Oct. 1st, 2016 08:07 am
mrsbrown: (Default)
 I've been thinking this week about leadership, or possibly more correctly, getting people to do what I want them to.

I've been feeling the impotent annoyance that I remember feeling in the weeks before I stepped up as Baroness.  In particular, an incident when I arrived at Monthly Bash and saw a rabble of people not sure what to do.  I made my suggestions and was ignored.  it was super annoying and I remember the feeling of frustration and the almost shrill voice in my head as I raged internally about people not listening to my sensible suggestions/requests. I think I felt a bit invisible too.

My memory says that a week later, the day after our investiture, I arrived at the Sunday Tourney site to a similar rabble of people.  I was greeted enthusiastically by the people present, who bowed and nodded, "Your Excellency!".  I walked over, took stock and asked people to help unload the car, directed where the tourney field should be and got people involved in setting up the sunshade.  It was wonderful and I spent the following week reflecting on the difference and what made people listen to obey me one week  after comprehensively ignoring me.

A couple of years later, I watched my Boss designate a person  (N) I thought too young as his successor and 2 months later my Boss left on extended sick leave and died of a brain tumour.  Everyone in the company happily did as N directed, even while she confided in me that she didn't want to be the person solely responsible.  N was, in fact, great and I was happy to follow her.

I decided that it had to do with people wanting a designated leader. Someone who is anointed or named in some way as the leader.  As soon as they have, I guess they can stop worrying about deciding it for themselves and get on with just doing whatever the leader says that's basically reasonable. It's a successful approach, because most times doing something is a better option than angsting about what to do, so it's hard for a leader to get it wrong.

Oh, that's why H has set himself up as the "captain" of his pirate ship.  It automatically makes him the leader.  I wonder what equivalent I could adopt?  Would it work for a nearly fifty grey haired old lady?  Would it get me what I want?

Alternatively I need to work on the charisma side of the leadership thing, or borrow someone else's charisma.


Mar. 14th, 2016 08:25 am
mrsbrown: (tent)
 My dream this morning was about finding a safe place to give birth.

There was a monster/demon looking for me and they needed me before I had given birth.  I was at Festival and a midwife agreed to find me a quiet space at the hospital, with the right people around me.  People who could protect me from the demon.

We found the spot. I was a bit exposed, near the front entrance and the Bishop came.  I asked "why him" and the midwife spoke of her faith.  When I turned  to tell him to go, he was gone.  The others came and talked of their skills and we set up a curtain to screen me from the entrance.

Time passed and I had the urge to leave.  I knew the midwife was the wrong person so I secretly left with my companion and the demon fighting equipment.  We walked through the linear park.  I was heading for the dog enclosure, a place surrounded by trees.

I heard something coming behind us and I started running and we missed the access to my preferred destination and ended up in the tunnels.  After running for a while more

We chose the exit and looked back where we saw the midwife sitting, waiting.  We ignored her and headed for the trees.  I sat and, while I wasn't in pain, knew that it wasn't long before I gave birth.  A woolly alpaca type animal came over, but ignored me and addressed something behind a large tree.  While that was happening, a larger than life, godlike person came to me and insisted on checking my blood pressure and birth progress. (It's ok, no vaginal exam).  As she finished the alpaca ran forward and killed the invisible monster hiding behind the tree.

I was pretty happy.  There were trees around and I could give birth.  I started feeding apples into the processor.

There was also a meeting with my prospective birth attendants in a restaurant.  A real life acquaintance was there with her daughter and I made several attempts to get her to be interested in the reason I was there.  I even found a picture story book with Violent Femmes lyrics for her daughter, but it wouldn't work, I couldn't get her to pay me attention.

I think this dream is about safety and how I don't feel safe right now.  About how my safety and value as a member of the sca community was attacked yesterday in my interactions of facebook.  I had four negative interactions and I'm feeling sufficiently fragile that they hit me really hard and made me dream about my safety in that environment.

I wish people would acknowledge the good intentions that people have, rather than putting them straight into the "authenticity nazi" bucket.

