Update on April Events (Cancelled) from Kingdom Seneschal

Dear Members of the Midrealm,

As the Dragon protects its treasure so do We, the Crown and Great Officers of State wish to protect the great Populace of the Midrealm. Thus, with a heavy heart, do We here proclaim the following:

All events (weekend events, business meetings, practices, other official SCA activity, etc.) are hereby cancelled, effective immediately through the end of APRIL. We will evaluate the situation at the end of April to determine the next appropriate steps.

This determination was not made lightly. However, under recent guidance from the CDC that activities with over 50 attendees be postponed and recent closures and actions by state officials We feel this is the best course of action for the safety of the Populace. If you’d like to see the referenced guidance:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

As previously announced pre-registration of events through PayPal will be disable until further notice. It is recommended that local branches stop offering a pre-registration option to avoid potential issues with refunds due to cancelled events or requests due to illness. To help ease the potential impact of these decisions, the Middle Kingdom will be making the following financial policy changes:

For local branches hosting events, the Middle Kingdom will assist local groups who provide site refunds to individuals who request one due to them or a family member being ill. Such requests would have to occur on or before the event. Policy to be re-evaluated in 60 days.

Local groups forced to cancel the use of a venue by government, venue, the Board of Directors of SCA, Inc. or by the Middle Kingdom: If the venue does not offer a full refund of the deposit and the forfeiture of the deposit would result in the group having a balance of less than $500 in their account, the Kingdom will assist to ensure a minimum of $500 remains in the group’s accounts for ordinary operational costs. Policy to be re-evaluated in 30 days.

You may find the most current, official, word at the following sites:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/
Ohio: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/home
Indiana: http://www.state.in.us/isdh/
Illinois: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/
Kentucky: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/pages/covid19.aspx
Michigan: https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs
Iowa: https://idph.iowa.gov/
Ontario: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/

Remember, PROTECT YOUR FRIENDS, WASH THY HANDS! The plague was so 1347!

Yours in Service,
Master Cerridwen verch Ioreword
Middle Kingdom Seneschal

Pennsic War 49 – COVID-19 update

G’Day Everyone,

From the Mayor, Pennsic 49.

First of all, I want to reassure you all that the Pennsic 49 Senior Executive Group, the Pennsic Seneschal’s Group, Pennsic 49 Staff and the Management Group of Coopers Lake Camp Ground will continue to consider all precautions to protect Pennsic 49 attendees as much as possible from the current health Issue sweeping our countries, the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic outbreak. 

We are still about 4.3 months away from Pennsic and therefore have plenty of time to access and re-assess the risk to attendees and organisers alike as we get closer to Pennsic 49 start date. 

Pennsic War is a unique event for attendees who come face-to-face with one another every day. The Pennsic 49 executive is focused on delivering a safe, healthy event site by planning to adopt various precautions that are sustainable and safe for Pennsic 49 attendee’s long-term welfare in mind.  

I have already been in discussions with the James Brezel of the Coopers Lake Management group and we are progressing plans should a worst case situation develop. 

The Pennsic 49, Executive Management Group will remain alert to any increased risk and ensure that we take all precautions for the safety, health and wellbeing of all those who attend Pennsic. You will be advised of any future developments as they come to hand. However, it must be noted that at this stage there is no plan to cancel Pennsic 49. 

That being said, some decisions maybe be out of our hands. We have no control over the SCA, State or Federal Government bodies that may enforce closure of these types of events in the interest of public safety. However, we will plan and act accordingly as per that direction or advice from these bodies. 

At this time the SCA is approaching the issue of COVID-19 on a monthly basis and that is the plan for Pennsic 49. We are “NOT” pressing the panic button and Pennsic 49 is “NOT” being cancelled. 

We are now at Stage 1 only. 

Stage 1. Proceed with Planning for Pennsic49 as per usual.

Stage 2. In the event that Aethelmarc War Practice is cancelled, Pennsic 49 Executive Staff still plan to meet and continue the planning for Pennsic 49, however this will be with reduced numbers with essential staff members only, attending the meeting or appearing by Vidcom link to the meeting.

I promise I will keep everyone advised with the facts as they come to hand. If you don’t hear it from me, it has not been said. 

