Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Presidential Debate From the Clinton HQ at Bay City

By Bixyl Shuftan

On Monday September 26 at just after 6PM SL time, the first Presidential debate took place between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Besides television, one could also see the debate online, including in Second Life where it was streamed in places. Among them, the Clinton HQ in Bay City.

The location has been in Bay City since July, a two-story tall brick building decorated with flowers and red, white, and blue. Inside were posters championing their nominee and ridiculing Trump, as well as the previous Republican President, Bush. In the middle back was a stage with two podiums, each with a cardboard cutout of one of the candidates. There were about a dozen chairs in front of the stage, and a couple stools. Some sat in them. Others stood. Attendance varied a little as some left early and a few arrived late, but it's safe to assume a few dozen attended. A few were in clothes with political themes, "I'm With Her," "America Was Already Great." The crowd was mostly female, which probably explained someone saying when I stepped in, "Oh good, another male!"

Not all came to simply watch. A few griefers showed up, including one, strangely enough, in a chicken avatar with a Trump flag, "I guess we now know why the chicken crossed the road." Another yelled, "Vote trump you furry luving coomie scum!" Someone joked that the griefer was no fan of "Fox news." Another mused, "A coomie is a large present." One would later comment, "(I) was a little disappointed with the griefers. I expected something clever."

The screen behind the podium when clicked on would show a live feed of the debate, at least for those whose viewers were enabled with the right streaming software. During the course of the debate, it was no surprise as this was a pro-Democratic party location that the crowd was clearly rooting for Clinton, "His hair is just so awful." "He looks all squinty-eyed and constipated." "Is it just me or does he sniff up snot every other sentence?" (a reference to "sniffing" noises Trump seemed to make on occasion) "Nothing he does is presidential." "Trump is so annoying." "Oh-em-gee, he is soooo delusional!"

There were a few comments that weren't so pro-Clinton, "I don't think she looks so well either." "The moderator is biased, and I don't like her playing the race card." And there was a joke aimed at the moderator, "Lester Holt's glasses are, in fact, x-ray specs. he can see them naked." The more noted SL personalities there were more reserved or neutral in their comments. One person slumped forward in her chair, away from keyboard. Someone joked she'd fallen asleep from the debate.

When the debate ended, everyone who expressed an opinion was confident that Clinton had one. A couple people expressed their appreciation for me being there, "Thank you Bixyl for being here as (a) reporter." Some were looking forward to round two, "Hope to see ya again at 2nd debate." One person stated they had already voted via an absentee ballot, due to a vacation planned for election time.

I did do a "Search" for Trump locations, but only one had people around, and only a couple at that. As I've heard some people continue to express political opinions critical of the Democratic candidate since Linden Lab banned the leader and several others of the controversial Trump Organization group a few months ago, it may be that the serious Trump supporters (as opposed to griefers pretending to be them) are keeping a low profile.

As heated as the political banter was tonight, with the charges of Trump being "dangerous," it's notable that four years ago the vitriol was pretty high as well, despite that since then Democrats have calmed down over the Republican nominee Romney. So once this battle is over, will the Democrats forget what they spoke about Trump? Time will tell.

For those wishing to visit the Clinton HQ, it is located at (Argos 36, 253, 25).

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 23, 2016

Memorial Service For Catt Gable

By Bixyl Shuftan

It was Saturday September 3 in which news reached Second Life of the passing of a member of the Relay: Catt "Kala" Gable. She had been a member of the Relay Rockers. Two weeks later on September 17, there was a memorial service to her. As 5PM approached, people began gathering under a large tent at the Relay dAlliez sim. There was plenty of seating available, and more than forty people were present. Some had the title "Relaying for Catt." There was music playing, including, "These Are The Times We Will Remember."

Did you know that before you came into my life
It was some kind of miracle that I survived
Some day we will both look back
And have to laugh
We lived through a lifetime
And the aftermath

This is the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
Cause we won't
Although we want to
This is the time
But time is gonna change
I know we've got to move somehow
But I don't want to lose you know

A number of people had a some words to say. Among them was Nuala Maracas, "I first met Catt, she will always be Catt to me, even though she changed her name to Kala, … I first met Catt back in 2006.....almost 10 years ago....40 years ago if you go by Second Life  comparison.   When you have known a person, face to face, for that length of time, you get to know their nuisances,  you can see their face when they speak, but most importantly you can see their eyes... their windows to their soul.    In the virtual world, we rely on our emotional gut feelings.  We hear the inflections in their voices.  We hear the caring, the trust, the honesty, the empathy, and the playfulness within their words.  And these traits are amplified 100 times when words are not spoken often.

"Catt Gable was one of those people.   A caring, honest, empathetic  soul, whose words, when spoken, spoke volumes.  When Catt spoke, she let you see into the windows of her soul through her voice.

"In November 2014,Catt had been through a serious medical emergency. She had had respiratory failure followed by cardiac arrest several times and kidney failure. She was missing from Second Life for a couple months until she was able to get access to a computer and get in touch with us.She remained in the hospital for several more months, but, with her laptop in her hospital bed she walked the Relay Track with her team once again in July 2015.   She got to go home in August.  While she was in the hospital more tests were done and reviewed and only 1 week after returning home, she was called back to her  doctor's office….. she had cancer.

"Now, I had never met  Catt in person, but  I knew she was a proud person, a private person.So when she shared her diagnosis  with me last year, I knew it not only must have been difficult for her to share something so private, but that is also must be  serious.  I recall her saying, a few months back, “ I want to share my story sometime. It might help others.”  To hear that coming from Catt was like someone took a mega phone and stood next to me and yelled in it.  It was serious….. It was Stage 4  uterine cancer with some metastasis.

