Friday, March 27, 2015

Holocaust Survivor Speaks at the VWBPE Conference

By Bixyl Shuftan

On March 21, The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference had an unusual guest speaker: FannyStarr Hilltop. In real life Fanny Starr is a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust of  WW2, in which they murdered a total of eleven million civillians, the majority in concentration camps. Explorer Dastardly, FannyStarr's real life daughter (Helen Starr), was there with her near the podium as she spoke. LoriVonne Lustre typed what she spoke via voice and posted it through announcement chat.

Under the Nazi regieme, about 20,000 concentration camps, ghettos, and similar locations were set up, used for various purposes from slave labor, temporary way stations for transit, and extermination camps built for mass murder. The places FannyStar had been stationed at were the Lodz Ghetto, where people faced starvation and disease, Auschwitz where those imprisoned faced the gas chamber and crematorium, Mauthausen which killed by working people to death, Ravensbruck, which had women only, which provided slave labor for Siemens Electric Co., and Bergen Belsen which also killed through diseases and starvation.

FannyStarr described her experiences to the audience. She had been born in the city of Lodz Poland, home to Europe's largest Jewish community, and lived an ordinary life until September 1939, when Hitler ordered German forces to invade the country, which was overrun in less than a month, "In 1939, The Nazi’s came and took control of the Jewish population, 230,000 Jews, and established, the Litzmannstadt (Litzman’s City) or the Lodz Ghetto and locked-up all the Jews. I was made to work in a tailor shop, making uniforms. I did not know how to sew.  We did not know, we were youngsters."

Life in the ghetto was brutal as the Nazis crowded large numbers of people in tiny sections of town, with the threat of death if they tried to leave. For food and medicine, they had to rely on smuggling and what were essentially starvation rations provided by the Germans. These combined with the breakdown of sanitation led to thousands dying from starvation and disease. Explorer Dastardly spoke, "There was no food or a place to grow food. People started to die and the bodies started to pile up." FannyStar added, "We did not have a hearse or a way to being bodies to the cemetery."

There were also acts of unbelievable cruelty, "In The Lodz Ghetto, my mom got sick with pneumonia, and we took her to the hospital. The Nazis did not have complete control of the hospital. We heard the Nazis where going to the hospital, and I ran with my sister to the hospital to get our mother. We heard loud noises in the corridors; the Nazis were shouting, 'get out,' and  they took all the patients out of the hospital.  The Nazis took the mothers who just gave birth to newborns and shot them dead. The Nazis went to the nursery, and took the babies. The Nazis laughed as they smashed the babies smashed into the walls. They took the legs of the babies, and tore them into two pieces. We rescued our Mom, somehow." She paused, "This is so hard to talk about, even after 70 years. Why did this happen?"

Eventually, the Nazis made the decision to deport the Ghetto's Jews, Explorer saying, "When the ghetto was closed, everyone was sent to concetration camps." FannyStar spoke, "We did not know why we were being sent to one direction or the other. We were marched to a big hall and stripped, our heads were shaved. I was with my younger sister, we could not recognize each other. We were marched again, and sat there for 3 days, naked. When we got off the train, my Mom and my brother were thrown on a truck, sent straight to the gas chambers. That was the last time I saw them. My father was sent to Dachau. My sister died in Teblinka."

Explorer pointed to a certain image on the screen, "In this image you see the SS symbol, Irma Gresse." FannyStar commented through voice the symbol still made her shiver with fear after all those years, "Irma Gresse would go around and hurt people for no reason. My sister and I were picked to go to Ravensbruck. There was no food or water.  People died. I was lucky.  I cut myself and was told that I had a disease, so I had to go to the gas chamber. My sister came with me and she talked them into saving me. She is my lucky charm."

FannyStarr was asked, "What would you tell people who are Holocaust deniers?" She described once overhearing a priest saying that it was a good thing that the Holocaust had taken place, "Hitler did a good job." She was taken aback, especially since that it was someone from the clergy saying that, "I stood up and said 'you should be shamed,' and I walked away."

A chart placed on the display screen showed a survey (taken by ADL Global 100) in which about a third of those surveyed think either the numbers of civilians murdered in the Holocaust was either greatly exaggerated, or never even happened. In the United States, it is the Klu Klux Klan and other extremist groups with anti-Jewish attitudes that are responsible for the holocaust denial movement. Around the world, over a billion harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.

