Monday, January 29, 2007


Lava Flowing to the Sea, Big Island, Hawaii

Written 23 January, 2007


Owning Pele has been a learning experience and, despite the occasional headaches, a joy. But it has pretty much taken me out of circulation so far as my usual Second Life activities are concerned.

I’ve not been on the SL Trivia scoreboard since forever.

I’ve only occasionally been to the live concerts of my dear friends Pam and Bill Havercamp.

I’ve not bought a single outfit, or a pair of shoes, or any bling.

And I’ve not been exploring, or revisited any of the many beautiful and exciting SL places that are in my Landmarks folder.

It’s been a whir of building, with days spent moving things about, and, above all, figuring out how to make what I’ve imagined manifest on the land—and nights spent cuddling with Sweetie.

I’m hoping that’s about to change.

Not the Sweetie part, of course!

Pele is finished, and Sweetie is in charge of designing and decorating the land we’re calling South Beach (I’m leading toward the Pele Conservancy as a permanent name). Except for the occasional tweak, and a couple of building projects that need refining (two of which are the flying paper towel roll and Sweetie’s Valentine’s Day present)—none of which are pressing—I plan to spend more time out in the world.

Right after the open house.

I’m busy this week, getting the place ready—hanging spotlights, putting in a property-wide teleport system, and configuring a notecard dispenser, little touches that should help my visitors.

But then I’m taking myself out exploring.

What I’ve Learned

When I bought Pele, I knew how to work the Appearance sliders for my avatar, more-or-less work the various menus, open boxes and extract the outfits from them, and move objects around in three-dimensional space. That’s about it.

I learned by doing. When I couldn’t figure things out, I consulted the SL knowledge base. If I was still stumped, I would IM my friend Bill Havercamp, who was always great, if often monosyllabic.

And so I learned how to create, size, position, apply texture, and link objects; stretch or condense texture densities, change the texture on only one side of an object, cut away sections of objects, make them transparent or semi-transparent, make them give off light, and twist and distort them. All of this lets me make things as different as a lily pad on which to set my croaking frog and a little bridge, and even my giant roll of paper towels.

And I’ve learned how to put scripts in objects to make them perform various functions (rotate, move their textures in a lateral or circular motion, make sounds, and more. [I’ve no knowledge of Linden Scripting Language, or of C, on which LSL is based, but I’ve been able to work wonders by locating and manipulating the variables in the code]. This has enabled me to make flowing lava and intelligent objects.

And I’ve learned how to shape the land. Yesterday, I was able to terrace the south side of Pele to Sweetie’s specifications. It was an exacting and difficult job, and I did it with ease.

And I’ve learned how audio and video works in Second Life.

All of this might not sound like much, but it has enabled me to realize my dreams for Pele—and that includes making what is arguably the best-performing volcano in Second Life, and maybe even the foggiest river. And it let me build a custom video system for my friend Leaf Shermer.

There are still a lot of things I don’t know—I’m bewildered by the options for flexible objects, for instance—but I’ve learned that with persistence, I can do anything Second Life physics will let me do.

Thank you, Pele, for giving me all this!

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