I'm feeling a bit better that I was able to be safe, and also about the re-birth aspects.  Also amused that when I had found a safe place I was able to grate apples.

mrsbrown: (domestic goddess)
 I have a new induction stove.  Many of my favourite pots don't work on the induction surface and the ovens (there are 2) are smaller than my roasting pans.  The large oven has 5 shelves and the small oven has 2.  Assuming a roast height of 15cm, there is room in the large oven for 4 roasts and one in the small oven.  I can cook up to 7 trays of cookies or pies in the 2 ovens.  The instruction manual says that the maximum roasting tray size is 37cm x 32cm and the max baking tray size is 35cm x 25cm.  I don't understand the discrepancy as there is air circulation space at the back of the ovens.  I can also fit my existing square cookie trays (3no) in the big oven, as long as I put the oven shelves at the top of the shelf supports, leaving about 1cm either side of the tray.

Here's the shopping list;
  • up to 4 cookie sheets (I like the perforated ones)
  • silicon sheets to fit
  • 4 baking/roasting pans
  • 2 crepe pans
  • cooking pot replacement for heavy pasta pot
  • another saucepan
Having done a bit of shopping, maybe the cookie sheets could have more lip and perhaps double as roasting pans?  Something like this;
www.chefshat.com.au/product/8292-baking-sheet-rolled-340x255x25mm-alum.  I still have one large and 2 small pans with a 5cm lip.  I've had a look through the perforated pans I can find and they all seem to be larger than my oven will fit :(.

I looked at the non-stick versions but the product has a guarantee of 20years and the non-stick coating only 5 years.  I think I want something that will continue to be functional for longer than both of those times.  I wonder how long the silicon sheets are meant to last?  OTOH, if I use them and they stop being useful I will still have all of the energy invested in the aluminium trays.

Crepe pans; we used to have non-stick aluminium ones, but we had to replace one because the non-stick scraped off.  I really like our well seasoned cast iron pans, but they're too heavy and deep for happy pancake making.  So I'm thinking that we should just buy a couple of these steel ones - www.chefshat.com.au/product-group/51810-crepe-pan-blue-steel-de-buyer-fb/product

The heavy pasta pot is about 6L.  The thing closest to that, in the style I want is this one.  www.chefshat.com.au/product-group/51858-saucepot-w-lid-18-10-ci-elite/product.  And I think I like that style enough that I would just get a suitably sized saucepan from the same range - probably 3L or 4L.

I will certainly be buying the 6L pasta pot and the crepe pans asap.  The other stuff can probably wait until we are given them, or next year when we have more money.

mrsbrown: (Default)
I just watched "Why we make bad decisions" (I'm making lots of them at the moment) and, at the very end he answers a question about how to get people interested in making a positive decision about the future.

I'm impressed with myself, because it's a technique I use all of the time; I imagine how I'm going to feel in a week or a year, when I'm suffering the consequences of some half arsed decision.  I learned it from renovating - making a decision that I was too tired to fully clean the grout off the tiles I'd just grouted and then sitting on the toilet for the next 2 years wishing that I'd done a better job.

mrsbrown: (Default)
So I finished the thing that I thought was a blockage, the reason I hadn't done a bunch of other things.

And yesterday, I determined that I would do all of the sewing on the dress I want for next week.  But first I organised a shopping list for the breakfasts, snacks and lunches for the even next week.  And then I realised that I had to buy most of the food yesterday, because next week is full of work and a full day course on the day I had planned to do the shopping. 

After the shopping list was completed, I took Rose's violin to school (we'd forgotten it in the morning) and went window shopping at the op-shop (not sure why I did that). 

As I was standing at my kitchen table, ready to cut out my lining fabric, my mother arrived for a chat and cup of tea.  Yesteday, I got the lining cut out and the bodice pinned ready to iron.

This morning I have to take Rose to sell raffle tickets for cubs, so maybe this arvo I can sew the skirt together with the machine and all the rest of the work will be handsewing.

I also need to make those pies for the event next week and go to Bash (handsewing time!)

I don't think I have time to make that jacket or partlet I wanted. :(
mrsbrown: (Default)
Tonight's dinner started in the greenhouse last year when S grew lots of basil and then sjkasabi turned quite a lot of it into pesto.

