Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rita Mariner and the Sawyer Squad

By Bixyl Shuftan

Many residents in Second Life have at least one alt, short for "alternate account" for those outside the virtual world. It's on the record yours truly has two. Some have a few to several. But few can boast of having the number that Rita Mariner, the chieftess of the Sunweaver community, does. She has over a hundred, most in what she calls the "Sawyer Squad." Her alts are no real secret as she often has a few around Club Cutlass, and will occasionally have one by her. Recently, I had a few words with her about these accounts.

"Maybe 120 plus Sawyers" Rita answered when I asked how many she had. Asking her how did the Sawyer Squad start, she answered, "It started just after I got started in Tiny Empires and Tiny Empires 3000 myself, we were finding it hard to find enough players to become subjects or subordinates.  Also many players would start in one, the other or both, get bored and quit. So I started the Sawyers to fill the gap and try to give active players ... at least one person in their downline, that was active."

How soon and how fast did the alts grow in number? "That happened over a period of years," she answered, "only as I needed them and also due to the investment each one represented.  I figure between the avatars, HUDS, clothes, etc, each alt has, they cost me approximately 20,000L each. ... I have close to $14,000US invested in them over the years."

So what did they have besides HUDs and basic clothes? The chieftess replied, "Well, right from the beginning I decided that all Sawyers would be black, my Babes in Black, as I call them.  Most have aat least two avatars, an Uchi Kani and then a second one of a different critter and most also have a EP pony. Then you toss in several changes of clothes, 7 Seas Fishing game, Crowley Corp ships, AO's.  The costs add up."

Why the name Sawyer and why black? Rita answered, "Sawyer is from the female cat, Sawyer, from Cats Don't Dance. I liked her.  I picked black, 'cause a black Kani is very sexy looking."

"The fun part is several of my alts have their own fans now," the Sunweaver leader revealed. I asked how that came about and why, and was told, "Sawyer021 and Brandi Tungsten both have mice avatars, so they play cousins. Momma Gil, has both Sawyer017 and MissMystique. She wants them on all the time, I don't have the computer power for that. ... MissMystique I created just for MommaGil. She is a cream colored Chinchilla, very pretty. Sawyer017 also has a black Uchi Chinchilla."

Besides the Sawyer Squad, Rita stated she had a few other alts, "I also have a bunch more named ones I created just for fun, The Chipettes have been used in a music video, by Nydia Tungsten. I have the chipmunks too, still looking for the proper hair and outfits for them. Once I actually found a nice chipmunk avatar I created set of named avatars with that, for fun, the female ones are cute, the male ones, not so much."

I brought up Valkyrie Ice, whom was the one non-Sawyer in the "Babes in Black" group. Rita told me, "They are not a separate grroup, Babes in Black, is part of my Sunweavers group. If you have a black avatar, you can be in it. I put the Sawyers in all the regular groups and treat them like a regular player. If someone tlaks to them, I try to get them to respond back. They are not there just as eye candy. I do try to have some fun with them too. That's why they are NOT disposable to me. I come to Second Life for only a couple reasons, be with my friends and play Tiny Empires and Tiny Empires 3000. I don't build much and don't script, (but) I have a massive investment here already in my ten sims. I do participate in the Relay For Life with my Sunbeamer Team, and I am happy to raise what money we can for the American Cancer Society."

Rita stated the response others have had to her alts has been positive as far as she's seen, "They like them, Queen Ranchan titled me 'Sawyer Swarm Queen' in Tiny Empires. In TE3K, I am Space Booty Hunter. (Also) in TE3K, I was able to move some of my Sawyers under a new player who moved to our guild and bump him back up to Director. ... That's what the Sawyers are for."

Rita then mentioned a problem that had recently come up, "I want to get my alts off Singularity and onto a better viewer, I can't do it without help. All my pass codes were written a ledger book and months ago, (and) it got accidentally tossed out in the trash and I mean ALL my pass codes, not just for Second Life. So that is why I am trying to get Linden Lab to understand the situation. I can't go through the normal procedure to recover pass codes, the e-mails tied to the various accounts have long since disappeared or been changed into something else." And when she tried contacting Linden Lab, their response was bureaucratic, "I put in a ticket to try and get this issue with my alt avatars fixed and have run into a roadblock they NEVER had out in the open, but buried in their wiki site. Who goes to the wiki site? They say, on their wiki site you limited to five alts! They will help me with five. And even they screwed that up. They are stuck on Singularity, I want to move them to Firestorm/Phoenix, can't do it without the passcodes."

"I don't want to throw them away," Rita spoke about Linden Lab's five alt limit, "I have close to $14,000US invested in them over the years." She did have a possible compromise for the Lab, "I suggest to Linden Lab, that they put a third option on the signup page for alts. If they want $9.95 fee for each alt, then ask at creation, I would have gladly paid it, then.  but in exchange I want no hassles if I need help."

Some days later, Rita had an update on the situation of her alts, "Linden Lab actually took my suggestion and I got my five accounts back." I asked if she was going to get help with the rest, and the Sunweaver leader answered, "It's all done. I told them to just put a simple code on each one for now, e-mail me the code, I would use that to access their AL account page and reset the passcode myself. So they did it, I accessed eacch one and they are all reset."

And so all is well once again with one of the largest groups of alts in Second Life. If you want to see some of them, come on over to Club Cutlass, or message Rita Mariner.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, December 11, 2017

Survivors of Suicide

By Bixyl Shuftan

Suicide is a major cause of death, with close to a million cases worldwide and over forty thousand in America every year, and it is believed to be underreported. It has been on the increase in places, up 24% in the past 15 years in America. While it has been on the decrease in Russia recently, it is still very high at 15.6 cases per 100,000 people and has a teen rate three times the world average. Fortunately, there are numerous organization and groups offering help. In Second Life, there is one group created to help people or friends of people whom had attempted it, those or friends of those at risk, or friends and family of those who succeeded and need help coming to terms: Survivors of Suicide. As time went on, the group has gone on to help people with depression in general, though suicide prevention remains a focus.

