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.

"Dream...do you dream?"

LL has gotten rid of non-technical forums, it seems, so I'll just raise the question here. (I know of at least two people other than me who read it... Hi, Mordecai and Celebrity!)

I've barely been in SL a month, and I have yet to dream that I'm in SL. I am sure it will happen someday (and there are some times in SL I'd very much like to re-experience in a dream, where the UI is more capable if not totally under one's control), but I'm curious about what others have experienced. (And I hope that I don't have a recurring dream of the sort I had in college, where I was hours late for a lecture, headed there anyway for some insane reason, and wearing only my underwear.)

So, as the title asks: do you ever dream you're in some area of SL? (The title is from the lyrics of CSN's "In My Dreams," BTW.)

Speaking of dreaming... a photo, trying to recreate a virtual night spent in a lovely building with rugs and pillows there to lie upon. This is intended to be sunrise afterwards.

Not SL-related, but...

Check out the solar-powered dress. It's built up of small circuit boards that are networked to a control unit on back, solar powered, and has LEDs that light up. It sounds like it has a WiFi connection.

(ObSL: I suppose one could construct a work-alike, but suspect it would take a lot of prims...)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

sl.me.com revisited

It still loops endlessly... but, you can go to just plain me.com, and sign on. Not bad, but they have some very annoying popups that urge you to fill in various items in your profile, or to chat, etc. Grumble, grumble.

Worst of all, when I tried it this morning, it insisted that I install Flash version 8. This Linux user would love to, but Adobe/Macromedia haven't yet seen fit to release a new version of Flash; we're still stuck with version 7.

(Hmmm... I should see whether some SL tailor has a version of the BSD daemon outfit that one young woman wore to a conference.)

Suspension of disbelief

As nice as SL is, in a few years we'll look back and wonder at its primitiveness. Despite that, I just had a lesson in how one can be drawn into it.

On Serenity Island, a bit down the path from the teleport target, slightly past the bench the pigeons hang around, there's a small building with pillows and blankets one can lie upon, and sheer curtains that resemble mosquito netting. In the background one can hear crickets and birds and the occasional wolf (which makes me shiver) and breeze (ditto), and if you have the music turned on, there's tasteful instrumental and vocal music. I recommend turning the music down so that both it and the sound effects are audible.

I'm sitting in RL on a too-short, not terribly comfortable folding chair; the other chair broke, and money's a bit tight... but my avatar is lying comfortably on soft pillows in the depths of SL night, crickets chirping, the theme from Harry's Game playing, and the best of company (Hi, Mordecai!). My actual self is relaxing. I wish I could stay for a day or two.

In the words of the old movie cliché, "Thanks. I needed that."