Guest Post: “Going off the Grid” by Micky Siamendes

Since Khodovarikha is up and running in SL, I keep coming back to it. Some of my friends call it “the depressive sim”, and it has already become a running gag when I’m being fed up with something on SL I say “I need my fix of depressive sim now” and head over to Khodovarikha.

But actually I feel that for me Khodovarikha (much like Furillen in the beginning) is a place that gives me peace of mind. It is a place that gives me a feeling of “going off the grid” even while being on the grid.

And then I think about the times in my life where there was no need for being available 24/7, for having cell phone, tablet, laptop, PC, TV and and and. A childhood where you said “ok I am out now mom” and then you were not seen till dinner time. Today parents control their kids with Whatsapp every 30 minutes. Today if you don’t answer a call instantly you get a message “are you ok, why don’t you answer?!”. Today your boss expects you to be available even outside your working hours, I have friends who even take their business cell phones with them on vacation. How can they recharge their batteries then?

I realize that on one side I am a real tech junkie, but on the other hand I also have a strong desire to unplug the whole shit and do some “digital detox”. Watching that movie about Khodovarikha (“Arctic Limbo”) or other movies I have seen recently, for example a documentary about the Russian river Yenisei and the people living along it, I feel something resonate in me. A desire to go back to a more simple life. A desire to sharpen my senses again for the basic things in life. A desire to not be driven by meetings, appointments, obligations constantly.


I watch kids walking into lamp posts on the streets because they can’t take their eyes off their phones, and I think about my childhood where we built treehouses instead or caught fish in the creek and grilled them over a campfire. I watch adults in a restaurant, sitting there, each one staring into their phones, and I think about evenings with friends, when we cooked together and shared a laugh and some anecdotes.

Being the tech junkie I am, of course I googled about “going off the grid”. And I came across a book: “Off the grid – inside the movement for more space, less government, and true independence in modern America” by Nick Rosen.


The author created a website as well. It’s sort of a come together site where people can meet others who want to unplug, with tips and tools and interesting articles about that different kind of life style. Here is a YouTube video about it.

There are many different reasons why people wanna go off-grid. For some it is an ecological choice or the desire to be more in touch with nature, for others it may be a financial necessity, because they can’t afford the life within society anymore.

I found the following in a review about Rosen’s book on the “mother nature network” website: Rosen says people go off the grid for a variety of reasons, and they vary how deeply they go off-grid. “You can’t get off all of the grids all the time,” he says. “It’s a question of which grids you choose to get off of and in what way and for how long.” Some people live off the grid part of the year for leisure purposes, taking a few months off from their jobs so they can live in a more relaxed manner. Others get themselves off the public electrical or water systems but still participate in what Rosen calls the “car grid” or the “supermarket grid” or “bank grid.”

 “The best way to get off-grid is to go off with others in a group of families, so each have half an acre and share resources and skills,” Rosen says. “One is tending livestock and one is growing vegetables, while a third is looking after the power supply for everybody else.” Rosen says his own ambition is to create an off-grid village of 300 or so homes in his native England, provided he can find a local zoning board willing to allow it. “I think there’s a huge demand for off-grid living that can’t be satisfied because the places where you’d want to live off the grid are the places you can’t get permission to do so,” he says.

Rosen says most families could go off the grid with as little as a half an acre, “as long as it’s the right half-acre.” Ideal locations would have some woodland, an area for agriculture, enough light for solar power and a good source of water, either a well or a stream. “The era of 40 acres and a mule has been replaced by the era of a half an acre and a laptop and a solar panel,” he says.

 And I think to myself – yes, that would be it: I wouldn’t wanna live like the Amish, neglecting progress and modern technology and be stuck in the era of horse carriages. No, not at all. But I would be all for growing my own food, producing my own power, live a naturally more balanced life, where I get my daily exercise working my fields rather than on a treadmill in some gym. And I would rather sit around a campfire at night with a dog at my feet listening to the crickets, than watch stupid crap on tv or going to some tie affair.

I think the basic longing behind going off the grid is a longing for inner peace. At least in my case it is. Get out of the hamster wheel, find my inner balance again, enjoy and live every moment of my life, and go to sleep with a peaceful mind that is not processing the schedule for the next day already.


Slava has somehow done just that by choosing the Khodovarikha life. He has what he needs, even means to keep in touch with the world if he feels like it. And although his life to some of us must seem terribly boring or lonely, it is not for him. His life is simple but fulfilling for him.

