Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last Call for Fun at the 2010 RFL Track

Just before the sims for the 2009 Relay for Life Walk were taken down, the teams held a “teardown party.” I never found out if it was planned, or came about spontaneously, but it was quite a sight, with everyone whooping it up, builders, team captains and officers, and bystanders such as a certain reporter.

I expected something similar this year. But it didn’t quite happen like last year. After the Walk was over, many of the officers in the Passionate Redheads group either dropped out of sight or were on little. As it turned out, the Redheads had to deal with a number of problems this year, many of the people getting sick, having to help family, or otherwise had to deal with real-life problems. Combined with the “Great Recession” as the current economy is sometimes labeled as having, the Redheads endured what one called “a perfect storm” of trouble that could easily stall a fundraiser in its tracks. And still, the team managed to raise thousands in US dollars.

Maybe the other big teams were having similar trouble. I didn’t hear of one big last party, though did notice a number of small gatherings on the map on Tuesday July 20th, the last day before the builds were to be torn down. Deciding to drop in on one, I found a gathering of people at a beach scene, with plastic pails and kiddie shovels, sand mounds one could bury themselves in to their necks, with a huge sand castle in the middle. It turned out that the DJ here was also broadcasting into the radio stream over the RFL track area. Redhead builder Shockwave Yarearch also dropped by, joining in the dancing for a while.

As the party went on, the DJ gave an announcement. One of the track sim managers had raised the water level by ten meters, flooding the place. A little later, he described people going over to party over there, and more and more of the people at the beach party headed over. I was among them, teleporting over to the sim, and indeed it was all wet, trees with water up to their leaves and buildings with water halfway up the walls. Unlike a real-life flood, no damage done here, though.

Someone began passing around ducky inner tubes. They really couldn’t keep you afloat without a swimmer AO, but fortunately I remembered I had one. More began appearing, a few others probably using some kind of AO to help them float. Others deployed umbrellas and floated around like Mary Poppins. Then a boat showed up, captained by someone looking like a pirate, and someone else in a tiny duck avatar on board. It was certainly weather for ducks at one point when rain began coming down. Rain is pretty rare in Second Life, and for some it was the first they had seen it.

People were having a great time, laughing and joking, and then came the fish puns, “Oh my cod!” “I did it for the halibut.” “I’m calling the carps.” People even talked about doing a water sim next Relay, selling mermaid/merman avatars and swimmer AOs for charity.

More recently, I did hear of a party the Redheads will be having to celebrate their success at the Relay, on Saturday August 14th at 10 AM. Enough time for those most involved to take a well-deserved rest.

But it’s that spur of the moment party at the flooded sim that to me represents the final bash of the 2010 Relay for Life track.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Update on Tuna Oddfellow of the Odd Ball

Tuna Oddfellow, known as “Fish the Magish” in real life, runs the Odd Ball with the help of his partner Shava Suntzu. The Odd Ball show is a one of a kind place in Second Life in which the area are surrounded by dazzling colors and patterns described by some as like a psychedelic experience without the drugs, described by others as dancing in a kaleidoscope.

When I interviewed Tuna and Shava in May 2010, their situation was a troubled one. Shava did most of the speaking, describing Tuna as disabled due to medical problems and the pain that came with them.

Tuna Oddfellow: ... I'm not in pain for most of my day, which is better than it was. But I don't go through a day generally without hours of it in really bad pain.

Shava Suntzu: And he can't predict when. It makes it impossible to plan things. Sometimes he can muscle through it. He was in pain for most of every day until we started the new medication in January. But it seems to be plateau-ing. It doesn't cure anything, it just reduces the symptoms. ... There's nothing that fixes this -- it's a nervous system disorder that's recognized, but they don't know why it happens. And you can't use most pain meds for it because all the opiates mess with the function of the gut, and the disorder is already messing with nerves in the gut. So they just chock it up as "neuropathic pain,” which even his GI specialist admits is a "garbage pail diagnosis.”

