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Gainsborough painting slashed by attacker back on dispay

History Blog - Tue, 2017-03-28 23:53

On 2:15PM on Saturday, March 18th, 2017, Keith Gregory walked up to Mr and Mrs William Hallett by Thomas Gainsborough hanging in the British paintings room of London’s National Gallery and slashed it twice with a pointed metal object. The man was immediately apprehended by the Gallery Assistant with the aid of members of the public. They detained him until the police arrived and arrested him. The next day the 63-year-old man was charged with causing criminal damage.

The painting was removed to the museum’s conservation lab where conservators were relieved to find the “damage was limited to two long scratches which penetrated the paint surface and the canvas support, but did not break through the canvas lining.” National Gallery experts determined the repairs to the pigment layers would be relatively easy to make and it would not be long before the Gainsborough was back on public view. Ten days later, it was hanging in its spot in room 34 of the National Gallery again.

Larry Keith, the National Gallery’s director of conservation, said that the museum believed that the painting was attacked with a drill bit or a similar object. He said that the restoration process had included re-adhering loose paint that was still attached to the canvas; filling in areas of paint that had been scratched away, with a filling agent; painting the affected areas with new paint that had been closely matched in color and texture to the original; and, finally, covering the entire canvas with a light varnish.

Acknowledging that the particulars of the attack were unusual, Mr. Keith said that such interventions into a canvas were not rare. “Any painting of that age will almost always have had a history of interventions,” he said, calling them part of “the natural life cycle of old master paintings.”

Mr and Mrs William Hallett, better known as The Morning Walk was painted in 1785 when Thomas Gainsborough was at the height of his popularity. Originally a landscape painter, in the late 1740s Gainsborough switched focus to portraiture when he realized that was where the money was. At first his sitters were the local big fish in a small pond. Looking to appeal to a higher class of clientele, he studied the portraits of Anthony van Dyck and by the 1770s had moved up from country squires to counts and dukes. In 1780, he received his first commissions from King George III and Queen Charlotte. Many more would follow until his death in 1788.

The couple in The Morning Walk are William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen, then 21 years old and soon to be married. Gainsborough depicted them walking through a country wood with an attentive white dog at Elizabeth’s side. Mr. Hallett is wearing a black silk velvet suit, while Elizabeth is clad in a gown of ivory silk with a black sash around her waist. This was a popular fashion among the Georgian aristocracy, having a portrait painted of them in a Romantic, pastoral setting wearing their most elegant clothes.

Mr. Gregory is currently out on bail and is scheduled to appear before a higher court next month. There is no word yet on what his motivation may have been. It seems such an innocuous painting to arouse slashing ire, but that’s never stopped people with ill-intent from fixating on certain artworks before.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

V&A receives major Fabergé donation

History Blog - Mon, 2017-03-27 23:17

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is the proud new owner of nine exceptional works by Carl Fabergé donated by the son of the late Kenneth Snowman, one of the world’s most prominent Fabergé experts. Two rare works by 18th century goldsmith Johann Christian Neuber were also part of the donation. Nicholas Snowman donated the pieces in the Kenneth and Sallie Snowman Collection under the Cultural Gifts Scheme, a program that allows the donation of significant cultural heritage objects in exchange for tax savings in the amount of 30% of their market value, in this case a discount of £615,000 ($772,000).

The Fabergé pieces in the donation include four animals masterfully carved out of chalcedony and agate for Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII and Tsar Nicholas II’s aunt, herself an accomplished wood carver. Alexandra’s Fabergé animals are a hissing baboon, a sturgeon, a kangaroo and a chinchilla. Other animals in the collection include a seal carved out of obsidian with such dazzling attention to detail that the skin texture is perfectly matched to the stone, and a quartz hare inspired by Japanese netsuke. One of the objects, a rock crystal letter opener, has a moving sentimental collection to the last of the Romanovs. It was present given by Tsarina Alexandra to her onetime English governess, Miss Jackson, for Christmas in 1900. Miss Jackson had become a surrogate mother for Alexandra after her own mother died from diphtheria, contracted during her tireless nursing of her entire family when they were stricken by the disease. Alexandra was just six years old when her mother died, so Miss Jackson provided much-needed support to the bereft child.

Kenneth Snowman is a Fabergé legend. The son of jeweller Emanuel Snowman and Harriet Wartski, daughter of Morris Wartski, founder of the Wartski company which, thanks to Emanuel’s buying trips to the Soviet Union in the 20s and 30s when Fabergé had dropped out of cultural consciousness, became the leading dealers and experts in Fabergé’s exquisite Imperial Eggs and the many jeweled and enamelled treasures he made for the aristocracy of pre-Revolutionary Russia. Born in 1919, as a child Kenneth played with some of the nine Imperial Eggs his father brought home from the Soviet Union. Little wonder, then, that as an adult he become a published Fabergé scholar, curator and world-renown expert. When his father-in-law died, he became chairman of Wartski, which you might recall played an integral role in the stranger-than-fiction saga of the lost Imperial Egg found by a scrap metal dealer in the US midwest.

Nicholas Snowman’s choice of the V&A was a tribute to his father’s deep bonds with the institution.

The donor, Nicholas Snowman, son of Kenneth, said: “In 1977 my father curated a major Fabergé exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum to honour the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. He was devoted to the V&A.”

He said following the latest donation the V&A now “possesses the most significant public collection of Fabergé in Britain and its important collection of gold boxes has been enriched enormously.”

Tristram Hunt, director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, said: “Nicholas Snowman’s Cultural Gift is the most important donation of Fabergé ever made to a British public collection and will greatly enrich the V&A’s jewellery holdings. It is an act of great generosity and cultural philanthropy.”

Underscoring the generosity of the act is a 13th object Nicholas Snowman donated the V&A, only he didn’t do it directly. He deliberately donated a 16th century cameo portrait of Elizabeth I later mounted a ring to the Art Fund who then (by arrangement) donated it the V&A. He did this in recognition of the Art Fund’s hugely successful campaign to acquire the Armada Portrait for the Royal Museums Greenwich.


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Open Positions: SCA, Inc. Corporate Treasurer and Society Exchequer

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-03-27 08:30
Below are two separate postings for open positions at Society. The first is a part-time, stipened position as Corporate Treasurer, the second is a volunteer position to be Society Exchequer, who reports to the Corporate Treasurer. Although the job postings are different, both have an application deadline of April 1st. SCA, Inc. Corporate Treasurer

The Board of Directors is accepting applications for the position of
Corporate Treasurer.  This is a part-time, stipend position, which
requires approximately 5-10 hours per week except when finalizing the
yearly budget.

Applicants must be available for at least the October quarterly Board
Discussion Session (typically held on Friday), in addition to the
October Board meeting (typically on Saturday).  Additional traveling may
be required.

