Sunday, December 31, 2006

Xaxoqual (Happy Birthday!)



I've written a few times about bad experiences I've had in SL, but I'm happy to say that they are far outnumbered by the wonderful experiences and people I've met... and I'm remiss in not having mentioned Xaxoqual Mandelbrot, and meeting her, among the latter sort.

Xaxoqual is a beautiful mourning dove. OK, I'm being ambiguous there, because there's the American mourning dove and the African mourning dove (which is she, American or African? Uh, I don't know... AAAAARRGH!) and there are five species of the former. Whichever species she is, she has a lavender crest and lovely, delicately lavender-tinged plumage (or are they magenta? ummmm...), and excellent taste in clothing. She tends towards the formal (we're kindred spirits in that way, I think), but is just as attractive and tasteful when less formally clad... and we have the pictures here as proof!

(OK... actually, I do know she's an American mourning dove, because the African mourning dove is very brown. I just couldn't pass up the chance for a Monty Python and the Holy Grail reference.)


She's also a delightful conversationalist, and I spent a wonderful time talking to her over tea in the teahouse.


Also... today is not only New Year's Eve, it's Xaxoqual's birthday! Happy birthday, Xaxoqual; I'm honored to be able to count you as a friend.


UPDATE: I definitely don't know my mourning doves. The above isn't her mourning dove avatar. Here is a picture of us with her in mourning dove avatar (American; she told me the Linnean name). Another correction: there are five subspecies of American mourning dove. (Sigh. Kind of sad when one doesn't pay close attention to the Wikipedia page.)



Torii


The torii is a gate, typically painted red, traditionally placed at the entrance to a Shinto shrine. Mordecai placed one so that the rising sun shines through it and into the teahouse he built.

I decided I should dress appropriately for a picture there, and found a lovely kimono and appropriate hair. (Hmm. That obi looks like it could be uncomfortable if SL physics were more like RL...)

There's a gorgeous place based on the Heian period that I'll write about later. I have some pictures from there, but the kimono really isn't appropriate; it's from a much later time. For it, I should be in the wonderfully flowing juuni hitoe or karagina mo (check out this web site for lots more information).

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Scary Real, Part Two

I got to go up in the Muse with Mordecai... what a lovely airship! (Note to all balloon/airship designers: please consider some models with loveseats...)

We ascended into the sky to look at the end of The Chain... and suddenly I noticed that the pan and zoom were insanely smooth. View>Statistics... and whoa! 25 fps!

I presume it's because at that height, there's very little to actually render; very few prims are visible, just as in Cheyenne's House of 1,000 Pleasures there aren't (or weren't, at the time she showed me around) many things present and we were in an enclosed area. Hence the sweet graphics performance on my humble Socket A Sempron 2400+ and nVidia 5500.

Would that SL were like that all the time! Sigh...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Fantasy art

If you're a fan of fantasy art in the style of Frazetta (OK, he says Vallejo, but I don't see any self-portraits! :)), take a look at the Elven Egypt Beach Gallery in Seashore Estates, where a friend of mine, Osiris Acropolis, exhibits and sells his work. It's not all muscular barbarians and sword-wielding Amazons... there's also wit and even pathos ("Lost Kitty" made me cry).

The building itself is a work of art, and a lovely setting for the paintings.

Proposition 2072: realistic female shirt fit

If you read this blog, you've probably read my complaints about the way shirts are rendered more than you care to think about. Just as there is a Proposition (Proposition 125) for my other pet peeve, there's one for this issue now as well.

I hope you'll check out Proposition 2072, and consider allocating some of your votes to it.

Sigh...


Cheyenne Palisades, a wonderful friend and lady (in the Platonic heaven, the archetype for "class" is missing...), said many wonderful things about me in a recent entry in her blog. Among them was...
She dresses elegantly but modestly... I’ve never seen her in the skimpy outfits so many female avs seem so fond of.
Then yesterday happened... I was (once again...) shopping, and happened across a couple new to SL. I mentioned the ongoing (not for long; it's been extended to January 1st) 50L sale at Pixel Dolls, and offered to TP there and then offer them a TP in turn. They accepted, the TPs took place, and after a bit of conversation I begged my leave, so they weren't bothered further by me (and nudged them to check out all three floors). Then I looked over and saw The Outfit. PixelMuse Metalily Sunset, all purple and gold, with gold filigree that looks like it's part of your body when you have it on, and showing rather a lot of skin above the waist.. It was only 50L... and I was entranced. I succumbed.


Later I signed on, and Cheyenne was on, too, checking out a wicked-looking shape-shifting transportation device by the !Meta Group. She was nice enough to offer me a TP to take a look...

...and in mid-TP I realized I had on The Outfit, and thought back to that blog entry. Oh, dear. I told her that I was about to disillusion her.

She only ribbed me about it a little. :) (Told you she's wonderful.)

So, here's Attack of the Fifty-Foot Melissa, Part N+1, taken at Digeridoo Designs while waiting (double sigh...) for the main grid to come back, in Metalily Sunset. Am I at least skimpily dressed in a ladylike way?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Civilized Snow


In Watership Down, Richard Adams notes in passing that people say they like winter, but what they really mean is that they enjoy feeling proof against it.

As a child, I loved snow. Age and having to be somewhere despite snow have tempered my attitude towards it. I like looking at it but not having to be out in it, with a few exceptions (namely those rare occasions when snow falls in a dead calm, so that your coat is covered in perfect little panes of ice and the space beneath traffic lights, and, if you're very lucky, atop spotlights/searchlights, becomes a light show
).

So, this is one occasion where SL's deviation from authenticity is a pleasant thing. In the photo, I'm admiring the winter scene at the very end of sunset outside near the Stardust Ballroom.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

More Christmas Music

Another song that you should check out: "Watchstar," by 3 Blind Mice. It is featured on the Goddess and Banana's Christmas music show of December 16th (I think mislabeled on the G&B web site as "There You Are"). It's a very special song: quirky, beautiful, and oddly moving.

Listen to the whole show; it's well worth it. (Matthew Ebel kicks serious posterior.)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Spiffy T-shirts and more



I was looking for something else when I happened upon the shop of Masterblaster Ay, and serendipity struck.

He makes and sells T-shirts with some very neat abstract artwork, often SF-inspired. He offers both generic T-shirts and women's T-shirts, and in these pictures you see me in my two favorites (so far).

Time for me to rail once again about SL's choosing the "vacuum sealed" approach to rendering clothing, as opposed to having the fabric assume the minimum energy position as in RL. I really do not do "Warp Space" justice, and I apologize to Masterblaster Ay for it. Guys... check out "Warp Space" yourselves and admire the detail... no, not my detail, the art. Go to the store, OK? It's worth the look. (SL... please do something about the rendering of clothing!)

Mr. Ay IMed me today and showed me his new store; he's expanding into selling his artwork in a form one puts on the wall. It's abstract art, and I like it very much. Do check it out.
  • T-shirts: Ay! Designs, Pacific Hills Plaza, Lugubris (100, 138, 32).
  • Hangable art: Spaceport Art, Pacific Hills Square - Quality Shops!, Electra (157, 152, 80)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"And the glass... a riot of color in a dreary gray world."

Fizzdrake Castle is an imposing and indeed dreary gray building (on sale for L$14K if I remember rightly), but the gray is relieved in spots by wonderful wall hangings and stained glass.


