A Second Life
This area belongs to Iyoba, my favorite avie from Second Life and me. We share our thoughts here and discuss our adventures in the metaverse. To return to the main blog page, just click here. We are also experimenting with RSS.
"I can do it so much better!"
My One Who Thinks She Knows, my One for short, has been out of sorts ever since I can remember. She's still out of sorts because she was looking at an educational sim that was a total, epic, fail. That's not the sim she wants to talk about. In fact, vStarkState is a going concern and a beautiful build. We are going to have to visit more of it.
Here is the Virtual Excursions Store. This is where the trouble began. My One at first was thrilled. "There is a collection of links in here. These folks qualify for the Spread Sheet." she said. We headed inside.
I could feel my One's heart sink. "You know, Iyoba," she told me. "These are just awful. The SPQR is a role playing game. I've never been to Virtual Bucharest or the Holocaust Museum, so those might be decent. I bet Africa is Africa Illuminated which doesn't make the spread sheet and Mexico is the Mayan exhibit at University of Washington which is pretty good, but all this stuff is overhyped. It's the same links every where. It comes from an old list. Why can't educators be more original? You know they paid somebody to make the build and shoved in the links as an afterthought." Sigh! Groan!
I did not need a One having a melt down so I suggested we head upstairs. Around the corner we found stairs to an empty room I had only seen on camming. I told my One: "See here, pretend this is your wall. Now what would you put here?" "Oh, I could do it so much better," my One replied. "There are dozens of fun places I could send newbies on expeditions. I remember fondly...." "Stop pissing, moaning, and remembering One and let's get down to that project."
Suffice it to say, my One took my suggestion. It really wasn't so bad, though she is a bit bogged down in the details of the project. She said the first step and stop would be obvious: Mirai. My One even put aside her grudge about the closed sandbox. Second Life is full of closed sandboxes, but we always keep finding more. At least there are no squatters in Mirai. I'm going to let my One tell about Mirai and explain the whole Do it Better project.
Iyoba BatOni -- September 30, 2012
My first thought as I snapped this shot was: "What is wrong with this picture?" First, I'd seen the links before. They are from someone's list of approved links, and it turns out that two of them were utterly dead. Those were the link to Africa (There are two perfectly good Africa reenactments and several smaller exhibits that could fill this space.) and the one for Mexico (Think University of Washington here). I haven't tried the others. The Holocaust Museum scares me. If it is done badly, it is wince-worthy or not worthy of the Explore SL Spread Sheet. We did test out Rome SPQR. It is a role play sim, in fact several of them, not really an educational site. It is fun.
And it did give me an important clue, though, to why beyond just using someone else's list the management at vStarkState included the links they did in their Virtual Excursion Center. In a place like the Virtual Excursion Center the links come recommended by the faculty, administrators, head builders etc... I'm not sure which, only that they are recommended. This means they are where these people think students should go.
Look at this wall again and see that all these places are scrubbed clean of commerce. The sex is toned down, and the violence is nonexistent. They are replicas mainly of things in real life rather than sims built by those people today. There are also dozens of better choices if your aim is to educate. I think though the aim here is mainly to shield students from the hurly burly of Second Life.
This is a bad idea in so many ways it is not funny. First, Second Life is sixteen to eighteen and up. Everyone passing through a university sim is going to be eighteen or close to it or older. Full nudity and catching any one en flagrante is excedingly rare in Second Life. The trappings of sexuality, poles, cages etc... are much less rare. Folks running around in bathing suits or underware (lingere) is extremely common, but no worse than what you would see in the Penny's Catalog. Foul language abounds, but adults and teens know all the cuss words. Unwanted requests to "sex" are a nuiscence. Pornography shoved in one's face, and pornographic chat spam are nuiscences. Hazing is offensive, but it's fairly easy to test drive a location to make sure avatarim that go there will receive a pleasant reception. Sexuality is a part of Second Life culture, and there is no reason for it to be offensive.
Most places that include violence, first person shooters, advertise where the free fire zone begins so that visitors can avoid it, offer a target range, and free weapons. If you want to shoot your fellow player, here is the place. If you don't enjoy the target range. If you don't like weapons avoid the whole business, but a fairly run shooter is good recreation for those who like shooting. This really isn't me. I have felt safe and fine in first person shooters and even explored the free fire zone, but it's just not me. Then again, I enjoy skiing and ice skating in Second Life, and most griefing in Second Life is urban legend. I can count on the fingers of my hand the number of times it has happened to me in four and a half years.
More important, Second Life is laissez faire capitalist. If you want to understand Second Life, you need to travel the malls, model homes, and other commercial establishments. There is much a newbie can learn froma first time visit to a body parts shop. One of my favorite spots as a newbie was a store that sold hot tubs. I'd strip my avie to a bathing suit and let Iyoba enjoy herself in each and ever tub. I did not have the land to buy a hot tub, and eventually made my own in ground pool around Christmas time 2010, but that is another story. I do have a commercial water sim in mind for my "Do it Better" wall.
Our first top though was Mirai. This is the MagSl Orientation sim. Most of the text is in Japanese. This is an authentic Japanese sim. The sandbox is no longer open, but the architecture is fantastic, and definitely more than just another pretty build. It invites exploration, and this pipe is special. An avie can jump in to it at the top, tumble to the bottom, and not come out hurt from a fall. I'm not sure why it works so well. It just does. Iyoba must have jumped through the pipe several times though we also tried the stairs.
On Mirai you can ride the Peacock ferris wheel or have your fortune told. The Peacock is colorful but it is slow. You can see a closeup of a yellow car above.
Your avie, however, can also get shot out of a human cannon. I have seen more sophisticated human canon balls at DCCCD, an academic sim, as well as a sandbox with texture sorter, but the Mirai canon was fun because your avie could land either on the ground or on the tiled roof outcroppings and then have to come back downstairs via the pipeline. Iyoba did not mind being shot out of the canon half a dozen times to get two good shots.
But for true daredevils like my Iyoba, there's the Dead Coaster. A friendly devil offers instructions in Japanese. The coaster is easy to operate and unlike a certain roller coaster advertised in Destinations, you do not have to wait until another user is finished to try it. Of course...it is one wild ride, with...I'm not going to tell you what happens at the end, but suffice it to say, Iyoba could not wait to ride the Dead Coaster and would like to do so again.
I told Iyoba that all of this was the easy part. The hard part is that I have so many places that I would recommend to newbies for excursions. The harder part is that half of these places have vanished. Utopia Portugal (all twenty-five islands) where Iyoba and I had our first Stinky Stinky, is gone. Sera Korea where I walked the malls, activity camped, and played in the amusement park with Iyoba is gone as well. Ciudad Guaruja and Ilha Bella Gomorrah are gone. This means we have to find some substitute places, as well as visit some oldies but goodies, and we only have so many choices. I feel overwhelmed. Also, the our Spread Sheet keeps calling and we have not even explored all of vStarkState. I think in all fairness that there may be better stuff there.
Eileen H. Kramer -- September 30, 2012
Disappointments and Unexpected Gifts
Iyoba and I hated MEZA. The place was crazy crowded with lots of toys, a few freebies, and worst of all, no notecard givers or link givers. It was not going to make the spread sheet, but it made us both itch to get down to the nearest sandbox. If there is a sandbox on MEZA, Iyoba and I never found it. Instead, we went through our sandbox list and found that as usual, a few had disappeared. Then on the world map we saw this near the Koeln airport which is formerly a sandbox. You get the idea. It was called the Sandbox ABC, and it sort of serves as the sandbox for the German archipelago which is no longer contiguous, but that is another story. Coming soon to a blog near you...
The sandbox was large, and well maintained, and orderly due to a three hour autoreturn. It was also the perfect, roomy place to rezz an unexpected gift. In a fit of honesty, I had told CJ Carnot that I always admired his earth sheltered building. You can find these all over the NMC archipleago and if you ask nicely, you may get one too. You can copy and modify them. You can't transfer them. It's not hard to imagine how with a bit of retexturing to provide a skylight and close off the glass in the front and back or make it one way from the inside, you might have a lovely, open plan home, ten times better than most prefabs. It's the shape of the thing and its walkable roof that make this a wonderful design.
Of course, I never had enough land or prims for a genuine C.J.Carnot earth sheltered home, but the building still worked its magic. Wanting something similar but smaller, I designed the Oggie House, named for its ground level oggie roof. Here you can see the Oggie House from the side.
