Monday, December 31, 2007

Frozen butterflies

OK, since I was doing a lot of first life stuff far into December, and since I then left town for several days, I never did do any proper Christmas shopping in Second Life. Hopefully, a gift is a gift, whenever it's given. I'd been doing searches for shops that sell jewellery and not finding much I liked, and it occurred to me that I should revisit some places I hadn't been to in a while.

I used to shop at Coconut Ice on Butterfly Island all the time, at least when something was on sale. I've belonged to the update group since way back when. I even used to find places to change on Butterfly Island in the early days when I was homeless. So I always feel quite at home there.

I encountered something new as I walked through the door. Maybe it wasn't new, but I hadn't been to the store in quite a while, so it was new to me. It wasn't a greeter bot. It was some kind of fairy that flew around. It didn't say anything, but it was kind of cute. So I did my best to take a photo of it. Fortunately, it wasn't invisible in the picture!

I saw a notice about a winter display on the southeast corner of the island. Or maybe southwest. For some reason, I'm always drawn to winter areas of SL. I'm really not much of a winter person in first life. Many years ago, I moved away from snow and ice, not quite to the tropics but certainly to a less snowy place. Yet I love winter in SL. Maybe it's because it's not really cold, but looks very pretty.

The winter corner of Butterfly Island was quite lovely and charmingly strange. There were penguins skating on a rink that seemed also to be a dance floor. There was a snowman DJ. There were all kinds of weird things sticking up out of the ground.

As you can see, I was dressed very appropriately for the season. Ah, the wonders of SL! I should have got out my ice skates. Instead, I clicked on a couple of dance balls that seemed not to need a partner and boogied around with the penguins. I'll have to find out if there are ever any events on that corner. It's lonely exploring—and dancing—by myself!

Before I close... auld acquaintances shall not be forgot. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2008 to all and sundry!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The shortest day

I have been a terrible blogger. If anyone even bothers to check this blog any more, I apologize. I have actually been going in world a bit more often lately, since I escaped from school temporarily, but I haven't taken any photos, and I haven't really had any adventures. I finally caught up with Tatsuko the other day. I went to Umbra Penumbra a few days ago and got my new friend CodeBastard Redgrave to pop by and dance with me. On yet another night, I was dancing with my friend Wendy at a club the name of which I can't remember—some frozen beach club (only in SL, right?). I've IMed with a few people, including Patrice, who sent me a lovely Christmas card.

Fortunately, I have Twitter, which lets me stay in touch with people even when I'm not in world very much, but I'd really love to live my second life more often. I miss my friends.

On an entirely different subject, tomorrow officially has the least amount of daytime of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, which is where I live, and the most daytime in the Southern Hemisphere. At this hour, the official solstice has already happened. In this half of the world, at least in the temperate zone, Winter Solstice has long been a day of celebration, since in the days to come we will have more and more light. I love Winter Solstice and its association with light. I wish I could be in SL to celebrate the day with my dear friend Anwen, who is Wiccan.

May you hold the light of the darkest day in your heart, and maybe the increasing light in the days to come fill you with joy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The It Girl

Apparently, I've been tagged—twice. Someone I don't know tagged me first. My friend Peter Stindberg tried but was too late.

Tagged—what is? I never know what the latest trends are. Heck, I might not even know what the not-so-latest trends are. I think this tagging thing isn't new. Or maybe it is. I'm the wrong person to ask.

According to Peter, I am now supposed to post eight random facts about myself. Considering I am a Second Life character who doesn't have enough time lately to have much of a second life, that might be difficult. Not to mention that this blog has become rather poopy with only occasional postings. I'm also supposed to find eight other people to tag, and I guess they can't have been tagged already. That is so not going to happen! Very likely, most everyone I know has been tagged by now.

Does this smell a bit like a chain letter? Some people are into chain letters. Some people find them fun and amusing. Or else they are actually superstitious, which is a bit scary. Fortunately, this tag game doesn't seem to have any element of superstition about it. I haven't seen any dire threats of doom if I break the chain. And it's kind of fun to see random facts about other people.

If I come up with eight random facts about myself, I'll let you know. I mean, if I can't even do that, there's not much point in trying to tag anyone, eh?

Oh Peter, I added a link to your blog. I didn't know you had one until recently.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Splash

I've been trying to make a little more time to get in world lately. I miss my Second Life and I miss my friends. I'm grateful when they IM me or respond to my IMs during those rare times when I'm around.

The US company I work for in first life let us out three hours early on Wednesday, the day before American Thanksgiving, so I was online at a time when I usually am not. I saw that my friends Caterin and Therese were online. Cat and Tess are from Europe, and I almost never get to see them because of the eight and nine hour time difference.

I sent Cat an IM to say hi. Turns out that she's already played her hundredth piano in SL! Last I saw her blog, she was at 99. (To find out what this piano stuff means, check out her blog via the link on the right.) She said it had happened unexpectedly when she was watching a jazz performance at the Meatspace Lounge by someone she knew. I immediately teleported over to the Meatspace Lounge on Tuli to nab myself a landmark (it's notably weird that the SL client has never allowed setting a landmark from a search without having to follow it first). While I was there, I found this gong that I couldn't resist whacking. It made a great sound! I'll have to get back there when there's a gig, because I love real jazz. No "soft jazz," please!

Meanwhile, Cat said that she and Tess were being mermaids and asked if I wanted to pop on over. I'd never done the mermaid thing before, so I thought it sounded like something worth trying out, not to mention that I would get to see Tess and Cat. So I found myself at EmeraldEver's Shop by the Sea, looking at mermaid gear. Turned out that Tess had bought a "fat pack" by mistake, so she offered me one of the mermaid sets in a colour she didn't want to keep. What a doll! I gratefully accepted the green outfit and put it on. I also bought the animation override, but I wasn't allowed to rez the box on that land! Dumb. So I skipped on that and just used the pose balls in the water.

We posed in the floating shell chairs and floated calmly in the warm water (I'm imagining that it was warm). My swimmer HUD didn't work as a substitute for the mermaid HUD, but no matter. It was just great to hang around with Cat and Tess and splash in the water. They were both up way past their bedtimes, so they didn't stay long, but I think we might be back there soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Like riding a bicycle

I should have got around before now to blogging that I got the opportunity for DJ gig last Tuesday night. Jasper Haifisch, who is now co-owner of the Velvet, had said that there should be a time when I could substitute, if I could make the time in my own schedule.

With classes and other activities, Tuesdays have become one of the only nights when my SO and I can have dinner at home together. This past Tuesday, however, SO was out for the evening, so I told Jasper that I'd be happy to do a set, if there was an opening. And there was! Therese was doing an early set, so I kicked in when she went off at 7 p.m. SL time., and streamed my usual tunage for the next two and a half hours or so.

Things were pretty slow at first. It's been a while since I spent much time at the Velvet, and I wasn't sure how things were going any more. In SL, as in first life, the popularity of clubs ebbs and flows, and crowds sometimes change loyalties. I knew hardly anyone in the room! But then later, Leticia and Rais came by, followed by Patrice, and a few more people I knew, and the ones I didn't know were having a good time. Thank you all for your contributions to Veronique's clothing drive (I haven't been shopping in far too long).

Toward the end of the set, I was even asked if I had a group! I explained that since I don't have much time to DJ these days, there was no point in my having a group so people could keep track of gigs, but it was great to hear such an inquiry.

I have to admit, though, that I've been lax about my music library since I stopped DJing on a regular basis. Sometimes I felt like I was playing the same old shit, and I wanted something new. So maybe I should do something about that in case I get another chance to do a set. Not only do I want to keep my audience happy; I want to keep myself entertained as well!

You didn't really think I remembered to shoot any pictures, did you?

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's not just the economy, stupid

Here's a bit of first life and Second Life combined.

