Saturday, August 1, 2015

Living without Disabilities in Second Life




 There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein
 

 

          A recurring theme of mine as I blog has how Second Life (SL) interacts with Real Life (RL) especially the positive effects, Dr. Phil notwithstanding.  (Significant Other nods approvingly.) 

          When good things happen inworld, I believe that they happen for a reason. 

          I don’t believe in coincidence.  (More approving nods from Significant Other.)

          I had one of those moments a while back in SL. 

          A friend, XMarieX (“Marie”) Fairport, whom I’d met through one of Perryn Peterson’s
marvelous hunts replied to my recent story about the lost great castles of SL. 

          Marie is a designer and builder of jewelry, shoes, furniture, and other high end consumer goods inworld.  She also DJs with her SL/RL husband.

While telling me about the castle that had once been on her sim, Marie asked me if I’d ever thought about writing about people with RL disabilities who reside in SL.

          Actually, I had!  (I’m really doing great with Significant Other with this story!)

          Since my first wanderings inworld, I’d heard of residents who came inworld to enjoy and participate in the lives they can no longer have in RL.

          Going back before my time inworld, James Wagner Au’s classic book, The Making of Second Life, discussed how people with RL disabilities used SL to try and get back what they’d lost. 

          (Still haven’t read the book?  You should!  Helps to understand where SL began and how it’s wandered from its original purpose.)

          Many have come from RL with physical and psychological disabilities and have found that they can have their lives back inworld and more importantly they can be in communities as full and equal partners with no one knowing about their RL limitations.

          And, while I’ve blogged about people who had RL disabilities which they escaped from in SL, RL people with disabilities inworld had never been the theme of my writing. 

          Marie offered me that chance and I grabbed it! 

          I met Marie inworld and she told me her story which I share with you now.

          It’s a story of hope and inspiration.

          Before we began, Marie said she was sure a ”LOT” of my readers have disabilities.  I just didn’t realize it.  (More knowing nods from Significant Other, I’m getting the sense that I’m about to learn something.)

Maire continued by saying there are a lot of disabilities that one can't see in RL as well.

Not everyone with a disability is in a wheelchair or holds a white cane, she adds.

          Marie told me her tale.

          Almost four and a half years ago, Marie was "normal.” 

She went tent camping with her husband and her wee ones (as she likes to call her children), swimming at the beach, and ice skating in the winter.  

Before the wee ones came along, she went out dancing at clubs with her husband. 

All this in RL.

          Marie had been an insulin dependent diabetic for years, doing the math in her head, she comes back and says twenty-six years at the time.

One day, she had a really low blood sugar level, went to get something to raise her blood sugar, and ended up falling down an entire flight of stairs.

Marie no memory of that incident.

Her mother told her that Marie had emailed her about it but she has no recollection of doing that. 

Marie does remember sitting in a doctor's office with her husband, and him being told, "If she hits her head like that again, she might not be like the person you married, anymore."

Marie continues saying that she’d had a very serious concussion and totally messed up her lower back.

          The back pain wasn't “that” bad to start with, she says, but every day, it got worse.

Until she finally went in to have it checked out.

They tried physical therapy.

They tried traction.

They tried TENS units (the electric little "Zaps" patches).

They put a rod up her back (while she was awake) to try to zap her from the inside - only to find out her nerve endings are "wired" differently and it was zapping her ribs instead of her back.

Acupuncture was tried too.

As Marie puts it, “Oh golly, I tried everything.”

Only the pain got worse and worse.

          Marie tells me that while sitting here talking to me, she’s standing, sitting, focusing on this, focusing on what is out the window, doing everything she can to focus away from the chronic, never ending pain.

Once in RL, she used to go out ice skating, camping, and dancing.

Now she uses a walker with wheels and is able to walk about a block now before she can't do it anymore.

Marie pushes herself harder than any doctor.

The doctors yell at her for trying to do too much. 

But she doesn't want to live her life on pain meds, they tried that too and she lost two weeks of her life.

Marie was so drugged up, she doesn’t remember any of it.

Smiling, Marie added that she doesn't mean to sound rude, but her husband doesn't make a very good tooth fairy for the wee ones. 

          I’m got the sense as I listened to Marie of a wife and mother more concerned about caring for her family than how she feels herself. 

          Then Marie mentioned SL and her mood changed, fast and for the better. 

I quote,

“SL...  Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!

