Saturday, May 27, 2023

Beverly Montgomery's Memorial Service

 By Bixyl Shufta

On Sunday May 21, a memorial service was held for Beverly Montgomery. She was one of the staff at NCI Kuula - New Citizens Incorporated, a newcomer help location in Second Life. She had been suffering from an illness and had passed away on April 25. She was 67 years old.

The service was at 11 AM. The sim was filled to capacity, but there was an overflow area where BLVK JVCK (Drilldo Drillon) was relaying the chatter. Among those there was Marious Bishop, "I'm Bev's son, and a very old member of NCI." Rowan Carroll would say, "You all know me. Marious is Bev's son and my RL friend and Loralie is Marious's wife and my RL friend." Someone offered extra seats for those having trouble finding one. Rowan would add, "... this is not gonna be formal. So no big speeches or anything. We are celebrating Bev, and Bev was anything but formal!" Someone commented, "True (laughter) and I think she liked it that way." It was also commented her real-life name was a mystery, at least to most, "Well, it was true, nobody knew her real name, or rather, very few did."

Paj Quan (pajobra.zessinthal) would say, "I took over beach parties when she got sick. I plan to continue them for her. I do miss her bugging me on Facebook though and all the giraffe pics she would post on my page"

Loralie Fairywren would say, " ... But I really want to express to everyone here how very much you all meant to mom.   She loved doing the beach parties, and being part of NCI.  She would talk about your community all the time. It was the weirdest conversation to have to have with the Nursing home staff.  If any cards or flowers arrive for a Beverly Montgomery, that's for mom, she has an online community that might be sending things but they may not know her real name.  The nurse looked at me like I had lost my mind." Someone responded, "You would think this day in age they would get it." Loralie added, "I thought it made perfect sense, but you would have though I was asking them to gaslight her."

Marious then made the following statement:
"Beverly Montgomery
11/24/55 - 4/25/23

"Beverly Montgomery, mother to Three Children, passed away on April 25th.  She had been ill and needed surgery in February and due to complications. Her health deteriorated over the following weeks. She kept high spirits through it all and her sense of humor. While we wish she could still be here to tell all the same stories to us again. We hope she is now telling them to those we, and she had lost. She is gone but that also means she is no longer in pain. Something she lived with daily.  

"Known for her giving heart, Beverly Montgomery will be dearly missed by all who knew her. Beverly Montgomery family asks that she be remembered for the joy she brought to others in life, Not the sadness of her passing.

"In her early years mom loved activities. She spent years learning how to tap dance, Even going so far as to perform her final recital on roller skates painted gold, another pastime she loved. She was an avid roller skater and would get out and show off when she was younger at skate parties with her kids. She loved to sing and instilled a love of music into her kids. She was a homebody for much of her life though she did work for a time as a waitress at Friendlys; and would tell you all about it if you would listen.  She always loved to see people having fun.  She enjoyed being the place for people to come and hang out. Hosting parties for her kids, friends so she knew they were being safe even if they were being bad. She was happy to be the home away from home for everyone. She treated everyone as her family. Even taking in people that needed a place to crash if they were without a safe place for a while. She always had a fascination and love for computers and video games. Mastering many of the early nintendo games and ruining the chance for anyone else to get a higher score. Adventure and racing games always caught her attention. Donne had a love for the Zelda series and Ridge Racer stealing her attention for many years.  And later in life she used that love to  explore the internet and make many friends on several platforms including Facebook and Second life where she hosted events and helped new people join the community through the New citizens Incorporated Group. A place she loved and cherished. Every one in the NCI family was a member of her family.  I would get weekly updates on all the things going on. All the Drama. New people, new gadgets and events. She was hard core about being home for her events. And worked hard to not miss them. Everyone here was important to her. And she loved to make people feel important.  If it was remembering a Rez day or just showing off someone's pictures.

"Let today not be a day of mourning. Not a day to be sad at what was lost or how she will be missed. Let today be a day of celebration of a woman that was everyone's mother.  Everyone's friend. A vibrant point of light in a dull gray world. That tried to shine as brightly as she could no matter how dreary the day was. She will be missed. But she will be remembered."

The people applauded, "Oh that is beautiful Marious." "Indeed." Rowan would add, "Loralie wrote it.. she's a published author!"

Corcosman Voom would say, "I'll say something. Bev and I are close in real-life age and we shared some sensibilities. In Second Life, I imitated the way she treated new Residents. She called people by and name and added, welcome. My hope now is that Bev has received as she gave, that she has been called by name and welcomed." Sophiekittycat Chemistry (sophiekittycat) commented, "At Wednesday parties , Bev always was getting her hug from me, she was always rising  the ball dance for us that Chrissy feet not be in the ground." Krystal Devonshire spoke, "She would bug me so hard for the Beach Party theme, if I wasn't on she would message my partners to find me." Mortis (HarumiMichi Resident) commented, "I only come around very little now, the last time I spoke (to her) she broke the news to me about Gramma passing. I hope her and Gramma are goofin' off and tube racin' right now." Alia Fairbrooke (Patchouli Woollahra) remarked, "They probably are, and she's probably still cheating at the last bend." "A lovely thought, hahaha!"

Loralie mused over one happening, "It was a while ago now, but I'm pretty sure I made her log onto Second Life at my house. Teleported her over, handed her the lindens and was like BUY the Maitreya body NOW."

Rowan would then say, "I saw her the Sat before she passed, and after we talked a little while, she leaned over to me and asked if everyone at NCI was ok. So she cared for ALL of you."

Eventually, the chatter went to other subjects and people started to go their separate ways, including me who's attention was needed elsewhere and logged off my alt. But no doubt Beverly will continue to be remembered

Pictures from Linn Darkwatch
Bixyl Shuftan 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Reader Submitted: Remembering Allian Blackwell

 From Jaun Boucher
On 8 May 2023 - SL Coast Guard was devastated by receiving the news that their beloved Commandant Allian Blackwell has lost her battle to Cancer.

