Its impossible to tell from this photo but this beautiful avatar is very small, moves around in a rolling fashion and has incredible detailed moving bits and bobs. Yoa Ogee is the creator and I was thrilled to happen upon her in my travels. (I keep wanting to refer to this creature as "her" and I don't really know why. Maybe because the fish is pink? I don't know but gender in SL is a whole other post, no?) Anyway I complimented Yoa on the avatar and we chatted a bit before s/he passed me the landmark to the store where I was promised many more unusual avatars could be found.
When I got to the store, owned by Yeti Bing and Yoa Ogee, I was instantly mesmerized. There are many fun, unusual and decidedly non-human avatars available at very low prices. Many are under L$100, in fact. Some are simple shapes that move and color shift. Others are animated creatures that range from cute and adorable to something you dreamed about after a late night of way too much beer in a smoky blues bar. Before I could even begin to stop myself I bought 5 of these inexpensive packages of avatar fun.
This tiny round avatar shifts colors.
An atom? That moves? Come on, stop!
This little cutie shifts colors and the tentacles respond to the Linden winds.
A pink semi transparent tiny robot, with hearts over her head? Adorable.
This little dragonesque creature looks around with a funny semi-amazed look on her face.
It would have been easy for me to buy another dozen or so of these avatars. I stopped because I put myself on a budget, remember? (That little experiment is not going well, tyvm.) So the real reason I limited myself is I can't actually imagine living in any of these avatars for any length of time. This realization started me thinking about more unanswerable questions. But it all boils down to this -- in a world where we can be anything and do anything, why do so many of us choose to replicate real life?
Why *do* we create avatars that conform to a western standard of beauty? Why do people spend a lot of money to live in perfectly appointed McMansions? Why have a car in the driveway? Why have a driveway? Food? Kitchens? FFS Toilets? Why do we do this? Of course there are communities of people who live very differently but it seems to me those groups are the minority.
Before anyone points out the obvious I am absolutely guilty of this myself. Chestnut is a very realistic looking avatar, she lives in a uber realistic house in a sim where realism is mandated by the covenant. Lately I have been feeling more and more constrained by how very "normal" and "realistic" my SL has been. So on the odd chance I show up somewhere looking a little different or suddenly decide to live in a transparent 5 story tall planter with a model of the solar system on the roof, don't say I didn't warn you.
Anyway, today I visited Welsh Bay Gallery, owned by the very talented Alexandar Vargas. For some annoying reason SL won't let me grab a SURL right now (can I get a collective GRRRRRR, please?) So the coordinates are Welsh Bay 89, 203, 54. I will try to get back to grab the SURL when SL is no longer borked -- mayhaps some time in 2023? Please, please do not let the extra little step of having to enter the coordinates in the map keep you from visiting this amazing, wonderful, one of my very favorite places.
ETA: Link in the comments from the always helpful and lovely Lunette. ;)
There are sculptures from many well known artists and installations, lots of new SLart I never saw before, beautiful landscaping, bits and bobs dances, pillow talk cuddle pillows, lovely waterfalls, on and on...three sims to explore. It is, for me, the perfect combination of art, exploration, and not possible in real life relaxation. Its amazing, perfect. (Get it? I love this place.)
Alexander Vargas also has a store where he sells what appears to be high quality jewelry. Lots of pearls, diamonds with teeny tiny prims and exquisite detail. I am putting myself on a linden budget so I didn't buy anything but next time I am feeling glamorous I will certainly return and go a little crazy.
Have a look around, marvel at the creativity and if you are in a position to do so please drop some lindens on this very talented creator.
On to the photos -- click for larger images, standard disclaimers apply.
There is an upside to feeling sick, cranky and generally out of sorts. Rather than inflict your crabby self on anyone you can wander in SL exploring fun sims. So yep, that is what I have been doing. Some time ago I joined the Impossible in RL group which is an amazing way to find out about innovative builds. If you have a group slot open and are even remotely interested in such things it is very much worth joining.
Bettina Tizzy recently sent out a notecard with landmarks so today when I was pouty and impatient with my atomic body I decided to to indulge in some pure SL exploration. I ended up at Hangars Liquides. From Bettina's notecard:
Naxos Loon handed me the LM to this gorgeous glowy contemporary city that's not so contemporary in places... it's under construction. I love it. By Djehan Kidd (rez: 2/3/2007)
"We're finishing it up///turn on the sound to listen to our radio while exploring, majority of the sim is being built listening to this radio :) //
hangars liquides is a leading european avant garde music label" - Open the landmark and look at the pic before you decide not to go. Great place for pics!
Rather than waste words that can't describe the experience I will share photos that also can't fully describe Hangars Liquides. My virus infected body is not feeling much like searching for vocabulary and stringing words into cogent sentences. So, here you go - photos.
Click through for larger photos please.
