Thursday, April 29, 2010

take me in, and throw out my heart and get a new one

Is it wrong that I'm so fascinated by the graphics in Dante's Inferno--and by that, I don't mean the people, I mean the grass, the ground, rocks, puddles...? (Slight note of warning: you may be asked to provide a birthdate to view this Unskippable, there are virtual breasts involved.)

Also, I'm terribly amused that in Jon Wood's latest article on MMORPG, Second Life is referenced as a type of game that has no goals, no levels, no distinct point. I'm really amused that he then adds, "Second Life has no real, true, unifying factor. One zone may be fantasy, the next Sci-fi, the next a proper shooter game, etc. etc. etc. the world is what its players make it, literally."

And to be fair, he's not wrong, because in SL, it's just life, virtual. Everything we do there is in acknowledgement of something else. We make games for ourselves, from small (think Tiny Empires) to large (Midian, anyone? Or Caledon, fifty-plus sims of roleplay?). People have developed an insanely successful in-world game where fishing is the point. (Collections of fish--and the intriguing uses some businesses have put to it, giving away everything from textures to clothing bits for special outfits, actually started out as a secondary point.) We dress how we wish we could in RL (and some of us dress--and look--how we do in RL), we play with avatar looks, avatar relationships, avatar employment, and re-face the challenges we've faced in other lives. See if the outcome changes.

City of Heroes celebrates its sixth anniversary. I'd say I'd love to see something with the same passion and love for the game for Second Life, but...damn, the avatars were dorky when SL started.

Interesting article over on the Tidal blog about the breaking of the metaverse. I will be honest, as a creator of content and consumer both, I want what I want with me--but to me, that means the ability to export sculpt maps, and textures off the grid to revise them as I need, since I own them...and for everything else? I don't care if I can export it to other grids. I bought it here, for Second Life. Second Life is where it will stay.

More to the point, if people really want content they can export to other grids, why on earth don't they talk to the content creators, and ask them to go over to X grid and import it there? Pay a fee, have it where you want. It may not be practical now, but a) that's a great additional revenue stream for creators, and b) it gets around the whole 'importing what you didn't make' argument.

Will all creators be willing to do this? Hell no. Will some? Maybe. Why can't people just do that, though? We're getting to the point where some online resellers are selling things for specific grids; why can't merchants offer the option? Or even, "For use on X grid, please contact me"?

Right now people are right to dismiss alternate grids, beyond SL, that use the SL architecture. For a lot of reasons, they're just not up to par. But neither was SL in the beginning. Give 'em a few years, a little more mileage, they might just surprise us all.

The options should be there. Maybe not now, but soon. Because I do believe in creators' rights for the things they make, but I also think there's nothing wrong with that same creator selling versions for multiple grids. They could even run limited-edition whatevers--everything one shade for Y grid, another for X grid, still another for Z grid...but the main point is, it's not beyond expectation for people to want what they bought with them, if they travel to another grid.

I just don't personally believe they need the unfettered right to full-perm copies of whatever, wherever they go. Because I'm sorry, but that's just crack-headed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

her threshold's invisible but she'll hang on like hell

Yet more reasons why Facebook is evil.

All right. I have finally finished reading through Neva's latest NCI diatribe (with a side jaunt into this entry, supposedly linked to make more sense of the first, but I'm still wondering how, precisely), and I think I understand what's going on.

Maybe.

I don't have a lot of experience with the Woodbury group, but I do have experience with their griefing style, and the same style Neva speaks to, especially in the second post, is what I've seen on the grid. They may each have been committed by a separate and individual person--my world is vast, it can encompass several stupid people with the same concept--but I have seen this, again and again. In Caledon, in Luskwood, in FurNations sandboxes, in Rivula, and in Tahitian Dreams.

What connects these sims? Got me. But I have seen the same names, or the same avatars, griefing places; and they've all been part of the same groups in all these cases...that is, when I've seen perpetrators at all, and it's not merely scripture shouted from the heavens, or giant cubes obscuring the landscape. Neva may or may not be wrong in how often it's happening--and how specifically directed at Neva, specifically--but it is happening.

And while banning the university and all its sims won't prevent the idiots already here from continuing to be here--until they're banned, anyway--I can't but think it's not the worst idea to kick their main watering hole out of the game.

Free speech? Who guarantees that right on the grid? This is not a democracy, people. It comes down to the simplest of all bottom lines: is hosting the virtual Woodbury University more trouble than profit? As long as it's more profitable, the Lindens will keep it around.

Guess they're no longer profitable. So off they go.

I'm amused that according to Marty Linden, the Labs might begin blocking non-compliant third-party viewers, and according to T Linden, they will begin blocking non-compliant third-party viewers.

Which is it, guys? Maybe, so people relax and think the Labs are just looking after us, honest, or definitely will, so the Labs are back to their old empty-words/no-communication business-as-usual behavior?

Actually, I shouldn't say that. It is their absolute and utter right to decide which viewers can and can't be used. This is not a democracy, again; residents do not have a Bill of Rights.

(Though it's still utterly true that yelling at a brick wall is easier in the long run, if one wants to work out something, than trying to pin down any particular Linden on any topic relating to Second Life.)

Massively covers Runes of Magic and their new no diamonds resold EVER policy. (This is also covered in a separate article that's not as well written.)

What does all this mean? Well, in the short term, no diamond trading in the Auction House. No listing that I want, say, to pay one gold for 250 diamonds (a dodge around the permissions systems when I want to get diamonds I have, into the hands of friends who want them). In fact, for some time now, if I buy diamonds on the website with a credit card, I can't trade them in any way to anyone else; which is why on occasion we troop down to 7-11 and buy one of the Runes cards, because those you can trade in any way you want to.

Except for now, because Runes have decided that the spammers have to stop, so they've killed the ability to trade diamonds in any way to other players.

Here's the thing, though--the spammers have gotten really bad. First there was an add-on developed called ShutUp! that Curse.com ran; highly popular, it led Runewaker and Frogster to develop their own internal reporting system.

spam,spammers,Runes of Magic,games

But it didn't stop them. Huge banner messages on the screens stating the simple fact, every fifteen minutes in some zones, that any player found with gold or diamonds or, now, tiered stones will be banned from the game...even that is not enough to stop the spammers, and the idiots who buy from them.

The players started getting inventive. This shot shows you what happens when a couple of fighters engage every single boar in the area, and drag them all onto the bridge where two "defenseless" level 1 spammers are shouting for all they're worth.SPEAK. Damn, plan fail!

Meanwhile, during the Great 2010 Logout of Second Life, Miss Amisha Marsh is trying to help us out by giving us things to do.

Other than check SL frantically, hoping that the next five minutes means we can actually get back on the grid..

Me? I'm trying tomorrow. I'll give up tying up the five hunts I was involved in; really, there was no chance I'd get to them all anyway. At this point I think I'm hunting just out of habit.

And it's a bad habit.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the taste of you upon my lips, the fingers in my brain

Miss Neome sent me an advance preview of some of the new features of the upcoming City of Heroes/City of Villains expansion, tied in with Going Rogue--the instance called Dark Mirror, I believe. I don't play City of Heroes--yet, apparently--so I don't really know how their expansions work, precisely.

How'ver, that's not the main point. While the video is--I think I can justifiably say this, even knowing nothing about the game system--awesome, there was oddity surrounding the video.

