Monday, November 27, 2023

Letter To The Editor, And Response: The Borrower

 Dear Newser

I've been in Second Life for a while, and know a number of people. Some are cool, some not so cool. Among the not so cool is this one guy who's always hitting me up for money. Sometimes it's for Lindens to rent out a place. Sometimes it's for real money for real life, saying he needs a new pair of pants or a new music player. He eventually got himself banned from one club I hang out at for pestering people with his "Can you give me some money?" But instead of getting the hint, he keeps it up.

Just what is up with this guy? Why won't he stop? And is he really as hard-up as he says, or is he lying?

Annoyed and Irritated

Dear Annoyed,

To start off with, some people really are short on money. In real-life, my late Father once had a co-worker named Tate. Tate was a hard enough worker. But he had a problem. After he got his once a month paycheck, after paying his bills he would spend all his money on things like a new hunting rifle, a new fish-finder, etc. And by the time the fourth week came around, he was so short on cash he was quite literally picking up roadkill to cook, which got him the nickname "Buzzard." He once asked my Dad how he managed to save money, and Dad tried to tell him. But Tate never did. "Buzzard" Tate would end his days a poor man with little in his bank account.

Why don't he and others save their money to avoid trouble down the road? Some feel these people just aren't very smart, at least when it comes to money. Others wonder if life hands them problem after problem that doesn't allow them to build up their savings, they conclude that once they get some money they might as well enjoy it then and there before something comes along to take it away.

Unfortunately, there was one such person I came across in Second Life. And while Tate prided himself on being self-sufficient, this person was not.

This person, who I'll call Frank, was someone I ran into through some friends of mine who told me he had been the one-time owner of a sim before he had to turn it over to others due to financial difficulty. We had known one another for a while, and one day he told me he needed a few bucks for cab fare so he could make a trip he needed to otherwise he'd be in trouble. I was in a generous mood, so gave him the few dollars. Well, he was someone on my Facebook list at the time, and I soon saw a picture of him showing off a new clock! Infuriated, I told him I didn't appreciate being lied to, and defriended and blocked him.

It would be some time before I ran into Frank again. I had decided enough time had passed, so unblocked him as a courtesy. He had told me he had come across some more money at the time, so was able to make the trip and get the clock. He seemed like a decent enough guy at the time, and he would end up meeting up with another friend of mine who was in therapy for emotional problems and since he seemed to be helping her out my impression of him improved. But not all of my friends liked him. One considered him a thief, telling me he was once arrested for shoplifting. When I would later question Frank about that, his response was it was true but he had ran out of prescribed meds for mental illness.

Time went on, and Frank was soon asking me for money again. The first time it was a large amount of cash to get an item of his out of the pawn shop. I told him I couldn't afford to pay that much but eventually gave him a few dollars. Eventually I heard he was asking/bugging other people for cash. He got in trouble at clubs for doing so, warned not to do it again and banned when he did so anyway. He was also asking me for money for other things, and I began having less and less patience with him.

Then my friend with emotional problems contacted me, frustrated. She told me she had given Frank over two hundred dollars with his promise he would pay it back in a few days, but he didn't. Infuriated that he had taken advantage of a woman's troubled condition, I kept at him to get him to repay her the money. He was upset at me for doing so, saying he would soon pay the money he "borrowed." Others found out and were doing the same. Finally one day he angrily told me he was sending her the money, leaving me with a bitter message accusing me of being unfair and selfish. My friend would confirm the story. But I would never see this account of Frank's again. Either he had deleted it soon after, or someone's AR report had gotten him banned from SL.

Since then, I've heard of a few other stories. One was of one generous soul who ended up giving one friend hundreds of dollars before real-life financial difficulties forced him to stop, and the "friend" continued to beg despite being told hard times had befallen the giver. I'd also heard about someone else who when times were good would spend his money on fancy things like computer equipment, but when times were bad he had little savings and would beg friends for cash so he wouldn't have to pawn his toys for a fraction of what he paid for. And when times were good again, instead of saving for another rainy day, he went back to spending this money on fancy toys. He was caught in a vicious cycle that ensured he'd continue be short on money much of his life.

How should one handle a borrower? If you don't know them and you don't have a lot of Lindens, the answer is pretty obvious. If you've come to know them for a while and you think they're being sincere, it gets trickier. You may need to tell them that you will give them one good-sized amount of Lindens, to keep as long as they need it, but there will be no more until they pay it all back. How you handle it is up to you, and will likely depend on how much money you have to spend in real life. If you're making a lot of money in real life with few expenses, you can afford to be a little more generous. But if you're looking for work, and/or have a wife and kids to worry about, then you're not going to have much to spare. And if they keep asking you for cash again and again, there may come a day in which you need to block them to keep your peace of mind, as well as those around you who may notice something is bothering you.

