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Monday, September 25, 2017

My Tribute to Breezes


by Chigadee London

Breezes Babbi was my friend in Second Life and real life. I met her several years ago when  she was a subscriber to  my hat group. She stood out simply because she was one of the few who took the time to thank me for giving hat gifts and then she would send me photos of herself wearing them! I realized right then and there she was pretty special and we became fast friends. She eventually became my store manager and even modeled for me in one of my first fashion shows.

Our Second Life friendship  graduated to real life friendship with Skype conversations and phone calls, and I learned that she did not have an easy real life which was fraught with health issues. She rarely complained, even though she came close to death many times but fought back with such courage, she seemed almost invincible. We all thought she was going to bounce back from her last bout as she had done in the past but I think St. Peter and the angels were finally ready for her arrival.

In the last months of her life, I was in constant contact with her family,  particularly her daughter in law (Brenda) who was completely devoted to her. Brenda was sincerely touched and appreciated the outpouring of sentiments by friends and communities Breezes was involved in. The following is a short message Brenda sent me after learning  about the Tombstone Memorial which was organized to honour Breezes. It gives  a glimpse into the real-life Breezes (Jeannie).

"A few things about Jeannie. She absolutely loved to sit on the deck and watch birds. Bluebirds were her favorites followed very closely by cardinals. She really liked her Kindle. She would read detective and murder mystery. Her TV was always on the food network. 24 hours a day. She loved shopping online. Food, clothes, dishes, etc... (laughter). The family had a beagle named Daisy about 40 years ago and she always talked about her Daisy. Still has a picture of that dog. She was smart, but very naive in an old fashioned kind of way. Very friendly with a soft marshmallow for a heart. I told her she was my magical genie. She would laugh and joke about falling off of her magic carpet because she never learned to drive or to even ride a bike. She was born with tremors in her hands and it limited her. She always hated that. She especially hated to eat in front of people thinking they would notice. She was right handed but had to learn everything by using her left hand. Very determined lady with a desire to make it work."  - Brenda

So as you all  see, Breezes was as kind, sweet and smart in real life as she was in Second Life. Rest In Peace dear Breezes. I was truly blessed and honoured to have you as a friend in Second Life and real life. I  miss you.

Chigadee London

Friday, September 22, 2017

Perri Prinz Talks About Her Livejournal Troubles, Facebook Suspension


By Bixyl Shuftan

Besides being the part owner of Club Xanadu in the Sunweaver community, as well as an occasional classic rock DJ, Perri Prinz is known as a writer. For years, she has worked on her serial online sci-fi novel "Spectral Shadows." But she had put that on hold a few months ago and began trying her hand at nonfictional opinion pieces about the furry community and society in general. But that came to a halt when Facebook suspended her account. Recently I went to her to give her a chance to explain what happened.

"What happened with Spectral Shadows?" I asked Perri. She answered, "What happened was that Live Journal and photobucket weren't broke.  So they fixed them.  And now they can't be used unless I'm willing to pay insane amounts of money.  So my site was destroyed." There had been no notice, and they demanded the cash right out of the blue, "and they put ads all over my pages where the background and pictures used to be." So on the front page of her story site, she posted that she was putting her writing on hold. This isn't the end of Spectral Shadows, though, Perri saying, "Niko is trying to build me a new site on Blogspot, but it's becoming doubtful I'll continue it. My heart isn't in it at the moment, and with the way the world is now, I don't see there being much positive interest in what I do."

I then asked about her writing commentaries following her decision to put her fiction writing on hold. She told me, "I've spent most of this year neck deep in the controversy that has pretty much destroyed The Furry Community." And why did  she think it was destroyed with so many fans of this genre of written and visual fiction and art, as well as the many users of furry avatars on Second Life. She answered, "To enjoy being a fan of anthropomorphic you have to leave the community. In the community is nothing but identity politics, hatred, and threats." Hadn't the community faced challenges before and more or less recovered from them? She told me there was one that it hadn't, "The only challenge that approached this magnitude was the Burned Fur War.  And the community never recovered from it.  We've lived in its shadow ever since, and it has a lot to do with why there are bad people in positions of power all over the community who look on this new attack on the community as a chance to finally have their way with Furry Fandom. ... The damage is permanent and will only get worse. You can look at Marvel Comics and any other company, fandom or web site that has been invaded by these same people. Their objective is to destroy, and they will continue to hammer away at the fandom until nothing remains but ruins."

As Perri continued her commentaries, they were less about the community of anthro fans and more about analyzing political trends. She told me, "What's happening to Furry Fandom isn't an isolated incident. It's part of a massive political movement that is causing irreparable social destruction all over the world. It would make no sense to try to address what we face in the Furry Community without dealing with the worldwide disaster that is currently unfolding. ... Much of Europe is already devastated beyond repair, but the same tactics that are being used against The Furry Community, most other fandoms, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook."

Perri told me the response she got was mainly positive, "I was mainly preaching to the choir. Those being attacked in the fandom looked to me as one of the few concerned who could write well and get their message out that they are not what they're being accused of. But those attacking them just call anyone who doesn't agree with them a Nazi, say Nazis don't get a right to speak, and they use every underhanded trick they can come up with to silence their opposition, as well as to close the ears of everyone else with treats of blacklisting, doxxing and real life character assassination. And every day another major Furry site falls under their agenda, Fur Affinity being the latest to implement their kind of censorship. Though we lost Flayrah and Dogpatch Press as far back as last year. So there is no longer any freedom of speech in The Furry Community, and everyone is under threat."

But why resort to calling someone you don't like a Nazi, considering the unofficial rule in internet discussion that once someone invokes the name of Hitler, the discussion is for all practical purposes over on the grounds there can be no further rational argument. Perri commented, "True, but there is someone worse than Nazis.  Someone who could be considered the parent group of Nazis.  The people accusing everyone who doesn't agree with them of being Nazis are Communists.  They march through the streets of America and Europe bearing the flags of Communism, while burning American flags, and turning our streets into riot zones. That is typical Social Justice Warrior behavior.  That's how they took down 2 The Ranting Gryphon, by accusing him of encouraging suicide with his free speech."

Perri believes what happened was that one or more of the people she was criticizing complained to Facebook, which responded by shutting down her account. She had gotten no warning about changing future or present content, "It just went poof." She felt there was no point in contacting them about restoring her account, "They won't talk to me unless I have some kind of official document with the name on the account on it to prove Perri Prinz is a real person. They don't have to show mercy to Second Life characters. I've been in violation of the TOS from day one. And I'm not going to be bullied into opening an account with my real name. It's not worth fighting. This is one of the things that makes Furries vulnerable to Social Justice Warriors.  All it takes is one well placed phone call and there's nothing we can do to defend our sites."

So as a writer, was what happened with Livejournal and Facebook hard on Perri? Not necessarily. She told me, "Actually, it was being involved in this situation that was hard on me. It's not easy trying to write things that will get through to people who openly reject common sense. I'm enjoying being out of the spotlight for a while." So she was taking a break from writing, "I think I've done enough preaching to the choir. It's going to take someone bigger than me to tackle this business."

So what were her plans now, in and out of Second Life? Perri answered, " I plan to be in Second Life as much as possible, with REC (Recoyote Mindes) being in such bad shape, and Erik seems to need me here as well to give him a sense of security. I may tinker around with Spectral Shadows over the next few months and come back next year on the new site Niko is building. That would be my plan. But The Furry Raiders are still after me to keep being their voice. I expect I'll be asked to write some stuff for their site. I'll do my best on that."

