Radio Riel: From the Library . . . Luciafest

One of the engaging things about Second Life is meeting people and learning new things. Somewhat to my surprise, I am part of a radio station, for which I serve as an event host and occasional music presenter. At about midnight tonight I will begin broadcasting Radio Riel: From the Library . . . Luciafest on You can listen in iTunes or any other streaming audio player. The broadcast includes about nine hours of music, set on shuffle, and will conclude early tomorrow evening.

cross-posted from Tenth Life

The most recent blog meme has been going through Second Life like a wildfire, and I was tagged earlier today at Tenth Life. I thought it was potentially interesting enough to cross-post here.

Tag, I’m it! I’m it! I’m it!

First, it was the Defender of Murdann; then my web-friend Marion Rickenbacker, whose photography I love; and now I’ve discovered that Lady Edwina Heron has joined the fray. (And I suppose I should also count Miss Achariya Maktoum, who tagged “all of Caledon”).

The rules of tagging are simple, and as follows.

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog
  1. I was in a modern dance collective that performed The Shakers (1931) by Doris Humphrey by being coached with Labanotation. The collective also performed a dance I choreographed.
  2. I worked on a dairy farm in Blokzijl, Netherlands, for three months in 1976 through a program of the Future Farmers of America.
  3. I’m descended on my mother’s side from Anne Hutchinson, one of the founders of Rhode Island; John and Priscilla Alden, Pilgrims made famous by a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; John Middleton Hester, who served in the army of the Confederate States of America; and Preston Tinsley Henderson, whose 1854 will includes specific mention of “a negro boy at five hundred dollars” and “a negro girl at three hundred dollars”. Such is the stuff of American ancestry.
  4. I have a Bacon number of two, in two different ways: I have a friend who was at a dinner party with him, and one of the members of my clearness committee when I became a Quaker is his cousin.
  5. I prefer strong black tea with milk and sugar.
  6. I’ve broken bones in both my feet, on three different occasions.
  7. I have been thrown by a horse.
  8. I own eight Hoya species: H. australis, H. carnosa, H. caudata, H. curtisii, H. lanceolata bella, H. longifolia, H. multiflora, H. serpens.

Now, really, who’s left to tag? This thing has spread faster than any noxious blog meme I’ve ever seen, so I refuse to check to see if I’m repeating people: nox Pinion, and via Twitter, cala, Kirakitty, Lactose, rikomatic, Gloire, SinTrenton, ZoeConnolly.

A Handbook of Norse Mythology

While in Portland for the UUA’s General Assembly, I of course went shopping at Powell’s City of Books. I’ve been there once before, and what a treat it is. (They also do mail-order of new and used books.) Among the books I bought was a Dover reprint of Karl Mortensen’s 1912 A Handbook of Norse Mythology, translated from the Danish by A. Clinton Crowell. I remember D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths quite fondly from childhood, and I was looking for a good source of northern-European names and folklore for, erm, “inspiration” in Second Life. (Part of the modest role-play I engage in has me a part of House Heidrun. Heidrún is a goat at Valhalla that produces never-ending mead.)

This slim book lays out the basic mythology of the nordic peoples in a very straightforward way, including some assessment of the layers of mythology and the changes over time–like the promotion of Odin to the head of the pantheon following earlier focus on Thor. A happy purchase.

Faces of Faith panel discussion

Yesterday I was on a panel in Second Life for a University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism fellowship program project. The fellows had researched and created reports on “Faces of Faith: God Sex Family” and decided to bring their reports into Second Life. As part of their weeklong exhibit, they organized this panel of SL religious figures (video). It was a real privilege to be on the panel.

RP Redux

Today I came to a degree of clarity about the role-playing situation in Caledon, the Victorian Steampunk region of Second Life. Here’s the entry I posted to caledonforums this evening:

Dear friends and neighbors,

I have today come to the conclusion that I can no longer support Caledon’s military activities. While the original goals are nothing but laudable, and many of you have poured untold hours of heart and soul into the activities of the current situation, I have chosen to visit abroad with my cousin Mr Paderborn until Caledon returns to a state of peace.

Perhaps it may be that I will find a way to contribute to the larger cause by taking some humanitarian role, and I may return from time to time for functions that are purely social in nature.

I look forward to the day when Caledon becomes once again a place of uncomplicated peace and contentment, and I return to my home in Tamrannoch, and to my lakeside cabin in the Highlands.

Yrs, etc.

Miss Hermione Fussbudget

End of roleplay

As Miss Fussbudget has noted above, the creators of the current scenario have shown nothing but the highest of ideals and best of intentions. I, however, have felt increasingly confused and put off not only by the activities within SL, but by the discourse concerning the affair on these forums and in the blogs that are fleshing out the story.

I don’t like feeling confused, and so I am choosing to absent myself from the situation.

One of my confusions is the on-again, off-again nature of the role-playing. It is unfortunate that, once having taken up the burden of villainy for the laudable purposes of the scenario, the typists of said villains seem to tire of the role. Having no experience of that burden myself, I hesitate to complain, but I feel it is rude to ask the rest of us to treat them now this way, now that way, and indeed to complain (via these forums and on blogs) when others, within SL, respond in a way appropriate to the role of the villain.

