Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Tides, Fantasy Faire 2012

Are you sick and tired yet of Fantasy Faire stuff?  Well, due to last weeks unexpected Second Life outage, the faire has been extended by a whole day!  So brace yourselves for even more pics...

I visited The Tides today which was pretty cool, and hey look, a giant, sexy, almost naked avatar!  I forget her name, but I do remember from her profile that she is a creator and is currently developing giant avatars.  Maybe if I see her again I'll ask for more info.  She was just kinda hanging out there at the landing point. (shrugs)

The Tides seems to be an interpretation of the "Lost City of Atlantis", and a stunning one at that...

Sponsored and created by Alia Baroque of Fallen Gods Inc. 

The staircase leads you downwards to water level.  I didn't have time to look any further, but maybe there is more to discover below the depths of the sea?

One more day left for Fantasy Faire, so if you have not already gone to check it out, you still have some time.  After tomorrow, it all wraps until next year. 

Siren's Secret, Fantasy Faire 2012

Information from the landmark:

Siren’s Secret (sponsored by Booshies, created by Elicio Ember)  – These rocky sea caves are a refuge for the sea creatures who hide in the depths of the kelp forest

Shifting Sands, Fantasy Faire 2012

I didn't get a chance to take as many pictures as I would have liked too while visiting Shifting Sands tonight.  It's the weekend and there's a lot of distractions going on around me pulling my attention away from exploring.  

I managed a few pictures from Shifting Sands.  It's quite a contrast from the lush vegetation I explored yesterday in Nu Orne.  But don't let that fool you.  There is more to discover here than meets the eye.

Description from the landmark:

"Shifting Sands (sponsored by Solarium, created by by Kayle Matzerath) - the Hourglass holding the Sands of Time has cracked and spilled creating a desert with untold treasures awaiting discoveries by the intrepid explorer..."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Ruins of Nu Orne, Fantasy Faire 2012

I'm in a mad rush to see all of the regions at Fantasy Faire before it wraps up tomorrow.  I'm only halfway through.  I'd better get moving!

I spent some time in the Ruins of Nu Orne last night and this morning.  It's a lush and densely populated jungle of strange and exotic vegetation.  When you go visit this sim, cam upwards, as there is a lot to see floating above.

This region was created by Elicio Ember and sponsored by Arcanum.  You can find a full list of the stores located in Nu Orne at the Fantasy Faire 2012 blog, as well as info for the other regions I blogged earlier this week.  

I think Fantasy Faire is my new favourite annual event in Second Life.  It is filled with interesting things to see and explore, like shopping and live music, and it is all to raise funds for Relay for Life.  

And speaking of that, if you haven't already, go log into My Second Life and hit 'love' on SecondLie Scribe's Relay for Life entry.  For every 'love' received in the month of April, SecondLie will donate a penny to Relay for Life.  Last time I checked it was at 592 loves - the goal is 10,000 loves adding up to $100.  With several other Second Life residents matching SecondLies contribution, that adds up to a nice contribution for a really good cause.  And send some love from your alts too.  There's one more day left!

Now I have to run, I have more exploring to do...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shadow's Claw, Fantasy Faire 2012

I'm not a role player in Second Life, but when I see destinations such as this one, it makes me want to get in on some role playing action.  How could you not want to get more immersed in an environment like Shadow's Claw, with so much attention to detail and atmosphere.  

The region was created by Laufey Markestein and Rosanna Llewellyn, the creators behind TRIDENT

There is so much to see here, that I could have taken hundreds of snapshots.  It was hard choosing just five to share here.  But then, I don't want to post too many pics so you can go and see Shadow's Claw for yourself.  It's trés cool.  

Meandervale, Fantasy Faire 2012

From the edge of Jungle Bungle at Fantasy Faire, you can see the bright, butterfly windmills of Meandervale.  Step a little closer and you can get a glimpse of the tall golden grass resting along a peaceful river that invites you in closer. 

Meandervale was created by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, who you may know of from The Looking Glass on Horizon Dream.  It's a lovely region to stroll through and I'm sure you will enjoy it's whimsical nature.

Between taking snapshots, keeping up with i.m's and answering my darn phone, I have not had time to fully explore the shops that are situated on Meandervale, or on Jungle Bungle, which I blogged yesterday. The builds themselves are certainly worth the visit if you don't feel like shopping, but I do hope to go back tonight and buy some things. My L's are burning a hole in my pixel pocket.

This may be a good time to take my neglected alt out for a spin and do some undercover shopping. 