It continued with the passata I made a month ago in a weekend frenzy that produced 80 bottles.

then last Friday I made mashed potato and stored the leftovers in the fridge.

On Saturday, we had roast vegies for dinner and, again the leftovers went into the fridge.

Tonight I spent 20min, making gnocchi and a roast vegie sauce with passata and basil pesto to finish.  The cheese we grated onto it was bought at the local market, from a local producer.
mrsbrown: (Default)
I think the schedule thing failed, so I give up.  Yesterday, I hit the "sit down and internet" item on the schedule and stayed there for the rest of the day, only interrupted when the dinner guest deadline arrived.  Luckily it did, or it would have been cheese on toast for dinner.

Sometime soon I will run out of internet based things to do and get out of bed to attempt the Rowany Festival packup/cleanup thing and cleaning all of the house.  Although if I wanted to stay in bed I could probably do paid work for the rest of the day.

I think Rose needs to get out of the house and/or a bit engaged in the world before she heads to school tomorrow.  She's a bit grumpy right now for that to go well. I can't do that from my bed, unfortunately.

I've spent the morning obsessing over getting organised for Quest, you've probably seen the 10 separate updates to the event description on FB, the advertising, the event form and the booking form.  I've also started making a list of the infrastructure we'll need.

I have a tentative sewing/clothing list for Quest:
wool flemish for me
wool jacket for me
black wool partlet for me
black gumboots for Rose and me
Woolen venetians for Rose
woolen thermals for rose
And I'll be fitting that around work - lots of work, apple processing next weekend, spring cleaning and decluttering the whole house, paying someone to re-roof the house (just decided to pay someone else to paint the house too).

It's a good think I just started paying for office space 2 days a week - I'm going to need to cram all work into 3 days so I can do the rest of the stuff I want to do on thursdays and Fridays.

mrsbrown: (Default)
Today is the second day I have woken at 5.30am, read the internet for a while and then rolled over and gone back to sleep until 9ish.   I'm still catching up with the daylight savings change.  I was speaking to someone who suggested that you get more sleep at this end of daylight savings, but I always get less - I stay awake later because, "the clock says it's only 11pm" and then wake at my normal, pre daylight savings time of 6.30am, but it's only 5.30am which loses me an hour of sleep every day for a week.

I have huge plans for today and I'm going to schedule them so I'm more likely to get them all done. The list is;

Make booking form for Quest and submit event form
Sit in bed with a computer and tea until 11am

do 2 sessions of 1 hour on work stuff I need finished before Monday
Spend 30min cleaning my bedroom
Wash all woollens from Festival, as well as the new brown wool I bought yesterday to make my own Flemish dress before Quest. 
That means I also need to empty Rose's chest, so I think I'll spend 30min on her room at the same time
spend 1 hour cleaning the  Kitchen
go to the market
Spend 1-2 hours making 2 protege belts (only need one right now, but it'll be easier if I make a second)

And here's how the schedule goes;

9.30am Sit in bed with computer and tea AND do Quest stuff (multi-tasking!)
10am Sit in bed with computer and tea AND do 1hr of work
11am shower, dress and empty chests, put on load of washing still need to empty Rose chest (just retrieved the woollens) .
11.30am go to market

12.30am 1pm flop for 30min; read the internet, eat food
1.30pm clean the kitchen AND hang out washing
2pm 1hr work session
3pm commence protege belt making
4pm clean bedroom
4.30pm clean Rose's room
5pm put dinner on and finish protege belt (I love roasts)

Phew! that was hard!  I don't feel so enthusiastic now.
mrsbrown: (Default)

A long time ago, when I was a first time mother of a 4 week old, I was at a family party talking to a woman who was the wife of my father's friend. She seemed very interested in the new baby, like lots of people were at the time, and she asked me to tell her if there was anything I needed or that she could help with. I realised later that her body language and tone were super caring and in what I now call "social worker friend" mode.

I'm glad I told her that I wanted a butter dish - "not a normal style one, but one where the butter goes into a container with a lid on top."

