Friday, June 22, 2018

Second Life's 15th Birthday is Now!

I’ve been practically living at #SL15B.

This year it’s been a lot of fun, with TWO historic walks - one by Marianne McCann and one by the Linden Moles - an epic Federation inspired Auditorium built by Bay City alumnus ADudeNamedAnthony, a dazzling tropical DJ stage rippling with juicy colours by Lim Pikajuna (builder of SL14B's Max Mystery Island sims) and an exquisite 8 bit chandelier “cake stage” by Mikati Slade.  Straddling the dark side in 4 sims is the Crystal Rotunda Main Stage by Linden Department of Public Works and the return of Walton F Wainright with a dark, Eastern inspired temple surrounded by serpent spirits for Stage Left.
Stage Left

The Lindens had a greater hand in participating this year and added replicas of two classics due south:  The cornfield is crawling with a handful of glytch species and one exclusive for SL15B in Common, Rare, Epic and Avatar versions.  The last Bear Island is back, although orientated  back to front.  Some old classics linger along with some new ones, most of which give free copies.
Bear Island

Jo Yardley also had double duty: Making her annual replica of Berlin for denizens and outsiders to mingle, plus a walk-thru of Time Portal featuring another historic era every few steps.
Mikati Slade's Chandelier "Cake" stage aka DJ Stage South
 As always kinetic pieces abound (with one near my exhibit I’ve nicknamed “the spinning wiener” and derendered. Don’t find yourself accidentally camming within; the effect is nauseating).  Someone placed me within close proximity of friends Marianne MaCann and Tindallia Soothsayer. Bay City lies between Tindy’s Giant Snail Races presentation and mine, “The Ascent of AV”.

The Ascent of AV art exhibit and ridable crystal ball
Cattycorner from me is Mari’s historic walk.  If any of you reading this followed last season’s Designing Worlds as they covered their tenth anniversary year by year, it’s mighty clear that Marianne meticulously keeps a record of major grid goings on and is easily one of Second Life’s most devoted fans. Not far from us are dual welcome areas for your first swag. Speaking of swag, step across the sim line just north of me for lots of freebies.
Glytch Cake Avatars caught at SL15B Cornfield

MIA this year are Loki Eliot at work on other projects and MadPea.

For those unaccustomed to or overwhelmed by so much content in one place, may I recommend the Yava touring pods.  They're everywhere and offer an effortless overview of everything.

Riding a Yava touring pod into the Auditorium's shuttle bay

Noteworthy mentions are that most of the sims - those not cast into perpetual night - appear to run on a 24 hour clock.  Also the sun is a blazing plywood cube. Note: if you don't see a cube then be sure that Atmospheric Shaders are enabled.

DJ Stage North
SL15B runs events through Sunday 24 June and shuts down with a spectacular cake stage collapse on the 1st of July.

Revisit Machinima from SL14B:
My Exhibit The Other Halloween
Mikati Slade's Epic SL14B Cake Stage Collapse

Videos from Last Year

Open letter to Draxtor Despres

I once had a friend in Second Life... I knew her alts and I knew her RL husband. I listened to her RL issues like a good friend. No drama or incidents. Then one day on Facebook she announced - on her SL avatar's profile account - she was weeding out her contacts and that anyone she did not converse with in voice would be dropped.  Suddenly I was no longer real and didn't count among the people she knew; soon I would not exist.  She was promptly dropped on social media and inworld; if someone didn't regard me as a person then they certainly weren't any friend of mine.  And they aren't.

Therefore I'm no stranger to marginalization based on my method of communication.  So when you come along and tout the wonders of diversity in Second Life and the many ways we communicate and make the world smaller despite those differences, then try to bait me into voice over and over, what should I think?   We've had discussions in Facebook and Twitter on topics that I'm passionate about, but instead of asking for clarification it always led to an invitation to your podcast.  Your sentiments on diversity are NOT sincere; if anything they are disingenuine.  You are telling me whatever I've contributed in conversation was meaningless because you don't approve of someone who will not voice chat.

Let me tell you what I am about Drax. 

The written word in peril. I am ITS champion among others.  I see the crumbling of a language where an entire generation is incapable of expressing themselves beyond a level of depth without little pictures.  They think they're clever to respond with a stock animated gif.  On Facebook they never express a unique thought but rather paste other people's thoughts in memes one after the other on their timelines, then disappear for another week.  I am about mourning the death of the soul through the extinction of prose and the marginalization of people who seek to preserve it.  The persona I use online was adopted with that in mind. It is a story of being unique yet accepted.

I used to be an admirer of you  Drax (I am not a fan. I mostly hate fans. Fanatics lack objectivity or the sense that whom they admire are people that simply stand out in a crowd). You were my goto when family and friends didn't understand how Second Life worked and were confused over it not being a game while looking like one. Most of those we struggle to explain Second Life to have played nothing more than Solitaire or Freecell after sharing photos with family via Email. With your podcast you had your hand on the pulse of Second Life Residents and discussed trends and policies each week. 

Then Sansar took over and your media output saw a shift in attention.  The monthly World Makers projects ceased and there was mention on occasion of some new project: a feature length film a la World Makers.  We saw a couple of teasers several months apart. 

Your finger was no longer on our pulse and there was no reason for me to follow any further. Certainly SL would promote your finished film in a blog and via Email once it was out there, just as they had your monthly short films.

The way I see it if you were honest about your passions and said you moved on then that would have been different. Even if you were still the best one to call on for Second Life discussion because your void here hadn't been filled, so be it.  But to claim nothing's changed in the direction of your virtual pursuits is simply not the case, and no amount of denial or derisive tone changes a backlog of social media.  I know where you'd rather be.

It takes someone like me to notice.  Someone who lost a champion.

No, I won't care to discuss it on a podcast.

Drax' response was simply that I did not appreciate he and his team working on the feature, then a block and - report?  Really?

The response was a bit mystifying if it wasn't tone deaf. We know he has a feature film project about Second Life Residents; it's right above in my text.   And tbh one cannot appreciate a project until it sees completion and has been experienced.  But the question now becomes: Does he consider working on the film a substitute for a Second Life presence and when he's done for the day does he run into Sansar to clean his palate?

I also wonder what Drax sees or wants out of a virtual world.  Is it to navigate it as close to the real world as possible? Is this what people fiercely defending VR want?

Second Life - and all 3D virtual worlds since decades - have brought people together who could not otherwise.  I have a RL friend in the midwest who I meet online two or three times a week because we can.  It's no longer just a phonecall on birthdays and holidays.