The Oggie House is much smaller than Carnot's opus. It is almost too small. It takes well to a murled roof (A design with a mural on it is "murled" as far as I am concerned.) The roof is walkable. I remember strangers walking on the roof of the Oggie House when I was working on it in various sandboxes. This made me laugh and left me pleased that I had a great design. I never used the Oggie House because I became very down on houses. I'm still ambivalent about them.
I was so ambivalent about the Not a Handsome House that I never textured it. The different colored prims are an aid to help me align them. It's one of the more complex buildings I have put together, and at the time I made it, I hated it because I thought it looked way too much like a box. I put it in inventory, and forgot about it. Now I like it a lot better. I think it would be great for classrooms or as an open plan home. It needs a round door. I usually just use a phantom prim. If I have control of the building controls, nobody can vandalize your property or steal anything. The fewer scripts one has the better. A texture can provide either skylights or windows, preferably one way from the inside out.
And this is the Not a Handsome House and CJ Carnot's Earth Sheltered Building side by side. This one is actually large enough for use as a classroom, office etc... It is not nearly as blocky as I remember it. It is amazing how one structure can inspire knock-offs. There are days when I really think that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
And of course no trip to a sandbox is complete without a dress making session for Iyoba. This new transitional, autumn dress is rutabega themed. I eat lots of rutabegas in real life and this year there is a bumper crop of these lovely yellow relatives of the turnip. English call them swedes for some reason, but here in America they're rutabegas. The dress has a sculpted cylinder I never used before because it was asymetrical. Well, I like a challenge. The sculpture comes from LC Sculpties, hand made in Texas! I found a nice model pose for Iyoba, and we just had the purple hair to harmonize with the purple in the rutabegas. The hair piece is called Jesusa Base. I know because I named it. It's good to be back after the High Holy Days. Maybe bushwhacking will improve.
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- September 27, 2012
The Ones That Get Away.
I never heard back from the team that runs UAA Seawolves. Their sim doesn't get a link and you know why. Meanwhile, Iyoba and I faced the job of continuing to check places on the Explore SL Spread Sheet and to find new ones to replace the ones that are now off limits.
This job can be thankless and dull even when it is successful. The places we visit can be both well made, and information rich enough to make the Spread Sheet. The sim can not be overly laggy, and I can still think: "why would I bother to come here." I felt that way about both about The University of Hawaii and the the University of Cincinnati.
There is bad blood between the folks who run the University of Cincinnati and me. It is not personal. They may have met me once, and I was utterly inoffensive. I doubt they would remember me, and they surely don't know me from a hole in the proverbial wall. The bad blood comes because they used to run one of the finest sandboxes in Second Life. The sandbox is still there. The public can't use it. Even though the library on the University's three island archipelago now has enough material to make the spread sheet where it most definitely deserves to be, and the Poc-Cent Funding Opportunities building was five stories of useful note cards, walking courses, and PowerPoints probably suitible for any one trying to market a new product or service, I still could not forget the day I found I could no longer rezz my ultimate posing stool in the sandbox to make a dress for Iyoba. What added insult to injury is that this sandbox offers tutorials in making prim skirts and textures for making Caucasian hair. Being told I was not wanted in their sandbox was a slap in two faces, mine and Iyoba's.
My feelings about the University of Hawaii are from an unbloggable source. It's a mixture of envy and resentment. I don't know the person towards whom I feel these things personally. She does not know me. I've just seen her work, and think: I could do it better. Still, I found four or five new locations that deserved a place on the Spread Sheet.
My favorite place to stop in the last three days has been Steel City, former home of McMaster University's libraries. The libraries are gone. That's fine with me. McMaster has decided to take a more expensive version of Hamilton College's approach and dispense with buildings entirely. There are chairs for hearing lectures, a place to dance, web sites on prims, a set for making movies, but the whole sim is essentially a well ordered, outdoor laboratory.
And it has some very clever touches. On the bottom shelf of the DJ table, is this lovely radio. I think we had a radio like this somewhere in the house when I was very young. That would have been in the early 1960's. What I like is the texturing and craftsmanship on both the front and back of the set.
Steel City is also a temperate beach. These are some of the nicest beaches, but be careful when surfing. The sharks are hungry.
Of course there is the scenery up on the plateau. Here Iyoba poses in a field of both scarlet and blue poppies. The two aren't found together in nature, but maybe these have naturalized by the hand of a sim building gardener. Plantings help maintain order, which helps keep the whole, lovely experiment on Steel City alive.
The only sour part of the trip to Steel City, was finding this sign. The notecard giver still works. The note said to visit McMaster University Libaries on Cybrary City. Uh...Cybrary City has been gone for eight months.
Last but not least, Iyoba and I impulsively tried out one of the links we picked up on MoonStone. It was a link to a mock up of the Forbidden City of Beijing on the mainland. Needless, to say there was no palace of Ancient Chinese splendor. In fact, the buzzard circled over head, and the blood from the firing squad's dirty work had not yet dried. Iyoba is not one bit happy as she poses by the bullet scarred wall. Oh well... places rarely die all at once. Even Ars Simulacra is still with us, minus the art but with lots of pretty outdoor scenery. Iyoba and I cut our virtual teeth on those green hills. We will be sad when the island finally disappears.
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- September 25, 2012
Squatters in the Sky -- Revisited
Let's begin with two pictures. I took the first one of Iyoba demonstrating a pull rope in the SLENZ Midwifery demo on UAA Seawolves Island on September 4, 2012. I took the one of the empty pull rope on September 21, 2012. Seventeen days can make a big difference. On September 21, Iyoba could not have squatted on the pull rope or demonstrated the birthing ball or sat in the midwifery center's upstairs classroom no matter how much she wanted to; for these were now behind ban lines.
How did Iyoba and I get banned from most of UAA Seawolves Island? Our story begins on September 4 when we discovered the cave of squatters in the sky. This is the grate on the roof of the cave.
And here are the squatters. I took these quiet snap shots to disk, after Iyoba had slid into the cave on a stool on September 4. The squatters are gone now. They stuck a Bobba Ball on Iyoba's rear about a week after we invaded their cave, and let's just say I feel a bit differently about them than I did when I gathered evidence.
Let's just say I find what the squatters were doing somewhat amusing. This is not my idea of great cybersex. I think it has the potential for a great story. Given that the women appear larger than their "master" and are each wearing seriously, spiked heels, and he is armed only with a feather duster that is supposed to be a cat-o-ninetails, I think they could do some serious damage. Needless to say, Iyoba and I never saw any mayhem to break out, though part of me fully expected some.
My beef with the squatters is that they are thieves of tax payer property. I pay for my land. I pay to feed my turtles. I Next, I did what I usually do in this situation, inform the master builder and person in charge. This was JoJo Mrigesh. I gave her the following notecard along with one of the pictures I had of the squatters.
I then let the matter go. On a return to UAA Seawolves Island Iyoba found the unfortunate Bobba Ball glued to her rear and we had a devil of a time blocking it. I decided that since I had written the letter about the squatters, I really should not report them. Yes, I was within the law, but given the way Second Life sometimes works, how was I to know if the squatters were not friends of the sim owners, and you can guess the rest.
Friday, Iyoba and I returned to UAA Seawolves. We often use the sandbox which I have named the Ted Stevens Memorial Standbox. If you know anything about Alaska, Ted Stevens was a Senator from that state tried for bribery. I name sandboxes after all sorts of real life, political characters. I also wanted to see if I could find out where to get an earth sheltered building like the one that gives away educational links and info under the sandbox. I guess I'm never going to know that.
First, the good news. It appears that those running UAA Seawolves Island have banned the squatters. This is from an About Land I ran. My guess is the cave in the sky is gone.The bad news is that most of the great exhibits that made UAA Seawolves Island a standout sim are now bheind ban lines and off limits to the general public, including tax payers. This is a classic case of biting off a nose to spite a face.
And yes, I am angry. I am angry at the squatters for not paying for a place to have their fun, but I am also angry at JoJo Mrigesh, Seawolf Magic, aldark Nightfire, and Jane Zwickel, for their heavy handed response. Perhaps I am angry at myself. I still loathe squatters and those who steal from tax payers, but Iyoba, my avie is right: There are unintended consequences even when one takes action in the name of justice. Please send note cards to the four members of the UAA Seawolves team, letting them know you want the ban lines down. Ask for fairness and justice. In an unjust world, sometimes that is all one can do.
Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- September 23, 2012
A Magic City
You can see, this is a pretty sim. There are lots of sims covered with buildings, and while buildings are fun to go into, you know I don't believe in getting too excited over them. In fact, the first feeling I experienced in Graulhet Virtuel was frustration. The buildings did not have doors. They were just a stage set. The sim is also a bit laggy.
Then I looked up and around. I saw walkways, bridges, stairs and then those factory pipes and ducts in the sky. Please click the illustration which is a thumbnail for its full size version. Inside the pipes and ducts and along some of the walls were posters explaining the build. The posters are in French, but I had five years of it in high school, so I can read the language. Pictures help. It took me a while to figure out how to get into the pipes and the ducts. There are more posters in there, explaining the lives of leather workers in the town's tanneries. The posters in the ducts come with photographs from the early to mid twentieth century. They are lovely, gritty, and graphic.
The pipes serve a different purpose. Tanning requires chemicals and water. Water comes from the river and you can guess where it sometimes goes back to, not nearly in as pristine a condition as when it left. The Dadou river which flows through Graulhet Virtuel is murky and green. I wonder why. You can see Iyoba standing at the effluent grate, peering through the bars and contemplating the long walk back to where the pipe starts.
The pipes start on top of a water sculpture, a jumping fountain of shining squares. You just walk right into the rusty interior and climb it like the most graceful spiral stair case. The different pipes have different textures. You can see out from time to time. Sometimes the pipes are transparent and you are sure your avie will go hurtling back to earth. Iyoba must have crossed through these pipes four or five times. It really was quite a walk!
Here is Iyoba on the decks that form part of the duct system. Like the transparent pipes, the open areas in the duct system let an avie see out and prevent claustrophobia. This lets you concentrate on the signs and posters.
And here is Iyoba inside the more enclosed portions of the ducts. This clearly feels like something you would find in a factory instead of just another pretty, Second Life sim. It's these walking courses, quite reminiscent of those in the sky above UT PanAmerican 3 that make Graulhet Virtuel stand out among educational sims. I want to go back, and Iyoba does too.
And of course you want to see some of the posters. Here is one in an art gallery at ground level. This one combined both photography and poetry. Graulhet is a very old town, probably older than White Plains and other east coast cities that are over three centuries old. I would suspect Graulhet is a thousand years old or older. You can see how ancient the buildings are especially since the French don't demolish them and build something shiny and new, the way most Americans would do. And yes, these are pictures of the real towns. Next to this dilapidated construction is some very sweet poetry.
According to Grid Survey which I treat like the Bible, Gralhuet Virtuel is about eight months old. It doesn't have all the publicty of old time Berlin, Roman gladiator training, or the latest space station, but there it is. If you are interested in visiting the nonEnglish speaking part of Second Life or want to see how far you can push an educational build if you have the dollars and the time, Graulhet Virtuel is a great place to see.
Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- September 21, 2012
Look What is Still Here!
Tonight was a schadenfreude run. This is when you go to see a sim collapse. It's not really bushwhacking, though in this case, it had bushwhacking results. Iyoba opened her inventory to the Sandboxes folder. If International Schools Island had vanished or switched hands, the first thing to close would be the sandbox. Who wants a bunch of strangers building or playing Krafties on your island. I would have been happy to see the teleport fail because the sim was private or gone. It wasn't. The sandbox was there.
The sim, however, had changed names. It was now called Moonstone. Iyoba and I enjoyed the sandbox. We have dress designs to make up before the weather gets too cold and puts them out of season. We got one of them made. Then Iyoba climbed the mountain, because we both wanted to see what was left of the island. On the mountain top we ran an About Land. This would give us ownership information. Shambles Voom and Shambles.net still owns the island. A rename, by the way costs $50.00 (or it used to.), and Shambles was ready to close down the island due to a price hike. What this data meant as far as I could surmise, was that someone had bailed out Shambles and the island was on its way to a repurposing.
A new name should maean a new start, and maybe it has. The library floor in the Information Tower, looked clean, and empty. The links were down, but it looked ready to go. The rats add a sense of humor. Iyoba thinks they are delightful, and I think they are utterly photogenic, but we both have a soft spot for virtual critters.
Unfortunately, Shambles and its angel have a lot of work to do. There closed over two years ago. There is still a link to that place. I'm not sure where it goes.
Info Island International vanished when the Illumination Library closed down in February of 2011. I remember Iyoba skiing on the empty, snow-filled sim. Seeing these links to vanished places reminded me that nothing dies all at once, especially large projects like sims in Second Life or web site comeptitions. Instead, these places degrade to death slowly, even though Moonstone is busy seeking rebirth.
This "virtual world" is probably still in operation, but back in 2006, its limits on intellectual freedom clearly made it unsuitible as an educational site. I wrote this piece nearly seven years ago, so I'm not sure how much of it is current. It would not surprise me one bit if Neopets elimiated both boards and guilds. The best way to shut up children or adults is give them no place in which to talk. I don't feel like creating and account and waiting twelve hours to find out if the boards and guilds are gone.
And yes, I did make Iyoba a dress. I usually make her dresses in two lengths. I even tried out a sculptie from a personal box of shapes I picked up from Es0 Torok's LC Scultpies. The design on the dress is green milweed flowers, and the cloth is pale green faille. I forgot I had used such a delicate shade of green and that the back plunges so low. I will be sad to stop making summer dresses, but Second Life is mostly outdoors and the winter is cold. I don't like to see my avie shiver.
And we did some nonproductive bushwhacking. We discovered an island of mostly academic sandboxes that is reasonably well kept. I am purposefully NOT divulging the link. I will give it out to any one who asks me inworld, but I don't want to publish something that will bring hordes to a well maintained space and turn it into the kind of pig pen that administrators will make off-limits to the public. I'm not sorry, and no apologies. Apparently professors at the academic institution that runs this sim each can toss up prefabs or maybe students can. I'm not sure, but I thought there was something humorous about these potato chips, of all food, sitting on a table in one of the prefabs.
And yes, Iyoba got to dance for a brief time at ToonTopia tonight. She does not like to be all dressed up with no place to go, and she looked so cool and well put together in her new milkweed ensemble. The DJ was civil and gave over a hundred percent. I just wish we could have stayed longer, and I also hope those running Moonstone, make it into a a first rate resource as well as a first rate build.
Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- September 19, 2012
Look Who is Back!
The message arrived right before RoshHaShannah from Librarians of Second Life. The Illumination Library has reopened in the highlands of Gaeta, Bloomfield to be precise. For those who never saw the original, the old Illumination Library on Info Island International (now gone), had three floors of assorted, public domain reading matter, often in the form of illustrated, intellibooks. Now it contans five floors, jam packed with something for every one!
There is even a cute and brilliant kitty who is busy boning up on relativity. She can turn the pages of her book with her paw when you pet her.
My favorite part of the Illumination Library, however, are the nonwestern works. On the second floor are several volumes of Aztec or Mayan images. I guess Spanish priests copied these from the Indians. I like their color and raw power and strength.
And here is an illustration from a work of portraits from Senegal. I love the color, and that there are works by and about Africa here. Most classical libraries in Second Life totally forget the nonWestern world.
Finally, Persian Tales has this outstanding cover. There are lots of Chinese, Japanese, Moghul, and Persian works on the second floor in the middle back room. They are almost worth the trip if Aztec deities are not your thing.
Of course after the Illumination Library, Iyoba nad just had to imbibe more culture, so we stopped by the Exploratorium. This SLURL is to the model of the Fukishima-Daichi nuclear plant which has a scale model of the reactor in its pre-accident state.
Of course the best show at the Exploratorium is the Mars Meteor Crash. In the paragraph above, Iyoba walks in the freshly made crater. There is no reason to stay in your seats as the meteor hits or after. My avie gets a real kick of walking around Mars, and note, she is dressed casually, ready for action and ready for business. I am fulfilling my end of our individual bargain.
And if you think the Mars Meteor Crash is old hat visit the site again any way. There is a new addition, Curiosity, and I think this is a larger and more elegant model of the rover than Iyoba and I saw on Explorer Island's Mars Mountain. Of course the Meteor Crash does nto have images from Curiosity, but one can not have everything.
By the way, I am glad to be back after Rosh HaShannah. Over the holiday, my white, starter, male zwicky, Geronimo, gave birth to a male. This happens only five percent of the time, and the male is luminescent. I am going to name him either Asher or Moses, and there will be photographs on this blog. Also I promise a long winded, well reasoned post about the purpose of this blog. I know you are looking forward to that.
Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- September 19, 2012
Enforcing the Agreement
I hope there are other avies reading this blog. Listen up if you're reading this because it's important. It's important to Ones too, but more important to avies like us. As I told you, I went on strike a few days ago, and I made an agreement with my One Who Thinks She Knows. She insisted it could NOT be a collective bargaining agreement because I am just one avie. OK, but it's a bargaining agreement, and she has to stick by it.
First, I don't mind bushwhacking. I'm happy to explore, demonstrate interactive machines, ride in things, sit on things, watch PowerPoints and videos most of the time, but I want our adventures to be respectful of all the hard work I do. I also want some time out for fun. When there's water, I like to swim. My One even got me a swimmer HUD so don't just walk on the bottom of the sea. My One forgets that it almost never rains in Second Life. That's why swimming is important. Well here I am sitting by the beach on StellaNova.
StellaNova is an island run by a bunch of astrophysicists, and boy can they build! The plants are really pretty, and they haven't forgotten the animals. This flock of animated, sculptie ducks paddles around. There is a female duck, a drake, and a duckling, just one.... I loved to watch them.
I also loved swimming with this shark. Just look at his teeth, and the lovely underwater vegetation. No, I'm not afraid of sharks. They are just pixel creatures like my own Goofy Kitty and Sad Brown Eyed Kitty, and of course the ducks you just saw. They are not that different than bots, and probably a lot happier since they can swim around and nobody makes them pretend to be sick or locks them in jail cells.
And the physicists have an artistic side too. Scattered all over StellaNova are pictures that advertize things. This is a sketch of a famous scientist named Galileo. There are pictures of angels and old star maps too. There is even a sign that says: "under new old management" though the new management has been around for a while.
But if you want to see really exciting art, you need to teleport up from the center of the island to the Dynafleur. It's a huge sculpture in the sky. Basically, you walk through a gigantic flower. The Dynafleur has been in the skies over Stella Nova for quite some time. The artists who made it also built Ripple and Storm, but these were both at Ars Simalcra and at NMC West which are islands that are closing. My One wrote about that. She loves to write about money. I don't really have any money of my own, so I leave money matters to my One.
What I care about is clothes! Quite simply, I'm not going out as much to clubs as I used to. My One is in a serious phase. Even she acknowledges that it is silly. She may write about it. I'm just an avie, and I don't understand it, and quite confidentially, neither does my One, but that still doesn't get me going out. Fine, if I'm not going out, there's no need for me to be all dressed up. I finally after much prodding got my One to understand this and to help me find pants that went with this blouse. We also cleaned up the inventory, well most of it, and made sure I had access to the top pieces of dresses as shirts in my Shirt Drawer. We really have an inventory folder called that. We sat on a bench on Ben Franklin and she organized everything, but that was after she took this picture.
Yes, this is me sitting on top of the Curiosity Mars Rover, part of the newly improved Mars Rover exhibit in the Mars auditorium on Explorer Island. My One got all excited about it because she said that the "real life" Curiosity had landed on August 17. This makes this a very new part of the exhibit. I was glad to be wearing pants, and she was right. The first pair we dug out of my inventory did NOT go with this shirt.I'm glad I got her to try again. If you have an agreement, you have to enforce it!
One of the most interesting exhibits on Explorer Island are the History of Rocketry Posters. I did not know rockets go back to the 1930's. Young engineers and physicists would launch them in the deserts of California. They had to shield the launch pads in sandbags. You can see all of that in this diagram if you click on the thumbnail. My One said shrinking this picture like we do most pictures for this blog would not do it justice.
And speaking of justice, for the first time in I don't know how long, my One made me hair that was a fresh design instead of a revision of an old piece. She used multiple x-grids from Es0 Torok for the updo. This is no transfer because we only had a Personal Box of these sculpties, but the hair piece came out looking like a Mohawk. Also, when she was going through our inventory, my One found some old hair textures that she wanted to try out again so I got to try them. The textures all were called whenihavetime and then had a number. Well, we have time when we make it for the right things. And you avies, out there, make time to have your voice heard and your Ones do something about it. You'll be glad you did.
Iyoba BatOni -- September 16, 2012
Lily Frogs Front and Center
One of the joys of Seond Life are whole/intact virtual pets. In real life, four or five sexually active critters can quickly become four or five hundred in days, months, or years, even with nature red in tooth and claw culling more than a few along the way. By producing unhatched (in stasis) young with an eternal shelf life, Second Life's breedables get around a very real, "real life" issue, and lets the fantasy begin.
Yet most Second Lifers don't let their animal fantasies extend beyond mammals that are either cute, or symbolic. When I mentioned breedables to my landlord, he said "like horses?" Any one who hangs around this blog long enough hears my horse rant. I'll spare you it today, but if your breedable can't roam in the space you have, it's too big, and it's a sad sight.
Now that Iyoba's and my Lily Frogs have an uncluttered, garden set up, they are a true joy, not onlly to watch but also to photograph. To watch your breedables in Viewer 3 or Exodus, zoom in on your favorite critter and adjust your camera controls. You then will follow your critter as he or she walks, flies, or hops across the screen and Lily Frogs hop with a graceful movement.
Here is Abra, a female Mississippi gopher frog just beginning to push off into a hop. It is hard to capture Lily Frogs' popcorn-like movement with still photos. You can see Abra's small mouth. Microphylid frogs, which are a tropical family (The scientific name means small lips) look very much like Lily Frogs, and also some of them skip the tadpole stage in real life, giving Lily Frogs surprising realism.
Iyoba is going to hate me for writing like this, but it is hard to tell if Abra is a "good producer" There are not a lot of Lily Frog enthusiasts, and no inbreeding penalty. Most Lily Frog families are highly inbred, so the color range is limited. Pattern/breed transmits via mitochondrial DNA so it only inherits from mother to offspring. In real life, Lily Frog breeds/species are often from different taxanomic families, and could not produce young, but this is Second Life. Also, somehow frogs are unfamiliar to most people and it's easy to forget that anura is an order on the same scale as mammalia.
Moselle and Abra are half sisters. Here is Moselle with golden amaranth and achillea in the background. I made all the palnt and the bee hive which buzzes if you touch it. This 512 is still called Iyoba Tarantal's Honey Hut for a reason. Frogs, bees, and flowers go together. Biophilia is a big attraction of develping any virtual land. I just wish land were less expensive. Moselle is about the same kind of producer as Abra. They each lay one to two eggs a week ranging from green to gold to brown. All their eggs are Mississippi gopher frogs. Sometimes I get sick of the breed. Sometimes I like finding eggs because they are always a little different.
And the egg in front is not a Mississippi gopher frog egg. That is because Jeep Streeter gave me an Indian toad egg, which I hatched out as Ruchama. Since her update to version 3.10, she has been adding some diversity. The reason the egg is brown is that Omri is the father.
And this is Ruchama. Her name is Hebrew for mercy, and she is an Indian toad. Notice her swirling pattern instead of the Mississippi gopher frog stries. She also glows just a little and has peach colored legs. She is desperately needed new blood.
And this is Omri. Yehudis, his mother (and also Abra and Moselle's mother. Yes Omri is a half brother to Abra and Moselle), had pink legs. That is how one gets from green to copper. I hatched out Omri because I liked his solid copper. I liked Moselle and Abra's color combinations. I think greens and browns are fine colors for frogs, though having more rusts, oranges, and golden yellows would spice things up a bit. Some day I'll hatch out a Refuah Shelema frog and watch the genetic and color diversity explode across the warm end of the spectrum.
And yes, Omri is asleep. It was just before sunrise and the low light does his color justice. Lily Frogs can blink their eyes, and so far all Lily Frogs have, lovely chocolate brown eyes. For a creature composed of only four prims, they pack a lot of personality.
And this frog is Menashe, my other male. I keep my male frogs quite busy. He is a Rio Grande chirping Frog and also a special. He glows and shines. He does not pass on his lovely, swirling texture, but he does put glow into about half his offspring. I don't see the glow with my video card, but other people can.
I just wish there were more Lily Frog enthusiasts. Lily Frogs are only four prims each. They are small enough to hop around amusingly on a 512. They are cheap to feed, and fun to watch. And no, they are not warm and cuddly. Hey most life in "real life" is not warm blooded. And no you can't ride them (I've never seen anybody ride an Amaretto horse by the way, or ride a BioBreeds horse either.), but you can ride them with your eyes by following them with your camera. They are more than fish in a tank. They even make eye contact...well sort of. Besides imagine keeping a tank full of exotic, tropical frogs in real life. That would be some vivarium. Note: I own a red eared slider turtle in "real life."
