Disappearing Subjects and Material Objects – Part II

As a child I tried to find out how to become invisible. Watching a fly and being unable to catch it, I tried to convince myself that if I could only move fast enough, I would be invisible.

Invisible to the perception of a certain subject, of course—while objects would remain stable. Wouldn’t they? This dichotomy between subject and object drives much of my writing, or rather, the questioning of such assumed division. The following are a series of fotographic experiments I made for a studio project—making subjects and objects disappear.

dancing_0074 dancing_0067 dancing_0092 dancing_0116 dancing_0128 dancing_0139 dancing_0086 dancing_0064 dancing_0080 dancing_0071

 

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Disappearing Subjects and Material Objects

As I am writing away on my dissertation, I stumbled across my old projects from the MSAAD days at Columbia. The question of the subject and the object, and how they are both constructed and made to disappear is central in my work. But usually that consists of words on pages. Here is a sampling from some visual experiments I made for a studio project for South Africa.

 

Candice Breitz’ “Portrait of the King”

Trying to understand the fragmentation of the King (Michael Jackson) through the performance of one of his songs by several fans (shown synchnroneously), I traced the respective performances in their spatial expression over time. Isolating a key movement, or key phrases, I modelled a 3D score of the performance as spatial fragments.

The subsequent overlay of all these fragments results in one spatial score for the whole song, reconstructing the subject of the king through the imitations of his fans. A spatial impression of the King’s work as temporal trace—drawing music into space with the body.

Starting with the visual breakdown of the performance over time, tracing movements in key moments of the subject’s interpretation.

090203_KING

Drawing a score of several voices, a chorus, emulating the King.

090203_KING

Spatializing time, body, and musical movement for each one.

atm2126_QUARTER_Detail2

Recombining them to one spatial chorus, the reconfiguration of the King over time.

Spatial Notation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things that happen in the Margins of Academic CV’s (aka “Life”)

I haven’t written anything here in a long time. Over a year, to be precise, and while I have been online a lot (a LOT) during that year, I have spent most energy offline: life happened. And it is precisely here where where life happens: in the spaces for productivity that remain temporarily empty.

The section on the academic CV that says “Things that happened while I was not publishing,” or “Fellowships I couldn’t apply to because…. LIFE” does not exist. The complete separation of the scholar from the physical, physiological, mental, emotional person is at the heart of academia. And while I am not favoring a communal “let’s share everything” approach, and while I do appreciate talking about work and work only with my colleagues and friends to remember that I am a thinking being, as well, I think this segregation of thought and life sometimes produces expectations that are, pun intended, bigger than life.

This, in turn, might contribute to conditions of labor at universities (yes, it is, indeed, labor) where more than 75% of faculty are working as adjunct professors. Not only underpaid with no benefits, but lifting the heavy weight of entire institutions on their shoulders, representing those institutions to their students, while having no job security whatsoever. And quoting a recent article in the New York Times, maintenance is hard, and it is so much less glamorous than production. So it seems that if/when you want brilliant scholarship, setting up a life for scholars with as little maintaining of essential needs should be in one’s interest.

So here is to hope come fall’s application season: hoping for positions for all my brilliant colleagues and friends that let’s them produce amazing scholarship precisely because they allow life to happen.

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Radical Pedagogies at the Venice Biennale

Radical Pedagogies at the Venice Biennale

Radical Pedagogies at the Venice Biennale

Our collaborative research Radical Pedagogies has been awarded a Special Mention for contributing to the section Monditalia at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia, directed by Rem Koolhaas!

The Motivation by the Jury of the Biennale Awards:

For the Monditalia section
A Special mention goes to Radical Pedagogies: ACTION-REACTION-INTERACTION
The project illustrates how Italian Architectural thinking was disseminated and impacted in different parts of the world. It highlights the emergence of new poles of architectural thinking in the current world and makes these accessible as a living archive. The research project is part of an ongoing global project that shows that knowledge is produced and develops in a networked way beyond national borders and national identities.

