Droopy Quotes

You may recall my “krisis,” written about here last week, wherein I found myself without any capital K in 12 point Bodini, an important gap as I had to set the name Carl F. Klinck as part of the Confederation Country Cabinet project.

I’m happy to report that the krisis has been averted: my typefounder performed yeoman service and quickly cast and shipping sufficient K to keep me going. While he was at it, I had him cast some capital G, some capital B and some quotations marks, the later allowing me to change:

— from Letter to Canadians by Jack Layton (1950-2011), August 20, 2011.


— from ‘Letter to Canadians’ by Jack Layton (1950-2011), August 20, 2011.

The type arrived on Friday, and I sorted it into the type case this morning and in doing so I learned that not all quotation marks are created equal: there are “droopy quotes” and “66/99” quotes.

For my #375 Bodini, the Swamp Press type catalog entry looks like this:

Bodini 375

Notice how the quotation marks in the face look like this (and are “droopy”):

Droopy Quotes

Compare this to the Swamp Press type sample for #137 Caslon Old Style:

where the quotation marks provided are of the “66/99” style:


What this means is that there are actually two ways of setting the quotation marks for ‘Letter to Canadians’:

These variants are described in the book Designing Type as follows:

Although modern digital systems now provide a specific key and code for quotation marks, the form of the quote remains the same: a pair of evenly-spaced commas. While some designers prefer a top-heavy orientation (also called ‘droopy quotes’), the normal configuration is ‘66’ and ‘99’.

In my case it will be less “preference” and more “circumstance” that makes me a “droopy quote” man.

I thought it might be useful to print myself a visual aid to help setting quotes droopily, but it turned out that all I need to concern myself with is that the “tails” of the quotation marks point inwards:

I had no idea about any of this until an hour ago: setting type is a neverending learning experience.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Iced Tea

It’s 24ºC outside as I write, the warmest it’s been all year. And so it’s a good time to revisit this CBC Mainstreet piece I recorded a decade ago in 2004 about iced tea many years ago with host Matthew Rainnie.

It may be my favourite piece of radio of all those I’ve ever produced, and it’s clear that I was channeling both Ann Thurlow and the late, great Marg Meikle, my radio mentors.

Matthew was, and remains, one of the easiest people to do a back-and-forth on the radio with: he’s inveterately curious and has an appreciation for the quirk. I had so much fun doing the research for this piece.

So pour yourself a tall glass of iced tea, sweetened or not as your preference dictates, and have a listen…

(In September of 2004 I went on to do the piece in radio syndication, deliverying a variation of what I did with Matt with 12 CBC radio hosts across the country in the course of a single afternoon; it was both facsinating and mind-numbing).

A Week of Dog Guide Fundraising

Hachi Poster for Charlottetown, May 24, 2014.Over the last six months I have become intimately aware of what a great organization Dog Guides Canada is. From initial application for an autism assistance dog for Oliver a year ago, through our in-home interview in the fall, our acceptance in early 2014, our 10 days of training at their facility in Oakville in March and the follow-up they provide now and onward, Dog Guides is an amazing group of dedicated people devoted to a noble cause: provide dog guides to Canadians who need them, at no cost.

It’s hard not to feel a tremendous urge to financially support the efforts of Dog Guides when you’re living the benefits every day, and when, like us, you’ve been embedded in their Oakville facility and have learned about how dogs can assist a broad range of people live better lives.

And so next week we’re launching ourselves into a week of fundraising for Dog Guides Canada.

On Saturday, May 24 at 2:00 p.m. Oliver and I are sponsoring a screening of the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale at City Cinema in Charlottetown. Tickets are $20 each, $15 for children, and are available online in advance or at the door. All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to Dog Guides Canada. If you are a lover of dogs (or even if you aren’t), Hachi is, dare I say, a “heartwarming tale” about the love between a man and his dog. It’s a tale of both sadness and joy. I really enjoyed seeing it in London, by chance, and I’m happy to bring it to Charlottetown. Please come if you can (there’s even a Facebook Event if you want more information and to share with friends and family).

