Friday, September 27, 2013

Sunweaver Bay Fire Department


By Becky Shamen

When the fire station first came on the scene, I suggested that one of the reporters might want to do a story about it. Now, some time later, it would seem that, from personal experience, this reporter was best suited for the assignment.

Our story begins with Sha, taking her dirigible out for a spin around the Sunweaver Estates. Off in the distance, a red spot approached. Up close, it became obvious that this was a super hero, who's identity will remain a mystery. He hovered, just outside the helm of my ship, and we chatted. He got invited to see the house I own, on the nearby sim. Becoming friends, he visited several more times I learned about his alts and a bit about his real life. You will more often find our hero in either Bob Marley, Albert or Albe mode. We'll call him Bob from here. 

In real life, Bob is a fireman in Northern Italy and speaks Italian. When talking in local chat, his translator converts the Italian into English. In IMs, we have to try understand each other's language. Like most Europeans, he can speak some English. On my end, I bought a Italian/English Dictionary. Bob admired the community spirit that I showed him and asked about rental prices. Soon after, he had picked out a lot and had his first house in place. It rapidly evolved as a home, until one day, when it changed from being his private residence to the community fire station. In admiration for his community spirit, I donated a new fire truck to the station. We had many chats about community. When I mentioned writing about the Oneness Principle, he asked, "What mean Oneness?"  I said, without looking in the dictionary, "In Bob Marley speak, One Love".

The sim owner, our beloved "Big Mama" Rita Mariner, has played a big part in this community evolution. She, and other residents, have made Bob feel at home and appreciated. As the fire station evolved, using translator, I was able to teach him how to make a custom beach, out back. Recently, Bob announced that he and Chicababy were going to set up house together. Add to this, his account contract with SL was almost at an end. He didn't think he could afford a house and a fire station, when his remaining 5 weeks were up. Not wanting to loose this asset, I instructed Bob that the only dumb question is the one you forgot to ask. To be a hero, he should go and talk to Rita, in person, and see what she would do. Following this intuitive advice, he talked with Big Mama. To our delight and the benefit of the community, Rita is changing the rent, for the fire station lot, to L$1 per month.

With this turn of events, it was about time for a report in the Newser, so I interviewed Bob, on the beach. We had all just lived through the experience of the Principle of Oneness at work in SL. To assist further, I sent Rita a folder containing, full perm, Fire helmet and mesh male and female fire jackets, which she may sell and distribute in any way she likes.

As if this "Happily Ever After" wasn't enough for one day, I had two other joyful experiences, the same day, in real life, I got to see my daughter, Rachel, for a bit and I had a phone chat with a lady that would like to share an apartment with me.

Rolling up a hose, we pause to invite everyone to see the fire station that Community built,

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Friday, September 20, 2013

Castle Quest - Looking For Love in All the Strong Places



 By Becky Shamen


I've showed you where to buy your own castle. Now we go on an adventure to find some really cool ones.

Annon, The Gate           and 3 other sims
secondlife://ANNON/126/27/23

Turn your sound up and set draw distance to at least 250, to get the full effect of the castles in this 4 sim area. The magnificent structures, atop these rocky islands, must surely be the homes of ancient gods. You can let them tell their full story at http://fallengodsinc.blogspot.com/2010/07/path-wishing-on-cure.html

Annon is the Northern sim in the 4 sim collective, which also includes Athan, Aear and Selidor.

You can fly or rez a boat, to travel to the various buildings. Take notes and collect clues along the way. There seems to be a mystery to solve. The builders are big on RFL and also have shops, in world and on Marketplace. There is a lot here that I could tell you about, but I had so much fun finding it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Besides that, I have many more castles to tell you about.

 Blarney Castle
secondlife://WILDE/150/108/33

Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland  1446   According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab, great eloquence, or skill at flattery.

'Tis there's the stone that whoever kisses
He never misses to grow eloquent:
'Tis he may clamber to a lady's chamber,
Or become a member of Parlament.
"A noble spouter he'll sure turn out, or
An out and outer to be let alone:
Don't try to hinder him, or to bewilder him,
For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone."

