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Educational Builds -- What Matters

I am striving for a neutral title, beacuse this is not a neutral post. Second Life is home to some excellent educational builds, educational builds you wish were better, and educational builds that make you wince or shake your head. If you are the faculty member who supervised one of these builds or who ran (or runs) the program that sponsored this and you find my words harsh, and believe me they are going to be harsh, I have three additional words for youBefore you: "Fix the problem!"

Now before the rest ofy ou get ready to gaze in wonder at the blood on the tracks, let's look at an educational build done right. This is a heavy build and one that attempts to be realistic. It's Virtual Rosewood at Mouse Point. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Rosewood, you can read about it at the Virtual Rosewood web site. Suffice it to say, it has happened here and could happen again. On January 1, 1923 vigilantes and the Klu Klux Klan destroyed the mostly African American town of Rosewood Florida in a "race riot." I prefer to think of it as a massacre.

Part of the Virtual Rosewood Exhibit Let this horrifying though sink in. Now think: "How do you build an exhibit to teach about such an emotionally, red-hot topic?" The first part of the answer is: "Keep it low key." The Virtual Rosewood exhibit, looks like a historical replica on the outside, old farm houses, orange trees, forests, and on the inside it reminded me of a dusty, old museum or historical society. The quiet atmosphere encourages the curious to read the exhibits.

Second, and more importantly, Virtual Rosewood takes nothing for granted. It assumes you don't know anything and that you are also a bit skeptical. The displays go through pains to show how researchers learned about and documented the massacre. This "here is the evidence approach" lends credibility as it answers questions.

A touchy issue, even today Third, Virtual Rosewood does not exagerate and also explains why the exhibit is still relevant today. The fact that vandals have attacked the Rosewood memorial marker in real life, rural Florida, speaks mouthfuls on why all of us still need to be vigilant for the demons driven underground and away from polite conversation. The image above is a thumbnail. Click it to get the full impact.

The Rosewood angelThis is not to say, that emotions don't have a place at Virtual Rosewood. This angel, while not the most beautiful or well made sculpture, is sweetly touching. I think her ill-defined face, gunmental grey color, and the stand with no plaque and a lot of lichens growing on the stone among the hard scrabble grass, says more thanmost notecards. She sticks in my mind. My take away message from Virtual Rosewoods is "EXPLETIVE DELETED! It happened here and it's still out there."

Now let's visit the Museum of Virtual Media at the University of Washington's iSchool's sim. This is supposed to be a museum of communication technologies used to create alternate realities in the mind. That pretty much can include everything from cave paintings to computers and the internet, except this last part is under construction.

Cave man at Lascaux? These are beautiful exhibits, but beauty is no substitute for facts or lack of the right materials. This cavemean is supposed to be an inhabitant of Lascaux or someone who made the paintings. He is not painting. His brow his low. His eyebrow ridges prominent, his face sticks out, and his chin recedes, to the extent he has a chin at all. He does not look like a member of our species! because he probably is not. The people who made the paintings at Lascaux were Cro-Magnon men and women, members in good standing of our own species, homo sapiens sapiens. Look at the picture on the web page in the link, and then compare it to the one I photographed. I think you can see the difference, though the faculty who awarded the virtual Lascaux caves a blue ribbon clearly could not.

Is Steampunk really in our future?Then there are always students who succumb to the lure of having fun with prims. I've seen groups that own islands do this. This image is supposed to be of the future in the year 3456 (give or take a few years). It's Steampunk! Steampunk is fiction! I guess fourteen hundred years from now is time enough to give an imagination free reign, but this particular part of the exhibit, really isn't about popular fiction. Also we have some idea where science is taking us. Fourteen hundred years from now, we may be living on other planets that we have terraformed or built. We probably will have an incedible knowledge of human development and the ability to modify genes of vegetable, animal, and microbial species to suit our needs and serve our purposes. Yes, this is scarey, but it's not going back to some mythical past rewritten with an alternate kind of modern technology.

Bhagavadgita for you to enjoy Then there is the exhibit that for all its beauty and detail, just does not explain enough. Works and stories from another time and place, require added explanation, because we are not all one. Different cultures have different values and different ideas about human equality, freedom, autonomy, inner life, the value of women and poor people etc... They also have different levels of wealth and technology. The Virtual Rosewood sim which tells about a massacre in 1920's Florida is close enough to our own time and place, though just outside living memory, to not really have this problem. This exhibit of the Bhagavadgita and the nearby yoga mat does.

To put it simply, media has a target audience. Who was this work's original target and who is its target today in modern day India or other Hindu population centers. Clearly when the Bhgavadgita was written, more than a millenia ago, most people could not read the vernacular, let alone Sanskrit which was like Latin on the subcontinent. This meant the work inspired images and those who could read (Priests or the Hindu equivalent of a chazzan) chanted the text, but who was the audience? Did they read it on festival days when the ordinary working person could take time off to listen. Did when and children listen? Were the readings in the market place, town square, or the temple courtyard or in some inner sanctum? Was there a dumbed down version for the masses? I don't have any answers.

And with the advent of reasonable literacy rates and the printing press are translations into Indian languages readily available like Bibles in the United States, and when the reader chants the Sanskrit text do the listerners read along in their own copies in their own tongues? This is how one carries on a modern synaoguge service. The chant I listened to last night sounded very much like the chazzan at a Shabbos service, but in the United States this kind of performance is not particularly familiar to those who don't attend traditional Jewish, Catholic, or Greek Orthodox religious services. Uh, how do you say: "needs explanation?"

Finally, what do people in the twenty-first century (both Hindus and educated English speakers in the United States) make of a story that does not involve the common person? Where does the common person fit in to a tale of gods, demigods, kings, and generals? Again, this exhibit offers no answers.

Watching the Hero Twins on YouTube If the students at the Museum of Virtual Media have created exhibits with issues, the faculty who built the Virtual Biodome -- Maya Island exhibit, also leave too many questions unanswered and cultural gaps yawning when they try to teach about the myth of the Hero Twins. Put succinctly, the hero twins whose names are too long and complicated to pronounce are the sons of one of the first two male human beings created. They are ball game champions. They are exteremely clever. They can perform feets of magic. They are immortal, capable of raising the dead, capable of transformations, and reincarnation etc... They are in short, demigods, and their mission when they are not playing ball is to defeat the gods of death who live in the underworld called Xibalba (pronounced Shabalba).

There is lots of death and dismemeberment in the story. Plenty of trickerly, lots of talking to animals who listen, rebirths, human sacrifices, reincarnations, resurrections etc... In the end the two top death gods, 1 Death, and 7 Death are slain or defeated. In the image above, Iyoba watches a cartoon story of the Hero Twins myth. Wikipedia filled in a bit more of the plot line.

Unfortunately, I came away with more questions than answers. First: what's the point? Death and disease are still present in the world even if ordinary Maya or their descendents no longer make offerings to the Gods of Death. Obviously, they are still hard at work and powerful. Second, what difference does it make whether one worships an arrogant tucan god with jeweled false teeth (Thank you Wikipedia), tries to appease a Lord of the Underworls, or worships the sun or the moon which is what the Hero Twins became when they ascended to Heavens? Fourth, where is the one God at the top of the pantheon, the one that is all powerful and of whom all the other gods are aspects or the one who simply rules? Why isn't he making order? Does He/She/It even care? Fifth, what kind of people give their children names and titles with numbers in them (Take a number means go wait in line and sounds very impersonal and ugly to me.) and tell tales where life and death really mean so little, and demigods can trick bigger gods, but in the end life goes on? Sixth, where do ordinary Mayans fit into this tale? Could they even play ball? Did they have time to go watch the games? Were the Hero Twins the home team for which they should root? Were there cults that rooted for the opposing team? I don't have the answers, but knowing how the Maya lived prior to European contact or at the time of contact, or how their descendents live today, could begin to answer a lot of these questions.

Iyoba dances on the hot rocksWorse yet, the faculty who designed the Hero Twins exhibit, created Xibalba (pronounced Shabalba. Pronouncing Maya names is hard and makes understanding even harder.) to resemble the Judeo-Christian version of Hell or Gehenna. The Wikipdia version of the Hero Twins myth, makes Xibalba look like an underground city complete with gardens, heat, cold, a ball court, statues, cooking stones etc... so the fire and brimstone is probably innacurate. In addition, Hell has become the subject of way too much parody. Iyoba's first thought when she descended to the firey realm was that it was nice and warm. Then she wanted to take a swim in the lake of fire. Unfortunately, the lake of fire was solid. It is not every day that your avie is disappointed to walk on water. Xibalba also reminded Iyoba of her favorite dance club which had fire coming up through the dance floor, so Iyoba went dancing. Talk about repurposing.

I guess it is easy to judge others' works when one has none of one's own, but of course having work like this takes prims and space. I could set up for a week at LEA Art Gallery, so maybe I will try my hand. Now if I can just find the time.... Yes, I am judgemental of how others use their prims and space since I have so little myself, but with space, primage, and the badge of being an educational "good guy" comes a kind of responsibility, and with public displays everyone is a critic.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba Bat Oni -- November 30, 2012

The Time it Takes to Boil an Egg

I get to be the queen of cheesey titles, but I hope no one comes up with egg on their face. The fault is not that of the avatarim on whose backs I have seen the mesh clothing. It is not clothing I would want to wear, but I like a more colorful wardrobe, and Iyoba is not a high school student breaking dress code, a member of a rock and roll band, etc.... That's Iyoba. I say live and let live as far as dress as concerned, except when there is a technical issue. That's what this blog post is about.

