Saturday, December 27, 2008

Walking Forward, Looking Back

I borrowed this title from a friend’s book (John Labriola, 2002), which pictorially chronicles the destruction of the World Trade Center while trying to figure out how to move forward - a moving book and highly recommended. The title seemed appropriate, as I wanted this post to be a reflection of my year in Second Life and first life and what I hope for in the coming year.

I did not say “real life” for I truly believe that my virtual world is as real as my physical world – just a different space. And that is what has made SL so rewarding and at times so difficult. I have lived, laughed, cried and loved in both worlds. I have developed new friendships and nurtured old ones in both worlds. I have been both a shoulder to cry on and in need of a shoulder to cry on in both worlds. In fact, I am no longer sure where Amy ends and Yamis begins – or whether there is a distinction at all.

So to reflect: My Second life has been full of changes this year. Most basically, my avatar itself has morphed from newbie-ish (despite being almost a year old this time last year) into a pretty woman with wings – my butterfly self. That happened when I learned to be free – to be me inworld. When I allowed my true self to come through. It was at that point that I realized this wasn’t a game and that I wanted people to get to know the real me. The real me has a need to be a free spirit, to be social, to fly, to soar, to flutter from friend to friend and to love. The real me also has responsibilities to my family, my work, and my education that dampen my wings in first life. So here I’ve learned to walk more. And there is nothing inherently wrong with that – except that I am often lost in the trees and cannot see the forest through which I travel.

The friendships I have made in both worlds have been so special – and a few have crossed worlds. I have brought friends (and one sibling) into SL and I have brought friends from SL into my first life. I love that my children recognize and know my SL friends as well as they know my first life friends: “oh, Kitzie looks pretty tonight” and “did your friend Jon change how he looks?”

The environments I’ve lived in in both worlds have gone through peaceful times and difficult patches. What I have learned from this is that nothing stays the same. Life – no matter where – is as unpredictable and dynamic as the people who inhabit it. But the good part – is that nothing stays the same. So I have learned not to expect the high times to stay high and that the low times will not stay low. I’ve learned that love comes in waves, and that honesty and forgiveness to lovers and friends in both worlds are not just good suggestions but are required components of love.

So, to look forward: I will continue to work on the FL/SL balance putting more emphasis on my FL to care for my family and work on my dissertation. I will continue to nurture my relationships and friendships in both worlds. And I will most of all do my best to care for myself physically, mentally, and spirituality.

Happy New Year my dear friends!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Friendship - by Kazzabee Runningbear

This post is from my dear Second Life friend, Kazzabee Runningbear, who has much to say on SL/RL friendships and requested a place to publish it.  For the record, I share her perspective, and in some cases, have bridged my SL friendships into RL.

I don’t have a blog but I do have an idea, so I’ve asked my friend Yamis if I can borrow her space. She is my friend and that’s what I want to talk about. Friendship. What is it?

Yamis lives in the good ol’ USofA and I’m a true blue died in the wool Aussie sheila, we met in SecondLife sometime in the last year. I’ve never stood in front of this lady but I consider her a very good friend. People tell me that’s an illusion. How can I be friends with someone I’ve never met. To them I say “phooey”.

How should I define my friends?

In my real life I have a variety of friends and each has a different level of importance to me. I have friends I have known for 30 years (let’s assume I met them in kindergarten ha ha). After such a long time these friendships don’t need a lot of maintenance, we’re always going to be friends. I have some new friends I’m still getting to know, they’re a bit more maintenance heavy, but it’s all new and exciting so it’s fun to do. There’s a range of people that fit inside those time brackets.

Some of my friends I see often, others I see rarely, some I talk with regularly in person or on the phone, others I haven’t spoken to for years. I have friends who live near me, friends who live far. One of my closest friends lives a 3 hour plane ride from me. My best friend lives a 2 hour drive from me, I see him 5 or 6 times a year when we meet for lunch, but we talk on the phone almost every day.

Those friends are people I met, in most cases, by being in the same physical place as them at the same time. Their priority in my life is not related to time, distance or regularity of contact.

I also have a vast range of cyber friends. Some people collect friends on facebook and myspace. Mine are from SecondLife. (Enter Yamis. J) Are these people less real to me. Absolutely not.

In SecondLife I have repeatedly heard or been told, RL and SL are separate, RL & SL don’t mix, SL friendships are not real friendships. Well to that I say poppycock (it’s a British saying).

In SecondLife as in Real Life my friends have a varying degree of importance to me. Some are special, some are fun, some are acquaintances, some are transitory, some are keepers. You see the thing is that behind the SecondLife avatar, the representative cartoon, is a real person. Just like me over on this side. If I make friends with that cartoon, and over time we share experiences, life details and develop trust, then I am building a real friendship. There is nothing artificial or superficial about it.

In SecondLife I have a friend who is: a doctor, a banker, an engineer, a postie, a philosopher, an alchemist, a financier, a horse breeder, an artist, a snake breeder, unemployed, a programmer, a lawyer, a teacher, an addict, a farmer, a childcare worker, a student, a professor, a landscaper, a nurse, a realtor, a carer, a swinger, a cantor, a musician ad infinitum. There are old people, young people, men, women and children (yes).