I remember when I was young, I used to say that I didn’t want to possess more than what I could fit into my van. That would always give me the freedom to pack up fast and leave whenever I felt the need or wish to do so. Well, that didn’t work out, today I need a huge moving truck to relocate my stuff. And if I am really honest, then about 50 % of it is unnecessary dead weight, things I hardly ever use.

Maybe I am not really ready to go off the grid totally. But I – and we – should keep our minds and hearts and senses open for the “real things”: It is different to turn the pages of a book instead of swiping across a Kindle. It is different to listen to a live concert of a Philharmonic Orchestra instead of listening to a MP3 on the cell phone. And an apple picked off the tree outside your home tastes different from one that has been shipped around the world …

We should all unplug from time to time … turn off our devices and do some digital detox and practice a little awareness for the world around us. Facebook will still be there tomorrow or in one week or in a month, so will Second Life … and hopefully Khodovarikha for my off-grid time on the grid…


Music was my first love

by Micky Siamendes


music 1

I thought the opening of the latest sim addition, Bar Cafe Fabriken, would be a good angle for some stories about music and what music means to us. I would love to hear others on that subject as well! What does music mean to YOU, what role plays it in your life?

Let me start with my “musical history”. I grew up with music. My dad played the guitar and my mom the zither, rather folkloristic and not really the type of music I liked later on, but back then in toddler times any kind of music was welcome. I learned early that making music was something enjoyable, something that gave people a sort of togetherness and seemed to make them happy. Some of my dearest childhood memories are about hiking trips with friends and family which always ended in sitting around a campfire with my dad playing the guitar and everyone singing.

When my mom would prepare lunch, she always put on the radio. One of those old things that took ages to warm up before you heard anything. And then she would cook and sing along to the old easy listening tunes. (Maybe that’s why her meals always were delicious.)

I got toy instruments all the time, my first was a clarina:

music 2

And my fav one was a toy piano:

music 3.png

Not to forget my tin drum of course that really drove my mom crazy!

music 4

I started to learn piano and guitar quite early after the obligatory year of horrible recorder that about any child back then had to go through. But becoming a teenager I lost interest in practicing and would rather spend my time with other things. My dad tried to make me stick to it, forcing my ass down on the piano stool, but after some months he gave up on it.

It was later on as an adult when I picked up my guitar again, and even sat down at my piano again. This time playing what I wanted and not what some teacher would force me to practice. I never had the ambition to become a great classical pianist, practicing Bach, Chopin and Beethoven for hours was not my thing. I rather wanted to be able to enter a bar, sit down at the piano and play some jazzy tunes.

And then one day after work I happened to enter a hotel bar in Munich with some friends, and there he was, an old guy, sitting at the piano, playing just like I would have loved to be able to. He sat there, wearing a hat, talking and laughing with the people while he played. I was fascinated and asked the barkeeper about him. His name was Simon Schott, and he was a quite famous bar piano player.

music 5

He seemed a very interesting person and I wanted to get to know him. I kept coming back to that hotel bar (where he had played for over 30 years), standing by the piano, talking to him, listening to him play about any request he got (he had a repertoire of more than 2000 songs), always with a smile on his face.

One day I invited him for dinner and he told me about his more than interesting life. After WW II he played in Paris for Rity Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart (“He didn’t really like his movie ‘Casablanca’ you know, he never asked me to play ‘As time goes by’”) or at private parties of Coco Chanel. He played at ‘Harry’s New York Bar’ and knew people like Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway or John Steinbeck. He was also a writer, he gave me two of his books back then, one about his life and the other one about how to play bar piano, both very interesting reads. He died at age 92 and had played in that hotel bar nearly till his last day.

Here’s a clip about him:

I really liked that guy, and he inspired me a lot to go back to playing the piano. I will never master that instrument, but it is a great way to relax, to soothe my soul, and if I finally succeed in playing a piece I’ve been practising forever, it gives me satisfaction and the feeling of “yes I did it!”.

Music has always been an important part of my life, and I am happy I can play some instruments, even if just good enough for domestic use.

Soooo, what’s your musical story?

And finally for your listening pleasure, here are two of my favorite piano pieces to play:

What is art?

by Micky Siamendes


I have run into this question many times in my life. And I haven’t found a universally valid answer to it yet. I have been to exhibitions that made me go “wow, that’s amazing!” and I have seen others (like gallons of spilled stinky motoroil on the floor) that made me and probably always will make me go “WTF?!” Same thing when it comes to music – there are musicians that really get me and I consider them fantastic artists and others that make me wanna plug my ears and run away screaming. I have seen movies that touched me deeply and others that just made me shrug and wonder what they really are about although they have been showered with awards.