The next day, Sunday, May 25 starting at 1:00 p.m., Oliver and Catherine and I are walking in the Purina Walk for Dog Guides as “Team Ethan” with the Lions Club of Winsloe. Lions Clubs across Canada are generous benefactors of Dog Guides Canada: the walls of the Oakville facility are recognize millions of dollars of support that have come from Lions over the years. The “Walk for Dog Guides” is a great opportunity for those with dog, dog guides and not, to go for a walk on a crisp spring day to raise funds for the program.  If you’d like to support Team Ethan with a donation right now, please visit the Team Ethan page and click “Make a Donation.”

And if you’ve got a dog in your life you’d like to take for a walk, and you’re willing to help raise a little money, whether you’re in Charlottetown or not, visit the Purina Walk for Dog Guides website and find the location nearest you.

Oliver at the Virtual Poetry Summit

I’d been hearing Frances Squire talk about the Virtual Poetry Summit for several years now, mostly in the vein of “gee it would be nice of the technology in Island schools supported this sort of collaboration,” but I hadn’t really been paying close attention to what the summit was actually all about.

Until this morning when it came time for Oliver to share his poem with students in New Jersey, Iowa, Pennsylvania and PEI over a Google Hangout. He came up with the poem on the way to Louisbourg in 2008.

When we talk about “computers in the schools,” it’s easy to fall into the trap of imagining the “data processing” aspects of computers as being what we’re talking about – and it’s rare in these discussions that poetry is top-of-mind.

I’m so proud of Oliver for participating, and proud of Frances and Birchwood for overcoming significant technical hurdles to allow them to be part of this event.

Flying to Europe with a Service Dog

Catherine, Oliver and I are traveling to Europe in June to attend Ton and Elmine’s mid-summer unconference and do some camping in the Netherlands and northern Germany. And, of course, we’ll be taking Ethan, Oliver’s service dog, along with us.

As a service dog, Ethan is generally entitled to go anywhere we go, including inside the airplane cabin, and into Europe. But special arrangements are required to make sure this all goes smoothly; our advice from Dog Guides Canada in all such matters is to communicate early and often, and so over the past month I’ve been working to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is. Here’s what I’ve done:

Before even making the decision to go, I needed to find an airline with the combination of reasonable airfares and a progressive service dog policy. Fortunately we found that in Condor, which flies from Halifax to Frankfurt (the other alternative was Icelandair, but as all its transatlantic flights involve a change of planes in Iceland, and Iceland requires some additional government paperwork just to allow service dogs inside the terminal, we opted against).

After making the Condor reservation online, I contact their Special Services department (“sonder reservierung”) and provided them with a letter from Oliver’s psychologist and a certifcate of Ethan’s training from Dog Guides Canada; a few days later they send an updated booking confirmation with reserved seats:

Ethan's seat reservation on Condor.

As Lufthansa is carrying us from Frankfurt to Düsseldorf I then had to contact their Canadian call center and ensure that Ethan was added to our flights in their system; they didn’t require any advance documentation, but I was advised that we’ll need to show proof-of-service-dogness at the gate before boarding.

With the flying handled, I then turned to matters of border control.

The Germany Embassy in Canada has a very helpful page of information about travel with animals and the section Accompanied Noncommercial Movements of Pets (Cats, Dogs and Ferrets) spelled out what we needed to do: within 10 days of travel we needed to have Ethan inspected by his vet and a Veterinary Certificate for non-commercial movement of up to five pets filled out. With this in hand we need to then visit the “official veterinarian,” which, in our case, is one of the vets at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency out by the Charlottetown Mall (that long, narrow building you’ve always wondered about beside Boston Pizza); they charge $20 for the certification.

There are a few other requirements that Ethan has to meet to enter Germany, all of which were in place already: he needs an ISO-standard microchip (fortunately Canada went with the European dog chip standard instead of the American one, so we’re set), and rabies vaccination.  Our helpful vet did some research for us and found that there aren’t any strange European dog maladies for which Ethan would need any additional vaccinations.

As far as lodging on our trip, we decided that, although it would likely not be an issue to take Ethan into hotels and motels with us, we would, instead, rent a VW camper (from DRM), which will give us a self-contained rolling home (we had the benefit of the experiences of my friend Bill and his family, who took a 5-week trip across Europe in a VW van several years ago and rave about the experience).

And so, in theory, we’re set and ready. I’ll be double-checking all of the above as our June 17 travel date draws nearer, but if all goes according to plan we’ll drive over to Halifax on the afternoon of June 17, park the car, gather up our suitcases and our dog, and head off to our next European adventure.