Kind regards
Greg Turkich
(Sir Gregory of Loch Swan)
Mayor
Pennsic 49 

From the Kingdom Seneshal on Covid-19

Dear Children of the Dragon,

In these troubled times we seek to do our best to protect and defend. Sometimes that means making difficult decisions for the health and safety of those that need it most. Thus on behalf of the Crown and the Great Officers of State, hear and know the following:
Gulf Wars has been officially cancelled.

All events (weekend events, business meetings, and practices, etc.) are hereby cancelled, effective immediately through the end of March. We will evaluate the situation at the end of March to determine the next appropriate steps.

Pre-registration of events through PayPal will be disable until further notice. It is recommended that local branches stop offering a pre-registration option to avoid potential issues with refunds due to cancelled events or requests due to illness. To help ease the potential impact of these decisions, the Middle Kingdom will be making the following financial policy changes:

For local branches hosting events, the Middle Kingdom will assist local groups who provide site refunds to individuals who request one due to them or a family member being ill. Such requests would have to occur on or before the event. Policy to be re-evaluated in 60 days.

Local groups forced to cancel the use of a venue by government, venue, the Board of Directors of SCA, Inc. or by the Middle Kingdom: If the venue does not offer a full refund of the deposit and the forfeiture of the deposit would result in the group having a balance of less than $500 in their account, the Kingdom will assist to ensure a minimum of $500 remains in the group’s accounts for ordinary operational costs. Policy to be re-evaluated in 30 days.

You may find the most current, official, word at the following sites:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/
Ohio: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/home
Indiana: http://www.state.in.us/isdh/
Illinois: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/
Kentucky: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/pages/covid19.aspx
Michigan: https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs
Iowa: https://idph.iowa.gov/
Ontario: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/

Remember, PROTECT YOUR FRIENDS, WASH THY HANDS! The plague was so 1347!

Yours in Service,
Master Cerridwen verch Ioreword
Middle Kingdom Seneschal

Kingdom Chatelain – – April Letter in The Pale

Greetings, Midrealmers, both new and old!
The SCA is, by and large, a welcoming, friendly and inclusive organization. However, there is one subset of the SCA that I have seen regularly shunned, ignored and denigrated. To help address this inequity, I invited a member of that subset to pen a letter outlining their experiences and beliefs. That letter follows.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

While this quote has been attributed to Abe Lincoln, Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Confucius, and countless others, my limited research indicates that we should credit “unknown.” While this statement is useful when applied to intellect, what if we paraphrase using emotional language: “Better to remain stoic and be though uncaring than to express and remove all doubt”? While imperfect, this phrase represents a reasonable starting point to discuss the challenges of being politically conservative in the SCA.

I should note that the greater challenge of being an open conservative is in regard to the eSCA, as opposed to active participation at events. Recently, the SCA published a “Statement of Core Values” for members and participants in all events and activities of the SCA. Ironically, the statement does not explicitly address the eSCA (unless one considers online discussions “events and activities”). At events, there is much to do that allows one to avoid spirited discussions of personal politics.

The SCA, in my opinion, is a structural meritocracy where the value is assigned to us as individuals who may eventually result in recognition by the Crown in the form of awards and the elevation to orders [of merit]. While baronial or AoA level awards and orders of merit emphasize what we do rather than how we do it, the Peerage Orders require intangible “peer-like qualities.” This adds a layer of the subjective to be considered alongside the objective measures of accomplishment. Meaning that at some point it is no longer enough to have “done the thing” well; rather, there is the need to impress the right people (i.e., those who have the ear of the Crown). However, those people certainly have personal opinions of the intangibles as various as their preference for scrambled eggs, ambient temperature or hue of lavender.

As a conservative thinker, the idea we can be objectively measured by what we do appeals to me. The challenge is applying one’s personal measurement of the intangibles to another individual without judgment of their personal politics. Even worse is to formulate opinion based on a caricature of said politics. Worst of all is to make assumptions without a discussion with the individual of how they came to their beliefs.

Overall, my experience is that liberal opinions are far more readily accepted than conservative opinions, especially in the eSCA. And since the eSCA is a reflection of social media in general, it contains the many of the same unsavory aspects, including (but not limited to) “cancel culture.” For those unfamiliar with the term, “cancel culture” is the radical idea that certain political opinions are not just wrong, but that individuals should not be allowed to express them and that those who do should be silenced, fired from their jobs and otherwise publicly shamed—effectively “cancelling” someone not because of what they have expressed, rather for what they think.

