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T2 PTSD Education and Hard Questions

I can get bitter from time to time in Second Life. Crashes in crowded clubs make me bitter. Inventory that refuses to load or rezz makes me bitter. People cussing in clubs, especially DJ's, stopped being fun months ago. In a way this is all a good thing, not the crashes or glitches, but the fact that I get bitter over them. I don't find much of what people call drama. I just get bitter over stuff that is really annoying.

But this is more than bitter. I spent yesterday evening touring an elaborate, informative, and very immersive sim called T2 PTSD Education. As you can see from this shot of Iyoba sitting in the restaurant at the Cascade Valley Mall, this is one very realistic and well built sim.

Ordering a Meal at Token Mediterranean Cuisine. It never came. A giant infogiver at Token Mediterranean Cuisine

Avatarim wear a HUD (heads up display) which shows how PTSD effects them in certain situations. There are also info givers on the island that explain about the symptom givers throughout the mall that explain the symptoms of PTSD in fairly long (for pop up), pop up, messages. The mall would even drive a sane person a bit bonkers. It's doubly squicky when suspicious characters appear out of nowhere and your avie can't try out the bed in the Slumber store, and the Token restaurant somehow smells like something died. Don't tell me things don't have a fragrance in Second Life. That whole mall smelled bad! Kudos to the crew that built it!

Iyoba in the war zone You also get to travel through the war zone. Iyoba started out in a humvee, but abandoned it to help her comrades caught in an explosion. Unfortunately, one of them doesn't look like he'll make it. Poor bot! You can see his corpse in the four ground as Iyoba bravely squats in the rubble. Click on the image to see it at full size.

This sim takes an hour to explore So what is not to like about T2 PTSD Education? Well here is a start. Iyoba did not have any choice except to take the whole tour to learn everything. It took several visits. Second, while it's fun to learn by walking, I am also blessed with extremely good "MU**ing instincts." I knew Second Life would be a match for me the moment I logged in. Virtual worlds with all their bells and whistles agree with me. I cut my teeth on text based MU**s in the 1990's. I love exploring.

Everybody is not like this!. I've watched a colleage turn away from SL in disgust. What made it fun for me, made it tedious for her. While there is an inherent failure rate in the SL interface, just as there is an inherent failure rate in filling out a form, and even plain print, there is probably a middle ground somewhere of people who can learn to use the interface, but would find a long walk to get information a turn off. These people would also not cam around and touch objects, so they might lose information. Having a series of web site links on a wall or book shelf, can be a very good alternative to a long "game."

Please wear a uniform! Yeah sure! Even Iyoba and I resented and passed up portions of the "game." Iyoba wanted to change her dress in the worst way, and she did not feel like wearing fatigues. The uniform might have enhanced the atmosphere, but it would have taught me nothing.

Then there is the issue of what we actually learned at T2 PTSD Education. The answer is sadly, not enough. Yes, we did learn the symptoms of PTSD, but we did not learn whether a returning veteran and those close to him/her should help him/her face his/her fears or accomodate him/her, and how much accomodation is reasonable. We did not learn whether a victim of PTSD retains insight. Having insight does not mitigate the pain of having one's head and body play tricks on one, but it does let you frame the conversation and your approach to it in a way that helps others understand.

Second, I found very little information on treating PTSD. Yes, there is a poster and link about breathing exercises down on the beach, and links to VA and TriCare web sites in a hutch near the Different Kind of Courage Amphitheater, but there was no information about support groups, talk therapy, medication, etc...

What there was were links to obtain a variety of self-monitoring, self-help, smart phone apps for those suffering from PTSD. I did not look to see wether the apps were free. I did not attempt to download one to my Droid phone. I did click the info page for one and learned that T2, the company that makes these apps, owns the sim. I know this is a no brainer, but I had been wondering T2's real life identity. I learned back in 2008, that entities with fancy names or mysterious ones in Second Life often just "don't exist" in the real world, so I was not going to pursue this one very far, but there it was on a silver platter.

As I wrote about Eagle Island, two posts ago, there is a faint line (if it exists at all) between advertising/propgaganda and education. Advertising educates and education advertises. T2 is clearly a corporate sim with an education function. How well it educates is questionable. I left with as many questions or more than I came with, so you can say the sim may have raised my awareness, but I all ready knew that men and women are coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq not quite themselves due to being in battle. I did not learn how to best deal with such people or what kind of treatment (Don't tell me PTSD is untreatable!) they need.

I will put T2 PTSD Education on the Explore SL Spread Sheet, but I will do so in an extremely righteous and bitter, jealous funk. This is a two sim exhibit. Would a nonprofit or a group of psychiatrists with a message have the money for the rent on two sims? Also, how long can T2 support such an expensive build? Monetization really can impact intellectual freedom in Second Life. T2 is a prime example of that.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 31, 2012

Solving our Frog Troubles

Given a chance, my One Who Thinks She Knows will fret and complain endlessly about our Lily Frogs. She complains how they breed only one species, no matter what species the parents are. She complains how the breeding combinations of species are utterly and completely impossible. She still loves them though, and she had another problem with the frogs. It's a problem I had too. We couldn't photograph them.

arborial frog habitatThis is how our frogs used to live. My One explained to me why this made sense. Our frogs are Mississippi Gopher Frogs, and Mississippi gopher frogs are NOT aquatic. They only return to the water to lay eggs, and live on the forest floor.

Moreover, Lily Frogs don't have tadpoles. In that way they resembled microphylid frogs. Turn to page four of Relics to see "real" microphylid frogs in action. Microphylid frogs live in trees, so an arboreal habitat made much more sense than a pond.

an egg in the leavesThere was only one trouble. Frogs and their eggs were hard to photograph. Here is an egg hiding in the leaves and it looks picturesque.

Typical ugly frog shotThis frog who is called Abra does not look so cute. She is asleep, and a branch of the habitat adds nothing to the shot. It's hard to shoot frogs that are not hiding in and among the branches. Clearly we needed a more open habitat and a homing object that was not a lily pad.

My One and I decided we should have a bowl for a homing object and put it on top of an existing bee hive to cut prim count. There was no need for a pen of any kind, and it would just get in the way of our pictures.

The problem was my One was in a bad mood. She did not want to go through boxes of sculpties looking for a bowl. I begged and pleaded with her. I told her that I did not need another new dress, but I did want the world to see our frogs on the blog. Hey they even rhyme.

Finally she relented. We went to the the STEMmEd Sandbox and started rummaging through inventory. This is what it looked like.

Cel Edelman's ceramic sculpties and a personal box of nine serving dishes from LC sculpties

Every box of sculpties comes with a poster of what is inside. Above are two sculptie posters. We really both liked bowl number five in the Ceramics pack (the red bowl). We rezzed it and began stretching it to the right shape. We also planned to retexture it.

Iyoba stretches the red bowlYou can see that it was going to be quite beautiful. It was just what we wanted, but the Ceramics pack had only finished sculpties and no separate textures, and the script in the lily pad, that we were going to put in our bowl was no modify, so we were stuck. You can see why my One who Thinks She Knows did not want to make a simple, one prim bowl.