I have heard of this legend, all my life, but never saw a picture of the castle from which it comes. I had seen some pictures of people trying to kiss the stone. To do so, requires the kisser to lay on their back and bend over backwards, into a lower area, in order to lay lips upon it. For these reasons, I went there to see some big famous castle and get a picture of myself, in this awkward position, for the article. Being there was not the fun I had hoped for. The LM puts you in the middle of a small square room. The texture on one wall is made from an actual photo of the real wall. Looking around for a pose ball, the only one there takes one to a spot on the hill, facing a small tower, on top of the hill, seemingly all that's left of this 567 year old castle. Entering the door of the tower, I found myself in the same room I started at. So much for a photo op. A sign informed that, in a shop in the village, I could buy a certificate, proof that I had kissed the stone, for $1.97. Not wanting to buy this lie, I could, at least, get a look at it and see how they could make it cost some fraction of whole Linden dollars. Alas, after wandering the streets of the village, I never did find the shop. In fact, none of the shops had anything in them. Their interiors were just painted on textures. Always looking for the silver lining, I did learn a valuable lesson. Don't believe everything you read in the destination guide. This advice goes right up there with the likes of, "when dreaming that you have had too much beer or coffee, it is better to wake up and find the solution, than to let the solution, warm and wet, wake you up", or "no matter how ugly you think you are, you are still cuter than a bunny rabbit....that has just met a hawk". On to our next castle.

Nydia Tungsten's Mouse Manor
Sunlight Bay

No story about great castles would be complete, without mentioning the home of Nydia Tungsten and her partner, Brandi Streusel. In my search for great castles, I remembered having gone inside this castle, when noboby was around. I sent Nydia an IM, asking if it would be alright to talk of it in this article. As I logged in, next morning, her reply was waiting. "Of course' come any time, for a guided tour" she said. I asked if I should make an appointment or was she free then. She sent a TP, as soon as she finished getting dressed. I was greeted at the front door by Nydia and Brandi. Brandi always reminds me of a favorite Texas colloquialism; "cuter than dimples on a bunny rabbit". Our first stop was the outside deck, with it's comfortable seating, made for relaxation and connversation. She said they had many such gathering places, throughout the castle, because chat was an important part of SL. I strongly agreed, pointing out that I had written an article on the Priciple of Oneness and it's importance in SL. She explained that, like mine, her home is open to all, as long as they show respect for it and those that reside there.

Going inside, we toured room after room, most of which were bigger than my whole house. We even went through a secret passage, hidden behind a bookshelf. It's still a secret, to you, because the castle has as many books as the public library. Nydia explained that she was so bad at decorating that even a blind man would find it distasteful, leaving it all up to Brandi, who has a good eye for these things. The girls have a lot of irons in the fire and a huge office to handle everything from. The Theater/Family Room could entertain an army, with a hundred movies in stock. It's an amazing place to visit and I'm sure to return to see even more.

Enscharys
secondlife://ENSCHARYS/126/188/28

This castle is more a work of art than of defense. I had to look up the word castle, in the dictionary, to see if it could even fit the category. TPs allow one to go to various rooms in the towers, giving a great view. The castle is part of a 3 sim group, home to Elves. The entire area has an open, ethereal, peaceful ambience. The plant life is out of this world. They have furnishings, plants and other products for sale, but blended in, so not a distraction. They even have a selection of beautiful swords, but, for the life of me, I could not figure out what they needed them for. Perhaps these Elves only fight on other people's sims.

There are countless castles in SL, to view and even live in. I can't tell you about all of them here. A castle or cathedral found in my travels always gets my attention, Those given, in this article, are the latest to snare me in.

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Yamato Memorial


By Grey Lupindo

     The Yamato was the lead battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.  Along with her sister ship, Musashi, they were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever built.  A replica of the famous battleship is being constructed at YAMATO Memorial (223, 56, 22). The note on the LM states that this is a realistic tribute site.  Along with the Yamato, there is the Akagi, a Japanese WWII era aircraft carrier, and an aircraft factory



 The Memorial is owned by the Yamato Factory, a private SL group.  Its founder, resident Kody730 Radek, has been in SL since 2007.   Another long-time resident, Kundali Jun, is also involved with the project as a builder and as owner of the aircraft shop.   
       The landmark places you across the road from the ship yard and in front of a visitor’s center.  Inside the center are photographs of the RL Yamato.  The SL replica is an amazing replica of the huge battleship, including its armament.   

       The Yamato is placed as it would have looked while being constructed at Kure Naval Arsenal in Hiroshima, Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s.   In real-life, the dock had to be deepened and a huge crane installed. The gantry crane is in place at the SL site.  The scale of the SL site is huge, too.  I quickly tired of walking and began flying in order to see the Yamato and other ships and planes that are here.


     The point of having a massive warship is that it can be heavily armed.  The real-life Yamato had nine 18 inch 45 caliber naval guns, the largest ever used on a battleship.  There were also twelve 6 inch guns that were placed in sets of 3 in four turrets, as well as anti-aircraft and other guns.  Similar weapons are also on the SL Yamato.