While we all hope that the SCA’s principles of chivalry, courtesy, and learning would preclude anyone from “cancelling” another because of their political views, there is a definite risk of expressing politics that clash with the majority, especially when you are walking upon the path to Peerage. For this reason, conservatives are more likely to keep their political opinions to themselves. Those few that are more expressive are often Peers already or are simply not interested in the active pursuit of Peerage.

In the end, every political persuasion wants what is best for society (not the SCA, in this case). Unfortunately, there is a perception by conservatives that having the “wrong” opinion (that is, counter to the majority liberal perspective) may be detrimental to their success in the SCA and would reduce their overall enjoyment in their chosen hobby. They are willing to risk silence, with all the accoutrements; and that is the greatest of their challenges.

Anonymous

I have no pithy epilogue for this topic, only to point out that it is perhaps telling that the author requested to remain anonymous.

In service,
Nikolai

Kingdom Chatelain- March letter in The Pale

Greetings, Midrealmers, both old and new!

As you’ve most likely heard, the Kingdom recently eliminated the “pay to play” requirement for combatants in the Middle. This got me thinking about membership and, more importantly, what it means to belong to something.

It used to be that your membership gave you a subscription to The Pale, which was critical for event planning, directions, and generally staying in the know about what’s happening within the Kingdom.

But now that every event has its own website, Google maps gives you directions without having to break out the atlas, and Kingdom news is shared first on the Facebook group—why would anyone remain a member?

I’ve heard from many long-time participants that membership used to be more important. That they felt more engaged as a member. And it’s easy to understand why: If you found the Society in the ‘70s or early ‘80s, you really were on the ground floor of actively inventing the traditions that we take for granted today. With 50 years of history behind us, I can understand why it might feel like things progress in a manner so rote and immutable that you’re less a contributing member and more just along for the ride.

However, I’d argue that there has never been a more exciting time to be a member of the SCA. Our grasp of the real history behind our actions is greater than ever before, and members are reenacting that history in new and exciting ways. From deeds of arms to persona-specific gatherings to households championing a particular time and place in the world, we are bringing history alive in ways that were previously unattainable. And I dismiss the naysayers who claim the SCA used to be more “fun.” I’ve seen tacky garb contests, Disney character parties, brawls using ridiculous weapons, and a rumored tiara party at Pennsic this year.

This is the benefit of belonging to the SCA today: a benefit that goes beyond saving a couple bucks at the gate or holding an office. When you’re a card-carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, you have declared your intention and put your money where your mouth is, all to be part of what our organization stands for—the historical, the scholarly and the wacky.

Side note: of COURSE, you can be an active contributing member of the Society without being a member. It happens every day. I’m not saying that membership makes you a better SCA participant. Save your angry emails.

I encourage everyone to be a member of the Society. There’s a certain thrill of being able to produce that blue card that identifies you as belonging to this wonderful, unusual, unexpected and deeply nerdy organization we all love.

No adjustment to Kingdom law can ever change that.

In service,

Letter in The Pale- Dec 2019 – Chatelain

Greetings, Midrealmers, both old and new!
 
To paraphrase a wise man who greatly influenced our Society before he was taken from us far too soon:

“The eSCA. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”

If you’re not familiar with the term, the eSCA or “electronic SCA” refers to all the means in which we communicate to other SCA folks outside of real-world interactions. In theory that includes email, message boards, text messages… but in practice, the eSCA predominately lives in the world of social media, specifically Facebook.

It’s been said many times that the eSCA isn’t the real SCA. And I believe that, for good and bad. Let’s start with the good because, believe it or not, there is a lot of good.

The obvious good of the eSCA is how quick and easy it is for us to share information and research. Our cumulative knowledge of our period has expanded by leaps and bounds in the last couple decades and we do a better than average job of sharing that knowledge. Whatever your area of interest, there’s someone out there who is thrilled to share their class notes, research or life’s work with you. And if you’re interested in a popular aspect of the SCA period, let’s say fourteenth-century Europe or Norse culture, you need only raise your hand and you will be instantly inundated with knowledge.

The eSCA network allows you to connect with experts all across the globe, both within the SCA and without. The sharing of personal research has never been more accessible.

Beyond knowledge sharing, the eSCA also allows us to observe events we didn’t attend, see the happy faces of deserving people receiving recognition, watch our monarchs in their splendor even when we couldn’t get off work. We can maintain personal connections with far-flung friends. I regularly see updates from people I’ve met and befriended from all over the world. The eSCA (specifically Facebook) allows me to continue to be part of their lives in a small way.
 
