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. We are also experimenting with RSS.
My One Gets Scaird in the Pharmacy
You are probably wondering what I am doing sitting in this chair in this plain white room. Well, this was no ordinary white room. It all started when my One Who Thinks She Knows, wanted to go bushwhacking again and did not want to go to the Aloft Nonprofit Commons. We checked the map around the IEEE sims and saw the USF Health islands.
Not only did we see the USF Health 2 sim, but we saw there were avies there, close to a dozen of them, each in his or her own little shelter or building. My One thought the avies might be attending a lecture or busy in a lab. She wanted to see what was going on. She wanted to see even if it got both of us banned.
Actually, my One did not want to get us banned. She wanted to slip in and slip out. She did not want to disturb the students in their classes or lab exercises. She said she had once been a student herself, and besides if we got banned, we could get every body else banned like those no good squatters on UAA Seawolves.
Still my One had to see so we went. I was a little tricky flying up on to the platform, and then we found no doors to any of the twenty-four identical pharmacies, though we could see through the drive-in window. We had to use a cam and sit, and I landed on a counter. We cammed all over the place.
There was indeed a student in our pharmacy. She was in a back room behind the counter where the pharmacists made prescription drugs. This made my One very cautious, though she did camm into the back room. She said that in "real life" the back rooms near the counter in most pharmacies lead to the public bathrooms. Most pharmacies in "real life" have nice clean bathrooms. The student in the back room, which did not have a bathroom, just stood still and did nothing. My One believed she was waiting for her lab partner or there was a professor watching her computer screen. The professor was in "Real Life" and he or she was watching a bunch of students, each one in a pharmacy of his/her own.
Meanwhile, my One and I made a tour of the pharmacy. We looked at the products on the shelves. My One was impressed with the details, until she looked more closely. There was food, baby wipes, diet snacks, cold cream, and children's diarreah remedy, all sold close together in a weird jumble. This was the same image on all six shelves. My One thinks whoever built the pharmacy economized on textures.
My One was more impressed with the prescription medicines, but then again, neither of us has seen the back end of a "real life" pharmacy. Of course, my One told me about how her grandfather for whom she is named and who died in 1959 was a pharmacist. He owned his own drug stores, one in Cortland, New York and the other in a place called Catteraugus, New York. She also said he was a track star in the 100 yard dash at Columbia, University.
Of course my One was utterly fascinated by all the details in the back of the pharmacy. These are flavorings for children's medicines and maybe adult ones. There is banana, lemon, watermellon, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and even bubblegum. My One thinks that the syrups probably only make the medicine taste worse. She is a skeptic, and she remembers taking bad tasting medicine as a child.
Then there was this fascinating tool. My One thought it was a knife at first. She has to cut up a prescription pill and take only half of it in "real life," but it was too blunt to be a knife. It's a pill mover. You pour pills into it and they slide along the concave surface into a new bottle.
Now my One wanted a really good photograph to take as a trophy of our invading the twenty-four pharmacies on the USF 2 Sim, so I crouched down and pretended to crack the safe. Forget that the only way I know how to open anything is to touch it or to put in a passcode. My One explained that if I could hear the combination, I could open the safe. Of course, I didn't hear anything. There wasn't anything to hear, but I could pose like I was breaking in. We at least had a fun photo that made our trip to the pharmacy look like it was really dangerous.
Then we went to explore the rest of the island. We went to the info-hub and noticed that there were teleport posters advertising Patient Centered Counseling with an assortment of characters that could have been other students or more likely were bots. I have no problem with bots. They make me think of poor Maria in the prison on Texas Pan American 3, but my One thinks that bots are even lower than Petable Turtles, just things. We argue over this.
Then my One noticed that one of the bots' names was Courtney Zero. "That's the same name as our student in the pharmacy!" my One exclaimed. She was sure that had to be a conincidence, yet the picture of Courtney also matched the student we had seen. We clicked on the teleport poster, and found ourselves in a hospital room. We could get a note card that explained that Courtney had persistent coughing. We were supposed to interview her like a doctor or nurse.
There was just one problem. Courtney was standing back in the pharmacy like a statue. She was hiding in the back room. I'm not sure what she was doing there and no-showing her medical appointment, not that bots really get sick.
By the way, my One, who does not like bots, even very sophisticated ones like Courtney, does not feel embarassed that she mistook Courtney Zero for a "real student." She says that after UAA Seawolves and what happened there with the squatters, people walking around academic sims, even if they are open to the public, have to be extra polite. Also, we are not putting USF Health 2 on the spread sheet because the pharmacy was nothing but a mockup and the patients were apparently missing from their patient centered counseling sessions. In other words, the sim is not crowded with students and not ready for prime time, and maybe I really should have tried to crack that safe. My One only thinks there were drugs in it, but maybe there were Lindens or birthstone Petable Turtle Eggs. What do you think?
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- October 30, 2012
More About Keeping my One Happy
When you have a One who Thinks He or She Knows, you have to keep them happy or you will have a rough life. So it is, I have continued to do whatever I can to make my One happy. My One loves her Barack Obaama. She was at the phone bank this afternoon making lots of calls to other Ones to remind them to vote. She did this even though a very bad storm is coming in "real life" where she lives. Me, I love rain and storms. I never see very much rain so having lots of it would be fun. I'm not sure about the wind though. I'll have to think about that.
Well, on Friday I asked my One who Thinks She Knows to let me wear my Barack Obama T-shirt. To me surprize, she was utterly delighted with the idea! I put it on and we took lots of pictures together. I even made some campaign posters because I got inspired.
