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Saturday, May 30, 2009

SL Places to Visit: Grendel's Children

Tsai at Grendel's Children
Originally uploaded by Tsai Jie
Grendel's Children is a gorgeous sim for the inner monster in all of us. Visit their elaborate series of skyboxes and see what a talented builder can do with sculpted prims.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dancing in Valis

Dancing in Valis
Originally uploaded by Tsai Jie
Ever meet one of those men in whose arms you could just melt? It is even better if you are dancing with a special friend in the sky in Valis.

Enya-Boadicea video by newage66

Beautiful Music, Beautiful Images, Beautiful Thoughts.... 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trivia night at Callahan's

I was frustrated after a long day where all my words came out wrong somehow. You know how it is on days when you just seem to be unable to say things in a way people will understand you? So to blow off steam, I went in world. Callahan's was having Trivia night. Tolkien was the subject--I could not resist. I have read the LoTR more than a dozen times, it is my comfort literature... the stuff you read and reread and reread.

I missed the first half hour of the contest. But as I walked up the walk I heard: "Seven for the dwarf lords ___________" and as I walk in the door, I automatically say "in their halls of stone." I got the point. It was pretty much a walk in the park from there.

I told them I was kind of a ringer on this so I would happily not play if they thought it was unfair. They said that in depth knowledge didn't disqualify me by the rules. There was one guy, Zonker, who had 3 points when I came in who, after a couple more questions that I took, said he was gonna give up and just stare at my avatar instead. I liked that. Puts a girl in a good mood right away when someone likes what they see. Other people here and there had a point or 2 each. Only 3 or 4 questions got away from me after that. A couple I really didn't know, a couple I was not fast enough for.

I ended the evening as the winner with the scores being: me with 14 points, Zonker with 5 or so, and other people had 1 or 2 each. I told them I didn't feel right about taking of the prize (a gift certificate for all the Callahan's books from Amazon), so next week's trivia winner (the subject is Larry Niven--do you see a scifi author trend here?) will get it. The other half of the prize was that I got to pick the trivia subject for 2 weeks from now. I took Zonker's recommendation for Robert Heinlein. Now I have to come up with 25 Heinlein trivia questions. How well do you grok Heinlein? Wanna help?

After the contest was over most people went away, some stayed and talked Scifi Lit for a while. That was fun. Turned out Zonker is a Dr. Who fan. There was another fellow had come late and missed the contest, but who wanted to chat. He was being a bit flirty and came and stood by my chair. But then he turned voice on, while everyone else was still in text--I think that is kind of rude, so I was not impressed. He just talked over everyone's text, too, the kind of guy who wants to hear his own voice over everyone else's. When Zonker stood up to leave, so did I.

The thing about Callahan's is that everyone goes out the door before TPing. It's a kind of courtesy to maintain the illusion that this is a real bar. When I left the golden boy followed me and kept talking. I just kept walking, but then he asked: "how do you pronounce your name?" Now I am a sucker for a man who asks me about my name, so I stopped and turned. "It sounds like 'sigh', " I said. It all went downhill from there.

"No, that's wrong," he said, and proceeded to give me a lesson in Chinese language as he saw it. He told me that my name should be said "da-zigh" because the T becomes a D sound as in Mao Tsetung (which he pronounced Mao Duh-zee-dung). I told him the Chinese Hanzi characters are not the same, this is a soft C sound and would be spelled "Cai" in modern Romanized Pinyin Chinese. He proceeded to lecture me on Chinese and its many dialects. I said, "I know--I speak Putonghua." He said that he didn't know that one, he was talking about Mandarin Chinese. I tell him Putonghua IS what we Americans call Mandarin! But he is off on the next topic already, India. He says many dialects there, I say many distinct languages, and I begin to list them: Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Nepali, English. . . .

It is a bad move trying to argue with him. Like talking to a wall. Maybe I should have turned my voice on, while he kept rambling off on different tangents to impressed me (not!) with his knowledge (wrong!), I could have cussed him out in Mandarin, and then Mongolian, and French, and thrown Latin in for good measure. I think that he thought this was the way to impress a woman. I also think that he's an idiot and picked on the wrong woman. Now I was getting pissed.

Next golden-boy goes off into a sort of rambling diatribe and tells me Sanskrit is written in runes. I say glyphs, and he tells me again I am wrong, because he's read a lot and knows better. We argue the meaning of the word hieroglyphs. He: "picture" writing, so Sanskrit is "runes" because it is not pictures. I say: "sacred" writing, and BTW sanskrit also means "sacred writing," and besides, runes are purely Teutonic script. And I was determined to make him see his error (though why I felt the need to prove myself to this guy is beyond me at the moment).

Then comes the clincher. He tells me that he knows all about Sanskrit (and Cuneiform, too, BTW); he first learned about it by watching the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and I suddenly realize that I have been trying to prove myself to someone I likely wouldn't bother with in RL. Someone who is probably a kid who lives in his parent's basement with his computer, his video games, and his movie collection. Someone I would not stoop to conquer in real life. How odd is that?