As Commandant of SL Coast Guard - she will be remembered with her dedication she gave to the Group and also to her Co SLCG members.  "I love you all" was her final words after most of her speeches.  To be the Commandant of such an active group - to always have new ideas open, is not an easy task, but the Commandant did her part in an excellent manner, and SL Coast Guard definitely has one empty spot right now, not only in the group, but also in our hearts.

Apart from SL Coast Guard, Allian also had a SL partner Tosh Morpork (RADM in SLCG), and a life beyond SLCG - CPO Jaun Boucher had the privilege to asked him a few questions about them, and it is such a lovely story - that anyone who is in a SL Partnership will understand the daily struggles we are going through:

How did you first meet Allian?

Tosh : In 2014 she came for an interview to join SL Coast Guard and I was the one who interviewed her.

Was it love at first sight?
Tosh : (Laughs) - Yes, and no...we rubbed shoulders for many months but just said "hello" I had a nick name for her - The Ice maden

Why that Nickname?
Nothing sinister about the name, but, when you see someone you really like but can't seem to find the words, and the other person feel the same way, it's a Mexican stand off.  So when the ice finally were broken, we never parted, we moved in and that was that. We became partners in 2015.

Did you ever met in RL?
Ali was a big part of my life in SL and RL....although we did not had the opportunity to meet in RL as life had other plans, we did plan on meeting......

Tosh's final words to Jaun was - We have lost a guiding light.....

Apart from Tosh, Allian also had a love for the K9 program which SLCG have - her K9 Partner - Ella.  During the Vigil stand off, you could feel the sadness in the lost of her human being...  SLCG will make sure, that the Commandant's K9 will be taken cared of.  Although Allian love and attention for Ella cannot be replaced ever...

RADM Allian Blackwell - you were a true inspiration to all of us in SLCG.  Your strength, your courage, your positiveness, and your love - will be missed, but we will let your flame keep on burning for you.

Allian was also a huge supporter for Relay For Life (RFL) - and SLCG will continue raising funds for RFL in Second Life.

RIP our dearest Comrade..Condolences to all her loved ones in SL, and also in Real Life.

Her memorial will be held on 14 May 2023 @12PM SLT- space will be limited, but invitations will be send out to relevant groups.


 Feel free to watch the small Video Tribute which were made about Allian - her full memorial also will be captured by Video.

Jaun Boucher

Friday, April 7, 2023

Interview With Journey Texan and Deanna Lancaster-Texan

By Bixyl Shuftan
At Relay events this season, among those appearing at multiple events are one particular couple: Journey Texan and Deanna Lancaster-Texan. Journey in particular is noted for his unique, and comical, avatar at most of the events. I recently met up with them for an interview, the three of us at the American Cancer Society sim. They gave me a copy of a popcorn-munching chair, "Nothing like a little casual snack while we chat." Denna laughed, "Glad the Roos are always passing these chairs out."

My first question was "what brought you to Relay For Life, and how you contribute to the mission of the American Cancer Society?" Journey invited Denna to go first, who answered, "I started to Relay when I was in high school with our Rotary Interact Club. When I was older, my mom somehow got tied up in a neighborhood event closer to my home. I got a call voluntelling me that I would be coming home to run the computer because she and her friend were the Luminaria chairs for this new event.

"Eventually I became the co-chair of that event and went to an event at the state level. There they mentioned Relay for Life here in Second Life. Being the tech geek that I am I wanted to check it out. My first foray into SL was shall we say, eye opening. That avatar is lost to Linden Labs along with my email address for where I was living at the time. A few years later I tried again and actually made it to some events and the Relay. 

"At that point in time I had only known people who were survivors and had lost my grandmother to cancer. Eventually, in 2013 I heard those words everyone fears, that there had been cancer living in my body.  I relay to celebrate those of us who have beaten our beasts, remember those we've lost and fight back for those who are still fighting and so others don't have to receive the same diagnosis we have received or so their treatments will be nothing more than the common cold.
"For me, I am a thyroid cancer survivor, so I bring to Relay my personal experience of having gone through that diagnosis and treatment. As for how I contribute to the relay mission, I am the Host Manager for the SL Christmas Expo and Renaissance Festival. I am a Producer for Relay Rap. I served as the Luminaria Chair in 2017. I am a member of Stars and Shadows but help out several smaller teams when I can. I've been in and out of world throughout the years but when I am in, I do make Relay one of my priorities."

Journey would say, "I began Relaying in 2018 with my then-partner, Ertina Loopen. I was curious to see how Relay events were organized behind the scene, so I went with her to one of her team meetings to witness that, then later joined them as a member. After Tina passed away from breast cancer in 2020, I founded the Ertina Loopen Memorial Foundation as my own Relay team in tribute to Tina. Each August, the Foundation hosts a long walk in tribute to her to encourage people to walk with or in memory of someone who they care about. 
"This year, I’m even dabbling in DFS and TFF farming systems to see if I can contribute the proceeds of all my sales from 'Journey’s Farm' to the ACS during both the Relay and general fund seasons. Separate from my own team, I have also assisted with the October Strides events since 2020, the SL Renaissance Festival, and the SL Christmas Expo, primarily as a merchant liaison for those last two mega events. I also like to attend or participate in other team’s events to show support for them."

Of how they both met, Denna would say, "I think the first time we met was at an event that the then Shadows had. It was a multi-team event where teams could 'buy' a food truck and sell whatever there to raise money for their team. It was animal themed. Journey came with his tiny food truck and signs and all sorts of craziness." Journey smiled, "That’s right. And she held some team events featuring live singers of Broadway musicals and there were a couple of other events as well. I loved them to bits." Denna stated, "We also worked together on Out Shop, the Renaissance Festival and Expo." Journey grinned, "Yes! First time really got to sit near her to check her out."

