Monday, December 30, 2013

Tudor Rose

By Becky Shamen

We found this sim to be very captivating, for three main reasons. The first thing that got our attention was the incredibly detailed architecture. We made many return trips here, with the excuse that there was one more building to be seen, or more of the interior of one we had. Even as we write this article, there is need to pause and return for added detail and inspiration.

When Sha began SL, she would dance at Escort Oasis, most nights. There were up to 50 people in the club. She could listen to the music stream, had voice and could watch media, all without any lag. Why is it, with four more years of developing technology, are we now reduced to rubbing two sticks together, to get a fire?

The other reason for needing so many visits is another of the items that made this place so captivating. In four years of exploring Second life, this sim broke the record, for having the lowest frames per second of any sim we have been to. The rate varied, but on one visit our meter read .08FPS. Needless to say, I had to log off and try again later. On our last visit, the viewer went crazy and we could only escape by pulling the plug on the computer and doing a complete restart.

The third thing that made this exploration interesting has to do with history. This sim represents the late 16th century, London, England. The shops and homes are all two story, Tudor style buildings. Towering over them, like twin mountains, are the cathedral and castle. It is clear that, in this time period, a very few ruled over the population and controled their lives and resources. Over and over, we found ourselves thinking, this would not have been a time or place that we would want to live in. This inspired an internet search on the life and times of Queen Elizabeth, which proved to be as entertaining as the visits to the sim.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea of hell and what it is like was developed by early Christians and reached it's peak in the dark ages of Europe. Introducing these ideas created fears, which helped win converts and give leaders more authority over the ignorant masses. These ideas did not come from scripture. They reached their peak through poets, like Dante, with his book, "The Inferno". With fear pushed to the limit, mankind revolted and protestantism and the Renaissance were the result. When Elizabeth was queen, in the mid-renaissance, Europe was still a fearful place. Countries feared each other and Protestants and Cathilics treatment of contrary beliefs was anything but Christian. That a single woman could not only survive, but also rule her country and guide it on a relatively middle path is as miraculous as modern history gets.

A guru once told us that individuals that cause us the most grief are the source of our greatest growth. Will this laggy sim be as inspiring to you as it was to us? There's only one way to find out. Visit Tudor Rose, land of Elizabeth I.

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Friday, December 27, 2013

Steamed Custard

By Becky Shamen

While he was still dressed for the part, we sent Josh to yet another Steampunk location. Starting 2000 meters up, in the middle of a tangled nexus, where map and compass are useless, you might think our explorer would require some time to get his bearings. Not so. Like some kind of Dr. Who, he made a bee line for the most unusual feature on the sim, breedable penguins. Really? Have we now seen everything?

Perhaps not. Turning about, shaking his head, with a big grin, Josh spots a shop with clothing and vehicles and heads for it. True to the period, the vendor display pictures are all in sepia tones. It will be a hard sell, for one accustomed to HD colored ads, but Josh needs a wardrobe and loves unusual vehicles, so scrolls through the entire catalog. The clothing didn't measure up to Blak Opal's, but they had some great vehicles, two of which were only $1 each, so guess who added to his garage.

At the next area, a female robot, carrying a tray of drinks, offered refreshments and conversation. He had read that there were robots here, so this seemed quite natural. Shortly thereafter, he found a shop that sells that model and a host of others, either avatar or autonomous styles, including classics like R2D2, Buck Roger's "Twiki" (bidibidibidi) and the one from Space Family Robinson (danger Will Robinson...).

There were also some nice park areas and a multi-level freebie shop. All of this, so far, was in the sky, on interconnected floating platforms. Having seen a sign announcing land for rent, Josh jumped off to go have a look at ground level.

Back on terra firma, we find the land office, some homes and more breedable penquin areas. Having seen everything, Josh returns home to Sunweaver Bay to open and test drive his new rides. Since Josh and Sha do most of their exploring late at night, they seldom meet residents, so can't say much about the social scene. We can say; there was no lag and there were lots of new, unique, interesting things to see. It is an enjoyable, entertaining adventure. We give it thumbs up and recommend it to our readers.

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Virtual Gettysburg

By Bixyl Shuftan

For a brief time in Second Life, one can find a replica of the site of one of the decisive battles of the American Civil War: Gettysburg.

 A look at the Destination Guide's "Featured Events" page showed plenty of Christmas and Winter events and locations, but there was one entry that stood out: Virtual Gettysburg 1863.

Virtual Gettysburg 1863 is an American Civil War museum featuring a reproduction of the Gettysburg battlefield. Learn about the events of July 1st-3rd, 1863, often seen as the turning point of the war. 

The SURL given took me too a small map of the battlefield, which had a group joiner/notecard giver and a teleporter. There was also a balloon rezzer. Clicking on the latter would make it appear, and getting on it one would get a tour, seeing locations like the peach orchid, the wheatfield, "Devils Den," and others. It wasn't completely to scale. The area was only about a third of the size of the real battlefield. There were a few roads one could walk down. There were only a few items to show the area had been a battlefield, besides the markers, a couple cannon, a dead horse, and the teleport markers, which looked like memorial stones.

Welcome to Virtual Gettysburg 1863! This is a historical museum devoted to the American Civil War, featuring a reproduction of part of the Gettysburg battlefield. This is not primarily a role-playing or reenactment group, though feel free to ask if you have RP ideas. This is both a temporary exhibition and a work in progress. (Everything in SL is a work in progress)

Going about on foot, as this was a platform high above the sim surface, one would appear to float a foot or more over the surface at times, or sink into the ground. Staying on the road would usually help, usually.

The battlefield's most notable location was a farmhouse which acted as the hospital. Near the front door on the outside was a bloodstained medical kit. Inside, exhibits on the first floor described the limited medical technology that was available to help the twenty thousand wounded in "the immediate aftermath of battle ... one of nightmarish, overwhelming, and often unrelieved agony. ... the houses, the barns, the sheds, and the open barnyards were crowded with moaning and wailing human beings. And still, an unceasing procession of stretchers and ambulances (horse drawn wagons) was coming in from all sides to augment the number of the sufferers." The exhibit continued upstairs, with a chart of common ailments suffered by soldiers during the battle, and more scenes described, as well as some pictures and Walt Whitman's poem "The Wound Dresser."