My One told me all about campaign headquarters that is down near what used to be the SugarBunz store on the corner of Candler and Glenwood, and about the main campaign headquarters on Auburn Avenue. "Real Life" doesn't have a lot of islands and roads connect everything, so road names are important. She said that in the headquarters there were all kinds of signs like "Educators for Obama" and "Women for Obama." Of course there were no "Avies for Obama." and there was nothing about breedable pets like Lily Frogs, Petable Turtles, and Zwickies, so I made my own sign for all ofus who take care of our Ones' Petable Turtles.
The turtle in the poster is Billie. She's one of our oldest turtles, and she is fast asleep. My One took the picture from the back so every one could see the logo on the back of my Obama shirt. Of course, we did not want to leave the zwickies out. Here I am with Nimrod, our youngest male zwicky and we have a Zwicky Lovers for Obama poster too. My One says she might put these on her cell phone so she can show all the other Ones at the phone bank.
Then my One remembered that there were other Ones who loved politics as much as she did, and they made posters and put them up in a yard on Teaching Six. They called their yard full of posters for their political campaigns the Terra Project, and that is where we went next. You can read more about the Terra Project here, but you really have to visit it to get a feel for it.
The whole yard is full of posters. There is even a place fo vote. I guess any body can vote or be part of Terra now. I'm not sure and neither is my One. My One liked this poster because the party's platform was clear and clever, though she thinks their name reminds her of dictatorship. They kind of clear that up with the poster.
And this poster made my One laugh. She liked the picture which comes from a movie called Broken Back Mountain, but she also said the picture is copyrighted. She got very serious and told me that real freedom and justice begin wtih respect for other people's property. You can't have freedom if you steal a movie studio's pictures and use them without permission no matter how good your cause.
I think it would be very exciting to be a member of Terra. Maybe I'll see if my One can still join. She's not sure it is open to the public any more. She also found more pictures of the Terra Project on Flickr. There's a part of it we haven't seen because we did not know any of it was in the sky. Well, I have my easy-lift anklet and I know where I may be going soon, but if it keeps my One happy, I don't really mind.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- October 28, 2012
"Tell me a Happy Story"
My One who Thinks She Knows was out of sorts again. How many times does this happen? Way too many if you ask me, and there really is absolutely no excuse for it.
We have land and we have pets, and My One for all I complain is a wonderful and compassionate owner. She always has turtle food on hand and she never sends eggs "to the trader." The turtles nosing each other are Damien (the magenta male) and Yatif (the green and burgundy daughter of Zillah who had no face, just a pumpkin where her head was. Some Ones do cruel things when they breed Petable Turtles.). The egg's mother is Vashti who is orangey red, and Shais who is gold colored with a brown top shell and a burgundy plastron. That's his underneath shell.
And then there are our Lily Frogs. My One and I went to get food for them a few days ago. No matter how much the same her eggs are, she always boxes them up carefully before putting them in inventory and she won't retire any frog that breeds, and these are old frogs. Moselle, the green frog in the picture is more than a hundred and sixty days old. Her script that is supposed to retire her failed, and we are both glad of it!
Asher is a much younger frog. His name is Hebrew for happiness, and he's the only Refuah Shelema frog in Second Life. He has an apples and honey pattern for the Jewish New Year, but he can't pass it on, because Lily Frogs only pass on their patterns through the mother. Still he makes for gold and copper colored eggs no matter with whom he mates.
Now you can see my One's bad moods are pointness, but I still have to bear the brunt of them. My One takes me bushwhacking when she is in a bad mood. Of course we land on ban lines, and try to teleport to sims that won't let us in. They give all education sims a bad reputation as closed sims. And yes we do have to go back to check UAA Seawolves. My One thinks the Ones who run that place will some day see reason. Don't hold your breath! We're still banned from Trenza Mall but that's another story.
Our first stop that actually let us walk around was Power Education Island. There wasn't much there but empty buildings, but my One wanted to be a good samaritan and stop the spinning treadmill, and whoops...you can guess what happens. This doesn't happen to my One. It happens to me! Here I am running my poor avie buns off to nowhere! Is that fair!
Then we arrived at Buffalo State which my One calls SUNY Buffalo. The trouble is that by now my One was telling me sad stories. Now my One can get very emotional. That's when you have to watch out.
This angel, for example inspired a tale. "I have to take a picture of this angel," my One was quite excited. She looks just like Benevolence on the Ball State University sim. You know about Ball State don't you..." I knew I was in trouble.
"I used to have a colleague supervisor at work," the One explained "who told me about a college in Indiana that had a revolving door on its hiring process. It was up or out. That was what she said. She said that it was Indiana University. I was job hunting at the time and it was.... " My One told me how job adds from Ball State appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education every couple of months. She applied there three times. She may have even had a phone interview.
Then we visited the Richardson Building. There were supposed to pictures of an abandoned mental hospital in there. American Ones are fascinated by these kinds of pictures. My One was disappointed that there were not enough pictures (yet) to put the Richardson Building on her Spread Sheet, but there were enough pictures to give her another story.
Some time long before I was every born, My One snuck into this place. She even showed me the pictures. Sometimes I know what she knows. I wish I didn't know it. This makes Shinrae Hakata Hospital look like a walk in the park. It also makes me want to cry. My One said there were places where the roof had collapsed. That's what really scaird her about being inside the building that she said was only three blocks from her home at the time. She had a good friend who worked there, and two other friends who were hospitalized there for short times, but in the newer part of the hospital, not the part in the pictures.