I love my frogs. Iyoba loves them too. She's after me to hatch out one of the new breed. I tell her to have patient. Lily Frogs are supposed to stop breeding at ninty days. Abra and Moselle are over a hundred and twenty days old and still pregnant. You can't argue with a work ethic like that. I am patient. Besides a camera and Lily Frogs is an unbeatable combination. It makes waiting easy.
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- September 14, 2012
When the Picture Lies
I know you either don't believe me or think I can't write or even think, but bushwhacking is hard on an avie. A couple of days ago, we returned to UAA Seawolves, and you can guess whom we ran into, except my One Who Thinks She knows was comfy in her chair. Those rotten squatters glued a Bobba Ball stuck to my backside, and the thing had a mind of its own. It flew me all over the sim before my One and I were able to block it. It also kept shouting: "BOBBA BOBBA BOBBA!" We found the squatters again and I even sat in their cave. I figured this was fitting revenge. Of course I got Bobba Balled because my One told the sim administrator about the squatters. Second Life occasionally gets ugly.
These study carrels on HKIED are part of the reason that the big building on this sim made the Explore SL Spread Sheet. There are single person carrels where you can watch a video on course management software called Moodle. My One says that with all the emphasis on collaboration, it is easy to forget that students often need to work by themselves. Single person carrels are a very good idea.
Empty rooms that pretend to be libraries are not a good idea. This one had nice carpet on the floor and even a few comfortable chairs, but my One said she was not adding any more "facilities" to the Spread Sheet. My One has an expression: "not ready for prime time."
I have an expression for soft spots that is not fit to write on this blog. The worst soft spots are those that leave you trapped under bridges and stairs, and a few meters behind me, just before this sturdy looking wooden road starts, is a very bad soft spot that leaves unsuspecting avies under the pavement.
This soft spot only left me in the water. How was I to know that this lovely sky scraper with the green tinted windows had no floor. When I walked through the next sky scraper, I insisted on flying. I was not going to end up under a floor again!
The ground at Coastline Community College (It's a multi-island institution and we haven't really visited all four islands yet) is firm, but this sim and its neighbor did not make the Spread Sheet. My One and I both had high hopes for this place. We landmarked it late one night and then she told me: "We've got to come back here." I agreed.
The two northern sims of the grouping are solidly built, and wonderfully detailed. There are notecard givers and the buildings all have signs. Unfortunately, when you touch a URL giver, the link usually looks like this, and we tried quite a few of them.
Then my One found this sign. Unlike most of the other pictures in today's entry, this one revealed the truth. Nobody has updated what was once a lovely build in several years. The college fair was three and a half years ago. The links in the link-givers have changed. What would be at most a couple of hours of work is not worth doing. My One thinks the person who set up the sim no longer works for the college. Maybe she is right. She gets upset about how much a sim like this costs and how wasteful it is to keep it if you don't keep it up. Ones love to talk about money.
Me, I'd rather write about frogs. I'd rather not fall through soft spots. I surely don't want to get trapped under pavement or floorboards. I also want my One to be happy. She wanted me to write about Lily Frogs, but we both know this blog is for more than pretty pictures.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- September 13, 2012
"There's a Place for You"
This was one of my favorite buildings, and it inspired my Oggie House. I'll rezz the Oggie House in a big sandbox so you can see the similarities. The Oggie House is a bit rougher and has fewer prims, but it is the same shape. I saw this building on Sciences today. There is another one on Teaching 3. There is also one under the sandbox on UAA Seawolves. This building gets around. It makes me feel nostalgic and sweet.
This building makes me feel nostalgic in a different way. I love adobe and I like the contrasting window sills. I wish the University of New Mexico on Teaching 2 would finish putting works in the gallery. Of course, I make my own adobe now, and have more pits and irregularities in my textures, but buildings like this really do inspire me. It is amazing how deeply my roots in Second Life go into the NMC Archipleago.
But this is not the nostalgia post. I think that comes tomorrow. There is new building and projects happening at least on some of the islands. I came across a photograph of this bench on Teaching 2 in a cabin where you could watch a YouTube video about a Superfund site in St. Louis Missouri. The bench carries a message by the organization working to see that the cleanup of the Vesicol Chemical site happens. I found something touching about this photo.
Iyoba of course can not resist a jail. She inspected this one, and found it needed sanitary facilities. She wondered if they took the poor prisoners out in handcuffs to go to the bathroom, and she did not like the camera that humans or avies could use to film the jailed avie or bot. She did not fully believe this was a movie set, but it is. Global Kids, is an organization that teaches kids to make movies and videos, but their main sim is locked. This promotional exhibit is all the general public has at their site on Teaching.
And on Teaching 3, St. Edward's University has a simple reeactment of Plato's cave. Your avie can sit in chains and watch the shadows these dancing figures cast upon the wall. The effect is simple, spooky, and magnificent.
All of the above, the nostalgic builds, the great builds, the pretty builds, the interesting and informative builds, are threatened. It does not matter where I found the above sign. They are all over the place. Teaching, Teaching 2, TEaching 3, and Sciences are all leaking rent.
What this means is that NMC does not make a profit or runs the sims at a loss. NMC pays $300/month for each island. At typical market rent, about $30 a month, an NMC needs ten occupied 4096 parcels or equivalent to break even. The land market is competitive and $30/month ($360/year) is a bit high. Of course NMC could lower the price and even free up the "sterile core" or quad on each island. When price goes down demand goes up. The islands fill. The problem is solved.
Instead, NMC banks on its brand name, and its clients reputations. If you are an educational institution, what you get on an NMC sim besides land is neighbors who are not running a mall, club, Xingo parlor (gambling den), or worse. You are also isolated from any traffic the public may bring, but if it's peace and quiet and something different from the hurly burly of the mainland you want, NMC has it for you...for a price. NMC charged $400 a year for a 4096. My landlord charges $260 a year, and if you don't have that much cash on hand, you can pay monthly or weekly. Of course, you can join NMC and recieve discounted rent, but NMC memberships are $99.00/year or $2,500 a year. This wipes out most or all of the member discount on land rental.
I'm not sure NMC's good name is worth all that much. Isolation from traffic is a minus for students expected to go out and study Second Life or for any one building an exhibit for the general public. The logic of the marketplace is brutal. No matter how faithfully a tenant pays rent, or how good his/her build is and there are some really good ones out there, if NMC can't pay its upstream landlord, Linden Labs, it needs to close all or some of the Teaching islands.
What happens to the institutional tenants is what happened to me when my landlord could not pay his upstream landlady. Imperia Corp I, where I had Stinky Stinky, vanished. The new landlady locked out the tenants and gave them back inventory in a ball. Linden Labs at least will give notice as will NMC, but the result will be the same. For a loyal tenant in good standing, the next step will be to pick up the inventory and move to another parcel on one of the remaining islands. Landlords who move their tenants in this way frequently tell them: "I have a place for you" or "You have a place." This is only good news out of context.
Needless to say, as much as I oriented at NMC and have a pieces of my heart there, if I were in charge of my institution's Second Life presence (It doesn't have a Second Life presence.), I would NOT rent land on the NMC archipleago. I would rent from one of the stable, long-time, estate owners. It would be "light commerical land" because that is what an educational build requires. It would also be on an unzoned, mixed use, island. Even a crude build can be effective, so there would be no point spending money for a fancy build. A few platforms and a sandbox with volunteers staffing it would do the job just fine. I'd save money, and best of all, my capitalist estate owner, would be around for a while. I wouldn't have to worry about him or her telling me: "There's a place for you."
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni, who put up with a lot -- September 12, 2012
Academic Builds Done Right
These are not the most outstanding and innovative academic builds. There are some amazing sim size museums such at Museum of Jazz History on UTPB La Mesa and Deakin University Arts Education, but the builds in this blog are not in this league. In fact, most of them will never make the Explore SL Spreadsheet, but what they are is good, bread an butter, classroom, and meeting spaces, that are fun to visit, easy to build, and useable.
This is one instance where a little bit of thought goes a long way. Rather than making a cookie cutter class room look finished, fancy, or occupied, the decorations serve a purpose, and have some meaning. I found this photo realistic display of old time medicines in one of the examining rooms of the cme Hospital for Disordered Minds on Teaching 9. Remember to wear a flight feather. This SLURL is approximate and the teleporters on the ground of this parcel won't take visitors to the sky.
