RFL 2015: Halfway There weekend

banner-1Saturday, May 16th and Sunday May 17th officially mark the Halfway There weekend for the 2015 Relay For Life season in Second Life.

As is usual for the half-way stage in the season, a full weekend of activities has been planned, including fund-raising, DJs sets, tribute bands, and many RFL of SL Relay Team events, with everything kicking-off from 16:00 on Saturday, May 16th, and then running through until the evening of Sunday, May 17th.

Four regions have been set-up for the weekend, and they draw upon this year’s Back to the Future-esque theme for their inspiration. So, throughout the Halfway There festivities, you can travel back to the Pac-Man dominated 1980s, or tour the 1990s, reminisce over the 2000s, and look ahead to a hopefully eco-friendly future.

Each region has its own stage area, and all four are connected by a central hub area which offers a main stage for key events. The SLurl for arrivals is given at the end of this article, but please note it will not be open until just before the weekend is due to kick-off.

Pac-Man features in the Halfway There 1980s region
Pac-Man features in the Halfway There 1980s region

On Sunday, May 17th in particular, the event will feature the Halfway There Awards ceremony, which will take place at 10:00 on Sunday, and will include the 2015 Relay For Life of Second Life Planning Committee.

Schedule of Events

At the time of writing, the Halfway There weekend schedule of events read as follows (as usual, all times SLT):

Saturday, May 16, 2015

  • 16:00 – 17:00 – Opening Party
  • 17:00 – 18:00 – The Purple Man Group
  • 18:00 – 19:00 – Dance Party
  • 19:00 – 21:00 – Garth Brooks Tribute Band
Halfway There events area walk
Halfway There events area walk

Sunday, May 17, 2015

  • 06:00 – 20:00: Raffle, auction, and vendor fundraising areas are open
  • 10:00 – 11:00: 2015 Halfway There Awards Ceremony
  • 11:00 – 20:00: Relay For Life of Second Life Team Events
  • 14:00 – 15:30: Abba Tribute Band
  • 15:30: Relay Rap.

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A fistful of Lindens

People start to re-gather for the meet-up following the region restart
People start to re-gather for the meet-up following the region restart

The sun was high overhead, the stones of the piazza baking under its glare, the wet splash of the fountain seductive in the heat. The rumours had clearly spread well beyond the high walls and paved paths of the town; with ninety minutes to go, folk were drifting in from far and wide, all drawn by the rumours: the Lindens were heading back to town!

Keira Linden slips in...
Keira Linden slips in…

Speculation was rife; how should the local law enforcement, known for their tough line on dress code and appearance, handle things? Would the Lead Cheese of this notorious gang of in-world outlanders be present? Would there be …. bears?!

The air was heavy with an expectation that weighed people down more than the heat of the sun; the town’s Mayoress was on-hand, keeping things as relaxed as possible as slowly, the clock ticked towards high noon, and the final hour before the Gang were expected to ride into town.

Then, without warning, the ground started rumbling and excitement grew; were the Lindens a-ridin’ in early? And then IT happened …

The region you are in now is about to restart. If you stay in this region you will be logged out. Seconds until restart 298.

With characteristic bluntness, the mayoress summed-up the crowd’s unspoken reaction to the announcement, “WUT?!”

Some thought it a ploy by those sly Lindens, perhaps to clear the town so they could enjoy their revelries alone. Others pointed to the hand of Hamlet, Prince of Negative Blogging trying to disrupt matters. Some opted to retire to the hills (or at least another region), some elected to stay, determined not to miss a thing … 

Xiola (l) and Shaman (r) make their way towards the town square
Xiola (l) and Shaman (r) make their way towards the town square

OK, so maybe it wasn’t quite like something out of High Noon (although Wurfi only needed a cape and he could have been a passable Clint from the Dollars movies!). But the number of people gathered at Basilique Town ahead of the Linden meet-up scheduled for Thursday, May 14th was impressive, and the expectation / excitement was high – and the re-start really did happen, leading to claims that the region had been moved to a more robust “events” server to handle the load.

Ziki looks on while Max takes an opportunity to whisper sweet nothing to Froukje ... or something ;-)
Ziki looks on while Max takes an opportunity to whisper sweet nothings to Froukje … or something 😉

Whether such speculation was accurate or not is a matter for debate elsewhere; restarting the region may have been enough to ensure a reasonable level of performance without additional special actions on the part of the Lab. Suffice it to say that it did handle the load very well for most people, considering over 100 were present at the height of the event. And despite concerns ahead of time over Basilique Town’s access code, avatars of all shapes, sizes and origins were on-hand to join in.

Of the Lindens, Dee was actually the first to arrive, although going by my radar, she opted to hop-in some distance from the main landing zone and then hopped away shortly thereafter.

Keira was the next to wander into the square, her presence seemingly unnoticed at first, such was the attention being directed at the blue tag of a Mole. Patch, Xiola, Shaman and Michael all arrived in short order, and did their best to mingle and chat.

