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.
Yes, Bellezzamora is a big beautiful build. It is a mansion, three stories tall with no empty rooms. That is an understatement. Each and every room is chock full of furniture, and the furnishings almost never repeat. There are grounds with statues and peacocks. A pot of mushroom stew simmers in the kitchen, and the servants iron all those sheets upstairs. It is a private residence open to the public with a generosity rare in Second Life.
It made the Only the Best list at the bottom of this blog because lots of people in Second Life love furniture. I love furniture. I can't tell you all the times I am out there walking around when Pet and I look for a place to sit. Usually it is a bench or bar stool. Sometimes we lay in a variety of publicly available beds. And yes there are avies and Ones out there who want to own whole suites full of the furniture. Owning furniture and just borrowing it or taking advatage of it are two different things. I have made beds, benches, even chairs and stools over the years, kept them for a while, and then...
Outside landscaping, gardens, animals, etc... tend to stay with me no matter where I live. In the long run, having a yard instead of a house, works week in week out and year in year out. And Bellezzamora does not disappoint an avie who lives mainly out of doors. These white peacocks are beautiful, although Petrichor and I wondered where the peahens were. A peacock after all needs a potential mate for whom to strut.
The first time I set foot in Bellezzamora, I was greeted by Christian Galtier and his daughter Grace, a child avie. I felt a bit nervous because I realized it was a private residence. To my surprise, I had the complete run of the place. I even intruded twice on Grace wearing nothing but a diaper on Christian's lap. She is a toddler after all, and Christian is her daddy. I think she is a bit younger than Petrichor, but it is hard to guess exact ages. Second Life children do not exactly correspond to their "real life" counterparts.
The first thing Petrichor and I did at Bellezzamora was try to find out where something this large turned into a pasteboard stage set. A sim only holds so many prims, and in Second Life, large buildings frequently have several stories on the outside and are one story on the inside with the upper floors being empty space or empty rooms. To my shock and delight, the rooms at Bellezzamora were full of funiture. There was even a toilet where you could read upon the throne. My One has a policy against posting toilet pictures of me on this blog, but I did try the toilet. We also found a room with a bassinet inside it. I thought that strange since Grace was about the size for a junior bed. By then I was too overwhelmed to take pictures.
On Petrichor's and my second visit to Bellezzamora, we attempted to make sense of the place by circling the grounds. We discovered the small breakfast room with serving kithen, as swimming pool, a lily pond, and a labryinth. Then we came inside and found the main kitchen and another bedroom for what looked like an older child. It appeared to be Grace's room, though there was also a bed for a sister or guest.
I had already seen Grace's parents' bedrooms and maybe rooms belonging to other adults as well. There was clothing (not real clothing! That lives in iventory) in built in closets and chests of drawers, a lawn mower in one room, and soft poofy couches and daybeds. Out in the halls outside the rooms someone had left fruits and cakes. No one at Bellezzamora is on a diet. No one needs to be.
And by now if you are not familiar with Second Life or child avatarim, you are probably wondering how something like Bellezzora gets built and stays standing. You may especially wonder this because there are no tip jars anywhere around. Welcome to the world of social capital. Grace and her sister (She says she has a sister) both have Ones who are adults. The Ones behind Christian and his wife are also adults. Emma, the youngest child is a legacy Zooby baby like Petrichor. What this means is that Bellezzamora belongs to four real life adults, and possibly more real life adults. An island (or sim) costs $300 a month to rent. Split four ways, the cost drops to $75 a month. Split six ways it drops to $50. That is a bit more than the cost of a first run movie every week. That makes a project like Bellezzamora doable. That said, Bellezzamora is still one car repair or medical bill or one lost job away from sliding into the sea, but that is true for anything in Second Life which the tax payers don't subsidize.
