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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Commentary: So, You Want To Be A Club Owner


By Bixyl Shuftan

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

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

The Purpose

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

The Time

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

The Expense

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

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

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

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


The Drama

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Griefers

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

As true as this stereotype often is, it's not always the case. There are some people who are simply bad at designing themselves (http://slnewserpeople.blogspot.com/2017/10/slime-and-times-banned-for-looking-odd.html) and continue to have this attempt at an appearance long into their virtual life. And club after club with a "not welcome" sign for newcomers isn't exactly encouraging to keep new people interested in the Grid. And of course some griefers are properly dressed. Or perhaps they have a way of knowing the "fine line" before the club owners give them the boot. These people are truly aggravating for patrons and club owners alike, especially for those who feel without procedure, people will be reluctant to come out of fear for being banned for no reason.

Some years into Second Life history, a new kind of griefing came into play: extortion. Instead of just trying to annoy, these people would employ things like "sim crashers" repeatedly at a club and then demand money in order for it to stop. Otherwise they would keep it up until they either got their money or the club closed. There has been at least one case in which the Lab wasn't much help, and the club and it's community had to hunker down for a while until they felt the coast was clear (http://slnewserextra.blogspot.com/2013/01/news-and-commentary-graphics-card.html), a nightmare scenario for a club owner.

May The Best Man Win, Or Maybe Not

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

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

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

Other Clubs

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

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

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

The Unexpected

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ari's Rezzday


By Deaflegacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ari's piano schedule shows that he plays at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cape%20Heron/179/123/22

Deaflegacy

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reader Submitted - Halloween for Stoners in SL

By Any1 Gymoid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie Mae Bhaktiguru

Monday, October 9, 2017

Businesswoman Banned From Second Life Without Clear Explanation


By Bixyl Shuftan

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, October 6, 2017

SLife and Times: Banned For Looking Odd


By Bixyl Shuftan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scources: Blog Veridical , Facebook

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cookie Obsession and Gurl Scouts


By Gemma Cleanslate

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

If you are interested in the concept visit the headquarters http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wiles/223/175/4002  You can also contact the people above for information.

Gemma Cleanslate 

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