Monday, January 29, 2018
By Bixyl Shuftan and Gemma Cleanslate
On Thursday January 18, it was announced in the Relay for Life Volunteers group that the leader of the Strange Journey team, Henrietta Demina (Barbara Parker in real life), had died along with her real-life brother Hilshire Demina (Bill Parker) in a car accident. On Saturday January 27, friends and supporters of her held a memorial service at her family's home in Castle Ravensloft in Redshift. The sim was packed for most of the event, so some listened to the broadcrast stream from the Legends club in Arinultra Cay, courtesy of T1 Radio. At the castle chapel, there were two caskets in front of the audience chairs, with pictures of the departed placed on the walls.
Rowena composed herself and restarted, "Hello everyone and thank you for coming to Henrietta and Hilshire's memorial. I've had to say this several times the last two weeks and it hasn't gotten any easier. Henrietta and Hilshire were brother and sister in the grid and in real life. They were driving to Wal Mart for a late night run, just an hour after Hen and I were discussing the Castle Home and Garden, when a driver who was texting rammed right into their car and took their lives from them.
"I want to make a note, some of you are probably thinking, 'how morbid are those Strange people for putting out a casket in Second Life.' But trust me, these two are the type who would want a casket at a thing like this. They had caskets all over this castle and all we had to do was move it over here. They were vampires. I got a letter from Henrietta sent to me by her real-life sister. She wrote it after her mini stroke in July-- and it said 'This letter is to tell you of my demise.' Just using that word, demise, shows us who Henrietta is. Morbidly sarcastic. Also, we are in Henrietta's design-- her castle (from Lady Nansen, as she would want me to credit her), and her land. I do not know how much longer this land will be here. I strongly encourage you guys to just wander around. It is incomplete- she was in the middle of renovation. She was deeply, deeply committed to making the sim the way she wanted it to be. She never advertised it because she didn't want all this attention on her, but take a look. The castle. The dragons- oh, the dragons! there are 20 or 30 out there, and hundreds of eggs. It kills me that they are just sitting there and there is nothing I can do about it.
"I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about who they were. You'll hear speeches today in their memory, how they made a difference, but Henrietta in particular was very much involved with her Second Life family.
"Henrietta Demina, or Barbara Parker, found Second Life over ten years ago with Hilshire and for a while they found it to be a great release. Hilshire took a step back from Second Life several years ago but Henrietta started a new journey, Relay for Life of Second Life. And that's where she made a difference in our lives. My short snippet above should tell you how they made a difference their whole lives, but Henrietta's work for Relay for Life made her who she was. I thought I would tell you some of her favorite things. Her favorite holiday was Halloween- not only does it embody her spirit, but that's her birthday.
"With that, I am going to turn things over to our speeches today. The way we are approaching this memorial is we will have a speech, and then a song played. This will go a little over an hour, but we are here for Henrietta and Hilshire after all. Today you will hear from mostly Relay people, but some of her Bloodlines family is here as well."
The next speech was given by NinaSofia Constantine, "A quote from Albert Sweitzer, 'At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.' Henrietta was a flame igniter! It didn't matter which team event you were at she was there shedding her light. She was that little shinning star always beautiful. I always called her "Henrietta the cutie." Her loyalty to her friends, her passion for Relay and her humor are what stands out to me the most. Henrietta was one of those avatars who you could see directly to her heart. Her light is no longer with us but I have no doubt it shines brighter! Those of us that knew herand Relayed with her will carry the light she ignited within us. She will never be forgotten."
Next came Cuddly Waffle, "'Hey, ev'rybody!' That's a Henri greeting right there.
"The little typing symbol appeared, then disappeared, then reappeared. It did this a few times. Then a message: 'Are you in a position to take ten/twenty min to yourself to recover?' Something in me rippled; this wasn't Otterli. This was serious. 'Ish, I leave for work in ten!' 'Ok I will tell you when you are in a better state.' But I couldn't wait. I knew something was seriously wrong and I couldn't spend the day at work not knowing, 'Tell me now.'
