Howdy, there. How are you? I just got back from a summer class and came back to work, only to see that your mom works at Gaydos now. That's awesome. Seeing her reminded me to e-mail you because I heard you are going to Pitt (God, that's a dreadful sentence sequence and a terrible line of logic. Too bad.) Anyway, maybe Nate is going to Pitt too, but his grades are shoddy? Whatever. What are you going to be studying? Good luck to you.
I have a question about my four-track you might be able to answer, if you are still the soldering master. A long time ago, one of my mic inputs simply stopped responding one day, i.e., no evidence of a connection to the buss whatsoever. Brian was wondering if perhaps something simple just popped loose inside and could be re-soldered. This question has two parts:
1. Does this make sense, or does it just sound like Brian bullshit?
2. If legitimate, is this something you could fix?
Please let me know if you can fix, if you have time. I would really appreciate it and I would pay you in rubies.
Speaking of rubies, I found a great big ring with fake gems on it that I believe you made for the "13 Clocks" production. I am wondering how in the hell I ended up with it. On second thought, was it for "Fools"? I don't remember. All I know is that I have the ring and I seem to recall you losing it and having to make a new one. I realize this is probably a matter of little significance to you, but I thought you might want it. I honestly don't know why I have it.
Have a nice day.

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Pitt is a very flexible school. It's very big, and there a lot of people interested in giving you breathing room. It is an establishment, yes, but everyone there has a vested interest in letting you do your own thing. Don't worry about fitting in. And there are so many people there, you can just be left alone if you want, which is nice.
I know for a fact that at least one of the "Towers" contains single rooms. There are Towers A, B, & C, but I can't remember which one has singles. I had a friend who had his very own room. It was pretty nice. Not huge, but not really tiny, either. Comfortable for a college student. He had to share a bathroom with a bunch of other people, though. He was a freshman and got the single with no problem, so I know there is no real preference given to students who've been there for a while. I would say you have a good chance to get a single.

It is kind of you to be so encouraging. I'm not really worried about fitting in, exactly, it's just that I know from unhappy experience that I don't stay sane for long if I am living in a space that contains other people. I guess I've turned into pretty much of a hermit over the last couple of years. People are all right in small doses, but I have to get away from them every so often just to clear out my brain.
I got a letter today from one of my prospective roomates. She seems pretty nice. I've been trying to think of what to write back that would be useful.
It does help to hear from you and Cara, since you're actually there as students. I hate how all colleges send identical useless brochures, and say "Don't hesitate to call if you have questions," and never tell you anything at all. It makes it very difficult to have any idea of what the place is like. So if you have any Handy Tips for Old Freshmen, I'll be happy to hear them.
As Ever,

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Will I see you there ever?

I reckon so. I saw Cara three or four times in the spring. And Nathan should be there, right? See? It will be one big happy freakin' family.

Nathan is counting on me to have attractive roommates so he will have lots of girlies to mack on. I still don't know if he's going to be there himself. He's still struggling with the offices.

Nate ought to try to live in the girl's dorm himself.

I've been trying to work out a deal where by Nathan can go to Pitt under my name. This not only gives him full access to girls dormitories, but enrolls him in the College of Arts and Sciences with enough scholarships to get him through his first year at least. Hey, he can even use my driver's license and go to bars if he wants. And with Nathan impersonating me, I am free to go live my life under an assumed name in an entirely different city. All I need to do is cut my hair and get some kind of fake goatee, and no one will be able to tell us apart. The only potential problem is that the people at the bead store might hunt him down and demand that he demonstrate lampworking skills. Then he'd be in trouble...

Nice plan. Why don't you just drop everything and go to an entirely different city without this complicated scheme?
Isn't that what you really want to do?

Dear Satan,
I tried that. It didn't work out too well. At some point I have to put in my four years just so I won't feel like I've missed something important. Even though I am both skeptical and cynical, I have to go to college just so I won't spend the rest of my life wishing I had. I wish I could be enthusiastic about it, or at least interested, but I don't seem to work like that.
And so, mein Fiend, there you are.
Love always,

I suppose you should go through with it if you feel that way. You don't want to feel like you're missing out on anything, now, would you?
Merry Christmas
The Fonz

It's a sort of prison sentence I have to serve before I get to be a real human being. If indeed I ever do. I've spent the last several years going back and forth between here and Providence, trying to live in the real world without the collegiate piece of paper, and I can't manage it. I think it may be a mental block as much as anything.
There isn't actually anything I want to do with myself, so I'm putting it off for another four years. College is something to do so I'll have something to tell the damned relatives at picnics.
"So, Morgen, what are you doing lately?"
"Programming web pages, starving myself, and wishing I was dead"


"I'm going to Pitt in the fall to study math."

