Wednesday, February 28, 2007


It was inevitable. The silent film era was never destined to last forever. It was only a matter of time before someone invented synchronized sound recording and made it practical. For many silent film stars, it was a career ender. For others, and for many who had never worked in silents, it was a new opportunity. Movies would never be silent again.

The implications were parodied to great effect in the movie Singin' in the Rain. Gene Kelly's sexy silent-screen co-star turns out to have a horrible, squeaky voice. That cute little Debbie Reynolds has to stand behind a curtain to dub in a voice that people can stand to listen to.

So now Linden Lab is testing the integration of voice with Second Life. It was already happening in various ways, such as through the use of Skype. But now we're faced with the prospect of typed chat being replaced, or maybe complemented, by built-in voice communication.

I was fourth in with a comment on this announcement in the official Linden blog (I've since posted several more). The divisions that already exist in SL are apparent in the comments that follow. Those divisions can get pretty nasty, and misunderstanding is rampant.

For some, SL is an extension of First Life. Some of these people are in business. Some are in education. Some are just people who either have no imagination or can't be bothered to use it. Some comments even express hatred or disdain for those who do use their imaginations, who dare to be not "real," who dare to create their own world.

[Addendum: as Mordecai angrily but correctly points out, not all FL extenders fit into these categories. I know this is so. I was not intending this list to be comprehensive, and I was mainly reacting to the disdain and ridicule I was reading in the official blog.]

For others, SL is a way to live a life that they can't live in FL. It's a way to learn about themselves and others, a way to see just how far imagination can take them. It's a way to be free of a FL that might be fine but limiting or might even be intolerable.

I have a First Life already. It's a good life, for the most part, but it is what it is. Why would I want more of the same?

I'm thinking that the "utopia" of Second Life was never unified anyway. If there is any utopia, it's because there is room enough for an extreme diversity to exist without too much confrontation. Voice vs. typing will simply be another thing that divides people, which is kind of too bad but what can you do. Hopefully there will continue to be enough typers so that we will not become marginalized. Hopefully, not too many friendships will be broken.

See you in chat. Imagine that! You can if you try.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Paradise not-yet-lost

OK, to start with, Blogging Rule #1: Post frequently. But see Rule #2.

Blogging Rule #2: Have something to say. But don't forget Rule #1. Heh heh.

I haven't managed to get my dear sister tree into my photo studio (for photos only, I sweahtagawd!). She's too busy working on her new beach house with her boyfriend Raul. So instead, I shall feature her garden, which might not be long for this world.

tree got her first land before I did, in a sim called Nabi. In time, she also bought 2,048m2 more land in the sim. There, surrounded by for sale signs and tons of other typically ugly first land stuff, she built a garden, a sort of urban oasis in the midst of capitalism run amok.

I think she did most of the building, including the waterfall. She learned a lot about building when she first jumped to the mainland (and I have learned from her). She made high walls, like an English garden, so you wouldn't have to look at what's outside. And she put in all the relaxing pose balls and things like the hammock. There's an apple tree that drops blossoms everywhere. And there are butterflies fluttering by as well.

On two walls, you can also see paintings by tree and by some friends. I bought one to hang in my counselling office. They are for sale to anyone who comes by.

And anyone can come by. The park is simply there for weary wanderers. That's the kind of generous person tree is. She used to joke that she got more traffic than a nearby club. I can believe it! The garden is a very relaxing place just to see and think or to sit and talk. The first time Sorcha and I had a real chance to talk, that's where I took her.

Sadly, the land is for sale. tree and Raul have their own land to deal with. So you might want to drop by while you can, and you'll have to ignore one thing—an ugly for sale sign! (It's just to the right of the frame in the photo above.) If I can figure out how to do it, I'll post a SLurl here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The post-game show

Patrice has started playing hockey in the Second Life Hockey League. The league has recently expanded from two to four teams and has begun a new season. Patrice is playing for the Whales, which have a logo that looks a lot like an orca (killer whale), which just happens to be the logo of my beloved Vancouver Canucks. In fact, I bought a Canucks third jersey (dark red and blue) when I was at the rink the other night. Officially licensed? Let's not go there.

