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August 1, 2014 / TildeWill

Level Setting

Have you ever had an experience that changed the way you perceived an entire category of experiences? Before tonight, I’ve had this happen to me exactly twice. Once, when I was at my high school junior prom. I was out with my favorite people, on a date with a cute red head, and I was served the most amazing fillet mignon. Before that I knew what food tasted like, but I had no idea it could taste as good as it did that night with those people. That meal created a new gold standard for me by which I measure all meals. It has forever changed me.

The second time I had a life changing alteration of my perception was in fencing. Fencers in the US are either unrated or rated, once you are rated, you earn a letter, E-A. You can earn an “E” just by putting in the time and showing up. “D”s take a modicum of skill to obtain. I was a “C” and I had fenced enough B and A fencers to know 1) I was on the cusp of becoming a B, and 2) I could fathom the distance between myself and an A rating. One night at practice at Purdue, I had the opportunity to fence an Olympic fencer, who was in his prime 25 years before. I stepped on to the strip with all my “C” confidence, not expecting to win, but expecting to land a few good touches.

It was as if I didn’t even have a weapon in my hand.

No matter what I tried, attack, go on the defensive, focus on my feet, compound attacks, crazy unpredictable who knows what, I never even got close to scoring a touch against this guy in 50’s. That one experience opened my eyes to a totally different level of fencing that I had not understood to exist before that practice.

kiss faceTonight, I had a third such experience. I’m a good looking guy with my share of personality. As such, I’ve locked lips with a number of ladies in my time. Some kissers I’d consider to be good to great – with the right moistness of lips, the right tongue action, etc. Some were bad, too much teeth, weak kisses, bad breath, you know the kind. But tonight, I shared a kiss that was a level setter. Just the right pressure, the right slowness, the right height, and even the right hand/arm placement. A kiss that immediately made me excited about what’s going on. A kiss that simultaneously had me aware that we were kissing in a BART station, and not care about my surroundings all at once. A kiss so good that if drinks had gone bad, I’d still go out with her, just to have that kiss (luckily, drinks went great I think, so Yahtzee). I will never think about kissing the same way again.

July 5, 2014 / TildeWill


Now what? I have all the independence a person could want, but I don’t know what I want to do with it. Work is rewarding, but there’s something missing, something more core, something more… I don’t know, human? Making software solves problems [and makes problems], and I like solving problems.

But what would I do if I was born 50 years ago? Making things. Solving problems. Having real utility to a society.

I’m working on widening my definition of what a quality friend is. I feel like I’ve felt lost before. Was if in SF? It might have been. But a place does not give one a direction. What gives direction then? People/relationships? Movement? A destination in mind?

Maybe I substituted movement for direction. Maybe frequent job change, moving around the country, maybe that was a reasonable substitute for a time.

Fencing. When I was fencing I had a singular purpose – improve the quantity and quality of fencing. Direction. But that path was narrow. Slip just a little, twist an ankle, and it could have all fell apart.

Maybe it’s not just about having direction, or a path, but making that path wide enough that you can actually stay on it though the support of others.

February 12, 2010 / TildeWill

Move to Google

Now that Buzz is out, and WordPress has some decent exporting tools and I found a good converter, I’m moving my blogging to I’ll be importing old posts over the next few days. I’ll also be setting up a second blog through Blogger that have the more un-public material. But this is the last post you’ll see at this location unless something goes horribly wrong. So go to the new place already!

February 7, 2010 / TildeWill

Twitter Realization

After last Tea Time things came together in a new way for me. Hearing Ev speak and putting together some of the smaller things that Twitter does, it really strives to be a personalized news network. This means Twitter is a lot more like me turning on the TV to watch the local news and the reporters telling me only the news that is interesting to me – “News of the future” in a way. I see this expressed in the terminology like “Follow” vs. “Friend”.

Prior to Friday, I did see Twitter as another social network. But if you treat it like a news company, Facebook is not the main competitor. I also don’t think that you could say traditional news networks are “competition” because at 140 characters, Twitter is content-poor and relies on 3rd party sites to provide content. In that case, their growing integration with CNN makes more and more sense.

Conclusion: Facebook is for friends, but get your news on at

February 6, 2010 / TildeWill

I Want to Understand

Why do people take their work home with them? I get it that you’re showing “ambition” and that “more” is getting done. But aren’t you really just burning yourself out? I like working at Pivotal Labs because the people there don’t take their work home, they take their skills home. My coworkers lead rich, fulfilling lives outside the 9-6 day. You can tell this is true when you meet their wives, or their children. These people have awesome family relationships. They also do a lot of other fun things, biking, hiking, improv comedy, side projects that people outside the company can use, dancing, political activism, and on and on.

Conversely, the people I’ve worked with in the past who do take their work home come in and talk about the reality TV show they caught last night. They don’t bring their wives out to social events, and you get the impression things are a little rocky. Before too long, those people start looking drained of life.  This may work if you’re a solo act at work, but what if you’re a part of a team? Every day you have to sync up with the rest of the team. Stuff gets done that the rest of the team had no say in doing.