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Check out our website, for all the case studies by our amazing collaborators. More soon!
www.radical-pedagogies.com

Radical Pedagogies on the Princeton School of Architecture Website

Complete List of Awards on the Biennale Website

The Award Ceremony on the Biennale Youtube Channel

140607 Award Ceremony (La Biennale di Venezia Flickr account)

Interview with the Radical Pedagogies Team:

140608 Interview (La Biennale di Venezia Media Center)

 

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Curation of Radical Pedagogies at the Biennale:
Beatriz Colomina, Britt Eversole, Ignacio G. Galán, Evangelos Kotsioris, Anna-Maria Meister, Federica Vannucchi.

Supporters:
Princeton University School of Architecture, Princeton University Council of the Humanities, Princeton University Department of Art and Archeology, Princeton Program in Latin American Studies, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University Program in Media and Modernity, Princeton University Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities, Xlam Dolomiti and Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown.

 

 

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Wing it: give your Macbook Air finally its wings! (Read: a new SSD by OWC)

The Problem: Macbook Air (late 2010) with only 64GB

When I bought my Macbook Air in late 2010, I thought I would use it as a portable typewriter, hence would not need a big hard drive (or rather, solid state drive). I went for the 64gb model, and with Dropbox and its select sync function (more on that soon in a separate post) the limited space seemed sufficient.

However, the more archival images I took, the more I wanted to have them at hand, and my Devonthink database for my dissertation grew, as well. Outsourcing the data heavy items to USB drives increasingly annoyed (and worried me), since they were not included in my timemachine backup for one, and made them generally easy to lose and slow to use. And despite my efforts to herd my gigabites, the message “your startup disk is almost full” kept popping up too often.

The Solution: OWC Aura Pro SSD 240gb

The genius people from The nifty mini drive found a solution for people with a 13″ MBA by popping an additional drive flush into the sd card slot – alas, the 11″ model does not have such a slot, so I was trodding the internet for different solutions, settling on replacing my built-in SSD with a new model.

The firm OWC seemed, after some research, to be the only one to offer post-purchase SSD upgrades for the macbooks… And, friendly enough, they offer a whole kit including all the tools and a case for the then-old SSD, covering the whole process. I settled for the 240gb, mostly due to pricing issues (the largest on offer is 480, but with paying about 1 Euro per gb I tried to be reasonable). They ship internationally, but after some trouble with German customs (yes, hey do check everything) I ordered from Olano GmBH (also the apfelklinik in Hamburg sells OWC parts in Germanay).

Make sure if you order from a different site than OWC directly that you are getting a) the right drive for your model and b) the kit and not just the drive (or vice versa). OWC offers a 3 year warranty on its drives, make sure you get that wherever you buy it.

You will also need (depending on your Mac OS version): for 10.6 your original installation drive for the OS X, and for everything after Lion a bootable partition or online backup.

The Process: screw it open (not up)

Needless to say, before you start any unscrewing, even unpacking, make sure you have made a safe backup from everything! If possible, I would advice to go double. Just in case. I made a time machine back up, plus I have most of my things on dropbox, and synced to a second Mac (on a different continent right now, but for the worst case scenario good enough).

After watching the video by OWC the prep work seems simple enough; I did a bit more research on the problem of static charge while working on the inside of my baby. I read some things about recommending manipulating a cable and working plugged in, but switched off… I would, however, advise NOT to tamper with any electronics and only work unplugged. Other pages said it is enough to touch the chassis of the mac before starting (to level static charge between you and the computer), and to try not to touch the connectors of the harddrive, or generally, as little as possible inside the computer. Oh, and not sit on a carpet, nervously shuffling your feet, or pet your cat while you unscrew your computer….

Don’t unpack all the new goodies just yet: the new SSD is getting its beauty rest in an anti-static pouch; don’t pull it out until you are ready.