It's a fascinating place, and this photo of course doesn't show the half of it, by far. Do check it out.

P.S. Oh, my... look at me, without a hat. What a shameless hussy I am!

The Department of Cheesy Phrases

So... how many phrases can one do SL takeoffs of?

I thought that "My So-called Second Life" was clever. Google turns up 1.2 million hits on it. After I started my blog, I found someone else had used "livin' la vida segunda." Just now, I looked, and most of the hits are on my blog or links to it, so I guess not as many people thought of it.

I'm still the only one to parody the old Joe Walsh song, with "Second Life's Been Good to Me So Far." (So far.) Maybe I'm showing my age.

Surely some Bond fan has riffed on "You Only Live Twice," or a Trekker "Live long and prosper...again." Oooh... how about Sinatra: "That's (Second) Life."

Clearly this shows the dangers of blogging at some insane hour of the morning. (I'm a teetotaler, so I honor the warning "You should not drink and blog," but OTOH, being very tired has similar effects, sad to say for people who try to drive insanely long hours, which some may be tempted to do during this holiday season. Please take a nap or stop for the night... I'll be on the road, too, and we don't even want to start meeting like that.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Music

I have a hard time with a lot of "contemporary Christian music." It seems mindless, simplistic, one-God-fits-all. Life doesn't seem to me quite like that.

I like songs that, as one of the First-walkers said in Tailchaser's Song, have a little less fluff and more bone. (While it's got little to do with Christmas, I'm also a sucker for love songs that leave the "eros or agape?" question open, like Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is.") So, here's my Christmas song list:
  • "Mary was an Only Child," Art Garfunkel, on the Angel Clare album (go ahead and listen to "Woyaya," which it fades into)
  • "I Believe in Father Christmas," ELP, Works vol.2
  • (spoken word) "The Journey of the Magi," T.S. Eliot
  • "Lullay My Liking," set by Gustav Holst (heartbreakingly beautiful!)
  • "Star of Wonder," the Roches, from their We Three Kings album
I'm sure I've said before that I cry at the drop of a hat... and that last song is a perfect example. Terre Roche, the song's composer and lyricist, writes on the group's web site that she just considers herself the "channel" for the song, and that she encourages anyone wanting to sing it to do so (see the page with the lyrics and music), so I hope she won't mind if I quote the lyrics here (if there is a problem, I'll edit it out and leave the link):
Star of wonder in the heavens
Wonder what you want of me
Should I follow you tonight?
Star of wonder, star of wonder

I am just a lonely shepherd
Watching from a distant hill
Why do you appear to me?
Star of wonder, star of wonder
If you will

In the morning, they'll come looking
For the shepherd on the hill
What would make her leave her flock
For surely she must love them still

Star of wonder in the heavens
Are you just a shining star or
Should I follow you tonight?
Star of wonder, star of wonder
Shining bright

—Terre Roche, ©1991
That took me longer than it should to type; I always break down at the B section. (Do buy We Three Kings; it's wonderful, and not nearly as somber as this great song might suggest. The Brooklyn accent-soaked version of "Winter Wonderland" is a hoot, and the other Christmas original, "Christmas Passing Through," is a delight.)

I wish you a joyous Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas, Creative Fantasy style


The amazing people at Creative Fantasy have many things on display and for sale, including some incredible houses. Some are decorated for the Christmas season and the area is all snowy (with amazing animation and sound effects).

One house in particular is so beautiful that I had to take a picture. Of course, you can't hear the carols in the background..so for the full effect, you should visit it yourself.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Melissa Evolving


As I've written before, I'm the sort who is attached to my avatar, and I don't really change it on a whim. That said, it struck me that I should take a look at how I have changed so far in SL.

First, we see the photo I first used
with this blog. Generic skin, and I think I hadn't discovered prim hair yet. Pale lipstick, or maybe I'm not wearing any at all. Minimal eye makeup.



Next, I'm headed for the ceilidh... or however it's spelled. By now, I've discovered prim hair... or have I? and the Vanilla Rose skin is in place...or is it?







A little bit more dramatic lighting and a black dress later, and I've definitely got the Vanilla Rose skin on.







Finally, a photo taken today (making use of Celebrity Trollop's advice--thank you again!). Paris Athletic Light skin adds to the effect. (It's grown on me ... uh, maybe I shouldn't have used that phrase... to the extent that I am leaving the color as is. I like it very much.) Oh, yes... don't forget the cleavage.

I think I'm getting there.

Scary Real

That's a phrase that Cheyenne has used a couple of times to refer to the verisimilitude of her avatar.

I didn't really understand it until last night (OK, insanely early this morning) when we visited, and due to some combination of factors...
  • not many people, due to being insanely early in the morning
  • not much to render, being in an enclosed area
  • a new client
  • a good tailwind?
poor little Melissa with her Sempron 2400 (yes, that's 32 bit, Socket A; shoemaker's children and all that) and nVidia 5500 graphics card was managing to get 22 frames per second or maybe 24.

Cheyenne's motions as she typed were so fluid... I couldn't look away. Now I know. That's scary real. Wow.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Take enough pictures...


...and one of them will come out good.

Here's a fortunate and fortuitous combination of sunrise, a landing on the beautiful Stairway of Unusual Size in the beautiful region of Lothlorien, and the beautiful "Naughty" dress from Dazzle Haute Couture in gold, which matches said Stairway nicely. The gods of photography were smiling.

Speaking of photography, I had a "duh" moment. (That's an "Aha" moment for something that should have been obvious.) To get portrait mode, make the snapshot the size of the window, and make the window tall and narrow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Maybe I'm Getting the Hang of It...

I was reading a good friend's blog, and recognized myself in one entry... in association with some very complimentary text.

Now I know what it feels like to accept compliments... and it feels awfully good. Thank you, my friend; that's a precious gift you gave me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Schroedinger's Cat's Skin

OK. Now I will have to fiddle some more with skins, because I've found that I didn't give some a fair shake.

Here's what fooled me: when you change skins, it doesn't happen right away. Instead, the SL client passes through an intermediate stage where the new skin and the old skin are superimposed on one another, out of focus. During that time, you look like I imagine a corpse that has been floating out in the water for a while must look. (Quick! Get Jerry Bruckheimer to do an episode of CSI in SL!)

(No, I won't include a picture of it!)

On earlier attempts to change skins, I anxiously zoomed in on my face, eager to see my new look... and saw that! I always freaked out and immediately switched back.

This time, though, motivated much the same way I was when I finally bought a piano, i.e. by the voice in my head saying "You spent how much on that, and you're going to let it sit there?!", I bit the bullet and tried to stay calm, which I did. Mostly. Long enough to see the SL client settle in and fully render the new skin.

Thank goodness I did.

So, if you're reading this and haven't tried a new skin before, learn from my silliness. It'll be OK, really.

The Good, The Bad, and The Santa

If you don't listen to The Gomem Show, I urge you to start by checking out this week's episode, #27, because it includes a hilarious send-up of Ennio Morricone spaghetti western soundtracks, "Fistful of We Three Kings" by the High Balls.

(Once you hear one episode, you'll want to keep listening; Gomem Desoto is a nice guy with a good ear for music and a dry wit.)

Have a merry (and twisted) Christmas, everybody.