Stay tuned for more images from Fantasy Faire this week...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No talk, just pictures - Jungle Bungle, Fantasy Faire

I've been meaning to blog since last week, but man I'm tired.  I have been busy at work where I am spending my entire day talking my face off.  When I get home in the evening, I just want peace and quiet and to not have to hear my own voice.  Blogging is not talking, but it does require some thinking and my brain cells are too zapped to do any more thinking than I have to.
Snapshots, I can handle, so that's what I have for you today along with some keywords - Fantasy Faire, Jungle Bungle, Mayah Parx, until April 29th.  Go see it.

If you need any more details, Google it.  Or Bing it.  Or whatever search engine you wanna use...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Acquarella" by Alizarin Goldflake at Split Screen

As promised, I went back the Split Screen tonight get some shots of "Acquarella" by Alizarin Goldflake.  It is currently open for viewing along with "Adagio" which I blogged last week. 

I visited Acquarella not that long ago in Inworldz.  I tried to take pictures to share here, however the Inworldz viewer does not agree with my aging laptop.  So I was quite happy when I heard that Alizarin Goldflake was bringing Acquarella into Second Life.

From what I remember of the build in Inworldz, it looked different there.  It was in four parts.  This one is in two parts.  However the Second Life build is just as fabulous and has some new elements.  I believe the path of hot coals is new, as well as the flaming lily pads.

Acquarella, After the Apocalypse tells the story of the Goddess Acquarella who attempts to bring the dead ocean back to life after life on earth has been destroyed by the human race.  But in her attempt she makes a huge mistake.  Be sure to grab the notecard when you arrive so you can read the full story.

While I was at Acquarella, I ran into another blogger Kara Trapdoor, who is lovely.  In my quick research on this build, I found that Kara has created a machinima of both Adagio and Acquarella at Split Screen.  You can view it here on her blog.  It's fab! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blue Tsuki's Adagio at Split Screen

I have few words left for you today because I have had a pounding headache since yesterday.  But I wanted to post these photos I took of the latest installation by Second Life resident Blue Tsuki entitled Adagio.  Blue's work is beautiful and speaks for itself. You can view it at the fabulous art sim, Split Screen.  Adagio is one of two large installations currently on display on the sim - I will take pics and blog the other sometime over this weekend.

I blogged Tsuki's previous installation, Phantoms of Absence here.

From the notecard:

Our dust pours from singing urns
floating into a common sea
windmills churn
pumping that essence
into a fiery ether

Dear Anonymous

I rarely get nasty blog comments. It happened once when I first started blogging and since then, things have been pretty quiet around here. Until yesterday when I received an anonymous comment telling me that I should stick to blogging about places to explore in Second Life because noone was interested or cared about my real life.

Yes, my feelings were hurt by it, but after a night of sleep, I am over it. But it got me to thinking about Second Life and social media and how easy it is for some to hide behind the veil of pseudonimity or anonymity and say mean things to people that they would never say to their faces. It’s cowardly. I see it in the SL blogosphere (I can’t believe I just used that word), and my Twitter stream. I saw it a lot on Plurk too which is one of the reasons why I gave up Plurk. I generally don’t engage in it, although the temptation is there sometimes. But that's just not my style.

Personally, if I have something to say about someone, I will say it to them, straight up. And you don’t have to be a dick about it either. I expect the same in return. I do not take mean anonymous blog comments seriously, which is why I deleted the comment from this blog and why my comments will be turned on moderation for the time being.

Seriously, dear anonymous, if you are reading this, grow some balls and own your words and maybe I might take you seriously.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two documentary films about Second Life I viewed last weekend...

I know this is old news, but I wanted to mention that I recently watched two documentary films about Second Life – Life 2.0 and When Strangers Click. Actually, the latter is not exclusively about SL but it does feature one story that has to do with it. Both of these films were aired on television in 2011, however I don’t watch a lot of tv so I missed them both. It was a pleasant surprise to find them both available to rent on iTunes when I was browsing through movies last weekend.

Life 2.0 – I have mixed feelings about this one. It was certainly compelling to watch, and held my interest. I wanted to see what happened with the characters, however as I was watching, I kind of felt like how I would feel viewing a David Cronenberg movie or something. As in, “I can’t stop watching this because it is so fucked up!”. Even though I know these are real people and real stories, I actually felt really far away from the content, and it was difficult to relate to. I’ve been around SL for three years and I’ve heard all the stories first hand, and honestly there is very little that shocks me anymore.

There were some positive moments when one of the characters met her SL friend for the first time in Las Vegas, face to face. Another interesting moment was when one of the male characters whose avatar was an 11 year old girl, revealed his reasons for creating the girl avatar.

