A perfect sea urchin

A Second Life

This area belongs to Iyoba, my favorite avie from Second Life and me. We share our thoughts here and discuss our adventures in the metaverse. To return to the main blog page, just click here.

Some Magic Happens

NimrodThis picture says it all. I found him Tuesday on my lunch break. He is Nimrod, my fifteenth zwicky progeny. I have waited a long time for a male to be born. It means there will be F2 zwickies or F1.5's more accurately. I let Nimrod come out of stasis. He is flying around with his three mothers and one father taking his visits to the feeder, and keeping Mithras, Wahidde, and Yehuda, the turtles company. Chai is up on the roof enjoying her second life.

I got rid of my bathtub so I could bring Nimrod to life. Iyoba can bathe any number of other places. We've both decided that the rest of the bathroom set is not all that useful. Also with the sleeping mat on the roof, Iyoba seldom uses her inside furniture. We have Lily Frogs we want to start. Yes, this is one more breedable. We have neighbors with cats, dogs, meeroos, and horses. It's nice to have something low prim and fun. With the furniture down, there will be room for two to three frogs. Hopefully it will be a pair. I'll just get used to them and fill their food bowl. I even have a tank for them that will fit in the house once I take down the partition.

I still can't bring myself to breed virtual cats or dogs. There are too many of them unwanted in the real world. Virtual horses are still awful because they end up penned in stalls. Turtles, zwickies, and frogs are active. The cats end up in large pens too and so do meeroos, which have weird, indecipherable color names.

Last night I found out my Lily Frog kits lacked lily pads. I got a pad but it cost all of .50/135L. I'm not going to complain. I am good to go. I don't have any names for my frogs. My mind is a blank on this. Oh well, I have a virtual Halloween party tonight. Iyoba is dressed as her tiny self, a little carved and painted wooden armadillo. Now virtual armadilloes would be fun to breed. Too bad nobody has come up with them yet.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni October 27, 2011

Random Thoughts and Photos

Iyoba between the walls in the tower A lot has happened to both Iyoba and me in the last few days. I thought we'd be on some empty sims, but while there weren't a lot of people around, we discovered and rediscovered some excellent builds. I took this picture on Tejano Tech. This is the inside of a Mayan temple. It is every bit as claustrophobic as it looks.

This sim also included a hot air ballon, a chicken whose eggs you can gather, a spinning wheel for those domestic types, and plenty of flowers. You can even relax at a diner.

We also visited the Biomedicine Laboratory. That is the name of a sim run by the Sbarro Health Research Organization. When I first saw that name all I can still think of is the ubiquitous pizza-in-a-mall chain that has a kind of cafeteria line. I can't remember if Sbarro pizza is any good. I'm sure I've eaten it. Somehow Sbarro does not get tarred with the same brush as McDonalds.

Yes, they had a Coke machine at SHRO but no pizza! Well, they have a real web page. I still don't recognize them, but I wasn't so far off when I kept thinking pizza in a mall. This sim is someone's pet project, and the teleporters don't work and the walking tours are worthless. One funny note is that this is right in the lobby of the hospital and it works. I guess either avatarim don't suffer diabetes or they need a way to create more paying patients.

There are no notecard givers. There are very few links to pages. There is a link to a half defunct blog. I feel like saying: This is a pretty good build, can't you do better?

Iyoba against a green tile wall Meanwhile, this sim made a good site for a photo shoot. This was the handwashing area outside the operating room in the hospital. You can smell the chemicals in that place. The operating room gave me the willies. If you like playing doctor, this hospital is probably for you. It's vacant so why not use it.

Iyoba is wearing a tunic I made long ago. It was my first attempt at doing something with red radishes. I've done nicer ones since, but the tunic has its own charm. It even has a pattern for making it into a full fledged prim dress, something I never did and should do.

And two nights ago I accidentally hatched out a turtle. I didn't mean to do it. Usually when I do this I wait the five minutes, box up the hatchling and forget about him or her. The baby turtle slowly starves to death in inventory, and these are Petable Turtles, but it still feels awful to do. I tell myself I just don't have room. I can always revive dead virtual turtles with the elixir of life. I have a huge collection of elixir in my inventory.

Well two nights ago, I couldn't bring myself to box up the baby. I told myself I had to do it. When he was a week old, he would mate with his mother, and produce sterile eggs. It's happened before. Well, what could I do? I remembered I had extra food bowls. I did some swapping around. I also had plenty of extra homing objects. I boxed up Mithras, the baby turtle, and brought him down to the garden. I set the homing object and food bowl at the same level as the zwickies' feeder. This would allow the little baby turtle to have company, but he really needed one of his own species, and one to whom he was NOT related so that next week...well you know what turtles do every day.

