My Dream Watch: The Omega Speedmaster Alaska Project

I’d like to consider myself a watch enthusiast even though I don’t have the funds to support such a hobby. My very modest collection has a few mechanical watches, an apple watch, and a classic Movado (I know the stigma but I love their design). But the watch I really want is an Omega Speedmaster, the moon watch. I like to think of watches as a practical instrument and space is my profession. I guess in a certain way I work in the space industry. There’s a scuffed up example of a speedmaster I’m eyeing right now but I’d love to tell you you about the speedmaster in the featured image, the Alaska Project. It was designed to work on the moon and that bright red case was to insulate it from the harsh temperatures of space. I have a very slender wrist but I would wear that full case, what an amazing talking point.

Also on my list and at a much more attainable price point is the Omega Commander’s Seamaster. Wait that’s not a speedmaster you say? Actually speedmasters were all originally part of the seamaster line. I guess I’ll have to take up yachting if I get this watch. Most importantly though, it’s James Bond’s watch; he’s my idol.

Honorary mention is a digital speedmaster. It looks like a Casio! Imagine telling people you have a speedmaster and pulling this thing out. I think these may be oddly collectable.

My Favorite LA Restaurants

I never recommend that anyone visit LA without a local guide. The tourist attractions are disgusting but the city is just filled with amazing places scattered here and there. Listed are a few of my favorite restaurants. While LA doesn’t really have a “local delicacy” like Nashville hot chicken or Texas BBQ, it has the largest diversity of amazing food. One can easily find world class anything in LA.

The Favorites

Sugarfish ($$$)

This is my favorite restaurant. You can find this sushi spot scattered around in LA and NYC. They don’t take reservations. It’s normally served omakase but you can order a la carte too. I recommend trying the omakase trust me menu at least once. My favorite item is the albacore. I can’t find a place that serves albacore the same way, it’s delicious.

Rock Sugar ($$$)

Whenever someone asks me for food from “my culture” I take them here. It’s a very modern interpretation of SE Asian food. My favorite item is the beef skewers. My favorite thing to do is eat all of the appetizers and skip a main course. The service is excellent, they are attentive and even give you warm towels after you finish finger foods. If you want Pho, don’t get it here. Go to Little Saigon where all the Vietnamese people live.

CoCo IchiBanya ($$)

A Japanese curry chain that’s made its way over to California from Japan. I love the chicken curry cutlet with omelet. They don’t mess around with the spice either.

Wurstkuche ($$)

Great place to hangout in the Art’s district. They have sausages for a snack and an amazing tap room. All of the beers are matched to their own unique glass. Get drunk then go walk to the nearby art galleries!

Bottega Louie ($$$)

The famous macaroon place from Paris. Those little cookies aren’t cheap but they are so good. It really must be difficult to perfect that texture. It’s a nice place to sit down while waiting for Sugarfish to call your reservation or while shopping on rodeo.

Salt n Straw ($)

I’m not too big into ice cream but this is the unanimous favorite among my family. My favorite flavor is Honey Lavender.

La Colombe ($)

More popular on the east coast, these have started springing up in LA. My favorite coffee, the Oatmilk Draft Latte. Feels like you’re drinking a coffee flavored cloud.

Nobu ($$$$)

So famous they rap about this place. A celebrity hot spot for sushi with stunning views. I haven’t had the chance to visit the one specifically in Malibu but they’re supposed to be consistent no matter which location you visit. You must call for a reservation or you will not get a seat. You can find these in high end neighborhoods around the world.

Original Ave 26 Tacos ($)

Of course you want some tacos while visiting California right? Well if you aren’t visiting El Gordos in San Diego, try this LA fav. It has three locations all not on 26th (update: the Lincoln Heights location has closed down, they don’t update their website). The most convenient location is at 816 W 8th, this location closes early though so go for lunch.

Honorary Mentions

Ajisen Ramen ($$)

My favorite ramen place. I get the ABC ramen. It’s a chain so you should be able to find these around. Honorary mention to runner up, Shin Sen Gumi which allows for noodle refills and is a great value!

Marugame ($)

Udon served cafeteria style.

Castle BBQ ($)

If for some reason they don’t have all you can eat KBBQ where you’re from, try it. I can eat pounds of brisket with brisket sauce, salt, and oil. Maybe a radish to cleanse the palate here and there.

Omomo ($)

My favorite boba place! The drinks are so creamy and yummy.

Unhealthy LA Traditions

Original Tommy’s ($)

Best chain of chili burger and chili fries.

Pinks ($)

LA famous hot dog place. Yes, the hot dog snaps when you bite into it.

Howlin Rays ($$)

Nashville hot chicken that would give Nashville a run for their money.