On Halloween night, SO and I had just finished watching the local news and were waiting for more trick-or-treaters to arrive. As is our wont, we changed the channel to CBC Newsworld, which often has good documentaries at 7 o'clock. And what did we find there? "You Only Live Twice," a documentary about Second Life from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

It seems to have been done last spring, shortly before voice went live on the main grid, and it was actually pretty good. The reporter was not flippant or dismissive. I think she enjoyed her time in world. She interviewed Philip Rosedale, of course. Man, is he adorable! Still looks about 20 years old. And he's wicked charming. She also interviewed other proponents of SL as well as a few prominent SL residents, notably real estate mogul Anche Chung, virtual sex merchant Stroker Serpentine, and clothing designer Simone Stern, both in world and in first life. She also interviewed some critics of SL, so the presentation was pretty balanced.

One major beef, though. Why is it that media examinations of SL pretty much always focus on money and business? This doc did touch on the social aspects of SL, and not just in the context of virtual sex (although it spent plenty of time there), but it was only a touch. I am so much more interested in SL as social experiment than I am in how much money Anche Chung made last year or how safe Simone's designs are as intellectual property.

For instance, was the reporter unaware that massive numbers of men, and not just transgendered men, play women in SL? Or did she ignore this phenomenon? From my counselling practice and from the comments on my PixelPulse article on voice in SL, I've seen a range of reasons for men doing this. Transgendered people living virtual opposite-sex lives is interesting enough, but what about the men who are completely cis-gendered, not even cross-dressers in real life, but who choose to be women in SL? And what about how they express, again and again, how this has changed their view of the world and of other people, especially women?

And what about virtual love and virtual relationships as opposed to virtual sex? What do relationships between avatars mean? Just where is that area between a cyber-relationship and playing a game? There is so much more to SL than currency exchange, really!

SL says to anyone who enters, OK, here you can be anything you want to be. What would you like to be? If someone's answer to that is "wealthy," well, it's their second life. But I prefer to let my imagination fly freely. I can make money in first life. But in SL, I can be and do so many things that simply aren't possible for me in first life. And that's what I find fascinating about SL. I wish someone would make a documentary entirely on that subject.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cozy crystal cave

I saw Patrice a few days ago at her new place. It was great to see her. We chatted for a bit, then she had to go offline. So I wandered around the island she's living on, since I know some of her neighbours, one of whom is Tatsuko.

Tats wasn't around, but I'd heard about this grotto that Patrice had built for her, and I wanted to see it. I found Tats's house and the stairway leading down into the earth. It got a bit stuck on the door post but managed to duck and make my way in.

I turned the corner to find the grotto itself. What a beautiful place! I love the fountain on the right as you walk in, pouring out of the wall into the giant urn. Then there's a lovely big hot tub in the floor, which is most inviting. And to the left, there is a shimmering wall of water. The whole place just sparkles.

As usual, Patrice has paid attention not only to the look of the place but also to sounds. The running water is so relaxing! I tried out a pose ball or two and just enjoyed being in those surroundings, listening to the beautiful sound.

Sorry you have only my poor snapshots to look at. This grotto is on private property. Maybe Patrice will get a commission to build something similar on a public sim somewhere. It's well worth sharing!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Feedback loop

It took two invitations to get me to join Twitter, and even then I went kicking and screaming. Well, maybe kicking and whimpering. Twitter started out as a way to tell your friends what sort of trivial thing you were up to every moment of the day ("having coffee") and evolved into a sort of mini-blogging and social networking service. When I was invited I thought, ye gods, I don't need a new way to waste time. Can't get sucked into this.

Cala tried to get me to join a long time ago, but it was Cheri Horton who succeeded. She was already a member of Twitter (as Noche) as was Lienna (as Mercy), and the service was going to be a way for the PixelPulse staff to stay in touch. So in went Julian, Samantha, and me. It wasn't long before my tiny network of friends had grown to something like 20 or 30, and "tweeting" became a bit of an obsession. Yep, I got sucked in.

I'm usually cautious about who I follow in Twitter. I always follow those I know. I have also added, over time, certain people who know someone I know. Many of those people are in Second Life. So Twitter has ended up augmenting my SL Friends list and introduced me to cool new people.

One of these people whom I have known in Twitter for a while is HyMe Neurocam, who might or might not be a robot. HyMe is quite a character. One of the more recent additions is a fairly well-known person in SL with a particularly imaginative name, CodeBastard Redgrave. When I logged in to SL late on Saturday night, I saw a notice from Codie that there was a party at her club. Almost immediately, a teleport assist from Codie showed up on my screen. Normally, I don't hop on TPs that aren't preceded by at least an IM, but I figured I'd go with this one.

By the time I beamed in to the Code Red Lounge, there weren't many party goers left. Codie was bumping and grinding on a pole, which she says she rarely does. I'll have to take her word for it! I met HyMe in SL for the first time. He was giving us a bit of the ol' Chippendale routine, and there sure ain't nothing wrong with that.

I didn't stay too long, but I had fun while I was there. Even with only a few of us, conversation was good. Codie's got some pretty cool dances loaded into her dance machine. The music was a bit techno, but I was handling it OK. I offered my services as a rock DJ if one was ever needed. And next time I see a notice from the Code Red group, I'm going to show up earlier, is something much redder and probably skimpier, and party down!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Burnt Life

This entry is really late, but I think the Burning Life sims might still be up. Consider it a retrospective.

Being completely out of it, I had never even known what Burning Man was until I looked it up this year. Seems like something I might have been into, oh, 20 or 30 years ago, back in the post-hippie days, or more likely something I would have been dragged into by friends with more enthusiasm for camping than I ever had.

Burning Life is kind of a Second Life tribute to Burning Man. People are supposed to let their creativity run wild, just as at Burning Man. There are art installations, staged events, weird little things like that Sacred Heart of Elvis with Pineapples setup (I have no idea what it means), and at some point a virtual burning of a giant statue, just like at the real thing. People even build campsites.

I visited the Burning Life sims over the course of several days, both alone and with my friend Anwen. I never caught any of the events, I'm afraid, and I didn't even find the controversial naked sculpture. I did find a controversial defence of child avatars, as you can see in the photo. That was a bit surprising, but certainly plays into the theme of freedom of expression. I also found a few interesting builds, but not nearly as cool as I expected. I actually saw stuff like upside-down cones covered in moss. Ye gods, that's like building practice 101! Why would such a thing be at Burning Life?

I did like the Shakespearean theatre (not sure if it was supposed to be a Globe replica), the frozen Arctic exhibit, and a few other installations. "Chicken Eatza," a pyramid designed to highlight the inhumane treatment of chickens, was mildly entertaining (I agree with the sentiment expressed). Still, I thought there would be cooler stuff. Maybe I missed it all somehow. There was definitely a lot of room there!

Maybe next year I should pay more attention to events and try to find out where the really good stuff is, assuming it exists.

Monday, October 1, 2007

They've shown this on both screens

Pardon the first life intrusion, but this has a Second Life connection, which I'll explain.

I'd been hearing about a band called the New Pornographers for years. Since I live near Vancouver, British Columbia, it was hard not to hear about the famous home-town band. It was made up of musicians who already had solo careers or careers with other bands, people like Carl Newman and Neko Case. They'd formed in the late 1990s with the intent of recording one album together. Mass Romantic was so successful, however, that they kept going, and have now recorded their fourth.

Even though I had read about the New Pornographers, I didn't pay much attention. I wasn't paying much attention to rock bands at the time. I was still intent on making my own music. And I have always been allergic to hype. As well, I wasn't hearing music from this band on either of the rock stations I tend to listen to when I'm driving my car, and that was my only music input at the time.

Fast forward to my life in Second Life. After lots of career false starts, I started to DJ in the spring of 2007. That spurred a renewed interest in music, especially new music. I started to find music from as many free but legal sources as I could find. That's how I discovered Bloc Party, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Les Breastfeeders, Land of Talk, and the Decemberists, as well as not-so-new stuff from artists like PJ Harvey.

