A perfect sea urchin

A Second Life

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

You Wanted to See Them

Here is a Zwicky At least I hoped you wanted to see them. This is a zwicky. It's one of several species as determined by the pattern of its ruff. A zwicky has a ruff, a face only a mother could love, and four or five graceful tentacles. Supposedly they can fart, and they call out "Woo Hoo!" to greet their owners, which makes them less neurotic than turtles. The only problem with this beautiful creature is his color. It's garish. Hopefully as we produce hybrid zwicky, the colors will become more muted and prettier. Girderz, the creator of zwickies, has not released any info on zwicky genetics. Zwikcies are still in closed beta. I am waiting for open beta to get my starter kit.

Here is another Zwicky And here is a side view of a zwicky. I took this picture at Pengo Pitcarin where there used to be a great flurbil playground. This is a second generation and all ready you can see the improved color. She is considered a hybrid. Most zwicky are female. The male carries the babies, much like in sea horses. The babies are born in stasis, like unhatched turtle eggs. You hatch them out when it is quiet on the sim. Zwicky produce only one baby at a time, not clutches of one to three, which makes the less fecund than turtles. I'm ready for zwickies now, but I have to wait.

Amateur Sociology I

I did go looking for Basic users before I got all caught up in bushwhacking and in desperate need of sandbox therapy. I looked for Second Life's destinations since that is where Basic users go. I ended up at Camp Kawabata and the boyscouts talked to me. They did not mind a lady in their presence. You can think what you like about adults playing boyscouts. Yes, these were child avies, but at least they were not looking for parent avies off of whom to sponge. The sponging part seems suspicious. I remember an adoption center near my land in Hartley and looking at the applications which the child avies had filled out. The whole business left me feeling queasey.

This boy scout camp was better than that. It was all camp with no counselors, and very retro. There was even a pay phone and there were soda machines. No nutrition nazis patrolled this place, or maybe they hadn't found it. I was able to give a young avie some fisherman sandals to compliment his uniform. It's nice to have stuff like that in your inventory. He was a newbie and had started out in Basic mode. I wanted to ask him if he ever saw any users in Basic, and he said he had started out that way, but someone had showed him how to obtain Advanced capability. To become a child avie in a uniform that is not a freebie, you have to buy lindens and have an inventory, both of which are impossible in Basic mode. The avie to whom I spoke is an unmitigated success story. He has found a subculture and that is half of living in Second Life. I found builders. I also use my real world work to give me roots.

As for adults who want to be scouts at a single sex, all male camp, yes I do think some thoughts, but when I really think about it, it is no weirder than the adults who work out at Cross Fit. Cross Fit looks brutal. I pass it on my way to work in real life. The people there are all shapes and sizes. An instructor puts them through their paces. Now there are lots of ways to get exercise. Ask the adolescent girls and old ladies who share the pool and sauna at Utica College. They have no instructors forcing them to do mean stuff. They swim their laps, sometimes with their heads above water so they can talk. Similarly, there are the older ladies who go out for walks or cross country skiing turns and who make it a social and pleasant time. There are lots of ways to make exercise fun and not hurtful. Cross Fit does not seem to be one of them. My impression of Cross Fit is that it is a repeat of high school and middle school gym class, and there are some adults who never get enough of this experience. Fine, they can pay for it, and it takes all kinds.

I think of the boy scouts in Second Life the same way I think of the denziens of Cross Fit. Why any one would want to go back to being a kid is beyond me, but they like it, and they like the idea of summer camp where they can not go and come as they please, though they can pretend otherwise since there is an element of fantasy in Second Life. From what I can tell, a shared common space, has fewer of the metaphorical broken needles than many other fantasy environments. Maybe really being someone else online changes the whole addiction paradigm and takes out the sting and enforces better behavior. I am not sure of any of this.

I met my second BASIC user last night. She learned she had no Me in her upper ribbon as well as an awful connection. The inability to reach her Me and change her preferences, meant she had the wrong browser for her class. She was a library school student or soon to be one. BASIC Mode is soon going to be an issue for Second Life's library community, and not a welcome one.

Eileen H. Kramer -- April 26, 2011

Bushwhacking to the New Frontier

Iyoba and I finally got some sandbox therapy. We got the extra turtle eggs into inventory, and then we bushwhacked to the end of the list. Here is the list. It's up to date, free of dead links, and even includes new materials.

What happens next? Well, Iyoba gets a new club dress. We explore some more, and I try to put together a list of favorite landmarks and picks to hand newbies or any one who wants to see something really exceptional. Maybe we'll even go dancing again, and this time not as background music to cleaning a kitchen.

A couple of nights ago, Iyoba and I saw our first Zwickies. They look like land bound jellyfish. They are a new breedable that doesn't just stand there like horses. I think they may be the next big thing. Too bad they are in closed beta. You can tell what Iyoba and I both want.