Skin: The Next Generation


Many thanks to Celebrity Trollop. I bought the Paris Athletic Light set, and put on Paris Athletic Light (Berry), which has the lip color I prefer. Here are the results, which I like very much.

UPDATE: According to the Naughty Designs blog, the Paris skins can have their skin tone changed, so I will be experimenting a bit. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Twisted metrics in the age of the Internet

In RL, I live in a condo. I barely know any of the people who live in other units here, despite having lived here the better part of two decades. I could tell you much more about the dear friends I've made in SL who actually live thousands of miles away.

Having been a programmer since my sophomore year in high school (that's thirty-five years), and thus living through the BBS era as well as the Internet, I should be blasé about that, but I'm not. It still amazes me.

Speaking of friends, among the dearest I have (SL or RL) is Cheyenne Palisades. I hope you'll take a look at her blog. She's beautiful, witty, insightful, a very good writer, and a wonderful person.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Of Skins and Avatars and One's Attachment Thereto

As many have noted, SL residents seem to come in two flavors. Some folks think of their avatars as people think of clothing: something to select based on where one is going, or even one's whim.

I'm of the other sort. My avatar is me, in SL at least. I had some fun being a she-raccoon once, but I mostly take changes to my avatar very seriously, almost as if I were contemplating cosmetic surgery.

I knew most of what I wanted from the beginning: I love red hair, so I wanted it. Ditto for green eyes; long ago, a beautiful woman with eyes the exact color of Palmolive dishwashing soap was a coworker, and I never forgot those eyes... so I jumped at the chance to have them. Ditto for a long, slender neck, and impossibly long legs (so much so that despite wanting to be as tall as possible, I held back on torso length to keep the emphasis on the legs). Pale skin goes with red hair, of course, so there you go.

Breasts? [nods sheepishly] Yes, I ran the slider all the way up, biting the bullet of bad rendering at the extremes. (If this bothers you, too, I hope you'll take a look at Proposition 125, proposed and cogently argued by Snakekiss Noir.)

I mostly like the results, though when I see my unclad or less-clad SL self, I think I look like a scarecrow and wonder about being a bit more zaftig. (See what I wrote? Not "that avatar with little or no clothing," but "my unclad or less-clad SL self." I didn't think about how to write that; that's just how it came out, and it shows how attached I am to my avatar. Fans of Bertrand Russell's theory of descriptions will point out that just writing "my avatar" like that folds in an assertion that there's only one.)

Along the way I found a skin titled "Vanilla Rose," put it on, and liked it a lot... and more importantly, didn't care too much for the other skins I tried, until I read Celebrity Trollop's inaugural Celebrity Couture Culture column, "Navel Gazing." More accurately, until I saw that first picture!

Now I am looking for a skin with those "digital abs of steel," to use Wagner James Au's felicitous phrase. [Correction: to use Celebrity Trollop's phrase, as Mr. Au did!] Of course, I also want to keep the skin and lip color I like from Vanilla Rose... and now I think I can, thanks to this entry in Ms. Trollop's Second Style Fashionista blog. It's close enough to my current skin and lip color, and has the detail I'm looking for. Ms. Trollop helpfully mentions the skin in the video... so next time I'm online, off I will head for Naughty Designs. Thank you, Ms. Trollop... I have my fingers crossed.

pandora.com starts a podcast

Have I gushed about pandora.com here before? In case I haven't: it's a result of the Music Genome Project, in which a large number of attributes were defined and a database of lots of popular songs and their attributes created. pandora.com gives you a Flash-based front end to that database, and once you enter a song or artist you like, it will start playing songs that, based on your input and the database, it thinks you'll like. If it's right, give the song "thumbs up"; if it's wrong, give the song "thumbs down" and it will stop playing the song. In either case, it refines its notion of what you like and hence what it will play for you in the future. (You can thank the RIAA for "thumbs down" only working so many times an hour; they fear that if you can give thumbs down too often, you may be able to cause pandora to play a particular song...and that's a very expensive thing in the RIAA's eyes.)

It displays some discreet advertsing unless you decide to subscribe to the service; I personally have never found the ads bothersome.

So, what's new? pandora.com has decided to start a podcast that goes into some of the theory and how music is put together. The first episode deals with vocal harmony technique, and while it's very much a 30,000 foot overview, it's still fun and educational. Check it out.

"...and dreamt me some tremulous dreams..."

It's been a while since I've had a dream I really remember, but I've had some SL dreams since the last one I mentioned here.

In one, I remember seeing myself in a sweater and noticing that
  1. It seemed a bit chilly.
  2. The rendering of the sweater was more realistic than I recalled seeing in SL.
Before I could find out how it was done, I woke up.

This morning, I had a strange dream during a nap. I could see IMs appearing before my eyes, but knew I wasn't online, so I must be dreaming... but I still felt that I should respond to them somehow.

I have no idea what it means.

P.S. The title is a quote from the immortal (but, alas, no longer among us) Lord Buckley's monologue "God's Own Drunk." If you've not experienced his work, I hope you'll check it out.

Romance Bridge



If you want to take someone special somewhere special, please consider the Romance Bridge at Serenity Falls. (I promise that when next I'm in SL, I'll verify the name and add the location... please, LL, get search working again!)

It's a beautiful, vine-covered bridge where dolphins cavort... but better I should show you. Here are pictures of it, and of Mordecai and me there.

P.S. Honesty compels me to mention that I stumbled upon it purely by fortunate accident. What I was looking for was something more wintry... not that I'm complaining. The people at Creative Fantasy do amazing work.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Don't I know you? Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"


Before I was born...in SL, at least... New World Notes had an article about residents using myheritage.com to find out which celebrities their avatars most resemble. (A followup commented on the seeming prevalence of Bollywood stars in the results.)

I couldn't resist, of course... so I gave it a try, and the image here is the result. I'm not sure what Blogger will do with the image, so just in case:
  1. Uma Thurman, 97%
  2. Amisha Patel, 90%
  3. Beyonce Knowles, 83%
  4. Ayumi Hamasaki, 83%
  5. Kyoko Fukada, 78%
I suppose I continue the tradition to some extent, but only a little. Seeing two Japanese women on the list surprised me.

(Oh yes... the title is from "Cold Rain," on CSN's CSN album. No, that's not a tautology...)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Problem with Straps


You'll recall that, back during the CopyBot brouhaha (which I must admit to having overreacted to), I wore a couple of CopyBot protest T-shirts. You'll also notice that they looked utterly unlike such T-shirts would look in RL or, more to the point, with software that more accurately models how clothing behaves. Like everything else in the physical world, they tend to assume the position with least potential energy. (In brief: everything is lazy.) In the real world, this means that a single piece of cloth will tend to conform to the convex hull of the body wearing it.

(So, the mathematical definition of one's bustline is the perimeter of the convex hull of a horizontal cross section of one's torso taken through the largest part of one's bust. I have to wonder what my professors would think about this application of math...)

In SL, on the other hand, clothing is rendered as if the cloth were vacuum sealed around one's body. Some, to be sure, rather like this, but if you're a T-shirt designer trying to get your message across, it's a problem.

The other place that the problem shows up is with straps. Take a look at the photo. Those straps look like they're about to fall off. (Yes, straps do fall off, but only after they somehow get over the hump of one's shoulder, which requires some energy input or some movement on one's part to smooth the way to the really low (and embarrassing!) potential energy level.) They don't look like they're holding up anything, either. In a more accurately modeled world, they'd touch me at the shoulder and at whatever point on my bosom is on the convex hull of a vertical cross section through my torso, and if you looked close, you could see the gap. (UPDATE: On second thought, I might be flattering myself rather a lot by saying that.)

