Saturday, January 20, 2018

Whimsy's Vistas

Written 19 January, 2018

Whimsy abounds with spots that let you look out (or up or down) over long distances.

The view above was taken at sunset from inside the balloons on the airship that hangs just below the 4096 build limit on Whimsy. It shows the mine car track that leads to the huge captured asteroid at 4000 meters, the balloons that hold the track up, the observatory below the asteroid, and the asteroid by itself. The view is better when the SL sun sets, for beautiful auroras play across the skies.

Here's a NASA supply rocket in low earth orbit (3000 meters above Whimsy Kaboom). The moon is visible at upper right, a comet is moving from right to left just above the rocket, and two satellites are visible (one is highlighted by the tail of the comet). The view of earth when standing on the rocket is spectacular.

This photo was taken from atop the giant rock that dominates the southwestern corner of Whimsy Kaboom. I once had a little hut up here, but it was situated on the sim Whimcentricity, which belonged to Leaf Shermer and which has now gone away. I will be setting a replacement structure here so visitors can stand and get this same view.

In fact, I just did! There's a little Japanese tea house there now.

Here's Kaboom. I'm standing on the flank of the volcano Pele, facing west. The caldera is to my left. Note the humpback whale breaching far below at center right.

Here's the view facing the other direction-- the volcano Pele!

Here's one of my favorite vantages. I'm looking at the hollow interior of the volcano Pele from a ledge far above the water that has filled the caldera.

Here's a view of the Whimsy train, taken just a few meters away.

And here's yet another view from the same place.

Here's a view of Whimsy from the top of the mountain...

...and a view of the mountain from a nearby hill.

Here's a view of the Whimsy Sungate from yet another hill.

I took these photos in sim daylight. Soon I'll post some photos taken at night. Whimsy looks great at midnight.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Accident-Free Since 2018!

Written 19 January, 2018

The right side of the cab of Whimsy's red train has long featured a sign that reads "Est, 2006. Accident-Free Since 20XX.

After we moved to Whimsy in 2008 I updated the sign every year. Every January first, I would change the year. There's a reason for that. The train has a horrible derailment on every trip. We cherish our safety record: zero percent.

I used an old copy of the page layout program Quark XPress, but it stopped working when Windows XP was released-- or rather, it would not work with XP. Since the program is expensive and I had no money to spare, I stopped updating the sign-- and then I took a vacation from Second Life.

This week I bought a perfectly up to date copy of Quark XPress 2017 and updated the horribly out of date sign. Our perfectly imperfect safety record is once again memorialized.

It occurs to me I should make a sign that reads "X Days Since Our Last Accident." The sign would, of course, reset to zero every time someone rode the train.

Yes. I'm going to make that sign.

[My photo, taken early 2007. The train is running its route on our property on the Dreamland sim Forsaken. On board are myself, Sweetie (as a dragon), and our friend Axel. That's the Polynesian goddess Pele in the inset.]

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Christmassy Second Life Dress


Here's a Christmassy Second-Life-style dress. It wasn't in Second Life, though, but at Palisades Mall in West Nyack, New York.

Sweetie and I spotted it at the same moment. "Mine!" I cried. "Mine!" she cried. I saw her glancing at her katana, so I backed off.

She didn't buy it, of course, although it's a dress she would gleefully wear in Second Life.

27k+ Train Rides? Oopsie!

Written 13 January, 2018

The little red train is one of Whimsy's most popular attractions. Made by Kitto Flora, it chugs happily along its track, above or below the water. With carriages added to the engine it can carry multiple avatars. We attach two carriages, making the capacity six riders.

The engine e-mails me whenever someone rides it. It makes me smile to see a message in my inbox, and it makes me happy to see the train chugging along in the distance or hear it when it's not in sight.

Back in 2014, in September, I created a counter that displayed the number of train rides. When the train would pass, it would increment the count by one. Here is the train rides sign a couple of weeks after its creation:

That's 23445 rides. Based on the number of e-mails I received  from the train monthly, I made an educated guess at a starting figure: 23,400. I took the photo the day of my blog post about creating the sign, 27 August, 2014. That's three years and four months and more, or 1227 days.

