Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Reader Submitted: "The Very Best of Broadway"

By Ciska Riverstone

Logging into Second life last night I didn't know, I was up for a precious treat. My friend Bergie IMed me shortly before 1 pm asking if I would like to go to "The Very b=Best of Broadway."  I admit, I made it a last minute appearance on my side and was just able to grab the empty red velvet chairs beside her, when the curtain opened up at the Oval Theater to reveal a perfect gym and a full cast, dancing Footloose.

My first surprise was a pure technical one: everything rezzed fast and effortlessly - something I am not used to on my laptop in second life shows.  So I looked around for a moment expecting a small audience only to see that most of the chairs of this very cozy but still spacious theater were taken. Realizing that I just missed the performance, my attention returned quickly to the vivid choreography.  "Footloose" is of course an easy opener to groove to - the perfect number to get into the mood. It did set the tone for what's to come in a charming way!

The curtain went down and somehow I expected a longer pause for reconstruction - maybe because I saw that often in the past in theaters in Second Life. But here came surprise number two. We just had time to talk a bit and teleport in another friend before the stage was set with an admittedly more simplistic but still very fitting stage building for the cheeky "Dance 10, Looks 3" from "A Chorus Line."  Champagne was served by an attentive staff member, while we enjoyed the atmosphere slowly building up and it did! I won't give away more details to not spoil your fun!

The song list, although taken from the classic Broadway Musicals you would expect, did not always go to the most obvious song choice and so managed to hold the balance of the whole spectrum of emotions you can walk through in such an evening. The special effects carefully orchestrated towards a stunning finale come and go in a wave like form and together with all kinds of choreography - from freestyle " just singing and acting" to ballet - like arrangements u will see all of it.  The stage builds totally serve each musical number in style, simplicity and low lag. while still having eye catching details....not to forget the perfect costume choice. All in all the whole performance felt like a labour of love for me. We left the theatre after more than an hour in heightened spirits and enthusiastic.

The show is still on at the 17th 19th and 23d at 1 pm slt and will be followed in August by a program called "Make 'em laugh".  I can only recommend to grab your loved one, friends or even a new acquaintances you like to get to know better and watch it. The whole atmosphere together with those tunes will not cease to spark up fun conversations, entertain you and put a smile on your face.

While you are there be sure to grab one of the monthly theater magazines from the free vendor. It will tell you what's in the pipeline of this amazingly creative and vivid venue!

The Oval Theatre Company, Devils Cave (144, 79, 21)
Ciska Riverstone

Monday, July 17, 2017

“Bacon of Hope” Hunt at New Toulouse

by Gemma Cleanslate

If you have the right kind of flower, Eichhornia crassipes, the water hyacinth, you can indeed exchange it for bacon, of a certain type. While supplies last.

"The Bayou Safety Initiative is kicking off its flagship campaign with help from Perrineau and Co., a local provider of innovative meat solutions. Foreign flowers threaten our domestic waterways—nay, our very way of life. Buying liberty bonds won’t stop flowers. Only hippopotamuses, and you, can help.” 

How hippos ever got into the Bayou at New Toulouse is beyond me. However, it is always a treat to visit this sultry sim, ”the city in the swamp on the bank of the Missedabracket Estuary. Loosely themed after New Orleans and the bayou, 1900–1925. “ Henri Godenot is the owner and he has assistants.Niki (Nikita Weymann) is the Estate Manager and Yvonne Follet is his Executive Assistant. You will see all the help he has when you see the credits for the hunt.

I love the Mardi Gras time here but I also love the story based hunts . This makes it much more interesting than just a normal hunt , at which I am not very good. This time I was able to do it all at one time in one day, forcing myself to forge ahead. That is much better than the three days worth of visits it took me when I did “Death Picks a Winner“ last year. This hunt, called “Bacon of Hope” takes you over the whole region searching for the pink hyacinth that is overtaking the bayou as an invasive species. At the entrance you can get your supply of bacon which seems to satisfy those who give up the hyacinth (some are not interested in the bacon at all). As usual, this invasive species is very pretty and becomes a decoration in many places.  