At one point, Perri slipped on a varriant of the "Furry Raiders" armband, one that was pink and blue, "Back in the 70's and 80's we used to wear these.  They were for holding cigarettes and other small items."

Perri and I talked a little longer. At one point, she expressed concern that Second Life's furry communities were not necessarily free of the threat of the radicals she had been criticizing. She felt they could easily come here, infiltrate, and try to cause division and discord. Part of their strategy of divide and conquer.

Spectral Shadows picture by Tigers Kitten

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 15, 2017

Reader Submitted: Breezes Babii and Tombstone


By Adrian Wise

An intrepid gal arrived in Tombstone and sidled into the Crystal Palace Saloon.  In the days to come she would serve up a drink or two, wipe down the bar and even step up on stage to dance the night away, greeting folks as they meandered in and out of one of the many landmarks that identify the Town Too Tough Too Die here in Second Life. Miss Breezes Babii would gather her tips, whisk off only to return in a brand new finely tailored dress, chapeau ... or gown she'd eyed somewhere in this amazing Second Life; sure to be searching for the next.

It wasn't before long the dust shook off the gal, and a Lady walked Allen Street in search of her next wild west adventure co-starring everyone in Tombstone.

If I had to recall her first days here- That would be that.

If I had to retell of Miss Breezes days in Tombstone, I am far from over.

If I had to let you in on a little secret to her magic... I just may be persuaded to do that.

One footprint at a time~

"Miss Bree" steadily gobbled up folks hearts daily as she journeyed the dusty landscape living in the town of Benson until finally settling in Black Diamond Hills for her Role Play home. There she would become that town's Doctor, Owner of the Cantina "La Cantina de la Brisa", Baker for the Orphans of Tombstone and some how or another went head to head with the most outrageous Outlaws as Teller in the Bank of Benson... later- Head Teller of the Territory.  It was no secret she had her eye on a young sturdy Calvary Officer and would be seen at dances and Meet and Greets with him.


One Prim, two prim, three prim MORE~

Tombstone celebrates each and every holiday likewise "Miss Bree" saw to it that garlands or flags flew, appropriate flowers bloomed, treats were baked, candies distributed and (naturally) her surmounting wardrobe matched. Yes.. that "Santa that gives Hot Cocoa" was ever present. Be it Dias de los Muertos or Mardi Gras Each holiday perfectly sparkled to match her eyes.. after all- it was another reason to go shopping!

The Genuine Article~

We will forever remember "Miss Bree" to whom no goal was set too high.  No challenge left unabated.  No Storyline incidental.  In court as Witness or Juror, patching up folks after Small Pox outbreaks, Apache raid the town or attend their Pow Wow (In full regalia I must add) Rodeo, Round-Up or Posse; Hunting, Fishing; Celebrating Wild West Life.. she wore so many Hats... so many.

It's a Kind of Magic~

When you reside in a Sim garnished for roleplaying it's rare to know the typist for who they are beyond the well constructed words on your monitor, that is unless you have the passion "Miss Bree" had for everything going on around her.

Typically referred to as "OOC" or "Out of Character" it is the moment you echo the thoughts & experiences of the typist to share who you really are. In real life, our Outlaw characters do not kill people, our Judges do not sentence folks to hang and our Doctors do not tend to mass quantities of Children with the Small Pox. I myself, although known to be long winded, am not a politician.

On rare occasion the tale of a rattlesnake (for instance) would surface prompting "Miss Bree" to not only instruct the townsfolk how to kill it, but offer tasty recipes and advice on how to tend to the skin and bones for jewelry ... something we'd come to find out she'd practiced in her youth for survival. Thus a new chapter unfolded.  For most of us, the Wild West is our dream world, for Breezes Babii it's where she grew up, educated and raised a family.  It would not be long before many of her musings were stripped away to reveal the genuine article- the strongest of beautiful women battling though thick and thin only to chose to grace us with what laughter and free time she had left after years of various challenging illnesses.

When Tombstone joined the Second Life "Relay For Life" Breezes recalled the "Relay Rockers" Team to us- another of her HUNDREDS of fond memories on the grid. She was simply never short of compatriots who about her cannot say a discouraging word.  "Miss Bree" had a simple code of ethics. You need not try so hard to befriend her.. you just already were and possibly always was....

Her friend....
A. Wise, Mayor

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Interview with GoSpeed Racer (GoSpeed Rasere)


By Deaflegacy

GoSpeed Racer, best known for being the owner of KONA Radio, the DJ for many of Bay City's events, and a display name matching the name of a Japanese cartoon character, was recently crowned Miss Bay City near the end of it's "Hot Bay City Nights" yearly summer car show. GoSpeed had been Djing the Miss Bay City Contest for the past few years and had entered once before.  “I figured I'd give it a shot this year,” she explained.

I asked GoSpeed why she chose her particular account name. She answered, “When I first signed up in 2006 I was going through the list of available last names. As I scrolled past Racer, I saw the GEICO Insurance commercial featuring Speed Racer (on TV). So, on a lark I chose GoSpeed Racer.” Recently, she has been using the display name "GoSpeed Rasere." She explained,  “This past year I changed it to Rasere because I am using GoSpeed as a character in my writing and I wanted to avoid intellectual property issues with my name.”

GoSpeed does have a "Mark-Five," the car her cartoon counterpart drives, which was in the Newser for a cartoon in 2011. When I asked her if she had ever raced with it, she said, “No, it's a very fast vehicle and that often leads to crashes and horrible sim crossing snafus.” She won a nice sports car from 2Zm as a prize for winning the Miss Bay City Contest. That it had a "5" painted on it, GoSpeed smiled, calling it "Pure coincidence."

When I asked if there are any other peaks to winning the Miss Bay City Contest beside the title and bragging rights, she answered, “Nope, nothing else!” There are no specific events she has to attend, or/and responsibilities of the title, but GoSpeed intend to attend as many Bay City events as possible. Of the crown, she says she will wear it mainly at these events. GoSpeed has been attending events in Bay City since 2009.

GoSpeed would like people to know that KONA Stream is still alive and kicking after nearly 11 years inworld, "Our homepage is www.konastream.com . It's (been) doing quite well the past year. Listenership in and offworld has increased.”

GoSpeed is also a budding novelist, who has completed the drafts to two novels  She is working on a third.  When asked what they were about, she explained, "They are novels about a futuristic simulation where SL avatars are reconstituted as living AI. Our social media presence is preserved and then used with computer algorithms to synthesize personalities." That is, their personalities are based on how their users used the avatars in actions and virtual speech, and, "on how the algorithm interprets the imagery, blogs, etc... You may have read an article where researchers say that based on a person's lifelong Facebook and other social media postings that an somewhat accurate represntation of their personality can be emulated. So, our avatars live on, but they won't totally be us.  I hope to self publish by the new year."

You can go to her personal Second Life blog at https://gospeedracer.wordpress.com/  to read more about her stories and other things about her.  The link to GoSpeed's blog as well as her other media sites is:  http://about.me/GoSpeed_Racer .

Pictures from Bixyl Shuftan and GoSpeed Racer.

Deaflegacy

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Remembrances of an Angel


By Gemma Cleanslate

“I know I don't walk so well , but hey I do love SL for keeping me dry even underwater.”

