Wednesday, June 20, 2007

RFL Heart & Soul

Compassion is contageous, I believe. I also believe compassion is a trait we share with our animal cousins. With this I feel that the ability to organize ourselves around this deep feeling within ourselves is also a shared instinct. Being human, being humanitarian, gives us the unique ability to organize with intelligence and a network of complexity that allows truly amazing things to happen; "Miracles", of willpower can win over the odds.

When we, as a species, are confronted with, and each personally devistated by, an affliction such as cancer, acts of seemingly random compassion take place in villages, towns and cities around the world until we are each touched and inspired by them. Individually we yearn to do something about it and we reach out until we find the collective that can and will have the greatest impact.

This collective is Relay For Life.

To expand further, the phenomenon that is Relay For Life in Second Life, brings out the best in a new world teeming with individuals who do not fear admitting they love one another, and thank each other daily for being part of one another's lives. One can only imagine the impact such shared emotion can have if we all contribute, just a little as we can.

The RFL Heart and Soul jewelry set is my contribution, appealing for your contribution so that you and I and *WE* together can make a difference. Aside from its brooch, which is for all to wear to show their support, the only means of obtaining the jewelry is to contribute to Relay For Life where your contribution will go toward fighting the affliction of cancer which touches us all in some way.

Contact one of the RFL representitives, starting with Tayzia Abattoir, to learn how you can contribute and show your dedication to this cause by purchasing the full RFL Heart and Soul jewelry set.

In the meantime, feel free to display this symbol of hearts and souls coming together in wonderful ways by wearing the free RFL Heart and Soul brooch. Compassion is contageous and never out of season. You never know who you might inspire to the cure, and who you might inspire to live.

Friday, June 15, 2007

HUGE Ode Hunt at IBM Adventure Island

I am adding to the previous post (below) to try to describe the incredible weekend I had, but this one photo of the lovely Chelsea Grigg sums up what it was all about. I can add no more but my heartfelt thanks to everyone! A special thank you goes to Anita Cassini, our hostess, and the work she and her team at IBM put into making the SOA Adventure Island the perfect venue.

(adding to my post as the day goes by)
And here is another photo of beautiful Babydoll among the butterflies. I gave Babydoll a headpiece in Salmon and Peach so she can remember:

A chart of all the colors of Ode was requested during the hunt. Here it is for anyone who wants it:
There was a lot of joy.

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*IMPORTANT NEWS* I had mentioned Ode in a previous post the creation of a set of jewelry called Ode to Caledon. On Saturday the 16th of June, the IBM SOA Adventure Island ( will open to select groups. The RC New Jewelry Hotline group will get a 15 minute head start at 6:45am SLT. Here are the particulars from the organizer of the hunt:

One SIM, 368 pieces of jewelry hidden in ButterfliesGrab your net - Find them all - Trade - Build a set

ODE to Caledon Butterfly Hunt
In IBM SOA Adventrure Island WebSphere, we have hidden 388 pieces of jewelry in butterflies. Three sets each: ODE Amber, ODE Amber and Crimson, ODE Amber and Emerald, ODE Amber and Rose, ODE Crimson and Golden, ODE Crimson and Scarlet, ODE Emerald and Rose, ODE in Navy, ODE in Navy and Emerald, ODE Navy and Crimson, ODE in Salmon and Pink, ODE Lavender and Rose, ODE In Twilight, ODE in Living Ivory and one set of ODE In Shade of Golden.

Each buterfly has on piece of jewelry (Necklace, Pendant, Brooch, Bracelet, Ring, Earring (L), Earring (R) and Hair piece. Catch as many butterflies as you can. Use them alone or trade with others and build a set.

This is a sneak peek of SOA Adventure Island - WebSphere which will offiicially open next week. IBM SOA Adventure Island (216, 213,23) will only be open to Ode Butterfly Collectors, RC New Jewelry Hotline, SOA Land, Eightbar, Independent State of Caledon, Nicky Ree, and Ballroom Club groups. Join now.

