Thursday, February 22, 2018

Samedi Gras: New Toulouse Pulls it off Again


By Klaus Bereznyak

True to form, New Toulouse dished up another resplendent "Samedi Gras" celebration earlier this month, on Saturday the 10th February. The carnival season coincides with that held in New Toulouse's RL shadow, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, and it is always well attended, attesting to the historical status of this sim in SL and the popularity of the event.


Along with the annual New Toulouse hunts, it's one of the highlights of the year. Festivities begin with events in the week leading up to Samedi Gras: Masked balls, float decorating parties and parades come to a head when the authentically modeled French colonial streets are hung with purple, green and gold, and play host to an epic float parade. This is typically a huge technical challenge, tackled with dedication and humor by the Krewe captains.


The parade was scheduled to kick off at Noon, by which time the floats were lined up along Shotgun row, with their horses, unicorns, pegasus and various mythical draft animals rearing to go. The crowds kept piling in, at least 50 avs packing into the sim before the parade had even started. I was riding with the fiery Krewe des Flambeaux for the second year running, drawn by a pair of white horses ably driven by long-standing talooster, Francesca Alva.


Last year, the start was very much delayed with technical difficulties but, this year, while there was lag and a few crashes, we got moving around 12:20 amid cheers from the bystanders - "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" Residents, turned out on their porches and balconies to watch the parade throw beads and offer refreshment to the revelers as they passed.

DJ Outlaw kept up the patter and filled the airwaves with a steady stream of spicy New-Orlenian classics that made the whole event feel as close as could be to the real thing.


Apart from some interesting amalgamations of floats piling up at points along the route, and minor damage to some buildings on street corners that proved a little too tight for the tottering vehicles, the parade was successfully concluded around 1pm, with floats drawing up around the town square and krewes disembarking for a party in the park. The Mayor of New Toulouse, Henri Godenot, was there to greet them, and it was a chance to socialize and admire the effort that had gone into some of the costumes.


A good time was had by all, and it was gratifying to see that the affection for this unique sim and its events is still alive and kicking.

Links
New Toulouse Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/696411@N23/
SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/New%20Toulouse/196/131/23

Klaus Bereznyak



Editor's Note: Among those who had a float in the parade was Baron Wulfenbach and Baronin Zantabraxu.  Zantabraxu had a well done avatar of Tinka the Muse of Dance from the "Girl Genius" graphic novel/online comic.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Scenes from One Billion Rising


Pictures by Gemma Cleanslate and Bixyl Shuftan
Article by Bixyl Shuftan

February 14 may been Valentines Day, but it was also the day of the "One Billion Rising" event in Second Life. "OBR" as it's sometimes called for short, is a worldwide demonstration in support of women's rights across the globe and a call to stop violence against women. The event has gone on since 2013, and Second Life has been part of it from the start. This year marked the fifth time it's taken place.


Gemma Cleanslate was one of the volunteers at the event. She went about in a tiny dinky avatar. There were pink hats available, for both normal sized avies and tinies.


The event took place over a 24 hour period in a four sim area, OBR Dance, OBR Unite, OBR Resist, and OBR Rise.A road went along the area next to the outer fourth of the sims, where there were various displays by artists.


Where the four sims met, there was a center stage for music and dance. Most of the songs were regular pop music when I dropped by, though there was at least one playing of the signature OBR song "Break the Chain," as well as one song about revolution.


There was also a dance theater in OBR Dance, and a poetry plaza in OBR Resist. In OBR Rise was the 2Lei Group area in the artists' section, where they did a particle show while I was around.


Among the artists' displays was this by Pixie Snowpaw.


 Alisiaundra Andrel had this display.


 Eliza Wierwight had two exhibits in two places.



 Giovanni Cerise had this exhibit that looked like something out of a computer.


 Skye Silverweb's display.


Storm septimus' exhibit resembled that of an unexploded bomb long after the battle.


The Steam exhibit emphasized the accomplishments of women scientists and engineers.



The center part of the four-sim area wasn't neglected, and had some well-designed areas of greenery.



And it wasn't just normal humans stopping by. Besides the tinies, a certain dark unicorn also showed up.

For more information on One Billion Rising in Second Life, check out their webside at (https://onebillionrisingsl.wordpress.com/previous-obr-events/one-billion-rising-2013/). No doubt plans will soon be made for OBR 2019.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"Mole Day" at Bay City


By Bixyl Shuftan

Almost everything in Second Life was created by the residents. But some things were made by people under Linden Lab. Things like the railroads and highways on the mainland are maintained by, and places such as the Blake Sea, Bay City, Linden Realms, Portal Park, and Horizons were created by the Linden Department of Public Works, often referred to as "moles." These are residents whom have been hired by Linden Lab for their skills at building or scripting. Besides being paid for their work by the hour, they get a special account with the surname "Mole." The name, according to the Second Life Wiki, comes from some graffiti in the original Second Life area early in it's history, "Beware the mole people!"

Except when one of their projects makes the news, moles can be excused for feeling overlooked. So the community whose home they made, Bay City, honors them every year in late January or early February in the Bay City Fairgrounds in the North Channel sim with "Mole Day." For it's first several years beginning in 2010, the event was held on February 2, or "Groundhog Day." Then it was changed to be held on a weekend day, either Saturday or Sunday, whichever is closest to the second day of February. Either day, it's one of Bay City's big events of the year, an event full of music, and a chance to meet some moles and Lindens.