At some point someone decided it was too computationally intensive to do it right, I guess. SL clothing rendering pretends that we're all convex, or at least flat-chested. That's probably why you don't see much clothing like that in the picture; instead, straps are edited out (as the fine folks on The Goods, far more perceptive than I, have mentioned) or made short and kept away from the breasts.

So, cry Havoc 2, and let slips (and bikinis and bras and dresses with straps)... oy, I can't believe I typed that. I'll go quietly, Mr. Shakespeare.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Attack of the Fifty-Foot Melissa, Part 3


I think the secret is to get on a step so you have a shot at really positioning the camera by your feet. Here's the best I could manage. (Note the neat fake lens flare at the top.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jimmie Spheeris

In 1971, Jimmie Spheeris, a young singer-songwriter, released his first album, Isle of View. It promptly became a favorite on American AOR FM stations of the time, and "I am the Mercury" became one of my favorite songs.
For I am the Mercury, the light of the morning,
Looking for shelter in this thunder and this rain...
I bought it, and while I didn't buy the followup, The Original Tap-Dancing Kid, I loved Spheeris's third album, The Dragon is Dancing.
Wonder of wonders, the dragon is dancing,
Stilling the thunder with movement so slow
Silence of silence, the dragon is dancing

Stilling the violence, his beauty unfolds...
Two more albums followed, and then, with no recording contract, he faded from my notice, though I never forgot his wonderful lyrics, tunes, and above all that voice, gentle and powerful.
Love me without thinking it over,
Love me like the sun loves clover
When it grows;
Let it flow...
I didn't know it, but on July 4, 1984, the very evening Spheeris finished a new album, on the way home on his motorcycle, some thrice-damned drunk driver struck Spheeris and killed him.

Sony, who owned the earlier material, never bothered to rerelease it on CD... until, in 1998, Johnny Pierce, who had played bass for Spheeris, founded Rain Records to reissue Spheeris's work with permission from Sony, as well as the album finished back in 1984.

I bought a copy of Isle of View as a gift, meaning to get more someday... but someday never came. Sony withdrew permission in 2000, and no more CDs could be released. Rain Records remade itself as an independent label, and is still around... but now, if you head over to amazon.com and look up Isle of View, you'll see that amazon.com doesn't sell them, but you can get a copy, with prices starting at $125. For one CD.

So... since Apple evidently managed to convince Sony to release Jimmie Spheeris's songs on iTunes, I bought some of them, and was immediately transported back to that era.
We all dance alone on a tightrope of insanity,
reality or fantasy; who really knows?
But in the misty woods, as I guessed into your emerald eyes
I thought I found an answer in your sighs,
But the gulls had flown....
If you're not familiar with his music, I urge you to give it a listen.

Gratias vobis ago

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. (Yes, Canadians, we're behind, OK? :))

I have a great deal to be thankful for in RL and SL... and here I want to concentrate on SL.

Despite it all, and despite everything I've said and thought, thank you, Linden Labs. (We wouldn't kvetch if we didn't care.) I'd not have met any of the wonderful people or had any of the wonderful experiences I've had in just three months without your work.

Thank you, Cheyenne and Pavig. I admire your grace and elegance, and hope to achieve some of it someday. It's an honor to be able to count you as friends.

Thank you to all of you who have honored me with your friendship.

Thank you to all those who make the amazing, beautiful, and hilarious things that make SL a thriving environment instead of the barren wasteland it would otherwise be. (Hilarious? Yes. Dancing cows somehow leap to mind...) You have my word that I will respect the work you put into your products by buying them rather than stealing them!

Above all, thank you, my darling Mordecai.

Stupid monitor has gotten all blurry... I'd better stop now, though I'm sure I've forgotten many.

The Garden


There's not much to say, since Mordecai has already posted during its building and upon its completion... There's not much I can say, because when I think about it very much I tend to be overwhelmed and start to cry. (I cry at the drop of a hat, but even if I didn't, the result would be the same.) Mordecai is, among many other things, a gardener, and I love what he has done.

Here's a picture of one of the paths through the garden.

I will quote the notecard:
Welcome to Melissa's Rose Garden, a public Garden of Romance for all to enjoy. This place was designed and built by Mordecai Scaggs to celebrate his love for Melissa Yeuxdoux, and is maintained by the Scaggs-Yeuxdoux Estate.

We hope that you will find the love you are looking for here with that special someone. As this is a lovers' garden, no weapons, pushing or agressive behaviour of any sort is tolerated, and patrons are encouraged to report any abuse they experience whilst here.

In order to avoid unpleasantness occurring, scripts are disabled in this garden, but please use the poseballs provided. :-)

Melissa and Mordecai wish you all good things, and hope you find the love of your life, as we have.

If you've already found someone special, please come visit also. One thing Mordecai doesn't mention is that the music stream that you can hear in the garden is a stream of early music from the wonderful Magnatune record label. They're not evil.

Thank you, love.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Revenge of the Body Image

As time goes on in SL, I'm starting to get used to being beautiful... a little bit. Some combination of ongoing amazement at the concept and vanity is behind the number of pictures I take of myself, though I am not sure of the proportions, and I'm not sure I want to know. (Well, part of it is the sheer delight of wearing beautiful clothing, so it's not all about me.)

So, having all this along with the SL visual version of Burns's famous gift—i.e. we can see our avatars as others see them—it occurs to me that I can go off somewhere private in SL, and without anyone else around, try... a nude self-portrait, region permitting.

And all the anxieties come charging back.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this, though I'll not post any of the results here.

Audio Gumshoe

You'll recall that in a previous post I pointed everyone at The Goddess and Banana... well, that show has a theme song that I like a lot ("Avatar Girl"), and its composer and performer, Rich Palmer, has a fine podcast of his own: Audio Gumshoe.

The Audio Gumshoe tracks down and features fine independent musicians, and today is a fine day to subscribe, because the latest episode as of this writing, #71, features one of the greats of Southern rock, Artimus Pyle. The songs, from Artimus's latest album, Artimus Venomus, are scorchers, and the lyrics just as passionate as the music. (You have to admire a title like "Blood Sucking Weasel Attorneys.") Listen to the end, so you can catch "Million Dollar Farm," Pyle's take on the phony side of the country music genre.

(Sigh...I broke my promise. I will write about the garden tonight, really!)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Panic in the garden

Yesterday, Mordecai fell silent.I thought it odd, but didn't think about it very long...

...and then this morning, when he didn't seem to say anything at all, I started to panic.

Thank goodness that a friend, Brandy, tried to visit (she couldn't head directly over because of the security system)! We arranged to meet at the garden (about which I'll post next, I promise), and she was our intermediary while we figured out what happened.

Somehow, Mordecai had gotten on my mute list! I don't recall doing anything that would have that result. I took him off the list (thank you, Tateru and Qua!), and SL returned to normal.

