Saturday, January 24, 2015

Valentine’s Day Vegas Style in Second Life!


A little bit of this town goes a very long way.

Hunter S. Thompson

 

          It’s been the New Year for a few weeks now and it’s time to put the Holidays behind us and start thinking about all the new holidays and festivals that Second Life (SL) has to offer us!

          Festivals are nothing new in SL.

          Some are once offs and celebrated locally inworld while others are recurring and Grid-wide.

          One holiday that is as much a favorite in SL as it is in Real Life (RL) is Valentine’s Day.  (I won’t get into the debate about whether or not this is an artificial holiday created by greeting card makers and candy manufacturers to goose sales.  All I know is that Significant Other prominently marks our calendar for this event every year and that’s enough for me!  Remember, I only look stupid, even in RL.)

          I’ve covered Valentine’s Day inworld before. 

          But this year, my old friend and impresario extraordinaire not to mention the Mayor of Mieville, Perry Peterson told me about his plans to celebrate the day in his usual Over The Top way and I was hooked.  And here’s why…

          Perryn will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Las Vegas theme this year. 

          This meant three things to me.

          First, given Perryn’s ability to do things on a lavish scale this could only be good.

          Second, a Las Vegas theme can only bright lights and a wild and crazy time.

          Finally, being personally inspired by Hunter S. Thompson, the father of gonzo journalism, and the author of the classic road story, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I had to do this story.  (Not sure if Perryn knew what he was in for in giving me this scoop.  Enough to say that Significant Other winces every time I mention Thompson’s name.)  

          Valentine’s Day and Vegas are two suitable themes to commingle.

          The holiday’s ideas of love and romance combined with the freewheeling style, if not outright hedonism, of Vegas make for a very intriguing and explosive mixture in my mind. (Significant Other’s head just shakes now.)

          My visit to Valentines in Vegas begins with my arrival at the sim’s landing zone.  Posters for this event as well as the upcoming STEAM X hunt tower over me.  Cyndie Alter did an outstanding job with the former and Tattoo Lane has done her usual creative work with the latter.  (Perryn always seems to be able to surround himself with the most creative types inworld.)

          Walking out onto the Strip, I’m overwhelmed by the glitter and lights of this virtual Vegas.

        
  All the recognizable landmarks are there.  A certain pyramid shaped hotel and another with magical fountains in front.  (Copyright considerations prevent Perryn from using RL names.  What would they do, sue for Lindens?)  Elegant shops and restaurants are in their lobbies as in RL. 

          Casinos are everywhere.  Although, given SL’s prohibition against gambling, one armed bandits have been replaced by gacha machines. 

          High end shops are available as well with some of the finest merchandise in SL.  Clothing, artwork, you name it, it’s here!

          Iconic illuminated signs dot the cityscape as searchlights play across the night’s sky.  Old travel posters advertising Vegas are on the walls.  Stretch limos idle curbside.

          Perry has added a few of his own touches.

          For those tired of walking, free cars (“love bugs” created by CaraCali) are available to use.  (Friendly advice, never let Perryn drive.) 

          The Heartbreak Hotel can even be found here. 

          An amusement ride called Cupid’s Arrow can induce vertigo in RL.  (Don’t ask.)

          And yes, images of Elvis adorn the walls.

          Perryn has successfully married classic and modern Vegas in a pastiche which is true to the original!  Bugsy Siegal would be proud!  I expected the Rat Pack to come around a corner at any time.  The feel of Vegas has been captured.

          Overall, the spirit and style of Vegas has been captured here.

          Mieville stalwarts like Jalynne Ohmai, who laid out the streets and the surrounding
vistas (and is a RL artist and becoming known as a truly innovative builder inworld), and Mike Olbracht, who created those fascinating fountains, are much in evidence with this sim. 

          This is a wonderful place to spend some time inworld with your romantic interest this Valentine’s Day!

          And, maybe take in the mini-hunt while you’re at it!

          Valentines in Vegas is open from January 24th to February 15th and can be found here. 

          Tell them web sent you!

          More pictures from my visit can be found at this Flickr page.

          Also, check back here for future details about STEAM X and other Mieville happenings in the New Year!

          I’d like to thank Perryn once again for taking time out of his busy schedule to show me around and for being the guiding light behind all the marvelous activities that happen in Mieville!

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, January 17, 2015

Maintaining Balance in Second Life

 

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.

Thomas Merton

 
 

          Some may find this story’s title a little too heavy, or perhaps frightening.

          What does maintaining balance in Second Life (SL) really mean after all?

          It’s only a virtual world, right?

          Do I now have to worry about how I live my life in SL as well as in Real Life (RL) too?

          This can’t possibly apply to me! Can it?

          Gather round and listen because I’m going to chat a little about why maintaining balance in SL is important.  (Significant Other nods approvingly.)