"Never once did Catt stop taking care of others.  She tended to the Memorial Garden on ACS Island, she comforted those who needed comfort, never letting her situation overshadow that of someone else's.   Few even knew of her diagnosis until almost 7 months later when she shared her story at the Relay For Life kick off.  Cat became the curator of the Memorial Gardens at The American Cancer Society and helped many find the special place for a photo of their loved one.  She spent countless hours in the gardens talking to whomever happened by, whether for just a peaceful place to be or to pay respects to a loved one.  There is no better way to express what the gardens meant to Catt….than in her own word from her speech at the Relay For Life Kick Off last March.

"Catt had a fantastic sense of humour and loved finding the good and fun in everyone and everything.  To this day, I still haul out these bagpipes she had me playing at her wedding many years ago.  I sounded awful...just as if she had given me them in the non virtual world.  But I played those pipes every chance I had over the next couple years and laughed hard each time. 

"We has a lot of good laughs when we organized It’s Raining Men Date Auction for the Relay Rockers.  I think she had more fun auditioning the men than actually running the event. And The Chip N Dale Dancers, she had a wicked sense of humour when helping to organize that event.

"Her sense of style was to be envied.  She was not a model in Second Life but she could have outlasted and outplayed any top model in here …..why?  Because she had grace.

"I learned something about Catt, after she had passed, that shocked me.  She LOVED heavy metal music...she was a metal head!  Never in my wildest imagination would I have put Catt Gable and Heavy Metal Music in the same sentence.   But apparently she did do just that as she was wrote music reviews for a magazine in Los Angeles in the 80’s.     I wonder if she had the leather jackets and spikes and that wild hair that was the style of the day back then.

"I will forever miss our chats.  We talked about nothing and everything at the same time.  We had catch up time every so often . She had always found a new area to explore, new people she met, or just reminisce about some fun time from the past 10 years.

"I am so glad Catt was able to make Relay weekend this year.   She walked the opening Survivor Lap, and she walked the final lap of relay to the closing ceremonies. She logged off for the last time at the end of Relay.   I can’t think of a more fitting way for Catt Gable to leave this wonderful Virtual World ...doing what she loved… Relaying."

Christina Georgina Rossetti offered a poem: "Miss Me, But Let Me Go......"

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free!
Miss me a little, but not for long,
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love we once shared,
Miss me, but let me go!
For this a journey we all must take,
And each must go alone;
It’s all a part of the master’s plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds,

Chipnonk Zhong offered another after a few words, "Hi I'd like to share a memory of Catt. she was such a wonderful person and when I first came into SL, she is the one that found me and we got talking about Relay for Life. She is the one who got me on the Rockers team and helped out Diamond and Denimas do events. And she was such a great friend to me. I will miss her dearly and here is a little something for all of you that was written to bring us comfort on such a great friend."

I took a stroll down Memory Lane,
A journey that should have been fun.
What I found was hurt and pain,
Over things that couldn't be undone.

Thoughts - Slide back to the beginning,
Each memory - A vacation in yesterday.
No way to change the ending,
The happiness has gone away.

The Moon has lost its silvery glow,
The Sky has lost its comforting hue.
No magic left in the Rainbow,
To make the wishes come true.

The death of a heart happens so slow,
Shedding off the hopes and dreams.
Like a million flakes of winters snow,
and evaporating like a cloud of steam.

Doubts and fears invade my mind,
The obvious no longer apparent.
Happiness and Joy so hard to find,
When you lose a child,spouse or parent. 

Another poem was from Peachy Sassoon, "Life."

                      I sit here watching as
                      friends and family pour
                     I look into those deep
                     beautiful eyes of yours
                     and start to ask why oh
                    Wiping my tears I listen
                     to my heart and hear
                     silent words spoken
                    I come here not to mourn
                    your death but to
                    celebrate your
                    You take with you on
                    your journey a part
                    of each and everyone of
                    In return we keep a
                    part of you within our

Trader Whiplash had a message from Panza Elide, "When the thought of where I wanted to wed Bain hit me, I knew it had to be on ACS Island.  We had been to the memorial garden many times, visiting and remembering lost friends.  I wanted those friends at my wedding also.  Catt was our resource to contact, and she was so instrumental in contacting Sting and making sure our having a marriage ceremony there would be okay.

"That is my most precious memory of Catt.....her part in making my dream come true.  A beautiful, gracious soul who was always there to help others.When the thought of where I wanted to wed Bain hit me, I knew it had to be on ACS Island.  We had been to the memorial garden many times, visiting and remembering lost friends.  I wanted those friends at my wedding also.  Catt was our resource to contact, and she was so instrumental in contacting Sting and making sure our having a marriage ceremony there would be okay.

"That is my most precious memory of Catt.....her part in making my dream come true.  A beautiful, gracious soul who was always  there to help others."

With the statements and poems over, people began to talk freely, "I look up and smile, knowing that Catt is watching us." "She was a beautiful soul."  "Here is love for Catt from all of us." "May she rest in peace with Alliez." "She's probably already Relaying with Dr Klatt and crew." "There's not a doubt in my mind on that." "Fitting that the Lighthouse we all landed in so many times is outside the tent.""Alliez was her first friend in SL. I am sure she was there to greet her and show her how to use her wings." "Can hear Catt say I know how to wear those wings." "Catt earned her wings along time ago." "We are all that much better for having known Catt."

A number of people expressed their condolences to Catt's friend, Woodstock Burleigh, "Woody, we're here for you and share your loss, brother." "She smiling at ya Woody" "We love you Woody."

"Thanks for this memorial." "Thank you, Trader and Rockers, for sharing Catt with us." "Thank you for having this for us.  Catt will never be gone from us as long we hold her in our hearts."

People were then invited to, "Please feel free to wander out back and see the memorial. You won't fall in the water." Many of the people walked down a series of stone steps, which concluded with a cross standing over a circle of flowers, with a stone in the middle, with her name, time in Second Life, and a quote from the Bible, "My heart and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever: Psalm 73:26." The stone's last words were "Relayer, Guardian, Friend."