While I was DJing, I was also listening to other DJs to hear what they were playing. One of my favourites was Barely Schlegal. He played a wonderful array of music from a wide variety of sources, including one of my favourites, Mission of Burma. It was at one of his shows, likely at the Velvet, that I first heard the New Pornographers. I was hooked immediately. And how embarrassing! I had to be made acquainted with a band from the town where I lived by a DJ from Texas!

Once I discovered the New Pornographers, I downloaded a whole slew of their songs from eMusic, and they became a regular part of my sets. So when my SO and I found out that the band were playing at one of our favourite clubs in Vancouver, we were there. I bought the new CD, Challengers, which I loved, and got familiar with the songs.

The show was last Friday, and it was amazing. The New Pornographers don't really put on any kind of spectacle, but they are such a good band that you don't care if there's nothing in particular to watch. They played most of the new album and songs from each of the previous three, mostly ones I'd been playing on my shows. I cried for joy listening to the gorgeous "Challengers," which Neko sang beautifully, and "Adventures in Solitude." I couldn't stop dancing and bopping for the rest of the show. It earned a place on my "best of all time" concert list.

We might never have been there if it had not been for Second Life, my DJing, and our man Barely. Thanks, dude.

More Second Life to come—wanderings across the playa at Burning Life. With pictures!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Innocence lost

Last night, Patrice and I ended our partnership. There were a lot of reasons for it, which I will not go into here. I will only say that it was me who had the reasons. It's me who said I couldn't go on. Patrice was not in the same place, and as a result, I hurt her terribly.

People thought we were an exemplary couple, and for a long time we probably were, although that was a lot to live up to. Our partnership was never perfect, but when difficulties arose, we talked them out. We didn't run away, and we didn't have huge drama. I know that a lot of people looked up to us. Hopefully, they can still look up to Patrice for having tried to continue as we had done. Hopefully, they will not look down on me too badly for having lost the ability to continue.

We had a period of serious difficulty. She recovered from it. I didn't.

When I first started Second Life, I had little idea of what to expect. Everything was new. As I discovered things about SL, I discovered even more about myself. SL isn't a game, or at least never has been for me. It's an exploration.

I was still pretty "young" is SL terms when I met Patrice at Cala's party on September 8, 2006. I had only just been introduced to the other side of my bisexuality by Tatsuko. I was drawn to the idea of partnership, but still unsure. Patrice and I came together quickly, weathering the trials of a new relationship, which are all the more difficult in SL, an environment in which it's difficult to build trust. We partnered on September 27th, considering that our engagement, and we were married on October 13th before family and friends.

Patrice has always been more SL-savvy than I. I learned so much through her. I met so many people. I was introduced to new experiences. She made a wonderful home for us on the beach at Iron Fist. I don't think I ever was able to reciprocate in the same way. Hopefully, I brought something else to our relationship—love, devotion, empathy, and some amount of interpersonal skills. We were good for each other. We made beautiful love together. We laughed and cried and shared. We grew together for a long time in SL terms.

Lately, we had grown apart—different priorities, different interests, different ways of looking at SL. Patrice was making the effort to overcome the difficulties. I had lost the will. I don't know why. It wasn't a lack of love for Patrice. I think it has something to do with my current difficulties with SL, and that's due to a lot of changes in my first life.

First life must always come before SL. It's weird and wonderful that the things I'm going through in first life have a lot to do with SL. But they take a lot of effort. In the process, I've lost something in SL. I would like to get it back, but I'm not sure how yet.

I'm so grateful for the past year that I've shared with Patrice. I'm sorry for the way I've hurt her, sorry for what we've lost. I hope she thrives in both SL and first life. I hope I get back to that as well.

Be well, my darling, now and always.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not enough play time!

Time passes quickly in Second Life. Some people think of years in SL like dog years, seven for every one. Some go even higher!

I've been in SL for over a year, so maybe that's more like 10 plus.

Apologies, dear readers (what few of you are left) for the state of this blog recently. I'm going to have to re-evaluate it, I think. This is supposed to be a blog about SL and me in SL, but right now I'm not there often enough for that to make sense. When I do go in world these days, it's often for specific reasons. I'm not exploring. I'm hardly even shopping! What's up with that?

I'm not sure when these doldrums started. I think some of it began with the long stretch when Patrice was completely occupied with working on EnelPark. That was a difficult time for me, although I did make contact with a lot of people. Some of it probably began when I went away for a week and a half in first life during July. That was the longest time with no SL that I'd had since I'd joined. When I got back, Patrice was still working on EnelPark, although not quite as much. But I found that after having done other things for 11 days, not even on a computer, I was feeling less compelled by SL.

I got back into it, but it was never quite the same again. Not entirely sure why. I still enjoy SL. I still enjoy having my virtual life. I definitely enjoy meeting people, going places, and seeing new things. But there's a distance between me and SL that is new.

Part of it is the loss of activities that were important to me. I'm no longer doing a regular DJ shift due to school work. That was a big part of SL for me once I'd started to do it. I'm also no longer writing for PixelPulse Magazine, which was laid to rest. Writing for PixelPulse kept me involved in many aspects of SL and meeting new people. I still have my counselling practice, but clients are few and far between.

Part of the disconnect is due to first life. I work full time during the day. I'm in class for my counselling program two nights a week, with reading and assignments between classes. I'm volunteering (in a counselling capacity) at least three nights a month. I'm working on some personal things as well. All of that takes not only time but attention. I haven't stopped playing, and I mean that in a creative sense. But the priority of creative play time has of necessity been lowered.

As I said, I still enjoy SL, and I think creative play time is important, even for us old farts, even when we're busy. Hopefully I can work this out before I'm down to no readers at all!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

V Dizzle takes a break

I did my last regular Monday DJ shift at the Velvet last night. Don't ask about photos! Of course there are none. But it wasn't that hectic a night, so I should have shot some.

I'm taking a break because first life needs some attention: to wit, my counselling program. I'm got a student ID, man! Two evenings a week, I'll be taking courses. I also have to keep up my volunteer work, which is counselling-related, and that's almost once a week in addition. Add in an SO who does like my attention from time to time, as well as other bits and pieces of first life, and there might not be much time for Second Life for a while.

I'll have to make some time for SL, though. I'm fine with reality, but I have friends in SL! And even though my immersion mojo isn't quite what it used to be, it's still important, and I'm working on getting it back. As well, I'm hoping to pick up a fill-in DJ shift from time to time, when time allows. Once I start school, I'll know more how much free time I have, assuming there's any.

I had a great time last night, as always. I finally added the new disc from the New Pornographers to my library, and played three or four cuts. Should have played the beautiful "Challengers" as well! Not a really large crowd last night, but a good one. Thanks to all who dropped by, especially Leticia and Sarah. Thanks to all who have come since I started, danced, had a good time, said they liked the music, and were indulgent when I couldn't fulfil requests. Thanks to Patrice for always being supportive, and thanks to Push for letting me have the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Where's the manual?

A little while ago, I find myself waiting for something, can't remember what. Had some time to kill anyway. So Merik sends me a landmark for Greenies. I've heard about Greenies, the build in which you're really small in a big house, like mouse sized, and in which the house has been invaded by little green aliens.

So I whoosh over there and start looking around. And after a while I start to wonder, what's the big deal? A lot of what I'm seeing is cute, but it seems kind of static. I see some groups of people, but I don't know them, and they don't say hi. So I just wander around a bit, shooting pictures, thinking there must be more to this place than what I'm seeing.

Apparently there is, from what I've been reading. People are enthralled by this build. Of course, if you just arrive there with no prior knowledge, I guess you might miss all the fun. It's sort of the epitome of the problem with Second Life in general. If you're motivated and work at it, you can figure things out. Or else if you're lucky enough to run into someone who knows her or his way around and shows you the ropes, then you might become engaged in the place. Otherwise, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.