Actually Running in Hypebeast Techwear Shoes

A while back someone at the gym stole my vaporflys and I was so bummed out I didn’t even want to go to the gym. Since not going to the gym was bad for my health I figured I’d solve this problem as quick as possible by walking into the Nike store and picking out whatever caught my eye. By coincidence I found the Nike Air VaporMax Utility Triple Black. They were listed on the Nike website as running shoes though at over $200 retail I think they were targeted a bit differently than trainers. I’d say these shoes were primarily for the techwear fashion enthusiasts but you know they had a nice new midsole and others in the line were clearly meant for running so I bought them… to run in. Not like casual running, these were my only training shoes for a while.

I mainly liked how the shoes fit in with my athletic outfits. I went to the gym on campus I wouldn’t have to bring a set of training shoes and a set of nice shoes for class. I’d love to style these with an acronym cp4-ws cape one day but that’s out of my budget range for now. My main complaint is the squeak. My friend commented “you’re not gonna sneak up on anyone with those shoes”. The vapormax soles squeak, especially on that you commonly find at schools and hospitals. Other reviewers said this went away but after years of ownership I can confidently say the squeak does not go away.

Enough of that though, I said I trained in them and I did. How were they to run in? It was fine. It felt like a high unstable platform at times. The flyknit held my foot well and I didn’t feel like I needed laces. That fastener lace they had on there does nothing. However, some days I’d get roped into playing sports with them on and this is where the real criticism lies, the shoe cannot handle any horizontal force. I think I was playing soccer and needed to change direction quickly. The shoe basically rolled around my foot like a sock so that the sole was completely on the side and I was stepping on only flyknit. The shoe survived that, more than once too.

After a years of use the shoe has faded and the flyknit has a small hole on the high top collar from me pulling the shoe on. Make sure to use the straps to pull flyknit shoes on or you’ll repeat my mistake.

Shoe was fashionable for everyday wear, acceptable to run in, and terrible for sports.

Comparing Three Doc Martens

I love Doc Marten Boots and I’m not sure why. They’re not particularly comfortable, practical, or honestly even that good looking. Somehow though I’ve still managed to accumulate three different pairs from different lines within the brand. They’re laughing all the way to the bank even with my criticisms.

My first pair was a 1460 in cherry red. Holy crap it was tough to break in. I remember I’d put folded paper in my socks to keep them from rubbing my heels raw. I wore them everyday for months and it eventually yielded to my determination. The leather feels authentic and over the years the boot has been scuffed up from motorcycle rides and late nights. I’ve never worried about this boot falling apart, it feels sturdy.

My second pair was a set of black Cartors. I found them at Nordstrom Rack for half the cost of my 1460s. From afar they look like the classic black docs but picking them up I could tell that there was something not right about them. I think my main complaint is that they’re synthetic leather and thus have a much softer feel and a different shine than the 1460s. These did not require any break in. They’re acceptable to wear if my outfit requires black boots but if these were my first docs, I would not have been impressed.

My third and hopefully last pair is a set of Chelseas, mono black so that I can wear them with my service dress if I want. I had been on the hunt for Chelsea boots for a while but none really caught my eye like the Docs. So after a putting it off as a maybe for a year I ended up buying it. They’re not too comfortable to walk in but my main complaint is the insole. It is cardboard. It’s hard to get a picture because it has some fake black cover they have over the heel of the insole. I thought it was some packaging material I had missed the first time I wore it. When you walk it feels like your socks are slipping around on dense cardboard inside. For $150, I don’t think this the quality one pays for. I gave them a shot though, maybe the cardboard becomes like memory foam after a while. I’ve worn them about 10 times. Still not pleased with the insole.

Overall I’d say get the 1460s, they’re the classic look, and be ready to break ’em in. They also have a vintage “made in England” line for $230 but I think Docs are quite pricey as is so I won’t be trying those any time soon.

The Harvard Class Ring

Everyone knows about that massive brass rat the MIT students wear. Does Harvard have something similar? Harvard class rings aren’t as universal as the brass rat is to MIT but they are around. Harvard class rings are almost universally signet rings; however, there is no “official” ring. It seems there are competing efforts between the Coop and the Harvard Shop for class rings. Our student run newspaper, the Crimson, had an article picturing the Balfour ring advertised by the Harvard Shop. The Coop, Harvard’s bookstore and the providers of Harvard regalia advertise the rings from Herff Jones. Lastly M. La Hart & Co seems to have a licensed ring. I went with the one from Balfour because I personally prefer the look, I think their signet ring looks more classic. The Balfour ring also seems relatively cheaper.

Why do I want a class ring? Well firstly I think signet rings are classy but I don’t have a signet of my family crest passed down for generations like others. Secondly, class rings are a military tradition and thus commonly worn at my workplace.