Of course it takes more than just shared funds to pull off Bellezzamora. It takes a shared vision on what makes the good life for a Second Life family. And at this point, let me confess, I AM INSANELY JEALOUS! I wanted to adopt a child, adolescent, or adult avie, and.... I got told I needed a fancy mesh shape, a skin that I still have and wear, and clothes that aren't so dowdy. If this sounds weird, it is. I on the other hand believe that being a child avie should not be a license to be rude and say whatever pops into your head.
I also have a hard time leaving my own or my One Who Thinks She Know's grief and pain outside of my Second Life or Petrichor's. Pet and I discuss sims falling into the sea because their owners' could not pay rent, favorite spots closing down because they do, and the One losing her real life mother. I'm not sure what Grace, her sisters, and her parents discuss or how they talk. How is a two to five year old child supposed to speak? The answer is it varies.
Then there is the issue of gender. Petrichor was male because every day for a month, the One ran a random number generator from 0 to 200. Above 109 was female. 109 and below was male. Every day she added the number to a spread sheet that gave the average. The average turned out to be ninty-something, and Pet was male. By then I was well underway making Petrichor his Zooby furniture and building our Not-a-Handsome-House. Petrichor's nusery would be apple green with various shades of green furniture. Emma's nursery has a pink rose theme.
There is nothing wrong with pink for girl babies, but gender stereotyping is just that. Unisex back in the 1970's was fun, and Pet wears pink because he can. It is masculine pink with stag beetles, bulldozers, and flying buses on it. There are thousands of other choices for a baby's nusery, even when you know the child's sex. The roses could be yellow or they could be blue morning glories or maybe an African savannah with herds of zebra and giraffes. Petrichor's changing table had a cover with dancing fava beans. I ripped apart the Zooby nonmesh table and rebuilt it from the home prim out to lower the prim count, give it a more modern style, and include some humor. The changing table was where beans went to die.
I'm not sure Petrichor or I would be welcome in anyone's castle or mansion. I'm not sure any child avie would want Petrichor for a sibling or me for a parent. We are too sad, too crazy, too individualistic. I drove away the only family that came close to bonding with me, over animals. They considered anything besides dogs and horses disgusting. I am not found of dogs, a bit scaird of horses, but pretty much like anything else. I use all sorts of creatures for design motifs, including this lovely skin toned frog for a crib set from when Pet was Emma's age. Petrichor's crib also had a side that lowered. I wrote the script for that.
I wasn't welcome to adopt a child. Grace is better off with Christian. I don't have five others to rent a whole sim. I am not a nuiscence, but maybe I don't play so well with others. Petrichor has a single mom. Emma has a whole family. By the way, I wish I knew Grace better because right now I am writing onto her the child avatarim that I met at Never Be Solo long ago. That's not fair to Grace. I don't share, your family's vision of the good life Grace. I probably have my own. Still I wish my family and the Gaultiers et famille could at least be friends.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- August 16, 2020
When Petrichor asks: "What is grief?" I will have a one word answer: Momo Petland. Six days ago, Momo Petland disappeared. Momo Petland was THE PLACE. It was the place Petrichor threatened to run away to and live forever barefoot and happy. It had the most creative roller coaster and slowest ferris wheel in Second Life. It was where I got the Flying Chard Yard, our super-easy-to-fly personal airplaine for free. I once even changed Pet's clothes there. Sometimes we'd slip into the bars along the coast for a pineapple juice.
When the One Who Thinks She Knows wanted to show Second Life to her mother, she took us to Momo Petland. The One Who Thinks She Knows' mother was unimpressed. Now The One's mother has been dead for more than three years and Momo Petland is gone. When the One herself was out of sorts, Pet and I would ride the amazing roller coaster or if she was in a meditative mood, we'd circle on the incredibly slow ferris wheel.
The ferris wheel was an ancient build, but it was beautiful. It rose 185 meters above the ground. The roller coaster almost shot through it, but that is another story. It could take close to an hour to come full circuit. Sometimes I'd sort inventory on the ferris wheel.
