Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Fantastical and the Mundane

Written 24 February, 2009

The Fantastical and the Mundane

In Piers Anthony's science fiction books there’s a term for those who aren’t gifted by magic: mundane. The mundanes are limited in what they can see and what they can do. It’s a restricted sort of existence—and the mundanes aren’t even aware of what they’re missing!

I’m now applying the term to Second Life. Mundanes, by my definition, can’t or won’t see beyond the duplication of real-world technologies and building techniques in this virtual world.

I’m not saying someone who builds a beautiful replica of a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air (I once owned one!) is mundane. I’m not saying clothes designers or builders of virtual log cabins are mundane. I’m not saying that at all.

So, who IS mundane? How about someone who stubbornly persists in building 120-prim winding staircases (I always fall off those) and physical elevators that bounce avatars about (sometimes even out of the building!) because they refuse to use a faster, more efficient, safer, and more elegant mode of transportation--- teleporters. How about a virtual yuppie who thinks it’s prestigious to have a virtual McMansion with a Beemer and a Mercedes in the garage? How about those who are proud to have toilets in their houses? How about a builder who refuses to make any structure that would be impossible in real life? How about all those newbies who sit on camping chairs rather than explore this beautiful and usually impossible IRL world?

How about Linden Lab?

Philip Linden, bless his heart, and Torley Linden, bless hir heart, have vision. They’ve not a single mundane bone in their virtual bodies. I’m not so sure about the rest of the Linden lot, who persist in building boring mainland areas like Bay City and Nautilus.

And have you ever noticed? The Linden blog NEVER brags on fantastical places like The Robot Museum or (the apparently no-more) Svarga or the serene Tol Eressea or the late and wonderful Privateer Space or the steampunk sims or any of Second Life’s great virtual racetracks. No, instead they spout flack about unexciting and often unfinished places like—well, I won’t give any examples. Just check their blog history..

And why do they do blog only the mundane? Well, I have a theory.

Of COURSE I have a theory!


It makes business sense to brag on builds in Second Life that relate to the real world; in doing so Linden Lab can perhaps attract yet another corporation. That’s why, I think, the Linden Blog never brags on the Robot Museum or The Great Fissure or The Abyss. But it makes even more sense to highlight Second Life’s spectacular ability to make a reality of the improbable and the impossible, to highlight the what-might-be rather than the what-already-is. It’s here that Second Life’s future truly lies. But the Lindens don’t see it.

And why?

Because the Lindens are themselves mundane. And because they’re mundane, they’re just not seeing what the rest of us see. They remain blissfully unaware of the strengths of the very world they’ve made possible, and in this unawareness they’re leaving unacknowledged the artistry, vision, and dedication of Second Life’s most creative citizens.

How sad! And how unfair!

Adieu, Svarga?

Written 24 February, 2009

Adieu, Svarga?

In many ways Svarga represented the best in Second Life. Creative, exciting, and eerily beautiful, it was a favored destination of thousands of people.

From its guided tour system to its self-contained ecology of growing plants, insects, and birds, from its soaring towers to its little store full of neat stuff, Svarga just rocked, and everyone knew it.

But now Laukosargas Svarog's Svarga seems to be no more-- or at least it's no longer possible to get there. It does still show on the map, and the image on the map shows its original layout, but teleports no longer work.

Svarog has made plans to leave Second Life, at least for a time and has been looking for someone to purchase Svarga, and, hopefully, to maintain it in its original state. In his New World Notes, Wagner James Au notes Flipper PA Peregrine has been spearheading a drive to amass enough land credits to pay the tier.
I've no idea what is happening. Hopefully the sim was purchased by someone who appreciates it and will maintain it. At worst, it's on its way to being shut down.

Hats off to Ms. Svarog for giving Second Life such a beautiful place for so very long!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Message From a Virtual World

Chey in the Blue Zone

Written 9 February, 2009

A Message From a Virtual World

Hello. This message is coming to you from the virtual world Second Life.

Second Life is where I work, play, love, and live. It is my home. It’s a wonderful place, and I have a lot of special powers here, but there are limitations, problems, and, yes, dangers. I just want you to know about them.

My existence here is dependent on sooo very many things. When any of them malfunctions, I simply… disappear. It isn’t a pleasant experience.

The software that supports me is imperfect. The client—the program that lives on my computer—is subject to failure at any time. The server code—the program that creates the land on which I live—can and does crash without warning. When either fails, I freeze up or disappear. It’s rather like having epilepsy. I can be stricken at any time, and without notice. Fortunately, the client and servers can be restarted, which makes me temporarily better.

I exist somewhere on a computer. If the hard drive, or the mother board, or a bit of RAM, or the power supply, or the video card, or the monitor, or a cable fails, I simply disappear. This is more like a coma than a seizure. I can be gone for days.

I’m also dependent upon a broadband connection. If the DSL or cable signal wavers, even for a millisecond, I disappear. Seizure. If the modem becomes confused (and it frequently does) I disappear. Coma.

If the electricity or telephone or cable which supply my computer should fail—coma.

When the biological entity which types for me has to sleep or go to work to pay for the computer and modem and DSL and cable which allow me to live, it sends me into a coma. If my typist should suffer a malfunction or should even need to go to the bathroom, I have a seizure. If she goddess forbid dies, I will go into a coma from which I’ll never wake up.

And finally, I’m dependent upon a company called Linden Lab, which keeps Second Life running (sort of). When Linden Lab has problems with its equipment or software or internet connection and the grid goes down or logins are restricted, it’s coma time for me. I don’t even want to think about the company going out of business!

There are other problems as well. Sometimes things spontaneously disappear from my inventory. This is rather like someone robbing my house. Sometimes I can’t put on my clothes or hair (yes, in this world, I put my hair on and take it off just like clothing). Sometimes I can’t move from one place to another, which is sort of like having my vehicle break down— and sometimes I’m sent to what I call the Blue Zone, which is like the cornfield in the Jerome Bixby story “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Sometimes the lag monster attacks me and I’m unable to move, or I move clumsily, banging into walls and walking off precipices.

As you can see, my life here is precarious. I have no real assurance this world will even be here tomorrow. And yet I love it here.

