Wednesday, May 5, 2021

CDS and Sunweaver Communities At the MoCA Fimi Exhibit Opening

By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sunday May 2, two communities took part in an event for three artists, notably one whom had been part of one and had fans in the other. This was Artistic Fimicloud. Known as Stephanie Koslow in real life, she passed away thirteen years ago this month from cancer. So while the event was also for the other two artists whom had pictures at the exhibit, Sanjeewa Kumara and Sujeewa Kumari from Sir Lanka, it was a chance for people to look back at memories of the little pink fox whom had made her mark through artwork and her efforts at the Relay.

The event started at Noon SL time at the CDS' Museum of Contemporary Art (also known as MoCA) in the Neufreistadt sim. Fimi's art, retrospective paintings, was on the ground floor. Kumara and Kumari's art was on the second floor (European first floor), provided by Asmita Duranjay. Sunweaver Shockwave Yareach was the DJ for the event. He took no tips for playing music. Instead a RFL kiosk was set up for the Sunbeamer team, the Relay team of the Sunweaver community. "We are supporting the Sunbeamer team for Relay for Life of Second Life," the current CDS Chancellor Kyoko Furse-Barzane (Samara Barzane) explained, "So love MoCA and CDS too, but hit that kiosk hard." One guy whose viewer was taking a while commented, "Well, currently I just see "Paintings from the Grey Period" until the textures will be loaded, then chuckled. Kyoko mused, "Ah yes, the specialty of many museums.

There were a number of Sunweaver and CDS noteables. Besides Kyoko, other locals included (but not limited to) Lilith Ivory, Callipygian Christensen, and Rosie Gray. Rosie was in a tiny raccoon-like avatar, commenting with a grin, "so glad everyone wears nametags in SL." "Rosie, you are adorable," Kyoko woud later say with a smile. Besides the journalist, other Sunnies there were Jenni Greenfield, Dusk Griswold, Cynthia Farshore, and Sunweaver chief and team Sunbeamer captain Rita Mariner. Dusk was in the poodle avatar she wears most of the time these days. She would comment, "I was trying to figure out why a poodle seemed to fit me, then my real-life sister gave me a possible answer. I lost my Mom to cancer when I was 12, so a lot I didn't remember about her. My sister told me her nickname was 'Poodle.'"

Kyoko would say, "I meet Fimi when I started exhibiting at her Park Galleries. After we lost her in May 2008, I took over Park Galleries and ran it until December 2011. Fimi was very special to a lot of us, the cutest, feistiest little pink fox, and I miss her terribly still." Rita would say, "We still relay in her memory. We have a pink fox statue we put out in our Campsite every year, just for her." "The (Redheads) hadn't been a group long when we lost her," Shockwave commented. Kyoko went on, "We were all on the Passionate Redheads in 2008 and 2009. ... We were the first furry/human Relay team. "Freaked people out I think," Shockwaved mused. It was brought up that around 2009 a number of people in the team split away to form their own, Inspired Dreamwalkers, and the Passionate Redheads were mostly people from the Sunweaver community until it's closing in 2013 just before the season started. "I was a Passionate Redhead till the bitter end and it was disbanded," Rita stated.

Shockwave would play songs such as "Mad World" by Tears for Fears, "I Will Remember You," by Asia, "Love Will Find A Way" by Yes, "Fly Like An Eagle," by Steve Miller, and "Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty. "I can't help it," he would say of the last one, "I love Tom Petty. (I) wanted to see him in concert, but wasn't able to swing the cost of tickets.  Two weeks later, he was dead. Was my hint to QUIT (my) job -- no future in it." Dusk commented she would be retiring from hers in several more months. Rita added, "Bunny has been retired for 12 years plus, Love it." Shockwave would later play what Rita called, "one of the funniest songs I ever heard," which was "Viagra in the Water." "Listen to (the) words," Shockwave told everyone, "it's hilarious. I'll bet Fimi would have loved it." "Hungry like the Wolf" by Duran Duran, got a few jokes about "sheepishly made videos" and "not what I expected when they said the film was catered." "You don't need them the way you wolf it down."

At another point, Rosie in her little tiny was wearing a tall hat that changed colors. "Rosie, you are glowing," Kyoko laughed. "It's the only sombrero I have," Rosie responded, "it's a good party hat, especially if you're really small." There was a joke about hat tricks, to which Dusk commented, "Rabbits are good at hat tricks."

There was some talk about movies as well, notably "The Dark Crystal." "I was really disappointed in it," Dusk commented, "I am a big Jim Henson fan. I got into puppetry because of Henson. But sorry, Dark Crystal was bad." Shockwave nodded, "It was difficult to follow.  That's the directors fault." "It is because of how it was made," the puppeteer commented, "He approached it backwards. He created the world and characters first, then made a story to fit them." She did say there was nothing wrong with how the puppetry and props looked, "looks good visually." Cynthia would say, "have to remember it was long before CGI and to get the puppets to act so well was craft."

