We share our thoughts, discuss our adventures, and engage in a bit of amateur sociology which is not as boring as you think. Our current mission is to find a language that makes a virtual baby in particular and Second Life in general legitimate to outsiders, and which lets us share our joy without glossing over issues. That is probably mission impossible.
This blog is in two voices. Iyoba does most of the writing because she is "on the ground" in Second Life. She knows how rare rain is on her skin, and she is not afraid to fall off a three story building. She hates falling through soft spots. She can afford to have a conscience. She shares most of my memories but she really does sometimes think for herself and can pretty much write about anything except some things that I share with her.
By contrast, I pay the bills. Iyoba calls me the One Who Thinks She Knows and refers to humans generally as Ones for short. A better title for me would be One Who Has to Self Censor. Such is life. Not everything is bloggable. I am also The One Who is RUTHLESS and stuck with the tough decisions. That is a wonderful responsibility, but it does not inherently make me better than my cats, my turtle, or Iyoba. Being powerful puts you on top, but remember " real life" is sometimes a sewer, but not Second Life, unless I bring the ugliness inworld with me.
My job is to discuss where Second Life interfaces with the "real world." That means money, race, gender issues, time management, and the uncanny valley, and maybe some human-technology issues. Iyoba's ground level perceptions fill in the language and words I can't always find. She is an avie and does not have to justify herself to Ones. That she exists at all and has a voice speaks for itself. To help keep things straight, I use this color on the blog when I write as myself.
Petrichor does not have a voice because he is able to communicate, but not able to talk or write yet. He is after all just a baby. The same goes for our Zwickies, KoLis, and my cats, turtle, grocery cart, cell phone, and computers in "real life." Iyoba and I have to speak for all of them.
And yes there is an RSS Feed.
This blog entry did not want to be written. This time it was Second Life that got in the way. Arond the time when my One and I wanted to contrast how trust lives in Second Life, with the waste and thievery that goes on when other people's money (It is nearly always other people's money), particularly grant awarders and tax payers' money is involved. And of course, Second Life, refused to cooperate. I returned to bushwhacking and found useful place after place as Petrichor and I rode our Little Red Adobe Engine that could around Heterocera on the SLRR. Then OSU cleaned up their two sims and chased the griefers back to the filthy rock beneath which they hide. I was even able to use the sandbox to make a new dress, which is what you see in the picture.
The truth be told, Second Life has always been full of road side attractions that teach and show creativity and art to anyone walking by. Boogers just appeared and yes, it's a store selling some very innovative, scripted items, but the giant nose and snot colored islands are art in the great tradition of Fountain. Of course if the store on Boogers can't pay the rent, it's toast, and maybe that is not so bad.
Is it worse to pay rent and then leave a project to rot. Central Texas College's library nearly disappeared from the grid along with the rest of its sim, but someone scraped the rent together, or rather the rent comes from a combination of tuition, student fees, perhaps grant money, and definitely state and federal taxes. And the money buys nothing but tier. The library needs a revision. Intute, the database with a connecting object in the picture no longer exists and hasn't for over five years.
Then there is the forever unfinished emergency room ward on AS Costa del Sol. No one has even bothered to buy sculpties or mesh to give this bot a makeover, or failing that at least install a current notecard giver with an up to date card or even a simple touch and say script. Did the money run out? There is still money to pay for the tier. This time the good citizens of Andulasia, Spain foot the bill with the heftiest share going to students, whose tuition Euros and student feels are hard at work, to borrow a cliche from my One Who Thinks She Knows, and with apologies to Syracuse University, which hasn't had a sim in Second Life in at least five years.
Meanwhile, other academic sims go unused. These student posters have sat empty for over a year on Cibola, which is a beautiful build. Except for the unfinished aquarium and these posters that are in three locations on the island, the good folks in the foreign language departments at Arizona State University almost deserve a pat on the back. Why a class never used these is beyond me. Did the money run out? Did the faculty member in charge leave? Did a grant get used up? All I know is someone keeps paying rent for unused space, and the someone is students and taxpayers.
Meanwhile Towson Innovation Lab, a former Only the Best/Do It Better sim is neglected and unusuable. The art there dates from several years ago. An office development sits half built with the finest store bought furniture floating in mid-air. There are often as few as no prims free for the sandbox and sometimes as many as three. There used to be a bowling alley. It would take an afternoon's worth of autoreturn and setting land permissions decently, including autoreturn, to fix this sim, and then new classes could use it...or those who own it could abandon it. There is a good chance that University of Maryland Towson campus, pays more than market rent for an educational sim $1800/year (or $3600 if the old rate is grandfathered in). NMC uses the prestige of its name to charge more than that. Of coruse usless Innovation Lab. We know who does.
And Delgado Regents and atleast one of its sister sims have been waiting for their first students for several years. Unlike on Cibola, Delgado Regents has yet to host its first class, and it still needs furniture, presentation boards, etc... to compliment its lovely build. The build has sat unfurnished for at least three years. To make matters worse the Regents in Delgado Regents' name is the Louisiana Board of Regents. They rent four or five sims where remarkably little happens on at least two of them. You can guess who pays for all of this. Is this getting old yet.
