Friday, December 4, 2015

Relay For Life of Second Life: What Went Wrong in 2015?

Hearts & Souls' core members by July 2015
Disclaimer: When I post about negative experiences it is rarely if ever out of any smug satisfaction.  There are no winners.  It is a "buyer beware" as I stumble through the metaverse.  This post definitely serves this purpose.  You have an opportunity to learn from any mistakes I've made and spot warning signs in advance.  Those who know these people and find me relating a story: take it for what it is; there's no glory in it for me. I am sure to lose several from my contact list.  I always blog with the expectation that someone is going to find out, whether there are tattlers or not. This is The Internet.  Just keep in mind that my opinions may not be that of the Hearts & Souls Relay For Life team, and taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources or preventing them from representation or fundraising is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and American Cancer Society - who have nothing to do with this post or me.

Despite our experience with the Team From Hell in 2014, the year as a whole was energetic and inspirational. We believed.  On the other hand, while the 2015 Relay Season started strong, it ended a wretch.

The Foundation Shows Cracks

- A Break in the Integrity of the Process -  So many teams held official fundraisers featuring contests with Lindens for prizes, the Castle Contest among them.  I could understand if this was a donation towards the winner's favorite team, but that was not stated in these promotions.

- General content was no longer required; PG-13 to light R were in - For the first time there were relaxed rules on language for music.  Limited profanity was permitted.  The American Cancer Society went with that?  Earlier in the year I made a remark because there was a slip in the General Rating rule in 2014 when T1 played a song with profanity on Relay Weekend (it was the album version of Pink Floyd's "Money").  This was vehemently denied, then the song played again this year, again with "bullshit" clearly sung.  So much for brand image emphasized so passionately during Captains training.

- Adult oriented events were promoted via official channels.  Previously, qualifying events were strictly General content and held in General to Moderate sims only.

Fundraising Failed to Reach Heights: Some Observations

Poor promotions - a Google spreadsheet for a calendar but no events page for site visitors to browse by date... This time no low-LI inworld event billboards.  We certainly took a hit from the latter having been discontinued.

The official Relay For Life of Second Life website changed over to an unprofessional, Geocities grade homepage, with cheesy backgrounds depicting avatars of committee members.  How could SL's relayers be taken seriously with this childish aesthetic?  It was an embarrassment and disrespectful.

So many people I once admired became monsters to me by August.  Will that view change with the Christmas Expo?  Here are some highlights of what went on throughout Relay Season in 2015 from my point of view.

Forgot who said it, but someone with - or associated with - the committee tried to prove a point by telling me in IM that the purpose of Relay Weekend was a push to collect the big bucks. Funny, I thought it was to take time out to honor the survivors and caregivers, who relay as a gesture in defiance of cancer.  While this has been an inspirational event and served to contribute significantly to the season total, they had forgotten the true purpose of the weekend.  Was the lone table set for one nothing more than a prop to them to milk the crowd with pathos?

There was lack of accountability on the committee's part by alienating people with deep pockets.  Many bailed throughout the year, including from committee positions (that's when a proliferation of buddies filled in).  They fell way short of their goal of less than half the amount collected the previous year.  In the end they had no one to blame but themselves.  Greediness, selfishness, and nepotism set RFL of SL back.  It certainly didn't improve anything.

Missed Opportunity to Keep Sim Resources Optimal

Apathy towards relayers and their basic needs became apparent by virtue of added junk on the track for Relay Weekend.  We live in an era where less crashes and server related incidents should make for a smoother run in Second Life, even for those on older computers.  What we gained the committee took away from us with:

1. Posing couches in several locations - we should have had these in the entertainment sims and away from the resources needed on the track.  Placing them to the side of the path in view of passersby would be no less enticing to those interested in participating

2. Stand-ups on the side of the road in each sim for relay weekend programs.  Compare resources with traditional cube giver at Relay Station.

3. Art builds so large most relayers could not see them properly.  Two come to mind: a night sky contained in a mammoth cave and an ambitious but impossible dragon.  At a time when people have their graphics down to participate, these are poor choices of parameters to build by.  Creativity is defined not by how well you compensate for mortal limitations but by how well an artist may meet and defy the technical ones once all things are considered.  Even after the weekend with graphics cranked up I never got a decent look at the dragon. 