Let me explain. This is a screen shot of the video page:

City of Heroes,City of Villains,weirdness,rap

The larger version will also show you the tabs I had open in Chrome at the time. Yes, I'm back to reading Prokovy Neva's blog, trying to figure out what in the hell is being said through the murk of paranoiac raving

You're looking down the right-hand side.

Didn't catch it? Let me make it plainer:

City of Heroes,City of Villains,weirdness,rap

One of these things is not like the others. Literally, all down that row, it goes City of Heroes vid, City of Heroes vid, City of Heroes vid, City of Heroes vid, MC Hammer, City of Heroes vid...

...whahuh?

That had to be a joke, right? How does "U Can't Touch This" factor in to machinima about a virtual superheroes/supervillians world?

City of Heroes,City of Villains,weirdness,rap

I have no idea. But that is the actual video. Either YouTube has started being way more random than they have been in the past, or they know something about MC Hammer that the rest of us don't.

So here's my question: is MC Hammer secretly a superhero, or a supervillain? And why pick now to reveal his secret identity?

(And what is his secret super ability, then? Dancing in balloon pants?)

Moving on from that--why Blizzard recently got a free pass on something that would normally incite outrage. I think Webb is right; if any other company had done this, there would have been screaming and negative blogging and forums packed with divisive comments.

I compare this to Runes of Magic, which is a free-to-play game, that has also always had an item shop, and mounts available in it. They've gotten very very good at limiting access to certain mounts, too. Some are standard--the horses, the berhu, the war tigers--and some are only offered for a month (Moa's Nightmare steed), a week (the Rune Disk, the donkey, the broom), or a weekend now and again (the dragons, the mammoths, the riding...mushroom...whatevers).

But what Webb points out has happened in WoW as a result of Blizzard's Celestial Steed offer is something I'm seeing on the ground in Runes--it's starting to striate from those of higher levels with the cool gear, and those who are just plugging along and grinding away (sort of fashion against utility, I suppose) and moving defiantly into "money" vs. "no money". And the whole poor vs. rich resentment thing in a game I like to play? Not cool.

The Rune Disk in action:

Runes of Magic,mounts,games

Seen in the Auction House at Varanas with "Wraithmasta", who's also pimped out his entire armor set.

The Rune Disk retails for 499 diamonds, which--because they're not on sale this weekend--will set people back twenty-two bucks.

In comparison, the Celestial Steed:

World of Warcraft,WoW,Celestial steed,games

This set players in World of Warcraft back by twenty-five dollars, which is very nearly twice the cost of subscription to the game in the first place.

That people are willing to pay this much for virtual things is not the point--hells, many of us in SL have spent thousands of dollars, over the course of years of play, to maintain sims, pay rent or tier, buy clothes, cars, homes, aircraft, horses, pets, whatever--and that's not counting fees for educational courses, tutorials, or tipping dancers, DJs and hosts at events--and let's leave charity work like the SLRFL out of it, because some folks have spent thousands of dollars on those events and limited-edition offerings alone. It's not that.

It's that we expect this from free-to-play games; we expect that if we want better gear, better mounts, fancier houses, that we will, at some point, be putting cash on the barrelhead to upgrade. It happens in Second Life; it happens in Runes of Magic; it happens everywhere.

It didn't happen in World of Warcraft--until recently. And that recent change may change the game entirely, or it may just be a blip in the stream of Blizzard testing things out, and--as Webb points out, again--possibly testing the potential of an upcoming free-to-play MMO.

Me, I'm wondering if Diablo III is going to be that MMO. Because if it is, it is tentatively back on the table as a possible--even if it does still look like World of Diablocraft.

Lastly:

Btw, make sure you upgrade to the latest emerald viewer. The emerald team recently brought their viewer into alignment with our third party viewer policy, and this Friday 4/30 we will be blocking older versions which enable users to do things that violate the terms of service.

Hope that helps,

T linden


So, heads up for anyone who hasn't upgraded to the latest Emerald: that's the one you're going to be stuck with, bad texture loading and all. And if you use any other browser past the 30th, that isn't on the approved list (I use Henri Beauchamp's build of CoolSL as an alternate, when using Emerald, SnowGlobe OR the official viewer 2.0 just doesn't work of an evening), I think I can go out on this limb and say the Lindens will be blocking it from accessing Second Life.

I'll be sticking with Emerald.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I didn't listen, 'cos my brain was missing, and I only found it today

To start out with, Etienne de Crecy's latest performance is breathtaking. Still absolutely amazing what programming mixed with inventive architecture can do.

Really odd note from MMORPG: Sony Online is introducing something called Passport for players of EverQuest II. Essentially, they say it's intended for 'casual players', and it's a five dollar charge (US) to use the game for three days out of any given month.

There are a few problems with this. First, the user can't pick which three days, apparently. Second, it's not a timer-countdown, the user gets 72 hours of use during the month; instead, it has to be consecutive. But, on the other hand, it's a big savings for people who can't plunk down $15 per month until...well, ever. And it still funds the game and developments, from Sony's end of things.

I do like Jaime Skelton's proposal, though, more than I like the Passport concept: find a good, consistent way to charge per day of play (like in-client timers, or countdown cards distributed through the usual sources). The standard $15 per month subscription rate has been around forever, and likely won't change any time soon--but if I only log in to a full-pay game, say, eight days out of the month--well, I could pay $15, which is a savings of having to pay for every day for $30...or, I could just plunk down payment for the eight days I played. I'm finding I really like that idea.

Have I mentioned Gogo's Windlight tutorial page? I'm finding it invaluable for "straight", unprocessed (as in, by PhotoShop or my personal bane of existence, Gimp) images taken in SL.

Actually, since the update, Emerald has added in a ton of the available user-developed presets to the Advanced Sky/Water settings. I don't know if the same presets are available in SnowGlobe and (beta, B-E-T-A) 2.0, but at least they're all active in Emerald.

Snapshots of odd things: the thrones at Grendel's.

Avaria,Flea Bussy,Second Life,thrones

(The Spider Throne; Miss Kamenev, don't look at the large version.)

Avaria,Flea Bussy,Second Life,thrones

(The Spider Throne from the back; Miss Kamenev, again, don't look at the large version I tried to crop on both of these to reduce the spidery aspects..)

Avaria,Flea Bussy,Second Life,thrones

(And the Serpent Throne; Miss Kamenev, this one you can click on, I think.)

Avaria,Flea Bussy,Second Life,thrones
(And the Serpent Throne from the back.)

The approved viewer list has been expanded. Not much of note there, save Emerald. Why is Emerald now on the approved list, and wasn't earlier? I wanted to find out. I downloaded the new version and...well, I'm happy and unhappy in turn.

For one, the big thing I was worrying about, the crippling of exporting? So totally not. I don't care if prims can be exported, I never do that, and if that's selfish, fine, I'm being selfish. But I do care if textures--sculpt maps and .tga files for clothing manufacture and builds--can still be exported.

And they can. So I'm relatively happy with that.

The downside? Apparently everything in the world is now grey under the new rebuild. And I still have the inability to pull in my entire inventory--it stops around 29K or so, every single time.

So still an outstanding bug they haven't fixed, and textures now take decades to load, instead of years. But you can still export things. So...sort of yay?

