David M. Kelly

Science Fiction Writer

I don’t often talk about my writing process, mostly because it’s probably not very interesting to most people. Last week was a bit of a milestone week for me though, so here goes.

Despite having three separate hospital visits that did their best to play havoc with my writing schedule, I still hit my weekly targets and as part of that I completed the second draft of my novel codenamed MOE.

I have to admit this draft was something of a self-imposed labor. After I reviewed the completed first draft, I realized that there were some serious issues with it. The problem was that the first draft had come together in fits and starts over a very extended time frame (I refuse to say how long, it’s too embarrassing!). During this time i was juggling writing with regular employment , dealing with some major stress issues as well as some personal problems (all now happily resolved). As a result I wasn’t very focused and often struggled to get any writing done and often seemed to go two steps backwards for every one forward.

So major surgery was definitely needed. Usually when I finish something, I want to get it straight into my wife’s hands to get overall feedback from my first reader. This time there was no way I was doing that before I had chance to fix the big problems in the story. So Hil has been waiting (im)patiently for quite a while.

The process of redrafting has taken several months and  has entailed reworking several sections extensively and the addition of whole new sections and characters. Of curse, once you start adding new sections there are consequences in other parts of the story. These areas then  need reworking too and it snowballs until you’re almost rewriting everything to some extent.

Now Hil finally gets the chance to read it and the more general editing process can begin. I feel the story is much better for the time I’ve put in though and I think (hope!) it will be relatively straightforward moving on from here.

While the editing process continues I now get the fun of creating cover graphics, book trailers, ads and all the rest of the myriad tasks that go into launching a book as an indie author. Not to mention, completing the sequel, of course!

One thing is certain, there’s never a dull moment!

And talking of graphics, here’s a teaser of some of what’s to come, courtesy of “Popular Innovation”. :-)

Popular Innovation1

Anthology Ad

 

 

 

 

The fantastic Sudden Insight ebook anthology “Paws for a Tale” is available as of today through the following retailers:

The anthology is a collection of eight short stories with all profits and author(or is that paw-thor!)  royalties going to the SPCA. The stories come include a mix of fantasy, steampunk, the supernatural, plus a dose of romance. My featured story, “How Much Is That Doggie,” is a magical fantasy story incorporating themes of aging, loss, and family relationships.
It’s been a great experience working with Dawn from Sudden Insight. I’m very happy to be part of this project and hope that people will buy the book, enjoy the stories and help  all those furry friends who need it.

Our society today seems to worship “new” with the voracious appetite of a bunch of Piranha’  in a teen-horror flick. Wherever we look we’re assailed with the idea that “new” is good, better than anything before it, and such an obvious choice that why would anyone look for anything else?

It wasn’t always the case. People used to value things that they’d held on to for years. Heirlooms were handed down through generations as keepsakes of favored relatives. People who looked after things used to talk about it with pride. It was a badge of honor denoting someone who was thoughtful and caring, thrifty and wise.

Now, such people are belittled as stupid, old-fashioned or just “dumb.”—what’s the point of hanging on to “old stuff” after all?

Not only that, but we are constantly “encouraged” to adopt this mentality. People trade in their cars after just two years to get the latest model, many people move house every few years to “climb the property ladder,” and as for electronics? Don’t even bother—that neeto-sparkly gadget is obsolete before you even leave the store with it.

This throw it away and buy another attitude is so common now that manufacturers blatantly build obsolescence into their products, and no one even notices! Amazingly, there used to be laws to ensure that auto manufacturers maintained parts supplies. Far less amazingly, these protections were removed mostly in the 80s when “greed was good.”

There are so many downsides to this “disposable” society that we’re constantly being pushed towards. Yes, it’s all one giant conspiracy, brought about by the evil alien overlords that control our government!