The film definitely got me to thinking, however if I had viewed it with no knowledge of Second Life, I would certainly walk away thinking that the virtual world was a strange and dangerous place.

In contrast to that, I watched When Strangers Click the other night. I tried to embed the trailer for this one here but it's "not available for viewing in your country", so instead here's a recording of a TreetTV interview with Bara Jonson and Robert Kenner, the director of the documentary.  It's almost 40 minutes long, so you will need some time to watch this one.

This film was very different from Life 2.0.  This one wasn’t exclusively about Second Life, but focused on people who met their partners/spouses online in chat rooms or dating sites, all with positive outcomes. It featured five stories , one of them was the story of the person behind the SL avatar Bara Jonson. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, so I will just say that I watched this film with a smile on my face for almost the whole time. The stories were presented in such a way that it was easy to relate to - I didn't meet my husband online but I have met people online in other forums in the past who I am still friends with today.  

I found that When Strangers Click captured the unique essence of Second Life, in that it is a place to have fun and express yourself in whichever way you choose. SL indeed does have a positive influence on many people in their lives.  I can attest to that.

Although I have different thoughts on both these films, viewing them both reaffirmed for me all the reasons I love virtual worlds and why it will probably always be a part of my normal, everyday life in one way or another. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A personal post about bullies and making peace with the past

Today was a huge day for me as a parent.  It was the day of a mediation/peace building meeting at my daughter’s school to come face to face with the child that has been bullying her.  No one actually planned that this would take place on the Day of Pink – the International Day Against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia and Transphobia in schools and communities. I guess the stars and planets were all in alignment and everyone’s schedules led us to this day.

I did not know until a few weeks ago how bad the bullying had become.  This was a problem earlier in the school year but we thought we had adequately dealt with it.  I was shocked when my daughter came to me sobbing that she didn’t want to go to school anymore because one kid had been picking on her for several months.  Looking back, it all makes sense now.  She was getting very moody and displaying some attitude to me in the morning.  She faked being sick a few times and when Sunday evening would roll around and it was time to get her stuff ready for school, she would give us a really hard time. I thought it had something to do with the math tutor she was working with during recess.  Turns out, her bully had enlisted the help of some friends in tormenting her in the school yard, in the lunch room and hallways.  I was furious when I found out and it took everything in me to NOT go over to the school yard, grab that kid by the neck and teach her a lesson myself.  Don’t anger the Mama Bear because she has a real bad temper!  Thank God for my husband who has a calm and cool disposition.  He keeps my feet on the ground and he was there today to keep me in my corner.

Overall, the mediation went okay. I hesitate to say it was a success because that is yet to be determined.  Things got quite tense between myself and the mom at one point. She tried to say that my daughter was provoking her daughter. How one child provokes another to steal their lunches and taunt them in the hallway, I have no idea. Anyone who knows my daughter knows that she is far too sensitive to provoke any kind of conflict with another kid. (Okay, there was that one time when she knocked the kid over the head with her flute, but now we all know why). We talked it out, we all had our chance to speak. When it came time for the other girl, the bully, she was quite defiant, refusing to take responsibility for any wrong doing. After more talking, and sharing, the girl became visibly shaken and couldn’t hold back any longer – she broke down and started crying, hard. It felt like someone had popped a hole in the balloon and all the hot air came rushing out. It felt like relief.

We were all kind of taken back by it, yet my daughter was the first one to get up, walk across the room, look her bully in the eye and offer her some tissue.  The girl tearfully apologized, to which my daughter didn’t say a thing, she just shook her hand.

At this point I was overcome with emotion, one for being proud of my girl for being so brave, and two, because it brought back painful memories of my own experience of being bullied in childhood.  For me, it didn’t turn out so positive.  I never told any teachers or parents that I was being bullied, I just endured it.  To make a long story short, I was one of very few brown skinned kids going to a school in a racist town.  We were picked on for being different, and I always fought back which made me an easy target.  Most of my time in school was spent either watching my back or defending myself, which was exhausting.  I never told any adults because at that time I just thought that’s the way things were and we just had to deal with it. It was rough and as a result I think I was probably running a “low grade depression” throughout my entire time in high school.  Despite it all, I finished school, went to university and did something with my life.