Next month will have been three years a dear friend in Second Life was lost. During the memorial service many things came to light: Her time was divided between art projects and volunteering at Virtual Ability on an alt (actually, the one I knew was the alt).  She became desperately ill and disabled from the side effects of a drug she was prescribed, but you would never have known it.  She could use her arrow keys to walk up to you like anyone else and type chat and be part of society with no hint of any deficiency. Sometimes that's all anyone needs or wants. Sometimes that's what fulfills one's dreams or brings back some functionality or humanity to someone made incomplete by circumstance.  (I've been there but fortunately it wasn't chronic)

People who cannot speak or breathe well enough to speak, or had a stroke and perhaps don't sound clearly through a microphone, or navigate English better read and typed, or are just shy and have greater spontaneity with the written word.  Or lag... there can be any number of reasons why someone will prefer to keep on typing and decline voice chat.

Likewise navigating as an avatar through a virtual world. Maybe just being able to see a representation of your deepest self walk or fly or ride a shuttlecraft. The mind fills the rest in. It doesn't need to involve turning the head or holding onto controllers.

I'm not looking to be realistic, just believable and most of all accepted. Some want to be what they look like in RL, to place their actual selves into a fantasy world. Some want to be silly and some want to be a profile pic in motion.  That's what I love about Second Life.

Those reading my blogs know I'm not looking to be some bigshot club DJ.  I'm there to bring something so that people can forget their problems for an hour or two, then come away with a smile.  I can count on one hand the number of times I put on my set list anything ripped from YouTube since the last eight-plus years.  I don't care what other DJs think and I ignore their attempts to "test" me.

I'm not looking for fights or to run a show. I'm certainly not into glory calling someone out.  But to become marginalized because someone lacks empathy (which came as a complete surprise) and drives the topic away from the point just to put on airs of indignance?  

Here it comes...


For all of you who love Second Life and what it's brought to your lives, helped you explore the real you, made your lives complete, fixed the broken, or just brought you closer to people who were otherwise out of reach: I love you all.  Maybe what it brings is all we really need.  Happy 15th Birthday Second Life and THANK YOU.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Ceremony That Launched a Thousand IMs (Long)

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 find me relating a story involving people you know: 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 my friends or team mates from ACTS, and that taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources, omitting them from services or preventing them from representation or fundraising, is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and The American Cancer Society.  They have nothing to do with this post.
ugust 2018.

We took a break from InWorldz relaying to meet back in Second Life for the RFLofSL Wrap Up ceremony.

As with Halfway There Fair they passed up a dedicated sim - or renting out the Rose Theatre (was that yet another lost contact?) for a modest spot on American Cancer Society island in front of the RFL building.

I thought about the previous year and their shoddy use of Info-Only Group to inform Relayers of Rap, applications, surveys... With a greatly diminished crowd it would be easy to track someone slipping off to bring an alt in to get past an avatar block and then return.  Certainly an overly emotional and uninformed instigator would be sloppy and conspicuous.  The contact who started it all (aka “With friends like them...”) had vacated the grid, barely a speck among the masses who discontinued their affiliation with RFLofSL. 

Having come under the wing of a large team it was a relief not to have to deal directly with the commitee.  My captain even arranged for my annual 4am Lap set on Relay Sunday.

By now we would have submitted recommendations for the following year’s theme and voted for it; Wrap Ceremony was where results were announced so teams could discuss and begin planning campsites in the interim.  There was no word, and this time I also had a team captain sharing relevant Volunteer Group notices with us.


There we stood, listening to platitudes and such, to committee people patting themselves on the back, when it came time for Sting.

Over the past year if he was on Skype for a ceremony Sting'a presence inworld amounted to a cardboard standup (aka flat alpha) so this was the first in a while where he actually logged in.

You know every time Sting speaks at a closing ceremony I think back on his epic piece from Relay Weekend 2011, the passage I posted last entry.  But there had been very little reason to “go there” anymore, no more pride for organizers as fellow volunteers among us, as we stood with our feet buried in phantom concrete.

What transpired must have launched a thousand IMs.  Well of course not; we were probably the smallest turnout for a Relay Wrap Up Ceremony this decade.
Sting’s 2017 speech with spontaneous thoughts in blockquote.

We’ve been doing Relay For Life in Second Life for 13 years now. Most Relay events that are as old as we are … are considered “mature” events.
What does that mean? “Mature” as in the concept of The Empty Table getting old? Is that why the audio for that was pre-recorded this year?  Are they sick of reciting an essential practise held in Relays worldwide?

It’s normal for mature events to experience many ups and downs with regard to participation, volunteerism, fundraising, community interest, event quality, event leadership...and when things like this happen - our first instinct is to look backward and cling to what is most familiar. It feels like an easier time, and we start to resist change because we feel like we should do what we used to do b/c it worked back then.
If what I quoted last entry was any indication, Sting could be suggesting taking the Volunteers into consideration when making decisions might be a thing of the past

And while a part of that is the right thing to do,

yup it is about that

it’s important to balance that with a bigger willingness to change...where it makes sense to change. Because we aren’t the same people we were years ago. We aren’t the same Relay we were years ago.

Yes but the biggest changes have not been for the better.

 Every year is different. I have always asked everyone, every year, to minimize your assumptions for the next year...and to embrace whatever changes each new season might bring. I always push our event leaders to commit to doing 1, 2, or 3 things different each season - if for no other reason that to send the message to everyone that change is good...change is growth...and to demonstrate that we should always be open to new ideas.

Maybe Sting is talking about those little tweaks like the shape of the track or mentoring/support structure of the committee.  Those are not on the table.  He clearly hasn’t been seeing what we’ve seen, and will ever be mystified over what went wrong...

Our Relay really is special...because of how dedicated you all are to it. You have always been so committed to making our ‘special’ Relay be “better than last year,” and the “best event in all of Second Life,” and “the best Relay in the Relay universe.”

Thanks for noticing

 And I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have to keep that passion because it’s the most important ingredient to our collective success as a mature event...or maybe we’re a teenage event...oh boy - those might be more difficult!

Wait a minute.  Didn’t he just suggest the “maturity“ was a stagnant factor?


Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): But we need to be careful that we don’t let that passion turn into pressure. We need to be careful that our event’s self-worth is measured by more than just the amount of money we raise. It’s okay that we want to raise more money than the last year...and the year before that...and so on. After all - this is a fundraising event. If a fundraiser doesn’t raise money, it’s not a fundraiser!!