I have supported some of those people through major life events – relationship breakdown, reconciliation, divorce, job loss, death of a pet, terminal illness, loneliness, addiction, family issues, work issues, the list is almost as endless as the possibilities. And then there were SecondLife issues to deal with as well. Some of them have supported me back, one of them has become my career mentor.

I talk to a number of these people who I’ve never seen or touched for hours and hours each week. Others I see, irregularly or haven’t seen for months. To me they are my friends as much as any person in my so called real life.

There are people who may consider that their real life friends are more important - whether they are the ones they meet for coffee every third Thursday between 10 & 11.30 (if there wasn’t a full moon the night before and as long as the schedules don’t clash), or the person you used to go out drinking with when you were both young and you had lunch last February after you bumped into them in the shopping mall car park, or the work colleague, or the team mate - just because they have a physical presence.

To me my friends hold my heart and trust carefully and in return I treasure theirs, and that is true no matter where I met them or how we interact.

So you see if one more person says to me “SecondLife friendships aren’t real friendships, coz after all it is only a game”, then I think I will scream.

So that was my thought. Thankyou Yamis, my friend, for the space. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

I never had the nerve to make the final cut

Through the fish-eyed lens of tear stained eyes
I can barely define the shape of this moment in time
And far from flying high in clear blue skies
I'm spiraling down to the hole in the ground where i hide.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ramble on Rose...continued

Goodbye Mama and Papa
Goodbye Jack and Jill
The grass ain't greener
The wine ain't sweeter
Either side of the hill

Did you say your name was
Ramble on Rose
Ramble on baby
Settle down easy
Ramble on Rose

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ramble on Rose

I've been falling behind on the job of maintaining current blog posts.  Partly because I just don't have enough hours in the day to put blogging on my priority list, but also because i don't know what to write.  Its not that nothing is going much is going on that I don't know what to focus in on - or maybe I just can't focus in.  But thats a whole different issue.  LOL

OK, so let me share with you all the things that have been going on which are keeping me from keeping up.  The biggest time consumer is my family - for the best of reasons.  And I have been making a point of spending a little less time online and a little more time with them.  Thats been a problem for me every since I started my doctoral work in 2006.  

Which brings me to another huge time drain - work on my dissertation.  Six weeks ago I probably would have told you that i hate my doctoral research.  But at that point I made a monumentous decision to throw out my former dissertation topic - a year and a half worth of work - and start over.  It took at least three months of not working on it to make that decision.  It was the best decision I could have made.  I love my new topic - and am wholly vested in it:  the impact and effects of virtual worlds (SL) on education.  I have a new advisor who is as excited about this as I am.  Work is going well and I am doing some exciting things with my classes.  

The inservice class I am teaching in-world with my colleague and good friend, Juniper, is going great.  In between I have been sneaking in Phil and Friends shows and have an upcoming Dark Star Orchestra show to let loose at.  What else could I ask for?  Life is good!

Thanks for you patience and for listening to my ramblings.  
"Love is real and not fade away" 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Black Throated Wind of Fall

Fall is not my favorite season. Its tolerable, but as the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, I can't help but count down until spring. I miss riding. I'm back at the gym, but its just not the same.

So today I decided to try to like fall. It is the perfect autumn day. The sun is bright and the air cool and crisp. I took my son on a nature walk on a leaf covered trail through the woods nearby. I enjoyed the sound of the leaves crunching and rustling under our feet and the smell of a not so distant fireplace wafting in our direction. We talked and laughed and held hands the whole time.

Then he asked me if we were going to have a long winter. Oh, I hope not. But I wasn't going to tell him that. He who had only a couple of good days last winter to try out his snowboard. I could have told him about the colors on the big fuzzy gypsy caterpillars that I check every year against the Farmer's Almanac. But I didn't think that was what he wanted to hear. So I just asked what we would do if it were a long winter. We would build snowmen, snow forts and have lots of snowball fights. I got detailed battle plans and team lineups - which parent would be paired with which child. "Sorry Mama, but Daddy can throw better than you." Fair enough, but they'll have a hard time getting me into my snow pants either way. I don't do snow.

So maybe it isn't fall that I dislike, but the impending winter death that looms so heavy for months on end. I've got my fingers crossed that the gypsy moths were wrong...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I've Been Tagged Again :-)

Here are this game's rules from bigd to Kimala to me...

"Ok, I guess its time for another getting to know you type of blogging activity. Five questions, you only tag three other people. Lets go shall we :)

What’s your favorite saying?
What part of your personality do you wish not to pass on to your child?
While driving, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
If you could change your name, what would it be?
What’s the best excuse you’ve ever heard?"


1) My favorite saying: "Growing older is required. Growing up is strictly optional."

2) I am so flawed that I can't easily narrow this answer down to one aspect of my personality that I wish to not pass along to my children. However, if I have to pick the worst, it is my wreckless habit of biting off more than I can chew. I know Alanis Morrisette recommends doesn't work so well for me though.