My response was that of an involved and capable housewife rather than the 19 year old overwhelmed by her life circumstances. I really didn't fit the stereotype she was trying to put me into.

I often smile and reflect on my 19 year old self when I spread butter on my toast from the perfect butter dish I finally found last year.

mrsbrown: (Default)
There are 12 trout in my fridge and another 12 or so in my freezer.  Time to sort out what to do with them.

What I really want is to find a way to replace the tins of tuna and salmon that we use almost weekly. 

There seem to be 3 options;
  1. bottle, with vinegar etc
  2. smoke then pressure can
  3. pressure can
If I bottle, it seems I can include the bones as they will dissolve/become edible in a month or so.

Here's a good, general document on dealing with Rainbow Trout.

bottling recipes/hints that seem reasonable

Uses vinegar, boils for  3 hours.


Almost identical recipe to above


A couple of different recipes

Note that the US universities seem to be consistent in saying that it is not reasonable to bottle fish, even with vinegar, as you can't kill botulism, however the processes described above are very keen to thoroughly sterilise the jars and then boil for a long time. 

Smoke then pressure can


States that vinegar isn't enough to preserve safely, and pressure canning is the only way.


Excellent, researched documents on the techniques and temperature/time variables to make smoked fish work.  It notes that if smoking for canning, then you should only lightly smoke the fish.

Pressure can
The instructions with the pressure canner (thanks sjkasabi!) has instructions on what to do; put cans in canner, put in 3quarts (close enough to 3L) water, put on the lid, get the canner up to pressure and hold it there for 100minutes, turn off and open when the pressure has dropped.  Also, follow every safety requirement to the letter.

What I'm going to do

I was going to grab a bottled trout recipe, and pressure can it.  But the instructions for canning are pretty specific about not adding liquid.  But the bottled recipes say that the bones become edible after 3 months one month (different recipe) and I think that might be from the vinegar.  Aaargh!

Decision made;  I'm adding vinegar - the chicken recipes all call for added broth, so it won't be a problem.

What happened

I collected enough jars to fill the pressure cooker.  I've cut up 8 fish, and have lots of jars left over.  I think I need about 20 fish to fill the pressure cooker with jars of fish. I was getting almost one fish into each jam jar, although I imagine I'll fit more smoked fish in a jar because of the moisture reduction in the brining process.  I thought the small jars - minced garlic and curry paste jars, would be best, but now I think I prefer the jam jar sized ones.  Best of all are the wide mouthed, short jars, but I only had 2 and they're a bit easy to over fill.

The fish cutting and filling jars didn't take long, about an hour?  I had two jars sterilising in a pot of boiling water on the stove while I cut up fish and stuffed jars.

I mixed up 200ml vinegar, 10 teaspoons cooking salt, 5 teaspoons brown sugar and a slurp of olive oil.  I added a teaspoon or so of the mix to the small jars and a bit more in the jam jar sized ones.

Pressure cooker took about 30min to get to pressure from cold water and I'm sitting supervising it until the pressure stabilises.


Dec. 10th, 2014 12:08 pm
mrsbrown: (Default)
I did an Outward Bound course when I was 29.  It was really hard.  I was reasonably unfit and hadn't spent much time on my own for a long time.

On the last day of our first 5 day hike I was almost done in.  I was feeling terrible for insisting that we stop for 5 min every 30min, but also needed it.  I had blisters and we'd been walking for about 10 hours a day.  Then the leader took my hand and I felt my body language change.  My shoulders went back and I found it much easier to keep up with the group.

I reflected on that experience for years.  I told people the story and the lesson I took from that experience.  No one contradicted me.

And then I told someone new and she interrupted before I could tell her the lesson I had taken.  She said, "you should ask for help when you need it".

I spent 5 years thinking that I should make myself less reliant on other people for my emotional well-being.  That I should cultivate an inner strength that could deal with whatever came up.  I prefer the second lesson.
mrsbrown: (Default)
Fermenter and equipment soaked, washed and sanitised with bleach (4ml/L), then rinsed with boiled water.

