Posts Tagged ‘SCA’

Solitude

So, what day is it? June 7th? Sounds like the perfect day to debut my April 2011 SCSC socks.
Vellamo
I actually finished them on Saturday (yes, the April socks were finished in JUNE). Wet blocking did wonders for what otherwise looked like a stranded mess.
Socks
Pattern: Vellamo
Yarn: KnitPicks Stroll Solids, one skein each of Aurora Heather and Mustard (Mustard is being discontinued)
Needles: 2.75mm DPNs
Modifications: My only modification was to change the cuff. I felt like the socks were so fancy they needed a showier cuff, so rather than a 1.5 inch 1×1 ribbed cuff, I went with a picot edged cuff. My first ever picot edge. I am a little disappointed that the socks are not all that “clingy” since I don’t have a nice stretchy ribbed cuff to help hold them up, but they look like some fancypants knitting, so I can live with them being somewhat saggy.

In other news, the week before Sapphire, I cast on the Summer Mystery Shawl that Wendy Johnson of WendyKnits started publishing. I wanted a distraction and something to invigorate my will to knit once the event was over, and it seems to have worked. I cast on in the handspun green merino/tencel (or it might be bamboo) blend I bought on Etsy last year and spun last Autumn. I don’t know how I feel about the yarn. Having never spun something like that, I didn’t know what to expect. I overspun a lot of it, and some of it is underspun. None of it is especially consistent. It is knitting up a lot like pure silk with little give. I think it will look nice once it is blocked out, but right now, I am somewhat taken aback by the mess every time I look at it.

Anyway, Wendy has put out all of the charts now, but the main body chart came out the day I was loading the Uhaul to go out to Sapphire, so I only started that chart over the weekend. I am taking my time with it, but the project is speeding up as I go because I am getting very familiar with the chart and because each right side row drops off two stitches.

I bypassed May’s Sock Club socks altogether. I had a feeling when I set up the club that May might wash out and sure enough. It doesn’t hurt that the socks are intended for a pair of Size 12 feet, and those feet belong to someone on my Not Too Happy With list, at the moment. I had little heartache in skipping over those socks. My June socks are waiting to be cast on very soon. The pattern is Falling Tears, and the yarn will be more Knit Picks Stroll in Dusk colorway. My main delay is that I need to replace my 2mm DPNs and I really need a 2.5mm set too. I think this sock is going to need me to go down a size from my normal 2.75mm needles.

Maybe this weekend I will have time to cast on while I am back at Tom Scott Park for Warfighter.

I am really suddenly looking forward to the event this weekend. We won’t have an “encampment” to speak of. It will just be Byram and I alone in our normal location, and there is a better than average chance that one night, it might even be me by myself. He will understand (I hope) when I say that the idea of a night alone in a tent, completely by myself, is deeply appealing right now. In the wake of Sapphire, of autocratting, of my job, of life in general, I feel a bit like I have had a 60 grit beltsander applied to my soul and I need some time to heal up. I need some quiet time. I need some solitude.

You wouldn’t think going to an SCA event would be the balm I need, but the way this weekend is looking, I think it is going to be perfect.

Now, I would like to leave you with some photos from my lost month of May.
Grace and I are exploring the River.

Admiral Achbar gives us a warning from what is one of the most random tags I have ever seen in the City.
Photobucket
My Beloved. Both of them.

A blooming magnolia; the scent took me straight back to my childhood in Hampton.
Magnolia
One of the most hellacious storms I have ever driven through.

My goofy girl and her wax lips.

Going for a run with a little added weight.

The Civil War memorial on Belle Isle.

And Grace.

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The Social Credit Card Account

I am still firmly in autocrat mode here. Even though Sapphire is finished, the books aren’t closed yet, and now I am hip deep in getting ready for Warfighter, and also spending brain power on thinking out an event for September, whatever form it takes on. As an autocrat, I function on a theory I have developed over the years of autocratting and staffing SCA events. I call it the theory of a Social Credit Card. It actually can apply to life in general, but the SCA provides a powerful microcosm to play this theory out in very fast and real time.

