Monday, August 31, 2015

Slumming it

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I'm over the sappy emo-drenched post of yesterday, although the sentiments remain. Let's chalk that one up to hormones and exhaustion and RL stress. Unlike other overly emotional posts in the past, I'm not going to delete that one, though. Moving off Bluebonnet is an SL milestone for me, albeit a sad one. It needed to be chronicled, angst and all.

Anyway, moving on now with an attempt at a sense of humor and all that:

For a few years, I've been seeing that "Your own private home in Second Life: A new benefit for Premium Members!" ad on the Second Life website.

I've been a premium member since I joined SL and have never really taken advantage of any of the premium member stuff (except the linden allowance). So all right, FREE LINDEN HOME! Let's do this! Gimme my 516 square meters and let's ... oh, LAWDY:

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Can you guess which house is mine? BRINGING THE MOON TO YOUR JAM-PACKED SIM SINCE 2015, BITCHES! 

I wonder if they're going to let me keep that "Sitting on the Moon" prop up there? The land covenant says (loosely), "No building things in the sky," but what about, um, just throwing things up into the sky? I guess we'll see.

Anyway, wow. Just wow. LOOKIT THIS PLACE! I can't stop laughing. It's so ... like, I could reach a hand out my window and slap my next-door neighbor in the face. If there was a next-door neighbor, that is. The place seems deserted. I cammed into some nearby houses (don't tell anyone) and saw nothing. Hell, if that's the case, could I pleeeeeease have some breathing room around my house, Linden Lab? I give you all my monies. I barely ask for anything.

At least I'm up on a hill and not down amid all that squalor. Did that sound snobby? Sorry.

And I can see the ocean, if I climb up on my moon. As such, I put my "ocean sound effects" rock on my porch. We can always pretend the ocean is right there, as long as we don't look out the ... oh, actually those windows are fake. You can't look out them. Maybe that's a good thing.

I have soooo many things to say about these Linden homes, but I have actual work to do today, so let me just share some key observations:

1. Perhaps if this idea ever goes back to the drawing board, they could think of a more economical use of land impact and space? These houses take up the entire parcel and leave residents with a mere land capacity of 117 to play with. And oh, ZERO YARD SPACE.

Granted, if you're prone to fugging up your yard with bizarre sh*t, maybe the lack of a yard is an intentional blessing for the strangers around you.

But seriously, I don't need this much living space in a house. It looks like a scene from The Shining in here.

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I did not adjust my camera lens, and I did not even back all the way up against the opposite wall. That is seriously what it looks like in there.

Couldn't they have a "tiny house" option for those of us solo-dwellers who are gardening enthusiasts and like to, you know, plant our own trees? As in, trees that don't look like sad 2010-era paper cutouts?

2. Choosing one of these houses is a dice roll. Fortunately, you can abandon and reclaim a new house up to five times in a 24-hour period. Then you have to wait 24 hours. Then you can try again.

You can choose your theme: fantasy dwellings, rustic cabins, modern suburbia or traditional Japanese homes. Each theme has a choice of several house styles. Unfortunately, you can't choose the location. And many of these locations are ... I'm sorry, Lindens, but I'm just going to say it ... sketchy.

Case in point: I started with one of the Elderglen fantasy-themed homes. (My friend Deoridhe managed to do some awesome stuff with hers: check her far-more-positive blog post here.) I chose the same one she did, actually, because it had several rooms.

Unfortunately, you don't get to see the actual houses you're choosing: You do it all from your SL dashboard and then you get a SLURL to your new home. But when I got there, my house was crammed up against a hill on one side, so much so that grass was sticking through one wall.

And then the rest of the sim: So many residents had put up those privacy barriers/no-fly-zone things around their homes that the whole place looked like a giant crime scene.

I've been around in SL long enough that I don't care who the hell walks in my house or sees me naked. I just don't. And it's not like they're going to steal my stuff. I did walk in on a couple SLexing in my skybox once when I was a noob. It traumatized me back then. Now I'd probably try to take a picture first before telling them to get out.

