Wednesday, May 2, 2018
By Bixyl Shuftan
I had a few words with two of the region's prominent residents, Museum curator Hannah Marie Bloodtempestwolf (Han Held), and the CDS Chancellor Rosie Gray. I met up with Hannah first. "We're self-governed," she told me, "We have a representative assembly that makes and oversees our policies, a chancellor who assists with that, works to publicize the CDS and sets policies in a more autonomous way, and the "scientific council" which is our judiciary which makes sure the other two branches act within our constitution, basically settling disputes. Right now we're setting up for the 29th election of the RA and Chancellor. Folks will be campaigning for office from may 5th until the 12th. Then the polls open on the 12th and close on the 19th, and the next term (the 29th) begins on May 19th. The cool thing is that anyone can walk in, become a citizen and end up in the government. Heck, I did."
She handed me a copy of the card, which had information for the next Representative Assembly election, the 29th, and the election of the Chancellor. The qualifications for who could run for office and vote were determined on April 2nd and April 12th by a census of the landowners at the time. The deadline to declare running for office was May 2. The date for posting the official list of candidates by the dean was listed as May 4, though inworld group notice and on their Internet forum, with the stast of the campaign on May 5. The election campaign will last a week, and the polls open at Noon SL time on May 12. To give time for the citizens to vote, the polls will be open for a week when they finally close at Noon SL time on May 19. On May 26, the dean will announce the names of the new Representative Assembly and Chancellor.
"As you can see from that," Hannah told me, "there's a period **before** campaigning where folks can declare themselves to the SC. It's after May 5th that the debating, etc., starts up." I asked what were the issues for this election. She answered, "At this point we've hashed out a lot of issues, and we're going over some of the old laws and trying to make things run more efficiently. We have a couple of bills before the RA that address how we handle buying and selling regions, for instance. ... basically seeing if we need to change things. There's some ambiguity about dates and things like that. It's all kinda arcane. There isn't huge over-arching issues at the moment, though there have been historically. At this point, citizens have their pet concerns that they run on. We won't know until the campaigning starts and people say 'I'm Joe Candidate, vote for me because X.'"
Asking about more recent elections, Hannah told me they weren't nearly as heated, "Not since Feb 2015. *grins* At this point, most of us have known each other several years and most things have been hashed out. We have differences of opinion, but nothing terribly radical, as far as I can see."
That was about all Hannah had to say, wanting to give Chancellor Rosie Gray a chance to speak. The three of us would meet later, the details in the next article.
To be continued,
Correction: Al Andalus, which was named after the Muslim kingdom in what is now Spain, was originally misspelled as Al Andus.
Friday, March 23, 2018
By Bixyl Shuftan
The women being honored were:
Bryn Oh, a prominent artist noted for her storytelling through 3-D art exhibitions.
Nuala Marcus, a noted member of the Relay for Life who has raised funds to fight cancer for years.
Strawberry Singh, a noted blogger whom has won many awards.
Caryl Meredith, the director of the Spirit Light Dance Company.
Kikuyu/Kikutsuru, two women who run a geisha school and house.
Marianne McCann, the lead resident of Bay City and a volunteer in events such as Burn2.
Rosie Gray, the Chancellor of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators.
Sudane Erato, an estate owner at both the CDS and SL New England Islands Estate, and a noted member of Second Life Mers.
Robin Sojourner Wood, who made the Texture Tutorial at the Ivory Tower, and has taught residents at the Builders Brewery.
Treacle Darlandes, an artist who does sculpture and fractal art, and has been mentoring newcomers.
Before the event, I talked to one of it's organizers, Kyoko (Samara Barzane). She told me she was one of the Public Information team of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators, "... one thing I do is help organize events. (The) CDS usually has an event at least once a month. This is the March event. We wanted to do something celebrating SL women who have helped make SL a better place." With Brooke Brandenburg as the other person involved in the planning, they chose the Art Cafe in the Locus Amoenus sim, which Kyoko owns, "The Art Cafe is a space that belongs to me in CDS. We do exhibits, performances etc. So we decided this would be a good space for this event."