At the entrance room, New Toulouse (96/178/1501) , check out what you will be searching for , and be sure to look at all the warnings of hippo cows and what to do if you meet one. You can pick up your hud to wear that registers your finds. Read the note card . Then go off to your first stop in the card on your quest to get the hyacinth.At each stop you when you locate your flower a further part of the ongoing story is given to you along with your next stop on the quest. Each stop is interesting and distracting so you almost forget why you are there. There is a whole group that puts this story hunt together. 

At the end you will go to a gazebo and there are boxes of gifts from all the participants on the table there. I picked up some more boxes to open!  

I always spend extra time looking at all the interesting homes, businesses and gardens, and of course the bayou. I always go back to walk along the streets and look for new areas. 

I ran into the owner of the Tarot Tea Room, Belle (BELINA Corvale), who had just opened a new Cafe down the street. I stopped at the Le Reve de Jaques Cafe and checked it out. I also stopped into the cemetery and the Synagogue. There is so much to explore here in New Toulouse so make it part of your plan that after your hunt is done you will walk the streets and byways and discover the charms . 

The hunt will be ongoing until the end of July.

Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, July 14, 2017

Relay Media Day

By Gemma Cleanslate

The entrance way to the Relay for Life big weekend is a lesson in what is going on those days of the Relay for Life, Passport to Hope, and  how to make the most of your visit. Read the posters as you walk along the hallway and collect some information about events , locations, and more. 

 I met Grace Loudan and asked her how many entertainment stages there were . she told me, ”One Live Music, one DJ/Dancing and one Variety stage with dance troupes, theater, tribute band and a mermaid show. “

I stopped off at the Museum of past years. This is maintained by Bryan Rickena.

 I took a lap around most of the sims on my segway and then rested at my Team Shadow Victory Cove Roadway Park. It is right here that I will rest on lap day. I took the time to set up a few luminaria in memory of friends in Second Life and real life who have died of cancer. That way I won’t forget when I do the Honor lap for survivors. There seem to be more twists and turns in the roadway this year and I will have to pay attention. 

It s a jam packed weekend and I hope you will all get a chance to stop over and wander through. Check the website for information. The opening ceremony is at 10am slt Saturday July 13 and closing ceremony at 10am on Sunday morning however the sims will be open for after parties and visiting. Check here for more information and directions how to get where you want to go.

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Yosemite's Anniversary Party

By Gemma Cleanslate

I cannot believe it is a year already that Yosemite has been open for visitors. 

On Sunday the first anniversary ball took place in Keao’s Crystal Ballroom. Dj Ajay Xagilia, was introduced as resident DJ. What a lovely setting for the ball. The ballroom was decorated beautifully.  

The dancers glided about the floor trying not to step on the baubles on the floor. I missed seeing the creator of the ballroom who was there and left before I arrived... late .  

Jadyn looked absolutely lovely in a deep blue gown with silver decor . I must say it has been a long time since I have seen her without her Yosemite backpack.  

Gentle Heron was present in a lovely green gown.It was a masquerade ball and I almost forgot my mask. there was a gift of masks available .. whew! 

Others wore elegant costumes . It was a fun party with good dance music. Jadyn informed us that P2P will be celebrating its 8th anniversary on July 22 and there will be another party for that event. I will look forward to that. 

Gemma Cleanslate  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Gentle Heron at the Safe Water Foundation's "Let's Mertalk"

By Bixyl Shuftan

About twice a month, the Safe Waters Foundation hosts a discussion called "Let's Mertalk." Grace Wrigglesworth described the event as, "We mingle every other week ... Sometimes Open Topic, and other times there will be other topics announced in advance. So ask your questions and see amongst all of us to see if we can provide some answers.  Special topic speakers will sometimes answered.  Product demonstrations are welcome - so builders and designers - consider participating." So far, the talks have occurred at the bottom of the Union Passage sim, and take place every other Saturday at 1PM

The Mertalk on Saturday June 10 was a special one as its speaker was Gentle Heron. In the community calendar, Grace described the event as, "This week Gentle Heron will speak about her experiences with helping with SL gateways.  How do new people in SL get introduced to the new environment.  Gentle led the opening of an award winning SL Gateway - come hear more - she will suggest some discussion questions for the mer - and of course we hope you come brimming with questions for discussion as well." Just a few days before, Linden Lab had announced their Community Gateway program was officially back.. So the topic was still fresh in the minds of those concerned about the matter.