This decoration has an interesting story behind it. The parcel where I found both the apothecary case and this picture belongs to Liberty University. The room where I found it made the Spread Sheet, and it's called You're a Teacher. Now What?, and it features a huge presentation on the rights of teachers and students, including separation of church and state. When you think about it, public schools are somewhat hostile territory for certain more active Bornagain Christians. This picture makes a countervailing political statement and reminds students they are not alone in their ideology.
Probably my favorite classroom decoration is this device. The Powerpoint next to it explains that it is an industrial still. I watched most of it (It is user controlled and fast-rezzing) in the University of Sydney's Process Engineering Building. The only decorations here are models (Not sure if they are scale models) of industrial machinery, but the right decoration sometimes speaks a thousand words.
With academic spaces, simpler also is usually better. You don't need seats with ten different positions, and a huge amphitheater with Greek columbs for a lecture space, Middlebury College's School of Arts and Sciences has an outdoor lecture space inside a garden hedge. The hedge provides privacy and the space is just wooden blocks with the back of a building providing a stage.
And of course when it comes to classrooms or break out space, the easiest space to use and provide is a sky platform, like this one where Iyoba took her ease on the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee sim. I would of course add a parapet, and use sculpty pillows instead of cafe seating. I also would try for an oval or eliptical shape, since I am not fond of rectangles, but a 2048 could accomodate five or six of these platforms with no problem and even have slide viewers on them for PowerPoints. With academics having to pay the same rate for their space as ordinary SL citizens, economizing on prims makes sense.
Of course Hamilton College attempted the most radical use of their academic space. They tore down their buildings which were elegant and made the whole thing one huge sandbox. And if you wonder why it doesn't look like so many other scuzzy sandboxes since it has no autoreturn, look carefully at the picture. The sandbox is full of poster presentations. It's too crowded for any one wanting to rezz their giant particle spewer or run their humngeous tank. It also doesn't look like the place to unbox the latest fashion. It looks too serious for that.
The Hamilton College sandbox display is also very well kept. The lovely landscaping that once surrounded, sterile, collegiate stone structures, still surrounds the sandbox. It makes a psychological border just like a fence, much as the academic posters say this place is busy and full and means business. Yet, neither the posters, nor any settings, nor the pretty trees, keep the public out or forbid them from building. Kudos to Hamilton College, and they they made the Spread Sheet.
Eileen H. Kramer with plenty of help from Iyoba BatOni -- September 10, 2012
Sad, Confused, and Not Bored
Bushwacking Teaching 16 was going to be a chore. There was nothing for the Explore SL Spreadsheet last year, and there would be nothing this time, and indeed there was nothing worth reporting. The east side of the island has a bank of prefab classrooms owned by The University of Washington. They are still there. They offer nothing to the visiting avie but a place to rest her rear.
Truthfully, I tried to view these classrooms with fresh eyes, and half of them have some very interesting decorations.
And this professor's desk has just so much detail. If this were just a blog of pretty pictures I could stop right here, but I don't blog that way. The first problem with the lovely decorations, the detailed desks, and all the rest, is that it is utterly and completely fake.
Here is a half finished cookie cutter, classroom. That's what these are. As beautiful as these classrooms look from the inside, the decorations, seats, bottle of water, are all a cookie cutter build. None of it is created by the professor or the students.
The second problem with these classrooms is that they are empty. Now most of Second Life at any time of the day is empty. True, it was Friday afternoon, but Washington is also three hours behind me, so I had a chance of finding a few avies going about their business. A door locked against me would not have surprised me in the least, but I'm not sure when or if actual students or professors really use these prefabs.
Now before I go further, I did check and the University of Washington's Academic Calendar. Classes there are not in session because they run on the quarter system. Still, every classroom in every prefab was set to Introduction to Computer Science, and one classroom is not finished. I'm not sure what this means. Even if Introduction to Computer Science was the only class this university taught in Second Life, how many sections meet simultaneously? Would they need this many identical classrooms? I'm not sure about any of this.
The third problem with the prefabs is that they present a hostile face to the world. You can see them from the outside with high detail soil. The cracked earth leands a special ambience. The featureless, grey exterior walls make even a typical shopping mall in Second Life look good. You can see why I call thsee classrooms prefabs.
I pondered the prefabs a bit with Iyoba. Would they be in use this year? Had they ever been in use? Then I noticed something very strange. Iyoba couldn't fly. That could mean only one thing. Someone wanted to keep Iyoba out of the sky because the University of Washington had something to hide. Fortunately there is an easy way to get around a no-fly zone. Iyoba walked to a parcel that permitted flight, put on her Easy-Lift Anklet (My version of a flight feather that allows avies to soar above 180 meters), and up she went, and then across to the U of Washington's parcel. As happens when an avie flies, high, Iyoba got blown across the sim, but before then we found nothing in the sky. I guess the U of Washington Prefabs will remain a mystery.
About 1300 meters above the west side of Teaching 16 (Wear a flight feather for best results!), a thatched palace floated in the air. I'm not a fan of pre-furnished prefab homes, or any prefab homes, but this one was the handsomest I have ever seen. And no, it's just floating in the void. Step off the porch stairs, and it is a long way down.
And, no this place is not one bit politically correct. Ivory and elephant poaching are both real life evil. I explained this to Iyoba who felt awful for the elephant. She took the other displays of ivory with grace. As fantasies and indulgences go, ivory is a big one.
Yes, this place is over the top, pseudo African, but at least it is colorful and inviting. I really loved this bed with its red candles, tasteful art and, colorful blankets, including kente. Kente in Secnod Life is an extremely rare fabric.
Of course Iyoba asked me if I was going to run the squatters out. I did check to see who owned the building. They did not appear to be part of any NMC related group. Teaching 16 is part of the NMC Archipleago. It is also leaking rent (see below).
Iyoba and I headed for the ground. There was a good chance someone had rented the land and was playing around with building. Nearly the whole west side of Teaching 16 is for rent these days, and the rent is not handled with an automatic rent box or sale. I ran an "about land" and the land still belongs to the NMC Consortium. Media Monsoo is part of the consortium, and is listed as the owner.
More perplexing, someone who is not a member of the NMC group can not build on this parcel. Forbidding building by outsiders locks out squatters. There were no squatters to turn over to management.
This leaves Iyoba and me with a tantalizing mystery. Who put the palace in the sky? I have speculated about this and come up with a few possible scenarios. Someone in the NMC group did it. Maybe they'll take it down in a day or two. The land is for rent and the prims are just going to waste so why not borrow them? Whom does it hurt? The answer is: taxpayers. NMC is made up of a whole host of universities, colleges, museums, and school districts, many of which are publicly funded.
A friend of a friend or a clver social engineer could also have rezzed the thatch palace in the sky. Again, I'll never know who did it. I'm angry because I rent land, and have worked for a landlord. I've seen our property manager at Eddesign Island do his best to make land rentable and presentable, and our property manager is an ordinary person involved in private enterprise. Watching an organization's carelessness or ethical lapse hurts.
Eileen H. Kramer with help from Iyoba BatOni -- September 9, 2012
Working Together Again...I Hope
Iyoba, my favorite avie, and I finally reached an understanding after going back and forth and round and round. I explained to Iyoba why she could not bargain collectively. She said my reasoning was obvious and facile. She still left her demands on the table. I promised that we would bushwhack somewhere that was tame for a change. I promised we would not hunt down squatters. We really did find the ones on UAA Seawolves by accident. The sim is well run, and locked down, and I really did think we were going to find a class. It is strange to be on a sim that no one uses.
UAA Seawolves is part of the NMC archipleago. You can see a thumbnail map of it here. Just click to get the full size version to pop up in another window. Iyoba and I have been through more than half these islands. Now we're playing clean up. This may mean some terribly boring bushwhacking, but that is because this archipleago is emptying out. Ars Simulcra and NMC west which are part of the horse shoe shaped core of the archipleago are doomed islands. Texas Womans University, where we went today, is a fairly prosperous set of four sims.
We had been there before. I have taken lots of photographs there. I wanted something original, and this monster truck in the sky art galleries, assaulted my view and caught my eye. It's just not something one expects to see. It's name is Masher.
Every day is reception day in the Sky Art Galleries. I thought the bowl of fruit looked good enough to eat. The cake is supposed to be a carrot cake, but it is not the color of any carrot cake I have ever seen. Most carrot cakes are made with molasses or at least lots of cinamon. This one looks like an orange cake or a vanilla cake with orange fruit. Oh well, it still makes an attractive composition.
