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.
We are not the family at Ch'now. It sounds really snarky, and the One Who Thinks She Knows agrees, but buying things does not bring you happiness. Building things sometimes does, and that costs in prims on land and opportunity cost, but all of this kind of pushes obtaining the best and most satisfying new snake (much more interesting than a sheep) to the bottom of the pile. Now you are probably wondering what "all of this" is besides moralistic snark about something vaguely meaningful.
Well "all of this" was maintaining the stuff we had, and that meant not only paying rent which we pay in advance becasue we really like our landlord, Edde, but also we were running low on Zwicky chow, otherwise known as plutonium. In "real life" plutonium is a poison, but in my world Zwickies love that stuff.
So it was off to the Zwicky Store to pick up a new tank of Plutonium which cost about $10.00 in "real world" money. Zwickies' favorite hobby is EATING. Actually, neither my One nor I mind this as much as we say. Zwickies more than pay back what it costs to keep them. They move. They are fun to watch. In short, they more than pass the six month test. If you like an object or built thing (including breedables and prim babies and bots) six months after you bought it, it is an excellent build. Zwickies are simply excellent.
The six month rule exists in Second Life, because everything, even a simple box, rezzed on your land, costs. The simple box costs one of the prims you pay for with rent. The flexi-dress you make costs space in inventory, whcih can grow insidiously, and the textures you upload. Breedables cost food and prims. And rent... You know what happens if you don't pay that. The problem happens when someone else, a grant, a company, taxpayers etc... foot the bill. When that happens builds overextend and often just sit and rot. You don't have the motivation to keep things in good repair and useful when you're not footing the bill.
Alas, this has become the case on the HealthLink New York archipelago. Eastern New York vanished in October, which snapped the railroad's complete circuit. In short, the trains have stopped running on time. Sadly, HealthLink New York archipelago has probably been overextended for a long time. Maintaining nine sims is expensive, and Southerntier New York shows signs of neglect. While the Aries Gallery, was in good shape, though unchanged, the upper floor of the Arlington Hotel sits under permanent construction. Whoever, HealthLink pays to build it either isn't getting paid or isn't doing his/her job. Nearly all the HealthLink New York archipelago sims leak rent. The HealthLink New York archipelago has not been a self-supporting opperation for a very long time. It is overextended and one of the last corporate sims in Second Life.
By contrast the Finnish department of education pays for Sotunki. The sim was and still is an impressive build, but alas it is starting to age. Old school builds can age well.
With good texturing, even furniture made without sculpties still can look stylish, but broken links like this web site on a prim in the protein synthesis exhibit in Sotunki and the missing web pages linked to viewers in the biology house, are dead give aways that a sim suffers neglect, and in this case, Finland's tax payers are funding it.
Naturally, seeing neglected education builds which we need to do for the Explore SL Spreadsheet, puts my poor One Who Thinks She Knows even more out of sorts than usual. Visiting new sims and builds in progress, however, usually cheers her up. That's why we went to Summit Sun, but didn't ride the rollercoaster. It has one of the prettiest rollercoasters in Second Life.
But we were on progress, however, usually cheers her up. That's why we went to Summit Sun to look for new things, so we visited the walk through aquarium instead and met... Let's just say the One Who Thinks She Knows, Petrichor, and I all have a soft spot for invertebrates. We don't even care if they make pink slime. This Octopus is beautiful and he would not hurt a fly!
I also made sure the One and I visited the bridge at Yumix Resort. I told the One Who Thinks She Knows: "I bet that Hilde has cleared away all the oh so trendy [They won't be in six months. Remember the six month test!] Halloween decorations." Sure enough the decorations were gone. The bridge on Yumix Resort is one of Second Life's most amazing river walks. Most of the soft spots are gone and the view is just amazing, and there is now an underwater build and sky island if you get tired of enjoying the bridge. The One says the bridge reminds her of the "real life" bridges over the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana.