And why do I love it? Well, for starters, I can fly. It’s just as I always imagined. I put my arms out and zoom around like Supergirl. It’s marvelous!

I can also teleport. While it’s not quite instantaneous, it’s fast. It’s like living in a random access world (which, I suppose, it is). I can get from any point to any other point without having to actually travel.

This means I have no real need for vehicles—and yet I’ve dozens, from submarines to spacecraft, from unicycles to biplanes. They’re loads of fun.

Unlike real life, my avatar is modifiable. That means I can look any way I choose. I can be short or tall, thin or fat, male or female—but more than that, I can be a dragon or an earthworm or a book or a dryad. In human form, I can be as beautiful as I please, without the need for diets or workouts or plastic surgery. In seconds I can apply or remote tattoos, eye color, skin tone, and even wings or mechanical appendages..

There are many wonderful things in my virtual world: beautiful clothes, shoes, jewelry and hairdos; fine furniture; beautiful plants; land, and artwork. I can buy things here I couldn’t possibly own in real life. I’m not talking about expensive things like yachts or Boeing 747s or space shuttles or roller coasters as much as fantastical things like, oh, volcanoes and magic wands and light sabres and sky castles.

Even more fun than buying things is making them. I can create almost anything I can think of. I’ve made magical things like a broom that grabs itself and sweeps the floor and a giant drinking bird made of granite and a sanitorium for robots— but I’ve also made beautiful and useful things like streetlights and torii gates and Christmas ornaments and fireplaces and buoys. And best of all, I can and do sell the things I make!

There are many places to explore in this virtual world—tens of thousands of places! Some are beautiful, and some are scary, and some are just butt ugly. There’s much to see—seas, forests, mountains, futuristic cities, railroads, malls, medieval kingdoms and Victorian landscapes, all filled with houses and furniture and palm trees and dinosaurs and too many things to tell you about here. There are department stores and theaters and art museums and amusement parks, aircraft carriers, brothels, candy factories, racetracks, ski lifts, horse farms, giant towers, and villages inside bottles.

Best of all are the people. There are hundreds of thousands of us from all over the world. We talk to one another in every language, work on projects together, and sometimes even fall in love. Most of the people here are smart, and most are friendly.

On the balance the rewards far outweigh the unstable and cartoonish nature of this world. And so I spend a lot of time here. It’s my home, and I like it.

And maybe you would, too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Thousand Blogs!

Rez Day Party for Cheyenne, Sweetie, and Peter Stindberg, October, 2007

Written 19 February, 2009

One Thousand Blogs!

OMG! Have I really posted one thousand blogs? Who would have thought?

Two-and-a-half years ago I wasn’t even sure what a blog was. When Melissa Yeuxdoux gave me the link to a blog she had written about me, I checked it out and thought hmmm, maybe there’s something to this blog stuff! And so I created an account at Blogger and launched this puppy.

My first post was 16 November, 2006. That was a lot of posts ago! A lot of words!

Chey’s blog has chronicled my journey in Second Life from rank noob to virtual virtual princess, from happy wanderer to sim owner, from someone who couldn’t rez a cube to someone who can make and script just about anything. I’ve shared my journey as best I could, the highs (like buying my first land) and the lows (like wiping out the terrain three times in a row). Sometimes I’m caustic, sometimes I’m opinionated, sometimes, maybe, I’m boring, but I’m always honest. I write what I experience and I say what I think.

The only thing I write obliquely about is my Sweetie. Anybody who knows us has long since figured out her real virtual name, so it’s no huge secret, but long ago she asked me not to mention her by name here, and so I don’t.

I actually like that, for it lets me write obliquely about her. I’ve turned her into a katana-wielding fashionista ninja (but she uses her super powers only for good!). I like to think my love for her shows.

I would like to thank my loyal readers, both of you (just kidding— I think) for sticking with me all this time. I love your comments. And thanks to all the rest of you bloggers out there. Melissa, your blog rocks! Keep up the good work, all of you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Written 29 January, 2009


I would like to say Sweetie and I are big fans of Second Life’s giant snail races, but we’re not.

I take that back.

We’re BIG fans. We love the absurdity of it all; we just lack the time to buy the tickets and fanboy caps. We’ve never actually BEEN to a race. Nor have we really figured out how it all works. We’re fans more in theory than in practice, but fans we are.

I’m not so sure we would love snail racing so much if we knew the rules. All we know is we love to watch the huge snails lumber about and occasionally fall from the race track in the sky.

Whenever we turn on SLCN-TV and the snail races are running, we stop whatever we’re doing and watch, mesmerized.

There are several Second Life television stations, but SLCN-TV is the one with which we are most familiar. We’ve been watching it for the past year or so.

SLCN-TV’s programming is limited, it seems, to fashion shows, a game show, snail and car races, sailboat races and regattas, and sports. There are lots of reruns, and sometimes the station is off the air, but it’s fun to watch, and professionally done.
I’m particularly fascinated by the hockey games. In every way, from the use of multiple cameras to the patter of the sportscasters to the action on the court, it’s exactly like the coverage of a real life game (well, except for the occasional disappearance of a player). It’s eerie to think okay, here I am with my girlfriend in my virtual house in Second Life, watching a replay of a virtual hockey game on my virtual TV screen. And it all seems so NORMAL.

You can watch SLCN in world or from their website.

Rude People

Written 18 February, 2009

Rude Girls

There was a sale on a Ishi Otawara's Chambre du Chocolate store, and Sweetie and I jumped there (I bought an on-sale dress for just $100L!)

We were no sooner in the building than I started hearing annoying sound spam (Hey, Bayatch!" and chat to match.

Oh, well, to each his own, I thought. But when I walked up the ramp to the top floor and walked past the two (they had positioned themselves so the walkway was blocked. I walked past without a word (excuse me wasn't really necessary, considering they were blocking the way). One of them called me rude.

So I thought I would put up a picture of two rude and annoying people.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bryn Oh's Immersiva

Written 16 February, 2009

Bryn Oh’s Immersiva

In stark contrast to the Whitenoise installation is Bryn Oh’s Immersiva sim. Unlike Whitenoise, Immersiva isn’t random; rather, it’s clearly well-thought-out, with a theme that’s consistent throughout.

