What Second Life Means to Me – Bay Sweetwater

Here’s my video about why Second Life matters so much to me. Hint: It’s the people. And the possibility of living in the beauty that we create.

This is in response to Xiola Linden’s video share project as part of Second Life’s 12th birthday in July. I’m a bit late adding to the pool of videos, but I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings, since Second Life is so valuable to me and such a big part of my life.



She Has Never Felt the Rain

Four years ago after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I wrote this fiction story about a girl who had never felt the rain, living in a post-apocalyptic underground where people occupied themselves primarily in a virtual world.

Then this morning I read a true story about a child who, because of California’s drought, had never felt the rain. I was astounded. When I wrote the story, I had no idea that its poignant backstory of a child who had never felt the rain, would come true –so soon, in my life, and in the place that I call home.

Girl in the Rain


She Has Never Felt the Rain

by Bay Sweetwater

The old man beckons her to come forward, the small girl twirling her hair and holding onto her mother’s hand a dozen or so spaces behind him in the line. She points her tiny finger at her chest and mouths “me?” in disbelief.   Her eyes are wide; she chews her lower lip. He nods. The girl takes a quick breath and turns questioning eyes to her mother. “Go ahead, then,” the mother says. “You know Mr. Sanders. Maybe you’ll get your chance today.”

The pale redheaded four-year-old runs up to the old man, the way she runs no matter where she goes, too full of hope and eagerness to waste time walking.   She balls her fish against her mouth, standing on one leg, her other leg bent slightly with her foot nervously tapping the ground behind her, and gazes up at him.

The old man smiles and holds his ticket out to her, then bends down and whispers into her ear, “Tell me all about it tomorrow, huh?” She shakes her head up and down, too excited to speak. The man turns to me as I consult the roster for today. “She has never felt the rain,” he explains. I nod. He steps out of the line.

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Is a prim forever? Lessons from running (and closing) a Second Life sim

Fred Beckhusen, co-creator of the Phaze Demesnes sim that closed in Second Life at the end of the year, has now written a heart-tugging memoir of lessons learned and friendships forged during 6 years of running the Phaze sim. Because he wrote this incredibly informative and hilarious recollection in a fleeting Google+ post, I am taking the liberty of reproducing it here for the sake of posterity.

But before I do, I would like to make just one teensy correction in what he writes. He says that you will fall in love with your prims and then “cry (a lot) when you finally delete them.  And then write about them when they are all finally gone.”

Well, I have to suggest to Fred (Ferd Frederix in Second Life) and his partner Debbie Edwards (aka Wavinggirlsav Voom in Second Life) that this is not entirely true. I have, at last count, 98 of their stunning creations (including countless prims) safely stashed away in my inventory, where they shall remain, unless of course the flocks of birds are out flying on my land, or the dragons have gone to new castles to do battle.

Also, there are many pictures of their creations that spot the Internet, and I include a few of my own below to prove my point. And since a picture is just one step shy of a prim, Fred, perhaps prims linger with these pictures and are not “gone” after all. I believe prims, like friendships, last forever.




Fred Beckhusen’s Memoir

A few of the things +Debbie Edwards   and I learned from running the sim “Phaze Demesnes” over the last six years:

It’s not just about planting pretty plants, or building things, or writing cool scripts. It’s also about building friendships that last forever.  Be sure to plant and nurture those, too.

I hated to delete all the data on vistors and games and stuff like that today.  I always thought Phaze would slowly wind down, and stop from lack of interest.  But 504 people visited Phaze Demesnes the last day it existed, and many left us notes and messages of support, and money.  Proof below in the image.  Each dot is a person/minute.

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Phaze Is Closing – Everything Free /me sobbing

UPDATE: Here’s where you can get your very own Santa Sleigh & Reincows at Phaze.

A sad story with a silver lining during the Second Life holidays this year: Phaze Demesnes sim is closing down  at the end of the year. The silver lining is that its creators, Fred Beckhusen (Ferd Frederix) and Debbie Edwards (Wavingirlsav Voom) are giving away all their creations free at Phaze inworld in Second Life through the end of the year.

That includes all their amazing flocks of low-lag birds, the owl that hunts rabbits; untold numbers of dragons, horses, and unicorns; the unusual avatars like goats, elephants, and a tiny dragon; and all the geeky toys like the Einstein Eye that watches avatars; not to mention the masterwork, the Universal Translator that works in SL in any language; and best of all this time of year: a rideable, driveable Santa Sleigh with 8 tiny … umm … cows!

Also: pick up hundreds (literally) of Fred’s clever Best Tools and LSL Scripts off his website. Fred says the website will stay up, but it will have a focus beyond Second Life in the New Year.