The roller coaster of course was in a class by itself, and nothing will ever replace it. It sort of obeyed the laws of physics. The car rattled on a single track and it had an arrow you could use to turn the car on one of three courses. There were two arrows. One arrow took you under water through pictures. One arrow, took you up a steep incline past meteors. A second arrow beyond the water/meteor choice would take you safely back around or on the track that was supposed to go through the ferris wheel's heart. The track through the ferris wheel left off im in midair which meant your roller coaster car could end up in the ocean or on top of the bath house, when there was a bath house.
There was of course a lot more to Momo Petland than just the two rides. I don't have enough pictures, perhaps because I took the place for granted. It seemed stable. I'd been there too many times both before and after Petrichor was born, to spend my time taking photos. There was an onsen, a Japanese hot bath, in the sky. There were cute, small rides, and a playground on the ground. There was a giant's house and a school (This last was/is a Japanese cultural thing) also in the sky, and there were toilets for teleportation, a very scarey haunted house into which I would NOT take Pet, and a museum of trick art that made the Explore SL Spread Sheet.
What I think about when I think about Momo Petland, however, is not any of these things, and it is not what I captured in the dozen or so photographs I unearthed for this blog. I think about walking along the dock at Bar Glassy Sea or in the garden outside the store that sold musical instruments. The garden had those will-o-the-wisp, glowing things among grass, and it was pretty to walk there and let the dry, brittle plants tickle my shins and ankles. Pet, in his carrier, was respectful and did not complain that this was "boring."
I think Petrichor behaved himself because he knew that we were visiting the bars and the musical instrument stores because they had targets on their backs. Over the last two years or so, Momo Petland has undergone a rebuild to make it a bit like Disney. The new main building was part of that, and in its own way, it was a big improvement, because I enjoyed the pretty furniture on the scond floor and climbing the outside stairs to come in through the side door. It even had a whole bunch of free texture libraries out for over a year which of course made it a "library" on the the Explore SL Spread Sheet. Some places just become important.
About six months ago, posters about the new build and improvements began to appear all over Momo Petland. The area where the bars was, was going to become private rental property. Over that area on the map on the posters, written in red, was "NO TRESSPASSING." The One Who Thinks She Knows, who was booted out of her old complex due to gentrification (All the tenants lost their leases in February of 2018) in "real life" winced. I thought of ban lines and assholes who put them up. Ban lines at Momo Petland were sacrilige! It was just a matter of time until the tenants in the soon-to-be residential zone were shoved aside, so we kept an eye on them.
That was all we did. We could have done more. My lame excuse was that there were no tip jars, though constantly harranguing me for tips would have destroyed the atmosphere. The second reason is that neither the One nor I wanted to support gentrification. The third reason is more complicated. Momo Petland was always empty when we went there. Japan is twelve to thirteen hours ahead of the United States, where the One Who Thinks She Knows, lives. That meant the owners and other patrons almost never crossed paths with us. Pet and I pretty much always had the park to ourselves. We never met the landlords (It was probably a group) and had we met them, we would have struggled through Google Translate to communicate.
Our relationship to Momo Petland, whether we were mad at the owners for gentrification or in awe of them for builds that worked even though they were old, was only in Petrichor's, The One who Thinks She Knows', and my minds and hearts. Momo Petland was not an investment we made that went sour. We were not part of its group. I'm not sure it even had a group. We were not business owners who would hve to relocate. No one complained Google Translate "embarassed" the Japanee language.
Still, there is a large picture of Momo Petland on the One who Think She Knows' computer's lock screen. She put it there at the end of 2015. Through the slow, beautiful, and gigantic ferris wheel she can see MPL Island which had a replica of the Small World Disney Ride which the One rode with her grandmother in 1964. Sometimes when the One was at her wits' end, Pet and I would ride a boat through the half completed Small World ride, and she would sing the whole Small World song, both verses. She'd sing it over and over again. Then MPL Land disappeared in 2018, and both the One and I said good. With only one island, Momo Petland would be more stable. The picture of Momo Petland was on the One's computer to remind her that she could go to good places on her home machine. It was also there because Momo Petland was a stable place and now...