This year's Mole Day event started on Saturday February 3 at 11AM. The big stage that had been around for the first several years was replaced beginning with last year with a smaller gazebo. DJ Gospeed Racer, or GoSpeed Raser as she's been calling herself sometimes lately, was spinning the tunes for the first hour. While she's been playing for every Mole Day that I've seen, this year she was doing so as Miss Bay City, wearing the sash and tiara for the event.

Also there were a number of other Bay City regulars, such as Kennylex Luckless, Erik Mondrian (Bay City's own red Lusk fox), Uccie Galway (Uccello Poultry). Others dropping by included Relayer Oldsoul Eldemar, former Newser writer Any1 Gynoid, and Sunweaver chieftess Rita Mariner. There was also one "Lost Prim."  And there was Bay City's leading citizen Marianne McCann.

And of course there were the moles and Lindens. There was Abnor Mole  in a tiny avatar with a hammer. There was  Ancient Mole in an avatar looking like a tiny blue critter. Magic Mole looked like a tiny monkey. There was Dyna Mole in a barrel-shaped robot. There was Garden mole in a short purplish avatar. Squishy Mole was a human with a bunny ears headset. Of the Lindens, Dee Linden was there representing them, looking a bit like a big fairy with her butterfly wings. Any1 told everyone, "I was Any Mole on the Pathfinding Project."

"Mole Day is The annual event to honor the Linden Department of Public Works, the 'moles', who make things across Second Life for us to have fun and frolic in," Marianne told the crowd, "Bay City was the first such area made by the Moles proper, so we opt to celebrate their great works every year, just around Groundhog Day. 'cuz Groundhogs ain't got nothing on Moles!" Dee Linden pretended to miss that, "What's that, Marianne?  I didn't quite hear you. Please repeat?" Marianne mused, "I said, Generalimissio Fernando Franco is still dead."

"Doesn't matter what you moles wear," Dee Linden told them, "just as long as you HERE." "Really?" Abnor mole asked.  "'cept you, Abnor." "I mean... really?" "It very much matters what YOU wear." One complemented, "You're the 'mole-iest'." The little blue guy was touched, "Aww." "Thanks mole for all the stuff you build,"  "I literally squee when each one of you show up, ty Moles. really each of you are awesome! Hi-five!" "Abnor, your Routes are the best ones!" "All you moles have excellent avi's!" "If it wasn't for all the moles hard work SL would be a much duller place." Abnor Mole answered, "We love doing it!" Garden Mole remarked, "Hopefully we fixed the roads to nowhere and hooked up the ends (grin)."

GoSpeed played a selection of songs, mainly pop music, Dee Linden saying, "So very much loving the musical selections!  Please don't forget to tip GoSpeed Racer -- any amount, from L$1000 to whatever your heart desires (grin)." But there were a few mole themed selections such as "I Am A Mole And I Live In A Hole" by the Southlanders, and the "Moley Scene" in the Austin Powers movie "Goldmember." That got a few chuckles and "Yeah, Baby!", "So you're the moooole," and "MOLEY MOLEY MOLEY!" remarks. When "We Built This City On Rock And Roll" played, Abnor Mole sang, "We built this city on primmms from moooooles!"

It was noted that GoSpeed now has a book published online. Vick Forcella shouted, "Happy happy Gospeed with your book publication!" Angela Galway (Angela Seale) cheered, "We need an SL version of Sherman from 'The Critic' of Gospeed, 'buy my book! buy my book!!!' " "Gospeed!!! Congrats on teh booklaunch!!!!!"

People continued to come in over time. "Look at all these beautiful people!" "Glad you could show up, these blue names are the ones making SL awesome." GoSpeed encouraged those further away to come closer, "Plenty of room up here for you pretty people out in the distance!"

And there was the congo line, "I should have bet you'd be dancing the conga .... (grin)" "Mouselook in the conga line is FUNKY!" I'm dizzy (kaughter). Cant watch the conga line hahahaaaa!" "Dizzy watching it?  You should be in it." Someone joked, "It is hard to take pictures of moles without taking accidental upskirt shots." The robotic Dyna Mole quipped, "Don't you DARE shoot up MY skirt. (grin)"  Any1 joked, "! want the Mole Embarassing Photo Calendar (laughter)." The person who started the joke commented, "Well, it isn't upskirting the moles, it's upskirting the people around the moles since the moles are super tiny and dancing next to people in skirts."

Abnor Mole poked fun at his tiny blue avie, "I'm bluuuueeee... yes I'm bluuueeeeee......" Dyna Mole in his barrel-like avie responded, "Do I look fat in this outfit?" Kennylex Luckless countered, "Dyna, do more sit ups to get rid of that cag and to get a six pack." One guy joked he was about to "tests the molarity." After Marianne came back from a crash, someone joked, "Chain Marianne to the floor so she don't crash." Dee Linden went with the funnery, "No chains!  But I have fancy duct tape!"