26L of Aldi apple juice acquired (reconstituted apple juice, acidity regulator (330), vitamin C, flavour (!)

Pour apple juice into fermenter, add Nottingham Ale yeast.

Pitching temp 20degrees, 18 degrees by bedtime and 16 degrees this morning.  I expect it will warm up a bit today, but it's on a concrete slab which will help with temp moderation (I hope).

There was pressure in the air lock about 20min after pitching, but no steady gloop yet.
mrsbrown: (Default)
I want one.  we have one, but it needs work and doesn't get used as much as I thought it would - the connector is on mr-bassman's bike and he has a seat so hard and so narrow that I risk splitting in half every time I ride it.

I'm very impressed by this Maya trailer.  It's designed to turn into a wheelbarrow when you take it off the bike.  I can see it would be useful for carrying that wooden chest I planned to build for the armour I need to refurbish that I never wear.  It might be a bit flimsy for the sort of weight I'm imagining though.  I can't find an Australian distributor either.

I really like the attachment method in this instructable.  It seems sensible and reusing and within my skill set. Although it would not be a particularly quick release.
bike and trailer

Now I've got that off my chest, I can go and get that work done.
mrsbrown: (Default)
My equilibrium seems to have returned and I can contemplate Festival without crying or getting angry (they may be the same thing). Thanks to all my good friends who contributed to my recovery.

Here's the stuff I want to contemplate in the next year and in particular for my medieval fun;

Organise the permanent oven and structure at Festival.
oven on stone base with post and beam roof
From my email to the Festival organiser last year:

The floor area would be approximately 1.8m x 2.5m and the materials used would be selected based on the fire and termite considerations of the area.

We'll need to sort out a location and logistics of building something so far away. I imagine we can make the timber frame here in Melbourne and transport the pieces to site for construction.

We'll also need to source the stones for the base and probably soak some lime (or take some from the farm) for the lime render.

I think we'll need two weekends of travel and several more weekends for the timber construction. That's one weekend to build the base, and another weekend to build the oven and put together the timber frame. I'm probably being optimistic.

Also money. Maybe we could hit the FAT funds?

I wonder if the "we" I keep referring to are up for this? OTOH, maybe I can also get some local workforce?

Here's a thought...Maybe we could make the cover a bit bigger and include a rocket stove and boiling setup?


I'm feeling quite inspired by the kitchen chests and I'd like to replace the chests that we've used for our clothes for the past 8 years. They look quite nice, but they're made of plywood and don't operate like period chests. I like the basic pattern of the kitchen chests, but I'll make these ones smaller. I quite like this one, the dimensions are great - Height: 53 cm, Width: 111 cm, Depth: 49.5 cm. Thanks sjkasabi. More details here.
13th C chest


As usual, I want more/new clothes. I still haven't found my flemish dress, but I need a woollen one anyway. Also sleeves, a jacket and black wool partlet.

I'd like to make mr-bassman some hose and doublets, maybe from an earlier time period than the ones I made for MsNotaGoth last year.


By observation, at Festival we kept needing another cast iron pot. I think we should buy a second saxburger - it's a good size to feed a lot of people in feast quantities and is a good size for stews that we just keep re-heating.

Given our re-heating practices for the past few festivals, maybe our menu planning should include both stock and stew reheating? That would reduce the work involved in dinners!

I also think that we shouldn't have left so much equipment at home. It was a worthy thought, but the kitchen chests don't need careful packing so more stuff doesn't mean a longer pack up time. We need the flexibility we get from having lots of stuff.

Since finding out that the bowls we've bought from Alex are Anglo-saxon cooking pots, I think we should stop using them and try harder to find 15thC large bowls. We could just get Alex to make us some.


Since Festival I've had a couple of conversations about singing in the SCA;
  • I've been told off for telling someone that singing filk (to a modern tune) at a feast was not OK,
  • I've heard that people won't bring a tablet into Abbotsford and even when I commented that I didn't mind, they still wouldn't do it.
  • I've had conversations about bardic circles and how I miss the period songs sung as performance rather than participatory choir type singing.