The mechanics of the process are fairly straightforward: turn your mac on its back (use a dishcloth or so to buffer it) and with the pentalope screwdriver (provided by OWC) you unscrew all 12 screws that hold the backside of the laptop. Try to get your thumb under the now loose backside and lift it evenly. Mine was a bit stuck at first, but it is generally easy to get off with a bit of wiggling.

If the batteries (the black stuff) is now on the bottom, the SSD is a bit to your right, just above the batteries. Easy to find. It is fixed by one torx screw (screwdriver again provided by OWC), and after losening that (and not dropping it into the bowels of the laptop, as I did) you just pull the SSD out of its slot. It was very tight in my case, so try to touch it only at the sides (static charge and all), and get leverage by holding on to the chassis. But should be no problem. Put the old one aside.

Now: time to unpack the new drive. Just cut open the plastic pouch (don’t cut into the drive), and slide it out, Again, try to touch the sides rather than groping full on. The drive has stickers on it on both sides, leave them, otherwise you vd the warranty! When you look at the connector, there is a shorter and a longer part, which makes it also clear which direction the drive should be pushed into the slot. There is also a little patch on the side facing up, i guess that is as distance-holder to the chassis (I read somewhere that the OWC drive had a slightly different geometry or thickness than the Apple built-in one, hence used to be touching something and potentially overheating – maybe it is to prevent that).

Fasten the screw, and close the lid again. Fasten the 12 screws, and turn your baby around. Done! That was it with the actual mechanical work on your laptop!

Now take the included case for the old SSD, remove the top part, and slide in your SSD (same thing as you just did in your laptop, but now screws for fixing it required). Close the lid with the two screws: done! You now have a bootable USB 3 harddrive.

And now comes the nerve-wracking part:

The Installation: something old, something new, …

Plug in your laptop, and insert the thumb drive with the original Mac OSX. (The next steps are for Mac OS 10.6, so if you are ahead of me there, check your instructions here).

Power up your mac, and it will automatically start from the thumb drive and launch the installer. Do what it tells you, and then start Disk Utility to format your new drive. Choose in disk utility the tab “Erase”, select your new OWC drive on the left, give it a name and choose as format “Mac journaled (Extended)”. Then hit “erase”. This should only take a few seconds, and your new drive should be Mac OS ready. (I started up the laptop directly from my newly encased old SSD, and went to disk utility from there, and then installed from thumbdrive. Works just as well).

Now you’ll be taken back to the installer, and you can move on installing happily for now.

Once you are done with mac os, it will ask you if you want to migrate data, with several options where the data might come from: choose “from a time machine backup)”, plug your drive in, and wait until the migration assistant finds the drive and the right back up. Select the harddrive that you just formatted and named as installation destination in the next step, and pour yourself a glass of wine (do NOT put it next to your computer, just sayin’). This will take a while, depending on your data masses. I had 60gb to migrate, and it took 40 mins or so.

After time machine migrated everything to the new SSD (and I mean Everything: data, programs, settings etc) you will be asked to restart your computer. Everything should now look the same way that the old one did.

Applications, Clouds and other troubles

If some of the program symbols in the dock a crossed out, don’t fret. First, download the update package for the Mac OS (since you installed the original, it will most likely be outdated) and install it. That will fix some of the program symbols. With the ones still looking crossed out you can do two things: either just launch them, and see if they fix themselves, or, if not, move them out of the dock, and move them back in from the “Applications” folder.

Mail: I have a ton of mails, so it took Mail a while to import them all. And then, at first, ALL my princeton mails were missing. Some adrenalin got released, but upon closing and restarting the app, they reappeared.

Google Drive: whichever cloud services you use, you will be asked to reconnect to your account. with Google Drive there seems to be a MAJOR problem in that upon relinking, google will first ask you to search for your folder, and when you point it to it (by clicking n the error message under the drive symbol in your menu bar), will tell you that “this is not your original Google drive folder” EVEN THOUGH IT TOTALLY IS. In my case that was not so bad, because I don’t have much on the Drive, but this can make you seriously upset if you have to redownload several gigs of data.

