Thursday, May 31, 2012

I've been having some photo editing fun

I can't believe that after two years of editing my SL photos in PhotoShop Elements that I only just discovered the 'liquify' tool the other night!  I'm a total dud and way behind the times, but I mostly take landscape shots and I don't think there is a need to use the liquify feature for scenery.  

But this feature totally rocks for shots of your avatar to fix some odd twists and corners on your shape and skin.  So I thought what better way to try it out then on a nude shot.  So I got NEKKID!  I took a lot of shots, but then I got shy and put my shorts back on...and then I was still shy so I changed to a hair that would cover up my pixel bosoms....and well, not exactly nude anymore.  But I still was able to use liquify to fix my hands and some other sharp edges.  It took some time to get familiar with it, but it's pretty easy after that!

Another cool photo editing tool I have been playing around with is PicMonkey.  If you are familiar with Picnik, which shut down earlier this year, PicMonkey is a very similar online photo editing site, only better!  At the moment, it's totally free and there is no registration required.  Just upload your shots and start playing around with the features.  It has some great tools for fixing your photos.  I was even able to erase some of the grass sticking through the bench in my picture.

Now, if I can just get over my ridiculous shyness of nudity so I can take some classy nude's a freakin' avatar FFS!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Dreaming Machine" by Yooma Mayo

I first heard of Yooma Mayo when I visited the Art Screamer LEA sim to view Under the Sky which I blogged here. This time, a new installation entitled "Dreaming Machine" is being hosted on the LEA15 sim.

Yooma, apparently, likes large insects and other such creatures on a very large scale!

Once again, this is a huge build and you should fly up and cam around so you can get a full view of the enormity of the installation.

I quite liked the region windlight settings, so this time I didn't even bother playing around with windlight.  It looks great as is.

I took a ton of pictures, but I only chose three to share because I think you should go see this for yourself.  So for now, you get just a little taste of what you will find on the sim.

Despite the fact that I have been logging into SL more than usual in these last couple of weeks, I haven't been exploring or taking pictures.  And I haven't blogged since last week, mostly due to being extremely busy at work and feeling exhausted at night.

Working on these images tonight reminds me of how much I love to explore and create images to share here with you all.  I have to remind myself that when I am feeling tired and stressed out about work, I can find an outlet and some relief in doing something creative in Second Life.  That is far more enjoyable than loafing on my sofa trying not to think about stress.
I feel a lot better having just visited Dreaming Machine and making these images, and I hope you might find some peace there too when you visit. :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

My SLife needs a new computer

I haven't been taking as much pictures for blogging lately.  My Macbook has once again slowed down considerably which makes picture taking in SL kind of a painful process.  I'm still okay for general exploring and wandering around the grid, but when I turn up my graphics settings and hit 'snapshot', my screen goes black and crashes nine out of ten times.  I've taken to logging in with my alt for exploring places to blog so that my constant crashing and relogging doesn't annoy everyone on my friends list.  

I keep trying to put off that inevitable time that we all reach in our SLives - the time to invest in a new computer.  My Macbook is a 2008 model and still an excellent machine for everything else, so I really don't want to part with it.  If I do a get a new laptop, it probably will not be until later this year, unless some miracle happens and I win the lottery or something (crosses fingers).

So for now, I'm taking it in for a memory upgrade.  It's really the only improvement I can make since you can't exchange graphics cards on Mac computers.  Also, next week we're getting a faster internet connection at home so that should make some kind of a difference in SL performance too. 

In the mean time, I'll be browsing the Apple store on my lunch hours and drooling over all the new Macbooks that I can't afford right now.  

Damn, Second Life is an expensive hobby isn't it?

A view of my home in Piper Point

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Addicted to RL, yet again...

Victoria Day weekend in May marks the start of the summer season here in Canada.  The long weekend also marks my sons' birthday.  He turned six last Thursday, but we celebrated yesterday at Canada's Wonderland.  