4. No enforcement of speed scripts.  The committee did change the rules for lap awards against them at least, but what of the added scripts?  To compound it, most of the instigators were individuals who already relied on scripts for their appearance.

I had 12gb of memory in a Quad core CPU to work with and barely made less than a handful of laps.  Think about those with even less.  Was this all worth it for the relay experience they had?  Ask them.

The Problem Elephant in the Room

Long time followers of my blog know I have very specific opinions regarding people holding onto a role they are unable to fulfill.  There's no way around it: if you can't do it, you step aside.  There's no pride or glory holding onto the position.  Quite the opposite.  TS Darrow, someone already on several people's shitlist, was unable to serve as organizer for the Honor Lap for Survivors and Caregivers. He took partial credit for the hard work Catalina Straheli put in to make the project possible.  TS (sorry, used up all my acronyms the last time around) should have been removed altogether and Catalina given sole credit.  That is, if he possessed the common sense or ethics to step aside on his own.  Not his kind...

He was a real problem and clearly did not recognize the privilege of such a role much less the responsibility.  I wonder sometimes whether these types see this as an Epic Title to collect and strut around with rather than view the requirements and say to themselves "hey I can do that" and simply want to help. Rumors also flew from several angles of his behavior in committee meets. 

Many volunteers and mentors were afraid to speak up because TS was committee chair Random's partner.  After all that, so many still hoped that he would be removed.  Many of us wait to see if he will be left off the committee for 2016.  Remember this essay was drafted during the final quarter of 2015; a subsequent post will address any outcomes and revelations with the 2016 Relay season.

There's a blog post from 2012 from when our mentor at the time stated plainly that they could not be there for us or her other teams due to RL commitments, but would continue on as our mentor. What favor did she do anyone? Where did this false sense of pride and duty to let us down come from?  It isn't the first I've seen of this nor the last I'll see of it, and TS Darrow is just one in a long string of sleazy characters holding onto a title for its own sake or for unspecified perks.

It steams me more - even more than his involvement in the Halloween Weekend fiasco - that this is a position which was proudly maintained by Dat's late husband Pro Recreant until his passing.  RFL of SL could have done better. A *LOT* better.

The "One Team" Mantra

In February Catalina - model and photographer - embarked on an impressive and selfless project as her goal for the year: take portraits of avatars: singles, couples, families, groups, Relay teams, etc. to raise donations. She had begun to tally via off-season inworld kiosks and early convio donations; it was about donating and not so much about which team got the credit monetarily. Her raising money towards the cause had its own running total for her personal mission.  Seven and I went into it and encouraged teammates to go for it throughout the season.
Catalina takes a portrait of a teammate with her portable studio

It wasn't long before Catalina was assimilated into the Relay Rockers.   I suppose the One Team mantra could only take an individual so far.  Someone must have felt that her achievements and recognition would have more meaning if she joined a team. Now her project was no longer just hers.  I'm not sure why she changed gears. Her portrait show became the focal point of their Relay Weekend campsite.  I'm probably unique in thinking along these lines Catalina, and I'm sorry; you worked hard as an individual and I thought that was reward enough.  While camaraderie facilitated her covering for the Survivors/Caregivers project in TS' absence, it was good to see that the role was not taken for granted.  Again kudos for taking that on.

The Double Standards Mantra

The Relay Rockers had become the media voice for RFL of SL through T1 Radio and deservedly so.  They hosted the CRFB DJ competition for years and raised money for other teams once their own goal had been met.  However there were things I wasn't too keen about in 2015 and it's time to call the Rockers out.

1. They seemed beyond the restrictions everyone else had to follow.  Perfect case in point: limiting the number of teammates at the campsite during Relay to half a dozen tops.  They had about 20.  We shared their sim and members of our team were unable to get in to wave on the survivors & caregivers at first.  We're talking about no more than four of us. What can you say to that?  It would be like David asking Goliath to stop unconsciously flicking & burying him in ashes.  Avalon had about 8, another 6 or so hung out across the road from us for another team, and access was still needed for caregivers and survivors to run through our portion of the track. Many teams did that: had more than 6-8 of their own simultaneously during Relay weekend, but I expected better of the Rockers. 

2. The Relay Rockers enjoyed a tradition of throwing a party Sunday afternoon following the Victory lap. This year it was held at their sister campsite for T1 over on Media Row (yes, annually they enjoy representation in  two spots), but that wasn't the only thing. 

