A Baseball Story

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OOC:

I’ve been doing a lot of writing, stories from virtual worlds as usual. But most of the stories I’ve been writing over the past year have been too long for this blog. And some of them aren’t about me or my travels through the centuries. So I’m looking into other ways to publish my stories. I’ll continue to post stories here and I’m posting some elsewhere, under my ghostwriter’s name. Here’s one we just published for the Opening Day Stories Project, sponsored by the Dankoville Story Group…

“How Dazzle Jarvis Got His Name”

https://georgeminer.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/how-dazzle-jarvis-got-his-name-2/

Pizza Wars

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Last October we had a big bash at The Evergreen Pub in Dankoville. We had a lot to celebrate. I had just take over ownership of the pub (it used to be the Town Tavern), Uncle Manuel was retiring, I was replacing him as the president of Whitfield Farms, The Evergreen had just signed a deal with The Pheasant’s Roost Tavern of Ireland to carry their beer and Jamie Wright of The Pheasant had come over to be Guest Bartender at The Evergreen. We threw a big pizza and beer party and had a great time. The place was packed!

I had no idea I had started a war.

“The Great Pizza War,” as Dave, one of my bartenders at The Evergreen, calls it.

It started innocently enough. The local paper ran a story about the event – mainly because it was the first public announcement of Uncle Manuel retiring. The article was mostly about Manuel and Whitfield Farms but they gave the pub a really nice mention too. The only problem was the quote of Rusty Piersen, a local farmer, who said we had the “best pizza in the Tri-County area.”

Problem being we’re just down the street from Mario’s Villa, the pizza restaurant. Their slogan? “Best Pizza in the Tri-County Area!!!!!” With five exclamation points.

About a week later, I was having lunch at The Evergreen, sitting at my usual table by the front window. As I gazed across the street at the park, a man suddenly appeared on the street side of the window. He pointed at me and smiled and walked the in through the door of the pub.

It was the owner of Mario’s Villa.

“Ah, Mr. Whitfield, Mario Barstardi. Sorry to interrupt your lunch. Might I have a word?” he said as he sat down across from me.

“Yes, certainly. Can I order you some lunch?”

“Oh no, thank you. I’ll just be a minute,” he said.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Bastardi?”

“You had a pizza party here last week,” he said.

“Yes, we did. It was quite a success.”

“Mr. Whitfield, I’m glad your party was a success,” he said, “good for you. That is fine. But I know you are new here. I mean…Dankoville…you are and you aren’t,” he smiled. “The town is named after you but you’ve never really lived here. Summers as a boy, I believe. But you were here to stay with your relatives, this is not your hometown. Not even now, if I understand?” He smiled again.

“That’s true,” I acknowledged, nodding my head.

“And so, I don’t expect you to know the customs here, among the business community. We…cooperate rather than compete, you see?” He smiled.

“I’m all for cooperation among the local businesses,” I said.

“That is good to hear. Of course, I am not surprised, knowing your family here. Your Uncle Manuel – very good man, very good. Mushroom, pepper and onion. Of course now he takes the gluten free but back in the day…oh well. Twenty years ago, Manuel would have his pepper and onion but it would be sausage instead of mushroom. Oh yes. And your Uncle Chester, a crazy man yes but always very pleasant, anchovy, onion and extra cheese.” He smiled still again.

I smiled as I recognized my uncles’ taste buds. Mr. Bastardi knew his customers.

“Well, we obviously can’t compete with you in the pizza business, Mr. Bastardi,” I offered.

“There, you see!” he said. “But your pizza party, maybe you didn’t realize…that is direct competition for me now. The newspaper called your pizza the best in the Tri-County area.”

“They were quoting a customer –”

“Yes, I know. But THAT is MY slogan!” he shouted. The patrons at the other tables and at the bar looked over at us. Irv, the day bartender, looked over and pointed to Mr. Bastardi with a “Do you want me to throw him out?” look on his face. He seemed rather eager to do so. I shook my head no, trying to avoid Bastardi’s notice.

But he was too lost in what he was saying to notice. “That is DIRECT competition! THAT is what I am talking about,” he said with his voice still raised above normal level.

“Well yes, I understand,” I said quietly, “but there is nothing about our having pizza on the menu here that is an attack on your business. We do pub food here. Pizza is pub food.”

“Of course. But you are in the bar business. I am in the pizza business,” Bastardi replied. “I sell beer and wine but I don’t go out and say I have the best wine selection in town – even though I do – because that is not my business. Pizza is my business. I promote pizza. I make money on the beer and wine, sure but I don’t go out and compete with you who are in that business. I don’t market that. I market pizza. You sell beer, wine, the hard liquor and the rest. You market that. But you don’t market pizza. That is my area. That is how we do it here. You see?” He smiled again. I got the feeling Bastardi’s smiles do not necessarily denote happiness.