There is also a collectors group called "Ode Butterfly Collectors" already started by one of my great and longtime friends Rhyme Gardner. It is her vision that people in the group can trade the bits and pieces they get of their sets to complete their collections. The group is open and free to join.

I hope everyone has fun :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Mata Hari, The Gatsby and The Grand Ballroom

*there are no puzzle spoilers in this post* :P

In the fall of 2005 SL had very little to offer in the way of organized entertainment for those who enjoy the polite companionship of another. Clubs were almost exclusively the kind where "Howlzzzzzz" are shouted, the music is hard, and the particle emissions and lag are extreme. I had searched the existing metaverse far and wide for somewhere I could simply dance with a lady.

At that point my land was in Olive which was home to an exceptional build created by Oliva Delvecchio, one of the most visually creative people I had or have ever met in Second Life. My studio was a cave beneath a tranquil pond. Its entrance was on the side of a cliff overlooking the bay in Slate. I had the beginnings of a gallery on the land, but preferred creating jewelry over setting up the gallery. I loved my location and I miss it still. Shack Dougal took some very good photos of the build and they are here, including a photo of the ballroom in mid-build.

One of my longtime friends at that point was PetMe Petunia, a highly intelligent, desirous, and rather exciting woman with the special gift of social ingenuity. Pet had always urged me to continue creating beyond the level I had ever gone before. To me she personified the existing club scene. She was also an avid collector of everything I made.

At the same time I realized the type of soothing venue that was missing for me, I met a beautiful friend named Feather. Feather is the creator and purveyor of The Garden. Search for it and enjoy. She and I shared our mutual love of the emotional journeys mapped out by Enya, Clannad, and other like musicians. I also have a deep respect for Spanish classical guitar and various classical piano pieces.

It was inevitable that the creative powers began to flow. When that happens permanency doesn't matter anymore. All that had been before were sandcastles for the waves. I stripped my land of the beautiful build Oliva had created. My studio was no more. The land was flattened and on the top of the cliff overlooking the bay of Slate I built, and Feather textured and influenced in many ways the RC Grand Ballroom.

I believe it was the first Grand Ballroom in SL, although shortly after its opening others appeared, some of which are astounding in their beauty. I like to fool myself into thinking this one inspired theirs, if only slightly.

The opening of the ballroom, which took 3 months to build, was anticipated for between Christmas 2005 and New Years day 2006. We had work to do.

For the ballroom opening I created the exclusive Gatsby necklace, earrings and bracelet, which set the mood for the venue. Everyone who attended the opening, male and female, received a set. Once the ballroom had been built and we were working on the landscaping I spent hours just looking around the building and soaking it in. The ballroom and its anticipated elegance inspired The Gatsby.

But I wanted content. A building and a piece of jewelry did not meet my definition of deep content. For this I looked to PetMe Petunia who had a way about her that could inject sensuality into even the most steeled minds. There was once a living woman who was well known for the same talent. She had made sexuality a whispered high society open secret. Her name was Mata Hari.

The more I studied Mata the more I saw the parallels between her and Pet. To this day I don't believe Pet knows she inspired the entire set. She holds Crimson Mata Hari #1, but feels I gave it to her because she had watched others receive a #1 even though she and I had been very good friends for a long time. She felt she was due. How Mata Hari like of her. :) #1 has always gone to the muse. If she reads this she'll probably hate me for saying this.

As an aside, I am of the opinion that Mata Hari was not at all guilty of spying. I came to believe she was, instead made a scapegoat for the failings of the French government during the war. And for bringing sexuality out into the open she was considered a threat to decent society. Her high profile life and media-exploited execution accomplished three things: 1) It put fear into any potential spies. 2) It put fear into any potential threats to decent society. 3) It made the French citizens think their government was doing something about the war - although it is questionable whether they actually thought that. I also think she liked to have high powered men at her whim and had no real political leanings. But that is just my take on it. I believe people see the truth, even if they don't dare whisper it.