Denna went on, "He piqued my interest, but I shied away because I didn't think he was moved on past Tina. We attended each other's events as we both liked to support the 'One Team' efforts, something we both believe in. And eventually, this past Ren Fest, he asked me to save him a dance at the Gala. The rest, as they say, is history." "Basically, she was just coming to scope me out," Journey commented, chuckling. That got a swat from Denna, "Because he was doing NOOOO scoping of his own." Journey laughed, " Okay, Guilty as charged! (chuckles and blushes). I’m pretty sure I was 'outed' by her turning on the SL viewer cross hairs to see where I was looking." Deena snickered, "Nah, that takes the fun out of the chase. So yeah, we finally told each other how we felt about each other while dancing at that Gala, in two parts. I needed a nap desperately after all those late hours and he had a memorial in real-life to head to, but neither of us took a long break because we were too excited to see where things were going to lead."

After a moment to make sure they spoke what they wanted, I brought up, "To bring up some chuckles, Journey, you're here in your human avie. Often you're seen in a Yoda avatar with Groucho glasses, which I think you call your 'Joda.' How did that get started?" Journey answered, "Yes, that's true. My Yoda-looking character was originally meant to be a Christmas elf who would assist Santa Claus at the 2020 SL Christmas Expo. I volunteered to work as Santa, but during shifts when I wasn’t Santa, I still wanted to help other Santas, so I created an 'elf' starting with the original Star Wars character. But from there, I dressed him up with a Groucho Marx nose and glasses to look a little less like and to have a funny look and personality of his own.

"But now that I’m participating more with Deanna, having a human form helps with things like dancing together and just being a couple in general. I would be hugely remiss if I didn’t give Deanna a ton of credit for putting up with Joda and sharing time with him. (smiles warmly and pats Deanna affectionately on the arm). She's a good sport." Deanna chuckled, "Joda is an excellent gardener and baby-sitter/uncle, so I give him a bit of a break."

I asked Deanna if she had a humorous avatar. She answered, "I do have a cat that travels with JoCat from time to time and there is an elf that appears at the Expo." "JoCat is my Dinky self, "Journey informed. Deanna continued, "Though because of my role, I have to stay myself and I have an alt that helps with some things Expo related that is Joda's elf friend." Journey grinned, "Yes. She's HOT!"

I then asked about the responses to Joda. Journey told me, "He ended up being so well recognized by people and popular that I brought him back again the next year, and to other events. Eventually, people got to know and recognize 'Joda' as I call him—a name combination of 'Journey' and 'Yoda'—more than they recognized me in my human form. So Joda really took on a life of his own as he began appearing at more events." Deanna added, "I know there are some people who look forward to getting selfies with him on the Relay Track and at events. He's kind of like a little mascot in some ways." Journey brought up, "I think somebody blurted out to Deanna one day that they spotted Joda on the track and got to take a selfie with them. it was like the highlight of their day." He grinned, "Well, maybe hour."

Deanna commented, "Last year Journey tried to hit as many events as he could and was Joda at most of them, plus he's a friendly guy, so yeah, people look for him." "Mostly friendly," Journey mused, "I cast a wary eye on anyone who is over on the 'dark side' however. They might think resistance is futile. But they will learn in the end." 

Of what teams they're on, Deanna stated, "If you look on the dashboard, I am a member of Stars and Shadows, but I help out where I can." Journey would say, "For me, starting the Ertina Loopen Memorial Foundation team was highly personal. It was borne out of a relationship I had with Tina and is dedicated to the memory of her as a single, specific person. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to be a part of that kind of team, so I’ve been going it alone. But in the broader sense, and the 'one team' ethos, we are, as we strive to participate and help with the other multi-team and mega events." 
I asked them if the thought of starting their own team ever came up. Journey commented, "You know, if Joda had his own account, I can think of a couple of other teams he might have been on. But since he doesn't, he's stuck with me." " It really hasn't," Deanna told me, "He has Tina's team and I've told him I'd help him however he needed." "No, I don't think we've ever discussed that." "We've tossed events around but never a new team." "I can't foresee leaving my team, especially since I founded it and am the only person in it. It means a lot to me to keep it and I don't expect others to join. Which is why there's the beauty of still being a 'freelancer' if you will, so I can help others out too."

I then asked if they found larger teams or smaller ones easier to work with. Journey answered, "Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It just depends on the specific work that I’m tasked with doing. For work on bigger events, I can focus on one or a couple of micro-areas of a much larger process done in collaboration with others. For my own smaller team events, I get to—have to—do everything, just at a much smaller scale." Deanna responded, "It seems the smaller teams are the ones who work together more often on multi-team events. I would say that a lot depends on the type of event, the people you are working with, and there's an aspect of how the funds are going to be split or raised." Journey added, "That's true. I would say that, for me, joining with other small teams can be a very satisfying challenge. I particularly like threesomes because it is a small enough team to be more easily organized and managed during the time we work together." 
Deanna went on, "There's also the fact that there are several teams that we've already developed a working rapport with, smaller teams, and it's easy to go into new planning experiences with them. We already have some ideas about what works and what doesn't work, what's been tried, what hasn't been tried, what we may have wanted to try before and ran out of time for and might want to try again, etc." Journey commented, "That's very true too. Some of the larger teams really have made it their mission to help elevate the smaller teams. I know I have really appreciated that for myself and my team." Deanna went, "Yes. We're all here for a common goal, so whenever we can get together and build team, spread the word, and make money, we should take those opportunities and run." "So true," Journey responded, "Working with other teams helps to extend our capabilities and reach. We may not have endless bags of cash to throw at Relay coffers ourselves, but we don’t mind helping to get lots of other people to throw their bags at other team kiosks. Because we’re all “one team” after all. Right?

