Saturday, March 9, 2019

Chocolate review: Chocolat Stella Intense Dark Chocolate

Here is a chocolate that we've enjoyed before. I couldn't figure that out at first as the maker changed the box design.

Intense dark chocolate 75% cocoa
Details at the back of the box
Ingredients
Nutrition information
The design changed but the quality didn't. This is still a very good chocolate, which, at 75% cacao, doesn't taste as bitter as that content suggests. It is still smooth and very enjoyable. Definitely a good buy for a dark chocolate.
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

On homemade cheese cupcakes

I mentioned to the Clairvoyant that it seems that we won't be enjoying the cheese cupcakes we used to buy from the now defunct Shoppersville. The last bakeshop was now closed and I never thought my purchase of a box of cupcakes and brownies a couple of weeks before was the last time I would be getting these goodies. It looks like they are closed for good. 

And so the wife took some inspiration from that and after getting bit by the proverbial baking bug, decided to make some cheese cupcakes from scratch. It helped that she has a new mixer and got some 'assistance' from our daughter who had prodded her to make some cupcakes so she can take them to school for her baon.

Checking the cupcakes in the oven includes checking the temperature
The cupcakes were baking just right
Cheese cupcakes fresh from the oven
The cupcakes were great and reminded me of those we got at the old Shoppersville. Now, we know we can make these at home at least from time to time.
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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

On the topic of retirement age

There is a new law that lowered the age of optional retirement to 55. This means people have the option to retire early and get the benefits due them. Prior to this, the law only provides for optional retirement at 60 for government employees. The private sector had different policies or rules according to the company. Thus, different companies may offer many versions of early retirement packages not counting rationalization plans and/or redundancies. But while the typical retirement age in the private sector is 60, companies often provide for extensions given the right conditions or situations. My father actually was given a rather generous extension by his company when he was about to retire at the age of 60. Being a senior manager at the manufacturing plant where he worked, he was even given a promotion - becoming plant superintendent until he finally retired at 65. But that is more an exception that the rule for private companies.

There is one senatorial candidate who says he will push for the extension of the compulsory retirement age to 70 years instead of the current 65. I share this view as from experience, there are many including my own parents who were still very strong and productive after 65. They could have contributed more in terms of their capabilities at that age. However, I also think the workload could be lightened in order to also reduce stress levels. Of course, other benefits may also be provided since senior citizens have different needs compared to younger people. I believe their minds (i.e., wisdom) and experiences can be invaluable to companies or organizations. I know a former High School English teacher of mine who is in her 70s who still works as a consultant for a BPO.

There is also the practical and financial aspects to support this proposal. One friend opined that even for people who had good paying jobs, there is much uncertainty as to whether their retirement pay (i.e., ) will be enough for them to have comfortable living for the rest of their lives. Of course, there are those who probably had good investments during their younger days but these are again more the exceptions than the norm for most Filipinos. Most people only rely on their GSIS or SSS pensions but there are many expenses that need to be considered aside from the typical necessities like food and shelter. There are also expenses related to health like medicines, check-ups and medical procedures. And not everyone own their homes or are in perfect health. And so it makes sense to give more options pertaining to retirement.
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Monday, March 4, 2019

Junghans vintage watch with Cal. 687 movement

My watch collection includes several German brand watches. I have written about the Glashuttes, the Laco, the Anker and the Pallas. This time, I write about another watch that is also quite collectible - Junghans. This is a 17-jewel manual wind watch I acquired only this year.

This watch has a simple dial - no day or date feature. It says Made in Germany at the bottom of the dial.
Side view showing the crown
The other side view. You can notice that the strap had been 'customized' so it would fit the 17mm lugs for this watch. Cutting off part of the leather can be tricky as the strap might become loose if more material than what was intended were removed.
A very clean case back showing the watch to be of stainless steel, shockproof and water-protected. I assume this Junghans was a model intended for the international market as, unlike the Glashutte watches I previously featured, the features are in English (instead of in German).
Here is a wrist shot of the watch
The watch runs on a Junghans Cal. 687 movement running at 18,000 bph with an original power reserve of 45h. This was a photo I took with the old strap still on the watch.
I have worn the watch several times and it runs very well. Each time, it has functioned for more than 40 hours while gaining only a few second over that period. Not bad for a watch that was probably made between 1963-1969, which makes this 50 or more years old.
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Monday, February 25, 2019

King Seiko 5626 7040 Chronometer - BMBY

Today's my day and I write about a watch that has much sentimental value to me is one that I only recently acquired. It is a watch from my BMBY or birth-month-birth-year. I had thought previously that The Watch was supposed to be a Seiko slide rule model but then I was a bit lucky to have found this King Seiko.

The watch is a certified chronometer with a date and Kanji & English day feature
This features a hi-beat movement, which is 28,800 bph and the model numbers on the back match the model numbers at the bottom of the dial.
Case back showing the serial number and model number as well as the correct medallion for this model.
Signed crown
Another view of the dial and the baton hands
Here's yet another view featuring the signed crown
The watch came without a strap but I had already prepared for this with a handmade leather strap I had made by an excellent leathersmith I met online. I also have a Hirsch strap for this watch.