Besides their accomplishments, nominees were selected based on if they were still active in Second Life. So women whom were deceased or simply not coming on any more were not chosen, "most of the ones who were not included were just for those reasons. ... The criteria emerged as we explored each candidate. The space we had dictated to some extent the number we could honor and the criteria emerged as we went over each one."
Later, Kikutsuru (Miehina Resident) showed up, "Thank you for the invite (smile)." She brought with her a few from her school and house. They were all in traditional geisha dress, with white makeup, kimonos, and wooden shoes.
At one point, I noticed a flash of light and smoke. It was coming from Sandia's piano. "Sandia wants me to thank you all for the generous tips!" Alem (Alem Theas) spoke, "At the rate at which she destroys pianos, she is barely breaking even (grin)." She then texted the lyrics of the next song she was playing the piano to:
If there were no dreams
And there were no dreamers
And how could I dream you up
You're still a mystery to me
The way that we love
The life that we're leading
I don't want to give you up
Whatever I'll have to do, I'll do
Put a mountain there and I'll tear it down
If it's much too high then I'll go around
I won't stop for anyone or anything
And I'd love you even if there were no dreams
If there were no dreams
How could we be lovers
And how could I need you so
The reason's clear to even me
The event went well with those attending, " I want to congratulate all the amazing women who so much deserve this honoring . ... WONDERFUL JOB all of you!! BIG CONGRATULATIONS!!" Teracle spoke of the others honored, "I want to congratulate all ladies in SL who do whatever they do to make it a companionship and nicer online living experience for others. There are many ladies who do that I'm sure." "Yes, congratulations to all the women! I feel lucky to call many of them friends." Kikutsuru spoke before heading out, "Kyyoko san thank you for the invite, an dputting this together, and to everyone here, congratulation I will be bringing my sisters back home now for the evening, I hope everyone will have a wonderful day and evening (big smile)."
The Art Cafe is located at Locus Amoenus (122/187/26)
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
By Kimiko Kanagowa (FoxytheJamie Resident)
My Second Life started on March 13, 2013. The very first place I ever went to will always hold a special place in my heart, a club named Tiki Paradise. It was there that I first became a host. From there I frequented many clubs, including Wylies, Rock N’ Rustic, Toxxic Haven, Whiskey Barrel, and Castle Dark Haven, among others. After a while, I had a want for more from my second life, so I started looking at places to earn lindens from. Thus my short hosting career started. Eventually I found gambling sims, and spent a lot of time at these. It was also during this time, that I was introduced to the SL Newser.
Starting in my second year of Second Life, I went from clubs and games, to roleplay sims. I originally started roleplaying at medieval sims, and viking sims. From there I briefly joined a Star Trek roleplay, but shortly after graduating from the academy, that went into my back pocket. I stayed with medieval sims for nearly a year and a half, going from dragons, to furries, to humans, back to furries, to kemonos. I soon traded my stone walls and horses, for brick walls and cars, as I went to city roleplays. I started at Fair Haven, as a fire fighter. I stuck with Fair Haven until it became Cedar Creek, and I left shortly after, looking for new roleplays.
I soon ended up at a beautiful, sim, named The Tellus Sector. It was a science fiction sim, based on a distant planet. I started a small faction there, The Hunters, but only one person joined. That person then invited me to his military sim, ADI. I went there, fell in love, and soon, I was in the SLMC, flying planes, and shooting guns, for the Atlas Defense Industries. Pretty soon, I traded up and joined T’Koi, became their acting second, for their aerospace division. After a while, SLMC became a bit tiring, so I joined a group named Megiddo, from there I got back into it, and joined Coercion. Soon after, I helped found and stabilize All Hallows. At this point in time, I am on an indefinite hiatus from the SLMC.
Shortly after joining ADI, I joined a city roleplay named Pine Leaf. This sim will forever be in my memory, because it started my four years of roleplay as a police officer, for the same sim. The sim’s name changed over the years, but the people, and roleplay did not. That sim soon became Leominster Valley. In my honest opinion, Leominster Valley has, and always will be, my very favorite city sim. Alongside Pine Leaf’s change to Leominster, I joined another roleplay as well. The Starfleet Galactic sim. Starfleet Galactic has become a sort of fourth home I would say, considering I went from a cadet, to Captain of two vessels of my own.
