Classic Solo Shoes

Classic Solo Handmade Shoes

Late last year, I ordered a pair of handmade shoes from Stefan Burdea, a shoemaker from Bucharest, Romania. I’d like to show them to you now. They’re the Classic Solo model, a beautiful and understated pair of shoes made from a single piece of leather.

Some of you may already know that it’s fairly difficult to make these shoes, as it requires much greater skill from the shoemaker to get it right from a single piece of leather than it is to make them from multiple pieces, which can be fitted much more easily around the boot tree.

I’d like to show these shoes to you now via a video I made (part of my Elegant Gentleman series). I’m happy with them, especially since they meet a very important criteria for me: they’re comfortable to wear for long periods of time. That’s the most important criteria for me when choosing shoes. They have to fit me very well. All other aspects: design, finish, materials, are secondary. Sure, I first pick up a pair of shoes based on how they look, but if they don’t fit me well, I’ll put them right back down on the shelf and move on.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a pair of handmade shoes made for you, but you should if you get the chance. They’re much more comfortable than machine-made shoes. And because they’re handmade, there’s usually more attention to detail and a higher level of workmanship, as you’ll see from the photos. It’s rewarding to wear shoes that you know were made just for you. Try it sometime!

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The 2012 Fisker Karma

The Fisker Karma is an interesting and appealing car that’s fully electric, with its battery charged by a gasoline engine, so you’re never out of power.

The more I learn about it, the more I like it. Things such as its sexy, uncompromising design, the fact that it’s made out of renewable and recycled materials, the shapes, colors and textures of its interior, its solar roof, its low, muscular stance, its long wheel base with big wheels, all make it very special.

It’s made by Fisker Automotive, it is the vision of one man, it was first designed, then engineered, and I highly encourage you to find out more about it.

I’ve posted an image gallery and a few videos below. Enjoy!

One more thing: I’ve created a new page on Facebook called “The Elegant Gentleman“, where I talk about clothing, manners and the finer things in life. Head on over and give it a like to be kept up to date with my posts there. Thanks!

My 1899 Elgin Pocket Watch

I wonder how many of you know that I love old watches, not just new ones? I thought I’d put together a video and photo gallery for one of my pocket watches, my biggest one in terms of size and weight: an 1899 Elgin pocket watch.

Here’s the video:

This particular watch was bought in the United States at the turn of the 20th century by an Englishman who then returned to England, where the watch remained in the family until earlier this year, when the nephew of that gentleman, who has relocated to Romania to spend his retirement years here, sold it to me. The man is Laurie Webb, a fine fellow who now runs a pension house in the village of Roandola near Sighisoara, and whom I interviewed for an episode of “Romania Through Their Eyes“.

And here are the photos. Enjoy!

1899 Elgin Pocket Watch 1899 Elgin Pocket Watch 1899 Elgin Pocket Watch 1899 Elgin Pocket Watch 1899 Elgin Pocket Watch

A comparison of watch designs

Remember my video on watch bands? I intended to create a guide to watch designs and I got around to it last week. This video’s even longer than the last one; it’s almost 30 minutes! Get a cup of tea, sit down and get comfortable, because it’s going to take a bit of time to get through it!

Let me sum up my thoughts on watch design:

  • Elegant, classy
  • Simple, fulfilling its purpose as a watch, which is to tell the time and the date
  • Refined features that hint at the intricacies inside the case without flaunting them
  • Easy to use, easy to read: proper color contrast in the lettering and numbering
  • A joy to look at, makes you fall in love with it every time you see it
  • Sturdy, quality-built, lasts a long time (a lifetime even)

Watch the video for the rest of my thoughts and I hope you enjoy it and it’s of use to you!

The old Mercedes

Back in the States, we lived in a community called Grosvenor Park. Photos I’ve taken there are featured often on my website. It was a nice place, true to its name: it was a park with a brook, ponds, trees, all sorts of vegetation and even a little forest out back. In the parking lot next to our building, there was this old black Mercedes with a diesel engine. It always sat in the same spot and every time I saw it I wondered if I could have it. After all, its owner barely used it. There it sat, spring, summer, fall and winter, cobwebs under the wheel wells. You know what they say about cars and houses… if they’re not used, they go to pieces.

2003 MINI Cooper S, after a winter ice storm

The day our MINI froze over

One winter day, as I finished work late in the evening, about eight o’clock, I went out to the parking lot and saw my MINI looking this:

I hadn’t expected that. It had rained earlier in the day, particularly during lunch and it had continued to drizzle through the afternoon. The evening had brought a freezing spell with it, and all that water had turned to ice, on the ground and in the sky.

What to do? I didn’t have an ice scraper with me, but I remembered someone had given me one of those mini-CDs and I’d put it in the car. After prying the door open, I grabbed it and started scraping off the ice from the windshield. Who knew that thing would do something useful someday? :-)

It took about half an hour to get the windshield clean and another twenty minutes to warm up the car sufficiently so that it melted the rest of the ice from the windows. I loved every minute of it, in spite of the freezing cold. You know why? Because an unexpected adventure is a chance to experience something different, something extra-ordinary and it’s a welcome thing in my book.

What do you think I did after I got the car started? Did I take the highway and head home fast? No, I took the scenic route and enjoyed my MINI’s wonderful winter handling, with the aid of my winter tires, plodding through the freshly fallen snow and sliding over ice patches. I did a few donuts in the empty parking lot, slid the rear through corners, braked just so I could slide on the empty roads… I still smile when I think of that evening. Fun, fun, fun! :-)

A look at lubrication inside an engine, in 1937

Nowadays, when we rarely pop open the hoods of our cars on our own, and the only things we usually worry about are putting in the gas and taking them to the dealer or the mechanic for their scheduled maintenance, we can hardly fathom what goes on inside those modern engines.

This wonderful video, made in 1937 by Chevrolet, shows how a typical engine was lubricated and is guaranteed to amaze you. I bet you had no idea that an engine we think of as primitive, given its almost 100 years of age, is so complex.

At the same time, the video will give you a new appreciation for what goes on inside your car’s engine. I bet it’s even more complex now.

Are you inclined to take your car for granted now? It is a marvel of modern engineering, isn’t it?

If you’d like to see more videos like these, subscribe to the US Auto Industry channel on YouTube.