Friday, February 23, 2007

My House

Written 22 February, 2007

My House

No, not my Second Life house. My RL house.

William Techumseh Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground in 1865, and some people around here haven’t yet forgiven him.

I can’t understand why, for the inhabitants have since torn the city down and rebuilt it many times.

It’s rather like Second Life around here. One day there’s a nice cottage with azaleas blooming in the yard, and the next— well, not the next day, really, but it SEEMS like the next day—there’s a McMansion or a porno store or a Papa John’s pizza or a convenience store or a strip mall.

All of which means that my RL house, which was built as a one-room cottage in 1936, is positively ancient by Atlanta standards.

It sits in a funky little community of 800 souls that was begun in pre-TVA days as a resort community for those wishing to escape the city. At ten miles from city center, it was almost too far away, but it survived, and thrived, evolving, through the decades, from a summer resort to a year-round resort to a community of wives whose husbands were away fighting WWII to a community of rental properties to a community of hippies to its present incarnation as a gentrified neighborhood filled with artists, entrepreneurs, and professionals of every color and sexual orientation. And now that Metro Atlanta is more than 100 miles in diameter, at eleven miles from city center it’s ridiculously close in, convenient to theaters, good restaurants, and good shopping.

I love where I live. Not Atlanta, in particular—it’s far too big for my liking, although it's above average as big cities go—but my little leafy, laid-back town, with its beautiful accessible lake (only feet from my door), and community dinners and concerts. And I love my house, my built-in-the-1930s-and-expanded-at-least-twice shotgun-style two-story it-will-be-paid-for-in-two-years-and-nine-months it’s-worth-more-than-twice-what-I-paid-for-it house.

And so I’ve set out to replicate it in Second Life.

I chose my house not to memorialize it (although that idea sort of appeals to me) but because I’m familiar with it. I have the real one to which to refer should I have questions during the building process. I can test the reproduction against the original and see where it is wanting.

I’ve not set out to make the reproduction beautiful, or to make it as primficient as possible; rather, I’m going for accuracy and detail.

I’d say the house is about half finished. The front room is completed, and so is the bedroom above it. The kitchen is finished, and my office above it (where I sit when I’m on the grid) is coming along. The stairway (well, a ramp) is finished, and everything that has been created has been texturized and made as close as possible to the original. I’ve even recreated the floor-standing gas furnace in the front room (along with the gas supply line and regulator). The only thing I’ve put off is adjusting the textures of the outer walls so they align perfectly. That’s because I’ve been hoping to find a vinyl siding texture to replace the wooden siding texture I’m currently using. If and when I find it, I’ll fix it all at once.

I’ve made everything as I’ve worked, from walls to doors and windows and doorknobs and light fixtures. I’ve not bothered with scripts to make the doors open and close or the fans revolve (although I may do so later). I’ve just built, slowly and methodically, linking each section when the time seems right.

It’s been a wonderful experience—and a bit of a creepy one. It quite frankly feels a little strange to be standing in my living room when I’m actually one floor above and one room over, in front of a monitor. How much stranger it will be when I add furniture!

I’ve found I can make all manner of things, and I’ve learned how to position objects in three dimensional space so they snuggle perfectly against other objects. I can now spot and tweak a misaligned prim or an over- or under-stretched texture; select and unlink a single prim, and make any prim of my choosing the root prim.

This is a very different sort of building from what I’ll be blogging about soon. It’s a bit plodding, and it lacks elegance, but it has taught me a lot, and it has enabled a level of detail that would not have been possible with some of the more elegant building techniques

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