Skills:
1)  Working knowledge of basic financial spreadsheet program (QuickBooks
or other);
2)  Experience with managing budgets and financial forecasting,
including tracking and analyzing variances;
3)  Basic suite of office communication skills – spreadsheets,
presentations, Word, etc.
4)  Preference for degree in accounting or finance.

Duties of the Treasurer

Maintain knowledge of the organization and personal commitment to its
goals and objectives.

Work with the Society Exchequer, the Vice President for Corporate
Operations and the outside accountant to ensure all financial filings
are maintained.

Work with the Society Exchequer to ensure that our relationships with
third party financial vendors (i.e. banks) are maintained.

Understand financial accounting for nonprofit organizations.

Work with the President and the Vice President of Corporate Operations
to ensure that appropriate financial reports are made available to the
Board on a timely basis.

Prepare and present the annual budget to the Board of Directors.

Develop and maintain internal control policies, guidelines, and
procedures for activities such as budget administration.

Work with the Society Exchequer, President and the Vice President of
Corporate Operations to maintain and improve internal control policies,
guidelines and procedures for PayPal.

Analyze the financial details of past, present, and expected operations
in order to identify development opportunities and areas where
improvement is needed.

Evaluate needs for procurement of funds and investment of surpluses, and
make appropriate recommendations.

Ensure development and broad review of financial policies and
procedures.

Maintain current knowledge of organizational policies and procedures,
federal and state policies and directives, and current accounting
standards.

Interested applicants should send a letter of interest, together with
modern and SCA qualifications, via hardcopy to:

Renee Signorotti
Society for Creative Anachronism
PO Box 360789
Milpitas, CA  95036-0789

Courtesy copies should be provided via email to:

resumes@sca.org
treasurer@sca.org.

The deadline for applications is April 1, 2017.

Regards,

Therese Hofheins
Corporate Treasurer
Society For Creative Anachronism, Inc

Society Exchequer

The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is seeking candidates for the
position of Society Exchequer. This position reports to the SCA
Corporate Treasurer.

Duties and responsibilities:
1. Track and review quarterly reports on Kingdom accounts
2. Review Financial Policies and submit to the Board for approval
3. Report quarterly to the Board and the Corporate Treasurer.
4. Conduct training of Kingdom Exchequers.
5. Maintain the various exchequer handbooks/manuals as scheduled.
6. Work with the Tax Specialist in maintaining exchequer reporting
forms.
7. Review and process requests to open or change bank accounts.
8. Monitor use of Paypal and the training by Paypal specialist.

Preferred Skills:
1. Moderate to expert MS Excel proficiency.
2. Moderate MS Word proficiency.
3. Good communication skills.
4. Previous experience as a Kingdom Exchequer required.
5. Bachelors degree in accounting preferred.

Prior experience as an exchequer in the SCA is required; prior Kingdom
Exchequer experience is highly desired. Working knowledge of SCA?s
accounting procedures is necessary. Individuals with accounting
backgrounds or training are highly desired. Dependable email access and
dependable phone access are required for this position.
The Society Exchequer receives a stipend for their services and will
receive a 1099 for tax purposes. Work load will vary but expect to put
in an average of 15 hours per week.
Interested applicants should send a letter of interest, together with
modern and SCA qualifications, via hardcopy to:

Renee Signorotti
Society for Creative Anachronism
PO Box 360789
Milpitas, CA 95036-0789

Courtesy copies should be provided via email to:

resumes@sca.org
treasurer@sca.org.

The deadline for applications is April 1, 2017.

Regards,

Therese Hofheins
Corporate Treasurer
Society For Creative Anachronism, Inc


Filed under: Corporate, Official Notices Tagged: Exchequer, job posting, SCA, sca inc, Society, volunteer

Iconic Roman Holiday Vespa, oldest in the world, for sale

History Blog - Sun, 2017-03-26 23:40

The iconic Vespa that supported the supple fundaments of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck as they scootered their way through the Eternal City in the 1953 classic film Roman Holiday is currently for sale at the online auction site Catawiki. As if co-starring with two of the all-time greatest movie stars in one of the all-time greatest movies weren’t enough, this particular Vespa is also the oldest in the world. With a chassis number of 1003, the Vespa 98cc Serie 0 Numero 3 was the third Vespa ever made. Numbers one and two are long lost, leaving number three with the title of the oldest Vespa.

Piaggio began in the late 19th century as a manufacturer of railroad cars. Towards the end of World War I, the company switched its focus to aeronautics but continued to manufacture a wide array of vehicles and parts suitable for civilian and military use. When its main factory was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1940, Piaggio’s production was severely curtailed. After the war, Enrico Piaggio, son of company founder Rinaldo, wanted to produce a low-cost, easy to drive vehicle that could be a reliable mode of transportation for the population of a country whose economy and infrastructure were in ruins.

He asked Corradino D’Ascanio, an aeronautical engineer who had worked for Piaggio building airplanes during the war, to scare up a design for a small motorcycle that had none of complications and bulk of its big brothers, making it suitable for wide popular use. Corradino threw out all previous designs and in a matter of days created an entirely new one. His innovations included a gear shift on the handlebars to make driving easier, tires that could be replaced by anyone without need of a mechanic, a body design that protected riders from mud, dust, water and assorted street debris, an enclosed engine that saved street clothes from the scourge of grease stains, and a driving position that allowed riders to be comfortably seated even for long journeys.

When presented with the prototype in April of 1946, Enrico Piaggio exclaimed delightedly “It looks like a wasp!” And that’s how the Vespa got its name. In the first decade of manufacture, the Vespa went from a production of 2,000 of the first V98cc models to one million in 1956. In 1965, 3.5 million Vespas were sold, one for every 52 Italians. Today it remains one of the great successes in motor vehicle history, and the original Vespa is an icon of Italian design. There’s a 1955 model in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The indelible images of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck zooming through Rome on that Numero 3 certainly played a large part in making the Vespa a worldwide icon.

The Serie 0 were prototypes, a sort of run-through of different options, not production units, which is why they are also known as the “pre-series.” Only 60 of the series were manufactured. Every part of the Serie 0 Vespas was individually made specifically for one bike. You can see the chassis number 1003 stamped not just on the frame, but on the fenders, muffler, kickstand and many other parts. This vehicle was lovingly handcrafted piece by piece. It’s also tough as nails. The paint is gone, but 71 years after it was made, Number 3 is still in working condition.

As is the case with some cars, Vespa scooters have become increasingly valuable over time.

“Thanks to a huge fan base, old Vespa scooters tend to keep their monetary value,” said [Vespa expert Davide] Marelli.

“A Vespa scooter from the 1970s, for example, can be worth five times as much as its original retail price. The older the Vespa, the more valuable it is,” he said.

For many years it has belonged to a private collector who has a prestigious, very select group of 60 rare and important Vespas. The presale estimate is 250,000-300,000 euros ($268,150-$348,600). Bidding is already up to $195,748 and there are still 36 hours to go before the sale closes. A small price to pay for the chance to own a piece of history and to touch butts with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck via the Transitive Postulate.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Classes Sought for Academy of the Rapier

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2017-03-26 19:21

Masters and Mistresses, Dons and Doñas, Warders and Companions, Lords and Ladies alike…Announcing the call for anyone interested in teaching fencing classes!