Cel Edelman's Smooth Geometric Sculpties    Es0 Torok's Sculptie Shapes Builder Box

We went looking for more sculpties, ones that came with textures as well as shapes this time. Soon, we were both ripping out our hair. Finally, we both saw it! It was Geo_76 from Cel Edelman's smooth geometric shapes. We could squish it down and it would make a lovely, delicate, wooden bowl!

My One and I shape a bowl The rest was a fairly easy build. We changed the Lily Pad homing object into a Geo_76, flipped it over, stretched and squished it's shape and gave it a texture. The script sat in it undisturbed.

The frogs' new homing object sitting on a bee hive And here it all is, our brand new homing object sat proudly atop a beehive at the center of our Lily Frogs' territory. You can see how elegant this homing object is, and how the frogs have a lot of space.

Zzzzzzz Unfortunately, we still could not get a good picture of our frogs. This is Moselle, one of our female frogs, fast asleep by the amaranth. It was just our luck. Our frogs had chosen to go to sleep when it was time for their moment of fame!

Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- August 30, 2012

Advertising, Educating, Propaganda, Spin, and Chickens!

I was going to write another promotional piece, and in a very, big way, Eagle Island deserves a great deal of praise. It is a growing operation, with larger and improved exhibits. I added four new entries to Explore SL, so that should scream my praise loud and long.

Well, you know there's a "but" here. Iyoba and I toured more of this sim than you will want to know last night, and while I found the content fascinating, and Iyoba wanted to cry (You'll find out why... especially after she learned some of the things I let her know. She has access to my knowledge of the "real world." Sometimes that hurts. Poor avie.), this morning I started telling myself that writing a puff piece about the place was a cliche. Also, getting pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised comes with the territory as far as bushwhacking is concerned.

That was when I started thinking of Juliett Kitty, who is a promoter for SLife Island, which has a wonderful club and fine beaches. Juliett is bilingual, but Portuguese is her mother tongue. We started talking about clubs and how they come and go and she told me: "You have to keep at it with the 'propaganda.'" She meant advertising but to a Brazilian, propaganda and spam are not the ugly words they are in English. Even advertising is not evil.

Well advertising isn't evil! I will still befriend just about any one, because this is a good way to know when there are festas, boras, and simboras at smaller clubs. Advertising means information. Advertising educates.

And there is a very thin line between advertising or propaganda and education. This brings me to Eagle Island. Just as Juliett is offering a real product/service when there's a live DJ in the house, I don't think anything I saw on Eagle Island is an outright lie, and some of the images were graphic. One can learn a lot about industrial poultry production on this sim. There is no question that it educates.

But, it also presents a well spun message. The spin was more in the words of the message or the words left out of the messages, that made me aware that those who run Eagle Island, University of Alabama and University of Georgia and their respective Co-operative Extensions, had an interest in promoting commercial poultry and egg production as an unalloyed good. In Second Life, those who can rent the printing press or the land to rezz the printing press, have freedom of the press, and if the other side wants to compete, well they just have to pay the price.

As if you did not know all ready, Eagle Island is all about chickens. These are not Sion Chickens or Happy Cluckers. These are flesh and blood birds that end up on your dinner table or whose eggs are the familiar egg salad served for kiddush at synagogue functions, or as the prime ingredient in mayonaise and the rich moisture in baked goods.

Iyoba watches a slide of a cage-free laying facilityTo their credit, those who run Eagle Island do show still and moving pictures of the actual birds, though I did not see any laying cages. The birds in this image are in a cage-free facility, and their job is to lay fertilized eggs for the broiler trade. If you buy cage-free eggs, which I do in "real life," this is the kind of facility that produces them. At least the chickens can walk around the laying shed, and they have most of their feathers and combs. I'm not sure if they are debeeked.

Chicken paws I have less bucolic images mostly on my flash drive, including chickens in the kill-line. You can see the entire workings of a slaughter house at the Dawghouse on Eagle Island. It is a video, and don't watch it right after eating. Iyoba and I sat through all twenty minutes of it. This is one of the end products of the birds above. It's called a "chicken paw" also known as chicken feet, and it makes excellent soup, according to my mother.

A hen's reproductive tract beginsHere is wehre the real propaganda begins. This is a hen's reproductive tract, and it is part of the presentation at the Virtual Chicken Amphitheater. I enjoyed learning about how a creature without a womb lays an egg. A chicken's ovum is far larger than our own because it has no placenta, and that is only for starters. The propaganda comes at the end of the line, when the egg emerges from the "vent." Sorry, birds and reptiles have a cloaca, a common opening for urine, feces, and the products of reproduction. Cloaca is the Latin word for sewer. Sorry, my real life turtle, Joie, has a cloaca. My Petable Turtles have them, and if they can have them, than so do the chickens you buy all wrapped up on styofoam trays.

An egg processing plant

Here is a diagram of an egg processing plant. There is a mockup of one of these that you can tour. It makes you feel cold even though the walls are a nice, textured, perrywinkle blue. Iyoba and I both shivered. As you can see, this diagram gives no hint that eggs are a real, life, biological product laid by flesh and blood birds.

Sign outside the processing plant And sometimes the words themselves scream out the propaganda. You will notice that this sign sits at the entrance of a "processing plant," Do I have to tell all of you that "processing plant" is euphemism for slaughter house! It is not a widget factory making widgets to satisfy the consumer.

All this said, I think Eagle Island is one of the better educational sims out there, and I love agriculture sims, even those that promote agribusiness. I would recommend this to newcomers wanting to see education in action, because there is so much to see and in such depth.

On the other hand, I hope that somewhere out there, there is a sim or a piece of a one dedicated to the evils of factory farming. If they have an exhibit that gives half the information of Eagle Island, they will earn a place on Explore SL

Eileen H. Kramer with assistance from Iyoba BatOni -- August 28, 2012

Adieu International Schools Island

The Three Towers of International Schools I have a confession Internatinal Schools was never my favorite sim. Still it is closing the end of the month so Iyoba and I had to go back for a last look. Like many other visitors to Shambles' opus, we thought of the place as its three towers, chock full of handy resources, well sort of.... The freebie scripts and gadgets were wonderful. The exhibit of IPhones, over on International Schools 3, the neighboring island, was clever, and I say that even as a devoted Droid user. The problem was with the library and higher ed links. They were often missing or out of date, and the towers were often unfinished looking with lots of temporary link boards. Add to that a fairly average amount of lag, and I found visiting the sim for Explore SL a chore.

Sign in the sandobx and a very obedient kitty I decided that if I was going to blog a last look at a sim that is in every one's folder and on every one's list of educational sites, I needed a more positive attitude. That called for serious, sandbox therapy. I had some trouble finding the sandbox, but it was a busy place for a Sunday morning on an out of the way island. And it aws not without its sense of humor.