I'll try and give it a more thorough run-through later.

you're asking the wrong questions, you're opening the wrong doors

Q Linden (after M and T, I'm beginning to understand why some residents are lumping everyone together as "alphabet Lindens") announced improvements to viewer 2.0 on the 22nd. And I quote:
As I said in my Viewer 2.0.1, Beta 1 blog post of last week, we've been working on a variety of stability, security, and performance issues for Viewer 2. Those fixes are now available in today's release of Viewer 2.0.1.
Translation: "Okay, fine, we're calling it a beta release now. Ease up, people, jeez."
In this release, we have addressed several items:
  • Performance improvement, particularly relating to texture downloads.
  • Fixed a number of crash bugs that were found through our crash reporter. Big thanks to everyone who sent in crash reports.
  • Updated a few support libraries.
We hope that these fixes will improve your experience with Viewer 2. Please see the Release Notes for additional details.
Translation: "Those of you who aren't pecking us to death with complaints, IMs and phone calls can go read what we changed line by line. We know the rest of you don't care, so we're not telling you anything past that."
Note that this release does not include any substantial changes to the user interface, but future releases will. We're very aware of all the discussion around UI, and we are listening. Thank you for all of your feedback and passion.
Translation: "Jesus, can you people bitch. We GET it, already. We're working on changing some of the things you hate so you'll stop pouting over the things we're not going to change. Get over it."
We look forward to your continued feedback on the V2 Forum and please log any bugs that you find on Jira.
Translation: "Please stop complaining and put everything you find that actually matters to us on the JIRA, where we can ignore it properly."
Best regards,

Q Linden
Translation: "Don't stop paying us,

Another Linden you don't know and who won't be here that long."


Now, I'm not sure whether to feel amused, or resigned, at this announcement (and yes, I know, Q's been kicking around for at least a year and a half by now), but whatever I'm feeling is tempered by a growing supply of bitterness for the whole process. I know Viewer 2.0 is not designed with me--or any creator of content--in mind (though some are finding ways to use it to build, and I say more power to them, mad fools that they are), but to be told directly that there's no changes I'll be able to see is like a slap in the face.

I went through the Release Notes, and this is what I think the rebuild boils down to:
  • They fixed a lot of crash points. And I mean, this program was crashing A. LOT. for people. This program was crashing more than I can crash Google Chrome (and believe me, that's an insanely high number: for a supposedly 'stable' browser, Chrome crashes on me, like, one to four times a DAY).
  • They did a bit of debugging where texture caching is concerned (I think; someone who knows the source code might know better whether that's right, but it sounds accurate).
  • They fixed the "Mime type missing from audio/video source" bug that's been driving me crazy in SnowGlobe too (which unfortunately--to me, at least--means they haven't fixed it in SnowGlobe, either).
  • They fixed the glitch that caused SL voice to stay open after quitting SL.
  • They fixed the bug that people noticed when they tried to pay alpha-textured vendors--and couldn't.
  • They fixed a HUGE bug surrounding the login process--where people were shown the new Terms of Service and needed to agree, and weren't given the option. This logged a LOT of people off the game for days, and in some cases, weeks, and some of these people? Gave up and walked away. Causing yet more resident departures.
  • They fixed a bug where a mouse-click over a transparent or alpha prim would cause that action (sit, be caged, agree to buy, you name it) to go off without informing the user who clicked.
  • They SAY they fixed the bog where media plays, even when residents have it disabled; THAT one I'll believe when I see.
  • They also say they fixed the bug where standing up becomes an insanely complicated process if that resident runs with the movement controls open (and some of us do, always, by default).
  • They fixed a bug where too many incoming notecards/IMs was causing the game to hang or crash (and really, that one? That one is INSANE, because IMs capping is happening to nearly EVERYONE these days!).
  • They fixed some group-based voice-chat issues (namely, if the moderator of said chat crashes, and there is a disruptive person in the chat beforehand, the mod can't bounce them like they would usually; the relog seemed to 'lose' that permissions set for mods).
  • And they fixed the bug where the required update note, when clicked on login, would either fail to bring the resident to a proper download screen, or couldn't be clicked at all.
So, all right. I won't be trying it today (because I value my sanity, thank you), but I will download the new version and give it a try. I have no great hopes of any greater love for it, but at least I'm fairly sure I can't loathe it any more than I do already.

In more depressing news, Courtney Linden posted a "helpful FAQ" so everyone can be on the same page--which is apparently titled 'Delighted with the New Viewer, Thanks, Lindens!'

But if one reads through that list? NONE OF THOSE ITEMS should need step-by-step procedures associated with them. "Less intuitive" features? You have to be kidding me. Stop all animations is now buried in the Advanced menu? Are you people HIGH?

T Linden chimes in around the same time with an entry on improving the new resident experience: in short, they've revised the new login process again, and "streamlined" it completely (I shudder to ask). In addition, the phrase that everyone keeps mentioning, over and over, like it's the be-all and end-all of SL: because viewer 2.0 "gives everyone in Second Life the capability to integrate web-based media seamlessly into Second Life".

Huge step forward? Maybe it's just me, and believe me, I own YouTube televisions, so I have actually gathered around the screen with friends and loves and watched things streaming from "out there"--so I get the attraction--but web pages on prims just never grabbed me. I want web info, I can open my browser. It's generally open anyway, so I just don't get the concept of why that's so important. B'sides, if that website that someone wants open and displaying on a prim has music or sound effects? They are going to jar, and jar badly, with anything the land may be playing for music, and what's worse, they may jar with what residents are listening to...wait for it...ON THE WEB.

So why is this so important? It's likely just another case of me not getting it, but really--it seems like such a dead loss advancement, I don't know why they're so fired up about it.

All I really know is, in this mood I should likely stop reading the blogs for a while. Because they're not telling me anything that I want to hear, and they're depressing me besides.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

drown out the confusing noise, shake free the gazes that have grown apathetic

The copyright wars have many front lines, but one of the most interesting has been the fight over fair use regarding the Hitler film Downfall. For a while there, the critical scene in the bunker was the digital dartboard for many social satirists, from Disney's acquisition of Marvel to the takedown process itself. Now, according to Ars Technica, most of them have been pulled. Under a DMCA filing to prevent unlawful use?

No, and that's the interesting part.

According to YouTube's own page on ContentID, the program they offer will:
"Identify user-uploaded videos comprised entirely OR partially of their content, and

"Choose, in advance, what they want to happen when those videos are found. Make money from them. Get stats on them. Or block them from YouTube altogether.


"How do Audio ID and Video ID work?

"Rights holders deliver YouTube reference files (audio-only or video) of content they own, metadata describing that content, and policies on what they want YouTube to do when we find a match.

"We compare videos uploaded to YouTube against those reference files.


"Our technology automatically identifies your content and applies your preferred policy: monetize, track, or block."
Which is good, if the laws of fair use are taken into consideration. But YouTube doesn't bother. They set out the full toolset so that content owners can strip all of a video's content away; just the soundtrack; or just the visuals. There are zero prohibitions. Ironically, because this process doesn't go through DMCA claims and counterclaims, it takes a far shorter period of time, and it takes a far longer time to get content back, whether it falls under fair use for parody and satire, or not.

Which is why we've been seeing what we've been seeing for months now, on YouTube: live performances (which fall under artist content, and most artists don't care if people make home movies, essentially, of their art); artist-uploaded videos and performances; and 'covers' of songs sung by other people, which are perfectly legal to film and upload.

Everything else? Could be stripped away in an instant, and most of it has, in fact--because YouTube set it up that way.