Hildegard Burnstein, Yumix Resort's chief builder, is one of our heroines, even though we can't tell her how much we admire her, because we don't speak a lick of Japanese and she does not speak a lick of English. Free translators are gone. Our Petable Turtle, Mendel, came from Hildegard Burnstein. Thank you Hilde!
Axxo Erin is one of our other builder heroes. His flagship sim, Arab Land vanished in early 2017, but his other sim, Sense, just got a rebuild. It is built with a newspaper theme. It's an old theme, but a great one. Needless to say, Sense lifted my One's spirits.
Meanwhile, we'll keep seeing if our new rainbow stairs begin to pas the six month test. Remember, Petrichor loves rainbows! We're also going to shop for that snake, but other priorities come first.
Iyoba Bat Oni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- November 18, 2017.
My biggest job as an avie is to take care of others' needs. There are Zwickies to look after. There used to be Petable Turtles and Lily Frogs, and then there is my son Petrichor and there is always the One Who Thinks She Knows. She is the saddest and neediest of all sometimes. That means Petrichor goes way too long without new things. Late this week, Petrichor got one of his last summer outfits. Summer lasts a long time in Second Life.
Meanwhile, I continue to help the One compile the Explore SL Spreadsheet, the world's largest and most current list of educational locations in Second Life. That means we check decimation of lost sims. Last week TSUKIJI vanished.
When one sim vanishes, its archipelago is threateend. This was especially important since TSUKIJI's neighbor Nipponbashi has a sandbox we frequently use, and a railroad it shared with TSUKIJI. What happened to the railroad? We had to find out, and yes, part of the TSUJIKI-Nipponbashi railroad went underwater. Now nearly all of it does, and the tracks above ground just end. (See above).
My One also feared that Black Bear Island had also changed for the worse. The place has a mild squatter issue, but most of it was intact, unchanged from its last use for coursework more than eight years ago. Yes, that's the University of Maine's students' and Maine's taxpayers' problem.
More interestingly, Black Bear Island supports a curent student's/recent alum's technical innovation, software that will let avies' Ones control and manage their inventory's textures via computer. All these boxes you see in the picture each contain hundreds of textures. I'm not sure how all this works. The One tried it a few years ago and says it's cumbersome but might work some day.
Meanwhile the Secret of Rabihana disappeared. My One Who Thinks She Knows was more out of sorts than usual, so I thought I could cheer her up with a visit to the Secret of Rabihana high above Kurosaki. The Secret of Rabihana was a bar where hostesses put men at their ease, and females who might want a drink or salarywomen were nonexistent. As a lesson in other cultures' ideas and gender roles, it was a great if inadvertantlyt educational exhibit. It's gone now, as you can see by the empty sky.
Of course my One's perpetual state of misery, can't totally block out Petrichor's needs and wants. He wanted a sheep that moved, and it really wasn't all that difficult to get her convinced that we should visit Tomato Park. The bad news was that the sheep were eleven prims and came only in black or white face. The good news was that there three to five prim pythons that moved. They only come in green. My One wishes there were corn snakes. We shelved the matter, but we're thinking about it.
One of the reasons we did not just take an animated python home was she felt we needed to do something about Petrichor's desire for rainbows. Breedables and other creatures we have. There are eight Zwickies, six resurrected Ozimal's rabbits, one unamed scorpion, two honey bee hives, and one mason bee hotel at Stinky Stinky has Moved Again. One more pet would be....but a rainbow was different. Rain, is another matter. Seeing it all the time would remind me One of apartments full of wet clothes, but rainbows...she loves those...And better yet, my One said we could make a rainbow on which Petrichor and I could walk, not just a texture at which to stare. Off we went to SHINONOME to put a rainbow together in a sandbox. You can see those stairs reached up a good forty meters.
This is the finished product installed in the southwest corner at Stinky Stinky has Moved Again. It worked pretty well. I could climb up it without falling off. If I left Petrichor up there, he could not hear me, but one kind of expects that. The problem was, the stairway took up sixteen prims, and worse yet, the One had dreamed of a spiral. She knew she had spiral stairs in her inventory.
