Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Leveraged Buyout: Part I. Gaston is Found Out


Leveraged Buyout

Part I: Gaston is Found Out

Written 30 October, 2012

It began with a frantic IM.

"Thief! Taker of cogs! Gearnapper!"

"Whatever are you going on about, Gaston?" I said.

Gaston is the liftbot at our Sub-Orbital Asteroidal Retreat, 4000 meters above Whimsy.

"Alphonse!" he hissed. "That brass imposter! He has stolen my flywheel! He knows I can't function without my flywheel!"

"Alphonese took your flywheel?" I said. "Why?"

"He knows I must go up! And he knows I cannot go up without it! Bastard!"

"Excuse me," I said. "I have a call on IM line 2."

It was, of course, Alphonse. Alphonse is the downbot.

"Quisling! Fifth Columnist! Saboteur!" he snarled.

"Good morning to you, too," I said.

"You are going to hear from Gaston," Alphonse said. "Don't believe him. He is a weasel. A stoat."

Gaston and Alphonse have an intense and bitter rivalry. Since they are variants of the same model they're technically cousins, but they despise one another. Alphonse believes Gaston feels superior because he takes people up to the top of the blimp tower, while he, Alphonse, takes people downward to the hollow interior of the asteroid. I point out both he and Gaston take people both up AND down, but he refuses to hear me. It doesn't help that Gaston takes every opportunity to antagonize him.

"I, Gaston, am now going UP!" he will say on their common script channel, knowing Alphonse will hear. Alphonse unfailingly responds with French profanity I (happily) can't understand.

"Did you take Gaston's flywheel?" I asked Alphonse.

"No I did not," he said. "I have a flywheel of my own, and it's made of brass. His flywheel is made of common steel."

"Hang on," I said. "Gaston is on hold on the other line. I'm going to start a group IM."

I switched back to Gaston's IM box and saw his last lines:

"The Palisades suspects nothing. I told her that upstart downbot Alphonse stole my flywheel."

He continued. "Oh, merde, I'm typing in the wrong box! Uh, Ignore that, Cheyenne! I did not say that! It's a trick. Yes, another of Alphonse's tricks!"

I started the group IM.

I said, "Alphonse didn't take your flywheel, did he, Gaston?"

"J'accuse!" roared Alphonse. "J'ACCUSE!"

After several seconds Gaston said in a small voice (he has the optional whisper module), "He did too!"

I teleported to 4000 meters and flew to the SOAR build.

"Gaston," I said, "I'm activating your conscience subroutine."

"Mistakes were made," said Gaston.

I turned up the gain, knowing it should trigger a remorse sub-subroutine.

"If my flywheel were to be stolen," he said, "Alphonse would without doubt be the guilty party."

"Oh-kay," I said, and turned the gain all the way up.

"Alphonse did not take my flywheel," Gaston said. "I'm sorry I told that lie."

"Aha!" said Alphonse. "Ah, and ha! Aha!"

"Gaston,"I said, "I'm ashamed of you. You have a high-level processor and should know better than to tell falsehoods. Maybe you should be the downbot for a while."

"No, please no!" cried Gaston. "I must go up! I live to go up!"

"He has more to tell you," said Alphonse.

I looked at Gaston.

"Yes," he said, "I do."

With his electronic conscience overclocked (I had turned the dial to 11), Gaston had no choice but to reveal all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ode to a Skybox No Longer There

Still calm here in Rockland County, NY, as Sandy continues to move Westward. Winds up to 30-50 mph still possible as the system turns northward. Our power and internet is up, but all around us it's not. We've been lucky so far.


Ode to a Skybox No Longer There

Written 29 October, 2012

Yesterday morning at breakfast Sweetie burst into song.

In perfect stanzas, in perfect rhyme, she sang a song about a disappearing house in Second Life.

I was sitting ten feet away from my running laptop, but by the time I got there the song had vanished. Sweetie couldn't recreate it and I couldn't remember enough to write it down. It was just gone.

We tried, but it began to sound more and more like Dr. Seuss, and so we stopped.

