Friday, May 31, 2013

Ask DrFran: Is Second Life™ Addictive?

By DrFran Babcock

This week’s column is a little bit different in that it was inspired by an IM I got from a friend asking me to help a friend. While I write this column; I prefer not to “help” people in world, because there are too many possibilities for problems to arise. It’s just ethical to avoid this. However, my friend’s request got me thinking.

This friend wanted to know if there was a possibility that someone could spend too much time in Second Life. She told me a story about a friend whose First Life family were becoming upset because she was spending long hours in world, and was not interacting with anyone at home. This question allows me to address two things that are very important to me as beliefs in humanity, and beliefs about addiction.

You Can’t Help Anyone

I know, I know. You are saying to yourself: You are wrong DrFran, there’s always a chance that someone can be helped. Actually, I don’t agree with that. People do not get better until they themselves want to get better. One of the most common phone calls or emails that I get at work goes something like this: My daughter has a terrible eating disorder. I am afraid that she is going to starve to death. No matter what I do she refuses to eat, and this has turned into huge power struggles and fights to get her to eat even the smallest morsel of food. I want her to come into the hospital and get some help. She really needs it.

What I respond to this mother will probably anger you, but it’s really all that can be done. I say: I am really sorry for the problem you are having. I would be more than happy to talk with your daughter if she will just call me. Otherwise there is nothing I can do. I know how badly you want to help her, but you really can’t want this more than she does. I would advise you to call 911 (USA emergency ambulance) if she falls ill, but that’s really all you can do.

Horrors, you say? Well, no…just think about it for a minute. Have you ever wanted someone to love you with all of your heart and soul? Wishing doesn’t make things so, and wanting things for other people is a waste of energy. I have never made a single change in my life because others wanted it for me, but only when I finally wanted it for myself. I really hope this young girl calls me, because I do have tools to help individuals who might be anorexic find a way out of the need to starve.

DrFran’s Take on Addiction

Again, you may disagree with me, but I have a very functional definition of addiction. I spend a ton of hours in Second Life. I love it dearly. However, I work a full time administrative job, teach a graduate school level university class once a year, pay all my bills on time, and manage to stay in good health. I have a small group of male and female friends with whom I go out to eat, the movies, and into New York to see museums and shows. All in all, a pretty well balanced life for someone who does not have familial obligations. Thus, I can spend long periods of time in Second Life™ without it compromising the parts of my life that make me a functioning adult.

If you are someone who misses days from work, has no money to pay bills because of your tier, avoids family and friends to remain in world, or does things that have a negative effect on your day-to-day life, then in my definition you may be an addict. To me, an addict is someone who screws up their life, knows they might be doing that, but they are not able to stop. The horror of addiction is this: One day the addict generally reaches a point where the substance, thing, act, behavior to which they are addicted is no longer able to give them the pleasure it once did. In spite of this the though of stopping is terrifying. Once someone is so habitual in their use of, for example Second Life™, that they don’t know what to do without it, but can’t stand being involved in it either, they are caught in a tragic trap. Stopping or not stopping will not help the problem. Of course, stopping is really what’s needed in this case, but until the person realizes it, nothing and nobody can make that happen.

So, when I say that it’s up to each individual to decide for themselves if they are an addict, I really mean what I say. I might believe you have a problem, but only you can fix it.

Wishing I had happier news to share…much love,


Obligatory disclaimer: The column Ask DrFran is the work of DrFran Babcock, and may not reflect the views of SL Newser as a whole. Please direct any correspondence to DrFran Babcock. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Interview With Aurora Avila

by Grease Coakes

Aurora Avila has a small following for her unique DJ play list. She DJ/s 6-9 SL time Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Saturdays are special as her naked penguin Saturdays. Her song selection consists of remixes of music from various video games and Asian music. It’s an understatement to say she’s unique in SL for her music playlist.