Why the resurgence of anti-semitism and Holocaust deniers? Explorer Dastardly felt, "The Internet has brought out the deniers and empowered anti-semitic movements through radical extremism. Web 2.0 empowers bullying and hatred by encouraging sometimes anonymous acts of violence to promote their beliefs. In Italy last year, there was a group of neo-nazis who published all the personal information about Jews in Italy." But technology could also help stop the anti-semites, "but also, the Internet and this technology allows us to speak and educate as well. People need to know and the more they will prevent such things happening again."

Both Fanny Starr and her late spouse began to educate people about the holocaust, "My husband and I talked to schools and colleges, but we were not invited to speak to our synagogue. This is such a shame that Jewish children do not know." Someone asked how could these kinds of atrocities be prevented. Explorer answered, "Not prevented, but fighting back through education is a powerful tool. Education through awareness, and that awareness includes Holocaust education. We learned the power of one young girl Malala Yousafzai who defied hate, and anti-Education by speaking-up for her human rights as a woman. Malala, won the Nobel Peace Prize, for education, read her story. Nobel Peace Price - Malala Yousafzai. What an incredible role model. We can not prevent natural disasters, but we can help through awareness to stand up to governments and other groups, like Malala -- the youngest ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Last week they celebrated this in Afghanistan -- 'you cannot take away my education.'

Explorer then spoke, "What we can learn from Holocaust education? Holocaust education engages the mind to think about: Discrimination, Genocide, Hate, Racisms, Religious Oppressions, Survival. To preserve the truths we must listen the last speaking survivors. Once the survivors are gone the Holocaust becomes a myth, and people will ask, Did the Holocaust ever happen? What about education the whole world?  Are we doing a good job in letting people know that they can survive?"

FannyStarr commented, "We were all tortured and murdered without mercy. We fought for thousands of years to have our country. Thank God we got our country back. Halleuah we got our country back! I do not know WHY? Why were we cursed? AFter the war I became an atheist, asking God why I lived to see what was done. I would like to know if any one in the audience has answer?" The answer was moments of silence, followed by someone saying, "There IS such a thing as evil, and it hates the people that bear the name of G_d."

FannyStarr spoke, "When we  started going to the schools, we were often asked why don't you change your denomination? No I said, I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew." Someone asked why she was an atheist for a time. She answered, "Because initially I could not cope.  We were the chosen people. ... When I had children, we decided we needed to show them what it is to be a Jew. It is important to go on with your lives and tell the stories so others know."

Someone asked how they felt about the Germans today. FannyStarr answered, "The chancellor made them provide the information in schools." Explorer added, "In  Europe it is mandatory to teach about the Holocaust. In the US we try to teach it, and ask that this become mandatory. It is taught in a limited way in some schools / states."

There were questions about Nazis who fled to Argentina, and the current government in Greece bringing up German actions in the country during World War 2. Could Genocide happen again? FannyStar thought it was possible, "Yes. Why can it happen? People are being praised for attacking Jews."

Explorer told the crowd, "If you can't teach in one way, you can teach in other ways. Think about how we are using this platform to talk to Fanny, the survivors." When asked about if they came across any non-Jewish survivors the of Holocaust, Explorer answered, "Many do not want to talk.  They are shamed.  They are still in shock because the could not stop what happened to them. One of my mothers friends was orphaned, and she felt shamed."

FannyStarr mentioned, "One thing my husband and I felt was important.  As we knew what hunger was, we feed homeless people. We deliver food the homeless and the mentally ill, sandwiches and water that we distribute downtown." Someone asked how she felt about laws in some states making feeding the homeless illegal. She answered, "I feel good when I can feed a homeless person.  The government is against it.  A policeman told me it was against the law.  I told him, I am a holocaust survivor.  He left me alone."

Someone asked "Why didn't everyone run?" FannyStarr answered, "Why? How could you? we were too scared." Someone asked if they had any hint as to what was about to happen. FannyStar answered, "No, we had no idea. In the ghetto, we were told by Romkowski that we were going to a paradise. It was bitter herbs, not paradise. I still remember when the Nazis took my father and interrogated him. He was beaten so badly and thrown on our steps. Mom tried to bandage his poor head. There are so many stories about the brutality of the Nazis.  They were despicable. When there was the trial, they all denied. How could they kill young people like my brother.... he was a beautiful singer. He could have had a wonderful career."