I'm still shaken. Thank you again, Brandy; I owe you a great deal. (And indirectly, I owe even more to the wonderful lady who took me shopping that one day... were it not for that, I doubt anyone would have visited when I desperately needed someone's help.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More anti-copybot fashion


Another T-shirt... on the front, "Yo Copybot! Check my back!" and on the back, "Copy this!" with a rude hand gesture. Many, many stores and areas are closed in protest. It will be interesting to see what happens when the big names that have set up shop in SL with much fanfare find their stuff being copied.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Anti-CopyBot protests


Here I am at one of the many places either protesting the CopyBot or outright closed because of it (do a search for copybot, and see what turns up). I'm wearing one of the anti-CopyBot T-shirts that are on sale for minimal L$ (I got mine at McDunnough's Speakeasy). Honest, it says "COPY BOT" in there; I guess LL figured it better to accurately do form-fitting clothing than to model the way clothes minimize potential energy. (A shame; I was hoping for those horizontal stress wrinkles...)

I've seen an anti-CopyBot dance announced; it will be interesting to see what else happens.

Utterly unencumbered by responsibility

If you've ever been to Shadow Brook or Serenity Falls, you know they are among the most beautiful places in Second Life.

If you've never been to them... well, you may never get the chance now.

The libsecondlife project has as its stated purpose "[creating] a stable platform for third-party Second Life development." Unfortunately, what they've done is release a program, CopyBot, that makes it trivial to copy things, regardless of their permission settings, and crash sims. (That last part is a server bug... and I'm sure that is comforting knowledge to everyone.)

libsecondlife claims not to endorse the theft of intellectual property... but has left this glittering knife out for any infant to grab. Why? They're "proud of [their] achievement." It's said to be still retrievable via libsecondlife's subversion server, and still for sale on SLexchange. Any griefer or script kiddie can retrieve it. Yes, the program takes advantage of a bug that Linden Labs must correct... but make the scum figure it out themselves.

Linden Labs goes on at length about how developers own what they create, and the opportunities SL provides... but that's not true any more, and the people who actually work to make SL the diverse and fascinating place it is have had the rug pulled out from under them by people who have the support of LL. You can kiss quality goods in SL goodbye now.

Monday, November 13, 2006

In SL, you never have split ends...


Another step in my ongoing quest to become the Diane Witt of SL: here I am with "Jordan" hair from Goldie Locks.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ostentatious humility

From The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten (alevasholem): A man is in the synagogue praying: "O Lord, I am nothing..." A k'nocker (blowhard, braggart) hears him, and says "Look who's saying he's a nothing!"

Methinks I protest too much. (New Yorker cartoon: patient on a psychiatrist's couch, saying "Sure, it's not much compared to some inferiority complexes...") Maybe it's how I was brought up.

One variety of song that was popular on Dr. Demento was the love song sung from the beloved's point of view. With an ELIZA-style transformation of pronouns, we got such classics as

"Close to Me":

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time I draw near?
Just like you, they long to be
Close to me!

"Loving Me":

Loving me
Is easy, 'cause I'm beautiful.
Making love to me
Is all you want to do...

Why do we laugh at them? Perhaps because they show how over-the-top love lyrics are by changing the point of view; perhaps because the singer is violating those social rules some of us were brought up with—they're not just blowing their own horn, they've rented out a brass choir for the occasion!

Anyway... I will try to avoid phony modesty while also learning to accept compliments gracefully, OK?

UPDATE: That's "Close to You," by that immortal group, The Clams. Check it out.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Still not serious!

I'll be serious, or at least pompous, when I have more time.

In the meantime, I guess I am serious anyway when I say that you should check out The Goddess and Banana, a podcast featuring Yxes de la Croix and Banana Stein. It's fun, light-hearted (though at times not suitable for work if you don't use earphones), and the hosts' affection for each other shines through.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Exercise Your Franchise!


Today those of us in the US in RL vote, so once again I lack the time to wax philosophical... instead, I'll post another image, and hope that you exercise your right to vote today.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Posting on the Run


A Deep Philosophical Post is bubbling in my head, but I don't have time to write it now, not to mention that it involves a nasty double bind...

...so I'll show you what the outfit from the previous shot in Apollo looks like without the flaming skirt.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

SL on NPR

If I remember the blurbs rightly, Second Life is going to be the subject of a segment of Morning Edition tomorrow on NPR. I will keep an eye out for a link to streaming audio of the segment, and add it in an update if I find it.

The $64 question: the blurb goes on about making real money in a virtual environment... will they actually give some idea of what SL is all about? I seriously doubt it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Episode N, where we see what happens when our heroine doesn't read the fine print

This morning I had the Lt. Ilia look down pat. At least I thought I did. With some help, though, I got the nonprim hair back.

The prim elimination was for an announced performance from 2:00 to 4:30 SLT today. What was printed was that "U2 in SL" will be performing. I showed myself to be just the sort of person who thought way back when that "faux diamonds" were some special kind of diamond. I thought U2 was performing in SL.

U2 in SL is a neat virtual group, and they are not responsible for my carelessness. You should catch them when you can, and they were performing for a good cause. I'm glad I went... I made a new friend, got to dance with an old and a new friend, too, and it's hard to beat the music.

Since I had to work hard to come up with the bad joke, I'll repeat it here: I do not dance in RL, where I have the proverbial two left feet. Fortunately, in SL you dance at the prompting of animation scripts. I've started to learn LSL, the scripting language, but haven't gotten very far, so for the time being, when I dance in SL, I move in mysterious ways. (To me at least.) [rim shot]

Inspired Luna Sea


Yesterday, as Mordecai has mentioned, we spent some time at the Luna Sea. He's already described it wonderfully, so I'll confine myself to putting up a photo. Suffice it to say that not all the poseballs are in the buildings.

"Baby's on fire..."


Bling taken to the limit... Ah, well, I won't need to look for a flashlight in SL now.

Seriously, it is a neat effect, and the outfit works nicely even without the outrageous prim skirt, I think.

Taken at midnight in Apollo.

Friday, November 03, 2006

If this be Rapture for the Nerds, then make the most of it...

"I'm a nerd." —Revenge of the Nerds

So, I was listening to the oft-bashed (in some quarters) Mike Oldfield album Earth Moving on the iPod, and started thinking about SL as the last track played:
This town is just a fake,
A place where you can't tell the devil from your brother.
Poisoned every breath you take,
It's just like one nightmare after the other.

You know, it's not too late to leave tomorrow,
'Cause I know where I'm going.

I am building a bridge to Paradise....
(Ironically, yesterday someone with a charming faun avatar, whom I'm sure some fundamentalists would consider Satanic, started a conversation with me—he/she had met someone interested in classical music on SL, and hoped I'd met her, knowing I'm interested in early music. He/she isn't my brother, but is my friend now... and if you're reading, I'm still sorry I left abruptly when another friend offered me a TP!)
This town you can't control,
A place that fascinates, hits you with the drama.
Don't worry now for my soul
'Cause I'm heading for a higher panorama.

You know, it's not too late for you to follow,
'Cause I know where I'm going.

I am building a bridge to Paradise....
I figure that the Singularity is a lot more likely than that original Rapture, and hence is worth working towards... and to counter an argument from someone who went on at great length and with minimal courtesy in a discussion I saw elsewhere, I would argue that it's advantageous overall for some people to actually do something other than care for the less fortunate. If nobody created wealth, then we'd all be equal, all right, but not in a state anyone save perhaps the most rabid "deep ecologists" would want.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Coincidence



There are two photos here; one RL, and one SL. The SL one is me, and the RL one is not, but instead is a lovely young woman who will be finding herself extremely popular due to Digg effect.

