inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #0 of 100: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Thu 26 Mar 15 19:18
    
In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the WELL next week, we
wanted to hear people's stories about their experiences over the
years. 

In this first of these topics, please tell us about meeting other
WELL folks face to face. what did you do? Why did you want to meet
them?  What was it like meeting the person behind the keyboard?
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #1 of 100: jelly fish challenged (reet) Fri 27 Mar 15 14:37
    
Carol GHould and I had lived in the same neighborhood, literally back to
back to each other for a decade or two. We didn't meet until I got on the
Well, and started going to SingThings. All we had to to to meet face to face
was walk out our respective doors and each walk a qurter of a block!
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #2 of 100: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 27 Mar 15 15:03
    
It took me a couple years to work up the nerve to meet people whose words
I'd read on the Well. I went to a WOP (Well Office Party) in Sausalito,
and wandered around waiting for someone to say hello to me. I was
intimidated a bit -- everyone was so smart, and in those days (early to
mid '90s) it was easy to get flamed. I assumed real life would be similar.

Finally, I walked up to a couple guys at the grill, one cooking, the
other watching. They were talking, so I waited to for one of them to
do the customary welcome, as I was standing fairly close. But they kept
talking; in fact, they were arguing. And as I listened I realized it was
a really dumb argument, on the level of "That's not what you said." "Yes,
it is." "No, it isn't. You said..." I instantly felt better about being
at he party, and I walked away without talking to them. 

The two people were <rab> and <kls>, both of them now passed on. 
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #3 of 100: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Fri 27 Mar 15 15:03
    

It all started when Pacific Bell was embarassed by a leak to John Markoff
which was published in the New York Times. Of course when that happened,
money was allocated to make sure it never happened again. Security
of all sorts was beefed up and I was added to a team working on many
different things.

I originally joined the Well due to the Well's Hackers Conference. At
the time I was interested in what various people were up to. (Insert
traditional arguments about the definition of a "hacker" here.)

But I knew that John Draper, aka Captain Crunch, had a login here and
that, plus the Well "Hacker's Conference" here was enough to get me to take 
a look.

I wound up going to a Hacker's Conference https://conference.think.org and
met John Draper and another Well user there.  My memory has faded over
time, but I remember thinking that John Draper was a bit odd in person.
I remember the other person seeming to be in person what he's like online
so there was no surprise.

Many decades later I'm still here for very different reasons.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #4 of 100: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 27 Mar 15 15:40
    
I had joined in 1990 to help out at the non-profit where I worked,
and immediately wanted to play.  Talk politics, talk sex, talk
environment, talk arts, everything.  I was on for a long while as a
major motormouth before going to a Well Office Party in Sausalito
about 25 years ago.  When I walked in I froze in fear.  So many
people I didn't recognize, all peering at me.  No nametags.  

<tex> was kind and friendly and got me talking and soon I was able
to ask who the people standing around were.  It was amazing.  Nobody
looked like I'd pictured them, and at least one person I had found
arrogant in text was soft-spoken and fun in person.  I realized I
had mis-cast some of the parts in my head, and that I probably did
that with other people in my life too.  

Later, working on the staff for many years, I took on a new kind of
reserve and hsyness. But that original coming-out experience was
amazingly freeing and powerful. You were all so gorgeous, creative
and smart.  What a time.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #5 of 100: Eric Rawlins (woodman) Fri 27 Mar 15 16:54
    
I was introduced to the WELL in 1987 by Matthew Rapaport, a work
colleague, who thought I would find the discussions stimulating. I
did. My experience was similar to Scott's in that I read without
posting much for a couple years, being awestruck by the intelligence
and knowledge being displayed. 

In 1991 I was recently separated from my wife, and commanded by my
therapist not to moulder in my apartment. I went to a brunch given
by Tina Loney <onezie>. In the space of an hour I met 3 people who
were to change my life in remarkable ways: Tina herself, David Gans
and Scott Marley. After that I started attending WOPs and getting to
know people.