Last night I took another tilt at it, but the Dr. Seuss verses overpowered the non-Dr. Seuss verses. I tried again this morning to the same effect.

Here's what I wound up with:


Ode to a Skybox No Longer There

by Sweetie and Chey

I logged in this morning
Our house in the air
Was not in my vision
It just wasn't there!

We looked in our lost
We looked in our found
We looked straight up
We looked straight down
We looked low
And we looked high
Our house was still missing
Oh me, and oh my!

The doors and the windows
The ceiling and floors
The rugs and the shower
The sofa, and more
Let's call on the Lindens
The Lindens can help
Out house must be somewhere
It didn't just melt!

We bought a gadget
And set it upright
It scanned our sim Whimsy
A day and a night
A night and a day
And then it said"Not found"
Our house missing in action
Our house not around

I turned to my preferences
And draw distance lay
Just a bit above zero
Oh, what's that you say?
I moved up the slider
Things popped into view
Oh, hey, now I see you!
I see our house too!

So let this be a lesson
When you tweak late at night
Be sure when you log out
Your settings are right

Calm at 4 AM EDT


I awoke just after 4 am Eastern Daylight time to almost a dead calm-- winds at 3 am, no rain. Whimsy's weather reflects the weather here in the lower Hudson Valley, NY. Compare to the weather in the previous post.

More than 10 million people are without power. Electricity is out all around. We consider ourselves most fortunate because as yet both power and internet remain up.

The Atlantic Coast is a disaster area and New York City has been particularly hard hit. Much of lower Manhattan is without power, the subway system might not be up for weeks, and streets are still flooded.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weather Intensifies


The situation on Whimsy Kaboom is looking grim-- multiple tornadoes, lots of lightning strikes, heavy rain at 7:40 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

Here in real life the wind is gusting up to abou 60 miles per hour just outside the windows. Most of the time it sits at about ten, but every minute or two it sounds as if a freight train is going by. Trees are bending and shaking and the heavy door to the building's lobby keeps blowing open.

There are massive power outages all around, and the lights are flickering every few minutes. We expect the power to go out at any time.

I'm thinking of raising the sea level of the Whimsy sims in sympathy with the Jersey shore  and New York city.

The Weather on Whimsy


The Weather on Whimsy

Written 29 October, 2012

The weather on Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom is set to mirror that of my real-life location, a little town about thirty miles from New York City.

It's gray here, and for the past hour or so it's been drizzling. Winds are light.

That's how it is on Whimsy, too.

Hurricane Sandy is set to come ashore in southern New Jersey, and winds are picking up there. We're expecting the heavy rains and high winds to start late this morning or early evening and continue for a couple of days.

Bracing for the Frankenstorm


Bracing for the Frankenstorm

Written 19 October, 2012

I'm visiting Sweetie in Rockland County, New York. We're about 30 miles from New York City, where public transportation has been shut down and 400,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas. The city is expected to get hammered by storm surges which will be exacerbated by the full moon.

High winds and large amounts of rain will affect about 50% of the nation's population, and large areas are expected to lose power, which in some cases might be out for as long as a week.

The weather is coming from Hurricane Sandy, which is moving slowly up the Atlantic Coast, where it will soon turn inland. No one is sure just where, but it's clear we're going to get it here at Chez Sweetie.

Last year Sweetie had to leave her house during Hurricane Irene because of the rising river water, which came within inches of the doorways. When the phoned me (I was home in Georgia), I told her to grab her cats and her laptop and get out of her house. She did, and it took her 4 1/2 hours (due to roads closing down) to drive 25 miles to her friends' house, where she stayed for two days.

It wasn't pretty.

This time I'm facing the weather with her. We're stocked up with food and water and batteries and the car is full of gasoline. We don't expect the level of flooding that came with Irene, but it's likely we'll lose power some time Monday.

I'm thinking of going to Whimsy and keying my Damani weather generator to Sweetie's zip code. That will cause the generators to mirror the weather here. In fact, I'm going to go do just that. Now. Before the winds come.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Not Easy Being a Hard-Luck French Robot Barman


It's Not Easy Being a Hard-Luck French Robot Barman

Written 28 October, 2012

Meet Yves, the newest addition to our staff.