By now I realized I was just going to cry and cry if I did not get my One to snap out of her rotten mood. Poor One! Poor me! I was glad we found the Faculty Research Building. There were the usual freebies, and a cat couch with tiger stripes. In fact, he was a tiger couch. His name was Buffalo Bengal. I always LOVE cat couches, and Buffalo Bengal was no exception.
I told him all about Goofy Kitty, the cat couch my One made for me. See, my One does have a good heart. It's just her moods! I don't know why they are so terrible. I told Buffalo Bengal my problems and he advised me to ask my One to tell me a happy story.
Actually, I didn't tell my One to tell me a happy story. Instead, I asked my One if we could go somewhere that could make her feel good. She knew just what she wanted then. She put Barack Obama into the search engine. He is running for President in "Real Life," and he is one of her favorite fellow Ones. She goes to this place called a phone bank every Sunday to persaude other Ones to vote for him. If enough Ones vote for him, he gets to stay President of all the Ones in the United States.
A short time later we found Re-Elect Obama Headquarters. My One got a lawn sign and a new t-shirt for me. We have no room for a lawn sign and are too busy making our own dresses for me to wear the t-shirt but her mood was much improved. She told me about the phone bank and the long ride to South DeKalb County. She told me about the store called SugarBunz which just closed and the pretty lady in the green velvet outfit who ran it and who was taking out all the fixtures. It will be sad to see the closed store, but maybe election night won't be so sad if Barack Obama gets elected. My One told about going to vote early. That story has yet to happen, but if it makes my One happy, I'll be happy.
I don't think we avies have a President. If we did maybe he or she could outlaw banning avies because they are short or because their Ones are busy in the kitchen or bathroom, or because they "embarass the Japanese language." Maybe they can make sure that all Lily Frogs breed when they're old like mine do. I'm not sure what a President does except he is important and my One is happy about voting. Go vote One and be happy!
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- October 26, 2012
Iyoba and I have not been doing much bushwhacking since I flipped over the Explore SL Spreadsheet, and I've been laying in dress designs for the winter, but not doing as much dress making as either of us have wanted. We have several unfinished summer dress textures that need to come to life.
I bought one dress to life last night in the ABC sandbox, and Iyoba nearly found herself stepped on by big avatarim in big shoes. We also got to watch an avie demonstrate some kind of eleborate shield/blind in the combat cage. They have that there.
Meanwhile, Iyoba and I got lucky exploring the MediaZoo sim. We found the Virtual Genetics Lab. No you don't have to wear a lab coat. Iyoba was in no mood to change out of her lovely cantaloupe work dress. Besides lab coats don't work well when avatarim are wearing prim skirts and jackets. Iyoba also did not have to remove her feet or change her hair or eyes or even wear a mask, something she gladly would have done (Not the feet or eyes, but the mask). A computer outside the lab gives clear instructions and a taste of what's to come.
Here is an animation of a polymerase chain reaction which replicates the DNA to make the sample large enough or easy enough to be tested. You can seee the DNA unzipped and replicated with the help of enzymes. I was glad I remembered something about protein synthesis from my biochemistry course years ago. Some things you don't forget. If you want to take pictures like this, you have to set snap shots with the HUDs (heads up display) on.
This is the second time Iyoba watched the animation. I liked that you could replay the animations as much as you wanted. They are the best part of the exhibit. I also liked that this was not an exhibit for K-12 or novices. It was real teeth sinking in science. In the next slide you can see the patient's family tree. The family carries a recessive gene for cystic fibrosis, a disease for which it was very hard to screen for carriers.
And here Iyoba watches the DNA undergo electrophareses. You have to set up the gel correctly and add the right reagents. If you are doing this demo by trial and error, as I largely was, it will not let you trash the experiment if you guess wrong. I guessed right more than half the time and did not feel like a total klutz in the lab.
Notice the British spelling. Also carriers "suffer" with sickel cell trait. In the US they carry the trait, but since they are largely asymptomatic, they don't suffer. The test for Sickel Cell is much older, since it uses proteins rather than genes. It has an interesting and checkered history in the United States due to distrust of medical authorities in the African American Community (There is very good reason for this distrust).
This bit of guilt and history is missing from this British display. Also missing was any mention of ethics. I did not try the third demo. It might be interesting to see how the Virtual Genetics Lab handles a screening for the BraC genes or for the gene that indicates a particular form of Alzheimer's or Huntington's Disease. "Do you want to know?" I should go back and try the third test with Iyoba. I may just do that.
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- October 24, 2012
I Can Do it Better Part VII
I really did think my One Who Thinks She Knows was crazy. She wasn't just her usual, out of sorts self. She was looking for the impossible, snow in Second Life in October. Winter in Second Life lasts a couple of months if that, and it is not here yet. It's that simple.
And yes, I remember Niseko Hirafu and the back country beyond Wengens and yes, they were both snowy, but you needed your own skis for Wengens and Niseko Hirafu/ now Niseko Annupuri had turned green. That was that.
My One said we needed to try other ski areas, but Crossley Mountain and the Alpine Executive Center had disappeared. Wolf Mountain Resort was still in business. That was where we went.
This was the first nonempty ski sim we had visited, and they had all sorts of activities besides skiing. There were even sleds. There were avies having a good times, avies with happy Ones, but my One was the one to pitch a fit. She complained because there was no snow. She complained because one of the chairlifts was broken. She complained because there were no free skis, and she complained because there was a soft spot on the lodge porch. I was the one who got stuck under the porch by the way. I guess you can say my One sometimes takes my side.