A quick glimpse at a mesh shirt jacket on an avie at Energy The white mesh shirt refused to rezz on the same avie at Energy

I'm sure there are lovely, colorful mesh outfits out there. I might even find one that fits. Mesh comes sized. Some day it may even become resizeable, but with my machine with its NVidea card and a crowded club, mesh is not always ready for prime time.

On the extreme left, is an avie in a big white shirt. The club, Energy, was moderately crowded. Her shirt was visible for a few seconds, long enough for my camera to catch it.

Then it went back to what it normally resmebled in the image to the right. This black triangle looks like a sculptie trying to rezz, only this sculptie and shirt never rezzed. I waited around for ten minutes or more. Other mesh outfits rezz. This one didn't.

I'm not sure why the shirt failed to rezz. I suspect it may have been heavy. I did measure draw weights which have replaced avatar rendering codes, in Viewer 1 and some earlier Viewer 2s. (I think). Avatarim wearing mesh had red draw weights in the hundred thousands. Iyoba's draw weight, by contrast, was about 2800. That meant mesh, like sculpties, or hair with lots of prims takes a very long time to rezz. In a crowded club it takes too long.

How mesh starts outWhen Iyoba and I first walk into a club, mesh clothing like prim and textured clothing starts out grey. I can tell it is mesh because I make clothes and the wastelines do not hang where they do for texture items and there are subtle wrinkles and bits of puffiness in the right places rather than the places that Linden Labs puts them. These are my biggest clues for ditinguishing mesh items from the usual grey mass. I actually had to confirm that mesh outfits start out lumpy and grey (the lumpy part of course) by looking at fully rezzed ones on Seondlife Marketplace. Mesh can look an awful lot like sculpties when it is still grey.

mesh rezzes slowly Last week, Iyoba zoomed in on this couple to watch them dance. She also wanted to see their mesh fashions. Mesh has a lot of promise. Iyoba has wanted a mesh caftan and the pictures in the Marketplace show smooth dresses wtih no need to create a waistline when one texture ends and a nother begins or when you need a prim waistband or prims stick out of an avie's midsection. Unfortunately after about three or four minutes, the mesh shirts/jackets on these avatarim still hadn't rezzed.

The finished product It took six minutes, the time to make a medium-boiled egg, for the mesh clothes to rezz on these avatarim. I didn't time it exactly. Now, I know next to nothing about mesh, so maybe there is a way to make mesh with a lower draw weight that rezzes more quickly. Probably there is a mesh size that fits Iyoba, albeit imperfectly. I'm sure one can make mesh colorful and with novelty prints.

I'd love to know how to make my own mesh, even if all I get is a big sack or an ugly blob with a pretty texture. Nobody seems to have published a mesh for dummies yet. I feel a bit resentful about this because usually I can put stuff together in Second Life with good instructions.

But it is not that resentment that is fuelling this article. It is simple lack of patience, and in a crowded club, even avatarim in basic, texture clothes are grey for quite a while. That's just the way they rezz, so if you love mesh (and are patient), keep wearing the stuff. I just wish it would rezz more quickly, and if I could make it, it would come in prettier colors.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni who always looks good -- November 29, 2012

Critter Tails and Welcome Back Gracie

Yatif peeks out behind what looks like Easter EggsSometimes my breedables just amaze me. I think they amaze Iyoba all the time, but she and they are in the same world. I just come to visit. The turtle peeking out from behind her eggs (the father is a turtle named Shais) is Yatif. She has a lovely burgundy body, a deep emerald carapace (top shell), and a very, dark plum plastron (bottom shell). One may as well get the vocabulary straight.

For some reason the light made Yatif's eggs look like Easter eggs. Don't worry, the eggs are safe in my inventory, but in that one moment Yatif and her eggs made a perfect shot. As far as I know, Petable Turtles, have no maternal instinct. They take no interest in the eggs they lay, which lays my conscience at rest. I'm also glad the eggs don't hatch into young that would force Iyoba and me into some very difficult decisions. Talk about emphemisms!

Vashti and Jurgis' eggNow, let's upend a cliche. Familiarity can sometimes breed respect, and yes, you know who the father of this egg was, or you should know. It's Jurgis, the turtle who continues to cheat death. Vashti, the mother turtle, is a reddish orange on body, carapace, and plastron. The warmth in her coloring makes this egg wonderfully vivid and attractive.

Keturah needs some pickles!Meanwhile, our Lily Frogs, break not only the laws of nature which they do by being interfertile. Anura, the order to which all frogs and toads belong, is an order just like Mammalia. Having a cane toad, Ketura's species, able to breed with a Mississippi gopher frog is like having a cat able to breed with a giraffe, but Lily Frogs' taxonomy has been weird forever.

Now my frogs' reproductive biology has become the stuff of fantasy. This is the first time, Keturah has appeared pregnant, yet this will, not be the first egg she has produced. Keturah is a generation four cane toad. My other four frogs are either generations zero, two, or one. In my inventory is a Refuah Shelema frog egg. The only frog capable of prducing the Refua Shelema breed is Tzipporah, a generation 0 (Think P1), Refua Shelema. Yet, this remarkable egg is generation 5! The only frog capable of producing a generation 5 egg is Keturah! I'm enjoying all this chimeric breeding, and immaculate conception. As long as the frogs continue to earn their flies, I won't complain. I guess I like surprizes.

Yes, it's Abra! Of course Abra, the Lily Frog who fought for her life and won earlier this month, does not surprise me one bit, but that is just fine. I don't mind having one rana-pausal old girl watching over the strange goings on among my anuran brood. Right now I wonder if Abra is the oldest Lily Frog out there. I would guess she probably isn't.

Here is Maura! Say no more. And this is a fall zwicky baby in stasis. I named her Maura. She is now in inventory because she can't stay out forever. Like Petable Turtles, zwickies are devoid of maternal instinct and paternal instinct since Geronimo, my white Luna male, was the zwicky who gave birth to Maura last weekend. She is a fall zwicky, a limited edition breed.

I have mixed feelings about "specials," even though I am responsible for one special among frogs and have a Cosmic Starter turtle. Some of my jaundiced attitude comes from Petable Turtles and the strum and drang created by cosmics. I was never in it for the money, but the conflict and the exodus of so many good breeders from the turtle trade still feels painful. In addition, specials did not pass on their unusual appearance, though some cosmics did. With zwickies, two parents of the same breed, produce young of the same breed. With Lily Frogs, breed phenotype passes through mitochondrial DNA, which means it is supposed to be inherited from the mother, but see above for what is happening with my frogs.

And I know there are those of you out there who think I should get a life. Normally, I ask where they have them on sale cheap, but right now I'm not interested. It is pleasant to collect eggs. Breedables are photogenic, and fostering an abandoned mama cat, is as close as I've come to letting anything I owned reproduce. Sometimes, getting a life just isn't the answer.

Falling into Gracie's paisley paradise I have a softspot for walkable installations, but Gracie Kendal's Ce n'est pas une Peinture is a work of art that you must experience. I did walk it at the end when I stopped flying, but one of the hallmarks of a good build is that you can go off course and not have the whole thing come apart. Ce n'est pas une Peinture reminds me of a big bunch of ribbons and scraps I untangled one winter day as part of the first big Martin Luther King Day of Service. The scraps of cloth were in the costume loft at the Fine Arts Building. I was kind of glad to go behind the scenes there and equally glad to be out of the cold. The textured swirling ribbons and spirals in Gracie's exhibit also remind me of the kind of quilting fabric sold at Equilter, fabric that is frequently the inspiration for Iyoba's gowns and dresses.

How to fly through the ribbons and bows Of course thebest part of Ce n'est pas une Peinture is that one doesn't walk through it once one clicks the pose ball at the entrance. Instead one, floats, flips, and swims. And no, this picture does not do the exhibit justice.

Ribbons and bows but no Iyoba And this image also does not show how this exhibit really feels when you are inside it. I think the problem is turning something densely three dimensional into a blog size photo. Somtimes it is good not to have a life, or maybe better to have two lives, and yes, I added Ce n'est pas une Peinture to The Explore SL spreadsheet.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- November 28, 2012

What You Can do with a 4096

grapes grow on a tree Not all great academic builds have to be big. Not all of them have to cover basic subjects or information literacy. The Wine Library is about... Well it's name should tell you, and no, I don't even like wine, but in 4096 square meters or less, this build makes its message come alive. And yes, grapes do grow on trees in Second Life.

Want to learn more about wine?And no, you won't find any fake computers in the Wine Library. Instead click on the case of wine for a menu of wine-related web sites that leads to more menus and.... But don't forget the decorations or the wine-pairing wheel which I wish had rezzed more clearly.

On the walls...Wine posters adorn the Wine Library's walls. I like this Chablisienne for her bright colors. I suspect each of the poster textures took 10L to upload and a lot more time to find and size properly, but Hyacinth Cortes, who made this build, is not allergic to good, hard work!