Anyway, this post could go on forever with the failed attempts at finding a house that wasn't in a weird position or hanging off a cliff or slammed up against someone else's crime scene tape that jutted through the window or flashed on and off like a disco nightmare.

3. In terms of pleasant-looking sims, I had better luck with the Japanese-themed homes. The one I finally picked, pictured up there at the top of this post, is on a sim called Daylily. (I can't seem to get away from the floral thing.) It's bearable. I don't spend a lot of time inworld anyway these days, so whatever.

That Japanese symbol on the front says, "You're too broke to own decent land."

I still have my eye on this fantasy-themed version:

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(Photo stolen from Jack Linden on the SL Community Boards. Sorry, Jack. Let me know if it bugs you. I know you read this blog avidly.)

Mainly because it has GRASS on the roof to make up for the lack of a yard and OH WHAT FUN I could have with that. The dinosaur wants out of my inventory!

But those official SL pictures lie. No way is there that much space around these homes. They might as well name the sims SardineLand, CrowdedHouses, JapanCram and GetOffaMyLawn.

I don't have the time or energy to keep spinning the Linden Home roulette wheel right now. At least the house I have at the moment has open space on one side. That seems like kind of a rarity among these things.

I have to go. In real life, I'm writing an article on "How to Have Great Sex When You're Also a Cancer Patient" for a health magazine. It's having a rather bleak effect on my mood, to put it mildly. Can you tell?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Goodbye, Bluebonnet (A love letter to my SL home)

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I knew this day would come someday; I just wasn't expecting it to come, well, now.

I have about 24 hours or so to pack up my stuff on Bluebonnet and relocate, probably to one of those free Linden homes for a while. That'll be a different post, I guess.

I've lived on Bluebonnet since, wow, 2008, I think. But the sim is changing and my friend and soon-to-be former landlady Ali has new plans for it, so it's time for me to go. I'd like to thank her from the bottom of my heart for giving me this safe haven, for finding me when I was lost, for introducing me to so many wonderful friends, for letting me express myself in so many creative and often cringe-inducing ways through my yard and house decor, for letting me call this place home for so long and for all the friendship, laughs and fond memories that came with it. It sounds silly, but I will hold this place in my heart for a long, long time.

I take a meditation course in real life. During the first class, the instructor told us to close our eyes and imagine somewhere peaceful and lovely and safe. Funny, but I immediately thought of my SL parcel on Bluebonnet. The instructor wanted us to create a beautiful place in our minds, a place where we could build a big sturdy box and put all of our troubles and "negative stories" and stressful thoughts in that box, lock it up and leave it all there, knowing that the positive power of the place we created would transform everything in that box into things that could no longer harm us, but could only make us stronger.

So throughout that meditation, I hung on to that image of Bluebonnet. The instructor didn't have to know it was pixelated. Because really, what better place could there be to find shelter from all the drama, people, bills, cluttered junk, perceived failures, deadlines, screeching editors, financial woes, family fights, health concerns, frequent bouts of self-loathing and soooo many "thanks, but no thanks" job interviews that seem to define my life right now? Second Life, with all its quirks and hilarity and extraordinary creations, has always been a place where I could escape, take some deep breaths, laugh with a few friends, create something beautiful or funny if I felt like it, be a slightly upgraded version of my real self for a while and then, finally, once I felt recharged, close the laptop and return to the real world, feeling better, feeling stronger, feeling happier, feeling loved.

I think Second Life works that magic on a lot of people. I feel fortunate that I've had one fixed place where that magic could live for so long, somewhere I knew I could always go if I needed to reconnect with the real me – happy, creative and, in those moments, unburdened by all the ugly troubles that seem to hang around my real neck like roadkill these days.

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(Me and my apparently really happy, sparkly PlantPet, back in the day.)

Before I leave there tomorrow, I will go to a deep, quiet place in my mind one more time and think of Bluebonnet. Once again, I'll try that mental exercise my New Age instructor is always pushing on us. In my mind, I'll dig a hole in that backyard by the ocean, and I will fill that hole with all the ugly self-talk that occasionally sneaks up on me when I'm at my weakest: "You are a complete career failure." "You are not worthy of love." "Nothing will ever change." "There is no hope." "You're all washed up." "You've screwed up your life." "There's no way out of here" and on and on and on.