"The typing symbol flickered again for a minute. Then the message came that shattered my reality, 'Henrietta died. Hilshire and Henrietta were in killed in an accident and they are no longer with us.'
I read the message over and over, and each time it made less sense. I could vaguely hear my real-life partner Thomas saying 'What's wrong?'
"'My friend is dead,' I said, 'My friend is dead.'
"Since Henrietta and Hilshire crash-landed into our mad little family, they have been stoic, sturdy figures of reliability, dependence, and dedication. I couldn't piece together the reality I was experiencing. When I thought of Hen and Hil, the very last phrase I would have paired them with was 'gone forever.'
"But then I realized, over the next few days, they aren't really gone. Not really. 'Those we love never truly leave us' - Albus Dumbledore. Hen was still all around us. I could hear her daft giggle gesture echoing, and I smiled. What would she say if she could see us now? 'See how ya are?' she'd say. 'Y'all are daft!' *giggle*
"Hen and Hil gave us the most precious thing you can have in life - real or second. Years of good memories, wonderful times, hard work, dedication and effort. True friendship and a bond that will be remembered for the rest of our lives.
"I'd like to leave you with a single quote that I saved from Henri at Relay last year, because it made me laugh so hard. It wasn't like Hen to be crude or tell rude jokes, but this one was perfect - it was cheeky, but perfectly subtle, just like her.
"'Henrietta Demina: I was gonna take a pic with a dog once, but he didn't like where I tried to put the film.'
"O captain my captain, I miss you so."
Following Cuddly's speech, the music stream played the song "Tears in Heaven." Then Sidonie Carlberg, the tiny sugar glider, read a poem.
and my mind is grey
so many things unspoken
so much left to say
the time just ran out
when we didn‘t see
O Captain, my Captain,
please, come back to me.
I can still see your smile
and your giggle I hear
and once in a while
I can feel you‘re still near.
Can‘t you wake me up
from this nightmare as such
O Captain, my Captain,
I miss you so much.
And yet I am thankful
please, don‘t get me wrong
for every moment
and I will be strong.
My limbs, they may tremble
but I walk through the rain
O Captain, my Captain,
until we meet again.
"I remember the first time I met Henrietta. I had always seen this little girl around at various Relay For Life events for a few months, our conversation consisting of nothing more than 'Hi Henrietta' ... 'Hi Nuala.' Then one day, my IM box opens up with Henrietta asking where she can find a logo of that particular years theme. We started chatting, and I realized, this woman is really passionate about Relay. The next time I saw her was at a Jail & Bail fundraiser where she stood outside of a wooden jail cell in the forest, where she was appearing to be a referee between a little girl named Cuddly and an otter named Rowena who were bantering back and forth on whether it was correct for a caged otter to pee on someone's shoe. I never laughed so hard and thought, this is one strange family, but they all fit together so well." Someone chuckled, and Rowena gave Cuddly a look.
Nuala continued, "It is true that there is much sadness here today, but, all of your journeys taken with Henrietta during her time in this virtual world will live on in each of you, enriching, guiding, and perhaps making you pause and smile every now and then. This is what we will remember. (This is how we will Remember our Henrietta."
"The two things that always stood out the most with her were her tireless work ethic, and her kindness and compassion.
"Whether it would be helping to run Team Strange Journeys, DJ'ing an event, helping to run the Castle Home and Garden Contest, or just seeming to be everywhere, Henrietta was like the Energizer Bunny. And, during the Expo, it seemed like anytime something came up and Kitty and I needed a host to fill in, we could count on Henrietta stepping up and helping out, even if it meant going 3 or 4 hours straight.
"Even more amazing, though, is that in all the years I'd known Henrietta, I never saw her say anything negative about anyone or anything. She always seemed to be positive, no matter what was going on or how busy she was. She treated everyone with kindness and respect and compassion, and just seemed to truly like and care about everyone she was around. Being around her brightened up my day, and I imagine everyone else who was around her felt the same way.
