Monday, January 21, 2019

How Second Life Makes Life Better For A Disabled Person

By Deaflegacy

Hello, everyone!  My name is DeafLegacy.  As per my name, I am deaf.  I have been deaf since birth.  I have managed to do just fine when my Mom learned sign language.  I was a lucky woman to have my Mom, who knew sign language.  Unfortunately, I lost her in 2013.  I miss her very much.

I came to Second Life three years and five months ago.  Someone mentioned Second Life, and that caught my attention.  At first, I was a shy person, using a female human avatar.  I wasn't sure how to get more Lindens.  As days went by, I started to know more about this virtual world.  For one, I know now how to get more Linden dollars, from winning contests, to Second Life jobs, or buying them with real money.  I do that once a month to make sure that my lots are paid for.

I find this amazing that when I first started using Second Life, I moved into an apartment on Cape Heron.  I have had two apartments but not at the same time.  I would remember my old living spaces with fondness.  When I was living in an apartment, I would be looking at houses on the parcels, and wanted to live on a parcel.  One day, I got parcels.  I can't say how many parcels I got because for some reasons, it's not right.  So I would just say that one day, I got some parcels, and ever since then, I have been making sure that I pay the rent.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, I can give you a few reasons.  I can tell you that I was lucky in finding Virtual Ability, which is a group for people with disabilities.  They have been there for me ever since I have been a member.  I can also tell you about writing for the SL Newser.  I was so happy when Bixyl Shuftan hired me.  I can definitely tell you that my desire to write never stops growing, even though I have a disability. I mean, when it comes to writing, who cares about the writer's disabilities?  We care about what the writer is writing about.

Second Life had helped me out a great deal since the day I signed up.  I have no regret in joining Second Life, and I hope to continue on as a member of Second Life.  In a way, thanks to Second Life, I'm now a writer, and I got lucky to have a partner, Six String (roleplayismylife).  I love Six String very much.

Thank you, Second Life, in giving me many chances.  I will never forget that.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Wisdomseeker and Whole Brain Health

By Bixyl Shuftan

When it comes to keeping one's mind healthy, the people to go to are Whole Brain Health at Inspiration Island. I recently interviewed the head of the group,  Wisdomseeker (Lissena Resident). We met in a skybox with a few pannels and chairs over the sim. "We hold our staff meetings here," Wisdomseeker explained.

"World Brain Health really began in 2013.," she told me, "I came into Second Life fascinated by the imaginative aspect of it, but not really sure what I would do here. Then I met Gentle heron of Virtual Ability Island. She encouraged me to do a presentation on brain health for her spring 2013 conference. I did that, and also set up what is called a brain Health Fair in real-life. In real-life, it takes place in a gym and allows seniors to try out many of the activities that promote brain health. I brought it into Second Life. That is my background and training, holistic evidence-based approach to brain health and well being. So everything here comes from that beginning."

I asked about the sim's name, Inspiration Island. Wisdomseeker pointed out, "The name comes from our logo." She pointed it out in the nearby wall: Inspire, Interact, Innovate - Change. "These are the things we focus on--educating through fun and thought provoking activities." I asked about the activities. She answered, "The idea is that people can learn what they can do to have greater well being, and we give them ways to actually try out those things. We work from five pillars of well being, activities that encourage self care--good diet, sleep, exercise and stress reduction, encourage social interaction that iis positive, encourage cognitive challenge, encourage creative self expression of all kinds, and help people develop a sense of purpose. Those five based on the research. So if you look around, you can find parcels that focus on them."

"We have for example a Multiple Intelligences Experience parcel to explore your greatest kinds of abilities--have you seen it?" I answered that I had noticed it from a distance. Wisdomseeker continued, "We hold our jazz concerts Wednesdays on the music stage there. Music is one kind of intelligence. My husband is a musician (smile). We have a number of music programs. (The) 50s sock hop for instance hosted by Curei on her Floating Gallery here. The map on the welcome board--which is all over the sim--is a good way to see what we offer. A great 'Relationships in SL and Beyond' program led by Pet Karu, who is a professional counselor. We have about 30 people who create programs and activities here, island members. Darth Vondran teaches chess here as a brain game. ... We take a group photo every year. It keeps getting bigger."

"I am on the board of Nonprofit Commons here in SL, and this region is part of Rockcliffe University Estate. I have a staff that is made up of gems. Thuja Hynes is Associate Director here. Francisco Koolhoven is Media Director. His is a scripter, made the Welcome Board behind us. And Katsii Tennen is our Music Organizaer. So the four of us work closely and others participate through their programs, like Osangar and her amazing brain! I never in a million years thought I would be doing this, it just sort of grew (smile)."