3) This one is easy - I HATE when other drivers won't let me move over into their lane - even when I signal and give the courtesy "thank you wave".

4) I used to hate my name - but I have to say - it fits me well after all these years. I would have liked it to have a consonant at the beginning though. Jamie would work.

5) Ok - I am going to agree with Kimala on this one - being a teacher gives you an arsenal of excuses. I have to say though, the best - and most shockingly blunt - excuse I have ever gotten from a student for not being able to stay after school to take a test: "I can't stay after school today. I have to take my sister for an abortion." I shit you not. *~*~* OMG ~ FAINTS*~*~*

ok, i tag Borday, Taliesan and Mikki - if they haven't been tagged already

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dancing in the Streets

Well the Parking Lot on Darkstar was filled with hippies celebrating the impending (and inevitable) victory since early yesterday afternoon. Never saw a happier bunch of Deadheads. I thought for sure Jerry himself had been elected. What a great day.

With great hopes for positive change and an eye to the future, I am especially glad to see our country has successfully moved past the point where a man's color is a disability. I hope Obama can help our country find its rightful and needed place again among the other great nations of the world and that the new administration will have the wisdom and support it needs to move us forward - beyond where we began to lose ground in the global game. They have a lot of work ahead for sure.

Kudos to Get out the Vote, and all the Deadheads for Obama whose influence on this election cannot be underestimated.


Friday, October 31, 2008


So, I've been tagged by bigd. OK, I'm game.....

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Share 6 non-important/habits/quirks about yourself
4. Tag 6 random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up

Six non-important/habits/quirks about myself

1. I am the most disorganized type A person I know. It is, of course an oxymoron to be this way, but then again, my whole life is an oxymoron.

2. Don't..ever...mess with my bike gear. Enuff said.

3. I sleep with a stuffed moose. So before you laugh, there are a few things to know. First, it is replacing the pink dog that I slept with for my first 29 years. Second, it was a present from my husband when we reached the gift shop at the top of a mountain we hiked on our honeymoon (don't all mountains have gift shops at the top?). And third, my friend Jeremy from elementary school used to call me Moosey, so i feel a sort of kinship to this stuffed friend.

4. I am a lousy domestic partner. I don't cook, I hate to clean, and still have not learned how to keep my bedroom neat. Sorry mom & dad...the message just never took. (I'll do these things if I have to...and I do...I just make it known all the while how much fun I am not having).

5. My favorite song of all times, and I mean my FAVORITE song, is Puff the Magic Dragon. It might have to do with the fact that my first dog when I was little was a merle blue collie named Puff. But it might just be that its a great song about a magical friendship in a magical land called imagination. I'm proud to say that I have successfully passed along the love for this song to my son, who sings it all day and night :) May his magical dragons never fade away.

6. I love getting insanely silly and giggling till tears roll down my face and my stomach and cheeks hurts from laughing so hard. Usually this takes place over dinner with my children and causes us all to be sent from the table till we can control ourselves ;-)

OK. I'm tagging Lina and Elandra because I don't know anyone else with blogs that haven't already been tagged...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Stranger

I heard this song this morning - a rare one for sure. Just so pretty.

(A Pigpen tune)

The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)

What are they seeing, when they look in each other's eyes?
What are they feeling, when they see each other smile?
Is it love, I don't know - or an emotion that I've outgrown?

Did I take a wrong turn on life's winding road?
Won't somebody help me find the right way to go?
My life need some correction, alteration and direction.
Won't somebody stand by me - yes, I'm lost, yes, I'm lost,
Yes, I'm lost.

What is the secret of this tie that binds?
Two souls in communion, both body and mind.
Is it special magic, or just the nature of things?
Conceived of great spirit, not for beggars but for kings.

You who have found it please help me along.
I'm a man, I'm a man, - I'm not made out of stone.
My needs they are simple, I don't want anything,
but I surely want to fly on those wings, on the run, one more time.

All I wanna do, fly up, fly home.
Fly on those wings of love, fly up, fly home,
I'm a stranger in your town, fly up, fly home,
Help me somebody please! Fly up, fly home.

I wake up early in the morning, fly up, fly home,
you know I never saw you babe, fly up, fly home.

I just can't seem to understand,
can't seem to understand what's wrong, fly up, fly home.

What I wanna do is take a little ride with you, on the wings of love,
woh-oh one more time, one more time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

They Are Butterflies

I found this piece written by Elizabeth Andrew. It makes me proud to be a butterfly. Enjoy :)

They Are Butterflies

It is said that the butterfly goes wherever it pleases and pleases wherever it goes. What a tribute to pay a creature otherwise known as an insect! Why do we find butterflies so pleasing?

Aside from their obvious beauty and benefit, probably the most gratifying trait of butterflies is their modest personality. While other insects buzz ferociously or rustle leave fiercely to announce their might, butterflies quietly perform the miracle of pollination without ever making a sound and without over disturbing anything. Their contribution rises to hero proportions as they help make life possible yet ask for nothing extra in return.