Of course, orderliness and theme aren’t essential for art—some of my favorite builds incorporate a great deal of randomness and have no apparent theme. I chose Immersiva simply because it was clearly made by someone who has mastered the tools of Second Life and used them share her artistic vision.

 Immersiva could best be characterized as a robot junkyard, or perhaps a planet populated by lonely robots. Scattered here and there on a strange metallic plain are Bryn’s creations—insectoid and humanoid automatons, a railroad handcart resting on a huge wooden trestle, an underwater dome filled with jellyfish, a tall, lonely tower.

Bryn’s verse is scattered throughout the sim—poetry of loss and longing, laments for her lost mechanical daughter. The entire sim reflects the mood set by this poetry: a robot child in a translucent cube; a mechanical man with a light bulb head, surrounded by hovering mechanical bees; a pair of metal figures high atop the tower. It’s all strangely affecting.

Stations around the sim direct passersby to Bryn’s machinima, which reinforce the sim’s mood. So, too, do Bryn’s Windlight presets, which are available near the entry area.

Immersiva is a stunning place, well worth a visit.

Whitetrash Plays Whitenoise

Written 7 February, 2009

Whitetrash Plays Whitenoise

It is a ongoing project and will go into more “high res” detail, we call it “WHITE-NOISE.” White Noise, a reference to random pattern and “Bildrauschen,” which we as builders see working on it for hours and you think you get snowblind.” (Max Moswitzer [Mosmax Hax in Second Life)

  —From a notecard

Sweetie, artiste that she is, took me today to see Whitetrash Plays Whitenoise, Opera 1: Automatica of the Trivial Mechanisms (for an overwhelmingly positive review, see here).
I was myself underwhelmed.

When it comes to art, I’m hardly a hard-core representationalist. I won’t attempt to justify that statement, but it’s true. And I have a keen nose for bullshit, and well, ‘nuff said.

Here’s more of the exhibit’s write up, taken from a notecard I picked up at the installation:

Conceptually and technically innovative is “White Noise,” a work from Vienna-based Mosmax Hax. This experiment in non-human architecture utilises the detritus of Second Life, freebie objects such as teddy bears and discarded skateboards, to construct a dazzling white snow-palace. This mishmashed building enfolds on multiple levels of detail and evokes the perfect domicile for the realm of Second Life. http://www.anat.org.au/pages/news/SecondLifeArchitectureAwards.htm

The Whitenoise set is a series of megaprims with abstract black-and-white patterns (well, they may be in fact representational, but it’s impossible to tell what, if anything, is represented, so for all practical purposes they’re abstract). The effect is, as was clearly planned, a bit disorienting, especially since the floor upon which arriving avies stand is alphaed and the visible floor is far below. This makes walking strange, since the prim beneath moves but little compared to the distance the avi travels; it seems as if the sim is lagging, although it is not.

The large space is speckled with builds comprised of pastiches of familiar Second Life objects (mostly freebies) which are textured white. Upon close examination, some are familiar, although it takes a bit of work to differentiate them because they’re monochrome. One big cube is comprised of several linked sets totaling more than one thousand prims, although:

With a tool we use this build has just around 25 prims, normally it would have 1000 prims.

In other words, a temp rezzer.

Some textures move, adding to the sense of disorientation. Sound prims here and there feature monotone voices repeating nonsense lists of words.

The performance featured a dozen or so avatars naked except for a costume made of a conglomeration of found objects. The actual performance seemed to consist of these folks walking about and a couple of non-moving helicopters floating above everything.

Add vacuous comments from attendees and performers and you pretty much have the show. Sigh.

I hate to be a party pooper (no I don’t!), but there’s a certain type of pretentious showmanship that purports to be the highest form of art, but isn’t. It’s just puffery.

Guess which this is?

Sometimes I think the fine art community contains a high percentage of artists who get by on pure bluff and bullshit. They’re successful because the community also contains a high percentage of critics and aficionados who pretend not to be bullshitted—or remain silent because they fear the scorn of the rest of the pretenders.I seem to remember Desmond Morris once amazed the British art world with the paintings of a visionary new abstract artist. When the critics had taken the hook firmly in their mouths, Morris revealed the artist was in fact a chimpanzee. This did not make him popular in the art community—which sort of proves my point.

Mosmax Hax’s efforts to extend the human experience by the creative use of Second Life’s experiential possibilities are commendable, but his White Noise is just white noise.

Monday, February 16, 2009



I accidently rejected the following comment from Whatcha Eaton:

I suppose stealing an ethics chip would be both wrong AND ironic.

We actually stole one. It reported us and we got in big trouble!

Sorry, Whatcha!

When Interventions Go Wrong: II. The Hearing Continues

Written 13 February, 2009

Those who are newly come to this blog should understand ImSoNotADiva Bartlett was the prosecuting attorney in the groundbreaking case known as The United States of America vs. Sweetie. Disgraced and demoted after Sweetie won her freedom, Diva joined a conspiracy of disgruntled pastry makers who were constructing a donut death star on an alternate grid. Using a copybot purloined from a federal evidence room, Diva managed to make multiple copies of herself, but was stopped high over Black Rose sim by Sweetie, myself, and a planeload of Sweetie’s fans. When I last saw the original Diva—or, rather, her head—she was falling away from the plane, clutched in the hand of my Sweetie.

When Interventions Go Wrong

II. The Hearing Continues

The bloody bag on the prosecutor’s table was twitching and moving. Suddenly it tumbled off the edge and fell heavily to the floor.

A round object careened across the floor toward me, leaving a trail of red particles. And yes, it was the severed head of ImSoNotADiva Bartlett.

“J’Accuse!” it screamed.

“Diva!” I cried, and scrambled up onto the witness chair.

“Be brave, Chey!” shouted Sweetie.

Yes, Diva was back, and nastier than ever.

“I have some questions for this witness,” Diva snarled.

“I object, Your Honor!” I said. “This woman has been disbarred. And disembodied.”