His name, the beret, and his Salvador Dali mustaches suggest he is of French origin-- and that's true. We have a liberal immigration policy here on Whimsy.

The Descender


For some reason I'm no longer able to take snapshots in Second Life-- 
in either Phoenix or Firestorm. Things just freeze up.  For this article 
I  resorted to screen captures until I realized I could e-mail snapshots to myself.

The Descender

Written 26 October, 2012

How did Sweetie and I managed to get ourselves below the grid of Second Life?

I'm glad you asked. We did it in The Descender.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Descent!


Descent!

Written 25 October

"Let's run the checklist," I said.

"Let's don't and say we did," said Sweetie.

I glared at her. "I insist--" Then I saw her hand was near her katana.

"Never mind,"I said. "Let's go."

The Test Flight at the Vernian Sea Goes Subtly Wrong




The Test Flight at the Vernian Sea Goes Subtly Wrong

Written 24 October, 2012

It was entirely my fault.

I should have known Sweetie and I would be distracted by the many wonderful things in the Vernian Sea and its environs.

We, ah, never got around to the actual test of my descent vehicle.

But that's okay, we can always test the Descender on Whimsy Kaboom.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Big Cheese

This was meant to go to just after the post showing we had achieved a depth of -79 meters. Oopsie!

Chey, Inspecting the Big Cheese
The Big Cheese

Written 12 October, 2012

Before I built my descent vehicle we did a proof-of-concept, using a huge prim. I mean a HUGE prim. Back then we could stretch prims to only 10 meters, but there were a few legacy prims about with sizes up to 1024 meters. I believed we used a 100 x 100 x 100 meter cube, which we cut and sliced down to a wedge of manageable size.

We couldn't well be seen riding on an untextured plywood prim, so I dug up a swiss cheese texture and pasted it on all sides. That's me, above, giving it a once-over.

With the prim readied, it was time to sit on it-- easier said than done.


We of course dressed appropriately. Sweetie wore the deep-space helmet she had acquired at Privateer Space. That was one of my favorite sims, now gone forever.

Was our trip successful? Let me just say that's where I made the landmark showing an altitude of -79 meters. We went under the grid!

Under the grid, I tell you! On a giant cheese!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Contemplate My Mortality Before Taking The Descender On Its Maiden Flight


Pre-Flight Test


Pre-Flight Test

Written 23 October, 2012

Our secret deep-sea test vehicle finally got its shakedown run.

We took it to The Vernian Sea, where sea level is set to 100 meters instead of the usual twenty. This gives plenty of room to maneuver underwater.

The sea and the surrounding sims, including Port Babbage, are some of Second Life's best, filled with giant steampunk robots and other Victorian and Edwardian wonders. It's a great place for submersibles and airships, so what better place to test our under-the-grid vehicle?

But before we took our descent vehicle for its formal test, I wanted to make sure our vehicle was airtight.

That's me, above, at the left. To my right is my intrepid test pilot Sweetie, who, aside from pushing every available button and tweaking the textures of the windshield, did an admirable job.

"Let's go," she said.

"No, no," I said. "Didn't you see Apollo 13? We have to do the pre-flight, all 627 steps."

"Houston, we have a problem," she said dryly. "Our commander is anal retentive."

I ran the checklist anyway.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Test of Our Descent Vehicle is Aborted Due to a Runaway Giraffe


The Test of Our Descent Vehicle is Aborted Due to a Runaway Giraffe

Written 11 October, 2012

After weeks of building and scripting I was ready for a trial run of my descent vehicle. I invited Sweetie and a friend and we headed out over Whimsy Kaboom, looking for a flat spot on the ocean floor to begin our adventure.

Then we saw it-- it being a runaway giraffe. Leaf Shermer had been conducting illegal breeding experiments on nearby Whimsical Mischief and it had wandered away from her Island of Dr. Shermereau. Now it was cavorting between two of Kaboom's small islands, where it could create all sorts of mischief-- scaring newbies, making big giraffe poops, and maybe even making baby mutant giraffettes.