Like everyone else, I was struck by the fact that no one looked like
I'd pictured them. And that all these august personages that I'd
been reading were in fact just people -- remarkable people, to be
sure, but just people. 
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #6 of 100: (fom) Fri 27 Mar 15 19:17
    
That's funny -- one of the first well people I met looked exactly like how 
I'd pictured him. It was uncanny. (It was alden.)
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #7 of 100: Dodge (dodge1234) Sat 28 Mar 15 03:39
    
I live in Houston where not a lot of Wellians live. I recently found
out there is one in the area but I was in a topic and found out in
passing and didn't ,alas. Take note. 
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #8 of 100: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Sat 28 Mar 15 09:29
    
I remember playing the drums for a <kkg> gig at the Paradise Lounge
in San Francisco. She was as wonderful in person as online. I'm
pretty sure that's the first time I met anyone face to face.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #9 of 100: Brady Lea (brady) Sat 28 Mar 15 09:35
    


I knew a couple people here before I joined. (Hi, fom) But the first time I
met people I hadn't met before was <arto> and <carolg>. We were all living
in Bernal Heights in SF at the time and we were all SF Giants season ticket
holders.

There was a Giants promotion one night: Brian Johnson Buzzcut night. He was
shaved bald before a phase of everyone being shaved bald, and Marines were
volunteering in the parking lot to shave people's heads to benefit
something.

We agreed to meet. Carol told me, "We're both 5'4", glasses." And I said,
"We're both 5'9", glasses." It was a cold night, and I was wearing
ridiculous big mittens made out of felted former sweaters, so I added that
they should look for the person wearing the stupidest mittens. They found
me. We had both our neighborhood and our Giants fanness to give us a lot to
talk about.

All of us were obsessed with staying until the last out but bolting asap to
get home, and we had our own ideas about where the best place to park was to
get out, and the best route home, etc. It became a bit of a competition, to
see who was online here on the WELL first, postgame. Rushing in, logging on,
and then pretending you were just casually sitting at your computer relaxing
when the other one logged on. (whistling nonchalantly)
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #10 of 100: Scott Underwood (esau) Sat 28 Mar 15 10:18
    
My other great enduring friendships happened when someone came to
meet me. The first was when <mcow> asked me to lunch. The other, more
portentous one was when <rik> came to see me play at the Cannery near
Fisherman's Wharf, maybe ten years ago. After that, he introduced me to
a cloud of musicians and friends who play together professionally and
casually, including <tnf>, <woodman>, <philcat>, and others.  Because of
that, <rik> and I played in a band together, I met my current bandmates
(NOTW), and made a number of other friends, on and off the Well.

And all of that was a precursor to a random meeting at a Well picnic where
I first met <gr8flred>. We had never seen each other online, but it turns
out we had been in the same rooms many times, with the people above. After
that (skip ahead) we got married with many Well people in attendance. Yay!
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #11 of 100: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sat 28 Mar 15 12:44
    
I remember being at that WELL picnic and watching you and
<gr8tflred> sitting over on the side, having an intense discussion.
I had a feeling, not really knowing either of you besides from on
the WELL, that this might be the start of something great.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #12 of 100: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sat 28 Mar 15 12:48
    
My most recent meeting with a WELL person was when I went to NOLA
for a conference and arranged to stay with <monica> for a few days
after the conference ended. It is so amazing to know, for sure, that
you will get along fine with someone you have never met in person.
It was wonderful to meet her, and then, coincidentally, <katelich>
was arriving for a  conference just after mine ended, so the three
of us met up for dinner. I had already met Kate in Calif, but
<monica> had not. It was a lovely dinner. 
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #13 of 100: wildly reflective of right now (jrc) Sat 28 Mar 15 13:59
    

The first time I encountered a bunch of Well people wsas at a party for one
of hlr's books. It was at Booksmith. Of course no one looked like they were
supposed to, and I found myself entirely tongue-tied at meeting all these
people I thought of, i suppose, famous. At least famous to me.

I know I met casey, and I know I met tex, who kind of leaned over me as we
talked, sort of like LBJ was supposed to do. And kls and arto, I'm pretty
sure. And maybe rab. Later I hosted a Well bridge party for a while,
featuring lots of now-dead people plus chuck. And I had lunch with a whole
lot of people, with mixed results.

I remember being awed by fig. Probably still am.

And its David Gans who got me on the Well in the first place, for which I
will always be grateful.

And I wasn't a hacker or a tech person, and I wasn't a deadhead, so a lot of
the conversation here was totally incomprehensible. And I will always
cherish dhawk.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #14 of 100: Brady Lea (brady) Mon 30 Mar 15 16:57
    

I also remember being invited to a surprise party for <rreiss> when I was
brand new and had not met any of the genx crowd yet. I went into <tpy>'s
apartment and promptly walked straight into a piece of furniture, bringing
up a big goose-egg on my knee. I felt like this was not the best first
impression. I purloined a bag of ice and sat down on a futon next to <ruz>
and he asked what happened. I told him I had banged my knee on something. He
said, "Me too!" and showed me where he hit his knee.