"I'm going to miss Relaying with her. More than that, I'm going to miss having her around. Thank you for all you brought to Relay, Henrietta. Thank you for making the world a better place. Second Life's a little less bright with you gone.
"Rest in peace, my friend."
Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Random Darrow then gave a few lines (unfortunately, the notes of which were lost). After the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" played, Kitty Gumbo had some words, "When Rowena asked if I would like to speak about Henrietta, I just didn't know where to start. First, I am honored to write about the Henrietta we all knew and loved.
I cannot remember when I first met Hen. She just always seemed to be part of Relay. So, I'm going to write about the things I do remember. It seemed Henrietta was a part of so many things. She was a fantastic and creative builder. She was good at organizing and she was always reliable. and willing to help. This past Christmas Expo, Henrietta was a host for our entertainment. Madonna, my co-lead, and I were busy trying to fill in spots where people wouldn't show up or they couldn't come. Henrietta was right there to fill in. That was Henrietta. She quietly filled in and did her job. If there was something that needed to be built, she had it expertly finished. All of these projects were volunteered. I cannot think of the hours she put in at each project. Yet, she never complained and she never asked for a thank you. I'm going to miss her quiet efficient presence. Her kind encouraging words were always just what was needed. Good bye dear one. You will be very missed."
Sara Llewellyn (Sarandel Llewellyn) recited some poetry.
'Look into my eyes
You will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart
Search your soul
And when you find me there, you'll search no more
Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for
You know it's true
Everything I do
I do it for you.' -Bryn Adams
Beneath the smoking skies.
Sometimes you can barely tell the difference
Between darkness and light.
Do you have faith
In what we believe?
The truest test is when we cannot,
When we cannot see.
I hear pounding feet in the,
In the streets below, and the,
And the women crying and the,
And the children know that there,
That there's something wrong,
And it's hard to believe that love will prevail.
Oh it can't rain all the time.
The sky won't fall forever.
And though the night seems long,
Your tears won't fall forever.
"I've known you for five years- five years that have gone by like the speed of light. First you were on Relay Ravens team. I remember you were basically alone, even though the Demina clan was 'behind' you. Hilshire had pretty much left Second Life at that point. Then after that we kind of just took off. We combined our teams and that was the take off point! We talked about just about everything and anything. I remember you recently were listening to me whine about my teenager. We talked a lot. We talked about the Castle Home and Garden almost every day didn't we. What frustrates me so bad is I always felt like people didn't see you and didn't see what you did. It's so like you to just fade in the background and let others take credit for things that you did. I honestly don't even know where to start with what you did. I stand here today, or sit rather, and I am telling people.. you blew me away. I feel bad because sometimes you made the Castle Home and Garden your full time job and you should have stepped back, taken a break. Sometimes I still feel that people don't give you credit when credit is due. You know what they say, the best artists don't get their fame until after they die. Is that what you're doing?
"In the aftermath of your death, I started to feel the love for you. You've always been short and sweet and to the point. You never really told me how much impact you made, and how much you were aware of it-- I'm realizing more now than ever that you spread your wings and you really knew how to fly. For Christmas Expo you helped me put out 30 some trees... but you did so much more than that. You took pictures of them, you aligned them, you organized them... it was amazing what you did. When I worked the Fashion Faire you were right beside me helping out the whole way. You DJ'ed for almost every single team. You embodied the meaning of Relay. People may not realize it, but you did.
"I don't think Relay is about teams, about competition, about you versus me. I think you helped us all realize why we do what we do- we do this so we can save lives, right? But it is just as much about community as it is about saving lives. We fight for each other, with each other, sometimes we yell at each other to make sure things are organized.
"Last year we didn't raise so much for Team Strange Journey. The years before that we raised some but it never came from your pocket. I hope people realize how much money you and Hil collected over the years. You'd never divulge, but I was right there with you. I know it was upwards in the thousands. I know you lived in a trailer and were poor, but you didn't care. You wanted others to feel encouraged. When we support others, then they will start supporting others, too. Not a penny went to the Team Strange Journey kiosk, but you poured your heart and soul out in everyone else's. You didn't care if it was Trader's kiosk or Bella's kiosk or Melodie's or whoever. It was all the same to you.