And for any borrowers reading this, I ask you to take a long hard look at your situation. Yes, life sucks and we need to treat ourselves once in a while. But we need to do what we can to prepare for inevitable rainy days ahead, which will come. And our friends who seem better off may not seem as prosperous as they appear, and even if they are will not be happy to be repeatedly asked for cash to help you out, especially if they think you've done little to prepare for trouble. Continuing to ask those around you to support you is a sure way to end up with few friends, perhaps none at all.

And if you're a scammer, someone whose attitude is "A fool and his money are soon parted, and I'm going to fleece those sentimental fools for all they're worth," then I hope one day karma catches up to you, with interest, at loan shark rates.

Just my two Lindens on the issue. Have a great Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, September 4, 2023

Reader Submitted: Is There Really That Much Hate On Furries?

 From Zada Bury

Lately I was read the article about the hate against Furries. Then there was also the readers submit with the flag. Soft (Linden) was also post something on Twi- I mean X.

I was see while doing a Drive a picture on the wall - Furries are everywhere, in a way. And most time it seems to work smooth. And then telling people about the hate again.

But is it such big thing? Somebody was commenting it would take getting around in a not that well known avatar to get the experience. I would say, I am not really known in SL. And I am 90% of the time in a furry-avatar (sometimes also a Neko and rarely a human).

Maybe people insult me on voice ... but I can read and write English and Typonese - understanding spoken English, special in different loudness and in a flood other noises might go wrong (special if then also the TV or radio is on or I check YouTube or edit videos) ... so voice is off ... and "Is an insult an insult, if the addressed one not get it?"

It is (for luck) rare, my club becomes griefed ... and the most (and less) trolls we bore out. But is that "Furry specific", as my club is for all species (as long them match an adult appearance, fit trough the door and aren't e.g. war-robots)?

Now you can maybe claim, I don't interact much. Usual you find me in my club. That one is for all species, even the most are Furries (actual Party: 26 participants, 4 human, 22 furs, all having fun). No problems.

Then I am around shopping. Maybe I am in some shops not long enough in a shop to rezz, in others for sure. I was experience before years once an issue, a mall was eject me about "to high ARC". My rant to the owner of the crappy security-system, you can imagine, the excuse was lame. Also the shop-owner got my complaint, and guess, which mall was have in a couple of weeks a store open for rent, as the shop moved?

But anyway: No specific hate against furs.

Also you find me on Linden-events. Them are anyway open for all kind of avatars. As also a lot of the Lindens use non-human avatars, it would be anyway very weird.

You know me also from the "Drivers of SL Grid Drives", where I am since around two years active. This group is open for all kind of people and the drivers are often even more diverse, than the people in my club.

Also no problem,. or not? Once there was a place (group of private Sims), which was hosting the drive in a part, sponsor it also a little, but demanded on "human avatars only." There the Drivers was enforcing their own rules: "Swallow your pride ... or we wont come." You can guess, who was preferring more to have traffic and promote themselves (even the lag was more of a "stay away from here!" sign).

I can understand, if a place say "Here only Human avatars" (or "only furries") , about their concept (even that is stupid). And I can easy accept it, if the place isn't exclusive. For example: If 1-of-100 hangouts make these limitations, it's stupid, but "okay, that I can handle." If it would be 1-of-5 spots for "The new Unobtanium-Game" (nothing real), or "the only store which sells ZYXXYZ-walking houses," it is "not okay."

But that I don't see as hate against Furries.

Maybe somebody else can write about negative experiences, them was made, and how it was come to happen?

Zada Bury

Monday, August 21, 2023

Commentary: Is Furry Discrimination Widespread? Probably Not

 By Bixyl Shuftan

You're enjoying a place in Second Life. Maybe it's a club you heard about. Maybe you're exploring around, and going through someone's land. You're minding your own business and behaving yourself when you're stopped by someone in charge and told you have to change your avatar or leave, the one that you see as the real you in Second Life and into one that you see as unlike at all what you consider yourself to be here. Naturally, you don't like the idea, and you either ignore the person, or tell him or her that you don't understand what the fuss is all about. The next thing you know, there's a flash, and then you realize you've been booted from the place. Or maybe the person was a lot nastier, calling your appearance sick and perverted, and demanding you either change to what they consider acceptable or else, or just simply kick you out.

Naturally, you'd be a little resentful, especially if it was the later. And if you hear about this happening to friends a lot, it may make you a little more cautious about going around new places inworld.

Unfortunately, this is how some furry residents feel about Second Life. I've heard of tales of this kind of harassment from some, and some even if they haven't gone through it themselves, the stories about it happening to others make them hesitant about visiting unfamiliar places inworld. The problem was recently brought to light in an article written by Samuel Roberts for the SL Enquirer.

As a Second Life fur, I'm happy to hear those in human avatars are addressing that the problem exists. But just how bad is it really?