At one point, Uccie shouted, "Quick! Everyone, on the count of three, say your favorite Mole build!" After "Three," people gave a few answers, "Mainland!" "The greenhouses!" "The molar coaster!"  Then Any1 mused, "What would be funny mole names? Like UnscheduledMaintainence Mole. … He smokes in the data center and nobody knows why? (laughter)" Others began adding to the joke, "EnyMeinieMiny Mole?" "My favorite name: Guaca Mole (grin)." Garden Mole reminded everyone that name had been real, "Guaca, blast from the past. Undercover Mole was a good one." "Mystery Mole." "Star mole would not be that funny but an actual animal." Any1 suggested, "Saucy Mole (pronounced molay) ... Robo Mole .. Russian Mole ...Slacker Mole ... Lagfest Mole ... TooMuchCoffee Mole ... TheMooch Mole. ... Bratty Mole ... Spanky Mole." "Is there a digital mole yet?" Uccie joked, "My Mole name would be Excised Mole." GoSpeed jokingly suggested, "Millenial Mole." Kennylex remarked, "I wait for a Holy.Mole but there exist a Holy.Moleno (smile). ... Day.Mole? By the way, why is there not a Sekreet Mole?" Uccie joked, "I thought you were Seekret Mole, Kenny." Dee Linden mused, "Kenny, I'd tell ya but it's a seekret."

Eventually, GoSpeed ended her set with the closing theme of "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Marianne shouted, "Everyone, Thank GoSpeed for an AMAZING set today! Coming up next will be Stratus Mactavish." "Yay! Thank you GoSpeed! My favorite DJ!"

The jokes and wisecracks would continue, Abnor Mole saying before going on break, "Be right back. Need some wormjuice!" A few made faces, "Bleah Abnor! (grin)" "Abnor Weird." "I now know more about mole beverages than I ever wanted to know." Uccie asked, "Has anyone counted all the mole holes in Bay City? Sounds like a project, to me."

With the Superbowl the following day, someone ribbed fans of a football team, "It's so nice that people and even Patriots fans get to enjoy the mole builds." He got a few reactions, "Hey. Leave the Patriots alone ... (laughter)." "I AM a Patriots fan!" "Give someone else a turn Patriot fans (laughter)."

With GoSpeed in her sash and tiarra, Uccie remarked, "So many former Miss Bay City title holders here AND Miss Bay City herself! We choose a new one annually to represent The City By The Bay during our Hot August Nights event. Could it be YOU this year? ... I think Dee Linden should run for Miss Bay City." "I'd vote for Dee," GoSpeed joked. Abnor Mole mused about looking for a swimsuit for the next competition. Kenny joked, "I think Magic Mole shall run for Miss Bay City title." Magic went along with it, "It's on my to do list." Uccie then turned the joke, "Or Kennylex could Miss Bay City could be MISTER Bay City, you know."

Oldesoul got into the act by appearing in his tiny avatar and police uniform, "ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT !!! WOT IS GOING ON HERE !!!! Da pawlice have arrived. ... Now any funny bidness - I haz mah warrant book !"

There was one noted former Linden mentioned whom had been close to the moles, Michael Linden whom had left Linden Lab in the past year. "Do you know if Michael is coming ...?" Uccie would ask, "By the way, if Michael Linden's civilian self is here or if anyone knows him, please let him know I miss him and hope he's well. Big part of Bay City history and my life." Dee Linden told her, "Uccie, I absolutely will!"

At one point, Marianne reminded everyone, "Bay City turns TEN YEARS OLD this very year!" The event, held in May, means the community has a little more than three months to prepare for it's biggest parade in years. But you won't have to wait that long for another event in Bay City. Around April Fool's Day is "Everfest," named after their late neighbor Ever Dreamscape.

I had to leave shortly before the end, but no doubt everyone had a great time on this day to celebrate "the other blue dots on the map."

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Space Remembrance Day at the National Space Society


By Bixyl Shuftan

Monday January 29 was Space Remembrance Day for the National Space Society in Second Life. The day is one to remember those who gave their lives in Mankind's quest to explore space, notably the Apollo 1 and Shuttle Challenger and Shuttle Columbia disasters. The date was different from NASA's event on January 25 as they didn't announce it until January 23 two days earlier, which was too late for the NSS chapter in virtual reality, "As usual, NASA gave little to know advance warning of their observance, which was last Thursday." So they made plans for their own date. The 29th was chosen as it was the last Monday of the month, they hold regular meetings every Monday, and there was the opinion that future space settlers might make the day a holiday.

The event took place at 4PM, following the NSS's regular weekly meeting, at a location in the NSS sim where several memorials have been placed, large and small at National Space Society (103/124/3005). Some of the conversation was in voice, but Archivist Llewellyn sent the Newser a transcript of the text. Besides the somber remembrance, it was also brought up that this May marks the 60th anniversary of America's first satellite (https://explorer1.jpl.nasa.gov/), "Explorer I ... That was the first successful US satellite launch, and it discovered the Van Allen Radiation Belts around the Earth. It had a highly-elliptical orbit that took it much farther out than the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, launched by the Soviet Union." The music stream had a "special memorial playlist" playing to February 2.