Despite their troubles, the pair did their best to be optimistic, talking about the development of the Odd Ball, how in it’s first showing the audience found themselves in a “mild euphoric” state. When a psychologist looked at it, “he thought it was inducing theta activity in the brain” and were later told it seemed “that there was alpha too. That's typical of some kinds of deep meditation. So this was pretty exciting. We kept working to refine what we did ... everyone kept saying it felt like being stoned.”

Shava worked to find out exactly how the special effects worked, and in July 2009 had pretty much done so. “And now we're filing patents. We're so close to getting to the point where things could get better.” But Tuna’s declining health and then her catching pneumonia were pushing them to the financial edge, “I missed some deadlines and some consulting stuff, and lost some work, and now we're just hosed. ... I thought I'd find more work, but I haven't yet. What we do in SL, generally pays the rent and expenses here. But we aren't like the people who pull out money every month.”

I met up with them again earlier this month. Shava told me they had been to another doctor who made some progress in finding out what was wrong, and expected to hear more news in about a week. Checking later on, Tuna had been given some new medication that was working better, Shava saying, “Tuna's adjusting to his meds, so he's actually been able to work on Odd Ball stuff, but he's not very mobile. I’ll take it though. (smile) His schedule is set by when the pain's least. ... It's *really* good for both of us when he can be engaged.”

The Social Security office was reviewing his case about his benefits, but there was some bad news, “My landlord is giving us an eviction notice next week. In Massachusetts, that gives us 6 months to figure things out. But it stings. I've been all kinds of activist and entrepreneur -- intellectually, I know I always get through these things, but that fails to make them fun to go through. It does inoculate somewhat against despair though.”

“On one level, I can't complain. I've had a very adventurous life, and I would probably be bored stiff doing the conventional run of things. ... I figure Second Life drama is usually so tawdry, we get to raise the bar by doing the classic starving artist romance? It's like La Boheme, except Tuna has a beard.” She was doing his best to keep a cheerful face, “It's a survival tactic. If you don't, you stop moving, and that's when it catches up and eats you! “

The Odd Ball’s location is at the research center sim at (133, 133, 651)

Tuna and Shava have incorporated their business in real-life, Oddfellow Studios, and have a website at .

“Come, be odd.”

Source: SL Newspaper

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Delinda Dyrssen "Taking Flight" at the Snail Races

I'm still smiling from all the fun and laughter I had while participating in a Special Edition Giant Snail Race put on by RacerX Gullwing and his crew to help raise money for Relay For Life in SL on Saturday. I have raced once before in one of the regular races which are normally giant snails but this one was with Tiny Giant Snails (about the size of a typical avatar in SL) but to be honest I had a little difficulty steering that Huge Snail Avatar around the course.

As soon as I tried on my mini snail (and promptly had a Live n Kickin Flag added by Baldi McMillan (who happens to also be my SL next door neighbor) Thank You Baldi. I was ready to race! This race turned out to be absolute chaos for me and Treet TV's Cameras which you'll see in the clip below. I would attribute it mostly to sim lag as there were way more people in the sims than the Linden Labs servers could handle gracefully.

At one point I fell off one of the rides and I guess the build was at a high altitude in SL and I found my snail/self falling from above 2000 meters below to what I believe was some kind of Music Event that was going on below us where I briefly saw Harrie Skjellerup (organizer of The Originals) in front of me before a friend teleported me back to the Snail Race..

Anyway.. this 2 min clip below shows some of the madness of the race with a priceless shot of one of the boats overloaded with snails appearing to fly through the forest and off into space.. You gotta love Second Life Sim crossings!

Watch with the Audio on this is pretty funny..

Delinda Dyrssen
Reprinted from "Brb" with permission

Friday, July 23, 2010

More Scenes From The RFL Walk

Some more scenes from the Relay for Life Walk on July 17 & 18th.

