Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Syzygy Celebrates Winter

The Syzygy Community was surprised and pleased to find they were listed in the Linden’s Showcase for winter activities this past weekend. Since early December, the residents have been celebrating winter by ice fishing, sledding, skating, and racing on the ice. Syzygy Eos (218, 131, 21) Kulta Hannu landscaped and decorated the common areas, and Pipsqueak Fiddlesticks set up ice skating at various locations around the sim. Elric Anataine orchestrated the snowfalls and even managed to get the Aurora Borealis to appear in the northern skies. Individual Syzygy residents decorated their homes in a variety of themes depending upon their individual beliefs and personalities.

In addition to the impromptu fun that has been happening, a home tour and tree trimming party was held on Sunday, December 20. The festivities began at the ice fishing hole. The tour went to eight locations, each decorated in a different theme. About 12 residents first traveled to this reporter’s house, Grey Wolf Retreat, located at Grey Wolf Retreat, Syzygy Corvus (163, 223, 21). A north woods theme dominates this residence and includes wolves, elk, a reindeer, and other wildlife.

Next the group went to “Grisland In Winter”, an island owned by Grijandomore Greene and also located at Syzygy Corvus (143, 54, 21). While the tour was here, the Aurora Borealis appeared. It was spectacular! Gri’s home is open to the public, and there is a wishing well, too!

The group then traveled to the Syzygy mainland to “Imagine Peace and the Order of the Istari”, a beautiful residence owned by Olorin Tigerpaw and Crescent Renard. Imagine Peace of Syzygy, Helios-, Syzygy Helios (108, 218, 67). Their theme was “Have a Cool Yule” and included a yule log in a beautiful rooftop setting.

“Ubi Sunt”, the home of Sonny Beverly and Lydia Bracken was the next stop. Ubi Sunt, Syzygy Helios (46, 26, 36) Indian music and an exotic theme were the highlights of this lovely home. The tour then progressed back down the mountain to Celtic Infinity’s “Slice of Heaven”, where animated Christmas bears and other whimsical animals played on the rocks above the waterfall. Celtic's Slice of Heaven, Syzygy Selene (67, 32, 37)

Next we climbed up to Kulta Hannu’s Neki Teien, located high in the mountains. A warm fire gave everyone a chance to warm up as they admired the decorations and the view. Neko Teien / Neko Garden (open , Syzygy Selene (74, 102, 51).

Elric Anatine’s “Slight Twisted Winter” was the next stop. This location is a fun, offbeat spot with black and white candy canes, anise flavored of course, and other non-traditional decorations. A highlight here was a Santa’s sack that tossed gifts to the residents. Slightly Twisted Winter - A Rein, Syzygy Selene (177, 240, 42)

The group ran down the hill to “Pip’s Tree”, a cute creation of Pipsqueak Fiddlesticks. It gives out donuts. Yummy! Near this location are melting and sinking snowmen -- a funny sight that shouldn’t be missed. Common Region - 120 minute auto , Syzygy Selene (149, 246, 21)

The tour ended at the Syzygy Festive Community Tree, located at Syzygy Eos (76, 14, 37). Here the residents placed an ornament on the tree that reflected their interests or personality.

Syzygy is a friendly community that welcomes visitors. Resident Samantha Glume has set up helicopters near the Community Tree that can be rezzed and flown around the islands. The ice that now surrounds Syzygy and connects the islands is great for sleigh rides, skating, and horseback riding. If you visit, look for swirling blue snowflakes that will give notecards with Landmarks to interesting spots in the community.

Grey Lupindo

Monday, December 6, 2010

Women of Juarez Speak in SL

Brutal Juarez Mexico truth followed by Men Marching in Pink High Heels, Womens Monologue storytelling, and frank Mens Roundtable Discussion... We had a rollercoaster ride of emotions at 16 Days for Elimination of Violence Against Women in Second Life. Picture 1 is Les Mortes de Juarez (Deaths of Juarez), an art installation at:

Pictures 2 and 3 are from the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march in Second Life, notice the Pink High Heel footwear on these brawny SL men! This event based on the real life hilarious walk a mile events, such as:

16 Days Womens Rights observances continue through Friday December 10 - UN Human Rights Day. Schedule/Locations in our earlier article: ( )

Subject matter experts on the 400+ unsolved murders of Women of Juarez joined us in SL and shared these exclusive insider remarks...

The true story of Cuidad Juarez is a very shameful topic. The international community must be aware of what happened in the last decade on the issue of violence against women in Mexico, specifically about women being murdered.

Mexico is a proud country and culture and its people, who are by and large honest and hardworking. Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world; but women's human rights have been trampled upon, and where Mexican authorities through their corrupt practices, have not been able to offer their citizens a safe country.

The issue of femicide in Mexico dates from the year 1993 in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua, when society began to notice the crimes against girls and young women. We begin by talking about Juarez City. That city has gained notoriety worldwide for the way that these crimes have been carried out. What they have in common is that these killings are brutal, horrible deaths; many women were abducted, tortured, mutilated and many have been gang-raped.

Most Americans outside west Texas know Ciudad Juarez. Ciudad Juarez is not just a small border town, it is the fourth largest city in Mexico and the largest on the U.S. Mexican border, with more than 2 million people. Many are street people, living hand-to-mouth and day-to-day, while others are simply in transit, passing through the city en route to the border and the promised land of the U.S. Those who stay behind often work in maquiladoras--sweat-shops producing goods for sale abroad--at wages averaging five U.S. dollars per day. These factories are foreign owned corporations. A few examples are Acer, Canon, Chrysler, Casio, Kodak, Ericsson, General Electric, Lear Corporation, Mattel, IBM, Philips, Zenith, Hitachi, Hewlett Packard, Motorola, and Samsung.

The maquilas (factories) make everything from electronics and pharmaceuticals to auto parts and household goods. They employ 200.000 people in Juarez. Mostly women. Most are underpaid. They earn 6 dollars per day, while in U.S a similar worker earns 6 dollars per hour. Thousands of those workers are young women from outlying towns and villages.

Like similar factories worldwide, they prefer to hire women rather than men, supposedly because they are more nimble. In reality, the preference is based on the fact that traditional patriarchal socialization makes women workers more exploitable than men. While the maquilas were originally intended to employ men, managers soon realized that it was in fact young women who made the perfect employees. They are considered more docile and obedient, and their young nimble fingers are better suited to the repetitive work.

By the 1980s, about 90 percent of maquila workers were women. More men have become employed in the past decade, with the institution of maquilas making auto parts and other things requiring heavier lifting. But women still make up a sizable 58 percent of the approximately 230,000-person maquila workforce in Juarez.They come hoping for the best, but often find the worst. Squalid work conditions and sexual harassment can become mere annoyances in a city where life is cheap.

Since 1993, over 450 women, most of them young maquila workers, have disappeared in Ciudad Juarez. The government lists at least 271 as official murders, though residents say the true number is likely much higher. Of these, 178 are listed as cases of domestic violence, with a jealous husband or lover to blame, while 93 are considered the work of a "serial killer" or killers of disputed and unknown identity.

