Friday, December 28, 2012

Ask DrFran: Weighty Issues

Dear DrFran: 

I’m asking you this question, because I know that you know about mental health and self-improvement. If you don’t think it belongs here, could you just answer me privately, because I really need help with this.

Second Life is a perfect place to hide from the realities of daily life, and to avoid confronting problems. I am morbidly obese. While I have seen a few overweight avatars, they are usually for fun and laughs, because people who are fat are funny to most folks. However, my avatar is quite hot, and that’s how I want it to be. I say all this as an introduction to what I really want to say, and because it’s almost 2013.

Every year I make a resolution to lose weight, and every year I last for a few weeks before I am binging again. After the first binge there is no way that I could hate myself more. Yet, no matter what I do, I can’t tolerate the thought of never having another piece of chocolate or French fries.

I have tried all kinds of weight loss schemes, and no matter what I do, I end up going back to the old foods. I eat them for comfort, for peace of mind, and just because I like them. Help me to stick to my resolution this year. Help me to look more like my avatar. Thanks.  

Broken Promises

Dear Broken: If I were talking to you in First Life, I would never disclose personal information, but since we are virtual I will tell you this: I have maintained a large weight loss for 27 years, and I never, ever, ever make New Year resolutions.

Before you say: She must have tremendous will power, let me tell you also that I have horrid will power. What I do have is both the desire to remain slim along with some tricks that help me to keep from binging.

First of all, I don’t allow myself to think about not having French Fries ever again. I do the same thing the folks in Alcoholics Anonymous do, which is take things one day at a time. Instead of never having chocolate sundaes, I tell myself that I won’t have one today, and that if I want one tomorrow, I will deal with that then. Then tomorrow comes, and I say I won’t have one today. So far, this has worked for me.

Second, I got together a support group of women who wanted to lose weight, too. We connect on the phone, in text, or in person, to share how we are doing with our food plans. When the food is calling me from the kitchen, I get on the phone and vent my frustrations. Usually, my friends and I come to the decision that no food is going to change the way I feel in a meaningful way. In other words, a box of cookies is not going to bring back the guy who dumped me, or get me a better mark on a school paper.

Third: A food plan is a necessary tool in any weight loss program. After all these years I still follow pretty much the same food plan I started with 27 years ago! I never call this a diet any more. What I have is a plan for eating and living. I did go to a nutritionist in the beginning. Over time I have added and eliminated some foods from what I eat. How do I know what to cut out? That food that “calls” to me from the cupboard or refrigerator, it has to be removed from my food plan. Sometimes, it takes a while for me to accept that, but I really want to remain healthy more than I want to have what I want when I want it. Usually, my need to have something NOW is a warning that it’s not good for me. That goes for food, drink, men, etc.

I know you are saying: Big deal, you’ve been skinny now for a long time…what about someone who has been fat for so long? I will quote the philosopher Hillel, and ask: If not now; when? Please Broken, obesity is surely a killer. My parents recently moved to a retirement community, and I was surprised that all of the residents were of average weight or less. It took me a while to realize that obese people probably didn’t live long enough to make it to one of these communities.

So, while you are at your Second Life New Year festivities, resolve to make no resolutions, and begin the year by saying: Just for today I will eat in a way that is good for me.

I find also, that logging into Second Life instead of eating can sometimes fill my desire for food. I use Second Life as a distraction and weight loss tool when I am obsessing about sweets. I wish you all the luck in your endeavors. DrFran

If you have a question for DrFran Babcock, please send her a notecard, or you can email at:

PS: Photo Credit. The photo was shot at: Sirenes et Moineaux Patisserie, Alchemy Immortalis (49, 39, 65), an amazing build.

DrFran Babcock

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ask DrFran: I Don’t Want to Live Any More.

Dear DrFran:

I have been unable to sleep for days now, since my friend, Mia, disappeared from Second Life. I feel completely responsible for what happened, and will never forgive myself if she kills herself.