I think I'm going to organise a bardic circle in Abbotsford next year. If they feel that they can't bring their tablets, I'm pretty sure it won't be too hard to keep out modern songs. :-)


The Barn tent is saggy and sad.  We need to make a new kitchen tent.


The composting toilets were good, but we didn't have enough storage, we overfilled one so I needed to reduce the liquid level before it could be transported and one of the barrels leaked a little in the truck on the way home.  Also, the barrels are too heavy to lift easily when full.  We really needed three 60L barrels as we had two people who didn't use them at all and had to avoid using during daytime for the last 3 days.

For next year, I would like to use 20L food buckets, without taps.  We could have a two holer, with one hole for liquids only, which could be easily emptied into a nearby porta loo.  And the other for solids, which wouldn't fill as quickly and can be carried home and left in a shed in the back paddock.  The buckets would mean that we wouldn't need a step so the tent would be more spacious.  Wow, we need 9 barrels, although if we're emptying wee we could probably use less.

OTOH, if we brought a trolley we could easily transport the 60L barrels and could just get new barrels that don't have taps.  That way we could use all the boxes etc that we already have.

mrsbrown: (Default)
I spent too much time yesterday watching youtube videos about rocket stoves.

then I spent too much time looking for good pictures online of boiling coppers and tudor kitchens.

and now I've finally finished the blog post that puts it all together.

mrsbrown: (Default)
This is what the Steward wrote today about the rules:

Line of sight was the one that I announced at Festival and I announced it for up to 10 years old. From 14 years old kids were able to roam around the site during the day but needed to be with a nominated carer at night. That didn't mean they couldn't
Line of site was also not necessarily of the parents it was of the nominated adult/ care giver. This was the advice that I received from the Office of the Children's Guardian as stated previously. As I have also stated previously not publishing this more prior to Festival was my oversight due to the number of unexpected other aspects of Festival that needed sudden and urgent responses right up to and including the DA requirements and the sudden rush to approve large sections of the site for camping due to the sudden need to have an arbourist check out the camp sites to find out if we could actually use them.
I am not totally happy with the line of sight requirement because I feel that for a 10 year old this is excessive. I do think that it is appropriate for a younger child. I will be double checking with the Office of the Children's Guardian on their requirements for this on Monday as I have to double check a number of things including our insurance requirements for children at events like Festival as well. All of these things come into play when we make any rules about who is allowed to do what. The majority of the rules that we followed this year for Festival for children are the same as those that have been followed in previous years.

and this is the line from yesterday;

"children had to be line of site(sic) from a nominated care giver when around the site. Over 10's did not have to be tagged, under 10's did have to be tagged. Over 14's could roam during the day but not at night. Over 14's could not look after younger children. Children could go to the nearest privy themselves. "

mrsbrown: (Default)
Normally, I come home from Festival full of ideas and enthusiasm. This year it's mostly outrage, determination to make sure it doesn't happen again and a bit of embarrassment.

Getting what happened written down will help.

When we signed in, we weren't reminded about an ID token for Rose and I forgot. There were several announcements about them and I made a note that I should do that but never got around to it. I was keeping a close eye on happenings at the children's fort because Rose can be crap with new children and I wanted to make sure she kept playing nicely. So I was there when a camp mate quietly walked up to R and asked to see his ID tag. She walked away with a purposeful stride and came back shortly with two constables (people who I normally respect the behaviour of). They stopped the joyous playing of the children, made them form lines and checked their ID tags and the presence of their supervising adult.

A brought Rose to me and asked me to get her an ID tag, we discussed the fact that troll hadn't provided one at signin but I agreed to go and get a tag for Rose while she kept playing. A told me, "you need to nominate a supervising adult", I replied that our camp was 30m away, Rose is 8 and I would be gone for only a short time. Rose was anxious to keep doing the awesome playing she'd been doing. A repeated, "you need to nominate a supervising adult" and I told her to "Fuck Off" and walked back to camp where I told mr-bassman to go and be a good parent because I was incapable of it. Rose tells me that she was told to go back to camp.