We visited two other ski areas. One, an island that is supposed to be the Austrian Alps had genuine freezing rain which my One admired, but no snow!. I finally asked my One what it was with the snow. She said that snow was special. She had happy memories of skiing as a child. She had fond memories of cross country skiing on state lands in Utica, New York. She missed the snow which is very rare where she now lives, but couldn't she see, most avies are just fine without it. They are just as happy wtih free sleds as free skis. They want to spend their time in the lodge which has a swimming pool and at the Howling Wolf hot springs. Hey, I even like hot springs.
No, my One wanted me to go to Wengen which long ago was our old info-hub home of choice. We wanted to be at the snow and away from any possible harassment. It was quiet there. I could use my home made skis to go exploring in the high mountains. I swam in a dry suit under the ice. I didn't ice skate yet. We even got to use our Niseko Hirafo skis if we could find a rezz zone to put them on.
Even after we got the land for the Honey Hut, we still came back to Wengen from time to time. The only problem with this area is a total lack of amenitines. My One stewed and fumed about how newbies would have to buy their skis for free at Niseko Annupuri and bring them to Wengen which would make for a complicated write up and excursion.
Well we went to Wengen anyway. You can see why we both loved this spot. It is beautiful, and if you hve skates, the lake is frozen and fun.
We headed across the street and found the chairlift that now worked. It did not work when we first explored here a few years ago. The lift is much larger and longer than the old Niseko Hirafu lift and both longer and slower than the one at WolfIslandResort. It stops and you have to get up. My One was glad the lift doesn't conk you on the rear.
Then we found the skis. I got to try them. Somewhere in here, there is a portrait of me skiing, and my One liked it so much she even made a profile picture, and yes, my One is RIGHT! Skiing on snow is better. It is very beautiful when a rising or setting sun (She thought the sun was setting but she should have had faith. The sun rose.) makes the snow a soft rainbow, and there is something about a vast, open, and wintery landscape, especially since you can ski "off piste", and just cross the coutry. The free skis at Wengens have cross country animations that make exploring fun and skiing often feels more like flying than real flying. Hey for me it's real!
Sometimes the past is a song. Sometimes the song repeats in many verses. I learned to downhill ski when was seven and eight and skied until I was sixteen. I learned cross country skiing in college physical education, bought my own skis with one of my first pay checks, and would take days off to ski turns of a couple of miles each on the state lands. Cross country skiing is flight on ground level. It is amazing to effortlessly move fast under your own power and figure out how to cross half frozen streams or get down a hill. Skiing is freedom and being effective under your own power for an adult.
For the child in me, skiing was the unbridled liberty to go up in a chairlift that I could barely operate (Chairlifts are not made for someone just four feet high and forty-seven pounds or someone four foot three and fifty-four pounds.) and go miles from my parents and then enjoy speed. Of course I also had the joy of picking my slope and the achievement getting down the hill.
Skiing also meant mishaps, getting conked, getting dragged under chair lifts, pulling a ligament in my right knee when I was nine because I was being too reckless and enjoying an athletic side of me that did not appear in phys ed. Gym in most public schools used to be an abomination and probably still is.
Somehow though, I got back on my feet, even when I had issues to work out such as after the accident. My parents should not have let a nine year old with a taste for speed all alone on those slopes, but they did and they wanted me back. I got back and learned to deal with my recklessness on my own terms. I think in the end it was the best thing. I became a more cautious skiier and switched to cross country as an adult, but I stayed an enthusiast. I miss skiing in the South. I miss it because of all the good things it means for me.
Being on the slopes with Iyoba brings back those memories of winter freedom. I don't mind being alone. I often was almost alone or all alone when skiing cross country. The vastness of the back country around Wengen reminds me of the vast reaches of golf courses and university owned lands at Cornell where I learned to cross country ski in phys ed. I remember my roommates snug indoors in a North Campus dormitory room watching the cross country skiing class of which I was a part trek off with our gear to where the parking lot ended and the snowy fields began. To them, skiing was an utterly uncomfortable way to get exercise.
To me, cross country skiing, was a gentle activity that strengthened the body, but more importantly refreshed and warmed the soul. You wore a lighter coat for skiing than you did for just walking around campus, and you flew under the sky through open ground surrounded by nearly black conifers and bare, gray, deciduous trees, and yes we often skied in the late afternoon and early evening so I saw the sun set on snow.
So when I see Iyoba in open country beyond the top of the Toggenburg Lift, my soul and memories, are with her on the snow. I am not cold because I am moving. I do not need to fly, each push of the poles or skis sends me much further than walking and of course gravity gives us both wings. I don't have to worry about being alone. I am outside and at peace with a hostile landscape.
I WANT TO GIVE THIS EXPERIENCE TO NEWBIES AND STUDENTS. This is a gift of passion and love. For first timers, here is the link to the top of the Toggenburg chairlift. This is to make sure you can get your skis. For those with skis all ready or who want to start with a ride to the top of the mountain. Here is the link to the Wengen infohub. Just cross the street past the train tracks and make a slight left. You'll see one of two working lifts.
Of course this like all excursion choices, is subjective, but in many ways I think this is the most subjective of all. There is a reason for the shortage of year around snow in Second Life. Most avies and their "Ones" "don't do cold weather." Obtaining clothes with adequate coverage is not easy. I started making winter jackets and coats as well as warm sweaters for Iyoba in the summer of 2008 about two months into my Second Life career.