“You mean decapitated,” said Sweetie, helpfully.

“I retain my TSA clearance,” said Diva. “That’s credential enough!”

“Ok, then, I guess you’re the er, head prosecutor,” Judge Camper chuckled.

“Ms. Palisades,” demanded Diva, “What do you know about Leona Helmsley shade number 502?”

“I know you wear it,” I said. “It’s your lipstick”

“It is. As an agent of the Teleportation Security Authority, I wear it as a defensive weapon. And what do you know of its chemical composition?”

“It’s highly unstable,” I said. “Like nitroglycerine or Britney Spears.”

“And Ms. Palisades, do you know what this is?”

“What what is?”

“Oh, damn! No arms! So of course I can’t wave it in your face for the benefit of the judge. Ms. Palisades, can you tell me what a British throwing scone is?”

“It’s an edged pastry weapon, quite lethal in the right hands.”

“Thank you, Ms. Palisades. Your Honor—“ Diva was trying to look Judge Camper in the eye, but Sweetie had just stuck her foot out and rolled the head over so the eyes faced down, “mmmmmm.”

Judge Camper said, “What’s that, Counselor? Speak up!”


The bailiff walked over and flipped Diva right-side-up. She glared at me.

“Hey, it wasn’t me who knocked you over,” I said.

“Where was I? Oh, yes—Ms. Palisades, have you ever seen one of these throwing scones in the hands of Sweetie NoLastName?”

“Yes,” I said. “But it was in the line of duty.”

“Just answer the questions, Ms. Palisades. And may I direct your attention to Exhibit 492?”

Exhibit 492 was Sweetie’s katana.

“I see it,” I said.

“Have you ever seen Sweetie use it?”

“Dozens of times!” I said. “Mostly to cut the heads off TSA agen—Oops! Did I say that our loud?”

“I’m afraid you did,” said Judge Camper.

“Your honor,” said Diva, “Those are just three items from Sweetie’s armamentarium. She has hundreds— maybe thousands—of dangerous items in her inventory. They range from that extensive collection of explosive cosmetics to the edged weapons to watermelon guns. Watermelon guns! And let me draw your attention to these newspaper articles dating from just before her hospitalization. She attacked the very people who were trying to help her. One of her best friends was severely injured when he attempted to sit on an improvised explosive poseball.”

“She felt horrible about that!” I exclaimed.

“Nevertheless,” said Diva.

“And she looked fabulous while doing it!” I said.

“That’s a point in her favor,” said Judge Camper.

“What assurance do we have Sweetie’s institutionalization has cured her homicidal tendencies?” asked Diva. “How do we know she won’t continue to be a danger to others?”

“There’s her discharge certificate,” the judge said. “It says right here she met her therapeutic goal.”

“Which was?”

“Sweetie will cut off no more than three heads in a six week period.”

“See,” I said. “She’s cured.”

“Yeah, sneered Diva. “By the Torley Linden Asylum for the Virtually Unusual.”

“That’s good enough for me,” said Judge Camper. “Sweetie NoLastName, I hereby find you mentally competent. Court is dismissed.”

“Yay!” I said. I leaned over and picked up Diva’s head and drop-kicked it through the open window. The last I saw, it had come to a rest on the Calleta sim and some hobo had stuck a stick through it and was toasting it over a fire.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When Interventions Go Wrong: I. The Competency Hearing

Written 10 February, 2009

When Interventions Go Wrong

I. The Competency Hearing

“Ms. Palisades, please place your right hand on the Terms of Service. Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

“Define truth, please.”

“Ms. Palisades!”

“Okay, okay, yes, sheesh! I promise to tell the truth.”

“Very well. You may proceed, Counselor.”

“Thank you, Your honor. Ms. Palisades—”

I was sitting in the witness box in Linden Competency Court, Judge Camper presiding. Yes, THAT Judge Camper. He’s now a lindenaire, his fortune earned one penny at a time on camping chairs, which pretty much explains his big butt. Now he was back in the judge’s seat, which pays big money—one Linden every five minutes, I’ve heard.

There had been a big reunion scene when Sweetie was led into the courtroom in her virtual straightjacket. It was like old home week, with she trying to blow the judge air kisses despite her bound arms, and he pretending to catch them. I thought I already knew how he would rule.

One of my favorite scenes from the HBO show The Sopranos is the intervention for Christopher Moltisanto. When confronted about his drug use, Christopher begins to get hostile. The minute he does, Tony’s lieutenants begin to kick the ever-loving shit out of him.

With Sweetie, it was the other way around. It began the instant I turned physics and build back on so we could transport her to a padded cell.

The devastation Sweetie wrought has been well-documented in the virtual pages of the Metaverse Messenger and Second Life Herald, and of course in every one of the fashion magazines and blogs, which fell all over themselves to describe the ensemble she wore to her intervention.

You remember those 1400 unnamed objects in Sweetie’s Objects folder? Well, she rezzed them all on the ground, raised them 100 meters or so, and set them to physical. We were caught in a horrible hail of plywood cubes, edged weapons, freebie vehicles and houses, and multicolored prim penises. When the objects hit the ground, they bounced and rolled in every direction. My Mystitool’s collision detector went crazy.

Sweetie took advantage of the confusion to break free.

She nearly escaped, but we stopped her, just.

Two years ago I gave Sweetie a Valentine’s Day present, a big rotating red glass heart with seating for two. I tweaked the script, changing the speed by a factor of 100. The big stone point of the arrow that transfixes the heart swept around, catching Sweetie broadside and knocking her to the ground. That allowed us to pounce, everybody but Reg Paslon, who had spotted a still-bouncing poseball amidst Sweetie’s debris and was trying to chase it down.

“Who was driving that taxi?” demanded Sweetie.

“It’s one of the objects you rezzed,” I said. “My Valentine’s Day present to you in 2007.”

“Where am I?” she asked. “Why are you all here? Were we having a party?”

“Yes,” I said quickly, improvising. “We were having a party in honor of you putting all the unnamed objects from your Objects and Lost and Found into your trash.”

“I did that?” she asked.

“You were trying to,” I said, “but they got away from you. They’re scattered all over the sim.”