We just couldn't find them but Friday, we saw the box that contained them. They are short. It took six prims to build a twenty meter high stairway, but it's a spiral and it saves ten prims. It's hard to climb down. There's nowhere to go at the top, but Petrichor can follow me up the rainbow. I can always fly down, and I don't land in Edde's store on the way down. We may move the stairway to the other side of the property. It may turn out impractical. Builds like this have a six month rule that they often flunk a lot sooner. And maybe, Petrichor will get his python even if my One would rather have a milk snake morph.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- November 12, 2017
Note Disquus flagged my reply to this article as spam. I have two words for them that are not "happy birthday," and I am very glad I have this blog. The show goes on.
Leslie Jamison, I am biting my tongue trying not to shout "You visited all the WRONG places!"
I still play Second Life. I never seem to get enough of it. The part I enjoy most is building, riding trains, going on roller coasters, dancing at clubs, and trying out dance animations. Of course I always explore.
Your view of Second Life as idealized misses both the humor and the sadness that gives Second Life its rough edges and appeal. There is the slapstick of falling off a hundred foot building and watching your poor avie dust herself off. There is the painful moment of fitting a flexi-skirt (Yes, I still make those. They are just plain useful and fun.) in a public sandbox, and the tooth gritting moment of getting stuck under a floor or stairs due to a soft spot. Then there is the joy of bouncing on a nasty neighbor's ban lines. Fly up and over the banned parcel. Turn off flight and the ban lines act as a trampoline. Jumping virtual walls is also fun!
As for sadness, if you can't pay your rent in Second Life...you're toast. That includes any land you rent. Sims (free standing regioins) disappear and mainland becomes abandoned. I find myself mourning places' disappearance. I have lost three sets of virtual animals to companies closing down or absconding. I mourn their loss as well. Animals can breed in Second Life without causing overpopulation.
Conversely, I enjoy watching new builds go up. Traveling through abandoned or half built sims blots out any feeling of perfection, but it also renews a faith in a kind of resilience and also sometimes anger when tuition, tax payer dollars, or grant money pays sim rent.
And with the right level of engagement, the other senses beyond what you see on the screen emerge in the mind and heart. A friend, who wore the same outfit session after session, stank. If my avie does not change her outfit daily, she's grubby and I feel it. The bath water in the tub feels hot and not quite clean enough. The rainn always feels wonderfulm, beacuse rain is very scarce in Second Life.
My avie is African American and a visit to a 19th Century Texas island left me feeling sick to my stomach with fear. "Am I property? Will someone stop me on the street, or am I just persecuted under Jim Crow laws?" I wondered. I remember crying and shaking after I got up from the computer.
And in moments of solemnity, I take my Zooby baby (He's made from prims and scripted which means he's an object, but I don't like to believe that.) to the Kotel on the SL Israel sim. We stand on the female side, and I pour out my heart. Yes, a piece of my heart is in Second Life.
Even though your experience is very different from mine thank you for reporting about it, andd my avie's name is Iyoba BatOni.
Eileen H. Kramer with help of coures from Iyoba BatOni -- November 11, 2017
I think for myself some of the time. The One Who Thinks She Knows thinks for herself some of the time. This is better than a lot of what other Ones and avies do. And surprisingly enough, Petrichor, my Zooby son, thinks for himself some of the time. My One Who Thinks She Knows and I share memories, which means, that we share them with Petrichor, but Petrichor is more than just the One's fantasy of all the things she'd share with a child if she had one in "real life."
First of all neither Petrichor nor I live in "real life." And as I've said many times before, Second Life is a desert. Every few days, the One Who Thinks She Knows worries about getting wet in the rain and having an apartment full of dirty clothes. Then when the rain doesn't come, she worries about a drought. Second Life, always has a drought, and neither Petrichor nor I worry about it. Instead, we seek out rain. We have a number of rain sims, and rain rooms. And last week we found a rainforest in the Yucatan above SELU Regents. SELU Regents is a sad place, an education sim that desperately needs a quick update which it's not going to get, but the rainforest made Petrichor and I very happy.
