Sunday, December 30, 2007

Triskele

Well, I've decided on Triskele for now. I'm officially a member of the main group as well as the cleric's group. I had to drop Humans of Everwind to make room, but that group was never really used anyway.

Grace posted something tonight on our "goodbye" forum posts, basically hinting that Everwind may come back in the future and inviting us to stay in the sim. You know, as far as I'm concerned she's shown her true colors, although most of the realm doesn't realize exactly what she said. I'd be willing to forgive her if I thought what she said was merely said in anger. But these seem to reflect her true feelings, and while I may forgive, I'm not going to forget. Triskele is new, and has a lot of potential. It is also much more relaxed, and many, many Everwinders have already set themselves up there. I talked to a Triskele resident...couldn't meet a nicer guy. Said that the King and Queen are truly wonderful people, in SL and in RL. With enough people, Triskele can really come to life. It's a little disorganized at the moment, (the Pantheon forgot to mention Castan!), but we're getting some highly experienced people there. It will be straightened out in short order.

Princess went to bed early after PHC to recover from her wounds. (No, I did NOT punch her in revenge for the soap incident, and I am offended by the mere suggestion of it. Physical and emotional abuse is crude. I have much more devious punishments planed.)

I stayed up and talked philosophy with Mykyl until well after her bedtime. It was a very thought provoking evening.

Beyond that, it was a pretty uneventful day. Princess is on an "all shake" diet due to her damaged lip (I suggested soup, but you know, I guess you go with what gives you comfort). Prairie Home Companion was fun but I kept crashing so I ended up listening to a large part from Princess's computer. I accomplished little of earth-shattering significance, but then that earth-shattering stuff usually causes about 5 or 6 billion people to die a rather violent death, so it's best to avoid that kind of thing on a regular basis anyway.

Have a HAPPY New Year (don't forget what I said in my last post. I mean it. Grrr.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Post 100 – Disasters and Reflections

This is my 100th post since starting this blog. I am considerably behind Mykyl in terms of output, but I do keep plugging away at things until I get somewhere, sometimes. Having post 100 come very near the end of the physical year, and somewhat near the time of my true beginning in Second Life, gives me the excellent opportunity to reach for connections and to drone on ponderous reflections, as is my habit.

First, some news on the home front. I was searching through my inventory to find a replacement for the Princess’s island, which she accidentally deleted, when the Princess stated that she had to retrieve some clothing from the dryer. In another few moments, I heard at stumble, a thump, and a cry for help. I rushed across the house toward the basement to find my Princess laying facedown at the bottom of the stairs moaning. A quick evaluation revealed a bloody lip because of the Princess’s unwise decision to take the last two steps on her face as apposed to her feet. The damage could have been much, much worse. The Princess got out of this one luckily, so far. Let’s hope that her luck continues to hold.

Just another typical day in the Peck household.

In Everwind news, the realm is still being closed for RP. There seems to be an organized effort to get ALL the residents over to Triskele. It is a much more relaxed RP environment than Everwind, and it is five sims big, but it seems nice for the most part. I haven’t returned to Everwind since the queen’s rant. It’s another day...let’s see what develops.

I glanced back through the history of this blog, looking back at post one. It feels so innocent, so naïve, so newbie. Since post one, we’ve purchased and sold about a thousand pieces of property, and watched relationships rise and fall (sometimes with a thundering crash). The Master Peck Furniture Conglomerate has grown from a single shop with a handful of products to the Second Life dominating force that it is today (I sold another box of wooden utensils yesterday!).

There are many failed dreams, many failed projects, and in the end, I sit here wondering if I am a different person than the one I was at post one, and, if so, am I a better or worse one. I feel more worn down, and somewhat more cynical, but I do feel I’ve gained a bit of wisdom along the way. Just the forces of life, but vastly accelerated due to the time bending nature of Second Life.

I think I miss Catherine the most. It was she whose own blogs started me on blogging, and she who introduced me to my friends in Faeria. She still pops around from time to time, but she just doesn’t feel like part of “the gang” anymore. Oh well.

I don’t want to write too terribly much this morn. I can’t reflect too much because I feel in the middle of too many things that will yet need another time to be reflected on. To probably misquote John Lennon, life is what happens while were busy planning other things.

I will probably post at least once more before the end of the year, but I expect everyone, EVERYONE, to start preparing for a freekin’ HAPPY new year. This is a holiday shared by virtually the entire world (except for maybe the Chinese), and I expect everyone to be happy next year. No more of this depressed, dramatic, angst bullshit. Happiness is mandatory. Take illegal drugs if you have to. Go to a plastic surgeon and have your lips altered into a permanent grin. Hire a BDSM mistress/master to torment you the moment you start bitching about something. Just...be...HAPPY.

See y’all later. :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Fall of Everwind

The Everwind sims are soon to close for role play. Grace and Slip have announced that running the sims simply aren’t “fun,” anymore.

This is only part of the story, of course. The reasons for the crash are just a little more complicated than that.

The whole problem seems to have started over age verification, something that I considered a non-issue but something that the Princess keeps telling me is a BIG issue. The company that does the age verification, quite simply, sells the information they get—a fact that is apparently quite evident after doing any amount of research about them. She was insisting that I NOT age verify—she did not want the last four digits of my social security number or my driver’s license number going out to the highest bidder. That and the fact that there is no way that the company can REALLY age verify from the information we give them anyway. She feels that the company is running a scam, and she is usually right.

Be that as it may, Grace had announced that age verification was going to start for Everwind in early January. I was not even aware that it was out of beta yet, but again, no matter. The residents of Everwind, both through the forum and through the dropping of notecards on Grace and Slip, were mounting a campaign to stop it. I don’t know what the notecards said, but the forum was very polite but firm, trying to get them to reconsider, offering alternatives, and some people saying that they would stop coming to Everwind if this came through.

Slip, a litigation attorney in RL, was explaining that, since Linden was offering the option, that they HAD to do this to prevent potential lawsuits should teens get into the sims and become morally wounded; a strong argument. And the fact remains that Everwind owned by both Grace and Slip, and they can do whatever they want with it.

What happened was a rant by Grace at the end of the forum thread. I’ll include a snippet here, but let me assure you that I am not taking this out of context:

"I appreciate a great deal that you love and play in Everwind so faithfully. But I have to tell you, while that's all well and good...I ain't willing to put myself or the safety of a minor out there on a limb so you can have a place to play. Your threats to leave or your "disappointment" over this decision are not going to score you any points. Everwind has never been about traffic or dwell or income (obviously) or even entertaining other people. It has always been about my need to create and our desire to see people appreciate it. I'm not here for you....and you are not here for me. Everyone of us are in this for themselves. Other than your avatar, I don't know you people. Anymore than you know me. You are essentially strangers...why on earth do you think I have some obligation to ensure your experience in Second Life is pleasant? Do you ensure mine?"

This little speech cam essentially be summarized to say that she isn’t going to take any risks (fine and dandy) and that she couldn’t care less about the people of her realm (not).

The thread was locked after this rant, and I opened a new one, tentatively and timidly, merely stating that I am indeed in this for myself, but part of myself is making other people happy, and that while I can not ENSURE that anyone’s experience is pleasant, I do my best to help make other’s experiences pleasant when I can.

This was very carefully phrased. I was in fact quite angered by her statements, and what I was doing was essentially offering her an opportunity to apologize. She did respond, but no apology was forthcoming, just more angry denouncements. And again the thread was locked.

And then, a couple of hours after that, she sent an in-world announcement that role-play in Everwind was stopping. I can’t help but wonder if my re-opening of the issue and her follow-up rant was what caused it. Oh well. I was angry enough over her attitude to leave anyway. I’m more that just a pretty ornament for her enjoyment.

Everwind was having a free-for-all last night, which meant that the entire realm was having one final grand battle—everyone against everyone else. I chose not to participate. I instead IM’d a couple of friends and tried to find out about another role-play sim to which we can move. Someone suggested Triskele. I’ll check it out when I can. Even if the King and Queen reconsider, I doubt I’ll be returning to Everwind.

Sigh.

Anger and defining the rules for one’s own sim is one thing. Treating real people as non-entities is quite another.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Souls Divided

One of the inexorable facts of human existence is that we are ultimately, always alone inside our heads. Discounting the divine and ignoring the possible yet tasteless jokes about multiple personalities, there comes an incontrovertible fact that our thoughts belong to us and are, forever, only ours.

Writers do their best to express thoughts on paper or in digital form, but I suspect that to express truly and fully the fullness of even a single instant of our simplest thoughts would take hundreds of pages, connected as each of thoughts are to our history and our learning experiences.

And this would not even touch upon the unconscious; the low level motivator behind the scenes that can generate entire worlds, buildings, and complete, fully detailed human beings from scratch through the “simple” act of dreaming. The unconscious mind seems to act like a puppet master—the animator for we, the animators. The only way to express unconscious thoughts is to turn off the conscious and hope that what we write or say afterward is in some way vaguely comprehensible.

Our minds are alone, and our minds are not particularly good company for themselves, either. Our minds need “reality checks”, without which our minds drift ever further from the reality based on external inputs and relies more and more on the reality as generated from our internal thoughts alone. When this happens, either we become clinically weird, or we become artists, which is really saying much the same thing.