But I never had closure.  There were no mediations, no peace building meetings with my bullies and their families.  Although I put up a strong façade to survive, it was severely damaging to my self-esteem and self-worth as a person.  I think in many ways I have spent much of my Life trying to prove to everyone that I am good enough and smart enough, yet still there is an inkling of that feeling of “I’m not good enough, and I don’t belong”.  Today, in that school room, it all came rushing back and has got me to thinking about how appropriate it seems that this all occurred on today of all days, with my daughter holding my hand and my husband by my side.

My daughter feels better.  She said to us afterwards that she accepts the apology, but she still doesn’t trust her and the girl will have to prove that she won’t be mean to her anymore. “I’ll give her a chance”, she said.  Smart kid.  I’m so proud of her for having the courage to tell us what was happening, to ask for help and stand up to her bully.  I shudder to think what this could possibly do to her self confidence if left with no action taken - like what it did to me. Her bravery was enough to initiate peace between her and the bullies at her school, and it’s enough for me to start making Inner Peace with my own bullies of school days past.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A gothic interpration of Venice, Italy in Second Life - Venexia

I love blue skies, but it is boring photography weather.  Luckily in Second Life with the windlight settings at my fingertips, I never have the problem of bad photography weather.  It's funny that I never really noticed until my sister pointed it out to me last night, that almost all my SL images have gloomy, ominous looking cloudy skies.  She's absolutely right. I think those skies add drama and make things look more interesting.  But perhaps I will try some new windlight settings in the future, just to changes things up a bit.

So last night I came across a really cool role play sim that I really enjoyed exploring.  I've never role played in Second Life, but I have found that many role play sims are generally very interesting places as they are so carefully crafted with lots of details.

This is definitely true with Venexia.

Venexia is a virtual city in Second Life that is a gothic interpration of Venice, Italy.  It is tailored to Vampire role play.  Based on the info I found at the landing point, the Vampire Clan based story lines are very detailed and complexed.

You will need a visitor's tag to get access to the city, which can be picked up at the landing point.  It is good for three days and you will need to wear your tag in order to use the teleporter.

Once you have your tag on, follow the red foot prints to teleport down to the city.

I was really impressed by the details in the buildings and the canals - all created by Baal Zobel and Kara Zenovka.  From a quick Google search, I found that they were also responsible for some other impressive role play sims - NOMOS and Golgothica.

There were quite a few role players around as I was exploring.  Whenever I visit a roleplay sim, my general rule is to try and stay out of the way and mind my own business.  I haven't had any negative experiences and most times, someone will send me a friendly i.m to say hello.

If you are looking for a role play game to play, you can find the details for Venexia at the SGS game system website.  There you will find the complete story history and all those details you will need to join in all the vampire action.   

If you're looking for a cool place to explore, click here for the SLurl.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some quick thoughts on illusions and personal disclosure in Second Life

Lalo Telling posted an interesting and thoughtful blog post over the weekend about maintaining illusions and the possible negative impact of knowing the RL identity behind an avatar.  The post has generated a lot of discussion and some other blog posts from Botgirl Questi and Whiskey Day

Considering that my last blog post included RL photos of myself and my family, I have some thoughts on the topic too - they feel a bit scattered but I will try to make sense of them.

I read the blog posts and comments and I was actually surprised to learn that a disclosure of a RL photo could cause psychological discomfort for someone on the receiving end.  This never occurred to me and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one.  My experience with this has been nothing but positive and only made me feel closer or more appreciative of the person sharing with me.
Do I expect this same level of disclosure from all my online friends or people I interact with?  No.  I don't want to know everyone I come across with personally and I don't think that anyone should do something they don't feel comfortable with.  In a very weird way, the longer I am around Second Life, the less I give a shit about how much personal information anyone wants to share with me.  I know when someone is being real with me or not. I don't need to see their real faces or even hear their voices to know authenticity.  And you know what?  My closest friend in SL for the past three years is a person whose face I have never seen and whose real name I do not know - and I am fine with that.

There was a time when I wouldn't even entertain the thought of showing my real face to anyone in SL or on this blog.  Hell, I wouldn't even talk about my children.  I would answer questions as minimally as possible because I was very cautious and private and wanted to protect them. After some time, I started developing closer friendships with others and my holding back felt somehow disengenuous.  I decided to take a risk, trust and open up more.  The relief I felt as a result of that was proof that I did the right thing for myself.

I blog about SL because I want to connect and relate with other like minded people.  The only way I know how to do that is to share myself.  That's just me, just being myself.  I'm not interested in avatars, I'm interested in people.  I'm not interested in creating or maintaining an illusion of my Second Life persona.  And perhaps because of my personal life experience, I'm more interested in shattering illusions of myself and who or what people think I am.  What it comes down to is, I'm just here to be ME.