Saturday, November 26, 2016

Are You Lost in Second Life?

Not all those who wander are lost. 

J. R. R. Tolkien

Sometimes, I have time on my hands. 

(Significant Other thinks this can be dangerous, very dangerous.)

Sometimes, I use this time to think Big Thoughts about Second Life (SL).

(Significant Other says at least this keeps me off the streets in Real Life (RL).)

Lately, one of these has been bothering me.

The Big Thought that’s been bothering me is whether or not you can be lost in SL?

Being lost, whether in SL or RL, can have different meanings for different people.

Maybe you can’t figure out where you are or how you got there.

Maybe you can’t figure out how to do anything at all.

Or, perhaps, you can’t even figure out why you’re even there at all!

Let’s talk a little more about being lost inworld.

What might the symptoms be? 

There’s feeling overwhelmed, not being sure what to do next, or just a feeling of total helplessness. 

(Significant Other says being lost in a car with me in RL can induce all of these feelings simultaneously.)

How can this happen in a virtual world like SL?

Is SL just a rabbit hole that one falls through?

Is being lost just a consequence of switching realities from RL to SL?

Or, perhaps, my favorite here, just inadequate user documentation to help guide the hordes of newcomers to SL, many of whom leave shortly in frustration. 

Can anything be done about these feelings of being lost in SL?

Maybe a few things…

Like just sticking it out or…

Soliciting help from others who have managed to make the cut…

Or, simply quitting.  (I personally don’t like this option.)

Sometimes, I wonder if being lost inworld is simply part of the maturity process for those brave to enter SL. 

Maybe it’s just Darwinian selection.  (Although, that might be more appropriate for World of Warcraft.) 

Or, just possibly, like anything that’s worthwhile doing, it’s just a matter of staying the
course and coming out on the other side!

What are your thoughts about being lost in SL?

I’d be happy to hear and I if I get enough I’ll write a follow-piece!

Look forward to hearing from you! 

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!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

One of the Most Interesting Second Life Residents I’ve Met (III): Rev. Jerome Newstart

Always surround yourself with people who lift you up, rather than hold you down.

Donald L. Hicks

My loyal readers, all three of you, may recall that every so often I award the distinction of “One of the Most Interesting Second Life (SL) Residents I’ve Met” to someone, who obviously is one of the most interesting persons whom I’ve met inworld.  (Significant Other is impressed with my knack for turning a phrase.)

I’ve only made this award twice so far. 

The first time was to Morsmordre Furman for her creativity as a builder inworld.

The second and last time was to Perryn Peterson for his community building activities and assistance to those in need in SL. 

My criteria for this award is simple.  I look for exceptional contributions to the SL community, someone who stands out, and someone who we can all be proud of. 

I haven’t made this award for a few years.  For one, nobody seems to stay around as long anymore inworld.  For another, my own wanderings to and fro in SL may have prevented me from staying around long enough to find recipients.  (Significant Other nods knowingly.)

Recently, however, I’ve met someone whom I thought was worthy of this distinction! 

This individual has not only been recognized within SL by his community for his efforts on their behalf.  But, Real Life (RL) has also recognized his efforts inworld a short while ago.

He is long serving inworld and really addresses what SL is all about. 

The recipient of this year’s award for the most interesting persons I’ve met met
inworld is the Rev. Jerome Newstart of First UCC!    

Jer, as he’s known to all who know him, is a minister with the United Church of Christ (UCC) in RL and was responsible for the establishment of First UCC inworld with the intention of ministering to the spiritual and other needs of its congregants inworld.  (For the record, First UCC welcomes all regardless of religious affiliation.  They even let me hang around and I’m on the watch list of the Inquisition.)    

But, there’s more!

On November 5, 2016, First UCC was recognized as an official member of UCC the same as any bricks and mortar church in RL.

Just in case, you haven’t been paying attention, this is a really big deal!

First UCC is not a roleplay.  It’s not a club that happens to be associated with a RL church.  First UCC has the same rights and responsibilities just like any other UCC congregation in RL.

Pretty cool, huh? 

This is what SL was supposed to be all about.  A meeting of virtual and real worlds.

Many have tried this and failed.  IBM, Toyota, and The Gap come to mind. 

Jer with the help of his congregation made it happen.  In particular, First UCC serves the needs of the LGBTQIA community inworld.  Many of whom are isolated from others in their community and First UCC is there only connection with like minded individuals. 

I met with Jer as I selected and he was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedules in both SL and RL to talk with me about his achievement. 

