Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Interview Game I

Whilst I'm home and coughing my fool head off, I may as well deal with these...

Rules of the game:
1. If you want to be interviewed, leave a comment, saying so.
2. I will respond, asking you five questions. (It may take a little while -- coming up with questions is tough -- but I'll do it.)
3. You’ll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4. You’ll include this explanation.
5. You’ll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed

1. Do you feel your initial recruitment drive succeeded?

Somewhat -- but only somewhat.

On the plus side, I'm quite sure that the situation is better than it was, and better than it would have been. On the minus side, the cost-benefit ratio really, really sucked, and it didn't do much to change the underlying structural problems.

The key issue, I believe, is that the Boroughs have become rather horribly disconnected from the Barony. Most of them now implicitly perceive themselves as school clubs that play with Carolingia sometimes, rather than integral parts of the Barony. With the notable exception of Greenwood Isle, they are coming to events but generally are *not* coming to practices -- and practices are really the social heart of Carolingia. I'm not quite certain why this is, but it is much harder to get the burghers off-campus than it used to be; I don't know if that's a cause, an effect, or (quite probably) a bit of each -- it's the kind of problem that can easily spiral in a dynamic system.

A secondary, but nearly as important problem, is that we don't have "cheerleaders" in most of the Boroughs. I've been observing over the past year that perhaps the most important characteristic for any activity in a club like ours is people who bounce around and enthuse about it. While it's not 100% consistent, I've found that activities that have active cheerleaders generally thrive, and those that don't decline. That's just as true of Boroughs -- the ones that succeed are the ones that have leaders who are good at the infectious-enthusiasm game. At the moment, the only Borough that has that and is focusing on Baronial interaction is Greenwood Isle.

Another factor I'm observing (specifically thanks to siderea) is the utility issue. A Borough that doesn't have sufficient cheerleading still tends to survive if it has some way in which it feels useful -- a focus for the group. For Felding, that's Falling Leaves; for Fenmere, it's May Day; for Duncharloch, it's Low Company. It's not sufficient to thrive, and it's not always sufficient to survive, but it clearly helps.

Taking a quick inventory of the Boroughs:
  • Greenwood Isle -- holding steady. I'm mildly concerned about asdr83 graduating; hopefully someone will pick up the ball and run with it.

  • Duncharloch -- returned to life, albeit just barely. I'm hoping that Low Company continues to draw people in, but time will tell.

  • MITgaard -- on life support. Started decently, but I haven't seen anyone but the provost since early in the year.

  • Felding -- apparently unchanged for a number of years. Still around, and internally moderately healthy, but doesn't get off-campus anywhere near enough.

  • Fenmere -- ditto. Provost is actually a decent cheerleader, and has I *believe* dragged some people in, but she's not very interested in outside activities herself.

  • Olin -- the first Borough created in a while. We'll see how it survives. Myndroh is a good Provost, but the transport problem is particularly bad there, and I gather that school clubs are thick on the ground.

The other problem this year was the thoroughly unsustainable way in which Demo Season happened. It was *far* too focused on me personally: I pushed and prodded a lot of those demos into life, and provided a lot of the raw material for many of them. I attended nearly all of them, and it was too much. My conclusion is that I can cope with about 7-8 demos in a single month before I fry; as it happens, I did a dozen, and burned to a crisp. That's a real problem, not least because it largely prevented me from doing the other things I was hoping to do in the fall -- I'm *still* recovering, at this point.

Next year, we need to delegate this process much more aggressively. In the spring, I'm hoping we can plan out Demo Season more carefully, and get more people involved in the process -- part of the problem this year was that it was all terribly last-minute, starting around Pennsic. I think we *can* do it better, but only if I get a bunch more help. This year I had a few people who helped a bunch (most notably hfcougar and new_man), and several others who did a fair share, but really -- not many people got involved. We need to change that, if things are going to improve.

And of course, all of that is just the recruiting question. So far, I've really only gotten two things accomplished as Magister: a halfway-credible Demo Season, and prodding the website back into shape. There's lots and lots more to do yet...