Wisdomseeker went on, "We are the virtual arm of a real-life nonprofit called 'Ageless Mind Project.' ... You see, I strongly believe that virtual lives enrich our other lives. AMP has the goal of educating the public about lifestyle choices that improve brain health and well being. In real life my husband and I give workshops, often using music as brain food as the theme. Music can contribute a lot to well being, a lot of research on this. One thing we are doing now is setting up a series of challenges/quests on the sim, a structured way for people to explore. So many tell us we have so much here, they don't know where to start. We will give people badges for completing challenges. Our staff is working on that now."

Wisdomseeker mentioned one could find their calendar of events at . She went on to say they try to have events every day, "we keep adding new ones--we also try to collaborate with other groups. For instance we are hosting a tea ceremony presented by another group, a special event next week. ... One thing, everyone who comes here and likes it, tells me. We are a friendly bunch.  People feel safe here. They like the feel of the place."

I asked her, "One question coming to mind, would someone in their 40s approach brain health a little differently than someone in their 20s? What if the person was in their 60s?" Wisdomseeker answered, "One way to look at it is this:  everything you do from the time you are born to protect your brain is important - at any age what we teach here is valuable - no matter how early or late you start - having this knowledge and practicing it is the key. The underlying concepts are universal. I say this as someone who turned 80 this year. I got into this because we took care of close family members who developed dementia. Once I realized there are things people can do to have a better chance - look at the football players, for instance, I wanted people to know about it. Now if they would just requie helmets on scooters."

Another question of mine to Wisdomseeker was, "Would you say on the whole, brain health is being taken more seriously?" She answered, "Very much so now. I keep up with the research so I can see how much more there is. Especially now that we know more about the brain itself, about neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, how what you do can change your brain for the better, grow new neurons, improve memory, lots of good stuff. It's worth learning about and developing good habits around it. Second Life is important in one great way. I believe it has the power to reduce loneliness. Loneliness is connected to depression and is generally bad for brain and well being. That's why having positive relationships here is so important too, something we focus on."

I asked if they were planning anything this year that stands out. Wisdomseeker answered, "Our major focus is on giving visitors a clearer pathway to well being through our sim - so when they come here they will know more easily where to explore, according to their needs and interests. Many of our members also are planning new activities here. We are very open to having new people join us both as visitors and members, and to suggest additions and improvements."

Wisdomseeker and I parted ways. But I would return later to look around the island. And there was a lot to see, both on the ground and higher up. There are a number of places one can go to read information. But there are also games areas, such as the 3D Maze at (224/51/22) and those at Games Park at (203/55/701). One can get a list of locations here.

Addition: Whole Brain Health made this video in 2016 of the activities on Inspiration Island.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sebastien Bouevier and Survivors of Suicide

By Deaflegacy

"Survivors of Suicide" is the largest group in Second Life for people dealing with depression or people who know someone who is. It is headed by Sebastien Bouevier. Recently, he and I met at their new location that was opened a week ago.  I asked him if we could stop by the beach.  We did. The beach area was well done, resembling one in real life. “That's what I was trying to achieve,” said Sebastien, “I wanted somewhere tranquil and serene for people to come and relax.”

We went to a lookout and sat down. I asked Sebastien if his group was particularly important this time of year.  “Yes," he replied, "the holidays is typically the busiest time of year for us at SOS, as a lot of people don't have much in terms of family and friends in real-life, as well as it being a stressful time of year for literally everyone.”

According to Sebastien, he didn't join SOS until just over six years ago. It had already been running for almost four years by then.  Krissy Sinclair, the original founder, started it after being a member of a similar group in real life, and realizing that there was a need for it here on Second Life.

I asked Sebastien how many members are there in the SOS. He said, “As of today we have close to 900 members.” said Sebastien, “Yes, we got over 100 new members during the Christmas Fair.” Their Christmas Fair was a month-long event to celebrate their tenth anniversary as well as gain awareness and raise money for the group.

My next question was, “Would you agree that SOS is attracting more and more members in the time of need because they are there to help people in need?”  Sebastien's response was, “Yes, I do agree with that. Survivors of Suicide is here for everyone and we are open 24/7. We have a team of mentors who are able to talk with people one on one, and when there aren't any mentors available, our group chat is active and very friendly. It is a sort of community of people all helping and supporting each other.”

