Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back from the Wilderness! (Part V) – I Return to Second Life


 

Overheard at a gravesite: "And they all said ’I’m sorry for your loss,’ as if you were someone who could ever be taken from me."

Robert Brault

                                                                

 

          I’ve been way from Second Life (SL) for a while.

          There are reasons.  Yes, reasons and not excuses.

          First, Significant Other and I went away for a few days (Yes, this was in Real Life (RL) and not some cybertrip, I have some standards.) and the usual available WiFi wasn’t available.

          OK, things happen and as I’ve posted before in the Back from the Wilderness stories I invariably bounce back and somehow manage to post a story.

Then, as Significant Other and I were preparing to return home, I received word that a very close loved one had passed away unexpectedly.

As I guess as many of you know, a time like this can be a stressful and confusing one in a family. Hence, I left SL and the Metaverse for some time.

I did reach out to several friends at various times to let them know why I wasn’t inworld.

I received messages from other friends wondering why I wasn’t about or posting.

From all I received their prayers, thoughts, and condolences.

I’m slowly coming back now.  Beginning with my blog and following with social media.

Significant Other and I thank all for their prayers, thoughts, and condolences.

I’d also like to thank everyone for their patience as I put RL and SL back together again.  And, to those who kept reading my stories and retweeting my tweets!

I’ve blogged about loss before but when it comes at us in RL it’s hard to accept but I know that I must and go on.

Those in SL were as supportive and sympathetic as my RL family and friends.  I guess this shows that we’re not really all that different regardless of the mediums we use.

I look forward to reconnecting with all my friends in both worlds over the next several weeks.

Thanks again!

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, October 11, 2014

Art Imitates Art in Second Life


 

Not all those who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

                                                                

 

          Recently, I was having a conversation via Skype with a good friend of mine from Second Life (SL), Augusta von Nassau. 
Speaking with Augusta von Nassau in 1920's Berlin.

          We were Skyping because I’m no longer welcome on Facebook. 

          I gave vent to my frustration, and that of other Facebook refugees, with Augusta (Significant Other is happy that someone else gets to listen to me for a change.) about having to use multiple social media applications and not being able to have the experience that I had had with Facebook.

Augusta, in her infinite wisdom and patient manner, suggested that I write about my experience.  (I suspect that this also got me off her hands.) 

          She was right!

          I had my epiphany and am now blogging about my feelings.  (Please don’t blame Augusta for this story.  This is all me.  Significant Other bolts for the next room.)

          Here’s where I’m coming from.

          Inworld, I’m normally who I am.  An explorer and writer who wanders across the Grid blogging about his various misadventures.

          I don’t have a role playing backstory for my avi with one exception.

       
Working Class District in 1920's Berlin.
  
When I visit 1920’s Berlin, I have a backstory.  And, of course, being me, it can’t be simple.  (What fun would that be?)

          In 1920’s Berlin, I play a political exile from the Bolshevik Revolution.  I’m a Menshevik who’s on the run from the CHEKA.  Once, I was on friendly terms with Ilyich but political disagreements and a few too many chess games won by me sent me to the West.

          I have no home and wander about living on the streets testing the good nature of my friends with my continually quoting Marx.  A certain young librarian allows me to hang out in her library as long as I quit whistling The Internationale.  (She’s also promised to add a section for the collected works of Marx for services rendered on my part.  I think I’ll wait until the spring before I start reminding her.  1920’s Berlin is a hard city to be homeless in when Frau Jo turns on the snow.) 

Why this character and not some comfortable bourgeois character?

That wouldn’t be me.

The wandering writer is more my style.  (Significant Other’s, who has now returned, eyes roll.)

It was a part.  A role.  I didn’t give it any thought.  (Significant Other asks, “What’s new there?”)

Then I left Facebook.  (Or, not to put too fine a point on it, Facebook left me.)

Here’s where I began to complain to Augusta.

Whereas with Facebook, I had one tool which connected to a large group of friends, let me know who was on, and permitted me to chat with them easily. 

Now, I have multiple applications each with its own subset of my friends. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve met some great new people and a few old friends have followed me into exile.  But, everyone is scattered.

On the Avatar Social Network, I’ve made new friends but still only part of what I once
had access to.  Google+ has great functionality but I still don’t know who’s on.

I Skype with Augusta and go somewhere else to chat with others.

