[Artemisia] Reasons to Volunteer??? (feeble attempt at humor plus a rant)

Catherine Helm-Clark no1home at onewest.net
Mon Nov 13 16:22:33 CST 2006

I will warn you all now that it's a very very very Grumpy Therasia  
today, so while I know I should resist grumping all over the  
following, since I know it is sent to encourage us all to do a good  
and very desirable thing, of while I heartily approve, my Inner  
Curmudgeon has taken over my fingers and I just can't help myself...

> Greetings most noble populace of Artemisia,
> Considering Volunteering at Estrella this year? Still considering  
> going to Estrella this year? Here is a top ten list of why you  
> should go to Estella War this year and, of course do some  
> volunteering while you are there.
> 10. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you  
> nothing that you have received - only what you have given.

There's this hallucination I have every now and then when I think I'm  
someone called Adj. Prof. Helm-Clark at this strange place called a  
university - which doesn't at all resemble what I know a univeristy  
to be, like the one at Wien, where I visited once and heard the  
learned Doctors of Philosophy and Divines of the Church lecture from  
the pulpit of the Karlskirche about those realms of learning which  
Albertus Magnus from Melk calls the Ars Liberalis.

But in this hallunication I have, Prof. Helm-Clark says quite  
emphatically that the above statement numbered ten (which I think  
should be denoted in the more familiar Roman system as x) is most  
certainly refuted by the first and second laws of thermodynamics -  
not to mention the law of mass balance...

> 9. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Actually, it depends on who is doing the accounting...

> 8. With a sweet tongue and kindness, you can drag an elephant by a  
> hair.

???!!!?????  Oh come on!  Why the bleep should I want to even try the  
above suggested method of moving an elephant when everyone knows the  
way to move an elephant such that it will willingly follow you  
wherever you lead is with an open jar of peanut butter???

> 7. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens  
> can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Now this is only one position possible out of three in answer to the  
ongoing debate as to who is right:  B. F. Skinner (there is no true  
free will since all our thoughts and actions are the consequence of  
pre-existing conditions of causality) or Nietsche (one person - the  
"uber-mensch" - is the only agency that can change the world).  While  
the above statement represents the middle ground (and in my humble  
opinion is the closest to the correct position on this debate), this  
is definitely room for doubt as ongoing modern discussion has  

> 6. Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you  
> just sit there.

It is extremely arguable that if you get run over, that you were on  
the right track...

> 5. It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that  
> no man can seriously help another without helping himself.

Leaving the deeper philosophical questions of just what is implied by  
the above statement, what I want to know is: what about the other  
half of humanity left out of that statement?

> 4. I am a recipient of unconditional love; I am a volunteer!

According to the literature of the particular ethical monotheism of  
which I am most in favor of, unconditional love is not conditional  
upon a person's record of volunteering their time to any cause.

> 3. If you don't believe one person can make a difference, you have  
> never been in bed with a mosquito.

Ah, so I guess we're playing it both ways: here's a statement that  
appears to support our late 19th/early 20th C. German philosopher who  
stared into the abyss a little too long, in contradiction to  
statement 7 above.

Besides, if we take statement 3 at face value here, it only  
demonstrates the difference one mosquito makes, not necessarilly one  

Let's not even think about what that person and that mosquito were  
doing in bed together...don't even go there!!!

> 2. How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve  
> the world.

Other than the grammatical problems of the missing predicate in the  
first clause, I'm having a bit of a problem here seeing how a simple  
statement of fact about the timing of one's volunteer efforts is  
going to help me here to volunteer at Estrella, three months from  
now.  What this statement most poignantly leads me to think is that I  
really need to get off my butt TODAY and get my act together to  
volunteer at the soup kitchen that the church I belong to runs every  
Sunday afternoon.  Not a single one of us should wait to do things  
like this - so why wait for Estrella???

> 1. The rewards far out weigh the cost of travel, and the journey  
> will be fun.