“I can DANCE for HOURS!!!!!!

“I go ICE SKATING!!!!

“I go to the beach and SWIM!!!  I walk through forests!!!!

          “AND I focus on teeny tiny prims, most of the time, and it's like having blinders on a horse...   I don't see the pain, I don't FEEL the pain for 15 minutes at a time!!!!  I'm focused on teeny tiny prims, making jewelry, making something pretty... and the pain isn't there.” 

          (Emphasis is Marie’s.)

          Obviously, Marie feels pretty strongly about SL!

I ask if there is a big social dimension here for her and she replies that there is a huge social aspect.

          Marie explained that when she had been awarded disability status in RL by a judge, she had felt like someone had stamped “Disabled” on her forehead. 

          There was nothing there but she felt it anyway. 

          Inworld, Marie has none of these feelings.

          She feels like she did once before in RL.

          Marie does not act like she’s disabled inworld. 

          She knows there are wheelchairs, canes, and the like inworld but has no use for them. 

          Marie knows of no one with RL disabilities who acts disabled inworld. 

          (In fact, the idea for this story came from Marie when we talked about this aspect of being inworld.)

This is about Marie’s journey, her leveraging SL to fill in those parts of her life that are difficult IRL and SL is your support network!  Whether SL knows it or not!

Marie replies that she hadn't thought of it that way, but says that it’s totally.

She explains further that not only with those she talks to and listens to but what she does inworld too.

Anything to get away from the pain, if only for fifteen minutes is a great and wonderful thing for Marie.  Yes, she does have a bottle of heavy duty pain meds but her doctors are impressed that she doesn't dive into that bottle every four hours and she doesn’t because of SL.

          Marie has found both relief and distraction from her RL disability and pain in SL.

          Coming away from my interview with Marie, I realized that this is story is about her journey, her leveraging SL to fill in those parts of her life that are difficult for her in RL.

          I think about Marie’s final words to me before we made our goodbyes. 

          She asked to me tell my readers not to treat her any differently should they meet her.

Please don't ask if she’s in pain. 

Please don't "be careful" around her. 

If things get to be too much, she knows how to log off. 

Yes, this is a very tough woman who is soldiering on with her life in both SL and RL! 

Once again, we can point to another example of how SL is making a difference for the better in RL for someone!

I’d be remiss if I end this story without mentioning two things.

First, Marie always speaks in loving terms of her husband in both SL and RL, Kiva Fairport. 

Kiva has been there for her through all this and has helped her to find music inworld and to forget her pain.

Next, I want to mention what brought Marie out of what she calls the “Disabled Closet.” 

In RL, Marie is attempting to raise funds for a service animal which is very expensive. 

Shortly, I’ll be blogging about this fundraiser and how you can help Marie if you’d like to. 

So, please watch this space for more details! 

          Finally, I’d like to thank Marie for taking the time to meet with me, answer my questions, and for her amazing candor. 

          I wish her well in her journey!      

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sex and the Single Avatar in Second Life XIV – Auctions and BDSM Roleplay


 
You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

Plato

  

          Recently, Steve, the owner of Devilhand Castle of Carnal Pleasure and a friend of
mine in Second Life (SL) caught up with me. 

(No easy task, as I wander around quite a bit!)

          Steve and Ama, his partner in Devilhand, have been steadily growing their BDSM community since I first met them. 

          The castle itself and the surrounding grounds have been rebuilt and overhauled extensively.

          The community is growing too. (Hey, they even have me as their scribe!) 

          Steve has always been an advocate of slow and steady growth at Devilhand, not wanting to go too fast too soon.

          So, I was pleased to hear that he’s now getting ready for the first BDSM function in Devilhand. 

          Steve is preparing to have the first slave auction at Devilhand.  (Significant Other


arches an eyebrow which happens a lot when I write this blog.) 

          I expressed my desire to blog about this aspect of the BDSM lifestyle inworld and Steve referred me to Phryne, the Devilhand Slave Auction Manager, and NightBud, the Devilhand tavern keeper.  (I told you the community was growing!)

          Phryne and NightBud are also a couple inworld who participate in the BDSM lifestyle.

          NightBud is the dom and Phryne is the submissive. 

          I reached out to them to meet and they graciously agreed which helped me with the background for this story. 