The One and I can only guess what happened after that. Was there a change in management? Was the whole enterprise not financially viable? Would our tips have helped? It is foolish to become attached to any place in Second Life if you are not the one who pays rent for it. Don't pay your rent in Seond Life and.... That is a lesson I taught Petrichor, but he has sense enough not to just brutally say Momo Petland deserved what it got. Even the One does not think its disappearance is punishment for gentrification. There is one less place to go in Second Life, one less place when we need a place that is THE PLACE. Second Life is a bit smaller. Grief is Momo Petland.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- July 26, 2020
I had to perform a maternity check. Actually, I didn't have to. The Zwickies can and do what they want as far as reproduction is concerned as long as they receive food and the occasional bit of Zelly flower. They will cycle. They will mate. There will be Zwicklets. Zwicklets in stasis don't arouse any parental instinct. Still it's good to see where the Zwickise are and to see what kind of young they produce, and while I've promised not to do as many maternity/paternity checks as often as I used to I still have to do them. That's how I found out I had a boy Zwicky.
And Petrichor hadn't forgotten how he feels about our Zwickies' life and the way I treat them.
It turns out that Throckmorton had a male Zwicky baby. I have since named him Christopher and he resides in the heart shaped Zwickty keeper in my inventory. Petrichor knows this now because I told him. He hates that I lied to him about "the dormitory." I hated to confess that I lied. I hated having to explain that we only had do much space and we simply can't take the vast majority of Zwickies born to us out of stasis. This was not an easy conversation.
Unlike the One Who Thinks She Knows' little brother who is now fifty-five years old, Petrichor believes I lie about a lot of things and that I don't always have his best interests at heart. The One Who Thinks She Knows says this is her own childhood memories manifesting in Pet. She was a very angry and cynical little kid. She wonders if there are other adults out there in "real life" who were also angry and cynical when they were small.
The One says that being an angry and cynical little kid means that you topple the all powerful-all good parental figure from its pedestal. He/She and any adult in power, can become like the boss in the Dilbert comic strip. This also means one places the bar for authority figures either very high if they walk under it or very low, if they trip over it. She wants them competent, and has no belief that they'll be good, loving, etc... If they are those things, it's a big bonus, but the authorities she is not close to, those in power that she does not see or interact with every day, the ones that are NOT teachers, bosses, when she was younger parents, etc..., they are too far away to be loving, and there is no way they can be that way, so competent and not malicious is good enough.
What this means is Petrichor has high and fragile expectations for me. The last time I wrote this blog, they lay shattered. I've decided to be franker with Pet, and that has helped somewhat. We've told the bees in the German village at Newt. Petrichor's version of telling the bees involves telling them what our bees at Stinky Stinky Jurgisianna said to him. For Pet to tell the bees, we need to be aware of hive locations in Second Life.
I also made Petrichor a new outfit for the first time in weeks. This outfit came from a leftover graphic that the One Who Thinks She Knows did not have the heart to discard. She said she put too much work into it, so Pet got this outfit with a bright red, extra thick, pebble grain belt.
Then of course I needed a ride to ease my frayed nerves. It had been ages since I visited the Catacombs of Paris. It took forever to find them. Petrichor complained and called me incompetent. I tell myself he is mouthy when he does this.
The catacombs start out as a boat ride, but the boat always gets stuck under a bridge. We walk from that point on. These are the swers at the near the end of the ride. I like being on the water, and so does Petrichor.
The other really great thing about the Catacombs of Paris is that it is a very old build. It predates mesh. It has, the way many good builds do, aged reamarkably well. Part of the reason is it is true to its purpose. There are images of the real catacombs and sewers on the walls. There are skeletons. There is macabre photography and textures. There are doors to open. You don't have to go in any one direction and can take as long or as little time as you like to explore.