Since it was a birthday party and we were waiting around for the celebrant
to appear, we started talking birthdays in general. Maybe I asked when his
birthday was. He said, "March 29th." And I was all, "Me too!"

Aries, knee-bump rising.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #15 of 100: Fawn Fitter (fsquared) Mon 30 Mar 15 17:03
    
Joined the WELL in 1992, flew cross-country from Boston a few months
later to go to a genx party, stayed with <jeffreyp> and met so many
people at once that to this day I'm not sure who all was there. 
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #16 of 100: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 30 Mar 15 17:56
    
Once upon a time I was visiting my friend Beverly in Austin, and
arranged that on that visit I woudl have lunch with (katecat) and
(pdl), whome I'd never met.

Beverly was alarmed. "You've NEVER MET them before?" What if they
were axe-murderers? She insisted on coming along. No one produced
an axe, and Beverely admitted that they seemed real nice.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #17 of 100: Paul (biscuit) Mon 30 Mar 15 17:59
    
I joined the Well in 1994 and was really drawn in by all the
discussion of internet civil liberties -- the Clipper Chip saga, the
young Electronic Frontier Foundation, and so on. 

In 1996 I attended the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference
and made a real-world connection with this online scene that engaged
me so. I met <bkoball>, <bruces>, <declan>, <gail>, <amicus>,
<betsys>, and several others there. My nascent career as a
technology writer was getting started, and the affirmation of my
Well connections (all of whom seemed very accomplished) really made
me feel like I had arrived.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #18 of 100: David Gans (tnf) Mon 30 Mar 15 18:14
    

The WELL Deadheads met up at shows from coast to coast. Many of them were
already traveling in smaller groups, but the WELL fostered a great number of
connections. COuplings, even!
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #19 of 100: jelly fish challenged (reet) Mon 30 Mar 15 18:17
    
First Well person I met was hlr, when I went to a private showing of the
Tibetan tankas, I think, at the DeYoung in GGPark. He greeted me with a
"see, we don't bite!" Meeting Howard first was perfect.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #20 of 100: Jake Widman (jakew) Mon 30 Mar 15 18:51
    
I joined in 1990 or so. My first "live" meeting with any Well folks
was at a Mission dweller's pub crawl or some other kind of drinking
get-together--my memory puts us at the Toronado, but that was a
while ago. And given that pub crawls involve multiple bars, and I
went to more than one, it makes it even harder to keep separate. I'm
pretty sure I met <buck> at that first one, I met <axon> on one, I
met <nanlev> on one...congenial folks all.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #21 of 100: Paulina Borsook (loris) Mon 30 Mar 15 18:59
    

wrt #17, <biscuit>, i also attended that cfp, but dont recall meeting either
you nor <betsys>. the rest you mentioned i am acquainted with.

my most recent irl meeting with a well person was with the lovely <renshin>,
of the world oversoul. we met for dinner in fall 2013 at a japanese
restuarant in menlo park, when i was doing my stanford artist-in-residence.

i joined the well in 1987
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #22 of 100: Chris (cooljazz) Mon 30 Mar 15 19:44
    
 I tried the WELL for a couple weeks after I had read about the
electronic frontier foundation - they had a WELL email and
discussions about EFF. I had learned about a package at work to get
to the WELL called telnet. And before I found telnet from work, had
spent the obligatory $100's one month on dialup from home.

 I couldn't figure out how to post or read topics and recall
spending a lot of time trying to find a  "help" file. I'm still
looking for that help file :).

  I quit, kept thinking about the place  and a couple months later
rejoined, in Feb. 1995.
  
  Somehow I found the WEIRD conference and hung out there,
 amused at the ringleader of the conference <boswell>. However, a
fellow named <mandel> seemed to be the actual person in charge of
the insanity in WEIRD-.


  A few months into my stay, a new topic weird topic started with a
name like "the descent into <mandel>'s lung" which I assumed was
strange joke.

 Then I got an email, perhaps from <alden> inviting me to a memorial

service for the passing of Tom Mandel. I arrived for a memorial and
discovered that Boswell was a real person, and was handing out pins
for <jetboy>
and I met <alden> <paris> , <nana>, and  I think <judyb> (now
<renshin> perhaps <mcow> and other WELL folk whose name I no longer
recall, all real people and  most  still part of the WELL.


