Apr 27, 2007

Could this be my new keyboard???

For all my steampunk friends out there in the aether.

For more information on this and other steampunk projects out there please visit the Steampunk Workshop website. In this article about the Steampunk Keyboard Mod there are instructional films for your use. Such fun!!

Happy day to all of you.

See you tomorrow night at the
Reconciliation Day Ball

Apr 25, 2007

The Fires of Beltane

First the announcement:

I am pleased to inform you, gentle readers, that I am hosting a Beltane Festival in Caledon Loch Avie on May 1st. We will begin the celebration at 6:30pm SLT and anticipate the festivities will continue until at least 10:00pm SLT. I encourage you to channel your inner God and Goddess. Please feel free to attend in druidic robes, faerie costumes, elvin or gnomish garb, medieval dress, or Victorian-wear. The evening will begin with a knighting ceremony and introduction of several members of the Loch Avie court. I will then light the Beltane Need Fires in a ceremony that I hope you will all enjoy. The rest of the evening will be devoted to the pleasure of your company. DJ Gabrielle will be providing the music for us during the entire event. She and I will be discussing my eclectic vision for the programming later this week. Of course there will be dancing! We have a wonderful Maypole, built by Lady Kate Nicholas and scripted by ZenMondo Wormser, for traditional revelry. Should the events of the evening inspire you, there will also be hidden throughout the Loch various areas for your inner Green Men and May Queens to meet and ensure the fertility of the land for the coming year. Pleasures abound!

Now the history:

Beltane is an old Celtic Fire Ritual which celebrates, at the most fundamental level, the end of winter and the beginning of the warmer, lighter half of the year. It is the counterpart to Samhain, which marks the Pagan New Year and celebrates ancestors and the death of the crops (harvest). Beltane celebrates life. For the Celts, it was a festival that insured fertility and growth.

Beltane is one of the four major Sabbats in the Celtic tradition, the other three being Lammas, Samhain and Imbolc. Beltane's traditional date, May 1st, was chosen as the midway point between the vernal equinox and summer solstice (two of the four minor Sabbats). Due to the change in the earth's axis of rotation over time, this point is now closer to May 5th, and some pagans observe May 5th as "Old Beltane," but the traditional date is still favored.

Beltane, much like Samhain, has changed over the years. Some traditions existed only in a single village, while others were found throughout the culture. It is believed that Beltane is a Celtic reinvention of an even older Roman festival, Floralia, which celebrated the goddess Flora and the flowering of spring. Most major religions have a holiday that marks the coming of spring. The Christian religion celebrates rebirth (or resurrection) on Easter; Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, chicks, and lilies are all pagan symbols of fertility associated with spring, adapted to the Christian tradition. The Hindu religion celebrates Holi, a carnival-like spring festival, dedicated to Krishna or Kama, the God of Pleasure. This festival resembles Beltane, with bonfires being a main focus of the holiday.

The Goddess, Floralia. By Evelyn DeMorgan

Traditionally, Beltane festivities began days before May 1st or "May Day," when villagers traveled into the woods to gather the nine sacred woods needed to build the Beltane bonfires. The tradition of "May Boughing" or "May Birching" involved young men fastening garlands of greens and flowers on the windows and doors of their prospective ladyloves before the fires are lit Beltane night. As with many Celtic customs, the type of flowers or branches used carried symbolic meaning, and much negotiating and courting could be worked out ahead of time.

Many communities elected a virgin as their "May Queen" to lead marches or songs. To the Celts, she represented the virgin goddess on the eve of her transition from Maiden to Mother. Depending on the time and place, the consort might be named "Jack-in-the-Green" or "Green Man," "May Groom" or "May King." The union of the Queen and her consort symbolized the fertility and rebirth of the world.

Because the Celtic day started and ended at sundown, the Beltane celebration would begin at sundown on April 30th. After extinguishing all hearth fires in the village, two Beltane fires were lit on hilltops. The villagers would drive their livestock between the fires three times, to cleanse them and insure their fertility in the coming summer, and then put them to summer pasture. Then the human part of the fertility ritual would begin.

William Holdman Hunt's The Hireling Shepherd

As dancing around the bonfires continued through the night, customary standards of social behavior were relaxed. It was expected that young couples would sneak off into a ditch, the woods or, better yet, a recently plowed field for a little testing of the fertility waters. Even after hand-fasting was replaced by the Christian tradition of monogamous marriage, the Beltane ritual continued with a new tradition: all marriage vows were temporarily suspended for the festival of Beltane. Many a priest would lament the number of virgins despoiled on this one night, but the tradition persevered. Babies born from a Beltane union were thought to be blessed by the Goddess herself.