For our members who are housebound, playing on the fringes or just broke, this may be the only way they get to experience and remain a part of the “mainstream” SCA.
 
That’s the good. Now the bad.
 
I hardly feel like I need to enumerate the bad—we’ve all seen it. Someone states a contrary opinion in a discussion thread—perhaps an honest difference of philosophy, perhaps trolling—and the virtual fist fight begins. People pile on, insults are traded, inevitably Nazis are referenced, and the entire thread is reduced to a stinking pile.
 
Of course, the eSCA isn’t different from the internet in general in this regard. If anything, it’s marginally better in that there’s at least a veneer of courtesy… to start. But that said, I am constantly amazed at what people in the SCA feel comfortable expressing from behind the safety of their keyboard. Things that they’d never say directly to someone’s face. And I’m not just talking about cowards who grow “internet muscles” and start to spew hateful rhetoric. I’m talking about those who seem to forget the basic tenets of courtesy, honor and respect… you know, the foundational principles of our organization.
 
To understand why things seem to go pear-shaped so often and so quickly in the eSCA you have to understand that social media in general, and Facebook in particular, does two things really well: connect and amplify.
 
It used to be that to experience the SCA, you had to actually attend a meeting or event. While you were there you’d be exposed to a bunch of different people, each having a different experience. Usually most were having fun, but often there were a few who were not, for whatever reason. Maybe they were burned out, bitter, overwhelmed, sad or just having a bad day. They would cast a bit of a shadow over the event but, by and large, other people would just continue to do the things that they enjoy.
 
The eSCA enables all those people who aren’t having a good time to connect online and share their (bad) experiences. This creates an echo chamber (again, no different from social media at large) and before you know it, everyone inside that echo chamber is convinced that the SCA as a whole is a horrible place that is quickly sinking into a morass of political correctness and exclusion.
 
Then, when all those people start singing “the SCA sucks” song in unison, their voices are disproportionally loud. That’s the amplification part.
 
To use a mundane example, I’ve heard that for every diner who has a bad experience at a restaurant and leaves a scathing review, there are 20 diners who had fine experiences but didn’t bother to leave a comment.
 
So, it goes with the eSCA. For every person who attends an event and feels ignored, excluded or just doesn’t have a good time, there are dozens who have a great time. But it’s the former who loudly proclaim the imminent downfall of the SCA, and the latter who focus instead on the fun they had and begin planning their next event.
 
Now, before you start lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks, understand that I am in no way trying to dismiss anyone’s experience or claim that the SCA is all rainbows and unicorns. I have not been shy about talking about the darker parts of our organization. There are problematic people, groups and events for sure. There are people who have legitimate cause to complain about how they are treated. But I’m talking about the aggregate experience in the SCA. I believe that on the whole—at least in this kingdom—there are far, far, FAR more people who work incredibly hard to make sure everyone has fun than who contribute to the opposite.
 
So, how do we maximize the good side of the eSCA and minimize the bad? I think the most important thing we can do is recognize that the eSCA is not an accurate representation of the SCA in general. It is a dim reflection of what really happens when SCA people get together to fight, teach, talk, laugh, break bread and share stories. It overlooks the inspiring to highlight the annoying.
 
My advice is that when you encounter a comment that is counter to your opinion and/or experience, ask yourself if you really need to respond. And if you do feel so compelled, can you do so in the spirit of the SCA? And if the original poster is just a troll, maybe step away from the keyboard and first count to 10. Bonus points if you can do so in Latin.
 
Instead of contributing to the dark echo chamber, share youf positive stories! Tell your tale on #MySCAMonday! Talk about someone else who’s doing great stuff on Wordfame Wednesday! Proclaim it in all caps on SHOUTY THURSDAY!
 
Social media isn’t going away, so we need to learn how to transform the eSCA so we are always connecting with the positive and amplifying the good. Because, to paraphrase that wise man again, “The eSCA will be with you. Always.”
 
In service,

Some website images not loading – 10 Oct 2019 – RESOLVED

Good afternoon everyone!

The Helpdesk team wanted to let everyone know that we are aware that some images on the Service portal, etc. are not loading. We’re currently looking into it and checking with our hosting company. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

UPDATE: The hosting company has resolved this issue. Thank you everyone for your patience!