Some people are like butterflies. They go through life performing miracles daily without ever boasting and without ever purposely drawing attention to themselves. They are the reason those around them find work easier or life better. Just like butterflies, their contribution rises to hero proportions as they tirelessly help others yet ask for nothing extra in return.

These tireless wonders go wherever they please and please wherever they go. They are beautiful. They are beneficial. They are modest.

Indeed...they are butterflies.

Have a beautiful day my friends.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Having Second Thoughts...

Interesting that this is the title of my blog. I'm having second thoughts about a lot of things lately, like
- what does it mean to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a lover, a teacher - and can I fill all those roles without losing myself in the process?
- what am I not doing right that I can't seem to keep balanced?
- is it possible to make somebody happy all the time? If so, how? If not, how do I handle it without going under?
- am I really in a better position to handle my commitments this year or will I burn out...again?
-why isn't doing my best often not good enough?
- am I really able to finish this degree - to start the dissertation over and keep plugging? How many people, including myself, will I disappoint if I can't?

I will be biking again today after school - as long as the rain holds out. That should give me time to think and center a bit. What will happen when the biking season ends...

This may be one of those posts that should I write and then delete...but to know me is to know my triumphs as well as my fears. This isn't one of my more triumphant days. There is always tomorrow.

hugs - thanks for listening.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are you still behaving? Not at all Sis...

I've got a song stuck in my head. Not the annoying kind that that you hear on muzak in the elevator - the kind that makes you smile all day. So just so you know where my head was when I woke up this morning. You put the smile on my face :) Have a beautiful day.

"Head Over Feet"
Alanis Morrisette

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your case time and again
I thought about it

You treat me like I'm a princess
I'm not used to liking that
You ask how my day was

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

Your love is thick and it swallowed me whole
You're so much braver than I gave you credit for
That's not lip service

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You're the best listener that I've ever met
You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I've never felt this healthy before
I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

Monday, October 6, 2008

10 Things That Make Me Happy Fall 2008

OK, bigd - I'll bite too. Great idea.

I'm not usually a fan of fall, as it tends to lead to winter. But in the spirit of finding the positive and not dwelling on the negative, I'll give it a shot.

#10 Crisp morning air (the kind that makes dragon smoke come out of your mouth when you breathe)

#9 Watching the leaves change colors

#8 A toasty fire in the fireplace

#7 Fall nature walks collecting colorful leaves and acorns

#6 New Boots (need I say more?)

#5 A colorful fall sweater and scarf.

#4 Jumping in a pile of leaves

#3 Climbing trees and apple picking

#2 Halloween and Thanksgiving

#1 Snuggling with my husband in front of the toasty fire.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

So Many Roads

My RL is full of challenges. I suppose I design it that way. Raising children, keeping my marriage working, writing my dissertation, teaching, working on extra projects - robots, SL Teen Grid platform, and biking. I was posed another challenge a few months ago - describe your life in six words or less: work hard, play hard, crash, burn. So I've been through the cycle - again. I crashed and burned in June. Now I'm back at the beginning working hard. And in a better frame of mind to handle the challenges than I was the last time. Its the balance thats working this time.

My SL challenges are interesting. I have two avatars. My alt is Sarah Marcus - she is the avatar I use when teaching my colleagues. She is my professional persona - the one who is knowledgeable on the topic of education in SL. On October 8th, Juniper Breize (my RL and SL friend and colleague) and I will give a presentation to our superintendent, high school and middle school principals, technology coordinator, colleagues, and a grant committee to "sell" our project to develop a virtual world platform on the teen grid. Am I nervous? You bet. Am I confident we can pull this off? Definitely.

And Yamis? Well, Yamis is really me. And in SL I am just as busy - listing to music, dancing, building, loving, exploring. I'm learning to make clothing and stained glass windows and lamps. And I go from one activity to another with my mind on three other tasks. I'm having fun. Hey Woodly, lets go ride bikes!

Well, my bike challenge is tomorrow - 100 miles - Graeme - this one's for you! Thanks =)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Going Down the Road Feeling Great

Perspective is a wonderful thing. And when I took a step back from my second life to examine my first life, i began to realize how much i was missing for a while: my family - playing with my kids, spending time with my husband, running around with my dog, talking with my parents. I was also not giving my students what they deserved. I'm glad I did this before school started. The year has been going so much better. At home and at work.

The time on my bike has been a huge factor in keeping me balanced - every pun intended. No ipod and only an occasional riding partner on the longer rides. Mostly its just me and my thoughts, recentering myself; reflecting on the day or looking to the next. My self-confidence has grown tremendously, and many of my issues with body image and self-esteem have fallen down on the totem pole of my general neurosis. In other words - I'm feeling great.

I read a bed-time story to my son last night, Bubba and Trixie by Lisa Campbell Ernst about a caterpillar, Bubba, with very low self-confidence, afraid to leave the leaf he was born on. He is befriended by Trixie, a lady bug with a crimped wing and a zest for life. She gently encourages him to go out into the garden and explore. He finds it a wonderful magical place. When it is time for Bubba to become a butterfly, he is again fearful of change. When he awakes and sees his wings, he is confused - he doesn't feel different. Trixie explains that he's the same on the inside, just the outside changed. He smiles and declares "I'm downright gorgeous!" Trixie now asks Bubba to help her fly, something she could never do with her bum wing. The two take off and soar high up to the wishing stars. Hooray for Bubba and Trixie.