3 hyacinths!And out of doors, there is a lovely flower garden, featuring these three hyacinths, each in a different color. I have a soft spot for plants. Perhaps they do more for my mirror neurons than furniture. These were definitely worthy of a photograph.

Meow!Of course no garden or library is complete without its kitty-in-residence. This little red and white one is so sweet too! Iyoba touched her, and she closed her eyes in joy and gave a little mew of gratitude.

Stomp! Stomp!Finally, even if you don't really care about wine, your avie can always help make some. Yes, Iyoba took her shoes off before she went to stomp the grapes, and these were red grapes. White grapes would not have been any fun!

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni, Avie with Dirty Feet -- November 25, 2012A

Thank You Stanford University!

A nice slide show at EntropiaIf you are a Stanford alum, or a taxpayer in California (I can't imagine a college or university that does not receive some state aid even if private.), give yourself a big pat on the back or better yet, write your state representative and thank them. Unlike some states, California gives back to the public any money it spends in Second Life, and Entropia is one of the ways it gives back.

When Iyoba and I headed out to Entropia neither of us knew what to expect, but we didn't expect much. Back in the day, which was not so long ago, Entropia was a dull, round conference center. It had a few chairs. It had an outdoor, wrap-around walk. It had lots of water, and not much to recommend it. It was a typical or slightly-better-than-typical, handsome but sterile, academic build.

Wow, what a bright and pretty sculpture! Well, happily, those days are long gone! Though the entire sim is a sandbox, Entropia is also home to lovely, big, colorful art such as this orange and blue sculpture. Yes, those are Utica College colors. I notice things like that. The sculpture also looks like a shell, and shells are a common motif for the fabrics I make for Iyoba's dresses. What can I say. Great minds think alike.

Holding onAnd here is a different view of the giant, walkable sculpture. It doesn't even look weird that those hands are blue. They are just very smooth and cool. I think they are amazingly beautiful.

An image of a city on the Entropy sculpture's foundationOf course the Entropy sculpture includes many other images. They are tucked into the walls and often in odd places. This picture of a city, was just above the water line. I am not sure if the city is on fire, or if the picture just happened at dawn. No, it is not a photograph, but I think every picture is really a "picture of something."

Iyoba poses against an orange backdrop Needless to say, Entropia is a great place for a photo shoot. Of course, I'm not sure if it is theposes or the background that carry the day. Iris Ophelia on New World Notes recently wrote a post on poses. I'm not sure I agree with it. Iyoba here is using a static sports pose called "soccer." I think this post as as much to do with soccer as the wet sponge in my kitchen sink, but that's what it's called. I like the pose because it makes the avie look like she is moving, and gives the picture a candid look. I also like the bright colored background. I think pose and background work well together. Iyoba is an expressive avie, all the more so because she is not glamorous. Giving her opportinity to use her large hands and show a facial expression does a lot to showcase her well.

Iyoba dances in front of a corrigated, phantom wallHere Iyoba is dancing. I find the best poses are often dances. This was a freebie, party gensture called Danca des Politicos. What doesn't work on the dance floor works well for photographyy. Iyoba's hands chop down in the direction opposite the wall's stripes. Who knew stripes could be so fascinating. I kept wanting to touch them, and this had nothing to do with Iyoba.

Iyoba and I become artists ourselves Now in any sandbox, there is always a temptation to take a bit of therapy, and in this case, Iyoba and with my blessing dug out one of her old dresses. The short version was a sculptie skirt that Iyoba wears well because she is somewhat short and dumpy. There are tremendous advantages to being short and dumpy in Second Life. The long skirt, however, had problems. It was missing a waste band. It also was too close to the body in back. It was a concave six or eight (I gave up counting) panel skirt, and those are complicated. It also, like most older skirts (This was the third flexi skirt I ever made, but the fabric is really lovely. It's a hand paint too.) had issue with force and drag. I found a premade waste band, put the skirt together, adjusted the lengths and the forces and weights, and well.... Walking froma front view is my all time favorite pose. This is how I test out a skirt, so this really isn't a pose. It's a candid, and I think candids beat poses any day of the week.

So thank the good folks in Sacramento, copy and paste the SLURL, and you know where to go. Also, don't worry about the sculpture disappearing any time in the next couple of weeks or even month or so. The builders are the islands' own team and autoreturn is set to zero. If you build something at Entropia though, please remember to clean it up. Too much abuse, gives the visiting public a bad name, and we know what happens then.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni who got two new dresses out of the deal -- November 25, 2012B

Is There Nothing for you Here?

I am actually disappointed. Some of it was due to tremendous expectations. TAMHSC Care was part of the Texas A & M archipelago, just like one of my favorite sims, 12th Man. I expected medical simulations. I expected libraries. I expected museums. I expected PowerPoints and interactive exhibits. I found none of that.

Instead, I found a lovely (and I mean lovely!) academic build with one or two links or web sites on prims for the general public. There was also one nursing demonstration that works mainly with locked software. The page to which it linked required a password.

The Bell TowerNow I am ambivalent toward monumental architecture like this bell tower. It makes an impressive picture. You can walk under it. You can fly close to it. If you had it on your land, it would use up an awful lot of prims, and you'd be paying for the rezzing space. It is more rezzing space than I can afford, yet I enjoyed visiting this pile of bricks as a traveller. I liked the yellow granite interior, and the cage that housed the bells.

Raw hide covered stool I am even more ambivalent about furniture. Yes, it is easy to build. It just is, but once you rezz it, it tends to be sterile for a very obvious reason. You're going to get up and go out and just leave it sitting there. You're not going to sit in it all the time?

Now when I was a newbie and did not own land, or did not own enough land to lavishly furnish a place or furnished a place and wondered why I was disappointed, and that was even after learning something about pose-ball scripts, I still loved to go to other people's furnished houses, or to my landlord, Walter's, office, or to a big furniture store and try out the stock. One of my favorite places as a newbie sold swimming pools and hot tubs. I had a freebie swimming animation and a bathing suit. You can figure out the rest.

There's a rose on the pinao keys, but you can't see it

One of my favorite pieces of furniture was and still is a grand or even an upright piano. This one in the student union on an island near TAMHSC Care had a red rose on the keyboard and a mike. I liked that it was finished in brown stain instead of being painted black or white. Liberacce, any one? The piano of course comes with a sweet animation. There are also harps out there that avatarim can play, and toilets where they can read the comics and wipe, and sinks where they can wash.

Modern glass top deskThis desk set, however, does nothing but look beautiful. Of course it does that quite well. I like the "sawhorse" design and the glass top. The nonfunctional computer, which is like a thousand other nonfunctional computers in Secon Life, is good for a laugh, but this time the laugh is good natured. This desk resides in The School of Rural Public Halth on the TAMHSC Care sim.

Southwestern style tableI found this table on the second floor of the College of Pharmacy's building. I like the blanket covered benches that almost look plush. I also like the radial wood texture on the table, which I think is either with a custom texture or created by setting the texture to planar when building the item. It's this attention to detail that makes me satisfied with furniture I would never care to own but love to visit.

Fruit, fruit, fruitAnd fruit plates like this one are scattered all over the buildings on the TAMHSC Care sim. They are definitely photograph worthy, and yes they are sterile. You can't pick up a piece of fruit and eat it. I find them oddly appropriate on an island run by a collection of colleges whose graduates will promote healthy living. Come to think of it, there was not a soda vending machine or a bar on the entire sim. Someone was creating or picking their prefab objects very judiciously.

Maybe blue bellsI am a lot less ambivalent about plants than I am about furniture. I've found that I interact with even the most sterile plants. Plants form a property border. Plants are great to look at. Plants hide turtle eggs and Lily Frogs. The most useful building I ever constructed was my temperate house at Stinky Stinky. There are biophilia issues taht make plants necessary in a way that furniture can never hope to be. I think these are blue bells. They were appropriate for a sim that is run by an institution from Texas.

in the corn field with you! And here is Iyoba in the corn field. There are many, many corn fields in Second Life. There is even Japonica corn in the Temperate house on Stinky Stinky. This field is fine and lush. Iyoba had to run through it, and I find corn fields utterly photogenic. Iyoba has about half a dozen corn themed dresses in her inventory as well.

So what do I make of TAMHSC Care and why bother to blog about the place that obviously DID NOT make the spreadsheet? Well the reason is some nostalgia. Yes, I used to love finding rental models, retail stores, empty homes, and using the furniture. I still love gardens and landscaping. The piano is fun, and there are bikes you can ride. As a public facility, TAMHSC Care doesn't really measure up, but this is a sim that is crying out to be repurposed. For newbies who love furnished spaces even if they never want to own furniture, for newbies or any one else smitten with furniture lust and a penchant for interior decoration, for those who want to skip the hassle of a home invasion, TAMHSC Care is your sim to explore. Walk, sit, photograph, run through the flowers, ride a bicycle, stand on the roof tops. I'll keep the landmark and tell the whole world.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- November 23, 2012

Alicia's and My Questions

Friday, I was side-swiped by a post on Alica Chenaux' blog,'Chnow. The post talked about a club called Phat's and how she had not been there in a while, and how those who were now the regulars had outdated dresses and "ramen hair," while she had graduated to mesh fashions which are the latest thing. She could not understand how any one would want to stay behind the times and not look totally beautiful, if I may paraphrase.