The Æthelmearc Defense Academy is hosting an Academy of the Rapier in Rome, NY on April 15, 2017.

While we invite our rattan cousins to join us and use the space that is available outside, this event will be fencing and Cut and Thrust intensive. At this time the teaching schedule is wide open, only a few slots are taken so we are very flexible as to when your class could be arranged. The closer to the event that it gets the more difficult it will be to have that happen.

All areas of fencing and Cut and Thrust study are available as topics at the site, which is a civic center. The main facility floor that we are able to use is an ice hockey rink (no ice. Sorry – no Musketeer re-enacting!) and the spaces around it including small classrooms and outdoor spaces.

This event is intentionally focused instructional and training time. Please have no expectation of a period experience.

There is no court or feast scheduled.

Anyone interested in teaching classes at either or both events should contact Countess Elena d’Artois or Master Diego Munoz (via FB Messenger).

We would love to have YOU come teach. Please let us know if you have other questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

(Facebook event page is here.)


Categories: SCA news sites

16th century aqueduct found in Italian hamlet

History Blog - Sat, 2017-03-25 23:17

Two forestry workers have discovered a 16th century aqueduct in the southern Italian hamlet of Monte Cicerale. Franco Avenia and Edoardo Palumbo were clearing underbrush and brambles in a wooded area above the highway when they stumbled across a small stone structure partially embedded into a hillside. A square opening in the structure led to an underground passage. The two contacted a friend of theirs, local historian Simone Gioia, who quickly ran to join them in exploring the find.

Crawling on his hands and knees through very constricted spaces, he found the oldest part of the network was a tunnel dating to around 1500. On the ground in the center of this tunnel runs an overlapping series of earthenware tiles that create a channel. Hard water rich in calcium still flows over the tiles. Their downward slope allows the water to flow indefinitely — the same gravity tech the Romans used in their aqueducts, although they went much longer distances and thus had far shallower inclines.

Avenia, Palumbo and Gioia explored about 50 meters (164 feet) of the aqueduct, which was pretty damn bold of them because those tunnels are just barely big enough to fit a grown man on all fours. Simone Gioia described it as “a beautiful, albeit claustrophobic, experience.” He also noted the aqueduct is in an exceptional state of preservation.

Monte Cicerale is on the ancient Via Poseidonia that led from ancient Greek colony of Paestum (it was called Poseidonia by the Greeks) to the very heart of the Cilento region in Campania. It has a tiny population of 312 souls, but the town of Cicerale, less than a mile away, can boast 1,200 residents. Even in the 1500s these were remote hilltop communities, sparsely populated with very limited infrastructure. The people were hard-working, poor and primarily engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, fields of endeavor that require a steady supply of water. It seems they built themselves an acqueduct to ensure that supply using local stone and what look to me like roof tiles. They did an unreservedly great job of it too, as the photographs show. It is a true feat of engineering.

Archaeological remains attesting to the rural history of the Cilento region are extremely rare. The acqueduct is, as far as anyone knows, the oldest, most intact and most significant surviving example of this material history.

There’s no word on a professional excavation of the site, but local authorities expect the regional Archaeological Superintendency to study the acqueduct, especially now that it’s made regional and national headlines (and I guess international ones too, if I count).

Simone Gioia has dozens of photographs of the acqueduct in a photo album on his Facebook page. He has also uploaded video of his exploration of the tunnels. The quality is not very good, but that’s to be expected given the circumstances. They do a fine job of conveying the constricted spaces and the excitement of the find.

Here’s his first visit:

Here’s the second:

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Duchess Morgen Receives Writ for Chivalry

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-03-25 16:48

Photo by Master Liam.

Maighstir Liam macan tSaoire reports that Duchess Morgen of Rye received a Writ of Summons to the Order of Chivalry today at The Donnan Party. Her vigil and elevation will be held at Ice Dragon.

Vivat Duchess Morgen!

Once elevated, she and Baroness Beatrix Krieger (who received her writ at Ædult Swim for elevation at Pennsic) will be the fourth and fifth female knights recognized in Æthelmearc, joining Duchess Sir Rowan de la Garnison, Countess Sir Ariella of Thornbury, and Mistress Sir Cunen Beornhelm.


Categories: SCA news sites

Crown Letters of Intent Due April 13

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-03-25 12:55

From the Kingdom Seneschal, Duke Christopher: 

This is a reminder to all Crown Tournament combatants and consorts that your letters of intent are due no later than April 13th. You may use the new online form, found here: http://ae.scaforms.org/view.php?id=31838, or email, mail, or hand deliver as outlined in Article III of Kingdom Law.

Please let me or Their Highnesses know if you have any questions.


Categories: SCA news sites

Vindolanda toilet seat to get setting worthy of its greatness

History Blog - Fri, 2017-03-24 23:52

The Roman fort and settlement of Vindolanda just south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland is perhaps best known for the 1,700 wooden writing tablets from the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. that have been found there, preserved for 2,000 years in the site’s anaerobic soil. Because of the unique insight this record of daily correspondence gives us into the daily lives of the ancient Romans and Britons who lived at Vindolanda, the tablets were voted Britain’s top archaeological treasure by British Museum curators in 2003. They have been extensively studied and displayed at the Vindolanda Museum.

Less known are the many other wooden objects discovered at Vindolanda. Almost 1,500 artifacts have been unearthed from that blessedly waterlogged soil — cart axles, bread shovels, potter’s wheels, plank flooring, joists, that amazing inscribed barrel stave and my personal favorite, the only Roman wooden toilet seat ever discovered.

They even found intact water pipes made of alder wood logs, bark still on them, that had been drilled through the length with an augur, creating a hollow center 5 centimeters (two inches) in diameter. There were 30 yards of pipes joined with oak junction boxes to create a network of water mains supplying Vindolanda with fresh water from a local spring. The ends of the logs were tapered to fit a hole in a block of oak. On the other side of the block another hole was drilled and another tapered log fitted into it. That was some quality joinery. With nary a single iron or lead fitting to keep the pipes together and almost two millennia after they were installed, the alder water pipes were still working when they were excavated in 2003, carrying fresh water to a building that archaeologists believe may have been a hospital. Lead pipes, even tile ones, are fairly common in the Roman world, but wood pipes are very rare — usually only the metal collars survive — and ones still in working order are rarer than hen’s teeth. As far as I was able to ascertain, the Vindolanda pipes are unique.

As rare and historically significant as they are, none of these wooden treasures have not been exhibited. Conserving, stabilizing and storing them them once they have been removed from their protective environment is expensive, difficult work. Creating a display space with the technology to ensure the long-term preservation of the wooden objects while making them viewable to the public is a far greater challenge still.