I went to her Thursday set and thought what the heck why not interview her again? After all her and DJ sets was the first article I wrote for the SL Newser. Aurora said her first year in SL was very productive as she learned how to build with help from her friends. I asked her how long she has been djing and she answered, "Well, was around the middle of '08 that I started, so right around five years."

Five years? That’s a really long time. She’s not a one trick penguin either as Aurora is also an expert builder with the help of her friends. Like me she was a nooblet

Aurora Avila: "Well, I had people helping me out.  Not that I wasn't a flailing nooblet, but still. You don't build with SL's build menu so much as build in spite of it, finding new and exciting ways to sneak around its limitations.  Which sounds terrible, but it's actually pretty rewarding!"

Aurora creates stuff at random as she said she was working on building a spaceship. Knowing how she likes Samus Aran I asked is it a starship from Metroid? She answered bigger so I went to the extreme and asked, "Wow something like the starship Enterprise?"

Aurora Avila: "Not quite THAT big!  Something big enough to need a crew though."

Aurora also made a bald eagle avatar that was a challenge for America’s birthday the Fourth of July, "A bit!  It was mostly in the concept, though.  Once I got the parts to put together to make the avatar, the actual modifying wasn't all that bad."

Aurora does make really good things in Second Life as she’s old school when mesh is becoming the new school. I myself wear mesh sometimes, but it’s a pain when you can’t wear regular clothes.

Sylys Weezles who is a fan of DJ Aurora’s DJ sets had this to say, "She was co-creator of a club that was the second club on a single sim. They shared the sim and co-promoted each other.  So, now we have furry clubs lasting for years instead of months.  She and Ty had their own club Ari Sen, and they shared a sim with Saros and Ezrin."

I agreed with Sylys that her DJ sets are a good way to relax and blow off steam.

Aurora is a big fan of video games so I asked what video game character would you be or what video game universe would you want to be in?

Aurora Avila: "Not entirely sure...  Might have to get back to you on that.  Maybe Xenosaga..."

There are lots of bad things to worry about in real life and the daily grind. Aurora’s music DJ sets according to Sylys, "For me, her shows have helped me maintain a positive attitude during some bad times."

Aurora has been djing for 5 years and as Sylys pointed out she almost never misses a DJ set. Her DJ set has always been a positive experience here in second life. I also give Aurora credit as I add some of her songs that you can download and hear from OCremixed. Don’t get me wrong I find other songs to play from OCremixed plus other house and trance songs I find too plus my CD collection so I don’t mimic DJ Aurora. However over the years she has been a musical influence.

I’d say her music and the community spirit of her DJ sets is certainly a magic potion to restore your hit points and restore your spirits when the real world can be a scary place. DJ Aurora keep playing your tunes! Oh yeah and she does something unique when anyone tips her so watch out when you tip her!

Grease Coakes

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dunk the Emperor

By DrFran Babcock

On Saturday from 10 to noon Second Life™ time, the "Relay Wizards for Spunky" held an American Cancer Society event called: "Dunk The Emperor." The event raised a stunning 33,500 Lindens, because Tiny Empires is still a popular pastime in world.

 Even if you never played it, if you hate it, or if you met and fell in love because of it, you know Tiny Empires, the HUD game that swept the grid a few years ago, and continues to be played by hundreds, nay thousands, of residents.

Many of the friends I have today are friends I either made during Tiny Empires beginnings or became friendly with recently when I revealed I had a HUD with many idle acres. The HUD often speaks of the Emperor, but I really didn’t think he was an actual person until the event. Ultralite Soliel is the man behind the creation of the wildly popular game, and it turns out a wickedly funny guy, who donated his body to the cause.

Ultralite stationed himself in a seat above a dunk tub that had a target attached to it. Folks could buy three balls to try to unseat him from a Relay vendor. A huge crowd of people gathered, both to watch the Emperor take his falls, and to cheer on the people attempting to soak him. While they waited and watched, they danced, chatted, and talked in type and voice, all while T1 Radio played. T1 is the official radio station of the Second Life Relay for Life.

