I insulate the handles of my titanium kitchenware with silicon aquarium airline tubing.

I use the tubing recommended in a thread on the Backpacking Light Forum. It isn’t necessary, and adds a couple grams, but it is a nice luxury that allows the mug or pot to be plucked from the stove without additional precaution.

Titanium Handle Insulation

Make sure to use silicon tubing, not vinyl. Application takes some finger strength. Spraying a little soapy water into the tubing first makes it slide a bit easier. The stuff I use has an outer diameter of about 5.8mm and an inner diameter of about 4.2mm. It has been the appropriate size for the handles on mugs from Snow Peak and Boundless Voyage.

I watched a few episodes of Dark Angel for the first time since puberty.

In the pilot episode of the show, the titular hero teams up with a pirate television journalist in the cyberpunk dystopia of Seattle. They broadcast the dirt about a Rich Bad Guy™, and protect a witness from being silenced before she can give her testimony in court. The implication being that facts are meaningful, and that the criminal justice system is functioning.

From the vantage of 2022, the show’s dystopia is looking pretty optimistic.

Link Log 2022-11-23

Special Investigative Report for The Museum of Capitalism: There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch

If you wish to make a toaster from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

“Just a bunch of idiots having fun” – a photo history of the LAN party

Between Chaos and the Man: How not to become an anarchist

States Mull Limits on Foreign Ownership of Farmland

Love On A Reail Train (Tangerine Dream, 2018)

San Francisco from Rathbone

One of the things that I find refreshing about running an isolated personal blog, as opposed to whatever social hellscape the rest of the online population is participating in today, is not caring about the audience.

Or even knowing if there is one. (I could look at the web server logs, but I don’t.) I post for a hypothetical reader who is me but not me.

When choosing what to write about, I usually think “If I found this post on another site, would I think it was cool?”. And, reader, I do. So fucking cool.

Titanium Gaiwan

Last year I started getting into gongfu – or, at least, brewing tea in a gaiwan. I first bought a normal porcelain gaiwan. After gaining some experience with it and figuring out what properties were important, I went looking for a titanium version, as is my wont. I wanted something I could throw in a bag for brewing tea out in the world, and porcelain – even in a padded container – wasn’t going to cut it.

I’m sure that an expert would criticize the use of a titanium brewing vessel, especially double-walled. I don’t think the metal itself imparts a flavor to the tea, but it has heat retention qualities that differ from more common materials like porcelain, celadon, or glass. Fortunately, I am not an expert, and do not care. The tea I brew in titanium tastes the same to me as the tea I brew in porcelain. And I can abuse my matériel.

I found two options from the friendly capitalists in the People’s Republic of China, and purchased both.

First up, the Tiartisan 130mL Titanium Gaiwan. It weights 71 grams. The stated volume of 130mL is a bit less than a typical gaiwan. My porcelain gaiwan weighs 40 grams and holds 180mL. Both those volume measurements are with water filled all the way up to the rim. In practice, some of that volume is taken up the tea leaf, and you probably stop pouring when the water level is a bit shy of the rim. With the Tiartisan gaiwan, I end up brewing about 100mL of tea liquor. With my porcelain gaiwan, it is closer to 160mL. That’s a significant difference. It means that my porcelain gaiwan is sufficient ordnance for a party of four, where the Tiartisan gaiwan is really only appropriate for one or two people.

Tiartisan Titanium Gaiwan

The most significant disadvantage of the Tiartisan gaiwan is the diameter of the lid in comparison to the diameter of the bowl at the top of the rim. The lid ought to be ever so slightly larger. Compared to the porcelain set, the titanium lid sits a little deeper in the bowl. This cuts down on the usable volume, since you’re only brewing tea in the bowl up to where the lid sits.

Tiartisan Titanium Gaiwan Brewing

But for the size, it is a nice lid. It rolls within the bowl as it should, allowing you to control the size of the outlet when pouring. All in, the Tiartisan is a great low-volume option. If you’re just brewing tea for one or two people, the volume is adequate.

Next up, the Boundless Voyage Titanium Tea Set. This is a more complete package, consisting of a brewing vessel, a fairness pitcher, a lid that fits on both, and two 40mL cups.

Boundless Voyage Titanium Tea

The hypothetical gongfu expert will probably take issue with this set. It isn’t an actual gaiwan. It has a spout to pour from. The lid has a little strainer built in. Still, it brews a great cup (or three) of tea.

The brewing vessel can hold about 185mL of water before it starts to come out the spout. But that is impractically full. The usable volume is closer to 145mL. Some of that is taken by the tea leaf, so in practice you’re brewing about 125mL of tea liquor. That puts it between the Tiartisan gaiwan and my porcelain set. When brewing for one or two people, this difference doesn’t matter. If you want to brew for four people, this Boundless Voyage set still struggles.

Where this set really fails miserably is in the relative size of the brewing vessel and the fairness pitcher. The fairness pitcher only holds about 85mL, and that when it is filled up to the rim, where you’re going to be struggling not to spill anything. But the set allows you to brew about 125mL of tea. So you cannot actually decant directly into the fairness pitcher. You could brew your 125 mL of tea, fill both the included 40mL cups, and then pour the last serving into the fairness pitcher for your two drinkers to fight over. But that sort of defeats the purpose of the fairness pitcher.

So in practice, the fairness pitcher component is garbage. The rest of the set is great, but unfortunately you have to pay for the fairness pitcher to get your hands on the good bits.

The brewing vessel and lid weigh 95 grams. The fairness pitcher is another 50 grams. Each cup is another 20 grams (only two can fit inside the brewing vessel for transport.)