They are all part of the same phenomenon, however--a decade-long wave of hatred and brutality toward women in Juarez, characterized by its gut-wrenching perversity and the failure of the state, local and federal governments to take any meaningful steps to stop the killings. The bodies have been found individually as well as in groups of three, four, or eight. On February 17 1993, the bodies of three young women were found together and then a six-year-old girl's body was found a few days later. There are nipples, eyes and hearts cut out--signs of brutal rape and other forms of torture. Some were burned to a crisp, others left unburied to be decimated by the harsh desert elements. Some of the victims were buried wearing the clothing of other victims. They range in age from a three-year-old to an 80-year-old, but the bulk of them were young women between age 14 and 27.

Many of them were described as having similar characteristics-- poor, brown, thin, attractive, and their ages ranged most between 7 and 27 years old. A high number of young disappeared in the course of their work at the factories. They disappear while waiting for or leaving the buses that take them to and from work, or after visiting the bars that are popular with factory workers on Friday nights. Rumors abound as to who is responsible for the scores of unsolved killings.

In 1995, the government arrested an Egyptian chemist named Abdel Latif Sharif Sharif, who had been deported from the U.S. after serving time in jail for sex crimes. The murders continued after Sharif's incarceration, however. He was held for years without a conviction until recently being sentenced to 20 years for one of the handful of murders he had been charged with. Then the government blamed members of a street gang called Los Rebeldes (The Rebels).They claimed Sharif was paying the gang to keep killing women, maybe in an attempt to prove he wasn't to blame for the earlier killings. Others blame narcotraffickers, sex offenders who live in El Paso, or the government and police themselves for the killings. A good number of the sadistic torturers and murderers come from the richest and most powerful families in Juarez and other border cities. The juniors and not as juniors seeking their potency in the throes of young women workers from poor families.

In his book Bones in the Desert, Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez says: "According to federal sources, there are six prominent businessmen in El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana who sponsor and witness the acts committed by hired killers, dedicated to kidnap rape, and murder women ... The Mexican authorities - at the highest level – have been aware of such activities for a long time, and have refused to intervene. These entrepreneurs - the gas industry, transport, media, soft drink, and entertainment establishments, gambling and betting - ties with politicians keep the government” under their control.

Vicente Fox Quesada In “Harvest of Women”, Diana Washington says: "The Mexican federal investigation contains accounts of officers and others who facilitated orgies where women are ravaged that later found dead. Researchers say some people also participated in the murders. Among the names that U.S. and Mexican officials know of people that could be expected to know the facts or may be involved are: Molinar, Sotelo, Hank, Rivera, Fernández, Zaragoza, Cabada, Molina, Fuentes, Hernández, Urbina, Cano, Martínez, Dominguez and others. "

The arrest of Sharif and Los Rebeldes changed nothing in Juarez. The brutal murders continued and community groups accused police of negligence or worse. At least 16 female victims were slain between late April and November 1996.Eight remain unidentified. Five were stabbed, three shot, and one was found in a drum of acid. In several cases advanced decomposition made determinations about cause of death or sexual assault impossible. While rape was confirmed in only four cases, the position and nudity of several other corpses suggested sexual assault. In the cases where the cause of death could be determined, five were stabbed, three were strangled, three shot, and two beaten. Statistically, 1998 was the city's worst year yet. There were 23 on the books by December, six remained unidentified. The killings reflected the usual pattern of stabbings, stranglings, bullets and burning. Rocio Barrazza Gallegos was killed on September 21 in the parking lot of the city's police academy. She was strangled inside a patrol car by a cop assigned to the "murdered women" case. Authorities described the death of 20-year-old Rosalina Veloz Vasquez, found dead on January 25, as "similar to 20 other murders in the city."

And indeed, by 1998 the long-running investigation had become a numbers game. In May, media reports referred to "more than 100 women raped and killed" in Ciudad Juarez. Mexico's Human Rights Commission issued a report in 1998 castigating the police. But politicians suppressed it to avoid any adverse impact on upcoming state elections"

At least 17 bodies show enough in common--the way shoelaces were tied together, where they were buried, how they were mutilated--that investigators say at least one serial killer is at work. And 76 other cases bear enough similarities that investigators say one or more copycats may be at work."

In fact, all that anyone really knew was that the murders were continuing. A government roster of the victims lists many of the culprits as unknown.Likewise many of the women whose bodies were found were never identified, even though in some cases a specific person was charged with their murder. They are listed as "unknown” or “unidentified woman.” This is the way many of them were thought of in life as well as in death.

The young women who work in the maquilas are like cogs in the machine of global commerceThey are expendable and interchangeable, putting in 45 hours or more per week at low-skill assembly line jobs for average pay of $24 to $35 per week, depending on the fluctuation of the peso.These are women who have streamed into Juarez from destitute towns and rural areas in central and southern Mexico.

This influx of migrants to a virtually waterless town without the infrastructure to handle such population increases, has resulted in the growth of the sprawling shantytowns, called colonias, like Anapra on the outskirts of the city. Fifty percent of the roads in the towns are unpaved, 30 percent of the residents don't have running water and at least 100,000 have no electricity. At first glance, the maquilas look like decent places to work. They are gorgeously landscaped, clean and well lit. But in reality, the working conditions are far from satisfactory.

Workers are forced to put in mandatory overtime on top of nine-hour days (that stretch to twelve hours when an average one-and-a-half-hour bus ride on each side is factored in).They are regularly exposed to toxic chemicals and dangerous machinery without adequate safety equipment.Sexual harassment and abuse in the maquilas is rampant.Women have virtually no choice but to submit to ongoing sexual harassment as well as actual abuse and rape to hold onto and advance in their jobs.

Since the government mandates 60 days of paid leave for pregnant women, maquilas force women to take pregnancy tests and don't hire anyone who is pregnant. Former workers say that in some cases, these "pregnancy tests" consist of showing their used sanitary napkins to managers."All the corporations have the same code of conduct--sexual harassment, mandatory pregnancy tests, poor working conditions, humiliation," said Veronica Leiba, a former maquila worker and labor organizer. Many women are also forced to resort to prostitution because of the impossibility of supporting a family on maquila wages. This climate makes the rapes, sexual mutilations and murders more understandableIn everyday life, women are regularly treated as objects of manual labor and sexual gratification for men.That they would meet their deaths that way, and that no one in a position of power would even seem to care, is just the next step.

The Mexican government has appointed a string of special prosecutors to investigate the killings, but like most victims' families, other maquila workers, and many in the general public feel the government is not taking even the most basic steps to adequately investigate and prevent the killings. In a documentary produced by Lourdes Portillo called "Senorita Extraviada" (Missing Woman) exploring the killings, mothers of the murdered women describe how police refused to investigate their daughters' disappearances at all, often saying they must have run off with a boyfriend."

When women report their daughter has disappeared, the police respond by challenging the families to convince them of the importance of doing a search," said Acosta. "The police ask personal questions--did she have a boyfriend, was she planning to go out. They say the girls weren't careful enough."Many blame the government's failure to stop the killings on ineptness and a lack of effort on the part of the local police.There is a binational effort to get the FBI involved in the investigations, a plan which the U.S. has been amenable to but which, besides a few joint trainings, the Mexican government has failed to embrace. Others have a darker view of the police's failure to adequately investigate the murders.

