Mount Pleasant, SC 29465
26 May, 1990
Unto the members of the College of Arms and any others who may read this missive, greetings from Alisoun MacCoul of Elphane, Laurel Queen of Arms!
Just to allay any rumours that may have gotten out of hand over the past few weeks, the current Laurel was never hospitalized with pneumonia, although a significant bout of pneumonia did force postponement of the May Laurel meeting to the Memorial Day weekend and delayed publication of this letter. While a nasty cough still lingers on, the lungs have been clear for some time and my life was never in danger. [Although the non-technical explanation of the disease given by a doctor on the nineteenth of May did nothing for morale: "you have what Jim Henson had."]
In a similar vein, it should be noted that the new Laurel's house has not been flooded nor has the site of the Symposium. While the news film of flooding in the Dallas area is spectacular, it missed the relevant parts of town. [Knowledgeable members of Laurel staff attribute both the pneumonia and the near-flooding to divine confusion on where to send the latest installment in the "Laurel curse".]
The March Laurel meeting was held on Satruday, March 31. At that meeting were considered submissions on the letters from Atenveldt (12/11), West (12/15), East (12/20), Caid (12/25), Ansteorra (12/26), Meridies (12/28) and Calontir (12/31). For an analysis of the 245 actions arising from that meeting, please see the analysis section below.
The April Laurel meeting was held on Sunday, April 29. It considered Atlantia (1/1), Caid (1/21), Meridies (1/24), Ansteorra (1/25), Trimaris (1/25), East (1/28), East (1/29) and Calontir (1/31).
As noted above, the May meeting previously scheduled for Sunday, May 20, had to be postponed to the Memorial Day weekend. That meeting will consider submissions on the letters from the West (1/27), Outlands (2/15), East (2/25), Meridies (2/27), Calontir (2/28), Atlantia (2/28 dated 1/27) and An Tir (2/??).
The June Laurel meeting will be held on Sunday, June 17. The letters to be considered at that time include West (2/28), Caid (3/12), Meridies (3/21), East (3/25), West (3/30) and Calontir (3/31). At the Laurel meeting at the Symposium in Ansteorra we will consider Ansteorra (3/7) and Trimaris (3/15).
Laurel Designate informs us that the July Laurel meeting, the first to be held completely under the "new regime" is currently scheduled for Saturday, July 28. It will consider the letters dated in April, including those from Caid (1/1), Atlantia (4/4), Caid (4/6), West (4/16), Meridies (4/23), East (4/25), Ansteorra (4/27) and Calontir (4/30).
At this point subsequent meetings are tentatively scheduled for the last Saturday of each month, but this is subject to change as the new Laurel's personal staff schedules mature.
White Stag informs us that Stefan Laskowski will be retiring as Trefoil Herald of the Outlands. He will be replaced by Freodhoric Jorgensson Sjoaureborg (Don Jorgenson), Box 361, Santa Teresa, NM 88008 (telephone: 505:589-2284).
As the March meeting considered only submissions sent out in December, a high proportion of the submissions were considered at Kingdom level, if not local level after it was known that the new rules would be in effect. The precise breakdown of actions is as follows:
It is interesting to note that only two submission would have passed under the old rules but not the new, while sixteen passed under the new rules, but not the old. The increased proportion of new rules passes as opposed to old rules passes may be due to "filtering" on the Kingdom level as Kingdom perceptions adjusted to the new rules.
It is interesting to see the increasing effect of the new rules, and there does appear to be a definite increase in the proportion of submissions being accepted. Over the past months of the "grace period" we have been reluctant to use percentages of submissions passed for fear of creating a false pattern of expectation as to the "success rate" during an anomalous period when the more lenient interpretations of either set of rules was being used. However, since only two submissions this month would have passed under the old rules and not the new, the percentage here seems to be a harbinger of things to come.
That being so, it is interesting to note that, had the "grace period" not been in effect, 205 submissions from a total of 229 non-administrative actions would have passed. (In this case, administrative actions excluded from the total are holding names, corrective actions, administrative pends and releases.) This constitutes a "success rate" of 89.52%, considerably higher than any month's results over the past four years when the 1986 rules were in effect.
An improved rate of success is also reflected in the fact that for the first time in Laurel's memory, two Kingdoms had letters of intent considered at a meeting with no submissions returned. Yes, neither the East nor the West had any submissions returned, despite the reasonable size of the letters from each Kingdom. (Granted not all the submissions were registered totally unchanged. . .) This not only reflects well on the submissions heralds and commentors from those Kingdoms, but also hopefully points to improved success rates from all Kingdoms in the months to come.
To make life a trifle easier for my successor, I would ask all commenting heralds whose letters are generally circulated through in a single packet through their Kingdom to send at least one copy of their letter directly to the Laurel Office as soon as it is complete. (Ideally, you would also send a copy directly to any submissions herald on whose submissions you comment.)
In recent months, circumstances have delayed packets sent to the College and/or the Laurel Office for some time after the letters themselves were complete. In a number of cases, important commentary was received weeks after a meeting and this contributed significantly to the delay in circulation of the January and February letters. In other cases, commentary was not received until after the letter of acceptance and return for a meeting had already been circulated. (An extreme case of this was receipt of a thick packet of significant comments for the December, January and February meetings in mid-April.)
Obviously, commentary that arrives after the meeting cannot get the full attention it deserves even if it arrives prior to circulation of the Laurel letter. Each set of belated commentary requires Laurel to go back and review every submission cited on the letter. Since not only the submission itself but the notes from commentary considered at the meeting must be included, this can be time-consuming. Additionally, human error being what it is, the probability that a vital conflict call or theoretical issue will be missed is radically increased.
If you made such a call or raised such an issue for these meetings in commentary that was "batched", please do not think that Laurel simply "blew off" your comments. It is entirely possible that we were not able to consider the comments at the meeting and simply did not pick up all the fine points when we tried to go back and pick up the dropped stitches in the pattern of commentary.
Several commentors have asked about the progress of the Rules Mailing. As is often the case with such things, small problems sprang up over the months: a formatting problem with the Mac-produced Rules for Submission that would have created problems with three-hole punching, difficulties with the annotated bibliography which we consider to be a vital part of the mailing, etc. However, progress is being made and I trust that they will be in the mail before Symposium.
We were somewhat dismayed, however, to hear from at least one Kingdom that local heralds were being told that "nobody has seen the rules" and therefore they could not be discussed.
The Rules for Submission were adopted exactly as they were submitted to the Board in October. The only changes to the Admin Handbook as circulated in January were minor: a change in the limitation wording and some additional verbiage at the beginning of the section on heraldic offices below Kingdom level.
In the special letter of acceptance and return issued on February 3 of this year, it was specifically noted that the October Rules for Submission were official and could be circulated on that basis. The submissions change for the Administrative Handbook was also given in full so that that could be distributed to submissions heralds, if desired.
Thus the rules have been published already to the College of Arms as fully as the 1986 rules were when they were put fully into effect. Given this fact, the unfortunate delay in the unprecedented direct circulation of the rules to the local level will not and cannot be considered grounds for appeals to mitigate the end of the grace period or to call "hardship" because (for instance) a local herald was not aware of the new contrast requirement in the rules.
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