Beltane, like Samhain, is a time when the veil between the worlds is thought to be thin, a time when magic is possible. Whereas Samhain revelers must look out for wandering souls of the dead, Beltane merrymakers must watch for Fairies.

The maypole, which was either a permanent feature or cut in a ceremony during the gathering of the nine sacred woods, was a symbolic union of the God and Goddess. The maypole itself represented the male, a phallus thrust into mother earth, while the ribbons that were wound around it represent the enveloping nature of the woman and her womb. The maypole was usually danced after sunrise, when disheveled men and women would stagger back into town carrying flowers they picked in the forests or fields. The area around the maypole was decorated with the flowers, and then the winding of the ribbons would begin.

These wildwood antics have inspired writers such as Kipling:

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!

And Lerner and Lowe:

It's May! It's May!
The lusty month of May!...
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,
Ev'ryone breaks.
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes!
The lusty month of May

Even as we have fun with contests on the battlefield and in the arena, let us not forget the (other) pleasures of life, the celebration of friendships and of love, and the ancient rites.

Slainte! My friends. Health and Happiness!

Apr 24, 2007

The Logistics of Kissing

Forgive the romantic in me today. It is spring after all.

Alexandre DeFaux - Courting Couple in a Rowboat.

Apr 23, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

I am pleased to share with all of you that I have been planning and plotting an event for Loch Avie – and all of Caledon – which will be so different from anything that we have ever experienced here that the excitement is building at a rapid pace among those that have heard me speak of it.

What is it? I shall endeavor to answer that question in my own words first, and I will then show you a pictorial display which should peak your interest.

We will be calling this exhibition the Tournament for Life

My Goals for this
1. Fundraising event for Relay for Life (kiosks all around the sim, VIP section of the arena for donors, vendors with unique items donated from Caledon and Torvaldsland)
2. New and inventive way for Caledonians to come together as a community
3. Opportunity to create relationships with peoples of other diverse sims
4. Explore the possibilities of creating our own tournament series in Caledon (jousting, horsemanship, steampunk creations, etc)

One of my oldest friends in Second Life, Telemachus Dean, is a warrior in the Torvaldsland sims. Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch him spar in the Scagnar arena. I was amazed at the strength and skill of these men – even in a relaxed practice setting as this was.

An idea began to percolate as I thought of several of my good friends in Caledon, both men and women, who had begun to express interest in having more diverse events offered. There has been increased interest in things like skirmishes, flight, medieval contests and the like. Beginning a tournament series became an obvious answer to me. I had enjoyed watching the brave men fighting in Scagnar and I felt sure that others would also enjoy such contests.

Soon I contacted Telemachus to determine whether he might have an interest in helping with such an affair. He was! I was thrilled. Next step was to discuss this with Desmond Shang in an effort to ensure that he would support such an event. He does! Step three: contact Lapin Paris about RFL benefits of the event. She is excited at the possibilities as well. We will soon be coordinating with the RFL team on vendors and other money-making ventures for RFL at this event.

What happened next went beyond my wildest dreams. I met with Telemachus and two other warriors, including Elric Wilberg, a noted builder in SL. We sat in Tele’s lodge and discussed the charity and my proposal. I expected some resistance as I am an outsider to them and to the Gorean community. Because of Tele’s influence in the community, and the information I was able to provide about Relay for Life, they immediately agreed to assist with the tournament planning. The most overwhelming part of this all, however, is that donations of time, builds, services, clothing just keep coming in from them. They have fully embraced this idea and want to be involved. I am moved beyond belief.

Tele then presented our proposal to the council in Torvaldsland in order to gain full support from the High Jarl (their leader) and the other warriors. He stood before them and explained the cause and our basic plan. Again full support!! And now warriors volunteering for the exhibition. It just gets better and better.

This weekend, prior to attending Duchess Gabrielle Riel’s Rez Day Spectacular, I attended the regular Saturday night tournament in Scagnar. This event is broadcast on Gor radio and is very well attended. At one point there were 60 in the sim. Below you will see some images of the event, which takes place in an arena very much like the one which Elric Wilberg has donated to me for use in the Tournament for Life. An incredible structure. Again I am astounded by the generosity and open hearts and minds that I have found as we make preparations.

I was also honored to have been introduced to the High Jarl. He expressed his full support of our proposal, and hopes to be able to attend our event. His life has been closely touched by cancer and is pleased to be involved with our efforts at fundraising.

In the arena with Telemachus to my right.

Best seats in the house.

Telemachus Dean in the Battle Royal - an impressive sight.

We hope to have the event in mid-May. We are waiting to learn whether Magnum will be able to referee the event for us, and we need to work on his time table. Will post to the events calendar and send a notice once something is set in stone.

We are accepting donations of weapons and steampunk items for a prize chest for the winner of the tournament. Thus far the High Jarl and a number of other Torvaldslanders have donated weapons and clothing items. As well, some of the generous free women and at least one slave have donated items for the event or to be placed into vendors with full proceeds going to our RFL efforts. Please contact me if you would like to donate something for the prize – or for RFL vendors.

“Your Grace, did you say free women and SLAVES??”

Yes I did. I have hopes of creating diversity in our relationships, and a tolerance among ourselves and other peoples. Torvaldsland is one of several Gorean-theme sims in SL. But as you have noted in my descriptions above, I have found generous and gentle hearts among these people. Telemachus and I intend to create cultural education notecards for our citizens. We will pass these to you prior to the event. We will expect everyone to behave in an appropriate fashion towards one another. We are all in this for a good cause, and to expand ourselves. And it should be great, good fun!

Oh! Did I mention that any free man present may join in the Battle Royal at the end of the tournament? Combat systems will be provided to entrants. Just for you, Mr. Somme. And you, Colonel O’Toole. And you, Mr. Pearse. And you, Mr. Wormser. And you, Mr. Scaggs. And you………oh well you get the idea. *grins*

There will also be a party in the Loch after the hour-long event. Things will be relaxed. I am told the slaves will be permitted to be in “normal clothes” and their rules more lenient. We will be able to change from our Victorian clothing into whatever pleases us as well. Plenty of Uisge Beatha to go around, as well as fun and games to move our RFL gains along.

More information to follow.

On a personal note, I was extremely pleased to be permitted to attend Telemachus’ initiation ceremony at the Sacred Mountain in Torvaldsland where he, along with two others, became full citizens of that land.

Taking the sacred oath

A proud and moving moment at the Sacred Mountain

I look forward to providing more information to you on this event and possible future tournaments, which may include, but would not be limited to:
Samurai tournament (guests exhibiting)
Renaissance (guests exhibiting)
Creation of our own Caledon tourneys - steampunk faire, horsemanship, jousts, military combat, and the like

Comments encouraged. I cannot wait to hear what everyone thinks!

Apr 20, 2007

Cannons, and Ships, and Gunfire. Oh My!

To: Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, CHIT Commanders
cc: MI 5 Operatives, Militia Leadership
From: Head MI 5
Re: Events at the Loch on 19 April

Sometimes one never needs to leave home to find intrigue and adventure.

What started out as a lovely, quiet evening on the Loch turned out to be anything but the buccolic scene envisioned. As I was touring about the Loch last evening, showing the new distillery building and public house to Loch Avie's good friend, Mr ZenMondo Wormser, there was suddenly a quickly flying avatar overhead. Initially we continued our current discussion about the good work that Lady Kate Nicholas is doing on the manse building, which is quite a drammatic structure and will be extraordinary once all the interior work is completed....but I digress...as we walked down the hill towards the inlet that Nellie favors, we were suddenly and greatly alarmed at what we saw.

A gunship in Loch Avie??!!

There before us was an enormous ship, not quite rezed in the waters of the Loch, having two very large cannons. And the cannon were firing on MY Keep! I was shouting to the avatar demanding that he stop immediately, and was just about ready to bounce him onto his behind in some distant mainland sim after time spent well above the atmosphere when he finally called out to us. The cannon fire stopped. I demanded to know WHO he was and what he thought he was doing firing at ME and my guest - and on my OWN LAND!

He introduced himself as Sgt. Gideon Biederman and stated that he was newly enrolled in the Caledon militia. He also said that the ship and the cannon were his latest inventions for the upcoming war. I quickly whispered to Mr Wormser that he should continue talking to the "gentleman" keeping him distracted whilst I called the offices of MI 5 for a rapid background check on this chap. As I was doing this, the little man brought out his next creation.

Cannon for our Militia - or so he says....

Mr Wormser and I inspect the cannon more closely.

Intellegence reports indicate that this avitar is only a week old, and yet these creations are quite sophisticated. I am most suspicious, and will keep this Biederman (a very tutonic name...hmm) close-by for further observation. Once the cannon fire started, Mr Wormser and I noted the fine workmanship and began asking questions. I also sent communications via the secure channel to two of my military experts, Colonels Somme and O'Toole. They arrived post haste to take in the scene.

Not long after their arrival more weapons found their way into the Loch. This is the newest ship (for the Caledon Navy??) purchased by Colonel O'Toole. The shipbuilder, Fleet Admiral Chase Speculaas, arrived during a fierce mock battle between the ship and the cannon perched on land. The men seemed to be having great good fun. I watched with a careful eye.

On board the new ship.

This ship handled quite well save when she was caught in the sim border.

This weapons play went on for quite some time, but did allow me to get a closer look at abilities and weapons. Needless to say, many ships were rezed, many guns and suits of armor displayed, and so on.

You may be happy to know that my Keep held firm and took no damage despite the cannon shots.

Several people went into the pub whilst we were at this business, so they must have felt safe within the Loch's borders--or the whisky was doing its work well. Ms S. O'Flynn, who has been in SL since 2003 even joined our party for a little while. A brave and hearty soul she has! And most charming as well. I hope to run into her again sometime soon.

This ends the report. I look forward to your thoughts.


End Transmission

Apr 18, 2007

Odd Things Afoot

Begin transmission.

To: Foreign Affairs Ministry, Internal Affairs Ministry
cc: MI 5 Operatives
From: Head, MI 5
Re: Concerning events of the last few days
Recommendation: High Alert. Be mindful of all that is happening around you. Please send reports directly to this office for coordination of intellegence efforts.


1. Undercover Gnome, Agent Tinlegs has been out in the field. Following is the report he filed.

Due to the damnable conditions for flying in SL today I decided to reconoiter NeuAltenberg instead. Not much to report really. A large lady gave me a beer. A lovely Baroness welcomed me to NeuAltenberg. I watched Herr Edelweiss
apparently struggling to operate a lock on a door to what could have been either a stables or a shower room. I rather think a stables since I see no reason to attach an armored locking door to a shower.
...they seem to be part way through refurbishing the guardhouse at the old city wall to be a modern barracks. Not very sensible to me as that would leave the local manner house and beergarten outside the defensive wall and open to attack. While Herr Edelweiss did caution a visitor that there were spies all about no one challenged me. Even though I was standing right there. So I was not forced to use my well thought out and cunning escape plan. respond to any challenge with "I
bist ein jelly dougnut!" then run like hell whilst they try to figure out what I said.
Hopefully there may be a useful tidbit you can pull from this report. (Perhaps instead of pumpkins we should invade and take over their beergarten for a right good piss up wherein we drink their entire supply of beer.)

2. This report was filed from BardHaven's Department of Scandal and Innuendo.

3. Seen by Head of MI 5. A group of shadowy figures skulking about the Falling Anvil in Tamrannoch. In the dark of the night - even with my steampunk night vision goggles on - it was difficult to discern the faces of these characters. What was obvious was that several of this number were female although near as I could tell they were all dressed alike. They appeared to be holding some sort of conference. What they might be planning is of concern to me particularly with all the talk of war between Caledon and Neualtenberg. I must learn more about this group: Are they citizens of Caledon? Are they friend to Caledon or foe?? What are they planning?

Further communications will follow.

End transmission.

Apr 16, 2007

Ready for the Fields – or Divans – of Battle

Just a quick article today to sing the praises of my good friend, Edward Pearse. It is well known that as the war efforts began, Edward rapidly began uniform development. Shortly after I learned that he had completed design and creation of several of these uniforms for the men and women of Caledon, I took the short walk from Loch Avie to his shop in Victoria City. I was pleased to find that his work was on display and was of the highest quality. I was sad to learn, however, that the Highlands uniform was not available to those of the fairer sex.

Given my heritage, I felt that I MUST have the Highlands Regiment gear, and thus I contacted him straight away.

Good man that he is, he took my commission to develop the fine uniform, which you see presented before you today. The workmanship is fantastic, and the detail – right down to the red roses on the stockings and the sterling chain of the sporran – is incredible. I am most pleased that he agreed to design this for me.

Watching from the Loch Avie keep. Ever at the ready.

Scanning the horizon for airships.

Colonel Bellambi

Given my role as head of MI 5, and my title and responsibilities as Duchess Loch Avie, I may never actually see (public and open) combat on the front lines. However, I am now prepared to be present for the troops in the field, whether in close combat beside them, or assisting with the planning whilst on the divan in the campaign tent.

Thank you Mr. Pearse.

Apr 15, 2007

The Joys of Spring - Celtic Fertility Rites? or Raising Funds for Relay for Life?

I crawled out of bed this morning after much dancing and debauchery last night with a head that was not quite clear and vision that was slightly blurry. What is very clear, however, was that a grand time was had by all in attendance at the First (of many?) Naughty Duchess challenge in Caledon, and that many thousands of dollars were raised in the name of nudity and hedonistic pleasure - all for a good cause. Relay for Life.

Let me take you to the beginning of this story. It was not so long ago that many of us were in Coughton Court enjoying an impromptu ball-turned-rave. This event was chronicled in many places including this very publication. The idea of Drunken, Dancing, and Naughty Duchesses was first developed (publicly anyway) at this event. In Duchess Carntaigh's and my circle of friends, this concept has become a source of hilarious discussions and often of (not so subtle) inuendo.

As members of the peerage in Caledon, it is not often that we even have the time to think of such activities. Normally both of us are quite involved with the commuity, the war efforts, our various obligations and work. However, I will not try to deny that I remember precisely what happened last night. Nor will I deny enjoyment of it. Sadly this seems to have been done by Her Grace Carntaigh in Lord BardHaven's fine ætheric site. Does that automatically make me the winner for Naughtier Duchess in this round?

After doing some shopping and exploring on Friday night, I recalled that Steelhead was hosting a 70s Disco party. So I looked through the wardrobe and did my best to find something appropriate. Having done the best I could with this, I called for a tp and joined the impressive crowd.

It was at this event that the Sir Edward Pearse notified me that his Naughty Victorian group titles had changed for the Duchess Carntaigh and for Duchess Loch Avie. I changed my group to find that I was now titled, "Naughty Duchess". A laugh escaped me and the comments began to roll. Sir Edward - as a silver disco ball avi that I wish I had a snapshot of - mentioned that he thought he should have given Gabrielle the title of "Naughtier Duchess". I thought about that and said that I thought she and I were fairly evenly matched. Suddenly it was as if the gauntlet had been dropped....calls for a Naughty Duchess challenge were coming from everywhere in the crowd. It was quite amusing.

This brings us to the Ren Faire in Carntaigh yesterday evening. Many of us were standing about the event watching Exrex Somme and ZenMondo Wormser spar with swords, prim joust, and begin to look more eastern than Caledonian. We also admired the siege engine as it tossed many a Caledonian deep into the water around Carntaigh. Admiral O'Toole brought his newest airship to the event as well and had several, including the redoubtable Hermoine Pennyfeather, climb aboard her as we chatted. Eventually Duchess Riel and I were laughing about the very thought of a Naughty Duchess challenge. Shouts of "mud!" "jello!" and "chocolate pudding!" filled the air as did much laughter.

Gabrielle decided that she would love an impromtu rave at the faire grounds and so the plan was hatched. As the crowds gathered, we changed into more comfortable and revealing clothing. The music changed entirely...and fairly early on a few in the crowd began showing more flesh than we did. Most notable were Jabb3r and Ms Poppy.

The crowd assembles.

Funds were raised with the full support of our Relay For Life Captain, Lapin Paris. Both of us ended up in the dunking tank, which was most refreshing as several of our gentlemen friends were able to help us find our way, rather abruptly, into the water.

Here I am waiting for the inevitible while I taunt ZenMondo Wormser, Exrex Somme, Darien Mason, Hotspur O'Toole, and Edward Pearse. "You silly English Knnnnnnigggguts. Come back here and I will taunt you a second time-uh". (channeling Python there for a moment.....)

After these smaller events, which raised a fair amount of money for the Relay For Life, the bidding was opened for the Duchess Sandwich...for those who would be the meat of the sandwich...male, female, furry, demon....all given equal opportunity to give generously for our noble cause. At the end of the bidding, Mr ZenMondo Wormser was victorious and donated the stunning sum of 6000L for cancer care and research. Well done sir! And now his reward.....

The infamous Duchess Sandwich with ZenMondo the winning bidder...and the very fine meat to this sandwich.

The view from a demon's eyes (or a photo shot from Darien Mason's perspective)

Well this one rather speaks for itself doesn't it?

Others have reported on the events of the night, including my particular friends, Hotspur O'Toole and Lord BardHaven.

And now my thanks to all who have given so generously at ALL of the RFL events. And thanks to everyone who partied with us last night. Oh! So much fun!


Apr 13, 2007

A Spring Song

Most who know me will recall that I love the classical work, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. And, in fact, my Real Life Self has sung this work on a number of occasions, most notably with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

The passion and strength of Carmina Burana is enough to have not only moved the listener, but also have the chorus and orchestra shaking from the emotion and exertion by the end of the last note. (The flow of adrenaline is remarkable.)

If you are not familiar with the work, I encourage you to find a recording and have a listen. And perhaps you will get a mere taste of it at the next rave in Caledon. I nearly always request the techno mix of O Fortuna. :-D

Enjoy this musing on Spring from Carmina Burana.



Veris laeta facies
mundo propinquatur.
Hiemalis acies
victa iam fugatur.
in vestitu vario Flora principatur,
nemorum dulcisono
quae cantu celebratur.

Florae fusus gremio
Phoebus novo more
risum dat, hoc vario
iam stipatae flore.
Zephyrus nectareo
spirans it odore.
certatim pro bravio
curramus in amore.

Cytharizat cantico
dulcis Philomena.
flore rident vario
prata iam serena.
salit coetus avium
silvae per amoena.
chorus promit virginum
iam gaudia millena.


The happy face of Spring comes to the world. The army of Winter, conquered, is now put to flight. In gay clothes Flora rules, and she is praised by the sweet sound of the woods.

Stretched out in the lap of Flora Phoebus in his new way laughs - she is now covered with these gay flowers. Zephyrus goes blowing the scent of nectar. In competition for the prize let us run in the race of love.

Sweet Philomela accompanies her song with the lyre. The fields, now bright, smile with gay flowers. A flock of birds hop through the pleasant places of the wood. A dancing band of girls now brings a thousand joys

Apr 11, 2007

Mr Tinlegs' Marvelous Machine

It was only a couple of nights ago that after inspecting the progress on the Loch Avie Public House I decided to meet my good friend, Kate Nicholas, over in Tamrannoch. We had several things to discuss including some new furniture that she has created. She has done lovely work on these pieces. Of particular note is the viewing screen, which may be used with the latest in steampunk technology for projecting films for enjoyment, or perhaps slides from our many noted scientists in the Royal Society during lectures and discussions. Once I obtain her permission I would like to be able to showcase some of her work in these humble pages.

As we parted ways that evening, I determined to follow the green dots in Tamrannoch. In doing so, I met up with three of my good friends, Andousol Serapis, Amplebeak Tinlegs, and Hotspur O'Toole having a lovely evening at the Falling Anvil. I found them mid-conversation discussing Mr Tinlegs' Gnomish Flying Machine. He has been hard at work on this device. As he was my next-door neighbor in the Moors prior to my move to the Loch, I felt it not at all impertinent to request a demonstration of the machine. Not understanding gnomish technology or Elvin magik engines, I had hoped for a ride=along with the inventor. He rezed the contraption there beside the Anvil and told me that I might feel free to climb aboard. I did so, and the machine sat quietly, but did not like my presence. As I was not the owner, it would not even let me sit down. Wishing for my crash helmet, I told Mr Tinlegs that I was up to a ride, and that I would do my best to "surf" the machine whilst he was at the controls. Well.....I was rather unceremoniously thrown off and onto my, erm, backside right there in the middle of town. Thankfully I was unharmed. Mr Tinlegs was beside himself with concern for me and apologized profusely. His good lady inquired if she might be of assistance to me, but as I was unhurt, I simply brushed off my skirts.

Having this brief taste of the power of this marvelous flying machine, I boldly inquired whether there might be a model that I could test-fly. I heard the warnings from Mr O'Toole and Mr Tinlegs about the craft's willful nature, but I thought that I would like to give it a go just the same. (What was traveling through my mind was that MI 5 could possibly utilize these airships for rapid - and nearly silent - entrance and extraction on future missions. I had to give it a try!)

Not being a military airship captain myself, and having only minimal experience behind the controls of my own personal aircraft, I requested operating instructions from Mr Tinlegs. He provided excellent instructions and I felt quite comfortable taking a "seat" at the controls.

Despite what you may have read in other places, my flight started out beautifully. It took me a little while to gain the altitude that I desired, but I finally did achieve this somewhere near Lady Amber Palowakski's property in the Moors.

What a wonderful and exhilarating moment as I rocketed up towards the moon. I felt that I might be able to touch it. I took the craft as far up as I would dare without proper instruction on her stalling altitude. Still things were going well until I turned back towards Tamrannoch. It was as if the machine did not wish to stop flying; she did not want me to return. Suddenly time and space no longer felt real. I was spinning. Plummeting into the earth. All around me was green, then gray, and then....deep blackness. I could see - nothing.

My breathing was loud and heavy from the exertion of trying to control my flight. As my respirations began to settle down I could hear something. Quietly at first, then growing louder. I heard Mr Tinlegs and Andousol. They were talking to ME. All was still blackness. I heard Mr Tinlegs say; "I think I have enough weight on the craft to hold it down, Your Grace. It should be alright now."

I replied, "I cannot see you - or anything for that matter. Can you see me? Can you HEAR me?"

"Yes, Your Grace." came the reply from both of them. "You are kneeling underwater beneath the ship"
I could not fathom it. Suddenly, the darkness faded and I could see Mr Tinlegs standing on the ship, which was indeed in the little lake behind the Falling Anvil. We were able to converse, however, I still could not move, nor even see myself. Such a predicament.

After a little time passed (and a relog occurred) I was able to stand...still underwater...but could move, see, and hear.
My adrenaline was coursing through my body. What a thrill ride that had been!!

Soon I heard Mr O'Toole, Mr Somme, Ms Pennyfeather, and an unknown guest coming around the corner of the building. I got the marvelous machine and myself out of the lake. Laughed a bit with the friends gathered there. Brushed myself off. Bid Ms Serapis well as she journeyed home, then Mr O'Toole a goodnight as other obligations demanded his attentions. Wisely, I then permitted Mr Somme and Mr Tinlegs to buy a whisky (or several) for me at the Falling Anvil.

I will be on this machine again!! What fun!!

Apr 10, 2007

As promised - Relay for Life and Mermaid in the Loch

First my apologies that there has been a delay in posting this promised entry. But I hope that you will enjoy the content and the pictures from some of the adventures from Friday and Saturday of the last week.

First a few words about Relay for Life:

By participating in an American Cancer Society Relay For Life® event near you, you honor cancer survivors, pay tribute to the lives lost to the disease, and raise money to help fight it – all right in your community.

Much more than a walk around a track, Relay is a time to celebrate those who have battled cancer, remember those lost and get inspired to fight back. Those who have shared the same experience find common ground, hope and healing at Relay. By participating, you have the power to continue the American Cancer Society's progress toward a future where cancer doesn't take the lives of our friends and family.

Here's how your involvement helps:

Saving Lives
Every dollar you raise makes a difference to people in your community whose lives are touched by cancer. The Society has contributed to almost every major discovery in cancer research. Millions of lives have been saved as a result, including people you may know. For those people and countless others, the research the Society has funded is resulting in better ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.

The American Cancer Society will also continue to exert influence on all levels of government, advocating for stronger policies and enacting legislation that will save lives and conquer cancer.

Helping Those Touched by Cancer
When cancer affects you or someone you love, the American Cancer Society can lessen your fears and provide inspiration through our many programs and services - all free of charge and made possible through donations from local communities.
Your donations also give those touched by cancer answers to their questions and offer places to turn for help in their community through the Society's Web site, http://www.cancer.org/ and our 24-hour toll-free number, 1-800-ACS-2345.

Empowering People to Fight Back Against Cancer
A cancer survivor's recovery involves much more than medical treatments - it takes hope to heal. By participating in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life®, those touched by cancer can feel empowered to fight back against this disease.

All of this is made possible because of activities like Relay For Life®. Are you ready to get involved? It's easy! Relay For Life® is about being a community that takes up the fight!

Contact any of us in the RFL Team in Caledon. Lapin Paris is our Captain. You will also find kiosks for donations throughout our fair land. And this weekend, please join us for the Relay for Life Renaissance Faire in Caledon Carntaigh. Many more events are planned. I shall endeavor to share those with you in this forum. I also have a special edition Boosters' Newsletter in press at this moment, which shall provide more information about Relay for Life including some words from Virrginia Tombola about her involvement in this cause.

On Saturday our Caledon Relay for Life (RFL) team held it's teddy bear picnic. I unfortunately missed the first part of that event, but did show up in time to find, ZenMondo Wormser as a tartan bunny, Dr.Graves in another tiny avitar, Mr Scaggs in his red skin...and naught else, and lovely Violet Schnabel as a woodlands faerie. Below you will see my debut as a Mermaid at this event.

Another benefit of Relay for Life is the sense of community that it creates for us in Caledon. Granted there is already a strong sense of community, but I find that I am getting to know more and more of our fine citizens given my involvement. Friday night there was an impromptu celebration of ZenMondo Wormser's RL birthday held at the RFL Headquarters in Tanglewood. A great time was had by all - especially the birthday boy.

(l-r) Mr Exrex Somme, Mr JJ Drinkwater, Your Dancing Duchess, and the Birthday Boy, Mr ZenMondo Wormser

Our Captain, Ms Lapin Paris flanked by Mr Burtram Forester, and Erasmus (Please forgive me sir, I have forgotten your last name. I did enjoy meeting you and your lovely lady, though, and hope to see more of both of you in the future.)

"What's that you say? There is a mermaid in Loch Avie??!? It's WHO??"

Diving in from the Tower

A convenient way to check in with my favorite Water Horse, Nellie.

Duchess as Mermaid, resting after a long swim in the Loch.

Apr 8, 2007

Party On IBM

Despite all the difficulties suffered on the military/intellegence/diplomatic front, there is still joy and fun to be found.
Please see the following resources for a partial history of military events of the last 48-72 hours:
Hibernia on the Skids
Ordinal's Kinescope
The News from BardHaven

I found myself in the fine company of friends at the tiki party last night hosted by my dear friend, Shenlei Flasheart, Dr Rez Tone, and others from IBM. DJ Gabi was on hand to provide a wonderfully eclectic set of music as well.

It was so good to be with Shenlei, Rez, and Zha. Particularly since I had not really spent any time with them for a couple of weeks.

Shenlei and I salsa around the room.

Professor Adso Krogstad was my date for the evening. Here he, in his rawther overdressed state, dances with me in my newly won Tiki Party T-shirt.

Ms Hermoine Pennyfeather shows us her wild and crazy side. She seemed to have a great time - and was certainly ready to snorkle in the reef at any moment.

Dancing with the DJ....Gabrielle Riel

Major Squirrel Zuhal looking very relaxed and happy as he danced around the tiki room.

And the final picture of the night....the stunningly handsome, Mr Exrex Somme dancing the night away. The man does have clothes to suit any occasion.

Coming Next: Relay for Life Parties and a Mermaid in the Loch.

Apr 7, 2007

Happy Ovum Hunting!

Happy Easter to my Christian friends!

For more of these fine Victorian cartoons, please go to Wondermark

Apr 5, 2007

The rest of the story

As mentioned previously, I was working in the Loch last evening when my secure channel rang. Being suddenly called into service I dropped all items of construction, and contacted my particular friend, learned colleague, and MI 5 top operative, Ms Kate Nicholas.

Quite suddenly we were on our way to a classified operation, some of which I can now share with you (minus the top secret bits) having passed the information to appropriate military personnel hours ago. I was to survey and report the status of the Neualtenburg fleet.

Kate and I wound our way through the streets of Neualtenburg quite easily.

I had selected my mainland-operative costume for purposes of anonymity and this worked extraordinarily well. The Neualties did not know what was happening.

Finding the docks, I flew over the so-called ships of war.

Thinking that these pleasure crafts might hold hidden armaments, I thoroughly reviewed the builds with the new photographic equipment provided by my fantasitcally brilliant intellegence agency scientist, K. I am not at liberty to discuss specifics with you at this time. Suffice it to say that the appropriate individuals in the war department have been informed of my findings.

During my time in Neualtenburg, I established contact via the æthernetwork with Her Grace, Gabrielle Riel, of Carntaigh. We remained in contact throughout the operation so that covert extraction might be secured should it be required.

Meanwhile, Kate set up a station on the docks, collecting information needed for scientific research and the war efforts as well. When I joined her, we determined that we should leave a calling card for our enemy lest they feel too comfortable here behind their own borders.

(above) Kate posts the Caledon Expeditionary flag wondering if it will even be noticed.

Once the scientific portion of the operation was completed, Kate returned to headquarters to begin her analysis.

I determined to remain a little longer and attempt to discover any aircraft hangers. To my surprise, one lighter-than-air craft specimen was in plain view. A full examination was once again completed.

Could this really be all their airfleet has to offer??

Rather suddenly I heard loud noises coming from multiple directions at several meters away. Understanding that my position was being triangulated, I contacted Her Grace Carntaigh to send the closest extraction force. The call was sent out over the secure æthernetwork channel. I was more than pleased to make it safely to the planned emergency extraction site in time to see the DaVinci copter coming in for a landing.

Colonel O'Toole managed to get us air-borne before the local militia and everyday citizenry of Neualtenburg were able to get to my location.

Shortly after we were in the air we began to have engine trouble. I was most thankful to see Virrginia Tomobola in her bicycle-balloon offering escort to us. I am unsure what weaponry may be available on her flying machine, but thankfully we were able to set down safely outside the reach of their military.

We rested for a while in the tents of a gypsy encampment and plotted our next actions after I contacted the war department to notify them of my safety, and to make initial report.

For a full report from the extraction team please read this æthernet site.