The first ride we got on was called the Xtreme Skyflyer, which is a bungee jump/skydiving simulation.  We dropped from about eight storeys down to the ground and then swung back and forth about six feet off the ground.  I was disappointed when we watched the video because my husbands iphone was slow and it missed the initial drop.  Also the quality is not great so I decided not to post it.  But it was fun! 

Leviathan is the new big roller coaster this year.  That first drop you see in this photo is on a 80 degree angle.  It's basically straight down.  It was FUCKING scary, and I LOVED it!

For about a second I thought of posting our ride photo, the one where we're screaming with our mouths wide open and the high speed winds are blowing our cheeks from side to side.  But I changed my mind.  That is just too embarrassing, as even I have my limits of what I will post here.  Besides, do you really want to see a close up pic of my tonsils?  No, I didn't think so.

Hey look!  Lag happens in RL too!  Waiting in line for two hours, kind of lag.  It sucked.  It was hot.  People tried to butt in front of us.  We almost gave up and said "to hell with it!".  But we stuck it out and it was totally worth the three minute and twenty eight second thrill ride.  I think.

The line ups were long, it was a little hot, and my feet are aching from walking around and standing in line all day, but that didn't stop us from having fun. 

That's my daughter and my mom jumping and being silly for the camera.  If you knew my mom, you would see that this picture is so her.  And, in case you ever wondered where I get my adventourous spirit from, it comes from my mom.  Totally.  

I'll be back to blogging SL relevant stuff this week.  I promise. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Secret Life as a Second Life Blogger

Last week I attended a dinner party hosted by two new friends.  It was fabulous!  We had tasty lychee fruit appetizers accompanied with Prosecco sparkling wine, my personal favourite, along with many other deliciously, decadent foods.  Wine, good food, interesting conversation with the city skyline at night as a backdrop.  Does city life get any better than this?

My new friend has been a food blogger for many years and often hosts dinner parties and "foodie" get togethers for blog fodder.  Naturally, there were some of her other blogger friends  in attendance.  At one point, they got into a fun discussion about blogging, making friends online, and all kinds of other funny things that would only be interesting to other bloggers and internet geeks alike.  It was quite entertaining and I was eager to jump into conversation with my own thoughts on blogging and making connections...but, what did I do instead?  I didn't say a thing, and I could kick myself for it now.

Why, you ask?  Because if I was to identify myself as a fellow blogger, the next step would be "What do you blog about?" which of course would inevitably lead to the dreaded question "Second...what?".  And that is usually followed by confused facial expressions and awkward silence.

[insert crickets sound here]

Maybe I'm just being neurotic, but I've been down that road before and I would rather avoid the weirdness of having to explain Second Life to anyone who doesn't know, and further why I blog about it.  This is particularly unappealing after having just finished off our third bottle of wine and I'm feeling a little tipsy.

It's not that my SLife is a big secret.  I've shared here before about how and why I am transparent about my SL activities with my immediate family and the people in my life that matter.  They know I have this blog which they aren't all that interested in anyways, and honestly, that's fine by me.  But disclosing that outside my close knit circle is not something I feel totally comfortable with.

Is it just me or is there still a stigma attached to Second Life?  Like, we must all be deeply troubled and unhappy in our real lives to resort to socializing in a pretend virtual world on the internet.  Is that what the mass population still generally thinks? And why do I even care what they think?

The truth is, I am not unhappy in my real life.  I have my challenges, but overall I have a busy and fulfilling life, and a happy family.  Life is good, so I'm not really sure why I feel insecure about being more open about this blog, which I have invested so much of my time and creative energy into.

Ah well, this really isn't that big of a deal.  It's not like I attend a lot of dinner parties or am hanging out with pro bloggers every weekend.  It was just something that popped up and it kind of surprised me, that's all. 

Besides, I've been outed before about SL, to good friends, and even though I kept it myself that time, I ended up having the last laugh on that one.