The style I am wearing here is called April and I bought one color option which I set to the darkest shade in the warm scale. This hair cost L$50. Yes, you read that right. Lovely hair and its very affordable. All I can say is Asuka Martin is going to give some of the best hair designers on the grid a run for their money. The hair is just great. So go, drop lindens. You won't be sorry. I promise.
By chance I had the opportunity to listen to Winston Ackland at Hypnotic Moon tonight. What a nice surprise! He played mostly covers but I was very impressed with his voice, guitar work and showmanship. Winston played Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Beatles, Neil Young and a wide variety of enjoyable tunes. If you get the chance to catch him I think you will enjoy the show.
Goodbye my friend. I shall miss your daily presence in my life.
Click the photos for larger views (its worth it I promise)
Anyway -- was the three day blogger's protest a success? Certainly the latest clarification of the trademark guidelines shows that LL listened to resident concerns. The text of the policy clarification is on the main blog page here. Are people happy with the policy? Not completely, but we did get a clarification on the third day of the blogging hiatus. I consider that a success.
I think the bottom line is this - LL has every right and even a responsibility to protect their brand. At the same time, I sure as hell wish they would do a better job of implementing policy change. They should roll out changes in a way that anticipates the reactions of residents and eases the transitions. Its not that hard to do and yet LL consistently does a poor job of managing people. Maybe its because there are too many gearheads running the show?
LL needs someone who understands people and process to talk to residents. "Hey if we do thus and such how do you think people will react? How can we roll this change out so as to build support rather than piss off our base?" Seriously, it can be done well. In fact, LL should hire me, pay me a huge salary and I promise to do a better job than is currently being done. Then I would get to quit my day job and live in SL full time. Its a win win! Seriously, who do I talk to about this? Its a brilliant plan. Ha!
I never really expected LL to notice or care that a bunch of bloggers stopped writing, especially a blogger like me who writes pure fluff. Let's face it I am not adding to the debate or reporting the news in a comprehensive fashion here. At the same time, I wanted to stand with fellow bloggers who called for the strike for the simple reason that I think it is important for the community to stand together. There has been healthy and respectful disagreement about tactics and I have been very impressed with the level of the debate. On a daily basis I feel privileged to have a window into the minds of the bloggers and twitterites and others who really are pioneers helping to create the future of the virtual world.
Anyway, I was wandering around today and came across another one of those sweet japanese sims where the clothing is cheap and my lindens are not safe. This time I found a store simply called "poses and anime" that had a ton of cheap -- hold on to your hats -- poses and animations. Cute large sets of poses for L$5. You cant beat that. Go here KssMall
last night i was privileged to have such an experience. my friend zha and i paid a visit to the chakryn forest and tree house -- a spectacular build which i strongly suggest you visit by teleporting here. once you arrive you will find a lush green forest with beams of light seeping down through the treetops. there are woodland creatures about, the sounds of the forest chirp softly in the background and there is calming peaceful music playing.
take a few moment to wander around and you will find hidden caves filled with crystals, fabulous fantasy inspired flowers, waterfalls with a family of adorable croaking frogs, places for meditation and quiet conversation. there is a large multi-level tree house with comfortable seating and lounging spots, a grand piano and a harp for the musically inclined.
chakryn forest is a dream for those of use who enjoy taking pictures as the build is so lush and wonderfully done it is easy to spend a long time snapping away, with pleasing results.
i am back to having so much going through my mind that it seems impossible to slow down long enough to pull together a cogent post. not to worry, my personal offline journal is stacking up pages and pages and pages so at least i wont burst.
there is a polyamory jira that has had some of us talking. dandellion Kimban has a thoughtful post on the subject, that is worth a read. the jira asks for a change to the partner box that would allow poloyamorous people to partner with more than one person as long as all the avatars involved agree. the simple equity concern suggests to me that sure, LL should allow poly people to partner if they want to do so. why not?
the ability to partner with multiple people does seem like a low priority item as compared to...umm...many other things. my personal experiences with the partner box have been fairly negative leading me at times to think the best change is to get rid of it all together. buy a ring, have a ceremony, engage in whatever ritual is meaningful for you without the official sanction of LL? at the same time the incurable romantic in me thinks there is value to a public statement like partnering. at the end of the day most poly people i have talked to are not clamoring for the ability to partner so i did not vote in support of this jira.
people hate the new viewer. i have avoided it because of the universal and vehement hatred for the blue and some of the changes to the ui. my plan is to hold out for a while and see if i can avoid this mess, thank you very much. apparently though the new viewer has at least one feature that is interesting and possibly useful. massively has a post that describes the tool here.
the tool allows you to measure how hard it is for the system to render your avatar. this measurement gives you an approximation of how much you are contributing to lag. so when you are headed to an event where lots of people are likely to be you could check to see if your 500 prim boots are a problem, as an example. based on what i am reading prims alone are not necessarily a lag causing problem so this tool will help us have actual information. what a concept.