I hadn’t thought about anything like this at all when I bought the pub, so I was completely taken by surprise and really had to give this matter some thought before replying. So that’s what I told him. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

“What is there to consider? You market beer, I market pizza. Simple. You can sell pizza, I can sell beer. But we don’t market that. We don’t step on each other’s toes. You see?” He smiled. Of course.

It would have been nice to just say yes. But this was a business decision about my pub and Bastardi was right, I was new to this market. I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers but I wasn’t going to make a decision to not market a popular item just because another business wanted me to. I had to look into this.

“I will give it some thought and be in touch,” I said.

“You do that, Mr. Whitfield.”

He smiled. And got up and left.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have initiated a pre-emptive strike in The Great Pizza War. But I was new in town, I was naive about people.

And so I didn’t realize then that Mario Bastardi had just fired a warning shot.

***

Editor’s note: You may visit the OpenSim virtual world Dankoville via the hypergrid: 198.255.235.132:9000:Dankoville

Mario's Villa in Dankoville

Mario’s Villa in Dankoville

 

A Door Opens

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“…and the time traveller says, ‘I don’t have the foggiest. I just got here myself!'”

“HA! HA!” We were doubled over with laughter. And we were only on the third round.

It had started as a sleepy Thursday afternoon at Storytellers Pub in Winterfell Laudanum. Dark Moon, the day bartender (most of us call him Bert), was on holiday and I was watching after things for a couple of hours in between the lunch rush and the 5 p.m. business crowd. I was nursing a black IPA and leafing through the sport section of the Winterfell Mourning Crier when the door opened and in walked a tall man with flowing white hair and beard, dressed in a green suit. I knew in a moment it wasn’t St. Nick. Nor St. Patrick either.

It was Seamus Gumbo.

Sourcerer, Time Wizard, hippie, former merchant seaman, one-time head shop owner and my old friend and business partner. I’d received a couple of letters but he hadn’t visited Winterfell in more than two years, since “the Duke Ages” – Seamus’ joking reference to my time as the Duke of Evergreen.

“Line ’em up, barman,” he hollered in my general direction. “Whiskey! Your best! Three glasses. Straight, no chaser.” His fingers played an imaginary piano and he hummed – or grunted – a syncopated melody.

It was the worst Thelonious Monk impression I had ever heard. Though I can’t say I have heard many.

“Don’t worry about the bill,” he announced, “I’m a close friend of the owner of this establishment.” He sat himself down at the bar with mischief in his eyes and a smile of satisfaction on his face. He seemed quite pleased with his entrance.

“I’ll need to see some ID, sir,” I deadpanned.

“ID?!!” He responded as if highly insulted. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a business card and offered it to me.

“Seamus Gumbo,” I read aloud, “Time Wizard.”

I sniffed. “Yeah, time wizards, time travellers, time lords – we get all kinds in here.”

“C’mon, Danko! The card’s embossed!” He was impressed with his own business card.

I was impressed with the card too but not with the cardholder. “Finally spent the extra ten bucks to raise the lettering, eh? You cheap bastard!” I slipped the card into my pocket as Seamus began to laugh.

“That’s why I can’t pay for my drinks!” He slapped his hand on the bar as the laughter grew. My smile became a laugh as well and I came around from behind the bar to give him a big hug.

“How’ve you been, old-timer?” I said loudly. “Where have you been? Whatcha been up to? What brings you to Winterfell after all this time? How come you didn’t warn me you were coming, so I could have arranged to be out of town?”

“Let me answer that last question first,” he started. “No, wait. Let me answer the second one first. No, I’ll answer the third one, second. Wait. Can you say them again?” he continued to mock me, “In alphabetical order this time?” Laughter.

And this was before I starting pouring. We were just getting started!

It was only the two of us but the pub had come alive on this hazy afternoon as Seamus recounted his travels over the past couple of years over a couple of rounds of ale and a cheese platter and I responded in kind. Then came the cigars and more ale and more stories and more laughter.

Not long after Seamus arrived, Ulysses The Cat had wandered in from his favorite sleeping spot on the window seat in the pub’s sitting room. I knew he’d remember Seamus’ voice and would join us sooner or later. I put a couple of treats down for him and he walked right over to devour them. Then he sat and stared at Seamus for a bit. Next time I noticed Ulysses, he was scratching at the floor near the end of the bar, by the back door. Ever since I brought him from home to live in the pub, he has been fascinated with that area of the floor. You know how some cats are when they find an imperfection in something? They have to chew it or scratch it? They’ll work at it like they’re obsessed…for awhile. Then they go do something else. Later, they’re back at it. Obsessed once more. That’s how Ulysses had been. The floor does need some work around that door. Whoever put the tile in, made a mess of it. It’s driving that cat crazy.