Besides the fallen astronauts, people notable to space whom had passed away in the past year were also mentioned, "We're also looking to include those dreamers, artists, and writers who inspire us. One of them who passed in the last year was Jerry Pournelle. ... Pournelle not only wrote science fiction, but he was one of the responsible parties to bring space defense to the table in the Reagan years, with the 'Citizen's Space Initiative." That had major effects, may have helped lead to the collapse of the former Soviet Union even." "We lost Ian M. Banks sometime ago. he inspired Elon Musk enough that he named his first stage recovery drones after a couple ships from Bank's Culture series." Another mentioned was "Jordin T. Kare (October 24, 1956 – July 19, 2017) was a physicist and aerospace engineer known for his research on laser propulsion. In particular, he was responsible for Mockingbird, a conceptual design for an extremely small (75 kg dry mass) reusable launch vehicle, and was involved in the Clementine lunar mapping mission. Kare was also known as developer of the Sailbeam interstellar propulsion concept and, in the science fiction fan community, as a composer, performer and recording artist of filk music."


There were five former astronauts whom died in the past year mentioned, "We are coming to an era where we can't keep track of the passing of every former astronaut, but this year we did lose four of particular note. Eugene Cernan (March 14, 1934 – January 16, 2017), the last human on the Moon, Paul Weitz (July 25, 1932 – October 22, 2017), Skylab 2 astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander for STS-6, Richard Gordon Jr. (October 5, 1929 – November 6, 2017) Gemini 11 Pilot and Apollo 12 Command Module Pilot, and John Young (September 24, 1930 – January 5, 2018) Most prolific astronaut: longest career, first to fly six missions, only person to fly four classes of spacecraft, and more. Now that we've lost 'the astronaut's astronaut,' it truly is the end of an era." "I think it was said that John Young smuggled in a sandwich to Gus Grissom for the suborbital flight." Also mentioned was "Bruce McCandless II (June 8, 1937 – December 21, 2017). He did a lot of things, but he's probably most recognizable as the first American to leave a spacecraft un-tethered, in the then-new Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). The photo of him floating, relaxed, alone in space over Earth, is a classic."

Of America's three space disasters, the Challenger was the one that hit hardest as it was televised live, "I was shaken to my being at the loss of our hopes and dreams down here in the bottom of the gravity well." Of the Apollo 1, someone mentioned, "No one understands the flaw in Apollo One is in everyone's new auto." There was also a quote about the Challenger disaster attributed to me when talking about the 2014 NSS Remembrance Day, "One friend of mine described the Challenger accident as a turning point in his young adulthood, his confidence in the Space Program, in which he saw the future of humanity, had been dealt a blow to the point he would not see it quite the same way again. This is one event serious space fans, and former space fans, in Second Life, might want to check out."

Near the end, Archivist gave the White House's statement of the official NASA Day of Remembrance, "On this year’s Day of Remembrance, we honor the brave men and women of NASA who lost their lives in our Nation’s eternal quest to expand the boundaries of human potential. The dedication and sacrifice of the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia crews, remind us of the true bravery and resiliency of the American spirit, and the challenges we boldly face to reach higher for all mankind. America’s leadership in space is not without cost, but we have met tragedy with perseverance and challenge with achievement. We will not forget the contributions of our great American heroes as we build on their legacy to reach vast and exciting frontiers."

The National Space Society holds meetings every Monday at 3PM SL time.

Transcript provided by Archivist Llewellyn
Pictures from Archivist Llewellyn and Banker Tomorrow

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, January 29, 2018

Memorial Service For Relayers Henrietta and Hilshire Demina


By Bixyl Shuftan and Gemma Cleanslate

On Thursday January 18, it was announced in the Relay for Life Volunteers group that the leader of the Strange Journey team, Henrietta Demina (Barbara Parker in real life), had died along with her real-life brother Hilshire Demina (Bill Parker) in a car accident. On Saturday January 27, friends and supporters of her held a memorial service at her family's home in Castle Ravensloft in Redshift. The sim was packed for most of the event, so some listened to the broadcrast stream from the Legends club in Arinultra Cay, courtesy of T1 Radio. At the castle chapel, there were two caskets in front of the audience chairs, with pictures of the departed placed on the walls.

"I am going to ad-lib the first part... " Rowena Dubrovna, the little otter of Strange Journey started the service, "First, I wanted to say that her real-life sister requested that we put out a Relay for Life kiosk so we have one in between the caskets here. Also, I am overwhelmed as is everyone else on how many people are here from Castle Home and Garden, Relay For Life, etc. .. it amazes me. Now on script Mady."

Rowena composed herself and restarted, "Hello everyone and thank you for coming to Henrietta and Hilshire's memorial. I've had to say this  several times the last two weeks and it hasn't gotten any easier. Henrietta and Hilshire were brother and sister in the grid and in real life. They were driving to Wal Mart for a late night run, just an hour after Hen and I were discussing the Castle Home and Garden, when a driver who was texting rammed right into their car and took their lives from them.

"I want to make a note, some of you are probably thinking, 'how morbid are those Strange people for putting out a casket in Second Life.' But trust me, these two are the type who would want a casket at a thing like this. They had caskets all over this castle and all we had to do was move it over here. They were vampires. I got a letter from Henrietta sent to me by her real-life sister. She wrote it after her mini stroke in July-- and it said 'This letter is to tell you of my demise.' Just using that word, demise, shows us who Henrietta is. Morbidly sarcastic. Also, we are in Henrietta's design-- her castle (from Lady Nansen, as she would want me to credit her), and her land. I do not know how much longer this land will be here. I strongly encourage you guys to just wander around. It is incomplete- she was in the middle of renovation. She was deeply, deeply committed to making the sim the way she wanted it to be. She never advertised it because she didn't want all this attention on her, but take a look. The castle. The dragons- oh, the dragons! there are 20 or 30 out there, and hundreds of eggs. It kills me that they are just sitting there and there is nothing I can do about it.