No wonder I love my butterfly wings!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DarkStar crashes, pouring its light into ashes

Reason tatters
the forces tear loose
from the axis

Searchlight casting
for faults in the
clouds of delusion

shall we go,
you and I
While we can?
the transitive nightfall
of diamonds

Mirror shatters
in formless reflections
of matter

Glass hand dissolving
to ice petal flowers

Lady in velvet
in the nights of goodbye

Shall we go,
you and I
While we can?
the transitive nightfall
of diamonds

spinning a set the stars through which the tattered tales of axis roll about the waxen wind of never set to motion in the unbecoming round about the reason hardly matters nor the wise through which the stars were set in spin


And from my SL sister, Kitzie Lane:

As many of you are aware, there has been what I would call a tragedy at the DarkStar sim complex. It appears that this was an issue where SL bled into RL and caused some major hurt.
Most of us try to keep SL and RL separate, but we are human. Human beings drive these avatars, and we bring with us our personalities, quirks and frailties. We have feelings, and desires and we act on them in both positive and negative ways.
One who is hurting has chosen a very negative way of reacting to their pain. While we in no way condone the actions, we should understand the pain that has caused this response. It is inevitable for our RLs to be impacted by SL, especially if we are not content in our RLs.
I hope the family from DarkStar will find some peace and move forward. After all, no matter what a place looks like or feels like, it is the people who congregate there that make it feel like a home. A new home will be found, for we ARE a family and families move on together. If it happens that the family can remain on Ripple or return to DS, so be it, but the family will be together.
Please keep those who are hurting at this time in your hearts, pray that they will find their way safely in their RLs and that they too will move on in the way that is best for them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Keep On Going - Just A Mile To Go

For motivational purposes, I am going to keep track of my training and progress for my big ride on the 28th. I'm registered for the 100 mile ride. I'll be honest - I will be incredibly impressed if four weeks of post fracture training and a still sore elbow is going to make it that far. The reality is I would be thrilled if I went 75. That would still be my farthest ride to date.

So...what have we done this week...
Sunday 30 miles even pace
Monday 26 miles even pace
Tuesday 10 miles hill practice
Friday 18 miles sprints
Sunday 45 miles even pace

getting there - but let me tell you by the end... I was moving much to slooooooooow

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wake Up to Find Out...

Its been an interesting week - back to work and back in my usual routine: work, school, carpools, errands,'s good. I've been spending more time with my kids. That has been really refreshing. The time goes so quickly. I can't believe I've got a 4th grader and a 1st grader. Where did the time go?
I've been back on my bike - my RL butterfly wings. I can fly on my bike and I get to watch the world flutter by. Now I'm training for my century ride at the end of the month. We'll see how I do... Graeme is a great friend and has been coaching me all along. I want to make him proud.
Balancing between my RL and my SL has been an interesting endeavor. On the one hand, I am really enjoying RL, but on the other, I miss the time I spend with my friends online. I suppose that is what life is about though - juggling and keeping as many balls in the air as you can. I might have too many up there, but i'm trying to keep them from crashing down on me. I am grateful to all the people in my life who cheer me on and believe in me even when I am not sure if I can do all this. They keep me balanced. And honestly, I'm just too damn stubborn to give up anyway ;-)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Wheel is Turning

And I can't slow down...actually - its time to speed up again. After my end of the year breakdown in June, I have had a nice summer (ok, at times tumultuous) resting, playing, and bonding with friends. Alas...its that time of the year again. Labor day means the start of another school year and here I go.
I've been dreading the start of the year, but I think its time for an attitude adjustment. I've got really cool classes - and small (BONUS!!). I'm teaching algebra II, computer applications, intro to computer science, and AP computer science. I'm also working on my doctoral dissertation and a school project to develop a SL platform on the teen grid for our students. Oh, and lets not forget my own kids and their school work.
So if you see less of me, please understand - I'm really going to try to balance better this year...and if you see me on too much - give me a boot off! Muahh!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Circle of Friends

My very first post talked about the wonderful friends I met here in SL.
Last night was very special. Kitzie asked me, as we sat in a circle of our closest friends, if I would be her SL sister. I am so flattered and honored to have her as a friend.
Good friends are hard to come by - in RL and SL - and I am grateful for the friendships I've made in SL with people I never would have otherwise met.
We had a wonderful bonding experience last night in the lot; Kitzie, Starling, Moondance, JeffGlen, Ceemore, Goonigoogoo, and myself. As JeffGlen said, " it was one of those moments of real cameraderie". I couldn't agree more.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Setting My Hippie Self Free

Some things in life are just to perfect and too beautiful not to share. I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a few days up in Bethel, New York at Yasgur's Farm - Woodstock.
Yasgur's Farm - the farm house is in the background.

The hill on the farm where the original Woodstock festival took place. The stage was at the bottom of the hill.