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): But when we put that kind of pressure on ourselves, we start to stress more and more about who was raising what. Who contributed what? We start asking each other - are you doing as much as I am? Fundraising begins to feel like a requirement, and not a goal. And that leads to competition between each other - not as an event vs other Relay events. I don’t want that to consume us!

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): Don’t get me wrong, I know that within Relay, friendly competition between teams is healthy...and we spend every offseason trying to figure out how best to balance that without it becoming an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ for anyone. We’ve tried many ways to incentivize fundraising success over the years. For example, we have the fundraising club, Convio prizes... We pushed fundraising as a priority by making a qualification for campsites and establishing specific fundraising rewards. We push Convio for out-of-SL fundraising. We changed the ‘coach/mentor’ position to focus on fundraising consulting.

Sting was back

I wanted people who raised money to earn tokens of appreciation. I thought these were the kind of things that we needed to do to motivate more people to raise money. I wanted to reduce the number of teams that showed up as $0 at the bottom of Totals page. I wanted to try to create ways that more teams would want to reach the higher fundraising levels. But even though my intentions were pure (I hope you’d agree), I recognize that there is a group of volunteers who felt that I made FUNDRAISING the only thing that mattered to us.

You mean like that time we were called on the carpet like employees and told we weren’t raising enough?
I want to acknowledge and personally apologize to anyone that felt this pressure and I commit to you that we will find the right balance in 2018!!

Jaws dropped.  Did Sting just acknowledge and take responsibility for 3 years of committee elitism, antipathy and corruption?

And I say ‘balance’ because we have to all agree that while fundraising is important - it’s not the only ingredient to why our Relay is special. There are people who commit so much of themselves to this event who never have...and perhaps never will appear on the top of the Fundraising Club. Some of you may not have the large group of contacts in Second Life that you can collect money from.Some of you don’t have the assets to put on large events.

or vitality after living with the effects of cancer and its treatments to keep up with an aggressive schedule

Some of you don’t have deep bank accounts to drop millions of lindens in kiosks. But - we NEED you just as much as we need to fundraisers. We need you because you make sure we are having fun.

As if raising thousands of US Dollars over the years didn’t figure into this spiel.  And somehow managed without stepping on underdogs to get it (Harmony From Hell demons please note - you still owe me and my alumni an apology for plagiarism, regardless of what you changed your team’s name to for 2017).

Your there for us when we need someone to talk to. You help connect us to various resources. You introduce us to one another.

One of my former Hearts & Souls teammates will have her own team in 2018.

You help the newbies learn how to walk and how to Relay. You create the spirit of unity. You spread the word. You build things. You script things. You design things. You share your inventory. You recognize that you DO have something to offer to our family...and we need to make sure that we appreciate YOUR contributions as much as the fundraisers.

And then you have those of us who love to represent their communities. I want to make sure that anyone who comes to us from a role-playing community...or who comes to Relay as any non-human avatar, or who wishes to Relay as their Second Life persona - WE LOVE THAT!!! That’s the kind of diversity that we should celebrate more than anything else! I remember the 2014 Parade of Teams (if you haven’t heard it or you don’t remember it, IM me and I’ll share the mp3 with you)...

There is a rumor that tinies furries kids and genderbenders were not seen that way during the Darrow Era, that some individuals were mocked for being different.  That’s what I was told anyway.  The most transformation I engage in is for lap themes but regardless of their appearance (unless it toasts my graphics card) a friend is a friend .

but I wrote that story the way I did because I wanted to make sure that everyone could visualize that ... Relay For Life of Second Life is the only event that brings together the amount of diverse communities from Second Life...and we do it because we all share a common goal. And we need to celebrate that. When I encounter someone in Second Life who chooses to talk to me in their own roleplay, as their own avatar - I try as best as I can to respect that...and communicate back to them in my best … whatever-it-needs-to-be.

Well YOU might...  anyway is this a good time to address people dragging women in chains or ropes by their bare knees around a paved track as not that form of expression for general events and mixed company?  At the very least it is traumatic to those of our fellow residents who may have been victims of abuse. Some people DON’T get hot from it and others could be experiencing PTSD.  Is that what The American Cancer Society want their participants to feel because some people and their libidos can’t comprehend the concept of tact?  Some RPG needs to be left at the door.

If you choose to be a child avatar in SL...I’m going to respect that. If you choose to be a knight, I will respect that. No matter who or what or how you choose to Second Life - - as long as you respect Relay..and you are in our family...I will respect you!

So - where am I going with all this?

arms folded

So - WE ARE A FAMILY. And our family already knows that this is a fundraiser...and you don’t need to be reminded of that every time you log in. What you to truly own this event. You need to KNOW...and I mean genuinely KNOW in your heart - that whatever you contribute, whether it’s money, events, people, support, scripts, objects, your voice, your talent, your words, your time….is ALL equally important as every other type of contribution...and that we need every type of contribution...from the $5 Linden donation to the 3-hour DJ set, to the 6-month planning of a fundraiser, to the group chat cheering, to the sponsor, the building, the creative ideas, organizing things, fulfilling tasks, lending an ear...or a shoulder, to the witty jokes, to the gift of expressing yourself and your creativity.

 Like I said:  Maybe YOU do.  I remember going thru what I did during my diagnosis with added stress out of spite from former teammates and going into 6 hour surgery weeks late so I could serve my teammates thru Relay Weekend, then needing Radiation following, most likely as a result of both the delay and stress, then a year later cancer shamed by IM from 99% chance a committee alt for speaking up that official notices were not being sent from the info-only group and those of us relying on them missed pertinent announcements.  Remember this timeline as I do with every word you craft to us, because if RFLofSL carried on with MamaP and Dwen’s 2011 spirit, you wouldn’t be making this speech in 2017.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to past years. We need to stop comparing ourselves to each other. We need to celebrate our diversity and the fact that we all bring a different approach to reaching our shared goal. We need to hug each other and be supportive of each other. We need to see our Relay event as one team.

Given that those essential qualities touted in Sting’s 2011 wrap speech posted last entry were largely lost, what does this mean?  It tells me that he is saying that empathy is a thing of the past and we’ll just have to put up with more elitism, more alt cancer shaming, and relying on people who will never again consider with each decision how it will affect volunteers, regardless if any of them could be survivors or caregivers who lost their lifestyles, perhaps live on a fixed income or disability benefits, and just want to give back as best they can on a platform that makes it possible.

And we need to see each team within the event as the many branches of our team - all doing their own thing … sometimes doing things together … for the good of the whole. We need to look at each other and say “you did a great job there!” - and mean it. We need to learn and re-learn what brought our family members here. Everyone has a different story...and everyone has a plan for how THEY will contribute to our shared goal.