i am almost tempted to download the new viewer just to play with this option -- you know how much i love my data! tempted? yes. am i going to download it? not unless they make me. i'll just take off my boots and hope for the best for now.
i am not going to pretend to be a deep thinker and i most certainly don't write thoughtful analysis like kit meredith has on the trademark mess, content theft and being a rezbian in sl among other interesting issues of the day. at the same time i do think about my life in the virtual world a lot. i tend to avoid writing posts about the long windy roads my curiosity takes me because my thought process goes something like this -- hey! that is an interesting idea. hrmm that thought raises this question and what about that? and then of course there is the other. now just for fun how about if i think about this idea from the exact opposite perspective, what happens then? does the answer to the question become more clear or less? how does my culture, age, sex, location, species impact what i see? think? feel? pretty soon i am half way down the rabbit hole and i stop. think. and say "where is the chocolate?" or "anyone want to dance?"
my point is i think a lot, reach no conclusions and therefore lack good blogging content.
my dear friend esteban moody writes smart, funny and thoughful posts over at m is for mygdala. yesterday he linked to a great article here. go read it and lets ponder whether or not we are conscious beings next time i see you. oh and esteban is an amazing wonderful dj -- download podcasts of his sets at the blog or come see him at clockwork on friday and monday evenings. (sorry for the lack of surl to clockwork as i am not inworld. if you ever want to go im me or look in my profile for the lm.)
well, the event that shall not be mentioned is even more embarrassing because apple got there and found me cleaning up the mess. sheesh. not one of my better moments. so then apple thinks, builds for...ermmm....about 5 minutes and comes up with a concept. a round stage on the water. he tinkers for another moment and the results are shown below.
this picture does not begin to capture the comfortable feel of the new Molaskey's Beach stage. the game tables are still set up on the patio so rather than take my word for it why don't you stop by any time, play a game of backgammon and have a look around. better yet, join us on sunday afternoon for the shows.
this video is not the best quality but i love raw live performance, especially when the musician looses it a little and laughs (even better when they make a mistake and say "fuck.")
last night i was talking to a friend and in trying to explain what is going on with me i used the example of a small child. if you are a parent you have experienced times when your child is inexplicably crabby and fussy. the child may be just out of sorts or possibly they are in full on tantrum mode. you have an exhausting day, the entire family is stressed out and the baby just fusses and cries. the next day the baby wakes up and they have passed a developmental milestone like learning to walk or talk. people call these times growth spurts because we like to label things, i guess.
i absolutely feel like i have been going through a second life growth spurt for the past couple of weeks (some of my close friends might argue months.) now doors are opening, things are changing in positive ways and much of the painful past is becoming a distant memory. no clear idea what is coming next, nor do i need to know. i just know that positive change is in the air and i am happier than i have been in some time.
somewhere in these pictures is my mood. three are me, of course. the last one is my daughter sophie. sorry to add rl here but the picture perfectly captures part of what i feel.
i have so many conflicting emotions. i alternate between feeling calm, energetic, animated, reflective, delighted, privileged, cherished, frightened, amazed and amused. i could go on but instead i think its time to turn on some music and get lost in my thoughts some more.
things are exactly as they seem
nothing is as simple as it looks
outrage is sometimes appropriate, but not often
connection is a beautiful thing and it is what we seek most
i am blessed to have friends who say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. it makes all the difference in the world
when in doubt, close your eyes and listen to the music
this picture was taken by my friend the talented apple mackay at the molaskey's tallguy kidd show last friday. attending a concert in a spectacular venue like the scope carver build at princeton beach allows me to experience visual beauty, music that moves me in the company of wonderful people. this combination of art, music and people is exactly what makes the virtual world have a powerful hold on me.
on the other hand lacking visual cues in my interactions with my friends makes me frustrated. as i told a dear friend last night i can be quite oblivious to nuance in the virtual world. i think my tendency to miss people's intent or meaning is because i cant see the depth of their eyes, the tilt of their head, the tiny movement of their mouth. more to the point, avatars can control these movements and facial expressions only on a very gross scale.
my mysti tool has emotes built into it. i am sure you have seen the over the top expressions like this one.
again photo credit goes to apple who caught me playing with the mysti tool. i think this may be one of the goofiest pictures of me ever but it illustrates my point. either our avatars have neutral expressions or exaggerated cartoony faces. maybe there is talented creator who has produced anims or a hud that produces more subtle facial expression than what i have seen. does anyone know? even with the best anims possible with current technology i think i may be disappointed.
i want to be able to see my avatar easily move in a way that reflects what i am feeling. as a simple example, if i am sitting with a friend listening to music i would love to be able to simply lean over and hug them or whatever small physical expression felt right. i look forward to the time when my avatar has control over her actions in a more fluid way than is currently possible with poseballs and animations. will that day ever come? am i dreaming? probably.