Friday, May 06, 2016

A Serviceable Travel Kettle

After decades of grousing about making do with meagre hotel tea making facilities,  I've finally procured an acceptable travel kettle spurred on by a recent trip to New York City.  For $320 a night, one cannot expect too much in midtown Manhattan and a mere $35 investment provided the luxury of piping hot tea in my jammies before bedtime and first thing in the morning.

I had the option of two competing water heater designs on Amazon,  half size kettles like this one or an immersion heating element which would be lighter but looked like an inevitable burn hazard. The most common problem with a bare heating element is burning it out with careless dry boiling.  Just read the complaints and it's clear carefully immersing the entire rod in water is too much of a challenge for most humans.

My Unold half liter kettle performed admirably with a stainless steel interior providing water without any off flavors.  Despite hopes for excellence if not reliablity in German engineering, the shutoff is confusing. It is supposed to automatically shutoff 5 seconds after boiling but it did not appear to be the case so I manually popped the cord off after boil. Also this thing is a bulky 2 pounder but the benefits clearly outweigh any negatives and I am planning to lug it to Chicago at the end of this month with a proper tea kit. It's not my dream kettle but it's good enough that I am moderately grateful I finally have a travel worthy kettle.

My New York trip was all in the service of my eleven year old niece helping her knock out the top three off her bucket list- NYC, the Statue of Liberty and a Yankees game. When you travel with a child, you eventually become a zombie servant.  If I was a rehabbed addict, I might certainly have relapsed.  Almost every child requires extraordinary inhuman efforts to raise to adulthood and I have to salute parents willing to submit to such modern forms of slavery.

As an adult- the night pleasures of the city are many but I was limited to those places where you can legally take a child. I choose our hotel as it was directly across the street from the MOMA in hopes of squeezing in a few visits. I have feeble notions of art being the redemption of humankind and I had some half baked hopes parading the last centuries finest art before my niece's eyes might enlighten her jaded mind.

The current exhibit at the MOMA was Degas for which I was expecting endless scenes of ballerinas with tulle tutus or naked backs of plump ladies.  However when my eyes spied these landscapes,  I literally gasped as did my mother.  All the travails of NYC battling the masses starting from Penn Station evaporated.

Degas painted these experimental landscapes around 1890s past his mid fifties when his vision had deteriorated severely.  He had long been an insufferable hostile curmudgeon and even had dissed landscapists with fighting words like
“If I were the government I would have a special brigade of gendarmes to keep an eye on the people who paint landscapes from nature.” 

 However these landscapes were exquisite in their seemingly abstract dabs of color.   As seeing how happy my mother and I were before these paintings, my niece promised to buy me one of these when she becomes a billionaire.


  1. I have been using the same model for over 3 years every time I'm away from home. It shuts off when the water is boiling, unfortunately, you cannot turn it on again for at least 5 minutes afterwards. It looks well-built enough to function for some more years.

    Let's hope the slavery will pay off :)

    1. Dear Squirrel,

      Thank you for confirming how the shutoff should work. I've waited about 10 seconds after boiling and got nervous and unplugged but now I think perhaps the unit was off and it is the latent heat that is still causing the boil to go on.

      As regards to your last statement- I think it goes down better when one does not expect pay off. I'm not sure I could handle the casual daily ingratitude of one's offspring expecting some jackpot later later in some indeterminate future. Hence I am relegated to being an auntie.


  2. Good to see a post H!

    1. Dear Emmett,

      Sometimes I think we should just go casual more like instagram- just a teapic now and again. Then at least we won't go months and months without a signal.

      In your case, you can just post snapshots of your lovely bonsai now and again and your readers would be most happy.


  3. Good to see a post H!