Okay, maybe not. But there are some serious issues with it. Let me count the ways…

Financial

Keeping up with everything new is an easy way to spend a lot of money. Take that house flipping idea, for example. Did you know that you don’t start to break even with a house investment until you’ve lived there about twenty years? Up until that point renting is actually a cheaper option. When you look at how much you pay in mortgage fees, assessment fees, interest, bank fees, inspection fees, legal fees, etc. the only people making money from this are the people selling houses and mortgages. Also, every time you buy a bigger house you have to buy more “sh-tuff” to fill it.

This way of thinking runs through everything around us. Companies build in obsolescence because they don’t want you to keep something for a long time. They want to sell you that boomshakalak now and then sell you the “new, improved, best ever” boomshakalak 2.0 in a year’s time. Turnover is key in the corporate world. Companies don’t care about customers, or quality, or product life. Everything is geared towards turnover and you, the consumer, pays the (expensive) bill for this.

Look at what happens with cars. Our current daily driver is a 2006 Saturn Vue. It’s not in bad condition, some spots of rust on the back door, but otherwise seems pretty healthy, despite having over a hundred and fifty thousand kilometers on it. It’s not a very exciting car; it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. There’s no built in satnav, no DVD players built in to the arm-rests, no hidden foot-spas in the footwells. But it’s solid and reliable. Maintenance has been light and apart from the back door it looks more or less as good as it did when we bought it. A large part of this is to do with the fact that its body work is all fiberglass (technically glass-reinforced plastic) and guess what, it doesn’t rust! Yep, that Saturn was GM’s attempt at a cheap no-frills range and to make the cars look different from the main line vehicles they were based upon, they used fiberglass for cheap body variations.

Of course when GM ran into financial difficulties. They used that as an excuse to cut the budget line and keep the high mark-up, high profit lines. Better for GM, but better for consumers?

This built-in obsolescence doesn’t just apply to complex products either. A few years ago, I went through three can openers in less than a year. Three of the damn things! You’d think there wasn’t much to a can opener, but apparently making one that lasts long enough to open more than three cans is beyond our current level of technology. I remember having can openers as a kid that lasted my entire childhood. I don’t recall anyone ever buying one unless they’d lost the one they had.

I have to admit I went on a crusade. I toured all the shops in town looking for one that was guaranteed. The best I could find was one made in Europe which had a paltry five year warranty. So we can send space probes to Pluto, but we can’t make a can opener that lasts.

Environmental

Unless you’ve been submerged in a submarine under Lincoln Island, you’ll know that we’re facing a possible terrifying future of climate change. Many people ask what they can do to help prevent that. One practical action that goes a long way is quite simply to refusing to buy new things unnecessarily.

Most items, especially electronics, have a much higher environmental cost than their cost of manufacture. The manufacture of a new car, for example, has a carbon footprint equivalent to driving it!  Not to mention the cost and waste involved in finally disposing of it. Then there’s the cell phone nightmare. It’s estimated that over 130 million cellphones are disposed of in the U.S. every year, creating a staggering 65,000 tonnes of waste. When disposed of in a landfill, a phone will leach over seventeen times the U.S. federal threshold for hazardous lead waste! Desktops and laptop computers aren’t much different and all of that waste is generally either buried (out of sight, out of mind) or shipped overseas (even further out of sight and out of mind).

Quality Of Life

All of this constant pimping and pumping of everything “new” comes with a social and mental cost too. The number of “cyberbullying” cases rises every year and children are often bullied simply for having an old phone or computer, or the “wrong” clothes.

The pursuit of “new” makes people dissatisfied with their lives and promotes feelings of frustration and anxiety–resulting in lower quality of life. Instead of enjoying the positives and the genuine experiences they have, they go off chasing down the windmills of modern. Everything must be instant: instant purchases, instant lives, instant relationships, instant divorces, instant coffee, instant fame, instant lottery wins, and instant karma. When “new” is everything, anything “old” becomes valueless.

So, for the benefit of your wallet, your world, and your sanity, let’s celebrate the old!