I was recently invited by one of the staff of Survivors of Suicide, Sebastien Bouevier, to drop by their location at the Schoomere sim and hear him tell about the group. Sebastien described the purpose of the group as, "to spread awareness and help prevent suicide, but we also serve as a peer support group, helping our members though the good and the bad times." When I asked who founded the group and when, he answered, "Krissy Sinclair, our founder, started the group over six years ago. I've been running the group for two years now." When I asked what inspired Krissy to start the group, he answered, "Im not 100% sure, but at that time there wasn't any active support groups for mental health in Second Life. ... I've only been here four years, so I can't say how the group was before I joined, but it has been a very helpful tool to stay well."

He then explained how he got into the group, "What inspires me to keep the group running is the fact that the group was so helpful for me after my suicide attempt four years ago. ... I nearly succeeded. I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act (UK), and spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital. It was a turning point in my life, as it gave my illness a name. Up until then, I didn't realize how ill I was. When I came out of hospital, it was difficult to get the help I needed to readjust to a normal life, which is when I found Survivors of Suicide where I could get guidance from others who have experienced similar things." He had found out about SoS, as it's sometimes called, by doing a search for mental health groups, "and it was one of the top three results."

When asked about the progress of his recovery, his answer was, "In one word, slow. (laughter) Joking aside, it was very tough to come to terms with having bipolar. It wasn't what I had hoped for me, but that is part of life. We cant decide what cards we are dealt. It took me a couple of years to come to terms, and even longer to fully accept my diagnosis. Nowadays I embrace it, and I spend a lot of my time helping others who are going through similar experiences in their lives."

I asked how many were in the group. Sebastien told me, "743 members at the moment (smile). We are the largest active mental health / peer support group in Second Life. Of course some of our members are more actively participating than others. We think it is so important for the group to be open to everyone. We do get a lot of people come through during the holidays. We have mentor boards on the wall by the staircase where anyone can click on our mentors boards to speak to someone one on one." I asked if the group included people other than those affected by suicide. He told me, "Yes, we are open for anyone. Some of our members are not even suffering from mental health issues, but are carers for friends and relatives that do."

How did Sebastien go from a regular member to one of the staff? His answer was, "I think it was a natural progression. As I got better, I started needing less and less help, and simultaneously having more and more advice to give.  I started here as a mentor, helping members through difficult times and sharing my own experiences. Then when Krissy needed a Director of Mentors, I took on that role. I have had managerial experience in real life, so I guess that helped in her decision to appoint me. Then as she had to withdraw even more from Second Life, she made me a co-founder, and I've been doing that for the best part of a year now. I think another important part was that I am very committed to staying well and healthy, and I try to help others do the same. My favorite saying is 'When the sun shines through again, it is time to patch the roof for rain.' It is kind of my motto, really. Knowing that we have a chronic illness, and taking steps to prevent and minimize relapses."

How would he say the group has been doing this time? "It has been pretty steady," Sebastien answered, "Participation in group meetings have increased over the last six months. The average is between four and ten people at a time, which is a really good group size really. Of course we are slightly busier now during the holidays which sadly is a peak time for depression and suicide. I think it reminds people of how lonely they are. So we are here to make sure nobody feels alone." I asked how much busier they are during the Christmas holiday. He answered, "At least thirty percent busier. Maybe fifty percent."

So what would Sebastien recommend to someone who suspects a friend of theirs has depression, and at what point should there be cause for concern? He admitted, "That's a tricky question because everyone are so different. But I'd say its time to start worrying when someone changes drastically from their usual selves, especially if the person is talking a lot about death or suicide. I will say though, if someone decides to withdraw, give them space but encourage them to participate in things, even if its just going for a walk together." I asked him what stories besides his stood out. He told me, "There are too many stories to share them all, but we have helped people suffering with anything from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, disassociative personality disorder to childhood abuse victims, each and every member here has their own unique stories."

With the holidays being a time when more people were coming forward, I asked Sebastian if the group had any special plans. He told me, "One of our mentors is organizing a 24 hour sleepover, though the exact date hasn't been set yet. Other than that, we will continue with our weekly group meetings as normal, and have mentors available throughout the day and night for people who need someone to talk to. We have mentors in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia, so there is usually someone online most of the time. And when nobody is on, there will always be someone in the group chat where people can reach out as well." And their plans for next year? "The current plan is to increase our support group meetings to three per week instead of just two, each one focusing on different aspects to mental health and wellness."

I asked Sebastien about other mental health groups. He told me, "I have seen quite a lot of mental health support groups come and go in the over six years we have been open. I don't want to comment on them as they are no longer open."

Sebastien then showed me the upper meeting room, located almost a couple thousand meters high above the sim. It was a somewhat small room with four chairs large enough to seat more than one person, a bookshelf that looked like it came out of a modern art painting, and a window showing a view of a major city from above, as if in a skyscraper. He told me, "When people click my mentor board I like to bring them here to talk. It is a private and calm space where nobody will disturb us. I have even held an intervention here with one of our members and their friends. Suicide is a serious matter, and we take it very seriously here. I do have to say, that we are NOT mental health professionals, and we don't offer counseling. We are purely a peer support group here to help and support one another through difficult times. Even if we were trained mental health professionals, it would be highly unethical to practice that here in Second Life."

It was about then the interview was over, and we parted ways.

Currently the Survivors of Suicide meets on Wednesdays at 4pm SLT, and  Mondays at Noon SLT

Schoomere (160/32/24)

Source: Wikipedia

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, December 4, 2017

DJ Geerkil And The "Dragon Crew"

By Bixyl Shuftan

One of the more unique acts of the Happy Vixen beach club and Club Zero Gravity is DJ Geerkil and his "Dragon Crew." While there are plenty of DJs across Second Life, Geerkil Ziskey is unique that his avatar is that of a dragon. More recently, he's become the most visible part of what's known as the "Dragon Crew, which also includes his "co DJ" JB Raccoon, and often LS Raccoon, whom is often a hostess for her two friends.

DJ Geerkil, who pronounces the name "Gurrkel," first came to Second Life in May 2006, and has been DJing in Second Life for quite some time. For years, like most other DJs Geerkil just played music, explaining that when working alone he doesn't have much to say. Then in Spring of this year, JB Raccoon and LS Racoon first came to Second Life, April and May respectively. They are real-life friends of Geerkil, and had found out about the virtual world through him. At the time, Geerkil was working with someone named Dirty Dawg. "They did the Saturday show together and I would join them in Discord (a text and voice chat service)," JB told me, "but stay silent when they went on the air, until I got caught not knowing we were on the air (laughter)."