I'll put all those words down in that hole and bury them. Then I'll plant a pink shimmery tree – the kind you can only find in Second Life – on top of that makeshift grave. Its roots will wrap around the words, separate them and shape them into new sentences, maybe: "You are complete." "You are love." "You are worthy." "There is hope." And then I'll say my final goodbye, but I'll leave those painful thoughts behind me, where the soothing sound of the waves and the benevolent rays of a painted sun and the kind work done by deep, magical roots will hopefully soften and change them or at least hold them tight so they can't find their way back into my head.

And then one last time, the Bunny and I will say, "Goodbye, Bluebonnet! Thank you for all the fun!"

I promised myself I wouldn't cry when I wrote this silly post. I lied. Crying sentimental tears over a fake place in a fake world. Those harsh inner voices are having a field day with that one.

Oh well. Enough of that. Now please excuse this self-indulgent parade of photos of the many faces of Emerald's Iceland at Bluebonnet. I've chosen some of the more extreme stuff, because well, the boring ones are boring:

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Jesus is coming ... to take your cows. The octopus looks nervous.

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Eventually I ditched the UFO and cows, but kept the floating Jesus. This photo was my last artistic attempt at anything before I logged out for a while.

But in the beginning, there was a simple beach house, provided by my landlady, on a sandy parcel. I added a trampoline for kicks. Really, really high kicks, that is:

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Sometimes there were pranks.

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Happy Thanksgiving. No, that is not my glowing platter of turkey, but yes, it delighted the hell out of me. And I don't know if that chair is supposed to look like a strip of bacon, but OK.

I would always deck that house out for the holidays:

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Eventually I started experimenting with new houses:

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Oh wow, yeah, and chickens. Those were the days before KittyCats. These are all photos taken from old (realllllly old) blog posts. I'm guessing that "OMG" is either referring to the fact that the breeding of animals had gotten so extensive that it required a stable or the fact that the stable is a little, um, large and unsightly. My poor neighbors.

I tried a treehouse for a while and learned I'm not really a treehouse-dweller type:

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At least that's what I'm thinking, because when I dug up this photo, it was called "effing treehouse."

And then there was this monstrosity, which lasted for about a day:

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In fact, there were times when I fugged up my yard with so much bizarre crap, I'm surprised I didn't get booted years ago:

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Yeah, that's my gigantic, gnarly tree.

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And my kraken.

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I had a threatening peacock for a while.

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And a creepy Christopher Walken that wandered around my yard.

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And hair that would not fit in my house.

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And a swimming, realistic mermaid that kept keeling over and really didn't didn't work out so well.

Winter was always my favorite time on Bluebonnet. The other night I did a halfhearted search for parcels for rent on "winter sims" because, damn, I'm really going to miss the changing of the seasons and all the holiday festivities. I couldn't really find anything. Maybe I'll keep trying. Maybe I'll let it go. But in that spirit, some Winter at Bluebonnet pics:

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My friend Aisuru's ice castle remains one of the favorite things I own. She left SL a while ago. I wish she would come back. She has always been one of the most talented creators and wonderful people I've known. She was my next-door neighbor for a long time, God bless her. She had to put up with so many oddities.

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And of course I had to violate that thing with as much Christmas cheer as my "prim allowance" (that's what we called it back then, kids; none of this "land impact" stuff) could hold.

Sometimes I opted for simpler seasonal houses. *cough*

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Two of them, I guess. And a magical Christmas whale, apparently.

And then there was a time when we entered The Age of the Dinosaurs. It started with a cartoonish one:

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(I guess it was Halloween.) (And the whale!)

But then things got real with this thing:

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Yeah, don't ever let anyone tell you that you cannot put a tree on a balcony, kids. YOU CAN.

I used to sit up on that dinosaur and get all contemplative about life:

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But then to my delight, it began to serve as artistic inspiration for some of my friends:

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I was mainly all about the yard at Bluebonnet, but occasionally I did try to do something with the inside, which could sometimes get just as painful to look at. I spent my first year as a noob living in skyboxes that looked like low-rent sets for amateur porn or weird little rental houses in strange beach communities full of bikini-clad women with lots of bling and body oil. Regardless, those early homes were always furnished, so moving to Bluebonnet was my first opportunity to buy my own furniture and try to do something with it. I kept it really simple at first.