The connection may not be obvious, but today sees the print launch of a new comic book venture, Vorpal, written and designed by two retired Air Force master sergeants, Jason Tudor and Keith Houin.

vorpal_product_icon_blankTheir fans have been given a sneak peak at the finished product with new material being made available each week on their web site. But the finished product contains brand new artwork and revisions to what was previously available online.

And this is just the beginning. There are plans for another 14 comic books, with 300 pages already outlined! Still working full-time with the military and raising families, these are definitely busy guys!

“It’s exciting to hold that first issue in your hand… but that’s not the end of the journey,” says Keith. “Just the start really, and we hope people will join us as we go along.” As a writer I can understand that feeling one hundred percent!

12043161_10153690776618829_7190844326057190509_nAlthough I’ve never met Keith, we’ve been in touch online for a while and he’s been very helpful with promotional ideas and helped spread the word about my own writing at the recent comic conference at Spangdalem AFB as I mentioned in an earlier post. So, I’m really excited to be able to support the Vorpal print release and look forward to hearing of future developments.

Want to get in on the action right at the beginning? To purchase your print or digital copy of Vorpal, head to www.headshrinkerpress.com and support these fantastic and creative servicemen!

During my career I’ve worked in different roles in both the public service and  commercial sectors. They both have unique challenges, though the differences between a large commercial and a large public sector organization aren’t anywhere near as big as many would think.

One aspect that is very different in the public sector is in the area of gifts or other types of remuneration from external sources. Here’s the thing. In every public sector job I’ve had it has been absolutely unacceptable to take anything from a commercial organization or individual for any reason. No matter how small.

Think about it for a minute and it’s pretty obvious why. If someone gives you a gift, whatever that is, you’re more likely to look at them more favorably. You may be tempted to make a decision in their favor when it comes to awarding a contract, you may be tempted to “look the other way” when that organization does something it shouldn’t, or breaks the rules in some way. The only way to do this is to remain impartial and you can’t be impartial if someone is “gifting” you something.

There are many names for this, but it is basically corruption. Depending on the specific job, organization and region the rules may be different, but it is almost universally frowned on and forbidden or controlled to one degree or another. Some places I worked you could accept such gifts as long as you reported them to a senior manager, other places it has been completely not tolerated and in fact considered criminal. Sometimes there was a limit to the monetary value of such “gifts”, sometimes a “zero tolerance” policy was in place.  Whatever the details of the rules, the aim of these rules is that no one should be allowed to “buy” influence from you as a civil employee, whether by paying you cash, or buying you lunch (or even in one place I worked, giving you freebies like company pens and coasters!)

It’s a good principle and one I’ve never had a problem working within. Sure, it’s not perfect and we still hear of cases where people have been paid bribes, sometimes very large ones. The point is though that the behavior is not considered acceptable. The expectation is that you as an individual have the morals not to indulge in such behavior and are held to high standards because of the potential power you have in such a position.

Now here’s the weird thing. Public employees don’t have absolute power; their authority is derived ultimately from the politicians that are elected to rule the country or region. It is in fact the politicians that have the real power. They’re the ones who make large scale decisions on where money is spent, where funding can be placed and where tax breaks or subsidies can be made.

So why is every politician able to accept such bribes on a regular basis? Not only are they able, they also routinely accept them. The entire political body is built on such bribery. In fact it is safe to say that every politician in the world benefits from such corruption (yes, even the ones you like and think of as being “honest”).

Follow me on this.

Every political organization has operating costs associated with it. Secretaries, campaign organizers, assistants, all of that election advertising, those TV ads or the radio spots or the Superbowl advertising. It all has to be paid for, and it adds up to a huge cost. The estimated spending for the 2016 US Presidential election is over five billion dollars! Which is double the 2012 estimates of $2.6 billion. It doesn’t matter which political party or persuasion we’re talking about, the costs are huge. And remember, that’s the election costs, there are operating costs on top of that.

Where does all that money come from? Well, it sure doesn’t come from the politicians themselves! (Remember the first rule of politics – governments have no money!).

