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.

Personal Remarks

Friday I vented at my spammy chat groups. I do this from time to time just for the hell of it. Last Friday I did it because I was under stress due to a lot of what was going on in my real life, which is only partly bloggable as we all know. Well you know it now.

Anyway, when I get upset, really upset, I want nothing better than to buy sculptie animals. I wanted either an armadillo or a pangolin. They had them on Sculptie Island for 500L ($2.00) for a pair. They were animated. They did not eat. I probably would have room for them. I could keep them in my house, etc.... I may still buy them, but that is another story.

I begged several of the groups: "PLEASE TELL ME WHY I SHOULDN'T BUY AN ARMADILLO OR PANGOLIN." Someone answered. It was a nice, bilingual, Portuguese woman who told me I should shop comparatively or follow my passions. I told her that impulse buying was evil. It was wrong. It still is.

Since this poor woman who really did prevent me from doing something stupid, just by her presence (By the way, I could talk about sculptie armadilloes but not about my real life) was advertising a dance venue, I joined her. This is fairly standard for spammy chat. The woman's avie was, pink skinned, and wore a very well fitting an elegant outfit of grey and black. It was mesh. She had a Portuguese flag stuffed in her pocket. She was staying up late.

Then the conversation got weird. She asked why I didn't have "real avie." Excuse me, I don't make personal remarks. She also said I should get real skin. My color is all wrong. It's too brown and not pink enough. I pointed out that human skin tone varies quite a bit. Just ride the MARTA buses. Then she asked if I thought she was beautiful. She looked fine. I don't pass judgement on others looks. I am particular about my own. I don't want to look like Barbie in world. Iyoba looks ordinary. She can wear just about any clothes and look good without being a giantesse. She has realistic breasts, buttocks, and stomach. She even has six toes on each foot and a French manicure. She is sallow. I found myself explaining that her yellowish brown (golden brown on good days) skin tone is just perfect for wearing, golds, greens, and oranges, colors that give me grief in real life. Anyway, I should not have had to explain.

And this woman should not have had to proselytize. At the risk of sounding like the world's dumbest radio host, Adam Goldfarb, who is not getting the benefit of a link, if you are dressing so others will accept you, it is a mistake. If you dress in conformist clothes because you like them, well that's fine. I don't judge others fashion. I don't judge others avies, unless they hog the dance floor, are invisible (Mesh is awfully slow to rez sometimes), or they are bumping into me. The guy who banged a bottle on my head as he danced was a classic example.

When I hang out with other avies, I expect the same nonjudgemental attitude. If you think a five foot tall (take an inch but who's measuring) female avie in bright colors looks like a child, check her profile, if you're a bouncer. Iyoba just turned forty on May 14. If I think someone's clothes don't fit, I keep my mouth shut. If I think a fashion looks agressive in a slutty way or is silly (Torn pants and crinolines both fall into this category) I keep my mouth shut. When someone is excessively beautiful and has been around for a while, I have wondered: "Is this all you want?" And the answer is probably "yes," which is really OK.

If the answer is "Don't you want it too," then there are problems, and they are mostly the problem of the avie who asked. Quite simply, not every one shares the same idea of what is desirable. This rubs people in Second Life in funny ways with tinies, robots, furries, and quads, but these are different enough that they are two different to be a competing vision. Put another way, nonhuman and semi-human avatarim play a different sport, not just in a different league from human avies.

The case is different with child avatarim. Many English speaking venues ban them for the ostensible reason that they inhibit adult conversation (What kid avie with an adult One doesn't know the curse words and SL avies usually don't do it en flagrante). Then they state that these avies invite age play, though again this is a deviant and marginal activity. Child avies are too different and too much the same to make their existence tolerable. Human avies that are older and damaged or not particularly beautiful, such as Iyoba fall into the same camp. One could say they violate a dress code, but skin and color choice and subtle differences clothing style, when it is not grossly inappropriate, really don't violate any stated code, or violate most unstated ones far less than a bottle on the head. Bonk, bonk! This is especially true in venues with no stated dress code. A One with a human avie, is just supposed to want the orthodox vision of beauty.