There was only one choice. I had to pull the plug.

And so we took our still-untried vehicle back to its dock. The test flight would have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Minus 80 Meters!


Written 9 October 2012

Minus 80 Meters!

I can't yet share our methods, but we've achieved a depth of 80 meters, or more than -240 feet below the zero level-- UNDER the grid!

Here's the landmark to prove it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Plumbing the Depths

What Horrors Might Lurk Beneath The Placid Surface?

Written 8 October, 2012

Plumbing the Depths

In Second Life height extends for all practical purposes infinitely-- but what about depth? The world seems to end at 0 meters-- but does it?

Well, it's a question that can be answered empirically.

If one has a deep sea submersible, that is.

I have Carrah Rossini's Nereide, and it's a fine submarine, but it wasn't designed for the tremendous pressure of the sub-zero depths.

No, we are going to to have to build our own deep sea vehicle from the ground up.

It will have to be strong, to withstand the crushing pressure of negative altitude territory.

It will have to be stylish, or else Sweetie will never get in it.

And it will have to be clever, if it we're ever to get below the 0 meter level.

And so, we're feverishly at work on a SECRET machine to take us to the bottom of the ocean-- below the bottom of the ocean!

I'll tell you about it when I can!

Friday, October 5, 2012

More Fashion Mayhem

I'm coming to an end of my unpublished blogposts.

Written 15 May, 2008

More Fashion Mayhem

As my readers know, this is NOT a fashion blog-- or is it the fashion police blog. But some avatars are just WRONG!

I will try to resist highlighting fashion faux pas in the future. Maybe.


How long IS this guy's arm?

Sweetie's Barbie Doll


Here's one more previously unpublished post.

Written 5 December, 2007

Sweetie's Barbie Doll

Just wind me up and point me toward Ken. Or, better yet, toward another Barbie.

Sweetie came in world this morning with a plan for me.

It started innocently enough, with a trip to Blaze so she could buy me a fabulous frock.

Popcorn Surprise (NSFW)


...And yet another unpublished blogpost. The reason should be obvious.

Written 30 December, 2007

Popcorn Surprise

If you know what a popcorn surprise, shame on you!

If you don't, shame on you too!

I'm not going to tell you. You're going to have to look it up.

After the skin shopping with my friend, she returned to her female form and we relaxed in her living room.

We were sitting on her couch, chatting away and eating popcorn (months ago she put me onto Pillow Talk). We were just talking away, and then she giggled and said something about a popcorn surprise.

I looked, and OMG, it was!

I don't know why she had or where she got a newbie penis, but there it was, in the popcorn.

I guess it's for ner new alt. Jeez.

Ambition









Here's yet another post that was lost in the draft files.

Written 27 February, 2007

Ambition

Ambition is a strong human emotion.

I suppose we all suffer from it, but it takes a variety of forms. We want a corner office with windows. We want to get married and have kids. We want to win four million bucks in the lottery. We want to see Japan. We want to own Action Comics #1. We want to get our house paid off.

We use our ambitions to set our goals, and then we work towards those goals as best we can. And we realize them, or we don’t.

That might seem to be all there is to say about ambition, but I don’t think so.

First, there are different types of ambition.

There's the Donald Trump the-one-with-the-most-toys-wins-and-it-doesn't-matter-who-you-screw-over-to-get-them form of ambition.

And there’s the Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa I-am-going-to-change-the-world form of ambition.

I like to think of the latter not as ambition, but as determination, for it focuses outside the individual.

That’s what I have in the real world.

I remember making a conscious decision when I was in high school not to seek material wealth, for the pursuit of money and goods, I was wise enough to know, would shape the human being I would become. I didn’t want to be a person who felt that money was everything, and I was sure that however much I might accrue, there would never be enough money. I would always be in feckless pursuit of it.

I call it my Personality Type A vs. Personality Type B decision.

It’s a choice I've never regretted, although there have been times when money was beyond tight. It would certainly have been nice to have a little more. But I've kept myself fed, and clothed, and sheltered, and entertained. I've always had reliable transportation and money enough to indulge my whims, short of buying a yacht or a ride on the space shuttle. I've not had—nor wanted—a yuppie lifestyle, but I've wanted for nothing.