But sometime around late July or early August, Dirty Dawg left due to an issue. "JB was the only one who would chat with me (on Discord)," Geerkil stated, saying he talked JB into joining him on the air during his show. And the two of them just clicked, or as Geerkil put it, "the BS just started to spring out." On occasion, someone else would join in, "but JB was the one who kept showing up." Geerkil calls JB the brains behind the show, and credits him for the reason the show is what it's become, though gives credit to Dirty Dawg for helping out at the start.

Geerkil, JB, and LS invited me to listen in on their chatter through a program called "Teamspeak." Of his being a DJ, the dragon remarked, "Music is my life. ... Music can change the mood, enrich the soul." Geerkil doesn't really sing, though on occasion will end up singing to his music. He says he was fond of the "Monkeys" when young, saying of one of the band, "He was good looking as a young man, but he got old and turned slam ugly, like me." He says he has about two terrabytes of music in his computer.

Most of the time, Geerkyl is in his large Seawolf dragon avatar, although on uncommon occasions will be in an anthro dragon form or other avie. Because of his size, when DJing at the Happy Vixen, he does so from just outside the wooden deck, laying on the sand. He calls Club Zero Gravity his favorite location as he can sit behind the DJ stand. "I had the impression ... designed with Seawolf dragons in mind," he stated, saying it "popped my bubble" when that wasn't exactly the case.

JB Raccoon as his name suggests does have an anthro raccoon avatar. But he also appears in an avatar that looks more anthro husky with a raccoon's tail. LS describes it, and hers, as half raccoon, half wolf. He told me one reason for his online persona is that he once gave out what he called his home location on a Google map that led to a tree. LS Raccoon, described as a "taker of food," does not usually say much during the show, but instead as a club hostess she gives group announcements of the Dragon Crew's events in club groups and group chats, and greets people as they enter. When not at events, she is often playing games with friends, or just chatting with them.  She hosts for Geerkil and JB at Club Zero Gravity. At their Tuesday set at the Happy Vixen, the task of hosting is left to Kitacella whom had the job first. Geerkil feels she does a great job, and is happy with her performance.

The name of the team the Newser uses for the purpose of this article, "The Dragon Team," comes from Nydia Tungsten, the owner of the Happy Vixen. Geerkil and JB refer to it as "The Epic Failure Show," the dragon describing it as, "Those idiots get on the air, and they do the stupidest BS." He openly described his sense of humor as "warped," and in the banter between he and JB, the dragon describes the raccoon/husky as his "seat cushion." There's sometimes a few poop jokes by the dragon in the between the songs banter, Geerkil saying he can't pin down why he finds them funny, he just does. When saying he sometimes trains DJs, "It's something I do, do. ... Did I just say doo-doo?" We went on to say in younger days, he would have his kids do "poo patrol" in his backyard, "and now I have to do it myself."

There's also a few jokes about women and sex, Geerkil admitting it can sound like "barefoot and pregnant" to those with sensitive temperaments, "probably why I don't have a girlfriend." In one of the few times he changed from his dragon avatar, he had on something tiny and cute that could fit in someone's hand. He then offered his services as a "cleavage pet," saying his tiny dragon form could help keep a girl's bosom warm if he was tucked in. However he does not condone outright sexism, criticizing men in position of power in the news whom were exposed as bullying women in sexual manners, "I am very much against sexual harassment ... unless I am the one doing the harassing."

When I asked for examples of their craziest times, Geerkil laughed and told me it might be hard to pin down one. He then stated, "When JB was wearing his blue underwear, without his pants." JB brought up, "There was that one time you lit my a*s up," saying the dragon had caught his tail on fire. Geerkil responded, "That was an accident, sort of. ... I don't remember." "A memory lapse of convenience is what I call it." There could also be technical issues, Geerkil saying, "that's why we call ourselves the Epic Failure Show." LS has this to say about Geerkil and JB's act, "They're hilarious as always. They do a wonderful show, always putting effort into making sure people have a good time and to draw more in. (The) events are very much as fun as the skits, and we all enjoy having a good time as do others."

One of the last questions I asked Geerkil was about how he decorates his dragon avatar, which wears gold chains and has charms hanging from it's horns. Geerkil says he originally got the idea as dragons are attracted to gold, and it was originally for his anthro dragon form, getting a golden headdress for it. But it worked so well, he enlarged it and had it fit his full-sized form. He then decided to go further, "Why not get a custom outfit, something no one else has?" Since he liked gold chains, he had some wrapped around the avatar, with green cloth underneath in places, "to avoid chaffing my scales." The charms on his horns were tailor made, the design made by someone Geerkil offered to pay. He was so pleased with the results, he "overpaid" the builder.

The schedule of the Dragon Crew will be changing soon. When the Happy Vixen shuffled it's Thursday events from 6 to 8 PM and 8-10 PM to 4-6 PM and 6-8PM, they were offered a second set in the 6-8PM timeslot. Geerkil told me their Saturday schedule is likely to change. Of his real life, there has been some trouble as Geerkil is on insulin and other medication, of which he had trouble affording. Fortunately, he managed to get some help with it.

Be sure to catch the Dragon Crew at the Happy Vixen from 4-6 PM Tuesdays and 6-8PM Thursdays, and check the schedule at Club Zero Gravity for their appearances.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, November 24, 2017

Resident from Puerto Rico Back Online Two Months After Hurricane

By Bixyl Shutan

This year's hurricane season was a destructive one. Hurricane Harvey would affect a number of residents when it slammed into Texas and Louisiana in late August. But this would not be the only hurricane to wreck havoc on Americans. On September 20, Hurricane Maria slammed into the territory of Puerto Rico, which had already suffered damage from Hurricane Irma a couple weeks earlier. The result was devastating. Officially, the number of people who were killed by the storm is 55, although there are suggestions the death toll was much higher. For the power grid, which was already in bad shape, the storm was the finishing blow. Practically the entire island lost power, with estimates that some parts could be without electricity for as long as six months. When it turned out that a company contracted to rebuild the power grid had only two full-time workers, the move to cancel it added to delays.