As the event progressed, Ultralite’s emperor robes were becoming heavy with water, so, with urging from the crowd, he stripped down to his bright yellow scuba suit. Many hoots and hollers ensued, because he had bought a new skin for the event and looked hot!

The whole event was planned by Relay Wizards for Spunky Captain Shawna Montgomery, who was the first Queen in Tiny Empires. She was assisted by Co-Captains HALEY Salomon and Anhayla Lycia, and other members of the team.

The Relay Wizards for Spunky celebrate their seventh year in Relay this year. Their undying commitment to the Relay for Life is a role model for consistency and superb leadership. The group is named for survivor SpUnKy u Young, also a Co-Captain.

If you are looking for some meaning in Second Life™ join a Relay group and see what you can do. I promise you a richer Second Life™.

Editor's note: Ranchan Weidman, stated in a group chat that Ultra had set a goal of 8,000 raised by Noon, and if it was met he'd arrange for bonus events in the Tiny Empire games. The goal was reached.

Image credit: Shawna Montgomery

DrFran Babcock

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rita Mariner, Head of the Sunweavers

By Grease Coakes

I heard about the fledging Relay for Life group the Sunbeamers and that Rita Mariner has never been interviewed (gasp)! I figured I’d be the first furry to interview her as furries and humans have been dying to know all about Rita. One afternoon I saw Rita online and asked could I interview her. She said sure.

Rita Mariner, the head bunny of the furry group of the Sunweavers, took on the role of heading a new RFL team to combat cancer. She named her team the "Sunbeamers" and so far has five members. Rita worked hard for Sabine’s team the "Passionate Redheads" and was hurt when the team disbanded.

Rita is frustrated that her head builder Shockwave Yareach is busy with other things. But she seemed happy that in two events she raised $L50, 000. With a team of only 5 members? That’s really good, considering how 50K Linden equals $200 in the US dollar. That averages out to 10,000L per member. Imagine if Rita had 20 members she could get 200k Linden easily. Rita hopes to get more people to join her team the Sunbeamers over time. She said in the near future that the Sunbeamers might hold an event at the New Bastogne Sim. She wasn’t sure of the date and I didn’t want to type something that wasn’t concrete.

Rita Mariner, "Bixyl Shuftan, Gil Otaared, Jenni Greenfield, Acis Tigerpaw, Cynthia Farshore, Shockwave Yarearch, are the main members. I added a few of my Sawyers to flesh it out."

Rita describes her alt account Sawyer bunnies as pretty faces to promote her Sunbeamers like arm candy. I joked I wouldn’t mind a Sawyer bunny and Rita answered some aren’t bunnies though. One is a mouse the other is a chinchilla.

Rita Mariner, "You are getting to be as bad as Gil and Brandi. They have already stolen two of my
Sawyers." *laughs*

I told Rita her Ritaness is rubbing off on me.

Rita spends a small fortune on her Sawyers which number over 60. She buys her Sawyers nice
clothes a nice AO along with nifty HUD/s.

Rita also plays "Dungeons and Dragons," the popular role playing game with her buddies with Skype and maptool. I told her I also roleplay with the MLP/Fallout crossover in SL.

Rita Mariner, "Ranchan, Kaarla, me and Windy. Shocky is on hiatus, at the moment." Rita plays bi-weekly as the ranger, which is the only ranged attacker. Rita says the game has been pretty rough as she added this, "I was expecting to die for the 3rd time, last game, but somehow I survived." Later on while DJing, I played "Staying Alive" the disco song for Rita at a Club Cutlass event in her honor.

I asked Rita what her fave hangouts were. She said Club Zero Gravity, the Bubblegum Factory, as well the Lighthouse. Rita said Club Zero Gravity was from one of her older sims called Pockwock.