I arrived a bit late for the discussion, so missed the first ten minutes. There were a number of people present, most were in merfolk avatars, though there was one other fur and one human. Among those in mermaid tails was Barbie Alchemi of Creations for Parkinsons. So was Any1 Gynoid, whom had written for the Newser in the past and was the one who told me about the talk. Gentle Heron was present in a white Beluga whale avatar. "Try to sit close to the white beluga," Grace told us.

Gentle explained that the "newcomer self-instructional orientation path" was done with the help of some librarians, "specifically designed to help people with disabilities learn to use the virtual world. We call it our NROC, New Resident Orientation Course. It takes up about almost half of the Virtual Ability island, and teaches SL skills such as walking, sitting and flying, text chatting, friending, and joining groups; 'buying' things (for free), finding things in inventory, and unboxing purchases; using maps, landmarks, and teleports to get around; and customizing your avatar appearance and outfits."

Gentle went on, "Virtual Ability specializes in assisting people with disabilities to learn how to function in SL, no matter their capabilities, needs, and use of assistive devices to access their computer." She then asked us what we thought was "the most commonly used assistive technology device." Most of us thought a cane. Any1 guessed eyeglasses, which Gentle stated was the case, "Physical disabilities include paralysis, limb loss, arthritis, neuromuscular diseases… anything affecting the ability to move. This is going to impact typing and mouse use, of course. Many people in our community use some form of assistive technology to use their computer. Some of our members type with a wand attached to a headband. Others type with their toes. Some control the cursor with movements of their tongue, or by sipping and puffing into a tube.  And some folks who are totally paralyzed use their eye motion to control their computer."

Gentle went further, "People with mental and emotional disabilities often need mentors to provide social support. It may take them longer to learn how to function within the social norms of a community. Acceptance of diversity is wonderful. But so is acceptance of community standards. There has to be a balance, and that is aided by patient mentors who guide behaviors. People with developmental disabilities must be protected from some of the more 'adult' activities in SL. Again, patient mentors and guides are an important resource for these folks."

"And finally people with sensory disabilities sometimes need very specialized assistance," Gentle stated, "Deaf people need to have transcribers who type the gist of spoken presentations or classes or discussions so they can participate in text in real time. Of course these text transcripts also benefit people whose first language is not English and people with distractibility problems. They can scroll up in text and review… you can’t do that with audio alone. Blind people can’t access SL through either the Linden or the Firestorm viewer. The Radegast viewer provides text-only access that works with their screen reader software. This allows blind people to participate fully in Second Life despite not seeing their surroundings. ...  In fact, we’ve found that many of the adaptations our community makes for people with specific disabilities often benefit others who do not consider themselves disabled." Barbie commented, "That is why the work that Gentle does is so important and valuable! She helps make SL accessible to everyone no matter what their disability!" "Even if they have fins not legs," Grace, in her merfolk avater, mused. It was brought up that Creations for Parkinsons had a blind DJ (news article). Barbie told the group, "Keao is our friend who has been blind since birth and Gentle has taught her and others how to use the Redegast Viewer so they can enjoy SL!"

Gentle then moved on to Community Gateways, "Our community was invited by Linden Lab to be part of their first Community Gateway program along with several other communities, I think that was back in 2009 or thereabouts, and later to be part of their Resident Help Network program, with other mentoring organizations. That was around 2012. Recently, we’ve become part of the new Community Gateway program. Linden Lab announced that program here:   Now please remember, I’m not an employee of Linden Lab so I’m not an internal expert on the Community Gateways program. I can tell you of our community’s experience. Linden Lab’s emphasis this time around seems to be on newcomer retention. They still are not doing well at keeping a majority of those who enter SL past the first week or month. Too many folks try SL once or twice, then never return."

Raks (rakshowes Resident) commented of most new residents leaving, "That is because the controls are hard at first. Many people I not know helped me in first weeks." Grace commented, "(I) would love to figure out how to make the merfolk community more accessible to those new folk. Not to plan her/now, but just a dream of mine. ...  I wanted to see if others shared my dream- as I can't do all the work myself."