A parody of sandbox rules

I almost felt bad that I did not put on my durian dress. I know there are rules against durians in places like Singapore and Malaysia (maybe). They can stink, but so can a lot of other foods, and they sell them in the The deKalb Farmer's Market in "real life." Still I liked this bit of international humor.

Kraftie in the sandbox And what made the sandbox even more of a treat, it was social. Well sort of... At first I thought I was going to be attacked by little green gremlins, but they were too busy playing with each other and their owners. I was not even caught in the cross fire. Instead I felt like an intruder with my clothes making kit. The two avatarot who were busy with their Krafties, as the the little green gremlins are called did not notice me.

I hope that Krafties come in other colors. I also thought they remnded me of zwickies who fight, albeit far more fiercely. Krafties, however, are fifteen prims each, so in some ways they remind me far more of Zoobie pets and babies, with a need to level up, and a lot of prims. I'll stick with zwickies, though the little green gremlins were ten times cuter than meeroos. I'm sorry if you like meeroos. I think my Petable Turtles are cuter than meeroos. Lily Frogs and zwickies are not cute. Zwickies have the moves, and Lily Frogs are special for all sorts of reasons. That is all fodder for another post.

The Path through the rain forest Tonight I explored more of International Schools and discovered a lovely walk through the "rain forest" that leads to a dock by a swimming pool. Follow the path around the mountain and you reach the sandbox and a bathing beach. I also climbed to the top of the mountain, and let Iyoba warm herself by the fire.

Iyoba in her nudibranch dress And this is Iyoba in her nudibranch gown that we made this morning in the sandbox. I figured no tour of International Schools would be complete without showing off our newest creation. If you do decide to visit this sim before it disappears, the mountaintop, rainforest, and International Schools 3 are must-sees. You can spend time in the sandbox if you like to build. Who knows whom you will meet. Take a swim. Ride the blimp. Take lots of pictures. This after all is a famous place.

I wish I could say I feel sorry about International Schools closing, but Second Life is monetized, and we all pay rent for what we love. If we can't afford it, we cut back. I'm not sure the era of the big educational sim is over. The good news is you can get out as much information in maybe one sixteenth the space. Many of the SUNY's have 4096's and that's it. SUNY Stonybrook is a pretty good example. One building and a sandbox can go a very long way. I don't have Stonybrook on the spread sheet, because they have no exhibits, galleries, or interactive tutorials, but their building does just fine as a multipurpose meeting place, and a shared sandbox is right out doors. SUNY Stonybrook's way of doing things is probably far more the wave of the future than International Schools'.

And yes, it is a dirty shame that Second Life got rid of the educational discount. On the other hand, though, I wonder if the discount did not lead to overextending. That's easy enough to do in the land of "Your world. Your imagination." Retrenchment is hard, but it's a fact of life. Every one of us who has some sort of development pays our dues.

Eileen Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 27, 2012

Sweet Colonial Nostalgia and History

In "real life" I grew up in Westchester County in the New York Metro area, and like many kids growing up there, a weekend outing or a school field trip meant a trip to one of several Colonial or Nineteenth Century Houses. The Hudson River Museum also had historical exhibits. We even knew the Bronx Zoo was ancient with all its iron scrollwork turned pale green by the main entrance and the Head and Horns Building looks like an old middle school, or at least that was what I thought it looked like. Yes, I've been inside there. The teachers thought the lecture they had arranged for us was borning. I thought it was interesting. I was nine years old at the time, and thought the lecture very grownup. I even wore my tie-dyed shirt and purple courderoy pants for the occasion.

All that said, this kind of friendly history is back in Westchester and similar northeastern suburbs in "Real Life", not in Second Life. Also, there really isn't any Judaica in Second Life. Yes, I know there is a synaoguge or was (not sure any more), but those who run it and I have serious, doctrinal differences. Let's just leave it at that. I am glad I am not a Christian because, I can hang out with Christians and not care how they live their faith or don't live it inworld. My own, however, are another story. My solution is to steer clear, and I long ago gave up seeking out anything Jewish inworld.

That was why the name JMHOMC Timeline , meant nothing to me. Educational islands frequently have acronyms in their names. This is a way of telling those who are not "in the know" that this is not for them. Sometimes the acronym is famous such as AIM or IEEE, but these are exceptions that prove the rule. Choosing a school's mascot or something in the area that students and alumni would know and the rest of the world would not is another way to hide a sim in plain sight. South Hill was Cornell. I recognized the neighborhood in Ithaca. I'm Arts and Sciences class of '84 in Real Life. These days a lot of Cornell is Rockcliffe, which is named after a fraternity house on Stewart Avenue. You see how this works.

Iyoba sits by the canonballs on the ramparts of 17th Century Wall Street I figured JHMOMC was just another educational sim that may or may not have something interesting. Often these are half built or have only classrooms or promotional materials. Sometimes they offer something for the general public. Well, was I surprised! JHMOMC stands for Jewish History Museum of Monmouth City. Monmouth is in the part of New Jersey that lies within the New York Metro area. The island is devoted to the history of 17th and 18th Century Jews in and around the New York City area and in also in the New World. The two are pretty much inseparable, since many Jews in the Colonial and Revolutionary War Periods came to the New York Metro area via the Caribbean and South America. Here is Iyoba sitting next to some cannon balls. Cannons once guarded wall street at the Southern end of Manhattan Island in a sleepy little village called New Amsterdam.

gobble gobble The JMHOMC Timeline is full of little historical touches. The barn is full of sculptie animals that move. Iyoba and I both thought this tom turkey was far handsomer than any peacock. Now Iyoba wants one, but we don't have the primage with all our turtles and zwickies.

17th Century Menorah And not all the touches are decorative. This is a picture of a 17th Century Menorah that Iyoba and I found in Hart's tavern, one of the Colonial buildings. There was also bread and beer there and historical documents on the note card givers on the signs lying around the sim. Having a historical sim that does more than just look pretty is very important.

Reenactors holding the line at the Battle of Monmouth And yes, this scene of the Battle of Monmouth in which Jewish soldiers fought, is also a note card giver. It also shows that the Jewish History Museum of Monmouth City has been meticulous and resourceful in crafting this build.

Now, none of the Jews of Monmouth or who were in this country during Colonial times are my ancestors. My people come froma different part of Europe and arrived in this country between the 1890's and World War I. There is supposed to be a shtetl sim but I never visited it and it is gone. Somewhere out there, there may be a a Second Life equivalent of the Tenament Museum, which I have never visited in "real life." I'll just have to wait to be pleasantly surprized.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 25, 2012

The Beggar in the Ploughed Field

I haven't been bushwhacking one bit successfully in the last forty-eight hours. Even some sandbox therapy (Iyoba can always use a new dress!) did not lift my spirits, though this was a lovely sandbox under the palm trees of Cal State Northridge's sandbox. I collect sandboxes as a product of producing Explore SL is finding quiet, lovely, academic sandboxes. That said, a sandbox is NOT a changing room, and it is not that unusual to find company in one.