As Ulysses scratched away at the floor, Seamus and I laughed and ate and drank and talked and talked and puffed and drank and laughed some more. It was a full afternoon of story-swapping – with a little impromptu sing-a-long thrown in now and then – at Storytellers Pub. What a great time we were having, catching up. So good to see Seamus again.

“My friend Sage ever stop in?” he asked me at one point.

“Yes. Sage Wright. Right?”

“That’s him.”

“He was passing through Winterfell…quite some months back. Last summer, I guess. I wasn’t much help to him, had nowhere to put him up. Not like the old days,” I smiled. “I helped him find lodging. He wasn’t here long. A couple days.”

Seamus nodded. “You’ve seen him more recently than I have,” he said.

“Funny you should mention him,” I went on, “I just met his niece not a week ago in Ireland. 21st century.

“Laura?” said Seamus but quickly corrected himself, “Laurel!”

“Yes,” I confirmed.

“How’s she doing? She’s a nurse, I think,” Seamus said.

“She mentioned something about that,” I said. “She seems nice. Cute. Funny too. Took me a moment to catch on that she was putting me on a bit,” I laughed. “She remembers you, hanging out with her uncle. Oh, and I met Jamie too. By chance, in a pub there in Ravenbaille. She was working the bar. I didn’t put it together that she was Sage’s daughter until later.”

“You’re not the only one,” muttered Seamus as he looked away for a moment.

“Huh?” I was surprised at his response.

“Never mind,” he said, waving his hand, “go on, continue.” He sipped his beer and looked down at the bar.

“uhhhh…Jamie came over to Dankoville last fall. I’m doing business with her boss and she came over for that.”

“How are things in your little town?” asked Seamus, changing the subject.

I filled him in on the goings-on in Dankoville and out at Whitfield Farms. And I told him how my family members were doing, especially those he knew, including Annie.

“Your sister…is the sweetest person I have ever met,” said Seamus. He took a puff of his cigar and watched the smoke lift toward the ceiling. “Why, if I was 25 years younger, I —”

“You still wouldn’t be good enough for her,” I interjected.

“Says you!” Seamus came back.

“That’s right!” I said adamantly.

Another burst of laughter. Then Seamus’ laughter started to turn into a cough. Or maybe it was the cigar smoke. I reached for a glass to get him some water. He put his cigar down in the ash tray. Almost. He missed. The cigar rolled slowly along the bar…on the other end from me. The cough ceased and Seamus rose from his seat to follow the cigar. He reached over as far as he could stretch just as the cigar reached the edge of the bar and grabbed for it —-

Awww.

An expensive cigar lay on the floor of the pub. Ulysses came over to sniff it.

“Thief! That’s my cigar! Get your great big paws off it!” Seamus hollered in jest at my cat, who apparently did not take the joke. Ulysses scampered away.

Seamus moved a bar stool and got down on his knees to reach under the bar rail for the cigar.

Ulysses came back over, cautiously. He resumed scratching at the floor.

“I think your cat has found something,” Seamus said as he crawled toward Ulysses. The cat backed away.

“Your cigar?” I inquired with a teasing tone.

“No. A secret.”

What?

I turned in his direction.

“What?” I asked him.

“How long did you say you’ve owned this pub?” Seamus asked from his hands and knees as he ran his fingers along the floor where Ulysses had been scratching.

“Over a year now. 15 months I guess,” I replied as I placed his glass of water on the end of the bar and looked over at where Seamus now lay on his stomach.

“Did you ever suspect termites?” he asked.

Was he joking now or what?

“Okay Sea, what’s going on?” I walked out from behind the bar as he rose to his knees and leaned forward, placing his hands on the floor.

He looked up at me. “There’s a hole in your floor, Publican,” he said with a sly smile. He carefully pushed his fingers into a couple of cracks in the floor.

(I had been meaning to have this floor fixed, I assure any patrons of Storytellers Pub who may be reading this. It was just a decorating question that was yet to be decided – of whether to simply redo that one area or the entire floor. I assure you, the structural integrity of the pub is sound and no customer has been placed in any danger at any time. Aside from the usual Winterfell danger – witches, dark elves, the occasional vampire, The Mist – for which the management of the Storytellers Pub are not responsible. Please address any further inquiries to my attorneys, Dewey, Cheatham & Howe aka Moe, Larry & Curly.)

Seamus lifted one tile that at closer inspection seemed a bit out of place. “It’s a door!” Seamus said in surprise. I was also surprised but I can’t reprint here what I said there.

We looked down into this dark hole in the floor of my pub.