Fred made the incredibly generous freebie offer in his Facebook and Google Plus posts announcing the sim closure:  “In 10 days all Phaze freebies are gone forever. So get your free mesh horse while you still can. Works in any sim, even no-script sims. Two years in the making. Lots and lots of skins, saddle, and armor patterns, a working lance, footprints, dust trails and most importantly, Unicorns!”

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Boys and Girls! Grow giant spiders in your yard!

It’s autumn, which means it’s time for a giant spider in my yard in Second Life. Driveable, flyable, and very hungry! Beware….

P.S. I have no idea where this spider came from or who made it. It was a gift to me, and I cannot figure out who, what, or … why?


With All the Frills Upon It

The house is dressing up in its spring finery now. Just like when I was young, my father always got my mother and me camellia corsages at Easter. And then my mother and I would buy ourselves new dresses too, and shoes and hats as well, and feel so fine stepping out in the warm spring weather. I like to think the house is dressing up for spring that way now. It always looks so pleased with itself this time of year.

House in Spring














Easter Parade
Lyrics by Irving Berlin

In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the easter parade.
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the easter parade.
On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
And of the girl I’m taking to the easter parade.

Hope Will Find You

“Hope is the thing with feathers,” Emily Dickinson tells us, “that perches in the soul.” But what if you can’t see it, can’t see your soul even? Maybe it’s too dark, or maybe the soul is an overgrown thicket that surrounds the bird and camouflages her who, after all, looks exactly like the soul itself? I think then you have to take hope on faith, almost like a prayer. Or maybe it is a prayer: please let love through, let my beautiful soul shine out. If you can’t find hope, then you must have faith that hope will find you. I took this picture on the hillside above the house, and that little “thing with feathers” is there, and even though hard to see; yes, it sees you. Promise.

Bird in thicket








Hope Is the Thing With Feathers
By Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail, hopping past 100,000 views!

It’s funny how serendipity happens when you’re least expecting it. My Second Life machinima video “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” has just hit the 100,000-view mark, making it one of the most popular Second Life videos ever. There are others more popular to be sure, but it’s right up there. Thank-you all for watching. Having entered a number of Second Life machinima video competitions, and never having won a single prize, I find Peter’s popularity very pleasing.

Also pleasing was the way I made the video. It was a cold, lonely, depressing Easter weekend a couple years ago, so I “hopped” into Second Life and started racing bunny carts around. A few friends joined in, and soon we were doing wheelies on the hills in my home, “the Bay Area,” zooming through the sky, and squealing around the wrong way on the seal racing track. Just for fun I started filming all the antics.

Then I dressed up as a psychedelic Petter Cottontail avie and started dancing. I filmed that too. I threw the video together on Easter Sunday, added a soundtrack of an old vinyl I had of Rosemary Clooney singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” and put it up on YouTube. It took off immediately. I thought it was a flash in the pan and would die down, but its popularity has continued steadily over the past couple years. Of course, Easter is Peter’s primetime, and he hopes you’ll all be watching. He’ll be watching out from the screen, twitching his psychedelic ears, and thanking you all for making him the Bunneh Star! Thanks everyone.

AutoAwesome Animates Winter Pictures from Second Life

You can get animated falling snow and twinkling lights from Google+’s AutoAwesome in your Second Life winter and holiday photos. The pictures that are picked don’t have to be from the real world – they can come from virtual worlds, game worlds, scans from old scrapbooks, even stills from movies- anywhere really.

Google Can Make Snow Fall and Lights Twinkle

For the holiday season, Google announced (on a Google+ post, of course) two new AutoAwesome features – falling snow and twinkling lights that they will add to our photos – for free! The way it works is you upload qualifying pictures to your Google+ library, and Google behind the scenes will turn them into animated gifs with either falling snow or twinkling lights. All you need to trigger the falling snow is that you have some snow in your picture. To trigger the twinkling lights, you just have to have some bright lights in your picture, like a Christmas tree.

And Here Are the Pix to Prove It!

I’m going to post a few samples here, but if you want more, visit the AutoAwesome community on Google+. Everybody proudly posts their pictures there, and there are lots of good tips too.

Here’s my first Auto-Awesome’d pic: a holiday family portrait in Second Life. Below it is a pic of some beautiful winter trees that caught my eye in my friend Willow Graysmark’s sim Serenity Sea.

Family Holiday Portrait


Twinkling Trees AA


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A Dream of Snow

Put the stillness of deep winter together with the peace of Japanese meditation and you have Jac Mornington’s new sim, A Dream of Snow (Yuki No Yume). I have hardly left here since it opened a few days ago; it is that lovely, and there is so much to see and do.

I’ve spent a good deal of time sipping tea on a meditation pillow watching the snow fall. I’ve also sat on the dock and watched the ducks float by on the lake. I’ve watched horses thundering by in the woodland hills, seals bark on the frozen seaside, cranes dancing in the icy meadow.

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