The 10th Home and Garden Expo (HGE) in support of Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society, is currently open, and will remain so until Saturday, June 2nd, 2018. Taking place across seven (Home Expo 1 through 6 and Expo Centre) regions, the event offers some of the finest in home, garden, and furnishing designs available across the grid, as well as a range of breedables and breedable accessories.
With over 100 exhibitors taking part, the event offers something for anyone who is looking for a new home, ideas for furnishing and decor, wishing to improve their building (or other) skills, or who just wishes to keep abreast of the latest building / home trends in Second Life.
This year’s hunt allows participants to explore the Expo regions and visit the twenty Awareness kiosks where they can learn about the different types of cancer. There are also hand prints and ribbons to collect, which denote which kiosks you’ve visited and decorate the tree on the Hunt HUD (available for L$250 from hunt vendors). In addition, the Awareness kiosks may award participants an additional random prize.
When you’ve visited all twenty of the Awareness kiosks, hunt participants will receive an Meeroo avatar.
*Entry applications close Monday, May 21st*
Twelve homes have been set-up on Home Expo 6, in six different styles by six different builders. The twelve entrants in the competition will be given an allowance of 500 prims (/Land Impact) with which to decorate their home and its garden.
Each contestant can decorate in any style they wish that suits their house, but they must include at least three items purchased from RFL vendors at the Home and Garden Expo. All houses must be decorated by Saturday, May 26th, 2018. Thereafter, from Sunday, May 27th through Friday, June 1st, 2018 visitors to the Expo will be able to vote on which house and garden they like best.
The breakdown of prizes has yet to be announced, but the overall prize pot, at the time of writing this article, stood at L$35,000.
Visit the competition page to enter – and remember, applications must be made by the end of Monday, May 21st, 2018.
Lantern Releases and Luminaria
Every day of the Expo at 16:00 SLT, lanterns will be released from the Expo Reflection Centre, in honour of all those afflicted by cancer.
The reflection area is also the place where you can light a luminaria lantern in memory of a loved one or in support of one fighting cancer now.
With so much to see, it is likely that more than one visit might be required to see all of the designs and gardens – and with the number of exhibitors, pointing to specific creators is a little unfair. I therefore suggest that should you go, start your visit at the central Expo Center region – and then work your way around the regions using that as your anchor point.
About the Expo
The Home and Garden Expo raises money for Relay For Life of Second Life (RFL of SL). Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fund-raising event, and RFL of SL is one of its virtual counterparts. You can find more information about RFL of SL at the official website.
Expo exhibitors are required to have two 100% donation items at the Expo. These items must be new and exclusive to the Expo for the duration of the event.
100% of registration fees, sponsorship fees and donation items are paid to Relay For Life of Second Life. 50% of the proceeds from the gachas will be paid to RFL and 100% of the L$10 hunt items.
The 2018 Second Life Sci-Fi Expo touched-down safely on the main grid on Saturday May 12th, 2018 ready to embark Second Life residents on flights of intergalactic adventure and fancy which will continue through until Sunday, May 20th, 2018.
Active across four regions this year, the convention once again presents a broad range of science-fiction related role-play and content, all bound together in the aim of raising funds for Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society.
In addition, the event features a range of entertainment and presentations. So much is going on through the week in fact, that the best way of staying up-to-date on things is to check the convention’s event calendar (don’t be confused by it being referred to as the 2017 calendar). This can also be found at strategic points scattered throughout the convention’s regions on browsable display boards, so keeping up-to-speed on where to go and what to see is pretty easy.
If I’m totally honest, the convention seemed – on visiting and in viewing the website – a lot more subdued this year than in previous years. I’m not aware of any significant themes to the region, outside of Land of the Giants for the central (“hub”?) region; there doesn’t appear to be a list of exhibitors this year, and the website itself – at the time of writing does not appear to have been updated since May 5th, 2018.
Within the regions themselves, traffic was high during my two visits, while Star Trek appears to have the largest presence in terms of the number of booths etc – which is not to say the event is in any way exclusive to Trek; there are a fair few TARDIS telephone boxes scattered around and the odd Viper and Cylon Raider can be seen, as well as a Marvel Comics hero or two. Do be aware, when visiting, that several of the exhibition booths have teleporters leading elsewhere – so if some see a little devoid of information, this could be the reason why.
So, as I’m prone to say when previewing this event: whatever your interest in science fiction, be sure to set your phaser on fun and head back to the future with a visit to the SL Sci-Fi convention.
Fantasy Faire 2018 has reached the final weekend of its extended run. Sadly, I’ve not been able to cover this year’s event as much as in the past: a hectic schedule and other elements in my physical world activities have combined to limit my SL availability.