Besides the battlefield, there was an art gallery and a museum area. Teleporting to the museum, there was another map of the field, with a number of exhibits, such as maps and photos around in a circle, describing the strategic situation at the time of the battle, the course of the battle, and the aftermath. Gettysburg is often described as the "high water mark" of the Confederacy as never again would it be able to launch an invasion into the North. But the war would drag on for two more agonizing years.

The exhibit is not scheduled to stay up for long. It is scheduled to be up only for a few more days, with Dec 31st as the last day. Near the entrance, there was a donation board accepting funds."We are still seeking a permanent home for the build," the notecard stated. The exhibit was built by Trodden Miles and Dakota Tebaldi.

From the museum area, there was also a teleport to a room, where one could see an animated film of the Gettysburg Address, given a few months after the battle in honor of those who fell.

"That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Balloon and field: Sunset Isle (98, 23, 3965) , Museum: Sunset Isle (128, 115, 3901)

*Update* A look at the group had the following post: "Thanks to all of your generous donations, we've been able to cut a deal to save the build! We've rented the airspace above an RP sim and we'll be reopening there early next month. Location TBA very soon!"

*Second Update* Virtial Gettysburg now has a new home at Redemptions (98, 23, 3965)

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, December 23, 2013

More Skating and Winter Fun: Areo Pines Park and Holiday Village

 By Gemma Cleanslate

On to another favorite venue for more winter fun than you have time for. Aero Pines has the winter festival taking place all month.  These sims are always seasonally decorated and hosting superb events for that season. I recommend you begin your visit at the Holiday store where you find some superb outfits for skating both male and female, and lots of free ones too. Right outside is the massive skating pond, always in use. The media viewer is showing the holiday favorite, The Nutcracker on a huge screen overlooking the skating pond. You have your choice of skate balls for solo and couples. Or you can join the ballet dancing in front of the screen.

Nearby there is a sleigh rezzer that will take you on a tour of the sims. Keep an eye out for some loose reindeer that seem to have once been attached to a sleigh but are now roaming the roads. If you have a horse take a ride. If not you can rezz one at the stables. Try the winter balloon ride or then many other special activities listed on the notecard in the posters. Save lots of time!

Next favorite ... seems I have lots of favorites! But there are some wonderful winter sims. This is another place I visit all year long. Christmas at Winter Holiday Village. I was lucky that this year I made it to a skating party on the ice where Mr. and Mrs. Claus were not only present but dancing to the music of the live DJ. This skating place is such a pleasure to use. It winds around, around penguin laden islands, under bridges, past polar bears,  through a cave tunnel  and back to the beginning

There is a carriage ride here also. You will be driven in a golden carriage through the woods and around trails . The festive shops are fun to roam through with wonderful bargains for your holiday decor and clothing too. Many visitors are always around enjoying everything that Maired Fitzgerald plans. There are a myriad of events every day until the end of December with singers and special  events. I was able to attend the Annual Yule Ball also with the fantastic Ceci Dover performing Christmas tunes with a backup of dancers . Be sure not to miss this fabulous sim.

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

LPP Neo: A Place of Floods and Mystery

By Becky Shamen

This location seems to be a real paradox. On the one hand, it is one of the newest sims around, and yet it looks like a civilization, left in ruin by waves of rising sea levels. The Destination Guide gives only a brief description.

"From the fallen lighthouse to the marooned submarine and flooded railway, this house of steampunk style survives amidst a drowned region that is well worth exploring."

At first sight, our eyes tell us that almost all of the three connected sims are covered in water, leaving little else to be seen. Soon, our sixth sense begins to draw us in deeper. Perhaps the water is telling us that there is a great mystery to be found and solved, hidden from our eyes, just beneath the surface. We will need to focus our eyes and look for subtle clues.

A picture is worth a thousand words. This article has been richly illustrated, to assist your preparations in your quest for the truth.

When given a map view, in Destination Guide, we see only the three sims of LPP, Studio4D and Club Zain. When we spot this local map, titled "Water Lost World Project", we have to ask where the lost sim is. Calling the phantom real estate "Endless" doesn't fit either. Endless implies always was, always will be. What premature pralaya has removed all but the idea of this, so called, Endless sim?

When we arrived, on a dock in LPP, there was a submarine moored before us. Before it could be examined, it sank beneath the water. Our original plan included using a boat or sub, to explore the area, but further research revealed this U-boat occupies the only channel, deep enough for a ship, and it is blocked at both ends and too narrow to turn around in. It is truly marooned, but still has some life left to it.
Near by, we find the remains of a fallen light house. It's beacon still shines and rotates, telling us to look around, to learn more of the story. The scene hints at how the land became covered by water. Only a fool would blame this on global warming. Melting ice caps would take years to cover the island with water and allow residents time to build higher. A tsunami could destroy buildings, but the ground water would all drain off in a day. If real life geology can be applied to SL, we must conclude that this sim has been the victim of an earthquake, which has lowered the land (subducted), perhaps by 10 meters, leaving only the hill tops.
If you keep to the paths, between the sparse attractions on these sims, you'll keep your powder dry. Stray a bit and you'll wish you had worn hip boots or a wet suit. There are almost no shopping places here. The main shop has clothing for women and a black ops suit or two for men, but the prices are high, so even Sha would avoid going there. This shop, for Cyber Dolls, has some unique and well textured outfits. It's worth a look, even if you don't buy.