The talk about puppets went on, Shockwave saying with a smile, "I played with puppetry because of Dusk here. Those were fun years." "Yeah, we had some fun performing at cons," Dusk responded. Rita added, "I got a puppet caused it looked fun at the cons." "Dusk is a wonderful puppeteer," Kyoko commented, "I saw her give a class, learned a lot." Rita added, "Dusk and I were even on the Dave Glover show a couple times, with our puppets." Shockwave had one story, "At the second TFF (Texas Furry Fiesta), a daddy with his cheerleader daughter was having conniptions that all the weirdos were sharing his hotel. I asked him what was wrong, automatically using the puppet. And to my surprise, the man was arguing with the puppet!!" Several people laughed, Shockwave commenting with a grin, "That was when I knew I wasn't bad at it." Cynthia remarked, "Sort of talk to the hand , with a cover over it." Shockwave chuckled, "I wish I had thought ot that then, that would be a good ending. My closing line was 'We may be wierd, but you 're the one fighting with a puppet.'" Kyoko had a good laugh, "Nice one Shocky."

Shockwave had another story, "We had a teams meeting.  And one of my group was on the island, from home. The joke was made, 'Is the SS Minnow fixed yet?' Everyone laughed but one guy. He said he was googleing what the SS minnow was. I NOW feel old." we all chuckled, Kyoko commenting, "I remember before dial phones."

Talk turned back to Fimi and two of her friends, Rita saying, "She was very close to Treminari," a female red Lusk fox whom was part of the Sunweavers until around 2010. Shockwave commented, "Don't know what happened to her. I know there was a falling out, yes. Well, I wish her the best wherever she is." I myself would say, "Tremi never forgot Fimi, saying she had with her some of her best times in Second Life." Rita would add, "Still hoping Lommy finds his way back," referring to Lomgren Smalls who was known for his six-inch tall avatar. Shockwave would say, "In Lom's case, I didn't KNOW he was sick. ... Lom I sense now and then here and there." Kyoko mused, "Check Rita's cleavage."

Eventually, things were getting close to the end. Rita invited, "You know Kyoko, you are still more than welcome to come visit us." Kyoko responded, "I will. I had forgotten how much fun you all are. The younger furs, too yiffy for me. But you guys and my vintage, and really intelligent." Rita offered to show off the demolition derby the Sunbeamer team made part of an event a few weeks ago, "I figure we will use it again later this month." Shockwave, whom made the derby with Cynthia, mused, "All those years of chasing cars." Dusk commented, "A poodle proved to be the most destructive." Cyanthia joked, "that kind of driving just seems to come natural to you." "I have driven a mail truck for 33 years," Dusk joked, "what do you expect?" Kyoko suggested, "Should I introduce Shocky to my exploding sheep?" Rita joked, "You know the sound a sheep makes when it explodes? 'Hiss BOOM  Baaaaaaa!'" Kyoko chuckled, "Good one Rita." Dusk changed to her sheep avatar, "see if I explode."

Finally came the last song of the event, "Together in Electric Dreams" by the Human League. Kyoko told everyone, "This exhibit will be up into June. So please bring friends over." She also invited the Sunweavers to explore the sims, "By the way, we will have a quad horse in our Representative Assembly next term." Cyanthia mused, "Well guess better than an ass at the Representative Assembly." Dusk joined in, "Horses always depress me, all those long faces." 

The Relay kiosk took in 5000 Lindens for Team Sunbeamers.

With the end of the event, people began going their separate ways, some after looking one more time at the paintings, and one quote of Fimi's.

"My art, my life, is about looking forward, never looking back. Looking back serves no purpose but to break one's heart when you're walking a path as difficult as some of us do. So instead, I look forward, to that next beautiful sunset on the river."

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, April 19, 2021

Virtual Ability's Mental Health Conference

by Gemma Cleanslate

It was a busy informative day over at Virtual Ability Island. The Mental Health Conference went very well. I am a greeter for events there and love meeting all the attendees. I don’t get to attend the all the presentations so am thankful they will be on the Virtual Ability Youtube website. .

I was able to attend Claragonzalezsa Clara Gonzalez Sanguino’s presentation. She is the Anti-Stigma chair at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain. Her talk was about their research on the effects of the Covid 19 on mental health and its contributing factors. There are so many factors to consider . Since Spain has had four surges there was an enormous amount of data for their study and it still continues. Questions and answers were most interesting. You can see it all on the website. People from many countries attended the event and stayed for all the presentations.

I was reminded to take a trip over to Health Island in the next region during a break where I have not been for a while.