Bob Weir and Rat Dog and The Allman Brothers played at the magnificent open air amphitheater built on the farm. About 10 minutes before the show a quick rain began (would it be a show at Woodstock without rain?). As Bobby opened the set with Here Comes The Sunshine, the sun came out and with it was the most spectacular double rainbow.

While we were there we visited the recently opened Woodstock Museum. If you have the opportunity to be in New York, this is really a must see. There are artifacts, interviews, and footage never seen before. A world of 1960's history leading up to the event is presented and stories from local residents are shared. The atmosphere is bright and cheerful, the music invigorating, but the museum visitors are somber taking it all in, remembering another time's forgotten space.
So as not to infringe on copyright laws, I do not have original pictures of the museum to share with you...please check out their website:

The next day we continued our journey with the bands to see them play again at Jones Beach. Although not a surreal surrounding like Woodstock, this show made the first one look like a rehearsal. An amazing week. And in RL - go figure!

Now where are those wings...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lets Talk Pose Balls

Got your attention - didn't I? Good.
Now, lets talk about the pink and the blue. After all, thats what makes life interesting between the music - if you know what I mean. I had an enlightening (and hillarious) experience today - which i will get to in a moment - that seems to have tied a few recent issues together.

The Olympics in Beijing have brought gender to the headlines of most major newspapers and TV news shows. Testing the athletes for gender honesty has proven more of a challenge than the Chinese government would like to admit. The gender lines have become so fuzzy. Defining gender by a simple genetic test is unreliable. Women can have a Y chromosome making them potentially men. Men who have had sex changes and hormone replacement for two years are officially women. And then there is the issue of how you live you life, and whether that makes you a man or a woman. Interesting concepts to ponder.

So what does that have to do with the pink and blue pose balls? Well, how do you know which one to hop on? After all, do you really know if that hot hunkie avi is really a guy? Or that drop-dead gorgeous chick you met is really a chick? Many of know someone who found out too late. And what if you know you are both hunks or both chicks - who picks the color? Paper, scissor, rocks? Eenie-meenie-miney-mo? Or do you go by height? The taller one gets the blue ball. See, who's to say?

So these three hot chicks walk into Bits and Bobs to try out pose balls to use with their respective SL mates (I know, it sounds like the start of a bad joke). Who should hop on the blue?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dancing in the Streets

I just wanted to share some fun photos I have collected of us all dancing in the lot :)
My humble thanks to my awesome friend Kitzie for helping me start many of these parties - WOOHOOO!!!!!
This first one is of Chaos' relay on 7-17-08. He played with Kitzie Lane, Goonigoogoo Gumbo, and Maximillian Kleene

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Music Never Stops

So my favorite activity in SL is dancing. I'll dance to anything - radio streams, streams from Dead shows, and "Rock Concerts". But by far, my favorite music to dance to are live performers. And there are sooo many awesome musicians in SL, I can't pick a favorite. So I want to share with you a few of my favorites. There are so many more (and if they agree, I'll add them in).

Interview with Monty:

1. How long have you been performing in RL? In SL? In RL, I played bar gigs in my hometown of Louisville for about 12 years, mostly as a solo, occasionally in bands. Then I moved away and quit playing for [unintelligible mumble] years, although I sang in a few a cappella groups (and still do - see

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to play in a working band, which I enjoyed very much for about 6 months; but I decided I preferred the solo route where I get to pick the material and interpret it myself. For a little over a year, SL has provided me an opportunity to hone my skills and ease back into solo performing. I haven't started looking for RL solo gigs yet, but I'm about to; and if possible, I'll stream them live in SL.

2. What do you like about performing in SL? Besides the groupies, you mean? LOL, just kidding... I read somewhere that half of them are guys anyway. ;-)

I've always been one to bring my guitar with me to parties, and will sing for friends at the drop of a hat. Playing in SL is very much like playing at a party. You can "hear" the chitchat among the audience members, and join in the conversation to some extent (although that can get tricky because of the delay inherent in audio streaming). And even a fairly large SL audience is the size of a smallish to medium club audience. It all makes for a very intimate connection between performer and audience.

3. Is there anything else about your performances that you would like me to mention? I almost always have a prepared set list, but I'm also almost always willing to depart from it. I love getting requests from the audience - sometimes they remind me of songs I forgot I knew (and sometimes I try to play them and realize I've forgotten them after all, but screwing up and being forgiven is part of the fun of playing for friends). The important thing is that the audience enjoy the show, whether they're grooving to the music or laughing at the fool with the guitar. And I think they usually do a little of both!

My note: Monty has a group - Montavians... free to join, very low spam, just announcements of my performances... he plays Tuesdays at the Clam and Bean, Saturdays at 5 O'Clock Somewhere, and alternate Thursdays at the Lot.

Interview with Kitzie

1. How long have you been performing in RL? In SL? I don't perform currently in RL. I sang all thru school and some coffee houses in college. I have played the piano pretty much all my life, but never as well as I would like. I got my first guitar when I was about 12 and taught myself. I let my music go over the years.