Someone was asked how they felt about the issue of an independent Palestinian state. FannyStar answered, "If this will bring peace, I am not against it.  But people need to work together to have this." Explorer remarked, "we want a state but Hamas has to go. We all saw what Bibi said about not supporting the Palestinian state.  however, he has backtracked.  He acknowledges that there must be peace with all Israel's neighbours. We all agree that Hamas has to go.  They have ties to ISIS."

Someone asked, "My family were Polish Jews, and no one spoke about it. We must have had family members who died.  How do we find their stories?" Explorer answered, "I would recommend going to the list of sources on the slides I shared.  There is a lineage site, genealogist and family historians. Yad Vashem - Write to them and give them all the information that you can, and they will help you."

Someone asked if they came across non-Jewish in the camps. FannyStarr answered, "No, were were restricted." Explorer explained, "Jews were separated. The way that the Nazis treated the Jews was like they were a disease, like the plague." Another asked, "How did the Nazis keep the ghettos and the Holocaust a secret?  I would notice if my Jewish neighbour disappeared." Explorer answered, "The towns were asked, did you not notice the smell from the concentration camps? They did not have an answer." Another asked, "The movie 'Schindler's List' was horrific.  Was it understated?" FannyStarr answered, "It is understated.  It does not even begin to show the horror we experienced. I met Mr. Spielberg.  Perhaps it was because we were ahead of him in telling these stories." Explorer commented, "My movie that I recommend is 'The Odessa File.' "

Another asked, "Auschwitz is recently being restored.  There is a proposal to make this space a home for indigents, rather than preserving it as is for future generations." FannyStarr hadn't heard about it. Explorer thought, "This should be brought up to the Jewish community."

Someone asked, "What would people be willing to do to make peace with Palestine?" FannyStarr answered, "I don't know.  It is up to the people." Explorer added, "I think it would take recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, that the Jews are  a people.  If we can get past that, we can have peace."

Explorer spoke, "We can never forget that the Holocaust happened. Stop blaming the Jews. Wat is funny about burning a person alive?  Nothing. Keep sharing, and thank you." FannyStarr concluded, "It is a different perspective when you see the faces in the screen than in person. Believe that such a thing happened.  History repeats.  We must stop it."

The crowd reacted positively to FannyStarr and Explorer, "I want to apologize personally to this lady, I am sorry, I didn't realize you went through so much." "You and my mother lived so that you can tell your stories." "You sound like a great lady, and a wonderful lady to talk to." "We Love Mommy Fanny." "She stepped into her past for 1 and 1/2 hours - impressive. She needs to know how brave and courageous she is." "FannyStarr I want to tell you that you are great person and I am really sorry for what you experienced in your life. It's really sad." "Thank you Fanny for your words, it means a LOT to ME." "Remember all the victims of genocide and pray for peace." "We love you Fanny." "Thank you for sharing your experience."

Explorer Dastardly is in a number of art groups, plus a Volunteer for the Relay for Life. Fanny Starr has been speaking about the Holocaust for 30 years.

*Addition* Later on Explorer had a video of the event uploaded.

Genocide Survivor Fanny Starr Speaks March, 2015 from Petlove on Vimeo.

(click here if the video fails to play)

Sources: ADL Global 100BBC Holocaust Deniers, Jewish Virtual Library, The Malala Organization, Nobel Peace Prize - Malala Yousafzai, Pew Research Center - Hostilities in Europe, USC - Shoah Foundation, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem  

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Commentary: Suicide and Second Life

By DrFran Babcock

There has been a lot of discussion, anger and passion over the Commentary posted by Nydia Tungsten and Brandi Streusel Tungsten on March 2nd, 2015 in this esteemed publication  ( When I got to the monthly Newser staff meeting last Saturday, I was alarmed to find that Nydia was not there. According to editor Bixyl, she was taking a break from Second Life™ because of her upset over the event which had prompted her commentary.
I had wanted to tell her how much I agreed with what she said. However, I didn’t get that chance, and then the Plurk-driven underbelly of Second Life™ cranked into action, resulting in this SL Secret submission last Sunday. (see number 9 ).

