Congratulations! This is the first installment in the exciting series, “The Thick and the Thin,” and You Are There!!

So anyway, I was going out to lunch with someone, and I observed a wooden letter “M” sitting in her car. She explained that “M” stood for “Mom” and that this was a Mother’s Day gift from her daughter. The wood was the same color on both sides, and she commented that it was not obvious which side was the front and which was the back. I said, “But this side is obviously the front.”

“How can you tell?”

“By the thin and thick lines.”

“Does that matter?”

“Yes, one way is forwards and the other is backwards.”

“How do you know?”

“Um, I work with fonts and stuff.”

The wooden letter looked somewhat like the letter at the top of the picture. The left-hand and right-hand copies show what the wooden letter looked like from the front and back.

OK, so like, suppose you’re some guy from ancient Rome wearing a toga. Your task is to chisel the letter “M” into a hunk of stone. Suppose that it doesn’t have to be a refined “M” but it can be a more informal “M” as shown in the bottom of the picture above. Your chisel is shaped basically like a giant flathead screwdriver. And you hold it at a certain angle as you chisel. Suppose that you hold the chisel like this:

You can see that with the chisel constantly held at this angle, a line going diagonally up and to the right will be thinner, and a line going diagonally down to the right will be thicker. So your “M” will look like the one on the lower left of the “M” picture.

Later on, your chiseling skills become more advanced and you can chisel out a fancy “M”; as you can guess, your “M” will resemble the one at the upper left of the picture. In fact, that “M” is the correct one, as you can easily verify by examining a letter “M” in this blog post.