In the maquilas and towns of Juarez, many believe police and government officials themselves are responsible for many of the killings.The explanation for the killings, often given by the police and government, including the governor of the state of Chihuahua, is that the women were involved in prostitution or drug trafficking, and that they shouldn't have been out by themselves at night.But this excuse doesn't stand up to the most basic logic since some of the women were abducted in broad daylight. Others are forced to be out alone in the dark because their maquila shifts end at 12:30 a.m. or they have to catch 5 a.m. buses in the morning." The maquila owners say the reason they're getting killed is they're wearing those short skirts and going dancing," said Victor Munoz, a Chihuahua native and member of an El Paso-based coalition against the killings. "It's the attitude of blaming the victim."

Advocates say efforts to get the maquilas to provide more security for women on their way to and from work have gone nowhere. Even if the victims were working as prostitutes, or had willingly gone on dates with their eventual killers, this doesn't justify the murders or decrease the government's responsibility to investigate them. The same applies to the known domestic violence victims, many of whose killers have gotten off scot-free or with relatively light sentences. On a larger level, many see the murders as part of an overall culture that wants to keep women subservient and dependent on menThis includes both the maquila owners who want their female employees to be docile and obedient, and husbands who want their wives to be the same way. Women say there is also general resentment from men at the fact women are earning money and taking jobs in a tight economy. Overwhelming and increasing poverty just exacerbates these feelings."

There are a lot of problems for poor people in Juarez," said Esther Chavez Cano, founder of Casa Amiga, the only domestic violence crisis center in the city. "Jobs are being lost at the maquilas and the maquilas are paying less. Domestic violence increases, alcoholism has increased tremendously. In Mexican culture, men feel they are supposed to be the supporters of the family, and they are frustrated that the women are earning the money, so they abuse more."

The recession in the U.S., and the growing interest in even cheaper labor in Asia, has had a significant effect on the maquila industry in the past few years.Over 30 maquilas have recently closed, at a loss of about 100,000 jobs. Yet economic conditions in the rest of Mexico continue to worsen as well, so the stream of workers up to Juarez continues.

This squeeze threatens to make the violence against women even worse. With more competition for jobs, maquilas will have even less incentive to provide decent working conditions, wages and security measures for women.And the increased economic pressure on men will cause many to take out their frustrations on their domestic partners, not to mention increasing men's anger at competing with women for fewer maquila jobs.

The situation is not without hope, however. A variety of women's groups and organizations of the victims' mothers have formed in Juarez to fight for accountability, justice and the prevention of more killings. Coalitions have also been formed with U.S. groups near the border and major U.S. foundations have funneled financial resources to the struggle.

The event on International Women's Day drew about 500 people marching from Mexico City to Ciudad Juarez, demanding an end to the murders and violence against women in generalThe issue is urgent, entailing not only the search for justice for past victims and the safety of potential victims but symbolizing the well being and hope of Mexican women as a whole.

Several years later it seems that justice begins. The American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has implicated the Government of Mexico in the death of Esmeralda Herrera Monreal, 15, Claudia Ivette Gonzalez, 19, and Laura Berenice Ramos 17, whose bodies, tortured and sexually abused, were drawn in Cotton Field on campus in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.

The Mexican state will pay for the first time for its lack of diligence in investigating the more than 400 deaths of women come to regret in Ciudad Juarez since 1993.The government did not protect, did not prevent the murder, although they knew the pattern of gender violence in the region, which has left hundreds of murdered women and girls, and the authorities in Ciudad Juarez did not respond to complaints.

This story paints a shameful picture of Mexico, but the story must continue to be broadcast in the international community, so that people know that Mexicans continue fighting against impunity ... not relenting in efforts to live in a dignified country which offers the security that Mexican women deserve.

Any1 Gynoid
(story also on CNN)

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Unlikely Musical Duo: Phemie Alcott and Didier Soyuz

On Saturday, 23rd October, Phemie Alcott and Didier Soyuz launched the release of their collaborative CD, 'Whispers in the Underground,' at Phemie's venue, The Firefly. Both uniquely talented individually, together they have created a sound all its own.


Phemie has gained the adoration of her fans with her bubbly stage presence and tendency to giggle. Often described as having the voice of an angel, Phemie's first love is piano though she transitions with ease from guitar to piano during her performances.

Phemie has been writing and performing music since the 90's and was a member of a local alternative rock band in her home town of Pittsburgh. Following that, she attended school for Music Education and Voice Performance. Currently, she performs classical voice with a professional ensemble in Pittsburgh, as well as occasionally performing at open mics around town.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, Didier Soyuz began "touring" SL in 2006, performing original, accoustic guitar instrumental pieces. In contrast to Phemie, Didi does not sing and has quite a laidback persona . He does, however, speak and always makes a point of acknowledging everyone in the crowd (in his mumbling Brit-speak). A Didier show is always a treat with fresh originals and popular favorites, such as 'Free Your Heart' and 'Face to Face.' Didi also performs live in SL with his RL band, Bouski.


After attending many of Didier's shows and loving the music, Phemie got the idea to do some music with him. Going through Harrie Skjellerup (owner of The Jester Inn) as a sort of "middlewoman," Phemie explained her idea to Harrie, who then conveyed it to Didier. Didier responded saying he would love to work with Phemie. Collecting her nerve, Phemie approached Didi directly. Through the beauty of email, Didi sent a tune to her to see what she could do with it. Phemie began woking on melody and lyrics and they soon had their first song, 'Chameleon.' Pleased with this first collaboration, they continued with Didi sending tunes and Phemie writing lyrics. Eventually, they had enough material for an entire album. The process of recording it was simpler than one might think. After receiving a tune from Didi over the airwaves, Phemie plugged it into her recording software, added her voice and sent it back to Didier. He would then "mix down the tracks or add effects or instruments, "adding a lot of reverb and "pushing through" Phemie's voice. Once they decided on the overall mix, VOILA! a Didier/Phemie song was born.

Of Didier, Phemie said, " It's been such an honor to work with him. I have the utmost respect for his talent and his music. I try to honor it when I write for it."

'Whispers in the Underground " may be purchased via the following link:

(Article approved by Phemie Alcott)

Pictures from Phemie's MySpace, and Didier's "Strangefates World Tour."

Shellie Sands

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teachers Rock Second Life!

Education's cutting edge technologies are vigorously debated by some of the most vibrant groups in Second Life: Real Life Teachers! This meeting of Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable ( was totally unplanned and yet tremendously interesting and informative free-form discussion. SL founder of VWER, AJ Brooks (SL), shares, "The most important thing to know about the VWER is that it is nothing without the community... most of our meetings take place with everyone sitting around a big roundtable and anyone has a chance to share... all are welcome – there is always a seat open."