"We will leave it here for awhile until we have the permanent home and will let everyone know," we were told about the memorial. Someone dropped a pink pony, "Rosa Pony! I still have mine somewhere in inventory." "The pink pony that you so laughed at Morgan and us." "I will ride my Pony Rosa once around the track at the next Relay for Catt." When it was brought up there were pony avatars that could be made pink, some responded they just might get one and do a lap around the Relay track next year in Catt's honor.

Eventually, people began going their separate ways. But they would keep on remembering their friend.

This is the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
Cause we won't
Although we want to
This is the time
But time is gonna change
I know we've got to move somehow
But I don't want to lose you know

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 16, 2016

Discussing September 11 at Virtual Ability

By Deaflegacy

While the presentation had not begun at the moment, Shyla (KriJon Resident) said that she would put out a prim with the slides, presentation text, and a list of resources. She started it off with introducing herself as Shyla, a PWD.  Shyla explained what PWD stands for, which would be Person With Disabilities. She explained what we would do during the presentation. However, she explained that some of the information in the presentation is disheartening.  She does encourage anyone who becomes uncomfortable at any time to feel free to leave with no need to excuse themselves.

Shyla stated that September 11 is a solemn day for her as well as many others.  Although she was not in New York at the time of the bombing, she knew some people in the towers who did not survive.  For many weeks, she did not know their fate because she worked with them and she did not know their families.

She asked that before we begin, we treat this presentation, and everyone involved, with the respect and dignity that they deserve, "If you do not feel you can do this, I ask that you leave now in respect to the thousands who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and those who loved and knew them. Thank you."

The presentation began with Shyla explaining that the research could go in several directions.  She had tried to take what is a huge amount of information and put it in a very brief of time, "It is incomplete, with huge gaps in information. Even what we touch on today is, inherently, incomplete." said Shyla.

"First, we will discuss why this topic is important (I believe critical), to both PWD and non-PWD. Then I will share a few of the stories of PWD impacted on 9/11." Shyla said.  "We will discuss the plans that were in place, and in so doing, try to get a glimpse of the mindset at the time by looking beyond 9/11 at other PWD experiences in emergency type situations."

Shyla went on to explain that they will consider the effort to implement changes as it relates to PWD and emergency planning, "We will see things that have not changed. PWD who are present may be very aware of these things, and they are worth writing down in your notecard." said Shyla.  "Finally, I will close with some action remarks about what each of us can do to help move things forward. This will be especially targeted to PWD, and what PWD can do to ensure their safety when plans do not.  We will end with time dedicated to discussion and questions and answers. I will also put out a memorial prim so that people can take copies of this presentation, the slides and a list of citations with links."

Shyla could not remember much about PWD and 9/11. She was not disabled at the time. In 2001 Shyla was recovering from back surgery, but did not consider herself a person with disabilities, "Perhaps this is why I don't remember. PWD were not part of my 'tribe.' Today, I have joined the PWD tribe, as most all of us will at some point. Some sooner, some later. What I can say about joining the PWD community is it wasn't easy for me. I was prejudiced by societal views which have simply turned out to be untrue in so many ways." said Shyla.

With the presentation, Shyla began to look and found their stories difficult to find. This presentation is the result of opening and closing hundreds of web pages searching for them.  Shyla found them on disability sites and in US government reports. She clicked numerous links to archived pages long ago moved or sites long ago abandoned. They were on main-stream media sites, where PWD were primarily un-named sub-characters to their abled-bodied heroes. For an example, 'Heroes saved the woman in the wheelchair.' Shyla found only one main-stream media story which consistently named the PWD saved. "But all the un-named references led to piecing together a puzzle to answer, 'Who were these other PWD?'" said Shyla

"What I share today is important because it is about our narrative, our stories and how often we become 'objects' or 'things' without names. Less than human." Shyla said.  "When we are not human, there is less need to plan for us, as we shall see. It is imperative this change for PWD today and in the future. Why?"

Shyla talked about how the natural disasters have been on the rise from 2000-2009, it being three times more than from 1980-1989.  Most were related to weather, "As you listen to the stories of PWD, please know there is a concept in emergency planning which asserts that not all disasters are natural; most are the result of human error." said Shyla. "Emergency planners are faced with determining how ready they can be given budget and resource constraints. This leads, inevitably, to decisions which value some lives more than others." Shyla hopes to show that this planning limitation need not impact PWD as greatly as it did in 2001, nor as it often still does today.

Shyla showed a slide of the World Trade Center Memorial and Towers in memory to the approximate 200 PWD's who died on 9/11 whose stories could not be found. "Of the close to 3,000 deaths related to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, some 200 are estimated to be PWD." said Shyla.  "If 200 were PWD, I could only find two of their stories. For the rest, the narratives are vague or broad and lack specificity. But we know they perished. We know because we found their wheelchairs, or they were identified through forensic means as PWD."

They know because of the stories of some able-bodied people who survived. There are stories like the man who said his last image of the 80th floor as he began his descent was of people in wheelchairs and with walkers waiting to be rescued, "No emergency responder made it as high as the 80th floor. Orio Palmer, a New York firefighter who died that day, is thought to have reached the highest floor that day. He reached Floor 78." said Shyla.

However, Shyla did find two stories of two wonderful people.  The stories would be of Colleen Fraser and Ed Beyea. Colleen Fraser was on Flight 93 when it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, "Her legacy is one of strong community commitment. She had been recently appointed to Chair of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities. She was flying to attend a work related workshop on 9/11.  Her life was spent working to get people with developmental disabilities out of state run institutions and integrated back into their communities. She played a significant role in altering the state of New Jersey's attitude and service concepts toward the developmentally disabled. She was a strong, vocal advocate of the ADA and present at its first congressional hearing. She worked vigorously to improve women's health-care." said Shyla.  "I suspect, if she had been asked the day before 9/11, she would have shared a plethora of goals and work she had left to do. On 9/11, she was 51 when Flight 93 crashed."