I inquired about their style sizing and included it here for anyone else that needs the info: L – 18mm x 15mm, M – 16mm x 14mm, S – 13mm x 11mm, XS – 12mm x 10mm.

I’m very pleased with the amount of customization allowed. Each side can be customized with the student’s house and school. People commonly engrave class year on the sides as well. Mine has the Extension School’s coat of arms on one side and Kirkland House’s on the other.

The cheapest option with no precious metals is around $400. It took a long time to produce, two months. I upgraded to a rose gold version later and they gave me a large discount for turning in my original ring.

Moncler Swiss Ski School Jacket

My latest ebay find is a Moncler Swiss Ski School Jacket! Moving to Colorado has been a great excuse to buy a new snow jacket. In college I wore Patagonia but I’ve been meaning to step it up for a while. I think I could fit in with my Harvard classmates wearing a Canada Goose but trying them on I wasn’t too impressed. Canada Goose kinda strikes me like LV does today. It’s a luxury brand but a really mainstream one at the moment. The top of this luxury winterwear food chain though is probably Moncler, a designer brand much more focused on designer fashion today rather than their expeditions of old. In the featured picture is Moncler CEO Remo Ruffini with ski instructors wearing the jacket. Ruffini is credited with transforming Moncler from a practical brand to a designer brand.

I didn’t give much thought to Moncler since they were out of my price range but shopping on Rodeo I wandered into their boutique. The quality, warmth, and lightness of their jackets immediately impressed my friends and I. It was a clear step up from Canada Goose, the fill was thicker but the jacket still felt lighter. I was truly close to purchasing a $1700 Kander ski jacket that day. Finding a perfect fit in a boutique is rare and usually I have to hunt down luxury items I want by traveling to multiple stores. The Moncler on Rodeo only had one Kander in my size. I didn’t buy it, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

So after a month in downtown Denver I’ve seen snow twice, bought my lift pass for the season, and bought new bindings for my snowboard. Shoutout to Arbor and Stoked Ride Shop for the pro discount! Last up is a new outfit for the season. 

I found this listing on ebay, it’s a jacket that used to be worn by ski instructors at the swiss ski school, probably about 7 years ago? The featured image is from a 2013 article and looking at their YouTube it doesn’t seem like the swiss ski school uniforms look like this anymore. I’ve got myself another vintage item.

I love the idea of taking a ski vacation to the alps, though I haven’t had the chance to do it myself. The jacket embodies the trans-Atlantic mood I’m going for. Now I’ll fit right in at Vail, the most expensive ski resort in the nation from what I’ve heard.

Buying a Cheap Mansion

I’m in the market for a house this year and being from California I may have an odd view of how much a house is supposed to cost. So it got me thinking, what’s the worst housing market and how far could I stretch my money if I chose to live there? After all, I lived in a tiny town of one square mile for a year and that wasn’t so bad.

That’s when I found this 9000 square foot 7 bed 7.5 bath mansion in Dayton, Ohio for 300 grand. You couldn’t buy a shack in my hometown for 300 grand and here’s a literal mansion. That featured image is actually the back of the home, the front of the home is a roundabout driveway.

Now I don’t know much about Ohio except that people are anxious to leave. I’ve also heard that they don’t like California. Honestly, I couldn’t even point to Ohio on a map what’s with this one sided hatred?

Dayton is also home to a pretty famous Air Force base, Wright-Patterson and the Air Force’s graduate school, AFIT. It’s not so far out of the question that I could get a job on base and live in a place I could unironically call my “estate”. I could perhaps teach at the local university and spend my summers back in lovely California.

If I could live in a small farming town without issue, I’m sure I could make it here.

A Diploma from Oxford

Like Harvard, Oxford has a continuing education college that awards postgraduate certificates. However they also award postgraduate diplomas which are the same thing but with slightly longer courses. Although looking at the course lengths listed, they don’t look much longer. And a diploma sounds much better than some certificate.

I love the idea of academic regalia. You can see someone’s qualification right on there sleeve down to their degree level and field of study. In the states this is pretty much only worn on graduation day. At Oxford though, there are many more occasions. So can I weasel my way into Oxford reading for a diploma and spend my time in sub fusc or academic gowns? Well it depends…

For some reason not every diploma student is considered a “member of the university”. For example students studying for an organizational leadership diploma are not members but students studying for  the diplomacy diploma are members. Non-members of the college don’t wear sub fusc but according to wikipedia may wear the regalia of their former academic institution, which I would love to do since Harvard’s regalia heritage stems from Oxford but I doubt there would be any events for a non-member student to wear full academic dress. No diploma students attend graduation but member students do attend matriculation in academic dress. There are some accounts of  diploma students wearing academic dress but I’m not sure when they wear it: “It felt like I was living and breathing history. Walking through the hallowed corridors of learning towards lectures, your head held just a little bit higher in anticipation, it never disappointed. Put on the gown, and that Oxford thing becomes even more real.” -Gilke Eeckhoudt, Diploma in Global Business

Taking a close look at the programs I noticed the difference was that the cohort of the Post Graduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies was combined with a cohort of Master’s students in Diplomatic Studies. They seem to be the same cohort with the same application competing for the same slots. The difference? The Master’s course is 3 months longer from 9 months to 12 months… At that point just go for the Masters degree.