Seems as though the builder of the event sims - now a committee member - wanted to show for her hard work so a rule was made that EVENTS WERE TO BE HELD IN THE EVENT SIMS!  I say "made up" because of what transpired...  There has always been a rule not to throw parties or events on campsites during Relay.  We've seen tailgate parties the Friday before.  We've seen post-relay parties Sunday afternoon following.  However 2015 was the first time teams got their land almost 2 weeks in advance.  While there was encouragement for those in need of a place to use the event sims during that time, we had a place.  I promoted our event by group notice and submitted for their Google grid, and no one said boo.  We relied on one of them to change our stream URL; for the first time access to it was restricted on the parcel. That Saturday before Relay Weekend they opened the track up to those in the RFL Volunteers group, so we held our "Halloween in July" event at our campsite.

Or tried to.  There was such an uproar over the 8 or so partiers and how we set a bad precedent and threatened to hog the sim's resources (of the 45+ sims there was maybe another dozen individuals dispersed throughout), and that rules were made for a reason, and on and on it went.  Wasn't sure when the builder started calling the shots on event rules but her mouth was definitely in the melee and putting her foot down in notices.  It's not like we filled the sim with 20 teammates, if you know what I mean *points up*

We were forced to stop the stream and move over to The DJ Stage for the second half.  It was disgusting and humiliating, but most of all baseless and unnecessary.  I think Random Darrow attended because she felt sorry for us and saw on some level how we got fucked.  I think she genuinely meant well.

Random Darrow dancing with us at the Event Sim

Of course the Relay Rockers still got carte blanche that following Friday for their tailgate party and as usual filled a sim on Sunday with the annual post-relay party. 

Relay Stock: A Personal Disappointment

The height of Relay Season 2014 for me was Relay Stock hosted by the Relay Rockers.  I loved Relay Stock weekend.  I opened with the first set Saturday morning with The Beatles' Good Morning and took it from there with rock, psychedelia, funk, sould, glam... I attended many sets, we danced on vans, I hung out at my muddy campfire a ways from the stage where I sold tie dye. It was awesome.

When Relay season 2015 ramped up, I watched for Relay Stock applications so i could sign up to DJ again. I never saw it, only a teaser notice.  Perhaps SL failed to deliver since I never saw a call to apply via IM/Email.  It was too late get a DJ slot by the time I found out but I managed to get us a tent to put our stuff.  I did hold a Pirate Radio set early Sunday morning (participants had to add my stream URL to their media players of choice), but it wasn't the same as being a part of the weekend.

I was proud of the art I hand drew for my Pirate Radio poster. If there was interest in it, I would have offered the original on eBay for a convio donation.  Nobody gave a crap.

Our spot at Relay Stock 2015. Pirate Radio poster to the right.

Some Bottom Lines and Let Downs

- Meaningless rules made up for self-satisfaction
- Double standards & favoritism
- Unnecessary stress
- Active team members in committee positions
- of course Harmony From Hell pissed all over our Halloween theme like the diseased, plagiarizing dogs they are and used my idea as an annual event of theirs moving forward.

Problems Within the Ranks.

Things were cutting close.  I had been diagnosed with cancer in June.  CT scans suggested it had not spread and surgery should be a success.  I had worked out with my Sloan Kettering team to have the procedure done right after Relay Weekend.

As mentioned previously we had gotten our land for the campsite early - right after Independence Day.  I wanted to get ours done in a week, while I still had a mediocre level of energy both physically and mentally.  Never had I encountered so much resistance.  The theme was an Autumn suburban community and trick or treating door to door for visitors to learn something new about prevention with each house.  The centerpiece up on the hill was a graveyard of failed practices and quack remedies.  Every stop had a freebie and an inspirational or educational notecard.  I placed the road and homes, drew some ghosts of doctors and sent them flying over the graveyard.  My teammates researched and placed pumpkins with gifts in each house and into marked graves.