The group I received notice of the VWER meeting is ISTE: Educational Technology Association. In real life (RL), ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education. ISTE and VWER are independent groups, but their active membership highly overlap and cross-advertise their events. ISTE is a a Real Life (RL) professional association, but in Second Life (SL) ISTE becomes a thriving global forum with multiple daily events for all teachers, preschool through post-secondary education, to network and learn the latest teaching and technology innovations. You can participate too! Every Thursday at 5pm SL time (US Pacific) ISTE hosts their Newcomers' Social at ISTE Island (221, 126, 23)

I attended a totally free form discussion at Montclair State CHSSSouth region. With no agenda at all, most SL groups would founder at such a totally unplanned event. With a thousand enthusiastic SL members, it's not a problem for VWER. Their online community is so strong that a simple announcement can gather large groups of enthusiastic discussants, ready to pave their own way toward educational excellence and group synergies.

This discussion was wide ranging and, I thought, a very refreshing view of upcoming SL changes. For example the ending of educational discounts for land in SL did not seem to concern these educators much. For example, Marc Rexen commented: "Our first contract with WebCT was for just short of $500,000 or $15 bucks per head...most site-contracts are down at $1 to $2 per head, or much more (Campus Agreements with MS). Depending on usage, what LL wants for a sim is peanuts."

Surprisingly, Second Life use for teaching is often questioned by students, and getting tech support for "the SL game" in schools is well nigh impossible. Those were major topics of discussion. You would think that children and young adults would "get" SL in a heartbeat, but not so, says educator Sheila Yoshikawa, "I still find it interesting that at the moment I'm having to give very clear accounts to my students about why we are using SL (they ask me, why) when they don't ask 'Why are we using blackboard?' "

What I found most encouraging is the educators' deep reverence for the SL platform. With so many other technologies and metaverses available now, the discussion sounded like SL was the only game in town, so to speak! SL (See iReport SecondLife is Not a Game!» ) Marc Rexen shares: "Distance Education, discussions, language training, trust and presence building, can really only be done here [in Second Life]...very few other venues, even video-conferencing, are as good."

VWER founder AJ Brooks shared more: "We meet each week on Thursday at 2:30pm SL Time (US Pacific). Meetings have a variety of themes, different each week, usually more focused. We do actively explore non SL alternatives. VWER is an outlet for people to express their ideas and learn. Views of individual members do not reflect the official views of VWER." VWER meetings at Montclair State CHSSSouth region are in their Ampitheather: Montclair State CHSSSouth (128, 128, 2).

One VWER member was concerned that quoting from SL public chat might be an ethical problem for the members. Perhaps inhibiting members views at future meetings. In general, public chat in SL, on sims open to all, is fair game (on the record) for quotations, with respect to the SL Terms of Service. I took a conservative approach, as I would with any private IM interviews and requested prior permission for members' quotes in this story.

Any1 Gynoid

Originally posted on CNN.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Oct. 12 Battle for Bastogne

The events in the WW2 RP area have gone on, and not just the fighting. The leading officer of the combined German groups recently retired, having to leave Second Life, after a long period of service. But new faces came in, such as Sky Pydeau whom made ace status faster than previous pilots. There was recently a fencing match, of whom the Imperial Japanese Naval forces had someone playing for a friend whom couldn’t make the match. And there was the ball in which a cease-fire was declared and members of both sides were invited to attend. Once it was over, the skirmishes and battles resumed.

Most times when I stop by the New Bastogne sim in the WW2 RP area, it is firmly in the hands of the German teams. Occasionally there may be some Allied in Fallout to the south. A few about are often left alone, but if someone’s eager for a match or if a large number arrives, the results usually a fight, with planes, tanks, and numbers of infantry shooting, shelling, and bombing. Usually these matches are resolved within an hour or two, usually.

On Monday October 12, yours truly logged onto Second Life to hear there was a particularly lengthy brawl going on. It had been going on for hours, and neither side was giving in. I ported over for a closer look. The Allies had taken up defensive positions in Fallout, but an anti-aircraft gun was making it tough for the JG-2 “Richthofens” air group. Indeed that anti-aircraft gun was just near-indestructible. There was a little chuckling from a few of the opposition that this was an “anti-camping gun,” a new model that was brought onto the field before testing was complete. But after a while, they agreed to make it easier to beat, and the scripts were changed for lower hitpoints.

And with that, the Richthofen skunkgirl whom has been getting a reputation for being a topnotch bomber, went up in a Junkers Ju88 medium bomber to deal with that and other ground targets. Unfortunately, she was soon met by a Spitfire, which kept after her tail. Taking evasive action she was able to avoid much damage, while a Me109F4 flew up from the air base, caught up to them, lined up the Spitfire in his sights and open fire. The Spitfire turned and a dogfight ensued, but the Me109 was able to turn tighter and “lead” the Spitfire into his line of fire. Eventually, the Spitfire took too much damage and took a dive, leaving a smoking trail.

After a few minutes, Another Spitfire came south across the Channel. It and the Me109 engaged each other in another dogfight. This one lasted longer than the first, and the German plane was damaged a little. But as before, the Me109 was able to outmanuver the Spitfire enough to finally shoot it down, and send it plumeting into a hedgerow. Another victory for the Richthofens.

Looking around after that, I noticed a number of personnel at a bridge connecting Fallout to New Bastogne. To my surprise, it was the officers of the Allied teams sitting on the rail and breaking out the fishing poles. I was then IMed that a cease-fire had been declared, and the Germans were to leave the Allies alone as they fished. With the fight over, I didn’t stick around muhch longer. The pilot of the Me109 joked that his opponent wasn’t the first man to get in trouble for fixating on a girl’s rear end.

I later chatted with Duarte Koray, whom had spent some time earlier in the battle. He couldn’t remember much, “I participate in many missions, difficult to remember all. (grin) ... I just remember the time I went by plane, I took down three aircraft, returned to base, and then afterwards, ... I think I went fishing.” With a truce declared, he had gone to fish with the American and British teams.

Both teams duking it out for hours on end, and then declaring a halt to the fighting and sitting down to fish. Some fishermen might consider this a perfect ending to a pitched match.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 18, 2010

SL Joy for 33 Chile Miners

Second Life people rejoiced wildly for the safe rescue of all 33 miners in Chile! It's a miracle after 3 months underground, all miners are safe and sound. It's a victory for humankind and working people everywhere. People care! Big Time!

Well, I wondered what are SL people doing to support the miners and their families? Quicker than Sarah Palin can say "YOU BETCHA!" I found a very cool SL site where you can live the miner's experience. Login to SL and copy paste this in your browser or SL chat:

Kleopatra Arai built a Chilean Miner's memorial site on her Cuidad Jardin (Garden City) sim, including a full scale Miner's Rescue Capsule, what the Chilean's sent down the rescue tunnel to bring each miner to the surface one by one. The Miner's Rescue capsule in SL is the creation of Juancho Faith.

Kleopatra of the rescue of the 33 miners: "My experience as a Chilean in the case of the miners, from the day of the accident August 5, 2010, no one knew if they were alive or dead ... and as more days passed, lesser chance of finding them alive. At 17 days the accident was global news to find them alive, an incredible joy, but we had to wait for rescue, and no one knew how long they might be down, there was talk of months ...... On Oct. 13 we not only laughed, wept and became very excited with every rescue, also I am now intensely re-united with this great country in total solidarity!" This brought Chile together like no other event in their history! Wow!

