Strawberry Singh’s Friends List Meme

This week’s meme from Strawberry Singh is all about the friends list. She suggested grab a friend and ask each other the questions but I am currently in the middle of reinstalling everything to a new hard drive and I have to keep closing everything down to do yet another batch of tedious Windows updates, so I’m not inworld right now. So I’m asking the questions just to myself.

  1. What is the number of contacts on your Second Life Friends List? (visible in firestorm viewer or your web profile)  93.  Not many, really. 7 of those are my alts.
  2. Are you picky about who you add to your list or do you usually add most people? I’m picky and I tend not to add people that I don’t already know from somewhere.
  3. Who is your oldest contact? (check your calling cards) I don’t keep my calling cards but I think my oldest is Suzanne Pascale, who befriended me in my first week or so. Another really old one is Mabb Dilweg who passed away last year. I don’t have the heart to delete her and I probably never will. I am pretty sure those two are my oldest.
  4. Who is your newest contact? (check your calling cards) A guy called Drop, who I added last week.
  5. Do you know every single person on your list? I know who they are and where I know them from.
  6. How many do you speak to on a daily (weekly) basis? Daily, one. Weekly, maybe up to about 8
  7. How many do you see/get together with in-world on a daily (weekly) basis? Again, daily, only one and that’s Madison.  A lot of the people I get together with on a weekly basis are friends from Club Noir.
  8. Who on your list do you have the closest relationship with? Madison of course. Second-closest is Aphrodite Atlas, my wonderful landlady.
  9. Who do you wish you knew better? Quite a few actually, especially old friends from SLU.
  10. Who on your list is the funniest/most entertaining?  Matty, if I ever saw him online these days, which I hardly ever do.
  11. How did you meet most of the people on your list? (work, parties, etc…) I have two main “chunks” of friends; SLU people and people who come to Club Noir. A handful of other vintage fans from Swing Times, a few from mentoring, a few from the transgender groups.
  12. Do you ever clean out your list? Yes. I delete people when I’ve forgotten who they are.  I sometimes befriend newbies when I’m mentoring, and I usually delete them a couple of weeks later if they haven’t spoken to me since.
  13. Do you have a crush on someone in your list? Yes. Oh, you mean as well as Madison?… Yes…
  14. Is there anyone on your list that you would trust with your password? Only one.
Friends - me, Madison and Amethyst

Friends – me, Madison and Amethyst

 

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Bumfuzzled

As I’m a writer, I’ve lurked on and off in the “Virtual Writers Inc” inworld group on and off for a while.  They run a twice-daily challenge at 6am and 6pm called “Writers Dash” which involves writing for 15 minutes (and no longer) on the word-prompt provided.  This week’s prompts can be found here.  I am rarely (never, it seems) online at the right time but no-one said I can’t do the challenge at some other time.  And it might be a fun thing to post the results here, now and again, especially if they’re SL-related.

So here’s this morning’s prompt; Bumfuzzled featuring yours truly, and Casteylan who is an alt (and an account that actually pre-dates my main one).

“Bumfuzzled? What the hell kind of a word is that?” I asked, looking at Casteylan incredulously.

He gave me a sheepish kind of lopsided grin and shrugged.  “Actually I don’t know, I just heard someone use it while I was hanging round at some Zindra infohub and I liked it. Like gobsmacked. I like that one too. You know me and words.”

I lay back on the cushions in his hollow tree-house somewhere in the middle of Elderglen, drained the wine from my cup; Cas reached over and filled it again.  He certainly did have a love of words and languages; he was fluent in half a dozen, knew a few phrases in twenty more and he collected unusual words like other people collect stamps.

“But you’re an elf,” I pointed out. “You’re supposed to be all regal and refined. You’re not supposed to use words like gobsmacked and bumfuzzled.  Besides, your bum doesn’t have any fuzz on it.”

“Yours does.”

“Thank you for pointing that out.” I stretched a leg across the cushoins and gave him a kick. “Remind me why I’m your friend again, I forgot.”

“Because you love me, Ginger. You know that.”

I opened my mouth to utter another witty put-down but I stopped. He was right. We’ve been best friends for seventeen years and I love him like I’d love a twin.  I know him almost as well as I know myself.

But sometimes, you know, he just completely bumfuzzles me.