"You saw the goodness in everyone's heart. You encouraged everyone to be themselves, you encouraged them to become the shining light of Relay. You are the true spirit of Relay, and we recognize that more now than ever. That spirit and undying loyalty and commitment you had to Relay, you had to me, you had to all of us-- we won't forget that. Of this I promise.
"If anyone is ever feeling discouraged, or feels the need to criticize someone or see the negative and rather than helping improve, spit on them-- I hope they think of you. There is no place for negativity or drama in your world, and there is certainly no place for drama or negativity in our lives or in Relay.
"I hope you all realize how much it bothered Henrietta if there was drama present. She was a no drama llama, and you should be too. Henrietta would want you to remember why we are all here-- not only are we fighting for our loved ones, but we are fighting for each other, with each other, always.
"Henrietta, thank you for everything. Thank you for being such a good friend. You made the Castle Home and Garden what it is-- and we will hold it in your honor this year. I promise we will have Team Strange Journeys and I promise we will fight on. Thank you for touching the lives of so many. Thank you for dealing with so many people for me even if they made you crazy. Our merchants, our builders, our Relayers all love you. Thank you for staying up with me at night when I was bored out of my mind in the hospital last year. Thank you for always worrying about me. Thank you for being such a good friend for Sid and Cuddly when we were in need of a friend like you. Now I end with one of Hens' favorite poems, which is eerily connected to today... I love you Hen."
Rowena then recited a poem, "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson.
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –
The Show Must Go On." Like the title of the song, although the Relayers had lost a comrade and friend, but the purpose of the Relay for Life goes on.
* * * * *
I myself came to the memorial late, after some had left the area. I would rely on notes from Gemma Cleanslate and Rowena to write this article, Gemma also providing most of the pictures. As a Relayer myself, this story was a little closer than most. The Strange Journey team might not have been around for as long as some, but their antics had always drawn attention and laughs. And now, we were crying as we were saying goodbye to their captain and her brother.
Rest in peace Henrietta and Hilshire Demina
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Usually the topic is a science related one. Among them, how will the development of artificial intelligence affect humanity and society in the next ten to twenty years? Could tapping the large "pool" of magma just under Yellowstone help stave off a massive eruption while at the same time give the United States a large source of energy? What would factories on the moon be like? For last Saturday, the topic was a subject that's been the plot of a number of science-fiction stories, and the preliminary story of a few world-builder computer games: the emergency evacuation of Earth due to an impending disaster.
Let’s suppose we need to leave Earth in a hurry in a few (20? 100?) years’ time. Maybe because of a nuclear winter, maybe because of an asteroid strike or maybe because the sun is about to explode. How would we go about it? Who will we select to go? Could we, should we, turn anyone away? If we have to travel for several generations who will be kept in stasis and who will be woken up on arrival? Who will run the ship? What animals and seeds will we bring with us? How will we know what will be needed when we arrive? Will we bring some animals and plants just because we like them? How will we organise life on the ship so as to keep social structure intact? And when we arrive at a habitable planet will we dare leave our comfortable ship? Maybe we will decide that life on an endlessly traveling ship is better. Come and talk with us about our future because, one day, we may need to pack.
Someone asked about the possibility that politicians might try to keep such a disaster under wraps so only they and a few select friends would be saved. Erik responded, "You would think that, ... but you know, the Internet, everyone, including scientists, are vloggers now. Such a disaster could not be contained ..." Someone else commented, "I'm thinking that an asteroid scenario would be like 'When Worlds Collide.' We'll send our best in a space arc, and the rabble will try to destroy it at launch, out of envy." And whom would be the colonists? Someone suggested perhaps only women would be selected to double the number of people able to give birth, relying on a sperm bank to have children.