Runes of Magic is coming out with their third chapter officially in May--but, because it's such a graphics-intensive game, they're starting the process now--and the first patch for it went live last night. If you're interested in an interview with one of the game's creators on what Chapter III will entail, have at--all I know for sure is that it involves a child king, more quests (less kill-oriented, more roleplay/story oriented, yay!), more levels, more skills, new abilities, and a potential new race.

What's the new race? No one's really sure. But the rumors are painting them blue.

If they look like Avatar knock-offs...I will be really disappointed.

Many people are seeing Lang Lang's recent concert performance to be either mean-spirited or simply unnecessary spoofing--but if you listen carefully, the tones do change when he moves his fingers around the iPad, stop when he lifts his fingers from it, and change when he turns it over to the conductor. He may have programmed that particular selection, but he was playing it "live"--at least, after a fashion.

Lastly, a very odd tip:

[18:11] Bahi Pudless: are transactions down in sl?
[18:11] Manda Silverweb: mines working
[18:11] Tesa Carrasco: not down but acting funky
[18:12] Tesa Carrasco: you have to log out and log back in for them to show up
[18:12] Tesa Carrasco: or at least that is how it's been for me the past week

[18:17] Joehard Darkfold: heard a little trick the other day, rez a prim and make it for sale for a dollar and buy it from yourself, it will [force] an update of your account.
[18:17] Tesa Carrasco: good idea :-)
[18:18] Joehard Darkfold: cant take credit for that just passing info along


Interesting. I'll have to see if this works.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I’m having trouble sleeping, I’m thinking of what you said

(At the risk of dragging Nany Kayo over to the blog (which I profoundly do not want), I wanted to mentioned a current (though fading slightly) Twitter tempest. It doesn't start here, but Ms. Reese (@debreese on Twitter) is a powerfully articulate writer, whose blog focus is exactly what it says it is--to notate the appearances of First Nation peoples in childrens' literature, and especially to praise the good portrayals, the people who got it right.

Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book isn't exactly standard childrens' fare, though it does feature a child protagonist--but she's not so much talking about the book, itself. She's talking about an interview he had, two years ago, wherein he said the controversial and now nigh-immortal (for the next two months or so) words:
The great thing about having an English cemetery is I could go back a very, very, very long way. And in America, you go back 250 years (in a cemetery), and then suddenly you’ve got a few dead Indians, and then you don’t have anybody at all, unless you decide to set it up in Maine or somewhere and sneak in some Vikings.
Now, I can state objectively, he is both right and wrong, here. Not so much about the "few dead Indians" line--I'm not touching that, and besides, Ms. Reese and kynn (who's also @kynn on Twitter) are doing an admirable job poking holes in what Gaiman said.

What I want to talk about is accountability, and disposable history.

First, the history bit, because that one's far easier. There aren't a lot of graveyards in America that go back two hundred and fifty years. There aren't a lot of communities in America that go back two hundred and fifty years. Let's trim off the last ten and just take it from 2000--that would be 1850, right?

If you grew up on the east coast, and you grew up in any state housing the original thirteen colonies--then you have cemetaries that potentially go back far longer. The Jamestown colony in Virginia is the earliest with a potential "bury patch", and was founded in 1607, gaining royal support in 1624. The Plymouth colony in Massachusetts came next, founded in the winter of 1620 at the site of an abandoned Native village, which was "abandoned" due to all its inhabitants having perished when an epidemic of something dire swept the area.

(Now, it should be noted, though it matters little in terms of burials and burial locations, that the founders of the Plymouth colony were called Pilgrims--all the Church of England dissenters were called Pilgrims, due to their wanderings--but they were not Puritans. These terms have become interchangeable in American history, and it's just not the case. The goal of the Puritans was simple: to purify the Church of England's excesses by working within the Church on issues of reform. For the Separatists, they wanted nothing to do with the Church of England, feeling--and probably not in error--that it retained too many practices from Roman Catholicism, including kneeling, religious leaders who wore distinctive clothing, the use and upkeep of altars, and many other provisions. Interestingly--I'm thinking of the American LDS movement here--the Separatists called themselves the Saints, because they held themselves to strict higher standards, in accordance to what they believed were God's wishes. They called anyone who was not a Saint in good standing a Stranger, establishing resolute guidelines for Us versus Them thinking later on.)

However, as settlements and land seizures drift westward, the dates go higher, and the preservation of history often took a back seat to simple survival. Also, stone-cutting is only profitable for memorial structures if you a) have someone trained to quarry stone, and b) have a quarry nearby. Many of the earliest cemetaries in America (not all, mind you, but MANY) were marked with wooden memorials, and these weathered as wood does through the years. Thus, by the time we hit the west coast, a cemetary with dates going back to 1900 is considered venerable and aged, because most of our cemetaries don't go back more than seventy-five years, if that.

Most people living near major cities, in fact, aren't even used to free-standing headstones; all we're seeing are the in-ground stone tablets that are easier to mow over. And while headstones are still popular fixtures in October for decoration, most (again, most, not all) don't see them on a daily basis at this point. And I guarantee you, if they do--and if they bother to stop their cars, and go look at the headstones they see--they will rarely find any date older than 1910. This is on average, mind you, but unless we're talking really old burial grounds, that's about the standard.

(To touch briefly on the comments of Ms. Reese before we leave: no, I am not ignoring the histories--and the preserved burial places--of non-Europeans, here. There are First Nation preserved burial sites, there are some Japanese and Chinese graveyards that go back some time, there were the segregated burial grounds in the South, some of which are very ornate--not to mention until Katrina hit in '05, some very elaborate above-ground crypts and structures in New Orleans--and there were travelers from Denmark, China, Japan, France and Ireland among others who came, usually to the east coast, and ended up marrying into the population they found there, bringing the burial customs of their peoples along. I am not saying they didn't exist. I'm talking public perception here, the same public perception that says all Pilgrims were Puritans, and Pocahantas, a poor "Indian maid", married John Smith as an adult--hells, that one's three wrong things in one!--or that 1600s America was just like 1800s America, just with less cars. Public perception is frequently wrong.)

But now we have accountability, and that--to me, at least--is the really interesting thing.

First off, Twitter accountability is a strange thing. For one, anyone can claim to be anyone else; the only way we know for sure is if there's a Twitter "Verified account" checkmark on their profiles. And those aren't easy to get; Twitter seems to hand them out randomly (though they do verify; I don't mean they don't check out who people are behind the screen, but that there's no set process to gain that Verified Account mark). Add to that that the tools for Twitter are only semi-easy to pick up and run with, and some tools--and conventions of the medium--only become clear over time.

(An example: at this point, most of us simply look below the tweet in question and click Retweet beside Reply for anything we want our group of followers to read. But some people still use the old method of copying the original tweet, then putting "RT"--"retweet"--in front of the person's Twitter name. Or the vast and diverse world of hashtags. You can hashtag anything by putting '#' in front of a word or phrase, which Twitter software picks up in searches later--things like #volcanogod or #SL2--but say "hashtag" to anyone who's not on Twitter, and they look at you funny.)

There's also the steadily changing impression that Twitter is mostly just social communication. And, for the most part, that's still true, though marketers of all stripes and, I swear sometimes, every single "life manager" on the damn planet have discovered it long since.