      There are also replicas of many WWII era planes, some of which are for sale.  There is also a Macchi M33 on display, which is an Italian racing sea plane of that era.  Inside the aircraft factory are some uniforms for sale too, plus a freebie sailor's outfit.  

      On the second level of the Visitor’s Center is a garden area with tables and chairs, a juke box, and dance balls.  Interesting aircraft are on display here, too.
     The real-life Yamato was commissioned in 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.   Although it was present at some battles, it only engaged in battle one time during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in Oct 1944. In April 1945, The Yamato was sent to help defend Japanese forces on the island of Okinawa in Operation Ten-Go. American planes repeatedly bombed and torpedoed the ship, until it finally sank. After the battle, what was left of the Imperial Navy was unable to launch another major operation. "The word Yamato was often used as a poetic name for Japan. Thus, the end of (the) battleship Yamato could serve as a metaphor for the end of the Japanese empire."

The sim is part of a group of sims, some also having aircraft, ships, or both. South of the battleship is mostly empty land. So maybe there is more to come for the Yamato in Second Life.

     Note:  Information used in this article came from Wikipedia.


YAMATO Memorial (223, 56, 22)

Grey Lupindo

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The First Sims – Clyde


By DrFran Babcock

After visiting Welsh for the previous First Sims article, I was excited and filled with history. It’s taken me a long time to complete this next article in The First Sim series, because Clyde is a sim that has lost most of its former glory and antiquity. In fact, most of it is for sale, and a small part of it has been abandoned. If you are looking for land in the original Second Life™ it might be a good idea to watch the abandoned land. In case you do not know, when abandoned land goes up for sale, it only costs one Linden per square meter.

History of Clyde

The sim of Clyde was originally part of the first sims that were used as combat sims, until it was announced that just Jessie would be a combat sim. The early residents wanted more lands for quiet living, and Linden Lab repurposed Federal, Hawthorne, Shipley, Stanford and Clyde.

Textures Unlimited and the The Lily Pad Lounge live music venue occupied the sim for many years. The store and lounge were owned by Drift Monde (11/03), who was one of the first and biggest supporters of live music in Second Life™. The lounge remained open until June of 2010, and hosted some of SL’s most famous peformers  such as Astrin Few, Frogg and Jaycatt, and Flaming Moe. The frog-themed d├ęcor was one of the drawing points for the place. When it closed, many residents mourned the loss, and it seems the sim of Clyde has never recovered its former glory.

Who Lives Here?

I could only find one resident on this sim. Strider Stirling’s build is a gigantic mountain that has a small opening in its eastern side. Strider was born in July of 2004, making him a genuine Second Life™ oldbie. Despite his age, his footprint in the grid is rather small. All of the searches I conducted for him came up empty, and his in-world profile is pretty vague. The only clue I have to go by is the giant monolithic build that marks his land. I have to work very hard not to comment on this build, as you might guess when you look at the picture of it here.

Inside the mountain there are a few walkways and objects that date from 2005 to 2012. I have to assume that’s he’s been around, and is still in world, but evidence of recent visits is lacking.

Tango In Second Life™

 Adolfh Gustafson owns a lot of land on Clyde for Tango in Second Life™ whose purpose is to promote the UNESCO World Heritage dance, and provide a venue for dancing the Tango. I visited the area several times during the writing of this article, and did not find anyone dancing or even hanging around, but I hope that it does happen while I sleep.

The area is worth a visit, because it is pretty and very romantic, with spots to dance sprinkled about. I particularly liked the red footbridge on the land.

Remnants of the Early Days

Only the bare minimum of artifacts from the early days remain on Clyde, not counting Strider Stirling’s build. A few rocks and a strange sculpture made by Eric Linden are located on a small hill of protected land. Next to these rocks is a danger sign created in 2003 by Catapult Grimm—one of the Beta Contributers. I got the feeling that much of Clyde had been abandoned, and only few parcels were still active.

For Sale – Most of  Clyde

The land here is prime, original, historic Second Life™, but seems to be mostly for sale. The land does not seem so empty because the agency selling the land has placed pleasing builds on the parcels. The land for sale by agencies is expensive, but there is abandoned land, and it bears watching if you want to own a piece of lost history.