"I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about who they were. You'll hear speeches today in their memory, how they made a difference, but Henrietta in particular was very much involved with her Second Life family.

"Barbara and Bill Parker lived a fulfilling life by anyone's standards. They were far too young to have their lives taken from them, but I can at least rest easy that they were happy. They were both very close to their real life family, and very much appreciated a solitary, quiet life. Henrietta had several odd jobs after retiring, such as limo driver. Hilshire did the same. At some point they agreed to live together because they were both single, and they lived in Missouri. Henrietta was very fond of talking about her ferrets. Hilshire and Henrietta both were very vested in music and the world of music. In addition, Hilshire fell in love with building in a virtual world before Henrietta and taught Henrietta everything she knows. Before we knew it, she had designed several castles!

"Henrietta Demina, or Barbara Parker, found Second Life over ten years ago with Hilshire and for a while they found it to be a great release. Hilshire took a step back from Second Life several years ago but Henrietta started a new journey, Relay for Life of Second Life. And that's where she made a difference in our lives. My short snippet above should tell you how they made a difference their whole lives, but Henrietta's work for Relay for Life made her who she was. I thought I would tell you some of her favorite things. Her favorite holiday was Halloween- not only does it embody her spirit, but that's her birthday.

"With that, I am going to turn things over to our speeches today. The way we are approaching this memorial is we will have a speech, and then a song played. This will go a little over an hour, but we are here for Henrietta and Hilshire after all. Today you will hear from mostly Relay people, but some of her Bloodlines family is here as well."

The next speech was given by NinaSofia Constantine, "A quote from Albert Sweitzer, 'At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.' Henrietta was a flame igniter!  It didn't matter which team event you were at she was there shedding her light.  She was that little shinning star always beautiful.  I always called her  "Henrietta the cutie." Her loyalty to her friends, her passion for Relay and her humor are what stands out to me the most. Henrietta was one of those avatars who you could see directly to her heart. Her light is no longer with us but I have no doubt it shines brighter! Those of us that knew herand Relayed with her will carry the light she ignited within us. She will never be forgotten."

Next came Cuddly Waffle, "'Hey, ev'rybody!' That's a Henri greeting right there.

"Firstly, thank you all for being here today. I like to think that both Hen and Hil would have been blown away by the love in this room.Last Friday morning, as I was getting ready for work, I opened up a facebook message from Rowena. 'I've got bad news,' he said, 'message me so I can let you know.' I rolled my eyes and carried on putting my socks on, sure in my assumption that our darling otter was being melodramatic, as he so charmingly can be. But, I shot a quick message back, 'What's up?'

"The little typing symbol appeared, then disappeared, then reappeared. It did this a few times. Then a message: 'Are you in a position to take ten/twenty min to yourself to recover?' Something in me rippled; this wasn't Otterli. This was serious. 'Ish, I leave for work in ten!' 'Ok I will tell you when you are in a better state.' But I couldn't wait. I knew something was seriously wrong and I couldn't spend the day at work not knowing, 'Tell me now.'

"The typing symbol flickered again for a minute. Then the message came that shattered my reality, 'Henrietta died. Hilshire and Henrietta were in killed in an accident and they are no longer with us.'

I read the message over and over, and each time it made less sense. I could vaguely hear my real-life partner Thomas saying 'What's wrong?'

"'My friend is dead,' I said, 'My friend is dead.'

"Since Henrietta and Hilshire crash-landed into our mad little family, they have been stoic, sturdy figures of reliability, dependence, and dedication. I couldn't piece together the reality I was experiencing. When I thought of Hen and Hil, the very last phrase I would have paired them with was 'gone forever.'

"But then I realized, over the next few days, they aren't really gone. Not really. 'Those we love never truly leave us' - Albus Dumbledore. Hen was still all around us. I could hear her daft giggle gesture echoing, and I smiled. What would she say if she could see us now? 'See how ya are?' she'd say. 'Y'all are daft!' *giggle*

"Hen and Hil gave us the most precious thing you can have in life - real or second. Years of good memories, wonderful times, hard work, dedication and effort. True friendship and a bond that will be remembered for the rest of our lives.

"I'd like to leave you with a single quote that I saved from Henri at Relay last year, because it made me laugh so hard. It wasn't like Hen to be crude or tell rude jokes, but this one was perfect - it was cheeky, but perfectly subtle, just like her.

"'Henrietta Demina: I was gonna take a pic with a dog once, but he didn't like where I tried to put the film.'

"O captain my captain, I miss you so."

Following Cuddly's speech, the music stream played the song "Tears in Heaven." Then Sidonie Carlberg, the tiny sugar glider, read a poem.

My heart is broken
and my mind is grey
so many things unspoken
so much left to say
the time just ran out
when we didn‘t see

O Captain, my Captain,
please, come back to me.

I can still see your smile
and your giggle I hear
and once in a while
I can feel you‘re still near.
Can‘t you wake me up
from this nightmare as such

O Captain, my Captain,
I miss you so much.