          Now, before the human rights crowd comes after me, please remember that this is all role play and all participants are consenting adults who sign an agreement beforehand demonstrating that they know what they’re getting themselves into beforehand.

          Typically, in Second Life, slave auctions take place at BDSM sims. 

          Slaves (submissives) are auctioned off to the highest bidder, usually a dom/domme.

           There can be exceptions to this where even doms/domes can be auctioned off and this will be permitted at Devilhand.  (Significant Other’s professional observation is, “Huh?”)

          The basis of the relationship is the contract which spells out the responsibilities and limits of each party.  (Points of negotiation can include types of play, use of voice, etc.)

          SL auctions can be for either inworld or include Real Life (RL) aspects. 

          Those at Devilhand are currently only for inworld and only have a duration of one week. 

          Inworld slave auctions can be either public outcry or online auctions similar to eBay. 

          Devilhand’s will be the latter with a duration of fourteen days.    

          A percentage of the amount bid by the winner will go to the slave.

          All funds are held in escrow by Devilhand until all terms of the contract have been fulfilled.

Phryne explained that the auction is a good way to meet different people, and as for roleplay, it’s a great starting point, especially in owner/slave relationships.  Since the relationship starts with an actual purchase, she’s sure that it helps with the roleplay.

           The auction can be a good introduction to the BDSM lifestyle as well.

          Phryne continued by explaining that it might definitely lead to more lasting relationships. She thought this is a very good way to know each other for a week and then decide whether to continue or not.

Most probably, she said, some of the people meeting here will form a lasting relationship.

          Registration for the auction and its rules can be found here. 

          The auction will be taking place in the castle proper. 


          Since the auction has just launched and is awaiting participants to be signed up to be auctioned, a date hasn’t been set yet.  But, one will be communicated to participants when a decision has been made. 

          NightBud added that participants should be patient as Devilhand is still rolling out slowly and focusing on the quality of its members’ experience above all else!

          For those who are experienced in the BDSM lifestyle of for those looking for an introduction, the Devilhand slave auction is good event to check out! 

          I’d like to thank Steve, Phryne, and NightBud for all their help in preparing this story and I wish them luck with their first auction!      

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Castles in Second Life IV – Lost Castles


Art is never finished, only abandoned.

Leonardo da Vinci 

 

          The concept of this blog series you’re now reading began not long after I rezzed into Second Life (SL) for the first time.

          Having always been a fan of castles in Real Life (RL), it was only natural that I’d be drawn to them inworld.  (Significant Other mumbles something about “creature of habit.”)

          It didn’t take me long to find them and I planned to one day blog about them. 

          So, I kept notes on the ones I visited as I wandered across the Grid.

          Sadly, as I learned the hard way in SL, things don’t remain the same.

          They change or they go away.

          That’s what happened to some of my castles, they went away. 

          So, this story will be about the ones that got away.

          Castles that I once visited and was impressed with and are now gone and lost to us.

          To make matters worse, I didn’t take enough pictures when I did visit.  (Significant Other comments about nothing new there.) 

          But, I do want to share the memories of these great builds with you and of the communities behind them. 

          My first big SL castle hearkens back to when I published my SL stories on CNN iReports before I got the impression they didn’t really care about SL anymore.  (Another story for another time.) 

          The castle was Nulli Secundus and was inhabited by a vampire clan back in the day
when vampires were all the rage inworld.  (Another fine, old tradition that seems to have been lost inworld, trying to avoid being bitten by vanpires.)

          Nulli Secundus was big, dark, and foreboding, not to mention drafty.  (How’d I know that?  By looking at the torches flickering.)

          It was always nighttime whenever I arrived.  (They were vampires after all.)

          Old Drac would have been at home here. 

          Nulli Secundus was a fun castle to visit and to wander about in.

          The vampires had great parties and I went to my first SL wedding there. 

          Then one day after wandering off as I tend to do inworld, I returned only to find that it was gone.

          Sometime after, I ran into some of the vampires to find that they had moved onto the world of SL fashion modeling.

          I guess things change.

          The next great castle was at the fairy tale castle at the recently closed Phaze Demesnes. 

          Phaze Demesnes was a magical place created by Ferd Frederix, a onetime SL resident, who now resides at http://www.outworldz.com/

         
His castle alone was a work of beauty and creativity let alone all the other work that he put into his sim. 

          I can still remember when I took the flying crane tour and was overwhelmed by the castle and its environs. 