There is enough snark in the universe without my contributing to the load, and I probably will add some inadvertantly, but I'd like to try to keep it to a minimum, because Alicia's post struck a nerve. and it is more than her tone that did it. And no, I'm not offended. It's just not a word I choose to use.

Iyoba on the spiral stairs leading up to Phat Cat's Club What I wondered as I read Alicia's review of Phat's was how would Alicia view Iyoba and me? After all, I don't shop in the best stores or wear mesh. I am no longer mesh blind, but at 5'0" and about a hundred and twenty-five pounds, I'm impossible to fit.

As you can see in the picture above, Iyoba and I make our own clothes in Second Life. We do this to get a good fit. We do this to make colorful, but modest apparent. We do this because we get control over the fabrics. Face it, you just don't find velour with warthogs on it for sale in most stores. Also, I need long, bright colored dresses to do a weekly volunteer shift. They help me dress "professional."

Iyoba dancing After reading Alicia's post, I wasn't sure Iyoba would fit in at Phat's any more than Alicia had, but I had to go see. First, I liked the salmon marble and faded rose architecture. I don't know much about jazz, so I was relieved that the club played oldies. Third, I had no trouble entering the club with my warthog maxi-dress. I even saw a tiny avie in a white suit come by to visit. The place seems clean, well lighted, and accepting.

I read the dress code, and am not sure what happens if a woman shows up in a nice pants or skirt suit, or a man or woman shows up in very neat, business casual. I don't know if they have thought of where that fits in or had a "problem" with that. Anyway, Iyoba was wearing a long semi-formal dress and that was OK. No one harassed her about her height. That was OK. I noticed a lot of Spanish speakers on the dance floor. That was even better, not that I speak Spanish, but I like an international atmosphere. Will I go back to Phat Cat's? The answer is maybe. On a sunday morning and at certain maudlin times, I am into oldies. Other times I can't stand them. This is my problem. I've got issues about nostalgia.

And when you think about it, I did not "fit in" any better than Alicia did, though for different reasons. And when you really think about it, not fitting in is a teachable moment. And yes, I did wonder about the people in their crinolines, those big flexi skirts that take up half the floor, swirl and twirl. I'm no fan of that style, but I know it is exceedingly popular. I thought the women's hair was lovely. There were more brownish styles than I am used to seeing.

Since people act out desires and fantasies in Second Life, it is fairly normal to wonder: "Who are those people and what makes them tick?" This can be a very constructive question. Asking "Why don't these people..... do XYZ as I do it?" is not. The answer to it is belaboring the obvious. ifferent people want different things. They really do. A few days ago, I offered the script for my spinning and sittable object to folks who had come to gamble and gawk in a sandbox at TTU Libraries 3. I got no takers. I started thinking: "Don't you want to learn how things are made and how they work..." so no I'm not guiltless.

Second, people really have good reasons for their different desires. I like being short and a bit dumpy in Second Life, because Iyoba can wear texture skirts with little gapping and default animations look good on her. I don't want Iyoba to be particularly sexy because at times it invites harassment. I enjoy walking rather than flying, because you see more of the countryside. Iyoba is African American because she can wear various hair textures: coarse, fine, braided, and lacquered.

Easel holdintg the dress code and rules for the club If Alicia had carefully read the dress code rules for Phat Cat's she might have pieced together some of the why's behind what she saw on the dance floor. The club has had issuse with mesh blind patrons and mesh wardrobe malfunctions, and there is a good chance that to many of those on the dance floor, her outfit did not display as intended. I was mesh blind for most of the winter of 2011/2012 until Second Life's Viewer 3.0 and the Exodus viewer caught up with my older equipment. Mesh blindness is a very good reason to prefer older clothing styles.

Billie and Jurgis' egg Besides, newer technology does not always supplant older technology. Petable Turtles work as well as ever even though there are newer breedables. The egg is Billie and Jurgis' I thought I would show it off. Radio survived television. Legitimate theater still exists despite movies. The big, flexiprim, gown or long dress or short dress is a robust older technology. Not everyone cares about having the newest and the latest. I am sure there are people who want to relive their sea cruise, the sea cruise in their imagination, their wedding or prom, or relive a better version of that than the original. Finding out what it is that the woman (or man...the dresses were all primary colors so I suspect their owners may be males in disugise.) in the crinoline ideolizes or relives, will give you a real answer to the "who are you?" question.

Another reason one may see a lot of crinolines at Phat's is affordibility. There are many free and cheap specimines, and there might be a lot of Ones who want to economize or not get over extended. Surely this is a sensible desire, and again you can ask if you are curious. It is common for frugal avatarim to boast they get all their clothes for free.

Third, if Alicia had listened to the music, she might have received a more subtle clue as to who it was in those magnificent gowns and with long, curly tresses on their heads. Phat's when I was there did not play jazz. Instead they played oldies, some from the fifties and sixties, some from my own adolescence and youth. There was a lot of nostalgia for the late 1950's and early 1960's in the mid 1970's. The 1970's was also the era of the Farah Fawcett Majors hair style, a big head of bouncing wavy, locks. I take Iyoba back to the early to mid1970's every time we wear a maxi dress. Those with Farah hair travel to about the same time via a different route.

I guess I have to ask Alicia if she really wants to understand those who now dance in her once favorite club or if she wants to retreat to her platforms where I may or may not be welcome, if I don't change my clothes, or where we might just bore each other to death. I'm not sure I can get past the barrage of oldies and find those willing to talk to me or speak English. I've been taken under the wing of club owners and DJ's a few times in my Second Life, and it doesn't always happen. Can a builder and amateur artist and information professional get along with those exploring feminity, nostalgia, Second Life on a shoe string, etc...? Do those at Phats want to bother with me? Will they ask "Who are you and why does this interest you?" instead of "Why don't you..." I can hear the difference between those questions. Can you, Alicia?

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni who is going back to Phat's -- November 19, 2012

A New Member of the Family

Last night, I went to name a zwicky, Geronimo, my white, luna, starter male had fathered. She was not that great, but I had a good name for her, and when I went to move her to the Zwicky Goodies folder in my inventory, I discovered, an unnamed, zwicky progeny. I'd goofed. I wondered when I had forgotten to name a baby Zwicky.

It was a very strange thing indeed because I agonize over zwicky names. Petable Turtle names are random because there are so many eggs to name. You can't name Lily Frog eggs, but zwicky and theirnames are special.

I took out the unnamed progeny and he wasn't in stasis. In fact, he was about two weeks old and pregnant. The last is normal for male zwickies about every eight days. You would never know how long a week is until you have zwickies. He was also an Orion male, a breed my crew can not produce. He wasn't mine!

Had I purchased a zwicky unawares and nearly let him starve to death in my inventory? It's possible. I do sometimes "sleep walk" at night. There was also the question of what to do with the new arrival. I probably hadn't paid very much for him except that I acquired him after November 2 so he wasn't in the 31L or 25L sale. What had I paid for him? Had he slipped into my inventory somehow without being sold?

I contacted the Zwicky owners group and learned that Griderz Luv had given me this poor, male zwicky as a gift when I inquired if such a thing as hot zwickies existed. Unlike his cold brothers and sisters, the new arrival was indeed a hottie. Not only was he a hottie, he was a starving hottie. Fortunately, he woke up on his own and engaged in zwickies' favorite sport. It's not fighting or pacing the air.

The problem with a gift breedable is that it is a gift that keeps on taking. the new arrival needed, food, space, and a name. Food I gave him without a second thought. Space was a bit harder. I took up two plants, a bench, and Iyoba's sleeping mat. That made eight prims of space for the new arrival. The name took some consideration... but I finally decided to call him Throckmorton, like the Great Gildersleeve.

Here's Throckmorton Yes, I am keeping Throckmorton. I could not bear to starve him to death, and I've never retired a zwicky. I just was not up for it. He's going to cost me, but he's really going to earn his keep, and his white color means all different colored offspring. The offspring are born "in stasis" and head straight into inventory after I name them, so there is no issue of becoming overrun. Besides, he is beautiful! The texture on his tentacles is even animated, and he appears more silver than white.

Of course Griderz is going to make more money off of me for food. I don't like the out of control feeling of taking on a new, unplanned expense. You have to watch expense-creep in Second Life. It is monetized. Say that three times fast.

On the other hand, Throckmorton, came to me, more or less by accident. I was at the Griderz site when discussing hot and cold zwickies in group chat. I was buying food as well as taking pictures for this blog. And when I thought I was receiving either food or a zelly flower, I clicked yes and there was a new zwicky, unasked for, in my inventory. This is much better than walking in my sleep. People accidentally click yes all the time. It wasn't my fault. I did not lose my good sense, and yes, I'll say it again, Throckmorton is a beautiful creature.

Here is Shalom Now here is another beautiful creature. This is Shalom, a pickerel frog, and one of my new group of Lily Frogs. She is pregnant. I am psyched to see her egg which like her, will also be a pickerel frog even if I can't name it. I like her dark swirls. They remind me of my real life, female kitty, Lysistrata's classic tabby splotches and marbled pattern.