For Second Life resident Serenity Stahlwalkur (AyameAkemiSakura Resident), the disaster was personal as she herself lives in Puerto Rico. Seeing she was online after weeks, I contacted her, and she and I talked about what had happened, "My home flooded ... over 5 feet of water. I was asleep when it was filling, 3 feet, almost drowned. ... Ihad to sleep in a high chair 'till (the) water drained at 5 AM. That was when the National Guard came." Once she could get back to her house, "me and Mom cleaned the place and salvaged what we could." She blamed the flooding on city government, "was the mayor's fault that the sections were flooded. He didn't clean the gutters or the channels before the storm. ... for the water to flow down to the sea. It deviated to the urban area, taking bridges and a few homes and cars with it ... plus the storm surge pushing salt water. ... They had to open the dam's doors and it flooded the 5th, 6th, and 7th sections."

"Overall, been bad here. ... broken trees, fences, houses, collapsed power lines, power poles on the (ground) broken. ... Mentally I'm still stressed out, had a few accidents. ... I cracked and fractured both of my ankles cleaning the devastated back yard. ... Plus one of my pups was run over by a car. She survived, but badly injured." When I asked how many stores and businesses remained open, Serenity answered, "None, the stores were damaged and flooded, between 6 and 7 feet of water." She and her neighbors had gotten supplies at "the National Emergency Center, and the Army convoys came to give water and food." The first stores and businesses nearby would open "a few weeks after. Power came back the 20th of November," with Internet shortly afterwards, and running water about a month ago. But power, and her Internet connection, are still less than reliable. More needs to be done "to stable the communications and net," as well as more cleaning up.

Serenity stated it was about a month before she had gotten more or less used to life without the Internet, "though as for power, I was going nuts. The dark nights were too depressing." Of how the storms, damage, and long outage will change things for the long term, she felt, "This hurricane changed everyone, some for the good, some for the bad." Some would leave the island and move to the mainland United States. Of her plans in Second Life now that she's back, "Well, my plan is go back to my old life (here) and start over, a new chapter."

Sources: Wikipedia, CNN, Wired, New York Times 

Bixyl Shuftan

Addition: More links about the hurricane's aftermath.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Commentary: So, You Want To Be A Club Owner

By Bixyl Shuftan

There's no shortage of clubs around Second Life. Someone once told me, probably more than one person, that residents in Second Life either had their own club, or dreamed about having one. This is obviously an exaggeration, but perhaps not a very great one as clubs and hangouts are always springing up. And over time, yours truly has seen his share, and friends sighed about a favorite hangout going under. Some last for years. Some just for weeks.

Yours truly has never owned a club, though I've helped with a number. So I know a few things about what goes into a club, and what can help make it last.

The Purpose

Do you want to run a club to be somebody, or do something. I've seen people whom seemed to be dreaming of having a popular club dozens people will flock to. They want to be the next big thing, a big flashy place with lots of lights that will attract so many, they'll have to fight through the lag. Others are less ambitious, perceiving a need among their friends and/or virtual neighbors for a certain type of club. Perhaps the club they've been going is too big, or perhaps they want something a little more laid back and less flashy, or perhaps something different. Those among the latter are usually more realistic than the former as they're not generally out to create an overnight success.

The Time

Do you want a big flashy club with lots of events and people? If so, be prepared to invest a lot of time in your venue to the point it feels like a second job. A tiny beach hangout that has only a few events per week, not so much. But you'll be surprised how much time event a little club can take, especially if you're doing things alone.

The Expense

Very seldom do clubs in Second Life make money. It's very possible none of them do any more. Unless you're a builder, you'll have to buy the building and furnishings or pay someone to make them. More importantly, there's the land which needs to be paid for every month. The radio stream costs more money too. And unless you know how to DJ and have the software, which costs money, you'll need to find someone who can, and probably one ore more hosts/hostesses. While most are willing to work for tips alone, be prepared to take care of that yourself on days when the crowd is reluctant to part with their Lindens. If you want a live musician, prepare to spend even more. And with club after club offering contests, most likely you'll need to offer those too if you want more than a small crowd. More money there.

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

Only the smallest clubs can be operated okay by one person. More commonly, the owner will have someone manage things on an everyday basis. Bigger and more active clubs often have one or more acting as assistant managers. Then there are the hosts and hostesses, who make announcements and greet people as they come in, and occasionally answer questions. Some clubs will also have security to keep out the griefers. While such people can be hired, the best people will be those you already know, possibly people whom have been coming by the club for a while and would like to help out.

One issue is if you hire your friends, it becomes less of a boss and worker relationship and more of a team effort in which those you know will expect to have a say in how things are run. So this kind of arrangement isn't for everyone.

The Drama

Sadly where there are people, there is the potential for Drama. The contests alone can be a source of it as people can be surprisingly possessive when even a tiny amount of Lindens are on the line, and complaining of "cheating" when they don't get it. And when one or more persons seem to win a lot, people will complain about the contest being rigged or by alts stacking the vote. And then there's "(S)he shouldn't have won, I fit the theme much better than (s)he did."

Politics (I haven't noticed religion be an issue, but it can happen) can also be a problem as some people can be upset by something in the news. Many clubs have rules discouraging political talk, especially when the crowd is more than a tiny few. There's a reason for this: many people come to Second Life to escape the pressures of reality, and political talk can result in several people TPing out of the place.

Then there are people who seem to always find something to complain about. Sometimes they're under pressure from their real life jobs, or friends and family. But other times, the reasons are clear only to them. And then there are the horndogs who will pester women for sex, the bullies who seem to like pushing people around, the griefers whom love disrupting club events for the joy of making others miserable.

Being a "people person" is a must for a club manager. If a club owner has problems relating to people or with his or her temper, a manager with people skills will be a must for keeping the club healthy.

I have seen a few people lose heart with their clubs after a heated drama incident, wanting to shut down the place or leave the staff if they're a part of the team, feeling the "taint" has permanently crippled the club's ability to attract people. But it's my impression most visitors, while not wanting to deal with the hassle of drama, aren't especially phobic. If they don't see a problem there and then, most will show up as usual, and those that are wary will come again after an event or two when it's obvious the problem is gone.

Another problem I've noticed are people who make trouble, then use having Aspergers or some other mental condition as an excuse, saying they don't mean to cause it. But many of my friends don't believe this, one saying, "I know a number of people who have Aspergers, and they do not act like that." One club owner stated in his rules, "If we have to tell you how to act, don't bother coming here."