While it is the final weekend, for those interested, there is still the opportunity to participate in the Fairelands Quest and obtain a cache of prizes – and a weekend is more than enough time to complete the tasks you’ll face.
As with previous years, The House of Garland asks adventurers to come to the assistance of the Fairelands and the Bard Queen in order to bring a stop of the Unweaver’s dark doings. And this time – as the time-honoured saying goes – it’s personal. Also in keeping with previous years, the Quest in a multi-part activity; however it doesn’t need to be completed all at once; you can take a break from things and tackle the adventures over a couple of day if you wish.
The first act of participating in the Quest is to obtain a Quest HUD, such a via the vendors at the Fairelands Junction. Two versions are available: the basic L$250 version and the L$350 version which includes a set of costumes for those who wish to get into character. Both also provide an introductory note card which provides enough information to get started.
When you have worn the HUD, and if you have not previously undertaken a Fairelands Quest, accept the Experience via the dialogue box that also appears on your screen. You’ll only have to do this once, and it is vital you do so; the Quest will not work if you don’t. If you’ve previously participated in a Fairelands Quest (and have not revoked the Quest permissions), you’ll be automatically accepted into The House of Garland adventure.
Also to be found in the Quest package is a note card that should get you started on your adventure. This will unfold in a series of steps:
Locate the Bard Queen herself – she is somewhere in Fairelands Junction, and will give you further information to help you get started.
Meet Cheer, the squire who will provide you with company and more. Cheer is an NPC included with your Quest HUD and should be worn with the HUD, but she’ll not become visible until you actually encounter her in Fairelands Junction.
Locate the Archetypes in the Fairelands. There is one Archetype per region, and the HUD will help you identify them. Note that Archetypes can only be found in public areas of the regions – they will not be instead any stores. They can also be sought in any order, and each will provide you with further assistance.
Travel to Ardessa, the Quest region. You should only do this once you have located all the archetypes. Once in Ardessa, seek the gates within the region in order to progress towards completing your adventure. Note that with one exception, the gates can be sought in any order; should you happen upon the exception before you have found all the other gates, it will simply tell you to seek those you have not found.
Unlike more recent previous Quest regions at the Fairelands, Ardessa is a verdant land, rich in flora and fauna, full of the colours of summer. Designed by Éclair Martinek, it offers a wooded and sometimes rugged landscape with many paths to follow and things to discover. As such, it is well worth taking the time to explore, whether or not you are engaged on the Fairelands Quest (if you simply chose to explore, the Quest won’t interfere with you).
So while there is still time, why not visit Ardessa, or get your teeth into the Fantasy Faire 2018 Quest? All proceeds from the sale of HUDs go you RFL of SL, and there’s a generous range of prizes to be claimed!
Second Life is in the midst of the 2018 Relay for Life season, most notably (at the time of writing) with Fantasy Faire. Given that it is, I would like to step to one side from my usual writing and offer a personal piece on the subject of cancer. It’s something I’ve spent a couple of days wrestling over committing to print, and I’m now doing so not to illicit sympathy, but to hopefully offer insight into why it’s better to confront things then shy away from things out of fear of hearing the “c” word.
Earlier this year I was diagnosed with DCIS – ductal carcinoma in situ – in my left breast. This is a form of best cancer where the cancerous cells are contained within the milk ducts of the breast. Because the cancer cells have not invaded nearby breast tissue, DCIS is regarded as non-invasive breast cancer, and accounts for about 20% of all breast cancer cases, and around 85% of all in-situ (confined to a specific area) forms of breast cancer.
While there is a risk it might become invasive if left untreated (the American Cancer Society estimate between 20-53% of untreated in-situ cancer cases become invasive over a period of about a decade), DCIS can be dealt with in a relatively straightforward manner through what amounts to a two-step treatment process.
The first step is for the affected area of breast duct to be surgically removed in a localised procedure referred to as a lumpectomy. This is a form of surgery designed to excise the affected area, and as a rule leaves the breast looking as close as possible to how it did before surgery, with its general shape and the nipple area remaining intact.
After a period of healing, the second step is generally followed by a period of localised radiotherapy. This is designed to destroy any remaining cancer cells that would otherwise by too small to see on scans or to measure with lab tests. In addition, it can lower both the risk of DCIS returning to the breast, or of the breast developing an invasive cancer later in life.
Obviously, “surgery” and “radiotherapy” are themselves terrifying words; but the fact is that often, DCIS can be dealt with on an out-patient basis – there’s no need for a protracted stay in hospital; while the radiotherapy is localised enough such that the risk of it giving rise to cancer later in life is around 5% – far less a risk than that of the DCIS leading to a more invasive form of cancer.