I think I made a couple of mistakes when I went to Greenies. One was to go alone. I didn't have anyone to go with at the time! But I can believe that the experience is more fun if it's shared. The other mistake was to be more of an observer than a participant. I'm not entirely sure how to participate in this build, but apparently you can, so I should have clicked on a few more things and dug into a few more holes. If I had, perhaps more things would have come to life.

And I would have had more fun.

If anyone is still reading this pathetic blog that doesn't get updated nearly often enough, I imagine I'll get all kinds of advice on how to have more fun at Greenies. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Farewell, little sister

When I first started this blog, I also started to accumulate links to other blogs. Patrice's blog had a link to Cheyenne's, and hers had a link to Sorcha's. At least I think that's how the chain went. And I'm pretty sure it was Sorcha's that had a link to Bailey Toland's blog.

I met Bailey in Second Life at my office once, and a few times after that. We would also IM from time to time. We were never close buds, but I enjoyed the time I spent with her. I thought of her a bit like a little sister (she is much younger than me), and in fact one of the reasons I got banned from a certain parcel (that I have never named in writing) was because I was being protective of her. I also met other wonderful people through her, including Caterin, her piano playing friend, and Therese (well, indirectly), who officiated at Bailey and Taimi's wedding.

I said goodbye to her yesterday, and I'm a bit weepy as I write this. I hate goodbyes. She says she will no longer be participating in SL. She went on holidays and discovered that she needed to pay more attention to her first life. You can't fault someone for that.

I always enjoyed reading about Bailey's adventures in her blog. I'm sorry she deleted it. She is not a native speaker of English, but her command of English was very good, and she wrote well. In her second language, her personality came shining through.

Take care, Bailey, and live your first life to the fullest! I hope that your second life was a good experience. I know there were both joy and tears and that many people love you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tropical Velvet

I haven't posted a DJ-at-the-Velvet entry in a while. And I have only two more regular Monday night gigs to go, because after that I will be starting a course in first life with sessions on Monday evenings.

Meanwhile, I'm not done yet. Last night, in commemoration of the eruption of Krakatoa in 1893, it was tropical night. Now, it's not easy to think tropical in the Velvet. It's a grungy rock club, and cavernous at that. Push has done pool parties there by temporarily installing stuff above the floor, but last night we relied much more on imagination.

It was a tough night. Teleports were semi-broken. Beezle Warburton arrived via several hops between different sims. Some set themselves to log in on the sim and made their way to the club from the landing point. Given this, I was happy at the turnout. I saw some people I hadn't seen in a while, such as the aforementioned Beezle. She at least got into the tropical theme, which is no mean feat for a vampire. And she brought a friend with her who was at the Velvet for the first time, Frequency Picnic (gotta love that name), who also got tropical—and won the contest! Not many other takers, but I got to show off in a outfit (such as it is) from Simone that I don't wear very often.

Oh, I do love doing this, and I'm gratified that people want to come listen and dance to my peculiar mix of old, new, weird, and Canadian, from the music library that expands much too slowly but is (mostly) legal.

We no longer have a host, so I'm trying to make sure to greet people when they come in the door. As much extra work as that is, I love that part too. I like making feel welcome and comfortable. Especially if you've come to a place for the first time, it can be intimidating. To the credit of the Velvet regulars, though, I've never seen them not welcome newcomers. Keep that in mind, any of you who are looking for a new club to go to!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tweets and art galleries

On Friday evening, I had just enough time to spend in Second Life to be able to attend the opening of an art show by my friend Skaja ("sky-ah") Carter. And it just so happened that Patrice was also online and had some time as well! So I got changed, and we headed over to where the opening was taking place.

I actually met Skaja via Twitter before I knew her in SL. In fact, this opening was the first time I'd met her in SL, even though I've chatted with her numerous times. Same for HyMe, another Twitter buddy.

Twitter started as a web application designed to allow people to let their friends know what they were doing at any given moment of the day, whether it was important or trivial. Since then, it has become a somewhat broader social networking tool in which people exchange messages for other reasons than to say what they are doing.

I had to be dragged into Twitter. Cala invited me to join quite a long time ago, but it seemed like too much reality for me at the time. Later, however, Cheri invited me as part of trying to make it easy for the PixelPulse Magazine staff to communicate with each other. Cheri, Lienna, and Julian already had Twitter accounts, so I finally joined, as did Samantha. Well, PixelPulse is on hiatus at the moment, but I'm still tweeting away. I've added followers slowly, either people I already know in SL or people who are friends of other fellow tweeters.

In my previous life as a rock musician, I've had plenty of gigs that needed warm bodies. I know that it's not always easy to get your friends and acquaintances to show up, so I wanted to go and support Skaja. I needn't have worried. The place was quite full! And full of the kind of beautiful people you'd expect at an art showing. It felt very New York. All we lacked were smart cocktails or champagne, which as we know are just props in SL. I should have brought my own. Or mixed my own in first life.

Skaja has a wide variety of material, and she's very talented. I've run out of room to put up any more artwork, but Patrice found something she liked. She says she's going to put up another building on our land so she can display more art. As for Skaja, keep an eye out for her own gallery, where her work will be available.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Is this mic live?

Somewhere in Second Life, I'm guessing that people are jabbering away, using the integrated voice facility. They must be. Everyone demanded this feature, right? Everyone wanted it more than anything else, including making SL for stable, right? They said so. It must be true.

As you can tell from the paucity of recent entries in this blog, I haven't had much time to spend in world lately. There are a lot of reasons for this. The result is few adventures, no photos, and just not a whole lot to write about. But I have noticed one thing in my infrequent forays into SL. It's still just as silent and typing-oriented as it ever was, at least for me.

Despite having been slapped recently for breaking out of immersion mode to have non-SL contact with a select group of people I've met through SL (no biggie, I'm tougher than I look), I really am basically an immersionist in SL. I fully support our world, our imagination, and the ability of people to be anyone or anything they want to be in SL. What happens in SL stays in SL. This is not a licence to behave irresponsibly but simply a way to keep SL as a world separate from, and maybe better than, all that first life out there.

If anyone can be an immersionist with voice, more power to them. Maybe I'll find that works for me as well. For now, I just haven't cared enough about talking to bother to set up the facility in my client. No one I know seems to care. We are happily typing to each other as we ever did, continuing to juggle local conversation and however many IM windows we have open.

I also have no argument with augmentationists. There are no rules for how to use SL. If that's what you want, go for it, as long as I don't get dragged into it, and as long as I still have the freedom to avoid such a thing.

But if you drag too much first life into SL and you're not a close friend, I will politely take my leave.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Augmenting the immersion

When I joined Second Life, a little over a year ago, I was strictly an immersionist. For me, SL was a virtual world in which I could be anything I wanted to be. I kept in mind that other avatars with whom I interacted had real people with real feelings behind them, but I was interested only in dealing with them as fellow SL citizens. I didn't want anyone peeking behind my mask, and I wasn't interested in peeking behind anyone else's. Our world, our imagination—accent on "imagination."

SL for me was a world unto itself, a place separate from first life. Any of us could be anyone in first life—male, female, both, or neither; young, old, or in between; fat or thin, able-bodied or handicapped; having a hearing impairment or Asperger's Syndrome; a cabinet minister or a sanitation worker or a nurse or a student or a CEO; famous or unknown. Each of us had the opportunity to create our own persona (or personae, as was often the case), to build a reputation based on what we did and how we behaved in SL.

During my time in SL, more and more often I saw people for whom SL was an extension of their first life—"MySpace with an economy," as some wag put it. They wanted to create avatars that looked like themselves in first life. They quickly volunteered who they were and where they lived in first life and wanted such information in return. The addition of integrated voice to SL was only the latest thing strengthening the cause of augmentationism. People had already been having conversations with Skype anyway.