I suppose you are wondering why I am inserting myself into this controversy. I have worked in behavioral health for almost all of my life, the last 30 years full-time in a psychiatric hospital. I work in a huge health system, and I am one of seven people who comprise the Suicide Task Force for the health system. I am not bragging; I am attempting to establish the fact that I have been very close to the subject for many years. 

Suicide is always a mess. It means that someone is in enough pain to override the human instinct to stay alive. It means that the people left behind will suffer, and spend their lives wondering what they could have done to prevent it. Most of all, it means that something that was essentially preventable took place.

The fact that someone threatens suicide because they want us to know they are in pain, or because they have learned that these gestures bring attention and love does not mean that they will not eventually complete a suicide — either on purpose or by accident. However, if you tell me you are going to end your life in a venue or situation in which I have no actual access to you—there is nothing I can do.

Nydia and Brandi are angry because they were put in a hostage situation. There is no denying that the person who sent the photos of himself with the gun was in pain, but he put his friends in a horrid no-win situation. 

In virtual worlds, where we don’t always know how to contact the person behind the avatar, it is easy to create a drama. While I don’t know the details of the relationship this person had with Nydia and Brandi, they scrambled to help the man in whatever manner they had at their disposal.
Perhaps this incident can serve to raise awareness of suicide. Suicide is always preventable, provided the person who is suicidal seeks help. The sad reality is that the disease of depression, the single largest stimulus for suicide, can also cause a person to remain isolated and secretive about their feelings. It is never OK to threaten and tease people with suicide, but the suicidal person’s judgment is often impaired.

I applaud the Tungsten’s for venting their feelings about this event. It is time for mental illness and suicide to come out of the darkness. The discussion has to get going. We have to be able to talk about these things so that people understand that suicidal people are in pain, and not bad. What this guy did was an act of anger and need, and I hope he gets help. I hope if there is a next time he feels this way that instead of emotional hostage-taking, he picks up a phone and asks for help.
Many years ago an ex-patient of mine contacted me (my number is unlisted, so I have no idea how she did it), and started to threaten suicide. I got her number from the hospital and called it, but the number had been disconnected. I made some other attempts to contact her which turned out to be all dead ends. I let it go, because I had done all I could do. 

Am I responsible for helping someone who doesn’t allow me to really help them? I think not. I am responsible for making the effort to do so. That is what Nydia did. I hope she can come back to Second Life™. Until then, I will miss her fine writing in the SL Newser. 
This editorial reflects my beliefs, and my experience. I welcome a dialogue, because that’s how things emerge from the shadows. Suicide needs to emerge from the shadows, so we can help.

DrFran Babcock

Monday, March 2, 2015

Commentary: Suicide

By Nydia Tungsten and Brandi Streusel Tungsten

Last night, I had a friend send pictures with a shotgun barrel in their mouth to a few of us. To say it upset me is a severe understatement. They were saying this was how they were feeling, then stopped talking after a while. We all feared the worst had happened. I was in tears most of the night.

I am STILL a wreck this morning as I write this with shaky hands. I have lost two very dear and close friends to suicide, over what they thought they could not endure anymore. I still love them both and remember them, but I do it with mixed feelings.

Their acts of cowardice destroyed lives not of their own, and I am talking about the family members that found them and their friends that have to deal with the sudden loss. Imagine a sister that finds her brother a week after he hung himself, a full week! Imagine what that did to her. Imagine a mother who goes into to talk to her daughter in the morning only to find her dead soiled body on the bed next to an empty pill bottle.

Suicide doesn't just affect the ones that do it, but those that are left behind, and to me, they are the biggest, most selfish cowards in the world. People will say I just don't understand. Maybe they are right, but I will bet you dollars to doughnuts more people believe the way I do.

Celebrities that kill themselves are “Celebrated for their lives and the works they have done” when in fact, they need to be forgotten and the media needs to stop being glamorizing their deaths to the public and making it look like it was honorable. IT'S NOT! They died like they lived: attention whores! That is the message I get from ever celebrity site that has front page news about the latest suicide, and yes it has made me a bit bitter.