It was the first time I'd been online at the right time to be able to watch Patrice play. I found that it wasn't always easy to see the puck, but it was still fun to watch. I zoomed around with the camera controls to get closer to the action, but it can actually move pretty quickly, so pulling back was sometimes wise. The Whales beat the Cobras by one goal in a hard-fought four-on-four battle. That's a hint that if you are inclined to play hockey (I am) and have the time to do so (I don't), there is probably room for you.

Forgot to take photos. Too busy cheering for the Whales! Next time, the camera must come out.

After the victory, I couldn't stay online for very much longer, and we'd already missed the contest at the Velvet. So we got totally femmed up, and Patrice took me to a place she'd recently discovered called Mysteria. This is one of those places that allows men only if they are accompanied by a woman, the purpose being to keep out guys who only want to pick up girls. It's a large complex with several different facilities, including a disco and an area with hot tubs.

It was fairly quiet when we got there. We ended up hanging out on the beach. With Patrice all pumped up after the game, it was hard to get her to lie still on the posing couch while I took some photos, but I managed to keep her there for a couple of minutes anyway. I like hanging out on those kinds of things, talking and relaxing. We also ran into another Wet Kitty refugee, a friend of ours called Friggin Kitty, and we danced with her and her friend (or girlfriend, not sure) for a while, and later were joined by others. The sim's stream was techno. Not sure what the music in the disco normally is, but techno is not something I can take for very long. Music is one of the things that keeps me at places like the Velvet. More rock clubs in Second Life!

Despite the techno, we'll have to check out Mysteria again some time. It's nice to expand our horizons, if only so I can wear clothes that I might not normally get to wear!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ready for my close-up

This blog is terribly under-illustrated these days. Entry after entry with no photos! Trouble is, the only pictures I've been shooting lately are of me.

A short time ago, I decided to try to pursue the elusive Second Life job of fashion model. In a world where anyone can look like a supermodel, it's not easy to get noticed, but I figured the worst that could happen would be rejection. So I went into my home-made studio and took a lot of shots of myself in different outfits. I bought a THiNC Book and a THiNC Printing Press and made one of those photo albums you might have seen from people's weddings. That was my portfolio. I was about to send it out unsolicited to whichever agencies I could find when I happened upon a classified ad.

An agency called Activ8 was actually looking for models. This hardly ever happens in SL. As I said, it's not like models are hard to find. A lot of designers, being gorgeous, simply model their own stuff. But I applied. And I got in. OK, so knowing the marketing manager didn't hurt, but I'm hoping they actually do like my look as well. And my sparkling personality.

The first job I did was a shoot of tattoos designed by one of the agency's owners. Very soon, you should be able to buy tattoos (and probably other things) by Ana Boogiewoogie from L.A.M.E. Designs. It was a fun session—nice people, well organized, professional but relaxed. I got to see the ND30 studio in action for the first time. I might want to get me one of those, if I ever have the prim room.

It will be interesting to see what else comes along. I'm hoping for a fashion show, of course. An actual event, complete with striding the catwalk in impossibly high heels, knowing that in SL I won't fall off them. Also knowing that with lag, I'm more likely to fall off the stage entirely! Maybe I should take Melissa's advice and upgrade the memory in this computer before anything like that happens.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My theory, which is mine

I started out in Second Life as bisexual but primarily heterosexual. Not too long after I walked into the Wet Kitty, a girl hangout, I was getting intimate with Tatsuko, and not long after that I fell in love with Patrice. I have seen this happen more than once in SL—avowedly straight women falling in love with lesbians and vice versa, and straight women falling in love with each other. I've seen this often enough so that I'm beginning to sense a pattern.

My theory, which is mine, goes like this. Ahem, a-hem. A-HEM. At some point, most women in SL will end up with other women, either temporarily or permanently.

No doubt there are exceptions to this theory, maybe even many at this point, but then there is still plenty of time, eh?

It's not going to stop with SL. Let's face it. In First Life, the majority of men are simply unsuitable companions for the majority of women. What most men want is nothing like what most women want to give, and vice versa. Never mind Mars and Venus. We're talking parallel universes. So more and more, women in FL, as in SL, will end up with each other. Technology will come to the rescue of heterosexual men by allowing the creation of android geishas, perhaps only virtual geishas at first but eventually geishas that are human in all ways except in having their own will. Procreation will be either via artificial insemination or strictly procreative sex. The world will be left with only a remnant of heterosexual men and women who want to be with each other.