What the hell?

What the hell?

“Bring a candle,” Seamus said.

“There’s some water,” he said as he leaned into the hole with the candle I had fetched.

He put his hand in. “It’s pretty cold.”

He put his face just above the water and stared as he held the candle by his head. “There’s a ladder just a couple feet down. It looks pretty deep. I can’t see the bottom,” he added. He placed the candleholder on the floor and lowered himself into the opening.

He disappeared.

Ulysses leaped onto the bookcase against the back wall to watch the show.

I peered into the hole. Waiting.

And waiting.

“How long can he hold his breath?” I thought with visions of Lloyd Bridges starring in Sea Hunt floating through my head (for those of you with knowledge of the 1960s).

After a few minutes, the waters parted and Seamus arose.

“Well?” I welled him.

“This water is only two feet deep. Then you are under it. Completely. Clear of it,” Seamus said as he climbed out of the hole. He walked to the bar and grabbed his ale and took a long sip.

“What? How? How is that even possible?”

He looked at me.

“Damn it, Danko, I’m a Time Wizard, not a plumber,” Seamus said in his best DeForest Kelley (which was much better than his Thelonious Monk).

He was wet but not as wet as if he’d been swimming with Lloyd Bridges.

He sipped his brew. I poured a whiskey.

“At the bottom of the ladder, there is a stair. I followed it down another level to a series of  tunnels,” he said.

“Tunnels?”

“In all directions,” Seamus said as he reached over the bar for a napkin to wipe his brow. “I didn’t go far, I could see there were many turns. Didn’t want to get lost down there.”

He took another sip of beer and returned to the trap door. He propped it open and handed me the candle. I placed it on the bar and came back around to stare with Seamus into the hole.

We just stood there. Speechless. Staring at the hole in my floor.

A series of tunnels. Under Winterfell. Wow!

This was quite a surprise. It was incredible really.

It was My Spot.

That’s where I always stand! Most of the time, I don’t like to sit at the bar. I like to stand. If I’m there for the evening, I will sit of course. But if I’m just there for one or two rounds, to keep an eye on things and confer with the bartender, I stand right there! Every night I’ve gone in to town since we opened more than a year ago!

And all this time I had no idea that I was standing over a secret passageway. To a series of more secret passageways.

Now what do I do? Should I tell people about this?

“Best to keep it quiet until you investigate further,” said Seamus as he read my mind while re-lighting his cigar.

I nodded.

We were both speechless again. And, after six rounds of ale, not in any condition to climb into a deep, dark hole in the ground that leads to who knows where, who knows when.

There was only one thing to do.

Pour another round.

Stout this time.

And, after six rounds of ale and one of stout – not to mention the stray whiskey or two, we were – surprisingly – not in any better condition to climb into a deep, dark hole in the ground to who knows where, who knows…what……was I saying?

“I’m taking one more look,” Seamus opened the trap door again and stood at the opening, swaying in the wind. Wait, we were indoors. Probably wasn’t the wind. Probably was the ales. Or the stout maybe. Damn stout.

Ulysses The Cat left the room and returned to his window seat. He had seen enough.

Seamus opined that the tunnels would probably still be there tomorrow. I agreed. He also agreed. There was nothing else to say at that point, as gentlemen, we just had to agree to agree.

On his way out, Seamus dropped some cash into the donation box. “That’s for your staff, for the trouble they’ll have to go through tonight, trying to set things straight after your shift!” he said. And out he went.

I walked back over to that trap door, opened it again. Just to look.

“Been there, right under my feet all this time,” I thought, shaking my head.

“Hard to believe.”


Visit Storytellers Pub in Winterfell Laudanum, Second Life

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Winterfell%20Laudanum/210/210/23/

New Kid In Town

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It seems I no longer have a monopoly on reporting the news from Dankoville.

Oh well. Was fun while it lasted.

It’s okay. I can share.

The Dreaming Tree: The Story of Audrey Moore

 

 

Guest Column: WHAT IS THIS “DANKOVILLE” ANYWAY?

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My typist, apparently prompted by a bit of jealousy over my blogging success, has started up a blog of his own. Though it’s not about him, it’s about me. I guess he knows a good subject when he sees one. Not as dumb as he looks. His blog has just started up and it isn’t really open officially yet, he’s sort of easing into this blogging thing. I do plan to give him some pointers. But he has just written his first full-fledged piece for My Virtual Blog and I promised I’d help publicize it by cross-posting it here and elsewhere.

 

WHAT IS THIS “DANKOVILLE” ANYWAY?

by George Miner

Welcome to my world and thanks for your interest.

Almost all of the writing I do these days is as Danko Whitfield, writer & explorer of virtual worlds. The virtual world of Dankoville is a place for me to visualize Danko’s story, to walk through it, to stand inside it, to be or feel as Danko as I ever could be.