The Passionate Redheads, at least those visible through the lag, going past the Roma camp. In ancient times, surgery to remove tumors was sometimes done, though without the benefit of painkillers.

A lady from Roma, dressed to kill, making her walk.

A dwarf and a human from a Fantasy RFL group.

One of the few feral avatars on the track, this little critter hopes to "ferret" some donations.

Sim down due to lag. Too many Redheads on the track?

One of the karjia (servants) from the "Goreans for Life."

Meeting with the lioness Kamiliah Hauptman, Vicerine of Caledon, at the Caledonian camp.

A child avie makes her way down the track.

Another feral running down the track, flag in hand, or rather jaw.

With the lag, sometimes it seemed like you were the only one on the track.

One advantage of the Relay on Second Life, the only TP you had to worry was there stood for "teleport."
A lady dressing up for the "Caring & Curing" hour on Sunday morning. "Helllllooooooooo nurse!"
A cancer survivor at the Redhead base, Sunday morning.

This picture was contributed by one of the Redheads, showing the display of fireworks at the close of the Relay for Life Walk.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, July 22, 2010

King Kong vs Mega-Macro Lomgren

Following The Walk for Relay for Life, for a few days until the teardown people continued to have fun at the various sims around the track. People explored around, collected freebie souvenirs, or just got together for a party. The various Relay groups would hold one, and anyone else was free to drop in.

On Monday July 19th, the Relay Rockers group were holding a bash at their camp, which looked like it was set up for a celebration, with it’s picnic tables, balloons, stuffed animals, cupcakes and cakes. Standing above it all, one giant multilayer cake, with pink icing, candles, and a slice cut out. People were partying across the camp, including a few on the giant cake.

I dropped in along with a few others from the Passionate Redheads. Among them. one of the two main builders of the Redhead camp, Lomgren Smalls. Lomgren is unique among Second Life residents as the “tiny kitty” avatar he uses almost all the time is just six inches in height. A skilled builder, a few years ago he tried pushing the limits of Second Life’s physics by seeing just how small he could make an avatar that could move more or less normally, being able to do most common actions except dance. It’s certainly been a conversation-breaker, and in a job fair in Second Life even helped him get his current real-life job.

We enjoyed the party, dancing to the music when we heard, “Big ape.” And looking up, what came into view was a big mass of muscle and hair: a macro gorilla avatar, probably King Kong size. It danced alongside the rest of us for a little while, then I saw one girl appear in it’s huge hand, as if doing one of Fae Wray's scenes, “EEEEEEEEE!! It’s got me!! Help! Heeeellllppppp!!”

Someone decided to help in his own way. “I’m going to put that gorilla in his place,” Lomgren commented, then zipped away. A minute later, something appeared, towering over the gorilla. It was Lomgren, but in a much, much, larger avatar: a mega-macro. He had also decided to try to take avatar building in the other direction, building a huge feline that put most macros to shame. I didn’t get a measure of just how tall it is, but it was probably over 100m in height.

Lomgren stuck around for some minutes. One guy teleporting in found himself between the huge avatar’s toes. The girl held by the ape soon dropped from it’s hand, and soon the gorilla was gone from the party, not wanting to look like an organ-grinder monkey next to the mega-macro. After the hairy primate was gone, Lomgren disappeared again, then came back as his usual six-inch high self, “I prefer being this height.”

The master builder had his chance to stand tall literally as well as figuratively.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RFL: Scenes from The Walk

There were far more pictures taken of the Relay for Life Walk than could be fitted in the article on July 20. So here are a few.

A picture contributed by one of the Redheads, showing us cheering the walkers on.

Skylark had the only 'taur avatar that I noticed. Despite the lag, the back legs seemed to move okay.

A picture from Daaneth, showing him and Sabine on the Walk.

A screenshot of the map by Sabine, showing hundreds of avatars on the track.