“Oh, dear,” she said, then added brightly. “But don’t worry. I made most of them. They’re copyable. That means they’re still in Inventory.”

“I have a present for you,” I said. “I made it myself.”

“Is it stylish?”

“Or course it is!”

“Oh, goodie, goodie! I want it now!”

“But of course,” I said, and in a thrice I had bound her in the straightjacket I’d designed for the robot sanitorium. We—all of her friends had shown for the intervention—shipped her right out to an inventory reorientation program.

That was six weeks ago. Now here we were in competency court.

Judge Camper was complementing Sweetie on her outfit. She had of course tweaked the straightjacket and made a little cap to match.

Sweetie’s defense attorney (that would be me) gave me a stern look. “Ms. Palisades, how long have you know Sweetie NoLastName?”

“Uh, two-and-a-half years.”

“And how would you characterize her usual mental state?”

“Eccentric? Rambunctious? Changeable?”

“I see. And how would you characterize her relationship with her inventory?”

“Formerly, she neglected it. But in January, that changed.”

“In what way?”

“She was showing nine of the ten warning signs of inventory obsessive disorder.”

“Not all ten?”

“I’m hoping to god she wasn’t sorting stuff while we were on our poseballs.”

“I see. And do you consider Sweetie NoLastName a threat to herself or to others?”

“No way!” I said. “She’s been rehabilitated.” I was trying not to think about all those exploding antique lipsticks in her inventory.

“That will be all, Ms. Palisades,” I told myself. “Thank you, I said,” and stepped down.

“The witness will remain on the stand.” The voice seemed to be coming from a blood-stained shopping bag on the prosecutor’s table. “I have some questions for her.”

“Diva!” someone screamed. I hoped it wasn’t me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Written 9 February, 2009


Chey: Sweetie, we know you’re wondering why we asked you here.

Sweetie: Yes! And while you’re at it, please explain why it couldn’t wait! I was conducting a critical experiment on the failure of a third-level manila folder. I think I’m close to a fix for the famous 23-sublevel malfunction problem.

Chey: It’ll have to wait. We have something to say to you.

Sweetie: It’s another interview, isn’t it? My adoring public!

Starblazer Gazer: Sweetie, we’re your friends, and we want you to get better.

OMG! This is… this …

Pas Reglon
: Yes, Sweetie. It is.

Chey: Welcome to your intervention.

Sweetie: Let me out of here!

Jan Viveck: Sorry, Sweetie. You know we can’t do that.

Sweetie: Let me out of here, I say!

Sggaks Caidemor:
We were all once like you.

Pas Reglon: Yes. My inventory count was past 40,000. And all poseballs.

Starblazer Gazer
: With me, it was eyes. I just couldn’t have too many pairs.

Sggaks Caidemor:
I was obsessed with all things Victorian. I spent hundreds of hours adding “Ye olde” to the name of each of the 13,500 items in my inventory. Non-mod items made me just nuts.

Jan Viveck:
I suffered a devastating inventory loss—all my clothing disappeared! When I submitted a support ticket, the Lindens just laughed. Thank goodness for the psychbot at your robot sanitorium! He diagnosed me with post traumatic inventory loss stress disorder and gave me some robot medication that keeps me stoned out of my gourd.

Desi Kaypre: And I—I never realized you could save photos to the hard drive. I had snapshots stashed in every folder and subfolder in my inventory. The 10-Linden upcharges were killing me. And believe me, I learned the hard way about the 23 subfolder problem!

Chey: And you know my problem—obsession with textures. I was spending hours making and uploading them, and then I couldn’t get them out of my inventory and into my texture organizers fast enough.

Sweetie (batting eyes): But what does this have to do with me?

Chey: We all had a consultation with the psychbot. He’s convinced the root of your problem is an unresolved object relations complex.

Dryden Cillius: You seem to be stuck in the cubal stage.

Desi Kaypre: And you have a problem with transference.

Sweetie: That quack, with his roboFreudian bullshit? That’s soooo hackneyed! I wonder he didn’t tell you I have penis envy!

Chey: Er, prim envy, actually. It has to do with all those .5x.5x.5 plywood cubes in your Objects folder.

Sweetie: It’s perfectly NATURAL to have objects named object in your Objects folder!

Chey: Not 1400 of them!

Sweetie! But I’ve been religiously following Sweetie’s object-cleansing diet! And it’s working! I know it is!

Jan Viveck: Sweetie, we’re here because we love you. We want you to get help for your inventory problem.

Sweetie: Help? I don’t need help!

Starblazer Gazer: You’re in denial, Sweetie. It’s normal.

Sweetie: You’ll have to pry my manila folders from my cold, dead virtual hands!

Chey: Sweetie, please be reasonable!

Sweetie: Don’t you realize, you fools, those exploding lipsticks are dangerous! Do you have any idea what my collection of nytrocosmetics could do to the servers? It could crash Second Life! Permanently! What a color-mismatched catastrophe THAT would be!

Pas Reglon: Sweetie, aren’t you being a little dramatic?

Sweetie: I live for drama! How about if I let you have my Revlon Red 542! It explodes, but it’s the weakest of the lot. And, and, I have a torus I could let you have!

Starblazer Gazer: Sweetie, you’re bargaining.

Sweetie: Why are you all looking at me that way? You’ve been planning this! You’re all ganging up on me!

Starblazer Gazer: Now you’re paranoid.

Chey: Sweetie, be reasonable!

Sweetie: Reasonable? Don’t you understand, I’m SWEETIE! I have no reason to be reasonable. I have flunkies to be reasonable in my place.

Chey: Ouch!

Sweetie: I’ll get you all for this! I will! This has to be against the Terms of Service! I know a Linden! He adores me and will do anything I tell him to!

Starblazer Gazer: Now you’re in the threatening phase, Sweetie!

Sweetie: I’m going! I’m leaving! You can’t stop me! Hey! Why can’t I move?

Chey: I turned off physics for the entire sim. You can’t go anywhere.

Sweetie: Noooooooo!

Chey: Will you come along quietly?