Gentle went on, "Those who stay tend to be those who get involved right away with a community. That realization was the 'AHA' for Linden Lab to re-institute Community Gateways. This program took about a year and a half of planning on the Lab’s part to come to fruition. They did a ton of research. Some of the requirements for becoming a Community Gateway are: • an active community in SL for at least a year and a half, with identified leaders, in good financial and disciplinary standing with LL, • a Full region, with a welcome/orientation area including tutorials and other helpful content for newcomers, and without commercial activity,  • separate land access and resident groups, with the newcomers becoming part of the resident group, • a website with a page that allows account registration through a Linden Lab RegAPI."

Grace stated, "We have this region, (it) is is not an official linden gateway for newcomers. It is a resource center for people interested in being part of the merfolk community, and in good standing with the Lindens I believe - so might be a prospect. But if you go see Gentle's gateway, (it) really has some intensive build requirements." Any1 commented, "I recommend everyone go through Gentle's Gateway... it's an SL ground zero training course... the best that's ever been made." Grace agreed, "Absolutely, it is terrific." Barbie added, "Gentle is my hero! I have the deepest respect for her and the valuable work she does in SL."

Gentle responded, "Thanks for the compliments, friends. I think you will want to hear the rest of this. What does LL offer the Gateways? • They put information about the Gateway communities at their intake areas, both their Orientation and their Social Island areas. • They make the island holding the orientation area free, no tier payments. What you particularly want to remember about the Community Gateways is that they are not a place. They are a process. Not a place! A newcomer welcome and orientation process, beginning at the community’s website and continuing on through an inworld learning experience. For more technical details about the new Community Gateway program, you really should speak with Patch Linden. He's very accessible. The RegAPI on the website was really difficult. It took us many months and much sweat and tears to get it working."

When Any1 wondered why the merfolk community wasn't already doing this, Gentle answered, "You'd need a programmer, not an SL programmer but a website one." Grace then spoke, "Do list, a good team to have. What would be the roles you suggest?" Gentle responded, "It helps to have an educator on the team to write the curriculum. And experienced mentors, as well as sim designers. And those who can make whatever materials your community considers necessary for newcomers, along with website folks, who don't even have to work in SL at all. Then you want to think of ways to advertise. Now, more generally about helping newcomers to a virtual world, I will say that our New Resident Orientation Course planners based their work on the theory of andragogy. You may be more familiar with the term pedagogy, the science of teaching children. Andragogy is the science of adult learning. It’s widely recognized in education that adults learn differently than children. And we are all adults here. I’ll summarize the points of andragogy quickly: • Adults are self-directed as learners. They want to decide for themselves what to learn and when and how to learn it. • Adults have life experiences to draw on. That background provides context for new learning. They can learn from mistakes. • Adults learn as part of their social roles: for work, as students, or for entertainment and relaxation. They learn what they believe is relevant. • Adults learn best by solving problems. You can learn more about andragogy here: . Please bookmark."

Gentle went on, "We also laid out our orientation using a spiral curriculum, to use another education term. This means the learner uses what they just learned previously in the next lesson. So for example, the first thing people learn on our orientation is how to walk. Then they practice walking to get to the next lesson, on camera skills (looking around). They walk to the third lesson, where they use camera skills to find items to click on. Then they walk to the fourth lesson and look around for items to click on that are pose balls." "Baby steps" someone commented. "Exactly," Gentle responded, "and repeated repetition! See how this is a spiral, and how previous learning is reinforced in each subsequent lesson?" Barbie commented, "It really is an amazing orientation and it is so helpful that VAI offers mentors!"

Gentle then decided to answer questions, saying if anyone wanted to schedule a look at the orientation pathway behind the scene with explanations of the design to contact her after she was done. Grace asked, How did you keep the motivation going? Get people to help?" Gentle answered, "I think you mean motivation of the designer build team. That was not a problem! We all knew how much we got out of being here, and wanted a way for more folks like us to experience the virtual world and its benefits." Grace commented, "Really people involved in getting the effort moving forward. You didn't do all by yourself obviously." Gentle told, "Oh no, it was a whole team. After the community leaders determined this need, we sought out people with the skills needed to make it happen. One of our team members was The Sojourner. Soj was the founder of the first disability group in SL. We also included people as testers. We had low vision folks look at various designs of our signage to see what worked best for them. So no, the team was intentionally planned and recruited. Eme Capalini led that team, and she remains estate manager on that island and several of our other properties."