So you see? SL is once again on the leading edge of human development. You heard it here first, or maybe second or third. Whatevah.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A boot in the ass

It hadn't happened to me for a while, but it happened yesterday when I teleported from home to Naughty Designs. There I stood, hair still on my head, but with my red Chuck Taylors and the hood of my hoody wedged in my butt. I think pretty much everyone, or at least every female, has experienced the full monty at some point—shoes, hair, and jewellery all inhabiting the southern zone and skirt prim dangling around the thighs. Any attached object, as opposed to worn clothing, seems to be potentially subject to this defect.

A couple of days ago, I discovered that the classified ad for my counselling service had vanished. I'd set it up to renew automatically every week. My Linden dollar balance is more than adequate. But when I did a search, the ad just wasn't there. When I looked at my own profile, there was no trace of it. Fortunately I had the ad copy and photo safely stored away. The previous renewal had happened a week before, but I don't look at the ad very often, so I have no idea how long it was missing.

Most defects in Second Life are annoying but not serious. Some have a larger impact. And there is no such thing as defect-free software. It just doesn't exist, so I don't expect it. But as a software designer and developer in First Life, I have some understanding of how and why software has defects. And as a developer with an overriding concern for software quality, I have some understanding of what persistent and mysterious defects represent.

There are knowledgeable people who take the position that those who want Linden Lab to fix defects before creating new features would hold back development. They argue that Linden should keep moving forward and not worry too much about existing bugs.

With all due respect for some who likely have more expertise than I, I have to disagree. Defects represent design engineering failures. No matter how complex a system is, it is composed of smaller components. (If it isn't, then there isn't a prayer of ever getting it right, so let's hope SL really is not irreducibly complex, like Microsoft Windows.) Smaller components can be understood. You can know exactly how they behave under a range of inputs and through various system states. Things get more complicated when components are built into systems and must interface with each other, but the principle is the same. You have to know how and why things behave as they do for any given input and any given state. You can't guess. If you're guessing, or if parts of your system are a mystery, then your development effort is toast. You will never get it right.

So why not just move forward with new innovations? Think of a software system as a building. If it is well designed and engineered, then even though it is not perfect, but it is a fundamentally sound structure. If you need to modify it, add to it, extend it, then you know that the foundation is solid and that the design can be extended. An extra storey or a new wing do not cause the rest of the structure to collapse.

Can the same be said for Second Life? I am not underestimating its complexity. The fact that it works as well as it does is a tribute to at least some of the engineering involved. But when a tested update causes unexpected defects to pop up, defects in components that are supposed to be stable, then you have a fundamental problem. When the system misbehaves, sometimes very badly, under load, then you have a fundamental problem. Adding features to a shaky foundation is a recipe for disaster. If your elevator fails in perplexing ways, making it go faster isn't going to help. You have to walk before you can run, lest you fall headlong with your boots stuck up your bum.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Talking cure

As Patrice wrote in her blog, today is four months to the day since we typed vows to each other on a knoll at our beach house, with our friends as witnesses. We had already been partners for two and a half weeks, but we considered that the engagement. When we stood up and made a public declaration, that was our marriage.

Not only are we still married. We still love each other, more deeply than ever. We're still in love with each other, which surprises and delights us. We still enjoy each other's company, make each other laugh, and comfort each other when things aren't going well. We give each other space to grow. And we still have a very hot time when we are alone together, nudge nudge, wink wink.

Four months and going strong doesn't just happen. I've written before, as have others, about how easy it is to have misunderstandings in Second Life. There are no nonverbal cues, except perhaps some crude manually operated animations. There aren't really even any verbal cues, because you can't hear the other person speak. We type to each other, including as much expression of feeling as we can. But we can't actually touch. We can't hold each other when one of us is feeling bad. And in the end, one person might go offline, from frustration or depression or just sheer exhaustion, leaving the other to wonder just what went wrong.