It's just about certain... OK, if you have a human avatar it is... that somewhere out there in RL is someone that looks like you. Lots of people in SL make a point of having avatars that look like them, and still others may be inspired by some famous person in RL. I don't fall into either of those categories, and was just surprised to happen across an RL photo that shows a resemblance. (Should I get another pair of glasses? Hmmm....)

Thank you!

To all those who went to the Breast Cancer Awareness Benefit last Sunday, thank you! The event raised $624.71 (that's US dollars) for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm honored...

I succumbed to vanity and went egosurfing yesterday. Most of the entries are there because I have Blogger signing my full name to my posts, and I'm turning out to be awfully chatty here. Some appear because Mordecai (*hug*) mentions me in his blog, and others are to comments I've made here and there. One, though, floored me.

ekzept is the LJ username of Jan Theodore Galkowski. His CV is pretty darned impressive. A bit over a week ago as I type this, he discovered SL, and has set out to see what it's like, and what others there think and want. He's started posting about what he's found, and it's well worth your reading... but I was shocked to read that first entry saying he had set out, for at the end was
i have lots of portraits. stay tuned.

meanwhile, check out the thoughts of some others about SL that i value, like Melissa Yeuxdoux, Tateru Nino, and Wagner James Au.
Anyone who's been on SL for any length of time knows about the delightful and ever-helpful Tateru Nino, and if you aren't reading Wagner James Au's New World Notes, you should.

Being mentioned in the same breath with people such as them is a true honor.

New and Improved!

[I clutch my Strunk and White for reassurance about possessives, and press on...]

Mordecai Scaggs's blog, It's A Scaggs Life!, has undergone remodeling. Now not only is it a source of interesting observations of SL delivered with cheerfully self-deprecating wit, but a sorted collection of worthwhile links to blogs, SL publications, news sites, and more. Do take a look at it.

OK, he does go on about some girl. I personally wonder sometimes whether she's worthy of such attention.

P.S. One heartbreaking entry in Mordecai's blog, written on October 9th during the extended SL downtime, doesn't have the self-deprecating wit. It's an honest look into a life and what SL can mean to one. I still weep when I read it, but it is very much worth reading.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You know you're into SL when... (part 2)

...you're at a RL performance and wonder why you can't move your POV and zoom in.

Thanks to a friend, I went to see and hear the San Jose Taiko. They are phenomenal; if you ever have a chance to see them, do so!

I sat there, enthralled by the sound...and then I wanted a closer look. What? My eyes can't move or pan and don't have 20x zoom built in? What kind of avatar is this, anyway? Humph!

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Moth Ascending


At Dazzle's big sale a while back, I bought quite a bit... including one pale green dress with a high Empire style waistline that I like a lot. Afterward, I happened to see one of those sleeping pill ads that has the luna moth sailing through it as a sort of visual motif...and realized that I should seek out a pair of luna moth wings to go with the dress.

Well... I happened to meet a beautiful fairy one day, and asked her where I might find such wings. She gave me some (and more besides). They worked out even better than I hoped.

Now, had things stopped there, I'd be happy... but I noticed the fairy online this morning, thanked her again, and asked if I might show her how they'd turned out. I could, and did, and she complimented me (a compliment to be cherished, coming from someone with her sense of style!) and suggested that the backs be made slightly translucent and the fronts made to glow a bit. I said I'd experiment. I did...with bizarre results.

I will try to get it right...but she took pity on me, modified a pair, and gave them to me yet again. So, now I am not happy; I'm ecstatic. Herewith, a photo taken at midnight in the Lost Gardens of Apollo.

(And thank you again, dear lady!)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Be There Now (apologies to Baba Ram Dass)

I'm remiss in not saying a thing about today's series of shows at the Mill Pond for breast cancer awareness. Check it out; the musicians are fine and the cause is a good one.

Here's a snapshot of me (with hair appropriate to the occasion), getting there way early (I keep forgetting about SLT vs. CST, and the switch back from Daylight Savings has me off-kilter, too). Come pack the place.

Two SL experiences

One creepy, one wonderful. I'd forgotten about the creepy one until the wonderful one this morning, so I present both for the contrast.

Part One: Creepy Encounter

I rezzed in New Citizens Plaza one morning perhaps a month ago, and there appeared a stunningly dressed woman, who proceeded to strike up a conversation with me.

Had I seen the movie The Stepford Wives, she asked. No, neither of them, but I'd heard of them (and the novel), and knew the outline of the plot. As it turned out, she was in a group that modeled themselves on the Stepford Wives: they would improve the appearance of new members, and the members, well, acted as Stepford Wives. Was I interested?

No. (Didn't they get that The Stepford Wives was a horror story?) Ah, but we can improve your appearance, she said. I declined again, politely I hope, but then started to walk away.

"Your [breasts] are too far apart" was her parting shot... or what became it, because I immediately muted her. (I like my [breasts] where they are, thank you very much!)

It still creeps me out to think about it.

Part Two: Pay It Forward

This morning I showed up at New Citizens Plaza, as I still often do, and amidst the general conversation and jocularity, a woman appeared who was quite beautifully dressed—not, I hasten to add, in the ostentatious manner of the aforementioned woman, but subtly and elegantly. I complimented her on her clothing, and she mentioned that she found it at a store that was having an amazing sale, and did anyone wish to go shopping with her?

Well... such is my SL weakness. I said "yes," and a few of us went off to shop. Outfits at the store (Pixel Doll, if memory serves) were going for 50 L$ each, and she promptly gave us 100 L$ each. I protested that she didn't need to do that, and thanks to the aforementioned creepy experience, I must regrettably admit that I wondered what was going on... but she explained that someone had done her a great favor, and she was passing it on. At her urging, I got a skin and an outfit (and also bought some new eyes on my own).

(I will skip over my flying into the ceiling and unceremoniously falling two floors, OK? Fortunately, in SL that only hurts one's dignity.)

We had a wonderful time... and then she took us to a hair store and wanted to buy us a hairdo each. We each bought hair...and she left us happy and dazed by the speed at which it all happened.

I'll not name her, for fear that someone might read this and bother her... but I want to publicly thank her, for the clothing of course, but far more for the reminder of the joy of giving. I'm in your debt, friend... and will pay it forward. (Perhaps the Rambam was nudging people in that direction with his hierarchy of charitable acts.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Curious domain names

You've heard about them, of course. Powergen decides to set up shop in Italy, so Powergen Italia has a web site with domain name powergenitalia.com. (OK...some say it's a spoof, and snopes.com confirms it. I looked just now and saw an "under construction" page. Life imitates, um, something.) Once while looking for a fellow I knew who did a fencing act at Renaissance fairs, I found that he was mentioned on a site called the Actors Exchange... yup, actorsexchange.com. (Isn't that an awfully limited clientele?) That web site is gone now... but I saw it with my own two eyes, no FOAF action here.

Yesterday, I read about a very good blog that a gentleman has set up
. Alas for me, it's in French, and I must shamefacedly admit to not knowing any more of the language with a distinguished history as the language of diplomacy, philosophy, science, and belles lettres than I have picked up at random by singing Machaut and de la Halle. It's called the "SL Observer," and after the setup, you already know the domain name: www.slobserver.com, reminiscent of the old joke:

Diner: Do you serve crabs here?
Waiter: Lady, we serve everybody. [rim shot]

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I become a virtual extra

I was catching the weekly Open Mic session at the Hummingbird Café when an IM went out asking for people to pose dressed as prison guards. I figured what the heck, and said "yes."