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There’s a story behind Casteylan.  He started off as a role-playing character and a character in some of my early stories, as far back as 1986.  I have his entire life-story (all 800-odd years of it) mapped out in my head, though I’ve never successfully managed to turn it into a full-length novel despite several attempts. Over the years, Cas  developed into a separate personality sharing my head. This has happened since with other characters I’ve written but never so strongly or so persistently.

When I joined SL with my original first account in 2006 the avatar was based very heavily on Casteylan but I lost interest with that one and didn’t come back until a year later when the perfect last name “Hawker” appeared on the list, so Cas got an account of his own. (his name Casteylan means Red Hawk in his native language).  I don’t log him in in very often these days but I notice when I do that he is distinctly separate from me. We have similarities and we are essentially the same person but he is also separate from me and has his own “voice”. Logging in with him is most definitely not the same as logging in with my main avatar.  I have made other alts since then, but none of them really have such a strong internal presence as Cas does.

 

Advice for Newbies

I recently stumbled across a nice little blog post by Ella Brightside, about her adventures as a newbie in SL. I left her a comment with a little advice, and I have decided to expand on that, into a full post.

Second Life isn’t an easy thing to learn, much less master. And if the truth be known, it’s not for everyone.  It has flaws, many flaws, and it requires a pretty hefty computer to get the best out of it. So here’s my advice for newbies.

First of all, Second Life is not a game (though there are plenty of different games within it).  It is a virtual world in which nearly everything is created and provided by users.  The amount of regions add up to an area about the size of Luxembourg, but the population in-world at any one time is usually around 40,000 which means that the majority of the grid is empty most of the time.  And because there are no quests or tasks to do, you need to be able to entertain yourself without set goals.  You need to be comfortable chatting with people (unless you intend to spend your SL-time completely alone; some do that, and that’s fine too).

There are generally two approaches to SL.  For some (often called Immersionists) it’s a completely different world and their avatar within the world is a separate character from themselves.  For others, (often called Augmentalists), SL augments their real world and is a tool for interaction, in much the same way as Facebook or Skype is a tool. For these people, their avatar is an extension of their real selves. In recent years the latter group has become the most common.  However, problems tend to arise when a relationship forms between two people of opposite persuasions, so it’s worth spending a little time to think about your avatar and what it represents before you begin.  Of course as with anything else in SL, you’re free to change your mind about that too (as I did), but it helps to know where you stand in relation to others so that you can be honest with them.

So you think Second Life is a fit for the type of person you are, now make sure you can run it.  The system requirements are here but in all honesty, if you have just the minimum, you’re going to be in for a pretty poor experience.  One thing not mentioned on the list is your internet connection. It needs to be cabled; SL does not play well on wireless. And you need to be achieving a regular download speed of at least 2mb/s. Ideally you need an “unlimited” data package from your ISP, with no monthly bandwidth cap, as you might find that you’ll burn through your monthly plan in a few days.

Assuming your hardware is up to the task and you’ve signed up and downloaded the viewer (this is the program on your computer that runs Second Life), you’ll find yourself first in “Learning Island”, which teaches you the very basics, how to walk and not much else.  After that you’re sent to “Social Island” which is anything but sociable. My first piece of advice is teleport out of there as soon as you can, and never return.

You’ll find a button on your toolbar on the left that looks like this: Image  This is the Destination Guide and here you’ll find some selected places of interest.  Go to the “Newcomer Friendly” category and you’ll find a list of places dedicated to helping newbies. Four in particular are worth going to.

White Tiger Help Island also called New Resident Services. Go to this one first, before you even look at any of the others. Here you will find a proper self-paced tutorial to teach you the basics of using SL. There is always someone available to help and answer questions. They also have a freebie shopping village which has recently been upgraded with some nice new stuff to get you started. There’s also a nice chillout area, a sandbox to learn building, and they have events on from time to time.

New Citizens Incorporated The best things about this one are the classes and the sandbox. The sandbox is always busy and if you want to learn to build this is one of the best and most fun places to start.  Classes are run daily; go to as many as you can manage to fit into your schedule. There are freebies here but they are mostly old and outdated now.