The watch's day feature wasn't working when I got it. And so I brought the watch to my suking watch repairman who cleaned the movement and fixed the day feature. It's now fully functional and keeps accurate time. Though I want to wear it more often, I've managed to make it part of a rotation that allows me to care for my favorites in my collection. That way, I am able to reduce the wear from using the watch so often. If this were something like a baseball or basketball game, the rotation of 5 would probably be this watch, my moon watch, the Futurematic, my favorite Kinetic and the Ocean Star. Honorable mentions would be my other hi-beat KS, my JR railway watch and the Landmaster. :)
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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Jaeger Le Coultre Futurematic vintage watch

Here's an example where the opportunity presented itself and I grabbed it without hesitation. Those were the circumstances for my finally acquiring this very interesting vintage watch from the 1950s with an in-house Cal. 497 bumper automatic movement. It is a Jaeger LeCoultre Futurematic, one of the most sophisticated self-winding (i.e., automatic) watches made from that time and perhaps even to the present.

Elegant dial on this watch showing the power reserve indicator and a sub-second dial, and bull head lugs
Side view showing there's no crown where there is usually in other watches
The other side view also showing no crown here, too
The watch's back with the crown cleverly located here - one of the innovations for this watch model
Close-up of the flat crown located at the back whose function is only for adjusting the time.
The watch the first time I wore it on my wrist
It is an everyday watch for me but because I also have to care for it (its more than 60 years old), I wear it on special occasions or whenever I want to. :)

The movement runs at 18,000 bph with an original power reserve of 40h. It runs well and keeps time. Not bad for a luxury watch produced sometime between 1951-1958. I will have to bring it for maintenance soon but I'm bracing myself for the cost considering these watches with their in-house movements cannot be brought for routine maintenance just anywhere including our "suking" watchsmith whom I entrust with other watches in my collection. I guess that's a price I have to pay for this not so inexpensive hobby.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Certina 288 Certi-date automatic vintage watch

My collection of Swatch group watches includes this automatic from Certina. The brand has many interesting current models I've seen in shops including chronographs that I've inspected up close (was really curious about them). I was tempted to get a new one but I was also aware that there are really good vintage Certinas out there so I waited for the opportunity to get one. As luck would have it, I got this 288 with a black dial, date feature and a distinctive blue second hand.

The watch head after I removed the leather strap it came with
This is what appears to be the serial numbers that survived what also appears as a buffed/polished back
Side view showing the signed crown
The watch after I fitted it with a new leather strap
The watch on my wrist the first time I used it
The movement is a cal. 25-681 running at 28,000 bph with an original reserve of 42 hours
I only wear the watch on some occasions as it is more a casual watch for me. I am also thinking about letting go of this watch if the conditions (i.e., price) are right. I already asked friends to post it in their online shop to see if someone's willing to pay for it. Apparently, there isn't much appreciation for this watch. Here's what I've found on the internet about this watch: Certina 288 - The high-beat rarity

I like the watch design and probably will keep it for a while...
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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Okuya Japanese Restaurant, Naga City

Arriving Naga after quite a long drive, we had a good lunch at Red Platter, and then proceeded to check-in at a hotel. Afterwards, we proceeded to meet with our contacts there and brief the people who would be conducting field work with us. Still quite tired from the travel and wanting to have an earlier dinner, we decided to go to a Japanese restaurant we spotted while making our way to our hotel. We wanted to have some comfort food before we called it a day and Okuya presented us with our favorite in the form Japanese food.

Entrance to the restaurant
Salmon sashimi is among those we regard as comfort food
They have a lot of items on their menu including bento sets and other combos
Restaurant interiors - clean, orderly, well lighted
Chicken teriyaki box
Tempura
Yasai itame
Their version of shoyu ramen
Tuna maki
The food at Okuya was okay. We thought the quality and presentation was generally at par with the Japanese restaurants we usually eat at around UP. The ramen though was average so perhaps that's one item that you're better off with the better known ramen restos. The sashimi, teriyaki, maki and tempura were enjoyable. The service was also very good and the prices didn't hurt so there's value for money here.
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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Red Platter, Naga City

We were quite picky in the restaurants where we ate at while in Naga City. We opted to consult with Trip Advisor for recommendations and found a top ten list we could refer to. Our first meal in Naga was lunch at Red Platter. My friends ate there a couple of weeks back and recommended the place.

Impressive display upon entering the restaurant
Interesting motto on display at the restaurant
There's ample space for people waiting to be seated
Decor in one of the dining area
Lamps dangling from the sun roof
The tables are easily reconfigurable for large group
We were so hungry after the long drive from Manila (though we did have a breakfast stop in Plaridel, Quezon) that we forgot to take photos of the food we ordered and ate. Needless to say, the food was good so we definitely enjoyed that part. We observed that the restaurant can get crowded as it is popular in the area. It took some time before we were seated but the service was efficient as they were able to take our orders as we waited for our table. The food was served almost as soon as we were seated. Red Platter is highly recommended.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Chocolate review: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks

I discovered that we had a pack of these dark chocolate covered orange sticks and we decided to open it to see how its tastes. "Sticks" doesn't really describe them as these are as chewy as gummy bears.

Dark chocolate orange sticks from Trader Joe's
Nutrition information at the back
Chocolate-covered chewables
We thought that these chocolate covered jelly sticks were okay but not as enjoyable to eat as what they look like. I'm not even sure if these are supposed to be snacks or dessert. Other people including children probably will like this but I will pass the next time I see these on the supermarket shelf.
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