Alas, rainbows are even scarcer than rain in Second Life. My One sees them at least once a month in "real life" if the weather is warm and there is rain at dusk. On Second Life, Petrichor and I have to look hard. And recently we lost access to a rainbow on NagoyaCentral Nippon. The land owner took it down which left us with one less rainbow in the world. Fortunately, there was still a rainbow on Sparkle, so I took Pet to see it, to remind him there were still rainbows in our world.
Of course Petrichor and I both fell in love with all the cute animals tucked in the woods, meadows, and mountains, on on Sparkle, and in no time Petrichor asked me why we could not get a sheep. I told him that the sheep might be a custom creation and not for sale. Also, I'd like to know if it came in spotted, black, or brown. The black face was kind of cute, but I always like when there are lots of varieties of a creature. I right clicked on the sheep and found out its creator, and where its creator had a shop. Well, we could at least price the sheep and learn about available breeds. It might even be fun to visit an animal shop.
Strike that. Visiting animal shops and breedable markets is nearly always fun, except when there are tons of large breedables stuck in stalls and unable to move, but the moment Petrichor and I teleported into D-LAB to go sheep shopping, I knew we were in Only the Best territory. Trees and buildings wore original paint. And if there is a line between another pretty build and a work of art, into D-LAB was in the second category.
It even had a ferris wheel. Petrichor and I attempted to ride it, but it stopped two thirds of the way around. This left me disappointed, but we have a ferris wheel of our own at Stinky Stinky has Moved Again. It only holds one person, but it does work, so this was no great loss.
The donkey ride was much better. Animal rides that bob back and forth are a dime a dozen, but this donkey had a face with so much personality, and I loved his little red, woolen sweater. I think he is an original creation. He deserves to be one anyway, and I did not see if he was for sale.
I don't think this black rabbit is for sale either. He has the unenviable job of bouncer and guard at the pizzaria on the upper walkaway above D-LAB's main store. Technically this is part of the Sky Garden. This is the art the commerce supports. Plants grow, pigs fly, eggs wait to hatch, and this rabbit gets to watch the world go by.
Besides asking for rainbows and rain room visits, Petrichor wants to "fly to the sky like Zwicky!" I have never been able to disabuse him of the notion that one of our Zwicky's, Geronimo our Luna starter male, is his father. That Petrichor doesn't look like a Zwicky doesn't change things. That I had to recover him twice when taking him flying over the LEA5 Sandbox did nothing to change his mind either. At D-LAB Petrichor and I got to sit on the crescent moon.
Petrichor and I also danced in the stars in a part of D-LAB called Season's Change. It pays to have lots of dances in inventory for times like these. The stars were scattered at our feet like snowflakes, and the planets danced above our heads.
Of course Petrichor and I did find our sheep at D-LAB. There were no black, brown, or spotted models. There were no rams with horns. The price was 300L (a bit more than a dollar in real life), and their land impact was one prim. But the sheep (technically ewes) were chairs, and only model moved its head. None of them walked. Not that an indoor sheep chair might not be cute, but it would not be much of a pet, more useful to me than it would be to Petrichor. I told Petrichor we would check out the animated animals at Tomato Park. I also asked our landlord if I could build a rainbow track to which I'd add a few stars. A rainbow track and some stars that are maybe animated at less than a hundred meters will more resemble flying like a Zwicky than hanging out under the house, which is on stilts. I wait to hear back from our landlord. We have a covenant, but we also pay our rent regularly. There is room for exceptions, just as there is room for imagination.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Petrichor and Eileen H. Kramer -- November 5, 2017
There is of course a way past this impasse. Iyoba and I are ready to tell our story. And we're going to start with what it is like to take care of a virtual baby. Ours is not the orthodox Zooby care routine. Iyoba stopped that with Petrichor about the time he was weaned, because he could eat crackers and the baby food was disgusting. The snack bites are worse. Once you stop one Zooby consumable, the others do not help you earn happiness tokens. Neither Iyoba nor I were I were all that thrilled with token toys, and we had more than enough tokens. We still, however, enjoy caring for our son. We begin by removing his clothes. Like all Second Life males, Petrichor's penis is detatchable. He is standing behind it in the photo.