The line between first life and SL blurred. The freedom to be someone other than your first life self was eroded, and continues to be eroded. SL became a way for our first life selves to interact.

I railed against the ascendancy of augmentationalism, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. The social aspects of SL have always been of interest to me anyway, but I found that more and more I was interested in actual contact with some of the people I knew as avatars in SL. We still don't necessarily know each other's real names, and each of us has a choice as to how much of our first lives we reveal, but we're now in touch via e-mail and instant messaging and Twitter, and maybe even via telephone. I have not yet met anyone from SL in person, but that will happen, probably sooner rather than later.

I think part of the reason for this change is that I have made changes in my first life that make the fantasy aspect of SL less important to me. I still love the SL fantasy and the ability to live a different life, but it's not quite as vital as it once was. As well, I think there's a natural curiosity to want to know people better once you've been interacting for a while as avatars. The barrier between SL and first life starts to feel like an imposition. Finally, the sad tale is that I don't have many close friends in first life, for various and sundry reasons. My SL contacts have become important to me, as real people and not just as fantasy characters, even though most of them are far away.

There's never a gain without some loss. I kind of miss the days when SL was a complete fantasy world for me, when it was a total immersion thing. But since I've never treated it like a game, it was hard to continue to treat avatars like game players. I don't break the wall for just anyone. I continue to interact as my avatar with most other avatars, and to keep a distance from first life. But there are now exceptions to the immersionist rule. And even though something has been lost in the process, I really appreciate what I have gained.

Here's to "immersionism plus" and to my new friends.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Flashback

Oh dear, blog neglect again. Less time in Second Life means less to write about. I'd hate to shut this blog down, but first life is taking precedence lately. Not ready to give up yet though.

The last few days have seen an uptick in the amount of time I've spent in SL, because I'm alone in the house with the kitty, my SO being away for a few days. I got to dance to Merik's set at the Velvet on Friday night, something I rarely do. It was pyjama party night, so I wore the new set that my friend Envy gave me for my rezday, complete with big fluffy slippers. Patrice and many other friends were there, and I had a blast.

Last night, Patrice and I went back to Flashmans, the 1920s place, only this time we dressed the part. Patrice already had a flapper dress, and she found one for me as well, bless her. Not easy to find! So it was back to the rats and the fun dances for us.

The place was still mostly empty. I don't know what is going on there, whether it's supposed to be open or not. I know that Therese wrote about it recently as a going concern, but it seems to need some publicity or something.

This place is cool, people! The music stream is from an Internet radio station that plays music of the 1920s and 1930s, most of which I've never heard before. It's great for dancing. The dance ball has things like the Charleston and Turkish Delight, and there are numerous touch dance ball pairs, like for waltzing. And then of course there's the stage, with poses that you don't want your mama to know about. Last time we were there, I hadn't seen that rocking horse pose for two. Yoiks!

There were three other people there who seemed to be a bit younger than we were. It was very amusing to watch their open conversation as they hit the hookah (that's not really how you smoke opium, but never mind) and later the bar, and finally the poses on stage. They were so cute! Then later, after they'd moved on, a girl popped in trying to recruit soccer players, while Patrice countered with hockey recruitment. She was nice, and we dance with her for a while before heading out.

I should have pinged Therese. Maybe she would have joined us!

Monday, August 6, 2007

De-Activ8ed

Today, I resigned from Activ8. I hadn't been very, er, active there for a while, mainly picking up a couple of substitute DJ shifts. I used to dance, but haven't in quite a while. And since I'm going to get very busy in September, which will cut into my Second Life time in general, I figured I have to pare things back.

I've never been really connected to Activ8. I got there in the first place by answering a classified ad looking for models. Ana Boogiewoogie had placed that, and she had some tattoos to sell. I did the shoot for her, along with several other people, and I thought there would be more from the Activ8 Modeling Agency. But that was not to be the case. The company behind Activ8 was more interested in other things, namely running a couple of sims with clubs, apartments, and other entertainment. In retrospect, it's not surprising that modelling wasn't their first priority.

When I found out there was more to Activ8 than modelling (I was always a beat behind when it came to A8), I signed on mainly as a dancer. I did some dancing shifts, generally having a good time. Dancing is like being an adjunct host, and when I'm into it, I can be very active. So I think I did a good job at that. I also did one spontaneous partial shift as a greeter, although I had not been trained for it. I think I faked it well enough, and was lucky not to get any hard questions about where things are (which I still don't really know).

(I'm short of Activ8 photos, so I tossed in a gratuitous shot of the beautiful Illya at the club, with me dancing in the background. That was from a formal night.)

More recently, I was allowed to work as a DJ at the main club. I didn't want a regular shift, because of time constraints, but I did a couple of subsitute gigs. Those were fun because they let me play a different kind of music than at the Velvet. I played all the commercial stuff I have, which I admit is a bit lacking, but I had fun and hopefully others did as well.

But with all that, I never spent a lot of time on the sims. Consequently, I didn't get to know people very well, which is too bad. The people I met were very nice, and interesting, people like Ana, Noelle, Laehvul, Liriel, Evis, and Ern. And I already knew Jacii and Illya, and it was great to have some opportunity to get to know them better. I especially enjoyed having time to sit down with Illy and just chat.

Activ8 is doing very well in SL, it seems. They have become a company that helps other companies get the most out of SL, and not screw themselves up as so many have done. I know how dedicated their staff is. Best wishes to all of you, and see you around.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Space: the final frontier

It's one of those times of not being on Second Life as much as I might want. My SO wants some attention, and SO deserves it. It's summer as well, with lots of stuff going on. When you live in Canada, even in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where there's usually little snow in winter, you tend to take advantage of summer. It just doesn't last long enough.

Fortunately, I have some shots from a little adventure I had just a while ago. Good old Looky Lu. She's great for showing me new stuff. She's the one who first showed me Svarga. This time, it was a couple of outer space adventures.

First was a place called the Galaxy Dome Music Venue. That's a clue, it seems, but I have no idea where it is. In outer space, I guess. My friend Anwen said it made her nauseated, because the stars spin around, but I really liked it. The club was not operating when we were there. The photo that I put in the entry for my first rezday is from that club. I hopped into the DJ position, and the animation is pretty cool.

From there, Looky took me to the Space Port Bravo. We beamed in on the surface, but as I recall, the surface wasn't terribly interesting. Instead, we clicked on the teleporter and zoomed up to some elevated altitude. It's not a club, but just a place to hang out. There's so much animation going on that I could never fully resolve it—you can see the squares in the photo, which are supposed to be something other than squares. Looky hopped into a floating chair, which I did later as well. As with the Galaxy Dome Music Venue, the view was a big part of the appeal. Works for me.

Looky went off for her usual late supper, but Anwen had been IMing, so I asked her to pop over. We hung out and just talked for a while, floating through space on one of the pose ball sets. Just one of the many fun things I'm still discovering about Second Life.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A year in the (second) life

One year ago today, I joined Second Life. One year ago today, Veronique was born. Or rezzed. Today is Veronique's first rezday.

It's been an interesting year, sometimes even an amazing year. I never really thought of SL as a game, but I did think of it as entertainment when I first started. I didn't realize then just how much more it could be.

Through SL, I have acquired new skills. Some are only useful in world, such as building and scripting, but I'm sure they exercise the brain in good ways. Scripting is a lot like what I do for a living in first life, but building was a whole new thing. I haven't done a lot of it, but I've enjoyed building my various offices, and I'll probably build more in the future.

SL has allowed me to DJ, something I haven't done since back when I had a radio show at university. Even though I'm not young in first life, I've never been one to get stuck listening only to the music of my youth. I have always been interested in new music. Yet I wasn't really finding much I could connect with until I had to go looking for music in order to DJ. That process led to me discover several bands I had not previously known about, such as Bloc Party, the New Pornographers (from my own city), and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. DJing has also got me more excited about music in general. And it helped me realize something important: much as I love playing my own music, I can now be happy showing off the music of those more talented than I and artfully sliding from song to song. I much more at peace about being a failed musician than I've ever been.

