Titania-Mania

My Titanium fetish is well documented in my journal. Well, here’s more titanium stuff:

There’s this guy on an island off the coast of Canada who makes the best espresso machine tampers. A tamper is a little plunger that is used to pack coffee ground into a portafilter. Tamping is one of the most critical stages in making espresso. It’s almost impossible to get good espresso without proper tamping. In fact, I’ve never seen a barrista in New York do a proper tamp. The one reason why Starbucks coffee became more drinkable is because they use automatic machines these days that tamp the grounds themselves.

I don’t own a Reg Barber tamper because I already had and Ergo Packer, which is also very finely made and instead of having a flat bottom like all other professional tampers or rounded bottom like all the crappy ones, it has a very slightly curved one. “Very scientific!” would cry characters from this novel.

Anyway. Reg finally made a small batch of titanium tampers. Gotta get one.

Moving on. In the book “Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed”, Ben Rich mentioned a special set of titanium shot glasses that his boss used for drinking with the generals. You see, the awesom SR-71 Blackbird was the first plane made entirely out of titanium. I wonder who has those glasses now.

But these guys have excruciatingly pretty titanium stuff. Sake cups, mugs, beer glasses – all made out of titanium. Jewelry is also very nice.

They can even make a street sign out of titanium for ya.

You know, I don’t want a 1958 Plymouth Fury anymore. I don’t even want a 1948 Tucker Torpedo. All I want is a 1956 GM Firebird II, the first titanium body car with a gas turbine engine. Is that too much to ask for?

ACH! BONJOURRRRRR! You Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys!

A while back I finished an absolutely amazing book about Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. It’s by Ben Rich and it’s called “Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed“. I’ll write more about that book later.

Here’s an amusing little anecdote from Lt. Colonel William Burk Jr., an SR-71 Blackbird pilot.

“In the fall of ’82, I flew from Mildenhall on a mission o Lebanon in response to the Marine barrack bombing. President Reagan ordered photo coverage of ill the terrorist bases in the region. The French refused to allow us to overfly, so our mission was to refuel off the south coast of England.”

“We completed our pass over Beirut and turned toward Malta, when I got a warning low-oil-pressure light on my right engine. Even though the engine was running fine I slowed down and lowered our altitude and made a direct line for England. We decided to cross France without clearance instead of going the roundabout way. We made it almost across, when I looked out the left window and saw a French Mirage III sitting ten feet off my left wing. He came up on our frequency and asked us for our Diplomatic Clearance Number. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I told him to stand by. I asked my backseater, who said, “Don’t worry about it. I just gave it to him.” What he had given him was “the bird’ with his middle finger. I lit the afterbumers and left that Mirage standing still. Two minutes later, we were crossing the Channel. “