We head North from LPP, along the flooded railway, to Studio4D. The sim is almost entirely covered with a shop that sells dance animations. We tried a few, but at more than twice the price of most, quickly headed for the last sim in the group. The largest structure on the Club Zain sim is called the Main Floor and seems to be built, on stilts, to accomodate for the water. Inside, it's like a mix of dance club and TV studio. It reminds one of the sort of place where shows like "Soul Train" or "American Band Stand" would be recorded.
Just North of the Main Floor building, there is another postdiluvian structure, called the Stadium. It has a large dance floor, made of clear glass, flanked by enough bleacher seating to accomodate all the people that have visited this site, since it's beginning. Music is provided by a state of the art DJ booth, with a crate of vinyl albums and more CD titles than Walmarts stocks. In the center of the dance floor, there is a group of blue and green prims, which, at first seem to be a senseless clutter. As we pan our camera around, we begin to see that there is some planning involved in their placement.
A Puzzle
Moving the camera up, for a birds-eye view, we can see these prims have been arranged to form a symbol which is communicating some kind of message. The prims are placed on three levels, which we can study, in an attempt to decipher the symbol. At ground level, 15 blue triangles, all pointing the same direction, are arranged into a large triangle, broken up by progressively smaller ones, all pointed in the same direction. We don't know, yet, which of three directions our attention is being pointed in. About one meter above the floor, three green triangles sit above the blue ones on the floor. This way of "highlighting" tells us to look in the direction of the DJ booth. Higher still, we find 12 green bullets, arranged in a circle, all pointed to it's center. Had they been spaced equally around the circle, they might suggest a clock face or time. These bullets have left a gap from 10:30 to 12:00, which could mean either the time has not arrived or has been cut short. We are being given a message about this DJ, or perhaps DJs in general. Either their time has yet to come or it has been cut short. We will need more clues, to get the whole story.
The thing is, everywhere you go, there are odd things, found strewn about, that could be another clue. In writing this article, we returned many times to see things that we had passed before, thinking them odd but unimportant, but now that the puzzle was being pieced together, they began to fit and fill in more detail. The return visits also turned up new things that hadn't been seen before. In SL, when you click on a door, it opens. We found two doors, one on the ground and the other on the base of the abandoned bridge. They should not have opened to anything, but when clicked gave the message that we were not allowed to enter. Knowing that there were no others on the sims, we used the cam to pan around to the backside of the doors and find a chair or pose ball to sit on and poof, we were inside forbidden areas and finding more clues. At the base of the bridge, this technique got us into the "Stray Sheep Diner". This is one of the most developed spots yet. It is very detailed and full of possible clues. It is difficult to understand why the doors are locked. We can only hope that entering doesn't get us banned.
We could tell you much more about this adventure, but our goal is to tempt readers into having adventures of their own. Test your Sherlock Holmes skills and solve the mystery of TPP neo.
 Becky "Sha" Shamen

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Wintery Favorite: Calas Galadhon Park

By Gemma Cleanslate
I have to be honest. With all the wonderful regions I visit for the winter activities and the Christmas decor one of my very favorites is the CALAS GALADHON PARK SIMS. This is not a sim, it is a  group of 11 spectacular sims that is always a pleasure to visit. But, the winter season is exceptional in its offerings. 
When you land you will find a teleport board to any of the sims you want to visit, and another board containing the rules of the sim with all its landmarks in the notecard. It will be easy to begin your winter adventures at the nearby skating area. I have not found many other skating experiences that are better than here since you are able to take a tour of three winter sims skating along the frozen waterways. Try it solo or with a companion. There are skate balls for you, or just take off under your own steam.  The scenery is delightful, and so realistic. 
After that tour follow the sign for cross country to pick up a set of skiis and poles and take off on  a four sim cross country ski tour, solo or couple and get an eye full of wintry countryside, ice covered trees , bright berry bushes, cabins bright with fires glowing and so much more. The skis also work on their own so you can continue on your own.  All  around the sims are places to sit and chat. This is a great place to take a horse back ride too,  wonderful place to explore or just sit around. 
The owners,  Ty Tenk (tymus.tenk) and Truck (truck.meredith) maintain a peaceful environment all year round but especially in this season of the Christmas Holidays. It is  free of merchandise or dwellers so distractions are few. Here is the entrance to the parks where you can get all the information you need.
But, the best place in the parks, (though it is outside the parks this year) to celebrate the season is at the Christmas Pavilion. When you arrive enter the carriage that awaits that will take you on a ride all around this special sim. Arrive at the Pavilion itself. It is a massive castle filled with goodies for you. Toy soldiers guard the doors of the Christmas tree room overflowing with gift boxes. Look around in here for your gifts from Ty and Tenk.  On the other side is the room where you can enjoy coffee, cakes, tea and sweets. In the middle is a massive hall where you can dance and listen to the music of the season. Events planned for the Pavilion are on the calendar at the entrance of the parks. 
Ty sent a message saying ”We hope you are enjoying winter at Calas and the 'One Christmas Night' build (smile). We have several pose sets out for your Xmas cards.  At the Christmas sim .. the couples skating poses  on the skating area, Single pose w/menu on the mother deer with the two fawns outside S/E corner of Paviion.  A single pose on the mother bear with cubs."  
Here is the entrance to One Christmas Night for you.  Check scripts  and climb into the carriage for a magical experience. This year the returning tradition of the One Christmas Night is separate from the other sims , so hang onto the landmark. .
Gemma Cleanslate

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Discovery Amusement Park

By Becky Shamen

This area of the Pangea sim is a theme park, with six attractions, dealing with, so called, areas of scientific interest. The attractions and approximate times are, Orbitron - 2 min., Space Mountain - 2 min., Journey to the Center of the Earth - 2 min., Time Keeper - 20-25 min., Voyage of the Nautilus - 10 min. and the Hyperion Cafe - 20-30 min.

It is uncertain how we found this location. Going to the Destination Guide, for more information, turned up nothing, even when using the SLURL, used to TP there.