Now all this seems to be stating the obvious as I am writing it, but it's not as obvious as it looks, or maybe seeing is believing. Casja Lilliehook wrote about and showed off this gown. It is a bit extreme. It is likely to result in a face full of skirt, which is annoying to any avie dancing nearby. It's borderline griefing. Also the proportions are way off which for me blows the verisimilitude out of the water, but even if it were a bit better proportioned, it's just a big white gown with a crinoline skirt. You can get a similar effect in real life with layers of petticoats or with one or two hooped petticoats.

It's a Nineteenth Century style, sort of. They decorated their gowns more. I don't care for it, because it's not the long skirts, I really wear or I learned to wear. It's also just dull white like a very plain wedding dress. Yes, it is strapless, but except for the jewels and ruching, it's very, very plain and dull. And I've seen a lot of gowns with bodices like that. It's not something I would touch with a ten foot pole in real life. I know I don't want it on my avie.

Iyoba in her bean kente gown. Here is what I put on my avie for a formal dance. This is a sitting shot, but when she stands it is an A-line with nice work around the collar. It is cotton print, bean kente. It is colorful. I would buy something like this in an instant. It reminds me of a long dress I wore to my grandparents fiftieth wedding anniversary when I was fifteen. I can almost feel it on me when it is on Iyoba.

Now I know that most Second Life fashionistas (not sure about garden variety avies) would prefer the white gown to the bean kente dress. The point is we really are not seeing eye to eye. In the real world, this doesn't matter. People kind of expect it. In Second Life, I'm not sure why things are different but they are. Maybe when we put on masks we show our real selves.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 21, 2012

Turtle Tales

The turtles were dying and the One Who Thinks She Knows did not care! Well she cared, but she said she had a "very full plate" in her "real life." Maybe she is telling the truth. In fact, she is not the sort to lie, but still, how could she not look into our cute, little, turtles eyes and know what we did not know, and know that they did not know. Poor, innocent turtles. They are our family, and yes, they are only virtual pets, but you see I'm virtual too, but I think for myself some of the time which is more than many so-called real people do.

To her credit, the One took lots of pictures. She said she wanted to post them on this blog. I said it was not good to go out. The One needed to go out, so we went to SLife Island and went swimming and dancing. The One said it was the only way she could relax. I asked "What about the turtles?"

The One replied: "They're not dead yet, and it's going to take a week, and they may stop eating. If they're not breeding, they may stop eating." Ones have a way of lying to themselves, even Ones who do not lie very much like my own.

By Monday evening, the One apologized to me and said she was wrong. It was clear that Vashti, the only turtle who showed up on my HUD, was dying. Her hunger was up to 26 out of 30. It had rapidly jumped from 19 where it had held for about twelve hours. The end was closer than the One had thought.

"I don't want the turtles to die alone," I told the One. I want to be there. Now, I said the One is not the sort to lie. She said she could be at work when the turtles die or might not be able to be in world with me. At least she was honest. Now it looked like we were going to be able to fill our promise.

I wasn't sure what would have happened late Monday night. I know I put on the HUD and was going to check the turtles' status. That is all I remember. Then suddenly we both noticed that Uriel rather than Vashti was up on the HUD. "How did that happen?" I wondered. Poor Uriel, his hunger was 29 out of 30. The One said: "Let's see if we can fill the food bowls," and then she noticed that the HUD was giving its usual message in the chat box.

To say I am overjoyed is an understatement. The One named the first egg we gathered Patience. She has not yet named the zwicky. She thinks the zwicky is ugly. The new baby zwicky looks like her father, which is disappointing. According to the One, the latest zwicky baby got stuck with the worst of both parents traits. The One is particularly disappointed because this was a controlled mating, Yocheved (a blue ardor zwicky) and Geronimo.

The One talked about giving away our mason bee ranches to others so we could spread this new and beneficial creature. She also maternity checked all our female turtles. They were recovering which meant they mated while the One and I both slept. Soon the One will forget about the weekend the turtles almost died. Right now she says their survival is a good omen. The One is very superstitious at times. I know the One will forget until the turtles almost die again, maybe they won't almost die.