A unique case in the world and how I feel Chilean proud of it. We support the earthquake, the Tsunami, the accident of the miners, but the country came together again later.

Rut Ro! Any's going for a ride! .. you can open and close the rescue capsule door, sit on a pose ball, and imagine a long long ride in a small cage.

FREE T-SHIRTS! I'm sure you expected that! Yeah! You can celebrate the miner's rescue too! Come round and try these out! The shirts are in Spanish and say (roughly): We all wish well, the rescue of the 33! and on the back "Chile Miner Force". Worker Power! Way Cool!

I noticed just behind the Miner's Memorial, a very curious sight. Like dozens of SL horses, fully animated, as many as 100 (Picture 6). Hmmm quite curious, apparently, Kleo's neighbor Betsy Petrov has quite an obsession with horses. Her Argentinian themed ranch is a sight to behold. Well, at least for horse lovers! lol

Kleopatra is also a prolific fashion designer and SL builder. She's got a huge store on the sim with every conceivable kind of ladies fashions and other SL do-dads you will need in your Second Life!

Kleo's whole store is belly dancer themed, music and all! Yay! Read more about SL belly dancing in my super-fun story for SL Newspaper! :

Enjoy Your Second Life!

-- Any Gynoid

Article originally on CNN

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Secret Life of SL Mermaids

Mermaids and merfolk thrive in Second Life (SL), which has a zero-gravity dance environment for those brave enough to put on their tail and leave their legs behind. Landwalkers is the derrogatory term for SL people who haven't yet embraced the inherent beauty and bliss of being free forever from gravity and styles constrained by mere humanoid vanity.

Second Life is a place where people express freedom in many ways. Being merfolk is a particularly fun and empowering experience. As merfolk, we swim through joy in SL, enjoying complete freedom from gravity in our dances and Animation Overrides (AO). On Land and Undersea! Yeah!

My complete transformation to mer came this week. It was the second time in SL when I felt completely jurassic. I was with club owner Liz Harley, we were both mer, but she has such a killer AO that I was completely floored... JURASSIC ME!! EEEEK! I begged her for the SL landmark (LM), which she offered generously.

What an Amazing Store! OMG! Imagine Koi Goldfish outfits... done up with Japanese Kimono belts... and totally awesome AO animations... I had to have it all!!! No more Jurassic me! Now I'm full time merfolk for sure! (We shall see! Hee Hee!)

Anyways, today I got a group IM from Marybelle Lavender on Merfolk of SL. Oh, Merfolk party now at Hercules! Hmmm okies great! I'm in the gig!

Come round to Hercules for free merman and mermaid outfits!!! I plan to make up a kit for my students will full instructions on how to go mer!

Master of ceremonies at the Hercules gig was Xia Ysabel who has a very unusual merfolk avi, with octopus tentacles. Most merfolk avis have gorgeous fish tails. Way cool to discover the next generation of merfolk looks! Wow!

Also joining us for the merfolk dance party was Ellender Donner, and Psyche Spore, who is a wonderful dance hostess. Phoenix Ishmene arrived a little after the start and stayed later too.

I've been interested in SL merfolk culture since my early appearances in The Light Dancer's shows with Cellandra Zon. The first act of our first show was done in mermaid outfits, and I shall always cherish the beauty of those scenes (use them in my profile to this day).

Lately, I see a major growth in merfolk participation and adoption in SL. Previously, you've rarely seen them. Now, it's actually quite unusual not to have a merfolk or two in any given SL audience. Especially since I'm going full time mer just now! LOL

Musicians are a major factor driving the adoption of merfolk looks and culture. In particular Louis Landon's new CD is Solo Piano for Love, Peace & Mermaids.

Well, I hope you can find a minute to stop by Sea of Hercules, pick up your free merfolk outfit and give it a whirl. Try the merfolk dance ball there... Way fun! Being merfolk is a particularly joyous celebration of life that is truly at the core of SL fun.

-- Any1 Gynoid

Article originally in CNN

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interview with Kaeko Freenote

Kaeko Freenote is a talented, live singer with a sweet, soulful voice that you will instantly warm to. I had the distinct pleasure of attending one of Kaeko's live shows in Second Life recently and afterwards, I was honoured to spend some time with Kaeko to have a chat with her and to meet her SL family.

Kaeko invited me to her home - a delightful little trailer set amongst an orchard of peach trees (more about that later!) where I joined Kaeko and one of her loved ones, Carson Wylie for a chat.

This evening, Kaeko performed at Hepburns, a club where she has only sung a couple of times. Kaeko considers her 'home' venue to be 'Smooth Jazz Club', "The venue owner, Maebh Jewell, is an amazing person. She found me and 'rescued' me from just a dreadful venue, that treated me horribly. She heard something in me. She has always been laid back, professional, friendly and encouraging. I asked Kaeko if this felt like a rebirth of sorts for her. "Well, in a way I've had two rebirths at Smooth. First was her finding me at all and welcoming me to sing jazz standards, which I really prefer to pop and alternative. And also giving me somewhere I felt welcomed and appreciated and just...home. And then, after I got sick and had to leave for a while and had my surgery and all that, she welcomed me back with open arms. I could sing again, something I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to do again. So that was really an SL and a RL rebirth, through Maebh and Smooth and SL."

"She is brilliant. I can't imagine anyone I would rather sing for..."

Kaeko has branched out and written some of her own lyrics and one day, she would love to be able to hear her own music and to try it on her own audience.

"Because of my Chiari Malformation, I have never been able to learn an instrument. It effects the part of the brain that handles the fine hand/eye coordination it takes to play. Sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have a live pianist or guitarist that I could sing with, so we could create music together."

"Theres something about the energy of two artists thats intoxicating..."

Our chat is momentarily but pleasantly interrupted by a lively bundle of energy, also known as Kaeko's son, Cable. Little Cable greets us all before running off as quickly as he bounded in, his mind fixated by other, less 'adult' endeavours.

Kaeko smiles at her son as we continue our chat. Kaeko's taste in music is varied, although she has no particular favourite genre of music. "I don't have a favourite style, persay, but its what I studied in real life. Jazz standards, choral pieces and Broadway. So my style is more tuned for it. I do enjoy my pop shows. We have fun!"

Kaeko's pop shows have an extremely universal theme - the theme of SL love. "Moving from the moment you see each other and feel that spark, to the passion, to the doubt and jealousy, to the insistence of self-strength, to the trip and sobbing over the one who got away, to finding yourself again. To me, thats such a common, common theme in SL. Almost everyone knows it, almost everyone understands and can relate"

Our chat takes an interesting twist when I ask Kaeko an extremely personal yet soul-searching question....

'Kaeko, tell me honestly, do you sing in the shower?'

Kaeko laughs, "Its funny. I ONLY sing in the shower when I'm sad or angry and haven't found words to capture it yet. And then you can hear me singing 'Noone Knows Who I am' from Jeckyl and Hyde or 'Need A Place' from Secret Garden.