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Eventually I added a little more character:

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Occasionally there was a fish tank:

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And sometimes my friends would come in and add their own decorations:

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And so speaking of friends:

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Thank you for the memories, everyone! ♥  

Goodbye, Bluebonnet! Thank you for all the fun!

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Social Media Pariah: What is Second Life Doing Wrong?

This post is going to be kind of lengthy. I don't expect many people to read this thing, but it's stuff I've been thinking about. And I'd rather write about this topic ATM than my current and rather depressing freelance assignment: "The Plight of Tennessee's Animal Shelters." So buckle up and let's go with "The Plight of Second Life in the Grand Scheme of All Things Social Media-ish" instead. (I should probably break it up into two parts, but then that'd most likely be two posts you'd skip.)

But first, here's a picture, because who wants to deal with giant blocks of text and no art?

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If you're into scattering kitschy-cool little things around your house and yard, get these mermaids in fish bowls as the prize in the Around the Grid in 80 Days hunt at StoraxTree. (Look in the plant garage there.) I'm into them. Thank you, StoraxTree!

There you go. News you can use. Now moving on:

Several years ago, I worked as a national PR director for a multifaceted, multi-property wellness resort brand. It was (and still is) a haven for people with way too much money, a place where a guest could get a pricey facial and massage, then hike out into the desert and embark on a guided shamanic journey, come back and eat a guaranteed-healthy gourmet meal, get their chakras realigned during an evening energy-healing session, hit the sack in a luxury $800/night room and wake up the next morning and reunite with their inner children by interacting with horses.

Yeah, that kind of woo-woo place. (Oprah liked it. So did Martha Stewart.) You see a person out in the world running around wearing that resort's T-shirt, they might as well be proclaiming, "I have a lost, empty soul and TONS of money!"

During that time, the executives were employing a team of pricey graphics artists and techie types to create 3D imaging models of our properties in efforts to continue to "elevate brand awareness" and "attract strategic business alliances." They thought a virtual walk-through type experience would not only engage potential business partners during professional presentations, but also attract future filthy-rich guests.

I was pretty active in-world at the time, and I admit that I wanted a great excuse to spend even more time in world AND get paid for it! So I suggested they create this virtual experience in Second Life, rather than lug it around the globe on computer software.

During my pitch, I explained the potential here (in Second Life); created an alt; showed them some examples of existing beautiful and impressive builds; demonstrated the chat functions (typing and voice); and further explained how they could gather people from all over the world to host lectures and virtual tours, showcase their wellness experts, conduct meetings, etc., in this one very visual and very accessible place.

They balked.

Too labor intensive, they said. Wouldn't work in business presentations. A Second Life presence would require already harried professionals to download a "foreign program" to their computers, create an avatar and quickly learn "video game skills" in order to function in this particular virtual environment.

"Who has time for all that?" they asked? "Doesn't this place have a website they can just log into instead?"

Well OK, it takes a little effort, but also consider the existing "audience" here, I rebutted. Many of these people are talented, engaged professionals in real life who invest a great deal of money in owning virtual land, running businesses and selling content in Second Life. They like cool things to see and do. You could create a true-to-life replica of one of our scenic, back-to-nature style resorts in Second Life and offer services such as mini meditation classes, virtual yoga demonstrations, virtual healthy cooking classes, virtual "shamanic journeys" using interactive HUDs (they were big on shamans at this place), not to mention the infamous "horse therapy experience" (which, hey, people breed, buy and sell in SL, BTW) and you might actually entice people – who do have money – to come visit the place in real life. Plus, you'd be doing something not many other resorts are trying at the moment, thus further advancing your "cutting edge of everything" brand point.

In the end, they told my PR team to go back to posting peppy, upbeat status updates on Facebook, complete with lots of lovely photos that people might want to share with their friends.

"Just keep thinking viral social media content," they said.