And how do we attempt to conquer this isolation? One way is via the quest for love, the search for a “soul mate.” We seek someone less to share our thoughts with, but more to share our bodies and minds with. Many of us seek someone we can completely understand, and someone for which we can be completely understood, for this is the closest we can come to breaking the isolation of our minds.

I cannot help but wonder if this is part of the reason we are both so desiring and so fearful of God. First, how great would it be that someone knows our every thought, and that we are never alone. Second, how terrifying is it that someone can know our every thought, and that we are never alone.

May we all find a way of expressing that which we are to another or others, and may this isolation of aloneness be mitigated by sharing our spirit with our friends.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Random Drivel History of Christmas

This post is just kind of rambling, but I wrote it, and I thought perhaps at least one out of my many thousands of readers may actually enjoy it. I admit, however, that this is unlikely. Oh well, I wrote it, it's my blog, so get over it.



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According to legend, Jesus was born December 25, two thousand and seven years ago.

In far greater likelihood, he would have been born about two to seven years earlier. Shepherds would be out sometime between February and October. Haley’s comet made an appearance in the summer of 6BCE. For these and various other reasons, therefore, let us say that the best guess would put his birth sometime in September of the year 6 BCE.

Well, celebrating a birth on a day different than the actual day doesn’t really bother me to much. In the United States, it is common practice to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on the third Monday of January so that it is less disrupting to work and to give workers three day weekends. Same goes for Lincoln and Washington’s birthday. So we, in America, anyway, are quite used to celebrating birthdays at the time of greatest convenience anyway.

Anyway, let us say that legend is wrong, and that Jesus was born about two thousand thirteen years and three months ago. After he was born, legend has it he did some other stuff and then died, giving us another holiday.

The date of Saint Nicolas’s birth is also not know exactly, but he died December 6, 325 A.D.

Just as legend has it that Jesus was resurrected 3 days after his death, Saint Nicolas was likewise resurrected after 3 days, on December 9th. He was not taken bodily into heaven, but instead stayed on earth, and, like Jesus, was granted the gift of eternal life. He dashed up to the north to escape religious prosecution, having acquired a mysterious following of dwarfs and midgets along the way.

Once in Northern Finland, he set up a holy religious shrine, and adapted to Finnish cuisine, growing fat on lutefisk, which he found particularly delightful. Being far up north, not many came to his religious services, and the midgets and dwarfs, having nothing else to do, spent their time going forth and multiplying and making small trinket toys for their many children. Soon there was a surplus of toys, and the good saint gathered the extras around and started making small scale pilgrimages to bring the gifts to Finland’s children. Jesus though it was a cool idea, being a woodworkers son, and bestowed special powers upon the saint to make it possible for him to fly and visit every Christian house throughout the world. Even though Jesus’ birthday got changed to December 25, they both agreed that they could really care less about what day it was, and that the 25th was close enough to the longest night of the year which would make doing the impossible task a little easier.

Upon the good saint’s recommendation, Jesus later gave strength and and a powerful speaking voice, and the Saint gave the gift of a pitchfork, to Saint Urho, who eventually drove all the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the Finnish wine crop. Miracles are not without their consequences, however, and soon afterward grapes stopped growing in Finland, which is just as well as Santa had begun to drink heavily in his effort to wash down the lutefisk.

Saint Nicholas’ name was changed to Santa Claus through some Finnish thing that I don’t care about, and Santa lives in Finland to this day. (The North Pole is both a rumor and a clever misdirection—the Finnish government knows exactly where Santa lives and is forever grateful to him for helping them stay an independent country despite having lost every damned war they ever fought.)

So children, put this down in your history books—this is the true background of Christmas. Jesus and Santa are still pals, and spend many a night eating lutefisk together and getting hammered on sacramental wine. The midgets and dwarfs, now mutated by inbreeding into a new race called elves, are basically now genetically bred to do nothing but make toys.

Merry Christmas to All. And if you don’t have cookies to leave out for Santa this year, lutefisk and wine work all the better.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Chirstmas Train

[RL] Well, Christmas is almost here, as well as the good old holiday traditions of stress and worrying about last minute presents and such. Too much to do, not nearly enough time to do it. I saw the holiday approaching from the middle of the train tracks and watch the train come around the bend and come rumbling toward me, while I sat in my cozy little chair and did everything but move. Oh well, typical Christmas. I wonder if 7-11 has improved their gift selection this year.

2007 has not been a particularly stellar year in terms of my accomplishments. Much...well...most of the year was spent on the sidelines, watching the world go by. I would like to say for sure that 2008 will be different, and I will, of course, resolve that 2008 will be different, but I have not detected a notable change in my motivation levels.

More pushups. Maybe that’s all I need.

In any event, there is much to accomplish this day before Christmas, and this blog, while extremely important in many ways, is another great way to spend time as I try to count the number of souls flattened on the train’s front as it ran over them from days of Christmas past. I’m close enough to feel the heat from the engines now. I suppose it’s time to move my chair...

...but it REALY is a comfortable chair. Maybe just a few more hours...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sploders and the existence of God

We had a great time at the Everwind party yesterday, but I felt bad about missing the Aianna Yule party. I’d been looking forward to the Everwind party all week, and didn’t know about, or at least notice, Aianna’s party until the last minute. So I simply decided to go to Everwind. We had lots of good music (as well as lots of bad music involving cats meowing to Christmas carols.) I wish I could have been two places at once, but…oh well. Sorry Aianna.

Anyway, there was a Sploder ball at the party. There’s something about Sploder balls and me. The first time I ever played one I won the biggest prize (something like L$200, which, as a newbie, seemed like an impossibly huge sum of money). I kept putting extra money in to give a little back to the other people who were playing, but I kept winning the big prize. I finally gave up so that someone else would have a chance.

This time when I arrived I immediately put L$20 in the ‘Sploder, and the pot went up to about L$1500 (generously contributed to by Queen Grace Loudon, by the way, whose real life animator has an AMAZING voice, but I digress), and I, again, won the biggest prize…about L$850. I just kinda expected it to happen that way. I was pleased, but I can’t say that I was surprised. I made small bets on occasion through the rest of the evening, but didn’t win anything else of significance.

Later on I was able to guess one of the trivia questions right. (Who was the first ghost who visited Scrooge: Answer—Jacob Marley). This won me another L$200. So all in all I came out about L$1000 ahead just for dancing. It was a great party.

It’s things like what happen to me with the Sploder that occasionally cause me to wonder more about the nature of reality. Once my animator walked into a convenience store to buy some soda, and he suddenly knew that if he bought one of the instant tickets he would win. My animator bought the ticket, much to the surprise and ridicule of his wife, brought it home, and, sure enough, had to walk back to the store to claim the $50 that he won.

Now, the only possible explanation that science could offer for this is pure luck and coincidence. Mathematically, I am quite sure that my statistical “luck” is quite is in no way outside the norm. And in my head, I accept this as the explanations. But the heart wants to believe in more than just coincidence. It is because of incidences like these that I for a long time refused to deny the possible existence of God. True, the prizes were small. True, it would seem a very odd way for God to pass evidence for his existence along. But it’s been big enough to grab my attention.

Oh well. I don’t want to dwell on this any further. It’s the kind of thing that would only appear significant to me, and I’m not interested in starting a religious debate. Be well, everyone, and may all your Sploders be good to you this holiday season.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Everwind: The backstory of Alphonsus Peck

Alphonsus was born into a wealthy and learned family in an entirely human realm. Dragons, fairies, and elves were all considered mere fantasy by the educated, and Alphonsus grew up quite sure and proud of his scientific and "enlightened" education.

Being well known for his mathematical prowess, as a young man Alphonsus was approached by the royal guard and asked if he would help tutor someone. Alphonsus of course agreed, and he was escorted to the top of the palace tower, where he found a heavily guarded door. Alphonsus gazed in wonderment as the door was opened and the room on the other side was among the most luxuriously decorated he had ever seen.

And then he met the young woman he was to tutor. She was beautiful beyond compare, with pale skin and long flowing red hair. Alphonsus and the woman quickly got too their lessons, and he found her to be remarkably intelligent. Over several days, they gradually learned that the people guarding them were dumb as rocks, and they were able to slip into other, non-mathematical topics such as philosophy, without the guards being any the wiser. They challenged each other in their discussion, and Alphonsus found himself falling hopelessly in love with the young woman.

On the day that the queen of the realm died, the visits came to an abrupt stop. There was some disruption and fighting on the palace grounds, and Alphonsus dared not approach. It was finally announced that the queen's sister, who lived in a nearby realm, would come and take the throne. Once the coronation was completed Alphonsus tried to return to the tower, only to be told by palace guards that he was not allowed on the premises and that the tower was now empty. He then realized that he had never even learned the name of the woman whom he had tutored.

Desperately worried, Alphonsus decided to approach the new queen and try to learn of the fate of the young woman in the tower. Time after time he was rebuffed, but once he happened upon one of the old tower guards, who took pity on him, and said he would see what he could do.Days later, the royal guard again appeared at his door, and demanded that he come with them. Fearfully, he obeyed, and found himself taken into the palace himself. He was roughly shoved into a plain room and told to wait. After several minutes, the door opened, and he found himself again gazing upon the lovely face of the woman in the tower.