What happened was this: Mia and I have been good friends for some time in Second Life. We are hunt buddies, and fashionistas. About a month ago I met a guy here, and we have been spending more and more time together. Since then, Mia has become more and more upset with me, accusing me of not really being her friend, and of having never really liked her anyway.  She also tells me my boyfriend is no good, just using me, and will eventually leave me. None of this is true. She just seems a little needy to me, and now she may have done something horrible.

Things came to a head the other night, two days ago. Mia logged in and told me that she would not be in Second Life any more, that she had no friends here, that the people she hung out with all really hated her anyway, and she was going to kill herself. I asked her if she meant in Second Life or in First Life, too? She told me both, logged, and I haven’t seen her since.

What if I am the one that caused her to kill herself? Can you help me?                                                           
Depressed and scared

Dear Depressed:

First: Promise me you will not blame yourself for what happened. Stop and think about this logically for a moment. Is there really anything you can do if someone you don’t really know tells you they are going to kill themselves? You are not to blame. Yes, Mia sounds a bit dramatic, and may have been upset that you were spending more time with your new boyfriend. In spite of this, you in no way are responsible for what she intended to do or not do, and Mia may be suffering from a severe depression.

Depression is a real illness, and one of the symptoms of depression is a desire to die. DrFran (I talk about myself in the third person when I am very, very serious) takes suicide at face value. If someone in First Life told me they wanted to die, I would not let them out of my sight, I would call 911 or some other emergency services, and I would make sure they were in a safe place before I left their side.

Anyone who threatens suicide in Second Life to people who have no way to contact them is either not serious about the act, or is very serious and does not want to be stopped.

The human will to live is very strong, and someone who can overcome that enough to try to take his or her life is suffering horribly. At this holiday time, it is important to watch for signs that someone may be contemplating taking their life. However, it is not your responsibility to do this in Second Life.

If anyone reading this is feeling suicidal, has plans and the means to commit suicide: I know you may feel that there are no options left, but what you are feeling is the disease of depression talking to you. There is help.

In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


A joyous and healthy holiday season to you all.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Racer Island Awards Night

By Grease Coakes
The Racer Islands I reported on last month had a great dinner party in formal attire to celebrate the Christmas season and the champs for their fall racing season. Following the instructions from the notice I found an ice rink around the large oval track. What was neat instead of just walking there I found a horse an open sleigh like the Christmas song “in a one horse open sleigh”. After a few minutes the scripted horse took me to an indoor ice rink with a few tables inside. Like the Bay City Christmas tree lighting you could skate around on the ice rink with ice skates with skating ao/s. However to skate I had to turn my male AO off.

What’s great about Racers Island is the community itself. Walking to the party I was greeted right away by regulars like Nella and Doll. Eddie Mathieson himself the owner of the sim complimented me on the previous article I wrote about his sim. After some social chat over voice chat and emoteage from Doll Kabuki using emotes to say yes or lol as the official RI Mascot. Doll Kabuki also helps with the coding and scripting of the cars. After wards we sat down at the circle tables as Eddie walked onto stage and announced the winners of both the drift car and stock car races. As he announced each winner everyone emoted "applause" or "hoo!" like emotes. I sat at a table with David Wetherby and his lady friend Shelly who seemed to love the ears on my fox avatar. When I told her that I was putting this in the article she responded, “ohhhh, but I do.”
David Wetherby who was rookie of the year came in first place for the 2012 fall stock series followed by Doll Kabuki in second. Upshaw24 Resident and Jahbith Laville were both rookies for stock cars. One of the rookies of the year was Zeustorm for the Drift car series. He came in sixth place. He spoke French softly over voice chat. Biggs Braham won first place for the drift car fall series while Eddie Mathieson came in second. Another award went to Nella Boccara as manager of the year.
David said jokingly that he used Vaseline to make his car go faster to bounce against the walls like a pinball. However the truth was that he practiced 100 or so laps a day to get the twists and turns down packed. After the awards Eddie revealed new cars for the upcoming winter season scripted by Yuriko Nishi. The new season to play with the new cars is Jan 6th at 5:30 SL time for stock cars. The winter season for Drift cars starts Jan 10th also at 5:30pm. The new textures were prepared by Doll Kabuki and Scottie Easterman who do custom cars textures for the racers.
After Eddie announced all the awards and places of the fall season Dj Tazz started djing rock for the party. Just like real life, the party was filled with people talking over voice chat. People were arguing which was better Celsius or Fahrenheit and other silliness and random talk.
All in all Racers Island is a fun to hang out at. With a new season forthcoming and new cars it seems like an exciting time to visit and be around the sim. Even if you don’t want to participate in the races there’s still tracks to cruise around in with a freebie vehicle or your very own bike or car that you bought yourself. There’s also the demolition derby held every Saturday night at 6pm SL time if you’d rather smash and bash. Not only is Racers Island a great place to drive around in, the people around and involved in the sim are fun to hang around. Drive on by and check out the new season.
Grease Coakes

