Friday, January 21, 2022

Opening of Sansara Embassy, and Tour

By Gemma Cleanslate

The Embassy at Sansara opened at 12 noon with the ceremony of the handing over of the Key by Abnor Mole and his almost usual speech. The Honorary Ambassador. Yukiko Yeshto took the key and immediately took over the regions with a bang! 

Her words,” Sansara is the oldest mainland continent with a rich history, many diverse places to explore, and active communities of which some exist since the early days of SL. Those of you who know me already, know me also for my hosted tours. Which all comes from one of my biggest passions: exploring.” Later when I spoke with her she was already planning a horseback tour for February.

There was not a usual formal party, which I love of course since I get to wear one of my gorgeous gowns. Fortunately we were warned in advance, so we did not wear formal gowns and tuxes. Out front of the embassy on the road were three buses to take us for a riding tour of the area. I did wear a dress with heels however and realized as we went on our way it was not the best choice.

Yuki is a marvelous driver and knows the routes so well. She took off going not too fast and the other buses with their drivers, BÓÒ (Boo Rojyo) and Ambassador Freddie Harrington (Madonna666 Resident who were driving the other buses tried so hard to keep up with Yuki. I assume not being as familiar with the routes it was not easy keeping up.We made rest stops several times to get visa stamps for our passports as we crossed region after region. Good thing some grabbed snacks too. The usually 20 minute ride took almost an hour to complete. It was so much fun!

I rode on two different buses as we went along so experienced several crashes both of drivers and buses! There was a lot of chatter and laughter and no real injuries. There was a mounted contingent with us, and one cart pulled by a horse driven by Eliza Exeter (Ravynmaniac.

Our final destination was the snow areas of the continent. To get there took courage on the part of the bus drivers and also the equestrians. At one point we had to cross an invisible bridge . I really must go back to see who was the creator of this disaster maker. (I did and it was Garden Mole!!!) Several people fell into the deep ravine below but were saved. Half way down the side of the ravine was a giver of Gospel Tracts. I can see why.

We reached our final destination, the Chalet Linden . Once there those of us who survived the harrowing journey dismounted machine and horse and stood to have our pictures taken in front of the Lodge. Then we walked over to the lift that took us to the top of the mountain.

Now I wished I did not have my heels and dress on so quickly added leggings and boots . Here we picked up our last visa stamp and said our thanks to this brave new Ambassador. She is so good to take us on this long tour. I put on the free skis and took off down the mountain. I come here every winter to the Chalet and ski and skate in the area. It is a wonderful area.

To visit this latest Embassy take this bus. It is safe!!!

Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, January 17, 2022

The New Vietnam Veterans Memorial

By Bixyl Shuftan

I recently came across a virtual replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Heavens Sunset, and had a chance to talk to a few of the people it. To begin with, years ago there was another in Second Life, built in 2007 by a team led by Evian Argus. But four years later, it was suddenly gone.

The spot I arrived on was a parking lot, with a couple asphalt paths leading to The Wall. In front of it was the American flag and the six Armed Forces flags. There was a statue of two servicemen, a plaque in bronze dedicated to all Vietnam Veterans, a POW memorial, a memorial for American Indian veterans. 

In the grass in front of the memorial were fields of flowers, poppies. There's also a chopper, a riverboat, and several aircraft on display. On the other side of the parking lot was a small church, with a blue star flag and a gold star flag on the wall.  The wall itself was detailed, having the 58,000 names of those US soldiers whom died in Vietnam, in chronological order of their end. I found a couple flowers and a photo which had been placed in front of the names.

After finding out about this memorial, I got in touch with Suta Northman, one of the people behind it, and arranged for a meeting. I would meet up with him and two others in the sim group, Tom Breed and Jamal Nerido. Most of the interview was done in voice, Suta doing the majority of the talking, so I took down notes on real-life pen and paper.

They explained things got started about 12 years ago, the group being all veterans, and had a club on the surface. SmQQkee McCallen, or "Smokey," had been the oldest member, Suta explained, "Jamal and I the oldest now." After some time, the area grew to four sims in size, with a combat area. But after a while, the other three and the combat were closed down. Cycloppers77 Cyberstar was in charge for a time. But he passed away and in November 2019 Suta would take over the leadership of the sim group. There was also the objective of honoring not just Vietnam Veterans, but Desert Storm and the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns as well.

When they heard about Evian's memorial wall suddenly closing, they talked about bringing it back. Once it was built, there was a "promise to keep it going." The black granite wall with the names of the 58,000 dead took about four months for a builder friend to make. It's unknown how long the individual sections took apiece as they were all delivered at once. They never did find out why Evian's memorial suddenly shut down, "One day I went to look for it, and it was gone."