I noticed that Rita’s Sawyer bunnies were holding the MLP dolls.  Rita told me that you can try once per day at 3 different vendors on a MLP sim. Rita said that Applejack is her fave pony having the most common sense of all the ponies on the MLP show. She also shared this video with me which is really funny.

Rita Mariner seems like a confident leader to inspire her new RFL team and an interesting bunny to hang out with who likes roleplaying and the MLP fad. She changes avatars on occasion, but is almost always a bunny and likes to hang out with her fellow Sunweavers. I’d say the Sunweavers group is lucky to have a great bunny as Rita to be their head bunny.

Grease Coakes

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Yoga Teacher Pramiil Magne Leaves Second Life

By Grease Coakes

He’s been my Guru for almost two years and due to his real life and request of his wife Kira, Pramiil Magne has left his Brahma Yoga class here in Second Life. Speaking for myself it’s going to be hard for me as I enjoyed coming to his meditation classes. His meditation technique and how far I have advanced in his class has made a large impact in my self-esteem and I’m less angry. Guru is a Sanskrit term for "teacher" or "master", especially in Indian religions.

You might remember that I wrote an article about him last year about what his class is all about. Lots of people, and me included, were sad to see him go. My friends in the BY class said various things about him leaving Second Life."

Aldaida, "Just would be nice if he could both stay and be happy, but we can't have everything we want."

Linux, who goes by his spiritual name, Divyamurti which means "The expression of the divine,” had this to say: “I like his information.”

StJohn Noyes over the phone had this to say about Pramiil our guru.

“That he was very committed to building and he was kind and was happy to give us love and attention in leading us in meditation. In addition to that he built spiritual connections between himself and hi students. He was educated and always knew the answer to spiritual questions. Pramiil has been a Guru for the past 30 years or so he had lots of knowledge to share.”

St John’s girlfriend Eyll Tripsa had this to say about Pramiil who has been a long time student of his teachings.

Eyll Tripsa, "For me Guruji was like a father figure. He guided me in Spiritualty. He has changed my view on life. And that helped me enormously in daily life."

My Guru has been helpful with helping with anger issues with myself and also Time of Sand who had this to say as a newcomer to the class.

TimeofSand, "He will be missed a lot."

Tiggy Scholessinger a furry who I invited to BY class who came to his class once had this to say about Pramiil, “It was a pleasure meeting him and it was a nice experience to meditate with him. I felt relaxed and really good about myself.”

When I got the quote from Eyll, she was telling me that she and her boyfriend StJohn were planning classes. She told me that Baba asked Eyll and St John to continue to organize times for everyone to meditate together. Baba Anandamurti a Guru that is no longer on earth, but he is a Guru that is very connected to Brahma asked Eyll and StJohn to start organizing classes right away.

People are welcome to meditate with me and my friends. Sadly due to real life, Pramiil can no longer be in Second Life to guide us spiritually. However with his teachings, I still have a strong connection to Brahma. And Pramiil did say ...

Pramiil Magne, "You are great Grease you have come such a long way (smile)."

Grease Coakes, "Thanks Guruji, but I’m sure I still have a while to go yet."

Pramiil Magne, "(smile) Yes, but you will get there very soon just keeping moving forward spiritually."

I’m not exactly sure what he meant by my next level of spiritualty is, but I’m sure it can only improve my soul and my real life person. Pramiil is still alive in real life and he said he will come watch over us when we meditate. He had this to say

Grease Coakes, "Namaste Guruji were you in my meditation before?"

Pramiil Magne, "Yes I was just there (smile)."

His avatar left us in Second Life, but he’s still thinking about our pixel avatars and the people behind them. That’s a lot of devotion and I’m happy that Pramiil Magne was and still is my Guru.

Grease Coakes

Monday, May 6, 2013

Desi Heet by Jackson Arthur

By Grease Coakes

Jackson Arthur from Book Island published his story "Desi Heet" on Amazon. Reading through the book it was an interesting read as I sat down with Jackson and talked with him in voice chat. Both Jackson and I thought the closest genre would be paranormal as Desi Heet doesn’t really fit into any particular genre.