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ask DrFran: One Fur the Books

By DrFran Babcock

My latest inquiry deals with a topic that I call the last frontier in Second Life: Gender.

Dear DrFran: 

I am sure I am not the first one to have had this problem, but I don’t really know where to go with it. So here goes…

I am a male, tan fox in Second Life, and I fancy myself rather a handsome one at that. I have spent time at Luskwood and Sunweavers and even The Ink Spot. But I was looking for a different place to hang out one day, and went to one of the many nude beaches. I am sure that you will understand that I don’t want to be too specific about details in my story.

It was at this nude beach that I met a female white tiger whose avatar just knocked me out. She was pretty and winsome, and I was immediately attracted. Even better, when we started to IM, we found that we had a lot of musical interests that were similar, and loved the same movies. This woman, whom I will call Silvercat, even knew a bit of building and scripting—two of my favorite activities in Second Life, beyond meeting beautiful furs. We hit it off so well that we planned to meet at a sandbox the following day to chat and build and show off things we had made. It turned out that she was very skilled in creating furniture and texturing it to be just perfect to my taste. I could see that I had really found a soul mate. After spending some time building, at which she really excelled, we went to a furry club, and danced the night away, chatting and laughing. 

I suppose I should have suspected something was amiss when she wouldn’t do voice chat with me. She told me she didn’t have a lot of money, and that she didn’t have a headset, and that her computer was too old to handle all the bells and whistles of Second Life. I guess I agreed to accept this explanation. (In retrospect, I might have asked to phone her. Surely she had a telephone.)

Eventually, our relationship moved to intimacy, and I was thrilled at the intensity, humor, and creativity of her cyber skills. We became inseparable, and I started to think of asking her to partner with me, and move to my house. She was not a premium member, did not rent land, and did seem to have limited income. 

We continued to talk, laugh, make love, and I was completely in heat. On a Saturday night, while we strolled on a furry-friendly island, I asked her to be mine. She told me she would think about it and let me know the next day. She then logged out, and I was left stupefied: Let me know???

Well, you might guess what came next; or maybe you won’t. Silvercat logged in the next day, and began her IM by telling me she had something to tell me. To spare you all the details, she let me know that she was actually a guy, and apologized for leading me on without telling me. Then she un-friended me and logged.

Here is my dilemma. I did not get angry at what was surely a betrayal of me. I am creeped out that I was with a man, but the fact is, that I didn’t know, and I really have strong feelings for her, um, him. He hasn’t answered any of my IMs, and I guess I will have to just take the time to heal. I understand that. What I don’t understand is why someone would do that to somebody, and how can I keep it from happening again? 

Feeling Unfoxy

Dear Feeling, First, I am sorry for the emotional pain you must be experiencing. I said above that gender is the final frontier in Second Life. As a female, what I have learned is that people exist along a continuum of ways in which they relate to gender, identity, and finally honesty.

I am someone who has always been honest about whom I am in Second Life, and I know a LOT of, mostly men, who openly play female avatars, and a few women playing men. However, playing a female avatar, not revealing it, and entering into a relationship with another avatar, is, in my opinion, unethical and mean.

I know I am in the minority in this belief. I am a lover of Second Life, and I read the forums, have gender discussions with peers, and generally consider myself to be open-minded. Being dishonest with someone to the point that it hurts his or her feelings is wrong. Yes, most of the men with whom I speak see Second Life as a role-play game. Their view is often: “Well, if this person wants to engage with me, it’s not my fault that they don’t know. That’s the risk they take.”