But after making sure that a site is free of rip offs, hazing, and major league nuiscences, the first criteria for picking an excursion site is that it has the love baked in like a Bread Cat.
What is this love? I guess that is the educational take away from ski paradise. Yes, it's subjective. Those playing high school student violating dress code or pole dancing or being a vampire, quadruped, or child, have all found a love and passion of their own, thought it's not one I fully understand. Second Life teaches how different we really all are even if we are successful, reasonably busy, students or working adults on the outside. One size just doesn't fit all on the inside or where our avatarim work and play.
And is this love and passion addiction? If all you have is a hammer every thing is a nail, but addiction implies disease. Second Life works when it works in part as it does on the ski slopes or the Dead Coaster at Mirai because there is enough on the screen to make you believe it is real, but also because you willingly bring something to the screen that comes from inside you, memories, values, desires. Second Life does a pretty good job of being a place to live through these. Is this "getting your buttons pushed?" All I know is I felt amazing after skiing with Iyoba and I'd like to share that feeling with newbies and students, or maybe start them thinking about what really can amaze and satisfy them in Second Life.
Iyoba BatOni and Eileen H. Kramer -- October 5, 2012
To find excursion sites, I have to look no farther than my memories. One of the things I really enjoyed as a newbie was going to stores where I could try products that were fun but which I could not afford, either because I did not care to spend the Lindens or because I did not have the land on which to rezz the item. Model homes and prefabs as well as the now long gone hot tub sim fell into this category. Then the now also gone Petable Turtle Marketplace a few sims away from Iyoba Tarantal's Honey Hut, came into Iyoba's and my life. And two years ago, I became a turtle tamer.
In the Second Life of 2012, a large breedable market has to be on the excursion list. I chose the UBSTech Farmers/Orphanage as a good visiting site. I think they offer the largest selection of species, and they are mainly smaller breedables rather than horses or Breed-a-Bulls. This is important because large breedables usually stand still in stalls crowded together in a small space. They are sad things to see. Smaller breedables have room to move.
Zwickies are technically not small breedables, but they move all of their eight prims. The ones in these images are all rare species. They are also social and will come to nuzzle and rub against vistors, when they are not shooting stars at each other or farting. You can zoom in and follow the zwickies. You can watch them. You can even catch them in the act. All without paying a single cent.
Meeros are also another interactive breedable available at the the UBSTech Farmers/Orphanage . You can get a free hud and pet them. You can pet up to ten meeroos a day. You don't have to own them to pet them.
There are even new pets like this breedable prairie dog. I also saw elephants, hamsters, sparrows, grouse, rabbits, dogs, cats...you get the idea.
There is just one problem with a sim like the UBSTech Farmers/Orphanage. While all breedables are beyond the reach of any newbie student, because he/she doesn't have the land on which to house them, the cost of an individual egg is often less than 250 Lindens (one dollar). It is possible that an unknowing and impulsive student does not read the note cards and buys an egg. It's not the most expensive useless purchase. My mother would call it a cheap lesson, but learning about a products less obvious costs is not a pleasant lesson.
Unlike owning and raising breedables, skiing in Second Life is usually a free activity. I own two skiing animations, but that is just me. It is possible to use a free dance animation for hotdog style downhill skiing, and to walk or run while wearing skis to go cross country. Skis can be home made or you can obtain a free pair from any number of locations.
There is just one problem with skiing. It's cold up on those mountains and Iyoba was NOT wearing last year's winter coat. I did not want my avie on strike again. I made her a winter jacket. Here she is showing it off. I took this picture on Niseko Annaupuri, formerly Niskeo Hirafu, which I remembered as Second Life's premiere ski destination. I don't care if the sim is Japanese. The slopes looked lovely at night. There was an easy to use chairlift that worked. There was a nice lodge to explore at the top of the slope, and skiing at sunset under snow covered trees or through the slalom trail was gorgeous and brought back memory of learning to ski at Vernon Valley (These day's it's called Mountain Creek) in New Jersey.
There is still skiing at Niseko Annaupuri as you can see from these skis, but there is something a bit strange about this picture. The snow is gone. Actually, the snow has been receding from the Niskeo Annapuri valley for some time, but now it is even gone in the highlands and the summit is positively green!
Fortunately, skis work on grass. These are the new Niseko skis. The old ones had to be both attached and rezzed and contained six parts. The new model contains four parts and need only be worn. Iyoba can no longer use her 2008 model Niskeo skis on this sim unless she puts them on at home first because she can't rez them. The new skis also come without the scripting for the animation. One obtains the animation in the hut above the slalom course. A board appears. A ski clad avie, sits on it and away you go. You can swoosh, turn, glide, and even fall head over heals, a most amusing touch though.
Unfortunately, you can't herring bone or side step to get up the mountain. Flying kind of breaks the verisimilitude, but the chair lift has vanished. This I believe is the canopy that covered the wheel that held the cable and the motor that turned the wheel at the bottom of the slope.
And even if the chair lift ran, there would be no place to get off at the top. The slope around what once was the ski lodge and the place where you got off the chairlift is now too steep to put the top part of the chair lift and provide an easy means for avies to steer clear of the proverbial bump on the butt. My younger brother used to make me sit on the inside and risk getting "conked," back in the day. Well, avatarim don't have to worry about being conked any more.