Shyla went on to tell Ed Beyea's story, "The mainstream media spoke of him mostly as 'the man in the wheelchair'. Ed was 42 and became quadriplegic as the result of a diving accident when he was in his early twenties. He mastered an oral joystick well enough to land a job as a data entry clerk for Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the World Trade Center." said Shyla.  "On the day of the attack, as many of his co-workers exited, his friend Abe Zelmanowitz stood by him as Ed declined a stranger's help down the stairs. Ed was worried his weight would make it difficult for untrained persons to transport him without breaking any of his bones. Ed opted to stay and wait for help."

"Also with him that day, as she usually was, was Ed's aide Irma Morant. The three agreed Irma would head down the stairs and relay Ed's location to an emergency responder so they could come help." Shyla continued. "Abe stayed, refusing to leave Ed's side, as Irma headed downstairs. She did locate firemen and relayed his location and advised he would need oxygen due to the dusty conditions. Then Irma exited the towers to safety. Meanwhile, at Ed's side, Abe spoke to loved ones over his cell phone. They begged him to evacuate, but he would not leave Ed alone. Abe and Ed had been friends for twelve years. They were sure help would come. It never did. Both Ed and Abe died when the towers collapsed."

Shyla pointed out that there are more stories available about those who survived. But even so, only one main media story repeatedly gave the PWD's name, "That is the story of John Abruzzo. John is sometimes referred to as 'a man in a wheelchair', but more often his story provides his name, and those of one or more friends who helped save his life. John survived the first World Trade Center bombings in 1993. He remembers it took hours for him to evacuate the towers that day, with the help of friends. Sometime after the 1993 bombings, an evacuation chair (evac-chair) was placed on John's floor. Although reports vary, John's own words indicate neither he, nor his friends, ever practiced using the chair, but he knew it was there." said Shyla.  "He is not sure how evac-chairs were distributed in the towers, just that he had been provided one. On 9/11, he and his friends and co-workers figured out how to strap John into the chair and began to descend the stairs.  Their stories reveal the evac-chair didn't always fit easily through all the corridors. It was hard work. Still it was better than in 1993. When they reached one of the lower floors, they found a triage unit. Workers there told John's friends they could leave John there. His friends refused.  John was carried down the remaining floors. What took hours in 1993 took only 90 minutes in 2001 with an evac-chair. When they exited, John was placed in an ambulance and whisked away.  His friends were caught, minutes later, in the debris of a falling tower. They ran for cover. Ed and his friends and helpers all survived."

"Without an evac-chair, they would not have been able to descend as fast and would have perished." Shyla said.  "Had John been left at the triage unit, he would not be with us today either. All those at the triage unit died on 9/11 when the buildings collapsed on them."

"There was the woman in the wheelchair who was saved by Michael Benfante. Michael was repeatedly named in articles and interviewed often on his own. But the woman had a name and life too. Tina Hansen had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and used a lightweight wheelchair at work, just in case she had to be evacuated. She, too, had been provided an evac-chair, but forgot it was under her desk. Two co-workers, Michael and another person, assisted Tina down the stairs that day, ensuring she survived." said Shyla.  "Tina participated in post-9/11 government assessments and shared her employer, the Port Authority, did not practice fire or emergency drills. The Port Authority is a government agency working jointly for New Jersey and New York. They oversee transportation services in the area of the Port of New York and New Jersey.  Tina is not sure why she forgot she had an evac-chair in some interviews, but in one government report she cites the lack of drills as one reason she may have forgotten it was there, right under her desk."

"Tina appears to have been very hesitant to seek public acknowledgment of her experience on 9/11, one reason her story and name may have been missing from main-stream media reports." said Shyla.

The next slide as about two blind men who received media attention when they survived. The media referred to them mostly just as 'a blind man' or 'the blind man on the 68th floor'. "We shall see later, these two men were not the only blind and low-vision PWD who survived that day. But they are the two who receive broad media attention after 9/11. Omar Eduardo Rivera was the blind man on the 68th floor. When I looked for his picture online, I found it was often confused with the other blind man in the media, who we shall hear about next." Shyla said. "Omar did not think he could get down 68 flights of stairs on his own. He released his guide dog, Dorado, so the dog could survive. At first he heard Dorado running away, but then Dorado stopped and returned. The dog nudged Omar's leg and refused to leave without him. It was enough to encourage Omar to attempt the descent.  Along the way he met a co-worker who helped him make it down the stairs. Omar, his service dog and the co-worker all survived.

"The other blind man was Michael Hingson. His story is very different in one-way from those we have heard so far. Michael was on the 78th floor of the Towers.  In his case, his employer held regular fire and emergency drills. He recalled this made him feel empowered and prepared for an emergency.  When the decision was made to evacuate, Michael and his dog, Roselle, knew what to do and how to do it. He credits this as life-saving information." said Shyla. 

One thing Shyla didn't expect was the stories of PWD impacted by 9/11 who were not in New York, not in Washington DC and not on one of the hijacked planes, "Their stories are important too, for they remind us that what happens one place can have a huge impact much further away." said Shyla.  "Take Brian Cortez. Brian had been fighting for a heart transplant. He was rejected as a viable candidate because he was deaf and disabled.  His family, friends and even teachers fought to get Brian on the transplant list, and finally the decision was overturned and he was put in queue for a transplant."

"Shortly after the attacks on the twin towers, but before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began to allow planes to fly in the states again, a heart match was found for Brian.  The heart was in Anchorage, Alaska, but Brian was in Seattle, Washington. With planes grounded, there was no way to get Brian the heart he desperately needed. Brian was running out of time." said Shyla.  "After intense negotiations, the FAA authorized a small plane to fly the heart into Seattle. Brian received the transplant and survived.  Let me add, nothing about Brian's condition prevented him from understanding or following care instructions."

