Friday, November 29, 2019

Interview With Emorald of Montecito Bay

By Bixyl Shuftan

Among the people whom make the sim and community of Montecito Bay run, Emorald Resident is one of them. Often mentioned in the same sentence as her partner Lem Aiko (LemonPledge) as "Lem and Em," she has been around since the start of the place. Recently, we met up at the sim's Magnum Opus and I had a few questions for her.

When we found a place to sit down, we attracted some attention from a few others nearby, including Emorald. When he was told what was going on, he chuckled a little, "It's kinda funny. Ya get an interview with one of us, and you get all of us at the same time. But we all family here." He smiled and let

When asked to describe what her role was here, Emorald answered, "Well, I am the head of Parks and Recreation (smile). Pretty much, I do the hiring of DJs and hosts." When asked how she found out about Second Life, she responded, "I had heard about it a few times. Never though much on it till .... oh .... I would say 2015. Then decided 'What the heck, might as well check it out.' And well, been on here ever since.

"It's a rather nice way to stretch my creative side," Emorald went on, "I was never a good painter or anything like that. But many people told me I have a decent eye for photography. So I have been using Second Life to take pics of the avatars I fix up." It didn't come about right away, "I had taken pictures in SL (early on) a few times and thought nothing of it. But I had shown some people what I took and some liked it. So as time went on, I began trying to get better at it. I do use photoshop to make them look a bit better (smile)."

Emorald does get other ways to stretch her creativity, "Little bits of role playing when I get a chance, but mostly in photography. Getting my AV pose just right, getting the perfect lighting, It's always fun (smile). I do a little building from time to timem but, nothing really amazing."

I went and asked Emorald just how early on did she hear about the planning of Montecito Bay. She answered, "I want to say I had heard Moff talking about doing it after he left Furry Fashion. He had always wanted to make something really nice. So Monticeto Bay came about. It's been through a few changes, and next year there is gonna be another change (smile)." I of course asked what the change was, but she just giggled, "Hehehe.... That my friend is kept under lock and key (smile). But I can say it should prove to be pretty awesome. Hopefully the upcoming change will bring about more and more people."

So what did she think was Montecito Bay's most noteworthy event? Emorald told me, "Oh man, the Alien Invasion was pretty crazy, and a lot of fun (smile). The NuYu that is coming up in December should prove to be a lot of fun as well. ... This entire month this sim has been busy setting up for (it). ... I really enjoy this place."

Emorald besides being in charge of hiring DJs does some DJing herself, "I do a bit of everything, to be honest. If I can find it, I will usually play it. I never try and stick to just one type of music. I enjoy pretty much everything. Today i did a Disco set (smile)." I asked which of Montecito Bay's several venues did she like the most. "Always did like Studio 86 and Envy Nightlife," she answered, "two of my faves, guess 'cause of the neon and such." She thought for a moment, "Really though Bix, I love ALL the clubs we have here a MB. I know this place here is Moff's baby (smiles)."

I went back to her earlier saying she liked taking pictures of avatars, and asked Emorald what inspired her particular avatar and outfit? She giggled, "Heheh, that is a story in itself. When i started Second Life, my first av was a dragon. I think I still have it set up, I forget. But as time went on, I just got more and more avatars 'till I ran across this otter av.

"This is technically one of Brae's old avs. But the more I worked with it, the more it spoke to me. It's been through a few changes. But this latest version has a bento head (smile). It used to have the old PAWS otter head, which *is* a nice head. But, I don't think it has the, expression, this head seems to have. With this head she looks more sophisticated, and, just as cute and sexy (smile). The head I have now is the Happy Paws Lionet head. I paid Brae to fix up the otter head texture to it, and I played around with the sliders 'till it looked right. The tattoos, I fixed them up to be on the skin and not just a layer on the Maitreya body."

So what are her future plans besides the NuYu and next year's "surprise?" Emorald answered, "To be honest I dunno yet. I just live life one day at a time. I do play on continuing to take pics in Second Life. Hopefully I can get more stuff to help me get better and better at it." The last thing she mentioned was the NuYu, "I hope to see a lot of people (there) ... gonna be several shows, plenty of vendors selling things, should be an awesome time (smile)."