I'm embarrassed about losing my temper, but I'm also very angry that;
1. a person I consider R's close community didn't trust his mother to appropriately supervise him - in this case by making an arrangement for him to play at the fort with a large group of children
2. That the kid's happy playing was interrupted to apply a rule intended to be used when there is wrong-doing or a genuine emergency.
3. That the stewards/constables have judged my parenting to be inadequate.
4. That the power of the constables was misused and I wasn't able to do anything about it at the time

The similarity of the situation to apartheid or nazi like identity paper checks emphasised the power imbalance and made my emotional response much stronger than it should have been.

My inclination was to take the civil disobedience approach and keep supervising Rose at the fort from afar as I would normally do. But Aste is a better person than me (and had the resources to do it) and arranged for Tree to sit with the children at the fort, while we kept checking in with them.


On Monday there were fewer children at the fort and Tree was again sitting with them. A constable and the head steward raided the fort asking for supervising adults. Tree was deemed "too young" to be supervising them, and Aste was not quite in sight from camp at that moment (although Tree says she could see Aste, the Steward couldn't and didn't believe her) The kids were sent home again. When I arrived back at camp soon after, Rose greeted me angrily with, "they did it again!" and spent 5 minutes unable to do anything with her anger. I was impressed when she finally decided to go back to the fort - staging her own sit-in.

Finally, Aste was as annoyed as me and arranged to identify the constable involved and speak to her, and then we arranged to speak to the constable in charge. He arrived with the head steward and we had a thoroughly frustrating conversation based on our interpretations of civil law and what that meant we could do with our own children vs what the SCA thought we could do. It started being more fruitful when we focused on the behaviour of the constables and agreed that it was not OK to make children cry. During our conversation there was no way that the second supervision scenario, with Tree, was acceptable, but 5 min later, at court, the Steward appeared to have changed her mind and it was OK after all.

As this is my journal I get to lay blame on some early incidents - they're a bit gossip-y but indicate a bit of a culture around this stuff.

On Thursday night a Stormholder came to my camp and described an incident in which he found 3 young teenagers walking a track between the Tavern and their camp (although he didn't bother to find that out) at night (about 7pm). He came to discuss his outrage at this behaviour and I tried to suggest that there was really no problem. I found out later that he had told off these kids to the point where one was hysterical for the rest of the night and whose parents had referred the incident to the steward and asked for clarification of the site rules. I believe that's when the Steward came up with the 14year old supervision rules and requirement that under 14years olds stay in camp or with their parents. The teenagers in this incident were 13.

Last year after Festival there was a lot of gossip about some Stormhold children who were found in a campsite on their own during the day. The campsite belonged to friends of their parents, but the child free adults in this campsite were outraged and spent a lot of time decrying the supervision of these children and the abilities of their parents. I think these discussions have led to a bit of a culture of hyper vigilence about the supervision of these children which led directly to the "dobbing" that occurred at the children's fort on Sunday. This is an issue I need to stay alert for and say something when I see or hear it.

Since Festival, the Steward has posted 5 items as evidence for why the rules changed so much this year:

These three are all related to the changes for Working with Children Checks;

and the last is the SCA policies;

Using those sources, I can't find any reference to children's ages, or a definition of what "supervision" is and, following the conversations online since, I'm a bit worried that everyone is going to focus on improving the communication of the rules - because that doesn't label someone wrong, and forget to make the rules work for the freedom of children.

The rules, as written by the Steward, with the benefit of hindsight were:
"children had to be line of site(sic)  from a nominated care giver when around the site. Over 10's did not have to be tagged, under 10's did have to be tagged. Over 14's could roam during the day but not at night. Over 14's could not look after younger children. Children could go to the nearest privy themselves. "

I don't want to maintain line of sight supervision of my 8 year old, let alone my 13.5 year old! 

My rules/guidelines would be:

All children to remain within the boundary of the main campsites, unless accompanied by an adult. 
Children under 14 (I would prefer 13, but 14 seems to be OK with people) are expected to be in their campsites after 8pm/dark, unless with an adult approved by their parents.
Tagging children with identifying information, such as name, campsite and parents, is strongly encouraged and tags are available at the troll tent.
Children found wandering alone, away from the village green will be asked their business and may be asked to return to their campsites or the village green.
Children are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct for the SCA, and hurting people, theft  or damaging equipment is not OK.
Children are expected to know where to find their caregivers and caregivers are expected to provide a level of supervision suitable for their child's age and maturity.