Patrice and I have learned a lot in the five months we've known each other. We used to have more drama. I was responsible for a fair amount of it. I swear, I'm not into drama, but SL does sometimes bring it out. Some people love drama in their lives, in First Life as well as Second. Hey, if that's what you like, have fun. Patrice and I have tried to avoid it. We're not dull. We just try not to turn little things into big things or let minor matters escalate out of control.

Mainly, we talk. We talk about everything. We talk through differences and difficulties. Again, that's really no different than in FL. I'm sure thousands of articles have been written about the importance of communication in a relationship. And when one of us needs silence, we do that too, which requires trust. Sure, sometimes our communication breaks down. Our virtualness is human and we fail. But mostly we work things out by talking, by not cutting the other person off, and by being open to each other. We like how it works.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Veronique Lalonde has left this session

What would a blog be without some bitching from time to time? We can't let Prokofy Neva have all the fun!

Bitching, in this case, about a phenomenon that has become known as IM spam. This starts with group announcements in IM and gets worse when announcements turn into chat and when people use group IM to ask for various kinds of help.

I realize that running a business in Second Life is no picnic. Clubs, especially, compete head to head, sometimes for the same audience. I can sort of understand when club owners think that the announcement they sent via the normal group notice channel isn't enough, and they feel they have to follow up with a group IM announcement as well. I'm not crazy about it, but I want clubs to succeed, at least ones that I like. I have to say, though, that yes, I did see the notice, and I even know how to go back and find the announcement and its landmark.

Unfortunately, it seems to be impossible to prevent use of group IM by anyone who happens to be a member of the group. By convention, group IMs are used only by group owners and their designees. Some groups are fairly good about this. I belong to the Coconut Ice Fan Club (love the special offers), and if someone tries to use the group IM for chatting, the person is quickly informed, either by the owner or even by another group member, that group IM is for announcements only. In my experience, people have been cooperative. Some groups even have a policy that use of group IM in this way will result in expulsion from the group. I'm seeing that less and less.

If you're too quick to close the IM channel after an announcement, you might end up having to do it at least once more. That's because of the chat that often follows announcements. People seem not to understand that with some groups, hundreds or even thousands of people have received the IM. Do we care about your chatty follow-up? Probably not, especially when it's interrupting a conversation we're having with someone who is actually in the room. And then, sometimes hours later, the channel might pop up again. Why? "So-and-so has left this session." Someone finally got around to closing that particular unwanted IM channel, and all of us get to know about it (not the IM-closer's fault).

Then there's the "Hey, can someone send me a TP" IM spam. Gotta love that. You mean you don't have a landmark to a place whose group you belong to? Don't know how to search? Give me a break!

There's one particular group I belong to, one I need to stay a member of, that seems to have a high tolerance for "can anyone help me" IM spam. It happens quite often, and it's probably one of the larger groups in SL. Thousands of people receive IM notices because someone who might show a little self-reliance is looking for a texture or a script. I quit a product support group because of so many of those kinds of IM interruptions.

It would be ever so nice if a group could have a setting whereby only the owner or owners and possibly certain designees would be able to use group IM. Then you could have announcements that don't turn into chat and that couldn't be used by unauthorized members. Is that unreasonable? Or, as one IM chatter advised me, do I need to take a chill pill?

Friday, February 9, 2007


Despite being a byte-head by trade in First Life, I'm often a DEU (dumb end user) of software when I'm not working. I just want things to go. We should be far past the point where you have to be a programmer to use a piece of software. If a software application is too complicated, I tend to stick with a simplified way of using it if possible. For example, there are many features in Microsoft Word that I've never bothered to learn. I haven't had to.

As well, thinking of Second Life in particular, if I haven't used some feature or command for a long time, I forget that it's there. I'm more interested in living my second life than in exploring the SL client, so I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of stuff that might actually be useful to me. And some of it is dead simple.

I didn't get any suggestions after I posted my photo entry, but I have to think at least someone who read it was thinking, "It's <Alt>click, stupid!" <Alt>click and <Alt>zoom. D'oh! Couldn't be simpler. I learned about those things when I was new. I'd just completely forgotten.

I took my new-found knowledge for a spin last night at Velvet owner Pushbutton Skolnik's rez-day pool party. Here is a gratuitous bikini shot of DJ Vivianne all oiled up (how did she do that?) and dancing up a storm. She was on the other side of the pool from where I was dancing. I zoomed the camera over there and got a decent picture with very little effort.