I had the nerve to set up a counselling practice in SL and actually charge money for my services, while being up-front about the fact that I had no training at the start and only a little training later on. I've had a number of satisfied clients, and I found it very fulfilling to be able to help people in this way—mainly by being a non-judgmental listener. The fulfilment was such that I am now in pursuit of a new career in first life as a counsellor. I passed a prerequisite course in April, and I start on the certificate program in September. For the last 20 years, I have worked with software. If all goes according to plan, in about a year I will be working with people.

More than anything else, living a second life has taught me a huge amount about myself. I found things in myself that I didn't know where there, or had only a hint of. I have made personal changes as a result of interacting with other human beings in SL and learning from them, no one more than my SL wife and partner, Patrice. Because of my relationship with her, I gave up something in first life that I had previously been unable to admit was hurting me and holding me back. She is still teaching me about myself and about how I relate to other people. It's the same for the many others in SL who have been and are still my friends. I have shared genuine concerns with them, and they with me. And they have responded as true friends—sometimes with compassion, sometimes with a firm talking-to, and always with love.

SL is an experiment not only in technology but also in humanity. My goal in my second life is pretty much the same as in my first life—to learn every day, to grow, to reach out to others, and to become a better human being. Well, I like to have fun in both worlds as well. And if there's something in my second life that seems to be good in general, I can then incorporate it into my first life. What a privilege that is.

So on my first rezday, thanks to all my friends, and thanks to Linden Lab. Even though it just so happens that Second Life is in terrible shape today (or at least was last night and into this morning), and my DJ shift tonight might be a complete disaster as a result, it's still the best second life I know.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The doctor improves

First life news. I will be starting school in September, part time. This is a year-long (roughly) program in which I will be working to earn a certificate in counselling skills. A certificate isn't much, but it's a start, and hopefully will qualify me for some kind of social service job at which I will make poot for money but which should be good for me personally and professionally. It's also possible that I will keep going toward a master's degree.

Given two nights a week of school, extra time for one course (video recordings of practice sessions), at least three evenings a month of counselling-related volunteer work, plus the usual overhead of first life, it will be difficult to carve out time for Second Life. But I'll work it out somehow. My time in SL and my connections to people I know in SL are too important to lose. I just have to work on balance, as always.

One thing I want to keep up in SL is my counselling practice. Things have been rather quiet for a while, but I do see a notecard leave the dispenser every few days. Maybe someone will IM for an appointment. I'm doing professional development, kids! So I'll be less of an amateur and more qualified as time goes along.

It's still weird and cool how I might not have got to this point if it hadn't been for SL. And that goes for a lot more than counselling.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Renewable energy

This seems to be my hundredth post. That's kind of a milestone!

EnelPark4 opened today. This is the four-sim Italian island that Patrice has been terraforming, building, and tweaking (along with flopsie and others) for months. At least it seems like months.

I messed up though. I was supposed to meet Patrice there at noon SL time. I thought we were meeting at 3. When I went, there was no more opening-day hoopla. I had been there several times during construction, but since the region was now finished and officially open, I gave myself an official tour.

EnelPark4 is a showplace for renewable energy. There are wind turbines all over the island. There are other exhibits for various kinds of energy generation. The houses have solar panels on the roofs. I think the energy generation exhibits are the main point of the island.

At the same time, it's a beautiful place for relaxation and to have fun. There's a beach. There's a beach club. There's an outdoor concert hall. There's an amphitheatre. The landing point is in the middle of a reflecting pool with fountains. There's a dockside area with little houses elevated above the water on a stone-lined pathway, with bicycle leaning against the wall and a gelato vendor in one corner. I know there's a tunnel somewhere, where I rode my Bispa scooter when it wasn't quite finished. There are also more features that I'm sure I haven't discovered yet. I'll need a real systematic tour. One feature is the amount of open water between the land and the region boundary. Patrice says there will be sailboat races at EnelPark.

I walked all over the island, taking pictures. One thing the pictures can't capture is the soundscape, which I believe Patrice was mainly responsible for. As you walk along one path, you hear various bird calls from different species of birds. Down by the docks, there is a gull that flies about, making gull sounds, very fitting for the seaside (the gull also occasionally touches down, maybe right beside you). There was music emanating from the outdoor stage, where I played a grand piano. Well, I looked good anyway. The whole place has a great feel, like there's a quiet but real life going on there. The sounds really help that.

There are also lots of signs about with explanations for the various exhibits. The signs themselves are in Italian, but you can click on them for English notecards.

I missed the boat today, so to speak. I enjoyed exploring the island myself, but I wish I'd been with Patrice earlier. She's done with the project and might want to put it behind her. I know she is already working on a new sim. But I hope she will give me the real tour. Either that or I will have to continue to explore by myself, and get a few of those notecards to see what I'm missing.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Speakeasy

I'm feeling much more reintegrated into Second Life again. Patrice has been helping a lot, as have other friends. One lingering effect is a good one—SL seems fresher to me than before I left. I'm noticing things I was taking for granted, just little things like teleporting and seeing so many girls in the shops, all dressed their own particular SL-like way.

Patrice and I did some shopping last night. I had bought some new outfits from Eloria, my friend who runs Battered Boutique, and I coveted the shoes she was wearing. Naturally, they were from Shiny Things, my favourite shoe store. Cute T-straps! And a good price, although I would rather they were more expensive and colour-changing. Still, I could afford to indulge in a few colours. Great for summer.

The night before last, Patrice took me to a very interesting club called Flashmans. Its "subtitle" is "1920's opium den and bawdy house." It seemed to be abandoned when we were there, though. In fact, there were rats scurrying about. Still, no need to worry about virtual rats. The dance and stage poses were some that I'd never seen before, and the dance ball was loaded with vintage stuff like the Charleston. We amused ourselves mightily doing different dances, to the 1920s and 1930s music that was piped in, and taking the stage. Next time, I'll have to dress more appropriately! Those are some pretty sexy moves, and crop jeans aren't really the best fit. Something more glamorous and sexy, methinks.

We never did find the opium den though.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just like starting over?

Yes, I'm back. It was a good vacation, even the family visit part. Well, mostly. The Quebec City part was definitely good.

We got back late last night, and I was busy with work today, so I didn't get to connect to Second Life until about five o'clock. I downloaded and installed the new client and fired it up. Immediately, I was struck by how strange everything looked. My flexi hair seemed to move in a weird way. Patrice popped home, and she looked different. Everything seemed more cartoony than before. It didn't help that something was amiss in the system, either in my network connection or somewhere else, so that motion was not as fluid as it ought to have been. Still, things were quite odd looking. I thought for sure that the graphics in the new client had changed, but that was not so.

After eleven days away, it was simply a matter of SL suddenly looking—and feeling—rather new again. I'd grown so used to it over the previous many months. A long weekend away in the spring did not have much affect on how I saw the world. But a week and a half certainly did. I felt somewhat disoriented and certainly a bit detached.

Fortunately, Patrice helped ease me back in. But it was an interesting experience nonetheless. More soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ferns and toadstools

Anyone who has been in Second Life for a while probably knows about Svarga. For some, it might be old hat. I still find it enchanting, though, and just a nice place to visit from time to time.

Svarga is a kind of fantasy island, all green and lush. It's got much more vegetation than most of the tropical islands in SL. Many parts look like the illustrations in a children's book of fairy stories—all ferns and giant mushrooms and exotic, brightly coloured tropical plants. There's an experiment in artificial life, an area of self-replicating flora and fauna. There are towers and catwalks between them, and rope bridges over chasms. There's also an area that makes music and rhythms out of things you type.