“Bang   figure out the rest sometime
survived and decided  mmm what have I decided. 
Oh well look at me and  then you will see I didn't make a good decision. Mercysakes”
 


That was Breezes!!
 

A wonderful friend for over 10 years, a writer for the SL Newspaper and for the SL Newser for some time. We spent many hours almost every day talking and camping together in the old camping days. We went to parties together and once in a while shopping.

Early on she found a home in Samarkand, a roleplay kingdom that had tourneys, knights, and a Queen. Breezes loved it there, and I was invited to watch a tourney and have lunch with the Queen, whom she loved. It was a splendid place.Breezes made many loving friends there. I thought at the time it would be her long time home in SL.  But the queen died and Samarkand was no more. Breezes was heartbroken and wandered for a long time searching for a new home that she could love as much. 


She loved fashion, and made sure she was always dressed in the latest fashion, why we camped so much!  She shopped the best designers and never threw out the boxes. She worked for Chigadee London in her hat shop, but I will let her tell you about that, and was a shoe model too. 



Finally she found a new home that she loved and has spent the past few years in, Tombstone, that is based on Tombstone Arizona in the late 1800's, as a role player. Her favorite time there was being in the bank, especially when the cavalry came with a deposit. I went to some trials in the town where Breezes was a witness to a crime and it was always fun to listen to her testimony.  I will let the Mayor of Tombstone, Adrian Wise tell you more about her life there. 

When I first met Breezes it was at a party where my then partner, now absent, Qwark Allen, was djing. He invited her and, wow, was I jealous. Here was this gorgeous avatar with spectacular clothes. I thought she was after him (laughter), We became friends though, and when  she learned about my first thoughts she and I had a good laugh. Bree is the one who introduced me to Dana Vanmoer, owner of the SL Newspaper and started me on my way to reporting. 


She  loved dancing at parties and made an effort to stop by at least when she got a call and came in her Tombstone clothing to any kind of party . She came and went like the wind that she was.  Early in our friendship I learned that she did not have any audio, until much later, and never heard the music but was always there gamely dancing.


She was never very good with prims so I helped her move to new homes several times and placed the furniture and moved curtains for her. If you came to visit before I got there you would find furniture and decor in one big pile and curtains everywhere.
 


Her friends,Perry Krell and Leigh Elton Krell , planned a new sim that included animals. So Bree became a lion and greeter for that sim. It was one of the only times that I saw her not dressed in finery but the lion was meticulously groomed!! She was also active with the Relay for Life  for many years and dearly remembered for her involvement.

There were so many aspects to Bree, some of which I even do not know though we had many long conversations about life, real and Second Life. 


“Many obstacles in my life .We all have them..With my loving friends they will help guide my way.May any who read these words have the same good friends around you.  The Lord above will watch over us, the angels will wrap their wings around and help guide."..... Her words...


For almost her entire Second Life, her health has not been good. And there were several crises. But she revived so many times after a bad spell I think we all expected her to just  have infinity here. I did get to talk to her for a bit on June 26 for the last time and am happy for that since.  I know it was her last visit to Second Life, and she told me so. As Dolleyes Barbosa of Tombstone said, “  she will be a beautiful angel, and the best dressed one too.”  I will miss her deeply as I know her many friends here will.
 


 A poem by Saadi, a knight of Samarkand, who wooed Breezes.

"The day was hot under a cloudless sky‭

The air was still and heavy o’er the city it lie

The city it lay silent sleeping in the heat

Until a gentle breeze came by.
 


She whispered o’er the city awakening all she touched

With gentle cooling fingers softer than a dove

She stirred the air around us and made us smile and sigh

And made up feel so happy that a gentle breeze came by.
 


We took her to our hearts and bade her always stay

And hoped the love within her would never go away. 

Whe touched out lives and souls with her gentleness that day 

When that gentle breeze came to stay."  

Thanks for the memories and “Thoughts “, Breezes Babii. I hope you have found your Samarkand.  We love you.  

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Duets With Ari


By DeafLegacy

Something special was happening at Ari's concert.  I was given a chance to play the violin as Ari plays the piano.  It happened at the Whole Brain Health.

As Ari and I played the duet, not much was being said.  But some people do have something to say while the music was being played.

"I love to play duets with you." said Ari (arisia.vita)  "The violin adds another dimension to the music."

"That is a great... :) always love it with violin and piano together in a beautiful duet." said Minya.

"Well, all I can say is that I think your music just saved my Second Life!" said Krip Lyter.

But nothing would change my mind that Ari makes the most beautiful music, with or without the violins.  I stayed until the end as I played the violin and Ari played the piano.  I can only hope to one day play the duet with Ari.

* * * * *

This is a chance for me to come out with something to say about Ari (Arisia Vita)'s special talent.  Only this time, he had shared the stage with me.  I was the violin player, and Ari was the piano player.  He had agreed to let me be a part of the duet that happened at 10:30 AM that day.

There was a few people at the concert.  It happened at a small cafe, Romany (135/30/22). 

When Ari arrived at the cafe, and started playing the piano, I got the violin out and started playing as well.  The music that came would get a few comments from people at the concert.

“Together, you and Ari are making magic!” said Gaia Maria (mariaseconda).

“The magic is in each of you here.” said Ari.  “The music just sets it free.”

Ari was right. As the music continued, so did the comments.

“This is indeed a great piece. And you two are doing a wonderful job with it.” said Whys (docwhy).

When we started playing a piece called “Claire de lune,” Gaia Maria said, “Oh, I have very special memories of this piece, involving Nice, my honeymoon, and something delightful that happened.”

It's not just about the music that we were playing as it turned out. “When I was a little boy and saw my first violin concert, I kept expecting the bow to cut the violin in two.” said Ari with a smile.

“That makes sense in a way, Ari.” said Whys, smiling.

As the concert came to an end, Gaia had something special to say, “Ari and Deaf, this has been an absolutely lovely concert ...thank you so very, very much! And thank you all for being who you are, and for helping to make this event so special.”

“Thank you all for coming, and Deaf for playing with me.” said Ari.

Thank you, Ari, for letting me play with you.  It was something that I will never forget.  I hope that one day, Ari and I will get to play the duet again.  Who knows?  As I am concerned, the concert was the unforgettable and the best I have been to in which I was a part of. 

Deaflegacy

Friday, September 1, 2017

Interview With Snowy Sugar Blossom (Skylark LeFavre)


By Deaflegacy

I went to interview Snowy Sugar Blossom (Skylark Lefavre).  Snowy Sugar Blossom is a General Manager and DJ at the Happy Vixens Club.  She is also a backup DJ at the same club.  Snowy Sugar Blossom is also a DJ at Eternal Desires and Club Cutlass.  Sundays and Wednesdays are her days off.

When asked what part of DJ does Snowy likes the most, she has this to say, "Sharing my passion and likes which is top ten hits of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, plus some songs after. What I enjoy pleases me when others enjoy it. I try to stick to a theme. Love and Feel Good music. DJing also makes me feel good personally as music is the medicine that makes the world right and perfect. It can cure many problems or help me work harder. DJing is an outlet that allows me to take my medicine.  My world since I was a toddler was built on music since my mother set me in front of the TV to watch Bobby Goldboro I think his name was."