"M'lady, has the new queen released you from captivity?" stammered the surprised Alphonsus.

"My dear Alphonsus, I AM the new queen," she smiled.

She explained that her queen sister had had her locked into the tower to prevent her from becoming a rallying point for rebellion.Alphonsus stayed long into the evening talking to the queen that he loved. Wanting to serve her in some way, he agreed to take a carpentry job in the city and report to her the feelings and sentiments of the general population.

Many years passed, and one day war came to the shores of their land. Knowing that the battle was going poorly, Alphonsus grabbed his sword and rushed to the castle, using the secret passageway he had always , used to enter the queen's chamber. Upon entering he saw an amazing site. A child like woman with broad wings floated in the middle of the room. The child woman looked to him and asked him to please leave, and that the queen was being kept safe.

Alphonsus scoffed, knowing that trickery must be involved, and quickly spotted some movement behind the curtains. Ignoring the winged woman, he dashed across the room, and simultaneously pulled aside the drapes as he thrust his sword into the chest of the person hiding behind them...

...only to see the face of his beloved queen as his sword passed through her heart.

He immediately pulled his sword back and caught the queen in his arms. With love and understanding in her eyes, her last words to him were, "Alphonsus...my love...escape...live...this is...my final command..."

She then went limp in his arms.

Numb with unimaginable grief, Alphonsus had little knowledge of what happened over the next few days. When his mind returned to partial sanity, he found himself alone in the woods, with a small sack of mushrooms and bluebells for him to eat. He returned to his home to gather up what gold he could find, learning that the city had fallen completely to the invaders, and escaped the city never to return again.

Alphonsus wandered aimlessly through forests and cities for the next several years, keeping himself alive only because he could not bear to disobey the queens last orders. He drank heavily, but even then he could not escape the unbearable guilt over what he had done.

After much time, Alphonsus stumbled into Everwind, where he saw wonders that defied all of the learning and science he had ever been taught. In that place he decided to live, to really live, again. For the most part, Alphonsus has become a wiser version of the man he once was, turning to Castan for comfort and a reminder that truth is not always what they teach in school. While mostly cheerful, he is still vulnerable to almost random moments of extreme grief, and still finds it very difficult to avoid the attraction of alcohol to help forget the anguish of his soul. In his heart, he is still hopelessly devoted to the beloved queen of his memories, and while he may occasionally be tempted by other women, his spirit would never allow him to fall in love again.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blogs, Brutes, and Speedos

With a little digging, I was able to discover the blogs of two of my Everwind friends, Wren and Malakyte, and I’ve added them to my Friend’s Blogs section. Hello out there. Thank you for providing me with fresh reading material. This will give me even more ways for my animator to spend time devoted to me instead of living his own dumb life. I do appreciate this.

I wasn’t able to get in-world at all yesterday between the system down time and my animator using me to defeat brutes in Halo 3. There’s about 50 of them, all of them crack shots, several with sniper rifles and a couple with heavy artillery. There is exactly one of me. That makes the odds about even. (Cracks knuckles)

Well, in truth they’ve been killing me pretty regularly for a while. My animator is trying to defeat the game at its hardest level. I’m not sure if my pride will ever really adjust to getting splattered a hundred times in a row.

I’ll flit back over to Second Life tonight and try to decide what I’ll wear for the Everwind party (tomorrow?). Despite the persistent urging of my friends, I probably won’t wear Christmas Speedos. I am the speaker for Castan, and there is a certain level of dignity I must uphold. Perhaps some reindeer antlers? We’ll see.

My wife and sister-in-law are encouraging me to continue the story I put down yesterday. I’m usually good a starting things. Finishing is another matter. I know roughly how I want the story to go, but I’m afraid I’ll peter out somewhere. Nevertheless, I’m giving it a try. One of the problems is that there isn’t a big market for short stories anymore. The science fiction angle will help. There’s always Analog and Asimov and maybe a couple of others. Still, that’s secondary. First thing is to finish writing the darn thing. Sigh.

Well, that’s all I have to say for today. Safe paths, and may the dragons of Everwind not mistake Santa for a flying Christmas treat. That would truly be a very sad thing for the world, and I would imagine that his magic bag of toys would cause severe indigestion. See y’all tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Joy, and Nothing to Talk about but a Can

I have had more than one person say that they like to look at my blog daily, and are disappointed when I don’t have anything posted. I like to post things, but the problem is I edit myself a lot. That is to say, I try to avoid whiny, negative posts, and there are times that if I wrote every day I would be afraid that many of them would be just that.

But then, maybe it’s a discipline thing. Mykyl says to look for joy in every day. Maybe a daily post where I force myself not to be whiny will improve my overall outlook on life. Maybe these blog posts are the secret to everlasting, blissful happiness, with birds and butterflies flitting about me all the time and flowers growing under my feet where ever I walk.

You may say unlikely, but having never tried it, I can’t be sure of that. Give it a try, and let the ducks fall where they may.

That being said, I still don’t have a lot to say, so I’ve decided to include a clip of an unfinished brain fart--an incomplete story I started with only the concept of garbage in mind. It will likely never be finished, but I liked the beginning, so here goes.

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The Can

It had never been in complete darkness: not quite. The yellow glow of a street lamp, over a hundred yards away and partially shaded by a tree, caused a barely perceptible glimmer on the slightly rusted metal.

It was not lonely. It could only be described as such by writers and poets, anthropomorphizing beyond the animal into the non-living. It was an inanimate object: a soda can, carelessly discarded more than a week earlier. It was simply a collection of iron and aluminum molecules, held together in unspectacular structures, no more capable of thought or feeling than all but an infinitesimally small number of molecules in the universe.

As the sun rose, its glimmer increased. While it had been a relatively dry night, there was still a small amount of moisture that had formed on the can’s surface. It sparkled in the black and white tones of early twilight. It could now be seen well enough to perceive that it lay in a slight depression in the ground. Despite the sun’s rise, it was still very nearly invisible.

It was just visible enough, however, for the Child to spot it. It was just interesting enough, however, for the Child to alter her path by more than fifty feet to approach it more closely.

The Child seemed young: far too young to be out alone this early in the morning. Still, the Child did not exhibit any of the many tendencies that children her perceived age might exhibit. The Child’s eyes were sharp and intelligent. She moved smoothly, with a grace more befitting of a mature matriarch than the five-year-old that she appeared to be. She moved surely, without wandering, without skipping in playful innocence.

Despite the can’s lack of remarkable features, the Child gazed on it in fascination; as if the can were the most wondrous of objects that the Child had ever before seen. She knelt to pick it up. Above the ground, the can picked up much more light. The few drops of dew that had rested upon it dripped down its sides, dampening the Child’s fingers. It was slightly dented, and it was covered by grass clippings, tossed from an automatic lawnmower that had passed near it a few days before.

With a smile, the Child placed the can into the plastic grocery bag that she wore like a backpack over her shoulders. It made a metallic clank when it fell upon one of its brethren.

The Child quickly surveyed the landscape of the park again. She could see the silhouette of a distant female jogger, but no other telltale sparkles caught her eye. She did not expect any--this can was an unusual find. The park was in a good neighborhood. The surrounding populous were not generally the littering types.

They were, however, wealthy, lazy, and wasteful enough to throw away the metallic, ten-cent objects that were the Child’s primary interest. Therefore, the trashcans of the park were usually far better hunting grounds. There were always cans to be found somewhere--metallic manna from heaven. The cans meant money. The money meant food. The food meant another day of survival.

Another day of survival meant another day of continued research.

The Child could generally do quite well on fifteen or so cans per day. On days with a when she found more than this, she saved the excess money so that she would not have to spend as much time searching for them. The less time searching, the more time studying. And studying was the most important thing of all.

However, as rare a find as the can was, it was, in the vernacular of the local populous, just extra gravy. The Child already had enough cans for two days worth of food, and, while she would continue to collect when the opportunity arose, she would not need to make it her obsession.

She could occupy her time with far more useful things.

The jogger was no longer in sight, and the sun appeared over the tops of the homes on the east end of the neighborhood. She wondered briefly where she should go next. She felt tempted to return to the shopping mall, partially because she liked it there and partially because she didn't stand out quite so much. But she reluctantly dismissed the idea as selfish. She had already gotten all the useful data that there was to get from the mall. She decided instead to go to the casinos in the city. It would take several hours for her to walk there, and she would stand out much more conspicuously. What's more, once she got there she knew that she would not be allowed to enter any of the casinos proper. What she would have to do instead was observe from the outside all the people who came and went. She would have to keep moving around, and stay near other couples or families so that observers would just assume that she belonged to them. If she were lucky, she might find a way to be detained by the casino security and gain access to the inside. If she were luckier still, she might find a way to escape for several minutes to wander the floors and observe the gamblers at work. It would be a highly risky venture, but one with major pays offs if she could pull it off successfully. She immediately made her decision and began walking in the proper direction.

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That’s it. It clearly has the makings of a science fiction story. I wrote some other paragraphs, but nothing really wowed me, so nothing else came of it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Meditation Time

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Close your eyes. Sit in a comfortable position. If there is noise around you (or even if there isn’t), play some relaxing, meditative music.