I tried again: But this type of presence – which, yes, would take a little work to get rolling, but then the company could even find an relatively inexpensive customer service employment base WITHIN Second Life to then keep it running – would live on as a perpetual "viral" existence, so to speak. The marketing potential – provided we keep the experience authentic and visually, creatively and intellectually engaging – seemed almost limitless, if executed correctly.

"Facebook, Facebook, Facebook!" they responded. Pinterest wasn't big then, nor was Instagram, or I imagine they would have added those two to that chant as well.

Let's pause and cut to another bad picture. Don't look at my butt:

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(Kawaii Circle Backpack in Black by [KRAVE] from the Crazy for Kawaii Hunt. Prize also includes blue and pink versions.)

Anyway, as a real-world PR and marketing professional, I can't help but stop and think about this scenario from that perspective and wonder what Second Life could be doing better, not only to make it a more viable force in the realm of professional outreach tactics, but also in the overall category of social media as a whole. No, we don't want the whole place cluttered with logos, obviously, but there IS a niche market for companies that have something beyond the tangible (such as "life-enhancing" knowledge and wellness tools, which is what this particular company was selling) to offer. We do have a few of them in world. We could have more though.

If you happen to be in the real-life PR industry, you know that many businesses are more concerned with the impressions they're making on social media than good old-fashioned traditional media coverage these days. It's one reason why former journalists and now "media relations specialists" like myself are doing our best to keep up with these trends and add "social media outreach" to the top of our lists of marketable skills.

When I sit down with PR clients, their wish lists of social media successes are always the same: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. Most of them have never heard of Second Life, a place for "meeting friends, doing business and sharing knowledge," as you'll read on almost any Second Life maps page.

Photo break:

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(I like it when you throw down a hunt prize in the yard expecting it to be a box to open and instead it's a BIG MESH POND complete with trees and wildlife. It's a serious "Woah!" moment. Get this Ocelot Pond as the Around the Grid in 80 Days hunt prize at Heavenly Bacon, which wins my award for best store name ever. And if you can see my feet in this spontaneous photo, don't look at them. I'm hiding.)

OK, so all that said, I've also been thinking about why the mainstream population doesn't consider Second Life to be a more credible social media vehicle, when in fact it's one of the most vivid and engaging forms of social media I've encountered. I've made just as many friends here and have been introduced to just as many new ideas and experiences – if not more – as I have on other social media platforms.

Here are the reasons I can gather. Feel free to add your own in comments, if this discussion inspires you. (If not, just wait a while and I'll get back to meaningless chatter in the next post.)

– The "Catfish" Factor: Because we're all using avatars, we often have no idea who the hell we're really talking to and hanging out with in many instances — so thus giving it a slightly seedy undertone? I don't know. Many of my SL friends have crossed the bridge into becoming my RL Facebook friends, but some of you remain a mystery. That's cool. I get the fantasy factor here and I'm fine with it, as long as we're not swapping fake bodily fluids. But maybe that's why SL seems to be more of an online fringe society, rather than a more commonly adopted thing. People would prefer to interact with real faces (even though many of them also highly exaggerate their joy and successes on places like Facebook) than virtual masks.

– The Time/Effort/Creativity Factor: Let's face it, SL takes a little work. You have to download a viewer. You have to create an avatar and customize it so other residents will accept you as an equally invested member of the community. (YES. You do. Feel free to disagree though.) You have to learn the ropes. And you'll probably even have to spend a few bucks to get the most out of the experience. For many of the busy uninitiated people out there, these things take way too much time. I've tried to introduce friends to this place. The usual response is "SHEEEEEEEZUS, too complicated and way too much work. Retreating back to Facebook, but thanks for trying."

– No Kids, Pets, Vacation Photos or Recipes Here (at least not real ones): Sorry, but there's really no place to proudly post 900 pictures of your new baby, cute kitten videos, your real-life home DIY projects, your enviable spouse or what you cooked/ate for dinner last night. For many people, the elimination of these bragging rights equals "What's the point?" (Do I sound cynical? Sorry.) But yeah, that's what FB and Pinterest are for. And most people are perfectly content with keeping it at that. And that's cool.