And as event leaders (and by leaders, I don’t mean committee...I mean anyone who has the ear of someone else). Team Captains, Veterans, influencers, outgoing people...we need to make sure that we aren’t in the way - and that we create an environment where everyone can Relay-Their-Way.

“Their Way” should exclude spam directed at those who haven’t opted in, plagiarism, belittling, harassment... right?

To every Team Captain, I say that in 2018 - No one should tell you how you should Relay. No one should tell you if you’re doing enough. But, in my humble opinion, if anyone considers themselves a “leader,” I feel like you do have a moral obligation to let as many people know how much you appreciate whatever they’re doing, whether it’s adding to the experience for everyone...or fundraising...or sponsoring...or anything else.

What is Sting saying?  To hell with respect for the brand? No regard to the basics we’ve asked of volunteers from the start with regard to promoting general content, abuse of official logos by recoloring or selling items with them on it... Stealing other people’s ideas... illegally opting people into events announcements spam lists?  Which floodgates is Sting planning to unhinge?

To everyone: In 2018, when you have an idea for something - event leadership will not stand in your way. We won’t “decide if we want to do it.” Instead, event leadership will say, “that’s a great idea...and you should do it!”

Take on a Patronizing tone? Random did that to me all the time. What’s new about it?

As I listened to all of the awards presented today, I do feel bad for so many deserving people that probably feel appreciated. To you, I want to make absolutely clear...just because the trophy wasn’t handed to you doesn’t mean that you don’t matter. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t vitally important to the success of this event or to this family.

I know it feels great to think about receiving an award from your friends and family here. But...I ask all of you - WHY does it feel good? Why does it matter to you whether you are recognized or not on this stage? Is it the prize? Is it the honor? Is it the celebration of you? Is it the stature and the prestige?

Now it sounds like he's talking about TS Darrow.

Is it the title or the trophy?   I honestly don’t think that’s it. It’s not any of those things. Not when you get to the heart of it.

This so far is a bullshit notion Sting is building up.  Aside from milestone awards everyone participating receives a Community award.  Active teams have never been left out.  I don’t know why he feels an obligation towards listed teams that hadn’t raised anything.  I have ever called these listings the “me too’s,” who were caught up in the moment, then realized the level of commitment and did one of 4 things: 
1. Backed away and will never see this speech,
2. Join an established team,
3. Re-reigistered under another name, or
4. Decided to take it to RL. 
Don’t worry about hurting the metoo listees’ feelings; that’s not where you should be focusing your attention.

Think about how many years, how much stress, how much passion, and how much you committed yourself to this event...and how many times you worried about letting anyone down...and how many times you lost sleep worrying about if anyone really understood how much you care and how much pressure you put on yourself to make others happy...and how hard you’ve tried to support one another, and how all you want is to contribute to something epic. I don’t think it’s the award you want...or need. I think what’s more all of us… is to know that the people I care so much about...who are a part of this cause that I care so much about... value what I have done.

You just said this was old school and to not expect this essential factor to find its way back to RFLofSL.  I think the biggest problem is that Sting doesn’t really address us as adults that we cannot tackle even the most basic ethical concerns.  TBH in recent years you’ve had your attention elsewhere and you didn’t check in on committee’s doings as much as you should have.  You were noshows for much of 2016.

You all deserve to feel validated. You deserve to truly feel like what you do here is genuinely and sincerely appreciated. You are valuable. You matter. Every single one of you. Simple as that.

It is as though Sting is addressing a collection of institutionalized patients...

You HAVE  to know - how much of your positivity, passion, faith, commitment, enthusiasm, and support - is so important to what we are all doing here. Because it feels good! It feel[s] GREAT! Why wouldn’t we want each other to feel great?

I don’t know. Ask Harmony From Hell alumni.  In 2014 they stooped to great depths for those levels at the cost of others. 

I care about you all enough to say THANK YOU!  And this isn’t MY Relay...or the committee’s Relay...or the veteran Relayers’ Relay...or the mega events’ Relay - - this is EVERYONE’S RELAY!!

Actions speak louder than words as we stand IN the pavement in a sim where a forced landing takes you a long way from your click.  This is very patronizing...

And so - 2018 will be different. We’re going to make sure that every type of contribution to the event means that every person has a level of ownership in the event.

Teams each used to have a booth at kick-off and party as one and feeling like part of a whole.  I remember the MamaP and Nikki eras thank you.

Then 2016 just sponsors had a presence.  Including team participation is the old junk you wanted to get rid of?

We’re going to make sure that we aren’t an event full of individual teams doing their own thing to compete for a trophy. Instead, we’re going to be an event full of teams who are working together to make sure that we ALL have the best 2018 Relay the American Cancer Society has ever seen...and the best overall event that Second Life has ever seen. It’s about ALL of us!!

Okay. We can only see what happens.

We’re going to identify the things that we know we do well - and we’re going to make sure we keep doing them. We’re going to find out what we should keep doing...and figure out how to do them better. And we’re also going to find out what things we can stop doing - and we’re all going to just...stop doing it!!

Like stop clogging a region of active teams with an additional 8-10 microcampsites?  Or stop having phantom roads?  Stop elevating cheats and plagiarists? Your folks already stopped caring about how every move would affect volunteers as related in your 2011 wrap speech.  I don’t think you really know how to make it better because you and your buddies are so noseblind to the basics.  This is a people problem, not a thing problem.

For example - we don’t need to give you mission posters - we should provide you with the messaging and let YOU make your own posters...and you can share them with everyone else if you want.

Ah so the liaisons don’t want to liais any longer.  Because you know people did the custom thing already where applicable.  In 2016 YOUR goons required of us to put mission statement pillars & banners on our campsites like mandatory homework, so if you had your fill of them then don’t blame us.  My final campsite of that year was a wealth of info and advice without obligating me to put up those things.

We don’t need to plan a mega event if there’s no one truly willing to take it on. We don’t need event leadership to oversee every little aspect of the event. We don’t need to police your fundraising events, we don’t need so many damn guidelines - we should trust you all to be responsible adults in this virtual world. If you’re in compliance with Second Life TOS, why should we add more restriction to that?

Hey they’re YOUR bosses.  Are you saying the Relay For Life and American Cancer Society as brands or entities no longer warrant respect?
We need to evaluate if our season is too long…
if we are starting the season at the right time….
if our Relay event should stay in July or change weekends.
We need to evaluate as much about ourselves and our event as we can - and we will not be afraid of making real changes. And we need your trust that those changes will all be based on our shared desire to make the best Relay experience for everyone to do their thing and to have a good time and to enjoy being a part of our family.