Clean your mind. Wipe away the knowledge of the chaos of the world around you. Wipe away the chaos of your thoughts. Let the thoughts float out of your head and fall to the ground like water, soaking the earth and causing flowers to grow. Focus on your happy place: a beach, a brook, a forest, a special room you remember from child hood. Put your mind there.

Unclench your teeth. Smile.

Keep you breathing deep and regular.

Make tense and relax each limb or major muscle group of your body three times, holding the tension for at least five seconds before releasing it. Start at your toes and move up your body, leaving one set of muscles totally relaxed before moving on to the next set. End by squeezing your eyes shut three times, and ending with your body very relaxed.

Are your teeth still unclenched?

Are you still breathing deep and regular?

Good.

Wander around your happy place for a while. If any stray fears invade your place, let them manifest themselves, then will them away. Drown them in flowers. Make them swirl away in a cloud of lavender mist. Crumple them up like paper and toss them out of your mind. Use your imagination. You are in control. Show your fears who’s boss.

Stay here for another ten minutes. Will away your fears and stray thoughts in creative ways.

After ten minutes, either allow yourself to fall asleep, or open your eyes and smile.

Have a great morning, afternoon, and/or evening. Say a mantra if it makes you feel better.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A nice warm home


The icy gale of pixel winds
dig in and chill my soul.
My cloak, too thin, I wrap about
To shelter I extol.

The texture flames of crackling fire
seem to take away cold's bite.
And warm greetings of fellow avatars
do help my soul feel bright.

Our puppets play a game of words
an excuse to stand within.
Our souls, though, cry for a sense of place
and for forgiveness for our sin.

Lonely spirits use network lines
to seek to solace for their pain.
Our souls now live in copper wires
to search for home again.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Festival to Truth, Honesty, and Honor…What a Concept!

I’ve been trying hard to take part in more Everwind activities of late. The followers of Castan have been patient, but it is up to me to come up with ideas for them, and I’ve been sorely lacking in leadership in this area.

My soul feels a bit clearer right now, however, and the time has come to take charge. I am trying to schedule a Castan meeting for Sunday. One of the things I want to come up with is a Castan festival where we honor our lion god. Castan, however, does not lend himself easily to this, as there aren’t really any American holidays where truth, honesty, and honor are celebrated. The big ones all fall short.

Christmas falls on a pagan holiday and is nowhere near the time of year that the non-secular events would have taken place. The secular version has Santa Clause, whom I would give anything to believe in again.

Easter has the same non-secular problems, and the secular Easter Bunny was never plausible enough for me really to believe in. The rabbit doesn’t really have a strong personality, and the reasons for his compulsion for hiding hard-boiled eggs dipped in dye have never been made entirely clear.

Thanksgiving is probably somewhat factually based, but it’s about being thankful and eating too much. Both of which are worthy goals, but there is really nothing about truth related to it.

Martin Luther King Junior’s Birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday are the closest I can come up with, but King had his mistresses, and Lincoln’s birthday has be linked with Washington’s birthday and a mish-mashed holiday called President’s day has come out of it. Lumping Lincoln with our other presidents, some of whom I suspect stated the truth as little as was humanly possible, sort of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And there aren’t exactly any festivals associated with these day, anyway. They fall in January and February respectively, and it’s too freakin’ cold to even have a parade. A day off of work is the most that we get out of them, and that just doesn’t have the grandeur necessary for a honest, honorable lion who is second in command of the known universe.

The Princess suggested Veterans Day. This does share some of the principles in principle--it is dedicated to men and women who died fighting for something that they honored. But I don't want a silly parade! Perhaps some kind of tribute to those who died for honorable reasons....hmmm...

Anyway, we have a lion whose color is gold and whose symbol is the flame of truth. He is the right hand of The One. The One is the creator of the universe and of all the other gods, and she just kind of hangs out in the background and lets whatever happen happen. So far the best I’ve come up with is a big bon-fire, perhaps roasting turkey legs, on some arbitrary day during the year. I’m hoping to find someone with a better idea.

My Castan clerical duties have been frustrating. I’ve been dealing with a woman who was pushed off a cliff and then kicked in the head by someone who used to be her friend. She’s recovered physically, but she’s a mental mess, especially since her betrothed disappeared about a month ago. Words are lost to her. There are some things that a cleric can’t heal. Some things can only be cured with love, friendship, and time. I fear that this woman may not have the strength to take the time necessary to heal. I am left feeling frustrated and helpless. Oh well. All I can do is all I can do.

Rest well everyone. I’ll see you at PHC tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sick Day

Today (er...yesterday) they sent my animator home because the people at work said it looked like he was about to die. Goody goody! His pain is my gain. I get to spend more time in world rather than hanging out in the dusty servers with only the Linden bugs to keep me company.

I started the evening by building an entry for the kiosk making contest that Virtual Parks and Recreation is having. For the first time I have made an attempt to use sculpted prims, and this only so that I could get under the severe prim limits without having something that looks retched. With the sculpties, I was able to reduce the prims on my object from 12 to 7, and thus, with the addition of the necessary signs and such, was able to make the entire thing for 10 prims. I shan't divulge what it is I have built, for I am certain Parks and Rec spies are anxiously scanning blogs for clues as to how to better their opponents. There's a L$5000 purse at stake, which could pay for a months tier with some change. That's 11 Cataporter sales, and that quite simply does not happen.

I spent the rest of the evening working on finally putting my bar up for sale. I intend to sell all the components individually eventually, bur for right now I at least have the whole set available on SLExchange. It's a nice bar set, but I may need to tweak the price down, like I did the ship's wheel. There is no point of trying to sell something at a given price if no one wants to pay that much money for it. I didn't sell a single pub at the original price I asked. Even now, at the very low price of L$60, I only have a trickle of sales for it. That's at less than one third the original asking price. The Cataporter is just about half what I originally asked. Other items, like the tithing box, fly off the shelf at their list price. I could probably ask a bit more, but I won't.

When I put the bar up in Ballyboo I ran out of prims. I deleted a snow drift and a cocktail shaker to fit it all in. Ballyboo is going to be a prim fight .

I often wonder if people who have similar or inferior products to mine that are higher priced actually sell any of their stuff. The original asking price of the Cataporter was a couple hundred less than other products that did less than what the Cataporter does. I sold one at that price. I started to get decent sales at the current price.

I sold a tremendous number of Turkey legs around Thanksgiving, but it happens to be a very seasonal product. I sold only one leg after black Friday. Maybe sales will pick up for Christmas, but I'm not holding my breath.

Well, that's it for tonight. My animator is trying to doze again, as if he's bored by my scintillating conversation. Oh well, the poor boy's sick. I shan't blame him this time. See y'all tomorrow. If I'm lucky, my animator will be deathly ill and I won't be going back to work for a while.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

MPF INC. TO GO PUBLIC

Today, Alphonsus Peck, President and CEO of Master Peck’s Furniture, Incorporated, announced his intention to take his conglomerate public as of the first of year.

Alphonsus Peck, self-made thousand-aire and speaker for the god Castan, said that his decision to go public was one that he made after much careful consideration. “I can’t allow this company to go the direction of so many other businesses in Second Life. Many people seem to have no integrity, stating their intentions to provide outrageous interest rates or dividends while only intending to line their own pockets.”

In the heavily attended press conference, Mr. Peck revealed that in his corporate mission, truth, honesty, and integrity will be paramount, and all of his financial transactions will open and freely discussed.

“Master Peck’s Incorporated will keep every promise it makes. If we don’t think we can keep a promise, than that promise will never be made. That said, I feel there are a fair number of promises that we can make and keep with total confidence.”

Alphonsus Peck then began a PowerPoint presentation that illustrated direction for corporate growth.

“First of all, let me state up front that our corporation will not use more than 80% of investment income toward salaries. We want assure our investors that we plan to make optimal use of this money to help Alphonsus Peck succeed. I vow that I WILL NOT disappoint any investors who would take pleasure in seeing this goal obtained. We can assure our share holders that this money will be put to the best use possible on enhancing my life.

“That said, we also want to say that we will ensure our stockholders that we can and will guarantee a return on their investment. Other banks and corporations have got into trouble by making these claims, and promising a rate of return that was impossibly high. Nevertheless, we are confident that we can ensure our investors of a return rate of not being any greater than -50%, and very likely much less. Yes, I know that this sounds wildly optimistic, but, after much consideration, I believe that we can realistically meet this expectation. I am willing to commit myself so much to the realization of this goal that I feel safe in making it an iron-clad promise.

“As for how we plan to invest our shareholders money to ensure a maximum rate of return, I can’t make promises. It depends very much on what seems to be most desirable at the time. I think that I can safely say that a percentage of this money will be invested in the purchase of sex pose balls, skins, hair, and in top of the line, anatomical appendages. Gambling, while outlawed in Second Life, still can be found some areas. Gambling has consistently shown to have the highest potential rate of return on investment. All it takes is a little luck, and the persistence to stick with it.”

Mr. Peck then outlined some of his dreams for making improvements with stockholder’s money, including a new car, “dream” vacations, and new home gaming equipment.

After the conference ended, the reporters in the room sat stunned by Mr. Peck’s bold vision. Many were unable to put words together, and left the conference room shaking their heads.