Hearts & Souls' campsite Tricks & Treats in 2015

But things went south.  I asked them to work the landscape and they must have misunderstood.  Corners of the path looked too primmy and needed to be filled in with a shrub or bush etc.  Instead they indiscriminately threw crap all over the lawns, not unlike some crazed dog randomly leaving their chew and squeeze toys all over a neighborhood's lawns.  I encountered so much resistance and as much as I had made it clear what we needed.  I returned items since we werent on simultaneously, diplomatically clarified what was needed.  I also had to return trees and other things which violated placement rules.  They didn't do a thing for the landscape and kept putting what I called shitskies all over the place.  The straw broke when one of them - who made plushie owls for sale - placed a plushie owl on each roof.  Clearly whatever rapport we had since 2012 had left the building. They took their little prim-mongering toys, cared enough to keep the informative stuff and freebies on, and left the team.

A friend on another team helped me with some enhancements to the landscape and to  get my stress level down, which of course went back up from the campsite event fiasco.

The moment Relay Weekend had ended, they took the rest of their stuff. There was nothing on display for photographers or videographers.  As usual our place was marked by a shot of our team sign.

Four days after Relay Weekend I was under general anesthesia for six hours.  Subsequent pathology showed the cancer had just started to enter the excised muscle mass.  I'll never know if the stresses leading up to Relay Weekend had a hand in my requiring post-op radiation treatments.  I haven't been the same physically since. 

My co-captain dropped everything and went back to a Star Wars MMORPG in early spring, so I couldn't rely on her covering for me.  In hindsight I really should have had the procedure sooner and to hell with Relay Weekend.

Our annual breakfast spread Sunday morning
By the closing ceremony in August there was so much antipathy towards the committee.  It appeared as though they had sealed themselves into a bubble and were oblivious how much they had alienated the SL populace.  Having fallen short of their goal and the delay of off-season kiosks made them appear desperate to squeeze out more for the year.  Home & Garden / Breedables Expo sat out 2015, which also had an impact on the total.  As it turns out there was a genuine delay of post-season tools as a new scriptwriter was engaged who had to balance between his new role and a demanding RL.  

The straw of course occurred during the wrap up ceremonies.  A raffle of RL items would be awarded to someone among those  who had donated US$100 or more by convio during a certain time frame.  Who won this?  What if I told you it was the committee chair's moll, TS Darrow?  Trust me I wasn't the only one aghast that a committee member got it over all those eligible relayers.  I don't think most people expected anyone from the committee would be tacky enough to participate.  But you know me.  I'm blunt.  I had nothing to lose audibly calling shenanigans.  The minions shushed me as if I was ruining the mood of the moment, but little did they know how far gone that hour had already become.  And them.  They can't pull a sour grapes card since I didn't participate, but I reckon many of them thought that.

I received a convio fundraising award, which meant little to me.  I knew I scored a large sum from friends and family out of pity for having cancer.   I figured this was not going to happen each year, that the results were not the product of my skills in any way.

Sitting with Lemondrop during the wrap up

Just prior to October's breast cancer drive we finally got the off-season tools, which I passed on to my team mates.

My Decision For Now

I'll continue to pass tools over to my team, but I will refrain from personally paying Lindens into Relay For Life of Second Life.

 I may do something for Relay outside Second Life next year in 2016.

 It's entirely up to the team what will happen to inworld Hearts & Souls. That's for another post.

I may be the only one saying anything, but the numbers speak for themselves. Poor planning and poor ethics, and an oblivious and corrupt committee.  So many fed up residents have had their arms folded throughout the fall.  I wasn't thrilled to see who was involved with the Xmas Expo and decided to pass.  Many of us were expecting a full purge.

This is unfortunate.  It means I may not participate in SLSFCon or Fantasy Faire.

I've wanted to join in Fashion For Life for two years but the organizers have been so bloody aloof each time. No wonder half of the shops were unoccupied. It's nice to see Nevar Lobo taking a proactive role again, but is it too little too late?

While a large number share my sentiments, the herd mentality is a strong one.  Most people unhappy with what's been going down will continue to support Relay For Life of Second Life.  Whether or not RFL of SL knows fully the dissatisfaction and disappointment leveled at them, what they do know is that very few will go through the trouble of developing an alternative.  And would The American Cancer Society lend their support in turn since they already have a representative acting as liaison on their behalf?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hearts & Souls and the Great Halloween Heist by the Team From Hell

Disclaimer: When I post about negative experiences it is rarely if ever out of any smug satisfaction.  There are no winners.  It is a "buyer beware" as I stumble through the metaverse.  The next posts definitely serve this purpose.  Those not aware of to whom I refer have a story from which to learn from any mistakes I've made and spot warning signs in advance.  Those who know these people and find me relating a story: take it for what it is; there's no glory in it for me. I always blog with the expectation that someone is going to find out, whether there are tattlers or not. This is The Internet.