The next question is if the SOS would continue on much longer. “Oh yes," said Sebastien, "we are the longest running group of this kind in Second Life. We have seen many other groups come and go, but none have stood the test of time. Judging by the immense support from the SL community at large during our event, we will continue to stay open, and continue to grow.”

I asked if anyone can come in the chat at any time to seek help. “Yes," replied Sebastien, "anyone is welcome to join the group chat at any time to ask for help. A group invite will be sent to everyone who lands at the SOS parcel.”

My next question for Sebastien was when the best time to ask for help would be. “Hmmm, it really depends," said Sebastien, "we have members and mentors from the US west coast, and even Hawaii, to Australia and New Zealand.”  “Lets put it this way, I've never been online and not have had at least a dozen of members online at the same time.”

The next question was, “Is there such a thing as exchanging emails with other members or/and mentors so they can continue to receive the help they need when they are not on Second Life?”  Sebastien's response was, “No, but that segues nicely into something I wanted to share with you and your readers," said Sebastien, "We have started embracing social media. We are now on FaceBook, Flickr, and we have our own Discord server. Are you familiar with Discord? ...  It is called Survivors of Suicide. We have a discord button in the entrance hall of the main SOS building long with a button for our website, FaceBook page, and Flickr.”

“I'm excited that we are now able to reach out to our members even when they aren't in Second Life,” Sebastien said, “It was really nice to see all the people that came to visit us during the event, we have over 3000 people come through, and I spoke with over one hundred of them, and everyone had stories of either themselves or people they knew who has gone through very difficult times.  We are going strong into the future, with a new club house, more meetings and activities than before, and that we are here to stay.”

As the interview came to a close, Sebastien said, “My main goal for 2019 is to grow the membership of SOS, I realized just how many people who needs us, or could benefit from us, but don't know we exist. So that is the main objective, and any publicity we can get is fantastic!”

The interview came to a close and I have a good feeling about the future of Survivors of Suicide.  As Sebastien said, they are here to stay. As a member of SOS, I look forward to many days with the group.  SOS is an excellent group, and they are helping people out in need.


Monday, December 31, 2018

Interview With Bixyl Shuftan

by Deaflegacy

Bixyl Shuftan and I got together on December 17, which was his RezDay. I gave him congrats on turning twelve. “Thank you," he replied, "it's certainly been a long, sometimes strange, usually wonderful journey.”

I asked Bixyl what his greatest accomplishment in twelve years on Second Life is. “Good question," he replied, "I would say in keeping the Newser team going. Next to that, I would say getting it started. After Dana decided to fold the Second Life Newspaper, four of us decided to start a new one, with me as the head as I was one with the most experience.”

I wanted to know if at the beginning it was his dream to be a writer on Second Life. “Well, twelve years ago, I didn't really have any goals, other than to explore around, see what this place was like," Bixyl said, "After I saw the Relay for Life weekend, I started coming here more often. But it wasn't until I saw the call for Reader Submissions in James and Dana's Second Life Newspaper that I thought about writing about this virtual world.”

I asked Bixyl more about his accomplishments on Second Life, including working on Relay for Life as well as helping out with the Happy Vixen Club. “I've done my best," he replied, "For the Relay, once I became a member of the Sunweaver community, that meant being involved as a participant in the Relay, not just a reporter covering it. So I've helped them out by covering their events, as well as volunteering for a few fundraisers. The Happy Vixen, it's owned by Nydia Tungsten. who is my best friend here. When she asked me to help her manage it , I told her I could help out. At the time, it had only had two or three events a week. It being a beach club, the idea was it would be a bit more laid back. As DJs kept wanting to play there, we took on more events. It does keep me a bit busy, but most everyone's happy.”

I asked Bixyl what his advice would be to people wanting to be writers. “In short, go for it," he replied, "If nothing else, you could always put your writings on a personal website or blog. But you can always find an audience if you know where to look, or go. In the case of Second Life journalism, there are newsletters such as the Newser, that are open to new talent coming in. Fiction writers, you can always go to writers workshops to compare stories to those of other writers, get a little feedback.”

I asked if there are openings on SL Newser right now. “Yes," said Bixyl, "We're still open to new talent, provided they've been in Second Life for thirty days or longer, and can write an article once a week or more.” He would later tell me this applied only to reporters on the Newser team as they're paid for their work. Readers can submit articles of their own to be published any time.

I asked Bixyl if he is going to continue with Second Life. “Yes," he replied, "The Newser's still going strong. Second Life, for it's ups and downs over the years, will be around for some time to come. So we'll be continuing to write about it for some time to come. And of course, this is a team, so my thanks to Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, and Shelie Sands who helped encourage me to get this project going. And those who joined the team along the way, such as DrFran, Grease Coakes, and of course you.”