“I must say that I did find Mr. Peck’s frank honesty to be a welcome change from what we usually hear from other publicly traded institutions,” said Artemus Winsky, editor of Second Hopes and Financial Trust magazine, a journal dedicated to finance in Second Life. “With his honest approach, only the truly stupid could possibly lose money through investing in his corporation. The staff at SHAFT magazine looks forward to seeing his investors get exactly what they deserve.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Master Peck's R Us

Well, the evening started out easily enough.

I had to take care of a small bit of Everwind business. I was in the midst of this when Mykyl contacted me and asked me to stop by when I could. I took care of Everwind tasks and zapped myself over to Faeria. Mykyl was there, standing in her new village, and wondering if I wanted my shop moved there.

I said yes, and I confidently picked which location I wanted. Then my business manager (the Princess) showed up, patted me on the head as if to say, "Hee hee. That's cute dear. Now get out of my way," and told Mykyl which location I really wanted.

I decided that I didn't want to use one of Mykyl's prefabs and said that I wanted to work on my own build, so we got out measuring tapes and bulldozers and started reforming the land and laying a foundation. Once that was done, we decided to move my Cataporter out of the way a bit. I moved fine, but I didn't trust that it moved fine, so I tested each setting to ensure that I didn't bump into any walls while hurling about the sim.

So, I finally got to working on the texture for my foundation (it took quite a bit of time to find just the right one), and I had time to put up a single wall before before a man I had contacted earlier who owned a new Sim responded to my query about putting up a shop there. We IMd a bit, when he decided to TP me over.

My business manager came with me, and we found a good store front. He then started taking us on a tour of the city / ocean / forest. It really is an incredible sim. I just wish I could remember the name of it. Not to worry. I'll have another Master Peck franchise there before the end of the week, and I'm sure I'll mention it in another post.

The only problem is that I agreed to hang around there and to be a role-player. Which sounds like fun in principle, but in practice will take up more of my time, of which I am already short some 26 hours for each day that goes by. I made a commitment, and I'll stick with it. If the sim takes off, it'll be magnificent, and I'll have a good location from which to sell my goods. If it doesn't, well, we'll worry about that should that eventually come to pass.

So I've expanded to basically six locations. Faeria, by far my biggest and best store, 4 vending devices in two sims for the Period Stop, my Enchanted Frog Gadgets store in Ballyboo, my generic Master Pecks / Enchanted frog cross breed store with Oaktree shops and Skye Qi in Zebranky, and the new shop I'm setting up in the sim whose name I can't remember but that I've just investigated this night. I have one person who wants me to set up a Cataporter to sell in his sim, and a woman called Celina who wants me to build some specific new products and also wants me to set up shop in her sim. That's eight locations. Count my SLExchange and SLBoutique accounts that goes up to 10 locations.

None of this is quite adding up to instant wealth. This is a perfect get-rich-very-slowly scheme. It's not quite like Ginko as far as instant profits are concerned, but I'm quite happy with my return.

Hey. It's a living.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Family Ties

Well, this evening I learned that I've somehow gained three sisters-in-law and a mother-in-law. Princess never told me that she was Mykyl's and Minerva's and Hestia's sister, and that Dulcinea was her mom. Kind of big details to omit. Not that I have a problem with it, but one does like to know who one's family is, doesn't one?

Well, it's kinda nice to have family. I wonder if Alpha and Aianna and FD are cousins? I don't know that I have a mother or father, or any brothers or sisters of my own. Second Life is like that. You don't know who your family is until you meet them for the first time, sometimes.

I spent the day attending to details, mostly. I worked on a three colored spotlight for our holiday island. I reduced the price of the ship's wheel from L$95 to L$60, as I haven't sold a single copy as of yet. On the other hand, my L$20 towel dispenser has already sold one copy, and I just put it on the market yesterday.

I haven't been Everwind-ing very much lately, which is a bad thing. I get great personal satisfaction out of being the Speaker for Castan. It is something that allows me to come into touch with myself, and to help others, and to get my own values centered. Plus I get to walk around in cool cloaks and stuff. There is much that comes along that makes me think about things. That's the secret behind role-play. It is not the fact that you are talking to a dragon that is important. It is the fact that you are talking to a different conscious entity, learning his or her ways, adjusting to his or her values, learning to duck from his or her flames when he or she belches. It's about learning and cooperation and problem solving. Sometimes, its about failing, and learning to move on.

Well, I don't want to stay up too lat tonight. The Princess's animator got mad at me 'cause I fell asleep with the laptop screen shining in her face, and I wouldn't wake up to turn it off. Don't want to repeat that.

So, goodnight, my family and friends. I'll see many of you in the 'morrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sleepy Blog Entry

So what do I write about tonight?

I've stopped procrastinating and loaded some long overdue products onto SLExchange. But I honestly don't think any of you really care about that.

My real life self stayed up this late simply so he could run the dishwasher and get our toothbrush cups back in the new cupboard that I installed today, but I honestly don't think any of you really care about that.

My Real Life self also cleaned the living room. It still needs a good vacuum, but beyond that it looks pretty good. But, well, yada yada.

I had a great time at PHC tonight. I usually do. I got their late due to my RL teenager's boyfriend being very talkative after he raked the front lawn for us. He says he will do the back lawn tomorrow. He's a great kid, but not really Mr. Reliable. So we'll see. But he's making an effort again to be sociable. He's trapped in the video game vortex. We're all kind of hoping that he'll grow out of it. Fat chance. I never did.

My RL ears are ringing constantly. The volume of the sound waxes and wanes, but it's always there. I seem to have a serious mental block about calling the doctor about it.

And I seem to be a bit melancholy. Being melancholy at 2:30am while writing a blog entry is probably a bad thing. The temptation to whine is omnipresent. I shall resist.

[RL] So tired. I think cat is going to be a feline pain tonight. I already had to get the water pistol on him because he was meowing for no readily apparent reason. Well, the readily apparent reason is that he is lonely. But we are tired and need to sleep. Meowing is incompatible with this. So one of us is going to be unhappy. And I have the water pistol, and I'm bigger than he is. He will whine despite this. He will whine because he is more persistent in insisting on love than we are resistant to falling asleep with a water pistol in my hand.

Well, falling asleep won again. I finish and post this in the morning. Good day all. Joy and whatnot.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Winter Comes to Second Life

It has suddenly almost come full circle. I started taking Second Life seriously in January of the beginning of this year. Although, chronologically, I was almost a year old, I was for all other intents and purposes as new as any other newbie. I had first come into existence in March of 2006. My movements upon my birth were too choppy, and my existence was too sporadic to be called “alive.” I first came in world on a faster computer seriously for the first ever Michigan Library Association conference held in a virtual world. This happened in mid January, and the Princess and I have been in-world ever since.

Newbies have poor memories, for there is far too much happening when one first comes in world for it to make logical sense. I suppose there were a lot of winter places around in January, but I can remember little of them now. Most of my memories, therefore, come from spring and summer, and thus SL always seemed to be a warm place. But now, winter clothes are coming into fashion, and I’m beginning to see snow more and more frequently as I look around.

And somehow Second Life SEEMS colder. Maybe it’s just my animator’s RL house temperature, but I know that it felt a bit odd putting on a swimsuit in our tropical home. I was even reluctant to jump into the ocean because I was afraid of the temperature. I still find it amazing how my animator’s body affects my mind. I see palm trees and flowers, and I still feel like I should have a sweater on.

I spent some time tonight with Skye Qi and Kurston Brody as they discussed adding touches of snow to the Oak Tree Shoppes. Oak Tree Shoppes is where I have another Master Peck’s furniture franchise, but this store is more than just furniture. It’s a little mixture of Master Peck’s and Enchanted Frog Gadgets. My sales are only moderate here, and she charges a 30 percent commission. But it’s a nice area, and I had fun alternately meteoring and blizzarding Skye and her friends. Good conversation, and good fun.

I left there and basically did nothing at all for the rest of the evening. I explored the ocean a bit and had the Princess put out a couple of Tai Chi pose balls. I spent the rest of the evening meditating and shooting at turkeys with my watermelon gun. (Don’t get the ASPCA on me, the turkeys barely noticed the attacks. Tough birds, they are.)

Well, I once again am in serious danger of falling asleep with the keyboard on my lap, so see ya’ll later.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Marketing in Second Life


Properly putting an item for sale in SL is a pain in the butt.

Last night I put my new ship’s wheel for sale. It is a simple, unscripted object. It took me over an hour before it was completely ready.

Each product to be added to the marketplace must go through a number of tedious steps. Most of them are not truly necessary. But my products are not typically big sellers, so they need every advantage they can get.

The first thing I do is decide on pricing. I look at all the similar products for sale on the market. In many cases, because my items are unique, there are no real similar products to make a fare comparison too. Still, I get an idea. In the case of the ship’s wheel, there aren’t a lot of other one’s out there. I thought my wheel weighed in heavily with 23 prims. One of the ones for sale had 85(!) prims. I think mine is much better looking, but that could just be a matter of taste. This puppy sold for L$175. The other one I could find in SLExchange sold for L$25 and was a single prim—just an alpha photo. The only other one was the sold in the Astoria ship yard, which was $125 and, again, not quite as nice as mine. I chose to list mine at L$95, undercutting my two main competitors but still not breaking that L$100 barrier.

