Once Money Talks -- Second Life
In some ways monetization is a very good thing. That is not what I mean. I hate monetization. I think it exerts an ugly and poisonous effect which you can see any time you walk on the main land or anywhere else that isn't "zoned." What has brought all of this on is that I'm thinking of retrenching my land ownership and going back to just a 512. I have good reason for this. It just plain costs too much if I'm not going to run a real retail operation and retailng is something for which I do not have the time or inclination.
This is sad in so many ways. My landlord likes my build. I am giving him my trees. Where I rented was not zoned. I like to build freely and did not want to be told that my tube house was an eyesore or that I couldn't have retail boards. The rat-tail parcel was a challenge, but an easy one. If everybody built like me, Second Life would be fun and walkable.
The sad truth though is that even I can't build like me. Monetization makes good, public builds impossible unless you are a wealthy Arab or a Japanese person working with a group. Every build in Second Life, from the 512 built with an annualized premium membership to whole private, islands is one set of car repairs or medical bills away from disappearing. Building on someone's yearly educational grant or hobby money is not the way to develop decent land with plenty of external economies. The more land costs the more fragile the build and the more incentive to make it profitable rather than simply beautiful and useful. This leads to some ugly builds, notably big box malls with blank backs and sides and the infamous "expletive-deleted you!" school of building that features jungle walls, ban lines, and security orbs. Well, it's the owner's land. He or she paid for it, and expletive-deleted everybody else!
If Linden Lab cares about making Second Life "nice" or interesting for the rest of us, rather than plunking new Premium members in prezoned communities for those who do not want to build, or selling themed land, why not set up a bid for project system similar to that at Love Machine for creating public works projects. You put in a bid. You get the land, and you get X number of prims to build your project. Your 512 or your rented build acts as your portfolio to show you can do the work or maybe it is first come first serve. If Linden Lab subsidizes enough of these "public interest builds" then this sort of building becomes the norm. I'd also give away free 512's for budding builders as well so that everyone had a chance to learn building who was interested too, but that is another story.
Right now I want to keep my rented land. I gave Walter four weeks notice and halve two to three weeks left. I can always pay more rent and the land stays with me. I am thinkig of attempting a nice public build, a platform with ramp to see how those are put together. This land is large enough accomodate that and I'd landscape the whole business so I'd have more room for trees. I have funds set aside to stay for two years. My original plan was to rent a 4096 for one year, but I found I really could do as well with a 2048. This extends the project a bit too or would have. The money for the rental comes from a Christmas present from my father. If I receive money on my birthday (a possiblity since gifting your children while you are still alive dodges the inheritance tax.) I could set aside some more of it for an additional two years.
Four years in Second Life is an eternity. Also stretching out my stay to four years is as permanent as anything gets but of course remember what I wrote above. The car payment, medical emergency (though less so in Europe or Canada which have health care reform!) rule applies to my landlord. How I wish Linden Lab would pay for beauty but they don't and they won't.
By the way, my notion of beauty which I imagine Linden Labs adopting does not necessarily include photoralism as the standard. My build which is NOT photorealistic apparently escapes being an eyesore. "Murling" works as does Ndebele style muraling, and handpainting works for trees and most landscape items. Moya and Pandemonium are both great examples of nonphotorealistic builds. The labyrinth at Diamond is another great idea as are the tunnels at Suffugium.
Second Life -- Tribes and Subcultures
Both I, Avatar and Designing Your Second Life talk a lot about subcultures and role play in Second Life. As a nontypical human, Iyoba appeared for the longest time to belong to no particular subculture or tribe. Not everyone has the energy to role play or wants a fantasy bought off the shelf. I told myself that I fit into this last category.
It's taken me a couple of days to realize that I was absolutely dead wrong. Now, I still find Gor weird and vampires weirder. Neko and furry is a bit better, and quads and tinies no how to make friends and influence people. It took Nascera which on this blog is a dirty word, to show me how different I was. I'm not sui generis. Advertising would never work if people did not run to patterns or several patterns. I knew I could not be unique.
Nascera showed me the way. Even as a newbie desperately considering going premium and salivating over land, Nascera would have repelled me. "I don't want somebody else' house," I would have said. "I'm working on my own. I want land where I can put up my house and a garden with plants that make fruit and seeds." Flat green land was my kind of land, and I had a tribe. After building on the steps by the NMC classrooms and on some poor, hapless, rich person's private island (I did clean up after myself), I found my way to good, quiet, mainly academic sandboxes. I also found my way to GIMP to make my own clothes. I even figured out a way to make hair.
I did not know I had my tribe. I still would like to make better social connections in it, but I also like dancing at clubs. The nice thing about building is you can use your groups for things other than stores, but I need to find more builders.
My other tribe is nonprofit/educator. My two hours a week volunteering gives me access. Of coruse my exploring habits and "wide range" sometimes put me at odds with this tribe.
It has taken me a long time to realize that most folks never think of joining the builder tribe. I've read other builders' stories and they are similar to my own. Early in their life on Second Life, long before the magical Day 30 when it was considered OK to get land, they found their way to a sandbox and started shoving prims and tinkering with scripts. This seemed so Second Nature to me that I assumed that everyone I met had their own sandbox moments.