I first wrote about the issue in March 2009 following an incident some furry friends were barred from a beach. After more than two years in Second Life, I'd only personally been asked to leave just because of the furry avatar once, and a week later had bee invited to a fancy event that only asked that I wear a suit. The article drew a number of responses, most siding those who wanted freedom from harassment. After that, I'd only been clearly told twice to leave because of having a furry avatar, and one of them was likely the place in the first article. There was one place in which a bot whispered to me that nonhuman avatars weren't welcome, but no further action was taken. There was one political place who threw out an alt of mine for being furry, but not me when I showed up later, or the one other furry that was there. One place I was invited to a few years ago, I tipped the DJ and hostess after some good music was played out of courtesy. The hostess messaged me that they usually didn't allow furry avatars, but they couldn't in good conscious boot someone who tipped the staff. Also a few years ago, JB Raccoon would ask me to write about one incident in which he was booted from a club after being there for an hour.

Grease Coakes would also write about two incidents he was involved in, here and here, which happened a few years apart. His earlier article got a few noteworthy comments. One commentator remarked he found it hard to sympathize as the club in his real-life town wouldn't allow you in unless your shoes looked expensive. Another commented that while she'd been harrased, the hostess seemed to be reacting less out of furry hate but instead thinking all furry avs were script-heavy. Someone else brought up another issue: feral avatars. One commentator had visited a club in a feral horse avatar that claimed to welcome everyone, but were booted, the person saying they kept bumping into people and the commentator was saying she'd been trying to avoid that.

And it's not all humans against furs, but occasionally the other way around. In my early days in Second Life, one friend in a human avatar once came to me in tears, saying she'd been thrown out of a furry area because of her avatar "I had no idea furries could be so cruel!" She would never visit a furry area again. And then there was an incident I personally witnessed about a decade ago. At one furry club, a human DJing was performing and the party went smoothly with people having fun until all of the sudden one of the foxes went ballistic, ranting and raving and calling the DJ a "hairless ape." The vixen owner, who had personally hired the DJ, saw this, and in a fit of rage booted out the offender, then offered the DJ her apologies. But the damage was done, her leaving soon after and saying she'd never play at another furry club. And discrimination can backfire in unexpected ways. I heard about one SL church in which furries were welcomed with open arms for some years, then when it's first pastor retired the new one insisted parishioners "keep it real" and told the furries if they wanted to keep coming, they had to change to human avatars. Well, as a result, not only did the furs leave, but so did many of the humans who didn't like their furry friends given the cold shoulder. The church folded soon after. The club that JB had gotten the boot from would also fold soon after.

There were two other details that come to mind. One was luck. Some people just seem to avoid trouble while others seem to run into problem after problem. So sadly with the law of averages, some furries would see more problems than others. And then there's that bad situations weigh more heavily on most peoples' minds than good ones. In grade school, I read a poem by a black man who had gone to an amusement park as a child, which had plenty of roller coasters, food stands, and games. But years later, his only vivid memory of the event was being called the N-word.

It should be noted most of the incidents I've heard of happened years ago. But how are things today? Talking to one furry neighbor, it was her opinion while the problem still existed, it wasn't as bad as it used to be. Much of the reason she felt was that attitudes among many of those who prefer human avatars were changing, such as being willing to go furry on occasion themselves. She'd seen a number of furs in recent years of who if you looked at their profile had a human picture.

Just after I started writing this, someone messaged me and complained about a supposed incident, not human against furry, but furry against furry. She claimed because she was a tiny mouse avatar, at a small furry club she was pressured to engage in strange roleplay, and thrown out when she refused (in a included notecard with a conversation with one of the staff, the person denied any wrongdoing).

So in conclusion, yes, discrimination against furries is a problem. But it most likely isn't as bad as some make it out to be, and probably isn't as bad as it was in the past. And it isn't just furs getting the boot, but humans and others can and do experience it as well. But it is appreciated that people like Samuel are trying to do something about it.

In the meantime, most places don't care what you look like as long as you behave. And in the case of music venues, just about all appreciate someone who tips. So don't let the stories about a few clowns ruin your plans to explore all of what Second Life has to offer.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, August 14, 2023

Drivers of SL

By Bixyl Shuftan
In a virtual world in which you can get from place to place by teleporting and flying, people in Second Life don't really need a car. But many of us have one or more and use them anyway. Sometimes people will use them to race. There's also cargo delivery games in which cars and trucks are an option. But sometimes people will go ahead and take them out for a leisurely drive with no particular destination. Or perhaps there is a destination, but you're not in a particular hurry to get there, and the real fun is cruising and watching the scenery go by. As one particular Chuck Berry song put it:

Riding along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin' wild
Cruisin' and playin' the radio
With no particular place to go.