I asked him in looking back, how did he feel after this long journey?

Jer replied that he was a bit relieved to have this part of the project behind them.  It's always a challenge doing something for which there is absolutely no precedent he explains.  Adding that now a new chapter can start.  And for him, of course, it's been a heartwarming journey.

Jer told me that there were no real difficulties per se along the way.  Just some challenges that included crafting new bylaws for the RL church to allow for a virtually located church, things like that.

What made his journey easier was being blessed with great support from the UCC and their Conference and Association.  People who didn't quite understand it were willing to go on recommendation of those who did support the concept.

When asked if Linden Lab (LL) provided any assistance, Jer replied that he wasn’t not sure LL even realizes they have a real church.  But, he is grateful for the discounted price that's for sure.  (First UCC is a 501 (c)(3) public charity so qualifies for the reduced tier cost.)

Jer said that the vision for First UCC got refined in two ways during the recognition process.  First, First UCC realized that their ministry model needed to emphasize community.  Second, it became clear that folks from marginalized groups could benefit directly and they began to make their LGBTQIA welcome foremost.

Inquiring if there will be changes at First UCC because of its RL recognition, Jer says not drastic ones. 

And, they're hoping to continue to expand social activities and add worship opportunities as well.  First UCC offers some form of worship every day of the week at present.  Hopefully, there will be an increase in worship opportunities.  First UCC would like to add a morning Psalter service for folks from the UK and Europe who would benefit from an earlier time availability.

I also learned that First UCC is currently streaming its inworld services into RL.  The
Thursday service (Pastor Josh) serves a RL church in Lincoln, Maine.  His service is at 4:00PM SLT, 7:00PM EST their time.  He projects the viewer from his computer on the large screen in their sanctuary and folks who come to that service participate in both RL and SL.  Jer says that it’s quite marvelous interaction.  Prayer time is done jointly, both hear the sermon, and it works wonderfully well.

Jer works hard to keep First UCC running.  Between their website, lots of work with folks one on one who need someone to talk to, and the general business of managing this church he’s working over twenty hours a week, sometimes much over. But, he’s not complaining!  He’s glad to be busy.  It means they're doing what they ought to be doing.  In addition in RL, Jer teaches an online history and polity course, volunteers on a local observatory team, and serves on the Executive Committee of his Association.  He’s not currently serving an RL church, but that could change. 

BTW Anyone out there who would like to join First UCC and help out, they would be more than welcome!)

Jer has two major lessons from the recognition process.

First, stick with it.  It takes time to grow a church.

Second, do not cut corners.  In seeking full standing they made sure to do everything they needed to do to the letter.  They did not want to be regarded as having received special treatment.  That, Jer feels, lends credibility. 

Jer believes the real reason for their success is all their volunteers.  They care immensely and their members and friends are just plain wonderful.  Jer thinks they are a positive force in people’s lives, and they’ve been told as much, but the care they reflect makes everything worthwhile.

Jer is presently writing a book about his experiences.  He has a draft manuscript being reviewed by an editor now.  His next step is find a publisher.  (Can anyone out there help please?) 

Being named as one of the most interesting people whom I’ve met in SL is a rare occurrence and goes to folks who make a difference inworld and who sometimes can extend then to RL.

Jer does all that and more!

I congratulate him and thank him and his team for all their hard work in helping the
residents of SL both inworld and in RL!  I look forward to seeing more great things from them inworld! 

I’d like to thank Jer for taking his time to meet with me and for permission to use the pictures included in this story. 

More information about First UCC can be found on their website.   

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!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Helping Others in Second Life VIII – Assisting Someone with Lou Gehrig’s Disease

You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.

John Bunyan

Recently, I received an urgent request for assistance from my old friend in Second Life (SL) and the Mayor of Mieville, Perryn Peterson.    

One of Mieville’s citizens desperately needs help in Real Life (RL) and Perryn, as he always does in these situations, is organizing assistance.  (He serves as an exemplary model to RL leaders who fall short many times when it comes to helping those entrusted to their care.)

Let me tell you what’s happening and how we can help.  (Significant Other wants everyone to know that there will be no kibitzing this evening due to the seriousness of the situation.  Significant Other is also still in a state of shock after the recent US Presidential Election.  And, no, Significant Other is neither Hillary Rodham Clinton nor Tim Kaine.)