The Griefers

Most Second Life residents are familiar with those whose sole purpose of their virtual lives is to make others miserable.  We're all familiar with the "grief and run," someone rezzing a particle emitter nearby that floods the place with dozens of images of Mario or some other image. Or they may just be trying to create drama, by insulting the DJ, or talking about how great or how bad a certain political faction is. Often, they're brand new avatars with little attention paid to detail, or seem to be deliberately deformed a bit. Because of the stereotype, many clubs will throw out such avatars on the spot, or simply automatically not allow any avatar under 30 days.

As true as this stereotype often is, it's not always the case. There are some people who are simply bad at designing themselves ( and continue to have this attempt at an appearance long into their virtual life. And club after club with a "not welcome" sign for newcomers isn't exactly encouraging to keep new people interested in the Grid. And of course some griefers are properly dressed. Or perhaps they have a way of knowing the "fine line" before the club owners give them the boot. These people are truly aggravating for patrons and club owners alike, especially for those who feel without procedure, people will be reluctant to come out of fear for being banned for no reason.

Some years into Second Life history, a new kind of griefing came into play: extortion. Instead of just trying to annoy, these people would employ things like "sim crashers" repeatedly at a club and then demand money in order for it to stop. Otherwise they would keep it up until they either got their money or the club closed. There has been at least one case in which the Lab wasn't much help, and the club and it's community had to hunker down for a while until they felt the coast was clear (, a nightmare scenario for a club owner.

May The Best Man Win, Or Maybe Not

Going back to those who gripe about losing a contest to someone not dressed as good, while more often than not it's someone venting after not winning, on occasion things do look like they have a case. One complaint I've heard is that of people TPing friends or alts in at the last minute to vote for them. It's my experience this doesn't happen often, but it does on occasion. And a club owner being paranoid of alts for voting can easily end up throwing out people who were simply curious newcomers who happened to hear about the club.

But vote-stacking isn't the only issue. One person I know who works meticulously on her outfits complained about being "jellydolled," saying people who couldn't be bothered to adjust their settings in order to see her avatar and therefore didn't vote for her. Some people may also be using old viewers that show some avatars as scrambled or otherwise deformed. So a more detailed outfit could end up costing someone votes.

And then there's the human factor, someone not voting for someone because they feel they've already won a lot, of voting for a newcomer to the club to make them feel more welcome, not voting for someone because they didn't like they way the person was acting earlier, etc.Talking to one club owner, the person felt while they can always discipline someone for cheating, in the end things come down to the voters and they have a right to chose a simple outfit over a detailed one if that's their wish.

Other Clubs

With so many clubs out there, you'll often find people going to more than one. Sometimes clubs with much the same crowd will cooperate, especially if they're in the same community. One example is the relationship between Club Cutlass and the Happy Vixen, the events of the two clubs never overlapping and have usually been on different days.

But often, there are rivalries. One example was that of two disco clubs which were similar in structure as they were built by the same builder, and one invited it's patrons to make out in the open while the other told visitors that anything more than a kiss was "get a room." Then one day, someone with the latter found the online forum of the former, and invited people if they were uneasy with a sexual environment, they could check out their club. The owner of the first club reacted badly, saying only his club had the right to the design and kept demanding that the other shut down. The rivalry got to the point when one of the second club's workers was threatened, saying if the venue was sued anyone affiliated would be among those targeted.

While one club can hire DJs and/or hosts from another, there are a few dos and don'ts. Club owners can be angered if they feel someone is trying to "poach" their DJs. So it's best to meet up with the DJs between events and don't try to take them away from the club they're already at.

The Unexpected

Sometimes those who are prepared to handle a busy club when they start out end up having to face unexpected surprises down the road. Your landlord may go out of business and you'll have to relocate, and the new place may charge a lot more than where you were. Your star DJ may end up not being able to play any more due to real life. And your own real-life situation may change, such as your Internet connection becoming bad, marriage and children, financial hardship, a death in the family, and others. It's possible you may need to step back from running your club for a few weeks or months. Could your managers and staff handle things without your direction, possibly your money, for a while?

And there's always the possibility you may need to depart Second Life indefinitely. When the owner has to leave the Grid, it usually means the end of the club. But a few have survived their founder. In these cases, the original owner made plans with certain people he or she could trust to keep the place going.

In Conclusion

Running a club is almost always a lot more complicated than one expects it to. The expenses can be high, the hassles many, and the rewards often far less than anticipated. But it's not mission impossible for an amateur. You could have a club that will last for many years. But it takes thought, planning, help, a lot of patience, and more than a little luck won't hurt.

If you're not sure you can run a club after reading this, maybe you're better off keeping one going. There are hundreds in Second Life, and many will be glad to have more help. If you decide to build a club and this article has helped you prepare for the road ahead, then happy to have helped and I hope your venue continues to entertain people for many years to come.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ari's Rezzday

By Deaflegacy

Ari (arisia.vita)'s RezDay finally came around on October 18 and it's not just any RezDay.  It's Ari's 10th RezDay.  It happened on Wednesday.  

I went to Ari's concert on Perfect Paradise (131,152,22).  It was amazing.  Ari started his concert by greeting everyone.  I then reminded him it was his 10th RezDay.

"Hello, both of you ..and happy Res day, Ari, whether you celebrate it or not (smile)." said Gaia Maria's alt, Mariaseconda.

"Thank you Gaia," said Ari, wishing her hugs.

"*hug*. I'm always happy to celebrate any special days, including other people's (grin) So, chocolate for Gaia today, in honor of Ari~!~" said Mariaseconda.

I asked people around the piano what they thought of Ari's music.

"Ari's music calms me and takes my mind off of my worries." said Jonquil Gal (esthezia.andel).  She likes to dance to Ari's music. "He has gotten a lot of my smiles." said Jonquil Gal, smiling.

Ari would only accept tips in smiles. I asked him if it's true that if someone tries to tip him, he'd return the tip to them.  "Yes, with thanks." said Ari.

"I love this dreaming music... always.." said Helge Janus. "Ari gives us a special gift with his music." said Jonquil Gal. "It's a peaceful event," said R0bin Helsinki,"Tunes in paradise." "I just reflect the gifts around me." said Ari.