I don't like biting my tongue.  It turns fiends into tyrants. The George Zimmermans of the world are let go after performing atrocities and in their mind they have been condoned and are at liberty to do it again.

As some recall I've blogged about a sexual predator who was revered in a community and in time elevated to martyr as I shut my mouth and disengaged from them so I would no longer see her notices or her name everywhere.  Why does the victim have to go?  If these crimes were reported anywhere  nearly as often as they occur and were taken to heart instead of denied with a turn of heads or mocked by the stigma circus, I'd have less reason to see it as a flaw in human DNA.

So let's revisit something I wrote in 2012 about fundraising.  Some people become overzealous and feel their objective is above the law much less basic courtesy, thereby clearing the way for themselves to perform rude, unethical, sometimes unspeakable acts in the name of a higher cause (sounds almost like humanity's MO, doesn't it?).  Mind you there isn't a legitimate charity in existence which wants to be associated with unethical practices or anything which could give them a bad reputation.  It's dirty money, plain and simple. Another kind of predator and another kind of prey.

For those unfamiliar with Relay For Life of Second Life, it is *a* team as recognized by The American Cancer Society.  It is comprised annually of dozens of sub teams - aka inworld teams - any of which may operate under an array of circumstances and apply any variety of methods.  There are guidelines which when followed preserve the integrity of donations and one hopes the reputation of the American Cancer Society brand, but with so many operating independently of eachother, one can't ever be too sure. On the other hand, with so many inworld teams there are choices and a group for just about anybody to slip comfortably into.

That said, let me bring up the purpose of this post. There are Relay for Life of Second Life teams which raise gobs of money, and that's great.  There is one however that my team fell prey to in 2014. They exude a bubbly enthusiasm on the outside, and the moment RFL of SL relaxed their rules regarding dedicated committee positions, several of their members fell into dual roles (I've always been of the opinion that this policy anywhere at anytime is a conflict of interest and an invitation to corruption.  However this point is for another blog post).

I had a friend on their team plus their captain worked as an events coordinator at the start of the 2014 Relay season, therefore we had an amicable rapport.  There was no warning of what we were in for.

For those who have not been active in RFL of SL in recent years, since 2014 Relay Season there have been opportunities for teams to borrow the use of entire sims for large events free of charge.  In May of that year the captain of this team approached me with a proposal to collaborate on a weekend event on one of these sims to showcase teams which had not raised much thus far. Her vision was to bring these underdogs to the forefront and give them an opportunity to increase their totals into Bronze status (US$40) or higher.  It sounded like a very noble cause. 

Mind you their team was already Platinum (over US$2000 raised) or thereabouts while we may have squeaked into Silver (over US$400) by then.  We discussed a theme - I think she had something country or hayridish in mind - I honestly don't recall.  When I suggested Halloween she loved it; we'd hold a meeting to bring our teammates into the planning. 

We met in my TARDIS, which at the time served as our team's clubhouse, to work out who would do what.  One of ours would put together a hunt. One of theirs would landscape the sim based on our discussions. I would get the talent together for events including something big for Saturday night. They would set up booths for team sales. Before I invited DJs etc they indicated I would receive a list from them of prospective names to contact. Their co-captain (whom I will call JayZee) said the list would comprise of talent from smaller teams as well as theirs (at the time I was our only DJ).  Okay.  We'd also take on early Sunday evening 3:30-5pm SLT with one of us hosting their weekly 7seas Fishing contest on site and offer exclusive trophies and contest prizes.

It was also decided (not by me) to keep the weekend quiet & not promote it for participants (their list would cover that).  I'd also suggested inviting Relay Rockers to host a BYOK (bring your own kiosk) and work out maybe a Relay Rap (T1 Radio broadcasts an excellent talk show each week during Relay season) on location, but those two ideas were turned down. Certainly we could listen while those of us fished since we did that anyway each week, but Okay.

We'd use Google Docs to plan and schedule - meh all right.  At any rate we were set and it was going to be a great weekend.

First sign of trouble came early.  A few days later I asked their captain whether she knew if JayZee had the list of contacts ready.  I got a very defensive you're-backing-me-into-a-wall response.  Like catching a kid who is sneaking cookies & is trying to deny it while holding the goods.  I thought that was an odd sort of tone and instinctively my mind wanted to run screaming from a potentially bad arrangement.  But for the team I'd let it roll off; maybe she just had a bad day or something.