So I noticed her. She had nearly wheat colored hair tipped in pink, worn long and loose, a lovely mesh camisole from which she was nearly popping in the right places, jeans that were both shiney and torn, at the same time and heels. An animation over rider made her walk in circles. She asked me with the aid of a translator to help her with Lindens. This was a straight forward beg. Most people who beg in Second Life don't ask for much. Many newbies are broke, and face it, in "real life" I have a very soft spot for beggars. It seems immoral when you have just bought a Coke or a mocha in the convenience store, to not give a beggar a couple of dollars so he can buy something in the place from which you just walked. I don't care if the "real life" beggar spends what I give him on single cans of beer, Vienna sausages, or McDonalds. Chaque a son gout, and most beggars are over the legal, drinking age of twenty one.

I gave my Second Life beggar 250 Lindens. Her name was Mikol. That is not what her name really was, but I didn't photograph her and I'm not going to totally trash her privacy. I packed up my LoopRez device and Ultimate Posing Stool (This last is my own invention.) I needed to explore the academic building in search of exhibits, note card givers, art galleries. Cal State Northridge makes lovely classrooms. They have plain walls, and smart boards, and web site on a prim boards. There are a few chairs, and little else. They are each painted a different color. Some even have names, but classrooms don't really cut it for my spread sheet.

Disappointed I found myself in a room on the third floor of Rosalind Frank Hall looking at two posterboards that were not enough to make a full-fledged exhibit. Then I noticed my beggar. I wondered if she was interested in academic sims too. She was interested in my virtual wallet. This is unusual. Most beggars take what they get and leave. She wanted 350 more lindens. She had to buy some clothes. She said she was very poor. I asked her where she was. I do this a lot with beggars. The reason is that if you are from Europe, Lindens are cheaper for you, due to a favorable exchange rate. Mikol, the beggar, was from Brazil. I gave her fifty more Lindens. As I said, I had a soft spot, and Mikol just kept walking in circles like a cat asking to be fed or petted. That animation override, was really a pretty clever tool. Finally, I gave her the other 300.

Say what you want. I could have muted her. I let her friend me instead. I told her to let me know if she knew of any good festas. She offered to introduce me to the Vampire King and initiate me into the ways of Bloodlines. I said I did not want to go around biting people. I did give her some sandboxes. She said she'd give me a whole folder full of "plowed fields." It took me until I was cooking dinner tonight in "real life" to realize that a ploughed field was a sandbox. Nicely raked sand or builders' measuring texture has nothing to do with furrows of dirt in my benighted, English speaking brain. Also, most Americans who are not kids in "real life" would not beg with Mikol's presistence.

My only Second Life sociology type question is: "why would a beggar hang out in a sandbox?" Are builders good hearted? We certainly are not rich? If we have Lindens we rent land with them. If we can build or texture, we upload the textures and make most of our own stuff. That makes Second Life much more economical for us. True, I have "payment info used" in my profile, but that could mean anything from a dollar in the virtual kitty over a year ago to twenty-five dollars a month spent for renting a 4096 somewhere. And at any extreme, there is no way any one with brains is going to walk around Second Life with a virtual wallet full of cash. It doesn't earn interest. I can buy Lindens when I need to pay rent or buy critter food. And yes, I get a stipend of 300L a week, but I pay $72.00 a year for that. How do you say cheap entertainment or breaking even?

Sooner or later beggars like Mikol will meet someone who lacks Iyoba's and my soft hearts. You know how the story goes then. The fact that she has the pushy routine down pat and is utterly feckless won't help her. Meanwhile, I hope the begging vampire with pink tipped blonde hair knows about some good parties with loud music and lots of dance spam.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 24, 2012

Time Out for Turtles!

Every night, my One who Thinks She Knows, that's Eileen who usually writes this blog (She only thinks she knows, because she spends most of her time in "real life.") and I take care of our pets. We have a lot of them, zwickies, turtles, and frogs. Sorry, you'll see the frogs in a different post. My One is a good owner, though I hate it when she "retires" turtles which is what we call putting them in inventory to starve to death in their sleep. We have Elixir of Life so we can revive them. My One and I have revived several turtles, so my One is not blowing hot air if you know what I mean.

Yocheved the zwicky We've never retired any zwickies. We've put Lily Frogs back into inventory. One of our frogs died on us. He had text over him saying: "This frog has croaked." That hurt. I don't have any photos of the frogs tonight. I do have a photo of one of our zwickies. This is Yocheved. She is an ardor zwicky. She is all blue because she came as part of a "starter kit." She was our first starter kit pet ever. We started with a starter kit because zwickies went mass market a day or two before we bought ours. Yes, we were really early adopters.

Zwickies are aerial jellyfish from a distant galaxy called Zwicky. They fly in all sorts of configuratins. They dance in the air. They come in all kinds of colors and pretty patterns. They even stand on their heads. They have only eight prims, whereas horses have ten. I'm not sure why zwickies haven't kicked horses butts, because face it, they do!

Jurgis, the miracle turtle! This is my favorite Petable Turtle. Yes, that is their official name or brand name. Grimm Hathor invented them a few years ago, and they were once incredibly popular. My One named him Jurgis after the main character in Upton Sinclair's, The Jungle. In The Jungle Jurgis is a hard working immigrant who had terrible jobs in slaughter houses. When we first got Jurgis, he was dead. All around him on a beach were dead and dying turtles. Even my One felt sick at the sight.

The reason Jurgis' former owner was so neglectful was that Jurgis is what is called a Cosmic Starter. Under his black masking, he has green eyes, a green carapace and plastron, and a red body. People bought Cosmic Starters to create Cosmic Earths and than rarer cosmics. When the Cosmics did not come with enough frequency, many breeders who were just in it for the money abandoned their operations. That was what Jurgis' breeder did. We bought him for 50L (About .20) and revived him wtih Elixir of Life. We retired him to inventory some time in early 2011, and then revived him again last spring.

Jurgis fathers Christmas eggs My One got Jurgis to produce Cosmic Luna and Earth babies. She all ready had a Cosmic Earth turtle named Shamayith. Jurgis has never fathered a single Cosmic turtle. This time around, we just breed Jurgis for his color and an occasional glowing egg. My One says she prefers her eggs plain and pretty, and we get plenty of those. This time, Jurgis is our grand old man and a pretty good stud.

Adiv, say no more Adiv is one of our youngest turtles. Her mother was a Halloween 2010 Special named Zillah and her father was a burgundy turtle named Xerxes. She does not resemble either of her parents. Most people who see an egg with Adiv's coloring send it to the Breeder. This means the egg dies, and the owner gets points. Eggs kept in inventory don't die if you box them. My One wanted a female, hatched two of Zillah's eggs, and well, she got two females, and wasn't going to let baby turtles starve to death. She can be very sentimental and responsible. I think she loves the turtles as much as I do. And yes, we actually hatched out an egg for a greenish-brown turtle, but....

vegas1.jpg ...when Adiv mates with some of our brightly colored males, she lays amazing eggs. My One does not like blue turtles, or blue eggs, but she makes an exception for Adiv's eggs. Sometimes turtles with the most ordinary appearance are the best breeders. It's all a matter of what happens when their coloring averages out with their mate's.