"Outside of DC, this is the only place to see The Wall," they explained. The possible exception is the mobile wall that goes across the country in real life, though the veterans explained it seldom is taken to anyplace but a sizeable city, and of course it's seen only on special occasions.

There had been a road around the memorial level, but it was later taken down, and the fields of poppies put in their place.

At one point, I was passed a notecard, saying that The Wall was more than a memorial, but also an example of the good Second Life can do, that people who couldn't go to the real one in Washington DC could go to this one.

Once I finished the wall a member of SL came to us and wanted to know if she could look for her uncle who was killed back in Viet Nam. we found him after looking. then she asked can she bring her Dad and her Grandmother and of course i said absolutely. come to find out that her grandmother was not in good health and could never go to the the real memorial in DC so she and her dad brought her grand mother here in sl to view her sons name on the wall. this was the best and made it worth my time in making this wall, if nothing else, to bring her grandmother to the wall to see her sons name.

Suta called his group the smallest of the veterans groups, saying they were very select and those claiming to be veterans had to show proof of their time of service, "Too many posers. ... If you see someone with this tag," he gestured towards his "Viet Nam Vets" tag, "He is a Vietnam Veteran."

Tom Breed was part of the squadron that was the last to get the National Defense Ribbon.

Suta described himself as an "Air Force brat" when growing up, the family moving to a new base, then after a few years moving once again. His father served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, "I used to watch NBC News with Walter Cronkite ... maybe see my Dad. Also looking for my uncles." He himself enlisted in 1975, at the very tail end, "I got the same treatment as the others." Tom explained back then, veterans were treated very differently from today, saying soldiers coming back from Vietnam did so on civilian flights, and instead of welcomed had trash thrown at them and were spat upon, "Thankfully the attitude has changed."

Suta went on, "If I see a Vietnam vet on the street, I'll go up to him, 'Welcome home brother.' He'll smile, and take my hand and shake it." Jamal told a story about how he saw a Vietnam vet in a restaurant, thanked him. Later Jamal found when he went to pay for his own meal, it already was. "We are a brotherhood," Tom added, "We had the sh*t end of the stick for years."

Of future plans, Suta explained one of the group is a chaplain, and they will have a rededication ceremony once she is available, "She's a doctor and is busy." They will also have ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They also plan to add two smaller memorials the original SL Wall had, The Three Soldiers statue and the Vietnam Women's Memorial, "That's vital to me. ... nurses who serves, taking care of my brothers. I do want to get somehow a statue for them, the Vietnam era nurses that served, taking care of my brothers."

There are other levels in the sim. At the bottom level is the clubhouse for Legacy Vets. Membership isn't limited to US veterans, and the club has numerous patches on the wall of the various divisions they were in, a few from Canada, Mexico, and other places, "We had a ROC (South Korea) veteran, but not sure where his patch is." There are occasional dances with DJs playing music. There's also motorcycle tracks for any MC group members whom want to ride it. Suta says they've been respectful and enjoy riding in the sim, "they really enjoy it." There are three tracks, including a dirt bike track. One of the sim levels is urban, another is a park, "Gazebo with a coco stand, a nice place to come to. ... The only thing that limits us, this is a homestead." So the sim doesn't have the capacity of a full-sized one. ... We have a good time here."

Suta stated it was Tom's idea to get the Bellissera Passport system here with a stamp giver near The Wall, which "got us on the map. ... The sim is open to anyone who wants to come, to reflect, to ride on horseback ... all we ask is for people to be respectful. If you do rezz anything, please pick it back up."

"All these people gave their lives when their country asked. We all fought together as brothers and sisters. Those who complain should keep in mind these people died so they'd have the right to complain. ... Freedom isn't free. ... We are members of one of the largest fraternities in the world. And people don't realize that. At college, I was asked to join a frat, and I told them I was already part of one." He described a quote he heard somewhere that was fitting, "A Veteran is someone that at some point in their life wrote a check made payable to the American people In the amount of 'up to and including my life'."

Suta went on to say while they usually get along well with others, there are occasional issues, "We don't put up with posers, or BS." He described one instance they were with others from another veteran group, and one young man was more than a little mouthy. Suta didn't hesitate to tell him off, "We respect the other groups, but we stand on our own."

"When one dies, we lose a family member." They talked about as time has gone on, Vietnam veterans have become fewer and farther between in number, mentioning how today living veterans of the Second World War are rare, and there aren't many from the Korean War either, "Getting to be that way for Vietnam vets." He himself had taken charge of the group in 2020 only after Cycloppers died that year, calling him like a brother, "If you don't mind my saying so, he was one onery f*cker." They'd playfully insult one another, "but we'd look out after each other."