2. What do you like about performing in SL? SL gave me the "bug" to pick up the guitar again. I love performing here. It is great to be able to sit in the comfort of your own home in jeans and a T-shirt and sing your favorite songs. It is really very relaxing and the audiences are wonderful - they love live music!

3. Is there anything else about your performances that you would like me to mention? I choose songs that I personally like and I just hope the audiences like them as well.

1. How long have you been performing in RL? Years lol :-)) I have my experience behind me and it is alot. In SL I’ve been performing since December of 2007 and loving every min of it. I got started singing at a wedding.

2. What do you like about performing in SL? I have more creativity here in SL. I really enjoy the audiences here - more appreciated. The people are so wonderful. . I love to hear noise when I sing. So the more you make the more I love it. So howl, holler, scream my name. I love it all...

3. Is there anything else about your performances that you would like me to mention? I like to think of my performances as a roller coaster ride. it has its highs and lows. and it keeps the audience wanting more. And they seem to love it all so far. So I keep working on that. . .

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ride Like A Girl!!!

WOW- all i can say is OMFG - KILLER HILLS. Didn't expect that on this ride, but there they were. I made it 53 miles before my knee gave out - GO ME!!!!! - WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO
Graeme - you're the best coach ever!! =) (next goal: 100 flatter miles by September)
Here are some pics from the ride. The other riders are my sister and a friend from school.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Compass Always Points to Terrapin Station

Inspiration, move me brightly...

The new Terrapin Station is one of the great places on Dark Star, built by none other than the talented Starling Glitterbuck, where deadheads and hippies can listen to awesome streams of shows courtesy of Casey Jonas.

The story behind the building of the new Terrapin station is really interesting. Last night, Starling shared the story with me.

I think I was about 4 months old when i built the first terrapin. I was on the mainland. Sutherland was the name of the sim. It was next to a bridge, but actually there was a terrapin station before that. I found it one night it was a very small place. I met a guy named Conrad there, and then a guy named Lovesmiley. The three of us spent one night dancing and talking about music in this old Terrapin Station. And that night we made the further tribe.

And I started building the new Terrapin Station because the old one which was owned by Conrad sucked so we started buying land and I built the new Terrapin Station. I was pretty newbed out, still it was a box and really besides my little house was my first real build.

At some point, well, I had that first station for a while. There wasn’t really much of a live music scene then. It was mostly just I played gd radio and like no one came. Maybe a couple people a week would stop by but really it was so few. After a while I had a few people who came sometimes, but really it wasn’t much.

Conrad went away, and basically, I had the station with a Darkstar room, a smoking lounge, and I was making my bus. Then I got this offline from this guy. It said something like, "This place is great!!!" Something like that. I was making the bus one day, and that guy came by. We started talking, and he never left. It was Casey. He hung out at Terrapin with me, and then he started helping me and streaming. And I told him about my ideas and he told me how this could be possible. And then we got Darkstar. That was about a year and a half ago.

We wanted a hippie community and I wanted to build a shrine to the Grateful Dead, recreate as much of the scene as possible, and also pay tribute. What was unexpected to me and the best surprise to me is that as I make these things I learn a LOT and I reconnect. And like for instance, I made this game - it’s in the lobby of the hotel - if you click on the phone you get a message and a choice of room numbers. The message is for a Grateful Dead character, who is supposedly staying at Mars Hotel. You gotta figure out who the message is for and then figure out what room they are in. To build this game I had to learn about all the characters in the songs. I have 48 characters in there. Now when I hear these songs I get sooo much more out if it. It’s like they are new again. And I’ve loved these songs all my life. And that’s the best part about making Darkstar, because I'm the lucky one. I get more out of it than anyone because I am creating it.

As far as the new Terrapin Station goes, like i said, it was one of my first builds. It was my first, it was messy, haa, and it was out dated. So I decided that I would model it after the limited edition Terrapin Station album. Since I made a Terrapin station already, I didn’t think I could do it really, because I couldn’t see it very well in any of my images. But Casey scanned his poster and I was able to create an interpretation that’s pretty close to the art.

Here are some shots of the old Terrapin Stations



Many many thanks to Starling for sharing her story and pictures, for her wonderful builds, and her beautiful tribute to the most amazing group of musicians I know. Many thanks also to Casey Jonas for putting together a great community of Deadheads and for streaming such great music for us. Finally thanks to Haily Jewell (cuz) for contributing some of these pictures.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finding the SL/RL Balance

A friend reminds me how seductive Second Life can be. The sun always shines (I've only seen a rain cloud purposely placed over an avatar once in the 14 months I've been here) good music and dancing are everywhere, my av looks perpetually 25, clothes ALWAYS fit, I never have a bad hair day, my ass never looks fat, and I can have as many shoes in my inventory as I want. Does it get any better than that? Top that off with romance and sex for those interested, and anyone can be led astray in that world.

