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


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


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.