Now I feel like an idiot. I tp'ed home and sat on the couch and reread my conversation with him. Why on earth did I even in engage in that exchange? Okay, I was feeling cocky and smart (having won the contest and all), and I was coming off a week full of missteps and insecurities in RL (some of that has to do with goings on at work, a coworker with whom I can't work). And some of it has to do with the way the universe has been unkind about a number of real life romance things.

But still, I have behaved like an idiot. Had to prove myself. But to whom? And why? It did neither me nor Golden Boy any good to try to one up each other. And it ruined any chance of a normal conversation between us ever again.

Here's the thing about SL. We put on avatars and suddenly we need to be larger than life. We script our own movies. We are the stars of our own melodramas. What is up with that? Are the emotions higher in SL? Hearts worn on the sleeve and all? Or are we just so damn wrapped up in the roles we play that we forget about the other people in the movie with us?

I am a firm believer in Serendipity. That there are lessons all around us if we only take the time to listen rather than trying to force our own will on the universe. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe I'll just sit and ponder on this for a while.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tsai watches a sunset and drinks her tea

Tsai has a cup of tea
Originally uploaded by Tsai Jie
So it is coming on Friday evening. I'm sitting here in Valis wondering what to do with myself. There is always Trivia Night at Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. Or maybe there's a dance happening at the Firefly Bar in Blackburne--there I could at least hang and listen to stories about Lillybell's latest escapades.

Or I can sit here and drink my cup of chai tea and watch the sun go down behind the grotto and the birches. Yeah. That's what I'll do. Sometimes you just gotta appreciate what is in front of you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dancing in the Colors of Second Life

My first SL video... for my first real love in SL.

The paths we were walking did crumble... but, baby, if you again start hoping, with your arms wide open... come and dance with me into the colors of the dusk.

Quote du Jour: Mistakes

"Frequently, in a journey of the soul, the most precious moments are the mistakes. They have brought you to a place that you would otherwise have always avoided."
——John O'Donohue

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Second Life. . . or why am I here?

You are asking yourself what is this woman talking about? A second life? It's true . . . but to really understand my second life, you need to experience Second Life.

I admit it, I am addicted. I'd like to blame Bobby and Amanda who first mentioned it. Or Rhiannon who got me to watch over her shoulder, but the truth is I am a sucker for a good storyline and the beauty of SL is that you can write your own story. It is role playing. It is the holodeck and the replicator (that's Trekker speak) all rolled into one. It is another reality and it is escapism.

So because it was almost summer and I had the time, I joined. Two years ago today. Next I needed money. Gotta buy clothes (don't want to look a total noob) and bling  from the designers and the scripters (because SL is also capitalism at its finest). The money here is called "Lindens," and one US real dollar is worth around 250L. So for about the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee I can have 1000 Lindens to play with in the Second Life world(s). Not bad. You don't have to really eat, or mow the grass, or do the dishes (unless you want to--just about anything can be put into gestures, a string of actions that your character or avatar can do). This includes virtual sex.  Best of all though is the dancing. Alone on a club floor, in the arms of a handsome avatar, even all by yourself in the moonlight. 

And then there is SL sex. Think about it.  No bugs to catch. You can say YES. Maybe get money for saying yes, maybe get presents, maybe just do it because you want to connect to a special someone. And you can say NO. And no one can force you. Don't like the guy who is coming on to you? Mute button. He follows you around? Delete him from of your friends list and he can't see you. Corners you? TP (teleport) out. Harrasses you? Report him to the PTB. All in all that adds up to the potential for a lot of fun, and no foul.

Beware, though, SL is addicting. Don't let SL occupy you so much that you forget that you have a Real Life (tm) too. And don't mix them or there is a big broken heart potential. Don't share RL info in SL with anyone you do not know VERY well. Don't be surprised when (if you share SL info with them) RL friends think you need therapy.

A good thing to keep in mind is that this is role playing. Your avatar (your SL body) is both you and not you. You can look anyway you want. In fact, most of the avatars look like gorgeous sexy 20 somethings. Never assume that how the avatar looks is the same as how the person looks in RL! Many of us do try to stick somewhat close to our ideal RL selves. I am, for instance, really an RL blonde, but in RL my eyes are more grey than green or blue. Some of us choose to be another gender, or another creature. I can be a smoke demon. Or a lust demon. In SL we can have any face and hair and body and clothes we want (or can afford). We can have wings, fur, feathers, elf ears, vampire teeth, horns, scales, or tails. I know of one fellow who lives most of his SL life as a Cheetah. I've met another who was a robot. And there is no way to tell what anyone's real age is. All of this is NP (no problem) if we don't lose control, if we don't forget which life is which.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Quote du Jour: Cesare Pavese

"No one ever kills himself for the love of a woman, but because love--any love--reveals us in our nakedness, our misery" --Cesare Pavese

Today's Song: "Boston" by Augustana

You said: "You don't know me, and you don't even care." Oh yeah.

She said: "You don't know me, and you don't wear my chains." Oh yeah.