At last Lousianna tax payers can walk around Delgado Regents and similar sims. Move a few steps on ECU II and several other East Carolina University sims and you can see the results in the illustration above. Some sims allow a small sliver of access. Others in the East Carolina University archipelago are completely off limits. Taxpayers ought to at least be able to see a neglected, half built, or unused sim that they pay for, but in North Carolina that is not the case.
Of course East Carolina University might have something to hide on a neglected sim, but Southern Cross University shows its signs of simple neglect for all the world to see. I found this vandalized board on SCU3. Most projects on the the three ilsand group date from several years ago. A food pyramid poster is at least four years old. Much of the furniture is pre-mesh and presculpty. In Australia there are tax payers footing the bill.
My One Who Thinks She Knows least favorite waster of public funds, however is Seminole Island 10. It is my One's least favorite of the bunch because those who built it don't waste tuition dollars. Instead nearly all this ten island archipelago's funding comes from either the county, state, or federal government because it is a school district doing the damage, and the damage consists of at least six sims that are both unused at ground level (The map does not show what goes on above the cloud line.) and off limits to those who pay for them.
And yes these are old stories. My One is unsure how much wanton waste and abuse happens with academic sims. It is possible to find excellent ones, and possible to find waste because waste bothers my One no end. My One is also unsure how much waste is too much. Is it one and ten sims gone bad? Is it one in five, or one in three? Most of the waste is less than $10,000 per year, but that number is only small in relative terms. Compared to the three and four dollar payments or even what my One spent lifetime on Petable Turtles or Lily Frogs, it is an order of magnitude larger. Compared to a typical Second Life consumer complaint, it is several orders of magnitude larger. Usually the wasted tier could buy office supplies, travel expenses, etc... My One says that if those who give out grant money watch the sims they pay for, and schools loosen up who can do what among their faculty or students so at least the space gets used. Maybe schools oeverextend themselves. Maybe the accounting is just sloppy. It is not sloppy among those who pay their own way. If you can't pay your rent in Second Life...
Iyoba BatOnio and Eileen H. Kramer -- February 27, 2017
I want to write about the squatters in the skies above Marriott Library, but my One Who Thinks She Knows says "not yet." She's not ready. She says it's complicated. She says she has been in contact with a librarian at the University of Utah and since we are going through channels, naming and shaming is pointless and cruel. At the same time, she has some strange emotions toward the squatters. "We don't know the whole story, Iyoba," she tells me, and then she gets sadder than usual, so I have to leave it there. Maybe some day we will tell the story, even if we only know part of it.
The story of squatters is a variation on the theme of trust broken and shattered like expensive crystal under careless feet or packaged provisions after the rats and cockroaches have had their fill. It's an old story in Second Life. Educational institutions that pay for sims they have left to rot also betray trust, wasting between $1800 and $3600 per year in student tuition money and federal and state aid (Your tax dollars, all you Ones out there!) and/or property taxes. Those who use grant money to have fun with prims steal. It's chump change compared to the Federal government budget, but it is also several car payments, a mortgage payment, several rent pahyments, an insurance deductible, enough copies to supply a class with handouts, or send more than one faculty members to a conference. Done to excess, this kind of waste and theft costs jobs.
Of course academic institutions and grant recipients are not the only ones to abscond with and misuse funds in Second Life. Second Life is in some ways preCapitalist, and has zero consumer protection. I am never going to see the 400L ($1.60) my One gave to Crystal/Sinister Smiles for the ill-fated school on Lyrics. She couldn't make rent. She has "real life" issues. I've lost money on other retail arrangements for all kinds of reasons. Then there are the breedables: These require an ongoing committment, from both the owner and the individuals that run the server. Sometimes those individuals pull the plug in an orderly way, and other times they just vanish.
And yet we do trust. My One and I have had Zwickies for four or five years. I become Petrichor's mother sixteen months ago. My One Who Thinks She Knows insists that Zooby has been in business forever, and the Zwickies were grandfathered in.
But somehow, when Petrichor learned to talk, he talked about rabbits or rather "wabbits." It did not help that we visited UBS Tech and saw bunnies hopping around. Petrichor was hooked and so was I. My One was torn. Her heart was hard and scarred. Trust was and still is an issue for both of us.
You can guess what happened. "Welcome back," said Mr. Spider Magic, owner of UBS Tech. That encapsulates it right there. We purchased five rabbits from UBS Tech and one from a gatcha outside the Magic of Oz Main Store. A gatcha is short for gatchapon, a Japanese word meaning gumball machine or if you are not a certain age, vending machine. It's name comes from the sound it makes when you turn the silver crank to get your gumball. Fiorio, the rabbit with the sweater came from a Second Life version of a gumball machine.
Our other rabbits all came from UBS Tech where we could select our breed which explains why we have so many retired fur colors and patterns in our starter rabbits. Besides Fiorio, the gatcha rabbit in a sweater (He is an "elite" though he won't transmit that ugly sweater to his progeny), we have (in order of appearance): Burl, a peat speckle; Solomon an aphotic (gray shade) English blue spot with lop ears; Cunegonde a black and tan (retired fur) with a sunlight shade that kind of makes her glow and lop ears; and Hepsibah an aphotic (gray shade) amanite snowbell (also retired) with blue eyes. I purposefully chose realistic colors and patterns. I wanted rabbits that looked like rabbits.