This area of the Pangea sim is a theme park, with six attractions, dealing with, so called, areas of scientific interest. The attractions and approximate times are,
This attraction, in the center of the theme park, is a merry-go-round, with multi-seat rockets, instead of horses. Sitting in it, a menu pops up, allowing ascending and descending options.
Space Mountain
Proceed to the boarding platform, click the blue box to rez a rail car and sit in it. It switches you to mouse-view and moves the car to firing position. Turns out, your car is the bullet, in a cannon, pointed at the moon.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Here, we board a rail car that seats six passengers. It automatically puts you in mouse-view, to give a real life feel to the ride. For the next 2 minutes, the car makes it's way through the twists and turns of a long tunnel, but we did not see any other features, as one would expect to find. It was a bit of a disappointment, but on the bright side, at least it was free.
Time Keeper
This attraction begins with entering a waiting room, with paintings on the walls and signs, informing you to turn media on and push start. This made us apprehensive, given that our limited computer usually warns of media plugin failure at this point. We were pleasantly surprised when a video began to play on the screen. We are introduced to our guide, Nine Eyes, a time traveling robot, with panoramic head cameras, who seemed nervous about the reliability of the time machine. The shows play every half hour and you have to wait for the doors to open. Inside the theater, there are rows of rails, instead of seats. We are surrounded by video screens, providing Nine Eye's panoramic view. The video was well produced and entertaining. You can tell, it was made professionally. At the end of the show, the doors opened and we headed for the next attraction.
Voyage of the Nautilus
For this one, you go down the stairs into a Nautilus submarine simulation. Beyond Captain Nemo's pipe organ, stools line the walls, each with it's own large port hole, to view the show outside.
Hyperion Cafe
There are no signs in front of this attraction, announcing what it is. You won't see a ticket booth or even an entry door. above what looks like an alley, the front end of a steampunk zeppelin protrudes. Passing under, we are in what appears to be the lobby of a movie theater. To the left, there's a snack bar, big enough to serve a crowd, with coffee and snacks for sale. The signs say, we are in `Cafe Hyperion'. There are old movie posters on the walls and signs, reminding you to turn on and start media. Facing the main screen, there are rows of traditional seats and, in the balcony, there are cafe tables and chairs. The video was spectacular and confirmed the suspicion that this sim has a Disney connection. A Las Vegas style fountain serves as a projection screen for Christmas light show and songs, by characters from the new Disney movie, `Frozen'.
Returning home, with a Cheshire cat smile and both thumbs up, we report, Discovery is a `must see' and be sure to bring the mate and cubbies to this wonderful Christmas spectacular.
Pangea (242/147/22 )
Becky "Sha" Shamen

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ready for Winter

By Gemma Cleanslate

Many of the winter sims are not ready to change season yet. Yes, it is early but I know people are already looking for the winter activities in Second Life. Some regions are going to celebrate Thanksgiving before changing over, although I saw some snow lingering along the roadways in  places that I know will have lots of snow and ice soon. Here are a few that are ready!
 “We believe everyone should  be free to be themselves, to be the unique person they are .
so everyone is welcome here at Skate and Date..... “ This is from the welcome sign in Freyr at Winter Wonderland and train ride. Cute little penguins are circling the ice rink and offer you free skates in case you don’t have them already. Hop on the couples skating balls nearby and take a tour on the ice. Grab a seat and cuddle with your date or drop down near the fire to warm up. I spied a sled rezzer and took a quick ride around through the trees passing more penguins along the way. There is a train tour too. If you have your own train you can put it on the tracks as it is a slrr rail but you can rezz one there if not. Have fun! .
“Welcome to our Winter Enchantment, made in loving tribute to our late friend Soraya Wardhani.....” Though a more somber greeting than at skate and Date I found it a lovely memorial thought as I surveyed this lovely skating venue. More penguins circled the skating pond . Free skates for both men and women and  singles and another sled rezzer await your pleasure. A fat jolly snowman offered me a cup of hot chocolate .  On the other side of the pond I found a ski lift and took a ride up to the top of the mountain where I took some free skis and boots and hopped on the ride down the mountain. It was a winding trail down the hillside that gave me a good look at it all, another place not to miss. Some of the decor is for sale .
Winter scenes by Incendia Outdoors in Dizza offer wonderful skating , soft snowflakes falling and a peaceful lodge with fireplaces where you can lounge around alone or with friends and grab up for a run down. I found an igloo with snowball fighting walls set up with kids having fun and lots of snowballs so you can join in. The scenery is lovely with nature the object of the region. I found sheep hunting for morsels of grass , in another area moose looking warily at a horseback rider as she passed, and a found a  bear fishing in the open creek. Another lovely place to put on your list of winter venues.There is a carriage to ride in and a horse rezzer for you. At the entrance is a guest book where you can leave a comment or read those of former visitors. Dress for snow.
More to come!
Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, December 9, 2013

More Winter Fun

By Gemma Cleanslate
Lake Tahoe is ready for your skating pleasure . I stopped in the charming lodge and enjoyed the warmth of the fire then wandered out to check out the skating ball that lets you perform like a pro! The pond is not that large but enjoyable. Of course there are free skates in the little shop near by, and snow boards for sale .  For serious skiers there are some nice outfits for sale here too. I could not resist the color changing scarf. The tram ride up the ski slope passes over a bear so be careful .  I found people frolicking in the snow when I hopped off the tram. You have your choices of a sled or a tube that take you on an automatic trip down the hill.  Grey Lupindo has visited this region and wrote about it . Wonderful region! There are places in the sim where it has not snowed yet so you can wander around or just hang out and enjoy the scenery. I discovered there are more than one skating areas close by in the Grand Canyon area. Here is the entrance to Lake Tahoe.
My friend  Ev Lovevicker (everest.piek) gave me a call to tell me the North Pole is open! What a treat. ѕуℓνιє ѕιđєωαуѕ (sylvie.sideways) and her helpers have created a wonderful sleigh ride through the frosty woods of the region, passing by dancing skating bears, candy treats and cupcakes . Throw on the blanket you will be offered to keep warm . The Polar Express train is ready to leave with the conductor holding open the door for traveling children.The village center is sweet and a lovely place to visit. The sleigh will drop you there.  There is Santa’s cheerful lodge set for your visit. Outside the Chapel the representation of Bethlehem reminds us of the Christmas season .Don’t  miss Santa’s workshop where the elves are working feverishly and Santa waits to hear your wishes. Next to the church  there is a lovely little ice pond for your skating pleasure.  There will be events and Sunday Concerts and you are invited to join the group for notices.
Rainbow Illusion is hosting Toys for Tots at their Winter Wonderland. Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. There will be a benefit on December 10, 2:00-10:00 pm. There is a lovely pavilion set up for skating or dancing on the ice .You will find free skates and skis on the ice . Santa is sitting in his sleigh waiting for you . And here is a twist. Next to the skating pond I spotted a wonderful swimming pool under glass. So, bring your bikini and swim trunks along!
Living Tree has a wonderful skating area set up on the river that runs through the sim from north to south.  There are jumping areas and cones set up to wend your way. I found a great tobaggon rezzer so you can slide over the winter terrain. Kids will be able to make their way easily. Better jump the bridges if you are tall. This sim is designed for kids! There is a school there and you can visit the Texture Library and the pick up texture tutorials. But, right now it is winter in Living Tree. So have fun. Warm you hands at the barrels when you are cold. Pick up a notecard or two when you land then head for the river .
You know I am a 7seas fisher so was happy to see there are several skating areas where you can fish and skate! Grey Nacht has a wonderful fishing hole , that you are warned not to fall into at Pala , .  When you land you must tp to the ice fishing . It may be empty of fishers or full depending on the time.   Tribute City has also put up a delightful fishing and skating pond . Another great place to visit! 
Gemma Cleanslate 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Neo Victoria