Shyla started talking about the plan in place, "This slide has strong words, PWD words -- strong, honest and to the point...” said Shyla, "The first are from Dave Hinsburger, who writes a PWD blog in Canada which has received numerous awards. He writes: It's just outside my door. The gathering place. The place where those of us with disabilities are to go in a crisis. Should there be a fire, an earthquake, a disaster of any kind, it is where we who move differently, who move mechanically, who move assisted are to wait.  I have been aware of this place, and places like it, for my entire existence as a person with a disability. On moving in to my apartment, a high rise, I'm told about it as I sign the lease. I'm smiled at. People are pleased that there is a plan."

"People want me to be grateful for the plan. Grateful that I have been thought about. But I haven't." Shyla continued.  "9/11 taught me that.”

Shyla talked about a blog called Reunify Gallery. They write: "The plans others make for us (meaning PWD) are usually not going to be as good as the plans we make for ourselves–especially if you are a person with a disability.”

“After the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, there was agreement a plan was needed for PWD, but the effort was fragmented at best.  The final plan, of which I could not find documentation, was in part poorly communicated and in part lethal.  This is not an opinion, it is well documented in government reports as well as the events and narratives available from 2001.  Somewhere between 1993 and 2001, much of the effort to include PWD in emergency planning for the World Trade Centers lost traction.  Not just from within the government, but from within the PWD community as well. For example, although there were evac-chairs in the towers in 2001, I could not figure out who purchased them or when. Some information suggests each tenant made an independent decision about whether to purchase such chairs for the floors they occupied. Other documents suggest evac-chairs were purchased by building management for all floors."

Shyla went on to explain that Ed Bayea's employer Empire Blue Cross/Blue shield insists they purchased an evac-chair in 2000, a year before the 9/11 attacks. But, Irma Morant, Ed's aide, insists there was no chair, and even if there was, she believed only the fire department was trained to use such equipment. "In contrast, John Abrezzo and his friends used an evac-chair with no training and without concern about "who" was authorized to use such equipment. Even today, whether evac-chairs are for lay people or emergency responders creates debate. So it is not clear whether evac-chairs were part of a "plan" by building management or were provided as part of individual tenant plans."

Shyla said that the same is true for fire and emergency drills. Michael Hingson's story is one of preparedness through his employer's conducting of such drills, "I found no evidence that any other PWD participated in such drills, except one, The Associated Blind, whose story I found in a government report, not media reports. The Associated Blind not only conducted fire and emergency drills for their mostly vision impaired staff, but they coordinated with building management and the New York Fire Department. On 9/11, all of The Associated Blind's 9th Floor employees successfully evacuated the Twin Towers." said Shyla. "Reports indicate their employees were calm, much like Michael Hingson. This is credited to the drills these employers held."

"In 2001, however, the primary plan appeared to be that PWD were to make their way to a designated gathering place and wait for help.  All PWD who followed these instructions perished when the towers collapsed on 9/11.  If there are thoughts that 9/11 was such an extreme event, and that a gathering place works better in other situations, consider these stories." said Shyla.  "(Sadly, most of these narratives provided no names, though many are a part of government reports.)  A government report cited the experience of a woman in a wheelchair with severe rheumatoid arthritis. While at work, a bomb threat was received and she was told to stay put and help would arrive. The woman waited. After some period of time and out of sheer fear, she self-ambulated herself out of the building. No one had been tasked to help her or seemed aware she was in the building."

Shyla went on to explain that another PWD reported their workplace lost electricity and lights. The PWD felt they could ambulate down the stairs but asked if someone could take their wheelchair.  "Citing liability concerns, the request was denied and the PWD was told to wait and someone would come to assist." said Shyla.  "After two hours under emergency lights, the electricity was restored. No one ever came."

Shyla had found numerous stories like this, some with more disturbing outcomes. She believes that gathering places are not really an answer -- they simply allow those creating emergency plans to feel they have included PWD. "Gathering places pass the buck to an unknown entity to be responsible for saving PWD, and often that unknown entity is not informed of this expectation. But there are several take-aways form PWD stories of 9/11. Some very good ones. The first is drills work."

"PWD on 9/11 who participated in drills that led them not to gathering places, but rather to fully exit the buildings, survived. Beyond this, PWD who participated in drills reported being calm, feeling self-sufficient and confident of their ability and what they needed to do. But we know of only two employers who held such drills. If we move beyond 9/11, we hear other stories of grave concern surrounding drills."

"PWD still report emergency plans and drills which ask them to engage in actions they cannot perform. For example, some PWD cannot walk, crawl under a desk, stop, drop and roll, or use stairs instead of elevators.  Paul Ray, a quadriplegic, reported when he worked for Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI, he participated in his first emergency drill 18 months after being hired."

"Working on the third floor, and being unable to use stairs, Paul went to the elevators. The volunteers redirecting people to the stairs were surprised to see him, had no plan for him and were not sure what to do.  Paul also said he had never seen an evacuation plan prior to that drill."

"A social worker in New York City who uses forearm crutches to ambulate was in a high rise visiting a client when they had a drill. The plan did not include PWD, so they asked her to simply not participate in the drill."

"A PWD in Oklahoma reported there was a fire in their building and there was no plan for their evacuation.  Afterwards they requested the employer include them in the plan, but the employer refused to update it.  It is against ADA requirements to not include PWD in evacuation and emergency planning. Sadly, however, this is rarely enforced for various reasons, not the least of which is many PWD never file complaints in this regard."