"Ari was in his usual splendid form, both musically and fashion wise." said Caya Corvale.  "It is always a pleasure to listen to the music he chooses. A generous mix of classical and popular melodies." "Always a pleasure to have you in the audience." said Ari.

"His talent is amazing, and Ari is one of the most wonderful, charming, kind people I have met in any reality," spoke Mariaseconda. "I am honored." said Ari.

"I wonder how the piano can still make such lovely sound with plants in the case." said Carla Broek. "It's magic." said Ari. Carla continued, "Well up until now no wildlife or children have been hurt. And he sits very still, not making any sudden moves that might spook people with nervous reactions. So I would say it goes well for him at the moment. ...It's great. And I love how he can play and chat at the same time." "I have some great help." said Ari.

"Ari *always* finds lovely music for all of us ...and I swear he is telepathic ... knows just what I need to hear at any given moment :)" said Mariaseconda.

"One of my fondest memories when I was very young was lying on the couch in the living room listening to my older brother play the piano." said Ari.  "I think it affected me."

When the concert ended, people thanked Ari for his wonderful music.  To this day, Ari is a really good piano player who cares a lot about the others.  That's who Ari is.

I later got together with Ari during the concert at Cape Heron.  As it turned out, Ger Y Lli was the first place for Ari to play his piano several years ago, thanks to Yavanna.  Soon after that, Ari started playing for Cape Heron.

"The desire to help others." said Ari when I asked him what inspires him to be a piano player on Second Life. 

When asked if he would continue playing for a long time on Second Life, Ari said, "As long as others enjoy it, I will."

We talked about the park in Ari's honor on Cape Heron. I asked him if he is aware that there is a park in his honor. "I am and I love it, it honors me." said Ari.  He is also aware that the owner of the park is planning on keeping it for a very long time. It pleases Ari to know that the owner is keeping the park for a very long time.

Ari said that he's not surprised that someone wants to interview him on his 10th RezDay and also know now that he is an inspiration for many pictures that someone took of him.

Mister Rogers is Ari's role model.  He asked me if I knew Mister Rogers and I told him that I knew him from 1980's.  Even when there was no subtitles on TV at that time, I still knew Mister Rogers.  It was my favorite TV show.

When we said goodbyes, I left with a smile on my face.  Ari isn't just an inspiration.  He is a role model, too.  That's something to know about a piano player who would continue to play music as long as the others enjoy it.

Ari's piano schedule shows that he plays at


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reader Submitted - Halloween for Stoners in SL

By Any1 Gymoid

Even though I don't smoke in RL, I am part of a significant community in Second Life (SL).  We are stoners. SL stoners congregate around some brilliant musicians: Tukso Okey and Jed Luckless. Also Lluis Indigo and Larree Quixote.

Every few weeks, I get an IM from Jed Luckless, like Hey Maggie! I'm gigging tonight! Spread the word! He knows that I will! My avatar is very wired into live music groups; which also tend to spill over into other art groups such as P.S. (for writers and poets) and Communication Arts (for all artforms). And of course Active and Acting is a great group for all event announcements; founded by a Greek politician; who often shares his fav youtube links on a bender. It's fun!

Anyways, I got the request from Jed on Sunday afternoon, and as I spread the word, the lead staff writer for SL Newser, Gemma Cleanslate, started screaming at me in a public forum. Maggie you MUST write up that event for SL Newser! She's was not taking no for an answer! The editor in chief reluctantly agreed to this arrangement; all that jazz went down on the ASSOCIATED PRESS group for all to witness. Surprise scoop! Eh?

So anyways, Jed was doing a Halloween Show at Dark Star; his home sim, and it was totally awesome! As expected! Spiderman can JAM, my friends! My gang of stoners love to come over early before Jed's shows and lounge about in Jed's parking lot. Very bare bones accommodations, but always terrific fun. Jed usually gigs for 2 hours; so hang onto your hats it's a wild ride. Jed plays in the style of The Grateful Dead; doing many of their covers. Stoner heaven it is.

I am a yuge fan of stoner movies too. I've always been a fan of Cheech and Chong; also Bill and Ted... and House Party I, but more recently Harold and Kumar, PCU, and others. Totally funny! 

At Tukso's shows, I have a special role. I am sort of a tight ass when it comes to wall-clock timing; so I announce the countdown to 4:20pm. 4:20 is a special time for stoners; it's an real-life schoolyard tradition that arose after Columbine. Yeah April 20th is blah blah's birthday, but now we stoners rule 4:20. Always! Another fun tradition: when Tukso gigs late on Saturday Nights at Purple Rain club, a lot of us stoners do get naked! So there you have it! I like to kid the young men, like: "Hey Lluis! How's it hangin? LOL" 

Lluis Indigo is yet another brilliant stoner musician in SL! Sometimes he plays live with the Looper (a guitar gadget), as Tukso does. And also plays live Flamenco guitars. He was my stoner buddy for about 2 years before we discovered his brilliant music! Like Larree Quixote! Go figure! Larree Quixote is another great stoner musician who plays many traditional hippy-era anthems! 

To get involved in SL stoner community is really easy. Join Tukso's SL group is one way. Another is to join any entertainment group  and watch for my announcements! I am totally sure Jed Luckless will call on me again! Keep an eye out for Tukso Okey, Jed Luckless, Lluis "Puddin" Indigo, and Larree Quixote. We love and cherish them all! Blessed Love! Peace Out! Dude, it's 4:20 somewhere!

Maggie Mae Bhaktiguru

Monday, October 9, 2017

Businesswoman Banned From Second Life Without Clear Explanation

By Bixyl Shuftan

Talking to Furry Fashion, I was told about someone who worked with them, Luna Pawpad, whom had been given the boot by Linden Lab without being told exactly why. "Luna Pawpad helped me set up the FF Halloween area but LL banned her account," one of the staff told me. They had no idea why she was banned, "Every time she opens a support ticket they close it without responding. She keeps getting the run around. She's disabled and relies on her Second Life income. ... She'd been a loyal SL player for over seven years, and now she's banned plus all her alts. She's lost her parcels, her accounts, her store, thousands of items/money down the drain."