In general, if you are playing nicely with others, serving the Society, contributing to your group and your kingdom, you are building credit on your “social credit card.” You might make occasional minor withdrawals on that card when you mess up, do something like file an officer’s report late, leave trash for others to clean up at an event, or drive where you shouldn’t and mess up the ground or worse, get stuck in the mud at an event. Those are just some examples of minor things that happen to pretty much everyone, and your Social Credit Card takes a little hit, but if you don’t screw up too frequently, you should still be flush.

The fastest way to drain your Social Credit Card account without doing something that gets you banned from the group permanently is to autocrat an event. The primary job of the autocrat is to find people who can work with you and with each other to make all the moving parts of an event move together in something resembling harmony. This means you have to have to ask people to work for you, and the bigger and more complex the event, the more people need and the more work you have to hand them. The great thing is that people generally want to work and will help you if you ask (remember, they are building their Social Credit Card accounts up), but every time you ask, you make a debit on your account. And every time you ask someone to do something else after they finish the task they have already done for you, the debit gets a little bigger. And every time you ask someone to do something really hard or something you know they really don’t want to do, the debits start getting pretty big.

By the end of Sapphire, there were people who probably wanted to run the other way every time they saw me coming in their direction with the look on my face of “I hate to ask this, but…” My SCA Social Credit Card was near or maybe even over the limit by noon, last Monday.

I am not trying to suggest that you shouldn’t “spend” anything in your Social Credit Account. I mean the opposite actually. The SCA really only exists through events, through real live, personal interactions with one another; not through online chats and Facebook. So, I believe that to have the SCA, you have to have events, and that means someone, somewhere, has to spend their Social Cred to make it happen. Like real money, you can hoard as much as you can get your hands on, but if you never spend it, it doesn’t really do anything for you. What I am saying you should treat the goodwill of others as a resource as valuable as money. You need the goodwill of others around you to thrive in the SCA. I cannot stress this enough. No one in the SCA operates in a social vacuum, not even our most severe introverts.

This theory doesn’t just apply to autocrats. It applies to Royalty, who must ask a lot of favors of a lot of people, but they have more ability to soften the blow to their Social Credit. It definitely applies to Landed Baronage who must also ask a lot of a lot of people, and have a similar ability to soften the impact on their credit, but the timeframe is a lot longer for them than for the Crowns. You must tread very carefully as a Landed Baron when it comes to your Social Credit Card. It applies to group officers too, particularly to Seneschals, who have to ask people to do things all the time, but have little or no way to rebuild their Social Credit until their term is over.

Like I said, I think of the Social Credit Card as a general life theory and one that I think we all abide by on a relatively unconscious level, but it is something I have become keenly aware of over the years. And if you ever wondered what I was thinking about on all those mornings I was awake at 0400 or thereabouts, this is exactly the kind of stuff I think about, and it is the kind of thing I hope future autocrats will think about too.

Feedback

This is strictly SCA related.
Feedback on the proposed laws regarding “Symbols of Rank” has been requested. I have drafted and sent a letter to the feedback email address listed on the FAQ page. The letter, in its entirety is below, and it free and open to the populace to read and consider.

If you have an opinion on the proposed changes to Kingdom law regarding symbols of rank, I urge you to consider submitting your feedback, but it is vital that you do so with respect and courtesy.

*~*
Greetings unto Your August Majesties, Michael and Seonaid:

I am writing in response to the request for commentary on the proposed changes to §§ 13.2 and 13.3 et seq. of the Great Book of Law.

I would like to begin by saying that while I am impacted by the proposed changes, I do not find myself particularly outraged or passionate about the matter, and I have no strong emotional response to the proposed changes.

That being said, for the following reasons, I do not support the majority of the proposed changes.

A. The Laws Create More Problems Than They Are Intended To Solve

As I understand it, the main problem needing to be solved is that there are so many gentles walking around wearing symbols of rank or regalia that new members of the Society are have difficulty distinguishing between the ranks and understanding precedence.