Ozimal's of course don't fully duplicate biological, "real world" rabbits. No bunny owner in his right mind would feed "real life" rabbits cup cakes. This falls in with the fantasy, Oz theme. It's a bit squicky. My One has made some grass for the rabbits, thinking that our Ozimal's rabbits at least have some "real life" rabbit spirit in them somewhere.
Ozimal's rabbits also DON'T really reproduce like rabbits. Yes, there are a lot of offspring on this shelf at UBS Tech, but each "nest" as the baskets are called holds only a single offspring, and the breeding cycle of eleven to twelve days is long for a typical Second Life breedable. Zwickies cycle every eight days, and Petable turtles laid three eggs every four days. The reason you see lots of nests on the shelf in the photo is that this pair of Tapira rabbits has their movement turned off and the nests just pile up. Ozimals rabbits also do not mate (unlike Petable Turtles and Zwickies).
Personally, I believe that part of the fun of breedables is letting them move and watching them. If you wait twelve days for nests or eight days for zwicklets in stasis, you are going to rip out your hair in hunks as you wait. Also it feels more kind-hearted to have hopping bunnies and flying Zwickies. Here are some rabbits at UBS Tech that can hop around. They are mostly elites, painted and unrealistic. There is one oversize specimen. I am happy with what I have. So far Fiorio, Burl, Solomon, Cunegonde, and Hepsibah have produced three batches of nests. Sometimes the rabbits hop into the Sprinkler Tinkler Random Fountain, which I turn on just for fun (See the picture of Fiorio being showered with avocados above). The store is open. The food is plentiful. The servers are on. It is a beautiful thing when trust works.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- February 21, 2017
It feels good to recommend a site. It feels good even when the site is an also-ran for the Only the Best/Do It Better Roster. And yes, that illustration looks so enticing! How could you not include Delacruz Park!!! Delacruz Park is so fantastic in so many ways!
And that is an understatement! It is an amusement park and recreation area packed, with thrills, spills, and chills. It is also a show room for Delacruz Technologies' many toys which include this waterslide. It was winter when Petrichor and I visited the park, so we didn't use it, but you can see its beauty for yourself.
But Delacruz Park's greatest attraction besides a pretty good parachute ride, bumper cars, and a roller coaster and ferris wheel are the rideables, including this hang glider which is among the easiest to control. You can fly all over the island all day long and not end up with a nose dive on the beach or flying upside down on the bottom of the sea. The details of stripes and bamboo also add a lovely touch.
What brought Petrichor and me to Delacruz Park was the bungee jump. The setting is breath taking, and we think that this was where this ride was invented. I enjoyed climbing the cliff and walking across the natural stone bridge to reach it, and it didn't swing us out at an odd angle. We did miss the flamingoes that populated the bungee jump at Morrill. Delacruz Park helped assuage our grief.
What surprized me most about my last visit, however, was this simple canoe ride. We already knew Delacruz Park was a walkable sim. You can climb the cliffs and find hang gliders, water slides, and that wonderful Bungee jump. You can explore a Myan pyramid and make friends with a dragon, but wherever you go there are stairs, no soft spots and even the water between the cliffs is acessible.
So why didn't Delacruz Park make the Do it Better/Only the Best Roster? The answer is one word: COMPETITION. Black Basalt Beach offers good walking trails and a friendly attitude. You can ride the trains at Central Station, and when it comes to amusement park rides, those at Master's Park have more detail and imagination, and there are simply more of them. Master's Park wins a spot on the Do It Better Roster, but visit Delacruz Park too.
Now for those of you who keep up with this blog, you will remember that we both had concerns about Master's Park's financial stability. It could vanish in the night or broad daylight for that matter.
Let's just say my One Who Thinks She Knows decided that being burnt toast when you can't pay your rent in Second Life is not the worst thing that can happen. What is far worse in her eyes, and that is an understatement, is taking taxpayer funds and/or student technology fees to pay rent on a sim while letting it degrade to death. Now with all due respect, a librarian from the "real life" Marriott Library said that the university no longer paid rent for the Marriott Library sim, and he had no idea that it still existed.
It still exists, and it is there whether, Linden Labs has had "mercy" on the University of Utah for a beautiful build, or whether someone in an administrative office quietly ok'd an $1800 charge to Linden Labs. The result is the same and it is sad. Click on the thumbnail of a landmark touchpad, one of six in a lovely outdoor pavillion on Marriott Library. Four of the six landmarks featured no longer exist. The update for something like this is a ten minute job once you have the textures made and uploaded.