My decision has given me the freedom to follow the things that have really driven me. Those “determinations” sorts of things.

It has been immensely rewarding.

It’s funny. Following my bliss has brought me more fame and more respect and more acclaim—none of which I particularly wanted— and more friends and more happiness— both of which I certainly did—than I could have possibly garnered by a conscious pursuit of the same. I’ve know people who lusted for those things and in the pursuit of them lost them or achieved only marginal success.

Strange how that works.

When I started Second Life, I had no particular ambition. I didn’t want to get rich on the grid, or make myself the most beautiful and desirable avatar (although of course I wanted to be both beautiful and desirable), or become an acclaimed builder or scripter or particle goddess. I just wanted to be myself. And I have been myself.

And strange to say, things have come to me. After four short months on the grid I have an avatar that perfectly suits me, wonderful property, a beautiful home, a great volcano, a multitude of friends, a business that pays a good portion of the tier fees, and a cherished lover. Life is so good it almost couldn’t get any better.

If all this sounds like bragging, I’m sorry. I’m just stating the facts as I see them. My point is that we have ambition and we work it in individualistic ways. My way is to do the right thing, in disregard of personal benefit. It happens to bring me incredible benefits, and I’m most happy for them, but they’re incidental.

-----

Following our Bliss

The pursuit of ambition can be a good thing or a bad thing.

It’s a good thing when we realize our ambitions without hurting others.

It’s a bad thing when, like The Donald, we run over others in the pursuit of our goals.

And when our ambition leads us to make decisions in the name of expediency, it diminishes our character.

I have never done and will never do the expedient thing to realize my ambitions. Rather, I have stood and will stand on principle.

Someone with whom I am close is, I believe, subverting ambition to expediency and placing herself in danger in the doing. I can’t bear it.

-----

Photos: Following Our Bliss

Perpetuating the Meme



Here's yet another post that didn't get published.

Written 10 June, 2009

Perpetuating the Meme

Over at his blog, Marnix Malifozik has called for more nekkid but tasteful butt pictures.

To my utter surprise, Sweetie provided me a photo of her backside.

She calls it Girl In a Sheep Slipper, because yep, that's what she is, and that's what she's wearing. I post it with her approval.

The appearance of Sweetie's butt pic in this blog is astonishing because for going on three years now I've been withholding, at her request, her real virtual name. Moerover, when I've published her image, I've taken pains, again at her request, to disguise her actual appearance so she won't be recognized.

So there you have it. A secret agent, after years of anonymity, blows it all for one nekkid but tasteful butt picture.

You still can't see Sweetie's face, but after this, you'll know her bum anywhere.

Whimcentricity Gets Dangerous


Here's another post that didn't get published.

Written 23 August, 2009

Whimcentricity Gets Dangerous

Let me just say-- we can't help it.

If it can squash you, burn you, or hurl you high into the air, we're just there.

Whimcentricity lies between dangerous Whimsy and beautiful Eccentricity (and hence the name). It's beautiful like Eccentricity, but is rapidly becoming more dangerous.

Last night I stayed up stupid late and added some visitor-controlled features to W-C welcome area.

Now, instead of having to wait for the geysers to erupt, visitors can turn them on manually.

If they pay, of course.

Well, a girl has to eat!

And it will be really worthwhile, because I added a bonus volcano eruption button.

When you touch it, far-off Pele erupts.

Within seconds, red hot, steaming lava boulders begin to rain all about you.

Ouchie!

Second LIfe's Obituary

Here's a post I wrote nearly three years ago and never got around to publishing.

Written 16 January, 2010

Second Life's Obituary

SECOND LIFE (nee LindenWorld)

Born, 1999, Linden Street, San Francisco, CA, USA

DIED, 2010, all over the planet

After a lengthy illness, Second Life died peacefully in its sleep last night. It is survived by its Father, Philip Linden, its mother, the Internet, and more than five million people scattered around the world.