Next, Iyoba uses Petrichor's menu to freez him in a standing pose, and the building tools to position him in front of his penis which is set up so he can pee standing up in his potty. We still haven't figured out how to have Petrichor flush the toilet. Mostly Iyoba congratulates him when she doesn't have to empty the potty.
Petrichor, however, goes standing up, and hits the target one hundred percent of the time! He may have talked about peeing in Iyoba's eyes (With a talker you can add phrases like that. Talking babies say the craziest things etc..) but that's not how he behaves. The Stick n' Dick as we call the device that enables Petrichor to urinate like a big boy, has turned out to be useable and a resounding success! There is something very satisfying about this developmental milestone, though I'm not sure why. I do know I include a fly on most of Petrichor's pants.
After Petrichor empties his tank, it is bath time. You don't want a dirty virtual baby. Even dirty avatarim smell, or at least I think they do. If there is a mind's eye, there is also a mind's nose. Bath time can be leisurely or brief depending on how rushed Iyoba and I are, and how much we want to use the talker for stories and conversation. Taking a bath with a virtual baby is fun. Note: I helped Iyoba build the tub that lets her and Petrichor bathe together. Zooby does not offer a cobathing tub which is a dirty shame. Petrichor could some day grow too old for cobathing, but right now he is still small.p> Meal time follows bath time. Petrichor can eat from a plate and receives real food. You'll need to click the image to see Pet at his Magic Table. Each bowl on the table has a menu with twelve food stuffs. Petrichor receives Bamba (Israeli peanut snacks) at every meal, as well as a main dish, vegetable, and fruit.
Here is a close up of one of the two menus. Yes, I use a standard, probably pretty crappy, menu script for reach bowl, which is why we need two bowls, but our food beats Zooby's food because it is realistic people food, has more variety, and of course Bamba! With simple words, there is no limit in what you can do, or at least a nice, comfortable limit.
And no meal is complete without Petrichor's sippy cup. What goes in the sippy cup is a great topic of disucssion, just like taking a bath in various substances such as chocolate milk, Dr. Pepper, and Zwicky farts. Petrichor's talker gives vent to a small child's imagination, and this is Second Life after all. I doubt there are Zwicky farts in the sippy cup, but there could be Dr. Pepper in there.
After meal time, when there is time, Iyoba straps on Petrichor in his carrier, and off they go to work or to enjoy themselves at amusement parks or baby-friendly dance clubs. Iyoba wishes she could somtimes leaves Petrichor home to go swimming since he really doesn't like to go in the water any more. We have toys in the yard, and sometimes she gets away by herself, but most of the time, she and Petrichor travel together. Exploring with a baby is more fun, and everyday is take the baby to work day.
Exploring is still a mainstay of Iyoba and Petrichor's relationship. It would be nice if he could walk along beside her, but we cross sims, and we enter places that don't let scripted objects fully work. For that reason, Petrichor is better off attached. Doing recovery on a Zooby baby is not fun. Still exploring is probably part of the reason we've made it past Stage 70. And yes, exploring with a virtual baby is its own experience. There will be more of that in our next entry.
Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- October 29, 2017
This is a heavy title. I thought about calling it hitting the wall, except Petrichor, Iyoba, and I are all still in business and doing fairly well. This is despite silence on the blog, adventures in "real life" that are soaking my time, and what you are about to read. For reasons that only my fellow "Ones Who Think They Know" (aka humans) can explain, talk about Zooby babies always leads to drama. "Would you die for Petrichor? Would you sacrifice your job for Petrichor? How much money would you invest in Petrichor?" You already have some partial answers.