Lady B (BronwynPendraig Timeless), partner in SL and RL of Magician Spyke (SpykeMcCallister Kayvon). is a victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  

The only way Lady B can currently communicate in RL is by blinking her eyes or smiling (which she does a lot we’re told!).  Perryn and his crew are helping to raise funds to buy her a computer that is controlled by eye movements to allow her to communicate with people around her. 

A benefit yard sale is being held inworld to raise these funds.

Here’s how we can help!

First, please comb your inventory for transferable (This is important!) items and send them to Perryn Peterson ASAP!  Your donated items (which can include your GACHA extras!) will help raise funds for Lady B. 

This is how to do it:

1.  Select your items.

2.  Box each item (or set of items), label with name of the item and original price if known.  Original price can be put in the "Description" section under "Edit" of your box.  Please make sure that the items are transferable!  (Yes, this is being repeated for emphasis.)

3.  Send to Perryn Peterson. 

Got that?

Good, here are some other ways that we can help!

If you are a merchant, please consider donating surplus items that you have created
to sell at the yard sale!  Please include a sign for your shop with a LM inside.  It will be displayed with your items. 

Please plan on coming to the yard sale to shop and to pick up some bargains!

There will also be the opportunity to make cash donations, which if you can’t make the yard sale, is a great way to help.

In case anyone feels more secure donating directly to the campaign outside of SL, the link is as follows:

Once again, SL residents are rallying to help one of their own.

People are selflessly giving of their time and treasure to help someone whom they may never have met inworld let alone in RL.  Not only that, but there’s plenty of great gifts to buy for the upcoming Holidays!

Yes, there is good in SL and Perryn and his fellow citizens are showing what it can be like! 

Please come and contribute if you can!

If circumstances preclude you from contributing then at least come out and lend moral support to those who are working to help Lady B! 

Whatever you do, it will be appreciated!

The yard sale starts from 10:00AM SLT on Friday, November 18th and runs through
the weekend, closing at midnight SLT on Sunday, November 20th. 

The yard sale can be found here. 

Picture of the items available for sale are included in this story and more can be found on this flickr page. 

I’d like to thank the Companion for taking the time to take all these pictures for the benefit of Lady B!

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!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Marriage in Second Life

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. 


Over the years (Yes, it’s been that long now.), I’ve blogged about many types of relationships in Second Life (SL) and the communities that these blossom in. 

I’ve attended weddings inworld and blogged about them. (Which BTW seem to be on the rise.)   

But, I’ve never blogged about marriage in SL.  (Significant Other wonders where this is going and hopes that I don’t embarrass us.) 

Recently, I met a couple inworld who were celebrating their first wedding anniversary.

They are Charles and Natasha Miami. 

My three loyal readers may recall Charlie from my recent story about his nudist resort inworld, Isla de Amores. 

(I also want to take this opportunity to apologize to Natasha for failing to mention her in that story.  She is Charlie’s partner and co-manager of the resort.  Since I hadn’t met her during the interview and didn’t have her permission to mention her, I hadn’t.  Significant Other smacks me on the side of my head.)

I thought this would be a good opportunity to show another facet of life inworld and Charlie and Natasha kindly agreed to an interview with me about the subject of marriage in SL.  This is their story.

They met after Natasha had just come back from a six month hiatus from SL a few months before and she just had a small parcel of land with some friends whom she chatted with.  Natasha was only online a few times a week. 

Charlie was hanging out at a nude beach as he puts it. 

The beach was Dreamer's and this is where they first met.  Natasha says she saw Charlie saw him there often for weeks but didn’t speak to him as she rarely IMs strangers. 

But, as Natasha says, they hit it off very quickly once they started to talk.  The icebreaker appears to have been Charlie having a picture of his Real Life (RL) dog in his profile and that is what prompted her to talk to him.  (Seems they both like German Shepherds.  They also both have an interest in history but it was definitely the dog that got things going.)

As for the idea of marriage itself, Charlies says that they figured it was the right thing to do because they liked each other.  

Natasha says that she had never even thought about partnering before and she never thought that she would do it.  But, she explains changing her mind simply by saying that she fell in love.  (Significant Other warns me not to make any jokes here.) 

Natasha continues, adding that she knew she didn't want to be without Charlie.  Also, she has old fashioned values, and really didn’t want to share a home without a commitment. 

(Needless to say, Charlie’s been beaming as Natasha talks about their courtship!) 

Once Charlie started to talk about getting a home together inworld, Natasha told him her feelings about that.  And, he thought partnering sounded like the right thing to do.  They went ring shopping two days after they decided to get married.  Charlie adds that the courtship was fun and they decided to get married at Franks Elite. 