Worse yet, in the Knowledge Commons, there are link givers that lead to dead pages (The library web site received a revision and no one remembered to change the link givers), and outdated announcements. Again this is a basic fix, and last but not least, the FreeView Youtube shower in the Ski Archive, which by the way is now obsolete, has not worked in years. There is more on Marriott Library that needs fixing, but my One says this blog has done enough damage. My One and I rent land. We revise our build, feed our breedables, and pay our rent. It would be nice if the University of Utah did the same using taxpayer money, especially since they have such a fine build on Marriott Library.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- February 15, 2017
The crisis about which my One Who Thinks She Knows wants me divulging no details finally consumed this blog. This is such a big crisis that neither my One nor I feel bad about the silence. Excrement happens, and excrement needs some explaining. First, the One is gainfully employed and in good standing. She is not wanted in a court of law as a plaintiff, witness or defendent. She is also in reasonably good health. I'm afraid that is all I can tell you. She wants to keep this blog going. That's what's important. A rabbi even told her not to give up Second Life.
She even played Second Life at her mother's house in Hartsdale, New York. Here I am setting up the school at Crystal Heights. If you look at the image in the link, you will see that the school is gone. Crystal Heights occupied the southern half of Lyrics. If you are used to Second Life you can guess what happened. Nearly all rentals in Second Life are one car accident, one set of computer troubles, or one health emergency away from eviction and leaking rent for the landlord. Near Stinky Stinky Has Moved Again, my landlord has three vacant parcels a bit less than twenty percent of the island leaking rent. Sinister/Crystal, the school's landlord, rented from one of the big estate managers, rented weekly, with no cushion. If you can't pay your rent in Second Life.... And yes, I have suggested we meet at some third spot, just to hang out.
We don't need a build to role play. It's nice to have space to rezz objects and animals and prim babies but it's not mandatory. Crystal Heights could surely benefit from Oldenburg's Third Place/Space. That, however, is unlikely to happen Mark Stephen Meadows introduced my One and me to the concept of three types of players of virtual games/worlds. There are those who want to win. Those who want to understand, and those who form relationships. My One and I fall into the second group. We build. We explore. Crystal/Sinister may fall into the third group. Being a builder/explorer has its advantages, because we can do things on the cheap. We need fewer prims. We substitute human and avie capital for the kind that sits in a typical One's purse or bank account. And if you're interested in the picture, this is a one of a kind build, the underground water tunnels beneath Sapporo.
Alas, Sapporo is no longer much of a Third Place/Space. About one eighth of the island sits behind ban lines. Another eighth is under permanent construction. The eighth behind the yellow lines was a rain room, which is just what it sounds like. Second Life is a desert, so rain is special. If you want rain, you have to find someone with a rain maker. Luckily, there is still at least one rain room on Slow. Go there if you want rain, and you want it more than you know. Needless to say, Sapporo will NOT be part of Only the Best/Do It Better roster.
Africa Live is another matter. This pleasant section of Second Life is banline free, and is one of the few places to present, modern African culture in a positive light. Africa Live is a simulation of a village on the coast of Benin. There are fashionably decayed buildings. There are mangroves. There is surf, and in the winter snow (Snow like rain is rare in Second Life and you have to have winter sports!).
But there is also art with style and class like this mosaic chest. There is humor including a urinating chimpanzee, and there is culture and education with posters about climate change, photographs of "real life" West Africa, and more, but what earns Africa Live a place on the Do It Better/Only the Best roster is warmth and authenticity.
This is not a region that is sucking someone's grant money or funded by a shadowy entity interested in propganada. There are stores that pay rent, a club that gathers tips, and probably owners who chip in when the rent and tips don't quite cover. Africa Live has been around for at least two years because it either makes money or the creators/owners care about it.
It is also my go-to place when I want to walk around somewhere WARM. Warm is more than the climate of a typical island paradise. Warm is bright cloth, mangroves, and rickety boards.
And warm is free things to do, like this balloon. It does not just provide a passive tour. After a couple of false starts I was able to raise it, lower it, speed it, and slow it, and ride ith with Petrichor for as much as I liked.
Of course, putting Africa Live Only the Best/Do It Better roster means that we have three candidates for the last spot: Momo Pet Land, Delacrz Park, and Master's Park. Given Zupera Park's history (and Master's Park is Zupera Park reborn) and disappearance, Master's Park is not a good bet for the Do It Better list. That leaves two old favorites and a rivalry that promises to be more exciting than Superbowl LI. Neither side here can choke, and builders not brawlers in helmets vie for the honors. Stay tuned.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- February 8, 2017
Last night we put our money where our mouth is which makes me the Superintendent of Schools in Crystal Heights. It costs my One Who Thinks She Knows 250L a week (That's $1.00 which she says is the cost of a soda.). Now it's up to us to get lots of textures and links and put together a test build at the LEA5 Sandbox. All of this is downright weird because the One has a crisis in her life, about which I am not free to blog. She says the school project is a kind of distraction and that it will be good for both of us.
Meanwhile, before the crisis happened, which was Tuesday morning (When my One learned about it. It really happened Monday morning), my One decided we should at least try to make some of the play dates at Play and Learn Park. The problem with this schedule is that on Wednesdays my One works at night and on Sundays, that's the day to run errands. All times on the sign are set for Pacific Standard Time. My One and I are three hours ahead of that. My One says she still believes in our research project.
My One also believes in the Really Do It Better/Only the Best project as well and of course the Explore SL Spread Sheet. That meant we got to travel to the Grand Canyon. We had fun memories of the sim. Yes, my favorite activity at the canyon itself is the zip line, followed by the swing and the canoes. Unfortunately, only motor boats remain. Neither my One like these because she thinks they make noise and smell of gasoline or diesel fuel and stink up a serene surroundings.