I just sent Iyoba to visit the Zwickies on Pango Pitcarin. They have the sweetest faces and they are much more graceful than turtles, and come in many more colors than horses. I should get some good Zwicky pictures and mount them here. OK, I promise before the end of the month. Meanwhile, I have real life errands to run and Iyoba wants to show off her new dress.

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- April 22, 2011

Thankyou Second Life

Sandbox therapy has not worked, but then I have been in a sour mood over one thing or another for a while. I wish I wasn't, but sometimes I just get provoked. It's my own stupid fault when this happens.

Then in the middle of all this Passover happened. Today was the day of the big cleanup followed by the big setup. It was time to remove the regular dishes, clean the kitchen, and then bring in the Pssover dishes and goodies. That makes all of this sound way too simple. Such brute labor, hours of it, needs music. I sent Iyoba to Club XxesS and cranked up the computer. The music penetrated the kitchen and was ten times better than anything I had on CD. Even the metal sounded decent, and the raunchy stuff was pure. I even gave a blow by blow of the kashering.

My kitchen is clean and ready for Passover. I have Second Life and Club XxesS to thank, particularly DJ Intrusive Nature. He gave a hundred and ten percent. I lost Lindens to the Sploder God and even tipped the DJ when I got a piece of provolone cheese from some people who have a side business of selling quality, kosher cheeses. They even delivered, not the avies, the supplier. When the supplier brought the cheese, I donated 100 Lindens to the Sploder. I can be charitable and bountiful at the right time and for the right cause.

I also was able to upload a dress texture that I had been waiting weeks to make and which had hung half finished since the start of spring. It is highly experimental. Today, Iyoba wore her bread dress. This was appropriate for eruv Pesach when seaching for and disposing of chametz is the name of the game.

And yes, this was one of the times when "real life&qut; and Second Life fuse and it is to the benefit of both. I enjoyed a great DJ, and the music lifted both Iyoba and me. Some expert may call this using Second Life as an augmentive rather than immersive experience. I say "so what!" I used to call this using Second Life instrumentally, but using Second Life is better than having it use you.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni (Iyoba Tarantal) -- April 17, 2011

Basic Mode Redux

I tried Basic Mode and lasted five minutes if that. It was useless! I could not change clothes because I had no access to an inventory. I could not go anywhere, because I had no access to my landmarks or the search engine. I don't know what Linden Lab is thinking. For one time conference use, Basic Mode may be OK, but it is not the springboard to selling Linden Homes, since you need an inventory in which to stock ready made furniture, or for that matter, furniture you build. Of course I could be wrong. Somewhere, around Linden Labs' picks and far from the public skinny dipping beach where no one swims (I don't even know its name and it doesn't matter) due to lack of a swimming animation, there may be crowds of these occasional users, totally unaware that the rest of us exist, and unable to reach the rest sof us. I guess I could check this out. As far as I know, there won't be any Basic users at the Info-Island Archipelago any time soon.

Iyoba, the One, and the Giant Penises

I have a friend in Second Life who has become badly addicted. Now ask me, "who am I to judge?" A better question is "how can I judge?" The answer is simple time and money. I spend a lot of time inworld, though not quite as much as last week. I miss it if I'm away long. The longing brings me back again and again. Going to the sandbox is a rush. Bushwhacking never loses its appeal. Changing my avie's clothes or just letting her walk about or watching her dance stays fresh and fun. That's enticement. If I start neglecting real life activities, besides cleaning the apartment, or spending excessive money since Second Life is monetized, I've passed from just being captivated by something that is naturally enticing, to something more than having my neurons stroked.

My friend is over this line. She rents most of a whole island. That is hundreds of dollars a month. She is also partnered. I'm not sure how much she is in world because we are in very different time zones. One of the most powerful fantasies Second Life sells is the "good life," not the life well lived, but the good life as in wealth, luxury, and physical beauty. It's easy for folks who get sucked into this fantasy (Hey I love my turtles and the sandbox and being useful, so each to their own.) to conveniently forget that the pretty avie is a store bought object, the house is also store bought, and the wealth that Lindens buy is bought at the rate of two hundred and fifty Lindens to the dollar. The hundreds of dollars my friend will spend per month in island rent is not the thousands or tens of thousands it would take the reproduce such a lifestyle in this world. That makes it an odd sort of bargain.

It is NOT a devil's bargain because it is NOT "the real thing." With mirror neurons hard at work and friends who also enjoy the same sort of fun, it feels real enough, and clearly the enjoyment I used to get visiting someone else' beach build or even beach side mall, is not enough for some folks who need the feeling of ownership. In short, the very plausible illusion of "the good life" is a very good buy for what you get, especially since you have the safety and cleanness of paying up front for it and not getting into any scam deal offering it for "free."