For those who like driving for it's own sake, there's a group in Second Life for them: Drivers of SL. I heard of this group thanks in part to the videos posted by Zady Bury. Talking to her about the group, she had a few things to say. She stated the drives aren't designed by just one person, but "there are multiple people checking them, before (they) become released. ... because every driver, every computer, or connection reacts different. So the programmer might have no problems (but) the normal drivers might have ... trouble," going onto say the group has over five thousand members. None of the drives are outright races in which there's a declared winner, "Some of the drives are also 'cooperations' with e.g. 'Grid Haul' or 'GTFO'. And some drives work together with the sponsors ... others just finish, and then TP to the location/store of the sponsor.

The drives vary a lot. Zada brought up one announcement of a drive not long before we talked:

"Capital Motors Grid Drive in One Hour  ---  There's more than one way to complete the four, unnecessarily and increasingly difficult challenges you'll travel to on this weekend's drive, but it is not likely that most will complete more than 1 or 2 of them, so don't get frustrated, because either way you'll get an awesome reward from Capital Motors upon finishing this trip!

"VEHICLES NEEDED: Road Vehicle (any), Watercraft (any), Aircraft (any plane recommended, but helis will work too)

"First drive 11.30a Or Midnight"

So what were the rewards for doing a run? Zada would tell me they were " 'different in their quality.' At 'Surplus Motors,' we got the regular vehicles. ... Average vehicle shops (also air, ship, etc.) sponsor the drives. But it can be anything. Once we got weapons, other time (period) clothes, gadgets, etc.) To be honest, yes, a great reward makes fun. But it can also just be 'something' (simple), as the most fun in the driving."

From Zada Bury's Youtube
Of who leads the group, Zada told me with a smirk, "Well, the 'head' or face of the DoSL is Christi Charron. But the drives and so are teamworks. Meaning they are most times for each week 'programmed' individually,. so you need an idea, checking the possible ways, and so on. I could also (try) programming a drive, but I struggle with the tool for it. It is pretty powerful. Christi seems to manage it all, or showing the directions." She would go on to say she never saw her scolding anyone or telling them to make changes, "I think she is a 'networking central.'"

She went on to say that with the large number of people in the group, there were some who wanted longer drives than others, "a usual discussion is the length of a drive, which depends on a lot factors. Some are faster around, others slower ... works the sim-crossings or makes SL trouble,. and all of that. There are the people (who feel) '2-3 hours are enough,' and (those who) want '5 hours and more!' It is like 'you can't make it right for all.' Lately after the normal drives, (there is) also a 'bonus leg' added, which seems to be a good solution for me. So, you do the normal drive, get the reward, and (whose who) have time (or the urge), doing also the 'bonus leg.'" 

Zada would say some places were easier to drive through than others, "(A) nice to drive is Bellisseria, about the road network and rezz-zones, and more friendly (and enforced) community standards about ban-lines and security-orbs. Zindra is often complaints about the lag and so, well, the lands are 'full', lot various textures, or lag, than sims with (a) lot abandoned lands on the 'normal' mainland. Also the Zindra-roadnetwork is, a shame. Private islands are difficult, as them are not connected, but the NavHUD can Teleport. Mainland works best. Some roads are or were made in the past 'unlucky', crossings over 4 sim-edges, for example, but most drivers can handle it."

from Zada Bury's Youtube
The group had people with all kinds of avatars, "Everything is ok, human (for sure), furry, anime, feral, dinkies, some also toddlers . The Japanese drivers ("Inaka-Team") is often also around in pretty strange avis. Also it does not matter, if mesh or classic." This wasn't usually a problem, but there could occasionally be complications. Child avatars could get in trouble in some places in Zindra. And when going through private areas, "if they make limitations, (the drivers) can decide to 'swallow it or no visit.' One land made (among) their rules no furries for example. There are such things, where we enforce own rules. at other areas. One example is the National Forest, no motor vehicles, for example." While some could switch to bikes or horses, "I use a feral vixen *smiles*  The "National Forest" parcel had a huge, VERY huge cave system."

Zada went on, "The drives bring you to or along interesting places, you maybe would never (have) seen or visited before. Oh, and the people, you find there people you never would have expected." Zada told me she met one from an old comic project, as well as community people in Zindra and other places, "and building up some 'other'relationships."

Of the navigation HUD, "the programming takes work, nothing to do automatic. If you have a long straight road, easy. But even if it just have a curve , you need to set the waypoints along it, even the NavHUD might not need to give orders, like turn in x meters left/right' and walking is even more detailed."

