me in this bit of land called Portland, it looks like I will soon be closing up shop and moving on.

I am currently preparing my application to business schools. I want to be a businessman (or a business lawyer, wherein the difference is trivial). To spend two years learning the best ways to be that, would seem to me the best possible use of my time. Moreover, I want to be surrounded by people of abilities and ambitions meet with my own. It sounds about like paradise – probably more than an MBA program should – but I think I’m okay with that.

The difficulty, here, is that I will not be able to apply to schools until early September. I won’t find out if I’ve been made a good offer until November, maybe December. And I won’t be able to start the program until the following September. As such, I quite likely have eighteen months between Now and Starting School.

I am still casting about for gainful employ. But the impending loss of my lease is an excellent time to cut bait. I then have eighteen months to do… nigh-on whatever I want. Ah, that old brass ring!

Having considered the matter at great length, I have decided that I would like to do a little hiking.

I will be taking the month of April to see if that is feasible – I am out of shape in general, and just coming off of two ACL surgeries in specific. If it is, my plan is to put boots on the AT starting May 1st. If I start at Harper’s Ferry (the halfway point) and head north, I could well reach Katahdin by the end of July. I will then come home, submit my bschool applications, and go from there.

If hiking doesn’t prove feasible, I will try another bicycle tour – it is easier on the knees than mountaineering. Hopefully at least one of these options will be available to me.

Now, I have already done a little hiking, and a little camping, though not much. Consequentially I have a little gear. The only major purchases I will need to make relate to my sleep system.

The big questions before me will be:

Do I want to sleep in a hammock, or in a tent?
Do I want to sleep in a mummy sleeping bag, or a quilt sleeping bag (or two)?
Let’s take the first question: hammock or tent. Fortunately, I own both a teeny little solo tent, and an “adventure hammock” with a bugnet and tarp. I’ve overnighted in both and they’re both lovely.

My tent weighs 1247 grams, including the rain fly. My hammock weighs 992 grams, but 567 for its rain tarp – total 1559 grams. However, with the tent, I’d also have to carry a mattress pad. That’s 341 grams, for a total of 1588. IE, they weigh exactly the same.

If I go with a tent, I will be able to buy a quilt or a mummy sleeping bag. The use of a pad means that a quilt is probably preferable. To wit:

Quilts are more versatile, as you can cinch them tight against the cold or lay them open like a blanket when it’s warmer. In a mummy, you’re either hot or your not. Also, with a quilt, you are never sleeping on top of the down – compressing it, making it both less functional and also drastically reducing its lifespan.

If I go with a hammock, I will not have a pad beneath me. That means I will either need a mummy sleeping bag, and the hammock magnifies the strikes against them. OR I will need two quilts, one to wrap around the outside of the hammock, and one to go over me. Now, this sounds positively nestly to me – but the only thing worse than spending $300 on a down quilt is having to do it twice. (And then having to carry both of them – an extra pound of pack weight!)

As a result, it sounds more and more like I’ll be choosing to use a tent-based sleeping system, along with my trusty NeoAir pad and a down quilt. I sleep warm (I’ve done 29F nights in a 45F bag), so I expect I’ll be quite fine with a 30F quilt. The ZPacks 30F (regular length and width) weighs a mere 473 grams; the Katabatic Elite is about 2oz heavier but the down is treated to be water resistant. I’m sure there are other models to consider, too.

But during the month of April, I will be trying out both my hammock and my tent to see if there is a mote of personal preference which might push me in one direction or the other. I have a generously rated 15F bag that should suffice. I also have a synthetic 45F bag for lashing to the outside of the hammock, to see how that goes.

I’m in no hurry.

 
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