"My mind works, and sound comes out of my face without my knowledge or permission..."

An evening, an hour, even a few minutes with Kaeko and her beautiful voice will inspire you to believe in the words as you listen to them escaping her lips. Her songs are chosen especially by the lady herself, "Songs that touch you because you know that situation, that feeling, thats the common factor for me."

You can find Kaeko in Second Life and on Facebook. Oh, and if you attend one of her performances, you will not only leave with a lingering smile on your face and sweet memories in your heart, your head will be FULL of facts on peaches....Kaeko loves them!!
Kaeko, thank you for your gift and once again, thank you for sharing your voice, your time and your family with me. YOU are the sweetest peach in the garden.

Nova Halderman

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interview with WW2 RP JG 2 Commander Vickster “Baroness” Kuhn

Vickster Kuhn is the Commander of the Luftwaffe group in the World War 2 RP area . Besides leading JG 2, the “Richthofens,” she has titles in several other groups, and her profile states she’s considered an ace in five flight groups on the Grid. Recently, she agreed to an interview with Second Life Newspaper.

Vickster Kuhn: Have a seat. This is one of the hangars I keep in Second Life. This one is dedicated to the Richthofen Squadron.

Bixyl Shuftan: Thank you. So Vickster, when did you first come across flying in Second Life?

Vickster Kuhn: Well I (first) flew helicopters, because I couldn't handle planes. But I had a good friend. She was into WW2. She had these great planes, and I wanted to do it too. So I started hanging around Wilders. I joined the RCAF and started flying regularly. Tthat was more than two years ago.

Bixyl Shuftan: When did you first hear of the RP at New Bastogne?

Vickster Kuhn: Well, I own New Bastogne.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oops, excuse me. How did the World War Two Roleplay get started?

Vickster Kuhn: Well it started a long time ago, at least a long time ago in Second Life (laugh). It all really started in a sim called Sanctuary. It’s gone now. But they made this sim for Vice combat, WW2. Mostly flying. That is where most of the WW2 sims we have now were inspired. It was sort of the first inception of the Bastogne project, where we tried to integrate Vice combat and RP.

Vice combat was unique in SL because you can mix personal combat and vehicular combat with different weapons and everything. Before Vice no systems did that. Now there are several, but that's another story (laughter). VICE will ever be part of the history of SL combat, especially for aviation. But the best part is the mixture of ground and air elements.

Bixyl Shuftan: the bombs and anti-aircraft guns?

Vickster Kuhn: Sure, and personal weapons, tanks, ships, everything.

Bixyl Shuftan: when did the Bastogne project begin?

Vickster Kuhn: About Bastogne (smile), After Sanctuary closed, as sims do, they made a partnership with the Flying Tigers, that’s the SL group, and opened two sims, Legends of WW2 and Fallout. Later they opened a third sim, called Bastogne. All three for WW2 Vice combat and RP. Saffron Giano owned Fallout and Bastogne and G of the Flying Tigers owned Legends. That was what I like to call the golden age of WWII RP in Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan: Sounds like there was quite a bit of activity.

Vickster Kuhn: There was so much activity i still have a hard time processing it all in my own mind. I really came of age as an aviator in those days, and leaned how to organize. I was the Axis coordinator of Bastogne. And I successfully repelled the D-Day invasion of Normandy, which is one of my proudest moments in SL.

Bixyl Shuftan: Sounds like you made a number of kills that day.

Vickster Kuhn: Actually, I was in charge of the air defense, but I planned the defense of the beach to the letter, with the leaders of the ground forces, and it was planning that won the day. But it's ancient history now.

Bixyl Shuftan: What are some more recent accomplishments?

Vickster Kuhn: I’ve been very lucky in Second Life. My area of interest is combat aviation with an emphasis on WWII, and I have had a pretty successful career. I'm lucky to enjoy a good reputation as a flyer. And I ave extended this with my squadron JG 2 'Richthofen.' But my fame really comes from my career as a Flying Tiger. I’m not saying I’m famous, but a lot of people do seem to know me.

Bixyl Shuftan: Any future plans for the RP?

Vickster Kuhn: We are experimenting with a new combat system. For my sim we want to add more RP opportunities for civilians and medical people, and support people, and make more engaging contests. RP is the part that is the most wide open, because you can roleplay anything.

In real-life, I'm an office girl. In Second Life, I'm one of the most feared pilots (around). (laughter) You can see why I'm an SL junky. Bastogne is my gift to my friends. I missed old Bastogne so much. We had air and ground. And when it closed it was so terrible, that is why I did New Bastogne. It’s not like the old sime. My helpers and I redid it completely. We keep changing things. You have to in Second Life.

And we have had many hard times. Not just in Bastogne but in Second Life. People like us who make sims, it’s hard, because it takes a lot of people. Anybody can open a sim. But people like G, they are my inspiration. Not just land, but people and groups. We don't get many chances like this to play in Second Life. And they are fewer than they were in the old days. It's hard to coordinate and the least thing can ruin it.

Bixyl Shuftan: I heard something about membership in the RP climbing back to over 400.

Vickster Kuhn: We have a strong base group that's nearly two years old. That was the base group of old Bastogne.

Bixyl Shuftan: Anything else that you'd like to mention?

Vickster Kuhn: I would like to say that I have two loves in Second Life: the Flying Tigers and The Richtofen Squadron. And that I plan to have Bastogne for a very long time. And that I thank all my fellow WW2 RPers for all the great times and memories. (smile)

And with that, the interview was over. Before leaving, she did tell me of a Youtube she had done for the group. Having seen it, it makes for a fitting close.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, September 13, 2010

More New York City Block 9-11 Pictures

The 9-11 ceremonies at the New York City Block, the NYC sim, had a number of pictures taken of them. Here are several of them to help better show the events of the day.

A view of the permanent Twin Towers Memorial and the seating from above before the event.

A closer look at the memorial to the fallen policemen.

NYC owner, and native Brookliner, Cheri Bing and SLFRD firefighter Naxos Loon.

Taking the hook and ladder out for a test drive before the parade.

Another view of the hook and ladder.

Fireman Nick Pritchett gives a short speech after Chief JayFizzle McGinnis

Remembering the Departed

A bird's eye view of the commemoration.

The parade of fire trucks passes the corner.

Several firefighters gather after the parade to share stories.

Following the end of the commemoration, people continued to come over and pay their respects.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Not to Say to the Chronicaly Ill

I remember reading somewhere more than twenty percent of Second Life Residents have some kind of disability. Some keep quiet about it. Others mention it to friends after a while. And some are open about it to friends and strangers alike.

One such friend, a Christian and mother of two, had the misfortune to be stricken with fibromyalgia, a painful disorder that is thought to affect between two and four percent of people. She has encountered a number of people in Second Life, many sympathetic and offering well-wishes and prayers. But a few seemed insensitive, or were clueless in what to say.

So on her public garden, she posted a list of “Things NOT to say to someone with a disabling chronic illness.” She tells me she had heard them at least once.

“But you don’t look sick.”

“Everybody gets tired.”

“Everybody has a bad day.”

“If you’d get more exercise”

“You’ll just have to tough it out.”