Since the count on 5 January, 2018 was 27837, that means the train passed the sign 4392 times since its creation in August, 2014, for an average of 3.58 rides per day.

The sign counts the number of time the train passes and not the number of riders. The train often has two riders, and sometimes more-- and of course sometimes there's a single rider. In retrospect, I wish I had scripted the sign to count riders passing by on the track rather than the number of times the engine passes, for what I'm counting isn't riders, as the sign suggests, but the number of trips. Oh, as they say, hindsight is perfect.

I bought the train some time in 2007 and it had a route established before the end of that year.  Between 1 January, 2008 and 5 January, 2014, there were 2430 days, for an average of, according to my estimate, 9.65 rides per day.

This means I considerably overestimated the starting count, as there's no reason to assume the train had more riders per day between 2008 and 2014 than it did between 2014 and 2018.

I therefore reset the counter to 8900. I took a dozen or so rides past to make sure it is counting properly.

I think 8900 is an honest number for the number of trips.

Sorry for making your head hurt with the maths.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

That Fucking Trump

Written 11 January, 2018

Under the sea at Whimsy, near Mr. Tiki, there's a lionfish infestation. It's horrible. The invading bastards have almost killed off the population of 13-prim (7 with Physics Shape Type set to Convex Hull) freebie Delilah fish I picked up at New Citizens, Inc. I grabbed them back in October, 2006, when I was only a couple of days old.

Freebie Delilah Fish (13 Prims, 7 With Tweaking), Swims in Circle
I once had thirty or forty Delilah's swimming in the waters of Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom. In a quick tour of Whimsy today I found only one. It has grown quite large over the years, and is, paradoxically, close to the invading lionfish. I fear for it.

This Deilila Fish Was Once Tiny
Lionfish (genus Pteroid) are native to the Indo-Pacific region. They are venomous, which accounts for their colorful appearance (poisonous species are often brightly and distinctively colored). For this reason, they have few natural predators. Two species, P. volitans and P. miles (red and common lionfish) have recently invaded the Caribbean, West Atlantic, and Mediterranean seas.

Red Lionfish near Gilli Banta Island. Photo by Alexander Vasenina, Wikimedia Commons 
Abby Dawson's Red Lionfish on Whimsy
Splash Aquatics Lionfish
Although they can grow to a foot-and-a-half in length, lionfish are popular aquarium fish-- in fact, according to Sailors for the Sea,
It is speculated that the root of the problem [in U.S. waters] was only 6 lionfish accidently (sic) released from an aquarium during hurricane Andrew in 1992. Genetic research supports this finger pointing but it is likely that many more have been intentionally released by "retired" aquarium enthusiasts. With no natural enemies and an extremely high reproductive rate of 2 million eggs a year from one female, unsurprisingly they've taken over rapidly (NOAA).
That quote was taken from the website of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, a scientific agency of the government of the United States.

For nearly a decade the Whimsy historic marker sign shown above provided a link to a NOAA page calling attention to the lionfish problem. The other day I happened to click upon the sign, and guess what? The link was broken; I got a 404 message. A search for lionfish on the NOAA site returned no results. The page was just gone.

Now why ever would NOAA remove a relavent and important web page warning of the negative impact of an invasive species upon native wildlife? Why?

Oh, yeah. That fucking Donald Trump.

Trump's administration has mounted a full-scale assault on the environment. Within minutes of his inauguration on January 20, 2017, all material related to climate change was scrubbed from the White House web page. For a year now his administration has been systematically purging language about climate change from governmental website, gutting environmental protections and safety regulations, walking away from treaties, pissing off our allies, sucking up to brutal dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, and courting nuclear armageddon with North Korea. Trump is a champ, he is.

Even Mr. Tiki is Pissed
I attribute the broken link to Trump's efforts to remove science from our governmental scientific agencies.

The sign now points to this non-governmental page about lionfish invasion.

I am pissed. Mr. Tiki is pissed. Fuck you, Donald Trump, you scumbag.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Fixing Things Up

I Reset the Script of a Dead Albatross

Written 7 January, 2018

When you own property in Second Life, things-- usually little ones, fortunately, go spontaneously amiss-- although see my post here about when BIG things go wrong. Things happen for a variety of reasons-- you, or someone with permission to modify your objects, accidentally lassos and drags one or more objects, little script errors accumulate, eventually crashing an object or walking it a couple of meters from where it should be. These things happen on a day-to-day basis, so imagine what might happen over a period of three years (that's how long I was away).