In German there is a saying: “Kunst kommt von können.” Basically it means that the word “art” derives from the word for “being capable of doing something, having the skills to do something”, the German word origin actually is like that. Some “operas” I have seen truly made me wonder what other capability than splashing some paint on a canvas or triggering the camera release the artist would have. And I am sure that there are a lot of so called “artists” out there who just have a good laugh at the people standing in awe in front of their works that they actually didn’t put any artistic thought or effort into at all.


US artist Cynthia Albritton “Plaster Caster” with a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’ penis. Her exhibition “Penis Dimension” with 25 penis exhibits has been discussed quite controversal (uhm really wondering why?)



45-year-old Mike Drake has been doing something bizarre in the name of art for over a decade – he’s been collecting all his fingernail clippings, stuffing them in paperweights, and selling them for $300 to $500 a piece! (Yuck, seriously?!)



Like many other animal lovers, Dutch artist Bart Jansen found it hard to part with his pet cat, Orville, after he was hit by a car. So he decided to turn the dead feline into a unique piece of artwork called the Orvillecopter. (Alright, call the guys with the straitjacket!)


Yep, some things will definitely just make me flip the bird forever! Even if the artist’s name is Joseph Beuys and the “masterpieces” are worth millions:




Is this art or can it be removed?



The cleaning staff removed this art installation in an Italian museum, thinking it was leftovers of a heavy party night.


On the other hand I am also sure that many artists have an approach that is just only entirely different from mine. A different way of thinking, a different way of looking at things, a different way of perception, a different way of expressing themselves. What seems to be easy to achieve for me may be a huge effort or great achievement for others. Some skills I have that seem to be just part of me or natural to me, others would love to have them (so I’ve been told) or they have to work hard to achieve them. Some things I look at as ordinary and uninspiring to other’s may be special enough to use them for an artwork.

The definition of art is something personal I think. What someone considers art is determined by their own capabilities, by their taste, by their sense of aesthetics and beauty, by their education, maybe even by their dreams, wishes, desires. Art like beauty for me is in the eye of the beholder.

So is art on Furillen. When I scroll through the Flickr group site and look at all the pictures and movies there, there are some that capture my eye instantly and others that make me think “yeah well, ok, another snapshot”. But I also have noticed that I change my way of looking at works once I get to know the people behind them.

So basically I think the main thing is to keep an open mind for everything ranging outside our usual horizon, and that goes for about anything in life. We don’t need to like it all but we should just give things the space they deserve.

Reminds me of the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” which surely has some truth in it.


So – let’s keep the magic of Furillen alive and encourage and inspire each other! And I sure hope that “Bar Café Fabriken” will be a place where a lot of magic happens.



Getting involved …

As I never tire of reminding people, Furillen was always about collaborating within a dynamic, constantly-changing virtual space, not putting on a finished sim that sits proudly – but passively – while the vast Flickrite army visits, takes its fill of similar-looking pictures, and moves on to the next place.

paparazzi gif

We had our fair share that on the sim – with highs of 400-500 visitors daily, all snapping away. But I am more comfortable with how the sim is evolving, with a steady stream of around 150 visitors daily, many of whom are part of what can only be described as a Furillen ‘community’.

Happy Hour 2@furillen

A sense of belonging and connection is important to many people who regularly ‘play’ Second Life, and I try to support it at Furillen with events, the competition, this blog, and periodic invitations to get involved. We had our flash mobs too, in the past, and no doubt we’ll have some more.

Quite some time ago now, I invited those who read and enjoy this blog – and visit Furillen – to make your own contributions. Just a few words, I said, you don’t need to be Hemingway …

hemingway gif

I had a few takers: Blimp put together a wonderful set of words and pictures called Furillen Crime Scene – she is currently planning another – and Jinx Shipman made a very cool cartoon strip. I’m still waiting for others, so if you have something you want to say, now is a good time …

do it gif.gif

Meanwhile, others made fantastic contributions to the sim itself – such as Laura and her gorgeous Yellow Room (and I am sure that Laura will soon be jumping at the chance to do a new room).


As for the competition, this is now in its fourth round with some wonderful entries that – as with Round 3 – I will be publishing on this blog; and Furillenites have put together some great videos, which celebrate both the sim itself (you can see most of them here), and specific events, such as those made for the Radiohead event (which can be seen here and here and here), and the videos of the events that were made during our Abba event and the disco night.