Big businesses use it now. Amazon has a channel directly for people who are Associates, and they're likely not the only one who has changed the 'little social platform' into an employee communications downline. And news services are being rocked with the virtues and the flaws of this 'little social platform'--witness the Green Party in Iran, unknown to most of the world, who pleaded with Twitter users to show their support by turning their avatars--the little icons seen beside each tweet--green. Suddenly, literally within hours, over half of Twitter was green. It was a powerful statement, and without warning, an entire nation realized public opinion was rising and falling by the actions of one commentator with a laptop. Pretty huge stuph.

But, with all the sweeping changes and the rise of Twitter as A Power, the Twitter tools have remained fundamentally unchanged. And one of those rules is the concept of deleting Tweets. Because sometimes people say bad things in social settings. They want the take-back. They want to apologize and move on.

There are two problems with this.

1. As of this writing, outgoing Tweets--either some, or all of them--are being archived by the Library of Congress. Why? I don't know. Is this a rumor? Yes, but one that's been confirmed by the Library of Congress. (On their blog, fittingly enough.)

2. What happens when an average person on Twitter decides to employ that "delete" feature--but happens to have hundreds of thousands of followers? You get what happened to Neil Gaiman, who is now being accused of suppression of his tweets in order to look better, or seem more noble, or...whatever it is.

Listen. I mean this. I am not talking about what he said, I've dealt a little bit with the popular perception going on for many people, and I'm not getting involved in the battle other than that. What I am interested in is--how famous does a person have to be before they have to live their entire lives in public? Day by day, it's hard enough engaging in a dialogue with fans, some of whom are always going to be rabid, because that's just the nature for some fans. (I have been to enough conventions, trust me, I can speak from experience.) Personally, I think the whole controversy is being handled fairly well by the direct participants involved, and really, really, amazingly badly by some of Gaiman's fans, who've gone to both blogs in question and gotten overly snippy.

"Enhancing expressive features such as eye movement could eventually make avatar-mediated communication feel more trustworthy than online video, because only relevant visual cues need to be displayed, said Steptoe."

I'm not sure what unnerves me more, the incipient lack of all human socialization, or the "feeling" more trustworthy than talking to someone on webcam. But both are on the unnerving side.

And if you reload an inkjet cartridge with human cells, can you then print human skin? The answer apparently is yes. If this really works, it could be the end of tissue rejection, for at least skin problems.

And--for those diehard WoW fans who are also SL neo-Victorians, fulfill both desires in one place! Apparently the Spice Bread recipe on that page is adapted from a Victorian milk bread recipe, and is very heavy on the savory additions. Must try that out.

And that's it for this entry. Also, YAY! I'm not going to say the over-the-top dramatics are over, but yay for one entry (almost) without a mention. I'm so happy.

Ish.

feels like you made a mistake--you made somebody's heart break

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

I am surviving. Surviving with blistered skin and broken bones and nerve endings licked by fire...but alive. Survival is knowing the last breath seared the lungs, knowing the next one will, and breathing anyway. Survival is ash in the air and cinders underfoot and thirst never-ending.

Survival, sometimes, is being too stubborn to give up. To give in. To fall down and wait for the searing breaths to stop. If I am nothing else, I am at least that.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

I have taken a wrong turn
when will I learn? When will I learn?
should I show them all my scars?
cherry-red, bleeding burn--


So many scars at this point, so much damage underneath them. Old burns, old breaks, old fractures...it's a miracle anyone doesn't walk across the landscape and not end up with shrapnel embedded in tender flesh, me included. Who knows what's lurking in the land, these days?

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

What any rational person would do...I am not doing. But I never said I was rational.

On the other side of the coin, this is not a rational place, even by my definitions. Things could go so very wrong...and we are not starting off balanced and level. There are pitfalls and tripwires and spike traps. I have carefully walked across the blackened earth to the cliff's edge, and it is crumbling.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

Feels like you're making a mess
You're hell on wheels in a black dress
You drove me to the fire and left me there to burn
Every little thing you do is tragic
All my life before was magic
Beautiful girl
I can't breathe...


First it was certain topics under discussion, at certain times. Then it was certain feelings, pared out, planed smooth, examined under safe conditions.

Now it's down to breathing. Remembering to keep breathing. Keep breathing in spite of everything. I have no assurances and no control over anything else. Burnt air enters, toxic air leaves...okay. It will suffice for now.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

I know that is in me to fail. Fail at small things, at large things, fail brilliantly, fail monumentally. Occasionally I fail in new and unexpected ways. It is in me to make mistakes and learn from them, and it is in me to make mistakes and make the same mistakes later, never having learned.

I want to learn from these mistakes. I want not to make them again.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.


I am dwelling largely on the story of the little mermaid these days. Not the Disneyfied version, lovely though the songs are--but the original Danish fable, with the woman who yearned so deeply to travel beyond her sphere that she was willing to mute her songs and render every step on dry land an agonizing pain...just for the chance to take those steps.

Everyone concentrates on the sacrifice of the sea, but me, I'm wondering what would draw a woman to change her entire circumstance, just for a chance at something different. What was her life under the waves like?

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

for betty was born
to never say nay
but lucy could learn
and lily could pray
and fewer were shyer
than doll. doll


Consent and contradiction and glowing shards of what was, what might be...and what's the half-life of heartbreak? And why am I here again, and taking each moment day by day, anyway? It feels like playing chess in Chernyobl.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

And what is the cost of all the fire, the end result of all the burning? If I must burn and burn again, let it matter. Let it crisp and sear and tear away what is unworthy. Let me harden to adamant and be strong enough not to burn again. If this is what it takes.

Hard surface, all the emotion of a star, reflecting all hope, deflecting all attempts...if this is what it takes, then let me be that. Gather my chains and remake my barricades, and be a closed capsule again, a walled city, overlooking the valley where the rivers dried to dust.

Let me be that. Not this.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

love love love is everywhere
but not a drop for me to drink
tie me up and bind my feet
drop me in, and watch me sink


One step. And one step. If I have to break it down to centimeter progress, I will. I'll know what happens next when I get there.

I hope.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


Because staying here? Is not an option.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper.


I refuse. I will not be pushed. I will stand my ground until I am out of ground to stand on. Stubborn, so stubborn, but this has kept me alive more than once. And it may yet again.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

In the meantime, I just have to keep things moving. Anything else hits the ground...there won't be ground left.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

Home isn't home if I feel I can't go there. Safe places aren't safe if I don't feel safe in them. So I need to decide where my safe places are, and secure them. I need to decide where home is, and make it a home again.

And I will do this, through fire and flood, hail, devastation, and the vast and trackless wasteland of my heart, as many times as I have to do so.

nuclear,love,loss,heartbreak,Second Life,relationships

Home is, after all, where the heart is.

Even if it's nailed to the wall.

(Lines quoted are taken from Locked Up by Ingrid Michaelson, Disease by Matchbox 20, T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, ee cummings' a pretty a day, Ingrid Michaelson again, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade, and T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men.

(Locations ranged from Fallen God's Dark Circus booth at Fantasy Faire 2010, the Chernyobl exhibition, the Junkyard, Tonktastic, the Stringer Mausoleum, the House of Munster and the Wastelands sim.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

nothing more than tiny fragments of a finger snap

"If the [Lindens] really want to be taken seriously and heard, if they really want us to believe in them, they need to stop rolling out a product with such an awful performance in the search stakes and they need to stop releasing a product to a marketing deadline, because politicians do nonsense like that, make it shiny for the photo opportunity, look good in front of the camera and then leave people scrutinising a mess that has been left behind when the actual policies kick in."