Actually, very little went wrong on Whimsy.

I've snooped all over Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom and found a dozen or more small problems and only one major one. "I think the duck near my house is upside down," said Sere Timeless when I asked her if she had noted any problems.

It was actually on its side. Sweetie had already noticed and set it upright. I may need to move that swan; it's in a little cove near the sim edge and doesn't have quite enough room to wander, and it occasionally whacks into the land and makes a bump noise and goes all weird.

I found three dead scripted fish, all by the same creator. Rather than teach them their routes all over again, I just zapped them. There are plenty of fish that can make it three years without running down.

I also found a dead albatross. That particular albatross dies on a regular basis. The other albatrosses (what is the plural for albatross?) were all placed  years ago from the same copyable bird in my inventory, and they circle high over Kaboom and keep on ticking.

The Abrupt End of the Tracks Results in a Spectacular Train Crash, Every Time

The carriages to Kitto Flora's little train disappeared some months ago; I knew that, but didn't log on to replace  them because of my slow laptop. I found them in my inventory, so I didn't have to search the land for them. The train is fine now Well, not fine. It still crashes, as planned, at the end of every route.

I got an error message from a prim that gives avatars free parachutes. I had dropped an owner-only script in the box when I made it ten years ago, so it didn't break over time, it was broken from the get-go and I just realized it. I also removed a copy of Bits 'N' Bob's great Devotion pose, as it was returning script errors. Other copies don't. Sometimes Second Life is inconsistent. It's due to either magic or science, I'm unsure which.

The big problem-- which wasn't all THAT big, was at the Robot Sanatorium-- the conveyor belt had somehow been rotated and was sticking out of the side of giant Rosie the Robot's plastic head. I must have lassoed it somehow, and moved it. It was easy enough to put it back in place.

I found a couple of wall prims that were a little short of reaching the ceiling and stretched them. I don't think they were that way before.

The doors of the HAL 9000 Memorial Secure Facility for the Robotically Criminally Insane had strayed a meter or so from their proper locations-- which could be a problem, as HAL is incarcerated there and his homicidal inclinations are well known. If you've never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, he's sort of the Hannibal Lecter of robots. If you've not seen Silence of the Lambs, just watch the evil pretender to the Presidency of the United States and you'll know what I mean. So anyway, HAL was still in lockup, so the virtual world is safe for now.

An old ca 2005 plant I have here and there around Whimsy was looking fuzzy to me. I rebaked it and it was still fuzzy. When Sweetie and our friend Cillian Dyrssen looked on I asked them to tell me if it was rezzing properly for them. They said it wasn't, so I suspected its texture had become corrupted on the Linden servers-- but when I went back a couple of hours later to remove them, they looked just fine, so so much for that theory.

So anyway, Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom are in good shape after three years unattended. All my scripts have functioned reliably, which makes me happy, as when I was learning to script I was sure  the scripts I created would go wonky because I wasn't quite sure what I was doing. Looks like I am a better scripted than I gave myself credit for.

Note: Good form, Chey, ending your post with a preposition!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Whimsy is Still.. Whimsy

I Find This View Stunning. This Photo Was Taken From the Airship,
Looking Down at the Huge Asteroid in Orbit Above Whimsy

Written 7 January, 2018

It had been a long time since I had really seen Whimsy. My logins over the past three yea, tors have been sporadic, to respond to a request, send a message to someone, or fix something that had been reported broken. Doing the latter was usually not possible because I was unable to came or move about, so I was in world for only a few minutes at a time.

When I logged on with my new laptop, of course the first thing I wanted to do was look at our sims Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom. I did.

And they are lovely as ever. Photos follow.