Dropbox: I am, as you know, an avid fan of Dropbox and cannot imagine digital life without it. On my Air I had select sync set up in order to save disk space, hence, of course, time machine also only migrated those folders that had been previously synced onto the laptop. Now I was asked by Dropbox to re-link my account, and suddenly panicked: what if Dropbox now thought that the few folders on my laptop were the NEW folders and would sync AWAY all the other folders (read: delete)?! Though I do have backups of everything, that would be truly terrible, so I emailed support before linking anything. I am still waiting for a conclusive response, so am, at the moment, working locally (in my dropbox folder, but offline), and will update you once that is solved! [UPDATE: after some emails with their support, Dropbox convinced me that it is safe to log into my account on my new/old Air; I did, and was asked whether I would like to “keep my old settings (including select sync)” and I happily answered YES. So far all looks good – the indexing of the files takes a while with a fairly full Dropbox – but the settings under select sync do indeed look like my old ones, and as far as I can tell when logging into dropbox.com, none of my folders are gone. Fingers crossed!]

I will also add links to all the mentions in the text, and update as I go, but for now: have fun!

And: how AMAZING is the feeling of having TRIPLE DIGIT FREE SPACE on your Macbook Air?

 

More Links to this topic:

www.everymac.com

www.ifixit.com (here they show a 13″ late 2010 model)

www.arstechnica.com

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Roadtripping – and which apps save your sanity

This is a bit belated, but in January it seems like a bit of holiday reporting might fight the new year’s depression. Hence: I went on a road trip (last year). The second half, so to speak, since I drove from New York to Chicago and back a few years ago. Now I drove from Chicago to Los Angeles, with lots of detours….

Most of the trip went smoothly, and we saw an amazing amount of landscapes, things, cities, etc, but to plan a trip “on the fly” is quite a task, actually. Preparing ourselves, and now being on the road, I can say that my iPhone was my best friend, and here is why:

Navigation: It tells me where to go. I downloaded the sygic app, after comparing, and it is a great GPS navigator for my iPhone 4. Not only does it work without Internet connection, I can also download the offline maps state by state as to not crowd my phone, and it was the cheapest of all of them at 24.99$ for the US version. I have to say though, while it worked like a charm on the country side, sygic did not quite understand the difference between city traffic and highway traffic, and in Los Angeles, 6 miles do NOT equal 10 minutes drive, so there’s a big caveat there. Sygic also got a little confused with the carpool lanes, trying to tell me to not take them or take them as exits, which might get stressful when you are driving without a passenger who interprets her stumbling. So in the city, I used google maps, and where there was not much reception, I used sygic. If you have an ipad with 3G, you can also use that for GPS navigation, but the wifi only ipad does not have a GPS chip.

Hotels: It also tells me where to sleep – for cheap! I have to say, I am impressed by Priceline. For roadtrips it seems like the ideal way to book hotels: the less time you book ahead, the cheaper it gets. And if you bid with your own price without needing to know the name of the hotel before, it’s even cheaper. We have so far stayed in great 3 or 4 star hotels for under 90$ per night for the (mostly huge) room! It’s nice to know where you’ll sleep, and find out while on the road – and it saves a ton of money. Over the three weeks, however, it turns out that sometimes it is good to check the priceline offers, to then compare them with the hotel rates directly – some places will match that price, since they earn more without a third party broker. In general priceline is great to see what’s out there, and their secret bidding deal is usually worth it, but they have mostly chains and few motels, and no bed and breakfasts. Hotwire is similar to priceline that it reveals the name of the hotel only after buying, and sometimes has other hotels on offer than priceline. Another great all, especially for cities, is hoteltonight. While their servers are a bit slow sometimes, they offer a preselected variety of places per city, all of which they tested and know, and have great deals. We stayed in some amazing places for very little money through them. Only problem: you need Internet connection the day you want to book at noon, since that is when they launch their offers, and they might be sold out while you scramble to get reception in Utah…

Food: It tells me what and where to eat. There is of course yelp – mostly a good first test of what’s around you, and what people think, but it also has some touristy voters giving a less than amazing burger joint a great review, since it is next to a club and they had drunk grubby food there. Urbanspoon is a bit more informative and reliable, I find, giving you more of a feel why people like it (if they do). This saved a few dinners and lunches on the road, helping to hit some local favorites and staying away from the fast food chains. Another one is from the food network, with diners and dives along the way. This one has helped us to some nice roadside things, but is not very comprehensive – more of an idea giver that a full on search tool. There’s also roadfood, which seems good, but I didn’t use it much.