Still, even after three plus years of being around Second Life, you would think it should get easier explaining it to others.  Does it?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Neva River by Wendy Xeno

I'm behind on my SL blog reading.  So, when a friend dropped me a landmark for a new sim to visit, I thought I was all ahead of the crowd to blog about it.  Wrong.  You may have seen the photos all over your blog reader already, but that's because it really is a very nice place to visit.  

Neva River is designed by Wendy Xeno, whose work you will recognize from HuMaNoiD and  Hazardous, which I blogged before.  I used the region windlight settings for these pics, which casts a beautifully warm, and peaceful atmosphere on the sim.  Please go see it for yourself.  It’s lovely.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Staying Afloat

I took this photo the other night when I was trying out the hot tub/pool in my new prefab house.  I've been trying to think up some clever words and a metaphor to go along with the image - floating through life, staying afloat...belly up? But no inspirational words are rising up to the surface.

I think a photo using a 'treading water' animation would better reflect my mood as of late.  I get mild relief knowing that this extremely busy time in my rl work has a foreseeable end in sight.

Someone mentioned to me today that I always seem so calm under pressure.  What they don't know is that underneath the calm, I am treading very carefully so as to not sink under the weight of it all.

It's okay though, I'm used to it.  This busy time won't last forever and once I get these two big projects at work completed, I can look forward to a quiet summer in the office.  I'm pretty sure I can keep myself afloat until then.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"And the wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes..."

Where the Wild Things Are was, and still is, my most favourite story book of all time.  Like countless others, the Wild Things was a part of my childhood bedtime routine as much as brushing my teeth before sleep.  My mother still has my original hardcover book from the 1970's and my own children have grown up with the imaginative Max and the Wild Things too.

I was a little bummed out when I learned that Maurice Sendak passed away today at the age of 83.  I have such fond memories of his Wild Things and rebellious little Max.  I can relate ;)

When I got home from work today, I did a quick search and found that there is a Wild Things Tribute Island in Second Life.  Hell yeah!  I took some pics for all you explorers and Maurice Sendak fans out there.

When you arrive you can read the story from the book on the ground before heading in through the door to begin your adventure.  It's important to go in one at a time.

From there you will be taken into Max's bedroom.  Pay attention to the story and instructions in local chat.

 You will be directed to sit on the bed, and then you can watch a forest grow all around.

 ...leading you through Max's adventure to where the wild things are...

 ...upon far away shores for a wild rumpus...

If you are a fan of Maurice Sendak's, Where the Wild Things Are, you will enjoy this fun little tribute in Second Life.  I loved it and it brought back many fond memories of what it is like to be a child with an imagination too big to be contained.


A Year in the Life of Fuchsia Nightfire - A Photo Diary

I wanted to blog this exhibit last week but ever since I updated my viewer, textures have been rebaking often which makes taking pics kind of a challenge.  Something always seems to be blurry.  Maybe I'm a bit of perfectionist, but it drives me nuts when things aren't fully rezzed or blurry.  So I put it off, but I don't want to wait any longer.

I received a notecard from the Avatar Charitable Trust with details of a new photo exhibit by Fuchsia Nightfire.  I have blogged Fuchsia's work before, so I was quite interested in seeing this latest work.

FYI, The Avatar Charitable Trust is a foundation in Second Life operated by Chuk Edman and Lillie Radek.  It's goals are the following:

1.   Raise funds to be used to financially promote charitable endeavors for the arts, humanitarianism, education, and the general welfare of avatars in Second Life and people in real life.

2.   Promote goodwill, personal fulfillment, and enjoyment among those in the Second Life community.

3.   Promote non political, non sectarian, non discriminatory, and non violent causes for the good of us all.

4.   Improve the standard of our lives in the virtual world of Second Life.

Sounds good to me :)

Fuchsia's latest project is a diary of sorts, documenting a year in the life of her avatar.  There are a lot of photos to see showing Fuchsia's ever changing avatar. 

There are also some very interesting 2D photos which I really liked, and also some photos that are a little risque...