Which one sounds better to my great-aunt?
It's a cop-out. It's a way of avoiding a difficult question, by giving people an anwer they're willing to approve of. I don't feel that it's an admirable thing to do, and it makes me uncomfortable when people try to be encouraging about it.

...I'm afraid I don't know what to say to that. Uh, sorry?

Right. Any time I need an inspirational message, I know who to ask. Would it be a mistake to ask why you've suddenly re-opened the lines of communication after eight years of cold war? I've been afraid to mention it in case you decided to vanish again.

No. It would not be a mistake.

Why then, mein Freund?

Why not?

All right, all right, a cease-fire with no explanations. I suppose it will have to do for now. If you continue to send me random messages, I will continue to be cheered up by them. What more could I possibly ask of the Universe?

Well, um, let's 'bout more toast?
Actually, it would be nice to have some real magic.

If I was asking the Universe for things, I wouldn't have any idea where to start. I could probably come up with quite a list. I think it would be fun to fly...I often dream I'm flying. So far, I have more than enough toast, though. I don't really like toast, so it doesn't take much. Real magic, hmmm. What qualifies as real magic?

That was a fast reply.

You realize, of course, that since I started getting these enigmatic messages, I've been checking my e-mail every fifteen minutes.

There's worse things to be in this world than enigmatic.

Being enigmatic is one of the best things I can think of. Things which are not subject to misinterpretation are often very dull. But the vague and mysterious are filled with possibility. As for real magic, I'm happy enough with the Universe as I know it. I'm constantly chasing after my own personal version of the Holy Grail, even though I know perfectly well it doesn't exist except in my own visions. The pursuit keeps me entertained...more or less. The magic is in the patterns of things as they happen: the fluid dynamics of glass, the infinite complexity of fractals, the behaviors of people. There is always something to look at. The strangeness of it fills me with joy.

The toast request is just a joke. Real magic is a serious request, though.
What qualifies as real magic? That's a good question. I suppose what I'm thinking is that it would be nice to just be walking down the street, and a wizard mails a letter at the post office, and then turns his dog into a kite. Stuff like that. Something to confound all the scientists. Just when they thought they understood the basic physical laws of the Universe, some guy turns a dog into a kite on a regular basis. That would rock.

Some people on one of my mailing lists have been talking about that kind of thing lately. The list is supposed to be fractal- and philosophy-related, but they were discussing things like Chi energy, which has no apparent scientific basis. One of the major points of discussion was that science doesn't know everything, even though it would really like to. With the right kind of quantum uncertainty, anything is possible. Just change Planck's Constant...

Sorry, outside joke.

I should really be asleep by now, but instead I'm answering e-mail and fiddling with typefaces. Silly me.
Sleep well.

Planck's constant. Now there's a catchy little number.

Physics seems to lend itself to silly puns. Architecture, on the other hand, leans toward puns which are suggestive and rude.

I've never met a physicist who was willing to lend me anything. And when it comes to architecture, leaning...never mind. I'm sure you meant that one.

You mean you've never contemplated the groin vaulting in the Cathedral of Learning? Or admired a particularly nice buttress? Don't ever ask Nathan about load-bearing members...

Don't worry. I shan't.

The Flying Buttress

If you ever need to borrow anything from a physicist, make sure you go through me instead of the usual loan sharks. The quantum uncertainties are hell on the interest rates.

I think that will be quite enough from the scientific humor department, thank you. I'm about to vomit.

Talk to you another day,

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my latest labor of lunacy proceeds well. some pieces are missing. for further information, inquire at the usual address.
(font file attachment)

I hate to be an idiot, but...uh, I'm an idiot. What am I supposed to be looking for. I don't know what's new, remember.

unzip the zip file I attached, and look at the letters. The capital K, W, Y, and Z are missing, and also the lowercase z. Would you be willing to draw me those letters and either send them to me or scan them somewhere and e-mail the graphic files? The GIFs are only included as know, like a serving suggestion.

Woah - I didn't even see the attachment. Where did you get the other letters?

You mean you don't recognize your own writing? I suppose, officially, you own the copyrights to them. But if you're willing to contribute the rest of the letters, I guess it's safe to assume you're willing to let me use them. This typeface is supposed to wind up on my website, just in case anyone wants to download and install yet another grunge handwriting font. My first one was a simple sans serif, from a typeface sample book, and not nearly as interesting. This is my second attempt. It has been a useful exercise in many ways.