A friend from the old newspaper, Glitter Xeltentat.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, July 16, 2010

Master Shipwright SimplyAmy Iwish

Living in the moment might be good psychology, but it can be very limiting. So I decided to take a step back in time, to the Victorian era at Caledon Victoria City (174,29,45). While there I met up with Master Shipwright SimplyAmy Iwish, who owns Wicked Kitty Industries (W.K.I.) We talked about her latest projects, the Steamrunner Full Mark 1.0 and the soon-to-be released Leviathan.

We started at the office shared by Black Kat Studios, W.K.I., and Dragentek, located at Caledon Victoria City (153,30,22). But don’t be surprised if you get teleported to the gazebo in the town square. Just walk through the Shopkeepers Association, through Goode Garden Books and Art, and turn left. You can’t miss the Steamrunner moored at the building’s rooftop.

Iwish began building her airships shortly after coming to SL, nearly three years ago. A fan of Jules Vern and H.G. Wells, it was natural for her to build in a Victorian steampunk theme. Both the Steamrunner Full Mark and the Leviathan are fully flying airships, and they have the engine sounds to prove it.

First we looked at the Steamrunner, which is 246 prims and can be flown or used as a skybox home. This one is owned by resident Kat Burger, who owns Black Kat Industries. She made the Steamrunner’s furniture, too. The ship is roomy and comfortable, with a fireplace in the lounge. The bed and couches have pose sets, the windows have privacy options, and the boarding ramp raises and lowers. It can even go into hyper jump/warp!

Iwish’s newest project is the Leviathan, the first of a new line she has planned. Iwish described it as “a 35x35x70m, 256 prim one link set non-physical fully flyable ship”. I appreciated the size better when we viewed it from outside. Someone who is standing in the front part of the ship will be out of chat range from anyone at back of ship. An evolution of her earlier work, the Leviathan is incredibly detailed. The furniture is by Kat Alderson, and nearly everything is scripted. There is even a telescope that views the sky when you sit down!

Graphics and animation have always been Iwish’s hobbies, and she puts them to good use here in SL. She has made many of the components on the Leviathan look like they contain even more prims than they do. Laughing, Iwish said, “Bending prims in SL is stress relief!”

As we toured the airship, I was impressed by the detail and spaciousness. In addition to the large lounge, there are bedrooms for guests, crew or labs. In the Captain’s quarters, along with the usual bedroom furniture, there is also a writing desk and working chest of drawers. The writing desk even has a sculpted pencil and an envelope closed with a sealing wax!

The engine, which is visible from a viewing window as well as the engine room, is robust, with plenty of steampunk flavor. Stairs lead from the main area down to the engine room and pass through the hangar bay where a smaller plane will be stored.

The specific release date of the Leviathan has not yet been announced, but it will be soon. Iwish has already test flown it. Now she is putting in the finishing touches. I have already added it to my wish list.

Grey Lupindo

Monday, July 5, 2010

Colors from the Void

Right before SL7B ended, I met SL resident and artist Solkide Auer in front of his creation “Colors from the Void." The exhibit was fantastic. If you touched the base of the exhibit, you were instantly placed high inside the colorful ball. What a view!!!

Solkide and SL artist Shellina Winkler originally created the exhibit for an international event, Through the Virtual Looking Glass. This event happened in both SL and RL at the same time. Sixty artists exhibited their work in SL, and at the same time the works were presented in four RL locations, Boston, Amsterdam, Nice, and Australia, through megascreens linked to the exhibits in SL.

Although Solkide participates in many SL art events, this was his first time to participate in a SL birthday celebration. He said he saw many beautiful works during SL7B. “For me it was important also to be here for the birthday of this fantastic world,” he said.