Welcome back Chai! I had just the turtle. I retired Narcisse, who has produced for a long time. She may get her turn again because in her place, I resurrected (Remember that elixir of life!) Chai, the first turtle baby that I hatched out. Chai is Lucifer and Bernarde's daughter. They were my first two turtles, so Chai has an intersting pedigree. Her mother was a product of Boo Vaher's now defunct White Turtle Project. Her father was a pinkish turtle who was descended from a FIFA special. This is good genetic packaging if you can get it.

At the time though, I just wanted to hatch an egg. I thought that was exciting thirteen months ago. I also thought she was a good mixture. Have I been doing turtles that long? It feels like only yesterday. I'm still raising Petable Turtles because I am not in it for the money and Petable Turtles are great fun. If people like me buy food, they'll stay in business. So far they've been "unsupported" but still in business for nearly two months going on three.

Anyway, it was fun to see Chai take to the air. Flying turtles are nothing new, but it's been a while since I've had them. They bother some people, but given that the zwickies also function at about this level, it's great to see both creatures together. And yes, they do walk around. Zwickies are especially beautiful in motion. Turtles plod, but they do move.

And this last picture shows Mithras, the new baby turtle, and Geronimo, my male zwicky together. Mithras has a rusty shell, gold body, and lime green carapace. He may look brown, but there is a lot of red in there. His mother, Yael, has a bright red body and brown shell. Brown turtles, have a moderate red and green and not any blue. Mithras inherited his mother's shell. His body though is a cross between both his parents. His father Yehudah is medium green with a slightly greyish tone. Unfortunately, Yehudah is one of my own, and his mother is Chai and his father was...Orpheus. That makes him a half brother to Eicha. It's good to see F1 turtles in action. Well, I can do some switching around before Mithras matures. I'll probably pair him with Wahidde or Dinah. Meanwhile, here he is.

Geronimo and Mithras

I guess I should turn on Queen and play in the Land that Our Grandchildren knew. I think Chai would understand, or at least I imagine it.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni fifteen turtles and four zwickies -- October 22, 2011

Mark Stephen Meadows Missed This One

One of the first lessons most of my immediate peers learn in Second Life is: "There's no such thing as a free lunch." You can sit and stare, hang out on the side walk, order just a drink, but what you get you pay for. This horrifies some people like my mother who can't bear the idea of paying real money for "make believe" goods, but the alternatives are worse. Ad-support can mean cheesey ads, and freebies like those in Farmville (and even in Second Life in the high season of camping several years ago) came with strings attached such as getting spammed or having to sign others up for dubious offers, or becoming a spreader of social engineering.

In a monetized world, what you pay and when is much more honest because costs are up front. If you want a premium membership, you pay Linden Labs monthly or yearly. If you want a scripted item or a builder box of shapes, you pay one to five dollars. If you want land, you either purchase mainland ($3 to $10.00) with a premium membership which with a 512 pays for itself. If you want estate land (no premium membership required), you pay between $4.00 adn $50.00 a month for it.

Land is the most expensive item, and the only one requiring an ongoing committment. You can break that committment. So can the landlord. I was ripped off in late 2009. I lost $3.00. Otherwise, I have pretty much always gotten that for which I paid.

In the "real world," there is no such thing as a free lunch, but online something else happens. Maybe it was Npaster and YouTube, and the vast amount of free entertainment. Maybe it is because Facebook does not charge and MSNGroups and many other services are free. They're not free. They're ad-supported, but that is another story. People who fall in love with Second Life sometimes arrive with an attitude of entitlement that makes them think that they should not have to pay for anything.

The large amount of freebies out there doesn't help matters, but I don't think it hurts them. When you find that the shirt doesn't cover your breasts or belly adequately, a common complaint among avatarot who work in education, you begin to learn how to make your own clothes or buy better ones. Textures cost .25 to upload and a typical outfit costs from .50 to .75. Second Life is cheap entertainment even if you pay. I think freebies socialize avatarim into a life of shopping, since they get to sample the paid goods too in the case of demos and animations.

There is, however, within Second Life a subculture of unabashed dead beats. They aren't as colorful as Furries or Goreans. They don't have the gravitas of builders/content creators. They don't have the enthusiasm of breedable enthusiasts or the zealous faith of Christians, or the seriousness of educators.

These folks treat Second Life a bit like Facebook. Usually the avies have blank or close to blank profiles. They don't want to be known or found. They may have credit card info on file. They may not, because I have seldom seen anything these folks have built from scratch. There may be free, prefab, skyboxes around. I've never wanted one.