Without a silent and slow boat, My One and I walked around Crater Lake at the canyon's bottom. We observed all sorts of wildlife: big horn sheep, Canada geese, an alligator, and this sea otter. There is wildlife atop the canyon too including a snake and a coyote. The only thing missing, I now realize, were buzzards.
Then there are the two neighboring sims, Grand Canyon North and Mt. Everest. This meant we got to skiing on these sims for the first time. And because Only the Best sites are supposed to be newbie friendly, we noticed what sort of free equipment was available. Alas, it did not include skis. Also, while I am a pretty good skier, as is any avie with an animation, the only slope was a double black diamond slalom. I wished there had been something more gentle and recreational, especially since all three Grand Canyon sims are for lovers.
A clue to why there are no skis was that every so often we got a message that said we had to join the group to have access to all the equipment. This did not really matter to me because I have my own skis and skates, and prefer nonmotorized conveyances and love walking and hiking. By the way, you can't walk all the way to the top of Mt. Everest the trail is discontinuous. Also, the constant begging for money and presence of tip jars everywhere got wearing. Worse yet, on Grand Canyon South I encountered BAN LINES and at least one security orb. These are nuiscences that on a single sim would be disqualifying. Likewise an adult rating on one sim and a mature rating on another (barrier for any avie that does not have payment info on file) is also a nuiscence. In the case of the Grand Canyon sims the adult rating, harranguing for cash, and ban lines/security orbs combined to give this sim a thumb's down for Only the Best. It's a superb runner up. A fun place to go if you like your skiing hard and fast or enjoy high mountains and scenery, but it lacks the friendliness needed to be One of the Best.
Then Sunday night, The One Who Thinks She Knows discovered a new amusement park, Master's Park. We took a long trolley ride inside, and through the windows of the trolley car saw that something about several of the rollercoasters and other rides looked awfully familiar. The One Who Think's She Knows mother may believe it is impossible to rise from the dead, but that is not so for building projects in Second Life. In short, Master's Park is Zupera Park returned with prettier scenery and well above ground level on a private island. This ride, now called the Ring of Fire, is one of Petrichor's favorites.
Other rides show a depth of soul lacking in the orginal Zupera Park. This is the entry area to Hell's Hotel. The coaster may move slowly but the visuals are gorgeous. They go beyond horror to the sweet sadness of abandoned places. There is a purple light pervading the scene. Master's Park also features the Death Maze of Osiris. That Osiris got resurrected doesn't seem to matter. The labyrinth is a challenge and full of wonderful atmosphere. It is almost as if the old Zupera Park has been retextured, and the textures are gorgeous!
And the rollercoasters are still technically state of the art. The Flight of the Vampire has cars that attach to the top of the track, and defy physics with ninty degree drops and several loops just for the heck of it. It is great to see these coasters back. We miss the Kracken, the Spin Cycle, the Tornado and a few other rides, but we'll take what we have.
Then why isn't Master's Park in One of the Best. Well it could be. As amusement park's go, it ranks at the top for variety of and technical execution. The rides are just that good. The lag is low. It's baby and newbie friendly. The reason it is only a candidate on the list for the last two spots (by no means out of the running), is that it once was Zupera Park. It was and then in October it vanished. If you can't pay your rent in Second Life... There is no reason to believe that Master's Park will be any more solvent than its predecessor. In short, this wonderful park has stability issues. Still it's in the running.
We still have five sites for the last two Do It Better/Only the Best slots:
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- January 18, 2017
Our lives ought to be less complicated, but they're not. My One Who Thinks She Knows is going to endure a few more days without a cell phone battery. It's in the mail, and not lost there, so that is a good thing, but being without Spotify when she walks and travels has put her massively out of sorts again. Also, our main, research project is once again in serious jeopardy thanks to our newest building craze. The craze takes place because my One would like to seek fame and fortune and because Crystal Heights located in Lyrics might be a community where we could meet Zooby and other prim baby parents. The community includes all sorts of furries, breedable enthusiasts, and feels less restrictive than other options.
We even have prim counts and have our adjustible seating and presentation boards working. The script for a library of links needs no work. This means we now know the number of prims this little adventure now needs and even what it might cost. What we don't know is what happens when people push furniture around, but we can find that out with an exhibit at the LEA5 Sandbox.
What our project of classroom reconstruction and educational administration with some teaching thrown in now needs is textures, links, and meeting with Her Honor so money can change hands and we can begin an ongoing committment of less than a dollar a week. Textures mean a cluttered inventory. I gave my inventory a full scrub. Links take up no space and are available. The One Who Thinks She Knows is an expert in finding paywall free reading matter. Setting up the school and moving in, require finding Her Honor, signing a contract, or shaking hands, and then...
Her Honor has made herself quiet scarce. "Real Life" does happen. Meanwhile, we wonder what she will make of our proposal. She will be shocked at how few prims we will need. When we mentioned at the LEA5 Sandbox she drew a total blank. The classroom furniture she has now is misscripted so no one can sit on it. I may be the first amateur scripter she has ever met. Building for yourself makes Second Life a much more economical experience, but builders/artists are their own culture as we learned at Cedar Creek. Are we a good match. Even if we settle into in Crystal Heights, we may lack the ability to draw people out and learn what can help all of us with virtual children and pets.