It is very hard for real life to compete with such perfection and bliss. Especially when the demands of RL are overwhelming and an escape valve is needed. I see this in so many people I meet in SL. But the seduction of SL is great, and it is frighteningly easy to give up more and more of RL to live in an easier world. But RL is not so forgiving. RL will only stand by for so long. While it is different for each of us, our real lives have a critical mass to maintain. As we digress into our fantasy worlds, friends become concerned. They notice. They care. But until that critical mass is reached, we can ignore their warnings.

But at that critical point, our real lives roar. They shout to be noticed. They demand our attention. I am at that point.

My real life is calling me. And I must respond. I must learn to balance my worlds better. To stay in the moment. To keep a perspective on my priorities. I have no intention of giving up my second life, but I must make sure it does not take priority over my first life.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

SL in Schools

I have been toying with the idea of using SL as a platform for teaching various subjects and working on interdisciplinary projects. I first heard about SL at a Tech Expo for educators in New York. The workshop was given by a middle school library media specialist, who is the SecondLife facilitator at her school. She works with other teachers in all subject areas and across subject areas to teach her teachers and students how to teach and learn in a 3D virtual world.

There is a lot of discussion as to whether of not social networking sites, and especially virtual world, can enhance the learning process. Dr. Lisa Dawly has been studying using 3D virtual worlds, specifically SecondLife, as a learning tool. She defines Social Network Knowledge Construction as a framework for how students can interact and learn and actually impacts the learner's thinking process. She argues then that new pedagogies are needed to effectively integrate new ways of communicating into the learning environment.

My RL colleagues, and now SL friends as well, and I are putting together a grant to develop a SecondLife platform on the Teen Grid to use in our middle and/or high school(s). I'm looking to meet with/talk to anyone who has an interest in also developing such a platform or has already developed one. I think we would be still on the cutting edge of this form of learning, but would be among the first to produce students who are capable of creative and collaborative work, a necessary skill in today's and especially tomorrow's job market...

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Five Boro Bike Tour

Yesterday, May 4th, I rode with a friend on the NYC Five Boro Bike Tour. What a blast. Thanks Coach Graeme for helping me get ready!!!!! Here are some pics

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hey Now

First let me say - Mean People Suck

I'm not sure why people have to be so mean to each other - especially in SL. Whats the point? If you can't have fun here - whats the point? And peace-loving hippies should know better.

Anyway - I want to share some cool pics. I'll be adding them a few at a time - so check back often.

top to bottom:
Dancing in the lot at DarkStar
Terris, Jon, and Yamis at Black Swan

GG at the piano

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is It a Game?

An interesting conversation has been going around here and there - nothing major - on Ripple and DarkStar about people's view of SL. Is it a game, or is it an extension of reality? It's pretty clear that no two people have the same experiences in SL or even came to SL for the same reasons (or are staying in SL for the same reasons).

So for me, when I first got here I wasn't sure what the hell was going on - so I couldn't really tell if I was in a game or an alternate reality. I met people who played the game and were very clear that they kept RL and SL separate. Other people shared their stories: where in the RL world they lived (general area), what they did, etc.

I don't know how to be anyone other than me, and I've been called a really bad liar more than once (and my alt was outed by my friends within minutes). So I am going for the open approach. Ask me about me, and I'll tell you (within reason). I want people to know me. SL has become an extension of my life - new friends, new experiences, but all for me. And yes, my nickname in RL is Yamis (pronounced Yaymis - thanks Grateful for being so clear about that always - lol).

For those of you on the "its a game" side of the spectrum, you might be the lucky ones who haven't been consumed and addicted to SL (see the link on the right for more about SL addictions "We only dream in wireframe") and I respect your view of the game. For those on the "reality" end of the spectrum - will we ever be able to leave? Do we even want to?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this...

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Thanks for visiting my blog - I will be using this blog to share my adventures in Second Life.
I live on Ripple and have made some wonderful friends here - this will be about us!

So everyone wants to know what I do here in SL, how I got here in the first place, and why I spend so much time here.

I was introduced to SL at a Educational Technology workshop - using SL as a learning platform in schools. I went home to check it out and was hooked ever since. It took a while to not be a n00B enough to wander around and figure stuff out. Lots of sandbox time. Lots of NCI time. I've spent most of my life chasing around the Grateful Dead, so why change here? I looked around for other Deadheads and found Dark Star. This is when I started really living in SL and the people I've met there are why I stay.

Dark Star is a sim built by Starling Glitterbuck - one of SL's best builders (imho). It is entirely dead-icated to the Grateful Dead. In July I moved onto a connected sim, Ripple. It's been my home ever since.

So what do I do here? I dance! I listen to my friends play music and I dance! I play, I build (not enough) and I love to shop. ;-) I spend time with friends and smile, smile, smile.

So for all my DS/Ripple friends: ZB, TG, JL, SM, GG, KL, KR, JL, TT, JM, DW, WF, BO, CJ, SG, CN, CCM, the other GG, GS, IK, KM, QG, FD, JGB, (I hope I didn't leave anyone out) and for all my friends in the rest of SL, I LOVE YOU - YOU ARE WHAT MAKES SL SO MUCH DAMN FUN!!!!! WOOHOOO!!!!!

If you want to know more about Second Life, visit Second Life