"A 2005 National Council on Disability briefing found PWD do NOT make formal complaints about discrimination in emergency or disaster planning. They also found the impact to PWD in emergencies is far greater than the number of complaints reflect. From personal experience, I have had employers who do not update plans because they do not know how to effectively provide for the safety of their employees, PWD or not. This is also not considered 'reasonable' under the law and does NOT protect employers from liability."

Our second valuable lesson surrounds communication. The National Council on Disability has worked diligently since 2005 to increase the availability of PWD emergency planning communication on all levels. PWD, employers, community based organizations, emergency planners and responders, government organizations, etc., all have more information available than ever before. On the other hand, the NCD has recommended government sites provide PWD communications in a variety of formats other than .pdf, including audio. For the most part all reports and planning information I researched is still only available in .pdf on government websites. Worse, some appear as in this blue box. A .pdf image which is scanned improperly. In this case, both selections have the world 'disabled' in them.  But as you can see, what they are attempting to communicate is illegible.  Communication progress has been made at Disaster Recovery Centers. All are now supposed to include a sign language interpreter on-site or via remote video. They are also supposed to have caption amplified phones, amplified personal listeners and emergency information available in braille or audio. This highlights another issue during the events of 9/11. Live closed caption services suffered due to the stress of the situation and long hours of coverage.  The result was many deaf people across the country had to unscramble words, sometimes key words, to properly interpret information."

"Some stations showed images of the towers on fire or collapsing without any closed captioning. Imagine seeing these events live with no explanation of what is happening. On the opposite end, some stations had text, but no audio, leaving low-vision and blind people unaware of the events if they were tuned to such a station. Although New York had a reverse-911 telephone system which could call 1000's of person with emergency information, even TTY, it was not used. I found no explanation as to why, and the various reasons some things were done or not done are too numerous to hazard a guess. Most importantly, as long as PWD are not integrated into drills and communication efforts, such events are likely to reoccur."

"Finally, I read hundreds of pages of reports on emergency planning for PWD and other at risk communities, such as children and the elderly. The good news is the PWD community is being engaged more and changes are being made. Sadly, there is more discussion than action. This is often true, and PWD are no exception. The result, however, is it has been 15 years since 9/11, and still many PWD are told to wait for help. To go to the gathering place.  There is much PWD can do to change this."

"PWD must ask to see the plans that are in place in their own communities, work places, rentals and ensure they have a plan of their own for their residence. PWD must identify deficiencies, assist in resolution and report when such requests are ignored or denied. Many PWD in the twin towers changed things after the 1993 bombings. Tina Hansen got a lightweight wheelchair which she always took to work."

"9/11 caused many PWD to change even more…Many considered their place of residence and determined how they would escape without assistance in case of an emergency. Some established plans with friends, neighbors and co-workers. And for some, these worked on 9/11. Some decided it was not worth being polite in an emergency. They decided they would yell, scream, make whatever ruckus necessary to ensure their survival. Some became advocates of planning, working hard to ensure plans included their particular needs in realistic ways.
Ultimately, there is a societal and legal responsibility to include PWD in emergency planning and resources to help make this happen. Sadly, these resources vary from location to location, so I cannot list them all here. But you can Google them. If you can't find them, reach further and ask, Ask ASK for them!"

"I'd like to open this up to discussion, but before I do, I will say again, finding these stories was not easy. They weren't there front and center. I will guess you have all had some thoughts today, some memories or identification of some sort. I challenge all of you today to write to write about it a bit. This is your story, your narrative, and your VOICE matters. Then look for one person you can share it with.  Just one person will be one more that has heard your story than before. If all PWD did this today, millions would hear our stories who had never heard them before."

"Before opening to discussion and question and answers, I ask again that the guidelines presented at the beginning of this presentation be kept in mind. Questions are welcome – there was much information I could not include in this time allotted. Please feel free to share your thoughts. The goal is to promote thought – therefore there is no need to debate. We can consider our position on various thoughts independently while maintaining a supportive environment. Let us be respectful of the memory of those lost on 9/11, as well as the many people alive today, some possibly here, who knew them. Let us be respectful of each other." 

Before Shyla started the discussion, she asked if we have someone who can type of someone who voices. Vulcan Viper and Zip Zlatkis stated that they could try. Then Shyla started the discussion and Q&A. It was then agreed that Zip Zlatkis would type of someone who voices.

The audience agreed that Shyla did a great job of doing the presentation.  They thanked Shyla for the presentation.

Gentle Heron spoke up about her personal story to share, "I have a personal story to share. Not as exciting as what you have shared Shyla. You did an amazing amount of research! My story explains why this topic is so important to me.  Many years ago, when I was still able to be employed and walked slowly on crutches, I worked on the top floor of a building." said Gentle Heron.  What I was supposed to do in emergencies was exactly as Shyla stated—wait in a “safe area” at the top of the stair tower. When I knew it was a drill, I waited…and nobody EVER came (or waited with me). One time, it was not a drill. There was a fire in a floor below ours. We could smell the smoke on our floor. I decided not to wait, but when nobody else came down the stairwell from my floor, I bumped down the stairs on my butt to the next floor, where I waited until nobody else was coming out of THAT floor.
I did finally get to the bottom…without my crutches. I sat on the bottom step and waited to see if anyone would come to help me. I was discovered still sitting on that step when the fire had been put out and everyone was returning to the building.  From that time on, I have been a big advocate of personal and institutional preparedness."

Shyla thanked Gentle Heron for sharing her story with the audience, "And Do1 Thing was a great program in this regard." she spoke.

"I seen one thing one time." said Lukey Woodget. "It was an invention. It was a tube made from material. At intervals there was elastic." Vulcan Viper thinks he's seen the same thing in The Netherlands. Lukey  continued to explain that it slows us down, "It could be deployed at any height and you just jump in it and slide right down the building. It was quite safe." Lukey doesn't know what happened to the idea.