Meanwhile, the Only the Best/Really Do It Better project continues. Yes, it's way behind. Yes, we're down to two open slots, and we have a total of five possible venues:Momo Pet Land is a two sim amusement park that offers an authentic does of neotonous (but not sickening!), Japanese culture. It's a great place to walk around. Momo is Japanese for peach, so a good translation for the park is Peachy Pet Park. Its Trick Art Museum is even on the Explore SL Spread Sheet.
The real reason that Petrichor and I visit Momo Pet Land repeatedly, and that it was the place in Second Life that the One Who Thinks She Knows showed her skeptical mother, however, is the rides. There are not a lot of them, but they have a depth of soul and a cleverness that many other amusement park rides in Second Life lack. This is a replica of Disney's Small World attraction on MPL Island, the amusement park's other sim. My One says that it is authentic and she even sings the Small World song as I row a gondola through a fun and tricky course. My One rode on the original Small World ride at the 1964 World's Fair. Even when she is out of sorts, which is nearly always, the Small World ride on MPL Island makes her sweetly sentimental.
Best of all the Samll World ride on MPL Island is now more or less ready for prime time. Yes, it is still under construction, but the water way is fully built and the walls solid enough that one can row through the whole exhibit, making a full, fun, and seamless circuit.
But the star of all of Momo Pet Land's rides is of course the Dragon Coaster. Second Life is full of roller coasters, and the state of the art was at the now defunct and sorely missed Zupera Park. The Dragon Coaster, however, is suis generis. For starters, you can choose one of three courses, one of which shoots you off into mid-air to land wherever on the Momo Pet Land sims.
And even if you select one of the two "safe" options, there is still a small, but signficant chance your car won't complete the circuit as planned. The Dragon Coaster's cars nearly always jiggle on the track, and this time, even with the short course, a giant orca sent Petrichor's and my car flying! Of course, Momo Pet Land has four competitors for two slots. The competition is fierce, and there is no winner yet. Since it may be a while before we meet Her Honor, gather our textures, and possibly misinvest some Lindens, we are going to be visiting the competition.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- January 14, 2017
VStark State vanished back in September. That leaves the One Who Thinks She Knows and me the queens of doing it better and providing only the best places for Second Life fun. Alas, we also lost Zupera Park last fall as well, so we have three slots to fill. We're way behind. Technical troubles, Explore SL Spread Sheet, and our original research focus, the one we've had since I got my son, Petrichor, have all derailed this, but the project lives! It has to live.
And it lives despite a gig we sort of have on Lyrics. My One came up with one of her dubious, investment deals. She'll rent the classroom and I'll play an educational professional if we can supply adjustible seating and other interactive educational software. My One thinks this is more fun than making clothes for Petrichor.
We have catapulted ourselves out of our building rut. Who needs New Year's resolutions. Sunday night, we figured out how to get the desks to adjust using a menu and look half decent. Monday we worked on the seating. It took more than fifty tries to get success. You're looking at an out take. The desks now need a flooring/skybox allowance and their "llSay" commands "remmed out" and of course textures, but the hard part is done. Now we have some media makers and presentation scripts to whip into shape. It's amazing how far rudimentary (and our scripting knowledge is just that!) scripting knowledge and persistence can take you.
Meanwhile, Petrichor and I both needed some recreation and what was better than to ride the "Big Boy Train" at Yeodeol Central Station near White's Workshop. The station is where all the action is. All you have to do is wait on a bench until a train comes by, right click it, and select DRIVE. You get a temporary HUD and can control the train either by adjusting the HUD or track switches. The narrow gague tracks span nearly two sims, and the course changes each time as the train follows different configurations.
There are loop de loops and tunnels as well as bridges and some spots that defy gravity and engineering. Even for a Zooby parent using a traditional carry, rather than a chest attachment, the trains offer a secure, safe ride. And yes, the trains come in a variety of colors and run whether being ridden or not.
Of course Yeodeol Central Station was a no brainer choice for the Do It Better/Only the Best List, but it is a no brainer in the best way anything can fit that categeory. It's been on the list before. It's hard to stay there two years in a row, but it doesn't leave our memory. Before my One paid for Petrichor, I took Jurgis and we rode the trains at Yeodeol Central Station. After Petrichor was born, the second or third place we visited was Yeodeol Central Station. If Yeodeol Central Station disappeared, it would leave a hole in my One's, Petrichor's, and my life.
Hopefully, Yeodeol Central Station can fill spaces in other avatarim and One teams' lives, but as my One and I learned in ">Cedar Creek, going for a train ride is not everybody's idea of one of the most fun things to do in Second Life. Fortunately, anyone willing to walk around in near the tracks can find sonething interesting.
And of course I don't just mean flowers, though as my One Who Thinks She Knows will tell you, plants make her day. I'm not sure if this calliope played any sounds because my One wanted to listen to either Spotify or All Things Considered as we rode around. You have to humor a One who is always out of sorts.