I talked to Luna via an Instant-Messenger. She described herself as quite involved in Second Life commerce, "I'm  a major part of Furry Fashion. I was a premium member, and I had a business. ... I was also heavily involved in Quest Fur Cover and other events like Gacha Guild. ... All of which helped supplement my income in real life.  I'm non-working disabled, and my husband and I are struggling as it is. My account was going on nine years old in November."

Linden Lab had blocked her entry into Second Life without saying exactly why, "My account was put on administrative hold. All I got was a lengthy notice that I broke TOS, and that's it." When I first talked to her, she could only think of one possible reason, one that she thought she had straightened out with Linden Lab some time ago, "The only clue I have is that my account was held before because I used my mom's card a couple times to buy Lindens, ... with her permission ... because she had no other way to send me money (according to her). I just provided her ID and my account opened back up."

And with that all was well, until now, "Then suddenly this, like months later. I've opened two tickets to appeal, and they were closed without (an)answer. And the direct case I filed last night, no longer exists."  She wondered, "maybe her bank happened to flag it one day, or maybe she did by mistake. That's really what this all seems like is a mistake." She had explained the situation to the Lab back then, "in the last case I filed I wrote out a very lengthy explanation, the case that now no longer exists. ... The only reason I used Second Life to get money from my Mom, was because I processed credit periodically anyways, from sales of my own stuff."

Later on, Luna mentioned there might be one other possibility, "A couple days before I was buying demos of full perm stuff to look at." And she purchased an item that she found out later was copybotted, "I didn't realize it till after I purchased it, so I just deleted it. It was a whoops."

I would later get an email from a Rand.Lupindo.

I've known Albright (Luna.Pawpad) in Second Life for at least 7 years, and in that time she has been a stable, energizing presence, volunteering at my own Sim (Timber Wilds animal avatars and sandbox) and other communities.  It is thus with sadness that I found that she was recently banned permanently from Second Life for unknown reasons other than an unspecified violation of the Terms of Service, and as far as I'm aware not given any warning, explanation, or recourse.  

For what it's worth, I doubt this ban is deserved, it smacks of the impulsive shadow banning of content creators on flimsy grounds that occurred last year, and I can vouch for Albright as a fixture of our community and certainly not a greifer or criminal.  If the ban is somehow deserved, she should at least be given an explanation as to the specific reason and some recourse for appeal.  

If users are going to be surreptitiously expelled from the game after accumulating years of legitimate accomplishments and relationships, fully intending to be and believing ourselves to be in compliance with the rules, without warning and without explanation, not even allowed to come back on a new account, then it seems that no one can feel safe investing their time and effort into this space.

And then another from Bowno Scarbridge, saying she was talking to Luna the moment she was booted off Second Life,

I had logged onto Second Life on the 3rd of October into the Gatcha Guild event. The BRDMRT Raptors had just been added the night before and I wanted to see how many people were around and enjoying them. Luna Pawpad and a few other friends soon joined me in the Raptor fun! We were all goofing around, clicking people's noses and making jokes over voice. Good stuff and good fun. Suddenly, Luna vanished out of nowhere, completely randomly and without any warning. A couple minutes later I get a message from Luna that she had been banned from SL. Confused and shocked,

I asked her why. She had been transferring her L to her alt account, which is used to store it for safe keeping. She was locked down for  'suspicious activity' because she was transferring L.

 SL replied to her appeal with :
  'Thank you for contacting Linden Lab Fraud. After conducting a thorough review, Linden Lab has determined this account or an alternate account has violated the Second Life Terms of Service. Regretfully, we have determined this account and all alternate accounts will be permanently terminated. Per the Terms of Service, you may not return to Second Life on any account, new or existing.'

Luna Pawpad is a modder of the SL community. Her products are texture mods that she makes by hand. Her work is her own. None of it breaks TOS and none of it is Copyright. She is decently known in the modder community. She has a few enemies from working as security at Furry Fashion.... But that's really about it!

Luna Pawpad thinks that transferring L was one of the causes, but also the fact that she had to borrow her mothers credit card for a bit. Her mother AGREED to this and even let her use her ID as proof.

She has tried to make tickets, and LL continues to close them without replying. Her email that she has sent will likely never be replied to or if it is.. it will likely just be a copy paste message. ... Linden Labs is being very unprofessional about this entire thing. The LEAST they could do is tell her what she did wrong. Right now, all we can do is assume. Luna is a paying customer to SL and deserves to at least have her tickets answered and a chance to defend herself.

This hasn't been the first time Linden Lab expelled someone from a popular business from the virtual world. In 2014, Meissa Thorne, one of the major contributors to the popular fishing game 7Seas, was banned for refusing to provide her Social Security Number and other ID directly to Linden Lab as part of their new Identification Policy at the time. Although the team had time to prepare for her exit, there were lasting changes, such as no further "Fishversary" celebration events.

As for what to do now, Luna wasn't sure where she could go from here, "I've submitted tickets, Ame wrote an email. I don't know if any of my other friends have done anything, but at this point, getting enough people to vouch for me might be my only hope at this point. I've seen people get banned for legit TOS violations, but returned because enough people protested."

And so, as Furry Fashion's team gets ready to celebrate Halloween, the mood has been darkened as one of their own has vanished, not at the hands of a monster, but the heavy hands of Linden Lab, with no clear explanation as to what the reason was for, or if it may happen again.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, October 6, 2017

SLife and Times: Banned For Looking Odd

By Bixyl Shuftan

For my furry friends at the Sunweaver/Angels community and elsewhere, one of their pet peeves is being harassed or banned about their appearance when they go out looking at different places and clubs. Some consider it common to the point they'll hang out only at places they know have other furs or call themselves "furry friendly."  Grease Coakes wrote about his experience, and I've written on the topic myself. Personally, I've found it a rare experience, though still annoying.

So it got my attention when a "coconuteater" wrote on "Blog Veridical" about being banned at a club "within three seconds of my avatar entering the building." He Instant-Messaged the owner, "Hello, why am I banned?" The owner's answer was, "I smell a lot of trouble, and I'm not up to it today." "Do you think I'm a griefer or something?" "So you think I'm an idiot?" While he didn't give his account name, he did show his appearance. This was a human avatar, but it was oddly porportioned, with a huge chest with wide shoulders, tiny arms, and big ears. He was also barefoot.