Visit Clyde: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Clyde/128/128/38

Watch Astin Few and Flaming Moe perform the first “duet” in Second Life™ at the Lillypad Lounge in 2005: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDcNoBcY_TE

DrFran Babcock

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Lionheart Estates

By Becky Shamen

Lionheart Estates - Forward to the past

So far, I've explored sims and introduced you to mermaids, pirates, knights and dragons, and ways to create your own fantastic journeys in Second Life. The most fantastic thing about this next group of sims is, you won't find anything magical or imaginary. In fact, touring here may remind you of your own, real life home town.
I found Lionheart Estates in the destination guide, under the miscellaneous category. They said it was a continent, but as I looked at the 17 connected sims on the map, the first thing that came to mind was that it looked like it was about the size of the area I could explore, on foot and bicycle, as a youth. To this day, I still enjoy going on day trips, to explore my local areas of interest, on foot or by using other means of transportation that are available to me. Planning a visit to these estates brought out the adventurous inner child in me. For this trip, I planned on using, in addition to walking and biking, my horse and a new antique 1912 Renault CB, which I bought at the Titanic sim.

Lionheart Estate Continent

secondlife://LIONHEART/104/104/22
This group of 17 contiguous sims is located on the farthest western part of the SL world. More than 55% of the areas are public, protected land with waterways and lakes, streets, paths and railroads, natural parks and scenery. The above SLURL takes you to a landing point on the Lionheart sim. From there, go North, up the stairs and turn right. There, you can rez a free bicycle or a golf cart that seats four. They will last, as long as you stay seated on them, but will quickly vanish if you get off.
To the East, is the sim called Zira, which is all residential. I sent my camera in to have a look around. On one lot I spotted a Gypsy wagon, suggesting a liberal building code, as long as you keep paying the tier.

Heading North to Simba, there is a dock where you can get a motorboat, to tour that sim and Kovu by water. Like the bikes and golf carts, the boat poofs when you get off of it. I used my car to tour the other sims at this latitude, Nala, Sarafina and Nuka, noting the beautiful public parks found here, with their magnolias and weeping willows. They used fewer sculpted prims in Lionheart than in the previous group I had visited (Vanwenia), so there was also less lag to deal with. While in Sarafina, I paused to make a photo, in the park, to show off my car.

Now, after having seen about half of the million plus square meters of Lionheart, I opened my map, to see which direction to proceed. I noticed the ground on the Northern sim of Kopa appeared to contain mountains, so made a TP to it, planning to continue from there, south. Sure enough, there were mountains there. which, in addition to being scenic, also served as privacy walls between homes. Each home was in it's own little valley. In one small valley, I checked out a mission chappel, with a half dozen tombstones on the grounds. Heading West, through Vitani to Kiara, the scenery becomes progressively more urban. In Kiara, I spotted another church, which, true to my nature, had to be explored. Inside, the first thing I noticed was the alter was at the north wall, with a cross above it, with a body on it. This told me that I was in a Catholic church. Zooming in on the alter, I see the cards with prayers are written in Latin, which confirms my theory. 

On this sim, I saw one of the most unusual structure in all of the estates. It was a stone home, built on two legs, one a natural stone spire, the other of masonary. From here, I headed South and zig zagged my way through the commercial, "downtown" sims. I started this area on horseback, so I could ride on sidewalks, avoiding robotic traffic, which doesn't stop for pedestrians or slow antique cars. In Ahadi, still on my horse, I zoomed my camera inside of the Locutus Watanabe's clothing store and saw a prize chair with the letter "B" on it, with only a minute left on the timer. Without first dismounting, I clicked on it to "sit here" and me AND the horse sat on it together and won a black dress. He wanted to share the prize, but I told him it wouldn't fit and offered him a beer instead. 

Leaving that shop, I spotted another sim, across the street, called "The Frame House". Inside, the walls were covered with many ornate frames. I wasn't interested at first, because I had many picture in my house and was near my prim limit. Then I noticed that the picture in the frames kept changing, like a slide show. A sign informed me that one could put their own pictures in the frames and they would show, in slide show manner. A light bulb lit up above my head. If I had one of these, I could free up many prims in my house and put in some favorite furnishing that I did not then have room for. All of the frames were $200 each and I'd only need one, so I picked my favorite, bought it and went home. Now, most of my art and photos of friends are in one frame and I have added my pipe organ to the music room again.
 
After putting my house in order, I returned to my exploration of Lionheart in the exact spot where I had left off. To my great delight, I discovered that my favorite shoe store, Bootgasm's, has a branch here. They have a large selection of shoes and boots, but not near as many as the main store, which also has a clothing department and some prize chairs. Thanks to their prize chairs, I have, by far the largest folder in my inventory, 49 pairs of boots and shoes from Bootgasm, which dwarfs by comparison my next two largest folders; Bad Kitty, with 23 items and Sirena's Hair, with 19 hairs. Perhaps I should write a fashion article soon (grin).