 

 

Tripadvisor: good for hotels, not so great for food.

Further links for roadside apps here:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/12/travel/road-trip-apps

Also check the forums at www.fodors.com, they have a lot of travelers exchanging in depth information.

 

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Crunch Time – and how to survive it.

So I had this paper due. Well, let’s be honest: overdue. For the third time overdue. Hence, this time it really HAD to get done. Since I spent the weekend in Freiburg on Family business (with no work getting done), it was down to Monday and Tuesday, and I was scared. More precisely: panicked.

But the miracle happened, I spent two complete, long days in happy-writing-work-flow land, and I loved it there. Also, I want to go back. Several things contributed to this experience, and I am not sure which one did the trick, so I will just list all of them, in no priority and with no guarantee of success.

The Library /Laptop Set up:

Great Library in Munich (ok, you guys, I know that doesn’t help those of you who are not around, but hey: come on over!), non-circulating, but great collection, and cool spaces to work even thought the AC bailed on them. I bring lots of water, and my lovely macbook Air, my bluetooth magic mouse and spare batteries (it is very, very annoying to edit a paper with only the trackpad.) As mentioned in other posts, I use the writing program Scrivener. If you don’t use it, you don’t know what you are missing. I seriously think it has increased my productivity, improved my thinking AND writing, and it also looks good — and it’s not expensive, either. I used to think writing=reading+thinking+typing, but there’s more to it, even if you don’t know it yet.

Food/Drinks:

I eat whatever I feel like, but like to start the working day with Savory Oatmeal. Tastes delicious, and keeps me full without being heavy. Lunch: I can only say, if I eat pasta for lunch, I’ll pass out at 3pm. Guaranteed. I always have a tired phase around 3pm/3.30pm, but with Carbs for Lunch I can make my bed right on my keyboard. So think Salad, Soups, Veggies. Then definitely Smoothies and fruit will help. Sugar cravings of course happen, but rarely, and usually not for the better…. but most importantly: Green Matcha Tea. I discovered this in Japan 5 years ago, and it tastes delicious. It is expensive, but amazing, and super healthy, as well. It is the ground green tea leaves without stems etc, which have grown in the shadow, and have been early plucked. This basically means, that the tea powder is not bitter, contains caffeine, but also vitamins, and you can drink it as tea, or latte. I drank the last days green tea latte in the morning, and iced green matcha during the day. The ups and downs I get with coffee drinks are gone, and I don’t fall asleep as much. I put the iced tea in my Klean Kanteen Isolated cup, which works well in keeping it ice cold all day… also since it’s stainless steel and has a wide mouth opening, it’s easy to clean and can go in the dishwasher. In case you don’t love doing dishes, like me.

Aroma Therapy:

Yes, now you’ll think I’ve gone crazy. But trust me, just try it. I used two different things, for two different purposes. The first thing I bought (it’s expensive) was the Aveda Stress Fix concentrate. You roll it on your wrists or so (they say not on your face, but I did that, as well), breath in, and it actually does calm you down. At least it worked with me. When the panic came back, I smelled the lavender/sage whateveritis, and I felt better — whyever or due to placebo effect I don’t know, and don’t care, as long as it works. The other thing is the Origins Peace of Mind Lotion — it’s a bit less expensive, but also less efficient, I find. Aveda has something similar with the Blue Oil Concentrate, but that didn’t smell as good, and weak, I found. Also what’s nice about the origins thing is that it is less greasy — that one can be massaged directly on your temples or back of the neck, and I don’t like the oily stuff in my face.

and for the actual workflow, also regarding the iPad and Goodreader/Evernote/Dropbox: see this blogpost — I just made some additions to it!