2. What program are you using to convert cassette recordings into MP3s? (Bess and I have some rare vinyl we want to convert)

Personally, I'm using Microsoft Plus Digital Media Edition's Analog Recorder. This is relatively easy to use, does a decent job of noise reduction, and has a pretty good track-split detector. On the downside, it only produces WMA files, so to get my MP3s I have to rip to WMA, burn a CD-R of that, and re-rip to MP3 using iTunes. That's a pretty awful process, and certainly introduces a bit of extra distortion.

The other person you should ask is Guindormr. He's the one ripping the Baronial cassettes, and I'm sure he's using something different. He's definitely more expert in this particular area than I...

3. How do you decide to support the granting of an award in the SCA (gut feeling or a metric)?

Bit of each, really. I have some specific metrics, but they're all intentionally subjective. For example, my metrics for a Laurel include:

  • Does this person understand the period side of their art? More importantly, do they know what they don't know?

  • Are they skilled in the art?

  • Have they promulgated their art within the SCA? (Teaching and/or publishing.) More generally, have they advanced the art within the SCA -- are there more people doing it better now because of them?

  • Are they a Peer? (This is a complicated and subjective one all by itself, but it seems to boil down to being a leader and not being a butthead.)

That's the metric side. But all of the above are slippery, and none of them have set levels required. If someone is brilliantly skilled, I'll cut them a bit of slack on the research side. If they teach extremely well, I might forgive holes in the skill department. (Which pretty much describes me when I got my Laurel.) If they're a bit of a butthead, but at least an *honest* butthead, I might be willing to let that slide.

And yes, the rest is gut feeling. I am always suspicious of making decisions solely based on rules -- I do think there is validity to the "I know 'em when I see 'em" concept. The way our Orders are set up, with the members simply providing advice to the Crown, I'm pretty comfortable with this: if I'm completely off-base, then others will contradict me, and the Crown can make a balanced decision.

That "gut feeling" is all about *patterns* -- recognizing something without being able to explicate why it is so. I've got a long essay that's been building up for a while about patterns as the underlying basis of all human thought; one of these days soon, I'll actually write that.

4. Have you ever suffered from class consciousness?

An interesting question, moreso because you don't specify whether you mean in the SCA or in real life. I'll treat both separately.

In real life: a little. I'm decidedly upper-middle-class, and always have been. My Dad raised me in a moderately moneyed lifestyle, and it's how I operate -- I have a *strong* tendency to throw money at problems, and I tend to buy what I want without worrying about it *too* much. Deep down, money really doesn't matter all that much to me: I pay attention to it, but I honestly don't worry about it. On a fairly deep level, I know that that's a bit unusual, and I occasionally worry that I'm being annoying about it.

In the SCA: to some degree, yes. I'm the stealthiest stealth-peer I know, and that's quite intentional. Since I like to hang out with a crowd that is largely younger and newer than myself, I quite intentionally choose to de-emphasize the rank thing. Indeed, I've built my persona around that: while I'm very much a Peer on the SCA level (I'm sometimes dangerously willing to call Royalty on the carpet), my persona is deliberately lower-middle-class, since that's the way I actually play. That freaks some people out *terribly* -- I occasionally get people who get righteously offended at the notion that I don't wear my badges of rank at all times -- but it's who I am and how I work.

5. Could you give marriage advice?

Hmm. Probably.

It's a huge subject, and better suited to discussion than lecture. But here's one point that I've learned:

Know when to grasp, and when to release. In my experience and observation, a successful marriage involves frequently being there for each other, but also frequently giving each other space. The balance between those is delicate and subjective, but I can give examples of each that work for us.

On the one hand, we have a nearly-sacrosanct Friday evening date. It sometimes is prevented, but we generally try to have a bit of time just for us each week -- if Friday doesn't happen, we usually try to reschedule. On the other hand, we try not to be joined at the hip all the time. Our interests overlap, but they aren't identical, and we're used to the notion that, eg, sometimes we have to go to different events on a given weekend.

Like I said, it's highly subjective, and you have to learn for yourselves where the right balance lies. I don't recommend trying to decide it intellectually; instead, observe what seems to be working and what doesn't, and talk about that. Indeed, if there's one piece of advice that's even more important, it's that communication is essential. Get used to talking about whatever matters to you...
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