Thinking of "Baby Yoda" from "The Maladorian," I asked if they were planning anything in the near future like a "Baby Joda?" Deanna laughed, "Well, we have a Baby Lily at home and a baby A and baby B coming in about two and a half weeks." *rubs my large belly hidden behind the popcorn bowl* Journey was surprised, "Where did THAT come from?" Deanna laughed, "If you don't know, we have a little, well, big problem." After some more chuckles, Journey told me, "By the way, Deanna makes Zooby things, you know. Who knows, there might be Zooby RFL clothes next year."

I asked what else they did when not Relaying. Deanna told me, "I enjoy listening to live music. Journey is a farmer." "Yes," Journey told me, "This year, I’m dabbling in DFS and TFF farming systems to see if I can contribute the proceeds of all my sales from 'Journey’s Farm' to the ACS during both the Relay and general fund seasons. But I am in no way an accomplished farmer. That much I can tell you!" When I asked if a DFS-related event was possible in the future, Journey told me, "Well they DO have a Relay team. And TFF even started one a few weeks back also." Deanna told me, "I still think we had something with the tractor racing and other activities we had discussed." "We did," Journey responded, "Some silly events. ... I like events that are atypical from the norm of constantly music and dancing. I know they sometimes draw a good crowd and donations, but they are a dime a dozen and get tiring. I like to explore and try new things, so some of the other, lets say 'more imaginative' events really suit me better. Sorry. No offense to the DJs and live singers. But I can play my radio at home. The tribute bands are a fun change to the music experience, however. I do enjoy the laser light shows and pyrotechnics along with the performance."

After that was a couple minutes of chatter, then we decided it was time to head out, "Thank you for all you do, and for you time." "Thank you, Bixyl. I know you're very busy with Relay too. Thanks for all YOU do too!"

Journey and Deanna can continue to be seen at various Relay events. At the Moon Dance on April 6, he was in a Xenomorph (Alien) avatar cracking jokes about his acidic saliva and willing to walk with anyone wanting to explore.

Go Relay!

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 27, 2023

Xzavia Yifu's Memorial Service

 By Bixyl Shuftan

On Saturday March 11, people gathered to pay last respects to Xzavia Yifu. Most noted for being a content creator, trading her wares under the brand Timeless Textures, she had passed away on February 1 due to complications from Covid, which she had been hospitalized for around Christmas 2022 and did not recover from. She is survived by at least one son.

A "Celebration of Life" service was soon planned, and as 1PM approached people began gathering high above the Suri sim at Eagle's Memorial. The event was held in a chapel area with numerous seats. As more people came in, additional seats were placed just outside the opening. Leading the service were Wyv the FloxMonster™ (Wyvern Dryke) (sometimes still called Wyvvy) and Kitkow.

Wyv would greet everyone, "Welcome, everyone, and thank you all for coming out today.  I am so glad to see you all. I want to give a special thanks to everyone who has helped make this happen.  I won't try to list you, because there are several, and my brain has been mush for the past several weeks.  You know who you are, thank you. ♥ (I know if I try to list you, I'll forget someone) Thank you all for coming today.  I am deeply honored to deliver this eulogy for our dearest Xzavia. . . . Seeing you all here now, I suspect that if Xza -were- here, she would blush furiously and demand what all this fuss is about.  She was as humble as she was talented, and never wanted the spotlight for herself. Yet here we are, to remember and love her.  So let's begin.

"Xzavia was a remarkable person, who touched many lives with her kindness, creativity, and generosity.  She had a unique talent for creating beauty that nearly everyone could appreciate, right away.  Her textures are varied and colorful, bright and dark, lively, somber, and everything in between. Most people knew Xzavia for her art, but I was privileged to know a more hidden side.  For one thing, she was a fierce and determined provider for her child. Like many of us here, Xzavia had ongoing health issues, and that meant her SL store provided much of her income.  It was an endless battle.  There was never a thing such as 'time off.' However, that experience made her a competent and talented entrepreneur.  She taught me many things over the years, and for that I am so deeply grateful.

"Another thing most people might not know is, Xzavia had a tremendous sense of humor.  She did not always show it in public, but it bubbled always under the surface.So many times I recall, while we might be talking seriously in group chat, she and I would be giggling like kids in private IMs. She brought me so much joy, so much laughter and happiness.  I miss that terribly, but I am so, so grateful to have known it while she was here.  Thank you, Xzavia.  I miss you, sweetie.

"I want to talk about remembering her, before I go. Xzavia's great skill with textures has inspired and enabled others to create new things.  In that way, she spread new beauty and joy throughout Second Life.  That effect continues even today. Although we may be devastated now by her loss, we can honor Xzavia's memory in many ways.  For one, we can carry on her spirit of giving and creating. Remember Xzavia's generous soul.  She gave freely of both gifts and assistance. Furthermore, Xzavia taught us to create beauty and joy--not just through art, but through our friendship and camaraderie. So as we say goodbye to Xzavia, let us remember her legacy and the impact she had on our lives. More importantly, let us carry forward her spirit of generosity and creativity, by using our own talents to make this world a better place. Go forth!  Create, give, and love. Thank you. ♥"

Kitkow would comment, "To add to what Wyv said, Vel (velcon.ethaniel) created the dress I and others are wearing today using Xzavia's textures. That's how far and wide her reach hit."

Others were invited to make comments. AutumnVenus would say, "I didn't know her personally, but I love her textures, you can tell she put a lot of hard work into them I think I speak for all of us when I say 'Xavia you will be missed, rest in peace.'"

Star (astarrynite Resident) commented, "I was in a Post Apocalyptic world for a few years, and I asked Xzavia if she had anymore post-apoc textures, and boy did she make a lot of 'em.  A ton over the next few years. She always was so eager to help. Eagle too." She would later add, , "Did anyone ever cheat in Xzavia's store for the Twisted Hunt?  Derender the walls?  I did one time and wow! Talk about Wicked." Elixia commented, "Only one time, star? You have self control!"