And speaking of exploring, a little looking around one night, landed us at Balticon Station. I made Petrichor his new outfit there and then discovered the UFO. The paint roller is gone. The crazy segway at Japan Liberty City has vanished. The hockey puck at Kokura is a distant memory. We have searched for really imperfect substitutes. Then we found the UFO at Balticon Station. I love when Second Life delivers pleasant surprises, and so does Petrichor!
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- July 19, 2020
And Petrichor's dark thoughts are angry, and given that he is quite young, he lets his anger and imagination fly. He talks of taking those who build banlines, securing them with heavy iron chains, and throwing them into the sea, so they never come out.
Then because Petrichor inherits from me and less directly from the One Who Thinks She Knows, he asks: "If I think brutal thoughts, does that make me brutal?" I don't have a good answer except that brutality, at least in thought, has its place in a world that is brutal. The One Who Thinks She Knows is even less sure; thought Ones are inately brutal. She has a good heart sometimes, so she must ask questions like this too. I think Petrichor inherited his philosophical nature from the One Who Thinks She Knows.
Of course sometimes Petrichor's brutal mouth sometimes hurts. He calls me mean, stupid, unfair. He accuses me of ignoring and neglecting him. Yes, he knows those words. The One says she knew them, and when her brother who was late to learn to speak, due to hearing impairment, due to bad adenoids, spoke, he called their late mother a "mean person." That was his favorite insult. He did not know curse words as Pet does. The One says the mid 1960's were different times for kids. The One also says Petrichor's insults, are partially from her younger brother, and some of them are from her.
I could live with all of this; for the One Who Thinks She Knows' late mother, said that the One was an easy baby because she talked early and understood, and thus could be reasoned with, and her brother was easy due to his happy nature. When he finally learned to speak, the One had paved the way for a talking child to be able to vent and speak his mind. The One's late mother preferred small children who vented their frustration in words rather than tore the house apart or had a meltdown, so Petrichor has always gotten to say what he pleased.
All of this worked, as it had worked with the One and her brother when they were growing up in a far away time, long before Second Life, until a few days ago, when out of Petrichor's mouth popped the following: "You only care about the Zwickies when they make babies. You use the Zwickies." I felt like saying "Wht the f---?" All I was doing was taking materinity checks of the males. I told Pet, I wanted to make sure their hormones weren't bothering them and see how soon they would mate. Of course none of this satisfied him.
The truth is I take our Zwickies quite seriously. I want to make sure our males are comfortable. I don't have Zwickies just as baby machines. Ask the avies who tie up their horses in stables and just use them to breed. I appreciate my Zwickies for their movement first, their dancing, their shooting stars, and their amazing particle farts. That's the truth. The One agrees, but the One was upset. Her brother, it seemed, accused her of abusing her turtle and her cats, eight months ago, long after he should have outgrown letting every brutal word out of his mouth. This happened in "real life." This hurt. The One recognized her younger brother in Petrichor's words. There was nothing I could do.
I love Petrichor! The One Who Thinks She Knows loves Petrichor. We also both love our Zwickies and try to take the best care of them we can. Petrichor most of the time is a good kid. He reminds me to explore older places again. Together we rediscovered the G-Force, train, swing which used to be on Trinity and still runs at the Unknown Theme Park. He shares my memories of places that are gone, even the ones he cannot stand like Slow.
And the One and I are both aware that all too often breedables are commodities. Petrichor also knows that I lied to him about Esau, our sidewinder, who needed to be caged to stay out of the canal at the old Stinky Stinky on Eddesign Island, yet when I caged Esau, he buttd his head into the wall and stayed stuck there. It was painful to watch.
I put Esau in my inventory and told Petrichor that I had sent him to a dormitory, like a Zooby baby adoption agency. I also told Petrichor Zooby adoption agencies (not affiliated with Zoobys Babies) were dormitories. Petrichor insisted on looking for Esau. I told Petrichor Esau had escaped to Water of Night, where there were sculpty snakes. Then the sim that held Water of Night closed. This winter, I was able to bring Esau out of iventory and build him a cage where he didn't constantly butt his head into the wall. He is now rezzed and out on our land, but... the damage of my brutal lie is done.