          For me, balance inworld is about three components.

          These are time, behavior, and relationships.

          The matter comes down really to what is overdoing it in SL all about.

          Let’s start with time.

          If we spend too much time inworld we may neglect our RL partners, friends, and family.  (Please note, I’m not confessing to a problem here myself.  My comings and goings in SL are with the full approval of Significant Other who while disdaining their own avatar has developed a fondness for shoulder surfing whilst rolling eyes rather frequently.)

          Perhaps we neglect RL responsibilities or even forget about RL as we have marathon sessions.

          Next, behavior is another area where we can lose a sense of balance inworld.

          Do we come inworld not to experiment and maybe try things we wouldn’t otherwise do in RL but to act out in ways that would get us ejected from most RL places if not arrested?

          Are we rude, obnoxious in our dealings with others inworld?  Are we bad friends or do we take advantage of others?

          Do we troll or grief just because we can hide behind a clock of anonymity inworld?

          Does our SL identity reflect who we truly are or someone else?

          Finally, the big one, our relationships with others inworld.  (Yes, some may only have a relationship with themselves inworld but I’ll save that topic for another time.)

          Are our relationships with others healthy?  Are they based on respect?  Do others trust us inworld?  Or, because it’s a virtual world we just don’t care about the effects of our
relationships with others?

          For those who move into RL with their relationships going from simply being friends to something deeper, is it done for the right reasons and not in some misguided, quixotic attempt to escape a RL relationship that we view as toxic?

          I think (This is the point where Significant Other always begins to worry.) that how we maintain our balance with time, behavior, and relationships inworld comes down to what our purpose for being there in the first is.

          Are we here just for a wild and crazy time?

          Well, OK, if that’s our mission then let’s at least let everyone around know what type of grenade range they’re getting themselves into when they get involved with us.

          But maybe, just maybe, we’re inworld for some more worthwhile, uplifting purpose.  (Now, there’s an original thought, huh?)

          Maybe we’re here to visit new places, meet new friends, and have new experiences without losing some sense of ourselves.

          Possibly our motivation is build or participate in a community, connect in a mystical or spiritual sense with others, or simply add value by being creative with the arts, scripting, or
other content.  (Perhaps blogs?)

          In closing, I’m going to suggest that maybe we should all think about why are we here in SL.

          Let’s ask ourselves do others really want us around in SL?

What would we want our legacy to be inworld after we finally rezz out for the last time?

Something real and genuine or simple drama?

And let’s not forget about RL and those out there who are near and dear to us?

Are they glad we’re lost inworld somewhere or do they miss and need us?

Everything in moderation.

Think about it!

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, January 10, 2015

The Great Gardens of Second Life III – The Zen Garden at Miyagawacho


 Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar.

Jim Butcher

 

This story returns to a theme I’ve been blogging about recently, the Great Gardens of Second Life (SL).

I write often about the communities that I encounter inworld as I wander about the Grid.  However, sometimes I feel I don’t give enough credit to the worlds that these communities inhabit.

Afterall, who would visit SL if all it was were nothing but avatars bouncing around and chattering on a green screen?

In particular, the gardens of SL are in many cases beautiful examples of craftsmanship and landscaping combined with excellent scripting skills.  Like their Real Life (RL) counterparts, they provide a refuge from the busy lives we lead, both virtual and real, or to sometimes be alone with a partner and pass the time.

So far, I’ve visited two gardens in SL, Asian Victorian Gardens and First UCC.  Each was constructed for a different purpose by different inworld groups.  Yet each adds to the greater beauty of SL and to the common weal (Significant Other winces whenever I use an underused word.) that we all share here.

My selection for my third story about the Great Gardens of SL is a bit different. 

My selection is much smaller than the other two and constructed for a very different purpose.  Yet, for these very reasons, I feel that it’s one of the Great Gardens of SL.

This time I’ll blog about the Zen garden at Miyagawacho. 

Some of my readers may recall that I first went to Miyagawacho when I was invited to visit with the geisha.  That was when I first visited the garden.  A second, brief visit occurred when I returned to do a story about the streets of Miyagawacho.

Both times, I noted the garden and promised myself to return and write about it.  (Significant Other always looks doubtful about my promises to return.)

Now, is that time!

While not on the same geographic scale as the first two gardens I’ve reviews and certainly not as complex, this garden called out to me with its simplicity.  (I won’t repeat what Significant Other says.)

But then drawing from its roots in Zen this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Traveling to the garden means rezzing into Miyagawacho several blocks from the garden itself.  A brief walk down the main street to a T-junction and a right turn followed by an even shorter walk leaves one standing in front of the garden’s gate.

(For those who are wondering what the name of this garden is, I haven’t found one yet.  I’m not surprised because this would be in line with Zen teachings about not promoting one’s self.)

