All posts by Abi

How to Make My Kind of Coffee

  An instruction manual for future reference

  1. Check that there’s water in the reservoir. Red coffee maker is sad without water.   water
  2. Flip the 0/1 switch to 1. Two lights will turn on. This starts the coffee maker heating up water; you’re going to want to wait until the COFFEE light goes off. While you do that…switch5
  3. Make sure you have the smaller of the two filter cups (those things with the holes in the bottom) in the holder.smallcup
  4. Get the canister of ground coffee from the fridge. Put the holder on the upturned lid of it, and spoon about a teaspoon and a half of coffee into it.grounds
  5. Use the tamper tool to compress the coffee. Feel free to give it a good whack with your hand (this is why I had you put it on the upturned lid! Won’t dent the counter.)tamp
  6. Put the holder into the coffee machine. Push the handle as far to the right as you can. You’re allowed to whack that, too. Coffee is a violent, violent stuff, historically, politically, and in terms of how the beans are made ready to drink. A little hitting is right in tune with all of this. Then put the little ceramic cup underneath it, because we are small, and from where we sit, we can only wait helplessly for the products of violent history to rain down on us. (We are more mighty later in the day.)handle
  7. Has the COFFEE light gone off yet?switch1
  8. When it does, flip down the COFFEE switch. switch2
  9. There will be noises. And the dark brew of sanity will flow. Let it about half-fill the ceramic cup, then turn the COFFEE switch back off. A person can only cope with about half a cup of sanity at a time, I reckon.brewed
  10. Stop the flow of sanity by flipping the COFFEE switch back up. It doesn’t matter what the light is doing.
  11. Remove the holder. Do it now, because later, there will be pressure and bad things. Put the grounds in the green bin. (If you forget to remove it now, leave it until the coffee is all the way made and the machine has cooled down. It won’t harm anything being left in place. Just don’t remove it during the steam process.)
  12. Flip the STEAM switch down. Note that the light below the COFFEE switch is now on. You have to wait for the COFFEE light to turn off again before you get steam, because some poor designer got overrulled in meeting after meeting. Pity them while you do the next steps.switchesx
  13. Because I am not sweet enough, I need sweetening for my coffee. Because I am not self-accepting enough, that takes the form of a zoetje. Put one of them in the coffee mug.zoetje
  14.  Add milk to the mug, leaving enough room for the coffee to go in later. Use the box milk on the top shelf of the fridge, or if you forget/we’re out, the normal milk. If you use the coconut milk, your life will become very interesting, because people whose coffee is messed with hold grudges for a surprisingly long time.milk
  15. When the COFFEE light is off, the machine is ready to steam milk. It may be doing very dramatic things, because it gets kind of excited about this stage. switch3
  16. Position the cup with milk so the steam nozzle is inside it.  I tend to put it on the larger filter cup. Make sure it balances!cupstand
  17. Put the thermometer in, and turn the knob on the right hand side of the machine.steamknob
  18. When the thermometer reads about 40, turn the steam
  19. Take the mug out, give the steam nozzle a wipe with a sponge or a damp paper towel, and turn everything off.switch4
  20. Pour the coffee into the milk. Give it to me and collect your hugs and kisses.done

Note that this is my optimized method. If you do it “wrong”, you’ll probably still end up giving me a lovely cup of coffee, and I’ll still be grateful.

Except if you do the coconut milk thing. Then it’s war.

Pamphlet Bindings

I’m really enjoying making little pamphlet bindings right now.  They’re simple: 16 pages of creamy unlined paper in a stiff cover, sewn with white or colored linen thread, cut to a neat size (14 cm x 10 cm), with rounded corners.

For the Vericon auction, which benefits a charity helping refugees in Rome, I’ve bound three sets of five pamphlet bindings in Florentine print paper laminated onto stiff colored card.  I’ve waxed the cover s to strengthen and protect them.

Here are some of the patterns – there are different ones in different batches.


I love Florentine print paper, but I so rarely have an excuse to use any of it.

Brown Wrap Cover Notebook

So I’m binding again.  In this case, it’s a notebook for auction at Vericon, to benefit a charity helping refugees in Italy.

Brown cowhide wrap cover binding. Longstitch structure with linen threads and stone beads. 96 blank pages with rounded corners.  Total measurement is approximately 6″ x 4.25″ x 0.5″ (15.4 cm x 11 cm x 1.5 cm, roughly A6 size).