Raks (rakshowes Resident) brought up, "One of the problems for newbies is that they not know where to go. And if they go to places, often no one is there. This can be a turn off in first days." Gentle answered, "If you mean to get orientation, that's why LL advertises the gateways at their own orientation, and also why the gateway communities have to have an outreach website to do their own advertisement. If you mean that newcomers don't have any idea what they can do in SL, yes, that's often true. It's one of the things our mentors assist with. 'What would you like to do?' 'What would you explore if you had a chance?' " Grace told Gentle, "Raks often meets new merfolk in SL, and a common complaint is they visit the sites and don't find people." Gentle told stated,  "We suggest that people go to *events* not *places,* because people cluster at events." Raks added, "As a newcomer you do not know where to go, how to search, who to ask, it is a totally alien world to you." Gentle nodded, "Yes Raks, so true. But it is like visiting a different country. Guides help!" Grace stated, "We are trying to reform our SWF Concierge team. So welcome and help people when they are here - for events or for when the concierges can be in world." Gentle remarked, "We request that if someone KNOWS they will need assistance (E.g., if they are blind) they write to , and we assign someone to contact them, and set up a meeting. We help people even before they are in SL, if they need assistance getting through the sign up process. We work by phone and Skype and in some instances even go to their home if there is a mentor near enough." Grace felt, "We can do similar or adapt some of her approaches. The sea is the limit. I wish we could get a mer avatar into the selections, and Lindens want to start up many more of these gateways, so they get a better start." Barbie thought the idea of a mer as a starter avatar was a good idea.

After that, the chatter went into several other questions and issues. Someone brought up the theory of Climate Change, and felt the community should be involved with the issue, Grace told her this wasn't a political activist group. Barbie commented of mer avatars, "As my 90 Years Young Mom said in the video... she can actually feel her muscles relax and strengthen when she watches her avi swimming as a mer!"

Eventually, the conversation wound down, and people went about their different ways. Later that day was Grace's rezzday party, so there was some preparing for that after the discussion.

The "Let's Mertalk" taking place tomorrow, Saturday July 8 at 1PM, will have Barbie Alchemi as the featured speaker.

Union Passage (96/229/1)

Note: Corrected after someone pointed out a question attributed to her had actually been made by Grace. 

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Independence Day Around Second Life

Tuesday July 4 was Independence Day in the United States. In real life, celebrations include parades, backdoor barbecues with neighbors and friends, and of course fireworks, either public shows or lighting off your own (even if it's illegal in one's state). But there were a number of places and activities where the holiday was celebrated in Second Life.

Club Cutlass had it's 4th of July party a few days early, on Saturday July 1. Malya Violetsong gave herself a red, white, and blue look; ears, tail, and all.

Malya and Zorro Wuramunga (left) won the contest that night.

But there was much more going on. Recalling Summertown USA at Laura Liberty's sims in the past, I went over to her Townies sim, and was surprised to find a neighborhood instead. Talking to Laura, she told me the themed towns would be gone until Halloween at least.

But one place that was having some Fourth fun was the 4th of July Street Fair for the Relay for Life in Mokihana (127/128/22).

There were numerous items for sale, including one dress for ten Lindens, and a few freebies available.

At Zeke Lake in the Platja de Raco sim, there was a Fourth of July and Canada Day Carnival.

Until July 5th Zeke Lake is having a 4th of July.Canada day carnival. Waterslides, bumper boats, carnival games, balloon rides, camping, fireworks and more. Come in and join the fun with your family/open until late tomorrow night! if you like what you see donate to our RFL team!

Tuesday July 4 had a number of Independence Day themed parties. One was at Club Zero Gravity, much of the walls lit up in red, white, and blue. DJ Lexi "Sexy Lexi" Tymets was playing the music.

It was three hours of space-age patriotic fun.

 That evening was the "Independence Day" party at the Happy Vixen. DJ Tantari played her "America" track.

Kiwi, pictured here with a firework in her mouth, was one of two winners of the contest.