Roshy Aura spoke, "I can still picture in my head her very old store way back on 2010. She used to have two huge cubes near the front center just next to the group gifties and MM board. She always sat on top of one of them, so cute, and never ever refused a casual and friendly chats with us the visitors to her place - anyone remember that? It will always be the way I see her."
She would later add, "Her amazing textures are all over the world here and will always be, she is still with us. And speaking of this I just realized the other day that the house I am working right now (my last project) has her textures all over the floors. And I did not do this intentionally.. They were just the best set for this project."

'Kins (Olliekins McAndrews) would say, "I've known Xzavia for over a decade, first meeting her in one of her shop locations as many of you may have done. A casual conversation here and there in passing led to longer chats about everything from pumpkin pie recipes to the ups and downs of our lives over the years. Like Wyv, we joked in IM while chatting in group or working. I've moved through various shop locations for both of us over the years, laughing as we set things up and tore them down again later. I've been pretty reclusive the last couple of years, trying to find my footing in both worlds again. Xzavia was always an anchor here, and I'm sad to lose both that solid connection and the typist behind the pixels. She will be sorely missed."

Elixia Writer spoke, "There have been others who have mentioned laughing in IM with her along chats. Even in the face of her great creativity, generosity, and other many strengths. I, for one, will miss her positively WICKED sense of humor. It's what I will remember most about her aside from her unselfish love for others, particularly those she considered part of her pride."

Penny Dreadful (Gothicmuse Resident) spoke, "X was a very good friend. Like her, I have severe depression, and and I could always count on her to understand and be supportive. I will miss our hours-long chats about our kids, men in our lives, and everything else under the sun. She was a wonderful and kind person, and while I will miss her always, I'm very grateful for the time I got to spend with her. Thank you for listening. Miss you, X! (heart)"
Kitkow would read a notecard from ShellyAnn Jun Lefavre (mshellyann), "Xzavis was my auntie in this world for over 16 year.  We had a very loving and private relationship.  I feel blessed to have been able to talk to her the day before she passed.  I i will miss her beyound words. Your words and presence here today have touched my heart. Thank you for being here and honoring her today. Please keep her memory in your heart as you play her kindness forward. Shelly."

Beth Ghostraven commented, "I'm wearing a dress that I made from one of her textures, to honor her memory."
Larree Quixote would say, "More important than her amazing work, was her kindness. She will be missed. Her huge heart will be missed."

Pieni Resident spoke, "X was one of those people who I feel I should have been close with. The ones here who are in Second Life for a lot of hours and have been for a long time, know, how SL is, we come and go. (It) does not mean we do not care. I was so close with Eagle, that he became one of my Uncles. I spent years in his store and so saw X around, too. She always made people welcome. Not just ones who were like her, but everyone. Seeing her textures in every possible hunt and charity thing made me feel better. Me and Eagle were not as close (in) the last years. Not for lack for caring, again, but just different paths. But we sent real-life cards and were always family. I have to tell you how good it felt, when X was so kind to me in his memorial and how she honored him. I was surprised, that she went so quickly after that. I do think they are in peace now. And I thank you X for all you did for the community here, for the outcast and the insiders, and for me. Thank you.
"We heard lot about Eagle here, but I think for good reason, I'm so happy he had a friend like X (heart)"

The last sizable comment would be from Kitkow, who had been saving it for last, "I met Xzavia shortly after I was 'born' in 2011.  It was during a hunt that I found her store. Her store was being hosted on Eagle Wilder's (USC Textures) region.  I got to talking to both, but really got personal with Xzavia.  When Eagle passed, I told X anything you need and I will make it happen to my best ability. I promised her before that that anything in regards to her or her store I have her back.  We became friends on Discord and I joined the TT group on there.  I chatted her a few days before her passing (on Feb 1), but found out she was gone on Valentine's Day.  I was the first person who learned of this because her son went on her Discord account and I was up at 2:30-3:00am.  I passed the news to one person, and she created a chain reaction that got the message over to Wyv.  Wyv and I were able to talk and coordinate with the other fine folks here.  I miss her so so much.  I would also like to say thank you to Leslea Aldrin in helping to find our Videographer."

"Thank you to MaKenna for providing the venue and beautiful decorations, and to Wyv for being so helpful with all this. ...Thank you Jackson Redstar for being our Videographer. And thank you Wendi Linden for helping with crowd control"

There would be other smaller comments. Elixia Writer would say, "Thank you to Kit for spending hours working on notecards to update us all on those we've lost." Fyre (fyreflower Resident), who was lightly dressed, would say, "Xza wouldn't have minded that I'm not appropriately dressed for a memorial, she used to joke that she at least asked bits be covered if possible. ... for me just seeing her staring at her walls changing things out, talking real talk and love, will be my memories to live on, just like every place I ever eagerly bought and used, and will continue y=to use her artwork." Wendi Linden was there, but would say nothing, other than her wearing of a black dress as a sign of respect. 
After a few more chances at last comments, the tinies in the audience would do a riverdance, with Wvy and a few of the "biggies" joining in.  Soon after, people began to go their separate ways, "it was a beautiful ceremony." "Thank you all, this was lovely,"

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Reader Submitted: It's Only A Pixel Moon (My Time With Areal Loonie)

By DrFran Babcock 

It's Only A Paper Moon by Billy Rose, Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg

Say, it's only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me


   Second Life has a reputation of being a sex-crazed and wild place. What is so peculiar about this is the fact that, while there is a plethora of every kind of kink that exists in this world, when you get to know people in Second Life, what you find is that it really is the place of deep and meaningful relationships. Touch, taste and smell are removed from the equation, and sight is based on how one chooses to represent. Thus, most people who go on to communicate in relationships find that the reliance on talking or typing leads to deeper connections than in meat space.  Here’s a story about all that.


Show and Tell was one of my favorite events in Second Life. Each week Barney Boomslang and florenze Kerensky hosted residents in SL who wanted to demonstrate wild and inventive things they had built. After everyone had their time on the stage, the audience voted for the best item, and the winner got some Linden dollars. The crowd was as sharp and funny as the hosts and presenters.  