And then there is the bull. For some he might be more exciting than the train. My One thinks he is really a bison trapped in a pen and plenty happy to buck and throw avatarim around. My son was securely strapped to me. He is a bit amusement parkp-starved these days so the bull ride did him good. Remember, as an avie I can fall off a 200 meter mountain and not suffer a scratch. That's a good thing to know.
Of course, some of the beauty of the county surrounding a href="http://slurl.com/secondlife/YEODEOL/162/128/27" target="_blank" class="ordinary">Yeodeol Central Station is how many creations are NOT mesh or even very advanced sculpties. These beavers are realistic, somewhat mobile, have all the right details, but also very old school. In short, there is much to said for lots of old school trains, plenty of scenery, and a quiet town with much to see and do, as well as owners who do not care if you try and never buy. a href="http://slurl.com/secondlife/YEODEOL/162/128/27" target="_blank" class="ordinary">Yeodeol Central Station deserves to return as One of the Best. We do it better!Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- January 10, 2017
Other parents don't talk at the Zooby Store, and Play and Learn Park is often empty. It wasn't empty last night, but the parent there was silent. She had two lovely, red haired twins. Perhaps the other Zooby mother had to do something in real life. My One Who Thinks She Knows says that Second Life can be more asynchronous than it seems.
So my One came up with another idea. "Let's go to family role play sims as a way to meet Zooby parents." This sounded reasonable. So my One read the Forums in search of role play/family community advertisements. She found several, and we were off. Our first location, Ivy Boarding School had a playground with a working spinner, but was under construction.
Cedar Creek appeared more promising. It was a town for families, some of whom had to include prim children and therefore parents like me. It also had a large police station, and a jail with one inmate. Something about the place troubled me though. I've worked as a landlord's agent too often not to notice all the for rent signs and empty buildings. There was also at least one rented building that was empty. Had the tennant abandoned her space and why? Empty buildings could mean a new investment, but they also mean a sim that can't support itself, and if you can't pay your rent in Second Life...
Still my One realized we might be able to start a retail business founding a Jewish outreach center. Neither my One nor I are qualified enough to be rabbot (The plural of rabba, which is the female of rabbi). Still we could have a Nach Yomi and parshiot sessions. It might be fun. It wouldn't break our bank and we could keep our pied a terre in a community that was not so strictly themed. We went looking for the real estate agent. "We could lose ten dollars and it would not kill us... " It was skin the game. Maybe we needed some skin in the game.
I don't know if it was my One or I who saw the minimap first. We both look at the thing religiously to see if anyone is nearby and that was how we saw the real estate agent flying. He flew right in front of us too. Now in Second Life this would normally be totally unremarkable. It was remarkable because I couldn't fly. The sim would not let visitors fly. I told my One: "Someone likes to flaunt their power." Then we finally found a copy of the sim rules and covenant. They prohibited "older sculptie furniture" and "unusual devices" If we were residents, neither our Zwickies nor our Sprinkler Tinkler Mega Fountain, which shoots eggplants, kidney beans, avocados, and more would be welcome. If we set up a Jewish outreach center, and used a home made sculpture to dispense educational links, we'd get in trouble for not having a properly decorative mesh bookcase. I was glad we knew ahead of time.
Lyrics had openings for various jobs that paid tips. This sounded great. The place only took up half a sim, which meant that it had a better chance of being financially stable. And they needed both a landlord's assistant and at least one school teacher.
I even had the good luck to meet the mayor, and ask Her Honor all sorts of questions about the job. That's when it came out. She said we'd have to live here. I could hear my One scream "Pay to play!" Later she remembered that if you can't pay your rent in Second Life...
To my One's and my credit, we weren't rude in our reply. We even talked Zooby for a bit. The truth is: this is a tightly covenanted community. You can see the houses. I hate houses like this. You can walk down one street after another (I think this house was on Harmony Cove Inlet) and see small yards, no gardens, no bee hives, no public access to water, no public parks, no where to catch a bus.... You will see cars, snowmobiles, RV's, and motorcycles.
Quite frankly, building a town in Second Life is an opportunity to do better. My One and I both ask: "Is this all you want?" We also realize that many people would have the same reaction to Stinky Stinky Has Moved Again, saying it's old fashioned or not materialistic when they are in the mood for euphemisms. I call it paradise. We have a garden, zwickies, bees, and Ozimals rabbits. There is privacy for bathing the baby, and the Sprinkler Tinkler Mega Fountain when I feel like fun as well as a personal ferris wheel. My One and I both knew that people with our tastes would be a disaster, on a heavily "residential" themed sim, and yes I wonder why anyone would opt for a two story, monstrosity, with a big fence, and no yard and lots of mechanical toys and dull prim furniture, but I wouldn't use fiat to outlaw it. If I rented big enough parcels for them, I'd let anyone build a McMansion. I would certainly have no issues with such people as my neighbors.
And yes, my One had a plan for our working on Lyrics. This would be our work environment if we got the job. Yes, you know what we wrote above, but my One has an idea and so do I. This classroom needs a redesign. There are currently four students ranging from age three to seventeen. Sitting them in rigid rows unable to work together or break out into groups doesn't work. In fact it invites bedlam and an authoritarian backlash. That can be a fun role play for a school setting, but it should be one choice of several. We can of course make much better classroom furniture. Would Her Honor rent the classroom as retail space? Does she only accept mesh furniture?