Sweetie: MAC Fuchsia 17! Cover Girl Hot Pink 101! L’Oreal B19 Purple. Because I’m worth it! Get your hands off me! Revlon Dramatic Black 03! Maybeline Peach Gloss! Leave me alone! Clarins Red L’Amour! Merle Norman Bombs Away! Arrrrgh!

Sggaks Caidemor: She’s completely flipped out!

Pas Reglon: She's reverted to lipstick language! Where are we going to put her?

Chey: I just happen to have an entire facility for this. We’ll put her in a padded cell in the HAL 9000 Memorial Secure Unit for the Robotically Criminally Insane-- up at the robot sanitorium!

Sweetie: If I can work my way down to folder level 32 you’ll ALL be sorry!

Chey: That’s where she keeps her most powerful lipsticks! To be safe, I’m turning off scripts. And turning off build. Let’s go! There’s not a moment to lose!

Starblazer Gazer
: Chey, I hate to say this, but with physics off none of us can move.

Chey: Crap!

And that’s where the intervention went horribly, horribly wrong.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sweetie's Inventory Malfunction

Written 7 February, 2009

Sweetie’s Inventory Malfunction

Looking back now, there were signs of Sweetie’s increasing obsession with her inventory. One morning not long ago, I heard her muttering.

Now, you must understand: Sweetie’s mind is always buzzing—literally. Usually, though, it’s little tunes and songs. She’s continually mumbling lyrics and giggling to herself. It’s her normal behavior, so I didn’t pay much attention—but as I said, looking back, I now distinctly remember hearing her say how ridiculous it was that her inventory began to misbehave at a mere 23 subfolder levels.

[20:01] Sweetie: …and by the time you reach 70 *
[20:01] Sweetie: the entire SL interface starts to misalign!
[20:02] Sweetie: with text buttons floating wildly everywhere!

[20:02] Sweetie: I mean, where ELSE am I supposed to keep my inventory of exploding lipsticks?

It’s true: Sweetie has the virtual world’s largest collection of virtual antique exploding lipsticks.

But now Sweetie was on a rant. She was muttering something about the pound-per-square-inch tensile strength of virtual manila folders and complaining that her least unstable lipsticks required at least ten layers of subfolders to be stored safely.

[20:03] Sweetie: And why manila folders, for goddess sake! Why don’t the Lindens get rid of that stupid folder icon and replace it with something more substantial like a 55-gallon drum or a lead-lined suitcase?

So yes, I should have realized my dear Sweetie was spiraling out of control.

* This is based on an actual experiment conducted in Sweetie’s Fortress of Solitude. Try it yourself and watch what happens!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Anorexia and Bulemia

Written 6 February, 2009

Anorexia and Bulimia

Anorexia and bulimia are all-too-real psychiatric disorders. Debilitating and sometimes fatal, they are resistant to treatment, but information and help are available.

Inventorexia and Bulimientoria

Written 6 February, 2009

Inventorexia and Bulimientoria

I find myself unable to proceed with the sad story of Sweetie’s inventory dysfunction without mentioning two disorders closely related to Inventory Obsessive Disorder—Inventorexia and Bulimientoria.

Avatars with Inventorexia are convinced their inventories are too large. No matter how few items they may actually have in their inventories, they firmly belief their inventories are overstuffed.

Inventorexics will do almost anything to lower their inventory count, up to and including trashing their favorite possessions—their furniture, their house, their virtual platinum-and-diamond wedding ring, even their favorite skin and hairdo can go into the trash.

A hallmark of inventorexia is obsession with the library. Inventorexics view the library as useless, like their virtual appendix, and will spend hours trying to delete its items. They seek and all-too-often find unscrupulous virtual physicians who will perform librarectomies on them. This requires only a simple hack, but inventorexics will pay big money to rid themselves of their libraries.

An all-to-common outcome of inventorexia is account deactivation. The Lindens, seeing such small inventories, assume the avatar has left Second Life and terminate the avatar.

A disorder closely related to inventorexia is bulimientoria. Bulimientoria is characterized by a destructive cycle of binge-and-purge, in which bulimientorics will compulsively stuff their inventories with freebies, high-cost gowns, and even simple cube prims. Then they will purge, deleting their newly-acquired items. Unfortunately, Second Life’s user interface makes the problem worse by providing bulimientorics with a purge option for items in the trash (just right click any item in your Trash folder to see this).

I’m tempted to discuss even more inventory-related disorders: Munchausen’s Inventory Syndrome by Proxy, Phantom Inventory Syndrome, and Multiple Inventory Disorder, for instance, but I’m feeling a need to finish the story of Sweetie’s inventory malfunction.

Inventory Obsessive Disorder

Written 5 February, 2009

Inventory Obsessive Disorder

Early this morning, when absolutely nobody was about, Sweetie got up, turned on her computer, and logged into Second Life.


Why indeed! To sort her inventory.

Now you must understand this about Sweetie: until now she has been a— I really don't know another way to say this— inventory slob (she insists she be called an anarchist, claming her inventory dysfunction is a philosophy and not a bad habit). In her Objects folder she has thousands of objects named object. In her Lost and Found she has every item that has ever been returned to her. It’s not unusual for her to mentally disappear for long minutes while she tries to find something she uses every day, like. oh, for example, her Mystitool.

The state of Sweetie’s inventory is one of the reasons I love her so much. But lately I've been worried. I fear she’s showing at least eight of the ten warning signs of inventory obsessive disorder.

Inventory Obsessive Disorder is not codified in the VSM-IV of the Virtual Psychiatric Association. Why? Because at the time of its publication, IOD didn’t yet exist. The soon-to-come VSM-V will have the diagnosis, however.

Before I continue with my discussion of Sweetie’s virulent case of inventory mania, I need to clue you in about the ten warning signs of IOD so you can IMMEDIATELY confront your friends about their poor inventory habits—and moreover, take an honest look at your own. Here are the things you must watch out for:

1. Sorting inventory alone.

Sorting inventory should be a group activity. You and your friends should get together, have a few drinks, and go at it. If you find yourself sorting inventory by yourself, you may have a problem.