And for those of you that feel you need to send pictures to your friends with guns in your mouth, you are the worst.

I am not saying not to reach out, I encourage that. YES, talk to someone. But stuff like
that is WAY over the line and you come across as a theatrical attention whore once the dust settles.

Because of that picture, my nerves are shot, I've gotten very little sleep. I am an emotional wreck as it at LEAST three other people I know of this morning. We were finally able to figure out where they lived and get the police out to them, where they quickly tried to play it off and telling the police to forget about it instead of getting help they desperately need.

If you feel like you want to take your life, PLEASE call someone, ANYONE and talk to them. Tell them how you are feeling, it could be a medical problem that can be fixed!

But if you think you absolutely must take the selfish cowardly way out, find a cannon ball, tie it to your ankles and jump in the ocean so no one will find you. After a while, you will just be forgotten, which is all you deserve.

So it comes down to this. If you want to end it all, please seek help. And if you don't really want to seek help, then SCREW YOU AND DO IT ALONE!!

Nydia Tungsten

Friday, February 20, 2015

Return to the God’s House of Prayer Church

By Grease Coakes

Just looking over one of my articles, I remember visiting a church at House of Prayer (180/127/33) that I had a positive experience with here in Second Life. I thought I’d pop in and it looks a lot different than about a year or so ago. However one thing struck me as strange is that they asked me to change out of my furry avatar.

Kevin Jones35 Resident who happened to be on the church’s senior staff asked me to take off my furry avatar. I was baffled at first thinking that Jesus and churches would be the last thing to ask someome to change their appearance. However I didn’t want to anger a church over something silly. When I came on later shortly before the bible study at the beach at 6pm SLT I found a newbie human avatar and took off my AX3 fox avatar.

When Kevin saw me in a human avatar he IMed me this response, "We are trying to be a rl church in sl so that was one of the rules."

After taking some pictures I asked him, "But here's a fair question, wouldn't Jesus love someone equally whether someone was a furry or a human being? Perhaps you wouldn't find a furry in a real life church, but I would think a furry would be accepted within God's house."

He replied, "Yes and if it where me I would not have that rule, but being on staff I try to make sure I inform others of the rule and give them time to change their avatar."

Fair enough something to keep in mind if you wear paws and a tail if you visit this church. Even if Kevin didn’t agree with the rule, he still has to enforce it. At least have the decency to respect that rule. When I looked around the area I was surprised that I didn’t see just 5 or 6 avatars but I saw about 20 or so sitting in the seats.

Around 6pm SLT the Rev. Britt AKA Babailey spoke at the front in voice chat. He announced there would be a men’s meeting soon after. Talking about the cold, he asked people to pray for the homeless and shut in/s that they would be able to fight against the cold. He was very thankful for the church and staff and he liked saying he liked Jesus all the time in the morning and night and to pray for other churches in Second Life. It sounded to me that he wanted to cover all the bases to pray for everything. Lots of people were typing amen in main chat and praising Jesus.

That night the Reverend read bible verses over voice chat. That night he read chapter 5 from John verses 1 through 18. After reading the bible verses, he announced that it was in week 2 of a series called "straight ahead." Each week he announced he would address one of four principals. Last week he asked everyone to see everything from the eyes of God encouraging everyone to think like God. I commented, "You mean to see everyone and everything with love?" Willma PAPAPEDRO Resident happened to agree with my statement.

The preacher spoke over voice chat about how people made excuses about how their lives are miserable. He was stating when people take responsibility for their actions and come to Jesus, their lives would change dramatically. He also said rather dramatically with a southern drawl that someone in the crowd was surrounding himself with excuses and didn’t know how to get back up. I wasn’t sure who he was talking about but it was entertaining nonetheless.

After the bible study at 7pm SLT, I was given a landmark for a men’s meeting. I said what the hey so I ported upstairs. Johann Breguet led the men’s prayer in a different room. It was more open discussion on various bible verses such as “Thessalonians 5:16-24 King James Version.” In fact Johann asked me to read this out loud, “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” He talked over voice how you shouldn’t pray or talk to God angry or bitter. To me that made sense. If I had negative thoughts, maybe that’s something I should stop doing. Positive thinking creates positive results.