A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant has gotten the ball rolling. The Vindolanda Trust was able to secure a development grant of £20,400 ($25,400) from the HLF to develop the plans for a new addition to the site’s already excellent museum. The new space will be dedicated solely to the wooden artifacts that have been hidden away in storage for years. Unlocking Vindolanda’s Wooden Underworld will

The popular museum will be expanded to create a new gallery with special display cases allowing temperature and humidity to be kept at safe levels. Not only will this mean their story can finally be told but it will also ensure they survive for future generations to enjoy.

Visitors will also hear the incredible survival story of the collection – from the science behind how they lasted two millennia, to their conservation and the research that is uncovering their origins.

Now, obviously the new gallery will cost vast sums more than the initial grant. This is just the first step. The Vindolanda Trust must have a fully developed and budgeted plan for the new gallery before the HLF can consider a much larger grant for the actual construction phase. Once the plans are complete, the Trust will apply for the full grant of £1,339,000 ($1,670,000). Then we can gaze in awe at the toilet seat and give it its proper respect. Some might be tempted to take a bunch of selfies squatting in front of the display case, but we’re all too dignified for those sorts of shenanigans, am I right?

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Donnan Party 2017: Schedule

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-03-24 16:19

In a fencing mood this weekend? Here’s the schedule for the Donnan Party:

9:00:

  • Troll opens for staff, Royals, retinue, merchants, and vigil staff

10:00:

  • Troll opens for public
  • Authorizations and pic ups for rapier and heavy weapons

10:30

  • Morning Court

11:00

  • Rapier pickups and authorizations continue
  • Heavy weapons muster begins
  • Rapier class: Polish Swaba
  • Rapier class: Introductory Agrippa
  • Archery range opens
  • Arts & Science set up

11:30

  • Rapier class: Tips to Control the Tip
  • Rapier class: Improving your practice

12:00

  • Birthday Smacks
  • Arts & Sciences on display for viewing and populace voting.
  • Sideboard begins

12:30

  • Rapier class: Vor and the Nach

1:00

  • Rapier melee work (or after birthday smacks)
  • Troll closes

1:30

  • Cut and Thrust Round Robyn Tourney

2:00

  • Youth combat

2:30

  • Meeting of the Æthelmearc Academy of Defense

3:00

  • Scholars Tourney
  • White Scarf meeting (Room 201)

4:00

  • MOD meeting (Room 201)
  • Sideboard closes
  • Heavy muster ends

4:30

  • Archery range closes

5:00 (or at their Majesties’ convenience)

  • Court

Official event announcement is here. Facebook event page is here.


Categories: SCA news sites

Her Grace Endures

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-03-24 10:00

Reign #1: Atenveldt 1986

Queen Anna Ophelia Holloway Tarragon is currently sitting her 10th reign as a Queen ( plus one reign as Princess of the then-Principality of Artemesia) in the SCA. According to the Royal Geneaology of the Known World, Her majesty has sat on the throne more times than any other Queen. She graciously agreed to grant the Gazette an interview about her extraordinary experience.

Reign #2: Atenveldt 1987

Over the course of 10 reigns, she has seen much change in the Society, especially in the technologies that we use to communicate with each other and in the amount of information available to us for documentation of the things we do.She’s also seen many geographic differences across the SCA, from the West where the King’s word is law, to here in the East where things are much more “democratic” and cooperative. Greater access to information has also lead to an increase in the seriousness of the game for many.

Reign #3: Atenveldt 1988

Faster communication and busier schedules have lead to a decrease in spontaneity in many aspects of the SCA, and yet much has remained the same. The passion that people have for whatever it is that they pursue in the society has always remained a constant that Her Majesty admires.  In addition, she adds “The look on someone’s face when you give them an award is still the same today as it was years ago”

Reign #4: Atenveldt 1989

Another constant over the years has been her perception of her role as Queen. Before allowing His Majesty Brion to fight for her in a Crown Tournament for the first time, she wisely asked him what he expected from her as Queen. One of the things he asked from her was for her to “Look and act like a Queen” and she has always tried to live up to the ideals of grace, courtesy, and comportment that define Queenliness.

Reign #5: Atenveldt 1991

No matter the Kingdom, people want their Queen to be someone who is kind and caring and holds genuine love in her heart for the people of her Kingdom. She knows from experience that people “will do anything for you if you honestly love them.“

Reign #6: Atenveldt 1994

One might imagine that it is difficult to find a fresh approach to each reign, having reigned as many times as Her Majesty has.  For Queen Anna, the new people that are involved with each reign keep her engaged and full of love for the role and the Kingdom. Her current Court include 10 people she had never met before she and His Majesty took the thrones for this current reign. Seeing the Society and the mechanics of running a Reign through their eyes, eyes that are still bright and shiny and full of wonder at this game we play, is something that fills Her Majesty’s own heart and eyes with love.

Reign #7: Atenveldt 1996

Another topic that lights up Her Majesty’s face, and something she describes as “one of the best parts of being a Queen” is seeing the look on people’s faces as you recognize them for their hard work by giving them an award.

Reign #8: East 1998

Having the privilege of creating moments for people is one of the most important and best part of being Queen for Anna. To those who would aspire to wear the crown some day Her Majesty would remind them that though it is a great job, a fun job, it is still a job, and it requires engagement seven days a week to support and sustain “the dream” for an entire kingdom. It’s not all “parties and prezzies and awards”

Reign #9: East 2006

One lesson that she has learned over the years is that “People are far more capable and willing to do things than you think they are…all you have to do is ask them nice… Just be kind.”

When asked what inspires her to keep returning to this role, she answers simply, and with a sincere, warm smile in her eyes: “My Duke…” later she would elaborate and say  “I am very grateful for the love and respect that Brion shows in me that he keeps doing this… that he keeps asking me to join him.”

Reign #10: East 2016


Filed under: History, Interviews Tagged: History, HRM Anna, Royal History, royals, royalty

Earliest color movies of the White House found

History Blog - Thu, 2017-03-23 23:13

Researchers have discovered the earliest known color movies of the White House in the archives of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum-Library in West Branch, Iowa. We owe these precious glimpses of First Family life to First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, an enormously accomplished woman — Stanford graduate, world traveler, co-translator with her husband of a Latin mining text by Agricola, fluent Chinese speaker (she remains to this day the only First Lady to speak an Asian language) — with a wide variety of interests, among them photography. When the pictures started moving, she was an enthusiastic early adopter of the new technology and was shooting home movies with her own camera by the early 1920s.

When Kodac introduced the Kodacolor motion picture process in 1928, Lou Hoover was on it like white on rice. Kodacolor was an additive color system, filmed on black-and-white stock through a three-colored striped filter. When footage was shot, the three colors were recorded in strips on the film in different densities and proportions depending on the natural color of the subject. The camera had to be used at a very specific frame rate in order for the filter to work, and bright ambient light was de rigeur.