It was about then we parted and went our seperate ways. For those looking for Emorald, she can usually be found at one of Montecito Bay's events, often with her partner Lem.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Interview With Emilia Dagostino, New CDS Chancellor

By Bixyl Shuftan

A few days ago, the Confederation of Democratic Simulators had it's biannual election. There was only one candidate for the office of Chancellor: Emilia Dagostino (Emilia Avindar). I recently met with her at her art-filled building at the community, the Bauhaus. She called it, "a labor of love that I haven't changed much since a year ago." It was a rebuild of a building of the same name in Germany, "Bauhaus was a revolution in life style and aesthetics, which found itself marching to a different drum. It was truly a portable lifestyle; an array of objects and styles that were portable to other places and other schools of art. Still a basis for contemporary art, a sense of freedom of style but strengthened by utility. Art is so much a part of our CDS sims. I hope to update a gallery listing soon; as you can see, even my next door neighbor here is an artist. (smile)"

When asked how she first found out about Second Life, Emilia answered, "Honestly, I found it mentioned in a tech article back in the founding period, and I signed up. But I must not have been successful because I hesitated to use a credit card to pay the ten doller fee, but I had never put a credit card online back in those dark ages, hahahah. So I must not have made an account. I never found where I had later to try to reclaim it.

"So, in 2009, I wanted to find something fun and went back. Still could not get in, but tried a third time a few months later, and landed in Helfel and flew with elephants and butterflies and became hooked that day, never looking back. (smile) I even remember the first people i met, to this day. I soon searched for Al Andalus, because of a personal interest at the time, and that led me to CDS."

And how were her first few days at the CDS? Emilia told me, "Hmm, tentative. I was shy, and avoided people ... mistake! Everyone was friendly, of course. Pip had poetry readings, which I discovered, and I loved those, and other small social get togethers, which were a great way to actually meet people. We still do these things, but we need more poets and lonely hearts to attend. ..nice place to live and coexist here. (smile) When the lake freezes, we'll ice skate and drink hot cocoa.
Horseback riding, snowmobiles, snowy owls.... all sorts of amusements, thanks to our very own citizens."

When asked how long she had the Bauhaus, Emilia answered, "About a year actually, almost exactly. I was about to give it up last summer, and Kyoko said she'd included it in an arts announcement so I quickly reclaimed it and had to rebuild it in a few days, (laughter). The windows have the feeling of the early Bauhaus school, and I even have the radiator in the hallway, just as Gropius did."

Emilia has been involved in other places in Second Life, ".... SL Birthdays, since my first one in 2007, Burning Man (Burn2) and (New Bastogne) WW2 roleplay, where I was Captain Avindar eventually, but not forever, (smile). I battled there and walked the lonely streets, buying fashions from a seamstress, Sunshine Juneberry, yes. (smile). We flew combat in real skirmishes then."

Things are a bit different in the CDS, "Here we wrangle with self governance and land management, enjoy casual and formal events, but no role play. When I returned, I became interested in the elections that were underway at the time. I became the PIO for Kyoko, who was elected Chancellor, and got to know the group at a much deeper level of detail. I bought a little fachwerk house and got to know all of these CDS sims, each with its own natural flavor, Bavaria, Alpine, Tuscan, Roman, Greek fishing village. So much has been added in only the past year."

When I asked Emilia about what gave her the idea of running for Chancellor, she answered, "Friends persuaded me." She smiled, "Thankful to have good support and people are willing to help and mentor. This group is amazing in being so good at this for 15 years. We have a Constitution, a Code of Law, Land & Covenant, a regulatory body, The Representative Assembly, the Judicial body, 'Scientific Council' and the Executive body, in the Chair of the Chancellor, but also in the Estate Management."

I brought up the election, which seemed pretty quiet. Emilia told me, "I was unopposed, and we had six stand for five seats on the Representative Assembly, and they posted signs which gave Notecards, and there were some spontaneous questions sessions and group chat. I look forward to making some appointments that will reward folks for their daily efforts. Living here is its own reward, but friendships continue to grow, and thus the history of the group will continue to flourish, hopefully, for many more years." Of her plans as Chancellor, "To be available for anyone, and to not hurt any feelings."