Another of the Drivers of SL group I talked to was Jazzimus Maxwell. He maintains the three Drivers of SL headquarters, and we met at the first one. The group had over 5000 members. Jazzimus felt it had a few hundred when it started. The group drives every Saturday at Noon and Midnight SL time. Jazzimus guessed on any one drive, between twenty and eighty take part. "We also have events each year ... usually summer and winter camping events, boating and driving while camping. We get a land sponsor and you get a space to camp, with limited prims of course. It's very popular. Oh, and we do a space camp too. We work together with GTFO! as well. That's another thing as thats a whole other 'game' within a game. And we do a GTFO drive each month, meaning we incorporate GTFO on the grid drive. ... You collect XP points for delivering goods to and from GTFO hubs on the roads, or on water or in space. They do not equate to any physical rewards, just points."

"The neat thing about Drivers of SL," Jazzimus went on, "is it's a way to socialize and have fun. A lot of people need friendship ... and this is a great way to start. We also work with the Roadway Cruiser Group at the end of each month, we usually do s sim track drive on those." He would mention they were somewhat linked to the Leeward Cruising Club and the Skyward Flying Club, "driving, flying, boating, they have events each week as well, and they provided a HUD for each event. Not as complex mind you as our NaviHUD, but more of a locator HUD. They also socialize at the end of each event with a dance party. We only works (with) the Roadway Club officially, but a lot of our members are in all three groups as well."
He would also say the group had a Flickr page, a blog, and several drivers who posted on Youtube, including Zada Bury.
Jazzimus would then take me out for a drive in a Tide racecar, leading to a joke or two about "making a clean getaway." We drove around on the mainland for a while, crossing a bridge or two and at one point going offroad. After riding around in a while, we went on a plane for a while, going over the water, passing some ships and islands, eventually landing on a small aircraft carrier. 

I would also have a few words with the group's founder Christi Charron. Christi is also known for being in the Second Life Cheerleading Squad. Talking to her, she told me the HUD used by Drivers in SL had it's orgin in the SLCS, "Originally the Nav HUD we use was created for the Second Life Cheerleading Squad, and was used for friends to find our weekly friday 'Destination Unknown' party. where you HAD to follow the navigation HUD to find it, after having being given the starting point. Patty Croquet, a SLCS Cheerleader and super geniun, created the NAV HUD for us, and still improves on it today. The Nav HUD is what makes it all possible.

"We stopped having the parties and after a few years I dusted off the HUD to go for a drive, and sent a group notice in a few vehicle groups asking if anyone wanted to join.  When I showed up for the drive, there were 30 or so people there, and I was expecting one or none. So that was a clue that others enjoyed this, and we just began having them weekly from then on, and the Nav HUD has vastly improved during that time, as it can now track what we're doing inworld as well as point us where to go."

She would tell me the events became weekly in September 2017, and the group, "increases at an average rate of 100 new members per month or so. We've done one every week, sometimes two or three for our periodic weekend camping events. So around 60 per year for over five years now.  Each drive is like a simple video game mission. Some are more complex than others." I asked her how complex can they get and what was the most complex one. Her answer, "A simple 'go here go there' drive takes about 16 hours to create, the average drive takes about 30 hours to create. Some can take as much as 80 hours of work or so.  The most complex drive we had I think was within a storyline resembling 'Back to The Future,' where they went forward in time and have to go into space to steal plutonium from a satellite to have fuel to return back to their own timeline.   Some have had helicopters chasing them like a James Bond movie. and some have had a string of 30+ (drone) police cars chasing them across an entire continent.

"The one that gets the most comments is likely 'A Christmas Drive' we (typically) do annually, it is a mix of 'Its a Wonderful Life' and 'A Christmas Carol,' where the person doing the drive is cast as the role of a combination of Scrooge and George Baily.  It shows them 'what SL would be like if its closing' due to people not getting premium accounts or spending money. It kinda shows them that someday this could and will likely have an ending, one I saw similarly in another online game Ii played as a teen."

Of the game's sponsors, "Every drive has a 'sponsor.' The sponsor of that drive has their name associated with that drive, ie : 'Capital Motors Grid Drive.'   Each sponsor supplies a reward to be given to every person who completes the drive within its two week time-frame. After two weeks, the drive reward may no longer be available, Drive rewards are almost exclusively cars, but can be boats or planes. almost always its a vehicle.  If the reward isn't a vehicle, they're usually given one elsewhere in the drive.  Each drive ends AT the sponsors store, where they're shown their car demos if any, and vendors, and are directed to join their VIP group if they want, and even visit their MP store.  It improves the sponsor's sales and get them some exposure that can otherwise take many months or more. We typically have  sponsors scheduled Three months in advance, so its very popular with vehicle sellers. Sometimes an airport or some other location will sponsor a drive, and find a reward to give us."

And what was the most unusual reward? " We have gotten some crazy ones. most of the super unusual ones come in the form of 'Easter eggs.'  They may be hidden in a crate they're delivering for someone else as part of the drive, and would only be seen if they look in the box out of curiosity.  Some have been some really unusual 'walkers' that have you sitting on what amounts to a bug with 6-8 articulated, animated legs, that actually move like legs, and push the vehicle forward. They can even climb up walls (laughter)."