My next question is if he felt he accomplished much while being on Second Life. “I hope so," said Bixyl, "What I do know is that many have sent us their thanks over the years for our coverage, such as from the Sunweavers and the Relay. We've also gotten compliments for our style of journalism.”

I thanked Bixyl for being a mentor and inspiration to me in my writing about Second Life. You're very welcome," he said, "Perhaps soon you'll be an inspiration to a new writer on the team.” He would say that he hoped the Newser had and will inspire others to start writing.
Bixyl did have one bit of advice, “I guess my last bit of advice is while there's a time to postpone plans and dreams as realities change or don't go to plan .... 'hang on to your dreams. Some become tomorrow's realities.' "

I thanked Bixyl for his time. I have a good feeling that he will continue to write about Second Life and lead the Newser, for years to come.


Monday, December 24, 2018

Interview with Nydia Tungsten

By Deaflegacy

I recently met with  Nydia Tungsten. She had recently celebrated her tenth rezzday in Second Life. Over the past ten years, she has made a number of friends, and been many things from DJ to club owner, to sim manager, music video maker, real-life writer, and more. She is the owner of "The Happy Vixen" beach club, co-owns the "Club Zero Gravity" space station club, and has owned others as well.

After congratulating her being in Second Life for a full ten years. My first question to Nydia was what she feels is her best accomplishment in all this time. “Having as many friends as I do, they keep me strong and here,” replied Nydia, “I could not have done it with out them.”

I then asked Nydia how she found out about Second Life.  “I was out riding with my brother as he drove (his) truck, we were at (the) company lot and someone told me about it, gave me the loader for it, and I forgot about it for about, four years, no, six years," replied Nydia, "When I got off the truck and started settling down in Reno again, it was about six to ten months after that I found the zip file he gave me. So I opened it and tried it, I was in a whole new world of discovery. Hoo boy, it was one of discovery!  I was popping all over the grid. I was more interested in the Furry community because I had discovered comics and art work that absolutely fascinated me.  It really opened my eyes as well, I made a few self-discoveries that first week as well.”

Nydia and I talked about the first of her clubs written about, Angels Beach.  “Angels Beach, I had just started my family group 'Nydia's Angels', ”answered Nydia, “and my first Angel was a very good artist and as we were building it. I though of her and the rest of my new family, and named it for them. You will notice a LOT of the things I do and have angels in it, I do it for them my family.” She then added, "Oh something I should add, 'Angels Beach' was not my first club, 'Infinite Desires' was my first attempt at a club.” I asked Nydia where the idea for “The Happy Vixen,” her longest running club, came around.  “Well," she answered, "truth be told I saw the name in one of my comics, 'The Happy Vixen Tavern.' And I loved it."

My next question would be how Nydia first came across the Sunweavers.  Nydia replied, “My very first friend in Second Life,"Treminari Huet, was a member and she brought me over and introduced to Rita, Lomgren, Ranchan, Audri, Thomas and many more dear friends that have since become one of my Angels as well.”

I know that Nydia had been making music videos for awhile.  I asked Nydia where the idea for making music videos come from. “Well, I was thinking of making videos for the clubs and I started watching some SL videos," spoke Nydia, "and saw some REALLY well done ones and decided to give it a shot. And I shared it with my angels and put them in them as well, and the strangest thing happened.... we had a BLAST! (laughter)”

Nydia published a novel that she had written recently, "Switched Destinies." I asked Nydia how many people have been reading it.  “Last count, 23," she replied, "I will never get rich from them, but I enjoy writing their stories and sharing them and it feels great to have others enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing them." I asked her if there is a sequel planned.  “Yes," she answered, "it should be released soon, as soon as my daughter  finishes a little art work in it.  They may be six to ten by the time I am done.”

I asked Nydia what her future plans are.  She replied, “I own a Second Life Radio station. It will be going to real-life status in February. I also have become active with a group helping to promote clubs and to have them help each other as well and I tuck everything I do under the WVE flag (WVE means White Vixen Enterprises).  Oh, we also do yearly calendars.”

With the end of the interview approaching, I asked her if there was there anything she wanted to add.  “I would really like to thank all my friends for their support in my life," Nydia spoke, "They are my family here, and they keep me going.”