Suta explained he and several others in the group have also shared email addresses and phone numbers, "We check up on each other, we call each other, make sure we're okay." Despite not having personally met one another, he stated there was a bond of brotherhood between then, "One day we'll meet, maybe not in this lifetime. ... One day, I'll be called by High Command, and then I'll meet my brothers."

Tom and Jamal had to go after a little more than an hour. Suta and I talked for a while, at one point looking over the club. Eventually we both had to go our separate ways. He reminded me like everyone else I was free to drop in at any time at any level of the sim. And of course The Wall, "come to reflect what we stand for."

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Post-Christmas Winter Attractions: Winterland and Rebel Yell

By Gemma Cleanslate

Now that the Christmas holidays are winding down and winter is just starting so I went looking for places to enjoy it. A trip to Winterland at Adagio Gardens offered lots of ways to have fun. It is a great place for lovers or just friends to relax and hang out or take advantage of the sports there. Andi greets you and passed along information to make your stay a pleasure.

I tried the skating at two different ponds. There are skate balls for you or use your own. One can ride a horse between the two or TP over. At the larger pond there is plenty of room to zoom around on the snowmobile you can rezz. Also near the arctic express train there is a stairway to a pathway above the region. Skate along it and jump off at one of the private little dance platforms. On one platform There is also a glider rezzer. What fun!!

I explored the other areas and found some more rezzers including a bungee jump, sledding and a zip line. I found loads of little nooks for great photo shoots. This is two regions of winter but if you are looking for multi regions to explore, TP to the other parts of Adagio Gardens . Join the group for rezz rights or rent a vacation cottage and stay a while. Teleports to the other experiences are available if you want to go wondering. I will be going back to check them out.

Another venue for wonderful skating and so  much more  is the Rebel Yell winter place that Lestat Zalivstok and his staff install each winter. It is called Christmasville. There are free skates and a fun  skating AO . I took a horse ride around to check out what else was around the huge pond. 

There is a Bar where skaters can get relax with a hot toddy and get warm. It is a great place to hang out. The snow mobile is fun on the ice and the snowy area around the region. Look for the rezzer near the cocoa stand.

Take the tram up to the top of the mountain . The view is enchanting. At the top there is a choice of sled or skis or snowboard for going down . I stopped in the glass igloo for a drink and to look out over the mountains through the telescope. Back at the skating pond farther along I found the lovely lodge with a dining hall all set up for holiday dinners and parties. The buffet table is loaded with delicious offerings.

I walked around through the snow and discovered a village nearby. Reindeer were relaxing after all their work and enjoying their dinner. There was a cute cafe and I wandered in to have a beer and a great sandwich. This venue offers more photo opportunities and is a good place to hang out and will be here for a few months.Lestat will be adding and changing other décor for the season. Valentine day will be celebrated.

 Rebel Yell is a marvelous Tribute Band and winner of 10 Golden AviChoice awards. They hold concerts and musicals in second life that are very realistic to the originals. Check them out. In the meantime visit this delightful winter spot before the snow and ice melts and the skiing and skating is still good!

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Bellisseria Gaming Club

By Bixyl Shuftan

Not too long ago, I heard about a place in the Linden Home continent where people could go play a game, the "Bellisseria Gaming Club." It is located in one of the homes in the Zwischen. The home itself is owned by Sophia Falta, who also founded the club. Dulcinea Andretti is the manager.

The Bellisseria Gaming Club is open to Belli residents and beyond, of all ages and species. Various games available, from 1 to 8 at one table. Hearts, Greedy, Hand & Foot, Cheesy 3D, Chess, Mahjong, Yacht 5, Game of UR, Reversi, Mancala, etc.

Dropping by, from the outside it looked much like any other two story conventional Linden Home, a blue coat of paint and an address "75220" on the porch, save for a sign next to the door "Bellisseria Gaming Club." Straight ahead inside, there's a group joiner next to the stairwell. The ground floor has three games: Cheesy, Hand & Foot, and Greedy. The room with the Greedy games has two tables, plus a sign explaining the rules. There's also a coffee table where one can get a cup of the caffinated beverage. Second floor has Hearts, Skippo, and a room with three games, Ur, Reversi, and Mancala.

Taking a look in the back, there were a few more games. I found a chess set, and a table to play Majong, as well as a comical-looking game of Hangman. Less easy to see, next to the swimming pool was a small game of Bubble Pop, and on the steps was "Tournament Tic Tac Toe." There was also some children's games such as hopstoch, a see-saw, and a merry-go-round.

If one wants to go by sheer volume of them, there's many more at Montecito Bay's Firecracker Arcade and the Boardgame Beach area. But for a Bellisseria home, the place does have a lot of games.

Correction. Originally, Dulcinea Andretti was described as the house owner. This has been corrected.

Bixyl Shuftan