Our hunt person loved hunts but never organized them before.  I explained this wasn't gridwide and just involved getting creators to participate in putting objects a la scavenger hunt throughout the sim in specially shaped RFL hunt prims.  Placement would be such that they would be easy to spot and hunters would be led close to entertainment and booth locations so that said underdog teams would get some exposure... as soon as the other team deemed it okay to let us promote the hunt and weekend for creator participation.

About a week or so after our meeting I got an IM from someone else from their team.  Let's say their initials acronym into "That Shitheaded Dumbass" or "Tyrannical Sociopathic Diva".  He informed me that HE would be event lead. Just like that.  Oh shit, I thought, who the hell was this yahoo and what did we get into?  We agreed that after I got talents together (was still waiting for that mythical list at that point and asked a couple of non-RFL performer-friends) he'd fill in the blanks with their team and friends.  Meanwhile events and timing began to congeal on the Google doc.

No list after two weeks.  It also became annoyingly evident that JayZee had a mouth on her and didn't hesitate to let rude tumble from it when the mood struck her.  One week in and already I considered using mute but thought about the team (must think about the team) and that there was a greater whole to think about.  Checking her Facebook page she had shares on it which strongly suggested at the time that she enjoyed winding up men for the fun of it. 

Oh bruh ther.

Our huntress grew stressed.  Turns out JayZee had been giving her terrible advice and straying her to dwell on some bullshit gridwide project. What would be the point of that other than to make things more difficult?  As it turned out the date for the weekend crossed a major week-long mega thing for which our would-be huntress was a key player.  She didn't want to let us all down but knew that even under the best of circumstances it was impossible to do both.  I said don't worry about that because damn she had a lot on her plate.  This wasn't a time for her to get jerked around but a time to focus on her own event and see it through to awesomeness.  I offered to tell the other team that she wasn't going to host a hunt for the weekend.  You could just see the weight lifting from her shoulders that moment.

I only ever had one issue with this teammate: she never felt she was doing  enough for us.  This could not be farther from the truth.  Most of her socializing occurred off the grid, and she frequently entered donations via convio from RL collections made among friends and colleagues.  She was fantastic as far as we were concerned.  I wish she saw it that way, and that the substance of bodies or location where collections took place did not make her any more or less of a valued member of our team. 

As one would predict, the other team's captain got very cold and snotty on hearing the news.  I've no doubt she thought I was being tyrannical (there's that word again) and dictated my team's every actions.  I really got that impression from them as a whole at this point, like I told people not to get involved when most of my team wasn't actively participating in RFL events.  The attraction of Hearts & Souls has always been no pressure; if you just want to rez out a kiosk in your shop then that's fine; every little bit helps. We've always had a lot of those on our roster as well as off. Slow and steady wins the race.

About a week prior, with SL11B, Litha, and Burnal Equinox all set to coincide with our Halloween weekend with the Team from Hell, most of my team's talent prospects - including a live performer - bowed out for sudden RL commitments.  That left from us my opening the weekend with a DJ set, the Saturday night event, and our fishing contest on Sunday.  The poster I had provided for the event was discarded and they renamed the weekend and posted another image for billboards with our team's name conspicuously absent.  At about this time their captain asked me whether we needed our corner space for the whole weekend.  It appeared they wanted to remove every last evidence of our involvement as collaborators as quickly as possible and clear off the Saturday night event spot.  "What," I responded about the gothic ball space, "a whole sim and 1024sqm is too much for us?"  She got on the defensive again and denied this entirely, but why else would one ask such a thing?  That's rhetorical btw.

The land became available and JayZee got to work.  Our hostess for the Saturday night formal ball (the concept of a formal ball with classical music as a viable attraction appeared to escape them, which I found highly amusing) reported that they watched her silently like hawks (or buzzards?) as she prepared the spot.

I brought the ordeal - the defensive attitude, removing us from promotions etc etc - to the attention of a committee member, who observed the proceedings as of about two days prior and into the weekend.  They saw everything, as did all of our friends and teammates.

This is some of what transpired...