It seems to me that this is more of a problem of education than of regalia. It should fall on us, the longer serving members of the Society, to reach out to those who might be confused and introduce them to the finer points of regalia and heraldic displays. This would not only engage newcomers in discussion and allow them to feel more included, but would educate them and could even provide the opportunity to change the culture regarding regalia as the Society goes forward.

There are a number of problems that these proposed changes will create. First, there is the issue of enforcement. The College of Heralds is being asked to enforce this, but many of them are Baronage of the Court themselves, and none that I have spoken to support the changes. If the changes go into effect, the end result will be one of two things: either they will be ignored and unenforced altogether, making this entire discussion moot, or they will end up somehow being enforced, but the nature of the Society is such that enforcement will be uneven; some people will be called out, others will not, and inevitably, drama will ensue. The creation of drama where there was none does not serve the Society’s best interests.

Second is the issue of the grandfathered symbols of rank. People will still wear their grandfathered symbols of rank and coronets made before these laws will be passed. Further, “legacy pieces” will be gifted to newly created Court Baronage, and so the non-compliant coronets are not going to disappear. What you will have will be a second “tier” of Court Baronage whose coronets might fall in line with the proposed laws, but it still does not fix the stated problem of “Symbols of rank serve two purposes: 1) a mark of distinction for the bearer of certain achievements, and 2) the easy recognition of those achievements, particularly by newcomers to the Society.” (Emphasis mine) We will still have to fall back on the education issue I brought up above.

B. The Proposed Changes Lack Popular Support

Whether a law is popular or not is not a benchmark of its overall worth. In this case, however, I am not hearing, in general, any popular support for the proposed changes. When a law does not serve to correct a serious problem, and it does not enjoy at least some popular support from the Populace at large, then it is doomed to failure, either in being ignored and unenforced, or being enforced on people already unhappy with the laws and creating drama.

Further, in lacking popular support, it is highly likely that sometime in the future, a new King will be crowned who is opposed to the laws and will either repeal them or try to “fix” them to make them more palatable.

C. A Particular Group Appears to be Targeted

Whether it is actually the case or not, it appears that Court Baronage are particularly singled out by the restrictions. Checking the Atlantian Order of Precedence, I can see that as of May 20th, 2011, there are 471 award recipients. That is a huge number, but as I see it, we should count ourselves lucky to have so many people who have served their Kingdom so dutifully and for long enough to have earned such recognition. I do not believe that more people wearing beautiful and medieval regalia denigrates or cheapens the rank, honor, or achievements of anyone else.

In summary, I see these proposed changes as being generally unnecessary. The stated purpose for the proposed changes, as stated on the FAQ page, states:

Symbols of rank for awards and Orders have existed in the SCA for a long time. They encompass more than just coronets. Examples include white belts for Knights or embattled coronets for Counts/Countesses. Some kingdoms go so far as to regulate cloaks, collars of state, chains, spurs, medallion hangers, banners, and on and on. We have chosen to be less restrictive, while still providing a basic set of guidelines that follow our Kingdom traditions.

Just because other kingdoms have enacted very specific regulations and standards for regalia is not a good reason for Atlantia to regulate symbols of rank, however less restrictive those regulations might be. If the purpose is really to make things less confusing for newer members, then I do not believe a law is needed when simple education and communication would be more effective and beneficial to the Society and its newcomers as a whole. The proposed changes already have and will continue to cause distress and mistrust among the populace.

During my tenure as Baroness of Caer Mear, the question I would ask myself before attempting any significant change of policy or tradition within the Barony was “How does this benefit the Barony and its People?” I believe the same question has to be asked in this case. How do the proposed changes benefit the Kingdom and its Populace? Do the overall positives outweigh the negatives?

That is for You, Your Majesties, to decide.

In fealty and respect, I remain,
Mistress Melisent la Rusé, OP

A Care (Caer?) Package To Myself

This is all strictly SCA and Sapphire related. Feel free to bypass if you came looking for knitting.