Right now my One has decided to chit chat with two parent groups that are not very active and hope she gets to meet people. We can keep watching Play and Learn Park and visit stores that sell Zooby items that are discretionary purchases. And we can make our pitch and see what happens. I wish we could do better than this, but at least we should give ourselves A for effort.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- January 5, 2017
You know with a name like that, that something has happened, and indeedp my One has a platter of excuses, including a flash drive that failed spectacularly, and a bunch of stuff that while not unpleasant, is unbloggable. A One Who Thinks She Knows has to have her secrets. My One says that we are going to pick up where we left off four months ago.
We can really do that. We are still working on the Explore SL Spreadsheet. I've also been working with my One to take care of our Zwickies and my Zooby son Petrichor. We've even been working on our Only the Best list even though we lost Zupera Park. If you can't pay your rent in Second Life...
Where we've bogged down is our research into virtual child parenting. We're pretty much where we were in July, which means that Petrichor and I are happy together. He is growing. We have a speaking HUD that gives him a 100 word vocabulary and the rudiments of conversation. He doesn't always make sense, but toddlers don't do that in real life either. He also is clearly a creature of his world, and his own experience which kind of makes up for the more than occasional nonsequitur.
But our knowledge about bonding is pretty much where it was when my One wrote this. Petrichor of course walks now. He uses a potty, and he is weaned. We no longer buy consumables from Zooby except for clothing scripts. The food, processed snack bites, and before that a few flavors of mush tore it. Petrichor could eat a cracker. Therefore, he could have real food, and so he does. He has stage toys, and his greatest need is to walk about. He also needs more language than Zooby gives him. We have a talker HUD for that that lets him express himself pretty much as a toddler should.
I don't blame Zooby for their shortcomings, and not because you can't please everybody, even though you can't. It is simply much harder to create a simulated (virtual) toddler than it is to create a simulated, very young infant. The computing power to do the ideal job doesn't exist. The program behind the virtual baby would have to be able to learn. That's not going to happen any time soon. Being able to attach a baby to something other than a hand as the default hold, would be a more realistic goal, but the One and I have improvised a fix for that. And yes, Petrichor is still cute, loveable, and smart, with a bit of a nasty edge to his personality. He's a talking toddler of course, and Laurie Anderson said: "Language is a virus!"Our Petrichor is contageous.
All that said, neither of us has any idea how typical or atypical (We can't be unique) our experience with Petrichor is. It's hard to find Zooby parents (or other virtual baby parents)willing or unwilling to talk. Some of this is because Zooby babies are not particularly portable. Unless you attach one to your chest or spine, you can't ride a bike, ski, or dance with them. A few sims are also decidedly baby unfriendly as well.
But there's more, and it's deeper. Virtual parenting IS A DEVIANT SUBCULTURE! within the somewhat deviant world of Second Life. Virtual parenting is NOT deviant because it involves crime, or because virtual parents are victims of crime. It is DEVIANT because it violates certain articles of faith (philosophical/cultural norms???) that exist in twenty-first century American culture.
And privacy is a heretic's best friend. That is probably some of the reason that Zooby babies are not as portable as they could be. Being out and about with a Zooby Baby is an act of rebellion. Privacy is also as shield. "What I do on my OWN sim with my friend/partner etc... is my own business."
This means there are few Zooby baby chat groups, and the Play and Learn Park where parents can rezz their Zooby children and where child avatarim can also roam is often more empty than one would expect.
That the beliefs virtual parents violate are not necessarily true enough to be articles of faith, somehow doesn't fully penetrate. All it takes is finding the right language and realizing that other people in other places do differently, to realize that these are a fairly arabitrary set of rules, and rules that need a change. There is no hard line between real and fake, except on a true-false test. If there were a hard line, than works of imagination such as movies, novels, and drama could not exist.
Sacred is an arbitrary term except perhaps where disgust is involved, and Zooby babies are not disgusting. They are not perfect imitations and now and again I've discussed comparisons of Zooby children to their biological counterparts. For some reason, this discussion feels liberating and not at all weird, perhaps because technical talk tends not to be moralistic.
Whether one should imitate humans (or animals for that matter) is a debate as old as human kind. Think Second Commandment, but also think dolls, statues, puppets. Think of the story of Pinocchio.
And last but not least, other cultures handle the whole almost-human doll thing much better than we do. A Japanese man can take his pillow girlfriend to a restaurant, and in Thailand there is a "real life" equialent of virtual children.
And why should an empty nester, a person who never had a child of a particular gender, a person with no children etc... be deprived of a partial/virtual experience and have to make do with nothing because it violates someone else' idea of the sacred? Half a loaf is usually better than an empty plate.
But the One Who Thinks She Knows says we need to learn about the virtual parenting experience and bonding from those other than ourselves, so we can find the right, good, words to break all virtual parents (or most of them) out of the heretics' closet. Alas, we're still stuck, and even more alas, we have a long way to go.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- January 2, 2017