Of course what I really wanted to see what really went on, on the other two Texas Womans University Islands. These are mostly water. That meant the builds were in the sky. I explained to Iyoba that the islands were locked down to prevent nonstudents from building. With a lockdown against outsiders building, any squatter problems are nonexistent. We might find a secret classroom or exhibit, but we wouldn't find someone's happy home, cave, or castle. As you can see above, Iyoba worked hard locating sky builds. Most of them were piles of sky junk.
We also found a sandbox on Texas Womans University 2. I'm not publishing photographs of it, because it is not the World's Scuzziest Sandbox. That dubious honor goes to a sandbox on Behavioural Studies. There are loads of runners up for the booby prize though, and this was one of those runner's up. I could do a whole blog entry on sandboxes, the good, the scuzzy, and the mean and nasty, and these are academic sandboxes.
And in other news, Geronimo, our white starter male zwicky, gave birth to this pretty female. She's phenotypically a Luna. She's listed as a hybrid, but her ruff pattern is Luna. She's not shiney and she doesn't glow, but oh her colors are gorgeous. Subira, the red starter Zwicky and Geronimo outdid themselves. This offspring is now resting comfortably in my inventory. She is in stasis and will not starve to death. I can not waken her because I don't have room, and my Zwickies eat me out of house and home on a regular basis.
This giant egg holds two live ready-to-breed Refuah Shelema frogs. Yes, that means what you think it does. Refuah Shelema is Hebrew for "perfect healing." It is part of the standard prayer for the sick, and part or all of the $4.00 (1,000L) I spent for this collection of a new breed of frog, is going to help a woman with kidney diseases somewhere in the Southern United States. I'm not hatching out or unboxing any of these beauties, until my current bunch of frogs ceases to breed. I can be very patient. The frogs have the floating text: "Happy 5773" above their eggs and an apple and honey pattern in honor of the High Holy Days. There is not much Judaica in Second Life, but Refuah Shelema frogs sure beat Jack Daniels at a Passover Seder.
I had a long argument with Iyoba before I put out the giant egg as a decoration at our Honey Hut in Hartley. I explained to Iyoba that I had no intention of boxing up our current crop of frogs, that Lily Frogs don't die in inventory even if I did box them, and besides all three of my female frogs are pregnant. She reminded me that the frogs need food. She also reminded me that Nimrod, our F1, hybride male zwicky with the orchid lavender ruff is currently pregnant. Iyoba cares about our breedables. She really does. I think I should listen to her more often. Hopefully our settlement is going to last, even if it does make our bushwhacking monstrously dull.
Eileen H. Kramer -- September 7, 2012
My One and Her Breedables
I'm sick and tired. I'm sick and tired of my One Who Thinks She Knows being out of sorts, anti-social, and not taking me to clubs. Maybe we go bushwhacking. Maybe we pick up eggs. Occasionally we visit a sandbox, but a lot of them won't let us in any more, or if we get in, we can't build there.
Yeah, I can see how the One gets upset, but then she takes it out on me. She writes her blog. She goes bushwhacking. All the other ones think she is very clever for this, but I'm the one who does all the work. I'm the one who has to look ridiculous sitting on birthing balls and toilets. You don't see all the photos she doesn't publish. She won't even show me taking a swim, the stinking prude. Yeah One, you are a prude!
And yes, if she were blogging, which she'll be doing next, I think because she really doesn't trust me, she would tell you all about her wonderful breedables even though she is the one who puts the turtles in inventory to die. She didn't tell you that. Well maybe she has. This afternoon, Vashti, our scarlet/orange, female turtle, laid a Cosmic Earth egg fathered by Shais and another egg. You can see by the HUD it is coppery orange. You don't see many Cosmic turtles in that color under their mantle of stars. This is rare and special.
But this was not our first Cosmic Earth egg. Billie laid one Sunday night. Billie's mother Shamayith was a cosmic Earth, so this egg is her grandbaby. The One named it Reine which means queen. We also had a Labor Day Lily Frog egg on Monday. You can see that, and the One says we are getting our own breed of Lily Frogs as soon as she can figure out what to name them. Hey, One you better figure it out soon or Dragonesse Rage won't make your frogs for you!
Of course, this egg is special too but in a different way. Yatif's mother Zillah was a Halloween special turtle with a pumpkin for a head. She had pretty colors though. She didn't produce, so my One, cruel thing that she is, retired her. You know what that means. Boaz' mother was Noor. The One always hated Noor and retired her, saying she "under performed." Now look what these two children of "under performing" turtles created. Isn't that something? What does that tell you?
Everything here is not your creation, One. It's not here for you to push around and make do humiliating things and not allow to do fun things. It's not your manequin to put clothes on and then complain that I have too many clothes. It's not to be shoved in inventory when you get tired of it or it "under performs." I sat by the Dawg House on Eagle Island and I saw what Ones do to chickens. They think it's so humane and sanitary. I saw the fluffy chicks that go in the grow out house and then, end up like the birds in that video. I decided then and there taht Ones are disgusting. You're better than most, but you know that is not saying much.
And yes, I went on strike. You got after me to change clothes. I said "why bother? You just want me to pose for stupid photographs for your stupid blog. I said: "No way!" You begged and pleaded and I put on my old apricot dress and you fixed the skirt. You said I was wearing a schmatah which is Yiddish for rag. Do you remember that this was the second dress you made for me? It was no schmatah then and it is not one now. Hey, my big orange hair piece even matches it, and yes, I look angry in the picture. We avatarot have emotions, and I did not feel like going up in the sky and chasing squatters over New York University. They're avatarim too with Ones who are behaving...like Ones. And I know you feel real good when you turn them in to the authorities. You're a hero.
What you don't realize is that those poor avatarim are going to be the victims of your One games. They'll spend more time in the locker room instead of upstairs in world because their Ones won't have a place for them to get together, because you got them evicted. Ever think about that? Also, if those squatters had found me, what do you think they would have done to me? I was the one in that cave, not you! You only watched. I was there!
I just want a voice in what we do and where we go. I don't want to be the sponge to soak up all your bad moods. I want you to think twice before we have to look at something horrible so it can go on your spread sheet and this blog. I am half this team. Without me, you couldn't be in Second Life. You need me, and since you're not as dumb as most Ones, you know I can think for myself and that I have feelings. Just respect those feelings a bit more, OK.
Iyoba BatOni -- who is on strike tonight but still blogging -- 9/6/12
What I Can Tell You
Tonight, I turned in a bunch of squatters who had a cave about a thousand meters above UAA Seawolves island. People squatting on educational sims, especially public education sims, leave me extremely angry, and I end up writing a note to the sim admin. I don't ask the tax payers to pay for my Second Life, guess what the squatters shouldn't be doing. Enough said.
UAA stands for University of Alaska at Anchorage. This sign was in a building I call the Formerly Locked House of Powerpoints. Not all the buildings have signage, so I end up naming them if they don't. This building used to be locked, and yes there are PowerPoints and posters scattered throughout the interior. It is also warm.
Being warm is important on this sim. Even in the summer there is snow. In this picture Iyoba who is wearing long pants and close-toed shoes, crosses a wooden bridge over a crevace that separates one of the classroom buildings from the rest. The buildings on top of the mountain are uninsulated log cabins.
And all of them have their sliding doors wedged open letting in every bit of cold air. I took these pictures using the newest version of the Exodus viewer. It ran like greased lightening, but I don't think the photos I took were that much better. Live and learn.
Meanwhile, Iyoba and I went to visit the SLENZ Midwifery role play area. This exhibit doesn't make the Explore SL Spread Sheet because it does not have note card givers and requires role play to get the full impact of its instruction. Still it is impressive, and I could see two avies interested in birthing a prim baby borrowing the facility. As my squatters knew, it is easy to repurpose educational sims, but then again any one who relies on public sandboxes maintained by educational instutions also knows this.
My problem was that Iyoba did not want to play the role of birthing woman. Sitting on the birthing ball at SUNY Oneonta had soured her on birthing demonstrations. Iyoba did not want to take off her clothes, put on a bathing suit, and climb into a birthing tub either. As you can see in the picture above, she really became quite upset.
Eventually though, my favorite avie was a sport about the whole business, and we checked out the pink birthing room. In addition to lots of comfy furniture, the usual bed and tub, a rather nice cradle for rooming in, a stereo, bananas, hospital equipment placed discretely on a counter, and the ubiquitous birthing ball, this room had a device I've never seen in a maternity demo, a pull rope. I'd read about these in Steinbeck's East of Eden, but the one he described was for use in bed. For this one, the mother, as played by Iyoba squats and pulls to ease the pangs of labor.