Moving on, I next discovered a night club, called "Hot Licks Rock Club." The decor reminded me of the Hard Rock Cafe, several of which I have worked shows in, in real life. I arrived there at 10:45pm and there were a half dozen people there, so I assume it is a popular hang out. There was also a stage, with a drum set on it, so they likely also feature "live" shows. I spent some time there, chating with the folks, asking if they knew of other places of interest on the sim, but like most club attendees, they only know about the club and not the surounding area. Across the stree from the club, I found a large fire station. Having donated a fire engine to the fire station on Sunweaver Bay, I like to see how others have built theirs. This one had four vehicles; a tanker, fire engine, ambulance, and entourage car.

Turning West, I entered Scar and found a shop called "Dekute Dekore", which sells low prim, animated furniture. They also have a kid's department, with scaled down items. I saw a full kitchen, with animations, made of only one prim. Upstairs, I saw a bedroom suite, called "Urban Grunge", that had a mattress on the floor and a bookself made of cinder blocks and boards.

On the map, you can see that the four southern sims have a beach connecting them. I decided to complete my exploration with a stroll on the beach. Along my way, I saw a small chappel and went in to look around. It wasn't ornate or richly furnished, but on the front riser there was a small sign, which I zoomed in to read. The sign said, "Click here to receive Jesus." Laughing out loud, I just had to see what that was all about, so I clicked it. Sure enough, I got something, but I'm not going to tell you what. If you want to find Jesus, you should go to Lionheart and find him for yourself (smile).

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 Memorials in Second Life


By Bixyl Shuftan

Twelve years after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, Americans and friends of continue to reflect every September 11th. Second Life didn't exist yet then the attack took place, except as a very early alpha version closed to the public. But once the Grid began getting a sizable population, it would be a matter of time before memorials were set up. They went up as early as 2004 (Link).

Over time, there have been numerous memorials. One of the largest was the September 11th Memorial by Liam Kanno (Youtube link). One that got the attention of CNN was the World Trade Center Memorial in the New York City Block sim, built by Cheri Bing whom in real life was a resident of Brooklyn (link).

These and others have disappeared over time, vanished into the virtual nether as real life dragged the sim owners out of the Grid or the sim had a change of managers. The World Trade Center that once stood on the New York NYC sim was  no longer there when Second Life Newser looked earlier this week. But there are still a number of memorials large and small on the Grid.

The largest and most popular memorial currently in Second Life is the 9/11 Firefighters Stairclimb Tribute at Areo Pines Park. The build consists of several fire trucks, and a huge transparent build of the World Trade Center Towers. Visitors are encouraged to take and wear a fireman's jacket and gear, and make the climb up the 110 story building. There is also a Sept 11 documentary playing. More about the memorial can be read in this 2011 article. One can also read about stairclimbs in real life at  http://9-11stairclimb.com/ , or donate to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation: http://firehero.org/donate/.

The Stairclimb tribute is at Equus (82, 232, 22

One place of remembrance is set in a sim with a  name not usually associated with reflection: Stagg Island. There, walls of marble show the names of the fallen. There are also two beams of light shooting into the sky, which look quite striking when viewed in midnight, in which lights illuminate the walls and the waterfalls underneath the memorial. A bell to ring for those who perished is available to pick up.

The 9/11 Memorial entry is at Stagg Island (10, 150, 37). From there, touch a teleporter in front of you to get to the location.

Using Second Life Search, I found three other memorials. One was at Learning Virtuale. This was a small simple memorial with a flag and small builds representing the twin towers and Pentagon. Touching the tower gets a notecard and a number of freebies, including a handheld flag , a bell, a rosebush, and a shirt. Reading the notecard, "… Rez and touch the enclosed bell so it rings in honor the nearly 3,000 people who were lost on 9-11-2001 and the many that were lost in the subsequent war. The bell can be copied and modified for placing in multiple locations in various sizes …)

The Learning Virtuale 9/11 Memorial is at Serena Balmoral (238, 24, 21)

The second and larger of these new memorials was at McCoy Island. This was a social area in addition to being a memorial with a danceball set up, and there was some kind of sign for a "Monkey Spanker." But the majority of the place was for respectful reflection.

Songs like "This is How The World Ends," played over the radio. In the middle of the floor was a mat with numerous labels crossed out, leaving only "We the People." There were numerous pictures around of the disaster, reflective artwork,  and people connected to it. In the corner was a flagpole, of which the flag would periodically change from one country to another whom lost people in the attack. There was a free gift box, with a tattoo, jacket, swimwear, sunshades, and a poem. There was also a gift chair for "sale" for 0 L.