It's a damned good point Ciaran Laval makes, and you should go read the whole thing, not because I tell you to, but because (apart from stylistic errors), it's dead accurate. Laval (among many, many others, including me) think there are too many bugs in viewer 2.0 to ever make it into even Release Candidate status, and yet--the Lindens released it as the full official version. And they're clear that they're going to work on, adapt it to what the residents "really want"--but what they really want most? Search that works. Profiles that are easily updated. Tabbed windows, not 80 billion individually captured and preserved floating conversations.

Blatant copying of a 1997 pop hit for the Shanghai Expo theme song? That's a lot of controversy, world-wide. And as far as I know, it hasn't been answered.

On a similar note, a mention from 2006 of artists plagiarizing from photographs. There's only one problem with the presentation--some of the artists mentioned worked from photographic sources deliberately, and at least in the case of Degas, if not others, took the photographs themselves.

So if you're an artist and you're painting an apple in a bowl held by a nude damsel, that's art. But if you're an artist and you photographed the same composition, then painted from the photograph--that's also art, isn't it? What if you found a photograph, and painted from that as inspiration?

This is that fine, fuzzy line against between copying and theft, methinks.

There really is a store for everything in SL. There's someone making stripped/ripped clothing for damsels in danger, occasionally including shoes. It's called Tatters by Tempest.

Second Life,roleplay,shopping,Victorian,fashion

She even has a Victorian line. (Though I forgot the bit of breast showing on the larg image; I may have to re-upload these when PhotoBucket axes them.)

Second Life,roleplay,shopping,Victorian,fashion

I did have to clip this one down, but again, it may vanish due to PhotoBucket's oddity later on. Poke me if I forget, I'll drag them over to m'own server, where my sysadmin doesn't care about pixel nudity.

And last but not least, never forget: we are the machine. And all you need are four chords.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

it costs a lot more than it's worth and yet there is no substitute

fire,heartbreak,radiant,woman,art,collage art

(Collage art is so tricky for attribution, but "Heart on the Verge Of" was inspired by a picture of a 2004 holiday evergreen ablaze on the Seattle Fire Parties page, and took elements from the Art Academy's presentation on drawing the female skull, the sidebar illustration found on Aspine.com's "Tri-Fix" spine screw anchoring system, and the Guyot Brothers' page on filigree metal findings. Though--barring the findings, and the skull, I doubt you could definitively pick out any other elements. As always, click for the full work. Painted in Gimp, Aprille 2010, with various aging/burning effects added.)

with ever increasing faith, we decided to go ahead and just ignore them, despite tremendous pressure to capitulate and fade

love,loss,nuclear war

This is life at ground zero. The blast radius is huge, the ground glowing coals, the air on fire. I was close enough to see the cloud rise, my hand still on the trigger that threw the switch.

I made this happen. I started the exchange of things that go boom. But I'm still here.

love,loss,nuclear war

Seemingly, so is everything else. Glowing, crackling, burnt to ash, burnt to cinders...seared yellow and brown from the heat waves...everything I still recognize, ruined and scattered in sharp and flinted shards, is still here.

Breathing is difficult. Movement, right now, is impossible. All I can do is turn, and turn, and turn, and try to find anything resembling a landmark. They are few and far between, and fewer remaining.

love,loss,nuclear war

Everything in me said this was the right action. No one ever told me it wouldn't solve anything. No one ever said the bomb could be dropped, and then life would go on.

No one ever told me life after the boom would be harder than life before it.

torrential,downpour,UK

Soon the rain will fall, radiant and damaging, and we will see how deep the sickness goes. At some point, there may need to be more care taken; at some point, there may need to be a separation, final and absolute.

Right now, I'm just trying to find magnetic north, because all my compasses are broken.

(Images drawn from a variety of sources, including Ambient Light, GameTrailers.com, the Polish blog Wassup Michael, a still image from a video seen at ITN, and Michelle Shocked's blog. Or at least, the Michelle who's using michelleshocked as part of her web address...)

Friday, April 16, 2010

maybe there's a side of us that wants to be denied

if you want a girl to be your mother
go find another
go find another one


MMORPG takes on major drama behind the scenes at a couple major games; I won't lie, I'm one of those who've found it both massively entertaining as well as puzzling in terms of StarGate Worlds. A friend of mine got into the closed beta, and her biggest complaint was that it was so closed; that it was difficult to tell how well the game was playing, if she was the only one wandering around in that section of the game.

Now StarGate Worlds (at least for now) is all but dead in the water; yet there have been no huge ripples of shock through the StarGate fan community. I agree with the article; I think a lot of the reason for that is that the people involved in playing the game can't really talk about the fact that they were involved in playing the game. (Which is nothing but the truth--the only reason I know that my friend was involved is that she got email and into the closed beta, and I didn't; and she made occasional small comments because we were living in the same house.)

you only call me when your life's going under
I'm not just a cover
not just a cover-up


They also mention an unverified-as-yet rumor of a possible BioShock MMO in development. Is it a substantiated rumor? Not yet. But 2K is production company behind both BioShock, BioShock 2 and Borderlands, so...if anyone's going to do it, they would.

Would people play it? Maybe. BioShock is a defined space, being at heart one undersea city; still, it could get larger (or spawn more project cities) at will. It's not the worst idea for a multi-player environment.

and then you wanna be the tough guy
with the appetite
well, I’m not gonna stop you


The MassHighTech blog conducts their equivalent of an exit interview with Jack Lester, departing Linden. He's remarkably positive about being booted to the street, but there may be non-disclosure agreements in place, too.

The thing that leaps out at me, in that interview? Is that they essentially hired a neurology researcher to be their chief marketing agent. The hell? Don't mistake me, I can see the connection; it's just a vaguely sinister one in my mind.

but if you’re looking for a bed to recover on
go find another one
go find another one


The Metanomics show in SL aired their one hundredth episode, and Mixed Realities covers the highlights, including a full transcript of the show. Professor Joshua Fairfield was a guest, and the topic externally was the new Linden Labs ToS...but as usual, that discussion led to one that's far more wide-ranging.

The immortal line from the show was, "The internet is not a typewriter", and in terms of actual ownership, this is true. No one can say, "I own the internet"; conversely, the business model that the Lindens are codifying, if broadly adapted, has some frightening and scary implications.

Still, to be fair, some RL businesses have always operated this way. Most software packages grant us a license to use the software, not ownership of the package we buy. And for at least fifty years, if not longer, Mercedes Benz has had a special agreement with their customers--we buy their cars, yes; but Mercedes Benz retains ownership of the engines.

and you're a grown boy, such a grown boy
don’t expect the world to clean up for you
'cause they don't have to
don’t expect the stars to line up for you
they'll shine right past you


All creative work is derivative, says Nina Paley, offering up a link to questioncopyright.org. From the same source comes Copying Is Not Theft, which makes the whole conundrum a nursery rhyme, essentially. And while I get what they're going for, in the simplest terms, I would bring up one of the comments under the video, from vandorenw: "Rampant entitlement is causing us to feel that technology automatically makes everything ours."