   In the second half of 2008, the weekly Show & Tell moved from the sim of Lummerland to Avaria (Home of Grendel’s).  Change is always hard, usually negative, but the diehard Show & Tell enthusiasts moved to the new sim. There were the usual grumbles; “It’s not like it used to be!” However, most of the people moved with the move, and the Show & Tell continued.

   I used to go to the event with Tiny HIckman (a giant dragon), Kumi Kuhr (not around much now), and other avatars who are gone or deceased. One day, in 2008, I was startled by the bell of an IM, and it was from a person I did not know. Areal Loonie is a funny but awful name, especially because I am a mental health professional, but their comment was intriguing. My profile, at that time, spoke about my love of canals, and Areal was asking me why I was interested in canals. We chatted about that during the show, and I thought nothing of it. Of  course I cammed over to see that his avatar was a black bat, and that was interesting and different.

   I started to realize that he—it turned out he was a he—had been coming to Show & Tell for way longer than I had, and we continued to chat. I told him about my secret build of a canal and lock that was based on the Paris Canal St. Martin. He got very excited and one thing led to another, and he visited. In the meantime, Lomgren Smalls, a teeny tiny cat from The Relay for Life Redheads team, was graciously adapting the Second Life Railroad script so it could be used for the canal.


Over time Areal and I chatted more and more and began to share experiences in Second Life and just talking on Skype.  From 2008 to 2014 we collaborated on three sim builds, all of them with canals on the sims of Purple, Lakeville and Campello (see photos).

We fought a lot. We had a lot of very similar ideas about what we wanted to build, but we also disagreed on a lot of things. I was much more social than Areal, and ended up having to go to a lot of events without him, but we always ended up chatting together in the end. We also fought over jealousies and other relationships. Looking back, from 2023, this was all so stupid, and we laughed at how silly we had been.


In 2014, Philip Rosedale started High Fidelity, another Virtual World that relied on VR technology, and had a blockchain financial system. Philip is always ahead of his time, and Areal and I jumped from Second Life to High Fidelity and spent a number of years there until it eventually closed in 2018.  In May of 2016 High Fidelity held a Hackathon in San Francisco, and Areal and I met for the first time in first life. We had a wonderful time, and actually took a side trip to Palo Alto. I returned to San Francisco, and we spent days together.

While in High Fidelity we continued to build together and to learn about Physically Based Rendering (PBR) of objects that allowed them to respond to light like objects in the real world.  

Surprisingly, PBR is coming to Second Life eventually!


After High Fidelity died we went to Vircadia and Overte, and TivoliVR, three open source virtual worlds based on the High Fidelity code, but neither of these was very enticing.  

I became super angry with Areal when he refused to join Discord, so that we could communicate. Very few of the people we knew in virtual worlds were using Skype any more and his stubborness about joining Discord irked me to the point I broke off communication with him. For an entire year we did not speak to each other at all. I would see him in Overte and Vircadia, but we did not chat. The whole time this was going on I missed him so much and felt so sad.


After about a year he spoke directly to me in voice in Overte and I answered him. I found out he was now on Discord, and he DMed me and friended me. We began to chat again and began building again in Overte. It was as if we had never stopped talking with each other. We went back to Second Life from time to time and went to Overte and VIrcadia (TivoliVR had closed). We started to collaborate on a build Areal (by this time calling himself Twa in virtual worlds) had started of downtown Paris and the subway system. I had my own build of a canal, of course, and we collaborated on that. In addition to virtual worlds we often played a sandbox zombie survival game: Seven Days to Die.  

We planned to get together again, but then COVID had other plans. However, we spoke every single day from two to six hours a day, depending on our schedules.


About six months ago Areal, a heavy smoker, went for a full-body scan and they found a mass in his lungs. By February 2nd of 2023 he had died of complications following lung surgery. Luckily, I had contact with some of his family memebers, so I was able to know of his condition.  Throughout his recovery we “spoke” on FaceTime, although he had to write on a pad, because the ventilator prevented him from speaking. It was as if we had come full circle, relying on chat again.

We had just begun to make plans to live together finally. I had retired from my job, and he was already retired. We talked about the details of merging our four cats and about me, a lifelong New Yorker, living in California. I was happy about this. Old age had softened our rough edges and we were very companiable.  

We met in Second Life and together we built a good life. Our story is not dissimilar from many others in the Metaverse. It continues to demonstrate the great power of connection between humans despite the way in which it manifests. 

Rest in Peace, Areal Loonie. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Interview With Gem Sunkiller

By Bixyl Shuftan 

Gem Sunkiller is a longtime member of the Relay for Life in Second Life and is the Team Lead for 2023. She was also the Newser's Woman of the Year for 2022. Recently I had a chance to interview her, and we met at a building in the American Cancer Society sim.
I asked Gem how did she first find out about Second Life. She answered, "Well, I had been role playing on a text based platform, one of my best friends in real-life and on the digital platforms had come to see Second Life with her husband. She called me and said 'You have got to see this!' I made an avatar, I've forgotten that name long ago, and joined her on Second Life.  You probably know her, Sasha Fairywren. This was in March of 2010, so you can imagine the learning curve. I didn't care for the place I landed in first, so Gem was born."
"So your first days were a bit rough?" I asked her. "Yes," she answered, "but I mastered those skills, explored Second Life, and landed with a dance troupe, Unity Productions. We performed, in spite of the lag, all over the grid." "How long were you with the troupe?" I asked. She answered, "Roughly a year, at the time I was helping to care for my mother, along with working a full time job, and trying to give my husband the time he deserved.  Practices just did not fit in with my RL schedule, and as we all know, real life comes first. So, I dropped out of the troupe, but maintained many friendships.
"That brings us roughly to mid 2011. I lost my Mother in February of 2011, and basically came to Second Life to listen to music, and talk with friends. One of my friends from Unity asked me to come to a set he was playing, Relay Weekend 2011. I did, and after his set I decided to do a lap around the track, remembering my Mother.  As I walked around the track, a woman came along side of me and asked my Relay story. I didn't really know at that point what a Relay story was, but I told her about losing  my mother.  She assured me that what I was feeling was normal and that things would get better, then shared all about Relay with me.  That person has become a very dear friend to this day.