Emilia had to go and take her real life daughter to a movie. She reminded that anyone could look up information about the CDS at .

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 25, 2019

Commentary: Twelve Years of Reporting SL News

By Bixyl Shuftan

It was twelve years ago this month that yours truly started writing the news about Second Life. The actual anniversary was a few weeks ago. But as so often, have been busy with both keeping up the Newser, as well as other activities in Second Life.

I'd been in Second Life for a little less than a year, and logging in regularly for the past few months, hanging out at Luskwood and the now-vanished STA. I was browsing newsletters and blogs, and in October 2007 came across an invitation by the Second Life Newspaper for reader submissions. After sending in a few, in early November 2007 owner JamesT Juno and editor Dana Vanmoer offered me a position as a reporter.

And so for two and a half years, I would write articles once or twice a week for SL Newspaper, writing on a variety of subjects about the people, places, events, and things around this virtual world. I was part of something that kept readers new and established in the know about Second Life.

In June 2010, my mission here would change as the Second Life Newspaper closed it's doors, and a new newsletter, the Second Life Newser, opened with Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shelie Sands, and myself as it's writers, with me as the editor. So it was up to me to go through the articles of the others and post them in addition to putting up my own. Most weeks, I only have two good-sized articles up. The Newser being a team effort, the rest are done by other reporters.

Over time, I've written many stories about Second Life. This includes some annual events such as the Second Life Birthday and Relay Weekend done again year after year. The latter is one example of the good that virtual worlds are capable of. I've also written about some interesting new places, people continuing to find inventive ways to express themselves in an online landscape that's gone on for over sixteen years.

And then there are the people. Some are well off in real-life, successful on both sides of the computer. Others have physical or mental disabilities, and Second Life allows them to accomplish what they couldn't in real life. I've had to write about some great places closing down, though happily a few have come back. Sadly though, I've had to write about a few people here passing away, including a few I had personally talked to. While I do feel some sense of pride in helping that they will not be forgotten and people will know more of the good they did, it's still a sad feeling that I won't be talking to them again, at least not for a few decades.

"So how do you find the time?" and "How do you keep it up?" some might ask.  Over time, I have ended up with additional inworld responsibilities, such as helping a friend with her club. And I do enjoy some gaming, a little time to relax, often with friends. But I've always liked writing, and have almost always found some time to do so. Occasionally, there's so many things going on that catch my attention, I need to pick and choose what gets written about now, and which gets put to the back burner. There have been a few subjects I haven't been able to write about in detail, or at all, due to so much happening at once.

The reaction I've had in real-life to my writing has been mainly positive, especially when it concerns topics like the Relay or Veterans. I have had a few people tell me it's time to move on, such as writing for a "red meat" political blog for some quick cash. But I'd rather not alienate half my audience. I am writing a science-fiction novel on the side. But the Newser has been my best audience as a writer, as well as the means as a writer I've done the most good. I am not giving it up any time soon.

As for the future, how long I keep writing about Second Life depends on how long Linden Lab will keep it going. For years, there's been predictions that the virtual world is on the verge of dying. Over time, the Lab has made no shortage of decisions that looked like they were going for a quick buck and not thinking of the long term, or made no sense to anyone but themselves. But unless there's some great calamity such as a worldwide depression, it's a safe bet to assume the virtual world will be around for many more years. Eventually, someone will make a better product, and Linden Lab will be bought up or close it's doors, taking Second Life with it. But until then, or I end up in a real-life accident I don't walk away from, I have no plans to quit writing.

Happy to keep you informed about Second Life for twelve years, and here's to many more.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, November 8, 2019

Flattop Ewing and Sarah Ewing on the Veterans Tribute

By Bixyl Shuftan

When I was contacted about the Veterans Tribute, it was suggested that I talk to Flattop Ewing. Flattop I was told had returned after an absence to help organize the Tribute and it's music events. So I contacted him, and we arranged a time to meet up for an interview. We soon met up at the Tribute grounds, with his partner Sarah Ewing (SexySarah Svenska). "It has been amazing this year," Sarah spoke about the event. Flattop mused, "is my tie straight for the interview? ... I used the good deodorant."