It is also my virtual writer’s retreat.

Hence, Dankoville is made up of places in Danko’s story.

The Greater Dankoville area of the grid includes the town of Dankoville and neighboring farming communities. Dankoville is located somewhere in the upper midwest or nothern plains of the United States. For a time, I tried to keep blurred whether it was in the U.S. or Canada but I could only hold off committing on that for so long. Last fall, Danko told the story of returning to the family farm (in Whitfield Crossing, a few miles (two regions) south of Dankoville) . In one installment of the story we learned that in 1960, Dankoville was a roughly two-day bus trip from Kansas City. Danko gets on the bus at some hour of the morning and arrives in Dankoville late the next afternoon. We don’t know about layovers or delays so we don’t really know how many miles Dankoville is from Kansas City or what state it is in. We – Danko and me – don’t get into specifics about that.

Danko had written about the family farm – operated by his Uncle Manuel – in the past. But he only made references to it. When I started writing as Danko, in the spring of 2010 – three years after I joined Second Life and a few months before I first ventured into OpenSim, I made the decision to write only about places I could visit in virtual worlds. There were a number of reasons for this, I doubt I can remember them all now, but they included: it would be a different approach for me; I could let Danko’s character develop as these virtual places – real places to him – came into his virtual (real) life; I could help bring the places I visited to the attention of other virtual explorers.

But when Danko started writing about his travels, I was divesting SL Mainland holdings – which totaled almost three full regions at their peak. Danko now had only two parcels – 2048 sqm total – in Winterfell (and soon a 1536 sqm parcel in neighboring Caledon). There was no room to create the family farm. Which was fine as Danko was exploring Winterfell, Caledon, The Steamlands and related places so he had plenty of new things to write about as his new life was just beginning.

But on a lark last fall, I found myself with a 3×3 OpenSim grid via New World Studio. I wasn’t planning to have my own world/region/grid/standalone/whatever…I was just curious about how NWS worked. I had a couple of specific question about it and, rather than ask anybody, I gave it a try to see if I could get the answers. I wasn’t expecting to be able to make it work – either because of NWS’ shortcomings or my PC’s shortcomings or my own.

Son of a bitch started right up.

I had a 3×3 online. On the grid! Holy shit!!

I should do something with this!

What should I do with this?

That’s how it happened. There was no plan. No idea I’d ever be able to do such a thing. Now I really had to give some thought to what to do with it. First question: How can I possibly fill up a 3×3?

I NEVER considered reducing it to one region. I had a 3×3 on the grid! I wasn’t whittling that down unless the software or the machinery began demanding it. If they did, fine. But until then… I wanted the biggest, blankest page I could get.

I had started using Sim-on-a-Stick the previous winter but had not had the time to get very far with the little projects I’d started. I’d been planning long-term to put these projects on Kitely. For now, I took the OARs – one of which was called Dankoville, and filled about half the 3×3. Which was fine…I could keep three regions empty for uploading OARs and for building and figure out the rest later.

I decided to make Dankoville the prime region in the SW corner. That’s how the grid got its name.

But that Dankoville from the SoaS project was not going to be a small town. It was going to be much smaller than that. It was just going to be one of those fork in the road places that spring up where two highways come together in the middle of nowhere. There would be three buildings – a small gas station, one store, a bar. One corner would be a vacant lot with weeds coming up through the cracks of the cement. That would be the “town.” Not a town nor a village.

The rest of the region would have cornfields. There would be a small suburban-style house as one often sees on small farms today. And a barn.

Aside from the details – trees, landscaping, farm animals, tractor, furniture, items in the store, a bus stop, etc. – that was it.

It would be a quiet, little place. I would put it on Kitely. I figured I’d chill at the bar or sit at the bus stop.

And I was never really going to call it Dankoville.

I was going to call it “____”-ville, I just didn’t know what the first part would be. When I had to save the OAR from SoaS the first time, I had to call it something I’d remember in case I didn’t get back to it for a few months (which is exactly what happened). The name Dankoville already existed as a website. I established it in 2010 when Danko started his new approach to Second Life and began living in the 1870s and writing his blog from Winterfell. I planned to have the website as a place to write about Danko’s former life on the SL Mainland in the 21st century. I had lots of photos and I wanted to show off my former towns. I didn’t know what to call the website but I picked up on a comment a friend had made. We were talking once when I was getting ready to start a new town on the Mainland and I was not sure yet what the new town would be like. Robyn had lived in two of my towns and really liked the feel of them. She said, “Whatever you do with it, I’m sure it will have that ‘Dankoville” feel to it.” I liked that. So I used it for the name of the website figuring it was an umbrella title under which I could feature pictures and articles about all my former towns. My portfolio, I guess. But I became so immersed in Danko’s new life and story that I never got to it, so the Dankoville website on Weebly just sat there as one page with links to my blogs.