I had a funny thought today. When I autocrat an event, I like to set myself up with a little “Autocrat’s Care Package.” It is nothing more than some goodies to get me through an event. For my first ever event, it consisted only of a Whatchamacallit candy bar and a 2 liter of Mountain Dew, but that was a one day event.

The last time I ran Sapphire, my care package consisted of a carton of cigarettes, a 24-pack of Mountain Dew, beef jerky, Oatmeal Cream Pie cookies, and several 32 ounce bottles of blue Gatorade. No, it was not healthy, but health wasn’t a huge concern back then in general, and even less so over a 4 day marathon of activity. It was intended not only to give me lots of energy (calories), but to feed my mood (no one wants to deal with a cranky autocrat), and to be stuff I can eat one handed while swinging a sledge hammer or driving the golf cart. That was not ALL I ate over the weekend; that is why I refer to it as my Care Package.

I was doing a run down in my mind of what I would pack in my Care Package this year, and it really dawned on me that I have to go back to the drawing board now. No soda. I haven’t smoked in almost 5 years (I quit six months after the last Sapphire I ran). Oatmeal Cream Pie cookies (or Fudge Rounds, for that matter) are a one way ticket to Dump Town, and beef jerky, while theoretically the perfect food, simply doesn’t digest well in the pouch.

Since this is the first event I have autocratted since my surgery, I really have to think: What works for me now?

I will keep the Gatorade, as long as it is the low-cal G2. I needs me my electrolytes.

I think I will get some of those Beef Nuggets, instead of ordinary jerky. They are a little softer and easier on the pouch, great for protein and easily can ride around with me all day without fear of spoilage, but higher in sodium and I have deep suspicions about the preservatives used in them.

I think a pack or two of the Starbucks DoubleShots has to come along since there is not a Starbucks within 20 miles of the site. I also really like the Starbucks DoubleShot Energy Drinks. Mocha and Coffee are my favorite flavors. And somehow, they seem less threatening than say a Red Bull.

I will probably pack several Chobani 0% Greek Yogurts in the cooler. They are the perfect breakfast or fast snack. Tons of protein, some sugar (without causing dumping syndrome), and travel very well.

Then I think I will round out my Care Package with some string cheese, and a can of deluxe mixed nuts (no peanuts), or that really yummy pistachio blend trail mix I found last year.

A bag of some kind of good, bite sized chocolate might still make its way into my package. I may be beyond candy bars and oatmeal cream pies, but some extra dark chocolate, perfectly portioned into small servings, will go a long way towards smoothing over ruffled feathers and peaky nerves, all without making me sick.

The last thing in my care package will not be food related. And it might not get touched all weekend. But if I happen to find myself up at 4:30 am, like I did last time, where all I did was get up from my 3 hours of sleep and sit in camp in silence, while chain smoking, I think this year I will get into my care package and pull out my running shorts, running tank, and trainers, and cover a mile or two around the site. Will I have either the time or energy? Chances are good that I won’t. But if I do, nothing, and I mean nothing, no chocolate, cigarettes, caffeine, or drugs, legal or otherwise, would do more wonders for my brain and stress levels than to run in the quiet early morning around the event. And while throwing those things in a bag and dragging them with me costs me nothing, even if they never get looked at, having the time and inclination to go for a run, and NOT having my gear, would put me in a serious funk.

What a difference 5 years makes, yes?

Most Anything But Knitting

I am not knitting. At all. I haven’t knit a stitch in a week or so. Right now, I am in autocrat survival mode and my world is pretty much nothing except schlepping through my 8-5 work day, then juggling parenting and event planning, before crashing into bed, where I then dream about the event until about 4am when tossing and turning begins until I stumble out of bed bleary-eyed at some point before dawn on many mornings.