Next there was the photography. I have a full bright, white room in Ballyboo. I rezzed my wheel there and snapped a pic. I like having a pure white background because the resulting photos look great in SLX. Then I went up to my SLX box, added the wheel to the contents, and reset it. Then, as I usually forget to set the permissions properly, I had to go back, fix the perms, and reset it again.

Then I have to write up my little advertising blurb. I include a description of the item, the item’s purpose using every conceivable key word I can think of to make it findable. I also include a link to the main store that blurb so that people can see the actual item in-world. At this time I usually remember that I forgot to include the store landmark in the actual item, so I have to rez the item, put in the landmark, and make yet another trip to the SLX box to put in the new version and reset it again.

Then I convert my bmp photos to jpgs, upload them to SLX, fix a few typos and call it done. The my wife thinks of some more keywords, so I reload the SLX page, put in the new keywords, fix a few more typos, and call it done again.

Then I have to actually put the item IN the store. I create a display model of the item, which includes a landmark, the actual item, and some floating text indicating what it is and the price. If the item is too large or has too many prims to display, I will also have to pay to upload the pic so I can place it on a vendor board. If this is the case I will usually either paint shop it or have the Princess use Power Point to add item info to the picture. Depending on the item, I will also include a notecard distribution script and a descriptive notecard. Also depending on the nature of the item, I will also include an instruction manual. I set the permissions, rename the display model so that it shows the tag of the location I’m selling it from, set the price, make sure that it is set to sell the contents, and move it to the optimal position in my store. Then I take a copy of the display model into my inventory so that I have one ready should I choose to make it available at another location. If I’m running a classified ad on the store, I would go into my classifieds and add the item to the listing there.

THEN I would go to the SL forums under new product listings, make a copy of my SLX ad, add a link to my SLX ad, find the correct forum, paste in the text, upload the photos again, post it, and call it done.

With a hot seller, I will sell maybe three or four copies during a month. More typically I will sell a single copy every couple of months. I did, however, sell 10 turkey legs yesterday, and another glass of water.

So, consider this a how-to manual for how to put things on sale. If I’m doing many items at once, I can get on a roll and reduce my time per item to a half-hour to 45 minutes or so per item. I’m sure that there are still many marketing tricks I am missing, but I’m happy with what I have for the most part. The Cataporter is my biggest money earner, and the Sauna comes in a close second, but I currently have 26 items for sale on SLX, and somewhat more than that in-world. The sheer quantity of my product line is what gives me a steady-ish income. The more that’s out there, the more opportunities there is for sales. You can’t sell what people can’t buy.

I know that many of my friends are not really entrepreneurial-like, money-grubbing capitalists like I am, but just in case any of you decide to try the route of trying to earn a few extra lindens from some of the work you’ve done that you’re proud of, well, this would be a start.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Captain's Wheel


Captain's Wheel
Originally uploaded by Alphonsus Peck
I made a steering wheel for my boat. (OK, a Captain's wheel). The one's at the Astoria shop were outrageously overpriced. This one is a better design, anyway. It's nevertheless a hefty bugger, weighing in at 23 prims. It seems quite elegant, and will of course eventually be added for sale from Enchanted Frog Gadgets. What is it about the steering wheel of a boat that evokes such feelings of elegance?

Oops. Taking laptop naps again. Goodnight, and good news!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Day Fortunately Not Crushed

Lately I've been doing all of my blog posting at night with a little laptop computer while my animator lay (lie?) in bed. As he is usually 9/10ths asleep when I make the entry, I always look forward to reading the post the next day to see what we actually wrote.

He didn't quite make it last night. I wrote about 3 paragraphs full of random drivel about the Cataporter before sleep finally took him. He woke up at 5 am (because the cat was hungry) to find the Princess's animator sleeping on top of the laptop. The laptop survived because the Princess's animator is fortunately light of frame. In retrospect, it's probably fortunate that he didn't stay awake enough to press the send button, because the entry would have been deathly dull. So he's sneaking some valuable and illegal work hours so that I can write up this entry.

I spent a good portion of my morning yesterday on Cataporter advertising stuff, and still have a quite a bit to do. I want to offer the solid gold version before the Christmas shopping season starts in full force. The Princess and I then spent a good amount of time looking at Christmas stuff. We found this wonderful little Christmas market place, with ice skating snowmen and singing penguins and trains and sleds and reindeer and just about everything else cool you could imagine. We ended up escaping from there without spending a linden because we had no place to put any of it. All of our land holdings are either in Ballyboo, where we are short on prims, and in our secret beach front, where we don't actually have any "land". It's all water and all tropical. Snowmen would melt within minutes after they sunk to the bottom of the ocean. 'Tis a muddle, but we will work out a solution.

I then spent almost an hour looking for the place from which we purchased the Astoria, so I could look at the more expensive versions and use them as inspiration to spiff up my own simple boat. I did buy a captain's hat and a ship's bell, but took pictures of the rest and have already made a fair amount of headway into making improvements. I bought a seagull that flies randomly and squawks occasionally. My only problem with him is that he is a bit two dimensional. If you look at him edge on he virtually disappears. We'll need to stock our water with some fish (or throw some half-eaten junk food about) so that he can fatten up a bit.

Mykyl has taken up the challenge of re-centering herself, to which I can only smile and offer a steady hand. She seems to have been a bit wobbly of late, and I'm hoping she can settle enough to find where her actual center is.

Joy, love, light, seagulls, and french fries, everyone. Peace out.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cataporter 2.0. At last!

I did it!

A new scientific breakthrough comparable almost to the invention of striped toothpaste in terms of its world-wide significance!

Cataporter 2.0 is now released! The major improvement? It can fire at ANY ANGLE! Dodge under low lying trees. Fly over inconvenient ban lines. Drop passengers in the middle of narrow hallways. The new Cataporter can handle it without breaking a sweat.

Now constructed with a higher quality wood and with added bronze parts, the new Cataporter is now an attractive addition to any household.

/me wipes the oil from his hands, his eyes sore from studying and tinkering with the precisely engineered and robust inner mechanical workings of the mechanism.

Exhausted from my labor, I can now sleep triumphantly, so that I may be well rested to properly advertise the item and set SL on fire with this marvelous invention. Goodnight, fair folk. I will gladly provide rides to all tomorrow. In the mean time, my pillow calls to me. Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

I started off going to Huin tonight to add a tag to the name of my Cataporter. Then I decided to move it to a better location. Then I deciding to tweak the destinations. Then I ended up deciding to make a minor correction to the way it rotates.

Three hours later, I managed to get my minor correction to work properly. I had disassembled and reassembled the thing a dozen or so time. It now looks exactly the same as it did. The only change is that you can now sit in the seat without being kicked out while changing destinations. Jeez-o-peetz!

And after all this I forgot to add the stupid tag to the name.

Yes, I do want to make changes to the Cataporter, but this change, while kinda important, is not really advertisible as a significant improvement. I’ve been stymied by the significant improvements I want to make (adding two additional firing angels--30 and 60 degrees--to the original 45). Even cooler would be making it possible to have an infinite number of firing angles, and to have a projectile that reports back its location so that the Cataporter can recalibrate until it gets the shot exactly right.

I get too many damned good ideas, but my follow through seems less than desirable. This challenges my math skills to my outward levels. I’ve long ago left behind my calc and mathematical engineering classes. Librarianship rarely requires this degree of mathematical knowledge.

This again begs the question, “Why the hell am I a librarian?” I have the mind of a scientist…the skills of a computer programmer…the desire to be a writer or an artist… I look back and am always wistful and kick myself over the “what could have beens.” Why didn’t I follow my real dreams when I was younger? The same answer slaps me in the face each time…complacency…lack of follow through…too afraid of my own shadow to look at the light that casts it.

Oh well. I yam what I yam. I suppose I should just learn to be comfortable with it. 40 years of trying to change myself has resulted mainly in disappointment. And whining about it certainly isn’t going to change anything. I will stoically return to my uninspiring job tomorrow to do uninspiring things. There are worse jobs out there, and I can’t say that I hate what I do. But when I look at the “could have beens…”

Sigh. At least I am the inventor of the Cataporter. That means something important to me, although I can’t really be sure what.

Auf wiedersehen, my friends. May you not forget to follow YOUR dreams.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When Metal Strings Strike the Soul

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Of all the pieces of music ever written, this is one is probably my favorite. To me it is perfect, everything a piece of music should be: poetic, haunting, balanced…something about the melody resonates in my head and my soul, whatever that is. I can’t listen to it without being awed by it.

It just started playing by accident when I plugged in my memory key into my laptop. For some reason, RealPlayer was the program that chose to play it. Annabelle the Sheep is dancing to it. A gopher has just passed under her legs and stuck its head up to listen for a bit before passing on to do more gopher related activities. A little flying saucer came up and shot her, but, while momentarily shocked, I appreciate her stamina to go right back to her dancing afterward.

It was for the sake of this piece of music that my real life animator took his one piano class in college. He never even got close to being able to play it, of course. The only pieces he learned to play were thirty-second ditties renowned for their extreme lack of renown. It is for the sake of this piece of music that he has continuously contemplated taking more serious lessons.

When I first met Catherine on that fateful day in Tyrol's garden, I stood mesmerized by her piano playing. The friend who took me there promptly got bored and left, as was her nature, but I steadfastly refused to move anywhere until the concert was over. When she had finished her pre-selected pieces, she asked for requests. I was the first to respond with the Moonlight Sonata. She played it from memory, I believe, and as well as I’ve ever heard it played.