The answer is that some of it comes from you and me. Many countries and regions provide funds for political bodies (a practice only slightly less corrupt than politicians voting on their own pay rises…), but the vast majority of it comes from “donations.”

Donations? The dictionary defines this as “a gift given by physical or legal persons, typically for charitable purposes and/or to benefit a cause.” Now who thinks that all these people and organizations who donate the billions of dollars to political parties do that out of altruism? Come on, don’t be shy. Hmmm no one? Really?

Everybody and every group that gives money to political parties or individual politicians does so on the expectation that they will get something back. Whether the right “economic climate,” a government “sympathetic” to their interests, or just simply one that will promote the same ideals as them.

The definition of a bribe is “to persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other inducement.” Donations with an expectation then are in fact a bribe. Pure and simple.

Every President, Prime Minister, Premier, or other state leader in history ever elected essentially has been bribed.

We see the results of this corruption every day. Whether it’s ridiculous “trade agreements” that give away huge amounts of power to foreign companies, or gas pipeline “deals” to jet aircraft purchases (we haven’t forgotten those F-35s, Canada!). You see it in unchanging environmental regulations on cars, lack of pollution controls on major (rich) polluters and in NRA-backed politicians refusing to even allow research on gun crime in the US.

While this situation is the norm, we can’t ever hope for rational government, for enlightened government, for corruption-free government. What chance has the person on the street, when facing the influence of the Koch brothers and their billions? The simple answer is none. People wonder how come the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. They wonder why the great American (or Canadian or any other) dream has vanished-this is why.

So what’s to be done about it? My first reaction is to reach for the Heinleinian answer–ban donations of all kinds and make the politicians pay for their dirty habit of power lechery. Sadly, that is never going to happen.

But I have another suggestion, one that might actually be achievable and would change the face of democracy for the better for everyone (apart from the very rich minority.)

Most countries provide some funding for political parties. I suggest that we expand that to some reasonable level of spending. This money would then be shared between the various parties based on the number of seats they win. Let’s be extraordinarily generous and make the pot one billion dollars (frankly, spending more than that should be considered a disgrace) and perhaps two billion in an election year.

Not only would this curtail the mass drone-inducing electioneering to the benefit of all citizens, it would also provide the potential governments with operating funds to continue.

Then we make accepting any gift, donation, backhander, sweetener, or whatever else you want to call it, completely illegal–just the way we do with all other public servants. Anyone caught accepting such a bribe would be removed from office if in power and also gets banned from politics for life. This would mean that politicians would be more focused on the people voting for them, rather than the people lining their pockets. It would also set up the, not unfair, expectation that our political leaders are honest and beyond reproach.

Of course many companies and  organizations give “donations” for tax reasons. It’s questionable whether that is acceptable behavior, but that’s a different battle. So we make the election fund something that organizations can donate to, effectively subsidizing the costs of all parties. If more is donated than can be used within the spending limits, then the excess is used for worthy public enterprises such as education or healthcare. Sadly, I suspect much of this “altruism” would vanish when it couldn’t buy influence.

So who’s with me? Which country in the world is brave and citizen-centered enough to become the world’s first real democracy and take wealth out of politics?

Dear Microsoft,

I’ve been following the roll out of Windows 10 for some time now and I have to tell you, I’m less than impressed. When I first saw the announcements that Windows 10 would be a free “upgrade” for users I did think (very briefly) that it might be a bold decision on Microsoft’s part that might help both the customer and the company. This was quickly followed by the alarm bells ringing as the more rational parts of my brain said “Hang on… what are they getting out of this?”

Subsequently, I’ve seen every single one of the fears that I’ve had come true. First you started sneaking in “upgrade announcements” into what should have been regular updates. Not openly, but hidden and cowardly, because you knew it was wrong. Then came the news that Windows 10 would no longer allow people to control their own computers and that Microsoft would decide when updates were applied. Following that, we found out that Windows 10 had increased the level of spying to unprecedented levels.