Although there still is a Niseko Annaupuri, the Niseko ski resort of my memory is gone, and that is true even with the new skis and the slalom course. Sorry, a ski area needs snow. It also needs a working chair lift or platter pull or t-bar. Even a rope tow would be part of the experience. There is nothing like a taste of virtual winter on a sultry summer day in real life or for those of us in the real life South where the right combination of snow and cold that allows cross country skis to work, just doesn't happen.
I can't recommend Niseko Annupuri as it is today. It was fun skiing on grass, but it's not a real ski area. I have a couple of other options that Iyoba and I will explore in the coming days and weeks. It would be a shame not to have a ski area on our excursions list. The problem is that not all skiable space gives away skis. Most of it is no-rezz, so the skis must be wearable. I solved this problem by making skis in the last summer of 2008. I still use the skis because they are big and cartoonish and easy to detatch and find. One ski area I remmeber had a course that went too fast and took forever to reach. Another seemed to be suffering Niseko Annupuri's fate (warming up) several years ago. Finally, the ski lands by Wengens have a working chair lift but you need your own equipment.
Skis are not all that easy to come by, though even a novice with a posing stool can make a wearable set of skis and poles. This is a good early building project. The downhill animation can be a free dance. If you want more, you need to buy it. This brings up a thorny topic that many eduational types skirt by shying away from commercial sims, but it's a problem that needs to be out in the open. Second Life has no entry cost, but it is a monetized world. That means sooner or later every resident has to face the question of how much skin to put in the game. Certainly a couple of US dollars for a skiing animation and possibly a ski outfit will hardly break any one or turn them into an addict. On the other hand, there is something about spending money for online entertainment. Fortunately, skiing can stay free. Back country skiing in Wengens brings up the issue of private propertyand ban lines and security orbs, but that is fun for another day.
Or maybe not. I started out "I Can Do It Better" by decrying the paternalism of shielding students and newbies from sex, violence, and commercialism as part of their first explorations in Second Life, but even I get paternalistic with newbies. I want them not to be hazed. I also wonder about the ethics of tempting them to spend money. I also don't want to see them ripped off, but in the end I think exposure to commerce offers more benefits than risks.
I remember recoiling with horror when reading a lot of the introductory material to Second Life that told me all the things I had to buy. As it turned out I bought nearly none of them and there were things not on the list I needed. The wearable skis and the winter coat were cases in point. A good winter coat is usually a made rather than a bought item, but it costs to upload textures. Maybe the best advice for educators is to have students set aside five to ten dollars as a modest "lab fee" for the semester. Hopefully the right activities and excursions will get them hooked enough to become informed consumers after that. I'm not sure. Knowing what to want and knowing what is out there is a good step toward becoming an informed prosumer (Much better than just being a consumer. A prosumer makes things.)
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- October 4, 2012
Iyoba, my favorite avie is right. Looking for favorite virtual expedition spots does improve my spirits. This is true even when a sim is a substitute for places remembered and gone. In a way I am lucky. Portuguese and perhaps Brazilians tend to build their capital cities over and over again, so the architecture reappears whenever they put down roots and want to build something grand and beautiful. The last time I saw architecture like this capital building was on the now defunct sims, Utopia Portugal XXII and XXV. I like Roman numerals too, but there are none here. This sim is less than a year old and it is called Algarve Sunset Portugal.
Every where you look the buildings and the cobble stone streets and the paved sidewalks and even this lighthouse have just a little bit more loving care built into them. I'd like to see a light house that is NOT red and white or unpainted. They must exist somewhere, but I'll take the prosaic colors for the fresh paint and lovely texture.
Ships are also a common theme on Portuguese / Brazilian sims. There's a reason for this. The Portuguese raced the Spanish during the age of exploration, before the British, Dutch, and French eclipsed them. Meanwhile this race left Europeans in South and Central America, an area we still call Latin America today. Sail on! I like that this ship is made of bronze and doubles as a fountain.
Of course I don't recommend sims because they are pretty. A pretty build that isn't useful except for walking around and nursing one's lonely feelings is a sad sight. Algarve Sunset Portugal is a working sim. It includes a club that my friend, Herman Banx, promotes. In fact, the club is how I found the sim. Being a member of dance and DJ promotion groups, has advantages that outweigh the huge amount of notice spam such groups generate.
And Clothing like the fancy underwear shown in this image is for sale on Algarve Sunset Portugal as it is on many other sims. The stores are a bit nicer on the outside, but it's the same nonworksafe stuff inside, but don't worry, you can show this to your grandmother. If she's old enough she'll remember wearing corsettes, girdles, and other instruments of sartorial torture. She'll probably give you a chuckle. Your grandfather might be a bit embarassed, but he's a guy. Your eight year old would say "ladies undies." Then she'd go back to the Penny's catalog. I realize this is supposed to be sexy, but so what! And no, you can't wear it to class unless you have pants on with it and maybe not even then if it does not give full coverage, but I would think most adults know this.
There is even a gaming hall on Algarve Sunset Portugal. Beware. The house always wins, but there is a difference between doing a thing well and doing it poorly. This gambling den teaches about doing gaming right. It is one building on an entire island. It is one attraction among many. The outside of the building is not garish, and the inside is airy and comfortable. I'm not sure if the games are fair or if there are demo versions one can play for free, but if a student wants to try Xingo, this is one of the better places to do it.