Sister (sister.abeyante) appreciated this quote (from the Reunify Gallery blog): "The plans others make for us are usually not going to be as good as the plans we make for ourselves..." (Reunify Gallery) Self-responsibility is empowering in itself. Whether we do that in the moment (i.e. deciding, when our service animal encourages us, to make an attempt) or in preparation (our own or with others).... it is up to us. Self-preparation, self-drills, self-planning-really, this is a clear call for leadership...OUR terms of both organizational and personal preparedness." Shyla thanked Sister.

Gentle Heron came up with links for evac chairs: and escape chutes: She explained those links are commercial sites  "I have absolutely no faith in the govt or anyone else helping me in an emergency. I think it's a good idea to try to have your own plan to help yourself.  There's probably a lot of Survivalist type websites with some ideas." said Ruby Vandyke.

"I have encountered the response "it's too expensive to provide that" when I have asked about plans or modifications." said Sister.

"Sister, it is required by ADA, and you can file a complaint if emergency plans are not updated to include PWD." said Shyla.
"Oh! and I think one of the blind men who escaped the Towers on 9/11 spoke at one of the Helen Keller sessions here in Second Life." said Gentle Heron.

"Likely Michael Hingson." Zip Zlatkis typed.

"And Gentle, that was likely Michael Hingson, who speaks professionally now about his experience." said Shyla.

"Yes I think so...” said Gentle Heron.

Lukey Woodget agreed, saying, "Yes I think that was it the Escape chute."

Sister (sister.abeyante) nods, but is aware of the expense of filing an ADA complaint (time and attorney fees), too.

Gentle Heron had a question: "This session is good awareness and the info needs to be shared with everybody we know...but what else can VAI do to help each of us individually prepare?"

"Maybe brainstorm sessions? For specific situations?" said Jadyn Firehawk. "People bring their specific situation."

"Shyla, I think there are a lot or resources on the notecard." Zip Zlatkis typed.

"And everybody brainstorm." said Jadyn Firehawk.

"Shyla, another thing to think about is there are a huge number of resources and links on the notecard Shyla, I did find in many of them there were things I could do even if no one else did." Zip Zlatkis typed. 

Sister (sister.abeyante) noded, "That's the self-responsibility piece-so important." said Sister.

Rielyn Lane had a question, which was "what about plans for those who are chronically ill and could not manage at traditional emergency shelters?"

Shyla asked Doc Neuro Cyants (ecoli.gynoid) if she can post his notecard, and Doc Neuro Cyants said yes.

Zip Zlatkis continued to type for Shyla, "Shyla responds to Rielyn.  There were many reports in shelters that PWD were turned away because they were seen as drunk instead of disabled. There are many reports...there are organizations working on memorandums of understanding for information to the shelters where this takes us, we have yet to see."

Shyla spoke for Doc Neuro Cyants, "This has been extremely insightful.  So well researched and exposed me to many issues I simply have not thought about.  I should add, that I just spoke to my daughter, who is a designer for commercial interiors.  Luckily, I actually recorded this, so she is going to listen to it and then share with her team of designers. Thank you so much. doc"

Gentle Heron said it was a wonderful dissemination. Shyla said it is wonderful.

Vulcan Viper wanted to know if Doc Neuro Cyants recorded the event and added that it's the part of what AIM is about. Zip Zlatkis typed, "This idea that the mainstream media often refers to PWD as sub characters. Any media outlet needs to get an actual name for "the blind man on the 68 floor", this humanizes us.  I love John's story because he shares story everywhere. He is a special friendship and a commrad eand makes him human."

Zip Zlatkis then typed, asking if there is anything else to share.

Vulcan Viper shared his notes with Shyla.

"See if your state has a FAST (Functional Assessment Service Team) program. I know CA and WI do. The team is trained to help "people with access and functional needs" during emergencies and disasters." said Gentle Heron.

Zip Zlatkis typed, "It was not just disability things that were not legible."

"A legible one, I hope!" said Vulcan Viper.

Before ending the presentation, Zip Zlatkis typed, asking if there is anything else. When there was none, Shyla showed the next slide, which shows the resources that she used for the presentation. She also said that she is also putting out these towers which includes this script as well as a notecard with these citations.

"Thank you for letting me share this today." said Shyla, before ending the presentation.

The Landmark for the site is Tenerife (118, 143, 1343)

"That is the 9/11 Memorial - Always Remember, Never Forget." said Shyla. 

As I sat back in real life as people started to leave the place one by one, I am deep in thoughts especially by what Shyla had said throughout the entire presentation. We have been scarred ever since this tragic day. The best we can do is make things better for PWDs. In doing that, we would be making a step forward for a better and safe future for every one of PWD. For that, I thank Shyla.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Memorial Service at Stagg Island

By Deaflegacy

The memorial stood up against the sky, with names of people who perished in 9/11.

As Geena Zackerly-Magic (geena.zackerly) described, at one end of the memorial is an eternal flame signifying the light of these souls and keeping their memory forever alive. The two recessed waterfalls, as Genna explained it, represent the footprint of each building.  Genna said that the beam of light in each footprint signifies each tower and are intended to light up the heavens for the loved ones as a guiding beacon to eternity.

People were encouraged to change the sky to match the Midnight sky when the ceremony begins.  I did that.

During the ceremony, the "Lanterns of Souls" came out of the water from both footprints, showing the rise to heaven for souls of every human who had perished that day. "Feel free to light a candle," said Geena. Some of the candles were already lit before the ceremony.

The ceremony began at 2pm SLT with the military.There was a live television broadcast that we all watched that day and a very comprehensive description of the events of the day. Lanterns started to come out of the footprint.  Music filled the air as we listened to the memorial.

What have happened on that day was a terrible, tragic event.  It is there for us to remember for a very, very long time as we stood at the memorial. With what they have, some people donated to the cause.