2. Making excuses for sorting your inventory.

“I would love to go out with you tonight, Maximus Erectus, but I have to sort my inventory tonight.” “Sorry, Suzie1047, I can’t POSSIBLY make the big sale at ETD. I absolutely HAVE to get my landmarks in order.” If you’ve been saying things like this, you need to back away from your inventory RIGHT AWAY!

3. Daily inventory sorting needed to function.

You’ve uploaded six textures and now all you can think about is stopping whatever you’re doing so you can sort them into proper categories. Listen to me: YOU HAVE A PROBLEM!

4. Inability to reduce or stop inventory sorting.

You’ve started sorting and now you can’t stop, not until EVERY LAST OBJECT has been moved to its proper folder. IM me IMMEDIATELY for a referral to an inventory-specializing therapist.

5. Violence associated with your inventory.

What’s that? You didn’t MEAN to bite your girlfriend’s head off when she interrupted your sorting? I wasn’t kidding about that therapist.

6. Sorting inventory in secret.

When you’re secretly sorting inventory while making love to your second-life partner, think about this: You need an intervention!

7. Becoming angry when confronted about your inventory.

If you find yourself in violent disagreement with a friend about whether it’s best to list inventory items by date or by name, you must face it: you have IOD.

8. Poor eating habits.

Yeah, we know ever since you downloaded the SL client you’ve been subsisting on pretzels and chunks of cheddar cheese—but when you’re too busy with your inventory to put that DiGiornio pizza in the oven, you need help!

9. Failure to care for your virtual appearance.

If you’re too busy with your inventory to change clothes, shop for the latest sculpted shoes, or pore over the pages at XStreetSL, you need to reach up slowly with your mouse and hit the X in the upper right hand corner of your screen.

10. Lack of obsession with inventory count.

You long ago passed the dreaded 20k inventory overload mark and are just days away from reaching 40,000 items. You find your longstanding obsession with deleting duplicate objects has waned and you’re actually taking pride in the 39,653 items in your inventory. You’ve gone critical, sweetheart! At any moment now your friends are going to show up and pack you off to one of Second Life’s many fine inventory treatment facilities.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Big Hair

This dance floor is but one feature of Sweetie's latest adventure in hair.

Written 6 February, 2009

Big Hair

"The Ladies' Head-Dress"

Give Chloe a bushel of horsehair and wool
Of paste and pomatum a pound
Ten yards of gay ribbon to deck her sweet scull
And gauze to encompass it round.
Let her gown be tucked up to the hip on each side
Shoes too high for to walk or to jump
And to deck sweet charmer complete for a bride
Let the cork cutter make her a rump
Thus finished in taste while on Chloe you gaze
you may take the dear charmer for life
but never undress her, for out of her stays
You’ll find you have lost half your wife

---The Lady's Magazine, 1777

Sweetie's taste in hair runs to the unusual-- and she's particularly fond of French hairstyles from the late 1700s. She has several VERY tall hairdos.

We've been joking about me making a train to run around and around her tallest hair-- but I won't be even trying it now, for my imagination is but a pale shadow compared to that of Pandora Wrigglesworth of Curio Obscura.

Tonight Sweetie bought hair that surpasses the hair of Marie Antoinette's fondest dreams! It's hair so big it requires six dirigibles and four propellors to keep it up. It's hair with a dance floor with animated dancers. It's hair that requires you to increase your draw distance. It's colossal hair!

The photos give only an indication of the immensity of this hair!


Written 6 February, 2009

Abductions: Mystery Solved

Now it can be told!

It's not the grays who are taking all those unsuspecting people. It's... it's. it's robots! And Gort is one of the culprits!

But wait! Apparently robots only abduct women. Maybe they told the greys they could have the guys..

Dirty Movies at the Robot Sanitarium

Robbie was notorious for his shoe fetish.

Media Controller at the Robot Sanitorium

Gene Autry tweaks what passes for a nipple on a Murian robot.

Written 29 January, 2009

Dirty Movies at the Robot Sanitorium 

One thing I like about oh-so-logical computers is inductive logic still has its place.

I was having difficulty getting my script to reliably change the media URL on Whimsy Kaboom. I had to try twice or even three times before it worked. Then, for no empirical reason other than why not, I called the same URL twice. There was no particular reason why I should have tried it or why it should worked, but work it did. Now video streams change properly.

I know, I know, I know I promised no more posts about scripts—but this is really a blog about videos.

Really. Read on.

I wanted the educational component of the Robot Sanitorium to feature movie trailers, clips from TV shows, and other robot-related material. I was expecting to find maybe 10 clips I could use. Happily, I found thousands of robot videos on YouTube (I have a way of streaming YouTube videos).

I placed my huge flat screen against a wall in the basement of the sanitorium and have been busily configuring a dozen or so buttons to play videos. Themes include movie trailers and clips, TV, science, history, music, educational features, short films, and robot sex. Because I like both movies, there are separate buttons for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and The Day the Earth Stood Still (the 1953 version). Touching any of the buttons brings up a blue menu that gives you many choices; there are nearly 100 selections in total.

Wait a minute—did you say robot sex?

I did. I said robot sex.

Robots have sex?

Oh, yeah, with one another, and with humans, and all by themselves.


Selecting the videos for the robot sex category was a challenge. I didn’t want to cross the line into hardcore robot porn (I’m quite sure there are hardcore robot porn videos, I just couldn’t bring myself to check. I take it on faith). I didn’t reject clips simply because they showed a little robot action—there’s a bit of that—but I tried to keep the actual robot sex at a tasteful level. Most of the selections are funny or whimsical, or both, and most of the sex is implied rather than graphic.

So please don’t come to the Robot Sanitorium just to watch sexy robot films.

But if you like robots, sexy or otherwise, come check out the robot sanitorium on Whimsy Kaboom.

Train Routes

This flat boring route...

... gets interesting here.

There's an extensive tour of the sim's sewers...

And a nice nature tour, featuring trees and water from Botanical Straylight.

Lots of Kitto's helical track here!

Written 6 February, 2009

Train Routes

For reasons of confidentiality, Kitto Flora doesn't release the list of people who have purchased his little steam train. So about a year-and-a-half ago I put together a list with about 50 locations for his train. I update the list from time to time.