Johann was saying in voice he’s used to his masculine voice which may sound harsh to women. I had suggested he could pray to Jesus to help with that. I had also said in voice chat that prayer is important,but you should also work towards your goals. You can’t pray all day and expect $10,000 to show up in your lap.

Johann Breguet was nice enough to pray for me so I said sure. I told him I wanted him to pray for me to write more so he wished my writing to be guided by god’s hand. I prayed for him that he was would find the woman that’s right for him that would accept his strong voice.

All in all I had an awesome and inspiring experience at god’s house of prayer church. I recommend going there if you’re feeling down and out. Even though it has an anti furry law if you show up as a human people there might be able to help you with your problems or anything you would like to talk about.

House of Prayer (180/127/33)

Grease Coakes

Editor's Note: Every church the Newser has previously covered didn't have a problem with what avatar you were as long as you could fit through the door. In fact, checking Grease's previous article about the HOP, there was a furry among them as well then.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

DJ Clair Knows How to Make Hearts Sing

By Celene Highwater

  DJ Clair Westbrook knows how to spin romantic tunes to make the heart flutter. Her perfect blend of romance, and upbeat tunes feels seamless, and every song she plays seems to complement the one before it.

  I met DJ Clair Westbrook when I teleported into Oceana, a beautiful ballroom set in a picturesque location by the sea. I was instantly in love with her mix of music and eventually asked if I could interview her for an article. She readily agreed to the interview and soon, after working around her hectic schedule and mine, we sat down for a chat.

  In college, Westbrook studied animation and found SL through her studies. When she joined, it was with an avatar under a different name and she spent the first two years of her Second Life as a builder. Then, she explained in her interview, she was hacked and decided to stop building as often. Now, she only builds when she needs to.

When she reentered Second Life it was with a new avatar that would lead her into a new field: romantic DJ.

“I love music, always have. I was a hostess for six months of Clair’s newby phase. There I noticed what was in... what kind of music was what. I always loved romantic music.”

She continues: “I was partnered to Edwardo (her love) for three years and we always would go dancing to romantic venues. So it was only logical I chose this type of music. I love it; I know it, don't get tired of it. You choose what you love to do when you do it every day multiple times. You won't get burned on it.”

When I asked her how she finds the music she plays she said: “I skim through the pop and select romantic music from it. I also check Billboard to see new music. Remakes of old (songs) are very popular too. I also visit a lot of sets to get an idea of the public's likes.”

 “This is more alternative... I play it sometimes but mostly I do the romance venues,” she says, showing me different songs and genres. “This is modern romantic.”

The type of music she plays depends on the venue, she says.

 “I also have jazzy romantic, which I do for Phat Cat's Elite. It’s evening music and is well liked.”

Due to a move in real-life, she only has time to DJ at Wheelies. But she plans to resume her schedule in April.

Celene Highwater

Monday, February 9, 2015

Interview with DJ Keao, Creations Park's "Blind DJ"

By Bixyl Shuftan

Recently at Creations Park, a Keao Resident began DJing for events. This might not seem to be unusual, except for one thing. keao was announced by Creations as a "Blind DJ."  Second Life Newser recently had a chance to interview her.

Bixyl Shuftan: "First of all congratulations on your DJing debut."

Keao: "Thank you!"

Bixyl Shuftan: "To begin with, well, blindness sounds like a pretty hard obstacle to overcome. How were you able to perform?"

Keao: "Well, most people have a lot of stereo types about us, saying that we can't do anything at all. We can, with a lot of confidence, the willing to do something to prove them wrong, and the technical know-how. It takes guts and the skill to learn, and mostly on my part determination, and others as well."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did you first hear about Second Life?"

Keao: I heard about it through one of my other friends who is totally blind, sadly, he doesn't come on, because he wants Second Life to be more operating system spread out. He wants things to work with google, plus windows, but he wants a client that is blindness accessible. I've been here for 4 months, and the possibilitys are endless."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What kind of client have you been using to get on?"

Keao: "I'm using a client called Radegast, we need more developers for it for sure, it's a text based client. It's lightweight. Do you know Celene Highwater? She is a Radegast mentor. I amaze her every time when I find cool places. She saw that I was determined to learn how to use Radegast, and how Second Life works. She always saw a lot of people who are gammers.
Not much of the blindness comunity knows about SL."