Lou Hoover started shooting in Kodacolor in 1929 and must have stopped by 1935 when the process was superseded by Kodachrome film. Her home movies capture President Hoover at leisure both at the White House and on vacation. There are shots of Herbert fishing in Florida in January of 1929, wearing a coat and tie. He was still President-elect at that time, but he believed the dignity of the office he’d been elected to required a certain formality of attire, even on private fishing trips. Mrs. Hoover also captured their grandchildren playing, their sons of vacation, historic sites of Washington, DC, dogs frolicking at the White House, White House butler Alonzo Fields and shots of Lou in the White House garden. The last of the seven reels shows the President throwing a medicine ball back and forth with staffers on the White House grounds. This sport would become known as Hooverball.

Kodacolor film required a projector with a filter similar to the one used on the camera in order for the color to display. If you just look at the film, or use a projector without the Kodacolor Projection Filter, it looks like a weirdly stripey black and white movie. That’s what the staff of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum-Library thought about their collection of Lou Hoover’s home movies. Audio Visual Archivist Lynn Smith recognized those tell-tale stripes as Kodacolor, and thus very likely the first color film shot at the White House. (Calvin Coolidge wasn’t a home movie guy, and he had one foot out the door when Kodacolor was introduced.)

Smith applied for a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to have the rare historic home movies restored, and the NFPF came through. They preserved the footage, digitized it and sent the reels back to West Branch in December.

Worried she might damage the film, Smith said she used a hand-crank projector to play the film when it arrived. For the first time, she could see the colors of First Lady Lou Hoover’s dress and the hues of the White House Rose Garden.

“It was pretty amazing to see the color,” said Smith, 50. “I’m looking at theses images of Lou in the White House, Mr. Hoover playing Hoover ball and other things in Washington, D.C.”

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum-Library will debut all seven reels in their auditorium on Wednesday, March 29th. The museum picked the date on purpose to celebrate Lou Hoover on what would have been her 143rd birthday. On the same day, the films will be uploaded to the Library’s YouTube channel, so bookmark or subscribe to see the rare footage fresh off the virtual presses. Until then, we’ll have to make do with this short preview of the Hoover home movies:

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

From Their Majesties: Funeral and GoFundMe for Baron Rodrigo de la Vega

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-03-23 21:45

Baron Rodrigo. Photo by Lord Brennan of Acre.

Good Kingdom,

It is with an incredibly heavy heart, and Baroness Rynea Ingen of Stormsport’s permission, that We announce the passing of Baron Rodrigo de la Vega.

Baron Rodrigo was a Baron of our Court and I personally enjoyed hospitality at his table more than once.  His goodness and friendship to those that have the privilege to call him friend and family will be missed. Our Kingdom is less because of his death.

Viewings will be held Sunday March 26th from 2-4 pm and 7-9pm. There will be a memorial mass on Monday March 27th at 11am with full military honors following the mass. The funeral home is: Elkin’s Funeral Home, 65 South Lake Street, North East, PA 16428.

Immediately following the Services on Monday there will be a wake at the VFW at 28 Vine Street, North East, PA 16428.

With great sorrow,

Margerite & Marcus

GoFundMe account has been set up to assist with funeral arrangements.


Categories: SCA news sites

Cannon Fire Warning Service at Pennsic Seeks Volunteers

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-03-23 18:14

Cannon fire to start and end the major battles at Pennsic is a long-standing and well loved tradition at Pennsic, but in recent years  concerns have been repeatedly raised that it is distressing to some of our military veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder or related issues as a result of their service.

A compromise is being proposed, in which a warning would be broadcast to  gentles who request it shortly before the cannon fires so that they can be prepared for the sound rather than being startled by it.  The organizers are seeking volunteers to help implement the system at Pennsic this year.

In brief, the plan involves using a messaging application to deliver alerts in real time to people who sign up to receive them, either as email or as SMS (text) messages. One will be sent out very shortly before each round of cannon fire.

The volunteers are needed primarily to assist with the process of getting the phone numbers/emails entered into a database which the application will use to disseminate the alerts.

This information comes to us courtesy of the Aethelmearc Gazette. For more information read the complete article on their site: https://aethelmearcgazette.com/2017/03/22/whilst-the-cannons-fire-pennsic-and-ptsd/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

It discusses both the application to be used, the process by which the organizers came to settle on this approach, and the motivations and experience of the organizers. It’s an eye-opening and graphic window into the effects of the cannon fire on people for whom explosions are a stress trigger.

If you wish to support the effort, contact information for the organizers can be found there as well.

 


Filed under: Pennsic Tagged: cannon, Pennsic

Pen vs. Sword: Class List & Lunch

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-03-23 11:57

Class Schedule for The Shire of Angels Keep’s Pen vs. Sword, March 25:

10 a.m.

A Damaged Defense – Ly Fenris McGill

Quill Pen Making (2 hours) – THL Robert l’Etourdi

Using the Guidonian Hand Scroll for Gregorian Chant – THL Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne

Calligraphy 101 – THL Julianna Stafford

11 a.m.

Dagger for Dummies – Simon Caminante

Making Fencing Armor – Ly Fenris McGill

Gilded Letters Part 1 – Mistress Alicia Langland

Noon – LUNCH (from the kitchen of Bjorn Grimsson) 

  • Hare and barley soup
  • Fresh vegetable soup
  • Sweet and herb butters
  • Homemade breads
  • Vegetable and cheese platters
  • Viking porridge with apples and honey
  • Fruit-stuffed cupcakes

1 p.m.

ABCs of Youth Fencing – Baron Edward Harbinger & Baroness Anastasie de L’Amoure

Gouache 101 – Ly Felice de Thornton

Now What? Effective Documentation for Competition – Unnr in Elska a Fjarfella

At a Loss for Words – Baroness Ekaterina

2 p.m.

Basics of SCA Fencing – Pan Henryk Bogusz

Working with a Quill Pen – THL Robert l’Etourdi

Understanding Tournament Trees – Baroness Ekaterina

Ready, Set, Teach! – Mistress Alicia Langland & Mistress Cori Ghora

3 p.m.

Becoming a Fencing Marshal – Pan Henryk Bogusz

Shuji: Taking the Brush – Japanese Calligraphy (2 hours) – Mistress Sólveig Þróndardóttir

Illumination for the Artistically Inept – THL Julianna Stafford

Running the Gate/Troll – Baroness Anastasie de L’Amoure

4 p.m.

Your First Authorization – Pan Henryk Bogusz

A Guide to Field Heraldry – Ly Petronilla Goodwin

Gilded Letters Part 2 – Mistress Alicia Langland

(See the event announcement here. The Facebook event page is here.)