Here is Lior And this is Lior. Yes, he is a Mississippi Gopher frog, but his coloring is new. He is Grandma Abra's little brother. She could breed with him if she were younger, and the offspring would be a bit boring, but just fine otherwise, and fully fertile. I wonder if he is the father of Shalom's, soon-to-be-laid egg.

Poor Keturah! And this is Keturah. Her mother was Ruchama, an Indian cane tode, and her father was probably Omri, a Mississippi Gopher frog. The light color makes her unusual and makes her pattern stand out. She is nine days old and has not yet become pregnant. This worries me. I may not have enough males, now that my frogs fertility has taken a hit with the last update. I'll wait a few more days before getting in touch with Dragoness Rage, the Lily Frogs' creator.

Tzipporah's eggSometimes you need a few words to explain an egg. This is the second F1 Refuah Shelema frog egg ever hatched in second life. I created the Refuah Shelema breed in honor of the High Holy Days and to donate money to a fund to help a woman with a kidney illness. Refuah Shelema means perfect healing in Hebrew. Tzipporah, the mother, was an adult female when taken out of her crate. Asher, the father of this egg, was just one of the eggs I received for my donatino, and he turned out to be a male when hatched. Females only can pass on the pattern. The colors are vivid because they belong to both parents. I think this is an especially handsome egg.

Behind her time but still special Refuah Shelema Lily Frog eggs are priceless or worth something. This egg, Zola, is worth nothing because Petable Turtle eggs are common as dirt though they can be quite beautiful. There are also very few breeders interested in producing Cosmic Turtles any more, even cosmics birthed of "normal parents." Zola is an F1 and nearly a tricolor.

She (If it is a she) is not consanguinous with most of my other cosmic eggs. I could hatch her or mate her with a cosmic of the appropriate sex, if I wanted more turtles, but Petable Turtles, are more voracious than zwickies. There are times when I wish I did not have to always look over my shoulder at expenses. Finally, I do not want to institute a controlled breeding program. I let my turtles couple with whomever, not that I couldn't do that with two cosmics in the mix. Ugly turtles often produce the most beautiful offspring, though both Zola's parents are beauties in their own right. If I can find a Cosmic Earth turtle, I can show you what Zola would look like if I hatched her. Cosmic Earths like Cosmic Starters all look alike due to an overlay skin. The coloring that shows up on Iyoba's Petable HUD is the coloring Zola will partially pass on to her offspring, and it is also the "real" coloring she inherited from her parents.

By the way, I don't bemoan that space is limited and breedable critter food costs real money. In real life, I have never been able to intentionally breed any creatures. I've always had my cats neutered. I've owned only one of anything else, or just never had anything I've owned mate. I did foster a pregnant cat, and she had six kittens. It was wonderful and heartbreaking. Kittens in "real life" are not born in stasis, and we all know that the "real world" is overrun with unwanted pets.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni who thanks me for my kind heart toward Throckmorton -- November 16, 2012

Taking a Break to Make

Everyone is entitled to a cheesey, attention hogging title every now and again. I think I earned mine. Quite frankly, I got sick of bushwhacking. I guess I am on strike, but I don't have a boss so no collective or even individual bargaining for me. I knew I needed sandbox therapy, a mega dose, but I was bored with making dresses. Putting together a dress, after all is pretty routine.

Of course I started out with a dress for Iyoba. I have seven more dress textures in inventory, but Iyoba changes once a day. She has an overflowing closet. She even has lots of winter outfits. This dress has a tamarind pattern. That's tamarind the fruit, not tamarin the monkey. She has a golden lion tamarin dress as well.

Iyoba shows off her new hairOf course after dresses comes hair. This can use all sorts of sculpties. In this case I had a personal box of garden tools from Es0 Torok. Rake tongs make one very caffeinated updo. I called it Valorie because face it, you have to have more nerve than brains to wear something like this, but it is fun! Second Life means you can do things to your hair, you never would dream of in the "real world."

Everyone should have a bench like this Hair though is routine, so it was on to simple furniture. Maybe I would get to like furniture, but any decent furniture requires a pose ball or does it. If I could put the pose ball animation in the piece of furniture itself, I could save a prim. Well, it wasn't that hard. One of Es0's sculpties became a seat and the other, a bottle, became a pedestal. I always love repurposing other people's stuff.

I really do wish I understood LSL better. Yes, there are tutorials. No, I'm not too busy to take them, but I am. Can I have a real twenty-five hour day now! I looked over the pose ball script while I was adjusting it, and noticed a couple of things that were irritating. Hey I know it's a free script and I took what I could get and....

Still, the llSitTarget command was set to ZERO_ROTATION. That was annoying. I wanted to be able to pose and turn my avie when she sat down. I looked up how to write a rotation. Later I was able to do this with variables set at the top of the program. For some reason, this makes adjustments a lot easier and I was going to be adjusting this script a lot.

I also would like to adjust it to have the camera looking at the front of my avie, but I haven't done it yet. I think there is a command for this that is fairly straightforward. Straightforward is the only way I understand LSL at all! But I also noticed a whole bunch of stuff about configuration note cards and voice commands and stuff no sane pose ball uses. To make matters worse, and more urgently too, my seat cushion disappeared every time Iyoba sat on it. I was able to edit the script to stop this and felt good about it.

Iyoba sits on a spinning bottle But then of cousre I thought about what I really wanted to do with a sit script. First, I didn't want to just add an animation. I mean that is fine, but why not make the sat upon object spin. I had an improved rotation script that worked on touch. I could take the rotation part and have it work on sitting down. That took more work than I thought. The LSL wiki is very useful. LSL is still a pretty opaque foreign language to me. Still, you can see what a little persistence yields. This bottle spins when Iyoba sits on it. It is an Es0 Torok personal demo sculptie. Give me sculpties and I can be happy all day long!

Of course, a bunch of the scantily clad (Yes, I did much of the building in the TTU Libraries 3 Sandbox and had plenty of company including a devil or demon or two.) avatarim came by and laughed at me. They wanted to play some kind of gambling game. They even rezzed a table for it that was fairly impressive. Of course I suspect they clean up after themselves, so as to stay one step ahead of the forces of decorum and decency. Being a charitable soul, Iyoba offered them the script and even worked on an improved and full permission version of our original object. The scantily clad gang politely declined though they couldn't resist taking a spin on the bottle.

Iyoba does the chicken dance on the cushy cushion while it spins Now the playful bottle, only spun with Iyoba in the default sit position. I wanted something a bit more elaborate as well as full permission. That meant adding the part of the pose ball script that checked for and used an animation. It took two or three tries, and then a long time to position Iyoba correctly with offsets and rotation vectors. This script uses variables for the rotation instead of that awful ZERO_ROTATION. I've declared variables in other programming languages, and LSL is similar to PHP and Flash Action Script.

Of course I was not content with a basic sitting animation. I had to add my chicken dance. Why not? It was full perm. Now who has a spinning dance pad that keeps an avie dancing even after it stops spinning? If you work by trial and error with sit scripts, you will inevitbly feel dizzy and your avie will look like a total fool, but I also feel very morally superior. Why? Because I actually took the time to learn something besides dressing up to look like the coolest kid on the block or in class. Learning something and getting something useful for your trouble is a lot more satisfying than just buying something in a store, even when learning makes your avie look like an idiot or the victim of some vile, practical joke.

A talking bottle to hold breedable critters for sale

Please click the picture above to really see it. It's just a thumbnail. Now, I also needed to make something useful, not just fun or prim reducing, though this object reduces prims. I want to sell or give away Lily Frog eggs. I also wouldn't mind selling a few turtle eggs and some baby zwickies. I have way more progeny than I can htach and feed, but I need a container for the frogs. Now that I could set text, do a touch trigger, and teach it to talk, and set variables, I got out a free sculpted beer bottle and scripted it to have text, and to speak when touched.

I don't have a good texture for the bottle yet, but there is a real Lily Frog egg inside. I know a place that rents stands and plenty that rent stores. Retailing again? Hey making retail goods is fun. Stocking a store and paying rent on it is another story, and that is a story for another day.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni who puts up with all my crazy inventions -- November 15, 2012

"Wish You Were Here"

Bee hive in the trees Winners come up unexpectedly when bushwhacking academic sims, and there is no question, NOVA Annandale Campus is a winner! First NOVA, which stands for Northern Virginia Community College, has produced a sim that just looks good to my sunny, color loving aesthetic. Above is a beehive classroom in a red maple tree. It's an old time skep, but the shape is unusual and inspired. As a builder of bee hives, though not the kind in which you can live, and yurts, quanset huts, etc... I am just impressed with this. Great minds think alike!

Down among the reeds and rushesI am also impressed with the level of detail given over to appropriate vegetation. No, there are no palm trees or tulips here (Often these are together and it makes me wonder what the sim owner was thinking.), but there are plenty of reeds, rushes, and grass. There are cat tails and daisies. There is also seaweed or some other sort of aquatic plant at the bottom of the stream. NOVA Annandale Campus is a great place to take a swim.

What happened hereLearning hides in the most unusual places on this sim. Yes, someone broke into this office or maybe its occupants don't believe in clean. Poke around here and see what you learn. Just be glad the networked computer system is not your own, and that the office's denziens are not your employees.