I then asked with the builder of the HUD being with a Relay group, have there ever been any fundraising Drives? Christi answered, "Most dont realize that The Drivers of SL is owned by The Second Life Cheerleaders, but that connection is being made more evident more and more over time. We have had fundraising drives and have one yearly that both ends at, and tours the annual RFL walk, the nav hud continues to direct them around the track after their initial drive, and points out interesting locations, as well as encouraging them to donate to RFL.  We don't do as many charity drives as we should, though many end at the monthly SLCS Funday Charity Events for RFL purposely for that reason. I typically embed things like that within drives, vs. making them entirely charity focused, as I fear that might give some the impression we have an agenda other than just having fun each week. This group is more focused on helping each other and treating each other well than most i think and hope.  It's more of a giant group of friends than it is a random touring group. 
From Zada Bury's Youtube
"We try to make sure everyone is included, and even try to translate most drives into Japanese for our growing population of friends from there. Typically 350 complete each drive with the two week timeframe.  over the years to come, another 200 or so will do the drives from the archives. Pyo Igaly (who is a Japanese female) assists with the Japanese translation, and works hard to help with that as well as tst the drive. LukeFlywalker Fittinger also tests the drives weekly and broadcasts a weekly radio show for the drivers. Eowyn Southmoore and Camanula Aeon help host the two drive times we have weekly, as I'm very absent minded and will forget to send the notices out otherwise (laughter).  and Jules Catlyn does a great job in helping to moderate group chat and to spread an infectious, nice temperment within the group."

Bringing up the Japanese drivers, I asked if the group was getting the most interest from Japanese users besides American ones. Christi answered, "I believe there as many or more Europeans/British and Russians doing the drive collectively as folks from the US. The Midnight Drive each week has the most attendance, and is made up of mostly non US participants."

I asked about some of the more interesting personalities in the group. Christi's respons was, "Oh My God, a grid drive start can be like a Mardi Gras parade.  Some drive conventional vehicles, but some are crazy and may have a restaurant on the back of a truck or otherwise resemble parade floats (laughter).  People who attend drives become friends quickly and the , particularly midnight drivers, are really a varied sampling of avatar and personality types from SL.  Some may be furries or goth avs, some may be  more 'kawaii', some very military. But we all know each other well and get along well as a fun group of friends that has sort of a 'misfit' feel to it, in a good way.

"Nadnerb is a pony av for instance. Beylana wear black always and makes sex toys. I do SLCS stuff, but were all very good friends who may not have otherwise met. Its an interesting and funny (combination) in person. One avatar who is Bender from Futurama, makes us all laugh constantly with his quick wit. As a group we take our time, and typically take about 5 hours to complete a drive that takes a single person around an hour. Most don't do the drive as a group. About half or more do the drive alone, or with their small group of friends. If we have challenges during the drive, completing them is a never a requirement for completing the drive and getting the reward. One can always skip those portions is we have them in a drive.  some take a helicopter down the road where they're instructed to use a car, and may even ask in group if this is okay, and it is, pretty much anything goes and one should have fun on a drive in the manner they see fit, in their own vehicles of their choosing, usually ones they've customized, or even made entirely on their own."

From Zada Bury's Youtube
Going over the HUD, she would say, "The Nav HUD is pretty specific about where they go, and even for how long sometimes,  we try to give them as much slack as we can but have things like banlines and peoples private parcels we have to worry about keeping them from invading. It has a simple arrow that points in the 12:00 position if headed the right way. If they need to veer right some, the arrow would be more in the 2:00 position or so. As an example, many drivers stream their grid drives weekly, or make videos of them afterwards. And they're interesting to watch, particularly for me, as I can see how they're reacting to the hud instructions as well as a vehicle I may have created. Some are Japanese, I can see how they're reacting to the translated version as well.

"Each week I try to do something someone usually doesnt know or expect that a hud can do. Zada Bury creates short videos of her drive that show the highlights:  this one is her doing the Christmas drive where they have to deliver presents to Drivers' homeowners across Bellisseria, for a person they assume is Santa. In this particular drive, Santa's truck has a surprise in that it allows them to walk, while still seated on the truck, and the nav hud tells the truck when to do this (so they can deliver presents to Drivers homeowners in Bellisseria without their vehicle being returned). The nav hud can teleport them, fade their screen in and out, tell where an object is, or if the avatar is sitting, and if so on what, and can make them sit for so long, or get a drink or other attachment and detect it, or even make them fly the entire course on autopilot, and at high speeds, up to 300 mph. A typical avatar driving speed is around 25 mph otherwise.