I asked Snowy which album does she play the most while she's DJing at the club.  "There are messages in each song a tale and story. Each story has power power to influence your day and your life. I take those with a happy message that instill faith and hope too and play them. This is why you don't hear me play songs of breakup and love loss unless requested." said Snowy Sugar Blossom.  "I believe songs speak feelings better than people can with their mouths.  There is a song for every single situation and then some.  You just have to open your ears to the lyrics and interpret it the way it was intended.  Music inspires me when I DJ so I choose my song list carefully."

The music Snowy plays is her inspiration.  She said that she feels what is sung, and she understands the emotions of those sung about. It's hard for Snowy Sugar Blossom to choose whom is her favorite singer, but if she must choose one, it would be The Eagles.

Snowy has been DJing for about a year, feeling she had evolved and gotten better quickly.  There is always room for improvement, she says.  Snowy plans on being a DJ for as long as she possibly can, "Trying to please everyone is hard enough, like walking on a path of broken glass without cutting up your feet. Its not impossible just hard as you have to learn your audience."

"I'm not the first person to carry the name DJ Snowbuns, and I may not be the last as another will take the name." Snowy told me. She has a number of avatars from fox, to bear, to human, to pony, but is best known for her white bunny, "The bunny is my identity, my personality, the way I live, the way I eat, the way I love, the way I think. I am a bunny yes, as it chose me not the other way around. I hope while I carry the torch I can be as good as those before me who had the DJ handle."

Snowy and I talked some about bunnies, which included my own rabbit doll in real life named "Bun-Buns."  Snowy told me, "Some call me this a lot."

We started talking about inspirations.  I asked Snowy if she feels that she is an inspiration to the others.  "That I'm not fully sure of, but some have told me I am inspiration to them." said Snowy,  "I have a  lifetime to give. To be one person's inspiration if only, its enough for me to know I am making a difference." The memorable part of being DJ is the comments on how much people enjoy Snowy Sugar Blossom's music she play, or the love and adoration they share with her.

Snowy Sugar Blossom has something to say about being the DJ. "I DJ to make people happy not for the money. The money is a luxury, but not the reason I DJ. It comes in handy yes, but the reward is seeing people happy and loving and enjoying my passion. That is the best payment I could ever get."

Deaflegacy

Monday, August 28, 2017

Interview with Helvis Xue, Prez of Cobras MC


By Wesley Regenbogen 

Helvis Xue is the current President of the Cobras MC motorcycle club in Second Life. In real-life,hHe is from England. He runs the club on a daily basis, and also has a good team that helps him to fulfill his tasks as it's leader. I have found him to be a nice guy, and he tries to help people whenever and wherever he possibly can.

Helvis Xue and myself met somewhere on the Cobras Coil tracks to do this interview. I asked him how he got started in Second Life. He told me that he saw a documentary where an ad was presented about Second Life. He decided to give it a shot and since he is a biker in real life, he wanted to do something similar here, and thus he found out about Cobras MC and joined them. He bought his first bike in Second Life when he met the owner of Q Customs, a bike maker in Second Life from Germany. Helvis met him shortly after when he just arrived at Second Life.

Next I asked him if his real life biker experience helped him as a Second Life biker as well. He replied that it does help him to be a good biker here, and also to find similar minded people inworld.

When I asked him if it’s difficult to get people online in Second Life when they live in different time zones, he told me that it is indeed difficult to get people online at the same time, because on one end of the world it’s morning, for another person it’s midnight and for someone else it’s another time during the day. He tried to make a group picture of Cobras MC with all members, but it’s very difficult to do so.

Then I asked if his job is not the easiest job in Second Life. He replied to me that it isn't, but he is privileged to have a very good team at his disposal to make his job much easier. Their jobs range from being a scriptwriter, looking for money to keep the sim active, to his personal secretary and also people that organize things and see to it that everything runs smoothly. He tries to do a different kind of motorcycle club presidency by offering compassion, listening to people, and trying to keep everyone happy. It is not that easy, but he tries to do his very best to do so. He also changed the period of a Prez to twelve months and after that they vote, if he gets enough votes, he can continue for another year.

When I asked him how he sees the future of Cobras MC, he replied that he hopes that the club will get bigger in the future.

I wished him the best of luck with his being a President of Cobras MC and I thanked him for taking the time to do the interview.

Wesley Regenbogen 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Interview With Grace Devin (Grace Loudon)


By Bixyl Shuftan

Among those in the Relay Committee this year was Grace Devin (account name Grace Loudon) Grace has been with the Relay for the past several years, and this year was on the Committee. Recently, I had a chance to speak with her about how she ended up in the Relay for Life in Second Life and some of the things that's been done here.

We met up at the American Cancer Society Island, just outside the main building. But sitting down at a table proved slightly complicated, "(laughter) I don't like it when there are so many sitting options. Just give me a sit for goodness sakes."

When I asked her about how she found out about Second Life, Grace answered, "Oh my gosh;  that's a long way back to remember (laughter). I was playing 'There,' and friends started talking about a new place to check out: Second Life. You had to sign upm it was still in Beta. I didn't make the BETA cut but I got in soon after and made a short, squat little woman named Edna Thereian. I lasted a month (laughter). Then I left for awhile, and thought one day, 'Let's give this another try,'  and I never left!"

I asked her, "When did you return, and what was the difference?" Grace told me, "I started Valentine's Day in 2004 - I remember I had such a hard time figuring out how to move around and function...and yes, I got a box stuck on my head...that I decided it just wasn't for me.  I'd say maybe 2 months later I came back, made a new avatar and dived in.  Had to have a little more patience. I also had to have a little money. Seemed to make it more of an amiable place to be in."

"How did your first days after your return go?" I asked. Grace answered, "Oh great!  I don't think my experience was any different from any other person new to Second Life.  When I was new, there were no regions.  It was all mainland and it was very small.  The population was a fraction of what it is now.  There were maybe five shops, four clubs. It was easy to make friends and just hang out and goof off all the time. It was fun."

I then asked her, "When did you first come across the Relay in Second Life?" She replied, "I spent a good six years in Second Life without ever having heard of Relay For Life of Second Life.  I didn't even know American Cancer Society was represented in SL.  I spent a great deal of my time building.  I got to the point where I was building for a living:  roleplay regions, stores, etc.  I joined up with a really good friend and we started a virtual business that pulled in real life companies - we built region representations for them.  Smirnoff Vodka, The Tourism Board for Mexico, we did a representation of Cocos Island for its entry into being a new Wonders of the World. We had just finished that build actually, when my friend went into the hospital for surgery.  The night we finished she went in.  She never came home - she passed from complications from treatment for endometrial cancer."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I responded. Grace went on, "Yeah, it was pretty heartbreaking.  She was only 23.  From that, I learned about the American Cancer Society. And a friend was involved in Relay For Llife, and she asked if I would help out with a couple of things. And viola - sucked in!" "So you came in around 2011?" I asked. "Yep," she answered, "right around them.  Just finished my 6th year with Relay"

My next question was, "How did your first season with the Relay go?" Grace replied, "My first season, I was asked to build a Designer Region.  So I did - and I remember that there was some fuss over the fact I built a castle (bottom of page) and it was right in front of the water region where activities were going to be held, (laughter) 'and Grace makes her entrance.'  But it all went well in the end and it was great fun. The next year, Charlene, who took care of the track setup, asked me to be her assistant and I said 'sure, what could go wrong?' (laughter)"

After a chuckle, I asked, "Heh, so what happened next year?" Grace answered. "The next year I ended up, through a series of circumstances, being the person in charge.  And thus I became the "track boss" for the next few years.  This year or this past year I ventured into being a part of the Steering Committee. Though I still got to be on the track, which I love. 'On the track' meaning I made sure it was there, along with all the tools and fun things.  And (I) coordinated the Designer Regions, as well as Activities."