Some eduators might question whether a sim like this teaches as much or more than a formal orientation sim or a museum or a library. I would say it teaches a lot, though I'm not sure about more. It depends on the quality of the education or orientation sim used for comparison. Algarve Sunset Portugal teaches about aesthetics, what makes a good and original build. It teaches etiquette if you visit the club. It impresses upon sheltered, "real life" Americans that not all the world speaks English. It also shows how much American pop music has infiltrated. It lets students window shop in a monetized world and decide their own attitudes toward a higly sexualized culture. Unless you see it as part of your travels, how can you decide how much of it you accept and how far you want to go? It lets students experience the vice of Xingo, and gives them plenty of place to walk away. It lets students understand mainstream (albeit Portuguese/ Brazilian) Second Life culture by being part of it. It also teaches that free enterprize, commercialism, and monetization are not dirty words, though it's perfectly fine to say "no" to any piece of merchandise.
I'll come up with more ways to tempt students to part with their lindens, in some of the other excursions. Hang on, there is more to come, though I do have to get back to the the Spread Sheet.
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- October 3, 2012
There is no question. King Saud University is an absolutely, EPIC fail. You don't have to read much beyond this paragraph to be convinced. Here it is.
The only questions and why this sim has reached the end of the line. For one thing, it is badly built. While, Arabs tend to be good at "big builds." King Saud University is built well beyond even oversize, avatar scale.
Here is Iyoba on a ramp in the medical school tower. There are no note card givers. There are a few posters. No one has even attempted to build a simulation. This is an unfinished or dismantled structure. I think it is unfinished.
The library sign gets to the point. I really like the signage here. I like the quick, easy to rez textures, and the bilingual lettering, and the colors. The library sign conveys the spirit of what one hopes to find within.
Unfortunately, Iyoba's and my hopes were dashed. This is what the library looks like. There are a few couches and desks, but not even those, godawful fake book shelves. The computers do not connect to a catalog. There are no computers. There are no connections to licensed databases, specialized databases, the Quran, Project Gutenberg etc... Nothing happened here.
Of course it is quite tempting when one has an academic sim and someone else' money and tons of really valuable rezzing space, to make that space as enjoyable as possible, especially if those funding you, really don't have a lot of idea of what goes on in Second Life. Until the teleporter system works, students at King Saud University can drive to school on sturday, well maintained roads. They can even rezz their own cars, and when classes are not in session, they can go for a ride. Except for a few parked vehicles, these roads are deserted and wonderfully lonely these days.
The Good Ship Aurora is also deserted. The Aurora is home to King Saud University's virtual, Marine Sciences Program. Now it makes perfect and wonderful sense that a marine science program would happen on a boat, or better yet, that a boat could make an excellent student union. Many academic sims have boats,
Of course the Aurora provides numerous flat screen, TVs for viewing educational programs on marine science. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
And students may relax on comfy couches as they learn by watching educational television. Here is Iyoba enjoying a lovely black leather couch. Unfortunately, some of the classroom doors were locked. I'm not sure why the professors did this. This is where the old cam and sit manouver comes in very, handy.
And should the students become hungry, there is ample food and drink available onboard the Aurora. Yes, those look like high balls, but I know they are mocktails because Saudi Arabia is a dry country.
And of course the study of marine science is quite fatiguing. Some students just need to lie down, so the Aurora thoughtfully includes a bedroom, and a bath with a whirlpool hot tub in case the avies are dirty and need a bath. OK, enough sarcasm. NOBODY MADE THE SLIGHTEST EFFORT TO REFIT THIS LUXURY YACHT FOR AN ACADEMIC SETTING!
And sarcasm and snark aside, it's a shame that the rest of King Saud University couldn't look like this lovely building in the Heritage Village about a hundred and twenty meters up. This lovely structure with its adobe walls and turkey red, Persian carpets would make a perfect faculty office or break out area. A larger version could have many uses, as could traditional Arab tents. Deserts and oases could have provided walkable landscape, and yes, you coudl throw in a family or two of animated, sculpted camels, and some cute donkeys. Why not?
I don't know what is going to happen to the USF portion of the sim next door. I did not check to see if it was for sale. I remember when some of my Arab friends, whom I hope are still my friends after I write this, telling me about the building of King Saud University. I don't know what happened between then and now, and please visit King Saud University as a cautionary tale before it disappears.
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- October 1, 2012
My One Who Thinks She Knows, my One for short, has been out of sorts ever since I can remember. She's still out of sorts because she was looking at an educational sim that was a total, epic, fail. That's not the sim she wants to talk about. In fact, vStarkState is a going concern and a beautiful build. We are going to have to visit more of it.
Here is the Virtual Excursions Store. This is where the trouble began. My One at first was thrilled. "There is a collection of links in here. These folks qualify for the Spread Sheet." she said. We headed inside.
I could feel my One's heart sink. "You know, Iyoba," she told me. "These are just awful. The SPQR is a role playing game. I've never been to Virtual Bucharest or the Holocaust Museum, so those might be decent. I bet Africa is Africa Illuminated which doesn't make the spread sheet and Mexico is the Mayan exhibit at University of Washington which is pretty good, but all this stuff is overhyped. It's the same links every where. It comes from an old list. Why can't educators be more original? You know they paid somebody to make the build and shoved in the links as an afterthought." Sigh! Groan!
I did not need a One having a melt down so I suggested we head upstairs. Around the corner we found stairs to an empty room I had only seen on camming. I told my One: "See here, pretend this is your wall. Now what would you put here?" "Oh, I could do it so much better," my One replied. "There are dozens of fun places I could send newbies on expeditions. I remember fondly...." "Stop pissing, moaning, and remembering One and let's get down to that project."