Solkide is an interesting, international SL resident. While his RL counterpart resides in Pescara, Italy, Solkide is busy perfecting his art in SL and beyond. He currently exhibits his work in his own gallery Italic’Arts, located at Slitheen (176,41,76) and in a French gallery. In March 2009 some of his works were displayed by monitors in Adriano's Temple in Rome, Italy, during an exhibition about Digital Art. In October, 2009, five of his works were exhibited at "Virtual Renaissance" in Florence, Italy, in the Anthropological Section of the Museum of Natural Science.

He has also participated in Burning Life simultaneously here in SL and at the Burning Man exhibition in Nevada. Solkide and Shellina worked together during Burning Life 2009. They had each participated in Burning Life 2008, but with separate exhibits.

In describing his work, Solkide said, “I tried to express my ideas through different sculptures. I started creating geometrical shapes then I used more difficult techniques such as "the shade", which gives the possibility to manipulate a unique prim in a very complex way. As a result I obtained unexpected and different shapes quite unlike the ones anyone can find around.”
Solkide Auer is an artist to watch for in both SL and RL.

Grey Lupindo

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Glance at the Second Life Coast Guard

While looking around at the SL7B, I came across an exhibit near the auditorium with a Coast Guard helicopter and a few vessels. Upon closer inspection, they read Second Life Coast Guard. One of the sailors was nearby, a neko with a parrot on her shoulder, Chakku451 Rieko. I had a talk with Chakku about what the SL Coast Guard does in the Metaverse.

Bixyl Shuftan: So how big is the Coast Guard in Second Life?

Chakku451 Rieko: Well, there are several Coast Guard groups in SL, like there are several police groups. The SLCG is not an official arm of Linden Labs, nor do we act as law enforcement.

Bixyl Shuftan: Where was your particular Coast Guard group?

Chakku451 Rieko: We're quite active throughout the SL waterways. My particular station is in Kirkstone.

Bixyl Shuftan: Was there just one ship there, or a few?

Chakku451 Rieko: We have one cutter belonging to the station commander. The boat commanders get a Defender class patrol boat and an Atlantic class RiB boat for patrols. Our air wing uses Dolphin class helicopters.

Bixyl Shuftan: What kinds of missions do the ships go on?

Chakku451 Rieko: We provide courtesy patrols and escorts for sailing events and do patrols to check for prim litter and navigation hazards throughout SL.

Bixyl Shuftan: Prim litter? Is it mostly just a nusciance?

Chakku451 Rieko: I usually find boats washed up on the shore after the owner has crashed during a sim crossing. Seems like most of my boating excursions end with me standing on the seabed with an upset parrot on my shoulder.

Bixyl Shuftan: Heh, the idea of a pet bird is nice.

Chakku451 Rieko: Thank you. Sansara can be a handful at times. ... I acquired him from a pirate.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oh? How did that come about?

Chakku451 Rieko: My RL brother was an independent pirate, meaning he didn't belong to a group. He gave me Sansara when he left SL. ... Let's just say he has a sailor's vocabulary.

Sansara : Hey! I'm the bravest parrot on the Grid.

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckles) I take it there are also some RP (roleplaying) missions?

Chakku451 Rieko: We don't RP so much as offer assistance. We do the occasional demonstration, but for the most part we try to help out any boaters having issues.

Bixyl Shuftan: Have there been any incidents that stand out from others?

Chakku451 Rieko: very first patrol was for a series of boat races called the J-Classic, named after the boat that was used. During my patrol, I was approached by a pair of nude women in a sailboat who were looking for pirates. I didn't ask them, but I got the impression they wanted to be taken prisoner

Bixyl Shuftan: Women who wanted to be taken by pirates?

Chakku451 Rieko: They were really nice about avoiding the race route. Yes, I believe that's what they were looking for.

Bixyl Shuftan: Did you do anything about them?

Chakku451 Rieko: There wasn't really anything I could do. It was a mature sim and they weren't really causing any trouble. I gave them a copy of the race route and asked them to try to avoid getting in the middle of a race, which they readily agreed to do. ... Oh, my rank is Command Master Chief.

Bixyl Shuftan: The highest enlisted rank?