Tecumseh walks by eggs he has fathered with Vashti This is especially true if you don't start with starter kit turtles. None of our turtles ever came from a starter kit. We got them through egg dips and from different breeders or we resurrected "iced turtles." This means our ten turtles are full of diversity and surprises, and yes, we treat every egg laid with respect, even though five female turtles produce on average ten eggs a day. We name each egg, and box it, and place it carefully in inventory. We've never intentionally broken an egg, even a sterile one, and we NEVER send eggs to the breeder. When we accidentally lose turtles, we have plenty of turtle eggs (probably close to a thousand if not more) to replace them with, which is important since not many people breed Petable Turtles any more.

That is OK. Our ten turtles take care of themselves, as long as we feed them. We have extra food out so we can skip a day. They are nonconsanguinous so they can mate with whomever they choose. We just get to watch them and marvel at their eggs, which often include unusual color combinations and even a few tricolors. Neither my One nor I mind the work. Turtles are truely a labor of love, and if you want to get started wtih Petable Turtles, Talk my One. She'll be happy to let you have a clutch of eggs.

Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- August 23, 2012

At the Top of the List

Texas A&M Logo The list is Explore SL, and since I usually sort it by sim name in alphabetical order, Locations on 12th Man, are going to be on top of the list. Actually they deserve their placement. This is a rock solid educational sim, and I'm glad I found it today. I have used this sim for its sandbox before. I have made both hair and dresses in the well ordered sky sandbox that unlike Berkman (as of a few days ago any way), allows scripts.

Howdy! It's the little and basic things that make an Educational sim good. Signs like these hang on all the classroom windows, and they make the place feel welcoming. They also let me know where I was and the purpose of those empty stalls. This is a hundred times better than putting up a fancy prefab and leaving visitors and students guessing.

Rudyard Kipling Manuscripts The Cushing Memorial Library's lobby, features web page mock ups that link to special collections available online for the entire world. They are not web page on a prim or mesh. The whole sim is surprizingly lag-free. That is a very, big plus. The reading room upstairs (teleport up by clicking on, what else, a clearly written sign) is prettier, but I prefer functionality to furniture. An avie can after all sit on a box.

Walk or click. You can't get lost! And speaking of functionality, maps like this are all over 12th Man and the other Aggieland sims. They are accurate. The teleport links work, and they rezz fast. After making sure the sandbox was still there, Iyoba had no trouble returning to the library for a photo shoot, by finding and following the map from another Aggieland island's teleport hub.

Periodic Table My favorite part of 12th Man was Dr. K's Chenistry Place. Yes it is garish and cluttered, but there is a lot to see and do. This three dimensional periodic table, quite similar to the one on Black Bear Island (University of Maine), is part of the interactive fun. Find your element. Learn what others are in its row and column, and then click for more information.

Be careful! Dr. K's Chemistry Place also comes with plenty of humor. This out of control lab bench features both great art and a World of Science, chemistry kit, along with the smoke and warnings. It is true that avatarot can fall fifty feet, dance in the fires of Hell, and get caught in a mouse trap, and be none the worse for wear, but "real life" aggies are a bit more fragile.

The lab's official mascot Finally, Dr. K's Chemistry Place comes with an official mascot. Moles are a part of chemistry in both high school and higher education, and this little critter can't be whacked. Iyoba fell in love with him. I appreciated the joke, and we're going to see what else we can find in Aggie Land.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 22, 2012

Feeling Blue even In the Pink

It was one of those weekends where nothing worked out on Second Life. Nothing disastrous happened mind you except a lot of the usual inconveniences that sometimes happen when a portion of your life is in a virtual world. First, an educational build I visited, had a lot of broken voice boxes. Second, the Berkman Sandbox where I went to make a dress, no longer allows scripts. I also noticed that a building near the sandbox had vanished. Harvard University, which owns Berkman, has been repurposing the island forever, so this really didn't surprize me. It annoyed me.

Iyoba in her broom corn dress I finished up the dress for Iyoba at the Deakin University Sandbox, though everything was slow to rezz and even slower to respond. It took forever, but the effort was worthless. This texture has languished in Iyoba's inventory forever, and it is unusual because of the black and pink combination.

This is hardly the first pink dress I have made for Iyoba in several years of making Loop Rez dresses, so I started thinking, why not do a photo shoot of all pink the pink dresses. I managed to miss one, but that is beside the point. I even knew where I wanted to go for the shoot, SL Israel. There was just one problem. SL Israel, which had wonderful stone walls and very pretty beaches among other things no longer exists. I felt bad. There is not much of a Jewish presence in Second Life, and I'm not fond of what there is, with the possible exception of this fine sim. Well, now that sim was gone. I contemplated going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are some drop dead, gorgeous Arab builds out there. Don't ask me why, but that is another discussion.

Instead I had seen a sim called Forsyth Tech show up on Gridsurvey.com and I decided to give it a try. Now you may be wondering why go through all this effort, and I don't mean finding a sim to take pictures. That was the easy part. I mean, why don't I just buy my clothes? Why bother to spend the money (four cents each) to upload textures, time in a sandbox, time with a graphics program, and hey my avie isn't even beautiful. Sorry, I think Iyoba is not bad looking. She's even fairly pretty, but beautiful and sexy, probably not.

Hydrangea Dress 2010Second Life after all is a world of "subcultures" and taxonomies, and Iyoba is not a "fashionista." Sometimes I will even say I make clothes because an avie provides unlimited and free display space. If I don't change my avie's clothes every day, she stinks. Avatarot do get dirty. Ask Iyoba.

I know a lie when I hear one, or rather a half truth. Here is another half truth: I make clothes because nothing really fit Iyoba. At 5'0" and about a hundred and twenty-five pounds, she is realistic, but no one makes a size ten petite. Texture clothes that look good on Iyoba do have a way of looking good on every one else, but that again is another story. Then I say that I started making clothes because patterned clothing is scarce in Second Life. To make clothes in Second Life is to have one's own textile mill.

Bok Choi dress And it is true I simply don't like a lot of the clothes out there. I have no problem with others wearing them. I just don't want to run around in a dress without a crotch, and I don't want Iyoba running around that way either. Iyoba and I work, and who knows who could be snapping pictures. Also, a lot of Second Life women's clothes are black. This is supposed to be sexy. I remember wearing my first black shirt when I was eleven. Back in the 1970's a black blouse was a rite of passage to show you were mature enough to wear that color, but the novelty wears off real fast. Also, after a certain age, I stopped looking good in that color. Worse yet, black is for funerals and clothing makers have a lot of other colors available.

Put a third way, I don't know (and Iyoba doesn't either) how to buy the kind of lingerie one wears to a club. I don't know how much is too much to expose, what looks good, what sends the wrong message. I need clothes that are comfortable. Also, there is no reason that Iyoba has to wear the uniform of black "nice" pants and some kind of blouse for work in world. A long dress is fine, but not a crinoline. That put me in the clothing design business.