And yet I am thankful
please, don‘t get me wrong
for every moment
and I will be strong.
My limbs, they may tremble
but I walk through the rain

O Captain, my Captain,
until we meet again.


Next, Nuala Maracas gave a few words, "Henrietta was someone we took for granted would be around for much longer. As family, as friends, as a community, we express our sadness, we acknowledge our loss, acknowledge the great importance of Henrietta's life, and the loss to us all that her passing brings. Of course it wouldn't be right to talk about Henrietta without mentioning her larger virtual family and friends  from the Relay For Life of Second Life Community.  From her beloved Team Strange Journey along with the Castle Home and Garden mini mega, to the hundreds of relayers and relay teams she supported, Henrietta was alway around. Quietly offering words of encouragement and support. The first to raise her hand when a DJ was needed, the first to say, 'I can help, what do you need.' She was one of the ones who drank the purple cool-aide.

"I remember the first time I met Henrietta. I had always seen this little girl around at various Relay For Life events for a few months, our conversation consisting of nothing more than 'Hi Henrietta' ... 'Hi Nuala.'  Then one day, my IM box opens up with Henrietta asking where she can find a logo of that particular years theme. We started chatting, and I realized, this woman is really passionate about Relay. The next time I saw her was at a Jail & Bail fundraiser where she stood outside of a wooden jail cell in the forest, where she was  appearing to be a referee between a little girl named Cuddly and an otter named Rowena who were bantering back and forth on whether it was correct for a caged otter to pee on someone's shoe. I never laughed so hard and thought, this is one strange family, but they all fit together so well." Someone chuckled, and Rowena gave Cuddly a look.

Nuala continued, "It is true that there is much sadness here today, but, all of your journeys taken with Henrietta during her time in this virtual world will live on in each of you, enriching, guiding, and perhaps making you pause and smile every now and then. This is what we will remember.  (This is how we will Remember our Henrietta."

Someone then had a few words about the brother, "I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about Hilshire as I know most of you did not know him. I knew him as an e-mail buddy the last five years. The one thing I noticed above all else... is how everything was all about Henrietta. That should tell us one thing- the love between brother and sister was strong. I swear, every email I got from said something like 'Henrietta is bothering me again.' 'Henrietta is bugging me to.' Henrietta this, Henrietta that. Looking back it makes me feel bad that we didn't talk about Hilshire enough. But what I do know of Hilshire is his warm, sweet, caring heart. He was the "leader" of their vampire clan until he left, and he enjoyed the roleplaying very much. I can't really say much more than this on Hilshire, and he wouldn't want me to. But I can say this- thank you for everything. And on behalf of me, Sid, Cuddly, Nina and all of us-- thank you for taking care of Henrietta. You didn't deserve to have your life taken away from you the way you did, but it gives me some solace, some peace that you are with Henrietta today. God works in mysterious ways. I often tell myself that I don't believe in a God, that he or she would never inflict this much pain and suffering in our lives if he or she did exist. But situations like this make me think, we are all part of God's plan. You and Henrietta moved in together and you took care of Henrietta through thick and thin-- and she took care of you. So, now that can continue- that eternal bond, that forever saving grace. Thank you."

Next was Madonna Daehlie, "For me, one of the most special things about Relay has been getting to know so many amazing people, and I would certainly qualify Henrietta as amazing. Over the years, I've had the privilege of getting to talk to her, seeing her at events, listening to her DJ, and even working directly with her, like at last month's Christmas Expo.

"The two things that always stood out the most with her were her tireless work ethic, and her kindness and compassion.

"Whether it would be helping to run Team Strange Journeys, DJ'ing an event, helping to run the Castle Home and Garden Contest, or just seeming to be everywhere, Henrietta was like the Energizer Bunny. And, during the Expo, it seemed like anytime something came up and Kitty and I needed a host to fill in, we could count on Henrietta stepping up and helping out, even if it meant going 3 or 4 hours straight.

"Even more amazing, though, is that in all the years I'd known Henrietta, I never saw her say anything negative about anyone or anything. She always seemed to be positive, no matter what was going on or how busy she was. She treated everyone with kindness and respect and compassion, and just seemed to truly like and care about everyone she was around. Being around her brightened up my day, and I imagine everyone else who was around her felt the same way.

"I'm going to miss Relaying with her. More than that, I'm going to miss having her around. Thank you for all you brought to Relay, Henrietta. Thank you for making the world a better place. Second Life's a little less bright with you gone.

"Rest in peace, my friend."

After the music stream played "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Random Darrow then gave a few lines (unfortunately, the notes of which were lost). After the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" played, Kitty Gumbo had some words, "When Rowena asked if I would like to speak about Henrietta, I just didn't know where to start.  First, I am honored to write about the Henrietta we all knew and loved.
I cannot remember when I first met Hen. She just always seemed to be part of Relay. So, I'm going to write about the things I do remember.  It seemed Henrietta was a part of so many things. She was a fantastic and creative builder. She was good at organizing and she was always  reliable. and willing to help. This past Christmas Expo, Henrietta was a host for our entertainment.   Madonna, my co-lead, and I were busy trying to fill in spots where people wouldn't show up or they couldn't come. Henrietta was right there to fill in. That was Henrietta. She quietly filled in and did her job. If there was something that needed to be built, she had it expertly finished. All of these projects were volunteered. I cannot think of the hours she put in at each project. Yet, she never complained and she never asked for a thank you. I'm going to miss her quiet efficient presence. Her kind encouraging words were always just what was needed.  Good bye dear one. You will be very missed."