I still have to watch out how I use it, especially if I'm suffering from lag. My view went outside the club a couple times, and I think it almost went into the washroom once. But it's not hard to get back. Just have to move yourself a bit.

Oh, sometimes I learn everything the hard way, and definitely the slow way. This should really speed up my studio work, though, and not try the patience of my models quite so much.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Dragon Girl

When I started this blog, I kind of rushed through my early life in order to set up for the most significant event: meeting Patrice. I mentioned Tatsuko, but did not tell the whole story. Tats, being a girl with a healthy ego, has always wanted me to provide more details.

The first time I walked into the Wet Kitty, I was only about a month old. I think I was wearing something fairly risqué, probably a black crocheted number that was part of some freebie kit. With my limp computer, rez was and is often rather slow. That contributed to my often being unable to find the dance ball in a new place.

Dancing on a table to my right was a beautiful semi-naked girl covered with colourful Yakuza-style tattoos. Her name was Tatsuko Hayashida, an exotic name for an exotic girl. She has since told me that her first name means "dragon girl." Since she was an employee of the club, I IMed her to ask about the dance ball. "Moshi moshi," I typed. I had once been told, incorrectly as it turns out, that this is Japanese for "excuse me." It's definitely the way one answers the telephone in Japan. I sometimes use it to start an IM conversation, but this time maybe it was Tats's name that prompted me to type it. At any rate, she asked me if I wanted her telephone number. Being still fairly new, I was completely befuddled. Were there telephone numbers in Second Life? After a bit of confused conversation, I finally figured out that Tats has a dry sense of humour, and you have to watch out for when she's kidding about something.

Newbies tend to offer friendship at the drop of a hat, but I was starting to go more slowly. Tatsuko did something very sweet. She said something like, I would not be averse to an offer of friendship. No one had ever done it so politely before. I was touched and immediately followed through. I have remembered that approach ever since.

Since Tats had finished her shift, she invited me back to her house. Even though I was still green, I was savvy enough to read her profile and see that she had a partner named Super Calamari, because I had a feeling that more than friendship might be involved. When I asked about her partnership, she assured me that the relationship was not exclusive. So I went to her and Cala's house, more a palace really, a big, beautiful place with a pool right in the middle of the room we were in. I was introduced to Cala, a gorgeous faerie with white skin, purple hair, and purple tattoos, as well as to a few other women. We danced around the pool in various states of undress. This was all quite new to me but exhilarating. I did not stay long, but before I left I had been invited to a party at Cala's nude beach on Friday night.

I can't quite remember how this next part happened. Tats probably knows and will give me grief for forgetting. I think it was the next day that she invited me to her house again. We were alone. When I first started on SL, I said I was bisexual, but up to this point I'd only had sex with men. Was I really bisexual in more than theory? I found out, in a big way. Tatsuko showed this newbie a hot, beautiful, tender, wonderful, thrilling time. I knew she and Cala were a legendary couple. I knew this wasn't going anywhere. I have found that I'm not that good with casual sex, but at that point it was liberating.

More hazy chronology. I can't remember if this took place before Labour Day, when I was offline for several days, or after. I do remember that Cala's party was the Friday after Labour Day, September 8. Tatsuko, usually online much of the day, was not around at all that week. Friday night came, and still no Tats. I IMed Cala, who told me that Tats was offline for a few days, but she told me that I was still quite welcome at the party. Which I went to alone. Where I met Patrice. Which is another story.

When Tatsuko reappeared, she and Cala was no longer partnered. This was a bit of a shock, because as I said, their love had been kind of legendary. No, I did not cause the breakup. Cala and I have been friends since we met. There were other reasons. By the time this happened, I was becoming involved with Patrice, something I have never regretted.

Tats remains one of my best friends in SL. She was kind and generous during a very bad patch, when I thought everyone was going to hate me (not everyone who says her relationship is non-exclusive is telling you the truth). She has always been a loving friend, even when her own life has been difficult. Dragon girl doesn't breathe fire. She is strong, but there is a fragility about her as well. I try to make sure to take care of that.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Filling a need

When I first moved in with Patrice, almost five months ago, she had just set up a house on a beach on Goddess Island. As I recall, the land stayed pretty much as it started. It was flat, and there wasn't even much vegetation.