From Zada Bury's Youtube
"We also use planes, boats spaceships, and even have camping events 2-3 times a year where we camp n the snow, space, or even on boats for the entire weekend. One has to drive to the event to find the campground, which is part of the experience, similar to the original SLCS 'desintation unknown' parties originally intended for use with the nav hud. The camping events are really popular and have around 200 people or so camping in their vehicles all weekend, or sitting around the bonfire playing games or dancing.

"While we promote businesses and patronize peoples parcels and builds each week, and give them traffic theyre likely imagined when building their place, we have a not so well known agenda in promoting spending money on SL in general, whether through premium accounts, or buying merchandise or rent, in a small effort to try and help extend the longevity and viability of SL for Linden Labs."

It should be noted that the conversations I had with Zada, Jazzimus, and Christi took place a few months ago. Since then, their main headquarters had moved to the Hugues sim, and "the other at the airport got a massive makeover and so it moved." I would also be told the number of people in the group had gone up to over 6100.
The drives are continuing, with the drivers having fun.

One can follow Zada Bury's videos on her Youtube channel here:

For the Flickr page, (some pictures iffy for work)

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, August 7, 2023

The Bellisseria Bureau of Bureaucracy

 By Gemma Cleanslate

During the SL20B event many visitors saw Lindens and Moles walking around with “tablets” in their hands and avatars swarming around them chattering about STAMPS. In the birthday group chat people were stating where those Moles might be sighted and a gaggle of avatars would descend on the locations immediately. Here are Strawberry , Patch, and Misssy with theirs in hand, I thought I would explain to those who are not in the know what it was all about and invite you to get involved.

Back in 2020 BÓÒ (Boo Rojyo) envisioned the need for bureaucracy on Bellisseria and the Bellisseria Bureau of Bureaucracy, (the BBB) to help people leave their homes and explore the grid. He invented the passport. The headquarters was set up where applicants could apply for a one. The passport was good all over the entire grid at all sorts of places, clubs, nature centers, yacht clubs, gas stations, restaurants and so many more. The owners of the sites maintain a passport terminal at their locations. With help from several friends they also began issuing a driver’s license, plate for vehicles. The idea grew and so did the staff all of whom had a role.

The personal tablets carried came as a later idea. This Ancient Mole’s .

When a holder carries (wears) their passport they may click the terminal and receive a stamp on their

own passport. It is great fun. Sometimes there are special stamps for events such parties at the fairgrounds or the Relay or birthdays. They are available for that time and then retired. A list of all the past stamps are on the web provided by Robert Rhodan. At first it was just for Bellisserian residents. Every Saturday The Gazette is published and a list of new locations with terminals is listed. I take advantage of that and go get them immediately.

Over the years the opportunity has grown so much. This is a statement by Boo explaining the new opportunity for all to collect stamps . Each continent can now carry a passport the reflects their own continent and for those off the mainland a generic one. He told me,

“Why and how did the BBB make passports available to everyone in SL ?

It's something we'd always planned to do. However we had a rather manual process for producing passports and were afraid we just couldn’t cope with the workload that might occur if we suddenly opened the passports to all.

However North Crannock did some great work creating a more 'self build' passport. This coincided with the creation of the Bellisseria embassies throughout mainland. This allowed us to make the stamps, and the passports freely available to anyone on SL, land owner, premium, or neither who wanted to collect and explore. Since I stepped down as CEO of the BBB the team has continued to perfect and improve the stamp and passport process enormously. Special mention to Robert, Amanda, Laurel, and also Dave for all the publicity. And of course to Bel for taking over leading the ship so ably.”

Boo has now become an ambassador at the Embassy on Heterocera. The embassies are maintained by the BBB.There is a Board of directors that works together to ensure everything keeps up to date and has other ideas in mind. To see all the previous stamps that are available or retired you can go to and begin to collect the older ones listed.

To apply for an intercontinental passport on line you can visit

or you can stop in at anyone of the Embassies to get a folder containing loads of information to help you. This is the Corsica Embassy. A passport is already in the folder with directions.

These are the people who are involved in the workings of the BBB . I hope I got them all!

Founder and Ambassador to Heterocera -- Boo Rojyo

CEO -Bel (Jezebel Bailey)

Board Members -, Dave (Lord Junibalya), AmandaT Tamatzui. Teresa Firelight

Scriptors -North (North Crannock), Robert Rhodan (RobertRhodan)

and Sandy Burgess

POH editor and Linden/Mole Liaison -- Teresa

Party Planner - Amanda

Stamp Designers - Amanda, Robert

BBB Passports, Licenses, License Plates -Laurel (Laurelrose Anthony) (Bel backup)

Discord Geek and backup scripter - Coal Edge

Editor in Chief - Dave

Scout - Gemma Cleanslate

Ambassadors --

Heterocera - Boo Rojyo

Nautilaus -Freddie Harrington (Freddie Venus)

Gaeta - SᴏɴDᴇᴇ Bᴀᴛɪsᴛᴀ-LᴇFᴇᴠʀᴇ (SonsarayDeJonay)

CDS - Sandy Burgess

Corsica - Dulcinea Andretti

Zindra -Rascal Starlight

Jeogeot - Coughran Mayo

Sansara - OPEN

Satori – OPEN

There is a search on for a new ambassador for the two open continents in case you are interested.