That depends on how important the numbers are to you.  InWorldz has a 2 month Relay Season but a microfraction of participants.  If you’re using them for a model...

You will own the 2018 event! We’re just going to facilitate it.

We aren’t all going to agree on every change - and so I ask everyone to commit right now to compromising. We commit right now to trying new ideas because we are more interested in the good of the tribe than the good of the individual.

That’s part of your problem and why the “tribe” suffers.

  Plus, if the new ideas don’t work, we can always try something else next year.

Wondering whether you’re capable of determining when something needs to be fixed or replaced?  I’m not detecting any inclinations towards retention for the good of your tribecliqueclan.

So I hope that as you hear this, that it generates a renewed excitement for the future of Relay For Life of Second Life. This is our opportunity to change the way we’s up to each and every one of us to decide how we will embrace the next version of Relay For Life of Second Life.

We’re all looking at you like this...

Nuala: That was awesome! I'm so pumped and excited for 2018!
Nuala: Thank you everyone - thank you Sting!


Sting: There's a lot of people who may be confused to - usually every year we ask for the theme nominations, etc.

We cant do that, can we?

Nuala: We cant do that!

I smell your fear.

We don't know yet! But people will have a say in it.

Nuala: We will let you know everything about that!

Watching with great amusement.

We're not gonna hold  the secrets of change very long. They are coming out, so stay paying attention!

We will give you notice on off season dates and times. As of the moment there is no official date and time. We will keep you in the loop.

Nuala: That form is still open if they want to submit suggestions - we'll post that out in group again.

Sorry I took so long - i dont know how long that went!

Nuala: That was awesome - thank you!

Glad you liked it

everyone who is listening here - if you have thoughts on how to do this a completely different way - another thing i'd like to hear ideas on are team campsites!

should we go to one size, wha should that size be?

all options are on the table. What are we not thinking of?

give us your thoughts on the season start end times tioo!

as if they’d listen to the peons of their tribe

so again - when we talk about handing the relay to the teams - it'll come down to when we have the theme. Everyone will vote. The logo - sometimes we've designed it and said "Here it is" - we might do a logo contest !

only with a donation reward.  Don’t try to pass off getting work for nothing as some sort of privilege.

we want more people to be involved than it just being a committee job.

Nuala: Brand new chalkboard youve got and there's nothing on it. How would you make a relay?

Refer to 2011 closing ceremony speech in previous blog post.

So that we know - we know the approach and the goal - now its about the specific decisions.

Nuala: That's wrap up! Thanks guys for a fantastic year!
Nuala: Sting as always - good not to have a cut out!
Nuala: Thank you everyone for a great wrapup! Go relay!!!

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating

Was Sting mocking us? Was he on the level?  Was he genuinely admitting that ACS did not oversee the committee or makethem pass along unreasonable demands these past three years?  Or had he just been negligent in keeping an eye on whom he had in place to act on his behalf (because that should have been the lead’s role and not some appointed ACS babysitter)? You’d think with the sharp drop in donations in 2015 that he would have taken a closer look at abrupt departures of teams and intense shuffling of committee volunteers.  The feedback forms offered up plenty (I know I wasn’t alone).  There was no opportunity to be oblivious.

Hence we were suspicious.  None of this made sense.

Then, in an age of our beleaguered society here in America, we were slowly handed hackneyed feedback forms which conveniently could not address poignant issues.  We were given a choice of 3 themes (from whom?) two of which were just so bad and one simply coherent that clearly indicated that someone already had their mind made up, all the while saying this would become OUR Relay.

The committee - or whatever they were supposed to be now - were not going to offer up a logo or theme design.  They pandered to residents for free graphics and tried to make it seem like some sort of privilege. It’s an old trick to get something for nothing.  The decent thing to do was offer the winner L$10,000 to the team of their choice once the 2018 season kicked off.  Instead with pro’s backing off they landed a hot mess consisting of stolen cut and paste which resembled 3 logos smushed together.

It seemed more and more the message became clear:  If you don’t like the shit you’ve had to put up with, make your own.

Next: 2018 and how the year panned out.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The 2017 Relay Weekend Report (Long)

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 find me relating a story involving people you know: 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 my friends or team mates from ACTS, and that taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources, omitting them from services or preventing them from representation or fundraising, is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and The American Cancer Society.  They have nothing to do with this post.

As an addendum to my disclaimer, I'd like to state the obvious that I work hard to provide what I can to back up what I say.  For example, for my previous post about RFLofSL's shabby treatment of Giant Snail Relay I acquired images AND video references of past involvement to show just how conditions had progressively declined.  There was no ambiguity but there was much to answer for. The big question of course is whether 2018 will mark an improvement for RacerX Gullwing's team?  btw for Relay Weekend their co-captain Tindallia Soothsayer is their team's designer and builder. Ask her what they need.

As for this post, it took some time to get ahold of logs and links to back things up.  I already had a great deal of snapshots and screen captures, and perhaps between the notes and images it was just so overwhelming.  I gave up my own team because RL had its own plans for me, so putting this together had to take a back seat, even if it is posted in chronological context (this draft had been under way from July 2017 into spring 2018).  Thank you for your patience.

Me and friend Tindy taking a break while touring the Relay sims.
There is an issue which I have been overdue to address which is relevant but have decided to make that its own post at some point.  It will be NSFW and hard to miss among my posts.  But first things first.

Looking back on Relay Weekend 2016 as the nicest and least lagged in Relay For Life of Second Life's history and the committee stumbling along following volunteer backlash, we hoped that this trend of struggling to improve their empathic skills would continue into the following year.  There were some interesting changes under new lead and T1 Radio head Nuala Maracas, but what worked and what didn't by Relay Weekend?

The first thing about any sort of leadership is that putting someone with an easy disposition to the forefront does not necessarily mean they're right for the job.  Nuala stepped in for Events coordination in the past, but with so many egos at play a personality with a balance of nice and tough was necessary to reign them in as RFLofSL Chair. I did not see this. And if I didn't then others didn't.  I happen to like Nuala and felt she was in the wrong role for perhaps the wrong reasons.

Regarding management upstream: Our American Cancer Society liaison Stingray Raymaker largely ignored us in 2017 after so many no-shows in 2016 and delegated another ACS employee with little experience in cyberculture and no first-hand knowledge of RFLofSL's past to pay attention to Second Life. More on that in a future blog post.