Despite the list of consequences I could make here, it really just comes down to “Why?”. Why would you pick work over anything else – personal health, relationships, fun? There’s a saying that no one on his death bed ever said, “If only I had worked more…”. People wish they had spent more time with family and friends and living life. I just don’t get it.

February 3, 2010 / TildeWill

Starting Monday: I’m an Improv Comedian in Training

As a part of my class in life coaching at San Francisco State University, I was encouraged to focus on one of my strengths, and do something new with it.  The strength I always keep handy is humor and playfulness. I use it readily to meet new people, to diffuse tense situations, and to get a warm feeling inside by making others smile. Starting Monday, I’ll be starting down a path to become an improv comedian.

Classes are being held by the San Francisco Comedy College. The improv troupe is called “Frisco” poking fun at all the people who say “Don’t call it ‘Frisco'”. Yeah they’re talking about you. Monday nights for 5 weeks. I think this is right up my alley for tons of reasons, but some of the key points are:

  1. Gets me on stage. I like being a point of attention
  2. I won’t be the only one on stage, I don’t like being the center of attention
  3. Conversational humor! I never thought I’d be good at stand up and essentially talking alone, I always wanted a routine where I had someone to talk to and play off of. This is exactly that.
  4. Nothing like having an audience and being a pseudo-celebrity to get you meeting new people.

So ‘Frisco it is. Mark your calendars for Monday March 8th at 6:30pm where I’ll be performing!

January 31, 2010 / TildeWill

Next Up

Just canceled my membership to Mission Cliffs. Lara has been going to school and it’s been hard for us to hit the gym. I have met other people who climb, but they go way the hell out to Planet Granite. So I’m redirecting the funds and will begin taking classes and making stuff at Tech Shop in the near future: For bonus points, they’re opening a new Tech Shop just 3 blocks from Pivotal Labs this summer. Yahtzee!

January 25, 2010 / TildeWill

Just Thinking

When I was 19, I thought I knew nothing about relationships, and I dated a lot.

Now that I’m 28, I think I know a lot about relationships, and yet dating seems much, much harder.

January 24, 2010 / TildeWill

Out of Touch

Coming back from the Oakland Oracle Arena on BART, separated from my friends and standing way too close to other people, I thought, as I do from time to time.

Part of what’s going on is that I have a crap memory of the past and time lines. In my head, I was constantly in a relationship from the ages of 19 to 25. In truth, I spent most of those six years in one relationship or another, but there were plenty of 6 month blocks of singleosity in there. Presently, I’ve been on “several dates with one lady” as recently as October, but I also like to argue with myself that the last substantial relationship I had was back when I was 25. That’s just unfair to say.

What’s really going on?

  1. I’m out of college. People like me who are my age are farther apart – density is way lower out here in “the real world”.
  2. What I’m looking for has changed somewhat. Dating a student is no longer high on my list. If she doesn’t live on her own, that can also be a big downer. She’s got to be employed, show ambition, be assertive, and have a killer smile.
  3. This is the kicker, I have no idea who I am anymore.

Back when I was a fencer I could get behind it and sell it, “Hello, I’m a fencer, take it or leave it.” essentially. Now, there’s no elevator pitch for “Well I’m a guy who enjoys introspection, and I write software for the web, I’m kind of goofy, but not like most software guys, and I’m a little more in touch with human behavior, but not like someone who got a degree in psych, and blah blah blah.” I’d need a big ass skyscraper to begin to describe myself to someone in an elevator – that, or for someone to pull the fire alarm.

I need the box so I know how to market Will Read. I need to have a definition so I have something to shape perceptions around. Right now I’m more like fog than I am a definite shape.

January 21, 2010 / TildeWill

Get Your Freak On

I’m in the middle of “reading” Freakonomics. I say “reading” because I’m actually listening to it on my iPhone. Anyway, the thing is interesting because it kind of gets your brain going in new ways. I find it mildly unsettling in the way the author speaks with such authority about statistics that few others have read the same way. What I do like about it most is that it gives me insight to my fellow man, and reaffirms my pre-existing belief that people are capable of being understood.

Today’s social experiment stems from a norm I’ve long been aware of: People [in the US] walk on the right side of the path. It must stem from the driving laws. I notice that foreigners tend to break this mold more frequently than non-foreigners. What I observed today was this: Coming out of the Powell Street station there are two escalators and a stair case that link to street level. walking from the station, you would first encounter the up escalator, then the down escalator, then the stairs. Today, the up escalator was barricaded off for maintenance, leaving only the down escalator and the stairs for use. The down escalator was also stopped in this case.

To me, the up escalator, the one on the right, is out of service, so I would expect to have to walk farther and use the stairs. But since the scenario had reduced the layout to essentially two stair cases, people were using them just so, as if the up escalator didn’t exist. People were walking down the stairs (on the right to them) and people were walking up the now stopped down escalator (on the right to those people).

I want to know how we learned to walk on the right and why that lesson is so strongly carried out. I also want to know why my gut instinct differed from the masses, and why I caved in and reluctantly walked up the down escalator like everyone else.