You take all of this in initially by hopping into a little pod and taking a tour. I did that a long time ago with my friend Looky Lu, but I recall that the tour was a bit rushed, and I didn't really take it all in. This time, by myself, I relaxed and kept mouselook on (except when I was saving photos), and had a lovely time looking at all the sights. There is narration with the pod tour. I'm guessing that at some point, there will be an option for that narration to be heard rather than read.

It's more difficult to describe how lovely Svarga is than to show pictures of it, so I shall let the photos speak for themselves. I'll probably post the rest on my Flickr site when I get a chance, and maybe even go back for more. Meanwhile, if you have never been there, check it out. If you're at all susceptable to this kind of thing, I think you'll enjoy a tour and a walkabout.

By the way, this blog will be on hiatus for a bit. It's first life summer vacation time, eh? Visit the family, who are far away, and have some fun. Alas my sad 20 pageviews a day will probably drop to zero, but it can't be helped. That is the nature of the one-person blog. Be seeing you!

Friday, June 29, 2007

In memoriam

It's been the kind of week in first life that has left me little time for Second Life. When I've been in world, I've generally been occupied—DJ gig at Activ8 on Sunday, DJ gig at the Velvet on Monday. I had that one hour very late on Tuesday when I went to see SpaceJunky. On Wednesday, however, I managed to find some time to take a quick look around the Second Pride sims.

This is Pride Week, and I've barely scratched the surface there. I took a balloon ride, which turns out to be a tour of the rather extensive site (six sims). A lot of the grounds have vendor booths, but there are other things of interest, including an art exhibit. When I saw the memorial quilt garden, however, I immediately jumped off the balloon and went splat on the ground. I had to go see the quilt.

I have known people who died of AIDS. My SO actually did one care-giving volunteer thing for a man who eventually died (SO couldn't face doing another). But I have never lost anyone close to me. Many others have. Some in SL have created little memorials to their missing loved ones, which have been assembled in that garden.

I wandered through the display. Not all of the squares are inspired. Not all are skilfully rendered. Some are even a bit macabre. But many are quite moving. Often, those are among the simplest ones: "He loved cooking and teddy bears," or, "I never got to say goodbye." The best convey, in various ways, the pain of loss and the joy of love for the one lost.

I hope the Second Pride exhibit is around for a while beyond Pride Week. There's a lot more that I'd like to see. But I'd also like to return to the quilt. It's a beautiful spot.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Space invaders

It's always at least 11 p.m. by the time I get home from my first life volunteer thing. Normally, I'll hit the hay around 11, since I get up at 6 a.m. (I work more or less on Eastern time), but after volunteering, I need to wind down, so I usually pour a drink and hang out in Second Life for an hour or so.

Last night, I had a destination: Unity Square on one of the Second Pride sims and a concert by a band called SpaceJunky. I met the lead singer, Shakti Cianci, way back in August of 2006, through M (you remember M, my sort-of ex-boyfriend). We were never close, but we stayed in touch. She's quite babelicious, and I had a bit of a crush on her.

I remember going house shopping with her once in the early days, which was a learning experience, as were most things in those days. Shopping as education! She also started a group called Bodhisattvas of SL, a group for compassionate people, with the member title "Bodhisattva." I really liked that, and she let me join. It's still one of the groups I activate often, and it was a harbinger of my subsequent direction into counselling.

I was also a charter member of the Alpha Crew of SpaceJunky. Shakti has a band in first life called SpaceJunky. She told me way back then that her plan was to get the band in world and play live gigs. There were all kinds of arrangements to be made—avatars to be created, instruments to be found or made, and much more. Every time I'd speak with Shakti, there would have been some delay. Then she would disappear for long periods of time, and when she'd return, I'd learn that her band was too busy in first life to get the SL thing together. Having your band busy in first life is definitely not a bad thing!

Lately, I was seeing Shakti online more frequently, and I had a feeling that something was up. Indeed, she confirmed to me that a gig was in the offing. Then just the other day, I was pleased finally to receive my first notice from the group—not one gig, but three, at Second Pride.

So when I got home, I fired up SL, quickly got changed, ignored IMs, and asked the designated SJ person for a TP. I was a bit late, and I was afraid the sim might be full. However, there weren't nearly as many avatars there as I thought there would be, but maybe the hour kept many away. My boss at PixelPulse Magazine, Cheri Horton, was there, dancing up a storm (as you can see in the photo). She's been writing about the band and posting pictures for a couple of days now.

SpaceJunky are kind of synth-pop. Normally, that's not my kind of thing. But these guys rocked harder than I'd expected from having heard some of their material on their MySpace site, and they have some really good songs. Shakti—Tania Smith in first life—is a very good singer. The only problem for me was that I expected this to be a live show. It was not. Basically, we were listening to the new CD with visuals, which was fine—the CD is obviously good—but not quite what I expected. Shakti explained to me that the band is somewhat geographically separated right now (their drummer lives in Malaysia), so they can't actually play a show at this time.

Still, I think it's worth your while to check these guys out. You have two more chances: 10 p.m. SL time on Thursday, and 5 p.m. on Friday. The Unity Square venue is really colourful and well designed. SpaceJunky are fun to watch, and fun to hear, even if pre-recorded. Don't forget to find that tip jar over to the left of the stage!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Window seat

This is majorly disgraceful. I haven't written anything for days and days! I've been in Second Life, but only briefly. Too much work, too much summer (although not much summer weather yet in this parts), too much other stuff. I'm going to try to get over to the Pride site this week, so hopefully that will be at least a small adventure.

Meanwhile, my friend Eloria LeShelle, of whom I have written several times, got herself her very own island. She runs several Battered Boutique stores, and she says that when she counted up how much she was paying for rent, it only made sense to consolidate on her own sim. So Boutique Isle is now in the process of opening.

I met Eloria in one of those serendipitous SL ways. I had teleported Patrice over to the L.A.M.E. Designs complex on Heron Point so she could take a look at Ana Boogiewoogie's tattoos. I'd modelled for Booga, the first (and only) modelling gig I did for Activ8, and I have several of her tattoos. I thought Patrice might be interested in some.

One of the stores in the L.A.M.E. group was Battered Boutique. When we beamed in, we just happened to find Booga talking to Eloria. I had actually known Eloria's previous avatar, although only to say hi to in clubs, but I didn't yet know about the association. Eloria was very friendly, and after tattoo shopping we went to check out her clothes. That's when I fell for the Rope Dress and bought it immediately, at which point El started giving Patrice and me various outfits for free. Couldn't stop her! We left happy.

After that, Eloria cranked up her operation and started sending notices quite frequently, for outfits that I really liked. Sometimes, she even let me pay for them.

Somewhere around that time, Eloria started seeing my friend Merik, having had a previous association, something else I didn't know about (I never know anything!). I was already pretty close with Merik, so it's not surprising that I got close with Eloria as well. I did some modelling for her, the results of which you can see at Battered Boutique. I generally get an IM greeting from one or both of them when I come online, if they are online as well.

Which leads me to the new sim, and their new house, and the window seat. I love window seats in first life. And this one is also a pleasant place to hang out. On the evening I took this photo, we sat and talked for quite a while. I never did get a tour of the rest of the house! But it was most enjoyable to hang out there, spending time with good friends. The tour will come later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Naugahyde and a tie-dyed T-shirt

I know, it's just another DJ-at-the-Velvet entry with no pictures, but it was a particularly good night last night. Since it was 40 years ago yesterday that Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire on stage at the Monterey International Pop Festival, and since the summer of 1967 was the Summer of Love, the theme was all things hippie-ish. So out came the tie-dye, bellbottoms, flowers, and really big spliffs.

The previous Monday, we had a hard time getting any kind of quorum at the club. Last night, the place got relatively full (it's a big room, and it was Monday after all). I had a hostess for the first time, the lovely Ms. Prophercy DeCuir, and she made it a lot easier for me to pay attention to the music. See, when I'm hosting as well as DJing, I really want to say hi to everyone who walks in the door. I figure a personal greeting makes people feel welcome. It works that way for me. And I figure it can't hurt tips. I still try to say hi even when there's a host, but at least there's less pressure. Proph was doing a great job.