I was offered a teleport to the set, and once I got there received a prison guard outfit and an animation. I didn't go with the prison guard body, but did try the hair. It was short, but not a buzz cut, and blonde. (I'd like to think I had the Leslie Easterbrook look going on...) We posed, and the shots were taken.

The results are in the October 26th On Second Thought. There's a cast photo at the end; I'm one of the ones still in the pose.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Paris

"In France they kiss on Main Street/
Amour, mama, not cheap display..."

I must admit to not having looked around very much, but I didn't see a Main Street in New Paris. Sorry, Joni.

Despite that, I had a time too wonderful for words. To whoever is responsible for New Paris: my eternal thanks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Save Svarga

If, like me, you don't regularly visit New World Notes, an excellent blog of news about SL, do two things:
  1. Correct that. (I will.)
  2. While you're there, read the item for Wednesday, October 18th.
Why #2? Because Svarga, an amazing SL ecosystem, is at risk. Please read, visit, and do what you can. (Here's another link to an article on Svarga.)

I'm where?

I saw an announcement of a Victorian clothing contest. I have Vic—well, Edwardian—clothing. Sounds like fun, and there's a prize for the winner!

Off to change clothes, and then I teleport to the event site. There's music, and dancing, and some very elegantly attired people, including the DJ in a dashing men's suit.

I don't win, but it's great fun, and immediately after, there's a competition for clothing in fall colors. I change piece by piece, no doubt causing some hilarity for those present, into the outfit I have on in this entry in Mordecai's blog. I dance
on until I decide I'd best sleep...

...and then notice the name of the establishment that I'm in: Club Coitus. Actually, Club Coitus II.

I hasten to add that nothing untoward happened, and all present were courteous. I had a wonderful time...but I was certainly startled!

P.S. Eventually, I guess I will have to spend some time in the dressing room, putting on each outfit and saving the configuration so I can change with a single drag-and-drop. One thing I did learn from the experience: evidently there's no taboo against changing outfits in public if it can all be done at once without the intermediate unclothed stage that is necessary in RL.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More Fun with Perspective



I went out to the beach this morning, and thought I'd take some pictures... and got very silly in very short order.

First, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Melissa, Part Two. I couldn't get close enough to my feet to get really extreme perspective. (Sigh.)

On the towel catching some (mercifully ineffective) rays: this picture made me wonder whether there's such a thing as having legs that are too long. After a second, the feeling passed.

P.S. It's hard to do a serious worm's eye view... it's way too easy to zoom off into oblivion with no good way to get back.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sunset in the Lost Gardens of Apollo


The Lost Gardens of Apollo is one of the most beautiful places I've seen in SL, and I was lucky enough to get this photo of sunset there. It's taken from a striking bench with tusks at each end that is positioned scarily near the water's edge. I've fallen in at least twice, and once you're under, it evidently is impossible to fly out...so keep a convenient landmark to teleport to. (But don't make it right by the bench! I left SL while on the bench, and then went back, only to find myself in the midst of people who were gathered there. I apologized profusely... but I'm still embarrassed.)

This place is best enjoyed with company. Oh, yes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I suppose it should be expected...

Someone's trying to run a pyramid scam in SL.

I didn't take a snapshot...aside from the one that went with the abuse report. It's a little pyramid with a dollar bill texture, and I found this particular one sitting around in New Citizens Plaza. Click on it, and you get the SL version of the standard instructions.

I'm not sure whether the goal is to make the originator L$ or to pollute SL with myriad little pyramids. Maybe it's both.

You und
erstand that these schemes don't work, and why, right? (If not, check out the appropriate Wikipedia entry.)

I hope this is nipped in the bud.

Seacliff (graphics-intensive!)



I'm hard pressed to rank the scenic places I've seen in SL, but if you were to insist, Seacliff would probably be at the top. It has lush greenery (some of which you might recognize! more later...), and many places from which to enjoy it, often suspended high in the air.

(Alas, Blogger isn't letting me intersperse images and text, so the images are all going to be together. And previewing it, I see that I was truer than I knew... so I dare not show you the balloon from close up.)

The seating is a delightful surprise. People more familiar with botany than I am (help me, dear!) can tell you what plant inspired them; I just think I remember seeing a picture of it once.

One thing I do know, and fellow former OS/2 users have probably already noticed and are chuckling by now... look closely at the ground beneath my feet. OS/2 users will recognize it as some of the stock wallpaper that came with the operating system!

Whatever your operating system, do visit Seacliff.

You can get anything in SL...


Of course! [slaps head] If you can get tattoos in SL, why not cleavage?

(Mustn't imitate Yakov Smirnov...)

Please find attached a photo of me, with new cleavage. (I should've thought to wear a pendant. Maybe in an update.)

UPDATE: I couldn't decide...so they're both here. The images aren't all that big, so I indulged my vanity a bit.

We all agree that the blogosphere will be a better place if not all things available in SL are demonstrated, so I won't. Not that I'd even go there anyway.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

First SL Dream

Well...I had my first SL dream this morning. Like many of my dreams, it was fragmentary and surreal; I've tried lucid dreaming but haven't had any real luck.

I dreamed I was in a large hall, at some kind of reception or party. People were all around, chatting with one another. A woman there was at least fifteen feet tall, and I remember wishing I were that tall.

Hmmm. If there's any deep meaning there, I don't see it. (Just as well; I don't think I want to know any meaning of the dream I had long ago in which Wayne Newton appeared.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Speaking of music...

...this morning on CBS TV there was a segment of the Sunday Morning program about Sting and the new CD of John Dowland songs he and Edin Karamazov have recorded, Songs from the Labyrinth. It wasn't in SL, so I couldn't take snapshots! >sob<>, as others might for his other work. :)

P.S. Many thanks to Mordecai for letting me know about this CD a week or so ahead of time. I had no idea Sting was doing any such thing.

Live Music in Your PJs (OK, you're in your PJs...)


Long ago, royalty could afford to hire live-in musicians.

For a long time, the rest of us got to hear what musicians happened by, or more often, what we could come up with on our own.

The amateur music tradition largely died off over time, perhaps thanks to technology that let most anyone listen to recorded music at will. Now we're mostly consumers of music—patrons, in a sense, like the royalty of old. (Indeed, Todd Rundgren is trying to bring the notion back more literally with the (lamentably lacking a Linux version) PatroNet.)

This morning, I felt a bit more like that royalty—not that I had a musician at my beck and call, but that thanks to SL, I was alerted to and could attend a live musical performance at 7:00 a.m. my time.

The musician: Jaynine Scarborough, a beautiful alto (in all senses) and guitarist. That's her in the snapshot, taken in the gorgeous setting of Venna where the impromptu concert took place. If you have any chance whatsoever to hear her, take advantage of it.

Where but in SL?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cybernetic dreams

Cybernetic dreams, Nimue Galatea's blog, is in my list of links. It is full of interesting information and insightful advice. Do visit it.

"She's suddenly beautiful..."

Through SL, I have met many wonderful people, and I'm sure I'll meet many more as time goes on—but the unique gift of SL is the chance to be beautiful. Yes, I know that beauty isn't confined to the conventional notion thereof, but anyway, thanks, Linden Labs.