I’ve begun to experiment with Ello. 

Facebook friends reach out to me and ask me where I’ve gone to.  They commiserate but can’t leave Facebook because of their own social investment there.  They’re also reluctant to load up on additional social media applications.

I feel like my role playing avatar. 

I wander aimlessly looking for friends.  Never knowing where I’ll be or whom I’ll end up with.

Is this what it’s like for the homeless in Real Life (RL)?

Has the vagaries of a tool like Facebook shown me what some people experience in RL at least on a social level?

Please don’t get me wrong and don’t feel sorry for me.

That’s not what I’m writing this piece.    

          I have family and friends in RL.  (Significant Other gives a warm hug right now.)

I have a roof over my head.

Yet, somehow, this virtual world has made me think about others who don’t have it as fortunate as me. 

My inworld wanderings have also made me suspicious for some time that there are some in SL who may be comfortable in RL but are among us because they are looking for something on a social level.

I just wanted to get these thoughts off my chest and share them with my readers.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Eventually, I’ll sort this out.

Thanks to the efforts of the LGBT community, maybe someday folks like me could return to Facebook.

Let’s see what happens!

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, October 4, 2014

The Great Gardens of Second Life II – First UCC


 

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.

Anonymous

 
[ N.B. I'm doing something different with this story.  At the request of several readers, I'm now including pictures with the body of the text.  (I've also finally figured out how to do it.)  Below is a link to my flickr account for additional pictures.  Please let me know how you like this!]
 

          This is the second story in my blog series entitled The Great Gardens of Second Life. 

          My first entry was about the Asian Victorian Gardens part of Perryn Peterson’s Mieveille domain.  This is an explosion of flora in an Asian setting overlooking San Francisco bay.

          The story was rather well received.  (At least I thought so.  Even Significant Other was impressed.)  I had considerable feedback from folks and many suggestions on which Second Life (SL) garden to cover next.

          I try to be fair in these matters when selecting subjects for my stories.  Whenever I’m faced with a situation where I have multiple choices from several friends, I do what I do in Real Life (RL).

          I decide to not play favorites, make everyone equally unhappy, and select the subject myself.  (We’ll ignore Significant Other’s comment about looking at the RL consequences of this behavior.  And, no, this is not how I decided upon our relationship.)

          Anyway, back to the subject of this story…

          A drumroll please…

          The subject of this edition of The Great Gardens of Second Life is the gardens at First UCC.  (Location here.)

          My readers may recall that I first blogged about First UCC when I went looking for God inworld.  (In case anyone missed that one, I found Him.  He’s there just as much as He’s in RL.  I’m not so sure He’s too crazy about me tagging along but I still think there’s some significance in the fact that besides Starbucks, religious sites are the only other places I have yet to be thrown out of in RL.  Significant Other mumbles something about small children and puppies.) 

          Thanks to my SL friend, Becca (“Bec”) Kellstrom, who is a religious in both SL and RL, (She’s a great homilist.  Check her out the next time she preaches inworld.)  I was introduced to Jerome (“Jer”) Newstart , the pastor of UCC, and YoYo Rez, a congregant and a member of the pastoral staff there.
 
Jerome Newstart, First UCC Pastor
 

          Jer oversees the planning and building of the gardens at First UCC and YoYo is responsible for the exhibitions at the Art Garden.

          Bec was kind enough to arrange an interview for me with Jer to discuss the gardens at First UCC.  (After all my questions, she may be reconsidering that whole “never been thrown out of a religious site” shtick of mine.) 

          My reasons for selecting First UCC as one of the great gardens inworld are several. (What?  Do you think I pick a name out of a hat?  Don’t answer that!)

          First, let’s go over the layout of the gardens at First UCC.

          The church buildings sit in a forested area which runs down to the shoreline.  The grounds are laid out in a natural setting much like one would encounter in RL woods.

Forest Pathway


          Paths lead through the woods going around copses of trees and beds of wild flowers.  As of this writing, all are in autumnal splendor.  Trees arch over the walkways allowing for a nicely shaded effect.

          Buildings have integrated into the natural setting and one is given the feel of a classic older college campus setting as opposed to the more modern ones which are stark glass and steel with nature taking a back seat to man’s intrusion.

          Several areas have been set aside for specific purposes.