Caledon Oxbridge Like White Tiger Island it has a self-paced learning tutorial and like NCI it also runs daily classes. Again, go to as many as you can manage. Oxbridge is part of the Caledon continent which is Victorian/Steampunk-themed. There are a few freebies, all in the theme.

The Shelter If kicking back, dancing and socialising is more your thing, the Shelter is a great place to visit. It’s where I started my SL adventures back in 2008 and it’s been running since 2004. Its a little quieter these days than it used to be but there’s usually some friendly “oldbies” (sometimes even me) who are willing to help.

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Me at the Shelter in my first week, 2008

The most important things you need to learn how to do in your first day or two are, in no particular order:

  • Movement; walk, fly
  • Landmarks: using them to teleport, making them
  • Talking to others; local chat and IM
  • Using Search
  • Wearing and detaching clothing and other items
  • Shopping (even for 0L$); how to “buy” an item, how to unpack it.

Speaking of shopping, here’s my advice on Linden dollars and getting money in Second Life.

First of all, you don’t NEED money at all; you can make yourself a decent looking avatar just on freebies.  If this is your plan, use Search to find things like Hunts, Lucky Chairs and Midnight Mania boards to get the best quality freebies. Don’t bother with the big freebie stores like Freebie Galaxy; they’re full of mostly old rubbish that’s been knocking around since 2007.  There are one or two places that still have decent quality freebies; I already mentioned White Tiger but also the Free Dove and the Fab Free HQ have some quality stuff.

Sooner or later though, perhaps sooner if you want an avatar that’s a bit out of the ordinary, you’ll want some money to spend on better, more unusual things.  By far the best way is to purchase L$ with your credit/debit card or Paypal account. US$10 will get you about L$2500 which is more than enough to get yourself a top quality skin, hair and a few outfits.

If purchasing L$ is impossible for you, your options are limited. You can play Linden Realms and earn around L$40 an hour if you log in early when its quiet.  There are some jobs in SL but as a beginner they’re not available to you until you’ve learned how SL works and are comfortable and familiar with it.  Clubs often employ hosts and dancers as well as DJs and these are jobs you could do with little financial outlay – though you may be required to dress in-theme for events so you’ll probably need some money in your pocket already, even for those. Even hosting is not easy, if you do it properly. If you have skills as a salesperson, land agents often employ staff to market, advertise and manage their properties. For that you’ll need to learn the processes for buying, renting and managing land.

Content creation used to be the way for anyone to earn money in SL but with technological advances over the last couple of years, the bar has been raised beyond the reach of most users and you won’t be able to make a profit at content creation unless you are already skilled in something (such as 3d modelling, texture-making, motion-capture animation, scripting) to an already-professional standard.  If you have come to Second Life because you heard it was a way to make money, you’re about five years too late.

Finally, if you’re offered an “easy” way of earning “free” L$, avoid it like the plague.  Such things are usually scams; either they take more money off you than you earn, or they are a way of harvesting your details for spamming you in RL. Worst case, those L$ they’re giving you were purchased on a stolen credit card and accepting them could get your account permanently banned.  The only legitimate and approved source of free L$ in SL currently is Linden Realms.

So for the majority of us mere mortals, your best option is simply to buy L$ with real money from your usual entertainment budget.

Once you start exploring there’s plenty to do; shopping and putting your avatar together, building things, playing games, roleplay, sports, live music, theatre, education, art, support groups, religious groups, clubbing and, of course, sex.

A Picture in Purple

This is another post for Strawberry Sing’s Colours meme, only this time it’s my partner Madison modelling and her favourite colour is of course, purple.  We headed over to Siyu Suen’s lovely sim Carnivale, but if you’re going to visit you’ll need to be quick as it’s going away in a couple of weeks. (Don’t worry, Illusions isn’t going out of business, just relocating to a smaller place).

Madison is wearing:

Dress: Lilac Wine from Icing
Shoes: Judy from Ingenue
Hair: Gloria from Amacci
Jewelry: Krystal from Behira

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Last week I took some more pics at Carnivale: here are just a few. You can see the rest on my Flickr stream.

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Club Noir

Wow! One little comment on Strawberry Singh’s blog and I get half a dozen new followers! I will have to do that a bit more often I think!  So, welcome to all you new readers and hello again to my old ones.

As some of you may know, my partner Madison Talon and I have been running a club for a little over a year now but as some of you are new I thought I’d talk about it a little more.