The McCoy Island 9-11 Memorial is at  McCoy Island (195, 131, 20)


Lastly at Que'ellar d'Uriza was another simple memorial. Consisting of just a stone gray wall, it was easy to miss looking at the area from a distance or while rezzing. At one end is a badge insignia of the Fire Department of New York along with the words, " In Memory of Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice on Sept 11, 2001. The wall had a list of those firefighters who perished that day, along with the "Fireman's Prayer."

The Que'ellar d'Uriza FDNY Memorial Wall is at  Melungtse (127, 11, 94)

The search for locations also revealed some groups, including some "Truther" conspiracy groups. That so much devastation that shook the whole country could come from just nineteen fanatical nobodies from a third world area is unbelievable to them. To them only an evil conspiracy from within our borders could have done this, nevermind their theories have been debunked again and again.  Other groups are simply for people who still mourn and remember to talk to one another, where they will always find sympathetic ears. One group was for avatars who first came online at Sept 11 for "people who are concerned with the proliferation of 9/11 awareness."


Over time, I've talkd to some Second Life residents from New York City, and the events of this horrible day will never go away for them. One was a blogger, but told me she could never write anything more than a short post. The memories were just too painful to go through.

Today is not a day for politics …
Today is not a day to lay blame …
Please let today be a day …
For us in Second Life …
To pull together as one …
And pay tribute to those that …
Lost their lives …
Their families …
The Heroes …
The Servicemen …
The many countries for their support.

"April"

Source: Second Life Newspaper, New World Notes

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pirates at Snug Harbor Maratime Museum


 By Grey Lupindo
        While I was sailing a few days ago, I found an interesting pirate exhibit on a pier in Snug Harbor.   I quickly learned that the exhibit is part of a larger museum being constructed at Snug Harbor Maratime Museum, SH 2 (92, 188, 22).   The landmark describes the site as "A mini course in boating history and real life facts about boats."   
         The exhibit is a huge outdoor museum that is still under construction.  However, there is already a wealth of material about every aspect of ships, from the mechanics of engines and anchors to the people and how they lived aboard these ships.   There’s even a 16th century Galleon that you can board and explore.  

         I found the pirate exhibit to be the most interesting.   This exhibit has drawings and notecards with information about many different pirates, both male and female, from many different countries.  Some of the names were familiar, but there were many pirates that were new to me.   Sometimes one country’s “pirate” is often another country’s hero.    

        The museum gives an interesting explanation as to why a person would turn to piracy as a career.   A sign explains that "In the 1700s for many sailors the prospects of sharing in a big haul was overwhelming.  When a man could be a pick pocket and be hanged for stealing a shilling, why not be a pirate and steal a fortune?"   Sometimes, it seems, crime did pay.

          One of the famous women pirates was Lo Hon-Cho, a Chinese woman who is said to be the inspiration for the Dragon Lady pirate in the comic strip "Terry and The Pirates."   In 1921 she became a pirate when her husband died and she took command of his pirate ship.   She was very successful and grew the business into a fleet of 60 pirate ships.  She was also very ruthless and took women and girls as prisoners to sell as slaves. 

          An American woman pirate from an earlier era was Rachael Wall.  She went into the pirate business with her husband, George Wall.  Her skills are detailed in the notecard available at the site.  In 1782 her career as a pirate ended when their ship sank in a storm.  Later, after being arrested for robbery, she admitted she had once been a pirate.  As a result of her confession, she was the last woman to be hanged in Boston.

       Piet Hein was a Dutch hero but considered a pirate by other countries.  In his early 20s he had been captured by the Spanish and held as a slave for four years.  After his release he became a privateer for the Dutch West India Company and captured many ships.  Later he became an Admiral and captured a Spanish treasure fleet loaded with silver from the American colonies and the Philippines without any loss of life.  Following the Dutch policy, Hein gave the Spanish crews enough supplies to reach Havana and released them. The treasure Hein captured was the company's greatest victory in the Caribbean.

        The Maratime Museum has informational notecards about all of the pirates, including Englishmen Sir Thomas Cavendish and Sir Francis Drake, Indian Kanhoji Angre, and many others.  The notecard about Jean Lafitte offers an interesting look at a man who was a pirate, a hero, and a savvy businessman who chose piracy even when other options were open to him. 

        There are exhibits on modern day pirates, too, and the U.S. Navy’s reaction to it.