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How to get your iPhone unlocked – and make your own micro sim

So I am one of the many tortured AT&T customers. Generally I am on the phone with them once a month, either because they overbill, or say one thing and do another, or just generally mess things up. As you will see, sometimes that works to your advantage.

First tip: the reduced rate suspension. This is very useful if you, like me, spend only some of your time in the US but have an expensive phone contract with AT&T. They won't tell you this, and if you ask for a suspension, they will try to JUST suspend your phone while still charging you, but there is a thing called “reduced rate suspension”. Your account qualifies for it if your are in good standing, and if you haven't had your phone suspended this way in the last I believe 6 months. The RRS costs 10$ a month, you keep your account and your number, and you can do it once every 12 months (though they are not terribly strict about that, either) – maximum length of suspension is 6 months.

 

So I did that, went to Germany, and had my old iPhone (which was not on the contract) unlocked. So far so good, only that it is an iPhone 3G, and is terribly slow. Torture. Then I tried to get my regular iPhone 4 unlocked, but was told it was supposedly still under contract, hence not yet unlockable. Now I chatted with AT&T today, and registered my unlocked iPhone with my account. Left the chat, opened another chat, and asked them to unlock the iPhone 4. It took a long time, but after telling them that they had confused my IMEIs before (which they had) they agreed to unlock it. Am right now recovering it in iTunes, after which it should be unlocked!

Now the iPhone 4 requires a micro sim, whereas the the 3G works with an normal sim. Dang. But the good people from www.micro-sim.de have not only instructions, but also a stencil to print to make the cutting more precise. So I print the page, check the correct print size with the normal sim card shape that's on the page as well, then fix the micro sim stencil with some tape to my sim card, and happily start chopping away the plastic. I didn't cut into the chip, which I guess wouldn't be a good idea, and hope it worked! Will plug in the micro sim in a second…….

…..and: it works! Omg. I can now actually use my iPhone 4 with acceptable speed in Germany… Who would have thought this would ever come true. (My heart rate went up during all of this. Yep, that is my kind of cardio.)

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And – Action! (or what you can use olive oil for, as well)

So after describing to you guys how my beautiful new coffee machine is oh so great, I have to admit, I needed advice. Hence, what follows will be the conversations I am currently having with the guys at www.orphanespresso.com, who seem to be more into the machines than their makers…. the people at www.olympia-express.ch, the makers of it, which I contacted first, were very nice and basically told me not to worry about it but maybe consider a maintenance service, but were unable to tell me who does those things around here.

So after watching several youtube videos and reading forum posts, I emailed orphanespresso. The answer will be posted as soon as I get one…

————

ME asking THEM:

Hi, fellow coffee lovers,
I have recently inherited my father’s 1982 Cremina, and have started to look into it a bit more closely. While my father treated his machine with care and respect, I don’t think he ever lubricated anything etc.
Since I love it, and want to take care of it, I was hoping you might be able to help regarding a few questions.
PS: the machine works, doesn’t leak, just the lever was moving rather difficult (see below).

Group head hole / Picture 1:
I attached an image of the group head – I couldn’t remove the pins yet (don’t have the tool yet), but they did move, and I lubricated them a bit to prevent that terrbile wear out of the hole that you describe on your site… Can you tell from my picture if it is already worn out too much?

Tube stuck to Group / Picture 2:Today I screwed off the group in order to clean the screen and lubricate the piston, but was surprised, since not only the group came off, but also the tube that goes i don’t know where. I assume that the gasket has stuck to the group? But if you can give me a hint of what to do with this? or if it is dangerous to keep it how it is now?

Gasked and seeve:
I popped out the screen, which has some sort of clips – and doesn’t seem to be held in place by a gasket – is that normal for that machine? There is a gasket around the piston shaft, but it is basically behind the seeve… so the popping out was easy, and the cleaning was totally necessary – now the seeve has actually holes!