Fall From Grace: The Phantom Inquisition 

Phantom track meant MORE lag user side as we slagged thru the uneven terrain beneath

Last year most of us embraced estate owner Sue Peregrine's advice and wisely set phantom where possible, which basically meant non-walking/standing surfaces and whatever portions of a campsite didn't rely on solid surfaces to get an effect across.  There was also the curious matter of linking to the sim Navmesh which escaped most participants, myself included.  I emulated those campsites after gauging the depth of their core prims (Sue read last year's post and IMed me about it since I mentioned I couldn't find documentation on it beyond Navmesh's role in automation.  We had a good conversation and she cleared a lot up.  Sue's very nice, and her eagerness to enlighten and generosity in loaning out sims for RFL fundraisers over the years speaks volumes.  Thanks to her the track in 2016 was the least lagged Relay Weekend ever).

But that was then.

I want to state what should be obvious: With the notoriety and loss of support covered in blog posts these three years (not just in mine) that all eyes are continuously on RFLofSL's behavior.  That said, any time an essential member of their ranks and a respected fixture of Relaydom or Second Life abruptly moves on, you have to wonder.  Two fingers from our eyes to yours.  Her departure, regardless of the reason, sent up a red flag.

As you know there's been an ongoing issue with forced landing points since last year when Relay For Life became a quadrant of the Activity Sims.  This was applied to American Cancer Society as well. The excuse for these were rubbish; they only served to inconvenience Relayers and visitors looking to return directly to locations for help and support.  I guarantee you their number over alleged undesirables was substantial.  The Relay committee 's antipathetic reputation extended to impact that of the American Cancer Society themselves, but these people remained oblivious to their impact in Second Life on the brand they served.


Purposeful / Functional application went out the window this year with frantic directives to make everything at the track phantom.

Actual Notice. Remember you can click to view blog images full size.
Designers either ignored this altogether or mocked the committee by complying and rendering paths, bridges, interior stairs and floors - EVERYTHING - phantom and therefore unusable:

Interiors & exteriors by designers who complied with the above notice.

Even then the worst offender may have been the committee themselves.  Disrespecting the diversity of Relayers in a virtual world by causing small animals, children, and fae folk to run face deep through large portions of the track.
A Dinkie cat trying to traverse the track.
Is this respectful of cancer survivors and caregivers?
I'm still not sure whether to use "overzealous" or "fanatical" here.  Neither are redeeming qualities.  One thing's for sure: this lunacy wasn't made at the request of any Lindens.

Yes, you heard right: The path itself was phantom!  Every bump and dip and stumble contributed to the burden and lag experienced by each of us.  Depriving us of a smooth surface defeated the purpose of applying phantom in the first place.

I didn't know about collision's effect on lag until last year.  I have Sue Peregrine and the Lindens to thank for it.  Relay For Life of InWorldz will never hear the end of it from me.  But god help me if I ever descend to the depths of pointless directives for their own sake or to sound important.

Fall From Grace II: The Great Hunt Hipocracy

As one would expect from an egomaniac who did not anticipate the consequences of driving a beloved and valuable member of the community out, Grace Loudon had a different set of standards for her own builds throughout the Relay sims. 

A track hunt was in play this year.  As we explored the regions after the weekend and decided to participate, it became evident that she didn't need to check her own content for collision objects or excessive scripts.

These were builds set in out-of-the-way places in the designer sims.  They all had pointless animated textures of an avatar speaking (the mouth was a tiny portion of the whole build). Some were not phantom. Many were opressively heavy builds...

 Above: over 40 LI. · Below: Over 200 LI
Both: animated texture scripts just to have the mouth move. 

Would it have been too much to expect Grace to follow her own guidelines and do the right thing? Either she didn't truly feel the rules she imposed on other builders applied to her, or they weren't valid as decreed and she just wanted to exercise power to satisfy some urge.  Or both.

Such a talented designer but what a hot mess at the cost of Relayers' comfort and mobility. Shame on her and her team.

What Became of Media Row?

Media Row was changed to optional overpasses along the track.  For those entities who sponsored to have one: Bravo!

Music To Fly By overpass complete with mixing console.
Gorean WHIP had interview seating.
T1 Radio again had its own campsite although Relay Rockers is their team (RRs have a closed membership policy) and as usual they defied policies left and right with track parties and a perpetual space for congregating and dancing.  Each year they disrupt track caching efforts with a sim blocking and destabilizing tailgate party Friday evening.

Thing is, unlike other stations affiliated with teams and mega events, T1 Radio is RFLofSL's official stream and host full coverage during Relay Weekend.  This means that while the track is heavily attended they feature DJs from a variety of orgs, each with their own following or entourage, who will congregate on the campsite.  Despite policy regarding DJs inviting followers, there are dance machines left out to encourage participation.

Relay Rockers impromptu gathering at T1 Radio Campsite fills the sim and
blocks Relayers from entering. Pic taken on Sat 13 Jul 2013 12:37pm SLT
We et al shared sims with their RR campsite in 2015 and couldn't enter it before the Honor Lap.
Is it necessary to pose a burden to Relayers? Why does such a trade-off have to exist? Teams are asked to have no more than 8 members at the campsite during Relay or parties at the track ever, so when was this double standard set? 

The fact is T1 Radio is an essential part of the Relay Experience in Second Life. They introduce relevent contacts and fellow Volunteers in a way that brings humanity to what are otherwise names in text chat. They offer up a world of inspiration and fundraising ideas and make announcements. They inform us of events and projects we might otherwise have missed.  That said, there is a need for their presence.

I have a solution for T1 Radio, and it's something I've said before:  The Activity sims are along the track and over the border, with locations each separated by an abundance of space.  Why not place T1's Campsite right at a corner? They will be accessible from and won't negatively impact the track.  Think of it: they can maintain a small listening party on site.  They attend the big ceremonies themselves so there won't be any internal conflicts during those times when there is heavy population there.

Along this principle was this year's Fight Back Ceremony.  It was done in just that way: held over the sim border while still trackside.  It was perfect.

Of course that doesn't mean some of us won't temp-derender most attendees to stay connected; a lot more were present. The Fight Back ceremony was held just over the border from the track in view of Relayers
Let's do this for T1 Radio this year so they can offer a place for ppl to dance on site all weekend! They can have their tailgate and afterparties with abandon.  Let them be the token stage for that Activity region, sharing with gachas or vendors and a quarter of the ceremony space.  Make half of the Fight Back area part of that region too since they are responsible for broadcasting it.

You're Welcome.

Mirror Mirror On The Wall: Who Congested The Track Most Of All?