Now can I get on with the rest of the post Festival stuff?!!
mrsbrown: (Default)
I had a terrible time at the meeting last night.  It was inevitable, but I could have prepared better.

I want the Stormhold website to be moved to a wordpress site (from Drupal), I want the currant admin to change and I'll take the job myself if I have to.

Doing that is fraught, as the current admin has had the job for the past 20 years (at least) and is emotionally attached to the job. 

I did a lot of work with the current admin about 8 years ago, when he was just as attached to the job.  I spent a lot of time and energy carefully making the drupal website look and have the best functionality I could.  It was a place I was happy to send newcomers to and I would regularly check what was going on and I had a person lined up who updated the events pages regularly.  I stopped being Baroness and attending council meetings and then, either  the main server crashed or he updated the version of drupal we were using and he lost the lot and had to rebuild.  Some of the pages I had carefully written and coded could only be retrieved from the wayback machine.

The new version of the website looks dreadful, it's not mobile responsive and the regular event updates are gone.  Also, I no longer have admin access and even if I did, now that I know wordpress I would rather use that.  The current website is too difficult  annoying for anyone to use.

Anyway, after a very confrontational discussion (with no control exercised by the meeting chair) it was agreed that we would prepare a pros and cons paper for the next meeting.  This is a typical approach to solving these sorts of conflicts - put it off until next time.  The problem is, the real problem is the current admin - he needs to go.  Hmmm maybe that's why I can't have a reasonable discussion with him about improving the website experience for the Barony - all of my language and posture show what I really think.

Maybe there's another way?  Can I get the Masonry team to ban drupal from the server?

Goals for the Baronial website:
  1. Provide useful meeting and event info for members and newcomers
  2. Be a place that gets people to visit regularly
  3. Includes enough information for newcomers to be attracted and motivated to come to a meeting/event
  4. Can have information added by any of our event stewards
  5. Is easily updated by any of our officers
  6. Is updated often enough that people don't have to rely on facebook for group information
  7. Has a level of automation for event updates - google calendar feed
  8. Can be used by local groups to plan their events around ours.
  9. Can be used to contact us by the media etc
  10. Provides useful resources for members
  11. Encourages traffic to our members blogs
  12. Looks good enough that people get the impression we know what we're doing
Here's a simple table version of a comparison between drupal, joomla and wordpress.

I'm convinced that drupal is too complicated for us to get a site which works for our weird community based organisation.

mrsbrown: (Default)
Watching stuff going on in the Barony and remembering my own problems with harassment and difficult people I was motivated to find out some stuff and I'm saving the links here with my comments so I can find them again later.

I started with the Lochac dispute resolution document here . It's changed a fair bit since I last looked and has some good stuff on timelines and who should do what. I can't help feeling though that it doesn't quite address the consequences to the harasser that I'm looking for and also doesn't seem to be very good at some of the social group management that I think needs to happen.

Some of what's happening almost feels like some of the tech and fan conference harassment issues that I've read about both here, and through the geek feminism blog. (These sorts of things)

So I went and found the conference harassment policy resources prepared by the Ada Initiative. It has some things in common with the dispute resolution stuff, but obviously has a bit more about proactively discouraging bad behaviour and what to do about harassers and their impact on the conference. I like the stuff about making the reporting process really obvious and making the actions taken transparent to the whole community.

One of the interesting comments that comes up in the SCA community is that we are so used to dealing with people who have poor social skills that we make allowances for bad behaviour.  From my reading tonight I think we should stop doing that.

I think the SCA needs to
1. have a code of conduct
2. publicise it
3. provide dispute mentors so if you're not sure what to do, you know who to ask.
4. Be a bit more transparent about sanctions

not bad

Nov. 7th, 2013 11:13 pm
mrsbrown: (Default)

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