By Becky Shamen

 In recent months, the Newser has had some great articles on Steampunk communities, like Caledon and Steelhead. Reviewing the Destination Guide, Josh discovered a collection of other Steampunk communities, ranging in size from two to thirteen sims. Names and addresses were gathered into a notecard and he began exploring each of them.

After touring the first four, beleaguered by lag and yearning to yawn, it began to look like his report would be titled "adventures in adversity." While it was true, he had noted a point or two of interest at each location, there are only so many ways to say, it was beautifully, ornately textured, but beyond my meager budget to buy. Such a list would not be something he, or Sha, would be willing to sign their name to.

Thank gods and faes, our next stop proved to be an adventure, worthy of a story of it's own. Landing in Neo Victoria, we find ourselves in the visitors center, where me must prepare for what lies below.

By it's own definition, Neo Victoria is, "Dark roleplay, Steampunk style - A small community of gifted artists, working together to bring their stories out of Second Life, into the world of the real."
Avatars of all types and species are permitted, as long as they are not "cartooney." An anthro coyote is OK, Wile E. Coyote is not.

Orientation and shopping is in the sky. The two, ground level sims serve as home for members and a film lot for Machinima videos. If you are not a member, or out of character, you can visit ground level, but must get and wear the OOC (out of character) tag. To engage in roleplay, one must conform to the local story line. No cross story lines are allowed. As a means of learning the lifestyle, notecards are given as you walk down the dark halls that lead to the TP to ground level. Alternatively, there is a web site, giving more details and samples of their videos at . They also have a web site for members only, which has community news and personal pages for each member.

Other factors that made Neo Victoria a great place to explore were, no doubt, the bi-product of using the sims for making videos. There are fewer mesh scenery objects, making it almost lag free. They also allow you to rez things there, with auto-return after 15 minutes. Using this, I rezzed my airship, for a birds eye view and saw the entire place, in far greater detail than was possible at other places visited.

Becky Shamen

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sha's Thoughts: Sunweaver Bay Time Travel

By Becky Shamen

 Sunweaver Bay's newest resident, Joshua Xavier, stands atop Sha Hill, surveying the many changes that have been added, since Becky Shamen first moved there, as one of it's first and longest residents. Like the Bay, Josh has evolved. His creation started as an experiment of Sha's, to prove that SL males could do as well as it's females, finding Love and Lindens Dollars. Like Sha, he is, alternately, human and furry. Having recently become his own man, with a seperate SL account, he will continue to share Sha's home and duties, as an explorer and writer for the Newser. While touring the Steampunk collective of Mieville, he found a shop called "Who's Who," on the Wells sim, and bought the multicolored scarf, worn by the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. The making of this photo, to show off his new lion avi and outfit, served as the inspiration for writing about the evolution of Sunweaver Bay.
At one time, Sha had a castle on Sunweaver Air sim, connected to the West side of Sunweaver Space, within sight of Club Cutlass. After retiring from exotic dance and hearing rumors of the sim going away, she moved to low rent areas elsewhere, to cut down on expenses. With the creation of Sunweaver Bay, she returned to rent a lot and had her choice of locations. At that time, there was very little there, so she chose the hilltop at the west end of the bay, for it's panaroramic view. Then, as now, there were few neighbors, but the view has evolved considerably, to attract more renters.
Looking East from Sha's Place, we get a good sample of the scenic additions that have become a part of the sim, in the short time we have been a resident. On the right we see, at 11 floors and 88 meters tall, The Sunweaver Bay Apartments. Speaking of taking up lots of air space, check out H.M.A.S. Little Dove, which nearly cuts the sim in half, at the same altitude as the top of the apartments. Adding to the skyline, we see a Tesla tower and a lighthouse. At ground level, there are a variety of trees, bushes and flowers, and waterfalls in every direction. The bay now serves as a harbor for seagoing vessels, suggesting that this sim is the starting point for adventure. Now under construction, a monorail system will soon connect all the sims in Sunweaver Estates.
All of the improvements have indeed made Sunweaver Bay a very desireable place to live, but, for Sha and Josh, there was an unexpected draw back. Having a computer and router, which we are told is the minimum of what is needed for Second Life, made the sim too laggy for us. To resolve the conflict, without moving from her beloved home, Sha built a platform, 1000 meters above her lot and moved her house and furniture up, to enjoy lag-free living. 
Alas, at that altitude, she no longer had the beautiful scenic view from her windows. To compensate for the loss, she surrounded the platform with walls, with mountain scenery texture. That improved the view, but, explorer that she is, it gave her claustrophobia. Meanwhile, Josh was shopping on Marketplace for a free airship to explore with and found a zeppelin skybox, that would fit Sha's lot, for a mere L$5. The new abode provided an unexpected plus. The external view was replaced with an interior, that even Captain Nemo would approve of. Upon seeing it, the fire chief pronounced it the coolest home he had ever seen in SL. What's more, the new arrangement used less of Sha's prim allowance. With the previous house, there were only 10 prims left. Now she has 30 in reserve.
Becky "Sha" Shamen

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter Ice Rock Festival at Palma

By Gemma Cleanslate
Every autumn I go exploring and search out regions that have winter displays, winter sports, winter freebies and scenery that you will enjoy. I have started already to find ice skating, skiing, even some shopping , and other fun activities in various regions. I have my old favorites that I will be writing about soon. A friend sent me a landmark to visit because of its beauty and I did since it was new to me. It is the Region Palma. 