A key point with DCIS is that it is hard to detect; while it may be indicated by a subcutaneous lump, often it is only through a scan and / or biopsy that it may be identified. In my case, I noticed a small lump in my right breast; when it hadn’t gone away after a number of weeks, I went to see my GP.
I admit, my feelings were mixed when I did so: cancer has been a frequent visitor within both sides of my family, so I was concerned I would hear the words “breast cancer”; at the same time, there was also a feeling that I was “just being silly” and over-reacting to something that would go away – after all, lumps in the breast can be caused by a lot of non-cancerous events.
In fact, the right breast lump did prove to be a small non-cancerous node of breast calcification. However, as a result of the scans my GP sent me to have, the left breast DCIS was spotted.
Cutting a long story short, I was referred for surgery at the cancer unit of a local hospital, where I underwent two bouts of surgery some 14 days apart. The first was to excise the affected ductal area, the second to remove a small amount of tissue from the surrounding area. Both bouts of surgery were performed on an out-patient basis, so I went into hospital in the morning and was back home and in my own bed in the evening.
After the surgery I had several weeks of recovery to allow the surgical wound and the (admittedly extensive) bruising around it to heal. I have been left with a scar marking the entry wound, but the shape of my breast hasn’t changed and as is common with this type of surgery, the scar itself is on the underside of the breast, so it’s not naturally visible.
As to the radiotherapy, I was given 15 sessions broken down over just over three workday weeks, plus an initial “targeting” session a week ahead of the treatment. The treatment took the form of spirometry-monitored deep inspiration breath hold (SMDIBH). Again this sounds a mouthful, and possibly frightening, but what it amounts to is being subjected to a short burst of radiation while controlling you breathing and holding your breath for around 20-30 seconds. This approach is used when treating left breast cancer, as filling the lungs with air raises the breast away from the heart, reducing the amount of radiation to which the heart is exposed.
The treatment itself is quite painless, each “zap” lasting around 20 seconds as the breath is held, with the number of zaps you get varying according to need. However, due to the frequency of the treatment sessions, there are side-effects. These can include fatigue, a swelling in the breast due to fluid being unable to drain properly a reddening and drying of the skin around the treated area, and a gradual feeling of heat build-up in the breast which takes time to dissipate. These symptoms can take several weeks to abate, and the heat / drying of the skin can be treated both during and after radiotherapy by the use of non-metallic moisturising cream. In addition, you may be giving special cooling gell packs to help reduce the heat in the breast.
As I write this, I’m into my second week of post-radiotherapy recovery. I’ll make no bones about it, my breast is sore I’m at times in a little discomfort and have felt lethargic at times – effect that should subside over the next few weeks. However, the preliminary results of the treatment is that the surgery has been successful, and the radiotherapy will have hopefully done its job.
So why tell you all this? Because – as I said at the top, cancer’s biggest weapon is fear – fear of what it might mean if diagnosed and, equally, the fear of learning you have it in the first place. Yet the fact is, as my case hopefully shows, getting diagnosed early enough not only means a better chance of dealing with it – it also means the treatment is often less protracted and invasive than might otherwise be the case (put it this way, while it may well sound worrying when first heard, a lumpectomy is, overall, a lot less traumatic than a mastectomy) – whereas the longer it is ignored in the hope it might “go away” or because it spares us having to confront it, the greater the risk that it might reach a point were it cannot be more effectively dealt with.
Cancer is not something we can avoid simply by ignoring the signs (when they are present) or by avoiding the opportunity to have it diagnosed. So please, if you have concerns about anything, a lump here or there, a mole-like mark on your skin that has appeared or which has changed in size or has been subject to bleeding – go and get it checked. It might be cancer – or it might be something else entirely; it might be entirely benign. But if you don’t get it checked, you run the risk of not knowing – or of receiving medical help at a time when, should it prove to be cancer, it might be more easily dealt with than might be the case if you just ignore it.
In my case, I’m grateful I didn’t let the feeling of “being silly” when going to see my GP get the better of me; as a woman in my 40’s (no, I’m not saying where in my 40s!) I’m still several years from my first routine breast cancer screenings, possibly time enough for the DCIS to have become more of a problem. As it is, it’s now excised, and I’ll be having regular scans to make sure it stays that way. And that’s a form of peace of mind I’m grateful to have.
So again, if you have a suspicion or concern, don’t leave it for “another day”; go get it seen to.
A traditional event during the RFL season is the Bid Me Bald challenge organised by the Relay Rockers. As the name suggests, people are invited to bid (make donations to RFL) to see a well-known Second Life resident go bald for a period of time in-world. First held in 2007, Bid Me Bald is presented as a means to honour those who have lost their hair as a result of their cancer treatment, with those volunteering to participate going bald for one day for each L$5000 raised through donations.