In future, Furillen will be hosting more exhibitions in its own inimitable style – eschewing the  gallery approach that characterizes most art presentation in Second Life, in favour of the slide show style we enjoyed with Moon Edenbaum’s show earlier this year. There are a few such exhibitions in the pipeline, as you will soon see.

change gif

So there is plenty happening at the sim; indeed we are busier than ever. This weekend we’ll be announcing the winner of Round 4 of the Furillen Photography Competition – entries close tomorrow. I am noticing that while there are fewer entries for this competition – inevitable, given that there is no cash prize and the brief is getting more stringent every time – the standard is going up very high indeed.

Cue tasteless ‘awesome’ GIF …


What satisfies me most is that almost everything – no, absolutely everything – I have referred to in this post has been made by others: regular (and irregular) visitors to Furillen, many of whom I did not know before the sim opened in October.

who are you gif

And so it is with our newest venture – Bar Cafe Fabriken. This opens on Saturday, with an evening of Blues music provided by Second Life’s greatest blues exponent, DJ Wolf. The bar as been built and decorated, and is sitting somewhere on the grid, waiting to be moved across – en masse – during the day on Saturday.


Once again, I am most excited to say that this is not my venture, but ours. Its roots lie in a conversation that took place one evening at Furillen …

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… leading to our first music event – that fabulous Bowie weekend – and evolving into a series of events, through Abba, disco funk, Radiohead to Grease.

Step forward Micky Siamendes, Furillen’s very own mushroom man …

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… whose thoughts about a blues night with a made-for-the-purpose bar evolved into the idea – already mooted by others during the Bowie weekend – that the sim should have its own permanent bar / cafe. Despite being such an obviously dubious character, Micky is also a do-er, and it’s to his great credit that he realised his own vision by building the place himself.

god help us gif

Micky ‘gets’ Furillen – what it means and what it stands for – and it is in keeping that he thought the project through in terms of the history of the real Furillen, and imagined where the bar might fit in. He writes about this here. Later on today, I’ll be publishing another post by Micky, in which he reflects on art and its role in his life.

Furillen has always been a collaborative sim, but this venture – it will be run by Micky, Dooozy and me – takes this onto a new level. I hope you’ll not only join us on Saturday to celebrate, but think about making your own contributions – with suggestions for themes and performances, pieces of art, and any other ideas.

As some of you will already know, I don’t always have the time or head space for a detailed conversation the moment you get in touch with me, but if you write a few lines on notecard and give me a moment to reflect …

idea gif

… well, everything I have written here is testimony to the fact that if an idea has legs, we’ll get it to walk.



Furillen cartoon strip

I met Jinx Shipman a few days ago and commented on the great cartoon strips in his Flickr stream. I suggested that he might put a strip together at Furillen.

He did. It’s here. And it’s brilliant.

Someone has to do it...

As you can see, Furillen’s chairs – and your friendly neighbourhood janitor – survived the mindless attack from this little hooligan.

Thanks to Jinx – and I hope he does some more.

Furillen Crime Scene – guest post

In a recent entry I floated the idea of guest posts on this blog. Here is the first one, by blipmumfuzz, who has provided a narrative in words and pictures called ‘Furillen Crime Scene’.

How this post came about is a typical Furillen story. I noticed blipmumfuzz – whom I had never met before – at Furillen using unusual poses (and outfits) in her pictures and checked out her flickr stream. What I found there, particularly in relation to Furillen, reminded me of a travelogue.

Then I spoke to her. She told me that she liked to make pictures that told stories. I suggested she could ramp it up a bit, by adding words to the pictures and making a ‘complete’ story … and then post it here.

What she went on to produce is a wonderful, witty and wacky example of the unusual stories people project on to the Furillen canvas – and of how to combine pictures with words.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did …

Furillen Crime Scene

by blipmumfuzz

Body of Assassinated Alliance Military Attache - Furillen

Excerpt from Classified Preliminary Report on January 23, 2025: Incident on Furillen Island

Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas. Murdered by an unknown assassin. Colonel Rojas was on Furillen ostensibly for a holiday. But given her senior position within the Alliance of Southern Cartels’ intelligence services there is speculation that she was here to meet with opposition leaders who oppose the EU’s aggressive and blatant push for a piece of the lucrative Central American coca trade.