When we moved to Iron Fist, which was modelled after a Greek island, Patrice did a lot more shaping and landscaping of our parcel. Later, she had the opportunity to shape the land for her Gorean panther tribe. She turned that land into a place of beauty, with a gorge through which ran a river, a forest for fighting cover, and a secret cave. In the process, she discovered two important things: she loved terraforming, and she was good at it.

On the Second Life website, there are lists of ways to make money in SL. Most of them don't make much money, or are difficult to do successfully. Terraforming—land shaping—isn't even on the list, but Patrice figured out that it might be a niche that was not well served. There are builders and scripters galore, but not too many people who are skilled at shaping land.

Ever tried terraforming? Using the built-in land editing tools, I have found that it's very easy to turn land into an ugly expanse of odd bumps, grooves, and massive heaving piles. It can be like that old cartoon about rigor mortis where there's this stiff on a gurney, and when someone pushes the legs down, up pops the torso, and vice versa. Ever since I lifted the office into the sky above my first land, I've taken to messing up my own tiny parcel instead of wrecking our east beach and creating more work for Patrice. I'm a little better at terraforming than I used to be, but it's still difficult to shape land the way I want it.

Building is mathematical and linear. You really can get exactly what you plan for, as long as you can do the arithmetic (and sometimes a bit of trigonometry). With land, I think you're working with fractals or something, and you can't directly see what's going on. So terraforming is both a science and an art, and probably a fair amount of magic and voodoo as well.

Patrice started a business offering terraforming services. It didn't take long for the need to find her. She has been working almost steadily since shortly after the business opened. For her, it's not just a job. It's a passion. She has done projects ranging from a small garden to entire sims. Much if not most of her business comes from word of mouth. You know you're doing something right when that's happening.

The photo is from Legenda, a real showpiece for Patrice's work. I love this shot, which Patrice took for her portfolio. It looks like a place I would really want to visit. I have a thing for gorges, especially when spanned by stone bridges.

Is this advertising for Patrice's business? Damn straight. Hey, it's my blog! And I'm really proud of her. She found a thing she loves and has a talent for, works hard continually at learning whatever she does not yet know, practises her skills to become better and better, and does a good job managing the more mundane aspects of the venture. And she's only beginning. Chances are that as time goes on, more and more of Second Life will bear her stamp. As Martha Stewart would say, that's a good thing.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Quiet moments

Some of my favourite times in Second Life are when nothing in particular is happening, maybe just friends hanging around and chatting. Even though we can IM to each other no matter where we are, there's something about a quiet place that's just more conducive to real conversation.


I've met some of the people whose blogs I have provided links to. Patrice, of course, is my SL wife, lover, and best friend. Patrice did a terraforming job for Cheyenne, which is how I met her. It was her blog that got me started writing my own—and look what happened! I have IMed with Mordecai but have not yet met him or Melissa, although I would like to. I have met Sorcha at her wonderful treehouse, and also went to the Bubblegum once when she was hosting. And yesterday, I met Bailey Toland.

I got an IM in my e-mail from Bailey that said she was kind of at loose ends, so I went in world, and we met up at my counselling office. That took a bit of doing. I didn't realize that the landmark on my classified ad was out of date! I couldn't just send a teleport to Bailey (not sure why), so I had her use that LM, and she materialized down on the ground. After several false starts, I finally got her up to the sky-office and fixed that landmark as well.

I should have got a better picture, but this will have to do. Bailey claimed that she usually wears more clothes. I claimed that I usually don't look so preppy. LOL! I liked her ink, though, so I'm not sad that I got to see it.

We ended up sitting on the floor cushions in my counselling room and chatting. Patrice joined us after a short while, having finished work for the day. Bailey is a delightful person, as you might imagine if you've read her blog. She's very excited about the impending adoption with her friend as co-parent. I quite enjoyed her company, so hopefully we'll be able to meet up again soon, despite a nine-hour time difference. Meanwhile, I will certainly keep reading about her adventures.