"This is my place, by the way, that Barbie created for me to have a home in Creations."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Looks nice. (smile)"

Keao: "You bet, and if you need pictures, we can go up to the dance club."

Bixyl Shuftan: "If you like."

Keao: "Ok, I'll teleport you."

We then headed to the dance area in question, at (120/138/4056). There happened to be two couples there, dancing to the music stream. Keao headed to the DJ booth.

Keao: "I've been doing live broadcasting on internet radio for almost five years now on different stations in real life."

Bixyl Shuftan: "That's interesting. How did you get your start there?"

Keao: "It started in 2004, when I heard one of my good friends who has his own production company broadcast a show called northern lights, I couldn't believe that other djs who are blind got the technology to do it from there own homes. At the time I was about 14, and in high school, my dream was that I wanted to be on radio somehow. Here in Hawaii, you can't do it in a studio nowadays without going to a school. What I did was I tuned in to an internet station called ACB Radio Interactive, and instantly I was amazed, a lot of these djs are vollenteered to do it for free. It opened a lot of doors for me. My fiancee in real life is a ham radio operator, I know a lot of blind friends who do ham radio work who are blind and visually impaired."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What are some of the stations you've performed on?"

Keao: "Some of them are mostly ran by blind people, some of them are Team FM from the UK, Top Tunes FM which is from the same state, Mint FM for a while, Mojo Radio which was my first station, Radio Free Dishnuts, The Global Voice, Radio For All, and Tree House Radio, ruted in great music. The ones that are no more are Top Tunes FM and Team FM. The one that are still going is the Global Voice You can check out our site at and treehouse radio, it's . The Global Voice is run by a lot of blind people, and we have some sighted people. Not a big number, but what they do is they help us on either youtube or facebook or twitter stuff."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Did it take long to find a place in Second Life to DJ?"

Keao: "I had a few in mind, most people wanted me to get familiar with it, I would say not too long, I was talking to Barbie (Alchemi) and she had an idea that I could DJ. She didn't know at first until I mentioned it

Bixyl Shuftan: "Where did you find out about Barbie and Creations Park?"

Keao: "I found about about her and Creations Park one day by attending a poem reading event that they have weekly here up in the tree house. We started talking about her mom, she was blind when she was a little younger. Creations Park has given me the opportunity to be creative and to be free, I am somewhat of a shy person. This place changed my life in a lot of ways."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Nice, in what ways may I ask?"

Keao: "Let's see. ... It has made me a much observant person, I can sense people by the way that they act, and how they are around each other in real life, even by their personalities. I can tell that a lot of people who I know in real life I don't want to get along with at all or who are trust worthy."

"My goal in real life is to become a massage therapist. The hard part is finding the right school, and to always do a great interview."

Bixyl Shuftan: "A massage therapist? What inspired this goal?"

Keao: "I can see peoples hearts."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Besides Creations, do you DJ anywhere else?"

Keao: "Nope, only here. I see Parkinsons as a disibility in a way, when Fran moves around as her avatar, she knows that she can do things. I can see myself in the same way."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Besides DJing, what else do you do in Second Life right now? I think you mentioned going to places."

Keao: "I am also the music manager here for Creations.  I help find good singers and performers. I have a few in mind who are big names up in Second Life."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh? Whom may I ask?"

Keao: "Voodoo Shilton, Stephanniyah Sinatra, Liz Aday, Parker Static, Long Paush, The Balladeer, and Savannah Coronet. And also Caasi Answer. Oh, and one more, Sara Marie."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Besides this, did you have any future plans in Second Life?"

Keao: "Through voodoo's group, I've met a lot of great people who accept my disability. I've met a lot of friendly people who are willing to help me out."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Was there anything else that you wanted to mention?"

Keao: "Oh, I forgot to tell you that when I got started in Second Life, I started out in a place called Virtual Ability Island. They have a lot of people with different disabilities."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did that go?"

Keao: "It went really well. Most of them helped me out with a lot of the clothing and outfits, and the visual stuff (laughter). And wardrobe malfunctions. So Barbie helped me link outfits together, so it will be easier visually, and I know what I'm wearing (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan: " 'Wardrobe malfunctions?' Heh, have those been a problem?"

