Saturday, September 26, 2015

I Finally Find Someone in Second Life!

Antarctica is otherworldly, like nothing I've ever seen before. Stark, cold, beautiful desolation.

Mark Hoppus


          This is an important story for me!

          Why you may ask?

          My three loyal readers (Yes, someone actually volunteered to be the third!  Honest, no threats or other inducements!) may recall my quest in Second Life (SL) to meet someone from every continent in Real Life (RL).

          To date I’d met someone from every continent except Antarctica.

          For a long time, I’ve blogged and used social media to try and locate a SL resident in the frozen continent. 

          Finally, after a referral from a mutual friend I was introduced to someone who works in Antarctica and who also resides inworld!

          This is their story!

          However, this story will be a little different from other stories I’ve written.

          For starters, my interviewee has asked to remain anonymous.

          Anonymous as in not even revealing their SL identity.

          So, to honor that request, I’ve scrubbed the interview of any possible references to either SL or RL identity including that of the referrer.

          (And no, the reason is not as Significant Other suggests which is that the interviewee is embarrassed to be seen with me in public even if it is inworld!)

          I meet the interviewee inworld when they’re not “on the ice” in RL.

          The interviewee explained to me why I’d had such a difficult time finding anyone in SL while they’re on station in the Antarctica. 

          (Like how I’m using the lingo?)

          Bandwidth at the station is limited.

          Priority is given to scientists and research. 

          Support staff, while able to access the Internet, can’t use social media. 

          Internet access goes through government websites so blocked and restricted websites have to be dealt with.

          (I think this means they can’t access WikiLeaks.) 

          Speed is very slow.

          I was told to imagine a good household high speed network being used by 1,000 people! 


          All personal laptops need to be screened and cleared before being connected to the station network.

          All telephone calls are routed through Denver, Colorado and appear as having originated from there. 

          Some informal tests of SL from the station explain why I’ve never been able to meet anyone inworld while they’re actually there. 

          Laptops have to be dumbed down to their lowest settings. 

          Low lag sims are the best ones to visit.

          If someone were to try and visit a popular sim with dancing and streaming music then they would probably not hear the music.       

          Things take a long time to rez and all other avatars at a sim may only be gray objects. 

          The whole SL experience from Antarctica is described as very “trying.” 

          On the other hand, I got a great story about what life is like at the bottom of the world!

          (I have to give you something, don’t I?)

          My interviewee is in a good position to know about life on station in Antarctica.

          They have been deployed five times.

          Their normal deployment is known as “Winfly” which starts in mid-August to supplement the overwinter crew and starts to bring the station back to life, their season usually ends in late February. 

          The interviewee has never overwintered and is not sure if they want to. 

          (Significant Other appears worried by my interest in overwintering.)

          Life in Antarctica was explained to me.

          I’m told to imagine a college dorm with fifty year olds.

It’s very interesting and a “way cool” collection of people.

There is plenty to do in the free time if anyone wants to. (I wonder what else one would do?)

There are two bars, a coffee house and wine bar. A full size basketball court, rock climbing wall, hiking trails, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, and mountain biking are available for the physically inclined.

Full arts and crafts, a very extensive library, full weight gym and gerbil gym and a local radio station fill out the activities. 

          The hardest part, the interviewee says is being away from family back home. Station residents are as isolated as one can get and stay on the planet. And not just being able to go off station and walk by oneself. For safety it’s always at least two people with a radio and a laid out plan of when they'll be back.

A word about going outdoors in Antarctica before we go any further.

          As my interviewee puts it, “and for God’s sake don't forget to let them know when you are back on station!”

Seems that if a couple (always a pair) are scheduled to be back at let’s say 5:00PM and can't make it back at that time, if they radio in then all’s good. But if they forget at 5:01PM then they start to call building to building looking for the miscreants. If they are not found by 5:30PM then the active Search and Rescue (SAR) is alerted and they start to search the ice for them.

Seems things begin to get unpleasant at that point. 

The point of this story - So don't forget to call in!

(I guess we all have stress in our jobs wherever we are!)

Now the best part of being there according to my interviewee is penguins!

The interviewee has seen some of the most fantastic scenery.

Clouds like nowhere else.

When there are sunrise and sunsets, they’re mind blowing. 

And if you like to do photography, it’s like having died and gone to heaven.

 And many keep going back because of the people they work with.

They are all one big family. 

(Almost sounds like SL doesn’t it?)

What’s missed most while on station?

Fresh fruits and vegetables is the reply!

What’s a typical day like in Antarctica?

          According to my interviewee it starts out with stretching. It helps prevent cold muscle injuries.

Then at the work center everyone’ll get together and plan their day.

They'll do their work.

Lunch is around 12:00 to 1:00PM and back out again.

End of day is heading back to the work center around 5:00PM-ish and doing paper work and time cards.

(Bureaucracy is everywhere!)

There are two fifteen minute breaks during the day also.

As our interview ends, my interviewee makes a few final comments

Living and working in the Antarctica is not for everyone.

A lot of people only do one season, some never even finish that. Others keep coming back. The interviewee knows of several people that have thirty-five seasons down there. 

I’m also told that once there was a seventy-nine year old working there.

Seems as long as you pass the physical you can go! 

Wanting to be sensitive to my interviewee’s time (After all, there’s only so much available in the warm climes before going back!) I thank them for their time and candor and take my leave.

As I reviewed my notes and prepared for this story, I couldn’t help but think how
much life in Antarctica is like life inworld. 

People leave their real lives and come together for a short time, possibly over an extended period, to live and work together.

Their common experience bonds them.

Maybe if Antarctica gets better bandwidth support then we may see more of them inworld!

I’d like to thank my interviewee and the one who introduced us for helping me to complete one of my goals in SL!

You know who you are and many thanks! 

Also, all the pictures included with this story were taken by the interviewee who generously permitted me to use them!   

Now that this quest is finished, what’s next for me inworld?

I wonder if anyone on the International Space Station (ISS) ever visits 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 . 

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

          Open roads and kind fires!

1 comment:

Prettyflower Vale said...

Wow web this is really cool! Or should I say freezing? Actually I do know someone in Antartica, but she's not a military person, just someone who lives there. She is not in SeondL Life though. I've been in a few Google Hangouts with her and it was sooo interesting to get a glimpse of life in such a unique and challenging place. That's awesome that you've met so many people from so many different places. I enjoy reading about them 😊