Yet even when the product is enjoyable and honesty sold, there is still such a thing as too much money for a hobby or entertainment. Picture someone seeing four first run movies per week or eating out several times a week in sit down restaurants like the Ground Round or Applebees. You might consider such a person profligate. Of course there are people who consider the eight dollars I spend on turtle food every six weeks crazy or the thirteen dollars a month I spent on land excessive. There are people who can figure out ways to get entertained for free. And at some level of course trying to justify Second Life or any money spent on leisure is a losing pursuit.

To make matters worse, I have a legitimation bug. I used to see this in site fighters who justified particiaption in The Site Fights or Fun Battles by saying that they could win a copy of Paint Shop Pro or a year's worth of free web space despite the fact that the labor involved in hustling for votes and trading your votes for others, had such a high opportunity and time cost that the prizes were paltry compared with the labor needed to get them. A real world prize made web site competitions appear worthwhile. Volunteer activity in the educational sector of Second Life works the same way. Of course the ratio of time spent to pay back and the enjoyability of the work makes it a somewhat better deal, but I know my motivations, and I feel the need for more sandbox time, and probably more social club time.

Given all I said about my own motivations (I seek legitimation rather than the imitation of wealth or conventional beauty), and even the fact that other motivations are legitimate, there is still such a thing as too much time and too much money invested in any leisure pursuit, Second Life included. Hundreds of dollars a month for a tiny bit of web space is clearly too much.

One can say, however, that the money is my friend's to spend as she wishes, and there is nothing morally wrong with spending what one has in ways that make one happy. This argument is irrefutable, except that addiction brings with it other problems. Addicts are not healthy people. When one is trully addicted, one's habit overrides one's self respect, good sense, and to some extent morality. That is why the playground where addicts hang out is littered with broken bottles, vials, and needles. Even if there is a trash can, addicts can't be bothered to use it, and if there is none, they don't think of bagging up their trash and carrying it to the nearest receptical so their habit doesn't hurt those who share the space.

Addiction is fundamentally anti-social. Fantasies of wealth go hand in hand with fantasies of freeloading, feeling left out and angry, and then revenge. It is easy to see that for some people the fantasy of throwing a bag of dog turds through the window of the mansion on the hill is far more enjoyable than owning the mansion, especially when the mansion owner has slighted them.

This brings me to Tuesday night. Iyoba had dropped off her flurbils at Lion's Sands where the owner, who also has the legitimation bug and also who is over his head financially, is renting out habitat space for flurbil owners. This is a losing proposition, but I sometimes let the flurbs play for free. I got a message from my friend who is addicted. She was in distress. She said she was being griefed. I have only been griefed once and it was in Berkman of all places. It was funny for the first five minutes and got old fast. I was caged and it was a couple of years ago. I was skeptical. "What's going on?" I asked.

My friend told me that it was raining penises on her property or her friend's property. I asked where she was. I told her to mute/block the object. Finally, I asked her for the SLURL so I could go visit. I was curious. I was up for adventure. Sure enough, the friend's property was ban lined and it was also raining pictures of penises artistically arranged like flowers on a plate.

I kind of knew what to do. I needed to find the object that emitted the offending images and silence it. Unfortunately, the object was behind the ban lines. Since there was a good chance that the property owner had not placed it there or invited a friend to do the honors or let a former friend do it by accident (and I have no camera restraints anyway so I could cam to the object and deal with it from a distance), I would probably find the object in the sky, ar at least be able to pinpoint its source from there. I put on my flight feather and flew into the midst of the maelstrom. The flying penises got thicker and thicker. I rotated my camera and looked down. The objects bounced and the emitting object released them in a circle both upward and downward. As I flew higher they became thicker. At six hundred and forty-three meters up, they were at their thickest and I found a bright green, glowing ball called orb. I edited orb to see that it was indeed the emitting object. Then I took a photograph of the scene with the object profile open and the thing going full blast. I wanted the photo for my records. Then I right clicked on the orb and blocked it. The pictures of penises slowly dispersed and vanished. The orb too was gone. My friend thanked me of ridding her friend's property of this menace.

I got to walk away feeling good. I also feel a bit left out because I am seldom the subject of such attentions. Even the techie boys who felt they owned the Cornell Computer Science sim (now gone sad to say) grumbled, laughed at me, and left me alone. They were content to show off. We were all bitten by the legitimation bug. Legitimizers don't throw virtual dog turds through the virtual windows of virtual mansions. Put another way, the geeks who might have laughed at me, had too much sense of personal honor and pride in their Second Life experience to sully it with childish attacks.