Celeriac Dress But there is another side to all this. Just as it takes a certain kind of nerve, that Iyoba and I both lack, to stride into a public place in a black micro-mini, full slip and stiletto heels, it also takes nerve to walk into a club in a hot pink number with pictures of celeriac on it and possibly green hair. It takes even more nerve because Iyoba is a head shorter than every body else. I don't credit either of us with a lot of courage because we feel good in these clothes. I would buy a dress like this and wear it in real life. I especially like the faille texture I used for it. Celeriac, or celery root, is one of my favorite vegetables in "real life." I'd love to see it in a novelty print, but I am imagine there are people out there who feel their avies would look silly wearing it as a clothing print.

Saturn Peach Dress I make clothing so that Iyoba and I can wear patterns we both enjoy. Many of my patterns are fruit, flower, or vegetable based, and they celebrate the seasons as a city dweller sees them. The Saturn peaches (or doughnut peaches) are still to expensive to buy, but like their subtle, fleshy pink, which blends well with yellow trim.

Pink Narcissus Dress In the spring their are pink narcissus. I look for fancy narcissus in every one's yard in "real life," but I can't plant any of my own because I live in an apartment. The pink narcissus are the rarest of all. Here they bloom om a dress with a Peter Pan/Johnny Collar. Almost all of Iyoba's dresses have both long and short skirts. This is the dress Iyoba wears in her forum icon, so it is kind of special.

Dark Dahlia Dress In summer there are dahlias. Again, I can't grow these. Pink can be a great foil for a dark pattern, much like in the first dress in this blog entry. The purple dahlias do well on a very light background and I like the ridged waste. It's amazing what you can do with sculpties to make waist bands. This is a very tailored dress, even in the long version. I had to shoot this image on Iyoba's and my 512 in Hartley, because I had to relog because Second Life was making Iyoba's legs look like pants. As I said above, this was a weekend full of minor frustrations.

I miss Claudia Dress Last but not least, making dresses gives me a way to make a statement to the world that I just can't make in any other way. On June 18, 2012, Claudia Schorr was one of 283 Georgia Perimeter College employees laid off in a reduction in force. She had a plot at the Decatur Campus Gardens, and on that plot grew morning glories. I photographed her morning glories. I then painted the images on to cotton print fabric and made a dress for Iyoba with them. This dress is a tribute to my former colleague. I'm sorry she is a former colleague. I felt just a little better after making this dress.

Eileen H. Kramer with plenty of help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 20, 2012

God, Mammon, and Your Tax Dollars...

Though there are times when I sorely need a second life, the idea that one exists, even in a world called by that name is a fantasy, and if you think I am going to prove that, the answer is "yes." Last Saturday (August 11), there was a circumcision in my synagogue. This is quite a thing to see. Yes, they do it in public in the middle of the crowd. Yes, the male members of the boy's family bring the baby in to loud singing, and he receives his surgery on the bimah, a podium placed toward the center of the crowd. Unlike in other tmes when they hid the mother away, she gets to watch from the female side right by the rail. She also reads the blessings, or at least this mother did. I was close to the rail that separates the male and female parts of the sancatuary and I heard what they named the baby, Shmuel Yehuda, which is Hebrew for Samuel Judah.

Shmuelle the zwicky "Wow!" I thought. "I have two names for my next two zwickies." Geronimo, my white starter male, was about to give birth over that shabbos, and Nimrod, his son, was going to get pregnant on Sunday. For those of you who don't know, male zwickies carry the offspring and birth them. I'd been having trouble naming my zwickies. Now that trouble was gone. Shmuelle, pictured left, is a hybrid. She is not luminescent, but her colors are excellent. She carries her name proudly.

And there I thought it would all end. Yhudit was born a few days later, and I had her name ready to go, but still I was sure that was the end of it. People who have kids and don't live in the same neighborhood as I usually pass through my life lke water through a strainer. We have nothing in common, and being childless and unmarried I don't find children all that fascinating, especially other people's. I did see Shmuel Yehuda before he officially received his name and had his bris because his mother was diapering him in the ladies' room, but that was just coincidence.

Well, two days ago, I opened a random email on the FrumAtlanta list at Yahoogroups. The list sends far too many emails for me to read them all. It is mostly a business list like FreeCycle. People try to sell odds and ends, acquire services, get rides, have packages delivered, receive recommendations for camps, houehold help, and professionals etc... Well, there was a woman named S selling "uniform shirts" cheap. They were boys shirts, and some of them were size XL. That's a 16 to 18, and it's a size I wear. The shirts were only $4.50 each. I jumped at the bargain and by Wednesday night, S had called me. Thursday night I took two buses to Toco Hills. I found S's home and bought the shirts, and there on the floor was... Shmuel Yehuda, two weeks old and lying on a blanket. I wanted to laugh.

It is a very small world, but somehow it doesn't hold two lives very well. I wasn't sure how S would take that I had named two baby zwickies after her son. I looked down at the baby and thought "oh wow!" I wish I could have told S the honor her son had received. Of course the baby zwickies are in stasis in my inventory and the real Shmuel Yehuda is alive and well and kicking up in Toco Hills, but hey, his family has room to rezz him and don't have to worry about what it costs to feed him. Second Life Breedables and human chlldren are not the same thing, and naming one in honor of another's rite of passage is sweet, but you have to appreciate breedables to appreciate the gesture, and not every body loves zwickies as I do.

SUNY Plattsburg's Library Of course around the same time I bought the shirts from the real life Shmuel Yahuda's mother, I was exploring the SUNY Learning Network sim. SUNY stands for State Univrsity of New York, and if you are a New York State resident, these are your tax dollars. I went to SUNY Learning network to check out SUNY Plattsburgh's library . I had been there a year ago, and the build was an empty shell. I figured it might be up and working now, and ready for inclusion in Explore SL.

Inside the SUNY Plattsburg library I was disappointed. There are books in the library. You can see that along with the interface. This is how you would see the library if you were viewing it in Second Life's official viewer (Beta version 3.4). You can see the movement and camera conrols (things with the arrows), and you can also see a chat log and even an inventory.

In the background are books. I think they are New York State law books. The black ones look like McKinney's. The books are wonderfully authentic and the shelves are photorealistic library shelves, but if you click the books NOTHING HAPPENS. If you click the few computers, nothing happens. You can sort inventory in this library, but little else.

Iyoba at the top of the stairsThis is Iyoba climbing up to the second floor of SUNY Plattsburgh's library. The top floor has absolutely nothing on it, just carpet, no furniture, no phony book shelves, no phony computers, no reproductions of art work, nothing. I'm not sure who pays for SUNY Plattsburgh's 4096. Some of it is state taxes. Some of it may be student tuition or special student fees. Any way you cut it, none of this money is hard at work.