The day that I chose to visit, it’s snowing.  (That’s another wonderful thing about SL how it can mimic RL and I don’t even have to put my Wellies on!)  The snow falling and covering the ground adds to the sense of calm and serenity which pervades this little corner of SL.

The garden is at the end of a cul-de-sac and it stands in contrast to the small town surrounding it.

I arrive at midday and the town’s streets are deserted.  Combined with the falling snow, I’m lost in my own thoughts.  (Significant Other believes this is a very scary place to be.)

The garden is in a classic Zen style although the snow now covers many of the details that I recall from past visits.

Natural objects like rock, sand, and gravel are used to give the desired effect.  Trees and shrubs are carefully placed and maintained.  The entire garden can be seen from the entrance.

A small open-sided sitting area is on the left hand side as one enters and a small tea house is in the rear.  (Please remember to remove your shoes before entering!)  A wall surrounds the garden.

Going round the tea house, one can see a spectacular view of the sea.  At this time of the year with snow on the ground and the trees, it’s especially beautiful. 


And that’s it!


I said it was small, didn’t I?

I strongly recommend a visit to the Zen garden in Miyagawacho for anyone looking to see a beautiful example of urban gardening inworld or looking for a quiet space for meditation and contemplation.

The garden stands in stark contrast to the busy lives that many of us lead in both SL and RL. 

And, as I can attest from own recent RL experiences, sometimes this is a very good thing to do!

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, January 3, 2015

Sex and the Single Avatar in Second Life XII – BDSM Is Alive and Well!


Fear can be a potent aphrodisiac.

Kele Moon 

 

Welcome to the latest installment of my blog series, Sex and the Single Avatar in Second Life!

This is where I discuss all the different aspects of sexuality that I encounter in Second Life (SL).

Yes, there is sex inworld.  (Significant Other’s laughter can be heard from the other room.)

The subject of this story came from a good friend of mine, Nemesis Grey.  She contacted me about a couple who were friends of hers and were establishing a new BDSM sim and group inworld.

Having read my earlier stories on BDSM, (See, folks do read my stories!)  Nemesis assumed correctly that I’d be interested in meeting them and blogging about their work.

Why wouldn’t I?  Stories about SL bake sales don’t do very well!  (Don’t ask.)

I arranged for an interview and met with them recently at their sim.

The sim is Devilhand Castleof Carnal Pleasure and the couple who run it are named Amaterasu (“Ama”) Silvercloud and Steve.  Both are practicing members of the BDSM
lifestyle inworld themselves. 

Devilhand is a large facility with one of the better castles that I’ve seen in some time inworld.  There are large ballrooms, a library, and many small rooms for couples to go off and be by themselves.

There is also a dungeon which I couldn’t find initially.  The reason being that instead of being in a dank, dark dungeon with rats, it was upstairs in a large room with windows and plenty of light.  In fact, it looked like a modern gym except it has BDSM furniture and not exercise equipment.  (Ama seemed a little offended that I thought it would be anything but this.  What do I know?)

          A fine collection of erotic art hangs from the walls (Significant Other isn’t surprised I noticed.  But, this is all research.) and check out the menu at the bar.

Across from the castle is the yard where slave auctions take place.  (More on these in a bit.)

A newly installed venue for concerts has just been installed between the castle and the auctions yard and across from this is an area for shops for BDSM themed merchandise.  (Somebody said something about a shark being here.)

The arrival area is in the center of all these facilities. 

There is more to this sim than just some buildings.

A group for members has been formed and this is at the heart of what Devilhand is all about. 

The idea behind the group is to create a BDSM playground mixed with the Story of O, but not just for female subs/slaves but for male subs/slaves too.  Ama and Steve recognize that in order to be successful they need experienced masters and mistresses to train and guide newcomers to BDSM who are interested but are inexperienced and vulnerable.

Steve is very adamant about being able to provide a safe and nurturing environment to counsel those entering the BDSM lifestyle.  The word used by the team to describe Steve’s and Ama’s vision is a “haven” for new members.

During our interview, Steve talked about the many out there who are more charlatans than experienced masters or mistresses.  Weeding these out takes time. 

Steve and Ama explained their views on relationships in BDSM to me.

They believe that the relationship comes before BDSM practices begin and grows with the trust that develops between the parties.  When I ask about the sexual component, I’m told that comes from the intellectual stimulus of the mind from images and words. 

Members of the Devilhand group can either roleplay or just relax and meet. The group was formed about eight months ago and the castle was built about two months ago.  (And is being continually rebuilt by Steve according to the team.  There is constant joking about always getting lost because of the new builds.)

Community events are being discussed and planned.  One of the big draws will be the slave auctions where consenting and experienced male and female slaves will be auctioned off to the highest bidders.  Steve says that bids can go very high.  I’ll return in the future for another story on this topic.  Slaves must sign an agreement before participating to demonstrate that they know what they’re getting themselves into.  (Please remember this all roleplay!)