Non-member students are also only associate members of their college. Colleges being like houses at Harvard or collages at Yale not like college departments at other US universities. Students of diplomacy get to choose their college being full member students, students of organizational leadership can apply for associate membership of only Pembroke college. I guess the question now is “what are the limitations of associate membership?” Are associate members allowed to compete on their college’s rowing team or live at the college? That’ll be something to ask when I have my GI bill in 6 years and hopefully finish an assignment as a military attaché for that diplomatic qualification.

The Aprila RS 50: My Dream Motorcycle

Here in Colorado, low powered scooters under 50cc pay almost no registration, no insurance, and can be parked on the sidewalk. Now I ride motorcycles so I couldn’t be caught dead in a 50cc scooter… except this one.

The Aprila RS 50 with a 49.7cc displacement and a top speed of 30 mph. Maybe with a sprocket change and full tuck it’ll hit my neighborhood speed limit of 35 mph. The RS50 looks like a “real” motorcycle and it’s also from a respected motorcycle brand unlike those Chinese scooters you see imitating motorcycles. It’s a motorcycle that I could park on my front porch and ride around downtown Denver without looking for parking. Just one problem, they’re rare. The RS50 in the featured image is modern and we don’t get that version in the states. They were only sold in the states from the late 90s to early 2000s. For $2500 one could probably snag a low mileage CBR that would be more reliable and more powerful than this thing but there’s something ridiculous about this motorcycle that makes me love it. If anyone sees one for sale, especially in Colorado, please let me know. I have a weird dream bike.

Is this a Real Vintage Rimowa?

I’ve been obsessed with RIMOWA since I decided on doing that traveling livestyle all those vloggers are into. Rimowas are basically aluminum cases that get dented as you travel. Put a few stickers on there and boom you have a lovely travel patina of sorts. Now-a-days Rimowa sells carry ons and check ins that pretty much match any other except for their distinctive aluminum exterior. You can even buy them without that exterior but I wouldn’t do that, if you can afford a thousand dollar plus carry on bag you can afford the extra weight fee. The new ones are nice and sturdy but that’s not the one I want. Each Rimowa boutique has a display with a donated vintage Rimowa suticase, not for sale, I asked. The look of the suitcase appealed to me much more than the bulky modern ones with wheels and extendable handles (convenient as they may be). So I took to ebay.

That’s when I found this. A 1970s-ish? Vintage Rimowa suitcase for $300 with shipping. For those of you that know Rimowa, that’s actually pretty cheap! And it’s in good condition. Now for the question you always have to ask with luxury items on ebay: is this real?

Well I contacted Rimowa and they told me they don’t authenticate suitcases. I then asked them for an archive I could perhaps look this model up in, they told me they didn’t have one. Rimowa if you’re reading this I know you have a $100 book for sale with photos of old Rimowas don’t tell me you don’t have an archive.

So it was up to me. I took a real close look at the logo, it’s consistent with their older design. The handle looked familiar, it was the same handle as a background on their website (the featured image of this post). But that wasn’t good enough. So I took to their instagram and scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled until…

Ah hah! I think? They have the same blue lines around the side and the same latch locks. The center lock of the center suitcase is off. So close to a perfect match. Would it really be out of the question for a company to change lock designs over a decade though? Did Rimowa ever use this lock? Well I googled vintage Rimowas and scrolled… and scrolled and scrolled… no really this took hours… until…

A match on the lock! A post from another blogger looking through a Rimowa exhibition. Though the ebay Rimowa doesn’t have that handle or that exterior.

So either someone frankensteined a fake Rimowa by looking up very obscure pictures of real vintage Rimowas or this Rimowa was made before the handle update and after the lock update.

I pulled the trigger and bought it. The seller said it came from the 80s but I think it was from the 60-70s when they had the old handle. Fittingly the suitcase also made an extensive trip shipping from the Kiev to my home in Denver. I stole the Turkish cargo sticker from the packaging to put on the suitcase. I bought a few Rimowa stickers as well. They’re beautiful but so expensive, $10 a sticker! If I were to purchase every city I’ve been to on their sticker collection it would cost me $160… in stickers.

And here it is! Ready to join me on many more adventures. The first stickers are Orange County, Madrid, and Paris.