In 2017, to mark the 10th anniversary of Bid Me bald, a new twist was added to the mix when three teams from Linden Lab put themselves up for bidding / donations in Bid A Linden Bald. Their willingness to participate saw a total of L$1,478,599 (approx. US $5686) raised, and members of the Concierge Team went bald for a total of 297 days afterwards.
For 2018, the Lab is again participating in Bid Me Bald, with three teams once more joining in – Product Operations, Support Leaders, and Support Agents. The team raising the least amount of money will once again go bald for the amount of days equal to the total of the team raising the most, with the time shared among the losing team members.
Bid A Linden Bald this year takes place between Monday, April 30th 2018 and Wednesday, May 9th 2018, and coincides with the Relay Rocker’s multi-team fund-raising even, Relaystock. Held between Friday May 4th, through Sunday May 6th, 2018 inclusive, RelayStock will feature entertainment and live performances provided by individual Relay For Life teams for the entire Second Life community to enjoy, and you can find out more about it on the Relay Rockers website.
To join in the fun of Bid a Linden Bald, visit the bidding kiosks in-world and make a donation to the team you’d like to see win (or against the team you’d like to see lose!).
The largest fantasy-related event to take place in Second Life, Fantasy Faire, opened its gates to 2018 on Thursday, April 19th, and will remain open through until Sunday, April 29th, 2018 inclusive. It brings together fantasy enthusiasts, creators, performers and designers for eleven days of commerce, special events, and live music concerts, with special emphasis on fund-raising for Relay for Life of Second Life.
This year marks the Faire’s 10th anniversary, and presents 15 regions (including the entertainment and Quest regions) to be explored and enjoyed, and a packed programme of activities and events. It also marks the start of a new chapter in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) work.
For the first time, fund-raisers are allowed to earmark donations for a special project they have chosen to support – and Fantasy Faire is the flagship event to launch this new approach within virtual worlds. As I was able to report earlier in April, all funds raised during Fantasy Faire 2018 will go towards to development and operation of a new Hope Hostel to care for cancer patients and their care givers, at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya.
Once again, the Faireland regions offer an impressive range of realms and ideas, from what might be regarded as “traditional” fantasy – we have a former realm of elves for example, in The Bazaar Dungeon, while The Pools of Ethuil echo elven tree-homes – through to and almost science fiction edge to things with Erstwhile, a grand spaceport sitting within the bowl of a flooded crater, great trading space vessels docked along its elevated rim. Elsewhere there are echoes of past Fantasy Faire events. Atherea, for example has a faint visual echo of 2012’s The Tides and a thematic reflection of 2013’s Magnificat.
You can find the background notes on all the 2018 Faireland regions here, or by visiting their individual pages on the Fantasy Faire website.
Of course, as well as all the best in fantasy shopping, Fantasy Faire offers just about something for everyone. There’s the Literary Festival, which is based at The Halls of Story and which I previewed earlier in April. There is also the Fantasy Faire Quest. Then there are the auctions. The silent auction runs throughout the Faire and there will be details available shortly, while the Live Auction will take place on the final day of the Faire again, watch the Faire’s website for details and a chance to own one or more extremely rare items from this year’s event!
Role-Play! Once again there will be numerous opportunities for role-play within the Fairelands. Three groups are offering themed role-play, weaving tales and offering anyone with an interest with the chance to participate.
But that’s not all! In addition to these three, there is a new role-play feature for Fantasy Faire 2018. The denizens of Luth will have opened an embassy in the land of Severina, where they will be holding a regular series of Meet’n’Greets offering fairelanders can meet their representatives and learn more about their stories.
Also new to Fantasy Faire 2018 is table-top gaming! prospective GMs have the opportunity to host a game session (or two), all while raising funds for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
And, of course, there will be the popular role-play classes, this year located at Falls of Hope. See the class schedule for more.
Performance and Art: there is a full programme of art and performance events, to be found at The Story Well and Astrid’s Nemeton. Some 37 artists are exhibiting their images at Fantasy Faire 2018, and there will be a range of performances by some of the top dance troupes from across Second Life, including Misfit Dance, the Avilion MerBallet company, the Changhigh Sisters, DRUM, Luxe Girls and more. See the Performance events list for more, including dates and times.
The Fairelands Players are also back again for 2018, presenting two of Shakespeare’s plays:
Keep Abreast of all things Fantasy Faire – music, auctions, literary, performance, and of course the infamous Jail and Bail rounds – through the Fantasy Faire Website, the Fantasy Faire 2018 events calendar and Fantasy Faire radio.