IMG_8166 IMG_8162IMG_8164IMG_8171IMG_8172

Friday Dragonslayer: Unknown

Misericord in Choir, Wells Cathedral

Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library
Accession Number: 15/5/3090.01169
Title: Misericord in Choir, Wells Cathedral
Building Date: ca. 1183-1260
Photograph date: ca. 1867-ca. 1895
Location: Europe: United Kingdom; Wells
Materials: albumen print
Image: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.; 16.51 x 21.59 cm
Provenance: Gift of Andrew Dickson White
Persistent URI

There are no known copyright restrictions on this image. The digital file is owned by the Cornell University Library which is making it freely available with the request that, when possible, the Library be credited as its source.

Via Flickr Commons.

My Worldcon Schedule

I’ll be on the following panels at Loncon3. Do feel free to come along!

Diggy Diggy Hole! Minecraft and Gaming Communities

Thursday 13:30 – 15:00, London Suite 2 (ExCeL)

Minecraft was the surprise smash hit of 2011, and continues to be a huge part of gaming culture, however one of the most interesting things about it are the communities that have grown up around them. Webcasters like The Yogscast are now incredibly popular, with more people watching their daily shows than many television programmes. At the same time, huge communities have sprung up around these groups, as well as the games themselves. How important are these games and communities to the future of gaming?

The Deeper the Roots, the Stronger the Tree (moderating)

Friday 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

The roots of modern science fiction and fantasy are often associated with authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, T.H. White, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley. But plenty of 19th- and early 20th-century authors with minimal or no fantastical or sfnal content have inspired and continue to inspire modern genre writing, including but not limited to Alexandre Dumas, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, and Georgette Heyer. What is the on-going appeal of such authors, their styles, and their worlds? What is it about them that lends itself to genrefication?

Settling the Alien World

Friday 12:00 – 13:30, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

Here are three star systems, each with a planet potentially habitable by humans. One is Mars-like — probably lifeless, and needs warming and water before we can live there (or we need to adapt ourselves). One is Earth-like, with similar biochemistry even (score one for panspermia theory), but so far as we can tell, no sentient organisms. And one is Earth-like but with early industrial cities. What narratives do we imagine for humans arriving in each system? How might humans be shaped by the life and landscapes they encounter? And how might questions of contact, colonisation or cohabitation be tackled in each scenario?

Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Next Generation

Friday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

Alongside the much-discussed golden age of animated cinema, we’re living in a golden age of animated TV. Shows such as Gravity FallsVenture BrothersMy Little Pony: Friendship is MagicAdventure Time, andAvatar: The Last Airbender can be as clever, funny, politically challenging and emotionally sophisticated as any live-action show. This panel will discuss when and why the best of these shows work so well — as well as the constraints they still face, and whether some of them fall short of their ideals.

Friday Dragon: Torchholder

Florence. Wrought iron torch holder or horse tether from the Strozzi Palace

Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library
Accession Number: 15/5/3090.01635
Title: Florence. Wrought iron torch holder or horse tether from the Strozzi Palace
Sculptor: Niccolò Grosso Caparra (Italian, active ca.1500)
Photographer: Fratelli Alinari (Italian, 1852-present)
Architect: Simone del Pollaiolo
Architect: Benedetto da Maiano (Italian, 1442-1497)
Building Date: 1498-ca. 1550
Photograph date: ca. 1865-ca. 1885
Location: Europe: Italy; Florence
Materials: albumen print
Image: 15.748 x 9.5276 in.; 40 x 24.2 cm
Provenance: Gift of Andrew Dickson White
Persistent URI

There are no known copyright restrictions on this image. The digital file is owned by the Cornell University Library which is making it freely available with the request that, when possible, the Library be credited as its source.

Wikipedia entry on the sculptor here.

Via Flickr Commons

Friday Dragonslayer: Jason

The Fall of Princes - caption: 'Jason wins the Golden Fleece'


ID: 026473
Title: The Fall of Princes
Provenance: England (Suffolk); circa 1460
Caption: Jason wins the Golden Fleece
Notes: (Detail) Book I, line 2199. Jason beheads the dragon which guarded the Golden Fleece; a bull tamed for ploughing lies nearby.
Image taken from The Fall of Princes.
Originally published/produced in England (Suffolk); circa 1460.
Language: English
Source identifier: Harley 1766, f.31
British Library Shelfmark: Harley 1766

From the British Library collection in Flickr Commons.