From the notecard:
"About the exhibition:
Fuschia changes her avatar in SL more often than she changes her clothes in RL. She usually has a pinkish theme and most things she wears would get her an instant ban from Bogarts as she rarely looks completely human. 

At the beginning of 2011 she decided to start a project, documenting the changing look of her avatar, which also became a diary of sorts showing some of the places she visited and many of her shows and exhibitions throughout the year.

Please enjoy looking at Fuschia's exploits over the year and some of the photography she has made using her avatar, sometimes in guises you may not recognise as her."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sometimes, it's just not enough

Do you ever log into SL looking for temporary relief from Life stress and it just doesn’t happen?

That was me yesterday.

It was a long day at home doing paper work, bank statements, and Excel spreadsheets for my husbands business. I hate Excel, with a passion. It’s not my most favourite thing to do on my day off from my 9 to 5 job, so after an entire day of numbers and ledger lines, I was looking forward to relaxing and hearing some poetry in SL. It didn’t happen. The phone wouldn’t stop ringing, neighbours banging at the door, text messages, up and down from my seat every few minutes, and then BAM! I spilt my tea all over my desk and laptop. You haven’t heard anything until you’ve heard me curse like a foul mouthed sailor. It was not a pretty sight.  I logged out in the middle of poetry night at the Blue Angel to do emergency CPR on my Macbook. I think I reacted quickly enough so that no liquid would seep in through the keyboard. It seemed to be running normal when I checked my email this morning. Fingers crossed. I hope it’s gonna be okay for Second Life.

Monday morning. I woke up from a restless sleep with five words on my mind – weekends just aren’t long enough. And sometimes coffee, even three large mugs of it before 10 am, isn’t enough.  And I hate to say it, but sometimes even Second Life just isn’t enough either. Sigh.

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Blogging is not writing, it's graffiti with punctuation"

I first heard the above quote when I saw the movie Contagion.  The movie was kind of ‘meh’, but I have always remembered that one line.  Those words stuck with me because as a person who loves to write and who has a blog, I have thought a lot about what makes a person a writer, and whether or not a person who blogs, is a writer.

Let’s just set aside writing techniques, proper grammar, sentence structure and all that for now, okay?  Because I suck at that and I know it.  If one were to judge whether someone is a writer based just on that, I would fail.  I am most certain of that.

I always remember keeping a journal.  I still have some of them, which I’m sure would make for some interesting and cringe worthy reading one night, if I ever feel up to it.  When I was in high school, I wrote articles for our school paper, and later one of my teachers took an interest in my writing and mentored me to write more poetry and short fiction.  Some of them got published in local poetry journals.  I wanted to be a writer, but I never had the self confidence to pursue it as a career.

But that doesn’t mean that I stopped writing for personal reasons.  For me, writing feels more like a need rather than something I choose to do when I have the time.  It’s like this - I have to write everyday, just like I have to have coffee every morning to get started.  I could certainly live without it, but I love the feel, smell and taste of it, and I would be damn cranky without it.  That sounds so fucking cheesy, but it’s true.  Most of my writing doesn’t ever see the light of day, and that’s a good thing, trust me.  Sometimes, if I think my words are something worth sharing, I will post them here on this blog, or my other rl blog (I don’t blog there as often though).  

One of my lifelong challenges is sharing my words with the world.  I feel that my best work is when I write honestly about my personal life and experiences in a way that others can relate to. But this also makes me feel incredibly vulnerable and I don’t like it.  I know that seems like a contradiction because I have shared a lot of personal things here on this blog.  I suppose the thin veil of anonymity has provided me with a certain amount of safety to do that, which has been a good thing for my self-confidence.  And perhaps it has also led me to feeling more comfortable with sharing more about my world outside of Second Life.

I’m rambling, I know…which reminds me why I like having a blog.  I can ramble on about whatever I want without any hard rules, besides my own.