The hospital at SUNY Oswego

But SUNY Plattsburgh is not the only offender in the contenst for wasting tax dollars in Second Life. A year ago, SUNY Oneonta's big hospital was a going concern. Then somebody decided to do some remodeling. Yes, the patient in hot pink is levitating. The medical equipment is out on the porch getting some air. Iyoba is sitting on some kind of medical stool. Any one can stop by and try the free birthing ball complete with animations. The note card and link givers that make up the medical simulations are no where to be found. The big hospital's halls are empty.

Seeing something like this makes me angry. I pay for my entertainment on Second Life. I pay a shocking amount, but hey I need it, or feel I do. Still, rezzing space/land is at a premium. I make mainly clothes and hair pieces because my avie can wear them. I have a 2048, a 512, and a fifty prim retail space on EduIsland 5. When I build anything, large or small, I use a sandbox and then I clean up, but hey if it's your world, your imagination, and your cash, You can do anything you please if you can afford it. You can even leave a mess for the whole world to see.

Worse yet, these two SUNY's do positively nothing to help the reputation of Second Life as an educational venue, or the idea of higher educatino in Seond Life. The grubbiest sandbox exhibit, collage project, or remade prefabs with seats for students or a few links hanging on a wall, at least says, Seond Life is useable even if the build is not fancy. A mess and an empty shell just screams wasted funds, and wasted funds can become no funds. It's your world, your imagination, but one life is really tied another.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 18, 2012

Story with a Happy Ending

This story has a happy ending. Don't worry, the ending is only the beginning. That makes it the happiest kind of happy ending. Back when I first inherited the spread sheet that was to become Explore SL, there was a Black Abolitionist Archive on an island called Sunpixels, which has been gone for more than a year. By the time I reached it to verify its existence and add a description, it had moved to EduIsland 4, which disappeared this summer, but there was no archive on EduIsland 4. Instead a sign said that the archive had moved to the UDMercy Libraries sim or it would soon be there. There was no sim yet. A search in Second Life's somewhat iffy search engine did not uncover any Black Abolitionist Archive. It was gone. That was all...That was 2010.

This weekend, after checking out a sim called Budworm where it is always winter, but there are some good educational exhibits, I was ready for warmer climates, and I noticed a UDMercy Libraries sim nearby on the world map. The sim looked green and inviting. I also remembered that a college in Detroit had once had a Black Abolitionist exhibit somewhere in the EduIslands or Cybrary City, but it had moved on and vanisheed before I started seriously bushwhacking.

Am I not a man and am I not a brother? I teleported to the UDMercy Libraries sim and first saw a church that was a replica of the infamous Father Coughlin's Shrine of the Little Flower. Next to that was a historical football museum and on the other side of the church was... The Black Abolitionist Archive. Above is one of the archive's more striking images.

Iyoba rests on a couch in the Black Abolitionist Archive

The archive itself has lovely 19th Century decor, but everything rezzes very quickly. Also, it does not use web page on a prim. This means if you want speeches or biography, you need to click beneath each image of a Black abolitionist. Black abolitionists were anti-slavery activists prior to the Civil War, which was also the dawn of photography.

Photograph of a slave family or work crew If the early 19th Century is not your era, there is probably something else worth seeing on the UDMercy Libraries sim. There is the Shrine of the Little Flower which brings back nearly forgotten history of Father Coughlin, his church, and his radio career. Remember Democracy was on shakey ground in the United States in the 1930's.

Iyoba stretches next to a steam ship Iyoba and I both thought this was a party boat or student union or orientation course. We almost didn't explore it. That would have been a big mistake. It turned out to be the Father Dowling Great Lakes shipping collection. There are a few notes, and a link to the online version of the archives which contains paperwork for over a thousand steam ships, but it's the photographs that really make this exhibit impressive. If you're idea of steam ships on the Great Lakes is the "Wreack of the Edmund Fitzgerald" this exhibit is a very pleasant surprize.

Iyoba examines a photo of a ship's dining room.

The above picture shows Iyoba receiving a note card from a photo of a turn of the previous century steam ship's dining room. These ships carried passengers as well as freight. I took this photo showing the interface. This is how I see Second Life, and yes there are a lot of controls, arrows to control movement and camera, a chat log, messages in the upper right corner of the screen, (I think Iyoba had over fifty of them at the time), an inventory in the lower right corner, and taking up a good portion of the screen is the notecard itself. None of this is as complex as it looks.

Iyoba warms the bench at the Historical Footbal Collection

Then there is the University of Detroit Mercy Historical Football Collection. Enter the colorful door festooned with college football pennants, and cross a grid iron. Sorry, there are no bleachers, but there is a bench and goal posts. There are oral interviews under the goal posts. To keep the sim fast loading and compatible across many kinds of browsers, these histories load on a separate browser.

Cincinnati vs. Detroit In the hallway surrounding the field, the walls are covered with old time football game program covers. If you click the sign below each program, you will receive a link to a web page that shows games played that year, and offers a link to each game's program. These programs come complete with advertisements, and period art work.

Drake vs. Detroit Of course I soon began to wonder why I did not see any programs from the 1970's, 80's, or 90's, or even more recent years. I asked myself: "Do they still play football at Detroit Mercy?" You can find out the answer for yourself.. Even the happiest endings have a bit of sadness, but at least bushwhackers like me can enjoy the collection, and face it, I did not even know University of Detroit had a football team before I viewed the exhibit.

I'm glad that the University of Detroit Mercy Libaries really has a sim of its own and that it has four exhibits, all rich in content and fast to load, and the end is of course only the beginning. Any one can visit and see how to build a content rich library in Second Life.

Eileen H Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- August 15, 2012

What Happens After a Blackout I

I think that's the right title for this piece. Thursday night, after more strum and drang than I care to recount, I received my new modem. It's amazing how such an insignificant piece of plastic and what are probably fairly cheap electronic components can provide utter bliss, and a semblance of security. I would poke my head into my computer room over the weekend, even during Shabbos to see all four lights shining from my modem like four happy eyes. After more than a week, I had my home internet access again.

But, and isn't there always a "but," my Second Life had changed. It's bound to change any way because I'm blogging more frequently, but it also has changed because I now feel it has to have purpose and where Iyoba and I go inworld is very important. As a result we're bushwhacking more than anything else. Bushwhacking is our name for exploring educational and museum sims. If we find or rediscover (We do a lot or rediscovering) anything useful, we add it to or update it on Explore SL, which is probably the most up-to-date and comprehensive links of libraries, museums, and educational exhibitions in Second Life. It is not that I am such a fantastic bushwhacker by the way. I am persisent and curious, but I moved into a nearly vacant niche and I just camp out there.

Part of the reason I bushwhack is the same reason that Iyoba and I have an Imelda Marcos complex when it comes to clothes. Second Life has a weird economy. Items are cheap to build, but space to rez them is not. This makes Looprez, a prim skirt making device, Iyoba's best friend and the Explore SL Spread Sheet mine. Besides Second Life is awash with stuff and very short on accurate and up-to-date information.