Categories: SCA news sites

Earliest European burial in Asia-Pacific found in Taiwan

History Blog - Wed, 2017-03-22 23:34

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of 17th century Christian burial on a Taiwanese island. This is the earliest European burial ever discovered in the Asia-Pacific region. Under the direction of María Cruz Berrocal from the University of Konstanz in Germany, the archaeological team has excavated the site on the island of Heping Dao in northern Taiwan since 2011. The digs have unearthed material going back as far as the island’s first human habitants. The evidence of early European colonization is exceptionally significant because there is little known about the period and archaeological remains are few and far between.

The settlement of San Salvador de Isla Hermosa was founded on the island as a colony of Spain in 1626. They occupied the site until 1642 when the Dutch took over. After the Dutch came the Chinese, and then Japan occupied Heping Dao until the end of World War II. Because its time as the San Salvador de Isla Hermosa colony was brief and the island passed through several hands in the centuries since, archaeologists didn’t expect to find anything from the early colonial period. The Spanish occupation was known solely from archival records; no archaeological materials associated with it had ever been found before.

Instead, the excavations revealed a wealth of important discoveries from the early days of the colony: the foundations of a church or convent and its cemetery from the Spanish settlement. Thus far, the team has unearthed six burials and disarticulated human remains. Last November, they discovered the skeleton of an adult buried with his hands folded in the traditional Christian prayer pose. Osteological examination of the skeletal remains indicate bodies of European, Taiwanese local and maybe African origin (presumably brought to the island as slaves) were interred in the cemetery.

“These are the first European burials from this time period discovered in the entire Asia-Pacific region and they contain the first documented human remains. The colonial cemetery that we unearthed is also the oldest in the region,” says María Cruz Berrocal.

Additional analysis of the bones and teeth should answer a great many questions about the deceased. Recovering nuclear DNA from archaeological remains is a tricky thing, but researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research, the Royal Belgian Institute of Science and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History are now carrying out stable isotope and botanical analyses on the teeth, examining pathogen and human DNA recovered from the bones. The isotope analysis will narrow down their place of origin. Pathogen DNA will shed new light on the vectors of disease transmission between European colonists and the local people. Botanical analysis may provide important information on the introduction of non-native plant species during the early colonial period.

This research has the potential to rewrite the sparse history of the Spanish colonization of the island. The historical records are deeply one-sided. According to the Spanish settlers, they dominated the island, the biggest fish in the smallest pond, and had little but contempt for the locals. The archeology puts the lie to their self-promotional exaggerations. In fact there were very few Spanish colonizers in Heping Dao and far from living like lords impressing the natives with their fancy European goods, they were desperately poor. They needed trade with China to survive and left behind almost nothing of their material culture. The excavation has found exactly one European artifact: a bronze buckle.

That’s not how it was supposed to go.

“The results demonstrate that we are dealing with an early globalisation hub here. The Spanish-style construction of the church illustrates that this colony was just as important to the Spanish Crown as other colonies established elsewhere, as in the Americas, for example. However, its attempt to gain a long-term foothold in the Pacific region was ultimately unsuccessful. For this reason, historians have since assumed that Taiwan only played a marginal role. But that is not the case,” concludes María Cruz Berrocal.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Court Report – Gulf Wars

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-22 23:18

Thus it was that Their Majesties, Brion and Anna, did travel far, and attend the twenty-sixth Gulf Wars in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann.

During their visit to such far lands, they did see fit to hold a court.

The following gentles were named to the Company of the Pennon of the East:

Duncan Kerr

Cristoff Gockerhan von Loch, called “Clockwork”

Tysha Z Kieva

Fortune St. Keyne

Æthelhawk Keyfinder

Siubhan Wallace

Bianca Anguissola

Elizabeth Elenore Lovell

His Highness Ioannes Aurelius Serpentius

Her Highness Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt

Samuel Peter DeBump, called “Speedbump”

Wynefryd Bredhers

Malcolm Bowman

Their Majesties Brion and Anna proceeded then to exchange with their cousins Roger and Zanobia, King and Queen of the West, many wonderful gifts.

Their Majesties called into their court Brannat Dub, called “Raven”.  They spoke of her long service to waterbearing and general fighter support, and named her a Baroness of their Court.

This closed the court of Their Majesties, Brion and Anna.

Other crowns in attendance did hold courts at Gulf Wars.  At the court of the Kingdom of the Middle, Their Majesties Edmund and Kateryn did call Elizabeth Elenore Lovell.  They spoke of her efforts on the rapier field, and awarded her a Dragon’s Tooth.

It has been my privilege to record the honors received by many who travelled such a long ways from home.

In service,

Malcolm Bowman, Brigantia Principal Herald


Filed under: Court Tagged: court report, Gulf Wars

New Awards Recommendation Form

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-22 23:05

A few days ago, Duchess Avelina made changes to the Awards Recommendation form to make the recommendation process more user friendly.

1) Users now have the option to print their submissions for their records. At the end of the survey, there is a link “Print Your Answers”. If the user clicks this link, a *.PDF will open. The user can then either print or save that file for their records. It was asked if we could have email notifications, but the software had some issues with that. This should give users the confirmation of submissions. It should be noted that, submission does not mean that the Royalty *will* take action. It is only confirmation that the recommendation was received.

2) In response to some loved ones of awards recipients not being notified, a field was added: “Does this candidate have a spouse/partner/other loved one that should be notified should the Royalty act on this recommendation?”

Any questions or concerns can be sent to web_pollingadmin@eastkingdom.org


Filed under: Announcements Tagged: awards

Announcing the 5th Annual Unoffical Pennsic Half Marathon!

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-22 22:47

Master Philip announces the 5th Annual Unoffical Pennsic Half Marathon! Will you join us? Princess Signy Heri of Atlantia and Countess Thora Heri of The Outlands started this fun run five years ago as a way to encourage fitness in a fun and challenging way.

Their inspiration for the race? If you can run 13.1 miles before the start of war week then you will be fully prepared to have as much fun as you want the rest of the war. You will have the stamina to enjoy all pick up fights, and bouts, and battles. Dance all you need. Shop at all the places. Walk all over Pennsic for all the parties. Rune Stone Hill would not even slow you down.

What’s the course look like?

The estimated 13-mile course (it is medievally inexact!) consists of three loops around the entire Pennsic campground, plus one smaller loop around the Serengeti. Runners meet in front of the old Chirurgeon’s Point (Services Area) at 8 am on Saturday August 5th. Thanks to Mistress Genoveva von Lübeck of the Middle we also have a course map for runners to review in advance. Check it out: halfmarathonmap2

Water is available from the Services Area (old Chirurgeon’s Point)…but runners are expected to supply their own water /sports drink/snack needs. We will pass the Services Area (old Chirurgeon’s Point) three times at roughly 4.5 mile intervals.

Are there pace requirements? Not at all! If 13.1 miles sounds like too much, that’s okay! Join us for one loop. Or even two! Everyone is welcome! Walkers also!

This is a group run, not a race. No times will be kept. The goal is fitness as part of the SCAdian lifestyle. All are welcome. Wearing medieval-style tunics instead of modern running clothes is encouraged.