For Loui

Tonight I met a gentleman from Northern Ireland who expressed an interest in learning about computers, and about Linux. I was a bit amazed at how long he listened to me talk about it.

In any case, he lost the suggestions I made to him, and I promised I'd enter them here. I beg the indulgence of those already familiar with the subject matter.

  • You can download an "ISO" file that contains a Linux "live CD' version and burn it to CD, with the resulting CD being bootable. When it boots, it will run Linux and not touch your hard drive unless you tell it to, so you can try Linux out without interfering with an existing Windows installation. There are a lot of these distributions, some that will fit on a CD, some that need a DVD, and some that will fit on a flash drive. I personally recommend Ubuntu Linux, but there are a lot of them, all with their advantages and disadvantages. distrowatch.com has many articles and reviews of Linux distributions.
  • If you run Linux, you can set your computer up to "dual boot" so that you can choose either Linux or Windows when you start the computer. Alternatively, if you have a lot of RAM, you can run Windows on a "virtual machine" under Linux using other packages like VMware. (You need a Windows license to do either, which you presumably have if you're already running Windows.)
  • If you continue to run Windows, for safety's sake, run under an account without administrative privileges unless you absolutely need those privileges. Unfortunately, the history of Windows has meant that a lot of companies that make software for Windows are lazy, and needlessly do things in ways that require administrative privileges. Even "run as" doesn't always work.
  • If you continue to run Windows, by all means stop using Internet Explorer; it's like wearing a big "kick me" sign on your back. Run Firefox or Opera.
  • Google turns up well over a million hits when one looks for "Northern Ireland" and "computer user group". I'm sure there is a lot of overlap there, but find one near you and attend the meetings.
  • There is a huge amount of instructional material online. You needn't take classes to learn about computers, though it may help.

Second Life Imitates Art

It's a little bit early in the year, but check out SecondCast #37, "Rock Eating Birds." It's a cleverly done SL version of the Mercury Theater on the Air's famous Halloween broadcast of an adaptation of War of the Worlds.

All I can say is, next time I'm on the grid, I'm searching for Yoyodyne Propulsion Labs, and checking how many SL-ers are named John.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Second Love?

In some ways, it's too easy to fall for someone in SL.

You're together only for short intervals, and on your best behavior. There's no need to worry about bodily sounds, odors, or emissions. One's avatar may take time to rez, but it won't fall ill. Kind of like grandparents, who can visit the grandchildren for short intervals and needn't be around when the diapers need changing or the flu strikes—none of the tests that real love will survive.

OTOH, can't one say that about the initial rounds of dating in RL? Does one's true self eventually show through in SL, just as it does in RL?

I wish I knew, and I wish I felt I could live up to what others think of me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Wearin' my mask...YAY! Lookin' like a bear... yay.

Here I am as a raccoon, dancing away in Luskwood.

I like my human avatar. (I take that back. I love my human avatar.) Excursions in fur, therefore, won't be common for me. It is fun, though, to see the world from a different point of view. (Not to mention the differences in others' behavior. A 4'5" busty raccoon doesn't receive the attention that a 7'2" busty, leggy redheaded human gets. Why would that be, I wonder?)

Actually, people with furry avatars have my respect just for the practical and logistical considerations. The tail uses the same component as some clothing, and it's another thing to have to keep track of and animate. Then there are the larger-than-human avatars, such as dragons—I imagine those have to be constructed from whole cloth.

(Title from the demented classic, "The Raccoon Song" by Jan Hobson and her Bad Review.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Fear of Barbie

Looking at the SL forums, "Barbie" appears to be quite the insult. (For that matter, I guess it is in RL, too.)

One school of thought appears to be that because you can control your appearance in SL, it's reasonable to judge you by it. That strikes me as uncomfortably close to "She was asking for it by the way she dressed."

I'm torn. I would like to avoid being judged a "Barbie"... but I like being tall and slender, and having long legs, and—let's be honest!—large breasts, and in SL, I can. I revel in it! I don't think I should have to apologize for that. On the other hand, there's not a single official beautiful body shape, and I've seen a wide variety of beautiful or handsome people in SL, even if they don't think of themselves that way (*cough* Mordecai *cough*). Thank goodness.

Actually, I wonder whether imperfections will become prized in SL, like tea ceremony vessels that contain intentional deviations from "perfect" form or symmetry?

(Now, of course, I'll start second guessing myself about blog posts, and worrying about whether I'm just showing off in choices of example or reference—"Ha! A Barbie wouldn't mention the Problem of Evil, now would she?" But that way lies paralysis and self-censorship, and I do enough of that in RL. Must not go that way.)

So...dust off your IDIC and wear it proudly. Can't we all just get along?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Omphalos, or "Do I have a navel?"

Only on SL question #2...

I've been on SL over a month, and aside from one brief experiment with a bikini, I've not dared show my midriff until today.
I know, it makes no sense; on SL, everyone can be beautiful... but there it is.

So, I used the top from one outfit, but didn't care for the short shorts—not with a word across the back. I've never understood why anyone would wear clothes that paste a word across one's backside.

Anyway, I put on some faded blue jeans, and headed out into the virtual world... and had a very good time indeed (thank you again, Mordecai!). At one point I went for the mobile cam POV, and thought I noticed something—or didn't notice it.

Back in the 19th century, a fellow named Philip Gosse wrote a book titled Omphalos, the Greek word for navel. He was trying to salvage creationism after Charles Darwin proposed his famous theory, and argued that God created the world just as if it had evolved--Adam and Eve had navels, even though they had never been attached to a mother's umbilical cord, etc. It was blown off by the religious and skeptics alike, the former because it implied that God is a cosmic liar.

Thoughts of Gosse and of Barbara Eden, whose navel remained unexposed throughout the run of I Dream of Jeannie thanks to NBC Broadcast Standards, zipped through my head, and I asked "Do I have a navel?" Had I given voice to the question, it would have been quite plaintive.

I was assured that I did indeed have a navel, and much panning and zooming persuaded me of it. (Innie or outie? Hard to tell; it was just a dot even at high magnification.) OTOH, I do wear a skin. Do new users have navels? I wonder...

...but it occurs to me that this is the archetypal waste of time, as I am contemplating... no, I can't say it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What's in a name?

Back when I had to choose a name, I looked over the list of surnames and was immediately struck by "Yeuxdoux." (Someone at LL is a philosopher; I've seen a "Quine" in SL.) It seemed so cute I had to choose it.

I know very little French; most of it's picked up by singing Machaut virelais and rondeaux and a few other French Renaissance-era songs (e.g. "Belle qui tiens ma vie"), along with the very dangerous game (as any Spanish speaker faced with the Portuguese janela can tell you)
of guessing based on what I know of other Romance languages...so I parsed it as "sweet eyes" (isn't "doux" the plural of "douce" as in Machaut's "Douce dame jolie", vide billets-doux? Hmmm. Maybe it's the masculine). Others on SL have said "soft eyes," and indeed Google's translation seems to render it thus.

Googling "yeux doux" turns up "faire les yeux doux," variously rendered "to look amourously [at someone]" or "make {goo-goo, sheep (?!?)} eyes [at someone]".

Perhaps I should have done all that Googling before choosing the name, but I still like it.