Sara Llewellyn (Sarandel Llewellyn) recited some poetry.
'Look into my eyes
You will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart
Search your soul
And when you find me there, you'll search no more

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for
You know it's true
Everything I do
I do it for you.' -Bryn Adams

Beneath the smoking skies.
Sometimes you can barely tell the difference
Between darkness and light.
Do you have faith
In what we believe?
The truest test is when we cannot,
When we cannot see.
I hear pounding feet in the,
In the streets below, and the,
And the women crying and the,
And the children know that there,
That there's something wrong,
And it's hard to believe that love will prevail.
Oh it can't rain all the time.
The sky won't fall forever.
And though the night seems long,
Your tears won't fall forever.


Rowena Dubrovna gave the final speech, "I am sitting here at my computer, not knowing what to say. It's not so much that I can't speak of how much you made a difference, but the fact that I can't decide how I feel. At least with some illnesses you can prepare yourself, you know it's coming-- but you passed away without any kind of notice. It makes me hyper aware of how fragile life can be-- how broken, how scary. How am I supposed to know if I can say "see ya later", when the next thing I know, you're gone?

"I've known you for five years- five years that have gone by like the speed of light. First you were on Relay Ravens team. I remember you were basically alone, even though the Demina clan was 'behind' you. Hilshire had pretty much left Second Life at that point. Then after that we kind of just took off. We combined our teams and that was the take off point! We talked about just about everything and anything. I remember you recently were listening to me whine about my teenager. We talked a lot. We talked about the Castle Home and Garden almost every day didn't we. What frustrates me so bad is I always felt like people didn't see you and didn't see what you did. It's so like you to just fade in the background and let others take credit for things that you did. I honestly don't even know where to start with what you did. I stand here today, or sit rather, and I am telling people.. you blew me away. I feel bad because sometimes you made the Castle Home and Garden your full time job and you should have stepped back, taken a break. Sometimes I still feel that people don't give you credit when credit is due. You know what they say, the best artists don't get their fame until after they die. Is that what you're doing?

"In the aftermath of your death, I started to feel the love for you. You've always been short and sweet and to the point. You never really told me how much impact you made, and how much you were aware of it-- I'm realizing more now than ever that you spread your wings and you really knew how to fly. For Christmas Expo you helped me put out 30 some trees... but you did so much more than that. You took pictures of them, you aligned them, you organized them... it was amazing what you did. When I worked the Fashion Faire you were right beside me helping out the whole way. You DJ'ed for almost every single team. You embodied the meaning of Relay. People may not realize it, but you did.

"I don't think Relay is about teams, about competition, about you versus me. I think you helped us all realize why we do what we do- we do this so we can save lives, right? But it is just as much about community as it is about saving lives. We fight for each other, with each other, sometimes we yell at each other to make sure things are organized.

"Last year we didn't raise so much for Team Strange Journey. The years before that we raised some but it never came from your pocket. I hope people realize how much money you and Hil collected over the years. You'd never divulge, but I was right there with you. I know it was upwards in the thousands. I know you lived in a trailer and were poor, but you didn't care. You wanted others to feel encouraged. When we support others, then they will start supporting others, too. Not a penny went to the Team Strange Journey kiosk, but you poured your heart and soul out in everyone else's. You didn't care if it was Trader's kiosk or Bella's kiosk or Melodie's or whoever. It was all the same to you.

"You saw the goodness in everyone's heart. You encouraged everyone to be themselves, you encouraged them to become the shining light of Relay. You are the true spirit of Relay, and we recognize that more now than ever. That spirit and undying loyalty and commitment you had to Relay, you had to me, you had to all of us-- we won't forget that. Of this I promise.

"If anyone is ever feeling discouraged, or feels the need to criticize someone or see the negative and rather than helping improve, spit on them-- I hope they think of you. There is no place for negativity or drama in your world, and there is certainly no place for drama or negativity in our lives or in Relay.

"I hope you all realize how much it bothered Henrietta if there was drama present. She was a no drama llama, and you should be too. Henrietta would want you to remember why we are all here-- not only are we fighting for our loved ones, but we are fighting for each other, with each other, always.

"Henrietta, thank you for everything. Thank you for being such a good friend. You made the Castle Home and Garden what it is-- and we will hold it in your honor this year. I promise we will have Team Strange Journeys and I promise we will fight on. Thank you for touching the lives of so many. Thank you for dealing with so many people for me even if they made you crazy. Our merchants, our builders, our Relayers all love you. Thank you for staying up with me at night when I was bored out of my mind in the hospital last year. Thank you for always worrying about me. Thank you for being such a good friend for Sid and Cuddly when we were in need of a friend like you. Now I end with one of Hens' favorite poems, which is eerily connected to today... I love you Hen."

Rowena then recited a poem, "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson.

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me – 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring – 
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – 
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity – 


Following the poem, the music stream played "The Show Must Go On." Like the title of the song, although the Relayers had lost a comrade and friend, but the purpose of the Relay for Life goes on.