– Conversations. You Have to Actually Have Them: It's more than just blurting out every little thought or witty observation that comes to mind via a stream of status updates or tweets ... unless you subject others to it in public outbursts while you're wandering around the grid, I guess. The only exception to this rule I've seen was the day Michael Jackson died. Many of us were at Hair Fair. And suddenly people were yelling out updates in public chat. It was surreal.

– The "I Don't Play Video Games" Factor: Sometimes when I get brave enough to mention that I have a presence here, a common response I get is "Oh, isn't that like a World of Warcraft thing? I don't play video games." You know the responses to this argument: Yes, there are games here, but as a whole, it's not a game. You can talk and meet new people. You can hang with your friends in a more creative manner than merely typing words on a chat screen. ("But why can't we just Skype then?" "Because you can wander around and see and do cool things while you're talking." "So ... it's like a video game?" Sigh.) Sometimes I try to entice people with the fashion angle — you can dress up your AV in ROCKIN' clothes! That usually leads to some kind of mention of the Covet fashion game app. (I do have to concur there: Many SL fashionistas would probably love this app, in which you go head to head with other players, a la "Who wore it best?" Try it!)

– The "This is Not Healthy" Attitude: I've had a few friends check out this place and give me a stern "This is not healthy" lecture. You've maybe heard the key talking points: "You should be out interacting with people in the real world, not from behind a computer screen" or "You should be going to REAL places, not pretend ones" or "You should be spending your time and money on real things, not imaginary stuff." Sometimes I tell them if that's the case, they should probably stop reading books and binge-watching TV shows. And put down the smart phone that's usually glued to their hands. Or sometimes I just wander off with my tail between my legs. Depends on my mood.

And to that point:

– SL Lacks a Mobile Platform: Or maybe it has one now? I've been away for so long, I have no clue. But these days, if something doesn't allow many people to stay attached to their mobile devices, they want no part of it.

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(The absolute mess of an AV I made at what was then known as Orientation Island when I logged in for the first time.)

I started thinking about all these things when I looked at my inventory the other day. My inventory dates back to 2008. I am that old here. And yet during that time, I haven't seen much proliferation of awareness or, for that matter, acceptance of Second Life as a valid social media space. In fact, there's still something of a shame factor involved. I'm selective about the people to whom I "come out of the Second Life closet," due to some of the antisocial and dysfunctional perceptions some people still associate with it: A fantasy world where you pretend you're someone else and interact with virtual strangers doing the same thing? No thanks.

But hell, maybe that's the way we want it. For instance, I wouldn't want my mom — who is now ALL UP IN EVERY CORNER OF FACEBOOK — to be in Second Life, nor would I want many of my professional associates to be here. There's a lot of freedom in the fact that Second Life is kind of like a social club, and you have to be a certain type of open-minded, progressive and creative person to be a member. You can look and even act a certain way without worrying about how it'll affect your professional or even personal image. This isn't the place for baby photos, recipes, ongoing attempts at wit and commentary on current events. This is a place where you get to show your true creative colors, play, create and share parts of yourself that you wouldn't normally share on other online social platforms. And for those reasons, I'm still excited to be a part of it, even if I only log in once every few months now.

I just wish it didn't sometimes feel like a weird little secret. I recently read a Washington Post article about people who collect salt and pepper shakers. Some collectors had 40,000 pairs. Some of them went to great lengths to hide this hobby from friends and family members. Paraphrasing: "People don't understand it," one guy said. "It's not something I'd discuss on a first date." Yeah. Kind of like that. SL is my secret salt and pepper shaker collection.

But in case we want to touch on one last reason as to why, after all these years, Second Life still lacks a significant mainstream presence in today's social media arena:

– Second Life Needs a More Appealing PR Campaign.

And to that point, hey Second Life honchos, I'm in between jobs, I love this place, I win bright shiny awards for my RL work and I'd love to help you out on that front. *wink*

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Me and Audrey Hepburn, we got those mean, mean reds

I have no idea what the hell is going on in SL these days. Am I supposed to have a mesh face?