I guess what I am saying is whether I am a blogger, a writer, or just a person who loves to write, shouldn't really matter, should it? What I think matters is that on the occasion when I do write something meaningful and publish it here, you can be sure that it is a genuine reflection of me - that includes the fluff and light hearted posts too.  I’m an introverted person by nature, but when I choose to open up and share of myself, I do it in the way that comes most natural to me – in writing.

If you made it through this cheesy, self-indulgent blog post, thanks for reading. I really do appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"When she gets restless, she gets KittyCats..."

I bit the bullet and went and purchased a KittyCats! starter pack.  I couldn't help myself.  I read about them on Emerald's blog and since I have been feeling so restless with nothing to do, what the hell?   I thought that after I released my Meeroos into the wilds of Second Life last year, that I was done with breedable pets, can I resist these cute little faces? Er, the kitty faces, not mine.

The cool thing about these virtual pets is that they can exist online on the KittyCats! website, outside of Second Life.  That means they don't have to take up your precious prims on your virtual home.  You can send them to your online Cattery where they can live and even breed, and then send them back into Second Life when you want to interact with them.  I sent mine to the Cattery last night, but have not yet tried to send them back inworld.  I'll try it out tonight.  Wish me luck!

Pretty cool huh?

It's the perfect anecdote for this restless soul.  Besides, aren't cats like stress reducers or something?  And these ones might even be better because they don't cough up disgusting fur balls.  Grosse.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Snakes and Speed Bumps

I have been feeling incredibly restless.  It's the reason why I dove into exploring and taking pics at Fantasy Faire (that is of course aside from the fact that Fantasy Faire was absolutely fabulous).  It kept me busy each evening and kept my mind off of my worries and frustrations. But now the fair is over, so now what am I going to do?!

Don't get me wrong, life is good.  I have everything I ever dreamed of - a loving husband, two beautiful children, a good career, a comfortable although tiny home in the city, a private downtown parking spot!  But, having achieved the life I always wanted, I find that my family has outgrown my dreams.  So we made some new goals.  We want to move out of the city and onto the next chapter of our family life.  We have a plan, and if I could have my way, we would be embarking on that plan asap.  Full speed ahead.

But there are speed bumps on the road that we did not anticipate.  A snake has made it's way into our plan and it really sucks.  Big time.  I am so restless, that I wonder if I am the snake slowing things down?  I can hardly sit still and I feel like I could crawl out of my own skin, like I need to get the hell outta Dodge, fast!  You know that feeling when you really, really, really want something and it is just within arms reach and you can't have it?  Yeah, that feeling.  It's torturous isn't it?

But I'm trying my best to be all Zen about it...

Speed bumps are there for a reason, right?  They are there to slow you down and keep you and everyone around you safe.  I can't make the speed bump go away, and I'm not going to recklessly pass over it either.  Well, I could do that but it would probably cause some damage and more problems to deal with down the road.  The only thing I can do is slow down and be content with everything we already have, and wait.  Enjoy the moment.  Be in the now.  Be happy.  Watch for speed bumps.  Don't kill any snakes.  Slow down.  Breathe.  Life is not so bad here that I need to exit so quickly.
I can do this.  I know I can.

So, anyone have any suggestions to keep me busy in Second Life while I get over this speed bump and wait for the snake to pass?

Devil's Locket, Fantasy Faire 2012

By the time you read see this post, Fantasy Faire will be over.  And that makes me sad.  I wish I would have been on the ball and started exploring the faire sooner.  If I was really smart, I would have signed up to be an official blogger for the event.  Oh well, there's always next year.
Devil's Locket was very cool, however my Macbook decided it didn't want to let me take pictures tonight, so I only have three images to share here.  And then I got distracted by my web browser and started reading, and then my friend who I hardly ever see in SL anymore logged in and that was pretty much the end of exploring and taking pics.
Anyway, if you didn't get a chance to get to Fantasy Faire, I hope you enjoyed my pictures.  I had a good time taking them.

I'm looking forward to next year...