I have found other sims between then and now, some good, some bad. You never really know what a sim is like until you try it out. However, one thing that is for sure at this point in time. I am always looking for my next adventure, and I hope it’s a good one.
Friday, March 9, 2018
By Bixyl Shuftan
Some months ago, someone sent me an angry message on Facebook. He was furious at me for promoting "a sick and twisted" form of entertainment. I responded that I had no idea he was talking about. He then sent me a link for something on Marketplace. The image was something so obscene, I can't even place a picture of it here with black bars. "Why aren't you writing about this?"
I gave a two-part response. One: I had never heard of this particular kind of product, or anything like it in Marketplace before. Two: It was my experience that very few, if any, of the hundreds of thousands of active residents would have any interest in this kind of depravity. Second Life did have it's adult side, I admitted, but I had never seen this level of obscenity there. I went on to say that while Second Life did have it's adult side, so does real life. And I had no desire to report on strip clubs and brothels any more than my local newspaper and the nightly news.
My attempt at reason didn't seem to have any affect on this man, whom angrily accused me of covering up the "truth." He would post on his Facebook page about this obscene virtual good as a typical example about how Second Life was a place where people went to exercise the most deprived of sexual fantasies. While tempted to respond, I felt the best thing to do was to ignore the angry rant and just let it die.
I thought back to when Second Life was mentioned much more in mainstream and tech media. At first, it was praised as the latest thing. But later on, what would be mentioned were the tales of cyber affairs while the stories about people creating art, the disabled finding ways to express themselves, and people getting together to raise charity were practically ignored. One friend of mine in those days called it an unfortunate fact of human nature, "It is so much easier to sell a story when it is controversial than when it is constructive." So it seems some people find it easier to believe the worst about the new and the different.
I was reminded about this more recently when at a club with a few friends. It had a mixed furred and normal human crowd. In the "after-party," following the official event, I was among those who hung around with a few friends, chatting about goings on. Then we saw someone come in. He was a newcomer, which was not very unusual in itself was the club occasionally gets them, and another had appeared earlier in the evening. But he began making remarks, asking if the human patrons were in danger of being eaten by the furry ones. At first, everyone thought he was joking, and went along with it, chuckling. But he wasn't laughing.
I messaged the guy, asking what was going on. He stated he was on "furry patrol," going to various places in Second Life with them. I asked what was the purpose, and he told me that the first furry place he went to, a wolf had roleplayed trying to eat him. Freaked out, he fired his weapon at him, and left the sim. So he was going from place to place that catered to furs to try to "protect" anyone in human avatars there. Apparently he had come across the "vore" sim which caters to strange fantasy roleplay about creatures swallowing other creatures alive. This sort of thing isn't confined to Second Life. One girl I knew in real life wrote a story about a naga character, a snakelike creature in myth, that would once in a great while attack and devour alive someone who tried to harm her friends. This sort of thing is regarded as weird by most furs and normal humans in Second Life alike, one joking he found the concept "hard to swallow." But he seemed to have gotten the impression all of those who took on a nonhuman look were into that sort of thing.
So I told the newcomer that, saying most in furred avatars considered what he encountered just as strange as he did. I don't recall him giving me much of an answer, so I thought that might have convinced him nonhuman avatars weren't always out to get him. Later on, I did consider the possibility this might have been a troll alt whom was looking for people to offend, and seeing cooler heads decided to move on. But the trolls I've run into are usually more persistent.
Fortunately most people I've run into when it comes to Second Life are fairly open-minded. But it seems there's always a few whom jump to a wrong conclusion over a single incident, and act on it. Sometimes they'll reconsider when given new information. But some seem to be too close-minded to change their opinion.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
By Kimiko Kanagowa (FoxytheJamie Resident)
In my travels, trying to find more about Second Life and Mental Health, I stumbled onto a place called Tranquility Health Care in the Sorens sim. The facility is owned by a Steffi Sugabum (QueenBSwag Resident). I had the opportunity of speaking with her, and this is what she had to say.