* * * * *

I myself came to the memorial late, after some had left the area. I would rely on notes from Gemma Cleanslate and Rowena to write this article, Gemma also providing most of the pictures. As a Relayer myself, this story was a little closer than most. The Strange Journey team might not have been around for as long as some, but their antics had always drawn attention and laughs. And now, we were crying as we were saying goodbye to their captain and her brother.

Rest in peace Henrietta and Hilshire Demina

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

GeekSpeak Science Discussion: Leaving Earth


On Saturday January 20, I attended the "Geekspeak" science chat and discussion event. For those who don't know, the event takes place about every few weeks on a Saturday at 12 PM SL time, and is hosted by Erik Goff. The event takes place at Danmu (143/127/51).

Usually the topic is a science related one. Among them, how will the development of artificial intelligence affect humanity and society in the next ten to twenty years? Could tapping the large "pool" of magma just under Yellowstone help stave off a massive eruption while at the same time give the United States a large source of energy? What would factories on the moon be like? For last Saturday, the topic was a subject that's been the plot of a number of science-fiction stories, and the preliminary story of a few world-builder computer games: the emergency evacuation of Earth due to an impending disaster.

Let’s suppose we need to leave Earth in a hurry in a few (20? 100?) years’ time.  Maybe because of a nuclear winter, maybe because of an asteroid strike or maybe because the sun is about to explode.  How would we go about it?  Who will we select to go?  Could we, should we, turn anyone away?  If we have to travel for several generations who will be kept in stasis and who will be woken up on arrival?  Who will run the ship?  What animals and seeds will we bring with us?  How will we know what will be needed when we arrive?  Will we bring some animals and plants just because we like them? How will we organise life on the ship so as to keep social structure intact?  And when we arrive at a habitable planet will we dare leave our comfortable ship?  Maybe we will decide that life on an endlessly traveling ship is better. Come and talk with us about our future because, one day, we may need to pack. 

Someone asked about the possibility that politicians might try to keep such a disaster under wraps so only they and a few select friends would be saved. Erik responded, "You would think that, ... but you know, the Internet, everyone, including scientists, are vloggers now. Such a disaster could not be contained ..." Someone else commented, "I'm thinking that an asteroid scenario would be like 'When Worlds Collide.'  We'll send our best in a space arc, and the rabble will try to destroy it at launch, out of envy." And whom would be the colonists? Someone suggested perhaps only women would be selected to double the number of people able to give birth, relying on a sperm bank to have children.

It's a fair guess that if humanity had to pull off such a thing in the near future, it could barely be done and with close to the minimal number of people able to continue the survival of the species. "Could we do it?" Erik asked, "would we be able to build arks in 20 years?" "If we put our minds to it, sure," he was answered by one, "I would say that a concerted effort would do in in six months, tops." "In 6 months we could have a generation ship," someone else suggested. Another was a little skeptical, asking if space travel wasn't such a huge undertaking, why didn't we have men on Mars yet. I suggested that the reason was there had been no large deposits of gold or any other valuable minerals found.

 Reasons for an immediate evacuation wouldn't necessarily be due to nature, but by fellow beings. I recalled a friend's science-fiction story in which the alien race humanity first runs into are in two factions. Over much of the history of their homeworld, there are two major civilizations. One was driven by science and democratic rule. The other was driven by a religion that compelled them to try to conquer the other. The first could beat the second in warfare, but never could convince them to change their ways. Finally once faster-than-light travel was perfected, after the next war the first civilization ordered the people of the second off the planet, many millions ordered into cramped spaceships and shipped to another world.

Erik brought up one interesting possibility. Living in a space ark wouldn't be a comfortable existence. But once people were used to it, would they prefer it to settling on a world? As Erik put it, "would they *want* to live on a planet will all kinds of weird diseases?" Someone commented, "There was 'Orphans of the Sky' by Heinlein, where, at first, when they *finally* arrived at Far Centaurus, they had acrophobia, but it was so much better than the ship, they adjusted. Or at least we are left with that impression, as the story ends with arrival." I brought up in some stories, the colony ship was often the first structure of the colony, and remained the largest one for some time.

And would it be necessary to leave the solar system? Someone suggested a space ark (or a fleet of them) might just hang around until Earth was habitable again. Once you could build a large enough ship that could house a population indefinitely, would finding a colony be such a big priority, "Maybe once you go to the trouble to build a large generational ship that can have a seriously large population, a planet doesn't buy you much." I wondered if someone would bring up the idea of tunneling deep underground and wall-up against any disaster and spend generations in a self-sufficient underground area. But that less romantic idea wasn't discussed. There was one idea I didn't expect that was: what if a colony ship arrived at it's destination, but there was no one to colonize the planet as they had all committed suicide, "speculating on the overwhelming depression that generations of people in a generation ship may feel."

Someone did bring up one topic that I haven't seen in too many sci-fi tales, the idea of large numbers of humans moving to an alien civilization to live. That was a concept I had seen in some stories about the Chakats and their homeworld. But the Chakats did not evolve there; they were a genetically-engineered race created on Earth. The humans were going to a world where the natives spoke a dialect of English.

There were other topics discussed, such as the Metric system and why it wasn't adopted by those stubborn Americans. Eventually, the hour was up, and it was time for me to go.

Bixyl Shuftan