Keao: "Oh yes! You should have seen me when I was at the Oceana ballroom when I first started out. I had no idea I was naked! (laughter) Until someone helped me get a gown."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles, "Have you tried other types of avatars, such as furry or dragon?"

Keao: "For the longest time I was at the Ballroom, (I) didn't know what other sims were out there until I found Creations Park, and also a popular club I go to at nights called Rise after Dark."

"I have a tiny avatar that is a dog. I would love to get a dragon one of a fairy."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I guess that's about everything. Thank you for your time, and good luck (smile)."

Keao: "Thank you!"

You can catch Keao perform at Creations Park. Drop by to get a schedule of her performances.

Bixyl Shuftan

Addition: Keao contacted me after the interview.  She told me she wasn't just legally blind as I first assumed, but, "I am totally blind, I forgot to tell you. I can't see anything at all." To get about Second Life, she uses, "an open source screen reader called nvda. It's non visual access desktop. It reads in speech, and converts everything in to text." When asked if typos are a big problem for it, she told me it's not, "it doesn't care if you use wrong spelling."

She went on more about her real-life plans, "I wanted to become a massage therapist because I've been using esental oils, and I would love to learn more of the techniques. Also, the practice is good in Hawaii, a lot or some blind people want to do that hobby. It's the number one career because it deals with hands and I would love to learn more of the techniques."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Becoming a DJ in Second Life

By Grease Coakes

One of the many things you can do in Second Life is share your music with club goers and your friends as a DJ. If you’re reading this article you might wonder how you become a DJ and what kind of program do you need? Well one of the most obvious things you need is music!

Years ago I went to Anthroxtacy or AX for short when I saw a notice for someone named Aurora Avila. The notice said lots of video game noises. Video game songs? Being an avid video game player I was intrigued what video game noises might sound like in a DJ set. So back when Anthroxtacy was alive and well I went to see Aurora Avila and I loved the atmosphere and the song selection where one song was based upon the original Mega Man from the Nintendo or NES for short. The next song might be based on Sonic the hedgehog or perhaps Life Force.

Hearing Aurora DJ sometimes I wondered could I DJ? I did want to play the songs Aurora was playing, however in real life I also had CD/s from real life DJ/s and being in Washington DC I had easy access to rave clubs and saw DJ/s mix live. I saw local DJs like Scott Henry Deep Dish and Aprhodite from the UK several times. Charles Feelgood from Baltimore, MD gave me a high five when I told him he played a great set which included a remix of Pink Floyd’s the Wall. “Teachers leave us kids alone!” Ignoring the mainstream radio stations I instead listened to CD/s or cassette tapes I bought from Buzz the club or from music stores in the area. Before I even knew video game remixes existed I was always influced and loved hearing rave music which is known today as EDM or electronic rave music.

A few years ago I had the courage to at least try djing so someone told me you should go get a DJ program called Virtual DJ. I looked around the internet and found a copy. When I played around with it some getting used to the controls I decided to apply to a club. One club turned me down due to lack of experience. Another club called Heart of Gold gave me a try.

Compiling lots of music together and lots of practice and listening to mixed CD/s made by professional DJ/s I had a general idea how to mesh songs together. Today I have developed an excellent ear of when to mix songs together swiftly or to take my time and let the two songs blend together for as long as possible.

Recently I was hired by DJ Micah and his Club Culture after applying and being interviewed by one of their managers. The manager was impressed with the experience I had and welcomed me to the team. There’s other genres of music to be djed as well in various clubs in SL. 80’s music Rock music, country or maybe hip hop.

If you think it’s difficult to DJ you’d be surprised. If you plan your DJ set accordly or at least what songs you want to play you’d be set for your dj set. But it’s a good idea to practice before hand before you try tackling playing for a crowd. If you pay attention to the songs and know the right timing to start blending songs in and out you’ll do fine.

Whether your last name is Resident or you got to pick and choose your last name from years past and you have always wondered what’s it like to DJ, why not look around for a djing program like Virtual DJ like I have. If you have the time and energy give a try there’s always clubs looking for DJ/s across Second Life. Chances are you’ll find a club that’s right for you.

Grease Coakes