UPDATE: (TS 3:17 pm)– This seems to be affecting the Calendar and any of the web services that we have with the hosting company. A ticket has been filed and we will update you as soon as we have more information.

Thank you to all for your patience and assistance in letting us know when things are working,

JahanAra
Midrealm HelpDesk Team

Minitorial: How to grids more effectively

Greetings! I have uploaded a video to my Youtube Channel that is a quick tutorial on how to make effective use of the interactive grids in many pages of the Services Portal.

One complaint I often hear about the portal is that some of the forms are clunky to use. Invariably, they involve the use of an interactive grid and sometimes the information gets “squashed” down and is difficult to read.

By using the Single Row View feature of the interactive grid, you can view the contents of a single row in a format that is easier to use, cycle through the rows in a grid, and even edit (where appropriate).

To use the Single Row View feature, click on the “Hamburger” menu for the row you want to view and select Single Row View. From within there, the left and right arrow keys will allow you to cycle through the other records in the grid quickly. Editing information can be done by clicking on the Edit button at the top of the area. Getting back to seeing all the rows in the grid is simply a matter of clicking the “Report View” button.

I hope this helps you more effectively use the Services Portal. If you have other ideas for tutorials, please drop us a line at issues@midrealm.org and we will work on getting that up on the channel.

Baron Rijckaert vanUtrecht,OP
Kingdom Web Minister

Site outage update

Just after the 50th Year Celebration, the Dayton area was hit by tornadoes, causing widespread damage to property. One such was the location where our old server resides, which houses things like the Wiki, the Peerage sites, and two groups’ websites. As a consequence, our server is still down as it was not part of the disaster recovery plan at the location. The server team has been trying to get a copy of the server up and running again, if for no other reason than to gain access to the data on the drives. It’s proving a tough nut to crack due to the age of the system software. We are doing everything in our power to restore service as soon as possible and we appreciate everyone’s patience.

As further updates happen, I will update this note.

In service to the Kingdom, I remain,

Baron Rijckaert vanUtrecht,OP
Kingdom Web Minister

How to of Google Mail Filtering and Officer Reporting

Good afternoon, Midrealm!
As part of the new services that we have rolled out for everyone, several questions have risen that I want to share with you all.  

Reporting System

As many of you have already discovered, we have a new officer reporting system in the services portal that allows users to file and view reports for themselves and any deputies that they have.  The design idea behind this is a unified place that works the same regardless of the office a report is being filed for.  Each office type will have its own set of questions that the Kingdom Officer would like answered.  The reporting system works in three basic steps:

  1. Selecting the year, quarter, and office the report is for
  2. Answering the office specific questions
  3. Submitting the report

The act of submitting does some things behind the scenes that are not readily apparent to the person submitting the report.  First, the last report date of officer for that office is updated.  Second, and this is the piece that I wanted to address in the second part of this missive, is that an email is sent to the officers above the officer in the reporting chain.  Also, an alert goes out to the seneschal of the group associated with the office.  If you do the math, top level offices will get alerted for every office submission all the way down to the canton officers.  For offices like the marshals and seneschals, this can be a lot of email alerts.  This brings me to part two of this missive…

How to Filter Google Mail

Since we based the midrealm.org emails on Google Mail, there is a lovely feature that allows you to filter email that comes into your account and do interesting things with it to help you manage your inbox.  Originally, I had intended to create a video specific to Midrealm Email, but it applies to ANY Google based email account.  I found a video on YouTube that does a GREAT job of showing how to set up and filter mail in your account and cut down on the “noise” from the automated reporting alerts. 

How to Use Gmail Filters and Labels by Simpletivity

What I would suggest is that you create a filter to a new label (I use Officer Reports) for everything coming from noreply@midrealm.org (a dummy account that we set up just for this purpose and is common practice with automated alerts like this).  This will allow you to not see in your inbox those alerts but still go an look later, bulk delete, or send to another label.  Some officers want to know every detail up to the moment, and some want to go at it later.  Our thought process behind the design of this system was flexibility.  Everyone has different ways they want to consume information and we wanted to provide a versatile set of tools to allow you to do so, and not have to retool how the system works when the next officer comes in after you.  
I hope the video helps you with managing your inbox either here on midrealm.org or in any Google mail based account you may have. 
As always, if you run into difficulty, please send an email to issues@midrealm.org and one of our Helpdesk team will assist you.
Thank you for your time and happy filtering!

Master Rijckaert vanUtrecht, OP
Kingdom Web Minister