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Re: Goat or cow? It points to a process breakdown.

Poster: Judy Gerjuoy <jaelle@access.digex.net>

Unto the People of Atlantia does Jaelle of Armida, Laurel Queen of Arms
sends greetings:

Once again we are posting to this list.  Please, if anyone has any
questions or comments, please us directly.

On Wed, 4 Jun 1997, Andre Detommaso wrote:

> Greetings,
> I have never heard so many ways to go around an issue, and so many excuses
> offered for a breakdown in the heralding process. Since my Lady is Kofryna
> the Goatherd, I have a bit of insight in this. To summarize what really
> happened:


> b) Our Herald said he clearly noted on the form "this is a goat". It never
> said a cow anywhere. So now we have two written clues, one of which is the
> note on the form and the other being the submitter's name. Both should be
> really good indicators from a common sense perspective.

And that is where you are wrong. We just checked the forms - we get a set
of the original forms - two color copies of the picture and a copy of the
cover sheet which contains the name information as well as a place for the
local herald to fill in a blazon.  *Nowhere* on *any* of the sheets of
paper was there *any* description of the picture - in any format - English
or heraldize.  

And, this is *not* atypical. When we were Triton we ran the figures for a
couple of months.  Approximately 35% of the submissions had *no*
blazon or any other type of description of the picture - and another 35%
had a useless or majorly inaccurate one.  So, we would *routinely*
reblazon everything, since we did not feel we would be serving the people
of Atlantia by returning that many submissions each month - not to mention
the cost to the office and myself in postage, printing and time.

And, before anyone asked, yes, we told the local heralds time after time
in our monthly letters to the college that we needed that information.  It
didn't seem to help.  Heck, there were some heralds who couldn't send us
the right number of copies of the forms!

> d) We submitted the device but it _passed_ out of Kingdom as a cow. We knew
> that only because we saw it on the Acorn. It was not returned for redraw or
> explanation. It was just passed as that which it wasn't.

This is correct.  With no blazon or verbal description, the heralds did
the best they could.  They felt that they were doing you a favor by *not*
returning it - it was the proverbial judgement call.  And, it truly was
one.  The commentary reflected that the opinion on what the charge was,
was mixed. Some people saw a cow, some a goat, and some just weren't sure.
The same thing happened at the Laurel meeting.

Remember, we did *not* return it because it looked like a cow versus a
goat - we returned it because it was not clearly *either* and one the
major purposes of heraldry is identification.

Whenever there is a judgement call the submission herald must make the
best decision he can.  He does not want to send out of kingdom items that
he *knows* Laurel will return - on the other hand he doesn't want to
return items that have a chance of passing.  If in doubt, he will send
something out of kingdom, because at the end, the person making the final
decision is Laurel.

By the time any information on submissions is sent to Acorn, it has
already gone out of kingdom, several months ago.

> As it was pointed out, SCA members pay money for Heraldry service, and if a
> question comes up, the Kingdom Heralds should ask about it. It's part of
> the service for which we are paying.

We agree, to some extent that when there is a problem the submission
herald should ask about it. However, are you (the general folk of the SCA)
willing to pay that price in both time and money. Remember, any solution
we put into place must take into effect the *entire* SCA - which include
kingdoms such as the East, Middle and An Tir which extend into Canada, the
West which includes all of Australia, Korea, Japan, Guam, etc., Trimaris
which used to include Panama, and does include Antartica, and Drachenwald
which includes: France, Germany, Austria, British Isles, Finland, Sweden,
Holland, Greece and South Africa (and possibly more - that is off the top
of my head).

If anyone has a solution to this problem that takes this into account,
please e-mail mus with it - we would like the people of the society to get
the best possible service they can get. But, the heralds are also part of
the SCA, and we cannot abuse them either. 

Note: while the new forms *will* have a space for the submitter's and the
local herald's e-mail address, even today, according to the last figures
we have heard, only 25% of the people of the US have e-mail access.
Therefore, using e-mail as a form of communication is at best, only *part*
of the solution.

As for the many myths that come up surrounding the herald's office, we are
aware of this problem.  There are however many myths surrounding both the
SCA and mundane life.  However, we have taken steps to work on this - and
many other problems.  We urge everyone, herald or not, to go to the
official Laurel Webpage at http://www.sca.org/heraldry/laurel (you can
also get there through links from www.sca.org) and look at our educational
material. One of the many items there is a FGA - Frequently Given Answers
(that are wrong) that is there to dispell many heraldic myths.

The Laurel office is one of *two* current corporate officers with kingdom
level subordinates that has an official web page, and we were the Laurel
who put it into place. Obviously it needs more up there - this is
something that we are working dilegently to fix.  If there are folk who
would like to assist with HTMLing already done heraldic material, please
e-mail us.

Laurel Queen of Arms

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely 
challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn 
between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. 
This makes it hard to plan the day. - E. B. White

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