Finally, I'd like to point out the fireplaces that are all over the UAA Seawolves sim. Here is Iyoba desperately warming her back side in front of one. She says they would work better if there was a way to keep the doors of the mountaintop classroom buildings closed against the chill. It just isn't warm up there. Let those avatarot who run around in their undies beware. Come to Alaska and you'll freeze.
Note: I really do love the UAA Seawolves sim. I've made a lot of Iyoba's clothes at the sandbox, which is public, and I like the way the sim is a growing concern, with everything from freebies to a browsing library, to the two demos that don't give note cards but do show a lot of thought. The log cabin, mountain top, class rooms are a nice touch even if my avie freezes, and I shiver along with her. Just remember, avatarim like to stay warm.
Eileen H. Kramer and Iyoba BatOni -- September 5, 2012
If Your Payment Info is on File
If you or your avie work in Second Life's education sector, there is a very good chance that you have never been to an adult sim, even if you can visit one. I can understand your fear. I don't like whore houses, though I do not feel about "escorts" (God what a euphemism!) the way one commentator on Focfocanewsl feels (Have your translator ready. The blog is in Portuguese), it's still not something that makes me comfortable. I think it is the canned pornographic gestures. Some things are just a little too obvious.
Still a lot of your customers (if you are a librarian), and students or professors (if you are an educator) will sooner or later take a walk on the wild side. For that reason alone, it is worth it to vist at least one or two adult sims. And sometimes these sims are just plain fun. Sexy Life Brasil (Yes it is spelled with an "s") is a good place to start your adult adventure.
Iyoba and I discovered SexyLife long before it had an ADULT rating. Various DJ's whose groups we had joined invited us to dance there. Dancing is still a big part of the action Sexy Life. There are no fewer than three dance floors and usually there are live DJ's. The music is American and Brazilian pop. The language is usually Portugues. The outdoor dance floors (They are all outdoors!) are full of chat spam, but the club goers and DJ's utter few if any obscenities, almost no canned porn gestures, and if there are "escorts" working, they do so discretely.
In some ways Brazilian culture handles sex far more conservatively than American culture. It is common to see child avies at Brazilian street dances and clubs. And though avatarim may walk around scantilly clad, they are not usually nude. The mature sim where Iyoba has Stinky Stinky has strict rules against prostitution and outdoor nudity. I characterize the Brazilian attitude as "anything goes TO A POINT!"
When Iyoba and I first visited Sexy Life Brasil, it was a typical out of the box prefab mall, with various kinds of dance floors. Over the years, the build has matured, and now it is elegant and lovely enough to satisfy those who like to take photographs of "pretty builds."
I'm surprised at all the litle touches that are part of this build, such as this potted plant. It is truely a cut above the typical "photo realistic" roses and anthuria one often finds sprinkled over builds like too much pepper on a plat eof fried eggs.
Of course a big part of every build that has existed on Sexy Life is THE BRIDGE. It separates the nude section of the island from the part where one should wear clothes. This is important because not every one feels comfortable stripping down their avie. I let Iyoba skinny dip, and this where she does it, but to each their own. I think those spiked heels are really weapons in disguise, and better to swim nude, than risk putting a hole in another avie's foot, but that is my opinion and I am stuck with it. If you want to enjoy the nude side of Sexy Life Brasil, you will need a skin that does not have painted on underware. The Ruth skin works just fine. It has nipples, and not all women have pubic hair. Penises are detatchable, so if your male avie lacks one, that is fine too. I have never had a male avie, so I am not sure about the etiquette of wearing a penis and how one should wear it. If you have a male avie, you probably know some of this much better than I do.
And the naked side of Sexy Life, has some intereting touches of its own. This vending machine, right below the dance floor where one can be either clothed or naked (The beach area below this dance floor is all nude), has always intrigued me. I was not sure it even worked. Well, Iyoba got some Dr. Pepper to drink. They don't serve that every where, but the machine serves other items. It has multiple menues. You will have to check it out for yourself.
And here is Iyoba enjoying the nude beach. You can see there is quite an elaborate camp fire with pillows and a cooler. That is her head with the sandy gold hair just sticking up above the log. No, I'm not going to show naked photos of my favorite avie on this blog, even though she wouldn't mind. By the way, Iyoba usually keeps her shoes on on the nude beaches of Sexy Life because the sand burns her feet. I believe her because I can feel it. And yes, Sexy Life Brasil, smells good, like clean salt air. So, if you have payment used or on file, what are you waiting for?
Eileen H. Kramer with lots of help from Iyoba BatOni -- September 3, 2012
Some Nights are Very Sad
Actually, my One who Thinks she Knows was in a bad mood again. She gets that way a lot. She installed two viewers this weekend and tried to get them to crash. It wasn't that hard. We went to a crowded club called Ambrosia and one time my One just left her favorite news program running. Another time there were fifty (50) avies in the club, and you can guess what that does. We went back a third time this morning and did just fine with twenty-six avies in the club, but the One thought the thrill was gone.
In fact, the island turned out to be the world's messiest sandbox. That is a title that is hard to win, given that Second Life is covered with clutter pits if you know where to look, but as you can see from this photo of me, this was one very cluttered clutter pit. Click on the picture to see a full size view of the clutter pit for yourself. My One did not even think she could rezz anything. She thought there was too much clutter.
Happily for me, my One was wrong. I got a new dress, red with white cicadas and a big white collar. I am going to wear it to work Monday night. Meanwhile I changed into an old dress, and we were at loose ends. My sulking One who was in no mood to go in a club. She was worrying about this blog if you must know, but I said I'd handle the blog tonight if we went to Akiba.
I had a friend there whom I had not seen in a very long time. My One would say I had not seen her in a cat's age. That is very appropriate. Sad Brown Eyed Kitty, SBE Kitty for short, belonged to the nasty avies who ran the Sorority. They banned us a couple of years ago. We got let back in after a while. By then the owner of the sorority had taken SBE Kitty away and hid her in an apartment. I would sneak in to keep her company. I felt very bad for her. There are lots of animals on Akiba, but SBE Kitty is my all time favorite.
I stopped by the Arare Cafe to visit the animals there especially Miz Cat, the Siamese cat. She has new friends, an elephant and a white goose, but there were no avies at the Arare CAfe. Avies whose Ones live in Japan are fourteen hours ahead of my One and I. It was ten o'clock in the morning in Japan, and they don't have Labor Day in September, so the Ones and avies were not there. The Ones were at work and the avies were downstairs in the locker room, waiting to come out. They come out when I'm downstairs and my One is asleep.
Then we went to the Sorority. I'm glad there were no avies around and their Ones were at work. Because they had new animals in the park by the Arare Cafe, SBE Kitty might be free and working in the Sorority where I first met her. Here is Pretty White Goat, a new animal in the Sorority. Sadly, I did not see Miz Brown Bunny who used to work in the Sorority. I wonder where she has gone.
And there was a kitty working in the Sorority. Actually there were several. Big Blue Eyed Kitty looks a lot like Sad Brown Eyed Kitty. He has two small grey tabby cats that are his friends. He also looks after them, like a senior looks after a newbie. I don't care if you say these animals are just couches or things. I know that, but even animal couches like bots have feelings. If you put a bot in jail in a dirty cell it is so sad! If you hide a kitty couch away in a secret apartment or stuff her in inventory, don't you think she hurts too? I know people don't even think we avies can think for ourselves or that we are real. Of course because we are not human even though we look that way, we can't do anything, right? Oh please don't tell me those lies!
In the end, we did not find SBE Kitty. I felt awful about this. I told my One I wanted to go to the Temple on top of the MOuntain. There is a lot of new construction on Akiba we are going to have to explore, but tonight was my night, and I wanted to find my kitty friend. I'm glad my One made me Goofy Kitty so I can have a kitty friend who does not disappear, but that does not keep me from missing SBE Kitty. I looked down on the sims of Akiba and Ueno, and I couldn't help myself. I got all emotional. SBE Kitty, wherever you are, please come back soon. And SBE Kitty's One, she's not just a program or pixels just like your avie isn't just those things. Please take her out of inventory so her avie friends can spend time with her. Even cat couches need love.
Iyoba BatOni with help from Eileen H. Kramer -- September 2, 2012