          Now, only pictures remain of what once was.

          My final addition to this list lost castles is Domus Dominari Pietas which was a BDSM club located in a large, Gothic castle with all the requisite dungeons and playthings that one would expect from such a place.

          The main hall was especially impressive and hints at the grandeur of the rest of the
castle.

          I really dropped the ball here because I have no pictures of the castle from the outside. 

          I recently dropped by the sim to find green pastures and a few small buildings.

          I asked a nearby resident if she knew anything about the great castle that once stood there and she simply replied, “No.”

          Like all the others, it’s now gone and belongs to the ages. 

          This concludes my list of great castles of SL that are now lost to us?

          Why did they close?

          Good question.

          I suspect that the communities behind them which supported them financially and with building and maintaining the sims wandered off to do other things or just left SL altogether. 

          Tier payments aren’t cheap so I’m sure this was always a significant factor.

          As in RL, these castles may have simply outlived their usefulness and became too expensive and difficult to maintain.

          Unlike RL, these structures couldn’t just be left to turn to dust but have to be turned off because of the expense.

          But, these castles will always live on in the memories of folks like myself who grew up on stories of Ivanhoe and dragons living and fighting in castles! 

          To all the unnamed builders who built and maintained these castles for our pleasure, many thanks!

          I wish you well in all your future endeavors and hope to someday visit them!  

          The lesson learned here is that when we encounter a beautiful build inworld to explore and enjoy it because we never know how long it may remain with us.  (And to remember to take plenty of pictures!)

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Where Do We Go After Second Life?


 Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.

Matthew 25:13

 

          Recently, I read an article in the blog of another blogger whose work I enjoy greatly and have considerable respect for.  (Yes, I do read the competition!  I’m not that insecure!)

          Canary Beck and her article is entitled What would you do if Second Life disappeared overnight?  (See, I told you that I wasn’t insecure!)

          In this article, Canary discusses how her life could change if Second Life (SL) were to simply disappear overnight.  (The thought of which panics Significant Other because of the fear of my roaming about unchecked.)

          Canary says she no longer worries about this and has plenty of ideas about what to
do with her newly found free time.  Although, she does admit that one drawback might be spending more money in Real Life (RL) because of so many opportunities.

          Canary’s view is non-apocalyptic and is more along the lines of a theoretical exercise. 

          Her discussion moves into maintaining balance between SL and RL and examines the two ways to restore such balance either by a sudden withdrawal (SL interruptus?) or a gradual reduction in time spent inworld. 

          Canary chose the latter a while back and is happy with the results. 

          Unlike me, Canary doesn’t seem to worry too much about the demise of SL.

          While I don’t lay awake at night worrying about such an eventuality, (Significant Other would make me find someplace else to sleep if I tossed and turned too much.) Canary’s article did make me think again of what would happen were SL to simply disappear because of some corporate machinations at Linden Lab. 

          SL is full of refugees from the virtual world There.com after its closing.  Although, since reopening I haven’t heard too much about it.  (I guess once the magic’s gone, it’s gone.)

          Many of them speak longingly and fondly about their times in that community.  One, Celia Pearce, wrote an excellent Book, Communities of Play, about one group of There refugees through their Diaspora to new worlds.  (Strongly recommend that book to anyone interested in virtual communities.)

          The closing of a virtual world has consequences for the real people with real feelings
behind all those avatars. 

          Whatever happens or doesn’t happen to SL over the next couple of years, there is little that we can do about it.  (Think Jor-El on planet Krypton.) 

          However, like Jor-El we can take measures to perpetuate the communities that have grown up in SL and have become important parts of the lives of so many people.

          First, there is preparation, both psychological and physical.

          Psychological by recognizing that this can happen and will eventually happen and probably sooner than the Sun flaming out and turning our planet to cinders. 

          Physical by preparing as I’ve blogged before to have a plan to move across the Metaverse to a new home or at least using social media to keep the communities alive. 

          Next, is paying attention to what’s happening in RL with Linden Lab.  While we may not be able to do anything about it, we can at least see it coming so the migration can be orderly. 

          Finally, let’s keep enjoying ourselves in SL!

          Whatever may or may not happen, we’re still there and we still have one another!

          As Canary blogged, there is life after SL.

          We just have to decide how to make the most of it!

          I’d like to thank Canary for another wonderful example of her thoughtful writing about SL!   

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!