No, the excuse that “everybody does it” is not good enough. For the record, I stopped using the Google search engine a couple of years back because of their spying activities. Similarly, though I have an android phone, I take actions to minimize the tracking features and put absolutely NOTHING of a sensitive nature on there. I’m not paranoid, but the idea that every tech company and it’s dog feels they somehow have the right to track me and everything I do is highly offensive and against the common principles of democracy that societies are based upon. The fact that you CAN do something, does not mean you SHOULD.

For the record, I own multiple copies of Windows 7 – bought and paid for with cold, hard cash. I own those licenses, the same way that I own the hardware that they operate on. Microsoft does NOT own my hardware, it does not have the right to install whatever it wants on it to benefit itself. If my computer was a car and you acted this way it would be called car theft or joy riding and would be illegal. Which I strongly believe is true of your company’s actions. Even if everyone is still blinded by the “free Windows” propaganda.

Please be advised that Windows 10 will NEVER appear on any computer owned by me. Nor will any future versions of Windows unless you cease your illegal hijacking and spyware approach. TO make it perfectly clear, I would rather switch to Linux than allow your software to illegally take control of my hardware.

I have heard of many people having problems with the Windows 10 updates–improper installations, broken computers as well as a multitude of comparability problems. I hope, and encourage, all people who are affected in this way to take legal actions to recover the costs of your unasked for and unwanted hijacking attempts.

Finally, I ask all high court’s and governments around the world to immediately prosecute you for your illegal hacking and infiltration.  Microsoft corporation’s actions are quite simply a disgrace.

holly-leaves-assisted-living-kingmanSo, it’s that time of year again. The supposed celebration of the birth of Jesus and the center-point of Christian ritual. It’s the time that people are supposed to be good to one another, forgive others’ minor misdemeanors, and share the joy and glory of the season. So what does it mean to an atheist like me?

Christmas itself doesn’t matter at all to me; it has no more significance (other than an always welcome day off work!) than any other day. That said, I have no problem wishing everyone a “Happy Christmas” and I do. (Note — I dislike the whole “happy holidays” thing — it’s Christmas.). I send gifts and cards, like everyone else, and I eat and drink too much… just like everyone else :-) . I actually quite enjoy Christmas in fact. The only parts I really dislike are the fakery and the ridiculous over-commercialism.

We usually put our tree and decorations up on Christmas Eve. Don’t know why, it just seems nice to do that after we’ve both finished work and can relax for the holidays. It’s good though because it helps extend the Christmas day special feeling. Some people start celebrating Christmas in November it seems, and by the time Christmas actually comes around they’re so tired of it that they take everything down the day after, which just seems weird to me.

The real day of celebration for me though is New Year, in a nod back to the original Pagan celebration of the Winter solstice, marking the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. There’s always something a little bitter-sweet to that moment, the reflection on the year gone by and the start of a new year with all its hopes. We usually enjoy a ribald Viking-like celebration shared with friends, with much merriment, drinking, and laughter. Fireworks are a must! And the next day is always a long hike to “blow the cobwebs away.”

We love to watch traditional Christmas movies and have a number of favorites that always get dusted off at some point over the holidays, often accompanied by a glass or two of wine or Baileys. Here are a few that make the Kelly list:

Christmas Vacation – How can you have Christmas without the Greaseballs (errr Griswalds…)

Scrooged – Bill Murray and the gang updating the classic, just don’t crowd him in an elevator…

It’s a Wonderful Life – James Stewart in this sentimental tale of the man who finds out what life would have been like if he hadn’t lived.

Night Of The Meek – Sheriff “Bat” Campbell discovers the Christmas spirit in true Twilight Zone style

The Shop Around The Corner – another classic featuring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as two employees who secretly fall in love with each other without realizing.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Thanksgiving rather than Christmas, but who could miss this classic performance by John Candy and Steve Martin.

Father Ted Christmas Special – If you’ve never watched this brilliant British series go find it now. It’s fecking brilliant!

As you can see by my choices, I’m a bit of an old softie underneath this callous, curmudgeonly exterior.