I then asked Grace, "What would you say your best accomplishments as 'track boss' were?" She answered, "Not beating anyone up? I kid! I don't really think of any of it as an accomplishment to be honest.  Everything is just a list of things that need to be done so we can have an awesome Relay Weekend.  If everyone has a good time and complaints are minimal, then I guess I could call that an accomplishment. But I never do that by myself. There is a whole gang of people who are integral to every bit of it."

"For those who don't know," I inquired, "what is your position on the committee?" Grace replied, "I am the Relay For Life of Second Life Co-Lead !  That means I'm like Nuala (Maracus)'s (The Lead) assistant.  One of them, there is also Leala Spires.  We are both Co-Leads. So we're backup, the posse, the crew (laughter). Relay this year was split into three areas - Bring the People, Bring the Fun, and Fund the Mission. I was the 'Bring the Fun' person.  Or as we like to refer to it:  'Bring da Funk.'" "So there was lots of funky music?" I asked. She answered, "Every chance we got! (laughter)"

"It was great being the lead for that area, truly," Grace went on, "Lots of creative thinking, brainstorming sessions, party planning, making things, And the people were phenomenal." I asked her, "What were some of the best examples of creative thinking?" She explained, "Every time we had to plan an event, something awesome came out of it.  We were all about 'breaking that box,' so we strived to create things that were new and never done before, or at least not done the way we did them.  For example, our Paint SL Purple and Kickoff events, normally two separate events.  We combined them into one and made it a Purple Kickoff.  Recognition was a ,department, this year, and we had to think of new, fun ways to recognize people like our volunteers, survivors, etc.  From music playing, eggs, to giant greeting cards that said 'cow in the heck are ya?'  Also, we created the Passport Hud for tools and links that everyone used.  Lots and lots of stuff for Relay Weekend as well."

Grace added, "I have to give a lot of credit to my real-life/Second Life partner as well; Sean.  He put up a lot of the funding that came up for specific script needs that were above my pay grade.  He created some tools for our use and generally exercised a great deal of patience and understanding the entire season." "Nice. Did you both come to the Relay together?" I asked her. She answered, "We did!  He doesn't like titles or being held to a position of responsibility so he has always been my background support.  Doing what he needs to do to help and watch over things when I ask him to: Big, strong silent type (smile)."

"Going back a bit," I told Grace, "you described yourself as into building and roleplaying. What kind of building did you do, and what roleplaying group and area?" She answered, "Well, when I got my first region I created a place called Laura, which is a location known to those who roleplay Gor.  I played a panther chieftess. If you're not familiar with Gor. it's sort of a female native/tribal type.  I was one of the first to play that role too by the way - little feather in my cap.  Anyway I did that for a long time, and during those couple of years I learned a lot about building and terraforming.  Then I got pretty good at it, so I started building for other people.  Eventually, I switched my own roleplay to Medieval Fantasy and built a place called Everwind, which became wildly popular.  By then I was building outside of roleplay quite regularly for a fee.  Roleplay regions for other people, shopping districts, started my own business of prefabs and furniture, etc.  Then got into the building that I told you about with my friend who passed."

"There was a time I was turning business away!" Grace told with enthusiasm, "Then Second Life grew and grew and before you knew it, there were twenty of 'me' out (in) their building regions." "Twenty people who were doing much the same work as you?" I asked. "Well, they may not have built in the same style I did," she answered, "but there was suddenly a lot of people building and it was not longer me among a few.  It was now me among a whole lot.  So the competition to get business increased, as it does regularly in Second Life, and eventually I lost interest.  Especially after the death of Katherine (my friend), I just lost the zeal for it."

I brought up, "What happened with Everwind"? Grace answered, "I closed Everwind after a couple of years and created a Steampunk Roleplay Region called Rivet Town! This also had some moderate success and I really enjoyed building it.  I can't sit still most of the time - my mind is always thinking about what I can do next (laughter). After Rivet Town, I did Everwind 2 - again, had a lot of success. But eventually I grew tired of roleplay and just stuck to Relay." "Sounds like some events, such as the Fantasy Faire, bring back some memories," I suggested. "Oh yes indeed," Grace responded, "I'd love to create for that. Maybe this, next year."

Grace then told. "In fact, as far as big-scale building goes; this island, ACS Island, is the first I've done in a long time." "So you made the builds for ACS Island?" I asked. "Yes," she answered, "What you see here I did.  I asked to do it, and yay!  I was allowed." I panned around, looking at the various structures, "Which of these places required the most planning and work?" "The Memorial Garden, she stated "by a landslide. It was so important to keep it subtle, yet significant.  To make it a place of importance, but not the main feature of American Cancer Society (Island)." "The Catt Gable Garden?" I asked. "Yes," she answered.

Grace explained of the memorial garden, "Catt started the garden on ACS, and she did a lovely job of it.  The problems we ran into however were the abundance of gifts that were left in memoriam.  Also, people felt like the setup created a bit of a maze, which was not intentional but the space was small for it and Catt worked hard to achieve that subtle aspect. She didn't want it to be so obvious when you landed. So I tried to keep a lot of her idea when I re-did it.  And I had to create a system to pay respects with flowers or candles, but not have those items just remain indefinitely. I also wanted to ensure it was a place to reflect, remember, to sit and feel at peace. And of course, memorialize Catt (smile). If you notice, along the path as you walk on the region, there are small portraits lining the walk. Those portraits are all of survivors.  To remind anyone who visits or comes for support, that there is hope. And it doesn't become about a memorial garden or a tribute to those who have passed.  Because many are still here - surviving!"

I then brought up a question that had been on my mind since the Relay Weekend sims first appeared, "Going back to the Relay, you mentioned you were once the 'Track boss.' There were a few people who noticed about the track for this one being several sims shorter than last year." Grace answered, "Yes, we took off some regions this year.  We tried to be smart about the expenses and thought every bit that we spend on what we don't truly need, we take from the donations.  So we dropped regions that just weren't necessary this year. We ended up with every region being sponsored, every region being paid for and not one penny had to come out of the fundraising totals to cover Relay Weekend. The same applied to events like Halfway There and Wrap Up - we decided not to rent a region for any events that really just didn't need it. It's nice to have and pretty to look at when decorated but is it truly necessary?"

I then brought up, "Also, for the first time in a while, the theme for next season wasn't announced at the wrap-up. When will it be announced?" Grace confessed, "Well honestly, I don't know!  We truly don't have the answer yet. There is a lot that we want to put on the table and sort out for next year.  A lot of responsibilities, things that we do or have done that are somewhat unnecessary or obsolete.  We want to try to knock out what takes a lot of time with no real measurable results.  And want very much for the people involved in putting it all together to be able to step away, sleep, not stress (laughter)." "Sounds like there may be some big changes next year," I wondered. Grace responded, "Stingray is an important part of that decision making so at this point we are all just taking a breather then we'll get together and sort it out, figure out the structure for the next year and how/when to proceed.  Some changes may be big, and there could be only one or two small changes.  It's just really, really up in the air at this moment.  But decisions will be made very soon.  I'm sure we'll have a theme!  We just might ask for suggestions later than the norm."