I thanked Nydia for the interview and asked her if I could take a picture. She answered sure and I took some pictures.  This was a really good interview.  I do know that Nydia runs an awesome club, which is The Happy Vixen.  If anyone is looking for some good times, I would definitely recommend The Happy Vixen.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Favourite Irish Musician Returns to Perform at Music Island

by Klaus Bereznyak

Two years since his last recital inworld, the composer, performer and raconteur, Dainial, returned to Second Life to give a live performance on Sunday December 9 at Music Island. A little slice of Ireland was created for this intimate opportunity to hear Dainial's music and stories once again. The audience were invited to join him around the fire in a traditional Irish croft house, with a roaring fire in the hearth and the sound of birdsong in the trees outside the window.

The room full of avatars, lounging in armchairs and perched on kitchen stools, was evidence enough that Dainial's return was much anticipated and his music well loved. We were treated to a program of original works entitled "an Sean Phobal " (The Old Parish), drawing inspiration from remembered faces and voices from the past. Dainial 's music is strongly influenced by Irish traditional music and song with a twist of jazz and classical expression. He uses synthesizer and piano to score layers of sound as a canvas for his lyrical saxophone melodies. While juggling all these elements during the live performance, Dainial kept up a patter in his soft voice, bringing each piece alive with his own memories.

The audience could follow along with a specially prepared souvenir program with text and photographs. It opened with "Equinox", a song written for "Mikey" , one of "old people" who Dainial recalls gathering each in an old shop that sold clocks, radios, bikes and bric-a-brac, to exchange songs and poems. The program continued with compositions in which the music was layered over poems, stories and songs passed down through the generations, from various sources such as an interview with Dainial's grandmother and an old cylinder from a German POW camp in 1914. We were also treated to interpretations over the words of poems written by Irish poets and read by people known and dear to the composer. His piece "Summer has Gone" in memory of Sean O Cinnéide was especially poignant. Dainial explains: "Sean recites a 9th Century Poem for Christmas: It is called 'l have news for you' and was written in the margin of the Book of Kells by a scribe monk. Really though, this is a song about my grief still at his sudden death last February. He was a true friend and colleague. With a remarkable voice."

Dainial learned music in the traditional, aural way, by playing and by listening and, although he can read music, he doesn't sight read, and prefers to learn by ear. While he scores his music, he says "it doesn't feel intuitive to me. I suppose this is not surprising for an Irish musician in a way, because I share this way of learning tunes, by ear, with generations of traditional Irish musicians, but also my own family who are alluded to by my grandmother in my tune 'the music is in all of us'."

We came back in to land by way of "The incantation of Amergin", featuring the voice of  Padraigin Ni hUallachÃ¥in singing an ancient Irish poem. The magical, transportive experience was over all too soon, leaving the audience hungry for more. Dainial thanked Kate Miranda of Music Island for hosting the concert. We hope it will not be as long as two years before we have the chance to hear him again.

You can hear a little taste of Dainial's music on his SoundCloud:
Music Island has an ongoing program of wonderful live music performances:

Klaus Bereznyak

Monday, December 3, 2018

Mermaid Celene About The Radegast Viewer

By Deaflegacy

Mermaid Celene (celenehighwater) and I met for an interview about Radegast. My first question for Mermaid was, “Which viewer do you use for Second Life?” She responded, “I use Radegast. It is a text-based viewer that allows the blind to use Second Life.”

My next question for Mermaid was if the program is helping her out. “Without Radegast, I could not use Second Life. It is the only viewer that is text-based for the PC,” she replied, “I have been using it for seven years and I would say that it has given me a nice Second Life experience. I fish, volunteer, participate in gatherings, shop, etc.”

I wanted to know about the wonderful things about Radegast. Mermaid told me, “Radegast is a light-weight client, meaning it doesn't take a lot of processor power to run. It works seemlessly with the user's screen reader. So it makes getting around in-world easier because you aren't having to learn to use anything other than the viewer itself. It reads the objects sighted people usually see with their eyes. As long as they are labeled with labels that tell us what they are, we are able to get a great picture of what is around us. That allows us to interact with objects and people. We dance, we swim, and we can shop for items in-world.”

I wanted to know if Mermaid would recommend Radegast to people, especially people with vision problem. “Oh absolutely! We have a growing community of blind and visually impaired users in Second Life and an active community of sighted SL users committed to helping them live their best Second Life. This includes accessibility awareness, projects, assistance and anything else they need. is a great resource for the disabled real world community looking to enter Second Life.” replied Mermaid, “Second Life is so much more than a "game." It is a virtual community of educators, social events, non-proffits too. The opportunities are endless, even for the blind and visually impaired user.”

As the interview came to an end, I thanked Mermaid for the interview. I'm glad that there is a program out there that is designed to help people with vision problem when it comes to Second Life.