It's a fair guess that if humanity had to pull off such a thing in the near future, it could barely be done and with close to the minimal number of people able to continue the survival of the species. "Could we do it?" Erik asked, "would we be able to build arks in 20 years?" "If we put our minds to it, sure," he was answered by one, "I would say that a concerted effort would do in in six months, tops." "In 6 months we could have a generation ship," someone else suggested. Another was a little skeptical, asking if space travel wasn't such a huge undertaking, why didn't we have men on Mars yet. I suggested that the reason was there had been no large deposits of gold or any other valuable minerals found.
Reasons for an immediate evacuation wouldn't necessarily be due to nature, but by fellow beings. I recalled a friend's science-fiction story in which the alien race humanity first runs into are in two factions. Over much of the history of their homeworld, there are two major civilizations. One was driven by science and democratic rule. The other was driven by a religion that compelled them to try to conquer the other. The first could beat the second in warfare, but never could convince them to change their ways. Finally once faster-than-light travel was perfected, after the next war the first civilization ordered the people of the second off the planet, many millions ordered into cramped spaceships and shipped to another world.
And would it be necessary to leave the solar system? Someone suggested a space ark (or a fleet of them) might just hang around until Earth was habitable again. Once you could build a large enough ship that could house a population indefinitely, would finding a colony be such a big priority, "Maybe once you go to the trouble to build a large generational ship that can have a seriously large population, a planet doesn't buy you much." I wondered if someone would bring up the idea of tunneling deep underground and wall-up against any disaster and spend generations in a self-sufficient underground area. But that less romantic idea wasn't discussed. There was one idea I didn't expect that was: what if a colony ship arrived at it's destination, but there was no one to colonize the planet as they had all committed suicide, "speculating on the overwhelming depression that generations of people in a generation ship may feel."
Someone did bring up one topic that I haven't seen in too many sci-fi tales, the idea of large numbers of humans moving to an alien civilization to live. That was a concept I had seen in some stories about the Chakats and their homeworld. But the Chakats did not evolve there; they were a genetically-engineered race created on Earth. The humans were going to a world where the natives spoke a dialect of English.
There were other topics discussed, such as the Metric system and why it wasn't adopted by those stubborn Americans. Eventually, the hour was up, and it was time for me to go.
Friday, January 5, 2018
By Bixyl Shuftan
Second Life rung in the New Year in Second Life from many locations. Yours truly took pictures from a few, in my home area and other places.
Club Cutlass held it's New Year's Eve party a night early, on Saturday December 30. At at least one person dropping by was thankful for the timing as some people would likely be at parties in real life the following night.
So for some, it was their chance to have some New Year's fun while they could. For others, it was the chance to have some extra fun a little early.
The next day, Sunday December 31, was New Year's Eve. And there were a number of events that day. Some such as the one at the Roman community I didn't get to see until they were practically over. At Quarry Hill in New Babbage was "Ed and Vic's Big Bash."
The residents of the steampunk community and friends of partied like it was 1867.
At the Legends Club in Arinultra Cay , the home of T1Radio and Trader Whiplash, best known for his efforts in the Relay for Life, they held their "Rockin' New Year's Eve 2018".
Trader danced with his partner Arizona Ballinger, and there were many other couples and others dancing as they celebrated the arrival of the new year.
And with the Newser's home community, there was a New Year event at the Happy Vixen, with a number of people sending out 2017 with a bang.
For this special event, Jasmine Dawn DJed for the crowd.
Following the Happy Vixen, Nydia Tungsten would hold a private party for the staff of both the Happy Vixen and it's sister club Zero Gravity at her residence Mouse Hole Manor in Pacific Waters.
As Nydia had invited me to the private party, I sent my alt Rezzdammit to check out Bay City Prim Drop event.
But the lag proved too much for Rezz. This was the best he could do in covering the crowd, which included Marianne McCann and April Linden.
The Prim drops, with just seconds left before the end of 2017 in Second Life.
Before retiring for the night, I would check out the Prim Drop area myself. 2017 had come to a close, and a new year was upon us. A year offering concerns, and opportunities.
Happy New Year, Second Life