Past experiences clearly demonstrate that the "fun-ness" of the  
journey is highly debatable.  Just ask around...  As to whether the  
intangible rewards of volunteering at Estrella outweigh the cost,  
well, it's like this (warning! warning!  Rant coming on!  warning!):

For the last few weeks, there's been a discussion on the Grand  
Council list as to whether the next edition of the known world  
handbook and other SCA publications should be essentially delivered  
preferentially through means solely or mostly online.  I'm glad to  
say that the folks from Artemisia that participate in the Grand  
Council appear to be not in favor of such an approach at this time.   
What does this have to do with volunteering at Estrella?  Well,  

Let me explain (and also to say that this issue has gotten under my  
skin in a really big way).  The folks who support a brave new world  
of SCA publications through preferentially online models are looking  
at the problem from a cost-benefit analysis point of view that we in  
the SCA need to move to more modern models of fostering the growth of  
SCA membership, including a implied stance that it is not good  
business sense to be subsidizing costly paper publication of things  
like the known world handbook for rural and isolated newbies in the  
isolated and out-of-the-modern-online-mainstream places of the world,  
like, well, Chicken, Alaska; Salmon, Idaho; Tyson, Vermont;  
Wallabong, New South Wales; Murdoe, South Dakota or Lovell, Wyoming  
(where there have been and in many cases, still are SCA members...).

There are several problems where, but out of all of the the problems  
I could list, what I want to point out is what I believe to be the  
"values problem" that's implied here.  Such a viewpoint, arguably a  
defensible one if one subscribes to a particular way of thinking  
about people as merely consumers, discounts all the intangibles that  
make the SCA the SCA.  In Therasia von Tux's SCA, which I believe to  
be the same as Conrad's SCA, Casamira's SCA, Alan's SCA, Azir's SCA,  
Cariadoc's SCA, the von Markheim's SCA, Flieg's SCA and THE  
Listmaker's SCA, the known world was created out of nothing by  
individuals who heard about this wonderful little group that wanted  
to reconnect to a world gone-by where the important things in life  
were chivalry, courtesy, politeness, puissance in service of knight  
errantry, kindness, and a code and mode of ethical behavior: people,  
like Cariadoc, who invented the Middle Kingdom out of nothing but  
inspiration after seeing an SCA demo at WorldCon in San Francisco in  
1968 or so; like Waldt von Markheim, who founded one of the four  
founding groups of Caid, who heard about the SCA from a mutually- 
intrigued friend; like Grumbaer, called the founder of Calontir, who  
heard about the SCA in 1970 or so from a stranger about the SCA one  
dayon a street corner in St. Louis; like Rowan, who read about the  
SCA in a magazine, made a landsknecht from scratch, hopped an  
airplane from Sydney and flew to this week-end long event called  
Pennsic 12 to meet people, went home and founded Lochac from out of a  
known world handbook along with some interested friends and a hundred  
phone calls and letters sent back and forth across the Pacific Ocean.

This whole discussion on the Grand Council List has been eating at me  
and gnawing at me and leaving me in a state that that poor man who  
married me calls "thunk."  I've been feeling a really major rant at  
the Grand Council list coming on for at least a week now.  I wrote a  
lot of it in my head yesterday as El Hermoso Dormiendo, that poor man  
who married me, and I drove home yesterday from the booming  
metropolis of Salmon, Idaho, population 3110 and home of a couple of  
SCA members, who I hope are still around (because I don't think I've  
seen them lately and I promised some serpentinite as loom weights to  
one - which I have since acquired, but haven't remembered to  
deliver...).  And the drive also left me thinking about the gal in  
Lovell, our sole member in that little town, who I hoped to visit  
sometime this summer to do some scribal stuff with but never made it  
out that way, contrary to my expectation for this last summer's  
planned road trips (why, yes, I AM feeling guilty about this).  And  
it left me thinking of my friend, Baron Aldred from Dreibergen, from  
the group that Waldt von Markheim founded in in 1968 with three  
friends, who spent two years, TWO YEARS!!!, driving three hours one  
way every other weekend from San Bernadino to China Lake in the  
middle of absolutely nowhere in the Mojave Desert in the mid-1980s to  
help a couple of interested newbies found an SCA group in a small  
town in the middle of nowhere.  So I ask you, in what business model,  
in what cost-benefit analysis, in what way do doing business for the  
SCA do we consign these people where there is no SCA nearby to the  
bin of "too-costly to bother with or make paper publications  
available"?  It's the same business model that makes everything that  
Cariadoc and Waldt and Rowan and Aldred and the folks who started the  
groups in Montana that didn't exist when I joined the SCA and the  
hundreds of others who started groups or helped others to do such  
things so stupid and foolish and wasteful and not at all business- 
minded. <sarcasm on> Why obviously, the SCA and they all would have  
been better off if they had been using a more consumer-oriented  
business model... <sarcasm off>