And of course the real joy of Christmas for me is being able to share extra time with my beautiful wife, Hilary. Wine, walks in the snow, cuddling in bed, some of the moments that make every day special, not just Christmas.

Let me finish by wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, whatever your beliefs. Remember there are many people in the world much worse off than we are and let’s hope for a better year, for everyone.

And of course, Bah Humbug! 😉

Xmas

 

Updated to latest version of WordPress – yet another mess to sort out. The great support people at Bluehost.com tell me it’s a plugin issue. Now I just have to figure out which. These screw-ups really are annoying and burn up crazy amounts of time. :-(

And the “winner” is….?

Jetpack!?!?! WTF? WordPresses own plugin for connecting to wordpress.com screws up my site?

General WordPress advice: Use as few plugins as you can possibly manage, keep your install simple.

I’m quite seriously thinking of going back to straight html…

I recently had the opportunity to share my work at the Spangdalem Air base Comic con (special thanks to Keith Houin for helping with this). As I couldn’t make the event in person Keith suggested I make a greeting video that could be shown on the large screens at the conference.

Something many people don’t know about me is that I like to make a splash. I’m a curious mix of massive egomaniac mixed with an equally large river of self-doubt(Perhaps that’s something that affects all writers!). So when I decided to do the video, I wanted to do something a little different.
I’ve had a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud for sometime and used After Effects to make the video trailers for the Dead Reckoning collection. So it seemed a natural idea to make use of that software to create my conference video. As a long time fan of special effects of all kinds this was an opportunity I couldn’t resist and my cunning writer’s brain soon came up with a plan. I’d send my greetings to the conference “from space”!

This might sound crazy, but in the dim and distant past I worked for a couple of games companies and also an indie film production group. The projects themselves are long lost in the mists of time, but I picked up some 3D and video skills that I occasionally still exercise for fun. I hadn’t taken on anything like this before though and had limited time, so I knew I had to keep it fairly simple. Here’s what I did.

First I built a planet in 3D. This sounds complicated, but really isn’t that hard. This article walks you through the process. It’s written for 3DS MAX, but the concepts are easily transferable to Blender and other 3D systems.

My planet didn’t come out exactly like the one in the article, but I was pleased with the result and animated a loop of video with the planet and its rings revolving. Planet1
Then I hunted down a spaceship 3D model on the web. I could have built my own, but given the time scales I felt it was better to find a free model. After playing with the lighting and so on I rendered an animation of the ship moving “past” the camera and flying into the distance. I also built a simple “bulkhead” with windows as a backdrop to sit behind me.

Ship  Windows01
Next the real “fun” part — videoing myself speaking the greeting. I hate my own voice like many of us and am not a natural “public” speaker, so I found this very awkward. As Winston Churchill said, “Never, in the field of video production, has one short video resulted in so many bloopers.”

GreenScreen-Me
The trick here is to use a “green screen” effect. This is what film and TV studios use to mask people out and insert them into other environments. I found a great youtube video showing how to make a very cheap screen and set mine up for a few dollars.

Title
I brought all the clips in to After Effects, which makes combining them very easy. The green is removed from the layers using a process called “chroma-keying”. After setting up the timing of the individual tracks I added a “sci-fi” background noise and spaceship roar (both again downloaded from free internet sources). I added a brief intro title and a sprinkling of movie magic and that was it! One greeting video that’s a little bit out of the ordinary. :-) You can see the final version here.

Finished
Once again, a big thank you to Spangdalem for hosting the event, the organizers Jarrod and Caitlan and especially Keith and the guys at Vorpal for making it possible. (Vorpal have just released their very first comic edition – so check it out!)

Coffee!

Ahhh yes… Will Shakespeare said that music was the food of love… but we all know that it was a steaming cup of triple Mocha that got him moving in the morning. Writers and coffee go together like… like… coffee and writers. It’s safe to say that if you find a writer, you’ll find a caffeine addict lurking too. It’s caffeine that both soothes our conscience when we decide to really stick it to our characters and also gives us the chutzpah to kill off our darlings when necessary.