There are times when bushwhacking can be terribly dull work. There are other times when what you find takes your breath away. Eight months ago, CSULIB had a bunch of art galleries on dunes surrounding a central mountain with a conference center. This is a fairly typical layout for an academic sim, but there was a lot to see and do, so it was a big plus. Sadly, there is only one art gallery left, but....and didn't I say there is always a "but," that is only half the story.

Looking down from the mountain top on CSULIB
Looking down from the mountains at a different angle on CSULIB

Iyoba in the mountains The sim has had a radical and breathtaking redesign. It is still both very walkable and occasionally very swimmable. This made Iyoba very happy, and I was glad to take her off trail to climb the mountain.

This is Iyoba on the mountain top This is the ledge that surrounds about half the mountain top. There is a hang glider up here, that Iyoba will have to come back and try. There is also a conference center without seats in a blue pyramid on the mountain top.

Iyoba descending from the peak And here is Iyoba descending on one of those wooden bridges. Notice the mesh at the sides that adds just a small bit of safety, and shows a lot of attention to detail. Yes, when Iyoba walked down some of those ramps, I felt my stomach leap into my throat. I was glad for the protective mesh.

Iyoba swimming in blue waters And finally, Iyoba got her chance to swim in the blue waters that surrouned the blue mountains and flow under the rope bridges. Iyoba is wearing her salsa tankini, which is the second bathing suit I ever made for her back in 2008. Iyoba's rez date is 5/14/08. I don't think we had the land in Hartley when I made this suit, so we were both newbies at the time. If you look at the picture of Iyoba in the yellow dress with the insects on it, this neuroptera dress is our newest creation. Sometimes it is fun to come almost full circle.

Unfortunately, CSULIB barely makes it out of the facility category. It has actually lost content though it has gained a lot of very pretty scenery and a different sort of functionality. There are educational sims that have gained function though they may be a bit more basic and conventional as builds. I think we are going to visit one of those sims soon. Remember, there is always more to come.

Eileen H Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- August 13, 2012

Limited Access!

I didn't do anything wrong. It was an act of God. It was not personal. A bad thunder storm on the night of August 2, took out a big oak tree on the front lawn of my complex. The lightening bolt split the might oak in two. The oak knocked out a power transformer. Everyone in my complex was without power from 8:30pm to 5am on Friday morning.

The thunder storm also fried my modem. As a result, after much round and round with AT and T and my real provider. I am without internet for at least another day or two. This hurts. I am getting into Second Life on a catch as catch can basis.

doin what comes naturally Right now I am grateful my Petable Turtles did not starve over the weekend. Of all my breedables, they are the most voracious. They are fine. They are laying eggs. They are doin' what comes naturally. No, I did not take this photo in the last few days. Iyoba took it last week. We have lots of photos of turtles en flagrante, but this is the first one with Boaz (the turquoise male turtle) engaged in the act with Yatif, the burgundy and green female turtle on the bottom. Female turtles are always on the bottom. Catching your breedables in the act, is one of the fun parts of having breedables.

OK, I have a feeling this is not your thing. Neither is changing your avie's clothes. When I logged in to Second Life after a weekend without it, thanks to my Kentucky Fried modem, the first thing I felt was filthy. Iyoba was in Thursday's clothes. I could feel how uncomfortable she was, and I swear I could even smell her. Avatarim get dirty if you don't change their clothes.

I know you don't believe it, but with an avie, if you are a serious Second Lifer, your mirror neurons pretty much lead you by the nose. It's just immersion. Second Life gives you enough detail for your brain to treat it as if it is real, and your avie, well, she's a part of you though mine claims to think for herself some of the time (and she does! She even writes on this blog.) So you are going to feel what your avie feels. If my avie is on a swaying bridge, I get motion sick looking down. If Iyoba is in dirty clothes, I squirm. If it is winter and Iyoba is in short sleeves and sandals, we both freeze. That's mirror neurons hard at work. That is Second Life's magic.

Moselle the Lily Frog Monday, I changed Iyoba's clothes. We bought turtle food after using up the last of it. Those turtles were hungry! And then, we got more Lily Frog Egg Cups. The Lily Frogs are their usual thrilling and disappointing selves, at the same time. The above image is Moselle one of our females. The trouble is that I seem to get only one species/breed of frog and they are all greenish brown. I wish some one would do something about frog genetics. Sorry....The frogs are still cute. It was great to see them hop about unhurt. It was also great that I had an extra plate of flies for them, since they were running low. Breedables are feedables.

Fortunata and Bishara, two zwickiesAnd let's not forget the zwickies. Zwickies are aerial jellyfish from another galaxy called Zwicky. The Greys, alien beings, are supposed to use zwickies to power their ships. Needless to say, zwickies are much happier being pets in Second Life.

Zwickies move better than most breedables. They also fart and shoot stars. They are balletic with graceful tentacles and the ability to form loops and turn on a dime. They kiss Iyoba when she comes home and is busy feeding the turtles and gathering their eggs. Iyoba and I both feel guilty for not paying them enough attention, but at least they have each other. Bishara, the blue ice zwicky and Fortunata, the green flexus zwicky are in a star. They make much better stars since Griderz updated to version 1.19. The zwickies now sort of sidle up to eachother before forming the star. You can see both their cute faces, and zwickies are cute, elegant, gorgeous. I'm not sure our photos do them justice.

Nimrod, my younger male zwicky even managed to give birth during the weekend without internet. I found his baby on Monday. It was a hybrid female, not too pretty, but with a Flexus ruff (same as Fortunata's.) Way to go! She was my first female after two males. Only five percent of all zwickies are male. Male zwicky are precious creatures, though I only have two alive and breeding. The rest are all in stasis in my inventory (Think unhatched eggs even though zwicky live bear.). I don't have room for more zwickies, and like Petable Turtles, they also like to eat.

I named the female zwicky Tikva, which is Hebrew for hope, and put her in inventory where she remains "in stasis." We cleaned up, boxed, and put in inventory over twenty Petable Turtle eggs. Things are not really back to normal of course. I get online away from home, and we take care of the bredables. Iyoba changes into a fresh outfit, and then we use a little of our time for working on the spread sheet of libraries, museums, and educational locations. If there is time left, we go out dancing. That feels good. It feels good to keep my hand in. It also felt good to upload a dress pattern today. Now if we can only get to a sandbox. Who knows, we may get lucky this evening.

El Caracol tower at Tejano Tech And if you are curious about this picture it is from last week before everything got fried. Iyoba peered out of the window at the top of El Caracol, a Maya temple and observatory on Tejano Tech, an island in the U of Texas Archipelago. Tejano Tech is a super build with all the right touches.

As odd as it sounds, this kind of bushwhacking to see if academic sims are still up and in operation is a lot of fun. It's fun even with our limited access. I am sweating bullets right now trying to keep my foothold in Second Life. Catch as catch can really stinks in spite of the picture show in this post and my mostly optimistic tone. I hope when my new modem arrives, I can get it up and working. This really hurts. It is one heck of a way to start off a new month.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- August 8, 2012