Now let's take a deeper look. The first existential threat to Petrichor occured before he could walk. I can not tell this story in detail, but my colleagues offered the best assistance they could, as did a very intelligent Systems Librarian. I created a wonderful paper trail, and within forty-eight hours, the threat went POOF!
The second existential threat to Petrichor and Iyoba occured three weeks ago. Yesha, my big gaming computer, stopped waking up after sleeping. Would not bring up the task manager, did not respond to Ctrl-Alt-Del at all, and did a few other weird things. I tried running some curative files from start up media with no luck. In the end, I reinstalled Windows with everything left in place. This was not nearly as awful as it sounds. Again, the existential threat went POOF!
The third threat was of another nature entirely, and one I have seen coming perhaps since before I ever acquired Petrichor. Both Iyoba and I are badly scarred by our experiences with breedables. The Zwickies benefit from this, because we have never retired one. We still have our starter group. And given a chance, we hang on and on and on. Our Zwickies are now nearly six years old.
That is how I knew this day would come. Zooby economics, which deserve a blog post in and of themselves, are front loaded and for good reason. It is easy for any breedable or prim child to turn into an attrition statistic. There are only seventy stages of development for a Zooby baby. Even at a star a week with a few days missed here and there, a Zooby baby will reach his developmental wall. He will be "all grown up." in about two years.
That is what happened to Petrichor a day or two after Labor Day. I photographed the big event with the interdface on. I'm sorry if the writing is hard to read. I feel a bit sad. It's an anticlimax of sorts. Also in the parlance of breedables, Petrichor is only marginally supported. That this makes great economic sense is beside the point. Petrichor and I are extreme outliers, and for the last ten days or so we've been on our own.
Actually, we've sort of been on our own since day one. This is not to criticize Carrie Tatsu, but Zooby babies DO NOT come with a chest or spine hold carrier. This means it took a trip to the sandbox to work out a hands free carry. Petrichor still spends a lotof his life strapped to Iyoba. Long term that is not a great solution, but it has let us travel all over Second Life.
Travelling is still a big part of Petrichor's and Iyoba's existence, and it occurs independently of Zooby support. With a baby who's hit the Stage 70 wall, this is a big plus. Petrichor has always loved amusement parks since has travelled to them his whole life. This is an interior view of the Whacky Shack, a fun house roller coaster high above Schizura.
Also being two years old, Petrichor, has a bit of a personality, mind, front story, and back story of his own. He believes his father is a Zwicky. He loves rainbows and rain, both of which are scarce in Second Life.
Iyoba and I have also been struggling with the fact that Zooby Babies once beyond the first fifteen or so stages, don't follow the same developmental trajectory that my real life brother or I followed. This is not a fault. "Normal," "real life" human development is all over the map. I talked at nine months, walked at twelve months, and could not use a hula hoop or ride a pogo stick at age six. Harvey, my brother did not walk until he was two or talk until he was two and a half. He also was not one for pogo sticks or hula hoops. Petrichor can use both a pogo stick and hula hoop but would have a very limited vocabulary were it not for a talk HUD I gave him. It's not perfect, but he is a small child, and Iyoba and he can have short conversations that make sense. Petrichor can also NOTflush a toilet or wipe, even though he has the motor skills that would make this a piece of cake.
I still haven't figured out how to get Petrichor to flush and wipe, but he is a big enough boy to go standing up. This is my second attempt, and after reading about particle scripts and flags, I managed to create a detachable penis complete with an activator pole. Iyoba positions Petrichor in front of the organ, touches the pole, and perfect aim hits the target every time.
Of course none of this means Petrichor will grow to be a man, but like the taste for drama compared to real existential threats, having Petrichor flush the toilet, go standing up, carry on a bit more of a conversation, and develop a personality are all possibilities. This existential threat is not going POOF any time soon, but Petrichor isn't going poof either.
Eileen H. Kramer -- September 12, 2017