Last year we had over 40 people start and do some amount of activity. And we amazingly had over 20 finishers!

Is there a medal? Of course there is a medal! Pictured is the Half Finishers Medal made in the style of a pilgrim’s badge by Mistress Serafina Alamanni from the Kingdom of Meridies. She is already in the planning stages of making the one for this year.

Now is a great time to start training. Here are some things to consider:

* Try to get outside and start getting adjusted to the heat. It will be hot!

* Get used to running in the sun! Wear sunscreen and consider a hat.

* Run some hills. We will be tackling a *lot* of hills.

* Don’t rely on a treadmill. Make sure you are getting used to running on the roads. It makes a difference.

Join the fun on Social Media too. We have a Facebook group under “Unofficial Pennsic Half Marathon”. Send a request and join!

We look forward to walking or running with you soon!


Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic Tagged: Pennsic

Whilst the Cannons Fire: Pennsic and PTSD

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-22 20:59

Cannons firing at Pennsic. Photo by Amani.

(March 24 Update: Volunteers who wish to discuss the suggested SMS messaging system and/or help with data entry are invited to join the new Facebook group Pennsic Messaging System Progress.) 

Have you gone to Pennsic? Are there sounds and sensations at War that make the experience everything you had hoped for, making indelible memories that stay with you throughout the year until you can return? Have you fought on the field or walked through the merchant’s area and heard the cannons fire in the distance? You might flinch and look up, or you may do nothing at all.

Or, if you are like a rather large portion of the Pennsic population, you may dive for cover, start to sweat, or lose your field of vision as you are transported back to bad places you thought were still somewhere overseas.

For many of us, the cannons are more than just a sound that signifies the start or end of a battle; they trigger an internal battle we have with post-traumatic stress (PTS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and/or anxiety.

I have heard many talking points while discussing the cannons with people over the past five years or so, ever since I stopped fighting and began watching the battle with the eyes of someone who’d been in it. I had just come off of several deployments, some of which were pretty hairy; others which were scary and anxiety riddled due to my line of work and the bodies I had to confront. I found fighting at Pennsic to be the exact outlet I needed and loved the camaraderie I encountered both on and off the field.

But as I came to know my friends and fellow fighters, I began to notice their tics and twitches, their wild-eyed looks, and the association of those reactions with the cannon fire.

I thought I was the only one who was twitchy before and after the battle, the only one who dropped low when the cannons went off, the only one who would sweat not from the heat but from the excessive beating of my heart.

I found that I would focus on one or two people during a battle and as long as they were nearby at the start of battle, I was good to go. Admittedly, this is not a good strategy for fighting, but it was a game and a way to play the game.

After I was injured and began my off-field fight with a physical handicap that prevented me from ever again taking to the field; I started to really focus on my friends and the environment around us. I started photographing them and the fighting.

That’s when I really saw it: the low, sudden head and shoulder drop, the hunched bodies, the jerkiness and wide glassy eyes when the cannons would fire.  I decided to find out if this was a real problem, or something that was minor and affecting only a few fighters on the sidelines of the field.

I want to clarify something first: I don’t have PTSD per se, since that is a non-specific umbrella term for a group of PTS-related conditions. What I have is designated “PTS with distinct triggers,” which sends me back to places or events that initiated the stress response.

(Editor’s Note: The following contains graphic description of real battle experiences.)

My stress issues originated from two events combined with a lot of other bad experiences that solidified the stressors in my psyche. The first event was dealing with mass graves while in Iraq. I was the only one on my team without kids in my family, so I was chosen to evaluate and document the remains of children killed during the al-Anfal campaign by Saddam Hussein. The tiny remains lay two per table, on every table in my pathology lab. Seventy-five percent of our forensic population were children under the age of 13, with an average of 24 bullet wounds per child. If this wasn’t stressful enough, we were shot at constantly and our lab was placed next to the base wall, along a road where IEDs were commonplace.

One day, an IED caught some Marines coming through the gate. After the cloud and debris settled, I found their engine block, along with pieces of the driver, deposited right outside my lab door. I had to process that by convincing myself it was, “Nothing to be upset about, just get back to work”, which I did…18 hours a day, seven days a week, for nearly two and a half years.

The second stressor makes being in large crowds difficult if I cannot see an exit. It’s because on our sister base, Camp Victory, there was a huge PX (imagine a mini-Walmart in the middle of a military base) where we would go to “relax” because it was away from the mass graves we were working on. We’d go to the PX and shop or eat junk food at the several trailer-sized fast food places parked outside the PX. One day while drinking coffee I saw an Iraqi man, who appeared to work in one of the trailers, counting his paces and then talking to someone on a phone. He did this several times and I pointed it out to my friend and one of the base soldiers. I was told to mind my own business. I watched this man for an hour and even got close to hear him pace counting under his breath. I reported him again to no avail. I left and went back to work feeling a little disturbed.

That night I was invited to a cookout for a unit that, after 18 months, was going home. I went to the party and sat down to eat burgers while hearing the stories of all the soldiers who were going home. One was Sergeant Ramos, a grizzled soldier in his mid-thirties who had described a rough deployment but said he had an 18-month-old baby girl at home who had been born after he’d deployed. He had never held her in his hands. He wanted something to take with him to give to her; so without remembering the Iraqi man, I told him about the stuffed teddy bears in the PX. It was 6 p.m. (1800 hours). He finished his burger and drove off to the PX to grab a bear before he had to report to the tarmac at 2000 hours. I received word at 18:30 that the PX had been mortared twice and there were heavy casualties. The PX was fully caved in on the one side… the side where the teddy bears were located. Sgt. Ramos died on impact with his side SAPI plates embedded in his chest wall.

I had sent him there.

To this day, I cannot be in big box stores without seeing the exits or knowing how to get out if something were to happen. Years have passed and I work to recognize what stresses me so I can avoid them. I am much, much, better than I used to be, and typically have no stress responses at all.

Merchanting: A New Perspective of the Problem

About three years ago, I became a merchant and set up shop along the side off the Darkyard encampment, near the North Gate. I was right across from the battlefield and was able to talk to fighters before battle and after, as well as able to see the fighting.

I was surprised at how LOUD the cannons were from where I was located. I dealt with the anxiety and kept note of the battle times, set an alarm on my phone… but somehow there was still cannon fire that I could not anticipate. I would be so stressed and tired at the end of the day that I’d pass out as soon as it was dark.

The following year, I had to determine if it was financially worth coming back, but with my business picking up I realized I couldn’t afford to skip Pennsic. So, I dealt with the cannons a second year.

I asked more and more people if they were bothered by the cannon fire and started hearing stories of people who were not fighters but who either couldn’t come to War (often, or every year) due to the cannons, or couldn’t bring people with them (like children) because of the sound.

