Ultra Selfie Avatar

Oliver and I were having coffee this afternoon and I took this photo just to see how it would look if I held it up to my face:

Me on Me

Cropped into a square and filtered through Instagram, the photo ended up like this:

New Avatar

And, as I hadn’t updated my personal avatar since 2013, I decided to try it on for size:

New Avatar on Twitter.com

I’m not entirely sold on it. Which is, I think, a good reason to leave it in place and see if it grows on me (and, I suppose, on y’all).

Autism acceptance means...

It’s Autistic Pride Day today, a day that, Wikipedia tells us, is “is a celebration of the neurodiversity of people on the autism spectrum.” I know this because Oliver, who’s the person in our family who’s on top of what-day-is-what, told me so.

My favourite explanation of what this day might mean comes from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and its poster “Why Acceptance?” that reads, in part:

What is autism acceptance? Autism acceptance means embracing and valuing autistic people as autistic people instead of being afraid of us, having low expectations, or trying to find a way to make us not autistic.

and then continues:

Acceptance is not passive. Acceptance is an action. Acceptance means doing everything you can so that your autistic child will grow up into the best autistic adult they can be, supporting your autistic friends in a world that is not designed for us, and working to make our world a better, more inclusive, safer place for autistic people of all ages and abilities.

It is, in other words, not a day for me to mark how proud I am of my autistic son (although I am enormously proud, every day, of the man he is becoming), it is a day for us all to celebrate the pride that Oliver takes in being who Oliver is.

If I could snap my fingers and change the world, I wouldn’t change a single thing about Oliver: he is a funny, creative, perceptive, compassionate, person who I love dearly.

My job, as his father, is to ensure, to the extent that I can, that the world – the world that is, in many ways, not designed for him – greets Oliver on his terms.

Grand Pré

We were in Nova Scotia for a long weekend, and on the spur of the moment Sunday decided to drive up the Valley toward Wolfville, an area of the province we hadn’t been to, as a family, in more than 15 years ago.

When we saw the sign on the highway pointing to “Coffee Museum” at the Grand Pré exit, I quickly signaled to exit, and 10 seconds later we were pulling into the driveway of the Just Us! café, retail store, roastery and coffee/fair trade museum. It’s an impressive operation and the museum in particular is of note for it covers not only the world of coffee, but the worlds of fair trade coffee and of cooperative enterprises (like Just Us!). Plus, they make an excellent cup of coffee.

As we’d left the highway anyway, I cast about for other things to see and do in Grand Pré, and the nearby National Historic Site because our next destination.

This too is an impressive destination: a well-done film and exhibit on the history of the expulsion of the Acadians all set in one of the most scenic areas of the country I’ve ever come across. Here’s a picture I casually snapped with my phone while walked back from the blacksmith shop on the edge of the site, looking over the rich farmland of the area, all reclaimed from the sea by Acadians more than 250 years ago:


We finished up the visit to the Valley with a jaunt into Wolfville for lunch at The Library Pub and a shop next door at The Box of Delights. Save for a brief oh-my-we’re-almost-out-of-gasoline panic on the other side of Windsor, it was an entirely pleasant day, and we’ve lots of reasons to go back before another 15 years passes.

Pin Marks

This week I had occasion to learn about pin marks, courtesy of Ed from Swamp Press, who replied to a query I’d sent him asking “what about the pin marks?”

Which prompted me to wonder “hmmm, what does he mean by pin marks?”

So I set out to learn, ending up at Identifying Metal Type: Pin Marks, an excellent resource that says, in part:

A “pin mark” is a distinctive, usually circular, depression which appears on the side of some (but not all) metal printing types. It may be relatively simple … or quite elaborate … It is only one of many features which may assist in the identification of type.

My question for Ed was prompted by a careful reader of my Twitter feed noting that, in this proof of a poster for Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids, the U in “GUILD” appeared out of sorts.

And it was (I’d used a U of the wrong weight for that letter).

Which further prompted me to look more carefully at all the type and realize that the “S” in “AS” appeared out of sorts as well.


A closer examination of this “S” (on the right in the photo below) compared to other “S” (on the left in the photo) in the drawer revealed the, indeed, although they were all on a 36 point body, the one I’d pulled out was of a slightly larger size:

Four S

I sent a query to Ed – who knows more about metal type than I will ever know – and he asked, as indicated earlier, “what about the pin marks?”

So what about the pin marks!

Here’s a close-up of the pin marks on a “regular S” (left) and on an “oversize S” (right). What I learn from these is that the letter on the left was cast by Caslon, whereas the one on the right was cast by Stephenson, Blake. Both are marked “36,” for 36 point. Among other things this tells me that company that cast each, that it’s European type (as Caslon and Stephenson, Blake were both UK companies; indeed Stephenson, Blake acquired Caslon in the 1930s) and, generally, that it’s “foundry type,” as opposed to type cast on a Monotype casting machine.

Pin Marks

The shocking thing is that this type has been in my midst – less than a metre from where I type, in fact – for two years, and it’s only now that I’ve come to learn that this helpful information is imprinted on every letter.

So much to learn!

Here’s the finished print, with both the U and the S corrected: