Nix Sands

After three years in Second Life, I left the Mainland behind and moved to Winterfell. I settled in one of the southern towns, Laudanum, which at that time had a Victorian Steampunk element in its mix of eras. Within a month I made a second home in Cape Wrath in the neighboring and allied nation of Caledon.

In my Mainland years, I didn’t pay much attention to my wardrobe. I was usually seen in a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers as I puttered around my towns, installing a building or tweaking a walkway, planting a tree or hanging out in my pub.

But when I came to the Steamlands, I had to get with the program and dress the part. I picked up a few items here and there, some freebies as I started, just to have something while I continued to shop and develop a “look” or style I felt comfortable with.

One day, while browsing the shops in Caledon Penzance, I happened into Xcentricity, the shop of one Nix Sands. I purchased some trousers and a waistcoat which came with a free white shirt.

After a few days of wearing these items with a coat I had purchased elsewhere, I was back at Xcentricity, browsing the waistcoats once again. I had found the basic element of my “look.” Nix’ various waistcoats and pants became – and still are – a mainstay in my closet. I’d say I’m wearing a waistcoat, pants and (color-changing/texture-changing) shoes from Xcentricity about 80 or 90-percent of the time I am in SL. Add to that a coat or jacket from other designers – Doc Wrangler, Thadovian or Eleanor Banx’ Cosmic Steam Designs – and a conscious decision to go without a cravat except on formal occasions, and I had my “look.”

It was further enhanced when I belatedly discovered that one of the many waistcoats I had purchased in Nix’ shop had come with a bonus item – a black shirt. Ohhhh, how smart that shirt looks with the rest of the items I’ve mentioned.

The other day I learned that, as we put such things in the Steamlands, Nix Sands’ typist had passed away. Such sad news to me and so many others he had touched with his creativity and sense of humor, whether they actually knew him or not. Myself, I had only IM’d with him once that I can recall. I knew him from the clothes on my back (and elsewhere) and from his other creations.

He was the man behind Gorgon Motors, building fine cars of a long bygone era. The Tinies community of the Steamlands and beyond knows him for his line of tinies outfits. He also made flying machines, radios, guns, and a selection of mustaches and beards among other things. All unique and with a dash of wit. Last night at our Summer Songs bash at Storytellers Pub, I wore a Victorian bathing outfit and matching straw hat that I bought in Nix store a couple years back.

The day I heard the news, I went over to his shop in the 1888 sim and picked up a couple more items.

Xcentricity shop in 1888 sim
Xcentricity shop in 1888 sim

Then stopped in Seraph City to see if there was any reminder of his auto dealership there.

Gorgon Motors sign in Seraph City
Gorgon Motors sign in Seraph City

And, even though I already knew it had been emptied out, I stopped at his main store in Caledon Penzance one last time. Items of tribute to Nix lined the front steps.

A lady sat on the steps quietly. I did not know her but recognized her name and said hello. We chatted about Nix.

“He was the kindest person,” she said, “wicked sense of humour. We were only creator friends, not even super close but we always exchanged silly builds and stuff. I miss that already.”

Last night in Caledon, there was a memorial tribute to Nix Sands that was attended by more than 50 avatars. Several leading citizens of The Steamlands spoke briefly and gave their memories of his role in their lives.

Audience at Nix Sands memorial in Caledon prime
Audience at Nix Sands memorial in Caledon prime

Nix Sands’ life in this virtual world is a fine example of how one person can have an important impact on the lives of others.

Summer Songs – at Storytellers Pub

Storytellers Pub, Winterfell Laudanum presents:

***** SUMMER SONGS! *****

One of the brightest stars of The Steamlands music and party scene – DJ Poppy – spins some of the biggest hits and best songs about summer. From The Beach Boys to John Travolta to Rascal Flats to Billie Holiday to Bananarama and more!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 6p SLT

90-minutes or until you stop dancing!

(or until Danko turns into a pumpkin!)

Suggested Dress: Usually we’re pretty loose about a dress code at our events but hey, it’s summer! So let’s show it off, huh? Beach attire – any era! From itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, yellow polka-dot bikinis to modest Victorian swimming duds. Got something for the beach in your closet that you’ve been holding for just the right event? This is it!!  (Note: it’s not a nude beach, do wear something 🙂 )

Come on up to Winterfell and celebrate Summer! (Huh?)

Host: Danko Whitfield, Winterfell Ambassador, Owner – Storytellers Pub

Storytellers Pub

6 – 7 Siddal Street

Winterfell Laudanum

Second Life


Letter to Ruby O’Degee, Midtown Arts Museum

July 10, 2013

Dear Ms. O’Degee,

Thank you for your letter sent upon receipt of the radio. I am glad to hear you have made a place for it in your collection. As you requested, I am making these notes about this receiving device and how I came to acquire it.

For some time now I have been intrigued by a series of towers, apparently built by the D’ni, and in evidence in several of the Ages that Mr. Oddenfen and The Devokan Trust have been involved in reviving and maintaining. It occurred to me that these towers may be, in fact, the remnants of a communications system. These may be relay towers, used to send some sort of signal from one Age to another.

I have been looking into this matter for The Trust. And, as odd as it may seem, it was necessary to determine whether the signal is still active. Obviously there would be no one broadcasting the signal at this time but that doesn’t mean some program that emits a  signal might not still be running. In the unlikely event that it is, much could potentially be learned from this.

I acquired this radio a couple of months back. I had some business in my native time, the 1950s, and when this business was complete, I was ready for a little R&R. A friend had suggested I spend a week in his summer home as it was the off-season and the area would be quiet. This radio was in his living room and I made much use of it during my stay. It had exceptional sound quality and I enjoyed listening to music programs, evening dramas and comedies and sporting events. Of course, it was a treat to be listening to the programs of the 1950s on a device of that time while actually in the time.

One night, while listening to a ball game, my mind turned to the question of the towers in the Devokan Ages. I realized I would need a wireless set that was built to receive a signal from quite a distance away. I started to laugh at the fact that I just happened to be visiting a time period known for its high-quality radios, built for long-distance listening. As I laughed, the great Mickey Mantle was hitting a home run and the roar of the crowd caused me to turn and look directly at the radio. A light bulb went on in my head. I could use this very radio! I would have called my friend to ask the favor right then and there but he had gone out of the country on business and this was a time when an overseas telephone call was not the everyday occurrence that it became in later decades.

So at the end of my stay, I “borrowed” this radio to bring it to Evergreen and some of the other Devokan Ages for my research. I had every intention of returning the radio on a future visit but when I last heard from my friend, he had sold his summer house, a package deal with all furnishings included, not an unusual arrangement when selling a summer home. The buyer had seen the house without this radio in it and the seller – my friend – had sold everything that was in the house. Neither of them would miss the radio I had “borrowed.” And anyway, they are living in the 1950s, nearly 60 years before this writing.

Once I was done using it for my research, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the radio. I didn’t want keep it and have my friend visit and see it on my table. He is not a professional like me, but more of a hobbyist time traveller. Still he gets to these times now and then.

So when I heard you mention at one of our Devokan Storytellers gatherings, that you were looking for artifacts for your museum, I thought a donation of this item would sort of…get me off the hook.

I am very glad this has all worked out.

Best Regards,

Danko Whitfield

Danko Radio photo

Collecting Them All

After my discovery of a radio wave being transmitted from somewhere unknown and picked up and relayed by the towers in Satori, Evergreen, I had to find the location of the other towers in the Ages of Devokan. I wanted to photograph each of the towers and also see if I could pick up the signal in each of the Ages.

I took the same 1950s wireless set I had used in Evergreen to Shenn Tao’s world and his Age of Tao Lia, where I had already made photographs of the towers. I picked up the signal here without any trouble as I now knew which frequency to monitor.

Upon my return to Evergreen, I was met with a brief note from Dot Macchi in response to my letter of June 27. She told me I could find other towers in the Ages of Waysmeet and in Quin’s reconstituted instance of Tao Lia. But she cautioned me that getting close to them would be difficult.

She did not explain what she meant by that but she didn’t have to, I knew. I had already experienced this phenomenon in Shenn’s Tao Lia. There are three towers in Tao Lia. One is located just off land but the other two are out in open water. Reaching them should not take long by boat. But just a bit offshore is where the difficulty appears.

There is some invisible obstruction. One simply can go no further. I am not a scientist, I’m an explorer, so I cannot prove that what I am about to say is fact. But it appears there is a force field around the towers. Whatever it is, something prevents you from approaching the towers.

With this knowledge in mind, I headed off to Waysmeet.

Towers seen from The Tree Village in Waysmeet, in the Devokan Trust world on Kitely
Towers seen from The Tree Village in Waysmeet, in the Devokan Trust world on Kitely

There are two towers in Waysmeet, off the coast. I photographed them from The Tree Village but I could not get any closer. There is a ferry running these days in Waysmeet but it only goes out on the open water so far. It turns just shy of the force field.

I got off the ferry and stood on the wooden walkway of The Tree Village. I unpacked the radio and tuned in. There once again, is the sound of silence. A signal, no program. I chucked as I thought to myself, “Either the station is not broadcasting any programming or I keep tuning in to ‘The Marcel Marceau Show.'”