"That was a defining moment in my Second Life.  When registration opened in 2012, I registered Team Shadow, and we blundered our way through our first season. "Blundered?" I asked, "Sounds like some interesting stories there." "Oh yes," Gem answered, "from registration forward.  We did not have our first event until late April, but soon fell into a rhythm of weekly dance parties.  What we lacked in knowledge we made up for with enthusiasm, and attended as many other team events as possible.: It was a good year!"
I asked Gem if any particular events stood out.  She though about it, then responded, "We had a carnival, complete with rides, a jail and bail, and of course music and dancing.  There may have even been a dunk tank.  Over the course of years we had some bigger, multi team events, like Country For A Cure, and our Blues For Life. We also learned to use our dashboards to fundraise from people we knew in our everyday lives. Thank goodness for people like Dwen Dooley, MamaP, Trader Whiplash, and many others who taught us how to Relay the right way, for the right reasons."

I asked if things were less unpredictable the following year. Gem's answer was, "You could say that, I advised Sasha and Syl who took over the leadership of Team Shadow, however I answered yes when asked to serve as Outreach Chair in 2013." She smiled, "Together, we built Relay over the course of the season, adding new communities and Relayers, I'd say it went well.  That's in retrospect however, when in the midst of the season, it was quite the quality growth experience.  I had many people who came along beside me to teach me, encourage me, and spur me on, also people who were not afraid to cut to the chase.  We all need that. If you remember, at the closing ceremony 2013, Relay refused to let the ceremony start until we had pushed over the 2 Million USD mark since our beginnings. I still get goose bumps remembering that morning.
"And our community has had many  more goose bump experiences since. I'm sure everyone has their own favorite. For me the best part is that we made each of those moments happen together.  United as we worked with a single purpose. I'm sure there are so many stories in my memory banks. Most Relayers have a store house of memories they can share.  Our heritage as a community is rich!"

I then asked, "I take it some of the teams you've worked with had some interesting results, such as the Steelheads with 'The Hair?'" Gem smiled, "Oh yes, Fuzz and his 'The Hair.'  It's not a season without seeing 'The Hair' at least once. The Rockers with Relaystock, which has become a yearly multi-team event.  I remember playing in the mud that first year, while listening to DJ's from everywhere. Your own Sunbeamers, with your Airshow.  I hope I haven't crashed too many of your planes over the years. (we both chuckled) ...  "We have a host of new teams, who are learning their way around Relay.  Some are poised to have some very memorable events this season.  Who knows, with a theme like 'Hope Floats.' Perhaps we will have a giant swim meet! Swimming is a great way to help  yourself stay healthy."

I then asked if the theme, "is going to be boat-themed, or swimming as you wondered?" She answered, "Our theme is very much in line with the national Relay For Life theme of  'Every Step Brings Hope.'
So, we are not locked into boats, hot air balloons, or water sports. But all the ways that we can give lift, wings as it were, to hope for our survivors and caregivers. If I may quote Stingray Raymaker, who summed it up beautifully. ... "Hope is the reason why our community has remained one of Second Life’s largest and most impactful since 2005. Hope floats above everything that we do. Hope guides our decisions. Hope inspires us to keep going, even when things feel impossible."
Recalling some ship battle games in the past, I asked Gem if we might see some of those. She told me, "... I am sure there will be pirate ships and battles that happen. We have lots of fun with our FUNdraising, which is wonderful.  But at the heart of everything we do, is the mission to finish the fight against cancer. The first step for our Teams will be Team Registration, January 15th, 2023.  As with past years we will register through our .  Selene Jashan and myself will be happy to help anyone who needs assistance.

"I am very excited to see our 2023 Relay For Life of Second Life season get underway, Kickoff is February 18th at 10am SLT. ..." We would end up talking about the Sunbeamers a little, then she continued, "When we join together, there is nothing to big for us to accomplish.  Even very ambitious goals!"
I then brought up the involvement of the Lindens, "as Patch Linden's barbecue in the "Days of Relay" a few days before the weekend walk." Gem responded, "Indeed, the Lindens lend their support to many events, including HopeFest. We have Bid the Lindens Bald, which is always well attended. Patch answers the call for many of our Mega events, most recently Christmas Expo, where he served as Santa with his 'elves.'" I brought up the Making Strides Rennisance Festival, "How many would you say relish the chance to joust a Linden, or toss a tomato at one of the Lab's finest?" Gem chuckled, "Countless numbers! Relay Weekend Midori Linden assists us to help keep our regions running at top performance. So, many at the Lab contribute their time to help further our cause."
I asked Gem what does she do when not Relaying. She told me, "I dabble with photography when I have a chance, and enjoy bringing my real-life work into SL after playing around in Photoshop.  As your know, I am a DJ, and while I don't do as many sets as I used to, I love spinning up a party. I wouldn't say I am a builder, but I do like banging prim together, and oh, then there is shopping! My daughter Jade and I sometimes explore photographic regions together." I asked if she had any favorites. She answered, "Frogmore is always one of my favorite destinations. There are so many interesting nooks and crannies to explore, and by experimenting with windlight settings each shot of the same view looks entirely different. The Estate I live on, also has many interesting photogenic locations.  Why leave home if you don't have to? Calas Galadon is also a good place to wander and take pics. There are so many (smile).
"But even in the off season, Relay is always in the back of my mind. You might say I am obsessed. 'm looking forward to meeting as many Relayers as possible this season, one of my favorite things is to attend team events, and encourage them onward."
Gem would go on to say, "I would like to thank the SL Newser for their Woman of the Year award for 2022.  You humble me. Thank you, also, for keeping our Relay For Life community in the news, and increasing awareness of our mission around the grid."