Giant CellLearning is in the sky with this giant cell which hovers above and near a cell biology and biochemistry walking course that is jam packed with information. The cell, which is similar to the one at Genome features avie-size organelles that give note cards when you click them. They are hard to catch, but worth the effort. And yes, that is Iyoba inside the cell. Just click the membrane to enter. Click a vacuole to exit, and no, you won't fall to the ground.

Red koiAnd what campus is complete without an art gallery. This one hides in the back of the administration building and features works by NOVA students. The works have the title and student's name on them, to reduce script lag, which is very thoughtful. This red koi is representative of what you will find in the gallery.

And yes, this island even has a public and well regulated sandbox. The developers are proud of their work, and I even met one. He invited me to bring my class. Too bad, I don't have a class, but an avie who is a student elsewhere is welcome to repurpose the island to his/her own needs, and a junior or senior in high school interested in homework help is welcome as well since the island has a general rating.

Iyoba joins the forces of chaos and disorder Meanwhile, my avie, Iyoba has joined the forces of chaos and disorder. I'm not sure how it happened. She took a swim in the river on NOVA Annandale Campus and then teleported while still in her bathing suit. I don't have to tell you she was scantily clad! She posed by the sign on TTU Libraries 3, the sandbox where the forces of superior use and decorum enforce strict rules of proper behavior. Then she ran and even danced capoeira in the sandbox. All the while, I bit my nails and fretted that the fashion police and the enforcers of propriety would come and boot us and ban us from their educational sandbox.

The forces of darkness encroach and invade Worse yet, Iyoba had helpers. Not only dis the scantily clad overun the proper and educational sandbox at TTU Libraries 3, but the children of the night joined them. You can see in the photo, a pair of vampires, one of whom was also scantily clad and the other of whom had a weapon. No, they did not bite Iyoba or any one else, but they could have done it, and they certainly degraded and distracted from the academic atmosphere. The forces of higher use, propriety, and decorum have their work cut out for them. Will they rise to the occasion? Only time can tell.

Eileen H. Kramer, Iyoba BatOni, and a host of those to whom we are grateful but will not mention -- November 13, 2012

How to do An Academic Sim Right!

A while ago, I posted on how not to build an academic sim. Since then Iyoba and I have finished a year's worth of the Explore SL Spread Sheet and have started doing some random bushwhacking. This is fun because we end up on Gorean sites, shopping malls, empty sims, and occasionally the educational site that hides in plain sight. Glasscock was such a site. I figured it was named after a lab instrument, something that like Budworm or the now defunct South Hill, was an inside joke. I looked it up on a map, hit the teleport, and held my breath while Iyoba waited in pained silence. It always takes a whle for the teleport "to take."

A sign explains it all

This sign over the Humanities Research Center door explained it all. This island was named after a famous donor or professor at Texas A&M. Better yet the sign led to a room rich in resources. The computers here were not for show! Each one of them was a link to a site that offered either information about study in the various humanities, manuscripts, library links, etc... Each computer's face also showed something related to its site.

Iyoba stands by a desk full of computers Here Iyoba stands beside the computers. There are about three tables of them. The building has three more floors including a useable roof. The second floor is faculty offices. The third floor is empty, but two floors in use is a lot more than many academic buildings have. The roof is even reachable and useable, in other words, not dead space.

An introduction in how to study the history of war South of the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for the Study of the Humanities, is an exhibit on how to teach about war. It is filled with cubes covered with graphic images that depict the cost of war, some weapons, and anti-war protests. It is those who choose the pictures that set the tone of the story and what story gets told. I'm not sure that is apparent in the directions to view this exhibit. I photographed them any way. They are part of an in-depth PowerPoint that is part of this exhibit.

Math and Music My favorite area was the music and math exhibit. It is colorful, and the math in it often turns into algebra with a twist. I think this might be a great exhibit for parents looking for enrichment for their teenage youngsters or middle school youngsters during the summer. They could copy down the problems, since middle schoolers have no access to Second Life unless they lie about their ages. Such visits might be repurposing the exhibit which Texas A&M intends for those to be inducted into the secret society of teachers, but why not indulge a little repurposing? Surely this is not squatting.

The only thing missing on Glasscock is a public sandbox. Sorry, it is group only here. You'll need to look elsewhere if all this fine building has inspired you to build on your own.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- November 11, 2012

I Would Rather Tell a Happy Story

I don't want to write about half finished builds, gorgeous but empty buildings, landmarks that lead to nonexistent sims etc... It's part and parcel of what I encounter when Iyoba and I bushwhack. I am jaded about such things. Also, there are real limits to the amount of good snarking on the blog about the same thing I snarked about two weeks ago or two days ago is going to do.

Instead, I remember a red Petable Turtle. She was a starter red. She belonged to a breeder whom I used to visit. He had a few lives in a pen. Most were fancy turtles, but not the red one, whom he had named Bitch. A name that nasty sometimes speaks of love or a special bond. I don't know where Bitch is tonight. The chances are good she is dead in inventory, but maybe not. Bitch's owner spared her that fate, and if he still has turtles, she is probably still with him. Call it sentimental value. Call the whole set of feelings we have for virtual pets sentiment, but I think it is something more.

Pets can be property. They can be a way of making money (Good luck wtih that.) One can grow tired of them. One can "retire" the under performers or those who produce consanguinous offspring or those who no longer produce at all. I've done all those things, but sometimes one of these cookie-cutter creations and repositories of our Lindens comes alive. Call that fantasy. Call that magical thinking, but maybe in small times and places, there is a space for magic.

Jurgis the TurtleThere is nothing special about Jurgis. Any one with a hundred Lindens, less than a dollar, and sometimes even less money can have a turtle just like him. He is a green eyed cosmic starter. As such he shares the same parents and grandparents as thousands of his brothers and sisters. He is a twin, a clone, and he was hatched out to produce Cosmic Earth babies. When there weren't enough or maybe too many (I no longer remember, but you can't make money wtih breedables), his owner "got out of turtles."

I was visiting various turtle establishments to view the stock, when I found the turtle ranch on Coral Beach Island. No, I am not including a link. I wish I had photographed the scene, but my emotions got the better of me. The food bowls were empty. The turtles that were still alive were dying, and yet they laid eggs. Many turtles were all ready dead. Since I had no way to box up the turtles on this land, I decided to buy a dead one. I could take only one turtle. I had room and cash for no more. I chose Jurgis because his eyes were green, only back then he had neither life nor name.

I named him Jurgis after the hard working Polish immigrant hero of Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle. I revived him with elixir of life. I hoped he would mate with Shamayith my Cosmic Earth and produce Luna babies. He mated many times. He has fathered over a thousand eggs, and they are good, genetically diverse eggs. I of course, couldn't see that at the time. I sent Jurgis back to inventory to die. I revived him again as a display turtle when I had a shop in the Kingdom of Jordan where he made lots of eggs, and now he has become a regular fixture at Stinky Stinky, my land.

I've taken to love those red and green eggs, which can range from orange to burgundy and with shells that range from pale tourquoise to deep emerald. These are fine multicolored, plain and pretties. This is what turltes were meant to be. Jurgis has died twice, been stranded once, and accidentally gathered into inventory at least one time too many. He is now a special and treasured member of Iyoba's and my family of virtual pets, and every now and again, he gives me an egg that is just a little better than all the others, a little prettier, or an egg that glows. Jurgis got lucky. I got lucky, and I grew. Jurgis, though, has grown too. He is more than just a green eyed, red and green turtle with a black covring.

Where Jurgis lived his first life I am also the keeper of Jurgis' past. Because he is a Cosmic Starter purchased directly from Grim and Anthony, the creators of Petable Turtles, his breeder is not listed. The breeder who abandoned his colony of turtles to their fate is long gone. I returned to the place where I found Jurgis. It is now for sale. Yes, I thought of buying it. I could use more space. I'd probably fill it with breedables. Don't worry, there is a good reason not to leave lots of Lindens lying around. Besides, Jurgis is his own best memorial.

And no, he doesn't talk to me. If he did, he'd probably say he loves to eat and have sex, because that is what good Petable Turtles do. He'd remind me to buy food and tell me that he got three of my females pregnant as he sometimes does. Jurgis is a good worker. Let's just say he earns his bowl of hatchless.

North end of an Abra going south And Tuesday night, when I went to retire my Lily Frogs, I packaged up four of them. They are all ready too old to breed, and being in Iyoba's inventory won't hurt them. When I went to search out the fifth frog, here is what I saw. Her name is Abra. I don't know who her father is, but her mother, Yehudis, had a lime green body and pink legs. Abra's legs are silver, and her Mississippi Gopher Frog body is the same acid green. She has lovely brown eyes, but you can't see them in the picture. She did not need to look at me to communicate, and she said just one word: "NO!"

Abra in the amaranth I could understand the "NO" I even sympathized with her. Then it really hit: This frog wants to live and is fighting for her life. I decided not to package Abra and leave her. I told her she could be the mater familiaris of a brood of froglets. Lily Frogs don't have tadpoles. Two of the babies don't have names yet. One is four days older than the others and is now pregnant. I can wait for an egg. I don't begrudge Abra her food. Maybe it's like that story of Pinnochio in which Gipetto carves a puppet and somehow it moves from being an animated or virtual creature to something more than just pixels. That moment when Abra leaped into the golden amaranth to hide, the magic happened.