I have to apologize to Feather here, since when I was creating these two sets and the puzzle, I was not able to give her my full attention and the well earned praises we had both come to enjoy during the ballroom building period. She was, and always has been, only gracious about that. She has always understood and accepted me at a very basic level.

The puzzle behind the Mata Hari became a bit of an obsession for me. The dates of the original letters are the be read in order, and I hope the fear I felt about her possible fate can be heard in the background. Also in the background I hope those who follow it can see that Mata had become a muse of the most untouchable kind and my hopeful romanticism, even a the risk of making a fool of myself, is glimpsed.

I did not want the puzzle to be easy. I did not want it to become impossibly difficult either. If a piece was found it had to be felt like it had been earned. This was not a free set at all. I don't think anyone but me has ever called it "free".

There has been some concern by solvers that the puzzle seemed to deviate somewhat from the original story. I have had many opportunities to change that but always come back to the thought that the puzzles themselves were between me and Mata, so they shouldn't reference anything but themselves, as their origins were between she and I. So I never changed it.

I should mention, before I confuse anyone further, the Mata Hari puzzle reward jewelry comes in silver and black and is unlimited. The limited Crimson Mata Hari, of which the entire set is limited to 10 in existence, comes in crimson and black. To me the crimson reveals the fate of the woman.

When the puzzle was created and "installed" in the ballroom, Feather helped make sure the permissions were correct. I placed it such that someone who just wandered around checking the contents of all the prims in the build probably wouldn't find more than a piece or two. Having never hosted anything, I was quite nervous and not looking forward to the opening night at all. I had invited everyone on my friends list at the time, which was about 100 people. I feared too many people would show up and I feared too few.

Dances at that time were mostly the kind where you held on to one another and spun in a circle, rather than actually moving across the floor with the stepping of the dancers. A couple of those existed, but not many. I spent day after day scouring SL to get as many and varied dances of appropriate action for the ballroom.

Tayzia Abattoir had provided me with the Grand Piano that stood on the stage at the far end. Classical paintings lined the walls.

When the night came I was delighted that the turnout was just right. Everyone had arrived in their suits, tuxedos and some of the most beautiful ballgowns ever created. It was truly a grand affair of high luxury and excitement.

From the stage I welcomed everyone and had three announcements to make which I had told almost nobody about beforehand. Thus the "There be surprises" statement on the invitation shown below. Those who came were there because they wanted to support the concept, not for any reward.

First, I gave every person in attendance The Gatsby as a memento they could enjoy long after the night was over. If an original Gatsby is in someone's hands today it is very likely they were at the ballroom opening that night.

Second, I announced the existence of The Mata Hari Puzzle built into the ballroom.

Third, I announced the recipients of the first 5 Crimson Mata Hari sets and I gave them out.
Then we danced like we had never been able to dance in SL before. :)

It was not long after opening night that the waves carried away the sandcastle. I donated the ballroom (with some major modifications to suit the alpha sim Taber) to Tayzia Abattoir to house her long operating Crescent Moon Museum, the oldest resident run museum in SL whose quality and rarity of inventory is rivaled by no other. To this day the Crescent Mooon Museum still holds a Sunday Night Formal at 7pm SLT and the Mata Hari Puzzle within enjoys a wide following of puzzlers who, surprisingly and wonderfully keep its secrets to themselves for others to discover.

Feather, PetMe, Oliva, Tayzia: each in your own way are loved and regardless of all else will always be remembered fondly for your contribution to that period in my life.

It is almost never about the jewelry at all.

Some reviews of The Mata Hari Puzzle and its unique concept as a virtual reality puzzle in a virtual reality world, and about the frustrations and rewards of taking on its challenges can be found at:
I want to thank the bloggers and the magazine writers, thinkers all, for their interest and their praise.