So the name Dankoville was never going to be used for an actual town or region, much less a grid. It was a description of a style of place… that became the name of a website that was never used… that became a file name for a very small sim.

Now it was the name of my grid. And that region in the SW corner of my 3×3 had cornfields in it. And a suburban house for the modern farm family. And a barn. And one shop and the start of a gas station build where two highways came together.

Hey, this town could be where Uncle Manuel’s farm is…

All sorts of story ideas were going through my head as I sat at my computer staring at the map of my new world. In the past, Danko’s relatives wrote to him from the farm or even came to Winterfell to visit. But he couldn’t go to them because of my approach in writing about places I and my readers could actually visit. But now…he could go home again!

The Dankoville grid has evolved from there. I wanted the new concept for the town of Dankoville to be a small but central area with farms in the surrounding countryside, the neighboring regions. Because on the grid Dankoville would be adjacent to ocean, I decided Danko, me and you would all have to imagine that there was no ocean there, it was just more farm fields, as far as the eye could see. That’s why the highway runs to the region border, It doesn’t stop there, it goes on forever. Or at least to California.

But the whole grid wouldn’t be farms, wouldn’t be Dankoville, wouldn’t be the 21st century. Danko was born in the mid-20th century but – as the son of a time traveller and a time traveller himself – his childhood was spent in the 1830s, he later lived in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and then settled in the 1870s. So I needed some regions from other times and genre.

(And yes, I use the British spelling of ‘traveller’ here even though I’m not British. I only do that when writing as Danko or writing about Danko. He does it because he was influenced by the Victorian Steampunk of Caledon and the other SL Steamland nations of the era. It “fit” and time travel was important to his story. But I drew the line at ‘traveller’ otherwise there would be harbour and colour and where would it end?)

So we have Medieval/Fantasy and Old West regions on the grid and plan to have Victorian Steampunk as well. I also wanted some winter regions for use particularly during the non-winter months where I live in RL.

Soon after Dankoville went online in September of 2013, it became a major part of Danko’s story. After writing a few ‘episodes’ I felt I wanted to write about the county seat. When the grid returned in February 2014, I expanded it to include New Teasdale – another SoaS project that was left aside and intended eventually for Kitely – which was based on a town I had on the SL Mainland, Teasdale. New Teasdale is now the county seat of Strange County and it has a couple of new neighboring regions.

So that is where the Dankoville grid is at today. As I have noted elsewhere, I’m using the word “grid” as slang in regards to Dankoville. It is not operating in grid mode, it is a standalone. Whether it is possible to run 25 regions as a standalone…………is apparently a question nobody has the answer to. I’m going to find out. I am now working on a brand new PC and I’m sure the machine can handle it. If OpenSim via New World Studio can handle it is what is to be determined. If  it doesn’t work, it’s not a problem for me. I’ll just eliminate some regions or move them to Kitely where I now have regions to spare.

Whatever size I can run Dankoville at, it will meet my needs. I did a prim count the other day and I have 46,000 prims spread out over the 25 regions. Only two regions have a lot of scripts. Obviously this will change as I fill up the grid over time but the type of places I’m building are not going to over-tax the system. If it does, as I say, I can reduce the size of the grid without trouble or regret.

I could have started with just a few regions and added them as I need them, that would be the practical way to do it. But I’ve long had a daydream about having a bunch of contiguous regions all at once – a great big, blank canvas to develop over time. I could never afford to do such a thing in Second Life or with an OpenSim hosting company but I can afford it if it’s free. So that’s what I’m doing with New World Studio. I kicked in the twenty bucks for the full license last fall to support the project. Other than that, there are some incidental costs in buying some virtual items. But mostly I’ll make use of the free items that talented OpenSim creators have made and given to the community. And I’ll make my own simple prim builds. It’ll never be featured in Prim Perfect but Dankoville is perfect for me.

And I’m leaving that Hypergrid door open so fellow writers and virtual world enthusiasts can come by for a look. If someone else gets some inspiration to write or role play here – or just to hang out in my pub or the old west or a castle or just sit at the bus stop and pass the time – that will make me feel good.

But Danko’s storylines take place on other grids too. Especially Second Life and Kitely. Winterfell (on SL) is still Danko’s home and a new storyline is about to begin there. On Kitely, I have only one sim open to the public but I’m working (slowly) on some others.

For those reasons, Dankoville won’t be “finished” tomorrow…or next year for that matter. Or maybe, “ever.”