Kimiko: How long has this establishment been running?
Steffi: Since the start of January really. We're still quite a new business.
Kimiko: What was the original purpose for the creation of the establishment?
Steffi: Originally it was a roleplay before we set up on this land. It had therapy service still as well, but we also had a roleplay aspect to it as well. So it didn't have to be real-life relations. However, without breaking confidence of course, I found more coming to me wanting help with Therapy services due to their experiences. I had a meeting with staff and spoke about my ideas of helping more towards mental health awareness/general mental health - the therapists have real-life experience. So we just went for it and created a safe place for people to come to learn and seek help with mental health. (smile)
Kimiko: How many people have sought help here?
Steffi: It could range from 10 or something so far. I'll have to check properly later.
Kimiko: Can you describe the process of how people are helped?
Steffi: During their session? It can really vary, we offer talking therapy, in aid of support just being there for the client, seeing what they need from us, any advice we can give in aid towards them feeling better. We also may specialize in certain areas, such as one of our Therapists has a lot of experience towards helping with relationships. We offer a basic CBT as well. They also have experience with this too. This wont include homework or any diagnosis though. Just finding out what someone enjoys, helping them get back into what they enjoy in aid of helping with levels of depression or anxiety.
We do hold a test for Depression and Anxiety as well per client, just to make sure if they need real-life help more and provide advice towards that - say if someones in danger or risk of harm to themselves/anyone else. We'll still continue to support them though as well if they wish. Another thing - sorry if this ends up really long (laughter), we have set up a learning area as well, for free discussions/events in aid of awareness for mental health, self help advice and support. (smile)
Kimiko: What sort of conditions have you seen here?
Steffi: Mainly trauma and anxiety
Kimiko: Anything to add?
Steffi: Nothing really. Thanks, and I hope the best with your news letter too its a really great topic you're talking about. (smile)
This is the just the next chapter in the story about the constant struggle of mental health, everywhere, not just on Second Life. There is more to come, soon.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
By Bixyl Shuftan
"It was a LONG time coming," Nydia told me of the story finally being published, saying it had taken "about eight months or so" to write. Of where the idea came from, "When I was 18 I think, I had a rough idea hit me. I tried to put it down then, (but) got poo-pooed by family, so I gave it up. ... It was too, strange for them. The lead character was a cougar, in a human world. This was WAY before I ever even HEARD the word furry (laughter). This was MANY moons ago."
So what made her decide to give the story another try? She explained, "I was riding with my brother in his truck, spending many an hour just watching the world go by. Then one day I let my mind wander, and I found (the story) again. It was like saying hello to an old friend. I spoke to my brother about it, and he told me to get it out of my system and see where it goes. So he bought me a laptop and I started putting it down."
So what is the story about? The description on Amazon is, "Two souls, viewed by many of their kinds’ as eccentric lunatics, suddenly find themselves switched within their parallel universes. Now in strange new lands, each is having to learn about the other side of the mirror. In the all new Switched Destinies.” The story is a science-fiction/fantasy one in which a human scientist, Kevin Baron, ends up changing places with his counterpart in a universe where the world is populated by anthropomorphic beings, or furries, such as cat people, rabbit people, and many other varieties.
But a population made up of people looking like various animals is just the first surprise, "He finds a new culture and some shocking surprises, but also a few friends along the way." The society is roughly Medieval in technology, "Honor and status it what 90% of what their society is built on. Weapons consist of swords and bows, for the most part. Most can use some form of magic, and some can be really good with it. There are different 'classes' of people as well." From the human visitor's point of view, "the basic laws can be a bit, extreme, and how conflicts are handled."
Nydia didn't want to give away too much of the story and the characters, "I am so proud of how they came together. I want the readers to enjoy the 'First Experience' for themselves. And the more they know in advance reduces that for them. I want them to experience like I did, as it happens whether it is to laugh or cry or wonder. They way they tell their story, you are carried along with them, as they learn about each other and their ways."