 At the entrance I found Santa and his reindeer handing out free Uggs, very nice boots for the winter. Three booths with delectable foods and beverages kept me there for a few minutes.  There is a tram tour ready to take you above where you can look down at the view. I took the tour first to get an over view of the sim. The ride took me high above the snow laden branches of the trees where I could see lodges, cabins , ponds. The second time I took the ride we hopped off on top of the ski mountain where you will find free skies and a sled rezzer.

Off we went on a sled that took us down the steep slope  to the skating area. After a few twirls on the ice  I started off on the snow packed roads to see the sights. Looking around I saw a delightfully  pristine landscape dotted with charming buildings , animals, and visiting avatars.  As you travel the roadways you buildings that offer a relaxing place to park.  There are comfortable seats by the fire in the Lodge and outdoor lounging areas. A pleasant bar offers a refuge for chatting.

 I visited Santa’s stables and found elves caring for the reindeer. The skating pond is large enough for some trick skating and offers free ice skates for your use. Across the pond I found a theater where you can sit and watch movies and we stopped to laugh at a giant snail race video and one of Torley’s tutorials. Up on a hilltop I found a building that is the Headquarters of the Rebel Yell Concerts. This is a Tribute Concert business, the first one in Second Life, I learned.  It is owned by Lestat Zalivstok , Oskar Zalivstok, (oskar.nirvana) , and Guiltyangel Rhapsody.

Lestat told me "this is Winter Ice Rock Festival 2013,“ and  that the region will be in winter decor until January 8. There are posters around the sim  announcing the next event and the time so you can put it on your calendar. After January 8  they will put some other decor.  He is a real life band owner and continues the tradition in SL. Enjoy this elegant winter setting and dress warmly!  http://maps.secondlifecom/secondlife/Palma/220/223/32.
Gemma Cleanslate

Thursday, November 7, 2013


By Grey Lupindo

Finlandia invites Second Life residents to “hangout, relax and enjoy” and see what Finland is like.  Located at Finlandia, Finlandia (191, 48, 23), it is a beautiful place to visit. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first SL site that is based on Finland.  Finlandia’s creator, Daniela Finchy, has made a wonderful sim that showcases her lovely country.   One of her notes states, “So everything you see, feel and touch is all about Finland.  We are proud ... and happy to show it to you.”  
Finlandia is representative of the southern and southwestern areas as they appear in late summer and fall, a season which is known as “ruska.”   The terrain is comprised of rolling hills, forests, and beautiful rocky coastline. 
The rez zone is a small wooden structure that is functional but not representative of the rest of the site.   It is filled with information and necessary notes, as well as a few odd objects.   A large cut out of Marilyn Monroe is there, but I’m not sure what her connection is to Finland.        
Outside of the rez area, however, the land is peaceful and beautiful.  Wide paths cut through the woods and lead to various sites around the Finlandia.  Bridges straddle winding streams.   There is a bicycle stand, too, since they are very popular in Finland.   However, the paths are also great for horseback riding, which is one of my favorite things to do.   I saddled my horse and rode all over the site.
The area has lots of activities for residents to enjoy.   There are many spots where friends can gather, including a campfire site with a moonshine still brewing.   A large picnic and dance area is found at Finlandia (139,16,24). 
There are lots of free games to play, including Whack a Mole, Mah Jongg, Minesweeper, and others, located in a large cottage at Finlandia (45,71,25).  Try out the rope swings that are outside, too. 
The rocky coastline is ruggedly beautiful.   There are row boats available that you can use to explore it.  I rowed up to the sauna and stopped, although I think I could have continued further.  It is located at Finlandia (84,95,23).   The sauna is a wonderful steamy place that you don’t find very often in Second Life.  Approach this area with care since it is the only area where nudity is allowed in Finlandia.   There were other people visiting the sim during all of my visits, but no one was using the sauna.    
At the top of another hill there is a very cozy country cottage and a large barn, at Finlandia (164,72,33).  Inside the cottage you can try out a loom or sit in a rocking chair by the fireplace.   There are three rooms, all  furnished.  A cat named Tuikku sits on the front porch, and other farm animals roam about in the yard. 
There is a cottage for rent in Finlandia, but I don’t know if this cottage is it.   One of the nicest features in Finlandia is the lack of commercialism.   There are no glaring signs or items for sale to spoil the natural beauty.   Except for a few tip jars and teleporters to transport shoppers to the store area, the site is a peaceful park. 
The shop area is located above the rest of the sim in a sky box, and it is worth seeing.  Finlandia Stores, Finlandia (119, 61, 2022).   Although it isn’t as beautiful as the rest of Finlandia, the shops are set along wide paths in a landscaped area.  There are fourteen shops from Finnish creators, including Mad Pea, SiO, Ihan Sama, Jinxies, S.L.A.D, CakeFox, Linealrise Design, and others.  There is also a club where you can hear Finnish rock/metal music. 
 In addition to the shops, Uleria Caramel, a Finnish artist, has paintings on display there.  Caramel creates art that is abstract expressionism in style.  She uses oil painting, glass, ceramics, aquarelles, photography, and other techniques in her art.   Her works are very colorful and unique.
Newsweek magazine ranked real-life Finland as the overall "best country in the world" in 2010.  According to Wikipedia, many sources rank it as one of the best countries for quality of life.  In creating Finlandia  Daniela Finchy has done a great job creating a sim that shares her beautiful country with the rest of Second Life.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Serena Long Cay

By Gemma Cleanslate

I really needed some quiet and solitude after the Burn2 was over.It has been several weeks of busy busy busy.  So I went looking for a place to relax and found it! There is a delightful sim, Serena Long Cay, made just for relaxing and looking at the sea. 