Abra the grandmother frog You don't have to believe in magic. You can even call me crazy. You can believe the life in Abra and Jurgis, the tiny spark I feel for both of them, comes from me. Maybe I gave them life, but the process was not in my control. I would have given life to the most beautiful of my creatures, the best performer, the special one, if this were conscious. Even if the magic comes from me, and there is a piece of me inside Jurgis and Abra, and no doubt there is because that is what we are brought up to believe, it is still a piece that settled where it would. The moment was just right.

We are all little gods in Second Life over the realms we pay for, whether that is just our avie's body, or a bit of land, or a full bowl of food or feeding object and the creatures who eat our Lindens to stay alive. God takes life, but She can also give it. It's the second part of the process that we don't fully understand. See, I told you this was better than snark.

Eileen H. Kramer and a bemused Iyoba BatOni -- November 9, 2012

Musings on Mandatory Retirement

After whinging endlessly, I decided to do it. I will be retiring (They do not die in inventory, so this is less than a euphemism than usual) five of my six Lily Frogs and replacing them with younger, fertile specimens. This hurts way more than it should.

It hurts because my frogs are healthy if rana-pausal. I shouldn't have to retire healthy animals, but if I keep them on the land, I have to feed them, and all they are is mobile sculpties. I could buy mobile sculpties and never have a food bill. There is an element of not being taken in here. Consider it fall out from the evils of monetization.

a last photo of Abra half sunk into the bee hive after gorging herself at the lily pad Second, my existing Lily Frogs are frightfully inbred. I don't have room for both old and new blood. I'd also like to give Asher, age 40 days, a chance to breed some more. Lily Frogs remain fertile even when inbred, but the eggs all get to look alike. Especially when all of your offspring descend from one or two mothers. I want to start fresh with females of several different breeds. I'm going to do what most breeders do and consider this an opportunity. I'm with the program.

I'm with the program with reservations. I would like not to have to retire my frogs. Retirement or expiration of breedables is just plain an ugly business. It encourages big breeders to replenish their stock and improve the breed. In some large, impersonal operations the breeders do not even name the pets. I find that sad, but that is another story. Smaller owners can only keep a few pets, become attached to them, and then...We know we're never going to burn up the world, so let the pets earn their keep and be done with it.

Griderz Zwickies ran into serious issues with ninty day retirement and a one to nineteen male to female ratio. Many owners with a starter grouping of four zwickies could not produce a replacement male from their own stock. Enter the zelly flowers. These extended zwicky lives and fertility, and my starter zwickies have birthed five or six males this year.

Our own candy zwicky The zwicky above is not a male. She's a candy zwicky, a Halloween special. I have her in stasis in my inventory because if I hatch her, she takes up eight prims, but I have the space. More seriously, she eats, and eats. Zwickies are voracious, but the real money in breedables is made by selling them food. Petable Turtles probably eat the most, but zwickies are a close second. Lily Frogs are the cheapest to feed. Still a new breedable, even a free random egg or discount critter in stasis is an ongoing food bill. It adds up.

Another candy zwicky Recently, Griderz began discount sales, not quite giveaways, but you could buy a rare or ultra rare adult zwicky for 31L, and last night they were selling ice babies in stasis for 25L. This is essentially free. Stock, ordinary stock, should be this cheap! It's the food that makes the money for the creator of any breedable.

Of course there are those who believe that not all virtual breedable stock should be cheap. These are the people who want to collect, discover, or sell rare breeds/species. For them, seeing the bottom drop out of the market is a nightmare. This happened a couple of times with Petable Turtles. It may also have happened with Amaretto Horses and Meeroos. I'm not sure what Ozimals Rabbits' owners did besides get in a law suit. Breedables are big business.

Ice zwicky babies for sale.Unfortunately, Lily Frogs suffer from a peculiar fertility issue all their own. They are not as fecund as Petable Turtles, and a bit more fecund than zwickies. The problem is there are only about fifty of us with frog breeding operations, and I know of only two or three inviduals who sell eggs. Weak supply and the fact that frogs get inbred and boring, pushes up the price of eggs. This makes life retched for any one with a small operation. And being forced to replace stock (though I could do it entirely from my own stock) just adds insult to injury. Having more not fewer eggs and then trading them or giving them away so that other, small breeders can maintain diversity is the way to go. After all, we might just have more frogs and we're going to need to feed them.

Ejecta Zwicky with a nearly transparent, chartreuse ruffIn their prime, Petable Turtles, added a nice touch, making the special phenotype not heritable. Most of my Petable Turtles are the children and grand children of specials, the so-called plain and pretties, and yes, they are worthless, and yes, I pay for food, way too much, but I don't care. I know I will not have to cull my turtles unless I choose to do it. I wish I could say the same for my Lily Frogs.

And except for the candy Zwicky in my inventory who was born on my land for whom I did not pay a dime, I did not acquire any of the beautiful zwickies for sale at the Griderz Store. Breedables, even the ones you retire to inventory, whether they die or not, are a great responsibility. Images are free, and no my zwickies don't quite look like this, but a starter pack and two exceptional progeny produce some amazing offspring.

Look who left a clothing box in the TTU3 Libraries Sandbox! And now for something complete different: They invaded by stealth. They invaded after hours, when the faculty and fashion police had gone home. They destroyed decorum. They wreacked mayhem, and they left an empty box behind. Who were they? The scantilly clad, and they attacked the TTU Libraries 3 Sandbox. I wonder when the forces of rightenousness and a proper, academic atmosphere will catch up with those dastardly avatarim. Let those of us who believe in a quiet atmosphere for superior pursuits, hope and pray that it is soon.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- November 6, 2012

Everywhere a Sign

One of the things I love to photograph in Second Life is signs. I'm pretty sure why signs fascinate me. Nothing tells the story of the people who own a place and build there like the signs they mount. Even the absence of signs on many educational sims tells its own story, namely that those in the know, where they are, and tough luck to every body else. Lack of signage has often forced me to create names for sites on the Explore SL Spread Sheet.

Freize of women of knowledge

Signs that are visible, though, have their own variety of messages. This mural with an explanation beneath it, is a sign in which the photo-realistic carvings speak louder than words. I think it is the prettiest part of a very attractive build, Project Breakout, a brain child of the American Association of University Women with a beautiful office on the the Aloft Nonprofit Commons. I just like the ancient look of it, and I wonder whom all the figures are in the mural and whether they are symbolic or real.

Safe Sex or No SexI found this sign in an exhibit devoted to promoting safe sex, tucked into a cozy corner of the Aloft Nonprofit Commons. The building belonged to some other organization that had painted it pastel. The new tenants had left up much of the old decor.

You can see some of it around the sign, but you have to enter the place to catch the full jarring effect. Maybe the effect is a good thing since it makes the signs stand out, but seeing a sign this forceful in a nursery themed building makes me wonder: "Who is the intended audience?" Surely younger adults with avies who go to clubs could benefit by seeing such a sign. Having multilingual versions might also be helpful. Having the sign on the ad-boards outside a club or a well traveled mall that sells sex gear inworld, would be even better. Instead, this sign is stuck on the Aloft Nonprofit Commons. Perhaps a few good hearted souls may be uplifted by the message, but those who really need to hear it, probably won't come to this enclave of nonprofits. I am glad I do not pay the rent for the space to rezz this sign.

A sign with an apology on it. This sign is one of the more perplexing ones I found. It may be perplexing but I like it. I found this sign on Online Education which is owned by an English institution called Drury University. The sign is an apology by one builder or manager for accidentally trashing another's carefully crafted spiral stairway. The builder has since restored the structure with the sign, that has been there for nearly two years. I think there is a sweetness hidden somewhere in this tale.

The Stupid Sign There is absolutely no sweetness in this sign. I found it at the entrance to the sandbox on TTU Libraries 3 which is a sandbox island. If you don't see a lot of signs stating sandbox rules, you probably won't get what makes this creation stand out. Sandbox rules usually list prohibited actions: selling, sex (Usually this is soliciting sex. One is permitted to adjust pose ball scripts of all types.), attacking others with weapons, driving badly controlled vehicles, rezzing large builds at ground level where they take up too much space.

Now take a second look at this sign. It does not prohbiit biting. It prohbiits vampires, even if the vampire is just trying on a hair piece or unpacking clothing. Likewise, the sign does not prohibit sex or solicitation. I could see being made to take pose balls with racey animations elsewhere, and soliciting is a prime nuiscence, but the sign prohibits prostitutes even they are trying on clothing or unpacking merchandise or maybe working on building their houses of ill repute, which is pretty much like building any other building.

This sign also prohibits scantilly clad avies. I'm not sure what the definition of this last group is. Maybe those who run the TTU Sandbox know it when they see it. Is a male avie in boxers and no shirt scantilly clad. Is a woman in cut offs and a camisole or jeans that are more holes than fabric and a crop top scantilly clad? Is a one piece bathingsuit OK, but a bustier and stockings held up by garters off limits? Where are the fashion police when we need them? Actually this is a nonproblem. Scantilly clad avatarim are no worse than anything one sees in the Penny's catalog or at the beach. Second Life has fairly strong taboos against full nudity.