A much greater sense of confusion, all along, has been the question of whether any good can come of playing at war. In RL I have spent most of my adult life as a practicing Quaker. Quakers, as you may know, bear a corporate testimony against war. But I thought, this is just RP, and it makes for some fun opportunities for play-acting, and it’s all just make-believe, right?

But in fact, the choice of a war scenario to raise funds for SLRFL has led directly to ill will and real-life conflict and disaffection. I now believe that these RL ramifications are a result not only of inexperience (which is surely one part of the problem, as described by Her Grace of Loch Avie elsewhere in these forums), but also inherent in the choice of plot.


the typist for Hermione Fussbudget


I’ve been having a lot of fun (and spending a lot of time) in Second Life. My original avatar, created on November 20, 2006, is Otenth Paderborn. Otenth has dabbled in land speculation, done a fair amount of shopping, and created a Quaker meeting in SL (First Friends Church of Second Life, SLurl: Quaker/155/22). He’s about to teach a four-week Quakerism class.

I’ve also created several alts, including one for work purposes named Thoreau Alcott. Only one of my alts is active, however—but she is very active. Hermione Fussbudget was created on January 22, 2007 in order to try out a new part of the orientation experience. Due to technical glitches, I wasn’t able to do that, and I thought, “oh well.” (Part of Hermione’s genesis is the result of how one creates an account in Second Life: You are presented with a limited number of surnames from which to pick; you can then add any forename that results in a unique combination. How could I pass up “Fussbudget”? And “Hermione,” well, I have very fond memories of Hermione Gingold on talk shows when I was a child, and it’s a killer combination. My friend Sonja then helped me create a realistic female shape, in contrast to the many, many Barbie-doll figures found in SL.)

Hermione was on her way to the inactive list with my other alts, until I discovered Caledon, a multi-sim, privately-owned area with a Victorian Steampunk theme. It’s a beautifully executed environment, less cluttered and more manageable in size than the mainland, and with a thriving social community. And thus Miss Hermione Fussbudget found an engaging home and secured her future.

One of the activities in SL is the Second Life Relay for Life (SLRFL), an adjunct to the American Cancer Society’s annual fundraiser, the Relay for Life. It’s a major activity in Caledon, and there are many fundraising acitivities. Hermione invited Miss Ida Keen, the creator of very fine animated knitting needles, to create a special set of needles for Caledon, and she really outdid herself, creating needles that, when worn in SL, actually result in clothing and objects that you can give away. (You can get a set from the SLRFL vendor beside Hermione’s house in Caledon Tamrannoch.)

So, this year’s meta-theme for the Caledon SLRFL is a “war” with Port Neualtenberg, another region on the mainland of SL. So far, so good. Hermione’s knitting fundraisers used the trope of “keep our boys warm,” appropriating images used by the American Red Cross during the First World War. She also bought a commission in the Caledon Militia, along with a suitable uniform and weapons (She is, apparently, not a Quaker!). So far, still so good!

But the people organizing the “war” events held an event last night that took a bizarre and, to me, offputting, turn. There was a Reconciliation Ball to which all the militia were invited, as well as Neualtenbergers. Broad hints were proffered that all was not as it seemed. And indeed, explicit instructions were delivered that a machinima was being filmed and that principals in the event had scripted roles. Since the war talk had been going on for quite a while, I thought it a good idea that some slight would be offered one way or the other during the ball and that, finally, we would arrange a straightforward shooting melee at some civilized, appointed time. I was happy for Hermione to attend the ball and, in effect, serve as an extra.

What happened, though, was a complicated (and long!) bit of scripted interplay that involved armed conflict between citizens of Caledon, with a confused conclusion.

As an inexperienced role-player, I don’t know what to make of it. I’m happy to role-play a slightly saucy Victorian spinster. I’m happy to be an extra in a machinima (albeit that part was extraordinarily boring!) I was happy to make low-key war talk in a good cause. But I’m not happy, as the real person sitting at the computer enjoying myself in SL, to be made confused and at loose ends by some unknown group’s script. As a bystander last night, Hermione saw one of her neighbors in Caledon act reprehensibly as part of the scripted RP. What does an RPer who isn’t in on the larger picture do? Ignore it all until there’s another scripted event? Write and play my own script? Shun the neighbor?

I guess what I’ve discovered about myself is that I do not want, personally, to experience confusion and conflict that was created on purpose by other people RPing in SL. I felt like I was used as an object for other people’s enjoyment, rather than as a participant. (Once the scripted violence started, we were instructed to move back and shut up, in effect.) And I’ve discovered that I’m not sure how I feel about creating a mock war as a fundraiser. (War as a metaphor is fine. Even defined as “armed conflict against an enemy,” I don’t think all weapons are physical. The Lamb’s War is a sadly ignored concept from early Quakerism.)

And now I’m rambling, so I should end!

(P.S. Otenth and Hermione share a blog: Tenth Life.)