The place seems to be the philosophy of the owner, Franx Markstein. He looks at Second Life in a different way. He has tried the parties and  other activities of Second Life and says,”I like come here and to have something that engages my mind and makes me forget the stress of real life, I tried to do all what is possible to do for me, for my skills, now it was time for a place to relax myself, not very demanding in the management and where people can relax too.“ The name he gives to the area is Otium, from the Latin meaning leisure. And so it is. 

There are beaches with relaxing chairs where you can sit and gaze at the ocean. I found a boat and went for  a ride along the shore line. I walked the beach and took a snorkling tour of the glassy waters, then rested and enjoyed the sun on my face.  I  encountered others just hanging out talking. I ran across a greedy game almost hidden behind the cliffs.  Climbing the hills I found a lovely drop in place where there was  refreshing watermelon on the counter and sat down for a while to enjoy. Another person, Drem, came in to play the pinball machine there.  

 Just looking out on the sim is relaxing and I really enjoyed my time recovering from the business of the past weeks. I ran into an old friend, Purplebutterfly Lykin who is a fellow blogger and there doing a travel series. I recommend getting over there and making a landmark so when you are feeling the necessity for a few minutes alone , or with a friend to relax and enjoy , this is a good place to go. 

Now feeling refreshed I am off on new adventures! Bu , I have the landmark in my favorite places! Thanks Franz!!

Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, November 1, 2013

Star Journey Island

By Becky Shamen

Joshua has been hanging around at Chez Sha, wishing to learn more of Second Life. Sha pulls up the Destination Guide, on her computer, and looks in the "Cosmic" section. An interesting one grabs her attention, with the introduction, "Unleash your own power! Play and explore in virtual world version of Star Journey Symbol Method. Interactive Symbols lead to valuable personal insights and inspiration. Enjoy beautiful gardens and sky galleries in this spiritual and empowering sim. Based on Richard Geer’s latest book: “Star Journey – A Cosmology of Self.”. She gives Joshua the address and sends him, closely followed by her telepathic robo cam, to explore.

Arriving there, the first thing he notices is there is much less lag here, compared to most sims he'd seen. The adventure strarts in a translucent blue room, with moving stars wall texture. There are signs on the walls, providing helpful information about the sim and navigating it. A welcome sign gives a warm greeting.

Dear Seeker- 
I invite you, come discover Star Journey Island.
It's full of meaning, and fun to explore.
You'll learn more about yourself in the process.
May you always find what you seek.
Love and Light
Richard H. Geer
Star Journey Author
Another sign recomends using their TP HUB, for getting around the sim, via following symbol cards, and provides it free. It is important to use this, because it also gives information about what the symbols stand for. You can just walk around, but, as you can see on the map, your path will trace a flower, with half your time spent retracing your steps. On the ground, we see why there is low lag.

The ground is very roughly shaped and textured. We learn that the outward sights are not the adventure here. Our attention begins to have more freedom, to decipher the symbols and related objects, as we spend time in each of many sections, on the ground and skyboxes. The instructions have also told us to touch everything we find, to receive valuable clues and objects to use on your journey, like the torch, for finding your way in the cave.

Most areas will have chairs or pillows to sit on, so you can spend time thinking. While stationary, you can look at the surrounding objects, with your perv cam. The black box, behind Joshua, contained six Mardi Gras mask objects. Their unusual construction inspires a whole new genre of SL art, which we hadn't tried before. The sim has, indeed, kept it's promise to  "Unleash your own power."

Many objects are interactive and provide accessories for you to use. In one, called `Magic Mirror', sitting on the pose ball forces the camera to look at the mirror, while your av gets put behind the mirror and goes through a series of menu driven, animations. In another, you get a musical instrument and become a snake charmer. Don't worry, he won't bite. What you're playing might not sound musical to you, but to him it sounds like one of his favorite, old Beatle's tunes.

Each of the symbol cards, in the HUD, will give information about the symbol and provide a TP to the area that represents it. Here, we explore one of the symbols, called "The Crown". It is the sign of fulfillment through sincere leadership and wise guidance (83). The TP takes you to an ornate Egyptian chamber, with golden thrones to sit on, in regal manner. Afterwards, we find free crown objects, in small and large sizes, to complete the look and feel of being in charge.

There are many symbols to explore. Each will direct you to principles and how they apply to your real and virtual lives. LM this sim and take periodic breaks from your `same ol', same ol'. It will recharge your inner battery and greatly assist you in getting to "know thyself."
Becky "Sha" Shamen

Editor's Note: Check out Grease Coakes article on Star Journey a year ago (Here)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sha's Thoughts: Sha Anouki

By Becky Shamen

Anouki comes to us from ancient Egypt. It is another name for Isis, "goddess of life." It's root is Ank, "life." With the added personal suffix, it becomes  "my life," my being. In exploring Second Life for it's seemingly endless supply of new experiences and entertainment, for nearly four years and writing about it for the last three and a half months, the end of the road has ever receeded from view. I have become adept at pushing farther and deeper into life, in both the real and virtual world. Contemplating new places to explore and interesting people to meet, it dawned that I had overlooked one that was literally right under my own nose. For a large portion of the time I have lived in Second Life, I have had my home in Sunweaver Estates. I was one of the first few to move to Sunweaver Bay and got my choice of location. I built my house on a hill, overlooking the bay. After trying several houses, I have just recently completed one that takes full advantage of the great view. It couldn't have come at a better time, because the owner, Rita Mariner, has done a wonderful job of upgrading the scenery. Living on the bay is a constant source of joy. With it's personallized custom textures and decorations, the house has become an external part of myself. Seeing inside my house is like seeing inside of me. Even so, it can't tell the whole story. I try to live my life as an open book. Let's go inside and see what is written there.

