Well, Quite a lot has happened or is happening. Let's start with the most important:
The most pressing news is that my grandmother Edith died last night at the age of... 87 to 95. Right now we're unsure as to her birth year, because it depends on which paperwork you read. Sweden thinks one thing, the United States another, and the paperwork between them isn't sure, either. Her headstone says "1905 - " so we're going to go with that, since she's the one who put it there.
Edith Almqvist was born in Northern Sweden around 1910. She lived there until she turned 18, and then left a family that had a lot of kids in what was once a country besieged with poverty. She emigrated to the United States in the late 1920s, just in time for the Depression. But it was still better to be living in the Chicago slums in America than rural poverty in Sweden. Edith worked her way up to be a cosmetologist, and during that time, she fell in love with another Swedish immigrant: a carpenter by the name of John Anderson. They married in 1934, and attempted to have children, but they were beset by many miscarriages and stillborn births. One did survive, my mother Gladys, who was born in 1939.
They survived the war effort in the 1940s, despite an injury that left Edith in a body cast for several years. They had very little money, and things were hard. My mother grew up in an apartment so small, she didn't even have her own bedroom; just a couch by the door. But they managed, and in the late 1950s, my mother met and fell in love with my father Arvid. Her whole side of the family still calls this one of the biggest mistakes in her life, but my mother was stubborn, and married him anyway. For Edith and John, things started to get better. Work started coming in easier for John and Edith, and by the late 1960s, they built a house in Iron Mountain, Michigan. They were going to have a small farm (with chickens and crops), but that didn't pan out so well. They also helped Gladys out from time to time, and even paid for most of Arvid's education.
They only had one grandson, me, who was born in 1968. Despite the help my parents got from John and Edith, my father didn't care for any relatives, including his own. So I only got to see my maternal grandparents about 4 times in my life. John died in 1983 after a long fight with diabetes and related heart problems. Gladys helped Edith out during these hard times, but she had her own emotional difficulties to deal with, including an increasingly loveless marriage and alcoholism. In 1987, Gladys took her own life.
My relationship with Edith changed radically during this time. Because Arvid had all but forbid all contact with relatives, I got to really know my grandmother because of this tragedy. I was the one who had to break the news to her about Gladys. After my mother's death, my father forced me to leave home. Edith helped me during these times by sending me some good cheer and occasional financial aid. Edith was also the one who told me to go into computers. I told her she was nuts, that I wasn't nearly smart enough, and couldn't afford college. She said I was wrong anyway, I should go into computers, because I understood these things.
In the early 1990s, Edith's health wasn't doing so well, and she had an in-home nurse, as well as some local friends help her from time to time. But she was lonely, and wanted to be surrounded by family. All of her brothers and sisters were gone, and her only relatives were in Sweden. So she sold her house and moved to Luleå, Sweden. Back where she started. She stayed with relatives until her health got so bad, she had to stay in facility for the elderly in Boden. In 1994, she got real sick, and didn't think she was going to make it. I went to Sweden during this time, and even thought she barely recognized me, she was glad to see me. Her mental health deteriorated rapidly, and for the last few years, she didn't know who she was, and didn't recognize anyone. It was really hard for all of us, because she just kept hanging on in misery. A few weeks ago, she really got sick, and they decided not to give her any life saving measures anymore.
Edith quietly passed away shortly after 10:30 pm, Swedish time, on July 13th, 2000.
I am the only direct descendant she has left. Thus, I have to handle all her affairs, and make sure that they are done in accordance to her wishes. She wanted to buried next to John in Iron Mountain, and I have already been in contact with those people in charge of such things. Since I have had a lot of friends/relatives die since I was 16, I am sadly familiar with the process, and it's almost like autopilot at this point. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I am glad she is no longer suffering. But I miss her. I wish I had gotten to know her better.
I want to thank my grandmother for two things. One, she helped me when I was out on my own. Second, she introduced me to a new family in Sweden, one I cherish greatly, even if I could not be there with them most of the time.
Oh, and she was right about the computers... dammit. :)
In less depressing news, I was at CastleCon over the weekend 0f July 7-9.
I had a great time. I won't do a full review, but will cover some of the highlights from my perspective. I overworked myself a bit at this convention. I had something to host/moderate every few hours on all three days. I didn't even get to see any movies or videos, and missed almost every one of my friend's panels. My apologies to those who felt snubbed.
Hotel was very nice; clean and laid out well. Just the right size for the amount of people there. Any more and it would have been crowded. I am glad the pool was open 24 hours, and even though the Jacuzzi blew the heater, they still kept it on for us. A lukewarm Jacuzzi was better than none at all. The desk people got a lot of stuff wrong, though. They gave me keys that didn't work, forgot to give me a rollaway bed, and charged me incorrectly. But each time they fixed the problem speedily. However, the staff had some of the most aggressive and brainless maids I have ever seen at the weirdest hours. One maid tried to clean my room at 10:34 pm on a Saturday night, despite the fact I was trying to rest for a panel and my son was already asleep. And the concept of "no you don't have to come in, but may I have some more towels and toilet paper" nearly caused one maid to shut down like a software crash. I had to block her entrance into my room with my body ... she *literally* did not understand I didn't want her in. We had to deadbolt the door after one maid woke us up at 7:00 am on Friday to change the bed, only to come back an hour later and act confused as to why we weren't up yet. What made it more annoying is they did not knock. But I guess I would never accuse the hotel of not trying to serve me. :)
Opening Ceremonies went well, although Tad nearly scared people to death with his speech about security, although that may have been the reason the con was so quiet accident-wise. My two skits were well-received, and I want to thank all the actors involved for their help, as well as Dan Alt for the music and cues.