I then brought up the two off-season Relay-related events later this year, Making Strides for Breast Cancer, and the Christmas Expo. Grace smiled, "Absolutely!  Strides is planning a walk soon and I know Nuala already has her Christmas Expo laid out (laughter)." I smiled, "What does she have in store for us?" Grace answered, "Oh gosh, I have no idea!  I don't think I'll be working on it this year, unless she plans to surprise me with a request to help.  We may just have to wait and see!"

I then asked, "So what are your plans for next year?" Grace responded, "I suppose more of this!  (laughter) Every year I keep telling myself I have to turn it over to someone else now.  My world outside of Second life is busy, busy!  I have two kids, I sing, and have a band and we travel a lot, I actually have to curb my schedule for Relay season; my plate is quite full!  But then here I am, right back in the thick of it all (smile)  It's not easy to just step away when you see how much of an impact what you do has on the progress made in finding a cure. I feel like I might miss something if I'm not in the middle of it all."

I finally asked, "Was there anything else you wanted to add?" Grace thought for a moment, "I think there is just one more thing.  I think that everyone gets tired.  We get tired of staying up late, we get tired of trying to make everything right and perfect, we get tired of trying to work with the different personalities of everyone involved in Relay.  We get tired of doing things certain ways, we get tired of changes, we get tired of fighting, of dealing with pain, illness, losing loved ones.  I know that tired - I feel it too.  But the moment we give up because we're tired, is the moment everything we have worked for and want to continue to work for becomes to big to defeat.  I hear this said in a movie once:  'What can you expect to accomplish if you are just one drop in an ocean?' he answer was 'But what is an ocean but a series of drops all together.'  That is Relay, and that is us.  We need to never stop being those drops in the ocean." She paused for a moment, "I may not have gotten it word for word but close enough!"

It was about then we parted ways, "Thanks, Bixyl (smile).  I appreciate that you wanted to hear from me."

Image Credits: IshtarAngel Micheline, Softpaw Sommer

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cleopatra Xigalia and the Ephesians Four Christian Community


By Bixyl Shuftan

Not long ago, I traveled to the Faravari sim on the mainland to meet up with Cleopatra Xigalia, who wanted to talk about the Ephesians Four Christian community that she was part of. Cleopatra was one of a group of people at the spot I arrived at, a resting place with some pillows and chairs and a hammock under some palm trees. I had been there earlier for a live music event, and Cleopatra welcomed me back. Cleopatra told me that conversations at the place could be in voice, chat, or both. We decided on chat so I could take down more information.

One of the women there offered to record the conversation. Another responded, "need to fix my hair and make up (giggle), just joking." "I haven't started the record. Now.run and make your make up (giggle)." A third girl grinned, "need to put on a longer skirt ... funny in real-life I spend all day filming people. Now ... there is cam crew filming here." A fourth lady commented, "I trust you *name), I am sure you'll make me look cute *giggles*. Okay I'll be quiet (laughter)." More would continue to drop in as we talked.

When I asked Cleopatra where the idea for the group got started, she answered, "I dont know where to start." She had been talking with a friend, "about having Christian hangout sort of place maybe over a year ago. And then someone else I know wanted to also do it. And Ceasar (her partner) and I were led to have one. So there was a group of us who seemed to have the same need, to find fellowship with other Christians in Second Life and have a place to do that. So when the sim was set up, we had no idea what to expect really. Then one by one people came, and we bonded in Christ. We study His word. We get to know each other."

It was about then that one person, Jamiela1, dropped in and greetings were exchanged. Cleopatra told me she "was drawn back in to Second Life, and then found us right after logging back in. It seemed that in Second Life, there are Christian sims. But for us ... um, they didnt meet the full need. We saw a gap, sort of, if you know what I mean. There were classes, bible studies, but not really place for us to meet and spend time together building bonds in such a way as Christians."

Ckeopatra explained, "Here is a passage from one of our studies on fellowship.last week. 'Ephesians 4 is a sim founded on the idea of fellowship.  But what does that word, "fellowship" really mean?  Is it swapping life stories about ourselves?  Is it sharing the Gospel at campfires with visiting nonbelievers?  Is it keeping to our own Christian community, growing ourselves to the exclusion of other believers?' It is a critical part of the Christian life. It is essential for new believers. It is a direct call from God for us to have unity." Jamiela1 commented, "I think this is a Christian Hangout that welcomes fellowship along with Bible Studies and open discussions. We welcome the curious of faith....the new in faith and the experienced in hopes to help us all in our journey of the Written Word (Bible) and to what God plans for us all."

I asked Cleopatra where did the name "Ephesians Four" came from? She answered, "The name came after we had prayed about what to call the group. So the chapter in Ephesians has the essence of what we wanted to provide here. It is about unity and maturity in Christ. How we grow together and use our Spiritual gifts in a unique way within the Body of Christ. We are *one.*" Several others expressed their agreement, "Fellowship with the purpose of also bringing others to Christ. We share our burdens with each other, prayer for each other. We praise God and the goodness he does in our lives. We play games and hang out. We go sailing. We have music ministry too. ... Jamiela leads the Bible studies and coordinates that. Caesar provides the sim for us to use."

Cleopatra mentioned the people in the group were from around the world, the United States, Scotland, England,Germany, Holland, India, France, Philippines, Denmark, Mauritius Island, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Finland, Israel,Canada, Jamaica, and probably a few others. "We have many discussions with many all over the world," Jamiela1 told me. Cleopatra nodded, "We get some interesting visitors, we have lots of interesting discussions." "Yes, we learn about everyone's experiences all over the world."

What experiences did they have? Cleopatra mentioned, "We had a gigantic dragon visitor." Another answered, "I learned the word 'yuckie' and Jesus is God." After a moment, she spoke again, "not in the same sentence." That caused a few chuckles. Jamiela commented, "... to me so many to name. ... Everyone has an interesting story once they become comfortable" One person spoke, "Sometimes people come here and talk about their problems and we pray for them and with them."

Jamiela1 stated, "We study from the King James Version of the Bible so we have many who come curious, and many faithful." I asked if they used more recent translations of the Bible. Jamiela1 answered, "Many people use different translations, but we follow and are guided by King Jame Version." Cleopatra told me, "We use the NIV too, any translation that helps us understand, also going back to the Greek.  One way we learn is in discussions of the Bible, so usually yeah, KJV is the go-to. Butour style of teaching is more discussion type, Bixyl, very participative. Some people here are very new to their Faith and understanding. Some people have been believers for decades." Jamiela1, "Some other versions give more modern terms and translate to modern usage, but can loose somewhat the true translation. so we always refer back to the KJV."

Cleopatra added, "We learn about God from reading and studying the Word, and from living and gaining experience applying His Word to our lives directly. 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, we also learn from each other. Proverbs 27: 17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Jamiela stated, "The core of this group sticks to the teaching from the KJV."

Cleopatra moved to another subject, "We laugh a lot too," then smiled. Jamelia1 chuckled, "Eheheh, yes." I asked what gets the most laughter around here. Jamiela1 answered, "We laugh about lots of things, people telling about their everyday, fun things we experience in the same way, just a joy of being together makes us happy." Cleopatra added, "We sing too." One of the others commented, "We are not demure all the time. Sometimes we act like children (smile) and we sing joy joy joy." Cleopatra told me, 'We are singing and laughing now, Bix. (She) right now makes us laugh." Jamiela commented, "And sometimes we are just silly."

