Freelance diary, week 3

Posted on 18 July 2020 in:

I’m proud of a few things in this week’s post. For instance, I think this website’s speed problem is fixed. My laptop is out for fixing. A long-term research project I’d hoped would work out kicked off. On Thursday and Friday, I got to spend all of each morning in two different libraries. I’ve also decided that – at least for 2020 – online conferences are just not for me.

Project Updates

  1. Few-weeks-long research project: On track to deliver at the end of the month.
  2. Potential longer-term research project A: This is now no longer a “just potential” project! It officially kicked off this week and will accompany me for a little while.
  3. Potential longer-term research project B: Had no meetings for the project this week. Will probably travel down to Leipzig again around the end of the month.
  4. Two overdue marketing texts for one website: I did submit one, but I’m not finished with the other yet.
  5. Typeface description for a client: Started this!
  6. My poorly-performing MacBook Air (2018) keyboard: Off for repairs now, which will take some time.
  7. Work I provide to others at no cost: All of this was way harder to carry out without my laptop than I anticipated.
  8. Slow performance on I think that this problem got fixed over the weekend. I did a few things. First, I created static cached versions of pages from the site with the WP Super Cache plug-in. Second, my ISP migrated my website to a server running PHP 7.3 instead of 5.2.6. I even updated my website to the newest version of WordPress. Case closed, for now.
  9. Apply for KSK membership: For reasons I can’t go into yet, I don’t think that I’m going to go this route. Maybe I’ll be able to explain why in next week’s installment. In any event, I think that I won’t include this item on future lists.
  10. Register for voluntary unemployment insurance: Same here.
  11. Change health insurance payment details: Although I’ve communicated a change in status to my insurance provider, my new rate is not finalized yet.

What did I do this week?


  1. Took my laptop to a non-Apple Apple Authorized Repair service. Said goodbye.
  2. My main task this week is the “few-weeks-long research project” mentioned above. Today, I continued to spend time with the typographic classics, taking notes. Looked through parts of books by Updike, Johnson, Kelly, Mosley, Gray, etc. This is the life.
  3. Worked a bit on both of the overdue marketing texts for a website that I still need to submit eventually.
  4. Marked up someone’s article as a solid.
  5. Got feedback on a journal article. Need to make several changes before it gets submitted to the peers for review.


  1. Devoted more time reviewing sources for my few-week-long research project. Now I have too many notes, most of which are just anecdotes that I think are LOL but which the client probably won’t have uses for. I think I’ve arrived at a wish list of type specimen pages to reproduce now, at least.
  2. Reserved books to look at in libraries on Thursday and Friday.
  3. Still with those two overdue marketing texts. Revised one and (finally) uploaded the other to my editor.
  4. Quite a bit of admin for the full-time job that I think is going to happen.


  1. After a good day and a half of thought – and a little sadness, too – I realized that I do not want to present at a virtual ATypI conference. John Hudson raised an excellent point on Twitter that a several-day-long conference is chiefly of benefit if you travel to the place and spend that time with the other participants there. Also, I haven’t had enough time to prepare a proper talk proposal in the past few weeks, with everything else that has gone on. Even more importantly, I probably won’t have time to prepare and record the talk. I typically spend about a full week (yes, 40+ hours) building lectures to present at ATypI. Before the end of October – or whenever they’d require the files – I won’t have time to do that this year. Last month, when the excellent Type Lab conference tracks were running, I only managed to watch about three hours of live video. I just can’t imagine that, at the end of October, I’ll be able to tell my family that I’m going to go sit in a room by myself and “participate” in the conference. It is not always easy when I leave for several days to attend either, but going to a different place (as well as interacting with other people in person) is just different. It makes me sad, but I don’t want to take part in a virtual conference.
  2. Started breaking down the “wish list” for my few-weeks-long research project. This meant trying to figure out which type specimens might be available online, which specimens I could access in Berlin, and which of those I could photograph (or have photographed). Other specimen-reproduction images will have to be procured through other sources.


  1. Spent the morning at the Kunstbibliothek looking at ten 19th-century type specimens for my few-weeks-long research project. This also entailed taking poor quality iPhone photos and ordering eight excellent-quality photographs from their photography contractor.
  2. Had a lovely networking lunch with someone I used to closely collaborate on a long-term freelance project, years ago.
  3. Signed the contract for long-term research project A. 🍾


  1. Last week, I reserved a seat in the general reading room at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. It is hard to explain how joyful I am that this has reopened. Visits require a lot of advanced planning now. The rare book reading room is closed for renovation (unrelated to Covid). Today I looked at the oldest type specimens in the library’s collection that are not rare-book-reading-room-access-only.
  2. Also went down a new rabbit hole looking at three century-old catalogs of “brass types for the gilding press” printed by (or for) the Otto Kaestner GmbH Messingschriften-Fabrik und Gravir-Anstalt. Hit me up if you’re interested in hearing about this.
  3. Ordered two photos from an early-19th-century type specimen catalog and ordered a digital copy of an entire 358-page early-20th-century catalog.
  4. Started a new typeface description that I need to deliver to a client.

What’s planned for next week?

  1. Start working on long-term research project A.
  2. One more overdue marketing text for a website to continue working on.
  3. Work on typeface description due the week after this next one.
  4. Collect images from online specimen collections to reference in my few-weeks-long research project.

Any blockers or challenges?

  1. I’ve realized that this section is about things that might get in the way of what I want to do next week, rather than more reflections on the week that just passed.
  2. Not having my laptop is going to make doing almost everything at least a little bit slower.
  3. Next week is the last full week before my kids’ daycare summer break ends and they get to go back in (imagine some insightful comment on how to better work from home while your children are also at home being in this space).