A little bit about Steve and Ama now.

Steve is the owner and builder of Devilhand.  He is the dom in his relationship with his partner, Ama.

Steve first came to SL in 2006 then left and returned after a while to look around.  This time he stayed.

Ama is Steve’s partner and helps manage Devilhand and participates in the decision making process with him.  Steve is very quick to point out that Ama is a sub and not a slave.  She first came to SL in about 2008 and has been here since except for a few breaks for Real Life (RL). 

They first met at House of V inworld.  This is a very popular BDSM club.  Their relationship is based upon trust and Steve describes it as loose or not a strict form of practice.  They both have RL BDSM experiences behind them.  They both derive pleasure from their relationship inworld.  Interestingly, they are monogamous in their SL relationship which I don’t find too often inworld.  They use social media to keep in contact outside of SL with one another. 

My first impressions of Devilhand are favorable and I recommend to anyone who is either an experienced member of the BDSM lifestyle or is considering it inworld.

Devilhand is a newly forming BDSM group catering to a variety of practices.  Steve describes it as “classic.”  Roleplay will be offered as well as just a place to relax and chill.  The slave auctions are being developed and will offer interesting opportunities for those so inclined. 

For those looking for a new BDSM group to join this is a good one to consider.  This sim will be unlike some of the bacchanalian hotspots that some BDSM sites are.  (Tera Trenchcoat, my Research Assistant (RA), and I have come across a few of these in our research.  Tera made a very strong point about not being paid as I recall.)  It offers a safe environment for people to learn about BDSM.

Devilhand caters to newbies in SL and offers assistance to all.

So, if you’re interested in a good BDSM environment or just want to see an incredible
build, take a look at Devilhand!  This is also a great chance to get in on the ground floor of something new and exciting.  Experienced members are especially needed.

I’d like to thank Ama and Steve for taking the time with me and answer all my questions.  They’re wonderful hosts!

Additional pictures of Devilhand can be found here. 

Devilhand is also developing a social media strategy.

Their Twitter handle is @DevilhandCastle.  Please feel free to follow them! 

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, December 27, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2015 in Second Life


The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Eleanor Roosevelt

  

Well, I’ve closed out 2014 in Second Life (SL) with my look back. 

It’s now time for me to look ahead into the New Year in SL and see what mischief I can get up to.  (Significant Other gently reminds me to keep all mischief out of Real Life (RL)!)

This is my one shot each year to think about what I want to accomplish inworld both in terms of work and the tone that I set in this blog.  (Believe it or not, there is always a plan.  Whether or not I stick to it is something else altogether.  Significant Other mumbles something about why can’t I just follow football like all the others.)

My intentions for this year are several.

First, I want to quit being an obituary for sims that are closing inworld.  Yes, I’ll still
mention them but I want to focus on the creativity and dynamism which is what SL is all about. 

Next, I want to step away from Linden Lab’s issues.  They’re not exactly listening to me.  Whatever is going to happen there will happen and I can’t prevent it.  I want to spend more time blogging about the worlds which comprise SL. 

Finally, I want to be more hopeful in my writing about SL in the New Year.  There is still so much I haven’t discovered and I want to bring as much of it back to my readers for as long as SL is around. 

Permit me to be more specific.

I’ll focus more on the inworld communities and the people who reside there.  Several readers have commented that they’d like to hear more about SL’s residents.  I’ll do my best here.  (Hey, if you don’t like it, tough!  These folks took the trouble to let me know what they’d like to see.  Send me your comments and I’ll do my best!)

I want to visit more new sims, meet new people, and have new experiences.  Then I want to want to write about all these and share them.  Several readers have admitted to living vicariously through my writings.  (This does add some pressure.)

There are a couple of series in my blog that I either began and haven’t returned to for a while or haven’t started at all.  I want to return to these.  Sex and the Single Avatar and Shoemaker’s Children are two examples.  There’s also a boat trip across the Grid with
several friends that I want to start and complete in 2015. 

I also have several outstanding stories that I need to complete as well as a SL user to be found somewhere in Antarctica. 

Overall, I want to be more hopeful, focus on the fun inworld, and avoid the Dark Side in SL.

From a technical perspective, I have several goals.

I plan to overhaul my blog’s form and function.  (I’m open to suggestions so please send them in.)

I’ll continue my experiments with social media as they seem to be bringing in new
friends and readers.

My use of pictures in the body of my story will continue as well as new ways to use them.  Once again, this was at the request of readers.

To wrap up my SL plans for 2015, I plan to have more fun and ignore the siren calls to the rocks of despair inworld.

Life’s too short!

So, to all, Happy New Year!

I hope to see many of you on the Grid in the New Year! 

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!