Chakku451 Rieko: Yes, I'm the Executive Officer of Muirhead Station. So I'm CMC (there).

Bixyl Shuftan: How long does it usually take someone in the SL Coast Guard to rise in the ranks?

Chakku451 Rieko: It depends. I was offered an officer rating when I requested to be assigned to Muirhead Station, but expressed a preference to remain in the enlisted ranks.

Chakku gave me an LM of Muirhead, as well as a notecard with a little information, and we bid each other farewell, and went our separate ways. I later went to the station, and found it to be well detailed, both the equipment and vessels.

The SL Coast Guard also has a website at: Both the website and the notecards Chakuu provided stated the organization made a strong emphasis of boat safety.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, July 2, 2010

Return to “The 1st Question”

It’s been a little over a year since my appearance on “The 1st Question,” hosted by Pooky Amsterdam. She had invited me onto the show the first time after a chance meeting, and meeting up again at the SL7B celebration asked me if I wanted to make another appearance, on Tuesday June 29. Needless to say, I accepted.

For those not familiar with the game show, “The fast-paced, fact-based, fun hour of science related merrymaking, audience participation, prizes, wit & wisdom,” it’s broadcasted live on every Tuesday night at 7 PM SL time. Consisting of a combination of science trivia questions and other mindbenders, it’s been called “A cross between lunch with Albert Einstein and the classic 50’s game show.” Four contestants try to outdo one another in front of a live audience numbering a few dozen, while the show is broadcasted live to compatible viewer TV sets within Second Life and the live broadcast page on the website. Old shows can be seen by checking the archives.

Contestants have to show up by 5:30 PM SL time at the show location in order to prepare for the show, to make sure there won’t be any technical clitches such as echoes and feedback. Besides myself, the contestants were White Lebed, an “Artist-in-Residence” at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and one of the volunteer staff for SL7B as well as being involved with Burning Life, Matt Fiertze, the “founder of First Link & vBusiness Link,” and Fire Centaur, the director of B3D Multitech Limited, and whom liked to focus on education in SL.

The show started up at 7 PM, with a little funnery display from a surfing tiny, then Pooky and her cohost Hydra Shaftoe introduced themselves, then us. Hydra has been involved in some real-life news lately as he volunteered some time to help clean up some oil-soaked birds in the recent Gulf oil spill. We first engaged in a little science funnery as we were asked which element we thought represented us. My answer: iron. It was what type was made out of, and when it rusted, it was the color of my avie. Matt went with carbon, “keep it simple.”

In “Nuggets of Knowledge,” we were asked to each ask Hydra a trivia question that we knew the answer to. Mine was, “can one of the space shuttle’s insulating tiles be held in someone’s bare hands when red hot?” In “Word Up,” we were asked to make up a word with a definition, with the audience to vote on whom was best. I thought I did good with “bubblic - addicted to popping bubble wrap packing material.” But Matt wowed them with his “Prim-Fu" - the art of building with as low a prim count as possible to combat lag and other glitches. The audience voted his “not a word but should be” as best.

We went on with “Yea Me or Nay Me” and other sections with trivia questions. I did better this second time than the first, feeling not so tense. I was tied for first for a while, then Matt took the lead and kept it. The audience helped me stay un the running with a couple questions. But at the show’s end, Matt Fiertze was the winner with 12 points. I was second with a respectable 8. White and Fire had some bad luck and were further behind.

For winning, Matt had a chance to visit Pooky’s prize vault. But Pooky congratulated all of us for doing a good job under the pressure of the camera. Three of my friends, including Grey Lupindo, also showed up for the show, with a number presumably watching live from the Treet website.

As it turned out, this will be the last live showing of “The 1st Question” until August. Until then, people can always go to the archives. The episode I appeared on Tuesday can now be seen in them: Here.

And yes, I know my voice is weird.

“You have a question, we have the answer.”

Bixyl Shuftan