Member Spotlight: Jaim al'Bearach
Author: Nymala Ingasy, June 2016
This month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with TarValon.Net's new Chairman of the Board, Jaim al'Bearach. I've met him many times at various events, and I wanted to know a little bit more about this mainstay of the Tower and get a sense of just how long he's been at this.
[Nymala Ingasy] First of all, for the one or two around here who don't know you, please introduce yourself and tell us a little more about you.
[Jaim al'Bearach] Well lets see, I'm Jaim long time member, former Euro member, now relocated to the US. I'm married to fellow member Lireina Sedai of the Green Ajah. We live in sunny/snowy (depending on the time of year) Michigan. We have 3 daughters and my step son. We're fortunate in that we have a large Mitten Crew* and we have frequent gatherings - probably a couple of times a year. So we get to see Tower folks all year round, which is great. I work in IT as a business intelligence analyst - that's really all I have to say about professional boring stuff.
*The Mitten Crew is the name for the group of Tower folk in Michigan (due to the state of Michigan being shaped something like a mitten).
[NI]How did you find the Wheel of Time series?
[JB] I actually found it in a second hand book store in the UK. First 5 books for 10GBP, which was a great bargain. Best 10GBP I've spent!
[NI]How did you find the TarValon.Net community and how long have you been a member?
[JB] It took me a little longer to find the online community, but I was doing a book reread and had wanted to search for something on the Forsaken. I ended up in the Library at TarValon.Net. Which is an excellent resource btw! After a couple of weeks I noticed that there was actually a community as well. I lurked for a while, then decided to join. This was back in the EZB!tch board days. A couple of weeks after I joined, the boards crashed, my posting habits and I had nothing to do with it - honestly. So I'm about 12 years in now I think.
[NI]Other than Wheel of Time, what are some of your favorite books and authors?
[JB] I've read so many authors over time. I really enjoyed some of the books I read when I first got into the fantasy genre. I like books by Gemmill, Eddings, Feist, Modesitt. But also Sanderson and others. I'll read a book if I think I will like it. I've read a lot of good books, some really bad ones and a lot that are so so. However, its a great way to pass time and allows you to picture what other worlds could be like.
[NI] Do you have any thoughts about the announcement of a developing Wheel of Time TV series? Who should play some of the main roles if you've gotten that far?
I do have thoughts on it. I think that if its done well, it will be amazing and will give another channel for people to get into the WoT world. This is great everyone who enjoys the series and is part of this community. We could potentially see an influx of new members, we haven't seen since the last book was released. But most importantly, I think it opens the world up to people who would not normally pick up a book and read. So that is an amazing thing and hopefully as I said it is well done as a series. Honestly, I don't care so much about who they pick for roles, as long as they can act and the filming is well done. Oh and they stick to the book story lines as much as possible.
[NI] Do you have any hobbies?
I'd say my hobbies are varied. I love reading and movies and having fun with my kids. But I also play video games (WoW and others). I cook and bake and I also brew my own beer from time to time.
[NI] Other than sing and wear a cool fedora, what does the Chairman of the Board do around here?
[JB] So being on the Board is different than being part of the regular administrative structure. We don't have anything to do with the operational side of the organization. We focus on all things legal, bylaws, our incorporation and all kinds of super exciting stuff like that. We hire and fire the Officers - Amyrlin, Chief Financial Officer, Keeper, Archivist and basically just stay in the background. We meet a couple of times each year and discuss pressing matters.
[NI] Lastly, how would you describe TarValon.Net to someone who knows nothing about us? What would you recommend, and what (or who) would you warn them about?
[JB] Its basically an internet drinking club with members who also read books. Seriously though, its a great place to be. There's something for everyone here. From hardcore user to casual user. You can aspire to rise up through the ranks or just be a citizen who drops in from time to time. We have serious debates in Current Events as well as silly fun in the Tavern. We do have lots of discussions about the books and theories as well as silly games we play in Frivolous Fun.
People share stories about their lives, loves and hopes as well as sorrows. Friendships are created and marriages take place, children have been born because this place exists! This place has become so much more than just about the books. It truly is a community of friends we know and friends we have yet to meet in person. Of course there's always someone you don't like, that's a fact of life no matter where you are. But we are a very open and accepting environment, with opportunities to make new friends, give back to your community, meet up in real life and generally have a good time.
Some of us spend far too much time online posting, others pop in a few times a year - there's no pressure to conform one way or the other. Many people give their time and money to make sure that this place runs and operates from day to day. Thank you to everyone who has served in any role within the Tower, your willingness to serve enables ALL of us to enjoy what this community has to offer. If you have never volunteered to serve in a role, but are considering doing so, I would urge you to throw your hat in the ring. We need involvement from our members in order for us to be successful and continue to be here 10 years from now. To anyone who has donated or is considering donating - Thank you, this allows us to do the wonderful things we do here, including our scholarship program which is amazing!
As for warning people, I'd warn them that it can be a time drain, sometimes you can get sucked in. But you control how much time you spend here. It's fun and if you find its taking too much time up, then take a break, go on an LOA etc.
I'd say if you've not tried us yet... come hang out and see what we have to offer... you might like it.
I was kind of surprised that I got a lot more out of Jaim Gaidin beyond "Indeed." but I found his answers to be heartfelt and honest, which is a very apt description of the man himself. Thank you to Jaim Gaidin for giving me the opportunity to share his thoughts with the community at large.