But TTU3 sign does not prohibit nudity! It prohibits vampires, prostitutes, and scantilly clad avatarim. Instead of saying that certain nuiscence behaviors are unwelcome, it says that certain kinds of people are unwelcome. And no, you would not see such a sign in real life. You might see "No shoes, no shirt, no service," in a restaurant, but you wouldn't see "No illegal aliens, or no poor people." You surely don't see signs prohbiting those of a particular race or religion, yet such a prohibition is not that different from the TTU3 sandbox sign.

I think the proper solution to such signs as that in the TTU Libraries 3 Sandbox, is not censorship, but more signs. Hopefully some busy vampire castle or club which is the hangout of the "scantilly clad" will soon erect its own sign: "Educators and Librarians are not welcome here. We will ban them and boot them." Hey, if the TTU3 Librarians and educators can ban and boot vampires, prostitutes, and the scantilly clad, why can't those undesirable groups do the same. One good ban surely deserves another.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- November 4, 2012

Biting a King Size Bullet

Iyoba is right! I am not only out of sorts way too much of the time, I am a first class ingrate. I think gratitude is a lousy feeling, it is usually what happens when something goes wrong and not incredibly disastrously wrong. The poor slob cleaning up the spilled institutional size bottle of glow in the dark pickle relish, is very grateful that the entire display of institutional jars of glow-in-the-dark pickle relish and of bright, yellow mustard have not come cascading down in a rainbow colored, vinegar stinking tidal wave, sullying the pristine tiles of aisle nine and splashing shoppers. That's how I see gratitude.

Two nights ago, I just made Iyoba her last short sleeved dress of the season. We made it at UD Mercy Libraries Sandbox. On our way there we stopped at a very well appointed sim called Anima. We found lovely meeting rooms and breakout spaces decorated with fine, colorful, furniture and decorations. We also noticed that building was permitted. There were enough objects, and the autoreturn was thirty minutes, enough for our needs. Now if we could only find some quiet space to build. We could of course build in front of any of the buildings, or upstairs in an empty room. We always find plenty of those, but something said "don't."

Maybe I know there is a fine line between a person who just passes through and uses an exhibit for his or her own purposes and then is gone leaving no damage, and a free loading squatter. The difference is that I pick up after myself and am gone before the powers that run the place want to conduct their serious business. That's not really much of a difference.

I told Iyoba, I'd rather work in a "real" sandbox, and we went to The UD Mercy Libraries Sandbox. It was quiet there. No one disturbed us, but I noticed a strange IM. It was from someone on Anima inviting me back to see the art gallery at five hundred feet. I did not remember seeing any other avatarim on Anima. Now I'm sure I did not see them. This person had seen me on the map and watched me from afar.

His message though was polite, and Iyoba and I headed back. This time we saw a female avie at ground level. We greeted her, strapped on a flight feather, and headed for the gallery which is now part of the Spread Sheet. I even took some great pictures which I have stowed away. I may use one of them to design a dress.

In the gallery the male avie who sent the message and his female companion whom I had seen down below met me. We had a long conversation about running and educational sims and about all the fine projects their organization did for people. They were kind, and nice. I talked about waste and fraud and white collar crime in Second Life. I've seen a lot of funds wasted. It goes with bushwhacking. These two had at least produced a useable build as well as a gorgeous one.

Then the conversation got strange. Now, before I go further, let me state nobody was hostile or mean to Iyoba or me. They just weren't, but there is a huge grey area between being truely accepting and sincerely friendly and being totally ugly. We began to talk about Second Life used for education. The woman who had designed all the lovely interiors on Anima talked about how Second Life has no learning curve as long as her students stay on the island to attend lectures or discussions. There is a dress code and classrooms can be locked.

I just listened and offered that avatarim running around in their undies or bathing suits was nothing that should shock a twenty-first century adult's sensibilities. The interior decorator countered that her dress code did not permit animal avatarim and that she let all students know what behavior was acceptible.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, a little voice screamed: "MIDDLE SCHOOL!" I also remembered the story of a Christian sim called Yesha where Iyoba and I received our first ban for exploring beyond the Potemkin Village. I don't know what they kept back there, nothing a security orb could not have protected. I was just a curious newbie, but I remember Yesha had rules prohibiting avatarim from wearing costumes or wings.

Only after I logged off did I begin to wonder whether a colleague of mine on Info Island who likes to be a tiny would be permitted to go to class as her tiny self on Anima. I thought of another avie who is often a quad cheetah or a cheetah furry. He's a competent librarian. He just likes being a cheetah. Then there are the robots including the ALA Freedom to Read Robot. Would they be prohibited? And of course, there are the neko and mermaid avies. When does a human avie stop being human?

Of course, I then began to wonder about Iyoba. She had on a salmon colored dress and brown hair and brown sandals, but suppose we had been in one of our moods and she had shown up with blue or green hair. She also has pink hair for those moods. Suppose she had worn her sky-high mohawk? First impressions count, and I don't think she would have made a positive impression.

Moreover, when I said that I had passed up Anima as a possible sandbox, the male avie asked me if there was anything I wanted "besides building space?" You can read whatever tone into that you like. As much as I hate gratitude: "Thank you for being considerate and not making a mess," or a warning about the thirty minute auto-return or a polite request to clean up after myself all would have sounded better.

I don't think the Anima crowd are badly intentioned. If you have the money and the build and the prestige, you have the power and you use it. Maybe after a time you come to own it. In Second Life I constantly live with the reminder that others have more than I do, because they pay for it or get someone else to pay for it. This is why I like to see newbies learn to build. Even if all you can make is texture clothes to satisfy your needs and a low prim hair piece for your head, you have made something that is yours and you can see the results. You don't need land to rezz it, and it is better than just being a consumer. It is a small piece of power.

I think the Anima crowd are kith and kin of the folks who run UAA Seawolves. It was the UAA Seawolves sim. Tax payers funded it. They managed it. It was for their students, and not other residents of Alaska, so when squatters made trouble on their sim, they just put up some ban lines because hey, well, they're in charge. If you've got power, why not make it go "thunk!" But it's not so different from the Anima folks locking classrooms to keep the occaisonal member of the riff-raff from walking in.

And yes, I'll own up to being somewhat envious. If I had the land and the money, I'd do it differently, or so I tell myself, but nobody is going to give me the land and I can't afford it. I can just watch and comment. Not having power (no matter who pays for it) doesn't mean I can't observe what power does.

I promised Iyoba some Lily Frog photos. Yesterday, this promise turned urgent because our females all stopped reproducing. Lily Frogs stay fertile a lot longer than their web site says, but I fear that the recent update to version 4.5 put our females into rana-pause, the froggy version of menopause. I'll wait a day or two more to confirm if this is so, then it is time to retire all our frogs except Asher, the Refuah Shelema male. Unlike with turltes or zwickies, Lily Frogs don't starve to death in inventory.

This is AbraThis picture is of Abra, age 169 days. The official Lily Frogs web page (not really in good enough shape for a link unless I am mistaken), Lily Frogs stop breeding at either 120 or 90 days. She's hung on a good long time. She is a green, Mississippi Gopher frog because I had only one female in my first batch of frogs, and she was a Mississippi Gopher frog. Her name was Yehuda and she was also lime green with pink legs. You get the idea. Breed/species in Lily Frogs inherits through mitochondrial DNA which means through the mother only!

This is MoselleBecause I had only one female Lily Frog in my last batch, Moselle pictured right is Abra's half sister. She has green legs and a slightly darker green body. All Lily Frogs have wisome brown eyes. She does not know that her update has exiled her to my inventory. So it goes. I hope she proves me wrong, but I don't think that is going to happen.

This is RuchamaRuchama is only a hundred and thirty some-odd days old, and I have a young enough male that she could still breed, but it appears that she too is Rana-pausal. I traded for her egg with Jeep Streeter. She is a P1 frog though she is generation 3. I tend not to make one generation succeed another (talk about euphemisms) unless I have to, and it looks like I may have to. I don't feel good about this. Iyoba feels no better.

This is MenasheMenashe does not look like Moselle and Abra's half brother or full brother, but he is. He is an Easter special and so a different species and he glows and shines. He is male of course so can not pass on his markings to any of his offspring.

This is OmriOmri like Menashe, Abra, and Moselle is consanguinous. This is not issue since Lily Frogs can inbreed with impunity. I do know a breeder with every known special, even a Refuah Shelema frog that I think I gave him. He got a feamle. I got a male when I hatched out an egg. I have a mature female. I like Omri's coloring. I hope to hatch out another frog with good coloring like his. I will probably have to update the young'un since I have eggs that cross several versions.

Special frogs at Tempy's Animal Ranch There are no Lily tadpoles by the way. All Lily Frogs start out as froglets. And here is what might be in store when I go to purchase some fresh blood at a place like Tempy's Animal Ranch or UBS Tech Farmers' Orphanage. Tempest has tons of specials and here is another:

Golden special Lily Frog

The colors are brighter, but they are mostly P1's who have never mixed. It will be fun to see how blood like this breeds. It will be fun to start with a live, hand-picked crew of frogs, and if my Lily Frogs somehow come back from rana-pause, this project can wait. Iyoba will cheer and so will I, but as with power, Lily Frog immortality is beyond my grasp. Only Petable Turtles live forever as long as they get fed.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- November 1, 2012