My primary source of stress relief is working out, mostly running. My long runs are up to a 3.5 mile loop around Belle Isle a couple of times a week, and my short runs are over 2 miles these days. Tuesday nights are for yoga and pilates after the living room is vacant. Wednesday is my rest day from running; I lifted weights at the Y yesterday. Last Wednesday, I climbed the stairs of my building a couple of times, then took a long walk. On the weekends, I am trying to make sure I get some kind of activity in, even if it is just long (60 minutes or more) slow walks. One day a week, I like to hit a treadmill for a very fast run, and for a break from only running on sidewalks, pavement, and graveled trails.

Much of my time is spent reading about nutrition, resting, recovery, cross-training, and injury prevention, or studying Google Earth maps of the areas I frequent to map out runs.

Introducing yoga has been an attempt to prevent injury and ease muscle soreness. I have never loved yoga, but I am developing an appreciation for the benefits, if not quite a love for the activity yet. I have noticed in only 3 weeks practicing it, my flexibility is starting to increase, and I have noticed that my soreness decreases about a day after a yoga practice. I am considering adding a second practice to the week; maybe making one specifically pilates and the other one specifically yoga, instead of mixing up the two.

In June, I am going to send in my payment not only for the McDonald’s Half Marathon, but I am going to sign up for a formal, professionally-coached training team.

They meet on Saturdays at 8am, and I am going to flat out miss the first two weeks of training because I am going to be in Slippery Rock, PA, both weekends. There are at least two other Saturdays I am going to miss as well; probably the Saturday of Fall Coronation, and the weekend immediately after it when I am running the Warrior Dash race at Berkley Plantation. Not much I can do about that. I hate the idea of missing 4 weeks out of the 14 week training program, but that is life.

This really sums up my whole life right now. When not doing one of the things I mentioned above, I am playing ignorant online games that involve a monkey popping many thousands of balloons and imbibing more than I should. I believe both the Bloon-Popping Monkey obsession and the imbibing will come within more reasonable parameters by the end of the month.

Otherwise, I am going to end up posting some weird YouTube videos about “winning” and my Supermonkey Goddesses, and the next stop will be some kind of Booze/B’loon rehab center, looking like Amy Winehouse after a party, sharing drink recipes with Lindsey Lohan. If I had tiger blood coursing through my veins, this would be okay, but I don’t. So…moving on.

Chances are good you won’t hear much from me between now and June. Forget the Post A Week goal. Forget knitting. Forget writing and better blogging. I have an event to run and several hundred people who are counting on me to make sure they have an excellent Memorial Day weekend. See you there or most likely I won’t see you until June.

The River Runs Dry

Every year, it is the same. Warm, hazy days arrive and my river of words dries up. Partly it is just that this is always an incredibly busy time of year for me. Work always gets immensely busy with rate case filings, discovery, motions, and such. There has been a noted uptick in FOIA requests too. Busy times at the office.

Then the SCA gets really busy between April and May every year. Every weekend there is some event I could (or should) be going to. I like it; no, I love it. This is the perfect time of year for our outdoor events. It isn’t until June that our season slows down for the heat and for Pennsic preparations. Add in that this year, I am running Sapphire Joust, and I am eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing event coordination and planning almost 24/7.

As a result of the all of this, the knitting falls off. Happens every year. Being mostly a knitting blog, with no knitting, there is little to write about. Remember those lightning fast April socks? The ones that are so incredibly beautiful and fast? I haven’t knit a stitch on them in a week. And the truth is, it doesn’t bother me. There are only 3 or 4 inches left to knit on the second sock and I could have that done in one evening’s hard work, but I just haven’t felt like it. When I have been knitting (which hasn’t been very much), I have been working on the second Serpentine Mitt or adding some stripes to the Son of Not Noro Scarf (as though I need a scarf right now. . . or wool hand warmers for that matter). A few rounds at a time the Serpentine Mitt is coming along. I have less than 10 rows of the cable pattern left to go, then an inch or so of ribbing, then pick up and knit the thumb, and bind off. They will be done soon. Not tonight. Maybe not this week, but soon. And I am okay with that too.