You find them on abandoned land or land whose owners don't care for it properly. I had one parked outside my 512 in Hartley more than a year ago. He had his cars strewn all over land that was NOT his. I asked if he and the landowner had an understanding. He replied that he NEEDED to have land and he couldn't afford it. I warned him I was going to get in touch with the land owner, and he could pay for the land like any body else.

Most recently, I've run into squatters on the University of Texas archipleago. The land is blank. There are clusters of avies in the sky. I used to think there might be classrooms. Now I'm a bit more savvy. Iyoba puts on her Easy-Lift Anklet and flies up. Sometimes the squatters are at just above 500 meters. Sometimes they are at close to the legal limit of 4096 meters, and of course they are at all levels in between.

A typical squatter home is a store bought, prefab, sky box. "If this is a private residence...I'm sorry," is my favorite greeting to squatters. Sometimes you still get run off the land. I have found sex beds in squatter houses, kitchens (with no scripting) and even a lovely bathroom. The bathroom I can understand, I have a freebie bathroom with paid animations in my house at Stinky Stinky.

Last night a squatter tried to justify what she was doing. I won't reprint the details here, but basically she did not believe that any one was paying for the land on above which she lived and that she had tacit permission to be there.

There used to be discussions in the old Second Life forums about what to do with squatters. If you are the landowner, you can kick them out. A friend suggested sending a message to the landowner. This does not do much good if the landowner is a paid administrator who has been laid off, or if he or she is now doing the work of more than one person due to layoffs. Of course I could go the route of publishing images of squats and SLURL's to them.

Since I've found squatters on tax payer funded land, the issue also has a political side. Tax payer dollars are not only going toward a "video game," they are going to help players...Let's say there are some prudish folks out there who might not be comfortable looking at Second Life avies in scanty clothing in their dens. If I wanted to embarass Rich Perry or the Chancellor of the Texas University system, I could probably find a way to go very public.

I'm not doing that. Perry's political star is all ready a bit tarnished. I'm no fan of any one else in the Republican field. In other words, I don't have a dog in this fight, even if I could get behind the ethics of blowing the whistle.

Besides, my heart is with the land owner even if he is absentee, overworked, etc... I pay rent or pay for it in work. I buy turtle food regularly for my Petable Turtles. I pay for what I use. That gives me very little patience with those who don't. I am going to write to the landowner, but let the chips fall where they may after that. Unless I'm on the right kind of land, my path and those of the squatters does not cross. I like it better that way.

Eileen H. Kramer with hope from Iyoba BatOni -- October 13, 2011

Bushwhacking Excitement

The One Who Thinks She Knows and I go bushwhacking most days of the week. Bushwhacking is what we call exploring sims for educational, museum, and library sites, and then adding those sites to our big spreadsheet. It's the One who does the adding, but it's me who does the exploring. I fall in the water, off of building roofs, and I'm the one whom it hurts emotionally.

MRI machine is worse than a coffin! Last week we visited Edinburgh, a town simulation on UT PanAmerican Three. I'd been there before. There is a hospital there that makes the One queasey, but I'm the one who gets to visit there and I found this gruesome machine. It fascinated the One but I had to climb in it and lay down. Yuck, that thing was worse than a coffin!

I can't see my friend! Then I went across the street to visit the poor bot in the prison. I visited her six months ago. I knew she was there. I was going to comfort her as much as an avie can comfort a bot. Poor bot! There wer ban lines around the police station that holds the prison. I could not go and see my bot friend. It really upset me. You all know I can be very emotional at times.

The court will now come to order! Of course things would be different if I were in charge. Here I am at the courthouse in the judge's chair. Unfortuantely, I don't have a black robe or a gavel, but they wouldn't do me any good anyway. The One does not have the privileges to take the ban lines down, and besides that the court room is empty. I can yell "Order in the court!" all I want but after that what do I do? I guess when the students are around they have mock trials or hold classes. This is after all and educational sim.

Meeting at the Crossroads! Of course not all of our bushwhacking is as upsetting as the trip to Edinburgh. There are some stunning treasures buried in the University of Texas System Archipelago. The University of Texas Permian Basin runs a first rate jazz museum. It works best with the speakers turned on and the streaming audio enabled. You start in the lobby and then visit the sites.

That was how Iyoba met the Devil at the crossroads. He must have been a nice devil because he gave her a guitar. There was also a notecard giver that explained the scene. Again, this was wonderfully immersive with plenty of atmosphere.