My own relationship with coffee started when I was quite young. Despite being born in Britain, the dreaded tea-drinkers paradise, I always preferred coffee. This was reinforced through college taking Computer Science classes and then bolstered further during my career as a software developer, team leader and project manager. All of these positions required liberal quantities of caffeine, even if it didn’t say so on the job spec.

So you see, coffee was a firmly implanted vice long before I started writing full-time. Of course, the other common writer trait I share is that I’m an extreme miser. Again quoting Shakespeare, “Verily, doth Starbucks be of an unseemly expense.”

My own specific vice is the latte. Very simple, I don’t want some strange flavoring, or chocolate sprinkles, or an umbrella with fruit stuck in it. Just deliciously creamy frothy steaming hot latte. MMMMmm paradise in a cup! So go to Starbucks or any other coffee emporium and a Latte will cost four bucks a shot, maybe more depending where you are. When you add that up, if you buy just one cup per day, you’re spending over a thousand dollars a year on coffee! Think about it. How many important things, like books, could you buy for that!

So I do what most miserly coffee drinkers do. I brew a pot of regular coffee and drink that. It hits the spot in the morning, it works it’s magic suitably…

But it’s not a frothy, heavenly -*Latte*- (imagine harps and angels singing…)

Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers. I’m certainly not going to replace the cost of buying a year’s worth of Latte’s, by buying an outrageously expensive coffee machine for at home…

But it turns out I don;t need to. They’re not so hard to make in fact. So easy in fact that even Will Shakespeare could have afforded to start a coffee shoppe himself.

First you need to find a way of making some coffee in limited quantities; because you probably don’t want to drink Latte’s all the time (do you?). My solution was simple; a very inexpensive cafetiere (sometimes called a French or coffee press). Like this:

ori-cafetiere-a-piston-chambord-4-tasses-50-cl-bodum-1059_662

I found mine at a local store on offer for about $15 bucks.

Next you need to get one of these little doodads. It’s called a milk frother and you can pick these up cheap too, maybe $10 bucks.

Aerolatte-Milk-Frother-Satin

Now, get your cafetiere and put in about a couple of teaspoons of your favorite coffee.  Adjust to taste of course, but you want a nice strong mixture to offset the milkiness. The coffee doesn’t have to be anything special; your regular coffee will probably do, but you could try different ones if you want to go even more exotic.

Now boil up enough water for however many cups you’re making, then leave it to cool for a couple of minutes (don’t add boiling water to a glass cafetiere, for obvious reasons). Stir the water and coffee, then leave to brew for a few minutes.

While the coffee is brewing. you make the key ingredient, the delicious foam! Take about the same volume of milk as coffee. You’re looking for about a fifty:fifty mix at the end. Stick this in the microwave in a cup or beaker and zap for a couple of minutes. Don’t allow the milk to boil over, or your wife, partner, significant other, will expect you to clean up the mess (ask me how I know…) . Now take your milk frother and insert it into the hot milk, moving it in and out until you’ve whipped up a damn good foam (why does that sound kind of kinky?).

Once you’ve done that the coffee will be ready, so press the plunger down on the cafetiere to filter the coffee, pour into a cup, then add the frothy goodness on top and there you go. Odds bodkins! Your very own delicious latte! It’s that simple and takes maybe five minutes max.

I add a little vanilla to the milk, and I also double sweeten it to offset the stronger coffee. But a little experimenting will soon get you a perfect cup. What finer treat can there be on a morning? (or any time.) And the cost? Pennies.

And here’s one I prepared earlier.

20151109_142226-A

Shakespeare would be proud.

P.S. Full disclosure – I was forced to make a cup especially so I could take the pictures for this blog post… 😀

P.P.S. Wake your partner up on a Sunday morning with one of these and they’ll be impressed!

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Dead Reckoning "...a wonderful introduction to a fun, new Canadian author." Click for excerpt

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