- A forced landing point in the sim's Eastern edge and no flying.  If your underdog team wanted to send out LM's to people promoting their donation items, your contacts could not land at the booth.  They'd have to walk a winding path into dense vegetation and through a swamp to the SW corner of the sim.

- This path eventually led up to a stage due west, which consisted of an open air structure like the remnants of a barn.  To the east of the stage's grassy clearing intended for spectators lay the entrance to their maze.  They insisted on "no fly" rules in the entire sim for it (because their maze and raising money for their team was more important).  When I opened with my set Saturday morning, I thought some of them had come to listen to the music but had instead set out to add more content to the entrance of the maze as well as kiosks for their team.

- There were kiosks liberally peppered everywhere, all set to their team, so much so that the few who made it over to my set after having braved the long walk to the west side inadvertently gave to the other team first and not to ours.  One acquaintance IMed me and expressed their anger at the nerve.  There wasn't much I could do.  With all the hype to entice us with altruistic intentions, one would have thought at the very least they would set all those kiosks to other teams.  Suffice it to say they raked it in that weekend,  IMHO at the cost of those less successful than themselves.  Including us.  Especially us given the aggravation we endured.

- Walking further north you came to our section in the NW corner, about 2048 in all between the hill for our ball and an open air swamp in the corner with a pier.  Presumably the pier was also used throughout the weekend for a zombie shoot.  We witnessed a similar experience with their maintaining a rotation of people watching us like cops during our fishing contest on Sunday evening.

- They scheduled events opposite ours - or tried to.  They had attempted to do something Saturday opposite the ball and had to clear out due to the turnout.  Ours was easily the best attended event that weekend.  We almost filled the sim for the ball, mostly with outsiders to RFL who mingled with many regulars and relayers.  It was an ideal and intended result.  My friend was the only one who attended from their team. It was a beautiful evening.

Sev, Nev, and Cluck
One of my teammates opted to join in on the BYOK event after we cleared off our fishing stuff Sunday evening.  The fishing event was a success as well, despite having had to teleport everybody in due to those oppressive land settings. Yes, you heard right: They invited the Relay Rockers to host a BYOK event after they rejected my suggestion. I'm glad they thought of it!

It was The Weekend From Hell with The Team From Hell for sure, and I gladly disengaged from some of them afterwards and outright blocked others once it was over.  The most horrible people to work with and I have to wonder whether they were just pleased someone else came up with a great theme for the weekend and then didn't want to deal with working with anyone else after that?  Maybe this was all a coordinated effort to discourage us early on and we didn't get the hint?  I suspect they've been less than gracious to others too, having done it so well. It was a slick operation.

I told my friend OldeSoul: if I ever come to you saying we're thinking of collaborating with another team on a weekend or mega project, you have permission to smack me upside my head as hard as you need to.

And I meant that.

As a captain my role is to protect my teammates and represent the team, as I had with letting those people know we could no longer run a hunt.  I expedite their wishes as much as I expedite my own.  My mistake was believing this other captain had any similar role as her crew appeared to work autonomously and she'd get bent out of shape over simple organizational questions.  Making it difficult to access other teams' offerings and even getting tips for themselves intended for others really has me wondering whether they changed EVERYTHING about that weekend - aside from the theme, which wasn't their idea anyway.

Just when I thought this nightmare could become a faded memory, in May 2015 they announced on a Relay Rap show  that they were planning "their" second annual Halloween weekend! They didn't even have the dignity of changing to an original theme  Yes, they had a nerve.  No, at this point I'm quite sure  that they are devoid of souls the lot of them.  Their ins with the committee led to expected results of non-action when I lodged a formal complaint.  I can't believe I lodged a formal complaint.  Why should anyone have to do that? What makes people act or think that what they do is justified? Or that karma won't step in some day? 

The committee threw out an apples and oranges analogy to justify the team's unscrupulous behavior.  Teammates in high places and all that. No method of escalation.  Soul stealers who are beyond the ethical values of us mere mortals and confidently out of reach of facing consequences.

Why did I pick Halloween?

Halloween is the artists' holiday here in New York City.  We dressed in hand-made costumes to High School of Art & Design, which I attended in the mid-Seventies.  I am a veteran Greenwich Village Halloween Parade performer from the late Seventies when it was privately funded and hosted until it got swallowed up by commercialism in the 90s.  It is also Samhain, a solemn day to mark harvest's end and a time to remember loved ones we'd lost and their legacies which remain.  In other words, those fucks usurped something near and dear to me and my culture and tramp stamped their team name on it to make it their own.  Dirty money..