I asked Flattop how the Tribute got started. He answered, "I started it 13 yrs ago in a club as just a two day event (with) two hours each day. There were no memorials, there was no wall at that time. I was just a DJ that wanted to do something regarding veterans. I was truly unprepared for the response it would receive. The first day was a good response for the two hour gig.  The second day we nearly crashed the sim with people trying to come in."

The club, Rockstar, would since close down. But Flattop was in position to repeat the tribute a second time in 2007, "By then Sarah and I had opened up our own club and bought a sim.  We picked up the club and put the tribute together.  We sought out various creators all over Second Life that we had seen create various memorials." "And the wall was born," Sarah added.

Flattop went on, "That's also when we realized what we felt the tribute was to become, was bringing together different people and showcasing their talents and their desires to honor veterans in their own way. That second year we actually had DJs and live entertainers come to us asking to be a part of it.  I honestly don't remember the number of events, but we had I think four days of events." I asked more about the wall. Flattop answered, "Initially the wall was just representing those that were assisting to coordinate the tribute and our friends.  Then we (had) visitors that would start asking to add their real-life loved ones to the wall to honor them." And how many bricks had names put on them? "There were a lot," Flattop answered, "I remember logging in each morning and having a lot of them to make. I think we ended with something around fifty blocks compared to the ten we started with of coordinators and friends. Wildroses Pevensey does them now and she does an amazing job.

The tribute became larger, "The next couple years we had some other close friends, some of them veterans themselves, become part of the tribute staff.  We received such a response still even more than we imagined.  We had a Second Life flight squadron do an air show and give helicopter rides to those visiting the tribute. Again, the wall (was) growing and becoming the focal point of the entire tribute. The venue always a place for those within Second Life to come reflect and remember those that have served or are serving."

The 2010 Tribute would be the last Flattop and Sara would manage, "In 2011 Wildroses Pevensey, another coordinator took over when real-life called us out of game until recently." Sara would comment, "She and Sabre, another officer, built this SIM up this year, too.  It is beautiful and reflective." Flattop went on, "We felt that it was part of the tribute taking on a life of it's own, to honor all veterans around the world."

Of the wall right now, Flattop would say, "currently on the wall are about 900 names. I'm not sure how many have been added so far this year." Of the conflicts the veterans were in, "Names range from WWI through current, including WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Desert Storm, and some that were submitted for other country's conflicts, and of course those that are currently serving as well."

And of the smaller events, which did Flattop find the most memorable? He answered, "My personal favorite was when we had an air show." Sarah commented, "It isn't so much an event, for me, it is the wall and the stories people have of their own, or a loved one's, they have to tell.  So many amazing stories of so many lives, we have been honored to hear through the years."

I asked about this year's smaller music events. Flattop told me, "We have a handful of DJs that have offered their time this year for around Veterans Day weekend.  As Sarah had mentioned, real-life had pulled us out of Second Life for some time.  We only came back a few months ago, and unfortunately we weren't able to get more events like we hoped." One event they planed would be held on the Veterans Isle sim instead, an anniversary party for the US Marines. "The US Military Veterans group was gracious to offer to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball this year," Flattop told me, "I will be DJing the ball on Nov. 9th at 6pm, The day before the actual Marine Birthday."

While I was there, several people dropped by the Tribute. Sarah and Flattop would greet them, answer any questions, and the people would go on to look around.

Of their future plans, Sarah told me, "We have tossed around the idea of having a traditional USO show, if we could get it together.  We are also looking for more interactive content that people can walk through, etc, to have." Flattop added, "We would also like to bring back an air show at some point as well. The first and foremost has always been about the Veterans and the wall. As Second Life continues to grow and change, we never know what might be available to do in future years."

It was soon time to part, and I asked them if they had anything else to mention. Flattop answered, "We are continuing to look for more content from around the world. We would also like to have a little bit of a learning aspect for those that may not know some of the historical aspects of Veterans Day/Armistice Day."

Be sure to drop by the Veterans Tribute at Northern Lights (129/32/38). Music events are being planned there for Saturday  November 9 to Monday November 11.

Bixyl Shuftan