So what can I do? Second Life is brutal because Ones Who Think They Know Created it, and Ones think fiercely brutal thoughts. They do not always turn them into brutal words, but they turn them into brutal actions. Ones make avies treat their breedables brutally. I remember what happened to our Lily Frogs and Ozimal Rabbits. I remember the Flurbils even further back. With all that history, all I can promise Pet is that I watch our Zwickies more and maternity test them less, and remind him we have pets that don't breed at all. I did not delete Esau and purge him from trash. He has a cage now where he seldom gets stuck, and I have learned to pull him out. I also explained to Pet, about the One's brother and why his words were such a stinging insult to both the One and me. I hope he understands. Brutality is everywhere, but we have a choice whether it comes out of our mouths.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- July 11, 2020
I haven't left Second Life, but I've been playing in a scattershot way. Occasionally I make clothes for Petrichor. Iyoba who has too many clothes doesn't get any. From time to time I bushwhack. Sometiems we explore new regions and we go to amusement parks and walk around, not that aimnlessly. I clean inventory, a little too compulsively.
I have tried returning to clubs. There are a few I patronize. Ministry of Trance and Hyades, which is a descendent of the much storied club on Trenza where I cried out "il ha justica! when I was readmitted after a pointless, moths' long ban, are at the top of the list. I make sure I tip, and no one is cruel to Petrichor, but Iyoba does not always bring him. He is too old to be carried around, but has not choice except to stay home if he isn't.
Zooby has cut back its support of legacy babies/children. The recovery box does not always work. It's a known bug that nobody is in the mood to fix. We are at the end of year one since Zooby stopped making legacy, virtual children. I gave it two years at the time. Zooby has gotten rid of a lot of the token toys and hidden the legacy shops in the sky. I can still make clothes for Pet, and not all the token toys were that great.
The most frightenng development is that Petrichor sometimes falls asleep standing up. When Iyoba finds him like that, my heart leaps into my throat. I click touch and wait for the menu to pop up. I am half relieved. I hit Moving and then Set Home. Petrichor wakes up. I feel entirely relieved. This too is a bug no one will fix, though I can fix it. Iyoba built Petrichor a bed, and I am working on the textures for it. We have the home prim from Pet's crib. It's good for Pet to get off his feet, though he would prefer to sleep outside in the rice, timothy, or jicama, like Little Boy Blue. If he can't do that, a bed is the next best thing. His new bedding will have a leopard ray on it.
That Iyoba and I could lose Pet, is something we always knew. We also know we can lose the Zwickies, though a crisis with them about a month ago, got extra special love and attention. It seemed I was the only one effected due to a partial server outage. Earlier the server that runs Zwickies got hacked. Zwickies, which are far less "successful" than Zooby legacy children, are still wonderfuly supported and loved by a team of dedicated souls.
Though it feels weird to say it, I thnk our Zwickies will outlive Petrichor. Now I could be wrong about all of this. Carrie Tatsu is a lot more like Patnad and Griderz who are in charge of the Zwickies and Andy Grimm who ran Petable Turtles, than they were like Dragonesse Rage (Lily Frogs) or the Ozimals crew and even whoever ran Flurbils (remember those). That means there may be an orderly ending, anyting from statueing to forever potions to an end to tokens and stars, with instructions on how to turn stats off. All of this depends on how easy and cheap it is to keep Zooby babies (legacy ones) walking and moving around.
I still care about existential threats. I still care about Second Life. The reason I have been gone from taking it seriously and this blog is related to COVID-19 and teleworking and other anxieties in my "real life." I'm trying to get back balance and boundaries. That means more time for housecleaning, creativity, and Second Life. So far, it's sort of working.
Eileen H. Kramer -- July 7, 2020