For first time readers, Jackson Arthur’s Desi Heet is about a woman who was born a demon with dragon wings. She works for a Christian charity that is helping out the poor on a shoestring budget. Someone offers her something she can’t refuse and does she accept? Read to find out, but Jackson Arthur had a lot to say.

Jackson was asking the general but tough question “What would you do in tough circumstances?”

Desi Heet may be nice to others, but others aren’t nice to her as everyone sees her as a demon. It asks the question can you still be the same person in different circumstances. Both Jackson and I agreed it had to do with opposites. Later in the book Desi sees herself as the extreme opposite of her nice and caring demon self. She gets thrown into a world where her character known as Annie is seen as a mean woman who is selfish and into earthly pleasures and is a popular pretty girl, where Desi the demon is appalling to look at but her character is deeply religious and caring.

I guess one of the main themes of the book is "what if?" I said in voice chat that you would think if she was treated poorly growing up she could have chosen a life of crime and violence. Instead Jackson says Desi holds on to her beliefs in God and stays to helping the church. I personally couldn’t be as strong as Desi.

It made me think of Superman, the comic book hero. He has all that power and only kryptonite can kill him. If he had a different upbringing in a poor household and was treated differently would he still be the same Superman to fight for justice? Or would he take over the world if he was taught hate instead of love growing up.

Jackson’s writing style is also descriptive with detailed scenery and characters you can identify with. Another example that Jackson asked would be what if Albert Einstien grew up in Africa in the savannah, instead of industrialized society. He would still be a brilliant thinker, but would lack the tools and education to create the tools to create the theories he created. Another thing that came to mind is people asking for help, and when you say yes as a knee jerk reaction for say someone asking for a dollar. People may see you hand out that dollar and then you may have five more people ask for you a dollar now that they saw you say yes. Desi or any other generous soul could be taken advantage in a world like today when showing kindness.

I haven’t finished the book yet, so more surprises probably lie in wait for me of what happens to Desi and her evil side Annie. When I purchased Desi Heet it happened to be free for a few days, but as of right now it’s at a low price. If you’re looking for something enticing to read I recommend Jackson Arthur’s Desi Heet. In fact Jackson was saying a sequel will be in the works so watch for that.

Grease Coakes

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ask DrFran: The Green-Eyed Monster

By DrFran Babcock

Dear DrFran:

I never thought that I would be someone who would write to you. I mean, I have never really had much in the way of problems in my life, and haven’t really had the need to ask for help. I seem to have become another person lately.

It’s funny, in a way, because many people believe that Second Life™ is the place to become someone other than the human you are—to try on a new persona.  The new “me” should have been someone with better values and qualities to admire. Yet, I have become someone I would look upon with scorn.

I was not looking for romance in Second Life™. I was at a concert of a performer whom I like a lot, when I received an IM from someone I didn’t know. They asked me about something I had in my profile that had to do with an interest in railroads in Second Life™. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that it was a pick up line, I responded, and we chatted happily while listening to the music. It turned out that Carl liked this singer as much as I did, and that we had a few other interests in common. He was involved in the mainland railroads, and we shared about sims we had visited with active trains. He mentioned a few other places to which I had never been that had great train sets on them. I didn’t think anything of it, and logged when the concert was over.

The following day, Carl IMed me, sent me a friend request, and asked me if I wanted to see some of the beautiful train sims we had chatted about. I agreed, and we spent a very pleasurable few hours visiting the NY Healthscape sims, which have a long train ride on them, and a group of Japanese sims that had a monorail.

Fast forward to three months later, and Carl and I are spending most of our time in Second Life together. I never realized how close you can become to someone when you only have  voice or typing for commnication.

