Behavior in Society

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Protesters in Kiev

I bet riot batons hit harder than rattan.

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Defining "Middle Aged"


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I need to get my ass to the gym

A recent analysis published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International of more than 900,000 athletes (ranging in age from 20 to 79) showed that no significant age-related decline in performance appeared before the age of 55. And revealingly, even beyond that age the decline was surprisingly slow; in the 65 to 69 group, a quarter of the athletes performed above average among the 20 to 54 year-old group.

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The Sophomore Invasion

It's finally warm and nice out. And of course it's almost the end of the semester, so some people, like Ross, are in a crush to get their big final projects finished. That left us tonight with nothing but grey-haired guys at Thursday night UVa practice. No worries, we'll just knock around a bit, experiment with my compact camera which I bravely mounted to the front of my helmet, then call it a night after some bruise exchange.

Along the way, one ebullient young undergrad wandered by on the way back to the dorms from dinner as Philip and I were taking a break. She asked what we were doing, and after explanations was very excited to find that we were (theoretically) part of a UVa CIO. Throughout the rest of the evening, there were many calls of "What are you doing? What is this?" replied to with "It's a CIO!" 

Seems like being a CIO makes even armored guys beating each other an entirely relatable thing.

Ebullience turned into excitement when offers to let her learn how to do it came up, and an interesting effect made things snowball: Once our Patient Zero (shame on me for not recalling her name) started participating, hardly two minutes could pass without a friend running up and asking what she was doing. So before I could say "form up a shield wall" I was no longer just knocking around in armor at at a practice/sausage party; I was teaching five smart, sharp, athletic sophomore-ish co-eds how to throw flat snaps, all while they swapped around trying on my helmet.

It was a level of enthusiasm and exuberance I've rarely seen, at once unexpected, welcome, and sadly greeted with a bit of cynicism as there is more than a little chance we were dealing with tourists. There were many comments of "So is there a list serve?" (Suggesting real interest.) And "My least typical Thursday night all year." (I had to reply "Not for me.") 

To balance out the tourist observation, I definitely saw the potential for great fighting from at least one of them, and all of them could authorize without much trouble. But then this is a regular thing: Over the years I've seen more than half a dozen kids start at this practice who could be dukes (or duchesses by their own hands) with a few years of helmet time. It's UVa: they're ALL smart. But some are so very, very physically gifted. Moreso than I ever was. If only they stayed with it!

One generational change I noticed for the first time tonight. Can't say if I just didn't pick up on this change at earlier practice, perhaps it was the sudden influx of FIVE enthusiastic women all at once. Approaching a group of four men practicing, all of them at least ten years their senior, not a one of them asked "Is this something women do?" They all assumed that women did. They all assumed that they could. 

As they should. They were all good students tonight.

Tonight's videos are odd, all just the tops of helmets. I'll nevertheless post it tomorrow. Here's the only picture I took with my camera that does really poorly in low light. The new students took many, including some fetching ones combining gang signs, my helmet, and gym shorts. Perhaps they'll come back and share them. I did hand out some business cards.

Blurry pics of the sophomore attack.

I have some lovely McDavid Padded Shirt hexagonal outline bruises to go with tonight's mail shirt bruises. And if my helmet smells of perfume, I'm sure Kit will understand.

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The Third Tournament. Amazing how far we've come.

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Supper Club 2011

I've been very very remiss in putting out feelers about Supper Club. Shame on me.

Not sure how to approach this, so I'll just blurt it out: we're becoming victims of our success. Cooking for 10-12 people is something 1 or 2 people can do no problem, but cooking for 18 -24 is a big challenge.

Perhaps we can divide into two clubs? Of course, then we have to worry about kitchen access.

Let's start with figuring out who is interested. Please respond OFF THIS LIST to corby [at] delaflamme [dot] organd let me know:

Who you are
Your arrival day and first day you could cook if that's different
Any dietary restrictions.

Usually we start things up on the thursday or friday of Peace Week, but that's flexible if there are lots of people getting to the war early.

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Restraint is Admirable in Some Circumstances

I just watched a bunch of youtube videos of fight practice in Owl's Nest, the reputed center of the "shadow warrior" effect in the SCA.

I withheld all comments.
In other news, I need to keep tweets that have long URLs out of my stream.
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That "SCA Community" web site thing

Check this out from their terms of use:

"All suggestions, ideas, notes, concepts and other information you may
from time to time send to us (collectively, "Submissions") shall be
deemed and shall remain our sole property
and shall not be subject to
any obligation of confidence on our part. Without limiting the
foregoing, we shall be deemed to own all known and hereafter existing
rights of every kind and nature regarding the Submissions
and shall be
entitled to unrestricted use of the Submissions for any purpose, without
compensation to the provider of the Submissions."

Emphasis added.

Translation: the site owners can compile all your submissions into a book, sell it using your name if they like, and don't owe you a dime. And you would need to get their permission to publish a part of your work in some other electronically.

It is just barely possible that this part of the term of use does not refer to things like blog posts, but instead is designed to cover things like feature requests for the web site and similar ideas for improving things. But it isn't clear.

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Pushing Back Against the Doom Sayers

Over the past ten years or so, I've heard a lot about how the average age of the fighters in the SCA is going up, and concerns that we're going to lose a large population quickly as they get too old to keep fighting.

I'll leave aside the bit about how if you fight with proper technique you can still fight successfully after age 50, and just point out:
Last night at the UVa practice, we had eight, yes eight serious new students learning armored combat, all of them under 25, several under 21, one under 18. (Several other fighters were there too, experienced ones outside of that range.)
These eight new guys are made up of a 22 year old who has been coming out for 4 years, two 20-ish guys now in their 3rd, one 19 year old monster back for his second, and four brand new ones ranging from 18-24 or so. 
Three weeks ago our one lefty showed up for his first practice. Last week he brought our new tall guy with him. This week the two of them brought another new guy. An excellent sign. All in all, a very promising crew.
What did it take?
Five years. No wait. Seven.
When I first moved here, (actually, before I moved but after I started working here) the fighter list here was:
  1. Philip ap Griffith
Now Philip had been doing his best. I certainly don't mean to suggest he did anything but work hard at bringing new people in. What Isenfir didn't have was a regular, public practice. I can't emphasize enough the importance of those two things.
Philip and I started practicing at UVa. We moved around a bit, using trial and error to find the best spot. We did demos, especially right around the start of the semesters. We lucked out in getting a pre-made student fighter who showed up our first year, walked up in his armor. But for years, literally years, our practice was often the three of us, maybe a few dabblers, maybe some visitors.
We kept at it.
That's the lesson to take out of this. Keep at it. There are a hundred other things you need to do right too, of course: Let the students run their own group, don't scare people off by just throwing them in armor right away, et cetera et cetera.
Mostly though, you have to take the long view. If you keep holding it, they will come.
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Just got around to taking the SCA Census. When asked my opinion of what membership costs should go to I added:

"It would be great if the corporation could figure out why individually sane board members seem to go collectively insane so often. I'd pay extra for that."

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