By the way, you haven't heard the last about That Shameless Dickhead.  More to come about him, don't you worry.

There is much karma due them.

In 2014 I saw this as an isolated case with perhaps a reputation on that team which others chose not to mention or share. They all sure seemed confident. I still don't believe we were their first victims. Up until then negative experiences regarding Relay For Life of Second Life were few and relatively minor.

Next: Looking back at 2015.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Remember That Guy in RFL Who Didn't Have Cancer?

Be honest. You never fantasize about wearing or looking like this in RL.
Sitting in a local coffee shop and enjoying their choice of 60s Latin exotica while waiting for an omelette.  The two large fans are doing their job and there's a crossing guard across the street although school isn't yet open here.

I'm running oppressively late today.  Work for me begins at 8am and at  8:45 I'm here, checking in sporadically on iPhone.  I don't like working remotely and never have.  There's something unclean about working from a location I see as a refuge from work, something work funds so I can live and do what I want.  At the same time while I am not cleared to endure the merciless rigors of commuting via public transportation, I'm glad I am perfectly capable to connect directly to my office PC and keep my PTO for PTO.

It is now one week later.  Today I get a CT scan and on Thursday I finally see the surgeon for my post-op evaluation.  I've scheduled my specialist prior and my primary care physician for right afterwards, both for consultation.  It's been encouraged that I receive three mild radiation sessions to ensure nothing stray takes hold.  The oncologist explained the difference between types of "got it all out" and where mine came in.  Big decision to make and yet a no-brainer.

I'm now sitting at Doshi Diagnostic for a CT scan.  It's long past my scheduled time and it's a veritable cattle car of people waiting and checking in.  People sick and well, all sitting in close proximity of each other, side by side in a sea of rows.  Checking in on work email periodically but mostly useless.  No word from the boss, who has an automated response up.

I have a permanent scar on a cheek and an eyelid.  They knew I had sensitivities to  adhesives but they had to seal my eyes with some goopy agent while I was under.  I reckon the welts happened immediately, then after five or six hours they ripped off the stuff and gashes happened.  I didnt even realize the source of irritations until I finally made it to my room 6+ hours later and saw myself in the mirror for the first time.  The nurse helped wipe the rest of the gunk off and out of my eyes and apply Bacitracin on the wounds.  The eyelid (rather the space between my eyelid and eyebrow) healed better with a less prominent scar but the cheek is impossibly conspicuous as though I'd been in a fight.

Watching people enter into the place I can confirm what they say about some cultures, where the woman walks a distance behind her husband.  I wonder if this is to advertise the male's availability to other females?  There's a lot of double standard in the world.  Some myth about more women than men, discounting such factors as the age range of fertility vs virility, availability and so on.

The CT scan is done.  I've been here for almost three hours and still waiting.  I'm thinking if my boss wasn't out I would take the rest of the day off; there are prescriptions to pick up at Walgreens from SK.  As soon as the CD of films are in hand I'm off.

It is now days later.  I'm alternately queased from taking Prilosec at the same time as an antibiotic; both end tomorrow.  I finally met my surgeon for the post-op checkup and she's pleased.  I'm asked to ease into things like walking up entire flights of stairs and lifting more than 10lbs (ah laundry, someday you'll wash yourself).  I can resume commuting Sept 3rd.  September 1st is test show for Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

It's after 3 and almuerzo is here at Arepa Lady.  I want to work on art for Burn2 before I go back to the office.  It was all so much easier when I had a table.  Now I lean a drawing board on the only table I have: the computer desk.  I want to take my time on the details.  I miss the Pelikan inks I used to lay down as a base.

Next step other than seeing my parents this weekend by bus is to phone the oncologist for my first radiation session.  Everyone agrees this is something I should not turn down.

It's a day later at 7:20am.  I was too early to get Asian vegetables (getting sick of summer squash and green beans) and started walking around, Right now I'm in Elmhurst sitting on a public bench after my knee started getting to me. I can't have breakfast yet and I'm between express stops on the Q53 bus.  After a bit I'll head back or to the nearest stop.  Stupid torn meniscus...

The good thing about walking into Elmhurst nowadays is that it's dominated
by Koreans & Chinese.  Hello big 24/7 Asian supermarket...