I can only guess what goes on in the expensive estates people rent for the good life and the world of perfect clothes and beauty. My response to it in the past has always been: "Is this all you want?" or more poignantly: "Don't you want to learn how to make stuff?" or "Don't you want to know how this works?" Mark Stephens Meadow would classify me as a puzzle solver, though I think of myself more as a builder. Meadows never considered legitimation as another motivation. I only think of it due to my site fighting career.

The last item that puzzles me is why the land owner did not take out her flight feather (I use a flight collar but it is a modified flight feather), and go looking for the source, and block it. This is routine land hygiene. If you are going to spend hundreds of dollars for a fake good life, being able to defend your property in rudimentary ways comes with the territory. This includes getting along with the few neighbors and visitors you get so they go somewhere else to throw pooh through windows. There are actually combat and even pooh throwing sims and weapons testing sandboxes where one can indulge int his behavior with willing accomplices. Again, I'm not sure why my friend or her friend got griefed. The world of addicts is not my world...not yet.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- April 15, 2011

Bushwhacking Our Way Back to Basics

I won't discuss the circumstances, but Iyoba and I have been bushwhacking a lot lately for the Collection of Libraries, Exhibits, and Educational Sites in Second Life. This is volunteer work for Community Virtual Libraries. I get service credit at work for it. We've been doing a lot of travelling, and the travelling has brought back the old charm of Second Life.

I also fixed my mouse at home so that when the dust settles, we can spend some sandbox time together and I can make Iyoba some new dresses for spring. Iyoba is far more of a fashion plate than I am. I'm scruffy in real life, but Iyoba is positively prim, to a point. There are times when she and I satirize the whole dressed for business look. One of the paradoxes about Second Life is that it makes the working woman's uniform of black pants and some sort of man's tunic or shirt jacket or a modest top of some other type, look a little too much like a uniform and oddly absurd and devoid of imagination, not that there arent' some avatarot who wear this costume well, but they are exceptions who prove the rule.

Iyoba enjoying a balloon ride I have realized that I spend a lot of my time in Second Life making clothes that vaguely satirize business or formal dress while following its conventions. Iyoba's dress is a great example of this. It is a texture skirt and jacket that blend into eachother by making the top of the skirt partially transparent. The outfit is form fitting enough for the dance floor, but below the knees so it is work safe. It is flame red and patterned with durians and a green collar to pick up on the green in the durians. It has a batik or moire pattern on it too. Now, in real life, I might wear something like this, but it would probably be a sweater. This dress is a bit more formal than business casual that is my work uniform, yet you probably would not find a durian dress in a store in the real world.

Iyoba's hair is even more a kind of satire, though not entirely. I found an old braided updo hair piece that I last wore for a big hair contest. One of the joys of having a small avie is that she can really wear big hair without looking anything other than assertive. In real life, I'd never dye or laquer my hair like this, but we stopped at the Texas Women's University sandbox near their nursing school and I got out the skullcap and posing stool and in twenty minutes, Iyoba had four hair pieces. This is the green version. I also made the same hair piece in flaming orange, drop dead red, and golden yellow. Why not? In an office, Iyoba's hair would be borderline professional since it is neat and up, but it would also be one of those "silly things student employees do." It does coordinate perfectly with her dress. Iyoba is nothing if not well dressed on her own terms of course.

Iyoba on the balloon another view I took these pictures of Iyoba at Texas Woman's University. There were three or four locations there that Iyoba and I needed to verify for the spreadsheet. Then we were on our own. Texas Woman's University, which consists of four islands, was not always a beautiful sim, but it has always been an interesting and useful one. It even had a sandbox, and since we both wanted to do funky hair, the vibes for this sandbox felt right. We did not need to be doing hair in lawful Berkman, where despite its being lawful techie males come to gawk and show off. We did not need to be doing hair in the Hobo Sandbox which can sometimes be crazy. We did not want to worry about a membership tag for Rockcliffe or Eternal Creations. Texas Woman's University was just right.

Then I took Iyoba for a balloon ride. I was delighted to find the balloon. While there are some in Second Life who fall in love with cars or jets, Iyoba and I both think either a ski slope or a balloon ride is the most fun way to get around. This ride was funny because when the balloon shuddered, a constant running commentary that appeared in our chat window told us not to be afraid. Avatarim fall off of buildings and into the water all the time. Occasionally, they catch fire, land in lakes of blood or get trapped in mouse traps or dancing refridgerators. A shuddering balloon is nothing to fear.

Iyoba reads a book And this is Texas Women's University's library school. Unlike SJSU's library school which has a huge, chaotic, sandbox, and a jumble of ever changing buildings, and sometimes interesting student, poster presentations, Texas Women's University's library school is an island of useful tranquility. There are links to the school's databases. There are books (links to e-books to be precise) and intellibooks too, a kind of specialized presentation software that lets users turn pages, and the atmosphere is elegant, reserved, and a great place to end a fun tour. Your avie can even read!

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- April 12, 2011