Cleopatra then moved on, "Some things we do though are very very serious. People bring real problems to us and issues." One man commented, "We had a woman share her story about losing her children.It was moving to see and her. That's the key in our fellowship to build each other up and comfort each other in the word of God." "It is very real here," Cleopatra told me. "We truly are here for and with each other," Jamiela added. Another stated, "That is the point! We are real and our faith is real. It's not a roleplay."

Cleopatra told me, "We dont have a 'pastor' or have sermons in the church. We are here for each other in fellowship. We aren't a church. We are *the* Church." The man commented, "We are the Church as it was intended originally." One girl commented, "Sometimes we also just hangout without doing something, just sitting around in silence and enjoy not being alone alone ... brothers and sisters in front of God." "We are safe here and are secure in our silence," Jamiela added, "We are together for one another."

Someone commented, "We are by no means Teletubby Christians." I asked if he meant televangelists. He laughed and Jamiela1 told me he meant the kids show, the man going in, "We dont jump in the air and shout how good we feel and how everything is sweet and fine." Jamiela1 added, "Right we live real lives and have real struggles and we come together for each other. And sometimes do things together just for a safe fellowship, hangout, with great people. We have dinner with each other, sharing what we fixed and or eating. We are real, not roleplay. ... We find comfort with each other as we are on our journey with GOD and the real struggles, pain, heartache and joy that comes with life."

I asked about some of the challenges the group has had over time. Cleopatra told me, "We have only been here since May, so we didn't know what to expect. We had to get more chairs for one." She also mentioned griefers, "I think there were seven of them at one of our first events. ... Last night we had a couple trolls." I asked how often they show up.Cleopatra told me, "Less than I expected actually." One other challenge was the group was getting larger in size, "growing kinda fast. So we just take this one day at a time, and look to God's word for what we are to do and how to handle things. We have struggles daily. We look to the word for how to handle them. The Bible gives us instruction on how to handle these." Jamiela1 added, "We seem to be able at the end of the day handle through God what we deal with each day."

I asked what their plans were if the group continues to grow. Jamiela1 answered, "We do have discussions about it, but have nothing set in stone at this time really. As the need comes, we try to deal and discuss accordingly." Cleopatra told me, "We plan to continue to follow God's direction. We will not ask for donations or rent land or take up offerings. We will do as the Bible teaches us, to walk daily with Him and have faith that He wills how us what to do next. If we get too big, God will tell us what to do. We are handling it fine so far it seems.  We deal with things as they come." One man stated, "If the group  at some point will expand we hope to reach more people and be even more  activities  in what we do. That also means more responsibility. ... As our core continues to grow, we will eventually get more ability to spread more activities over more people and therefor we become more effective." Cleopatra told me, "Most people find us from search. Some send their friends and some bring others. As we grow we share the responsibility and work. As God brings more people to us, our core group will grow and more people will contribute their spiritual gifts."

I asked about their more memorable events. Cleopatra told me there was a music concert not long ago attended by more than a dozen that was probably their most memorable, "We also had a great little pool tourney the other night in Ceasar's office, playing secondlife billiards pool table. People just gather and we had someone there from Greece and Brazil." Jamiela1 added, "We have had a few game events where we played pool or chess. We are still so new, we haven't had many, but they have all been memorable." Cleopatra mentioned of the concert, "someone ... told us she was getting baptized the next day."

"If you know what I mean," Cleopatra told me, "in the end it is *all* for God. So we are here for each other, yes, to grow together, but of course in the end our mission is the spread the Word." She pointed to a nearby structure, "The lighthouse is on the sim in the corner. We are here to be light."

Cleopatra would show me around their land, places like a gelato (ice cream) ship, a coffee house, "If you notice, there are lots of pianos, a little garden, we made a lot of smaller gathering places in the sim. We have lessons here too." She also mentioned the boats, "Ceasar's boats are in the harbor and people get taken on rides and stuff. He likes to sail and taking people to the Blake Sea from here." There was also a ballroom, a church, "this is just used for people to sit and pray or meditate onthe word. We dont really have a pastor or sunday services or anything." There was also a Tardis in the area, "The Tardis does bring some interesting people sometimes too."

It was about then that Cleopatra and I parted ways, "I hope you had a good time visiting us."

Faravari (150/85/25)

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Interview with Deaflegacy


By Wesley Regenbogen

Wesley Regenbogen, "Question one:  How did you find out about Second Life and how did you manage to get started?"

DeafLegacy Resident, "Someone who I used to know in real life was the one who told me about Second Life.  I got interested and asked him how I can join.  He helped me out.  When I got on Second Life, I met some peopl,e and that was how I got started here."

Wesley Regenbogen, "Question two: How did you get involved in Virtual Ability and how did that reflect your experience here in Second Life?"

DeafLegacy Resident, "The same person who introduced me to Second Life was a member of Virtual Ability.  I met Gentle Heron, and I found out what Virtual Ability is all about.  I asked to become a member and ever since then, I've been with the group.  It reflects my experience in Second Life a great deal because I'm disabled and as far as I know, there had been no misunderstanding, which is fantastic."

Wesley Regenbogen, "Question three:  You are also a reporter for SL Newser. How did you get involved in SL Newser?  As I understand you are a writer in real life as well."

DeafLegacy Resident, "Well, there is one person I'd like to give credit to for introducing me to the Newser.  It would be you, who introduced me to Bixyl Shuftan, and I asked him if I could be a reporter.  Bixyl said yes, and on that day, I've became a reporter.  It is true that I am a writer in real life as well.  So far, I've written two stories, and hope to write a third story soon."

Wesley Regenbogen, "Question four: Was it difficult for you to get started in Second Life, because of your disability in real life? I understand Virtual Ability helps people with disabilities in Second Life and does a great job at doing so."

DeafLegacy Resident, "I met Gentle Heron on the first day I was on Second Life.  I became a member on that day.  It wasn't hard because someone who introduced me to Second Life was a member of Virtual Ability.  That helped me a lot, even though I have no idea if that person is still around in Virtual Ability."

Wesley Regenbogen, "Question five: How long have you been member of Virtual Ability ?"

DeafLegacy Resident, "I have been on Second Life for two years now.  So I've also been a member of Virtual Ability for two years."

Wesley Regenbogen, "Question six: What role do you have in Virtual Ability or are you just a member of it ?"

DeafLegacy Resident, "I'm just a member."

Wesley Regenbogen< "Question 7, If you would meet another person in Second Life that has a disability, would you introduce them to Virtual Ability and guide them around SL?"

DeafLegacy Resident, "Yes, I would."

Wesley Regenbogen, "Question eight: What plans do you have in your Second Life in the near future?"

DeafLegacy Resident, "I hope to continue renting the land parcels I have now until it's no longer possible. And I also hope to continue being a reporter and a photographer for SL Newser."

Wesley Regenbogen, "I wish you all of the luck and hope you will do what you like here in Second Life. Thank you for taking the time for doing this interview."

DeafLegacy Resident, "Thank you, Wesley."