Then there’s the gardening and the running. Every Spring, even before bypass surgery, I found the motivation to take more walks or lift more weights. So far, this Spring is no different. I am just running farther (3.5 miles yesterday) and faster (in 40 minutes!) than any previous Spring. The veggie garden is taking off, just like every Spring, thanks to mild temperatures and lots of rain. Every day there is some weeding, checking the tomatoes and making sure they are climbing their cages right, and every weekend, there is some lettuce harvesting.

I am still hoping/planning on running the Half Marathon in November. I won’t actually register until next month just to be sure this isn’t some passing “I want something to fantasize about aside from Sapphire” thing, since I cannot get my $65 back once I have registered. I am spending a lot of time learning about longer distance running and racing. It can be as easy, I suppose, as lacing up your trainers and hitting the pavement for more than 13 miles, but to prevent injury and to try and make my goal of 2 hours 30 minutes (2:30), I need to know a little more. How to eat for fuel. How to fuel on the run. How to care for my muscles (especially since ibuprofen is verboten for me, and Tylenol really doesn’t help muscle soreness). What does “lactate threshold” mean? Is fartlek a dirty word? (It isn’t). Why do I have so much trouble with intestinal distress and how can I ease it or prevent it? What does one think about while running for 2.5 hours (I can’t spend the whole time chanting “You’re not gonna die” to myself!)? But more than needing to “know” how to run 13 miles, I have to simply get out there and run. My mileage base is still very low. I am trying to run 4 days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I really need to get up to 5 days (I want to add Sundays), but probably until Sapphire is over, more than 4 days a week is simply not in the cards. My target for starting my half marathon training program is Sunday, June 5th. In the meantime, I am just running, adding mileage, and getting used to the practice of running more days than not each week.

I have been very fortunate to stumble across the blogs of two weight loss surgery patients who have transformed themselves into very real athletes. This lady is training for an Ironman competition. She had her surgery just two months before I did. And this lady had her surgery just about 2 years before me and is a regular racer, and in fact just did her 3rd half marathon last weekend, finishing in under 2:20. So inspiring!

These ladies give me hope, particularly on days like yesterday when a 3.5 mile run felt like forever, making 13.1 seem like a pipedream.

I want to tell you how much I appreciate that you come here and read what I have to say, especially at times like this when my blog becomes a desert. I hope that you can take away something from here that is useful, inspiring, or thought provoking. And I am going to try and keep to my post-per-week challenge, even at times like these when I have nothing to offer you other than just random thoughts strung together, or excuses for why there aren’t pictures of knitting to show you. Thanks for stopping by!

Fundraising Update

I am deeply tired in spite of more rest last night than in the past few nights combined, but I think the combination of allergies and stress are getting to me. I really don’t want to go for my run at lunch. Legs feel leaden and I can just feel that it is going to be a very hard run since today is the long run (yesterday was the short, and supposedly fast run, but it wasn’t very fast). All I want is to find a warm, soft, dim place to curl up at lunch and let my eyes close for an hour.

The heel has been turned on the second Charade sock, and if I just sat down and knit like a real Knitter, they would be done in the next 48 hours, easy peasy. However, between my boredom with them, a very pressing and very large project at work, continued training for the Superhero Run, more time in a dentist’s chair scheduled, lots of Sapphire Joust projects up in the air, and simply being worn down, it is most likely they will carry over into April.

C’est la vie. I am not even upset by that like I thought I would be.

In positive news, the Worlds Finest team has almost reached our $200 goal. Thank you so much for your generosity. The Team Page does not, for some reason, show the donations made directly in Grace’s name. Combining the donations made directly in her name, plus the ones to our Team, we have raised $195 of my $200 goal. Just $5 more and we make it! Thank you so much!

This coming weekend, I am travelling with my family to Burlington, North Carolina for one of my favorite types of SCA events: Coronation. Our new Royalty will be installed and I always enjoy that process. We are sharing a hotel room with another friend, and I am hoping to find out if that hotel has a health center in it. It would be very nice for my training not to have to take a backseat to traveling for the weekend.

That’s where I stand right now. Busier than normal, happy in spite of it, and looking forward to something resembling a slow-down coming this summer.