         When you visit the museum, be sure to turn on your music.   The site plays shanties and sea sounds.  I heard "Whiskey Johnny", "Wild Goose", "Blood Red Roses", and "Hilo Jonny Brown".  There’s even a notecard that explains the different types of shanties and why they were sung.

        Of course no pirate exhibit would be complete without rum.   Located on the pier is Barnacle Ben's, the place for you to “rest your timbers” after a hard day of sailing.  

          For sailors, Snug Harbor can be reached by water.  The dock at Snug Harbor also allows you to moor your boat for an hour or so while you visit the museum. 
Grey Lupind

Friday, September 6, 2013

Vanwenia - Realms of Fantasy


By Becky Shamen

Before exploring and writing about adventures in Second Life, one must first discover that they exist and where they are located. The best tools, I've found, are the Destination Guide at secondlife.com and the World Map, found at the website and also within the viewer. Both of these tools played a part in finding the sims for this article. My home in SL is on Sunweaver Bay, which is on the West side of a collection of 8 connected sims. There are two maps available in the viewer. The mini-map is like a people radar, showing nearby avatars as green dots if they are at the same elevation as you. If they are at a higher elevation, the dots turn to ^, if lower v. If the dot is a friend, the radar blips are shown in yellow. The radar also shows, in low resolution, objects and builds and ground texture. Most objects are black, but the ones you own are shown as blue. The Map does not give accurate locations of avatars, because it is not updated as often as the mini-map, but does give a better look at the sim detail. When zoomed in, it is like viewing the sim from an airplane. When zoomed out, it is like a satellite view of large areas of SL. If you know the size of a building, you can find the distance to any point on the sim. Knowing that a sim is 256 meters square, you can find the distance to other nearby sims. 

 Using my map, I discovered a large group of connected sims, which were only 1.75 miles West from my home. I made a mental note to go and explore them, at a later time. As I looked for my next place to explore and write about, I opened the destination guide, in the "Fantasy, Adventure" category. In the list provided, four of the places turned out to be located in the same area I had found so close to home. Naturally, I decided it was time to explore them.

Before going to visit, I like to make a detailed map, to help find my way around and then use as an illustration in the news article. To make the maps, I first zoom out to show the whole group of sims and capture a screen shot, to use as an index. Then I zoom in, for greater detail, and make shots of each of the sims. I then combine them all into one big map, using the index to get them back in the right locations. These large maps are way too big to upload inworld, because SL limits textures to 1024 pixels in height and width. To upload them, a copy has to be resized, so that neither dimension exceeds the limit. On each map, I place the name of the area, such as Blake Sea or Caledon. 

For the name of this 39 sim area, I searched, but could never find a name for the collective area. In getting to know the people and places, I asked everybody I met if they knew the name. None of them knew the answer. I got invited to a party, where I met and friended the king of Asgeir, who's name is Asgeir Askvigg, I asked if he knew the name. He said it didn't have a name, so perhaps I should be the one to give it one. With this in mind, I began thinking of names that might fit the overall theme of the area. Several names came to mind, but I kept asking each person I met if they knew the name. On Elven Quest, the last of the sims I explored, I met a Lady elf and had a long chat with her. She explained that, originally the sims were organized by "The Builders of Arda" but over time they had become less connected to each other. She suggested that perhaps some Elven words might make a good title, like Vedui, Vanwen (greetings, hello). Having found all the people friendly and helpful, I thought that was a great idea, so I named it "Vanwenia,"  meaning "hello place."

Vanwenia is made up of several realms and a few individual, residential sims. The largest realm is called The Dragon Empire of Uhre and is loosely based on E.E. Knight's 'Age of Fire.' Kingships are on a per sim basis. I met and friended two kings, Cromm Slade of Dragon Lolth and Asgeir Askvigg of Asgeir. Cromm's wife, Eva, is Queen of Singing Woods and there is a bridge connecting their sims. Dragon Lolth and the Empire of Uhre, shown outlined in red on the map, were the first sims I explored.

Sometimes I walked, or flew, from sim to sim, but to save time, I usually used my map to TP. The first time I TPed to Asgeir, I found myself on a large, flat ground, covered with grid lines. In my radar, I saw a green blip approaching at great speed. This turned out to be a lady named Armix Portal. She seemed very upset that I was there, asking, "How did you find this place?" and "Who gave you the LM?" I was not on the ground level of the sim. It was a sky platform, with a template texture, that she used for building houses. When I explained who I was and that I was writing a story about the area, her mood became more friendly. She TPed to the ground and sent an offer to TP to there. 