It was a fun Fourth of July/Independence Day in Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, June 30, 2017

Scenes From The Steampunk Land and Sky Race

By Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday June 25 was the day of the Relay for Life "Steampunk Land and Sky Race For a Cure" event, hosted by Team Sunbeamers at the Pacific Waters sim. While the Sunbeamers usually hold a "Road Rally" event at the sim every year for the Relay, this time the decision was made to ramp things up.

The event was given a steampunk theme, so the WW2 era fighters that are usually on the field were stored away, and Great War biplanes and craft worthy of a H.G. Wells or Jules Verne story took their place.

People attending, such as aircraft maker Jessicabelle Dayafter were encouraged to wear Victorian/steampunk style outfits, or pirate ones. Note Steelhead resident Darlingmonster Ember in the background.

An airborne racing course was set up, with a guiding red line to help keep racers on track.

Two other teams were invited to take part. The one who did was "Meli's Maniacs. Their co-captain Violet Solano was among those who showed up. Also in the picture, Prettykitty Gumbo of the RFL leadership team, Cynthia Farshore and Shockwave Yareach who did the work of setting up the airport and racing courses, and the Sunbeamer's resident succubus Valkyrie Ice.

Sunbeamer Team captain Rita Mariner was there. Normally she wouldn't appear in pink, but she was still under the terms of a "Bid Me" a few days earlier.

Cynthia Farshore, the owner of the Pacific Waters sim and Farshore Field, did the majority of the work on the racing grounds

 Shockwave Yareach helped her out.

Cynthia taking her Flying Dutchman out for a spin.

Jessicabelle did the race in her Fokker Dr.1,

Then proceeded to do some acrobatics.

Cynthia had a Nieuport, but there never was a dogfight.

 There were some free bicycle blimps available, designed by Shockwave.

 They could be used to race on the ground.

Or in the air.

Rita had this double balloon and long basket.

More "Dieselpunk" than steampunk, but it works.

 We had some unusual looks dropping by, such as a platypus.

And a pirate parrot.

Beryl Strifeclaw (Gager Resident) of the Maniacs showed up in a different look than I usually see the person in.

Cynthia does the air course in a pre-WW2 trainer.

Anoher steampunk contraption of Jessicabelle's.

 Other contraptions took to the air.

 Cynthia then took to the road with her old-time roadster.

 Some of the turns were a bit tricky.

Jessica brought out her own motorcycle, one worthy of a steampunk madgirl.

She decided to take that onto the track as well.

Jessicabelle would get the fastest time for a motorbike on the course.

After the races, it was time for the music and dance party.

Cynthia provided the tunes, steampunk themed ones such as "Time Machine" and "Just Put On Some Gears and Call it Steampunk" alongside classic rock.

 Dusk, usually with the Sunbeamers but whom was helping the Maniac this year, was present.

 Others showed up just in time for the song and dance as well.

Oldesoul Eldemar showed up as a tiny, steampunkish Dalek. Unlike his larger cousins, this one seemed devoid of hate.

 Oops! It seemed the other Daleks found out about the party.

But they didn't last long.

Over the course of the event, a lot of donations had come in. When the race started, the total amount raised by the Sunbeamers was 412,000 Linden dollars. We were well into Gold, but 150,000 short of Platinum level. During the race, there were several large donations that brought the team to less then 100,000 left to go to the next level. That must have encouraged the donations to keep coming. In the second hour of the party, we finally did it. For the second time ever, and for the first time before the Relay Walk, the Sunbeamers made Platinum rank fundraising this year. Our event had raised the Sunbeamers 154,000 Linden dollars. The Maniacs also did very well, making Silver rank, and at this time are at 209,000 Linden dollars raised.

For those of us lucky enough to be at Cynthia's Road Rally/Air Race today.  We made PLATINUM!  We cracked the level at the dance down in the Goblin Cave, while listening to great music, DJ'd by Cynthia.  Oldesoul and several members of other teams showed.  We even helped Meli's Maniacs make SILVER.  All in all a very successful event.

Thanks to team Captain Rita Mariner, Shockwave Yareach, numerous other Relayers in and out of the Sunbeamers, and most of all the industrious Cynthia Farshore, once again "the little team that could" had done it once more. And it was an event that will go down in Sunbeamer history as it's best event.

Bixyl Shuftan