Whimsy, As Seen From Whimsy Kaboom
Kaboom, as Seen from Whimsy
Lava Flow on the Side of the Volcano Pele, Whimsy
Twin Gorts Maintain Security Over the Intan Singles and Couples Dance Ball Rezzers
Gardens at Whimsy. That's Bob the Giant Paleolithic Granite Drinking Bird at Upper Left
Earth View From Orbit, Whimsy Kaboom. I Made Everything in This Photo.
Color-Changing Chameleons, Whimsy Gardens
Giant Art Deco Avatar Transformation Machine, Whimsy Kaboom Robot Sanitorium
Lava Pool at the Volcano Pele, Whimsy
Overhead View of Main Floor, Robot Sanatorium, Whimsy Kaboom
Inside the Hollow Core of the Volcano Pele, Whimsy. I Love This View!
Whimsy Red Train. All Aboard!
Sea Cliffs at Whinsy

It's Been a Long Damned Time! (A Bit of An Explanation For Our Absence)

Our House in the Jersey Highlands

Written January 5, 2018

Sweetie and I have been away from Second Life for a long time.

Three years ago this month I sold my little lake cottage in Metropolitan Atlanta and moved to the highlands of New Jersey to be with my Second Life love. I left home On January 21st with the top down on my Miata, wearing sandals, and arrived the next day in the frozen north with the top up and wearing closed-toed shoes and my heaviest coat. We moved into the house we were finally able eto afford and were married in April.

Ours is a 1940 vacation cabin on a lake that had been expanded several times over the years.

It's a fairly large house now, with a full basement, three bedrooms, two baths, a mud room, a living room with a massive fireplace and vaulted ceiling, and a huge kitchen and dining area;

To get the house to our liking, we had to make some modifications. First was moving the washer and dryer upstairs from the basement to the kitchen.

It is of course inconvenient to have to run up and down stairs every time you want to load or unload clothes, but our stairs were a real problem. First, they were more ladder than stairs, and rickety to boot. I mean, just look at them!

Original Basement Stairs-- More Like a Ladder
Our first project was replacing the shaky ladder stairs. We were able to lessen the pitch and it's easy to negotiate them.

New Stairs-- Sturdy, and Better Angle...

... But Not Wide Enough For a Laundry Basket

They are, however, still narrow. They're framed by huge logs from 1940, and there's no easy way to widen them. We couldn't imagine going up and down those stairs with a laundry basket!

It was some months before a new washer and dryer were install and functioning and we were ready to move on to the next project-- a dishwasher. It took forever to find a new carpenter (the one who built the stairs kept promising to come but never did).

Meanwhile, we were out of Second Life. I had my Sony VAIO laptop, but while it chewed Second Life up when I bought it new in 2009, by 2015 had grown slow and did not give me a workable Second Life experience. Xubi's MacBook had aged out. We had no SL-capable laptops, we were busy with the house, and one thing led to another and we played hooky from Second Life for nearly three years!

It all hinged upon the second floor. Our house has one upstairs room  at 17' x 24' and a second at 14' x 17'. The 14' x 17' is to be my office. But there's a hitch.

Huge 17' x 24' Upstairs Room. Notice Subfloor
The Smaller 14' x 17' Upstairs Room. Again, Notice Subfloor.
This Will Eventually Be My Office

You see, the previous owners never laid down flooring. I think they meant to, but just didn't get around to it.

There's subflooring up there, of course, in fact, two subfloors, we discovered, but no actual floor. We had to make decisions about money, and the washer and dryer and dishwasher took precedence. So to date, no floors upstairs, and for several years my powerful desktop computer sat unused in boxes scattered here and there in the big empty rooms.

Despite our absence, neither of us could bear to see our sims go away, and so we paid tier every month. We were anxious to get back to them, but without means.

For my birthday my honey gave me a pretty good Lenovo laptop that works well in SL if I don't turn on shadows, and Sweetie, after long proscrastination, bought a kickass Alienware that lets her run with graphic sliders all maxed-- and so here we are! I've been so stoked I even managed to find an exact match for the antique mission style library table the movers smashed to kindling and round up most of the parts for my i7 desktop and assemble it in the middle of the large room upstairs. We're saving our pennies so we can get the floor in upstairs.

My Desktop, Stated and Ready to Go On My Library Table
I'm Still Looking for the Speakers and Second Monitor

I can't speak for how often Sweetie will be in world,  but I will be regularly-- and I will be blogging.

I have missed this blog.