“You just need a positive attitude.”

“It must be nice not having to work.”

“There are people worse off than you.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

“It’s all in your head.”

“You’re just depressed.:

“You’re getting old.”

“If you’d get out more often.”

“This too, shall pass.”

And what she thought hurt the worst, “You don’t have enough faith.”

“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but unless you get it, you just don’t get it.”

She tells me she had heard each of them at least once. So eventually, she felt the need to make the poster and put it up as a reminder that for the chronically ill, words truly can hurt.

“Have a Blessed Day”

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meet Afsaneh Metaluna: Artist, Filmmaker, and Storyteller

I recently met resident Afsaneh Metaluna, a story-teller and award-winning filmmaker in both SL and RL. Freed from real world limitations, Afsaneh is able to create and perform her art in SL in ways that would never have been possible otherwise. She currently resides and performs in Falathrim in Elf Circle. On September 18 at 11 AM SL, she will present a workshop there on storytelling techniques.

Falathrim is owned by Fleure Homewood, her friend and a patron of the arts who hosts many music performances and also has an art gallery there. As you can see in the photo, it is a colorful and imaginative site. Afsaneh is also a member of Myth Systerhood & Company, a group dedicated to providing opportunities for storytelling to flourish in SL.

Afsaneh has been a storyteller since she was in primary school. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D in Folklore, but it was an informal storytelling event that changed her life. That evening, as she listened to the storyteller perform an Irish tale, "The Golden Fly," Afsaneh said she “felt that I sojourned in Ildathach -- the "Land of the Bright Shadow". Prior to that night Afsaneh had been drifting away from storytelling due to academic and other commitments, but that experience revitalized her. “The story was very moving and gave me a deep longing to return to the art as a performer. For the next several years, I told stories at every opportunity. I gave numerous paid performances, attended festivals, told stories for radio and was a featured performer in libraries, schools and museums in the Maritimes.”

When a disability that limits her mobility caused her to limit her RL performances, Afsaneh came to SL. Now, without those constraints, she is free to concentrate on her art. She estimates that she has given over 150 storytelling performances in SL since 2009.

Her real-life husband initially suggested that she come into SL, and together they created their own “Ildathach”, a sim and group dedicated to storytelling. After about a year, however, she decided to close it because it required so much time and resources that her ability to be creative in other ways was hampered. She has since transitioned to the storytelling group, “Myth Systerhood & Co.” This is her main performance group, and it also provides opportunities for residents to participate in the stories she tells.

When I asked Afsaneh about the origin of her name, her sense of humor sparked. “It may be derived from a Persian word for ‘fairy tale’,” she said, but then she explained that since she doesn’t speak Farsi it could mean ‘lamb kebab.' But it had a fairy-tale sound to it, and she liked the way it went with the Linden last name she chose. “The surname is cool,” she said, “because I can offer group members the alternative tag of "Metalunatic."

In addition to her stories, the RL Afsaneh (Dr. Seana Kozar) has been a full-time filmmaker since 2002. Her transition to filmmaking came about when her storytelling was limited by RL issues of bad weather, budget cuts, and mobility. Her first work, “Almost Normal: Stories From the Well Within”, is about women with invisible disabilities. Produced in 2003, it combined video, experimental animation and oral storytelling and was broadcast in Canada in 2004. Her latest film, “Nothing Like Her” was produced in 2009 and has screened in 23 festivals worldwide and has received two awards to date. However, she missed being able to interact with a live audience. Now, through SL, she is able to do both. She has screened some of her films in Second Life and says she will do so again when she completes her latest work.

In addition, she will be returning to storytelling on a regular basis this fall with “1001 Storied Sunday Nights", beginning on September 12 at 6 PM SLT. Each story will be between 30 and 45 minutes long, and after that she will play music that ranges from Eastern and World techno to medieval. But she promised that it will all be suitable for dancing. Additionally, on alternate Saturdays starting Oct. 2, she plans to host "Elevensies with Afs", which will be broadcasts of her previously recorded live performances with chat transcriptions for those residents who like or need text support.

Grey Lupindo

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I Became a Child Avatar by Pygar Bu

Part Five of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

I decided when I joined Second Life, that I wanted two things for my avatar: to be an angel named Pygar, and to be a kid. My name and appearance are directly influenced by the movie Barbarella, but the kid part is more of an ideal way of being in the world for me.

I love using my imagination to do everything I can, and I try to keep a very fresh outlook on life and learn something from any and all experiences I have. I can express these qualities best by being a kid! :-D

I started out in 2006 as an eight-year-old, and have "aged" to nearly twelve. I will likely stick to twelve when I get there in July on my rezdate. One of the activities I do with other kids in SL is attending Camp Hardknock, and the upper age limit there is twelve. I enjoy my camp experiences so much that I don't want to grow up! (laughs)
I also have a family here. My sisters Mari and Robin are very special to me, and we are Real-Life friends as well. Our parents also became friends of ours through our shared experiences in SL, though we have never met them in person.

My imagination has led me to building objects in SL. I make toys to sell in my store, and have built some other things for Livingtree island, Burning Life, and just for fun. I made some of the things in this exhibit!

Well, hopefully that gives you some insight into my childhood here. Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why I Too Became a Child Avatar

Part Four of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

My whole decision to get a second life began, when I read a Wikipedia article about the Otherland Books by Tad Williams. There was a reference to a Second Life (TM) article on Wikipedia and I am always curious, so I looked at it and got amazed.

Since I listened to the audio-play of the books I imagined how it would be to be one of the kids living inside the "Old Mill". When I noticed that there is a possibility to be a kid and to relive a childhood I didnt really have, I used my chance and registered. The first day I logged in i felt pretty much left alone - there weren't any SL-Mentors at that time, that programme started later on.

So I roamed over SL to find what I actually was looking for, a place where SL-Kids would meet. The first place I finally met any SL-Kid at was at Auburn Hills Nature Preserve - a beautiful place on about a Quarter-Sim, that was lead by Phoenix Ripley. He was a funny guy who always had an open ear and a cheer up for everyone who needed it. Sadly phoenix died in October 2007 and the place is gone meanwhile, but that's another story. The first SL-Kid I ever met was Verena, a German girl and we could sit at Auburn Hills for hours and talk about all silly things. One day she asked me if I wanted to come to the Vortex Kids Club to dance and I agreed.

When we got there, I simply was amazed. Bunches of Kids and many I friended at that day.

It was not much later after that day, when someone told me to try one or two adoption agencies to find some parents. So i started a search and found B&R, a small agency which had a nice atmosphere and which I really liked. There, I experienced my first miracle in SL. I was just done with my Kid Application form and sent it to the staff, when she said that she would have just the parents I imagined. 5 minutes later I left the adoption agency at the hand of a beautiful woman - Connie, my SL-mum now already for over 3 years!

In the following time I met a lot of SL Children, became a Child Recruiter for SLC,started my own business, got involved in the Hogwarts Reborn RP community, started fishing (thanks to Arianna Pinkerton, whom I freinded at my first day at the Vortex as well), built up my RC Racing Circuits, got more involved by DJing etc.