Slowly, I found myself becoming very dependent upon Carl for passing the hours in world. It was such a gradual transition, that it took me by surprise when he didn’t log in one day, and I found myself in a sad and angry state. This was so not me. I am not someone who moons over guys, and Carl wasn’t even a flesh and blood presence in my life. What the heck was going on?

I couldn’t believe that I had been moved to such an extreme of emotion, so I was not prepared for what followed. Carl was not about much any more. I remembered that he had told me the name of an alt he used, he said, when he was working on the mainland train and trolley lines. I searched for the name of the alt, and was surprised to find that the alt was online.

What I did next was shameful. Even now, as I think of it, I redden and dislike myself. I logged in an alt, and IMed Carl’s alt. I made up a silly excuse about a trolley on the mainland line malfunctioning and his name was on the vehicle. He asked for a TP, and we spent a few minutes chatting.  I scrutinized his profile and saw a pick for his home location.  I went on the Marketplace and spent a lot of Lindens on a spy HUD.

In the following days I hung out near Carl’s alt’s home sim, and waited with the spy HUD. It only took two days before I found him several thousand meters away on his sim. There was another green dot on the map with him. Knowing that he might not even remember my alt, I TPed over to his location, and spied behind the walls to find him in an embrace with another female avatar.

I teleported away, but frankly, I don’t kno whether to be more upset about his infidelity, or the way I behaved. This jealous, stalking behavior—where did it come from? In truth, I haven’t stopped. I keep stalking both avatars whenever I can. I have map rights on Carl, and check out where he is whenever I can. It takes all my willpower not to teleport right up to him and confront him. I have been so ashamed that I have stopped speaking with him, and log on at times when I know he cannot be in world.

Help me to make sense of this, DrFran. 

Sign me: Jealous Fool

Dear Jealous:

I can see how Carl’s behavior was hurtful, and could have brought about the response that you describe. I don’t really have a lot of information about Carl from your letter, and will have to speak in generalities. I congratulate you on the bravery it must have taken to write to me about this.

Human nature is odd, and we can never know when something will happen that will trigger a response in us that seems out of character. A good example of this is when people behave in extraordinarily brave ways when a crisis occurs.  Conversly, the worst in us can come out in certain situations. We all have a dark side; all of us. It is impossible to be human without it. Most of the time this side of us doesn’t surface. The response to Carl pulling away from you must have reminded you of some long ago loss of a person’s attention.

Psych 101 quickie class: Whenever I have a strong reaction to a seemingly neutral or upsetting situation, there is information I can learn. For example: I grew up in a home where mistakes and failures were just not permitted. If I came home with a 99% on a test, I was asked why I hadn’t gotten a 100% on the test. Of course, as an adult, I have come to understand that a 99% is a damned good grade. However, any time I feel that I am being criticized, or told that my work is not up to par, I really start to freak out. I am able to say to myself: “That was then, and this is now,” and I avoid a melt down. When I was younger, it was not so easy.

What I think you need to think about, Jealous is if you can make a connection with Carl’s infidelity. As I said, I don’t have enough information to even make a guess as to what it might be. However, I do think that someone in your early years did something that you may have interpreted as a betrayal.

Stalkers often behave as they do because they feel a loss of control, when someone pulls away from them. The more the person detaches from them; the stronger the urge to cling, and to demand information. This only pushes the person further away. Therefore, the only suggestion I have beyond looking into your past, is to stop the behavior immediately. If you can resist checking up on Carl, you will find over time, that the impulse to know what he’s up to will fade. I know it doesn’t feel that way just at this moment, but it’s so. Please don’t confront him. This will never turn out well.

Please let me know how you make out, if you uncover any past betrayals, or if you have an update on your relationship with Carl.

Fondly, DrFran

Obligatory disclaimer: The column Ask DrFran is the work of DrFran Babcock, and may not reflect the views of SL Newser as a whole. Please direct any correspondence to DrFran Babcock. I look forward to hearing from you.