Feeling, I don’t think you have to worry at all that you are a homosexual, if that’s a problem for you. You responded to this “woman” as a male, because, to you, that’s what she was. Moving forward, I would make these few suggestions:

If you are really looking for a relationship, and your loving descriptions of Silvercat make me think you are, I would ask for gender information from the start. Yes, I know many view that as an invasion, or inappropriate. Saying something like: “ I was really hurt by entering into a relationship with someone who turned out to be a guy. I have to know that you are not a guy,” is an honest way of requesting integrity from another avatar. I wouldn’t ask this question until I was close to the point of wanting to cyber. I will assume by that point that you want more of a relationship, but, being female I could be wrong (wink).

Of course, voice is always an option. I find that folks who have their voices modified are easy to detect.

Most of all … be careful about self-deception. Some of us, myself included, may want things so much that we are willing to overlook details that are important. You knew that not wanting to voice was a clue to something. Your decision to ignore it not only let you continue your belief in your soul mate, but probably gave Silvercat the message that you were willing to believe.

I wish you much luck in your future endeavors. Be careful with your heart. It might help to say a prayer to Silvercat like this: I forgive you for not being what I wanted you to be. I forgive you, and I release you.

Dr Fran Babcock

If you have questions you would like to have answered, please IM me or drop a notecard. I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

More on the Mos Espa "Star Wars" Sim Closing

Last week on Nov 26, it was reported that the Mos Espa sim, a location for roleplaying by several "Star Wars" groups, would be closing down in two days. Daniel Voyager wrote that the sim owner stated the reasons were "due to real life and Second Life issues."

Mos Espa in the "Star Wars" movies was a small city on the desert world of Tatooine, where the young Anakan Skywalker lived in "The Phantom Menace" (In "A New Hope," Luke Skywalker and  Obi-Wan Kenobi get off the planet through Mos Eisley). A notecard from the sim described the town in it's RP with the following: "Mos Espa is only one town on Tatooine, it is known to be a dangerous place under control of multiple Hutt Clans. With one of the most harsh environments for a planet, the sun is burning hot. Temperatures are high and storms blow up with winds of sand ripping through the town slowly eroding all in is way. Residents of the town are often seen in basic style robes and hoods to protect themselves from the sand storms and sun."

The role-play is described as taking place long after the events in the movies. Under the rules, the Nasiri Clan was the only one open to players, the rest being represented by NPCs in plots. Among the groups in the sim were the Nasirii Hutt Clan, the Nasirii Enforcers (guards and security), Nasirii Entertainment (dancers and staff), and Nasirii Hutt Clan Contracts (smugglers and freelance traders).

Going through the sim, there were a number of buildings around the place, some more detailed than others. In one corner was a Jawa sand trawler with a few banthas (beast of burden and meat source). One building I came across was a bar, the "Last Shot Cantina." The Star Wars Roleplay Wiki describes the place as having had different people employed as managers, but all having failed to make enough money to please its Hutt owners. Looking around the place, there was a working music player. Two special events the notecard described the role-play as having time to time were Pod Races, and "Miss Galaxy" beauty contests. As for how to end the RP, Daniel Voyager wrote that the last act had, "The role-play will be about a Sith betrayal in the city and the destruction of Mos Espa."

One resident whom built much of the place was Glitch Tennant. Second Life Newser contacted him about the closing, and he responded, "I helped to build the sim. I got to play a bit, and be part of some good fun races. I was lucky to be asked to help build Mos Espa, and jumped at the chance. Really thanks goes to Wittsofwanda Zapatero, it was her sim she paid the bills and gave us all place to play."

"It's a shame to see the sim go, although thats part of Star Wars Roleplay. Players will continue on in story, and find other places to make home. I wish 'em all well, and it was a joy to see some of the stories made on Mos Espa. The players bring the life to any sim, and that's just magic. Happy RP to all."

Sources: Daniel Voyager, SWRP Wiki

Bixyl Shuftan