There were a number of comments after a link to the article was posted on the "Second Life Friends" group in Facebook. Some offered sympathy. Some suggested he simply go to a different club, "Shallow sl saddens me this is what it comes down to judging by a persons looks shame on all of them." "Even pixels get judged these days........sad times." Some were saying he needed to update his looks, "Thats the lesson here.. leave those noob looks back in the past where they belong. this is 2017 .. not 2005 .. noob feet ( AKA Duckfeet ) are out.. Noob hands out. block head.. out. layer clothing.. dead as dust." "If we were friends I'd strongly encourage you to improve appearance. You don't have to have a mesh body. ,,, Put some effort into making the visual experience more realistic or at least show you care about what you look like."

Others were saying his odd appearance was the kind favored by griefers, "I definitely think 'troll' seeing this avatar. ... you know what they say, first impressions matter." "I cant help but feel your intentions were to stir the pot, everyone knows that extreme noob looks are usually a griefers preferred appearance. If it was my club and i saw you come in looking like that, i would also be atleast worried drama was coming." "i have to admit u look like alot of the griefers ,j\s. nothing aginst u. jus really u look like a griefer" "If you've been in Second Life for more than a couple of years, and have been to clubs or gatherings - you KNOW that many (not all) griefers like to drastically deform their avies to look crazy. You know this. So if you're not a noob, why would you drastically deform yourself to look like a griefer? Come on now. Keep it real. People who've been griefed are going to have their guard up and when you manage a CLUB, you MUST keep a lookout for people who look every bit like a griefer. You don't wait for them to do it. ..." "That avatar looks like a classic griefer avatar."

And a few were saying yes, it did look like the stereotypical troll avatar, but avatars like these they encountered weren't always that. "That being said a lot of people have used this game to bully and harass people in a certain manner. You can understand why some people are so quick to judge, but it should really be by your actions not how you look." "There was a time when the 'different' avatars were the ones with big boobs, tans, perfect hair and giant pectorals. The avatars that people consider 'griefer' avatars were once the far, far more common avatar you'd see on the grid. Insisting on looking 'different' *is* a choice. Some people don't want to look like a cookie cutter copy of someone else's distorted notion of perfection, or acceptability. They just want to express themselves. Your comment reminds me of how outcasts were treated by the popular crowd in high school. As long as people don't act out, or have an avatar emitting giant Bill Cosbys, I say let them be. Even if you have had a rough day, ejecting people just because of their appearance is lazy."

One comment got my attention, "What it comes down to is how much time you are willing to put in to growing your group and making it a place for all... last night I had a potential griefer on my sim (1 day old, dressed like it and a naughty word name). So I TPed to him and asked him how he was doing... it took me a short ten minute conversation to find out that A) he was new and B) he was really liking SL... I made a friend, not a potential enemy down the road. A**hattery like the club owner pulled will make more enemies than friends...if you don't have an enemy before you ban someone, you usually do when after you do... in this case, an enemy that will post about you on his blog."

About the only thing most agreed upon was ultimately "his sim, his rules." Even those who sided with the writer, there was an admittance he was within rights to do what he did. They just felt he shouldn't have.

This isn't quite the same as the situation furs and other fantasy/sci-fi avatars such as faries and elves, who can spent plenty of time on their looks. But still, it brings to mind the old story of those who are different being singled out and being told they are not welcome.

Do you the readers have any stories of your own, or stories about handling someone new who stood out?

Scources: Blog Veridical , Facebook

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cookie Obsession and Gurl Scouts

By Gemma Cleanslate

Jadyn Firehawk of Yosemite let me know that the region was hosting a Gurl Scout Jamboree this past weekend. I went over to visit and see what was going on. I arrived early in the morning and found sleeping scouts so I tiptoed quietly away. Later when I came back there was a rowdy bingo game going on which all were enjoying. I saw by the colors of the tees there were quite a few troops taking part. These are adult gurl scouts. 

 I was interested in background of the gurl scouts in Second Life since I actually bought some cookies last year from a scout. WixenWednesday introduced me to the founder of the movement , April Loire, and we had a nice chat. April told me she started a troop way back but then sort of let it go until someone approached her to ask advice on running a troop. The project then took on a life and at this time there are about 400 gurl scouts in nine troops around Second Life. Eight troops are involved in this first jamboree. 

WixenWednesday, leader of one troop, says, “Troop Honey Bee 754 is all about focusing on scouts, friendship, community, and fun. We are a small troop that is looking to grow while remaining a small close-knit family.The sense of community and solidarity filled with happiness and love plays a key role in the troop and it is something that is certainly felt throughout our troop home!”  

April Loire handed me a book of badges so I could see what it was all about. Remember this is an adult project so some of the badges are indicative of that fact. In the front of the book I found the pledge which is similar to the actual Scouting pledge. It begins,” I will do my best to be honest and understanding, considerate to all, helpful and kind, ...”

The work to earn a badge is difficult and must be proven. They each take a lot of work! The badges cross a variety of activities from growing to fishing and into the arts and all aspects of Second Life. She explained that they work closely with the Digital Farming System and that is reflected in many of the badges. Cookie Obsession is the name of the Scout badge book and it looks like there are new badges being created all the time. There is cookie selling in Second Life and half of the proceeds go to a charity of each troop’s choice and the rest of the money is used to support the troop. The uniforms are cute and the banner with the badges is worn with pride across the front.

There are other activities through out the year according to each troop’s choice also. There is to be an Octoberfest coming up. April interrupted her fun at the jamboree and  took me over to see the Headquarters where each troop has a Kiosk with something indicative of their troop.

Later in the day I went back to Yosemite to check out what was going on and they were all preparing for the first jamboree group photo. In the evening there will be skits , campfires and finally a sleepover in the John Muir camping area.  

It looked like all were having a great time. I saw a few boy scouts were visiting also. One of the troops is going to be sponsoring an Second Life kid’s troop very soon. The jamborees will be held quarterly with a season theme in the future. The  women have formed a bond that carries over into their Second Lives though they may all be different and live in different regions and involved in many projects.

When I went to the HQ to look at the kiosks I met Truuli and commented on all the work for each badge and she said ”Oh yes, we want them to feel a sense of achievement and proud of the work they have done... (laughter), when we say that you earn badges, you really do earn them (smile). It is up to each troop to decide what they want to do.“

If you are interested in the concept visit the headquarters  You can also contact the people above for information.

Gemma Cleanslate