Wesley Regenbogen

Friday, July 21, 2017

Interview with Gem Sunkiller


By Deaflegacy

Gem Sunkiller and I met at the Relay for Life sims making up the track for this year's Relay Weekend.  My first question was about Gem being a part of the Relay. "Oh...that is a very long story," she answered, "I'll try to condense it.  In 2011 I lost my mother to metastatic colon cancer.  I found myself on the RFL track that Relay weekend in the wee hours of the morning.  The Event Chair at the time, MamaP Beerbaum walked with me for a bit, she both comforted and invited me to be a part of Relay For Life." said Gem.  "Jumped in with both feet in 2012, forming Team Shadow with SL Family and Friends."

Gem had been the captain of Team Shadow and had served in a variety of positions on the committee.  Gem helped with Outreach this year. She chuckled, "You might call me an unofficial cheerleader for Relay in SL." Her Relay team, Team Shadow, has around 30 people from a variety of communities on second Life.  They have recently added several new members.

When I asked Gem what her hope and goal are, she has this to say.  "My hope for Team Shadow, beyond the prayer that we are not needed next year because a cure has been found, I hope we Relay the right way, for the right reasons.  It's our desire to help other Relayers reach their goals.  As far as goals. Relay Goal is to finish the fight."

The biggest event of the year for Team Shadow varied year to year.  This year, they hosted a 12 hour "Country for a Cure" event that featured DJ's from five teams.  It was successful beyond their expectation, raising over 140,000 Linden dollars.  They hope to replicate that success for Making Strides and again next Relay season. "Outreach is one of my favorite things." said Gem.

I asked Gem if someone asks about RFL as well as Team Shadow, what would Gem say. "So when someone asks about RFL, I am always happy to give information about the movement here in SL.  I also try to steer them to forming a team, or participating in any way they find appropriate." said Gem. "When someone asks about Team Shadow, well, I tell them we are an open minded and accepting group of people who are insanely passionate about finding a cure, and funding the mission.  And invite them to come join the fun."

Deafllegacy

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Back to Normal: A Look Back At The "Bid Me Human" and "Platinum Challenge"


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Monday June 19 started a period of a little more than two weeks when I wasn't quite myself. For the latest round of "Bid Me" events of my community's Relay for Life team, the Sunbeamers, I had volunteered for a "Bid Me Human." Although I had changed briefly to a human avatar for short periods of time over the years, I hadn't volunteered to be one for a "Bid Me" event since the days of the Passionate Redheads in May 2011. The result of that was me being stuck in the look for a month. This time, the Sunbeamer chief ruled it was for two weeks, although it would turn out to be nine days, with a catch.

Besides the shorter time involved, it didn't affect me so much this time as the slightly awkward feeling I had at the clubs at the start of last time. I was still being asked to dance. I was still able to dress in theme much of the time, such for the "Video Game" party in which I went as a "Rust" player (picture to the left). And the reaction I got from others, furry and human alike, was mostly positive. There were a couple exceptions. One was one girl who felt, "That avatar is not you." The other was an incident when a friend invited me over to a country music club whose attendance was all human except possibly a couple neko avatars. Someone there, seeing my avatar's black appearance, made some remark about an "interracial sim."

Considering in real life, my appearance is white, I once had a black boss, and one church in the area has it's sign in both English and Korean, if that was some kind of joke, I missed the point entirely. I only spent a short time in the place before events called me elsewhere, so I didn't see any immediate response. I was later told by the person who invited me that the guy who made the remark had been told by the club owner not to do that again if he wanted to be able to keep coming over.

Then on Sunday June 25 came another development, the Sunbeamers reaching Platinum Rank in their fundraiseing total. Earlier, the team's chances of hitting the next level after Gold were iffy, so I had told team leader Rita Mariner, and others, that if the team made Platinum, I'd go female for a week. That got a chuckle of of Rita, and made it part of her next announcement to the group.

Males going about as girls in Second Life can be a touchy subject, especially with occasional stories of "catfishing." So I almost never changed to one, or rather deliberately as the jokes about glitches and "ruthing" go, and never went about in public as one, doing so only rarely  to show a girl in private what a certain avatar would look like, or a couple certain pictures for articles. I even wrote about the subject once in response to Becky Shamen's article , saying the "dos" and "don'ts" about it could be a little complicated with gray areas that appear different hues to different people. But an enormous amount of money going to charity from it, to me that seemed like a good enough reason.

I had thought the Sunnies had a fair chance of reaching the goal, so an idea came to me: go as Rita's double. I saw this as a playful poke in the ribs, though as some who prefer furry avatars take their unique appearance seriously and react badly to perceived "copying," I talked to a few people first to make sure Rita wouldn't freak. It turned out planning ahead was a good idea as Cynthia Farshore and Shockwave Yareach's steampunk land and air racing event was the most successful event the Sunbeamers ever had. So yours truly had to own up, Rita saying she was expecting to see my new look at the Cutlass party Wednesday June 28. So I got a white kani female, found a white hairpiece for it (ironically the style was also called a "Rita"), found a couple smaller bunny feet that resembled the catlike ones Rita had, though mine had bigger claws. As for the dress, fortunately finding that wasn't hard as Rita had once told me and others during a party what brand it was. One friend helped by giving me a title in her group, "Bunny Chieftess." So on Wednesday night, I dropped in and while everyone else was still rezzing, and presumably I was to them, I walked right up to Rita. After the usual "Hey Bixyl," there was silence followed by "whoah" and laughter. Rita was among those laughing, telling me I did a great job, "Good going Bixyl, you got me," and we both posed for a picture for a group announcement for the community.

So after that, the reaction was almost entirely positive. One friend pretended to be upset I wasn't trying to do a tribute to her appearance. As she was busty, I joked that I'd get a backache just looking at my avatar (contrary to the opinion of some, not all males go ga-ga at the sight of large breasts, and some can find sympathy for the back pain and other challenges of well-endowed women). But another reason was I wasn't as good a designer and fashionista as she was. Someone thought I could have done a slightly more realistic job on the feet, but considering I was trying to get as close to Rita's look as possible it was pretty good. To those who don't know Rita, she has something of an act of being an aggressive alpha doe bunny with an attraction for other girls' "booty," though she's always careful only to tease those she knows. I'd occasionally imitate her in chat as a joke, which got a few chuckles. Going about at events outside the Sunweaver and Angel areas, there were a few "Ms. Shuftan" comments, but no one gave me a hard time. At the Second Life Birthday, almost no one spoke a word about it.

Someone did joke that I'd be enjoying the "look from behind." In short, I didn't get the same feeling from looking at the avie as other female avatars, maybe because it was supposed to be "me." I had wondered a little if some guys would make a pass at me, but that never happened. What did happen was there were several girls who suggested I could stay in that form, probably as a joke ... probably. I did still end up getting dances from a few girls. I guess they knew this was all in the name of fun. And I was openly saying this was no big deal, "I can go without peeing standing up for a week." For the Independence Day party at the Happy Vixen, I even got her a dress from a Relay shopping event for a one time use. The following day would be the last for the "Rita clone," at least for a long, long time.

So now, back to my normal foxy self. Though I would still occasionally change looks, such as the skunkboy for the "Black and White" event at Cutlass a couple days later, I was sticking with being furry and male. But already, I have people asking what will I do for next Relay season when the Sunnies hit Platinum again. In short, I don't know yet. But there's a year to think about it. And in any event, it was, different, going about in the other form. But I won't be doing it again, at least not without another enormous amount of money going to charity.

Bixyl Shuftan