I’m not going to be in a rush with this place. Another reason is that creating it and figuring it out is part of the fun. Storyline will inspire the build and vice versa. So some of the regions will see rapid development and some will be empty for awhile. Some will develop bit by bit. I will be able to work on whatever I feel like at the time. As much as I have always liked deadlines, I have also always been a person who likes to go with the flow. The latter will be my approach here. I am making a concerted effort to get a few regions “done” or close to it so the place has some “there there” and so it is worth the effort the people who visit will be making. And I will keep the inworld Dankoville Information Center and the Dankoville website up to date to make it easy for the tourists to get around and find things.

But mostly, I’m in this for the long haul. Will be fun. And with multiple blogs and a website, don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

I come from a working class background. When I was five years old, we lived in the second floor apartment of a wooden house next to a vacant lot and a block from the commercial area in our part of the city. A young couple, newlyweds, lived in a second floor apartment in the wooden house next door. Once in a while they would invite me in to see the man’s prized possession – probably his only possession that wasn’t a necessity – his model train layout. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how fascinating those trains and the little town and the surrounding countryside were to a five-year old and the inspiration they spawned.

It recently hit me that having my own virtual world is the 21st century equivalent of the model train set and layout.

“Next stop: Dankoville. All aboard!”

Author’s Note

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I’ve been mulling this over for months and today I finally changed the name of this journal.

For the last three-and-one-half years, it has been called, “Steaming Along: Danko Whitfield In The 19th Century – The Wanderings Of A Steampunk Explorer.” I still love that title and will miss it. But my story has steamed along past the 19th century so many times that I have wondered if the title was confusing. I could always lay claim to being based in the 19th century, as a time traveller certainly must be based somewhere.  But some time back, the place I live in changed and I was moved to an earlier time.

I likely will be able to establish a second home back in the 19th century very soon and so I could have propped up the old title until further notice…but…

Important parts of my entries on these pages have been taking place in other times and it appears this will continue for the foreseeable future… and the foreseeable past, for that matter. So I feel the time has finally come and the title must be broadened to reflect this and to avoid a possible new source of confusion.

In the short term at least, it appears I will be based in the 18th, 19th and 21st centuries as well as spending quite a bit of time in the 20th century. And there is a trip to the 26th century in my future as well. Although that might actually be seen as my past. And then there are the trips to the Devokan Ages, I could only guesstimate what century I’m in with those travels.  At any rate, you can see the reason for my dilemma over the title.

And so this publication becomes, “The Further Adventures Of Danko Whitfield, Semi-Retired Time Traveller – Wandering The Centuries With A Steampunk Explorer.”

Danko In Dankoville

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The bus stopped right at the front gate.

I stepped off, put down my bag and took it all in. The green and white farmhouse, the red barn, tractor and other equipment, fields as far as I could see.

Whitfield Farms.

Looked pretty much like it did when I was here two weeks ago.

Only that was 53 years from now.

It might look the same but this was not the same place. Much would be different. Fifty-three years is a long time.

Someone was standing in the doorway, looking. I picked up my suitcase and walked toward the front steps. A young man stepped out.

“Do I know you?” he asked right off.

“Yes.”

He looked at me as if he sensed something.

“You’ve come through time,” he said.

“Yes,” I nodded.

“You’re a Whitfield,” he said.

“Yes, sir.”

“Which one? No, wait!” he held his hand up as if to stop me. He thought a moment, looking me over.

“Are you my brother Hudson’s boy?”

“Yes, Uncle,” I replied.

He laughed and slapped his knee.

“Well, Danko, what the heck are you doing here? I just saw you not three weeks ago. You’re a cute little tyke,” he held his hand, palm down, about three feet off the ground.

We both laughed.

“I’ve come to see you, Uncle. I need your help with something.”

“Sure, sure. Whatever I can do. Come on in and make yourself at home,” he led me by the arm and we walked into the house.

“You must be hungry,” he said. “No, sir, I just had a meal in town,” I answered. “Well, then let me fix you some lemonade or maybe a stiff drink after riding a bus all day,” said Manuel. “Two days,” I corrected.

“Where the heck were you coming from?’ he asked. “Kansas City,” I said. “Kansas City?!! What the heck were you doing there? You couldn’t get any closer?” asked Manuel. I shook my head no. “Damn!” he said.

My Uncle Manuel was now about half my age. When I last saw him two weeks ago, he was closer to twice my age.

He showed me to the guest room. I unpacked and washed up and then joined him on the back porch.

“Here we are, Danko.” Manuel placed a tray with a pitcher of lemonade, a bottle of vodka, a bowl of ice and two tall glasses on the old wooden table. I nodded my approval of the combination and he opened the vodka and poured a healthy shot into each glass. He added two ice cubes to each one and poured the lemonade.