The only words were being spoken by people close to the memorial like with Geena.  For most of us, we just stood and remember what happened that day 15 years ago.

It was not something to be forgotten ever.

While music and lanterns fill the air, I remember staring at the screen in horror as the towers collapse to the ground.

The only thought was, "No, no, no, no!!!"

My heart had not hardened but I wept for these people lost that day.

SocialRose thanked all the men and women who took up the call.

Puma Concolor (pumaconcolorsr) puts it best this way, "To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die. Remember those on this day 15 years ago whose lives were taken away needlessly. Their names etched on the walls before us and what price they paid to live the dream of freedom.  Never forget what they gave up to live the idea of peace. Let not one of us forget those who risked and gave their lives trying to save who they could. Remember those in the armed services who have and forever will stand vigilant to serve as a deterrent to the evil that befell out great nation that day. Hold close the memories of those who have gone before us and let them live on through us all.”

Geena said that the time had come to accept what has happened.  It is not a nightmare, it is real.

"The music you have heard may mean something different to you., however we offered you music that we felt best portrayed the feelings of the heart and emotions of the day. The bottom line is these beautiful spirits will never be forgotten . That day has been burned into all of our memories! Faz and I would like to thank you all for your donations to the memorial. This memorial has been dedicated as a permanent landmark for all Second Life residents to visit. Your donations help to assure its permanence. Thank you for attending the 2016 9/11 tribute, Be well and peace be with you !! ~~ Fazio and Geena Magic" said Geena.

It was a day that I would not forget for a very, very long time.

As I gathered the information up, we were told that the last ceremony would be at 6pm SLT.

We will be having the ceremony again next year as we always have every year for one purpose - to remember these lost in this awful event.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tantari Kim And The Last Call For Lupus Prime

By Bixyl Shuftan

Monday September 5 was the last event at the Lupus Prime Space Station, a multi-story structure high above the Blues Beach sim that was apparently used as a roleplay area with one deck doubling for use in music events. Tantari Kim announced a "Going Away Party" for the station in her group.

The space station is being dismantled!  But before it comes crashing to Earth, let's give it a send-off to remember. Theme is Robots and Sci Fi outfits.  I'll be playing suitably robotic music. C'mon down!  Explore the station!  Rock out!

Tantari was happy to see yours truly at the location, "Heya Bixyl. Welcome to Lupus Prime! Tonight, I've taken it over!  Muhahahaaaa!" She told the others, "Bixyl is my favorite news fox. He does the SL Newser, SL's finest news source." One of the dancers there spoke of the place, "This is the best space stations I have ever seen." There were well over a dozen others dancing along with Tantari many dressed up in sci-fi looks, such as futuristic outfits, cybernetic parts, or both. At one point, a cyborg collapsed, the batteries for it's mechanical legs having run out of power. Fortunately, someone was willing to press the button for reserve power.

Tantari would announce the music titles, and spell out some of the lyrics of the songs. At one point, she did something a little different, "And a TMBG track.. here's hoping you don't Become a Robot! ... My daughter and I changed the lyrics of this song a little... Foxes are great!  Foxes are good!  Foxes are taking over in your neighborhood! Three cheers for our vulpine buddies, handsome, intelligent and strong!  You might as well prepare for assimilation by singing along!" One of her fans went along, cheering "Yaaay for vixen scouts!" referring to a group Tantari founded.

Other songs included anime tunes, music from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Portal, and other computer and video games, Deadmau5, and other tunes. One Deadmau5 song was The Veldt, "Ray Bradbury wrote a story called 'The Veldt.' It's about a super robotic nanny that cares for the children.  But the parents think it's wrong, so they try to take the children away. The children flee into the machine. The parents go in after them and see a veldt, a grassland.  The machine made it for them. Lions set upon the parents and tear them to pieces, so the children can be happy forever and ever in the machine. If you listen closely, the lyrics follow the story. 'The world that the children made.... outside the lions roam, feeding on remains.  We'll never leave, so in love that we are.  In love with the world we made.' I thought this song was so lovely and peaceful until I researched it!"

One other song was named after supposed top-secret group of a conspiracy theory, "From Serial Experiments Lain, this very high tech song is MJ-XX, a play off of MJ-12 or the Majestic 12 classified project. In UFO conspiracy theories, Majestic 12 (or MJ-12) is the code name of an alleged secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, formed in 1947 by an executive order by U.S. President Harry S. Truman to facilitate recovery and investigation of alien spacecraft." One guy in a dark suit and glasses nearby whispered into his shirt collar "She knows..."

Tantari ended her set with the opening theme to the anime "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex," "I am calling, calling, spirits rise and falling... To become myself once more." It wasn't lost among the lapine fans in the crowd one of the songs in the anime was "Rabbit Junk." After the song, she commented, "Looking over this station, I'm thinking of another brave space station that served proudly, and then was destroyed.... 'Humans and aliens wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal .. all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last, best hope for peace. -- This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.'

"If you're a Babylon 5 fan, I have a treat for you.  This song was written for an unreleased Sierra fight combat game that was never released.. but I got it! By Christopher Franke, the original composer of the series. This song is EPIC. Lupus Prime, we salute you!"

One of the crowd commented, "Watching everyone dance as I imagine the station crashing down onto Earth...." One red vixen stood and saluted as the song played.

Tantari was soon finished, "Thank you all for listening." The red vixen who saluted, presumably one of the crew, spoke, "For being here, Dankeschöön! " The stream was then set on automatic. People were invited to continue dancing, or look around the place. Many did, taking the elevator to various floors. There was a command deck, a docking airlock, a personel airlock, a shuttle bay, a reactor floor, and a deck with rooms that were presumably once crew quarters.

And so, baring a last minute save by someone willing to buy the place, Lupus Prime is set to fade away into the virtual nether. But it would not be forgotten.

Bixyl Shuftan