Excuse me, last time I checked, the SCA was not someone's business  
model where some nameless newbie in the rural wastes of North Dakota  
or Pyrope Station, South Australia or Cape Town, South Africa  was an  
expense we would be better off not incurring.  Just ask Rowan who  
traveled across half the world in order to begin that which became  
the kingdom that proves the world must be flat - because if the world  
were a globe, all those people in Lochac would have fallen off by now...

So finally, in conclusion (you hope...;-) that is why, when we get  
down to the bare bones of things, volunteering at Estrella OR ANY  
OTHER SCA VENUE outweighs the costs it took to get there, wherever  
there may be.  And that is also why you all had to put up with my  
running on at the mouth again, this time about why 10 sugary-drivel- 
like backwards-listed quotes from so-called famous people annoy the #@ 
$&*! out of my Inner Curnudgeon.  Yes!  Give me drivel or give me  
mental-floss!!!  (No offense meant, dear Robert - intent means a lot  
in the SCA, at least in my version of the SCA, and I know your  
intentions are not only good but sterling.)

Yeah, give me a few more days and it's going to be a known-world- 
class rant on the Grand Council list because I'm steamed... What  
you've just seen here is the pressure cooking off from my Inner  
Curmudgeon.  What will land on the Grand Council list in a few days,  
assuming that that halluncination called Dr. Helm-Clark - who spent a  
fair bit of time in the last year thinking and reading up on business  
models and business plans for non-profits - has any spare time left  
to spare for writing it up.  After all, when you're me or my  
hallucinations, it's not wise to miss sleep just to write a rant or  
two - some of us, especially my Inner Curmudgeon, need our less-than- 
ugly sleep...
> Quotes from various famous people.

So the aforementioned ten (well, ok, nine and half) reasons to  
volunteer at Estrella demonstrate quite clearly, I think, that being  
famous does not imply the ability to think and/or speak clearly.

> Please, join us at Estrella this year, volunteer for the fun of  
> others and for yourself.
> Robert Bedlam, Kingdom Volunteer Coordinator

If I can get there, Robert, I certainly will volunteer - as should we  
all.  But it's not about fun, though fun it certainly can be.  
Sometimes it's not fun, sometimes it's frustrating, sometimes it's  
thankless, occasionally it's misunderstood, discounted and ridiculed,  
often it goes unnoticed and sometimes it's plain horrific.  No, it's  
not about fun.  It's really about things that are worth trying and  
worth doing.  It's really about something quite intangible and yet  
very very real.  It's why the SCA can still be important when  
measured on the scale of doing things like helping in a soup kitchen  
or flying to New Orleans to work in a Red Cross Shelter on one's own  
nickel (as one SCA member I know did for several weeks last year).  
It's all about what I like to call the founding thoughts of the SCA,  
something that I was fortunate enough to be told about one day over a  
cup of coffee in the kitchen of the founder of the SCA: it's the  
belief that knight errantry should be and can be real, that at the  
heart of this game what we're doing here is to rediscover that which  
is "worthy of all honor" in an increasingly selfish and secular world  
where cost-benefit analyses are more important than courtesy and  

Okay, the Inner Curmudgeon is going to stop now so the Hallucination  
of Research Scientist can get some work done...

Therasia von ExtremelyGrumpyToday

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