I dug out a bunch of mouldy oldies to mix in with my more usual fare. Some Jimi, of course, as well as a song by Otis Redding, also from Monterey that year. Jefferson Airplane, Beatles from Sgt. Pepper, Byrds, Kinks, Who, Deep Purple, the Bobby Fuller Four, and at least one song from the Nuggets compilation. I got inspired and ripped something from an old cassette—a very amusing bit called "Radio Moscow" by Nikita the K, a pimp on both the Cold War and on the AM radio of the time.

I'm afraid I fell down on a few requests. Hey, there is no way I'm going to let any Brewer and Shipley into my library, and "Age of Aquarius" by the Fifth Dimension is just too tacky for me even for a theme night. If I'm going to go tacky, it's got to have camp value! But I could definitely have used some Janis Joplin. And for some reason, I didn't play any Cream or Doors.

OK, since as usual I didn't take any photos, being too busy queuing up songs and answering IMs, I'll toss in this gratuitous and rather strange shot. This is Patrice, me, and flopsie on the Enel sim that Patrice and flops are working on, almost ready to open. At some point, both Patrice and flopsie crashed in a kind of weird way, while I didn't crash at all. flopsie went offline, but her avatar was still standing in front of me, and even the radar seemed to register her presence. Yet she wasn't there. When she truly reappeared, I saw that there was some kind of pose ball tucked into her prim skirt. I asked her to move, and it turned out there was a second prim skirt with the pose ball inside it, just floating in the air! I have no idea what was going on, but I'm glad I got a shot of it. It looks like flopsie is doing a magic trick. I think her outfit is really cute too. It's not often that flopsie wears a outfit like this. Another reason to take a picture!

Friday, June 15, 2007

(Almost) nothing to say

Sometimes there's just a lull in Second Life activities, gentle readers. Sometimes I don't do anything blogworthy for days. I know this is a terrible thing, but it happens, especially in summer.

I had a meeting with one of my bosses at Activ8. Is that blogworthy? Probably not. But it was a good meeting, and I'm not resigning from Activ8. For the most part, I will stay on as a substitute DJ. I saw the new pub. I like the Activ8 Club just fine, but the Activ8 Pub is much more my kind of place, except it's still too big.

I had a counselling session, meaning me as counsellor with a client. Is that blogworthy? Not really, even though it was the first in a long time, but I'm certainly glad to be able to practise my skills. I do that with a volunteer gig in first life, but SL sessions are actually more similar to first life face-to-face sessions than first life hotline phone calls are.

I bought two CDs tonight, one really old (The Who Sings My Generation) and one fairly new (Show Your Bones by Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Is that blogworthy? Not in the least! But you should still come to the Velvet on Monday nights to hear me stream tunes. I play good stuff, and sometimes can even fulfill a request!

Here's something at least semi-blogworthy: on Wednesday, Patrice and I celebrated eight months of marriage. I have to admit, it wasn't really a celebration. She's still working like a dog on her terraform project. But we're still together, when we can be, and still committed to each other.

I'll try to do something interesting between now and the next blog entry. Meanwhile at least you know I haven't died or given up on posting. Ciao, babies!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sliding toward summer

A lot of things seem to be changing around me in Second Life. Just had a very slow night DJing at the Velvet. Now, a bad night at the Velvet is better than a good night most anywhere else, but it's still disappointing. It's not even the tips. I just want to get a good crowd into that room. I wonder if I need to do something with my set, get more music (of course, I do), change things up. Or maybe it's the club that needs a kick. Or maybe it's just getting too nice out and no one is sitting in front of their computers.

I'm still a month and a half shy of my first rezday, and I was in a daze for the first month or two, so I have not yet seen a full year of SL. I don't know if there are seasons and cycles. And SL changes so rapidly, maybe this time last year was nothing like now, and this time two years ago might as well have been a thousand years ago. Maybe.

Activ8 seems to be going through a few changes as well. Not long ago, I danced at an event that had so many people on the two sims that they crashed. The last time I DJed, the night never really even got going. I haven't been around there enough to know whether that's a trend or not. Even though I hit the forum at least a couple of times a day, I've never felt all that connected to Activ8. It's been a perfectly good place to work, and I've met nice people there, but I don't really fit in.

SL itself is in an even more changeable period than usual. It's this stuff about age-play and SL's sudden rush toward trying to control content, encouraging residents to narc on each other. That's such a mess. I just hope that some sense is injected soon, because right now things are looking rather grim.

PixelPulse has been a bright spot for me. We've been through changes as well, but good ones. We have some new writers and a lot of energy, always from Cheri but from the rest of the staff as well. PixelPulse has been right at the forefront of all this SL censorship brouhaha, and I'm really proud of Cheri and others for getting the scoops and posting informed opinion pieces. And maybe the story I did on the Gendar Rating Radar is actually more timely than I thought, since that kind of plays into the whole idea of poking your nose into other people's business rather than taking a more live-and-let-live attitude. Although I always see places I need to improve the writing, I'm proud of that story, and I'm glad Cheri was enthusiastic about it.

Patrice and I have been going through changes as well. Every relationship does, in SL or otherwise. She has been flat out working on her terraform projects. We've had to deal with this and with some personal things. But we have not given up. We have continued to talk. And we have continued to love. I think things are getting better, both for her and for us together. I hope so.

I have friends who are doing well. I have friends who are having a rough time. I have friends who were having a rough time but are doing better. That's SL, just like first life, only often more concentrated. I have a good friend who is hurting right now. She's staying away from SL. I hope she finds healing and comes back, because I miss her.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Impulse buying

If there's anything that Second Life is about more than sex, it's shopping, especially clothes shopping. The place is just loaded with shops full of clothes that have been designed and created by SL residents. Some of what I've seen is appalling. Some is just inept, and might improve with time and practice. But I'm amazed at the amount of really high-quality, beautifully designed clothing I've found, and I'm sure I've barely scratched the surface.

This is virtual clothing, of course, to put on our virtual avatars. It's not like we can wear things out in first life, sadly. Oh, shopping is so much easier in SL! And compared to first life, even expensive outfits are really cheap. So if you spend 350 lira on an outfit that turns out to be a mistake, you're only out about one Yanqui dollar.

In spite of this, I'm usually pretty cautious about buying clothes and shoes (not to mention hair and skins, but that would be a different blog entry). I try to keep my inventory small and manageable, and I hate it when I've bought something that I really never wear, and it stares at me every time I open a particular folder. I do move those things into storage eventually, and sometimes even get rid of them. Some pieces seemed like a good idea at the time. Some looked great on the model on the wall but not so much on me. So even though most clothing in SL is really cheap in terms of first life money, I still try to consider carefully before buying.

Every once in a while, though, I see something that I just have to have, even though I might really not have much use for it, even though it's not really me. That's how I'm feeling about this outfit called Go To Girl from Ginny Talmasca of Dazzle at Last Call. Ginny makes great clothing, and lots of it, so much that I'm often overwhelmed by too much choice when I walk into her shop. I'd seen Go To Girl on the Linden Lifestyles blog, and liked the look. I'm kind of in a belted tunic mood at the moment. So even though I'm not quite a match for huge non-denim flares, even though the angular collar and cuffs à la Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction aren't really my style, even though the tunic has this strange semi-rezzed quality (no matter how long I wait), I had to have this outfit. And I even paid retail.

Speaking of Pulp Fiction, I think this is ostensibly some kind of business outfit, but when you're advertising nearly half your bosom, I think it might be only for business in a place like Hollywood. Or Second Life, of course.

I'm just wearing it around today. Will I find a real use for it? Who knows? Hey, it only cost me a buck!

By the way, I had to go searching in my hair collection for the right match. I think that's the ETD style called Ginny. Pure coincidence!