Approaching the entry, you quickly notice, this person is into wood carving. More than just owning and looking at them, I love making them. I have carved and whitled since childhood and have made many notable works. Without a doubt, the most impressive hack jobs I ever did happened when I worked as a professional carver. I had to carve a scallop shell keystone for the interior moulding of a large entry door, in a thirty million dollar mansion. The main part of the carving was done in the shop, but the bottom, where the arch meets it, had to be carved after the keystone was installed, because it had to turn the tips of the arch into a fiddle scroll, like on a violin tuning head.  When I went to finish the carving, there was scaffolding in the entry hall, which was topped by a dome. At the keystone area, thirty feet up, there was a narrow tongue deck, leading to the carving. Taking out the needed tools, the tool box was placed on the deck and I sat on it while carving for the next four hours. As I worked, I kept imagining this was how it felt to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I knew, after this Michelangelo moment, everything else, from there on, would just be humdrum work, compared to this ultimate adventure.
The doors on my second life house came with carved textures, but I wanted fancier carvings, which I found on the internet, along with other images used for making the Chez Sha plaque and stair rail.
As we enter the house, I am reminded of a "Michelangelo moment," experienced in my early days in SL. To make money, to buy clothes with, I would dance, freelance, at Escort Oasis. One night, I received a rather large tip from across the room and I responded with the "/me thanks _____ for his generous tip" (emote), as I searched the room to get a look at him. He was a tall, pale av, dressed in gothic vampire outfit, which made me a bit nervous at first. During the next half hour, we chatted, I accepted his friend request, and he kept giving large tips. When he said he had to go, I was somewhat relieved to get out of his "dark shadow" and amazed and shocked at having received..... L$12,000 , in only 30 minutes. Needless to say, the next day I went on a shopping spree and, within a week, had built my first mansion in SL. Shortly after, I got my first job, as an exotic dancer, in a club called "the Tiity Bar." I got rich, practicing my new profession, but never made as much, as quickly, as that night in Escort Oasis. One of the dancers at the Titty Bar had learned to make clothing textures for the prim breasts, that we had to wear at work. She taught me how to do it and, within two months, I rented my first clothing store. Within weeks, my shop started showing up on lists of the best places to buy clothing for implants. Ultimately, the owner of the most popular brand of implants invited me to have a free space in his main store, because many of his customers asked where my shop was located.

As we enter my new house, at Sunweaver Bay, and turn right, there is a large picture frame on the wall. The image in the frame changes every 30 seconds, like a slide show. Before buying this frame, I had paintings all over the house, that used a large number of my prim allowance. By using the new frame, I was able to gain 24 prims, to use for other furniture. The frame shows pictures of friends, wood carvings I have done and illustrations I have created in SL.

The wall, to the left of the picture frame, has a large bookself, which covers the length of the wall.
This looks like a lot of books for one person to own, but it's only about half as many as I have had in my real life library. Unlike some, who like to display books to give the impression of being smart, I have actually read all of my books and retain the information in my brain. If I say that I read something, on a given topic, I might not remember which of my hundreds of books it came from, but I will remember all the details.
 Close to the bookshelves, I have a computer desk. This is symbolic of my SL position as a newspaper reporter, but also fits my real life as well. I began using computers in 1967, long before the invention of the PC. The first PC I used was one by Heathkit, which we built in the basement. I made the case for the keyboard from hand carved black walnut. Before I learned of SL, I had taught myself how to make 3D illustrations and videos, using various software packages. On seeing some of my creations, a friend told me I should join SL, a game that she enjoyed playing on line. I told her that video games didn't interest me, but she said it was not like those kinds of games. She brought over her laptop and walked me through the steps of getting an account and getting in world. We met, in world and she taught me things that take most noobs weeks or months to learn. She also turned out to be a vampire in SL and I got bitten in my first few moments in world. It took a year, before I finally got the wormwood treatment, to remove all traces of the bite, which bloodlines users can see. Since then, vampires have always been a turn off.
On the other side of the first floor, we find my music/livingroom, where the piano and harp can be played. This area has a large bay window, providing an awesome view of Rita's artistic landscaping. In all the homes I have seen in SL, I have yet to find any with a view to match mine. Thank you Rita. She improved the scenery, in hopes of renting out more lots on the sim. I hope, by writing about how much I like living here, that others will come see for themselves and decide to build their homes here.
 Both the harp and piano contain animations and sounds. If you come to my house, by all means, try them out. I have been a musician all my life and have written dozens of songs. Having instruments in my SL home illustrates their importance in my real life and the joy they bring.
Across from the piano and harp, and sharing the same view, I have a couch and chair, each only one prim, from Primpossible. This provides a great place to chat with good friends. I have often written about the importance of chat, for developing Oneness and community. In real life, I am the founder of several on-line groups, including a classroom of ancient wisdom, called "The Keys of Knowledge." Behind me is the Stairs, with handrail made with a photo texture of carved palm tree. We will also find palm trees outside in my garden. These symbolize the fact that I now live in Southern California. 
Between my group friends and SL friends, I have nearly 1000 on-line friends, many of whom speak other languages. Good communication is very important, to me, so, as an aid I keep a pile of language dictionaries by my keyboard. My SL neighbor, the fire chief, lives in Northern Italy and is also a fireman there. I bought the Italian dictionary when he moved to Sunweaver Bay.

Upstairs is a slightly more private area, furnished with a snuggle love seat and my custom made round bed, in which I have added a TNT sex engine. I tell everybody that it is the best in SL. After testing it out, or looking through it's menu, nobody has ever challenged my claim.
On the walls, I have photos of my three real-life daughters and one of my grand daughters and well as a portrait of me and a painting, both done by my dear friend, Shanti Bright.
On the balcony, there are two bean bag chairs, which are good for chats and meditation with friends. The balcony has the same wonderful view as the music room and also wraps around to the side of the house that faces the fire station to which I donated a fire truck.
Outside, I have a garden, with palm trees and flowers and a meditation area that seats four. Although I contemplate, as opposed to meditate, in RL, doing so in SL shows the importance I place on developing soul contact, as a means of bringing heaven and earth together.
I hope you have enjoyed the tour of my home and getting to know me better. If you come to Sunweaver Bay, whether I'm home or not, the door is always open. Feel free to enter and enjoy what it has to offer. If you meet me, offer friendship and I will accept you into my family.
Becky "Sha" Shamen