A year and a half later I had the honour to become a manager for one of the greatest vehicle creators in SL, Apolon Obscure. I didn't ask for it, but I annoyed him so much about customer requests, that he told me to come over to his workshop and do it myself. When i was done with my first Helicopter, he told me that I did better than he expected me to and asked me to become his custom manager. I felt really honoured about that and agreed. Since then we were making a lot of things and I more than once drove him up the wall with my ideas, but I love the job a lot and in the following year I learned even more to texture, save prims, sculpting etc.

Another honour I had was to DJ at SL6B and Burning Life 2008/09. While BL08 and SL6B were pretty cool and I DJed for Marianne Mccann's Inner Child Camp solely. Burning Life 09 was an experience of a much greater dimension. I DJed about a dozen sets (including fill-ins for the Vortex) within 10 days and shot a lot of pictures. It was awesome to ride all over the sims and to see all the awesome builds creators did.

In January 2010 I had the honour to meet the first SL-Children and SL-Friends in RL while i was in the UK. Gemini, Myrtil, PJ and Matt! It only added to our friendship, at least in my eyes, although I wouldn't mind to have more time for them, but that will come. I am sure of that.

In May 2010 I got involved in 2 new Projects - the Virtual Railroad Consortium (VRC) and the United Aeronautic Republic (UAR). While in the VRC i will try to help to smoothen trafficking Problems on the SL railroads - I am an apprenticed railroad worker RL so i know a bit about that stuff (grin), in the UAR I will try to fulfill a dream I had since my earliest days in SL - to fly without borders or limitations.

So I am now looking forward of what the future may bring. One thing I am planning is to build at BL10. If you want to help me about it, you are welcome to IM me anytime.

Everest Pike

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why I Became a Child Avatar

Part Three of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

Hello, My name is Lil’ Patty Wylie and I’m six years old. I live in a sky house over a mall with my mommy, Sister and cousins. I go to School at Hardknock Elementary and I help Mommy with the mall when I can. I am very lucky and have lots of friends and we love to explore the safe places in Second life.

When my player (my adult side) came to Second life it was to be able to play with a doll again, even though it was a virtual doll. My player was introduced to SL with a demonstration from a friend and thought it would be fun to have an animated doll.

What became a totally unexpected experience is that the animated doll took on a life of its own. I Patty here in second life am real (sorta) and am able to live or relive the experiences of a child. Now I Patty have brought out the inner child of my player and now we get to grow within this world called Second Life.

Here I like school where in first life I did not. Here I love playing games with my friends where in first life I was really bad at it. I’m pretty bad here too, but it does not bother me like it did in first life. In some ways being a kid in SL is an opportunity to reshape a childhood experience and make it better.

Me thinks the reason I am a child avatar in second life is the opportunity for me to share with friends of like mind, the joys of just being a kid again. To just leave the real world behind for a while and enjoy a fun filled worry free world along side others doing the same thing.

Patty Wylie

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sage Kostenbaum

Part Two of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

How did I become a child avatar? Well… When a man avatar and a woman avatar fall in love… *laughs, falling back a bit* Just kidding!

Seriously, let’s start to before SAGE KOSTENBAUM even existed. Prior to Second Life, my player - player?! This isn’t a game; this is MY life we’re talkin’ about here! - used to hang out in a so-called world called Zwinky. But, compared to SL, Zwinky is a practically a comic strip. She got burned out with that and upon hearing about Second Life on an episode of CSI: NYC, and from a fellow Zwinkster, she decided to check it out.

At first, like everyone else, I started out as an adult avatar - a harajuku noobie. I left Orientation Island, explored around a bit, saw some of the sites, and even thought about getting a job at Sweethearts Jazz Lounge as a hostess. I thought that would be so much fun! I love interacting with people.

After doing some traveling, I stumbled upon an island owned by a member of the church I belong to. I was very impressed with the landscaping and his buildings that I wanted to meet him. A few day later I finally met him. And, I was shocked by what I saw. Initially, I didn’t believe my eyes. He was… a child! I had NEVER encountered any child avatars before in Second Life. I thought it was a world solely resided by adults. It wasn't until AFTER I became one myself did I see anymore. Unlike now, in May of 2008, child avatars were few. We usually were only found in the Kids' Communities. The first time I saw another child running arounds the streets of SL outside sims I normally hung out in, I was so excited. It was like, I HAFTA be your friend! But, now in 2010, if I see a fellow child I don't know, I think, where have you been hiding? LOL

So, back to my conversion story. After meeting this boy, I decided I'd like to live in Second Life as a child also. At first, I did some messing with my appearance. Made my adult shape shorter, fattened some areas and ended up looking more like a teen. While talking with this new found friend of mine, he shared with me a scripture that explains: you should become as a little child. And, I thought, yes, of course, full of innocence and forgiving. We talked some more and he asked if I was planning on being a child avatar most of the time. Hmmmm… I thought. Yeah, I think so! ^.^ He invited me to join a local SL child group called Second Life Children and I did some more research on becoming a REAL child avatar.

When I found my first child shape and skin, I thought, I had no idea you could buy already made child shapes and skins! I was estatic. At first, I decided I would be eleven years old, but since then, I have become eight years old. Some kids get older as years pass, I got younger. :P I no longer wear that first skin, but my shape is the first shape I found; a free one. I've just done a lot of molding over the past 2 years.

So, in a nut- shell, that’s how the adult Sage Kostenbaum became the child Sage Kostenbaum. And, I LOVE it! The child avatar community is so tight. We look out for each other, and help each other out. And, I have met so many friends. Friends who have become some of my best friends, not only in this world, but in the world beyond the World Wide Web. I have a family - 3 mothers and a sister. I go to school. I made Valedictorian! I am the female co-host of a kid avatar radio broadcast show called Milk n Kookies.

Being a child avatar is the best. We explore lands, go to dances, hang out, go shopping... but most of all, we don’t have a care in the world. It’s fantastic! We’re not a bunch of perverts; in fact the MAJORITY of us aren’t even looking for sexual encounters. We’re all fairly the same, deep down inside, just a group of kids trying to have fun and reliving a second childhood.

Sage Kostenbaum

Monday, August 23, 2010

So Why Am I a Kid Avatar?

Part one of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

Let me use a classic television analogy: in the original Twilight Zone episode, "Kick The Can," a group of nursing home octogenarians start to play the kids game in the title. In the process, they end up back in the halcyon days of their youth.

When I joined Second Life, playing a kid was not at all something I had considered doing. I did not even look at that as being an option until meeting two separate real life friends in-world, and seeing them playing kids. We talked a bit about this, and they offered some of their motivations. I liked what they had to say, and it led to me doing the same: a chance at youth and innocence regained within a virtual world.

This has led to four years of child avatar roleplay in SL. Being part of an inworld family, going to elementary school, heading out to Summer Camp, and just enjoying the wild, carefree life that comes before worrying about jobs, bills, and other commonalities of an adult's life.

So why a kid? So I can hit the playground once in a while, be cared for and nurtured by an in-world family, and have fun with my virtual peers.

I simply want to kick the can.

Marianne McCann