3 April, 2001

Welcome to my world.
. . . Strange as it may seem, my website, the site you're visiting now, is in Kansas. Click those heels together and click that mouse and you're back in Kansas in no time flat. Just say, "There's no place like my home page, there's no place like my home page."
. . . A neighbor, our village computer guru, found a place in Wichita, Kansas that wholesales reliable web servers. Wichita, it turns out, is the best place to host a website. It's on the backbone in the middle of the Internet grid. He just rented several kajillion gigabytes of webspace there.
. . . It turns out that the best place to host a website is also the best place to explode an atomic bomb. In one of those apocalyptic articles frequently found in New Yorker magazine, I remember reading that a single thermonuclear airburst over Kansas would fry every solid state device in the U.S. The electromagnetic pulse from such a blast would surge through the air at the speed of light, short-circuiting every microcircuit in a two-thousand-mile radius.
. . . Is this true? Well, it's not like I learned about it over the Internet. That alone gives it some credence. Also, the New Yorker scatters cartoons throughout its pages. Isn't that a sign of reliability and honesty? Billy Wilder -- the movie director who gave us "Some Like It Hot" -- once said, "If you're going to tell the truth, make it funny or they'll kill you." That's one of my favorite quotes, as you've probably heard me say before. The corollary to that quote is this: "Make it funny and people will think you're telling the truth."
. . . I try to make these letters funny. Really! I do! Can't you tell?! I figure it's the only way anyone will listen to me. Who's going to hang on my every word if I pretend to be a philosopher? Instead, I can pretend to be a humorist and you hardly notice that I'm talking about electromagnetic pulses bringing our civilization to its knees.

Me, I'm not waiting until my computer fizzles to get on my knees. I'm not waiting for the solid-state ignition system in my car to fuze into an inert lump of silicon. I've learned not to wait. I get down on my knees and pray as often as I can remember to do it.
. . . Yesterday, I remembered to pray when I heard that an old friend, Mary Jane (Worden) Clark, just died, as expected. You'll find her quoted in my letter of January 29, when she was planning a party at which she hoped to say goodbye to everyone she loved. She had her party, by the way. I hear it was good!
. . . I remembered to pray yesterday when, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from a cartoonist who admired my fonts. He and his wife have a new baby. He's trying to figure out some way to make money with his cartoons. That's like me trying to make money with these letters! I prayed for him then and encourage you to now.
. . . I remembered to pray yesterday when I confronted infinity. "Confronting infinity" is my hoity-toity way of saying I looked at my To Do List. Some people experience infinity when they look through a telescope into the endless depths of outer space. Me, I need only look at my list of projects to feel overwhelmed by the endless and the infinite. There are income tax forms to complete, with infinite details. There's my new renovation project, creating a doorway into the downstairs bath. There's my weekly letter to write. I can't confront any of these without feeling the need for divine intervention.

I remember to pray because I'm so easily overwhelmed. Suppose I start looking through "The Encyclopedia of Type Faces" and find an Arts and Crafts font I particularly like. Suppose I scan that face, blow up each letter to a foot tall, and begin using the scan as a template to create my own typeface, a font that can be used on computers all over the globe for hundreds of years or at least until that electromagnetic pulse from Kansas comes along at the speed of light. Even doing something as simple as this, I'm overwhelmed.
. . . The font in the book looks good. But when it is blown up three thousand percent, details not evident on the printed page suddenly become glaring inconsistencies. Or are they inconsistencies? Perhaps whoever designed the face had a reason for this bump or that odd indentation. Or are these simply flaws in my scan? And what do I want the font to look like -- organically bumpy or machined smooth? I begin tracing the lower case "a" and, by the time I get to the lower case "e", I am overwhelmed with questions and don't know what else to do but pray.
. . . Most people wait to pray until the jack-knifed 18-Wheeler of Death comes barreling straight at them head on through the windshield. You and I don't have that luxury, do we? We can't wait to pray. Life is fired at us point blank, as the Spaniard said. We live on the firing range.
. . . Oh, God! I'm wounded! I just got hit by a Form 8829, Item 29, "Carryover of excess casualty losses and depreciation." I'm bleeding! Medic! Medic!


"The Spaniard" was Ortega y Gasset. The center photo, above, is a 2x3 yanked from the floor as I worked on a doorway to the downstairs bath. I like the shape of the nails. The bottom photo is a screen shot of my work in progress on a typeface called Cushing, a font with no relation to ITC Cushing.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2001.

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Text and images copyright 2001 Danny Nelson Schweers