 As I walked the island I remembered how much is really over here. It is well worth a visit if you have not visited.  I made a stop at the Health exhibits pavilion where the concentration this month is Mental Health . It changes every month. There are resources there for all sorts of issues. Stop by.

I visited the Path of Support also. This is an wonderful path to walk. Here you will find the names of groups in sl that are helpful to almost any possible issue one might have, mental or physical. I have brought people looking for  somewhere to vent  to someone who understands what they are talking about and perhaps offer help and support. 

Go see if you find a group you would like to join. Here is the entrance to the Island .

Later in the day I was able to attend another presentation. This one I found fascinating because it was about the impact of virtual worlds during the pandemic. Tom Bukowski, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine and two graduate students, SandyZan and Ev Anthro (Evanthro),  using a research grant ventured into virtual worlds to search out information on the use of virtual worlds during this agonizing time. They did research in Second Life and New Horizons and Animal Crossing but used the time today to talk about  their work on data from “Animal Crossing”. Again, it was most interesting and the Q&A was fascinating.Some of the data definitely overlapped with what was happening in Second Life.  Check this out also on the website above.

 I am glad I was able to be there for part of it and will also watch the ones I missed. The whole day was a great success. One thing I gleaned from the day, especially Tom’s talk is how our virtual lives can help us survive the problems of the real world by being here in sl and send us back to the real world to be able to cope more easily. Many found solice , hope and friendship during these trying times .

Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, April 16, 2021

DJ Matt Raises Over 110,000 Lindens At The CRFB DJ Competition

By Bixyl Shuftan

Matt Carlton, aka DJ Matt, already has a record of being one of Team Sunbeamers top DJs. But her performance at the Relay Rocker's CRFB (Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back) DJ Competition on Tuesday April 13 went over the top. By the end of her one hour event, she had raised over 110,000 Linden dollars. The event was held at Arinultra Cay's Pond Stage.

"100% of the dollars raised in-world goes to the American Cancer Society," Trader WHiplash would say, "with the lions share going to fund research. The Society currently funds nearly half a billion dollars in research grants. Other funds go to maintaining patient services and to helping our global partners around the world.  Some of it even comes back to Second Life, where the American Cancer Society region  is THE Official 'virtual office' of the Society, offering residents support, information and other resources to aid them in fighting and avoiding cancer. The American Cancer Society is one of only 2 charities officially 'vetted' by Linden Lab and all donations are directed by secure scripted kiosks and vendors to the Society's own Avatars and Accounts."

Matt had some personal reasons to Relay, notably her grandmother whom had passed away from cancer. Plus earlier that day, she had gotten some bad news. One older family member over the weekend was tested for cancer, and he'd just gotten a phone call that the results were positive. So from her point of view it was a personal reminder how important the Relay was. Her goal for the night was $60,000 Linden dollars, which was both the average raised at last year's DJ competition by each DJ and the most she'd ever raised at an event. A number of her friends dropped by to support her for the event. This included two she met in VR Chat whom had only just come to Second Life. 

Matt's usual appearance is that of a "tigersune," an anthro half tiger/half nine-tailed fox. Normally it's reddish-orange. But due to a "Bid Me" event she took part in, she had pinkish fur for the event. Her music included a number of country tunes, among them, Randy Owen's "Braid My Hair," "When I'm Gone," Randy Travis' "Forever And Ever Amen," and others.

The money started going in right away. Trader announced he was adding 1000 Lindens every 10,000 Lindens starting with 5,000. And in ten minutes the total had passed the 40,000 Linden mark. By 7:20, her goal had already been passed with over 65,000 in the kiosk. At 7:28, the total was up to 75,000. Sienna (Sienna Thor) then challenged the crowd to get the total to 90,000 and she would add in 10,000 more. That was reached at 7:49, and with Sienna's addition that made for reaching the 100,000 mark. But that wasn't the end as the money kept coming. "How high can we go?!" Trader challenged.

Finally the hour was up, and Matt had passed 110,000 Linden dollars raised. "L$110,205," Nulaa Maracas cheered, "$440 US in an hour!" A friend of Matt's commented of her grandmother and other family, "They would be watching you Matt, watching you from above and so happy. ... My Nan would be so proud of you Matt too since she does this stuff too and I help her."

Amazingly, Matt's total wasn't the highest of the DJs in the competition. One other, Stormy Dench, raised 200,000 Lindens.  There are five more left to go of the thirteen DJs in the preliminary rounds. If Matt remains among the top four, she moves onto the semifinals. But having raised over $110,000 Linden dollars, she has raised more in just one hour than many Relay teams raise in the entire season. Which makes her, as well as her Team Sunbeamers, a force to be reckoned with.

Go Relay!

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The SLCF's Second Life World Road Championship

By Rosie (RougeRedHead01 Resident)

     On April 11, our own Dancerina Starlight took part in the Second Life World Road Championship. The event included many residents all fighting for first place. This was her first race and she came in 10th!! Congratulation Dancerina!!