The strainer on the lid is nice for finer, processed teas. I have a genmaicha with matcha that I like, which I cannot brew in a gaiwan (or, at least, I can’t really serve from a gaiwan), but works fine in the Boundless Voyage set. But for most whole leaf teas, neither the spout nor the strainer lid offer much advantage over the traditional gaiwan shape. A real gaiwan takes a little practice, but once you figure it out, it is easy to pour from.

Boundless Voyage Titanium Tea

I like both of these options. The Tiartisan gaiwan I keep at work, with a Snow Peak H200 to decant into and drink out of. The Boundless Voyage set I keep at home, usually decanting from the brewing vessel straight into a Boundless Voyage 200mL Titanium Cup. I use both regularly. Since the Boundless Voyage set lives at home, it tends to get thrown in the bag more than the Tiartisan gaiwan for portable tea adventures.

Bicycle Tea

Having both, I’m not sure that I have a strong preference between the two. I paid $32 for the Tiartisan gaiwan, which I think is a fair price for a nice piece of double-wall titanium kitchenware. I paid $80 for the Boundless Voyage set, which is a reasonable price for all the included components, but it is more difficult to justify when I only use the brewing vessel and the lid – not the fairness pitcher, and not the cups (the cups are really nice – and I’ve actually purchased more to have at home – but most of the time I’m just brewing for myself, so I want to decant all the liquor into a single vessel I can sip from). The Tiartisan gaiwan, being an actual gaiwan, is more aesthetically pleasing. And aesthetics are an important part of gongfu.

Pacific Rim Overwatch

Link Log 2022-11-19

Crypto Museum: Nagra SN

Hosaka Mark I “Sprawl Edition” Showcase

How to Feed 10,000 Rebel Fighters for 50 Years

Custom MSR Whisperlite + Vargo Titanium Hexagon

If Crisis or War Comes: Important Information for the Population of Sweden

Signal

Airscape Tea Storage

I store tea in Planetary Design Airscape Storage Canisters. The setup consists of an 18/8 stainless steel bucket with two lids. The inner lid is a plunger that evacuates air inside the can down to the level of the contents. The outer lid just sits on top of the canister, providing a platform to allow other canister to be stacked on top. The bottom of the bucket has a silicon pad that improves stackability. All together its a nice system for keeping things fresh.

Airscape Tea Storage

It comes in two sizes: medium and small. Medium is good for unrolled leaves with body (like Mi Lan Xiang) or something you want to store a lot of (like Hojicha). Small is good for something with leaves that are flat (I like keeping Pre-rain Dragonwell in stock), rolled (might I suggest Jin Xuan), or otherwise compact. I wish there was an even smaller size. Alas.

They are not appropriate for pu-erh, which needs to breathe. But for the teas I like to stock in my pantry, they’re great. I’ve been using them for about three years now, and I do think they help extend the shelf life of my supplies.

Telephone Armor

I’ve never cracked the screen on one of my phones, and I’ve always used a screen protector and case. I don’t know if those facts are related, or what magic pixie dust gets sprinkled on phone glass these days, but I always feel better after up-armoring my telephone.

For my most recent phone, I landed on Armorsuit MilitaryShield. The product name is silly, but somewhere in their marketing I saw a reference to the material being used on helicopter blades. “Oh,” I thought. “It’s just helicopter tape for your phone.” Now that I was aware that was an option, I couldn’t think of a single reason I would not want it. Helicopter tape – or more specifically paint protective film – is so called because it was developed to prevent abrasion on helicopter blades from small flying debris. I use it on my bike frame. I am told it is often used on racing automobiles. The idea is that it protects whatever surface it is covering from being chipped by debris travelling at high velocity, thus protecting the aerodynamic properties (or stylish paint job) of the smooth surface underneath. When applied to the screen of a telephone, the takeaway is that it is pretty tough.

Armorsuit MilitaryShield is offered in matte and clear versions. I bought both. I installed the matte version first because I was curious what that would look like. I find it to be excellent. It diffuses glare, making the screen easier to see outdoors, and doesn’t show fingerprints. I think it makes reading text on the screen more comfortable. It makes it look vaguely like an E Ink display.

After running the matte protector for about five months, I peeled it off and installed the clear version. Having become accustomed to the matte display, the clear version seemed to be designed specifically to amplify glare and attract greasy fingerprints and cheek marks. I removed it after a couple weeks and reinstalled the same matte protector I had previously removed. It went on just as perfectly the second time as it did the first time.

If you do a lot of multimedia editing on your pocket computer, you might not like the diffusion of the matte protector. It makes photos less sharp. But I think it’s great.

In the subsequent two years after I installed the matte protector for the second time, the upper right hand corner of the protector has unpeeled itself slightly. This happened after I dropped the phone on this corner. The edge of the case absorbed the shock but forced up that bit of the screen protector. I could probably remove the case and try to spray a little soapy water into that corner to reactivate the adhesive, but I haven’t bothered. The phone was dropped over a year ago and the corner hasn’t peeled back any more in that time.

Telephone Armor

The case I use for my phone is the unfortunately named SUPCASE Unicorn Beetle Pro Case. I dislike its chunkiness. But I like that it has port covers, which were builtin to my previous phone. Port covers keep sand out of the charging port (it’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere). The Beetle, so-called, consists of two parts. The upper part comes with a terrible glossy screen cover. I addressed this oversight by dropping that part of the case into a pot of not-quite-boiling-water for a minute or so. This softens the glue holding the screen cover to the frame, allowing it to be peeled away cleanly and easily. The result is a pretty alright case, and a great screen cover.

The matte protector is approaching its third birthday now. But for the aforementioned slight peeling on one corner, the protector looks like new. There are no scratches or other marks. The screen underneath it is pristine. I pay no mind to tossing the phone into a pocket or bag with keys, knives, or other sharp and scratchy objects. I expose it to road debris without concern. All is as it should be.