Even with that, though, a trip to the main site is very thought-provoking. They are doing their best to clear the air, and to make very clear the difference between copying (retransmitting of ideas, music, stories and media to engage new listeners/readers/watchers to the concepts; in other words, usually beneficial, not harmful) and theft (stealing an object/idea/interpretation from the original owner of the object/idea/interpretation; in other words, generally harmful, not beneficial). Will it work? Who knows? But they seem earnest and involved.

you only call me when you're down on your dollar
I'm not just a cover
not just a cover up


While this is parlayed in game terms (and I'd be willing to bet money on the fact that that game is WoW), I am fascinated with the Dunning-Kruger effect mentioned therein.

According to Wikipedia, it's a cognitive bias that affects those of low skill level and high skill level (I guess those of average skill level are, y'know, average enough to recognize it?), and it's broadband--in short, idiots suffer from "illusory superiority" (they're not idiots, what are we talking about?!?) and geniuses suffer from "illusory inferiority" ("What? No, everyone knows what the angular incisure is, come on"). Which sounds simple on the surface, but it gets really, really out of hand, really quickly.

Stupid people keep making stupid mistakes because they don't think they're stupid. Really smart people think everyone is as smart as they are, because how could anyone not know the things they know? They're really simple things.

The clash between these two states is enormous. Frankly, I'm now shocked and astonished we haven't all killed each other yet in an insane game of playing chicken with depleted uranium rods, or something (true story: it's why the US Army isn't allowed to have nuclear research facilities anymore).

and then you wanna be the tough guy
with the appetite
you wanna eat your cake don't you?


Miss Grace McDunnough predicts a tipping point with the new ToS of Second Life, and I don't think she's wrong. She also references the Metanomics transcript, and, believe me, I know there's a lot there, but if you have any strong interest in technology, copyright, and ownership, you really should read through it.

But the thing that struck me strongest was what also struck her, reading through that transcript and M Linden's latest announcement. To wit, she states:

Second Life is no longer a "place" with attendant property rights it is a "service" with permits of use, or licenses.

That changes the game, on its most fundamental levels. That alters the terrain completely. Will people really notice? Maybe not now, maybe not for a while. But eventually? This may be my own 'ilusory inferiority' showing up, but I can't conceive of a world where this total a shift in perception goes unnoticed by the population at large.

you only call me when your life's goin' under
I'm not just a cover
not just a cover up


A note to all librarians and legal sorts interested in copyright law: as an addendum on the Question Copyright page, individuals interested in Professor Alan Story's work entitled An Alternative Primer on National and International Copyright Law in the Global South can get a free copy by following the steps given on that page. In fact, while the entire thing can be read online, for librarians specifically, they'll send out two copies, one for personal use, and one for the library's lending stacks.

Mr. Drinkwater, Miss Kamenev, I'm thinking of you specifically for the library/legal line of inquiry.

(Lyrics taken from Elizabeth and the Catapult's "Momma's Boy". Yes, I had a reason for posting it. No, I'm not explaining why. Though while you're there, check out their rendition of Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows. Cohen's remains the ideal, but their version is a drifting, sweet lyric lollipop...with a worm inside.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I won't be your soft one

Out and about. Thinking too much.

Second Life,shopping,wandering

Seen at Schadenfreude.

Second Life,shopping,wandering

The path to Trap.

Second Life,shopping,wandering

The tree under Trap, from vitrail Ilios' new trails store.

Second Life,shopping,wandering

On the trunk at Schadenfreude. Apparently, the ear loops in the elephant's ears, as well as the trunk? Hold poses.

[17:16] Balderdash -Gumdrop Gacha Machine owned by Saiyge Lotus gave you 'Capsule 05 - Balderdash - Gumdrop-Life is Hard' ( http://slurl.com/secondlife/Oubliette/110/53/29 ).

I believe this.

nuclear war,boom,wallpaper

And past this point there is no stability, there is no reconciliation, there is just ending, and pain, and fire. Whatever happens now, things will not remain the same.

On top of everything else? Apparently Peter Steele died of heart failure yesterday, at 48.

I'm going to be scarcer than usual for some time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

the fact that I adore you is just one of my truths

Second Life,ghosts

she went over to his apartment
clutching her decision
and he said, did you come here to tell me goodbye?


I never do. I never want to. If love were a bear trap, and I was a wandering fox, I'd be the one unsure if it would be better to stay in place, in pain, and die of it, or gnaw my leg off, then try to pry it out and reattach it.

I'm not saying this is a good way to deal with love, or loss. I'm saying it's the way I have, the way I'm made.

so she built a skyscraper of procrastination
and then she leaned out the twenty-fifth floor window
of her reply


No one ever said you couldn't lie to yourself? No one ever said you couldn't drag things out, either. And I am well known, more than, for refusing to make a decision until I have no other choice available.

Second Life,ghosts

and far below was the blacktop
and the tiny toy cars
and it all fell so fast
and it all fell so far


Is it too much? Is it necessary? Is it what must be? Do the demands break too many bonds?

I don't know. I only know that I am here, standing on this land, of my own will. I am complicit in what happened, what happens, good or bad. I am accepting responsibility for the change.

and she said:

I say this, unasked, unbidden. I have spooled out enough rope to string hammocks and climbing nets between all the pinnacled towers of New York. I have offered enough second chances to fill the Marianas Trench to walking depth. At every turn those chances have been brushed past; at every turn walking across the ocean became swimming for deeper waters.

So a bit of rope was pulled away. And then more. And then more. A few thousand meters of chance and opportunity dissolved under the weight of saltwater and pressure. The swings slowly became cages, the cold waters regained their former depth, and still the loops of rope would not hold, even those that had transformed to ships' chain, barring all passage. Nothing stopped. Nothing changed.

you are a miracle but that is not all
you are also a stiff drink and I am on call


I have boundary points now, by my will. I have places I do not go, by my will. I have people I have all but severed contact with, by my will. None of this I did lightly. None of this, to me, I did irresponsibly.

you are a party and I am a school night
and I'm lookin' for my door key
but you are my porch light


So I'm wondering, again. Is it enough? Is it too much? Maybe someone else could dismiss all of this. It's out of my hands, right? Let this cup pass from me...

But the problem with that line of thinking is: that makes me a pawn. I am not a pawn. I may not be effective on the board, but I am not a mindless functionary.

But it all comes back to what I want...what I need...what I want to have happen. What do I want to happen?

Second Life,ghosts

and you'll never know, dear
just how much I loved you
you'll probably think this was
just my big excuse


And this is the question I'm circling around. I want...above all things, I want not to be stressed over every fork in the romantic road, every curve in my personal path. I just want to walk it, not analyze it for irony content. Is that selfish? Is that stupid? Is that unreasonable?

Is that unfair?

but I stand committed
to a love that came before you
and the fact that I adore you
is but one of my truths


Some days, I think, it would be so much easier if I were monogamous...but then, I know I'd have different problems.

what of the mother
whose house is in flames
and both of her children
are in their beds crying?


It's not the crying that gets me. It's not the screaming. That's...okay, bad, and I do react, how can I not? But no, what gets under my skin is when it sounds like reasonable, rational language. And I take it into me like logic, and fit it into the spaces that accept logical argument.

And then I watch things go haywire. Because it wasn't logic after all.

and she loves them both
with the whole of her heart
but she knows she can only
carry one at a time?


I can't please two people in exactly the same way. No one can. I shouldn't be expected to. But it feels sometimes as if that is all that will be accepted, that I treat two separate individuals exactly the same way, all the way down the line.