Thus people got to learn a lot about the Lindens’ liking for crepes, which were apparently on the lunch menu at the Lab, and Shaman’s choice of fillings in particular left me feeling a tad hobbit-like: in need of a second dinner, while for others the mention of crepes with fishy fillings prompted speculation on the advisability of eating anything with salmon in it at a corporate event …

Given the numbers in attendance, organised group photos, etc., were a non-starter; even mingling was a tad bit difficult, with many fearing to move in case they crashed. I managed to hold still, leaning against a lamp-post to one side of the square, keeping away from the core crowd, and gently cammed around looking for suitable snapshots and finding a good few friends and acquaintances I haven’t seen in a while, whilst also losing myself in IMs not a few times.

Basilique's owner, Canary Beck (l) and Xiola Linden (r)
Basilique’s owner, Canary Beck (l) and Xiola Linden (r)

Ebbe did not put in an appearance this time around; given the numbers squeezed into the town square and the sheer amount of conversation going on in all directions, this was perhaps no bad thing, although it did leave some a tad bit disappointed.

A lack of a Xiola bear also caused a tiny amount of disappointment as well among the bear collectors, although Michael appeared to be darting hither and thither in a brave attempt to greet folk and hand out bears in response to the deluge of IMs he received after offering to do so.

There were one or two in the crowd who seemed to have popped along in the belief that that meeting was a more formal affair rather than simply being a social gathering – I saw one or two calls in chat of people being there to represent this or that, and received a couple of IMs about asking questions – but on the whole everyone quickly settled down into the spirit of things.

Dawny Daviau demonstrates she can be quite the pixie :)
Dawny Daviau demonstrates she can be quite the pixie 🙂

This was by far the largest turn-out for a Linden in-world meeting since they resumed. It is true that the Adult rating did put some off from attending – not I hasten to add because of any risk of (to borrow from Honour) “wild monkey sex”, but because of concern about reaction to their apparent avatar age – which is something to be considered for future meet-ups, if held in Adult-rated regions. Others were a little put-out by the greeter warnings  – and lesson here for future hosts of events like this is to turn off such greeters alongside any relaxation of normal sim rules so as to avoid the potential for misunderstandings.

On the whole, however, everyone appeared to have a good time, the chat was light and fun, those seeking bears did – as noted – keep poor Michael pretty well occupied, and doubtless went home happy to have one more to add to their collection.

The general conversation rolled far and wide, with most people welcoming the Lab’s continuing efforts to reach out and engage with users in this way with the past gatherings at Meauxle Bureaux getting a mention, together with the Christmas snowball fight, and even the old Halloween parties being recalled.

A lot might not happen at gatherings like this, and it’s easy to dismiss them as mere PR for the Lab – but they do have one benefit, as was again demonstrated at Basilique Town: they serve as a reminder that the folk who run Second Life on our behalf aren’t faceless corporate minions; they are engaged, enthusiastic individuals, as colourful as any one of us and – in many cases – actually drawn from the ranks of users themselves.  And if that helps us treat the Lab with a measure of respect, whether or not we agree with all that they do, so much the better for all.

The only really observation to make about the event is that if these kind of numbers are to be repeated at the next meet-up (and to end on the same note as I started, albeit from en entirely different movie genre), , then I think it’s likely that we’re going to need a bigger boat /me offers a sideways glance towards the SS Galaxy, shortly to be under the Linden flag, with her three regions of space.

Living in a Bowl

Living in a Bowl
Living in a Bowl – Cica Ghost

Living In A Bowl is the title of Cica Ghost’s latest installation, which opened on May 10th. It presents the visitor with a tropical island where almost everything is on a gigantic scale: flowers stand taller than an avatar, their delicate heads large enough to offer shade from the sun; coconuts the size of a man hang from palms and gigantic wooden-framed tanks and enormous fish bowls tower over the landscape, holding huge fish and seahorses within their watery confines.

At first, this might seem some giant’s idea of cruelty to fish; the tanks are all placed within view of the oceans from whence these curious fish may have come, almost as though to taunt them. Indeed, the huge glass bowl with its seahorses appears to have been intentionally placed on a rise in one corner of the island, as if daring its captives to perhaps try and unseat it and so gain their freedom in the open waters below.

Living in a Bowl
Living in a Bowl

But are these fish even aware of their circumstance? They drift in their tanks and bowls, in ones and twos, seemingly completely unperturbed by their situation, their movements languid and almost hypnotic as they float over and between the ornaments placed in their tanks – some of which would pass for a modest house for you and I.

Are they the observed, or the observers? There is a serenity about them which suggests that perhaps they know more than we might imagine – or equally, that they are content in their ignorance. And what of their fossilised brethren scattered across the sandy landscape?  What do they say to us – or to the fish drifting in their tanks?

Living in a Bowl
Living in a Bowl

If all this sounds disturbing – it’s not. Quite the reverse in fact; the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, the gentle song of birds in their air together with the odd plaintive call of a gull, all combine with the gentle undulations of the glass-encased fish and soft swaying of the palms in the wind, to created a soothing feeling. The entire effect is, frankly, tranquil and further enhanced by the audio stream, a beautiful selection of music that had me exploring the island to a gentle, lyrical piano and then to soft a cappela Georgian chanting. Little wonder that those on the region with me all appeared to be rooted in contemplation and lost in the music and the motion of the fish.

Such is the peace offered in this strange, other-worldly environment, that I found myself drawn to the watchtower sitting on a little hill in the north-east corner of the island, and there sit down and watch the fish, the music washing over me.

Living In A Bowl will be open for the next few weeks, and is well worth a visit.

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