I don’t know what it is about that piece of music. I haven’t researched its history, its meaning, or anything about it. I’m kind of afraid to, because whatever meaning it has is special now to my own heart. I’m afraid to have my personal meaning tainted by reality in any way.

I’ve replayed the piece some six + time while writing this post. It moves me as much time number six as it did with each subsequent playing.

A perfect piece to relax to before going to sleep. Sleep well tonight my friends. May your dreams be full of music and dancing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My new life on the sea

Me and my new little canal runner, the Dazed and Confused, have been having a grand ol’ time exploring the waters around our water property. Unlike my wife, whose animator grew up around water, my animator grew up in the suburbs, with occasional trips the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where his brother took him on torturous hiking races through the Porcupine Mountains. He went to the beach sometimes, but his only experiences with boating involved capsizing a sailboat and nearly drowning after a rather spectacular failure at learning how to water ski.

Despite the occasional ban lines, I’ve been finding the exploration of my nearby shorelines to be utterly fascinating. Beautiful lighthouses, wonderful boats and docks, whales, birds, fish, seaplanes, and lots of interesting other stuff are just a small part of what captures my attention while exploring. The Dazed is a nimble little craft, and seems to have no problem wandering between narrow channels.

My productivity has thus been at the low end of my average, but this seems quite comfortable right now. I’m still earning my sea legs, which to me is defined by being able to park the Dazed within 3 meters of the Astoria’s stern, making it possible to actually board my home without flying or getting my feet wet.

So, once again I am back in a lazy mode. My RL home life is on the stable side of incomprehensible, so this makes it possible for me to concentrate on other activities with only a few hundred thousand distractions. This is far better than my usual distraction set, whose quantities approach several million score.

Aianna seems to be a rather intense streak of very bad things happening in her life, and this concerns me greatly. Mykyl is achieving achievements at a furious rate. FD is FD. Alpha is, as ever, a complete mystery. Wildstar is his calm, wise, rational, Wildstar self. Catherine is simply not. In Everwind, I’ve gotten 3 new members of the Castan order in the last week—time for a party. Malakyte is having difficulties with Out Of Character snippiness, and Alandri, overworked as usual, seems to be making a real effort toward getting the Cleric’s Guild in order.

The Princess has a great idea about the Book Discussion Circle and Garrison Keilor. Please wait for further updates.

Light and Love, Greetings and Salutations, Farewell, Parting is such sweet sorrow . Insert proper departing cliché here. I have to go before I fall asleep with the keyboard in my lap again. It gets very warm when I do this. So, later dudes and dudettes.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

On my boat with my babe!


Here's a quick pick of me and my Princess on the Astoria in our little private retreat. Not much time in world tonight, but enough time to do some boat repairs and to cuddle. Isn't life wonderful?

Premium

I went premium yesterday, and for the first time I own property of my own, instead of just riding on the Princess’s coattails. The Princess worked out mathematically how we could save money by my donating tier and her dropping tier. We are, at long last, back down to a reasonable monthly payment again.

And I have my own boat! It used to be owned by Pink Floyd, but now it floats happily in our secret location. I’ve installed hammock, a couple of seats, and a bar, and put an Enchanted Frogs flag on the bow. The boat itself could use some repair work. (It's sea worthy, but some of the decking seems out of alignment in places.)

In other news, I did some tinkering trying to make my barstools swivel and found wasn’t getting anywhere. I hunted the forums for a swivel script to no avail, then I searched until I found such a script for sale. The good news? It’s all pre-written and ready to go. The bad news? It costs L$2000! Ouchee!!! I’d have to sell a heck of a lot of barstools to make that up, and I kinda doubt that the swivel factor is really worth THAT much. A friend of the man who sells the script is going to see if he can get me a deal, but, even at half price, I’d really have to think about whether or not its worth it.

Not much else to say. My animator is making 170 mile round trips for the next couple of days due to a library conference, so I’m not going to have a lot of left-over energy. In fact, I’m getting pretty tired right nZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, November 2, 2007

To Bitch or Not to Bitch

[RL] So, here I lie in the bed of the White Rabbit Inn. The trip thus far has been uneventful. The Princess’s animator has been moderately unhappy, and she is occasionally asking questions of me for which I don’t have answers.

Things have been difficult of late, and I’ve been feeling an overwhelming urge to whine and feel sorry for myself. I don’t like doing this. I try to avoid it to the utmost, as I know that those kinds of feelings are self-perpetuating. “I am sad, therefore, I will act sad, and therefore, by acting sad, I will become sadder, etc. etc, etc.” It is a very easy cycle to be caught in, and, once caught, not an easy cycle to break out of.

This knowledge, of course, does nothing to eliminate my desire to bitch. I can think of dozens of things to bitch about, and some instinct deep within me cries out with a deep-seeded, primordial need to bitch; to whine; to cry out, “Woe is me!” (Woe is I?) and to seek out hugs and cuddles and coddling.

And, while this is appropriate sometimes, too much of it can be habit forming. While I do enjoy coddling those who have problems on occasion, continuous coddling begins to become less of a “feel good” thing and more of an “obligation” thing.

My uncle, who just passed, was a prime example of stoicism in the face of impossible obstacles. The man’s wife died fifteen some years ago. He had a heart attack seven or so years ago, had open heart surgery a couple of times, congestive heart failure frequently, bypass surgery on what seemed to be more than a dozen occasions. He had diabetes, was ninety-five percent blind, had hand surgery that left his hand in a permanent, claw-like position, and had a slow-moving, painful form of cancer that was gradually eating him away.

And yet, he was always smiling, rarely complained, loved listening to classical music, and always answered, “fine,” whenever anyone asked him how he was feeling.

My uncle, in short, never bitched. Moreover, in spite of his troubles, he was usually a very happy man.

So there is some kind of secret there. Perhaps the key to happiness is not being unhappy. A bit simplistic perhaps, but I can’t say that bitching has ever led to happiness, at least for myself. Maybe not being unhappy is worth a shot.

Safe paths, my friends. Bitch if it brings you pleasure. As for myself, I think I’m just going to say that everything is “just fine” instead. :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Drama and Unjust Accusations

Sigh...

In an earlier post, “Cluelessness as the Key to Success,” I stated that I, essentially, am not good at staying angry at people. As a corollary, I think it can safely be assumed that I try to avoid drama at all costs.

This does not stop drama from occurring all around me, however, and it does not keep me from occasionally being drawn into the middle of it, despite my best efforts.

One thing I hate more than drama is injustice. An injustice done unto me I can disregard. An injustice done unto another I have a much, much harder time ignoring.

And it is more or less impossible to talk about the problems without naming names. So let me say this as quickly and as simply as possible.

FD, Princess did NOT offer to try to sell your products with profits for herself in mind. She offered to sell your products in an attempt to help you and to help you realize your self worth. Some of your products are too good to be kept to yourself. The Princess is good at marketing. She was offering to give floor space for your stuff, create advertising copy, take photos, upload textures, and in essence do all the work of selling your things for you. In return, she was asking for a mere 10% commission, partially to help offset upload and labor costs, and partly because she felt it was very fare considering the work she was offering to do. Any profits she got from the sales would be miniscule and not worth her efforts. She was doing it as an offer of friendship, and for no other reason.

FD, when Princess talked to you after your argument with our then mutual friend, YOU initiated the contact. The Princess talked to you for well over an hour, giving you her full attention, and genuinely trying to help as best she could. When she saw that the conversation was getting circular and she could see no way of resolving the conflict, she tried to break off the conversation easily. I can remember her RL self saying, “He said, ‘Sorry for wasting your time.” I didn’t say he was wasting my time at all!” She was flabbergasted and frustrated. She was trying to help someone whom she considered to be a good friend, and felt she was getting her hand bitten in the process.

As for her “ignoring” you, the Princess is painfully shy and likes to hide. It takes her a long time to warm up to many people. Many of the posts in her own blog talk about this very issue.

The reasons for the Princess’s anger are that she feels that she did everything she could to be a friend, and her gestures of friendship were publicly and unjustly twisted acts of greed and selfishness.

Yes, she is my wife. Yes, I am defending her. But I can fairly say that she had done nothing, NOTHING, to deserve what you accused her of, and nothing that indicated that she was anything but a friend to you. She was genuinely hurt when she felt you turned on her, and even more hurt when you took her off your friends list.

This is all I plan to say on the matter. What I’ve said is not the truth as I see it, but as I KNOW it to be. I’m not open to debate, and I will tolerate no drama in the comments to this post. I don’t know what your argument with our mutual friend was, and I only care in so far as the outcome has somehow caused an explosion in the midst of my little circle of friends, and I, for one, can do without the heartache.

Sigh…

Now I’ve got a RL funeral to worry about, and am still making a serious effort to try to lift myself from my own depression. I am desperately hoping that I won’t have to worry any more about all this bullshit.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bartender, pour me another

I built the bar yesterday before Prairie Home Companion, and I built the shelves and the barstools today.