Suffice it to say, my One took my suggestion. It really wasn't so bad, though she is a bit bogged down in the details of the project. She said the first step and stop would be obvious: Mirai. My One even put aside her grudge about the closed sandbox. Second Life is full of closed sandboxes, but we always keep finding more. At least there are no squatters in Mirai. I'm going to let my One tell about Mirai and explain the whole Do it Better project.
Iyoba BatOni -- September 30, 2012
My first thought as I snapped this shot was: "What is wrong with this picture?" First, I'd seen the links before. They are from someone's list of approved links, and it turns out that two of them were utterly dead. Those were the link to Africa (There are two perfectly good Africa reenactments and several smaller exhibits that could fill this space.) and the one for Mexico (Think University of Washington here). I haven't tried the others. The Holocaust Museum scares me. If it is done badly, it is wince-worthy or not worthy of the Explore SL Spread Sheet. We did test out Rome SPQR. It is a role play sim, in fact several of them, not really an educational site. It is fun.
And it did give me an important clue, though, to why beyond just using someone else's list the management at vStarkState included the links they did in their Virtual Excursion Center. In a place like the Virtual Excursion Center the links come recommended by the faculty, administrators, head builders etc... I'm not sure which, only that they are recommended. This means they are where these people think students should go.
Look at this wall again and see that all these places are scrubbed clean of commerce. The sex is toned down, and the violence is nonexistent. They are replicas mainly of things in real life rather than sims built by those people today. There are also dozens of better choices if your aim is to educate. I think though the aim here is mainly to shield students from the hurly burly of Second Life.
This is a bad idea in so many ways it is not funny. First, Second Life is sixteen to eighteen and up. Everyone passing through a university sim is going to be eighteen or close to it or older. Full nudity and catching any one en flagrante is excedingly rare in Second Life. The trappings of sexuality, poles, cages etc... are much less rare. Folks running around in bathing suits or underware (lingere) is extremely common, but no worse than what you would see in the Penny's Catalog. Foul language abounds, but adults and teens know all the cuss words. Unwanted requests to "sex" are a nuiscence. Pornography shoved in one's face, and pornographic chat spam are nuiscences. Hazing is offensive, but it's fairly easy to test drive a location to make sure avatarim that go there will receive a pleasant reception. Sexuality is a part of Second Life culture, and there is no reason for it to be offensive.
Most places that include violence, first person shooters, advertise where the free fire zone begins so that visitors can avoid it, offer a target range, and free weapons. If you want to shoot your fellow player, here is the place. If you don't enjoy the target range. If you don't like weapons avoid the whole business, but a fairly run shooter is good recreation for those who like shooting. This really isn't me. I have felt safe and fine in first person shooters and even explored the free fire zone, but it's just not me. Then again, I enjoy skiing and ice skating in Second Life, and most griefing in Second Life is urban legend. I can count on the fingers of my hand the number of times it has happened to me in four and a half years.
More important, Second Life is laissez faire capitalist. If you want to understand Second Life, you need to travel the malls, model homes, and other commercial establishments. There is much a newbie can learn froma first time visit to a body parts shop. One of my favorite spots as a newbie was a store that sold hot tubs. I'd strip my avie to a bathing suit and let Iyoba enjoy herself in each and ever tub. I did not have the land to buy a hot tub, and eventually made my own in ground pool around Christmas time 2010, but that is another story. I do have a commercial water sim in mind for my "Do it Better" wall.
Our first top though was Mirai. This is the MagSl Orientation sim. Most of the text is in Japanese. This is an authentic Japanese sim. The sandbox is no longer open, but the architecture is fantastic, and definitely more than just another pretty build. It invites exploration, and this pipe is special. An avie can jump in to it at the top, tumble to the bottom, and not come out hurt from a fall. I'm not sure why it works so well. It just does. Iyoba must have jumped through the pipe several times though we also tried the stairs.
On Mirai you can ride the Peacock ferris wheel or have your fortune told. The Peacock is colorful but it is slow. You can see a closeup of a yellow car above.
Your avie, however, can also get shot out of a human cannon. I have seen more sophisticated human canon balls at DCCCD, an academic sim, as well as a sandbox with texture sorter, but the Mirai canon was fun because your avie could land either on the ground or on the tiled roof outcroppings and then have to come back downstairs via the pipeline. Iyoba did not mind being shot out of the canon half a dozen times to get two good shots.
But for true daredevils like my Iyoba, there's the Dead Coaster. A friendly devil offers instructions in Japanese. The coaster is easy to operate and unlike a certain roller coaster advertised in Destinations, you do not have to wait until another user is finished to try it. Of course...it is one wild ride, with...I'm not going to tell you what happens at the end, but suffice it to say, Iyoba could not wait to ride the Dead Coaster and would like to do so again.
I told Iyoba that all of this was the easy part. The hard part is that I have so many places that I would recommend to newbies for excursions. The harder part is that half of these places have vanished. Utopia Portugal (all twenty-five islands) where Iyoba and I had our first Stinky Stinky, is gone. Sera Korea where I walked the malls, activity camped, and played in the amusement park with Iyoba is gone as well. Ciudad Guaruja and Ilha Bella Gomorrah are gone. This means we have to find some substitute places, as well as visit some oldies but goodies, and we only have so many choices. I feel overwhelmed. Also, the our Spread Sheet keeps calling and we have not even explored all of vStarkState. I think in all fairness that there may be better stuff there.
Eileen H. Kramer -- September 30, 2012