The top three winners were:
1 - Claire
2.- Le Sweetie Brook
3 - Elsie Valeska

     Claire now gets to wear the special rainbow jersey but only until she loses a race and then it gets passed on to the next winner when there is one. What impressed me was a comment she made at the end of the race, “yes tough race (smile) well done all.” I must admit that a smile appeared on my face because it was so nice to see Claire, after winning, congratulate the rest of the cyclists.

     A big thank you to Sophia’s for sponsoring the race. There was also a party at her club, to celebrate. There was dancing!

     I had a chance to speak with BillJobs64, the president of the Second Life Cycling Federation who was able to provide more information about the cycling federation. He tries to have at least one event per week. There are weekly challenges people can participate in. Prizes are given such as cash or medals but the most coveted award is the rainbow jersey. He has big plans, for instance they are building roads in the sky to organize road races with the possibility of having a Tour deSL race at some point in time.

     The next championship will be held in two months. Will Claire be able to hold onto the rainbow jersey or will she have to pass it to someone else who can peddle faster?


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Scenes From the Texas Furry Fiesta

By Bixyl Shuftan

From Friday March 26 to Sunday March 28, the Texas Furry Fiesta took place in Second Life, and a few other places online. Much like with the Gen Con last year, the decision to make the event virtual was because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

The TFF however would have a smaller designated area in the virtual world than Gen Con last year. The location was in the Crimson sim, the lower area next to the beach with the sounds of waves coming ashore.

There was a freebie "store" with a small selection of free avatars. They were quite dated, but better than nothing. I didn't see any Wingless avatars, but was later told they weren't put up as there was only so much room. 

Clicking on a crystal would teleport one up to the upper level, a beach park area. The main feature was a two story building with a flat roof. 

There wasn't much on the first floor, though there was a request to donate to charity.

The second floor had a small dance floor.

The top floor had some seating and a "Cards Against Humanity" game.

Near the building were a couple other games, and a screen people could watch one of the streamed channels.

There was also a display for pages of the website.

A few people were dropping by early to check things out.

The event also had places in VR Chat and Minecraft. I checked out the latter.

There was a hotel made of bricks, where players appeared. 

With the inside detailed. There were also water elevators one could flow up in.

Outside the hotel, there were various plots, where people with permission could build something.

Taking a look after the con was over, build they did.

Friday March 26 was the official start of the 'con. Much of it was on Discord with streamed channels. But there was activity in Second Life. I ran into Shelby Allen, one of the TFF staff.

Shelby explained things were going smoothly, and showed me around a little. There were a few others around, including some whom hadn't been around in a while.

There was one thing I hadn't seen in a while. There was a group of Yinglet avatars around, the largest since the release party in Montecito Bay.

When I mentioned this to one of them, she smiled, "Obviously, you haven't been looking in zhe right places."

Later that night, the "Cards Against Humanity" (or furanity?) proved to be a hit. 

And some fun conversations.

Saturday March 27, I saw something I hadn't seen in almost 12 years. This was one of the limited edition Lost Furest kitty avatars sold with all proceeds going to the Relay for Life. While I had gotten the Hope Kitty, I forget which one this was. 

There was more activity at the top of the building.

Someone showed up in a petite avatar, looking small.

And someone changed to a six-inch Lomtech from Lomgren Smalls, at six inches, looking smaller.

While it might not have been a real-life convention, there was plenty to do. Besides VR Chat and Minecraft, some were playing video games over Twitch. And on some Discord channels there were discussions and music playing.  I listened to a few minutes of those, but not a lot. This was partially due to the instant messages I was getting, and partially because with my experience with cons, I've found it best to relax and not worry about doing too much.

On Sunday came a message from HR Fluffenstuff over Discord, "Thank you for joining us for TFF's 2021 Virtual Con the discord Server will be taken down on 04-02-2021.  We will be looking at rebuilding it properly with the feedback we got from our attendees. Our social media team will announce when and where it will be hosted when we are able. 

"Thank you again for joining us and we hope to see you at the 2022 Live con!"

One friend of mine who attended commented the experience was so involving, he ended up getting post-con blues. Others on Discord posted they liked it as well, "(I) really enjoyed what I have seen of TFF and got to connect with people I would never be able to talk to." "I have enjoyed this Virtual convention experience very much. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen.  It is normally next to impossible for me to get time off work to travel, so Virtual is the only way I have been able to experience any type of furry convention in a long, long time.  I hope that you will be able to consider having a virtual presence going forward. Not just for me, but for others who have difficulty traveling, including those who have disabilities, or who are otherwise home-bound."

What happens next year is still to be determined. But hopefully there will be some kind of presence by the Texas Furry Fiesta in Second Life next year, either their own area or cooperating with one or more furry areas.

Bixyl Shuftan