I originally was going to build a straightforward Renaissance bar, but finding photos of Renaissance liquor on the Internet is just about impossible. I did a thorough job of searching through texture stores until I finally found some perfect hooch. I made some modern bar chairs, added a sit script (which took me forever to get to line up right do to my own stupidity), and I’m quite satisfied with the results.

I still want to build an extender so the bar can be made longer at will. I’m debating making it available in different textures. Beyond that, the whole thing almost is ready for sale. I still need to research what price to charge (evil capitalist that I am, I won’t sell it for free except to friends, or maybe to people who ask real nice).

Maybe later on I’ll make a genuine Renaissance version, but I like this version quite a bit. It’ll do for now.

What would REALLY be cool is some kind of animation where a bartender can take a bottle, pour it over a glass (with animated liquid coming out of the bottle, of course), and fill the glass up, which would then be ready for anyone to pick up and drink. Maybe it’s been done, but I haven’t seen it, and it doesn’t SOUND too difficult.

Oh well. A project for another day or another year.

/me sighs contentedly

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Use for Chemistry

Not much to say tonight. Just forwarding on a link which I loved that was sent to me via e-mail with the following text.

This is a chemistry student's explanation of Hell. A professor at the University of Washington put the question on a test as a joke for "extra credit." Great!!!!! http://www1.investorvillage.com/smbd.asp?mb=294&mn=47759&pt=msg&mid=3323657

Friday, October 26, 2007

Okay, So Life Doesn't Suck

It is so easy to get complacent about the miracles of our world.

Yesterday I rode a duck – two of them, actually. I started out on the back of the mama duck, and then I rode on the back of the black baby duck who was trailing after the yellow baby ducks.

It was an interesting experience. The ducks rode around in a tidy little circle while I rode on them, completely content to have me on their backs. While riding, I got a frog to sit on a lily pad.

And this is just an every day thing for me. I barely thought anything of it at the time. I was just, “the thing to do.” The only reason I remember it at all is because The Princess posted a picture of it on her website.

I also modded the script in my wedding ring so that I can turn the bling on and off at will, jumped at least a half dozen times from our sky platform to the ground some 600 meter below, sold more than L$1000 in merchandise, L$1 of which was from selling a glass of water, I being the only seller of water in a glass among all of the 8,000,000+ residents of Second Life. I also sold my first copy of Sauna 2.0, with the revolutionary “invisible steam ball”

The upshot of all this is that my life isn’t so bad. I’ve been wearing the same items of clothing for about a week now, doing hard work in them, and they still look as clean as ever, and I honestly can’t smell anything from them. I have a beautiful bride, who unfortunately right now seems to be suffering from leprosy but I am hopeful that his will clear itself up after Halloween. I have hair. I have good friends I can turn to if I am in need. And I have a place I can call home, which seems to be standing on firm ground. True, the house disappears from time to time, but at least the ground hasn’t vanished beneath my feet, sending me pummeling 700 meters to the ground. This was a frequent problem with many of my previous homes, thanks to the Princess’s tendency to experiment with new locations for our platforms without telling me about her experiments first.

My animator is very tired right now, and if there are any further points I planned to make, I honestly can’t remember them at the moment. Goodnight, everyone. See you tomorrow.

Cluelessness as the Key to Success

My animator has (almost) always been an even-tempered individual.

I say almost, because he can remember a time, back when he was a child, when he used to whine and cry about everything. This behavior got him picked on by the other children, for there seems to be nothing that some children like more than to cause upset. He was easy pickings in this regard.

Sometime between 6th and 7th grade, this changed. Either something broke in him, or he learned a powerful lesson. Whichever it was, my animator suddenly became one of the calmest, most even-tempered individuals you’ve ever met. To this day, it takes a lot to rattle him, and even more to get him angry.

One of the things that makes it easier for my animator to stay even tempered is the fact that he is, for the most part, totally clueless. He doesn’t always know what’s going on, and it becomes very hard to become angry about a situation when he really doesn’t have a clue as to what the situation is. In addition, he is exceptionally forgetful. On those occasions when he did realize that he should probably get angry about something, the odds are very good that, the next time he runs into the person who caused the discontent, he will just fall back into old habits and treat him or her as my animator has all along – kind of with a nice balance of pleasantness and puzzlement. Even if he does realize he is supposed to be mad at the individual, he often can’t remember the full details as to why, and usually decides that it’s easier just to forgive the other person rather than risk getting into an argument about which he doesn’t know the issues.

I think I can say with some degree of certainty that this cluelessness has contributed to the success that my animator has had in life. Thanks to his brainlessly-derived forgiving nature, my animator has managed to make few enemies in life. He also has a gift for diplomacy when necessary, and another gift for cowering in fear for when he knows that diplomacy won’t work. These are major factors that make him successful at whatever it is he does at work. While his tendencies result from a far from stress free life, it is, for the most part, relatively free of conflict.

The connection between my animator and myself has given me many of these same tendencies, and I have, thus, experienced a corresponding level of success in Second Life. There are so many people around my animator and myself that experience emotions that are utterly beyond either of our comprehensions. I have few people who don’t like me, and I manage to accomplish most things with a reasonable level of non-incompetence. I have a hard time hating anyone. The few people that I have an active dislike for have made a very extra special, conscious effort to attain this position. If I don’t seem to respond to you in SL, it certainly isn’t because I don’t like you. It is my natural shyness compounded by my fear of exposing my cluelessness that makes me occasionally unresponsive. Do not worry that I don’t like you. Odds are very good that I would remember none of the reasons why I should dislike you, or even that have noticed that there may have been such reasons.

So, for those of you who wish to have a puzzled and sometimes happy and a mildly successful life, give cluelessness a try. If it works for me, it may work for you as well. If you wish lessons on how to appear clueless, simply watch me for a while. You can ask me for advice, but odds are likely that I will respond with a deer in the headlights pleasant expression. I’ll do my best, of course, but please don’t be surprised if my response makes no sense whatsoever. It works for me that way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

First Life First

First life first.

It is an expression I’ve heard more than one person use of late, the idea being that whatever takes place in first life takes precedence over whatever may be happening in second life. Which means, of summary, that my animator’s life is more important than mine is.

It is a concept I have difficulty with. I have tried to live my animator’s life and found myself bogged down by tedium. Clothes to wash, beds to make, dishes to be cleaned, cat litter to be scooped, paperwork to be filled out. So on etc. ad-nausum.

For me, in general, even my work is play. I frankly don’t know how he puts up with it.

And yet, put up with he must. And so must, therefore, I. Despite the prim boxes and giant-penised noobie avatars, SL is much, much cleaner than RL, and much, much easier to keep that way.

And when my animator lives in a chaotic environment, his thoughts get muddy. And, such is our connection, when his thoughts get muddy, so do mine. I felt sharp for the renewal ceremony to my beautiful Princess because HE felt sharp for it. When he feels numb, so do I. Such is the cycle. And when he feels tired, it is, truly, my eyes that close. Our connection is that intimate.

So, somehow, it is my responsibility as a somewhat saner (?) version of himself to try to keep him on task, for my OWN good.

And I can help, although I admit I have something to learn about his world. WANTING to help is another matter. I find the business every bit as tedious as he does, if not more so. Let us be honest here. My life is much more glamorous than his.

So it is not just he that must find balance, it is that he should learn that tat balance lies in his own world, not so much in mind. I still serve a purpose…a training ground…whatever. But it is he that must find a way to cope in his own world without looking toward mine as a way of hiding. And I must encourage him to do this if I am to help him, even if in the process it diminishes my own existence.

And now the best thing I can encourage my animator to is to go to sleep.

Goodnight all.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I can see clearer now, it started drizzling.

[rl]Greetings, all.

The fog in my head has lightened somewhat since my last post, and so my thoughts seem clearer. This leads to hopefulness, and this leads to me making promises to myself and to others. Later, the fog will return, and those promises will be forgotten on left unmet. I say this not out of hopelessness, but out of pattern observation. This has been the rhythm of my life for some 30+ years, and it would unrealistic for me to expect it to change on this occasion.

The trick is to somehow break this pattern. I don’t expect to be floating in blissful joy throughout my life, but I would like this constant seesaw between hope and despair to stop bouncing so hard.

The things that work best for improving my mood are straightening my workspace, eating properly, and exercise. Straightening my workspace in this case means cleaning my house, which is starting to get a bit unmanageable. Eating properly means…well…not eating the way I’ve been eating. I know what the right foods are. That is part of the problem. For some reason, the more I know about good nutrition, the more my mind seems to seek out the bad stuff. I’ve pulled out the old weight watchers calculator again. I’ve got about 30 lbs to lose. Last time, I lost this much weight in about 4 or 5 months. It ainna gonna happen this time unless I throw in some exercise.

So, exercise. Yeah…

20 minutes of aerobic activity every other day will probably be enough to encourage weight loss. More would be better of course. Everyday would be better yet. The problem with every other day type programs is that the other day always seems to be another day away. Everyday would work better for that reason alone. I won’t DO it everyday, but so long as I feel I’m supposed to, well, that may get enough in.

I’ve been here before. I can’t count the number of times. What is becoming different is the frustration…the feeling of why bother, it won’t last.

And maybe it won’t last, but a little exercise…a little weight loss, a temporary mood gain, is all better than slothfulness, weight gain, and sinking into a depressive pit. One day at a time.

Oh well. I have a meeting to get too about a statue. Be well.