When I started looking for land, I costed out everything on a spread sheet. Conversion of dollars to Lindens is confusing. I soon learned that rentals on islands were both too large and way too expensive and renting something someone had made was even more expensive. A 512 on mainland was the cheapest way to go and it let me build with lots of prims. I still think it's lots of prims.
Most would be renters/premium members never do this or if they do, they use a completely different financial calculus. Apparently if you can buid, you can use much cheaper land, and blank land is the best land. If you don't build my guess is all this changes. There must be people out there who, and yes I find this strange, impulsively pay for a pretty box even though when you see one photorealistic box, you've seen them all. They have no desire to find out how boxes are made or whether a box is the best way to build a shelter.
Maybe these folks who pay through the nose for boxes and palm trees or prefurnished prefabs nestled on top of one another (Usually these are two story town houses) or absolutely isolated skyboxes, would also go for houses on Nascera. These folks don't speak my language of aesthetics or aspirations and they don't speak mine.
The Pantry Corner -- #2
I have an unpleasant memory from my life back in Columbus, Georgia. My drain was again stuck, and yes my garbage disposal was again on the fritz. I hate garbage disposals. For God's sake, it's not that hard to walk your bag of wet kitchen garbage to the dumpster or if you can keep a compost pile, to walk the bucket of moist, kitchen waste to the pile. Same difference, you walk the stuff and dump it. The pile needs turning and an occasional infusion of excrement, but even that is not so bad.
But my rental in Columbus, came with a garbage disposal and I broke it several times. Now I was not malicious. I did not dump bones or glass. I scratched my head to figure out the culprit. It turned out to be rubber bands. It was fairly easy to figure out how the rubber bands entered the system too, which was the really baffling point. Every week, I used one to two bunches of scallions. Georgians call them green onions. Each bunch of scallions came with two rubber bands. The rubber bands slipped off and... the garbage disposal took a hit. My "green onion habit" made me a bad, careless, and destructive tennant.
Of course, I felt like I was being singled out unfairly. Machines broke, and people washed their scallions in the sink, didn't they? At one point I asked what happened in other apartments. I should have known the answer to that question before I asked it by looking in my sink. There should have been screen in the drain with the garbage disposal to keep out errant rubber bands, but there wasn't. Clearly everybody did not buy their weekly ration of "scallions." I was the only habitual scallion eater in the complex and also a miscreant as far as the stupid garbage disposal was concerned.
I've written in other places on this blog that independent adults who pay their own bills live in bubbles. If you join an online "chat group" or eat at other peoples' homes regularly, you will see others bubble doors open and get a peek inside. Otherwise the bubbles stay locked. In other bubbles people do not eat scallions each week. They don't make salads or much of anything from scratch either.
Another thing most people don't eat except for the little pre-peeled ones is carrots, or if they eat them, they do not consume them in the quantity I do. I eat from two to five pounds of the thing a week. They become the grated carrots in slaw or pasta salad, copper pennies (blanched carrot slices also called carrot money) in pasta and other salads, or slices roasted or sauteed in medeleys. This week, I even made carrot bread that required a pound of grated carrot per loaf. I sometime joke that if carrots were rare and scarce and cost four dollars a pound, they would be a delicacy like morel mushrooms or truffles.
People also sometimes think carrots have no taste. Just because a vegetable is mild does not mean it is tasteless. If I eat in homes where people don't bother to peel and cut or grate carrots, and that is most homes, I notice the absence of carrot in the food right away. The bright, sweet, flavor is just plain good. Carrots for me are a good tasting, beautiful, and staple vegetable that are a kind of unsung hero of the kitchen.
If you want to fix dishes with carrots, you do need to have some tools on hand. You don't really need a lot of patience. Carrots peel easily and the carrots in the bags or sold loose are often old enough to need a peeling for genteel dishes. You can eat a carrot raw right out of the bag without a problem but somehow for casseroles, salads and other dishes, carrots ouught to get peeled.
You will need a sharp paring knife for nubbing and cutting. You will need a peeler and a good grater (You can use a food processor too, but a grater is easier to clean.) You will need big bowls and a blanche kettle (a big tall sided stew pot.) Then there are the roasting dishes. Carrots end up in roast vegetables. I don't like prepeeled carrots. I think the baby carrots have less taste than their bigger relatives. Pregrated carrots scare me. A little bacteria in that nice, warm bag and all that carroty surface area goes a long way.
Buy big, stiff carrots. If they come in a bag, look for a bag with the baseball bat roots, not the skinny, scrawnies. If you buy carrots loose, the bigger the better. I like ox-heart carrots, the really fat ones. You can always cut them in large pieces before slicing and grating them and there is more carrot and less peel and less surface area, so the carrot stays fresher and tastes better.
Carrots use up quickly. Most of my recipes use four to eight medium size carrots or three to four really big ones. Carrot salad of course uses two to five pounds of the things, but that's fine with me. Give me carrots any day!