It was Armix, the next day, who got me invited to a party. There I met the king. Asgeir is a viking themed sim, with snow covered ground and log buildings. It was late night, when I was there, and nobody else was there, so I took a quick look around and headed to the next sim. To the West is Uhre Belegaer Sea. On the map, I noticed that all of the sims in this Empire are connected by water routes. I could have rezzed my sail boat and toured them all by water, but, already dealing with lag, I decided to fly north to Uhre Lava Dome.

The ground at Lava Dome is all black, basaltic rock, with rivers of molten lava and multiple volcanic cones. I flew around, selected the tallest cone and headed for the top. Remembering that I had chickened out, on my Route 66 tour, I decided, this time I would land in the caldera. As I stood on the boiling magma, I noticed a large, green, sculpted dragon was begining to take shape. It was standing in front of a cave entrance, with an iron gate protecting it's contents. Thinking that the dragon would be no threat, until fully rezzed, I tip-toed past and clicked on the gate. That action put me right inside the dragon's lair. The walls and columns were richly decorated with scrollwork and the floor was covered with gold nuggets, coins and colorful gems. I expected to find a prize here, but a quick inspection revealed none, so I went back out. 

Now, standing behind the dragon, who did not seem to notice me, I saw that he had a saddle on his back. I clicked on it and found myself mounted in the saddle. The page up and down and arrow keys gave me full control of my new steed. Within moments, after take off, I realized a photo of my flight would go perfect with this article, so I paused and posed for the camera. I began to wonder if the dragon was able to cross into other sims, or if it would poof at the border. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I had started out on foot, so headed for the border to test my theory. The dragon made it across the boundary, to my delight, so I used it for a dragon's eye view of several more sims, pausing here and there to zoom my cam down on points of interest.

The total area of the lands I call Vanwenia is around two and a half million square meters. It would take months to get to know the lands and people. The scenery is some of the richest I have ever seen and it is dotted with more unique castles than you can count. The people are as varied. It's like being in the places in a Tolkien book. All of the people I met and talked to were friendly and helpful. I asked many questions regarding the divisions of Kingdoms, Realms, Empires and Alliances, but this Gordian knot awaits an Alexander to cut through it. 

On the map, I have outlined a few of the realms, to give a rough idea of them. I pray the residents will forgive me, if I have got a few lines in the wrong place. The same goes for the names of each of the sims. The names used on the map came from the destination guide, but the residents may have their own names for them. An example of this is Asgeir, the Viking sim, which is known to the locals as Midgard, or the Northern "Great Alliance", parts of which are called the Torgan Kingdom. There are many groups that can be joined, such as Knights, Rangers, Mages,and Healers. You can engage in combat RP, or stay neutral. There are a variety of avatar types to be found, but note that furries are permitted in some areas, but not all of them. My advice is, until you've learned the rules, keep your visor down and your ears and tail tucked in.

I had a wonderful time exploring and can assure you, if you have a taste for fantasy, in this place, you can live Happily Ever After.

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Calas Reopening


By Gemma Cleanslate

Calas Galadhon  sims have been closed for a month while the owners regrouped and rebuilt in some  sims. Truck Meredith, one of the owners, wrote this, “It is with great joy that we have reopened Calas Galadhon for your pleasure.  Please come by and see the sims in fall foliage. There are 11 sims in the park with major reworking of Dimril Dale and Grey Havens. There is a whale on Grey Havens that you and three friends can ride.  There are two dolphins on Belagaer that you can ride, and riding turtles.  New cabin on Dimril, have to walk through the woods to get to it.  Also a new riverboat on Gulf of Lune.  Also new art exhibitions on Main Street.”
 
Truck and Tymus Tenk are the owners of these regions. There are no rentals or sales of anything in these sims. I had to go over to see what was new or different. The sims are going into autumn, with the trees slowly changing color, but there are still many delightful shrubs and trees in full bloom so there is a mass of color everywhere. I rode my horse over the roads and trails just to enjoy all the views. Everywhere I went I found avatars just hanging out gazing at the views over meadows, hills, and waters. 
 
While you roam the sims you come to spots made for just sitting and relaxing, with lovely immersive  music. There are dance balls and cuddle poses in spots where friends and lovers can relax. But, don’t stay away because you have no one to go with. They are just here for everyone’s enjoyment. Nature brought into Second Life just for the inhabitants. There are rules and a TP list for you to help guide you along the way. Pick them up at the entrance. There are donations kiosks about the region  and I hope you will be able to contribute to keep all the sims in place. 
 
I am eagerly waiting for the winter sims. I know they will be gorgeous!!   Planning skating and skiing already in my mind!         
 
Calas Galadhon, (135/233/22)

Gemma Cleanslate