Speak Out with Your Geek Out: Sense of Community

It’s Speak Out with Your Geek Out week, during which self-described geeks blog about various positive aspects of geek culture.

As an unabashed geek, I’m all over that.

One of the most important aspects of geek culture is the fact that geeks have each other’s backs, as illustrated by the very idea of SOwYGO; Monica Valentinelli came up with the idea after witnessing the development of a geek-bashing thread on a pay-per-click website.  It’s also illustrated by the outpouring of support for one of geekdom’s most brilliant lights: sf/f/h writer, critic, and mentor Edward W. Bryant.

Ed has been a fixture in the speculative fiction world since the early 1970s, when he first began publishing short fiction.  Not long after that, he founded the Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, from which many of the most successful writers in speculative fiction and mystery have graduated, including Connie Willis, Dan Simmons, Melanie Tem, Steve Rasnic Tem, and John Dunning.

Although Ed has published hundreds of stories, essays, and reviews, perhaps his greatest legacy will be his longstanding mentoring in the sf/f/h community.  He is an unabashedly kind man, and has patiently helped hundreds of fledgling writers and pro writers alike improve their writing and critiquing skills.  He is well-spoken, with a resonant, commanding-yet-gentle baritone voice, and he has irresistable charisma and charm.  If we were to apply old-school D&D stats to him, I think his charisma would be a natural 18, and his intelligence would have to be up there, as well.

Ed has been a Type I diabetic since 1968, the same year he attended the Clarion writer’s workshop and launched his writing career.  As he has progressed in years, the diabetes has become a frequent issue due to nerve degeneration.  He recently finished a ten day stay in a Denver-area hospital with a bout of gastroparesis, his fourth in the last three years.  In addition, doctors discovered that his esophagus has slowly been turning to scar tissue over that time, a result of the repeated bouts of gastroparesis.  He also had open heart surgery a few years ago.  The health problems have taken a toll on his writing, and his output has dropped dramatically since the heart surgery.  Unfortunately, this also means his income has dropped accordingly.

Here’s where the geek community shines.  Ed’s friends, students, and neighbors banded together in late 2008 to form the loosely-knit Friends of Ed Bryant organization.  The Friends of Ed Bryant website and Facebook group formed shortly thereafter.  The purpose was to get the word out to all the people who love and respect Ed that his health and finances were in jeopardy; it was time for the geek community to step up and pay back some of what Ed had given to us over the last four decades.  And pay back we did!  Within a couple of weeks, we had enough donations of money, labor, and medical supplies to dig Ed out of the financial bind he was in at the time.

Folks, it’s time to pitch in again.  Ed is currently facing the very real possibility of losing his home due to unpaid property taxes.  Eventually, he will likely sell that house and move into some form of assisted living arrangement, but right now, he needs to get the taxes paid so he can buy time to sell the house.  The Friends of Ed have mobilized again to solicit donations on his behalf, as well as brainstorming ideas to help him out over the long term.  Donations have started rolling in, some as little as $5, others in the hundreds, but we’re still far short of the amount he needs in order to pay the tax bill.  If you can afford anything — even $5 — please consider visiting the Friends of Ed website and giving what you can.  The donations are processed by Paypal and go directly into an account managed by the Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities.  Unfortunately, this is not a tax-deductable donation, but it does go to support one of the kindest, most influential writers in the geek community.  Ed has stood with us for nearly 40 years; it’s time for us to stand in support of one of our own.  Visit the Friends of Ed Bryant website, make a donation, and join the Facebook group to stay in the loop about Ed’s status.

Make me proud, fellow geeks.

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MileHiCon 41

You asked for it, you got it:  My MileHiCon 41 panel schedule!

(Okay, so no one asked for it, but here it is anyway!)

Hyatt Regency — DTC
Saturday, October 24

10:00 AM, Mesa Verde Room A: “GM 101 – A Thief, A Mage, and a Paladin Walk Into the Tavern” — I’m moderating this panel about how a GM can make the difference between a good role-playing campaign and a tortuous one.  Featuring Ephemeris game designer J. Alan Erwine and three other experienced GMs.

12:00 PM, Wind River B: “Disabled Fen and Con Challenges” — Disabled people are SF fans, too!  I expect this to be a frank discussion about what works and what doesn’t for disabled individuals in a convention setting.

2:00 PM, location TBD: “Playing with Stace Johnson” — This probably won’t be as pornographic as it sounds; it’s more likely to be me sitting at a table somewhere armed with one of my favorite games, looking for someone to game with for an hour.  (Unfortunately, it looks like Brandon Sanderson has already claimed Magic: The Gathering.  I’ll have to think of something else.)

4:00 PM, Grand Mesa B-C Stage: “SciFi Theatre” — I don’t know what this is about yet, though I have a guess that it involves either improv or one-act plays.  Either way, Connie Willis is one of the other scheduled participants, so I’m excited.

Sunday, October 25

12:00 PM, Wind River A: “It’s Almost 2010: What is Your Computer Up To?” — I get to be on another tech panel this year, with Andrew Burt, David Dvorkin (I don’t think it’s Daniel), Drupal Master John Fiala, and the mysterious L. Rowe (could be any number of people!)

If you’re coming to MileHiCon, I hope to see you there.  If you’re not, why the hell not?!

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Broaband, Bryant, and Band

I’ve been waiting to hear the words for over three years, now. “Yes sir, broadband Internet is now available in your area. Would you like to place an order?”

I felt like Fred Sanford. “It’s the big one, Elizabeth! I’m comin’ to join you honey!”

I’ve been trying to get DSL or some kind of broadband service since I before I moved into this town home. Unfortunately, I’m too far away from the closest CO (22,000 + feet) to get anything but IDSL, and with the vaporization of the DSL providers, no one will bring IDSL to a residence without charging double what ISDN would cost for nearly the same bandwidth.

But AT&T Broadband has come to my rescue. The cable upgrade in my neighborhood is finally complete, and I will be getting my cable modem Tuesday. It’s not the best alternative; I would much rather have DSL with a static IP, but I’ll take what I can get. I hesitate to leave my excellent ISP, id Communications, but there’s no way they can get me broadband at this time. At least I will lose some spam when I change e-mail addresses, though.

Ed Bryant’s birthday celebration at Stories for All Seasons was wonderful. A spate of writers showed up, including Connie Willis, Steve and Melanie Tem, Wil McCarthy, Terry Wright and Gary Jonas, to name a few. Connie introduced Ed using a “retro Powerpoint demonstration” (Ed’s words) that consisted of hand decorated poster boards, held up to spoof the milestones in Ed’s career.

Ed’s gift to the guests consisted of a raffle. The winner was awarded the dubious honor of having a character named after him or her in a future story by Ed. No one responded to the first number drawn, but we’re not sure if that was an act of self-censorship, wisdom, or if the person had actually left. At any rate, the second number called was my son’s, and I don’t think there could have been a more enthusiastic winner. He respects and likes Ed very much, and is excited that he will be appearing in one of Ed’s stories. Here’s a picture of the odd couple.

Brad the Drummer is playing with Dante Spumante again Friday and Saturday. His regular band is off this weekend, so he can make a little extra scratch. We will probably go to see them play Friday.

I revamped this Creativity Journal, in case you haven’t noticed. I hope the new format will be less daunting and have more of a journal feel. E-mail me with comments if you wish; any feedback is welcome.

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