Aether Chrononauts Tiny Steps was humbled when their campsite sim ran into frequent bouts of congestion. Second Place were repeat offenders Relay Rockers elsewhere on the track.

But a closer look exonerates ACTS, and here's why:

A track sim typically consists of four large team campsites.  Sometimes there are 5 as one side will have one large plus two narrow half-sites.  Congestion may occur when a team has an enthusiastic roster and high attendance all weekend. ACTS certainly falls into this category as we are a conglomerate of communities, cultures and former teams.

The Caledon portion of the ACTS campsite.
Purple Tears was across the track from us, another enthusiastic team.  They are a closed group consisting of SL children and camp counselors from a time when Hard Knocks ran an exclusive sleepaway camp each summer which ended at the track. SL Relayers know them for their long purple kites. But also - like the tinies and dinkies on our team, the children require scripts which make their forms and identities possible; it is not reasonable to expect them to omit these.  Ditto a third campsite which joined us on the sim: Fantasy Faire, with petite faeries and wing wearers. Fantasy Faire took a proactive role beyond the Faire and were a consistent presence on Relay Weekend.

So who planned for there to be three aggressive teams in one sim?  The blame would fall on someone in the committee for that.

If it didn't get even better, and it did...

Take a look at this map for the track for 2017 and our sim (we took the NE quadrant):

To the west of ACTS was Fantasy Faire. To the south was Purple Tears. Now, take a look at the SW quadrant of the sim.  Here below is a closer look so you can see that U shape in the road instead of running straight across:

RFL Hero not long after Relay Weekend

Let me bring up something mentioned last year: Remember how originally those who would reach the new Rising Star milestone of US$100 but fell short of Bronze would get a spot on a designated designer sim for their team?  Feedback over active teams who fell short of those new and demanding milestone parameters (originally Bronze was US$40 and Silver US$300) caused the committee to backpeddle over awarding campsites. They abandoned the idea of a dedicated sim of small spots altogether.

Then imposed this in OUR sim RFL Hero this year.  That and I guess some teams just didn't want the burden of having to design a quarter or eighth of a sim.

So to review:  A region consisting of THREE LARGE ACTIVE CAMPSITES with team members always present had AN ADDITIONAL EIGHT PARCELS, many also with team members always present.  In the end our sim served as home base for TWELVE TEAMS.  Yes, you saw that correctly.  Two teams merged their campsites together and made #8 on the map. One sim, 11 campsites. One sim, 12 teams. That was us. 

And you don't think the organizers are bonkers?  If this wasn't their crowning WTF moment of 2017, it came a close second after that phantom track bullshit.

Anyway: Exonerated.  Relay Rockers? Still not off the hook for congesting their sim each year :)

Another Good Thing Though: Awards!

It was awesome.  Throughout the course of the weekend committee placed fundraising awards beside campsite markers.  Members could take copies for themselves. This was a vast improvement from the previous year, when most teams didn't even receive their awards.

Only one thing: you could take a copy of everyone else's awards too.   For some, RFLofSL award levels are a goalpost, while for others they're a status symbol to permit them to look down at others.  I just liked collecting them.  They are an apt memento from this year's theme of passports and travel stickers.  And thank you for finally making the awards phantom.

The Relay Track Hall of Shame

And by that I mean teams who pick their campsites up early.  Yes, for a change this is about some team leads and not the committee.

Most Relayers don't have access to the track before Saturday morning, then spend much of their time in Low Graphics mode so they can minimize crashes.  There is no time for them to "cache the track" and their draw distance is set below 50s.  Yet designers often make HUGE objects or set their presentations within massive environments.

The only chance anyone gets to really see the track and all the hard work put into campsites and builds are after Relay.  This way one can crank up the settings and give credit where due while appreciating it all.

Enjoying a designer sim after Relay Weekend.
The sims remain open for many days after, and it's for a reason.  You can see a little of it while you're running - because you're there to walk or run - and keep giving mental notes lap after lap: "I gotta visit this after."

That is also the time their photogs and videographers record the year's offerings for posterity.

Except there are some people who choose to pick up, sometimes while people are still walking the final Victory Lap (aka the "See you next year!" Lap).

Here are 2017's Relay Weekend Hall of Shame winners:

Guardians of the Grid and Guardian Charities. Fuck you.

Morningwood Valley. Fuck you.
RadioActive Air (in fairness someone told them to remove it right away)

Number 11 on the map posted previously: Purple Tears. They vacated Sunday. Fuck you too.

Thanks to everybody else who kept their stuff out for a few days so it could be looked at by masses of grateful Relayers.

Eclair Martinek's designer sim pick-i-nick at RFL Remission.

Can Relay Weekend Be Redeemed?

It's hard to say.  The committee has fallen so far into the pit and cannot seem to extricate themselves.  New generations of RFL participants don't know what it was like back when We Believed, when we ALL cried at ceremonies rather than the committee cherrypicking speakers for pathos potential.

I want to relate something from the 2011 closing ceremonies.  It is a portion of Stingray Raymaker's speech after everyone else had their say and some rewards were announced.  It was a year when I participated with two teams and spent the weekend with Giant Snail Relay.  It was my first time at the track proper, and my first any ceremony.  Special "thank you" to IshtarAngel Micheline, who recorded that year's ceremonies on audio. (please bear with me as I'm not experienced with formatting transcriptions)

...And I have one more "thank you" that I did save for last and I wanted it to be a surprise.

To Mama and Dwen [aka MamaP Beerbaum and Dwen Dooley],

You have both thanked everyone.  You spent the ... entire year making sure that the spotlight is on everyone but yourselves. None of us - myself included - would have been able to accomplish anything we have if it weren't for your inspirational, steadfast, dedicated leadership.

Your commitment to excellence in all areas and your refusal to accept the status quo have reignited a passion across the entire grid.

We've spent so much time over the last year together discussing and debating just about every single detail of the whole [Relay Weekend] event. We didnt always agree on every point, but your ability to not allow things to get personal and your dedication to the success of the event is the reason why we were able to get to this point today.

Many of you don't realize - and I swear this is not some cliché speech tactic but seriously - at the root of every decision, every discussion or conversation that we had - and we had conversations daily about what to do, about this or that - the consideration was always: "How was this going to affect the teams? How was this going to affect our volunteers' decisions?  If we do this, have we considered all options and all implications?"

It was never about Mama and Dwen. It was always about The Relayers.

You were The Doctor and Rose, the Jeff and Jordan of my Relay experience this year.

So for once I think it would be okay for the two of you to step into the spotlight - I think everybody would be okay with it - and take a bow.