OK - I drew K, W, Y, Z, and z. I drew them extra big with white pencil on black paper. So it should be cool when you scan them, shrink 'em down, and make 'em negative. There'll be a lot of detail loss, of course, but I planned that in. The fun is that they were once big pictures, now shrunk down to something baby-size. Awesome.

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But where did you get all the different letters? From one source or many, and which ones? That's great! What a fun project.

I can't reveal my sources at this time. I suspect I would come under a certain amount of criticism if I did. (if you see Brian, tell him I'm not quite as psychotic as he thinks--but I'm close.)

I gave your mom the letters. She'll give them to you. As I mentioned, they're extra big and need to be made negative and so should be cool when ya' shrink 'em.

Thanks! I can't wait to see them. I'll have to ask my mom when she gets back from the grocery store.

Neat project. Let me see when you're done. And then tell me how you make your own font like that, K?

I'll send you the first copy. No one else has even seen the complete font's a secret! Heh heh. I've been making fonts with a copy of Macromedia's Fontographer that Jason found on the internet. He'd probably give you a copy if you asked him. I think Brian also has it in four WinRAR segments. It's kind of frustrating to work with the program, since I have not much idea how it works, and the help files all say "refer to your documentation." I can't ask Macromedia to help me since that's sort of like asking a store to gift-wrap shoplifted merchandise. So I'm just learning it as I go.

I should have figured it's a scheme with stolen software involving Jason and Brian. Why can't you tell me where you got the other letters? Aw, c'mon, man!

Because they're from all the letters you sent me eight years ago.
The new letters are beautiful. Thank you.

That's pretty cool. I'm glad I'm able to complete the collection. It's sort of neat that you're doing this. It makes me think that it might be cool to get letters from all the different signatures on the Declaration of Independence.
Not that my letters are anything remotely resembling the Declaration of Independence. No.
Anyway, you're welcome. :)

Thanks. I wasn't too sure how you'd take it. Everyone else seems to think I should get rid of the things for my own good, but I figure by now they're old enough to have some historical significance. Besides, I've always liked your lettering.
I said this font had been a useful exercise...not only did I lean a little bit about how kerning works, but I got to use some of my own past as raw material. I think maybe I decided it was time to give that part back to you, or to the world at large. It really makes no difference whether or not the world wants it, the point is it's not mine anymore.
"They all returned from him to you, though they were mine before"

This is very commendable - I salute you. Your reasoning is honorable. It is good to flush out your past and move on. And finally, thank you for doing it because it's cool. He, he.

You're welcome...Happy Birthday, about six months late.
Pausing only briefly for a bit of roller-blading, the weary fontmaker prepared to add the final characters. Though her fingertips were blistered, her eyes were dried out, and her mouse finger was cramped, she knew the end was in sight. From the Alpha to the Omega, the letters were complete.
Actually, of course, it's just a plain Roman alphabet, with no Omega at all. Check out the ampersand and the asterisk, though. They're silly. Also, I'm wondering if I should make the question mark and the exclamation point a little bigger. Other than that, though, I think it's done.
Some other notes: If you make the capital L big enough, you can see a piece of the postmark. Also, if you make the capital Y big enough, you can see the tiny ssss in the middle (by the way, that's a cool letter. it looks like a chemical bonding diagram or something.) The capital F and the lowercase u and b were all taken from the word 'flurb', while the capital U was taken from the word 'gub'.
That's all for now. Maybe next time I'll make something a little more Nathan's handwriting...hmmmm...
(improved font file attachment)

Morgen: Wow - those look fantastic. I can't believe it. I just never thought someone would ever do such a thing. Do you mean to tell me that you found a letter and a number, and even a cent sign, from all of my own writing? That's insane. Gosh. Some of it's yucky and childish. I would never make letters now like some of those I made then. They're not refined or anything, and they're sloppy and fat. But it's still neat. Also the running nose and the frog. That was a funny surprise. Talk about a blast from the past. I wouldn't have remembered that shit if someone looked me in the eye and asked me to recall it. No way. Jeez. Blow the dust off the photo albums, eh?
The "Y" is a diagrammatical sketch of an antibody molecule. The "ssss" you're talking about are disulfide bridges - strong covalent bonds between 2 sulfur atoms on the protein complexes that make up the antibody molecule. When I learned about it in school, the image of the "Y" burned into my mind, and so was a perfect choice for the Y.
Oh - and something else - I totally forgot that I used to put the Parlophone insignia on everything. You are a packrat, girl.
Thanks for the fun.

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Matthias Unbalanced
from the typeface division of Vitreous Humor

click to download font (44K)

Back to School: the saga continues...