        
Peace Grove
 
The Peace Grove is deep in the woods and is an opening surrounding a firepit with torches at the periphery.  This serves the function of a meditation pit for either individual or group contemplation.  A cross looks over the scene.  Services occur here and sadly these days there’s too much cause for them in such a place.

          Another portion of the grounds given over to a specific purpose is the Art Garden near the shore.  Here different artists’ works are exhibited.  The placement of paintings and sculptures in the natural setting gives an effect difficult to achieve in RL.

          In front of the administrative building is an apple orchard.  (I’m told Bec keeps a bowl of apples on her desk on the third floor.  I never said a word!)  Looking the windows, citrus trees can be seen growing in the atrium. (This is what I love about SL, the laws of physics and nature are suspended.)

Rooftop Garden
          Entering the building and taking the elevator to the rooftop on the fifth floor one is greeted by fourteen planting beds filled with a colorful riot of flowers and vegetables.  The rose and aubretia beds especially draw my attention.  A small fountain and a greenhouse complete the scene. 

          When Jer and I meet in his office to discuss what he describes as his “very amateur landscape efforts,” (He’s being very modest, trust me.) he explains how he was looking for a peaceful, contemplative effect with the gardens.

          Jer has succeeded here.

          The purpose of the gardens and landscapes is to provide space for meditation and contemplation.  There are many places scattered across the grounds where one can find peace and quiet and be alone with one’s thoughts. 

          The use of the space on the rooftop was an attempt to take advantage of what was perceived as wasted space and gain some recreational value from it.  The swimming pool on one side certainly helps there.

          I’m shown around the rooftop gardens and the atrium by Jer before he has to head off to evening psalters.  (I have yet to hear him preach but I’m told by others that he’s very impressive and I’ll make a point of returning later to do that.)

           I thank him for his time and hospitality and head back home myself.

          My attraction to the First UCC gardens are their natural look and feel and having beautiful water views doesn’t hurt at all.   They are the perfect place inworld to come, to sit, and to sort through one’s thoughts.

          Being a religious site there isn’t the pandemonium that exists on other SL sims with lush forest scenes.  Form and function come together very well here.

          So, I include the gardens at First UCC among the Great Gardens of SL.

         
Wild Flowers
I do recommend that you come and visit.  Whether just for the natural scenic beauty or to take advantage of the site for meditation, please do come.  I promise that you won’t be disappointed!

I do ask that visitors remember that First UCC is a religious site so dress and act accordingly.  Be mindful that services may be underway when you arrive and be respectful of these even if you’re a non-believer. 

I would like to thank Jer for his time and hospitality while meeting with me for this interview.  Thanks to Bec for helping with the arrangements and to YoYo for answering my questions earlier!

Also, a big thank you to all of them and their friends and colleagues who are working tirelessly to help those who have nowhere to turn with their RL problems but 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.   

          In addition to the pictures included here, more pictures of the First UCC gardens can be seen at my flickr account

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.

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 safe fires!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

All Hallows’ Eve in Second Life


 

                 Witch and ghost make merry on this last of dear October’s days.

Anonymous

  

          Leaves are turning color and falling from the trees in both Second Life (SL) and Real Life (RL).

          The days are getting noticeably shorter and there’s a crispness in the air that wasn’t there last week.

          Yes, autumn has arrived!

          With its arrival comes the unofficial start of end-of-year Holiday season – Halloween! 

          I know, I know.  Halloween isn’t for another month!  (Significant Other sighs resignedly.  Significant Other has never gotten used to how I play fast and loose with the calendar.)  Last Halloween seems like only yesterday.

          My good SL friend and Mayor of Mieville, Perryn Peterson has reached out and informed me that the Mieville Halloween Village is ready for a tour.

          While we both realize it’s early (I don’t know about Perry but I haven’t even bought candy for the trick or treaters yet.) we decide to start the publicity campaign now to give everyone plenty of time to come and see the spectacle that Perryn and his team have prepared for everyone.

          We meet at the Village to begin our tour. 

          When I first see Perryn, I assume he’s getting into the swing of things early by wearing his lederhosen and cap.  (Nice legs BTW!)  But as it turns out, he’s doing double duty as the Biermeister at the Mieville Oktoberfest this evening.  (I guess things aren’t all that easy when you’re the Mayor.)

          Perryn begins by explaining to me that there are six themed areas in the Halloween Village.