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Years and years ago, before I met Madison, she used to run the USO club in SL; in the spirit of the RL United Services Organisation set during World War II and one of (if not THE) first and best venue for 40s music; big bands and swing in SL.  But as with most things sadly they must eventually pass. But Madi got me into the music and she just happened to have this amazing skybox in her inventory, called Club Noir.  The most notable thing about it is that it’s all in monochrome; even the trees and grass outside are all grey. Stepping inside is like walking into one of those moody black-and-white movies of the late 1940s and early 1950s. We would occasionally rez it out at Swing Times for special occasions like a rezday or anniversary.  After a while though we decided to keep it up so we rented a parcel for it and it’s now a permanent fixture.

We have two regular DJs at present, each of whom perform once a month: DJ Sword Starfall on the second Sunday of each month who plays some wonderful vintage French music of the 1940s. On the 4th Sunday we have Beathag McMahon, who is well known on the vintage circuit, playing more traditional American swing. But even though we have only two regular events a month, the club is always open and it is a popular place for couples to spend some quiet romantic time together. I live on the same sim and I often see little green dots on the minimap. If I see a person there alone, or a group of people, I will often drop in to say hello.  But if it’s a couple… I figure they’d rather have the place to themselves.

A few weeks ago someone asked me if the club was financially viable; she was concerned that we would quit because we weren’t making enough money.  I told her not to worry because we run the club for love, not profit.  Sometimes donations cover the cost of an event and sometimes they don’t, but it doesn’t cost as much as I expected because I’m not paying staff (except for DJs), and as long as I continue to be employed in the real world, Club Noir is not going to disappear for lack of money.

I’ll leave you with a landmark and a few pics to enjoy.

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Colours Meme

Strawberry Singh’s meme this week is a simple one. Just wear your favourite colours.  Now, being a redhead, naturally my favourite colour is green. But I’m no model and my inventory is pretty dull when it comes to clothes. After all, one green t-shirt looks much the same as any other. So I decided to let my alt, the lovely Indra, model for this one.

Indra - Green Sari

She’s wearing this gorgeous sari from Zaara in rich emerald trimmed with gold, which happens to be Indra’s favourite colour. At least, that’s the colour she looks best in.  This is one of six colours; all of them deep jewel or earth tones.  I think saris are very sexy – must be something about that exposed tummy.

Indra - Green Sari

The location you can see in the background there is Shektawari, an opulent and highly decorative sim in the Indian style, where she had an encounter with a painted elephant which appears to have gotten itself lost on the wrong continent…

"You do realise you're an African elephant, don't you?"

“You do realise you’re an African elephant, don’t you?”

Did you know you can tell African elephants from Indian ones by looking at their ears and comparing them with a map? An Indian elephant’s ears are the same shape as India, and an African elephant’s ears are the same shape as Africa.

Indra is wearing:

Sari – Zaara – Menaka Sari Deep Green

Skin – Cupcakes – Enigma Tiramisu

Hair – Wasabi Pills – Veronica Nightshade

Jewelry – Eclectica Elizabeth Emerald (necklace & earrings)

Jewelry – Yak & Yeti – Wax Bangles Green

Eyes – Mayfly – Deep Sky Molasses

Shape – model’s own

POTD – Hipster in Japan

I picked up a freebie outfit today, this is a group gift from “To Be Unique” which is a store I’ve never even heard of before. The shirt says “I’m Great In Bed – I can sleep for days”.

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  • T-shirt, shorts, shoes & sunglasses – To Be Unique
  • Skin – Le Lutka
  • Beard – Nomine
  • Hair – Discord designs, Ciss
  • Tattoos – Kanival

Location – Higashiyama, a cute little Japanese village on mainland.

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Blast from the Past

My first avatar was born on 20 June 2006 in Nova Albion Infohub.  I used it on and off for a few months but I got bored and forgot about it, finally coming back in late 2007 with a mainly roleplay alt, and finally in August 2008 with the avatar that became my main one.  Over the years my original avatar languished, a forgotten victim of the Grand Password reset of 2009. I was pretty sure I’d lost the email address and I apparently couldn’t remember the password, and an attempt a couple of years ago to recover the account through Support failed because I couldn’t remember the name of some random friend.