Night radio

On Friday and Saturday evenings, I'm usually doing First Life things with my SO (Bon Cop, Bad Cop on DVD last night, great fun, especially for hockey fans), so I didn't log in last night until fairly late. Patrice was at the Velvet, along with a few stragglers. Illya, bless her, was DJing for those of us who wanted to keep dancing. Patrice was planning on getting a reasonable amount of sleep (she can't sleep in on Saturday mornings), but that didn't happen. I think it was nearly 11, 2 a.m. for her, when she took off from the club. I hung around for a little while longer, but things were truly dying down. So when I saw Patrice come back online, I TPed home.

I disrobed and lay on the bed with her in our spooning position. She had changed the music stream back to "Radio Patrice," a stream of her favourite music. The server she runs it on is a bit lacking of bandwidth, so the signal is more compressed than what you would normally hear at a club. It was odd when I first heard it. Now, I find it strangely comforting, especially when it's dark out. It feels like driving on a highway, late at night, listening to AM radio. And it's a personal connection to Patrice.

As we lay there, still chatting, "our" song came on the stream—"Lullaby" by the Dixie Chicks. "How long do you want to be loved / Is forever enough, is forever enough." We listened, quietly. I could imagine her holding me, feeling her skin against mine. Finally, so late in her time zone, Patrice was ready to fade. And in the end, I lay there alone, just for a minute, before I too went offline and off to dreamland.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A world apart

Patrice recently finished a terraforming job on Forrest, a Gorean sim. The job was a forest (no pun intended) and hideout for a band of panthers. In Gor, panthers are fighting women, always needing to be on their guard to avoid capture by men who want to enslave them.

If you don't know already, Gor is a role-playing (RP) sim in Second Life. Actually, Gor is a role-play in First Life and probably in several virtual worlds other than SL. It is based, more or less faithfully (less in SL, it seems), on a series of fantasy novels by John Norman. I have never read the books, but I've learned some of the basics. Gorean men consider women to be worthy only of slavery, mainly sexual slavery, and supposedly men and women find their true selves through this relationship. The men, and panthers, fight battles using primitive weaponry of roughly Roman Empire vintage—swords (men only), bows and arrows, spears, and knives. There are free women in Gorean cities who fill particular non-slave roles, but basically women are either slaves, called kajirae, or panthers, struggling to remain free.

SL is a role play for me already, to some extent, so I have not sought out further role play. Patrice used to be a panther. The terraforming work she did was for her former chieftess. She left Gor for a couple of reasons. On the one hand, she got terribly bored with the politics, with the endless wranngling over rules and petty grievances. On the other hand, she got so caught up in the fighting that she felt things were getting out of balance. She'd be up at three in the morning to help her sisters ward off an attack.

I took this photo when I was visiting Forrest to see Patrice's work, in role-play costume but wearing my "visitor" tag so as not to be captured. The dagger in a sheath on my right leg is just part of the costume. Unlike Patrice, I am unarmed, and would be a rank amateur at fighting even if I were armed.

I must admit to a certain fascination with Gor, at least with some aspects of it. For one thing, panther outfits rock! Kajira outfits—silks—are even more overtly sexy. Even Gorean free women have good costumes—well, except for the veils. I'm not much on fighting, but I would like to learn how, and using this kind of weaponry is more appealing to me than learning to fight in a modern RP like Midian. And even the idea of being a kajira is both repulsive and intriguing at the same time. A good master or mistress (SL Gor has female slave owners as well) can create a potentially interesting relationship. If you're going to be owned, you want to be owned by someone worthy of running your life. I know a man who apparently is that ideal master—one who loves and cherishes his kajira. Unfortunately, from what I've heard, he is a rare bird in SL Gor.

I am going to try to learn how to fight in that style, perhaps outside Gor, since Patrice's panther sister Govindira, who would be a good teacher, has also resigned. I have thought of putting on my badge and exploring the library at Port Kar. And if I ever lose Patrice or otherwise hit some really bad patch, I might even consider "begging the collar" from my friend (although he seems not to be in world much these days), or taking my chances on finding a good master or mistress, perhaps even fighting bravely before that. It might be interesting and challenging, at least for a while. Or it might be a colossal bore! Either way, it would probably be something I could justify as a learning experience.