When asked if this was romantic or just a business partnering, as many do inworld, Charlie and Natasha reply simultaneously (Not the easiest thing to do inworld.) that there was no business involved at all. 

Natasha just says that they were in love and she would never partner for a business reason.

Natasha describes their wedding ceremony as lovely.  Charlie adds that it was the best wedding in SL as far as he’s concerned.  Natasha’s two best friends were the maid of
honor and bridesmaid.  Another friend was the best man, while another friend gave her away.  She laughingly describes it as a formal wedding. 

Natasha feels very lucky to have two close woman friends to stand up for her and to have had them as friends for seven years.

Charlie and Natasha also had a reception with cake, a DJ, and everything as she puts it.  Approximately twenty people attended.  Most of Natasha’s close friends were in the wedding party.  Many of Charlie’s old friends from Wild Coast were in attendance.

Neither Charlie nor Natasha are married in RL although she’s recently divorced. 

So, when asked what's married life like inworld compared to RL, Natasha said she could answer that.  She feels much closer to Charlie emotionally than she did to her RL ex.  She explains further that she would not have gotten so close to Charlie if her RL relationship had been a good one. 

Charlie and Natasha try to spend as much time together as their RL schedules allow.  Sometimes his work keeps him AFK a lot and other times she travels in RL so they don't see each other as much as they would like.  But both are committed to making their marriage work, so it does.  Which is pretty much what any relationship is like whether inworld or in RL, IMHO. 

Charlie continues saying that they do everything a regular couple in RL does including sex of course.  Natasha explains that sometimes they don't get much "alone" time because things are busy at Charlie's office in RL, but they usually are able to fit some in.  Charlie adds with a smile as often as they can and have attempted to set records at it when they have the time. 

Their sex lives are only inworld but let’s just say that there is RL satisfaction.  (I’m still not that type of blog!)  They haven’t met in RL but do talk by voice almost every day.  (For the record, Natasha was shy on this point but Charlie freely spoke about it.  Must be a guy thing.) 

One aspect of Charlie’s and Natasha’s SL marriage is that they are monogamous inworld which I’ve found to not too common. 

Charlie says that he’s come to understand this.  But, Natasha does know other couples who are also monogamous.  Given the nudist resort that they live in I especially found this different.  Natasha’s explanation is that the sim has evolved to what it is and they
are both just the monogamous type.  And, Charlie adds that nudity does not mean there will always be sex.  Natasha says that she has no interest in anyone else. 

As for having sex out in the open at a nudist resort, Charlie says he’s sure they’ve been witnessed and Natasha coyly admits to a little exhibitionism on their part.  It’s not a big deal for them.  Neither of them has any interest in voyeurism with their guests. 

Charlie says that he doesn’t watch people, but he does like to see where people choose to have sex because that gives him an idea of what furniture and locations some prefer when they visit.  He has no problem with people watching them because he’s only focusing on Natasha. 

As for the difficulty of being faithful to one another given what SL can be like and where they live, Charlie says that it’s not hard.  Natasha adds that it’s not at all difficult. She’s in love with Charlie and he is the only man she wants. Fidelity is easy when you have a strong attachment.

Some of the difficulties of married life are the same that couples experience everywhere.  Natasha says it can be frustrating when they are limited on time and they have had issues with other people causing silly drama.  What Charlie calls typical SL drama.  She didn’t go into detail, just because it might cause more silly drama.   

On a personal level, Natasha doesn’t recommend marriage inworld in general.  For her, there is only one Charlie and he is the only man in SL worth marrying in her opinion.  If both parties are committed it can be a good thing she adds.  Natasha believes that they have a more permanent type of a relationship than a lot of people who are partnered in SL. 

Charlie simply says that he likes having Natasha as his wife.  He desires no one else. 

Charlie and Natasha are a happily married couple in SL.

They have successfully leveraged SL to enhance RL with this very special relationship that they have. Maybe we’ll be seeing more of these long term relationships inworld.  Only time will tell!  

I wish them well and congratulate them on their first anniversary again and hope that they have many more!

I’d also like to thank both Charlie and Natasha for taking the time to meet with me for this interview and their very frank and candid answers to my questions!

I’d also like to thank them for permission to use their wedding photos with this story. 

Now, is there anyone else out there celebrating a wedding anniversary?

Please let me know, I’d love to meet you too! 

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!