Meanwhile, this shirt is cool as long as you don't move your arms around much and you're not picky about the way straps fit.

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Yeah, I spent 100L on it. I'm a sucker for whimsy. Maybe you are too. If so, get it at The Okinawa Summer Festival through Aug. 24. But if you get it, walk with your arms really, really straight. And walk fast so no one can see your strap-gaps. (Strap-gaps. That should be a real thing. Let's all get on that phrase and make it viral.)

There you go. That's my contribution to the SL fashion scene. You're welcome, beautiful people.

Oh wait ....

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These nails are courtesy of A.S.S. They're called "LOOKIT MY GAWD-DAMN RAINBOW FINGERNAILS, BEEEEEEEETCHES!"

OK, no they're not, but they should be. Consult with me before you name your stuff, designers. I'll make it that much more fun for the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.

(Rainbow Gradient Nails for SLink, 98L, eight variations, also available for Belleza, at the A.S.S. Nail Appliers store)

"But wait, what about that tattoo?" you ask.

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My yard looks like Trailer Park Disneyland, as usual. Pretend I have arms and I'm doing something interesting.

That Ouija Tattoo is (was) a prize in last month's Body Art Hunt, from Aberrant. (Thank you!) The hunt ended yesterday, but I checked and the prize is still here, right here, look, look at this here:

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That purple bottle of ink. QUICK, go grab it. That tattoo is cool! The prize includes a version for just about every kind of body that exists now, even natural ones like mine.

Moving on ...

Sorry, I'm in a weird mood. I'm in between full-time jobs again in real life. Sheezus, this is so not how I pictured my adult life back when I was a swoony, daydreamy kid. I'm pretty sure that fantasy included basking in the warm glow of a funny, adorable husband, wearing an apron and baking pies in a modest-yet-tastefully decorated home, surrounded by kittens and puppies and 2.5 kids. Not this solitary, frenzied scramble for survival.

The good thing about being forced into self-employment is that it's not a devastating thing anymore. The first time I got laid off from a job, it knocked me on my ass emotionally and I freaked all over the place like the sky was falling. Now it's such a common thing that I don't even flinch when it happens. I just do a semi-graceful swan dive back into the shadowy, uncertain realm of freelance writing, write enough stuff to pay a month's worth of bills, then start writing enough stuff to pay the next month's bills. It's fine, but I worry about what's going to happen when I'm an old person. Like, will I be huddled in a large box under an overpass somewhere, maybe with a scraggly stray cat on a string keeping me company, still trying to shovel off my mediocre writing skills on obscure publications while I eat canned meat and let old homeless guys grab my boobs for an extra 25 cents? Will I be in a filthy, state-run nursing home filled with other equally destitute little old ladies, huddled in a corner and mumbling to myself? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Anyway, whatever. But yeah, the amount of time I spend in world is directly proportionate to the sheeeeeety state of my real life. So if you see me around the grid, you can pretty much bet that I've royally effed up something as a real and apparently not-so-functioning adult.

(I like hyphens.)

That was a long way of saying I've been logging in and wandering around a lot lately. And because I am an SL child of the year 2008 and can remember when they were a genuinely cool thing, I still like SL hunts. So I went over to this Hunt & Hunters Resource Centre because the SL Destination Guide told me to.

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I have no clue who that guy is. I was like, "Dude, either hurry up and rez or get the hell out of my picture." Neither of those things happened.

I don't know. A lot of the hunts look strange and not for me. Don't get me wrong – I'm not bagging on the quality of the prizes. My thanks will always go out to the generous creators who give away stuff for free. But for instance, there's a hunt called "Hunt for Your Inner Slut" in which we find ourselves searching for a golden penis. And as much as I would love to post a pic of said golden penis, I have to keep in mind the fact that ENTIRE FAMILIES gather around the campfire at night to read this blog and, as such, I cannot show you a penis made of pixelated gold. Sorry.

Plus, gross.

I guess I don't have an inner slut right now. Check back with me when I'm 60 though.

Speaking of people I'd like to sleep with, let's end with this photo of Liam Neeson:

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(Photo: Action Press/REX Shutterstock)

I'd hit that.