A few days ago I decided to try again and this time I actually answered the security questions and I got the account back. (The kicker is, the email address on file was one I still had).

The first thing I did was take some pics, because, oh my god, this guy seriously needed a makeover.

Meet Casidy Craig…

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See those shoes? Those are system shoes. There were actually no prim shoes in his inventory at all.

Here’s a family shot with me and Madison.  He badly needs an AO too.

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A few days and a few L$ later, he’s looking much better:

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The skin is Nomine, which is due to close at the end of the month. Some skins on the marketplace are reduced to L$100 each and this is one of them; Nephilim in Apricot, with a tintable facial hair add-on, also from Nomine.  Who says elves don’t have beards? This one does, apparently.  The hair is Wasabi Pills (Orion, Gingerbread) and the shape is my own. I scrapped Casidy’s original shape because it was so awful, and made a new one based loosely on Lewis’s shape. You wouldn’t know but the face is exactly the same, only the body shape has changed.

So I took a trip down Memory Lane to Nova Albion. I don’t have a pic from Casidy’s early days here, but I mocked one up, and another one to compare, as he is now.

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And I couldn’t resist a scenic shot of the old place. It’s empty now, but it hasn’t really changed much since 2006.

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I’ve made Casidy a premium member, that’s a no-brainer since he’s grandfathered into the L$500-a-week stipend. That will help with my rent for Club Noir, if he doesn’t spend it all on new clothes.

Finally in case you’re wondering why his name is missing an “s” in Cassidy – when I first made this avatar, no matter what surname I picked from the list (remember those?) it would tell me that “Cassidy” wasn’t available. Eventually I gave up and settled for an alternative spelling, it still shortens to “Cas” and that’s good enough for me. It was only later, when I realised there was no-one in SL at all with a first name of Cassidy, I figured out that the profanity filters must have been working overtime on Cassidy’s ass.

British Boy

Okay, maybe I have gone a little OTT with the Union Jacks. But what can I say, I like being British.

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ImageT-shirt – FireBird Designs UK Flag tshirt
Pants – *Hysteria Creations* Skinny rockn pants UK (mesh)
Shoes – Patriotic Series Chucks UK
Hair – Discord Designs – Ciss Agouti (mesh) –  (bandana re-textured by me)
Shape – my own

Skin – [LeLutka]-CALEB/ginger
Eyes – CS Design – CS EYES R1M12

Poses – WDK & Oracul

Location – Britannia Village

 

gosh, I’m a griefer

There are two things you need to know first, about my partner Madison. First, that she was raised a Mormon. Second, that she just LOVES musicals.  Inevitably she has wanted to go and see “The Book of Mormon” since it first came out. Yesterday she IM’d me all excited because she had just heard that she’s won two tickets to go and see it in Chicago on Independence Day.

So she decided to dress up as a Mormon missionary, just for fun, and I did the same.  We even made group tags for ourselves; Elder Luminos and Elder Talon.  Then she found that there was a Mormon church in SL, so we went to look, and took some snapshots.

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At this point, someone who belongs to the SL church came in, took offense at our costumes and group tags, and promptly ejected us as griefers.

This was funny, but it took a new turn today when I discovered that our “griefing” escapade has made the hallowed pages of SLU’s PRS forum.   Note in particular, the comments by a user named Karen.  In particular, this one.

I mean ..(hahahaha) were you going to convince people that your crossing dressing weirdness was correct by pretending you were LDS missionaries?
Sorry that your confusion of your X Y chromosomes makes you think your are a female. X Y means you are a dude. X X means you are a female. If you feel any other way…well you have few wires crossed and need to see a head shrink so that you get it right next time around.

Yes, I am transsexual. Yes, I have XX chromosomes and (only partly, now) female anatomy.  Those things have nothing to do with whether I’m a man or a woman and modern psychiatry understands that well now.   How my status as a transman is related in any way, shape or form to my visit to the SL Mormon Tabernacle, I have no effing clue.  Perhaps it makes some sort of sense in Karen’s distorted thought-processes.

I feel sorry for Madison, knowing that the church in which she was raised is populated by people like this.  Homophobic, transphobic.  It’s no wonder people call them the “Moron church”.  Some of them bring it on themselves every time they speak.

I have never been a griefer before. I wonder if I get a certificate?