It might be easier if both were demanding concurrent treatment, but...they're not.

she's choking on the smoke
of unthinkable choices
she is haunted by the voices
of so many desires


Unthinkable choices. Unvoiced but demanded. Voiced and commanded. Whipsawn by circumstance, their demands, my pleas, all of our confusion...I want to reach out and lay my hands on something real, in all this shifting mist. I have so very few things to cling to. Four walls around me, and the four walls are crumbling, when I thought they were so strong...

At least, at the very least, those very few things are there, and they are real, and solid, and guide me along the way. My slow faltering steps echoing into the distance, as I try to find my path through fog. It's not much. It might just be enough.

she's bent over from the business
of begging forgiveness
while frantically running around
putting out fires


I don't have the trainyard anymore. All the cars are gone, though I seem perpetually stuck in the expression of it. Sometimes I walk on black stones, sometimes through subterranean passageways, sometimes through stained-glass crystal caverns, depending on mood and recollection.

This week, it's a forest. And only half the trees are whole.

but then what kind of scale
compares the weight of two beauties
the gravity of duties
or the ground speed of joy?


I cannot compare, I cannot contrast. One is not like another. If they were, they would be interchangeable, and it is not that, they are not that. But I still need to figure out what it is, what went wrong, how to fix it. If it can be fixed, if it is not shattered beyond all redemption.

Second Life,ghosts

tell me what kind of gauge
can quantify elation?
what kind of equation
could I possibly employ?


And I am thinking over...so very much now. Standing on the shore of my own separation, picking up stones, wondering when they washed up from the fragments of memory and truth. Putting them down again and wondering if that's the best place for them.

I am overthinking, and I don't know how to stop. But more than that, I am overthinking, because to stop means to give in, somehow. Somewhere. To someone.

"I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken--and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived."

and you'll never know, dear
just how much I loved you
you probably think this was
just my big excuse


Margaret Mitchell said that. And it's a lovely sentiment, but...I am not made that way. I must patch, I must try to repair, I must try to make it work. Change the matrix, change the fuel, cannibalize myself for spare parts if I have to, to keep the half-assembled thing moving. Half a step, half a step, half a step onward...as long as it and I can.

but I stand committed
to a love that came before you
and the fact that I adore you
is but one of my truths


I hear sirens and wailing and I do not know if the sound originates inside, or out. I close my eyes and I am nowhere. This is not my place. This is not where I want to be, not where I need to go. But I cannot, yet, find clarity in any direction. Grey where I stand, and grey under my feet, and grey in the distance, and grey near my hands.

This is not my path.

so I'm goin' home
to please the one I so love pleasing
and I don't expect
he'll have much sympathy for my grieving


No distinction, no light but the sourceless everpresent, dim and hard to read by. There is no current solidity to my situation. I must keep walking, I must keep moving, because my greatest temptation is to lay down and let the fog cover my footsteps, to rest until I'm nothing but the mist swirling in place.

And that is not an answer. It's not even a good question.

but I guess that this is the price
that we pay for the privilege
of living for even a day
in a world with so many things
worth believing
in...


"And nothing like riding out of a mineshaft, trailing seventeen scorpions, through lizard-infested desert terrain," I said to him.

"If that isn't a relationship analogy, then nothing is," he replied.

He's probably right.

Today I dug out my Tarot, and did a simple spread of three cards. I am not one who believes Tarot decks hold power in their own right. I do believe the original cards were designed by people who wanted symbols to speak louder than words. Truly knowing the cards means that one has better access to the subconscious mind, at the very least.

Three cards. Past, present, future. What's happened, what's happening now, what's going to happen. Guideposts, yes, but stark ones. It's best to use yes or no questions to be clear.

I didn't use a yes or no question. But the answer I got was very, very clear.

Past: the Tower. Catastrophe and destruction. The universe where one breaks with old beliefs as well as old relationships. The place where the wild winds of change run swift and sure--and suddenly.

Present: the Queen of Pentacles. Opulence, luxury. Sensuality without measure. The space that cannot be measured because it is the look. No terrestrial form can encompass such desire.

Future: the Ten of Pentacles. The tribal attitude, where you know your place. The limits are marked. The space is sufficient.

Considering the question--which is only relevant to me, at present--that's remarkably transparent, all things considered.

So back in the space of tentative trust, once again. I trust I am on the path I'm meant to be on. I'm wary because there are no guarantees I won't be hurt again, or that I won't--by action or inaction--hurt others.

But I am stronger now. I am more capable. I know the dimensions of my heart.

It will have to suffice until the fog lifts.

Second Life,fashion,neko

(Interpretations taken from Luis Royo's Black Tarot. Lyrics adapted from Ani Difranco's song, School Night.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

salvation's yours for just the time it takes to pay the dancer

This startled me flat this evening as I was wandering the grid:

[16:59] Dauphiness Ceriaptrix: Hey Winterfell! have you pimped your pogo yet?!?! We are starting our pimp your pogo event NOW! http://slurl.com/secondlife/Winterfell%20Laudanum/172/243/3183 Hop on Down!
[17:00] Emilly Orr: Pimp...your...what?
[17:00] Dauphiness Ceriaptrix: Pogo!
[17:00] Emilly Orr blinks
[17:00] Dauphiness Ceriaptrix: do you need the kit to make yours?
[17:00] Emilly Orr: No, thank you.

I really can't add more than that, save for the fact that Lady Serra did come on and note that the event was slightly out of theme, but it did sound fun at least.

Me, I'm just thinking that "pimping" my anything in Winterfell is a bad idea.

Pursuant to this entry in the Second Life 24 Hours blog, is this going to become a new thing? Prim..."enhancements"...on underwear layers for guys? Is this really necessary?

Second Life

Having problems getting around the grid tonight, rezzing things, changing clothes, changing skins...it's been a nightmare. Part of that is porting places I wasn't intending to go. One side trip proved to be more interesting than expected.

This is Beloved Designs in Floyd, the big Starlust sim:

Second Life,shopping

Yes, that is a pitcher plant. I didn't want to go in, though you can--in fact, if you do, you find a group of crates for sale at the bottom. One of them is this one:

Second Life,shopping

That pretty much speaks for itself...

Second Life,shopping,crayons

Just down the hill, Scribble built a small satellite store for products entirely out of grey crayons. Definite points for style and oddity--I mean, why all grey?

Second Life,scary,horror

One of the creepiest things I saw wandering around Elliot, next door to Floyd. If you touch the head you get a burst of radio static. (Which is only meaningful if you've ever played any of the Silent Hill video games, and if you have, well...OH GOD RUN IT'S BEHIND YOU, RUN, RUN RUN FASTER DAMN IT--)

*coughs* They had a large effect on me.

Second Life,scary,horror

Okay, y'all have an unhealthy fixation with unicorns and rainbows. Let me just say that RIGHT the hell now.

Second Life,shopping,pool

We have finally reached the place where we have realistic blow-up dolls in SL. I'm not convinced this is a good thing. (Btw, clicking on the picture link above? Will bring you to a completely fake, but likely NSFW, depiction of vinyl nudity. Floating in a pool. At the Starlust.)

Oh, did I mention part of the reason I was there was to see if there were any eggs left out at the Egg Hunt? At least of this writing, two days past their official 'cut-off', many are still out. Go get 'em while you can! And they're not kidding, they're HUGE.

But while you're there, take the time and wander. You never know what oddity you're going to turn up...