“Sip it. It goes down easily,” Manuel said, “Cheers.”

We sipped.

I told him I had come to this time to learn a bit about farm work. “I can only stay a week, so I’ll just get a taste of it, to give me an idea of the average worker’s day.” I didn’t tell him that I’d be doing this same thing in a future time too nor anything else about my research including and especially ‘why‘ I needed to know this. Of course, he must have been curious but he knew not to ask. I couldn’t come back here and tell him what his life would be like in fifty years, that he would be retiring and turning the farm over to me and his son, not yet born. It wouldn’t be right.

“I’m glad I can be of help,” the young Manuel said after I’d finished my explanation. “It can be my first project to file with the Guild. I was just accepted as a member.” “Yes,” I said, “I just read that in the paper. Congratulations.” In the Time Travellers Guild, not only is your official resume built on the timejumps you make but also on the help you give to other time travellers.

The sun had set and Manuel had lit a candle. We finished our second round of vodka & lemonade and went into the house.

Family members would be coming in soon.

“My father might not approve of your project,” the young Manuel told me as he set the table for supper.

“Oh?”

“He’s pretty conservative about the use of time travel. Not like his father. Or your father,” Manuel said. He went on to explain that my grandfather felt that time travel should be used sparingly and only in cases of the utmost importance. This school of thought has always been part of the time travellers’ community though a small part.

“He won’t hold it against you. Much,” said Manuel. We both laughed. “He respects people with differing opinions but he will not be shy about expressing his own,” Manuel said with a smile.

“Thanks for the heads up, Uncle,” I said as I followed Manuel into the kitchen so he could check on the venison in the oven.

As the family arrived home from the fields or from town, each was surprised to see me, of course, but greeted me warmly.

Grandmother came home first from a trip into town and was absolutely thrilled when Manuel told her who I was. “I’m so pleased to be able to see what a fine man you become,” she said.

Then Chester came in from the fields. Young, handsome, big smile. This was my uncle but he was only 19 now. “Howdy, Nephew,” Chester said in his booming voice, then turned to my grandmother, “They sure grow up fast, don’t they Ma?” There were giggles all around.

A car pulled in and my uncles’ wives got out with bags of groceries. I was introduced to Jean, Manuel’s wife and Helen, Chester’s wife and then they headed into the kitchen to prepare supper.

Finally, Grandfather came in through the back door. He had made his usual rounds of the fields at the end of the day and secured the barn. I could hear him joking with my aunts in the kitchen as he passed through.

My grandfather was now just a few years older than me. Manuel introduced us. Grandfather shook my hand with both of his. “Welcome home, Danko,” he paused and I could see his emotions were on the verge of taking over. “Your parents just brought you here a few weeks ago, you were just a boy. They were so happy,” he held back the tears. I knew then that he knew, from his own time travels, of my parents’ fate. It appeared the others did not know. I gave Grandfather a hug.

We sat down to a wonderful meal of venison from the nearby woods and vegetables from the farm. Afterward, the men went out to the back porch for a tobacco break and the ladies shared tea in the living room.

I had told my reason for coming here through time over supper. Now Grandfather was lighting his pipe and telling me that Manuel will be a good teacher.

But that didn’t necessarily mean he approved of my reason for being here. Just as his son had told me he would, Grandfather launched into his argument about the appropriate use of time travel.

Manuel and I listened dutifully and respectfully.

At one point, Grandfather talked about the younger generations using time travel “willy nilly” and looked at me and Manuel and shook his head and said, “You young people…I don’t know.”

I had listened quietly as I had decided not to argue with my grandfather but now, to lighten up the conversation, I started to take exception to being referred to as young by smiling and saying, “I’m 44, sir, not so young anymore!” But Grandfather turned to me and said in response, “If you’d come here the natural way, you’d be five years old right now!”

Well, I couldn’t argue with that. So I just smiled politely as Manuel tried to hide a snicker. The conversation moved on to my training and the things Grandfather and Manuel would be showing me.

Then we discussed whether to let it be known that the source of the town’s name was in town. Chester suggested I continue to be Mitchell Whitfield and we just keep the whole thing quiet. But I want to stop by the Time Travellers Guild and once I do, the word will get out.

“If there’s no getting around it, then we must hit it head on,” said Grandfather. “We will have an announcement, a ceremony, and a reception. Let the town celebrate its history. People could use a special occasion right now.“

I nodded in agreement. Grandfather would make the arrangements in the morning. We joined the ladies inside and Grandfather filled them in about the festivities. Then he telephoned a friend at the Dankoville Morning News.

The next day, on the front page, the banner headline said simply:

Danko In Dankoville!

I couldn’t buy a drink in that town for the rest of the week.

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