My next stop was “the other Tao Lia” that Quin has been able, through his experiments, to bring to the world known as Time Vault. Whether Quin would endorse my use of the phrase ” reconstituted instance” above, I’m not sure. But as a layman, I don’t know another way to explain it to you. It is Tao Lia in the future, so not everything you see is the same as in Shenn’s Tao Lia. In fact, the differences include the towers. In this future instance of Tao Lia, only one tower has survived. It is located off the coast in open water, I could almost reach it by boat. Almost. Damn force field again.

Danko in "the other Tao Lia" in the Time Vault world on Kitely. A single tower can be seen in the distance as one of the giant time spheres enters the picture
Danko in “the other Tao Lia” in the Time Vault world on Kitely. A single tower can be seen in the distance as one of the giant time spheres enters the picture

But the force field does not interfere with the radio waves. Here again, I could easily pick up the silent signal. Once I had, I made a photograph here. My field research on all the known towers was now done.

I went back to Evergreen, to Quin’s study-retreat in Selenitica and left my report and copies of the photographs on his desk. But I just can’t wait for Quin to turn up. Who knows when that might be? This is a major discovery and he must be informed as soon as possible. I would have informed Quin immediately when I first picked up the signal off the towers in Satori last week if I knew how to reach him. Since I did not, I thought it best to gather all the information I could before I tried to contact him. Now I have.

I wonder if Dot knows how to reach him at present?

From My Listening Post

My trip to Winterfell was full of fun. The weekend began with an early Friday event. ’70s Night at Storytellers Pub was a success. The music provided by one of The Steamlands very best DJs, Miss Poppy, was a free-flowing, genre-busting mix of 1970s hits. There were some returning customers as well as some new attendees and the crowd included some dignitaries – both Adm. Beaumont and the Duke of Wolfsbane joined us. And your Ambassador was delighted to escort the lovely Selena, who has embraced Winterfell as her second home.

On Sunday, Selena joined me on Nepenthe Gate to watch the Tall Ships Races on a glorious day for The Realm. A captain called Angellic captured the champion’s trophy in a rather close final heat.

As much as I enjoyed my weekend back home in Winterfell, there was work to do in other worlds.

Monday found me back in Evergreen, eager to resume my investigation of the mysterious towers in Satori. I had left the radio set I brought back from my trip to the mid-20th century in my house up north in Kamar. It was important to be as far away from the towers as I could get to try to pick up any signal they gave. This distance was required to avoid any interference or over-modulation. And yet, I wanted to be close enough to pick up any signal that might be there, even including the possibility of a harmonic signal. If the fundamental frequency relayed by these towers was too low for the radio to pick up, it might still be possible to get a harmonic. Unlikely? Well yes, the entire endeavor was a possible wild goose chase but if I was going to attempt this at all, I should leave no stone unturned.

I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights on the observation deck roof of my house, slowly – s l o w l y – moving the dial. Listening with the headsets and then without them and then with them again. Nights are chilly in Evergreen and the winds can be strong, so each night I would bring a pot of tea with me. (And I had something a bit stronger standing by for those moments when it became necessary. There were several.)

I had scoured the bands over and over, up and down the dial. There were moments when I thought I had something…but upon further listening on a given frequency, I would realize there was nothing there. The listener log I had created to record any findings was still blank as there was nothing to write down, nothing to take note of. Nothing at all.

On the fourth night, I was ready to give in. “One more hour and that’s it,” I thought. It would be 2 a.m. in the local time and I was weary from sitting in that same position, night after night, listening hard, straining my ears and my brain.

About twenty minutes after I set my deadline, I thought I heard something once again. Slowly, I dialed back to that spot. I zeroed in, a slight turn this way, a slight turn that way. There.

What is that?

Silence came from the radio.

But it wasn’t the silence that had my attention. It was the kind of silence.

“I think I have something!”

I rose from my little wooden chair and got down on my knees and hunched over the radio. I didn’t dare touch that dial.

I cranked the volume all the way up.

Silence. Very loud silence, accompanied by the hum of the radio receiver itself.

“That’s it! I have found something!”

I grabbed for the listener log and quickly wrote down the frequency and the local time. As I did, I said aloud, “Dot, you are not going to believe this!” As if Dot Macchi was sitting there with me.

Had you been sitting there with me, dear reader, you might be thinking I had gone mad. But I had not. No.