Cool jazz!And this is Iyoba on the vibrophone in the cool jazz class. The professor was a bit short tempered, but he was very impressed with her one stick technique.

relaxing at a clubThen we stopped off at a club, to enjoy some beebop. No, Iyoba did not leave that full ashtray, because she does not smoke. Since she is nearly forty years old, she certainly can imbibe if she so chooses. She says the beer was OK. I think she was just trying to be polite, because the beer was kind of.... but one goes to a club like that for the music anyway.

Now a word of caution: Not all bushwhacking is as exciting and photogenic as this blog has portrayed it thus far. You know I am an expert at the empty sim photo. I'll have some of those soon enough. Iyoba does not really mind empty sims, and I'm glad avatarot don't have to do laundry, because I'm not sure we could get the smell of stale cigarettes out of that nice green dress with the poppies on it.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba Tarantal -- October 10, 2011

Leftover from Last Month

The One Who Thinks She Knows filmed me while I was visiting a store at Ciudade de Desconto, a Brazilian mall with a nice club and bicycles. I rode the bicycle after we made this movie. I hope you enjoy it.

Whatever Happened to Plan Z and More

The same thing happened to Plan Z that happened to Eternal Creations except I did not give anything up. This morning Geronimo gave birth to his fourteenth offspring, another female zwicky. None of this perturbs me. The zwickette was beautiful. If I had more room, I just might hatch her out, but.... I don't have the room.

Now why am I no longer upset? Zelly flowers are free! That means my zwickies are cheap to feed and are immortal! If zwickies are immortal, small timers like me can stay in the game. I don't have to worry about replacing my original four.

Meanwhile we've been through two tenants, and I have a mentee/intern who is helping with the working copy of the CVL Spreadsheet of Libraries, Educational Sites, and Museums in Second Life. That is quite a mouthful. I'm not going to write much about my mentee. Being a supervisor is not easy.

The bushwhacking itself, however, is a pleasure. It is always fun to see how sims change, and last night I ran into both the student volunteer and creator of a site I had just listed. I left the student a note, and she got in touch with the owner, and I soon found myself answering a lot of questions. Since I had nothing to hide, I did not particularly mind. I sometimes feel I work in secret and no one sees what I do. It was a big change, but a pleasant one.

Two days ago, I came across people in a far less friendly way. UT Austin 2 has been turned into an empty sim that acts as a sandbox with no auto return. Such a situation attracts squatters like sugar attracts many species of ants. At first I did not know the sim had a squatter problem. I flew up toward where I saw students. Students meant there was a build. Sure enough I landed on a megaprim on which was built a house with two prim babies. I've seen stranger things on educational sims. I thought of the Morrill archipelago and wondered if the University of Texas had a school of social work or human ecology.

I found no one on the sim and no signs. I flew higher. I reached a second mega prim with a prefab house, and space for prim children or child avies to play. The house was luxurious. When I ran object profiles on parts of it, it seemed to belong to avies in some sort of Zyngo group. I reasoned that such avatarim could be students. There were two aviess riding bicycles in the yard. I profiled one of them. I also overheard their conversation. They were not speaking English. I think they were speaking some sort of Slavic language written in a Roman alphabet. Secondlife chat also prints Arabic and Cyryllic characters and several other alphabets.

By now I had a pretty good idea something was amiss, but the University of Texas at Austin is a big institution, and such universities have foreign students. The prefab could have been an office and classroom building for an ESL program. In I went. The two avies followed me in. The prefab looked like a private residence. There were no free educational sim televisions on the walls. There were no notecard givers. Everything was store bought. I apologized. They told me to scram. I told them that this was land belonging to the University of Texas at Austin. I did not tell the pair they were squatting. Some things are just too obvious. I did write the landowner.

Here is where it gets weird. The landowner is an entituy with UTexasAdmin as a last name or something like that. It is a corporate last name which makes him a special user. There is a good chance he or she is an avie shared by multiple individuals or by an individual with a job title that may include a lot of other responsiblities. I also had a feeling, given the state of UT Austin 2, that the administrator had been laid off, transferred, was doing the work of three people etc...Still, I left him a message telling him he had a "squatter problem."

I am not uncharitable, but the squatters can fend for themselves. I've always paid for any land I've used either with money or labor. The squatters are stealing tax paper funded resources, but then again the University of Texas at Austin is squandering them via poor administration. A person who pays her way, and learns to live with a lot less space than these squatters stole, doesn't have much sympathy for those getting a free ride. If the squatters' build (obtained out of a box. These guys don't do their own building and can't build their way out of a soggy, paper bag!) comes back in a ball, it is a cheap lesson that they should have learned a long time ago.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- October 6, 2011