“Builders of all things possible - Everyone has their own specialty! Mine is stand and point!” said Bel , and she does a wonderful job of pointing and directing traffic!

The BBB headquarters is a fun place to visit .
Take a walk around and see the buildings and the back yard. Relax in the new Zen Garden. On the wall inside are posters for each of the type of Passport available. upstairs is a room with all the Embassies on the wall.

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Photos From The Fandom Fashion Show

 Pictures by Gemma Cleanslate

Last week, Gemma Cleanslate dropped by the Fandom Fashion Show, and finding a number of Moles and Lindens took some pictures. This included Alotta Mole.

There was Wendi Linden. No word from Gemma on if anyone was saying "Bettlejuice" three times.

And there was Patch Linden, in a pink-stripped outfit.

There was Mini Mole in a sailor suit.

Ancient Mole looked a bit like a Murlock from "Warcraft" on a broom.

It wasn't clear what Jester Linden was trying to be.

Ador Mole was looking a little cheesy. 

They and others were having fun, dancing away at a pad.

At one point there was an "intruder on stage." If this guy was out to cause trouble, no doubt with all the blue tags around, he was taken care of in a hurry.

Gemma may have more on the con later. 

Bixyl Shuftan & Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, July 10, 2023

Interview With Kitacelia on Raising Horses

 By Penny Shuftan (Deaflegacy)

Hello, everyone. I was lucky to be able to have a very good interview with Kἶէმƈεlἶმ Lմἶղƈօɾἶმlօէε Kεlνმɾl (Kitacelia). I have been buying horses and ponies from her for some time now.  She really does have remarkable horses and ponies. 
After the interview started, my first question to her was, "What inspired you to go into horse breeding?" Kitacelia answered, "Well, since I was a little girl, I have always loved horses.  When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to have a few horse riding lessons, and I was in a show. I always wanted to have horses in real life, but my health and finances prevented it."  After a moment's thought, she added, "I should say disabilities and finances.  And it's exciting to see what different coats, breeds, and vanities (are available).

"Breeding animals in general is (interesting) in SL, though I prefer fantasy ones, horses and cats (that's mane and tail you can get."

My next question was, "What's your favorite horse?"  Kitacelia replied, "It's too hard to choose just one.  I don't breed much other than horses anymore as it can become expensive, and the market for them is sometimes pretty low."

I gave her a compliment in saying that she did pretty good at breeding horses.  "I don't really breed Amaretto anymore but I liked the crystal features some had so I bred a few,"  she told me,  "Thank you.  Foxtrot are nice because they don't require food.  Just bundle to breed. Sadly, they are not as detailed and do not move."

I then wondered which horse is the best breed.  "Depends on what you wanted to do," she told me,  "If you want something that is inexpensive and safe, foxtrot. If you wanted something realistic with a lot of options, ABC (Awesome Breed Creations) horses."

The conversation shifted to what to tell someone who is interested in breeding horses. Kitacelia answered, "I would tell them to not expect to make money from it or if they do, not much, especially not at first.  If they want to do it because they enjoy it and are able to take time and have the money to do it, they should."

I then asked her about how she's doing in the horses business. Kitacelia answered, "Well, I sell a few here and there.  You are by far my best customer." I confessed to constantly falling in love with her horses because they're the inspiring type. She told me, "Most people who buy horses either get them to breed them, or they get them for horse shows, which means they want matching manes and tails and feet and rare coats and eyes.  The other reason is for racing which requires very specific short vanities and high racing stats and training. I do not breed horses for racing.  Once in a while, I will by chance get one suitable for it.  But I mostly breed show horses."

I told Kitacelia that she's doing pretty good with the amazing show horses, especially with the Pegasus horses.  "I am glad." she said.  I added that I had one more question.  If I continue to buy horses from her, will she continue to breed horses?  "Of course," she answered. I thanked her because I was so glad that she would continue breeding horses as long as I continue to buy horses from her.

That was it.  I thanked her for the interview. I am forever glad that I can continue to buy horses from her.  Kἶէმƈεlἶმ Lմἶղƈօɾἶმlօէε Kεlνმɾl (kitacelia) really does breed remarkable horses. If anyone is interested in a show horse, I recommend Kitacelia.  She is truly the best in the horses business.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Beverly Montgomery's Memorial Service

 By Bixyl Shufta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictures from Linn Darkwatch
Bixyl Shuftan 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Reader Submitted: Remembering Allian Blackwell

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

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

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

How did you first meet Allian?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Jaun Boucher