This silence coming from my radio was not silence at all. Ever since my meeting with Mr. Hertz in the late 1880s, I have spent countless hours “spininng the dial’ of any radio within my reach. Thus, my ear is well-trained. Dead silence is one thing. But the sound of silence created by a transmitter that is sending a signal but no information or program, is a sound I know

And that was the sound I was picking up on my radio in Kamar. Someone or something is “on the air” to transmit. The fact that they are not actually sending anything to listen to is beside the point. They could, if they wanted to. Or they did at one time. Or… well, there are many possibilities. All I know is, I am picking up a station of some sort, being relayed by those towers in Satori.

Where is that transmission coming from? That I do not know. And I know right now that I may never know. But I must try to find out. Could this be a communications system built by the D’ni? Possibly. Could it have been here before them? Or erected afterward? Also possible. Maybe there was someone before me, an explorer, a researcher, a scientist who was doing the same thing I and my friends at The Devokan Trust are doing – researching what the D’ni left behind. And maybe these researchers were here ages ago (pardon the pun!) and are the ones who created the towers and established the station for their own communications purposes across the Ages, acoss the Worlds. I don’t know. I don’t know. I will try to find out but right now I don’t know much at all.

All I know right now is, someone, somewhere, at sometime put up relay towers. And built a transmitting station and put out a signal to send out some kind of information that is no longer being sent. And for whatever reason, by choice or not…

They left it turned on.

Letter to Dot, June 27

Greetings Ms. Macchi,

I hope this letter finds you well.

I am happy to report we continue to attract a regular flow of visitors to Evergreen. The visitor log shows that mutual friends Mr. Mahogany and Miss Christine were among them recently. Mr. Rotunno visited a while back and made some marvelous photographs.

Have you heard anything from Mr. Oddenfen? He was here last in April as far as I know. I missed him but the caretaker, Mr. Zeplin, met him. He was doing some research in his study and seemed happy with things in Evergreen according to Mr. Zeplin’s note.

My main reason for writing is to tell you I have begun my research into an area I mentioned some time back – The Towers. I am operating under the assumption that they are communications towers. Although I have no further confirmation of my theory than when last we spoke,  I have given the matter much thought. I feel certain the towers are not the work of an artist but a scientist or engineer.

I have recently made another visit to Shenn Tao’s home age on the other world to examine and photograph the towers there. I have also photographed the towers here in Satori. I will bring the photographs to a friend in the 20th century who has expertise in the area of radio telegraphy. I’ve been wondering if these towers might have been used to send code rather than voice.

The towers in Tao Lia on OSgrid
The towers in Tao Lia on OSgrid

To me the oddest thing about the towers has nothing to do with their use. As you know I have some knowledge of communication devices and I’m hopeful we will eventually figure out the whole question of the towers. On the other hand, construction is certainly not my field but Dot, how do they stand there in open water like that? Are they actually floating? Only about five-percent of the tower is under water. From an engineering standpoint, these towers are truly one of the Wonders of the Ages.

The towers in Satori, Evergreen on Kitely
The towers in Satori, Evergreen on Kitely

I have tried my best but have been unable to get the wireless sets that Quin has scattered about here into working order. However, while on business in my native time period, the 1950s, I…err…borrowed a radio from a friend’s summer home (don’t ask) and brought it back with me. I have been using this receiving device the last two nights to try to ascertain if there is an active signal passing through Evergreen. Nothing to report yet but I have really only started the monitoring. If there is a signal being relayed by the Satori towers, this radio should find it. The radios of that period were very well made and their reception capabilities are outstanding. The radio in question has a very wide frequency range which is why I “borrowed” it. Yes, the signal here could be outside the range that I can monitor but this is certainly an excellent device with which to start my research.

Danko investigates the mysterious towers
Danko investigates the mysterious towers

One question I have for you. When we first discussed the Satori and Tao Lia towers and what their purpose might be, you mentioned there are other towers in some of the Ages we know and I did recall seeing others in my travels. Could you send me a list of these Ages so I can visit to examine and photograph those towers as well? Thank you, in advance.

I will be heading off to Winterfell to attend the Tall Ships races on Sunday. It’s good for the Ambassador to get to the bigger events of the Realm. Not much news from Winterfell of late. Filbert was renting your old cabin where I am up in Ebonshire last I knew. Not sure if he’s still in there. That little colony has been all but full recently. I’ll be getting back to Winterfell just in time for an event at my Storytellers Pub tomorrow. It’s ’70s Night. “Play that funky music” and “shake your booty” – that sort of thing. I’ve asked the DJ, Miss Poppy to play something from the 1870s, my home time. I suspect she will.

Tell the group not to worry, I won’t be gone long as I have to keep up with the radio monitoring. I’ll be back in time for the Devokan Storytellers get together on 7 July. Dragon’s Teeth? Is that what Paislee calls it now?

Best Regards,

D Whitfield