"In closing, I want to welcome anyone who would like to join our community in the fight against cancer to come be a part of our awesome movement.  Just contact Selene Jashan or myself and we will help you get started.  To all of our returning Teams, WELCOME BACK.  One last thing----GO RELAY!"

After that, we shared a few more words, then went our separate ways.

For the upcoming Relay season, team registration starts on January 15, and the Kickoff on Sunday February 19.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, December 26, 2022

Here's To You Jessicabelle Dayafter

 By Bixyl Shuftan

When I began hanging out at the Woodlin community in Summer 2008, among those I ran into was Jessicabelle Dayafter. A number of the people there stood out in their own way. Jessicabelle as a skunkgirl naturally did so with her distinctive black and white pattern, though for the first few years I knew her, her coat was the reverse of what one would usually see on a skunk. 
Jessicabelle was normally quieter than the other skunk in Woodlin: community leader, Dax Loon who could be manic-happy (and sadly, depressed at times) and was one of the DJs there. But she had a love for military history and firepower, and occasionally a "boom" could be heard as she fired off the cannon at her place. Once she and her friend Megatheron went around blasting their bazookas. They were harmless as this wasn't a combat sim, but they made for a lot of fireworks. I called them the "boom-boom girls" for a while after that. At the time, she was partnered with Salem De White (Selene Spellhunter), who was part of the Giant Snail Races.

Sadly these good times did not last forever, and Woodlin fell apart in late Winter/early Spring 2010. At the time Jessicabelle was taking a break, following paying for her spot six months in advance, and was shocked to return to a random area and finding her LM home no longer worked, "What the hell happened?" I think she got a place at the Foxworth community where many of us went, but also spent much time away from the quiet community, either flying or somewhere at a place she could fire her guns. Jessica's happy times with her partner would also end, the two parting ways.

In Fall 2010, she would show me the New Bastogne WW2 Combat Roleplay area, and invite me to take part. Some of the groups didn't allow furry avatars, or would restrict them to lower-level positions. But the German Air Group, led by Vickster Kuhn, didn't mind if you had a tail or not as long as you could fit into the cockpit. So for a little while I was her wingman in the Luftwaffe. 
To those who might raise an eyebrow at this, I recalled pilots in "Top Gun" playing the part of Soviet planes as the OpFor (opposition force) in training exercises. Plus in my Star Wars roleplaying campaigns, one of my friends would occasionally play the part of an Imperial, the extraordinary circumstances in which the players met giving her reason to play nice with "Rebel scum." As one video game character in Wreck-It-Ralph" would put it, "Just because you're the bad guy doesn't mean you're a, bad guy,"
Jessicabelle wasn't always wearing a gray uniform, though. She would sometimes be in other uniforms, such as the 100th Anniversary of Anzac Day in which she was in a British pilot's outfit.

Eventually I would leave the combat RP as a regular, but would occasionally drop by to support Jessicabelle, sometimes as the gunner in her dive bomber. I would also cover events such as the tank race and the "World of Tanks" tribute. But these were not all happy times. The Waffen SS group had given me bad vibes, and eventually these feelings were confirmed when one tried to arrest one of the furs in the Luftwaffe for being "out of uniform" - her having on a necklace from a close friend. Jessicabelle, who was there, angrily told him to leave. Eventually Vickster would get involved, and the guy trying to make the arrest was disciplined by being knocked down a rank, vindicating Jessicabelle. 
Eventually Vickster would step down as head of the Germain air team, and appoint Jessicabelle as the new commander. She would lead it for two years. She would also go on to develop her own line of combat aircraft, such as a Stuka made to fight tanks, which were lighter in prims and scripts then some others. They were criticized by some in the combat RP as unrealistic, "UFOs" they were called. But I found them easy to fly and less prone to lag. There would also be a "Dayfter Areonautics" plane rezzer at Farshore field for a while.

Through me she met up with Nydia, and they quickly became friends, Jessica becoming one of Nydia's Angels. She would help Nydia by appearing in calendars and videos. Although a lesbian, she didn't mind showing off for guys, and would post some pictures and art of herself on her Furaffinity page, both well-dressed and revealing. Probably the video she was best known for was Nydia's tribute to Jessica Rabbit's "Why Don't You Do Right." We would also have numerous fun times such as one rezzday party we threw for her.

I saw her somewhat less as time when on, but we never did lose touch. There were times she was feeling down, but she would always bounce back. I would last hear from her in August 2021 when she posted in Nydia's channel that she had tested positive for Covid. I and others were optimistic for her recovery. Sadly that was not to be. Nydia was contacted by someone who told us she knew Jessicabelle in real-life, and she had passed away, and the funeral had already taken place. She had joined the hundreds of thousands who died in the Pandemic.

No more airplane flights, no more builds, no more posing for pictures and video shoots. Jessicabelle Dayafter was gone.

Not long after, Jessicabelle would have a memorial service in her honor at New Bastogne. Vickster called her a team player who was always respectful for others. Nydia described her as a passionate model and actress, "In a world where so many try to blend in, it's people like Jessica that choses to stand out, and by that action alone she will be remembered in all she did, Fair skies my high flying Angel, until we meet again."

Jessicabelle would get a lasting memorial at the Sunweaver Memorial Garden, a flame burining constantly in her memory. It will be there for as long as the community lands are.

Jessicabelle was many things in the time I knew her, model, video actress, combat RP pilot, builder, and most of all, friend. She was anything but boring, and perhaps others will see her as an example one can be more than just a pretty face in this virtual world. You can be pretty and skillful, and make friends along the way who will remember you always.

Here's to you, Jessicabelle Dayafter.

Image source: Jessicabelle's Furaffinity page
Bixyl Shuftan