The Hygiene Film Fest went really well. Super Carrot, indeed. At EveCon, we may do Industrial Accident Safety Films (provided they aren't TOO graphic). A great lead into Rocky, although the tape we had sucked. I scrambled around the hotel to get it fixed, and finally Bruce said, "It's the same tape we have that gets screwed up every year! I keep throwing it away, and it keeps showing up! Someone destroy that thing, no wait, give it away!" Luckily, I had brought a backup copy from my own personal collection, and soon we had a clearer, less jumpy Rocky. No one would take the old copy, so I kept it for reasons still unknown to me.
Of course, Saturday I was hoarse. I have to figure out a way to stop shouting myself hoarse on Friday. I attended Bruce's CCNA discussion, and then ran the Katsucon Con Suite Party. I answered some of the questions, dealt with some suggestions, and showed episodes 1-18 of Mini-Goddesses. The room was full most of the time, and I want to thank Paul (our Katsucon Merchant Czar) and Ruth (Andy's volunteer) for their help. I couldn't have done it without them. I kind of wished other Katsu folk had shown up, but Burondo No-ooh Otoko showed up (so did Agent Panku Seiuchi), and they had a good time, too. :)
Right afterwards, I had to run to the "Whose Line is it Anyway," moderated by Dan Alt. I was with comedy greats and friends like Tynie, Brad, and Rogue. We... didn't do so good. I was joking before the con that "practicing for Improv" was a contradiction, but I ate my own words as I actually floundered onstage in the most unfunny fashion. Tynie actually got injured when he threw himself on his back on the stage, and his spine landed on two uneven metal plates that made a gap in the staging material. Youch. At least we didn't have the bat lady.
I stepped down at the Non-Judgmental Judge after about six years of judging. Adrienne Reynolds and Christi Golden handed it to me all those years ago, and this weekend I handed the reigns over to Paul, Sean, and Andy. I am going to miss doing the judging, but I think it was time to go before I ran out of jokes about too much body armor or yet another nondescript medieval costume with a stuffed dragon and staff. Good luck guys! You will have a lot of fun. It was also the weekend where Adrienne gave up her title as announcer to Fred Zelany, who not only made a great emcee in velvet pants, but looked a lot like the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The ladies love him... :)
The art gala was a smash! I may be biased, but it kicked butt! I didn't get one piece of art I bid on because they all overbid me. What a riot! :)
My reading had a grateful audience of one. Previously during the Art Gala, Kris Trader showed me some of her artwork, and I am in love with the illustrations she is doing for my new book. She rocks! God I hope I can get this book out mucho soon-o. I also sold the exact number of books I sold at Imaginecon. Hmm... CastleCon had about 400, Imaginecon had about 1200... pretty good ratio, especially considering FanTek cons are kind of a saturated market. Thank you to those who bought my book!
I had a meeting with the newly formed FanTek Web team, and we hammered out some great plans. Expect to see major changes to the site VERY soon. We have some of the most talented writers, designers, and artists FanTek has working on this.
The last thing was the art auction, which was a blood bath of gladiator proportions. We had people with serious money and burning avarice fighting coin and check to get some of the most coveted pieces. It was the best auction I had ever done. We had calls like, "$5," "$10!" "**$35!!**," "Oh, yeah??? $100!" Wow. Truly stunning.
My family had to leave early because we had to pick up our little doggie from the kennel before it closed. I apologize to those we couldn't go to dinner with, or help pack/unpack the bus. Our doggie was really, really whiffy from the kennel, though, let me tell you. Never again. I think he might come with us to EveCon (depending on hotel rules), or stay at a friend's house who offered at the con. A week later, and he's still not the same. He caught a bad cold, despite the "Kennel Cough" medicine we got him immunized for beforehand. We took him back to the vet, and they gave him some medicine. We also found out his left eye now won't rotate fully in its socket. He also lost about half of his hair. I am not sure what happened in that kennel but we will never, and I mean never, put him in one again.
Thank you Bruce and Cheryl for once again pulling off a great party. It's cons like these that keep me coming back. :)
Ugh... I spent two weeks in Cisco TCP/IP and ICND classes, and my brain is full. I should be taking my CCNA sometime next month, after I rest for a week, and catch up on my work and home life. My studying for the CCNA has come to a screeching halt with my grandmother's passing. When I am in Iron Mountain, I will be trying to study as much as I can, but as you can imagine, my thoughts are preoccupied.
We (as in Christine and I) also celebrated our *11th* wedding anniversary on June 24! Eleven years ... wow. It all started with finding a girl at Betty and Nybor's table, and who knows how it will end? So far we have been through better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health, sometimes all at the same time! Those of you who knew us all the way back when know just how much we've put up with, and I couldn't have survived without my significant other. We celebrated by getting each other gifts. I got Christine a fountain with wind chimes, and she got me a Droid Developer's Kit (Lego Robotics) and a book on the history so Sci-fi illustration. She is truly the better half in this relationship.