This was a professional job. The perpetrator left no evidence of any kind. We speculate that he/she arrived on the 11:45 ferry from Peaton. The body on the roof of the Ferry Terminal belongs to a maintenance worker. The body of an unidentified female was found on the pier. A third body, also female, was found washed up on the beach behind the hotel. At this time we are treating all these cases as the work of the individual responsible for Colonel Rojas’ murder.

Night Run to Peaton - Furillen

“My father and my grandfather were both ferry pilots. And now look at me…the first female ferry pilot to make the 10-hour run from Nynashamn!

That business last month. They say the person who killed all those people probably came over on MY ferry! All the passengers were later accounted for and cleared by the police. And we did a thorough stowaway check before departing, as we always do per procedures.

That poor girl Lilly from maintenance. Very pretty blond girl. She always waved from the dock when the ferry arrived.

 I surely hope they catch the person who did it.”

Crime Scene, Ferry Dock - Furillen

“Hey Mats. Do you think this could be connected to the murder of that Alliance Colonel over at the hotel?

“Don’t know.”

“Captain said within an hour military is gong to be all over this island…plus state, federal, the EU…

“When did he say that?

“Before he sent us out here.”

“That was two hours ago.

“Yeah well what about those two black helicopters parked by the hotel? And those fast boats been circling the island with no lights on?”

“I’m just saying its probably just a robbery.”

“Who is gong to rob someone and leave a suitcase full of cash behind!”

“This ain’t a James Bond movie…and who said there was a suitcase full of cash?”

“The night manager who found the colonel. But then the black helicopters arrived and since then its been total information blackout. They’re saying that the killer was a passenger on the ferry.”

“Forensics have an ID on the girl yet?”

“No. But they think its one of the ferry company’s maintenance staff.”

“Whoever she is she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“No doubt about that.”

Sir, we have a positive ID on the male... -  Furillen

Sir, we have a positive ID on the male. His name is Bernard Chatenet.

He’s worked for several political and criminal organizations including the FRG during the period it was actively opposing President La Pen’s candidacy. He’s also a Catholic priest with close ties to the Vatican’s intelligence service and military directorate.

He’s a behind the scenes operator. Rarely surfaces. The last time he popped up was three years ago in Reykjavik during the incident involving…



Yes. He was in Houston a few weeks before the US government ceded Texas to the Cartels.

SIAC has turned up nothing on what he was doing there. Neither has the CIA.

No, nothing at all.

Yes…I mean no, it’s not likely he’s a Rockets fan. Sorry Sir, I didn’t get the joke.

I haven’t a clue why he is in Furillen meeting with a senior member of the Alliance of Southern Cartel’s intelligence services.

Assassin - Closing on Target - Furillen

Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.


That’s the manager getting up to pee.

Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.

The cat in the laundry room.


Today was her first day at school. She’ll like the pink hat I got her in Stockholm.


Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.

Suitcase Full of Money - Furillen

Memorandum, Page 1

To: Asst. Director, EU Office, Exxon Google Corporate Intelligence

From: M. Bennet, Field Officer

Re: Assassination of Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas, Senior Officer, Alliance of Southern Cartels Intelligence Service

This photograph was taken in Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas’ hotel room shortly after the Gotland police arrived at the scene. The suitcase contains an estimated 500K in US dollars. The fact that the individual who killed Colonel Rojas did not take any of the money strongly suggests that robbery was not a motive

So why would Colonel Rojas, a senior officer in the Cartels’ intelligence operations, who was in Furillen on holiday have such a large amount of cash in a suitcase in her hotel room?

Our theory is that she got the money from Alexander Chatenet who she met with at the hotel several hours before she was assassinated.

We believe Chatenet is working for the Vatican and that the money was an advance payment for the Colonel’s support in influencing her brother Alberto Rojas, the dissident Cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York and its new mayor.

With the Archdiocese firmly in control of the City Council, the Unions, and every other locus of power in the City, and with New York on the verge of breaking away from the United States, the Vatican desperately wants to bring Cardinal Rojas back into the fold.

For the Cartels, who are now in possession of Texas with its oil fields and vast refinery infrastructure, the last thing they want is for New York to secede just as they’ve solidified their grip on the United States Government, which has, in effect, become a Cartel client state.


Dock 3:30 A.M. - Furillen

Memorandum, Page 2

The question is, were the Cartels aware of Colonel Rojas’ business in Furillen, or was she acting “independently”?

We do not know that answer to that question.

The Swedish government, the EU, Interpol, and everybody else have issued APBs for Chatenet. If we can find him we expect he can shed some light on the matter. That said we are not confident that he will be found. In fact, we do not believe he left the island alive.

The assassin has disappeared without a trace.