  
 
  
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #23 of 100: Miriam Zellnik (mim) Mon 30 Mar 15 22:46
    <scribbled by mim Mon 30 Mar 15 22:46>
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #24 of 100: 99 Percent Pseud Free! (mim) Mon 30 Mar 15 23:00
    

<crow> was my first. (xoxox, lizzie!) about a year after I got on the well
(in 1997), I went down to san  francisco, i can't remember if it was
specifically to meet well people or there was another additional reason...
actually, now that i think about it,  maybe it was when I was picking up a
car... Anyhow, i recall meeting <crow>  and doing a bunch of window shopping
and wandering, we immediately hit it off -- i think i still have a bowl i
bought in a cool shop that day -- then we met some other  folks at MOMA for
lunch, <brady>, <jef>, <lin>, <carolg>, i can't even remember who all.
<nanlev> too i think?

It's funny, people I know who have never been part of a small online
community don't realy get to what extent being on something like the well is
akin to having a large far flung family of distant relations. The well has
receded for me in my day to day online life, but it's still always there, an
ambient thread pulsing underneath my workday, and it's unlike
facebook/twtter/etc, where the majority of people I interact with are people
I met thru more conventional means. The combination of the well being a
closed small community and being the only game in town through the 90s and
early 2000s for me meant that I formed much stronger bonds with people than
i do nowadays in other spaces. Some of it's aging and my own life changing
too, i suppose.


Most recent f2f: had drinks with a bunch of folks in NYC (<joeyx>, <emilyg>,
<justpat>, <nedwall>, others) when i was there in sept for my brother's
wedding. Over the years, i've had a beer with <mpk> in Dublin, met <jukevox>
at a pub in london, met both <jenbee> and <um> at veslka
in NY at different times, browsed an art show with <tnt-tokyo> in london,
had indian food with <scraps. in NYC, stayed a few times with <brady> in SF
and attended crazy fun parties at her place, stayed in a apt in berkeley
with <lin> where she was housesitting long before she got sick (and had
strange drinks out with a bunch of wierd conf people that night... oy, so
much drama, now that i think of it). Oh, and was picked up at the San jose
airport once by  <chel> in a convertible and got a horrible sunburn (oops),
stayed during that visit for a few days in generously-donated <fsquared>
apartment (she was out of town, though we met for like 10 seconds at the
airport as I came in and she went out)... Hmmm, now that i am thinking of
it, i've met a lot of you over the years -- this isnt even listing the many
wellfolks who have passed through portland that i've met up with for drinks
etc.
  
inkwell.vue.482 : 30th Anniversary stories: What lengths did you go to in order to meet a fellow WELL member?
permalink #25 of 100: Ari Davidow (ari) Tue 31 Mar 15 04:44
    
I remember trying to log onto the WELL early on, maybe 1985? Timed out. I 
ran into <tex> at a Computer Faire and he talked about how figuring this 
stuff out was what the WELL was all about. I wasn't in the mood to spend 
my time figuring out obscure Unix stuff, so I didn't register until late 
1986. I just wanted an email address and assumed that they all connected. 
Hah!

I'm not a good mixer at parties. But I remember being at work late one 
night when an early WOP was going on. My pants were torn, so I felt 
especially shy. But I went anyway, and folks like <robin> were so 
welcoming that I had a good time in spite of myself. I still have trouble 
remembering people's formal names. There are lots of people, to this day, 
whose logins I know, but can't necessarily translate into something useful 
for notw folks (or for that matter, for looking up in a directory).

One of the most important WELL gatherings for me was a Sunday brunch in 
Boston back in early '96. We met at some place in the former Sears 
building in Cambridge. <betsys> was there, and several people whose logins 
I have long forgotten. Klezmer music was just getting started as a 
visible scene, and people around the table pointed to two concerts taking 
place that week. It occurred to me that I could easily move to Boston, 
which I did later that year.

A few years later, my step-son was just getting sucked into AIM and his 
mother and I were worrying about what might happen to him online. One 
night, he and his mother and I were at a WELL gathering. <paris> and 
<farren> were there, along with some other sci-fi folks in town for a con. 
He was fascinated. I got him an account on the WELL and unleashed a 
12-year-old to an online world that was relatively safe, and in which he 
rapidly discovered that he was at least as mature and thoughtful as many 
of its denizens. He's grown up now, but still logs in periodically.
  

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