          The first is the Pumpkin Patch and that’s where we’re standing.  There are a lot of pumpkins and let’s just say that orange is the predominant color.

          Here, visitors can either smash pumpkins or carve their own jack o’lanterns.  Not to worry about getting carried away, they grow back almost immediately.

          Moving along, we come to the next area, Witches’ Woods.  Leaves fall around us adding to the autumn mood.

          Guess what the theme is here?

          Yep, you guessed it.  Witches!  (Significant Other accuses me of sometimes pandering to my audience.)  There are enough cauldrons and witches about to satisfy even Hansel and Gretel.

          Up next is Skellytown.  (We’re playing to a lot of stereotypes here I know but it’s all done with the best possible taste in the most macabre way possible.)

          As we walk through these theme areas, I notice the shops and wagons of the participating merchants.  Their merchandise is appropriate for Halloween and is of the highest quality.  Many will be offering free gifts to visitors.  Perryn works continually to have the best designers and creators at his events.

          Our fourth stop is Vampyreville.  None of our fanged friends are about when we arrive but there is an imposing castle which would make the Old Impaler himself proud.    Perryn points out that the Halloween dances will be taking place on its rooftop.

          The Village amusement park with rides is located in Vampyreville.  One ride, a pumpkin coach reminded of a childhood ride that I once too.  (Contrary to rumors started by my mother and which Significant Other continues to spread, I did have a childhood.)

          Next up is Ghostly Gulch where graveyards and ghosts reside.  A few of the latter have even set up a small barber shop quartet.  Be careful around some of the graves because they have a nasty habit of reaching up and grabbing the unsuspecting.  (Perryn finds this very amusing.)

          Here is also the memorial to The Master.  The grave of Edgar Allan Poe lies to one side for those of us who reread regularly his works to drop by and remember him.

          Finally, Perryn and I reach the last themed area, Spyder Steppes. 

          Climbing the creaking old steps (Perryn has a thing for word play and puns I’ve learned over the years.) and brushing aside cobwebs we arrive at the top of a steep hill.

          Here, as Perryn puts it himself, he has saved the best for last.

          And, indeed he has!

          For here, all free, is a treasure trove of mad scientist gear from the master herself, Aley Resident (AKA Acadia Asylum).  I strongly recommend everyone who visits Mieville Halloween Village to at least stop here.  Even if you’re not a collector, you must stop by to see some of the most ingenious contraptions inworld. 

          My tour with Perryn is over and he has to return to his biermeister duties and I have another interview to get along to.  (I’m realizing that we’re both busy guys!)  So, I thank him as we make our farewells and then rezz off into the Unknown.

          All my impressions of the Mieville Halloween Village are favorable.  After this whirlwind tour and my return trip to take pictures for this story, I’m impressed by both the scope of the sim and its detail.

          Mieville festivals seem to be getting bigger and better.  The Tolkien Festival earlier this year is another good example. 

          In lieu of the traditional Hunt with the event, there will be trick or treat doors with select merchants.  Knock on the door at the appropriate time and you’ll receive a gift as a treat from the merchant.  Knock at the wrong time and as a trick you may be teleported home!  Wyvern Dryke

          This particular sleight of hand is the handiwork of Wyvern Dryke. Wyvvy is one of the team’s most creative scripters.

          This sim has lots of scares and fun but avoids the blood ‘n gore of others.  (Significant Other informs me this one is preferred to some others I’ve visited in the past.)

          The Village opens on October 18th and runs until Halloween.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

          I strongly recommend the Mieville Halloween Village to all who want a little fun inworld during this time of the year.     

          Happy Halloween!  

          I would like to thank Perryn for his time and hospitality while meeting with me for this interview.        

          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.   

          I’ve included some pictures from my meeting with Arkad in his private offices inworld.

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.

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 safe fires!

 

 

 

Photo No. 1 Landing Zone

Photo No. 2 Pumpkin Patch


Photo No. 4 Scarecrow

Photo No. 5 Merchant’s Shop I


Photo No. 7 Witch’s Den

Photo No. 8 Skellytown Entrance

Photo No. 9 Merchant Shop II

Photo No. 10 Vampyreville Entrance

Photo No. 11 Amusement Park


Photo No. 13 Graveyard

Photo No. 14 The Master’s Grave



Photo No. 17 Castle

Photo No. 18 Aerial View