When asked about what influences she had when coming up with the story, she answered, "I am not sure what inspired me to start it, but they, the characters, inspired me to keep going, to see what happens next." She's also started a sequel of both the further adventures of the human hero and his furry counterpart, "though my editor, my daughter, is now pushing me to write the story of what happens in the human world more. She is the self proclaimed "Expert" on my books since she has read them so many times. The second book follows the same time line as the first. The third takes place a few years later. So there are three, possibly four, more books coming." Does either hero find a way back to his home universe? Nydia isn't telling.
One thing she was willing to reveal was the woman, a rabbit/raccoon hybrid or "mix," whom the human visitor ends up in a relationship with and marrying. The character is named Nydia, but she didn't name her after her Second Life persona, but the other way around as she had developed her years earlier, "she is TOTALLY different from me, but when I started Second Life it asked me to come up with a name, and her name was the one that came out." She did have an avatar of the character in Second Life, "One of my (close friends), Jian, made an avi of her. I am SO proud of it. I only were it for special occasions, so I don't soil her image (laughter)."
She then changed avatars to the appearance of the "Switched Destinies" character, and spoke to me as if the character, "Good Afternoon Bixyl, I am the Lady of Baron Manor Nydia Tangen." Of the character starting off with a low status in her society but ending up the second in charge of a noble house, "Since you know of what my station in life was, you know how shocked I was to get to where I am today. My spouse, may the Goddess bless him, hasn't a clue, nor care of any such status I may have had in the past. But just tells me 'I am worth it,' and he loves his 'Little bandit' to which I usually roll my eyes and laugh at his other worldly ideals. But I do love him, and will die for him if ever called to do so, we all would."
And what did the character think some of the more odd things about humans and Earth? "Hmm, the shear number there are of you and your just ONE species, which you would think would make it easier to get along, but doesn't for some reason. And if I have to be honest, when I found out what some of you eat, I was a bit more than disturbed." Asking what that was, she answered, "Well, you eat rabbits and raccoons for a start. But what shocked me to the very core was ... well, my spouse told us ... dear Goddess ... we .. they taste like ..... chicken! And since I am a 'Mix' of the two, surely you can see why I would find that disturbing."
And what did her spouse find surprising about this world's food? The character answered that it was that magic was sometimes used in cooking, "He was surprised by self-stirring bowls of all things. We were more shocked he actually knew which side of the pan to cook on. I mean, he IS male, so we were absolutely shocked! His first dish he made, didn't look very appetizing, like worms covered in blood. But it turned out WONDERFULLY! He called it, what was it again, 'spagetty?' My personal favorite was what he called 'cheesecake,' he put strawberries on it, oh dear Goddess, it was so decadent!" Others in the world caught interest in his food as well, "It was so odd, but good. It is now being server in 'Shelly's' in Hightown itself. Most refer to it as exotic. What adds to it is the fact that is was a MALE that created these dishes. ... There are NO male chefs anywhere. Men just can't cook." When asked about examples when they had to such as when lost in the wilderness, she answered, "Lost in the wilderness? A male? Never. They rarely even leave their towns."
Asking the author if there was anything else she wanted to add, Nydia responded, "The meeting between my namesake and her spouse Kevin is an interesting one. She is a very honest an loyal woman. But, don't threaten her spouse or family. She has and will kill for them. ... I hope you enjoy our story."
Shortly after the interview, Nydia announced that Amazon had published her book.
As most of you know I have been trying to publish my book for longer than I have been in SL. Yesterday it happened. I was so all over the board in just giddiness, I may not have explained it well. Anyways, here is the link to the book. It is up and active. If you buy it let me know how you like the story. Feel free to share the link with the readers in your life
"Switched Destinies" is available on Amazon for $5.00.
Monday, January 22, 2018
This interview was done after I gave Klaus the notecard and Klaus sent me by the answers in another notecard. Thanks, Klaus.