But not for too long 'cause we gotta get started on next year pretty soon. The nuthouse is calling...

What an incredible speech, and what an experience.  Those words inspired me to become a captain the following year.  That spirit carried us through 2012 and beyond. 2014 was the last great Relay year in Second Life.

If you've lost your way or came after that time and never knew what it was like, I have something special for as long as it exists...

Relive Relay Weekend 2014!

When Treet TV was an active production company in Second Life, several of their shows had a presence on the track.  The Giant Snail Races you already know.  But so did Designing Worlds.

DW usually had a studio overlooking the track.  For Relay Weekend 2014 it became their home base for roundtable discussion in what was round-the-clock video coverage.  It featured trackside interviews with team captains and Relayers, the Tiny Snail Race, and all ceremonies.  It was such a job and they went above and beyond, but it preserves Relay For Life of Second Life at its best and even captures that moment when funds passed US$400,000 during the closing ceremony.

This stream runs in one continuous loop 24/7 and requires Flash to play.

One More Thing..

Last but not least, thank you to those who attended my annual 4am Lap Theme set at the Activity sims Sunday morning.

World Music for International Hour. Ty FF's Elayne for hosting!

Coming Soon: The 2017 Wrap Up and other things.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Last Activity

Meow Meow Meow Three, Two, One, MEOW!!!

 If you've participated in Relay For Life of Second Life for a significant number of years, you may recall a dual purpose for the Activity sims. 

They were General rated and accessible to minors at a time when a Teen Grid consisting of 13-17 year old residents migrated over to the Main Grid.  Back then those sims were the only accessible regions on the track, so it made sense that they offered robust content.

Second: There were ACTIVITIES! 
We're not talking about auctions or vending machines or performances.  Performances are events.  There were rides and amusements - interactive fare - which varied according to each year's designer.  Visitors were never disappointed and it attracted those who otherwise may not have visited the track.

Snail Racing on Relay Weekend

RacerX Gullwing was one of Relay For Life of Second Life's earliest participants, having started in 2006 with his team Giant Snail Relay.  When Relaying and Relay Weekend participation grew beyond the grass roots level, RacerX Gullwing's Giant Snail Races - the grid's longest running sport - moved over to the Activity sims and became a highlight, with several epic races throughout the Weekend and one televised live via TreetTV.

These were intended to be scaled down versions of his cross-country races of 80+ Mainland sims leading up to a 4-sim odyssey on Relay Weekend.  They promoted what the Activity sims had to offer with an incidental tour.  Naturally with only 4 sims the Tiny racing snails were introduced.  These events were televised live and were an epic battle of skill and determination against extreme lag. (look for links below to relive some of them)

In about 2013 as part of the RFL 10th anniversary theme of RFLofSL someone on the committee had a special track fashioned just for the Tiny Snail Races.  By then the last of SL's minor residents had grown up and activities in the sims were limited to performances, ceremonies, auctions and a marketplace.  And the Tiny Snail Race. The race was restricted to the custom track. This marked when perhaps the sims should have settled into their new collective identity as Event Sims. With the Snail Race track limited to a space within one sim there were 2 races held, one for the Tiny Snails and another for the Giant Snails.

2016's Tiny Snail Races track. Approximately 140-150m long
Since that time Tindallia Soothsayer - who has built Giant Snail Relay's campsites since 2010 - designs the track for Relay Weekend's Tiny Snail Races. The dimensions have averaged half a sim by a quarter sim, still cramped and indeed making for a much shorter broadcast. 2016's episode lasted less than 10 minutes versus 2010's hour and most of the decade's 30-40 minute coverage per show.

Then came 2017

Relay Weekend, a time to remember those we lost and bring everyone together in the spirit of hope and strength and challenge, which annually turned to its Event sims for inspiration at the opening and closing ceremonies, respite from stress in the form of live acts and DJs and some shopping, suddenly found itself in the hands of a designer and not a member of the committee.

Remember the 3 Mile Island debacle of SL10B?  Desolation, destruction, harm - all those aesthetics a cancer suvivor or caregiver should never have to experience more than they already have - this is who they picked to design the "Activity" sims.

"Q*bert's Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland"
First, getting from place to place has become restricted to strict teleport areas versus a long, set path. Most of the sims are hard landing points, especially (and yet again) Relay For Life region. So forget about World Map teleporting to the least populated sim for the opening or closing ceremonies.

It is a terrain of desolate blocks or grimey concrete with sections anally carved out for Auctions, stages, a Gotya Garden (they really should call it a Trench), with the only green at the center for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.   Because we still don't know whether tomorrow's Fight Back ceremony will be there or rudely block Relayers - Remember them? They're the ones we are HONORING by having a Relay Weekend in the first place - from running their laps by having it held on the track.

Why do I put "Activity" in quotes?

Well, remember the Tiny Snail Races?  Remember past cramped space alotments of 1/2 x 1/4 sim for the track?  They designated barely half that this year!  I truly don't think these people have ever seen a Snail Race to qualify them.  And they need to ask TINDALLIA for any needs and NOT RacerX since she is their builder.  Tindy is extremely creative and has made do as less and less space has been given to this Relay legacy and become more and more disrespected.

With the limited parcel given them and difficult concrete block terrain to traverse just to take a seat or walk off the track, Tindy rallied and added a dash of colour and optimism in what is an otherwise bleak environment.  Please offer her kudos and support for the hard work and many hours she put in to please everyone while still come through with what is sure to be a worthwhile competition.

This year's race track
Come to the Tiny Snail track or Giant Snail Relay campsite for this year's commemorative Tiny Snail and donate to help fight cancer.  Then join everyone at 2pm SLT TODAY for the Shady Fox Memorial Tiny Snail Race. The event will be filmed for future release on YouTube and

Now for your enjoyment and nostalgia are a list of past Relay Weekend races...

2010 with Wiz Nordberg

2011 with Saffia Widdershins

2012 with Elrik Merlin and Saffia Widdershins

2013 with Saffia along with Fantasy Faire's Zander Greene and Dave Abbott

2015 with show hosts RacerX, Tindy, Mae Best and Shady Fox (no guests. Treet no longer covered the Weekend)

2016 RacerX, Tindy, Mae, and Oodleme Noodle (no guests)
Shady Fox passed away from cancer following a late diagnosis earlier in the year. This annual event has since been renamed the "Shady Fox Memorial Tiny Snail Race"

My connection with Giant Snail Racing began as host of a viewing platform
during a cross-country race. This was the day I learned of RFL: April 14 2010