Then I will be the one to mourn. I can not tear my hair out because I am bald. I wear hair pieces like any respectable, female, avie. I will cry and howl and wipe my nose. My nose always runs when I cry, and I AM VERY EMOTIONAL!

I get very emotional Billie at my feet.

It was the end for the turtles, and this time there was nothing Iyoba or I could do. Iyoba wanted to shave her head and put on her old hair and black mourning clothes. I said: "No" because it would take the turtles a week to die, or maybe they wouldn't die at all. Maybe they would just stop eating and breeding. Either way it was over, and we did not have the Shadow Maker that Grim Hathor had promised us on August 8, 2011. That did not surprise me.

This is how breedables and many other online amusements die. They degrade to death. In our case, the Petable Hud, the device used to keep track of, box, and unbox the turtles and eggs ceased working. Iyoba could not switch it from Vashti. She got a "499 Can not connect with server" message. This started Thursday evening around 7pm Eastern time. We had just fed the turtles and were lucky that way. We also had extra partially filled food bowls in our inventory. We put them down when the other bowls became empty. This didn't do much good since the turtles' hunger kept increasing. That was how we knew they were starving to death, and in a few days we'd find them dead on our property, Stinky Stinky.

We IM'd a fellow turtle fancier, Jeep Streeter. He too had the problem so it was not an Eddesign Island issue. We checked on Saturday night, Sunday, Monday during the day, and no luck. Vashti, the only turtle we could track, just kept getting hungrier.

I put together a Plan B. Don't I always do that? When the turtles died, and we'd find them dead mind you (I tried not to think about that), we'd replace them with a male and female zwicky. We were out the food we had just bought before the HUD went, but I remembered that Anthony and Grim Hathor, the Petable Turtles' developers, had said in the event of a glitch it would be all over. Well, it was over now. We were stuck. I Im'd Grim to ask him to confirm that it was the end. I figured he owed us that courtesy. Grim never responds and did not respond. So it went.

Then Monday night after our shift on Info Island, Iyoba and I returned to Stinky Stinky to have a look at a newly born zwicky who is still unnamed. She was a disappointment, but sometimes that is just the way it goes. Poor zwicky. We watched the mason bees from our Soulful Amazing Mason Bee Ranch fly out over the land. They are the only mason bees in Second Life. Yes, they are virtual, but so is everything here.

Then I put the Petable Hud on Iyoba. I did not expect much, and I noticed it gave Uriel's hunger as 29 out of 30. The end was nearer than we thought...Wait! Our HUD only showed Vashti. What was Uriel doing there. I then checked our chat box and there was the usual message of doom and gloom about Petable Turtles not being supported that the HUD makes when you put it on. Oh my god! Our turtles were going to live!

I got out the food and refilled all the bowls. We used up over a hundred servings of food, but I did not care. I then began to gather and name the eggs. There were eighteen of them. There is a reason the unnamed baby zwicky was a disappointment. Maybe she won't be the next time I login.

Then I noticed something else. I had what I thought were three hundred extra servings of food. Now I realize it was more than that. I IM'd Grim Hathor. I told him he did not have to respond, but I thanked him for giving our turtles a reprieve. I also thanked him for the extra food. I called him a decent human being, but I was thinking the Yiddish word, mensch. There is no other word to describe the Petable Turtle developers who do a better job with an "unsupported breedable" than do many others with full supported pets. Thank you Grim and Anthony.

By the way, this episode with my turtle illustrates one of Second Life's strong points. Petable Turtles are not like Farmville or other games, run by a big company. You pay up front for your supplies and don't have to drag any others in with you, unless you are out for a profit. Then it is still a cash transaction wtih you as the recipient. Yes, you pay. Yes, you know how much. Yes, you can up or downsize. And the developer is a real person, an ordinary resident just more skilled. He or she is the "company", but you can approach them as equals. I can't describe how wonderful and wholesome this is. Second Life is in some ways a very healthy atmosphere. And I'm still feeling good when I think of last night, and the turtles' resurrection.

3 turtles sleeping in a row

Sleeping turtles in this picture from left to right are Damien (magenta male), Yael (seal brown and scarlet female), and Chai (pale pink female).

Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- 6/12/12

The Secret

Like this blog, Iyoba's and my Second Life have both taken hits, though the hit in Second Life is more subtle. I am using it less as a place to do professional projects and more as just a clean well lighted place. The photos to Pinterest have even slowed.

Probably the best thing Iyoba and I ever did was stop advertising land for Edde. Marco wanted to charge us rent. Workign without pay or status is a loser's game. We're not suckers. Sorry.

Meanwhile, we watch Edde and Marco's struggles to keep Eddesign Island rented. The prefabs do not sell. I was right there, but not because there is anything inherantly wrong with the prefabs. The humble adobe would not sell either. Maybe willows and cat tails might sell, but...again maybe not. The reason the houses did not sell is that Eddesitgn Island is not a high class, themed, residential community. Such places do exist. They rent out mall stores that don't look like mall stores, and prebuilt, private residences. There are roads and there are strict, zoning rules, and everyone there either wants to role play or wants a theme, and pays for it.

That's not Eddesign Island. Eddesign Island is mixed use, reasonably priced, flat, green land. There is a big, body store in the middle of the island. All any one has to do is look up to see it. It is similar to mainland without the need to have a premium account, and it is cheaper. The rent is reasonable. People tend to be mature. It is low drama.

The biggest drama is that people come and go all the time, and I don't mean patrons at stores and visitors at clubs. I mean the tenants. I'm not sure if the island is full up these days. It needs to be for Edde to break even or make a slim profit. I don't begrudge him a slim profit. There is a reason that advertising is a fool's game.

The problem that continually chases Edde and Marco is first that they don't know what they are selling (It's flat, green, mixed use land!), and they don't know how to attract stable, long term tenants. Say this last one three times fast. Edde and Marco talked about high class tenants. I don't care if they are high class as long as they pay on time and stay put.

This last is a real challenge and I won't pretend that I know how to do it, but I think I know where I would start. And yes, I'd ditch the big, grey, mesh, prefab. A sizeable portion of the clientele is mesh blind so that's turn off number one. I would decorate the land or put up a very simple structure, or pasture some breedables on it to make it look less empty. You can even get nonbreedable animals. More fun than a prefab any day of the week.

I would find out if any one knows what kind of tenants are long term and stable on mixed use land and then set out to market to that population. I would use zoning to screen out the less stable tenants. Malls and clubs have a high failure rate. Discouraging them might be a really good idea. I'd also charge a premium for weekly rent. I'd even charge a small premium for monthly rent. I'd reduce the premiums (give a discount) for longer tenancy and on time payment.

My educated guess is that most long term tenants are combination residential/breedable/light commercial. A house with a small retail wall in the yard would work just fine long term. Building types are also good tenants. A place to rezz creations means open land, not, a prefab. Yeah, I'd ditch that prefab not because I detest it. It just doesn't fit the marketing scheme.

My first task would be a zoning plan that kept out the high risk/high failure rate ventures. My second task would be making 2048s and even 1024s available. You don't want overextended tenants. $10.00 a month (what I pay for a 2048), is one first run movie ticket with popcorn. $20.00 a month, the cost of a 4096 is twice that and may be too expensive. It is dinner for two at the Ground Round (if it still exists) plus a tip. A 1024 rents for $5.00 a month, less than a premium membership and as many prims as a Linden Home with the option to live in the sky or build your dream. A medical bill, a car repair, or some other real life expense is not going to mean losing your dream in Second Life.

And I'd take down those statues. Two nude men guard a bridge near the terminal that shows what lands are rented. Iyoba and I are both very nosey so we visit the terminal even when we don't have to pay our rent yet. They have towels that have come undone about their droopy butts and in the front, they have... I have joked with Marco about him getting a female statue because there just isn't much two gorgeous, stone men can do together, but Marco likes the statues, so they stay. I guess Marco is entitled. Maybe it's a guy thing, a gay guy thing. I just don't think it is every body's thing. The island is zoned mature and the leases set it to the conservative side. Americans are not Brazilians whose sensibilities are both litertine and conservative in an interesting mixture.

I am just a tenant these days. Iyoba is busy with the Zwickies and the turtles. We go out dancing and we need to get in world to upload a bunch of textures.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 1, 2012