Second Life being Second Life, things always change. When I've checked before, some routes have changed and others have disappeared. But today, some three months after my last circuit, I found huge changes. Some places no longer had the engine out, some places had clearly changed owners, and entire sims were just gone.

So much had changed, in fact, that I decided the list is just not worth maintaining. In fact, I'm depressed.

Some of the vanished routes were stunning.

Do ya think all the changes have something to do with the Lindens' jacking of the price of openspaces? Could it be? Naaaaah!


I had planned to post the list here, with SLURLS. Instead, I'm posting some of the better routes.

Last night, Sweetie and I found a great route on the Brightown sim (home of Animazoo Animations). It started out as, I thought, another boring flat track-- but then things took a turn. Really nice route with extensive use of Kitto's helical track.

Check out also the train on the Asim Zahra sim. There are two extensive routes and the sim is attractive and fun.

Sweetie and I love the route at Tindallia Soothsayer's Misty Acres. You start by entering an old mine. Quite well done, and the rest of the sim is a hoot.

I'm quite sure there are many new and astonishing routes for Kitto's train. You can find them, as I will, by typing TRAIN in Search.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nephilaine Protagonist's Cathedral at Mocha

Note the nice one-prim pews

Written 3 February, 2009

Nephilaine Protagonist’s Cathedral at Mocha

Perhaps because it was Sunday, Sweetie was seized by a desire to visit cathedrals in Second Life. And so off we went, profile picking and using search.

We didn’t have much luck, but we did find Nephilaine Protagonist’s cathedral on the Mocha sim.

If the name (Nephilaine, not Mocha) sounds familiar, think PixelDolls. She’s a designer of clothes and owner of the store where I made my very first Second Life shopping trip.

Sitting high on a promontory, the cathedral is visually striking. Inside, it’s pretty and functional, big enough to move about in comfortably and conservative in its use of prims (the pews were an extremely well-textured single prim).

The cathedral’s most striking feature, though, was a display of candles on ascending shelves. There had to have been more than 200 of them! Visiting avatars are invited to get a candle from a dispenser, add their prayer or special wish on the description line, place it on a shelf, and light it. Autoreturn is off in the area around the candles, so once placed they will stay there.

Very nice.

Ms. Protagonist has done the community a favor by making such a peaceful and useful place.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Our Process

Sweetie called me on this one because it's so sappy-- but I'm publishing it anyway!
Written 22 January, 2009

Our Process

Sweetie and I are in our third wonderful year together. Through all those months we’ve worked together, creating beautiful things.

As faithful readers might recall, I met Sweetie when I had been in Second Life for only a few weeks. I was zapping around Dreamland, looking for land to buy, when I saw her standing on a hill, working on a beautiful fountain.

Before long she was building a house for me.

We worked together to develop my 4096-square-meter lot on the Forsaken sim. As I acquired adjacent parcels, we transformed them as well.

Eventually we owned more than half the sim. It was time to migrate to a private island.

And so we did. In March 2008 Whimsy was born.

After two days of goofing around with ridiculous high-prim objects on our virgin sim, we set out to turn it into our home. We worked together on the terrain and then started putting out prims. We recreated the volcano Pele from Forsaken, made beaches and walkways, constructed an extended route for Kitto Flora’s steam train, and added a thousand whimsical touches to the island. By summer Whimsy was breathtaking and we were working on a (now nearly completed) robot sanitorium on our adjacent Whimsy Kaboom sim.

As Sweetie and I learn more about one another, our interactions become more complex and our understanding of one another deepens. This shows particularly in our cooperative projects.

Readers must understand that with regard to artistic temperament Sweetie and I are at opposite ends of the scale. I work, as I write, without outline or plan, trusting things will turn out right. Sweetie thinks things out first. I work on a dozen things at once. Sweetie tends to concentrate on one project, or perhaps two. I want things finished NOW. Sweetie is patient, allowing a half-finished project to sit until she has the time and inspiration to finish it.

 Surprisingly, our differences make us an effective team. My drive to finish things ensures their completion. Sweetie’s thoughtful approach guarantees a more polished and logical result.

We’ve learned to effectively play one another. When I think it’s time to do something, I lay out some prims. For instance, I recently spanned the chasm between Pele and Robot island with a bridge. It was an inelegant bridge, and I knew it, but I also knew that when Sweetie saw it she would immediately get bridge-on-the-brain. An so she did; within an hour a rudimentary bridge was in place. It looked nothing like my attempt and wasn’t even in the same location, but it was brilliant and is destined to become an essential part of Whimsy’s design.

Sweetie plays me by suggesting the impossible. Last night she looked at my just-completed conveyor belt assembly and suggested it curve and gain altitude so it could move objects to the top of the big hydraulic press that will soon be turning human avatars into robots. And the press was great, you’re brilliant, Chey, but wouldn’t it be even greater if it was bigger so it would create more drama? And that wall there, it makes me feel claustrophobic. Let’s try another way.

Of course I put that wall there just so I would get that response. It works both ways.

I take most of Sweetie’s suggestions. The new, bigger hydraulic press (I stretched it after she went to bed) looks great, and it only makes sense for the conveyor belt to deliver robot parts to a hopper at the top of the hydraulic press. As it is, the belt looks and works great, but is taking nothing from nowhere to nowhere.

At times we frustrate one another. When Sweetie made her suggestion for a new and improved conveyor system, I was momentarily irritated. When, several months ago, she ripped out the entire ramp system at the robot sanitorium—ramps she had herself blocked out—I was hurt and stunned. But I got over it in both cases, for Sweetie was right.

Sweetie is always right. The new ramps rock.

I know I irritate Sweetie when I return her prims. My tolerance limit for plywood on the land seems to be about three weeks. I’ve learned not to send them back to her. I occasionally set one of her objects to temp, but more often I go to work on the task she began. She sees my efforts and critiques them. I redo everything. And so it goes.

I love the way we work together. Sweetie makes my work better, and I hers. But what I love the most is that as a creative team we are equals. Neither one of us predominates. We operate by consensus, and I love that.

And I love Sweetie.

And I love the things we have built together.