I encountered people with service dogs who had to cage them for hours from their anxiety (which would then trap the human in camp with the dog), non-PTS sufferers who developed anxiety from the cannons and only experienced it at Pennsic, and even a gentleman who wore tight earplugs during battles and walked around War deaf in order to avoid the sounds of the blasts!

Pennsic War is one of those places I call “home.” I have been attending for 25 years and have loved every time I have gone. Two of those years I paid just so I could attend for one day before deploying again. I mentioned that I fought for a time, but most of my years were as a photographer and partier, and all-around “troublemaker.” I’m part of a house known as the “Drunks on the Hill” and I am the Instigator of Shenanigans. I have met so many people at War these 25 years and have the most amazing stories for each event.

I can honestly say that for most of my years after the deployments, I just dealt with the cannons and “sucked it up” with alcohol and bold stories. That is why I can say without reservation that I have been there, done that, heard it, and likely said it.

I understand all the reasons why we want the cannons to be at War, and all the reasons we also fear the noise.

But here is my one point, the one that sticks in my head, has led me down the path that I am undertaking, and the point of my story:

Pennsic is a vacation, a game, a home, and for many of us, a livelihood

In none of those descriptions should a sound negate our enjoyment or our ability to earn a living.

During my third year of merchanting, I was invited to move into a permanent spot directly across from the battlefield along Currie Road. I jumped at the chance to be in such a great spot and gave no thought to the cannons. I figured I’d be further away and therefore, would not hear them as much.

Boy, was I wrong.

The area where I am located is right in line with the cannons and in the direct trajectory of the sound blast, making me the recipient of an incredibly loud BOOM.

I had the best spot for a merchant, but the worst spot for someone with trigger-related stress.

I was grateful to have a neighbor who not only recognized what I was experiencing but also had observed the reaction of his friends and customers to sudden cannon fire. He too had been trying for years to figure out how to resolve the situation within the SCA. I had found an ally.

Pennsic has, on average, 11,000+ people in attendance. So, being a “fix it” person, I decided last year to undertake the discovery of a solution.

Alanus. Photo by Amani.

I began interviewing people so that I would have information to take to the cannoneers. My merchant neighbor Alan (Alanus) worked with me to figure out who we needed to speak to and what assets were available.

Our first try was to drive up to the hill and talk to the cannoneers. It was, for lack of a better term, unsuccessful. When a cannon was fired close to me, with only a short warning, I lost it (I do apologize for my language, gentlemen!). After seeing an example of the problem, the cannoneers volunteered several helpful suggestions.

So, Alan and I took this information to the Mayor of Pennsic to find out ways to proceed. We spoke with him at length over cigarettes (his, not mine), and he agreed that a signal system would be a good method of notification since the usual means of communication like the newspaper, posters, and several different sound-based signal systems had been tried in the past and had not worked. The Mayor told us whom we needed to speak with for next year and told us he was scheduled to be the Deputy Mayor for Martial Activities (which includes the oversight of the logistics for the Gunners) for the battles at Pennsic War 46. This was a great start; we just needed to find the method for notification delivery.

Alan and I spent the rest of Pennsic 45 figuring out ways to warn people of impending cannon fire, what the timing was between a marshal’s call to end the battle, radio time for the Signal Corps to notify the cannoneers, and the time it took to fire the cannons.

Alan and I had several people in our booths who’d come in to shop and instead found themselves taking cover under our tables. The worst was when the cannons fired outside regularly scheduled times. I found myself losing customers either due to my “zoning out” or having full anxiety attacks and having to have an employee take over while I left the booth to de-stress.

I don’t drink much, at least not anymore, but at this War I was downing bottles of wine as fast as I could in order to calm down. That isn’t a solution I was willing to continue or prescribe for anyone else. The situation just strengthened my resolve.  I dug in my heels.

Amani

Understand this: I don’t want the cannons to go away.

Nor do I want the fun of the cannoneers, the Signals Corps, or the fighters to be subdued.

What I want is a notification system to be put in place so that people like me — my neighbors, the veterans, the handicapped people with service dogs that freak out, the attendees with minor autism, the victims of violent crimes, and the hundreds of others I have encountered — can attend and enjoy Pennsic but with proper notification so that they can brace themselves or prepare for the sounds.

What is intolerable is any discussion that includes the words “If it bothers you that much, just stop coming to Pennsic.”

I started a Facebook thread (on the Pennsic War 45 group) asking for ideas. I wanted to know how far the sound travelled across the site and who was affected by the noise.  I will say that for every post on Facebook where I was told “go home,” “if you can’t handle it, don’t play,” or “suck it up,” there were many more that encouraged me to find a solution for the benefit of all who consider Pennsic an important part of their life. I concluded we weren’t going to make everyone happy, and both Alan and I are okay with that.

At the end of Pennsic 45, the bottom line was that a solution would be found, the cannons would continue to signal the beginning and end of battles, and notice would be given to those who need it in order to enjoy Pennsic.

The Proposed Solution: A New Beginning

After Pennsic was over, Alan and I kept in touch and continued to talk with those who would be involved in the notification system. All we were missing was a method of delivering an alert.

I am a member of the military reserves; one day at drill, our communications officer came to me to sign up for our new messaging system. I gave him my email, responded once I received the message from him; then download the app so I could receive instant texts. The messaging service is the same one used by several airlines to message their flight crews with notifications and flight time changes.

After testing the app, I wondered if it would work at Pennsic. I contacted Alan. He downloaded the app, created a test group, and found that we received notifications between five and 10 seconds after they were sent!

The messaging service will alert via the app or text via SMS, so the application does not have to be downloaded by the message recipient for the system to work. We then tested various locations to verify that cellular reception was not a problem. We received both text and online messages, which can be set to produce an audible warning, with a mere few seconds of delay!

Alan wrote step-by-step instructions on how to deploy the system and presented them to the rest of our SCA project team for comment. The system can handle a communications group of several thousand individuals and will require only someone to collect and upload the phone numbers of participants. The notification of impending cannon fire will need to be sent by a Signal Corps member or by a cannoneer a short time before the cannon is fired.

Mind you, when Alan and I were testing this application I was in Virginia and he was in a remote cabin in Washington State. We know the time given to participants in the messaging system will be enough for them to set down their drinks, cage a cannon-sensitive dog, hold a child, go into a quiet place, or do whatever they need to do to prepare.

We need volunteers willing to manually enter phone numbers into laptop database either at registration or at troll.

The system admin will upload data to a dedicated cellphone the weekend before War Week with upload of additional phone numbers daily throughout War Week. We know this will work and we know there is room for improvement, but it’s the start of a solution.

With all the very best intentions for the Society and the greater comfort of the citizens of Pennsic. We remain,

Amani Ahmed Mash’al al-Sabti al-Dulaymi of the Most Glorious Ottoman Empire, owner and proprietor of Silvertree Souq

Alanus of Bunghea, owner and proprietor of Nordic Trader

(For more information or to get involved in the project, email Amani.)


Categories: SCA news sites