Piston Shaft:
The Piston shaft was thank god very clean, except for a rim of coffee residue at the very bottom, but was very hard to move. I have to admit, I lubricated in my desperation with a little drop of olive oil, and the piston moves like a charm now – but did I destroy something with that?

Sorry to impose like that – but I just wanted advice, and you seem to be THE experts!!

Thank you so much for your time,

Anna-Maria Meister

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The Olympic Coffee Games – or: welcome to coffee geek world

My father had bought a Swiss espresso machine back in the eighties, when hipsters had no clue what a lever machine is or how important the grinding and tampering is for crema (or, for that matter, what crema is). He paid something like 800,- DM for it, which was quite outrageous, but just as he started buying apple computers earlier than anyone I know (which us kids hated since there were no games available back then), he did proper research, and then bought the best of the best. So he aquired the Olympia Cremina, a hand lever machine built from copper, brass, stainless steel and chrome, handle made from ebony, so no plastic found anywhere (except some rubber in the gaskets). Apparently the machine has no life span constraints, meaning it can make espresso forever and ever.
Let me rephrase that: YOU can make espresso for ever and ever. A machine like the Cremina has no pump, meaning it's all muscle work. And brain work, for that matter. If you, like me, love to watch the baristas at the Italian highway rest stops, pujlling the perfect espresso looks fast, easy, and natural. I can tell you: it's none of the above. You need knowledge, sensitivity, patience and good coffee. Oh, and time, lots of it. Which, regarding coffee, sometimes is a problem (hello, Monday morning!). This is why my mother decided she is not using the machine at all, so I took on custody for it.

It is heavy, sturdy and beautifully made, yet had several layers of dust on it, when I got it, so I scrubbed it for a good hour. The result was blinding!!! Shiny sparkly chrome, and the gaskets apparently all still work, since the water only comes out in places it is supposed to.

So I pull my first espresso. The coffee pressed lightly in the portafilter, I screw it in, heat the machine up with the lever pointing down (then I remembered one needs to let some air out through the steamer) and then push the lever slowly up. The brown water spills out already while pushing up. Not a good sign. I continue to push up, and then push down. I remember my father more or less pulling down with all his weight, so I knew that the pushing down was far too easy. I tasted the “espresso” I had made, and it was awful. Sour, bitter, soupy, gross. So I hit the forums. There are plenty of coffee forums out there, in case you were wondering, some dedicated specifically to this machine, and there is one that offers a more than 4 hour you tube video for any thing related Cremina in terms of maintenance or fixing (check www.orphanespresso.com). So after some research, I found out that sour and soupy means not ground finely enough or not tampered densely enough. Hence I try again, grinding the coffee finer, and tampering more. And: it was better! Still far from the Italian thick, sweet shot with dense crema, but taste wise less repulsive than the first run.

So now comes Monday morning: thank god I can take my time (life in grad school, I know). I use the coffee we get pre ground from dallmayr. The espresso is generally very good, but I hear to make good espresso one needs to grind yourself, so I will get on it (yes, there's forums about coffee grinders as well). I try to compensate the maybe too coarse grinding with more tampering, and again, push the lever up slowly (that opens the gasket and let's hot water meet the coffee), but again, there's some coffee already dripping out – not supposed to! Well, you gotta finish what you started, so I I'll down, and I do, magically, get some crema! It's not much, and the espresso is not thick enough by far, but hey, it's a learning curve.

The milk steaming (not really considered to be part of “real” coffee makers by the espresso snobs it seems) works fine with the steamer, but the foam was not as dense as with our old, lame Krups machine. I decided to first pull the espresso and then use the steamer, but not sure if that's correct temperature wise….

But. I got a cappuccino, and I am now all into the coffee fever. If you meet me and my hands are shaking, you know why.

More on the Cremina and all what you need to know (and it is a lot) here:

www.coffeegeek.com

www.olympia-cremina.com

www.orphanespresso.com

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