Klaus has a reason why he is on Burn2. "I like the 10 Principles of Burning Man and I think they have their place in this virtual world of imagination and experimentation. The themes of 'Radical Inclusion', 'Decommodification' and 'Self Expression' are ones I'd like to see in play more in all worlds." said Klaus. "Basically they mean, "anyone is welcome to participate", "it's not all about money", and "what you have to say is valid". If we played along with that we'd be better avatars and better humans, so I like how Burn2 brings that back into focus every year."
"I think I'll keep championing the creativity and the principles in small ways here, but I'm not planning on getting a parcel and building every year now," said Klaus when asked how long he would be on Burn2. "It was kind of a milestone to do something last year, and this year will have other paths to pursue. But "never say never". If there's one thing I have learned here, it's that the unexpected can happen if you are open to it - so, who knows, I may be involved again in the future."
Klaus went on to say that there is good effort to make the whole thing like a real Burn. "It's not about coming in on the last building day and dumping something prefabricated and leaving it," said Klaus. "We drove trucks onto the Playa and unloaded building materials, we set up a camp and took a couple of weeks putting it together, met other burners and hung out. We savored the process and documented it at each stage. That was the best part of the experience. You can see how it came together in Pearl Grey's machinima here: https://vimeo.com/248213080."
Building Sojourning Outpost from Pearl Grey on Vimeo.
Like Burn2, Klaus doesn't hold a position with LEA, but he likes to support the creativity that gives space to. "My involvement was deeper this time last year because I had the good fortune to be invited by another friend to contribute to their work: Art Oluja's Glass jars on LEA 11." said Klaus. "I worked on the soundscape for the sim, creating sounds with woodwind and percussion, which is nicely captured in another vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/228706022 . It was a great experience, and I guess you'll notice the emerging theme is that I like to collaborate."
When Klaus was asked about how long he had been doing it for LEA, Klaus said, "Well, it was just that one thing. I will always keep in touch with what's happening, and I think writing for the Newser gives a nice opportunity to highlight the stuff that's new and different or that makes me sit up and think."
When I asked Klaus if he is writing in real life about Second Life, he said, "Not exactly. I keep the two worlds quite separate, but I write in both worlds. Of course, there is a lot of creative bleed between the two and SL inspires my writing in RL just as RL inspires what I do inworld, but I enjoy the different aspects that the two environments bring out from me in and of themselves. For instance, Klaus writes more poetry than his physical alt does in RL. This is probably because the shorter form is better suited to the average avatar's attention span, and I try to get along to 'Inksters' Poetry Prompt sessions whenever I can. That's not something I'd do in RL. I blog here, too, writing about design aspects of Mainland parcels and topography at http://virtualtopophilia.blogspot.co.uk/ . This year I'm going to be doing more blog writing about Mainland exploration in another collaboration. Obviously I enjoy writing for the Newser as well. In RL, I write and edit professionally and for pleasure, too. The bottom line is that "writers write" - whatever I'm doing becomes grist to the writing mill."
I asked Klaus about how long he had been working on this project, and he had the answer for that question. "I came back to SL in 2015 after a long hiatus. At that time I had some curiosity about how humans can dream collaboratively, and this related to a book I was working on. There were other reasons I re-engaged, too, and being here quickly took on a life of its own." said Klaus. "In some ways it's all a massive project, a journey in self-experimentation and imagination. When we chat inworld, we are "writing", and this is a very big book that's not only made from words but also prims and mesh. It will never be done and I guess I will keep fighting the lag and the worse aspects of avatar behavior until the grid shuts down - because it's worth it to me, and there's still life in it."
When Klaus was asked about how he is doing with his novel, he said, "I have a lot of projects on the go, and some will go by the wayside. When I was 15 years old in RL, I started writing a novel about a garden that was a world of its own and in many ways similar to this virtual world. Maybe one day I will finish that. In the meantime I'll just be "gardening" here and writing about what inspires me. I have a vineyard, a gallery and a cafe to run; I co-run a shop and a printing press, and ... the list goes on."
Thank you, Klaus, for giving me the answers to the questions I gave you in the notecard. I really appreciate it. I believe that I'm already one of your fans, which is fantastic. As days go by, Klaus and I continue to work together as a part of the SL Newser team. I look forward to good days with Klaus.