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I've already posted about SLCC and how I'm feeling about that. What I don't know is whether dressing for it is going to be a one-time thing, something I will also do for other suitable occasions, or the beginning of a more substantial life change. Now that my wife is gone I have more freedom to think about who I want to be in RL.

What I know for sure is that I want to dress and move expressively, touch freely, and live with an open heart - and in our society here and now those things are all gendered female. (They're not innately female, in other times and places men have done all of them. About the only human universal about gender seems to be that there ARE gender roles; I don't know of any truly androgynous societies.) I just don't know what shape I will take when I get there!
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I want all my friends to be there! I want them to fall in love with fabulous me, me, me! I know I won't be as pretty in RL as my avatar is but I'll try my very best...

I've been talking with Misprint some more to plan my outfits. One of her recommendations is to get a petticoat, so I can wear skirts with a lot of flare; that will give me the figure I will need. I have plenty of skirts and dresses like that in-world so it's even in character. There is actually a store called Petticoat Junction that sells them, which I'm sure will amuse those of my readers who are either old enough to remember that show or who caught reruns on TV Land.

SLCC is offering a special discount for recently dismissed Lindens. I hope that it enables more of them to come, especially since the layoff seems to have disproportionately hit the Lindens who actually worked with the community. Shava Suntzu has written an excellent blog post about the Linden layoff.
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The Second Life Community Convention is coming up soon! It will be happening August 13-15 at the Park Plaza Hotel, right in the heart of Boston. The registration link is live now; click the graphic to get there.

I've thrown in my hat to volunteer to organize the art, machinima, and theater track. So if nobody better comes along, you just might be talking to me about it :) Whether or not it's me, make sure to get over to slconvention.org and put in proposals for art-related panels and events.

And... I'm planning to attend at least some of the convention as Shirley! (Certainly at least the big ball. I've already got a fabulous pair of shoes, something which is a challenge for my RL self; unlike SL they don't always fit.) Misprint Thursday has volunteered to help me with the makeover. I am so looking forward to meeting some of you as the me that I want to be; I hope you'll be there!
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My RL wife died yesterday. As deaths go, it was a good one; she died at home, with family attending (including me), and the really bad part of her illness was brief. There was less than a month between loss of (at least mostly) self-sufficience and death.

I've been scarce here in Second Life recently, and now you know why. Partly it's that the time demands of taking care of her in her final months made it harder for me to find time to be here -- and not just the quantity of time, but the fact that she could need my help at any time, immediately. But beyond that, it was the person that the imminent end was turning me into -- all my conversations had turned into my grumbling about how unhappy I was. Maybe that sort of gloom is what my RL self is about a lot of the time, but it's not what being Shirley is about, and I just couldn't be the happy, positive person that Shirley is.

After the acute stage of grief and the time demands of dealing with the aftermath of her death is past, I hope to be more present here in Second Life and reconnect with all my wonderful friends here.
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I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I'm coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

There's a new me coming out
And I just had to live
And I wanna give
I'm completely positive
I think this time around
I am gonna do it
Like you never do it
Like you never knew it
Ooh, I'll make it through

The time has come for me
To break out of the shell
I have to shout
That I'm coming out

I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I'm coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

I've got to show the world
All that I wanna be
And all my billities
There's so much more to me
Somehow, I have to make them
Just understand
I got it well in hand
And, oh, how I've planned
I'm spreadin' love
There's no need to fear
And I just feel so glad
Everytime I hear:

I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I'm coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show


Yes, that Means Something. I've been living a Second Lie for the past three and a half years, and I can't do it any more. Shirley is a woman, and always has been. But her typist isn't.

The strange thing is that, aside from the one big thing, everything that I say about myself is true. The big shared house, returning to school at a major Boston area university, the jobs, the hobbies, the spouse. But she's a wife, not a husband. I don't hide my interests or my knowledge.

So, the big question... why? I've been a woman in various forms of online community for over ten years now; my original name was Shirley You Jest, from the joke in Airplane! When I first started being female online it was an experiment, but I quickly discovered that I enjoyed being a part of women's conversations much more than the male ones - all the things I have written in this LJ about the differences in how men and women are treated in Second Life are true, and were true in pre-SL electronic community as well. I also enjoy being an equal opportunity flirt ;)

When I came to Second Life it was natural for me to want to live as a woman and I kept the name Shirley. I have never regretted the decision to live my Second Life as I do, only the need that I felt to not be honest about it. But I have found acceptance of my RL gender here; I owe eternal gratitude to the Bisexuals in Second Life group, the community of artists at Brooklyn is Watching, and most recently the wonderful people at FABGlitter.

Do I want to be a woman in RL? In a perfect world (say, one where switching is as simple as in a John Varley story and works as competely - see the short story "Options" or the novel Steel Beach), yes. In our imperfect world, where one can transition only at great expense to achieve an imperfect and irreversible result, I'm more hesitant, especially since it would mean leaving my wonderful wife behind. And my REAL dream is to be a beautiful and sexy woman like Shirley, whereas the reality is that I would be 50-something and probably not especially attractive. So given the real world choices available, no, although I want to (and already have) become a bit more like her - being Shirley has taught me to be more outgoing and to take better care of my body. Yes, the Proteus Effect works even when it's physically impossible!
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It's been a long time since I posted anything here. For a while all my writing energy was going into the Brooklyn is Watching blog; then I ended up getting some RL work for a while and was spending a lot less time in Second Life. In any case, I didn't have much to say here; life was going along as usual.

But now Linden Lab has given me something to talk about. Basically, they're proposing a bunch of new controls on adult content. It will be banished to a new mainland continent and to private estates that are rated Adult, and only residents who have either provided payment information or have age-verified with them (through their third party contractor, Aristotle) will be able to enter those areas. Search will have a selection box that allows you to choose which levels of content (PG, Mature, and/or Adult) to search for, and accounts that are not entitled to visit adult areas will not be able to search for adult content.

LL claims "Numerous Residents, from adult content vendors to educators, have requested additional controls to provide a more predictable Second Life experience." However, that seems totally contrary to my own experiences in-world. I haven't met anybody who is asking for this. Furthermore, the requirement for payment information or age verification is going to cause hardship to a lot of residents and in-world businesses. I HAVE met many people who refuse to give any such information to Linden Lab and/or their adult verification contractor because of lack of trust in those organizations. Furthermore there are some residents who will not easily be able to enable their accounts for adult access, because they live in countries where credit cards are not widely available, PayPal doesn't offer service, and LL's age verification contractor doesn't handle. The result: a lot of lost patronage and business for adult areas.

Another unfortunate consequence is that many residents and businesses will be forced to move. Owners of mainland will be offered land in the new continent, Ursula, but with no guarantees that the new land will be comparable in quality to the land they are being forced to leave. Renters on private islands are even worse off; if their current landlords do not choose to re-rate their current land as Adult, they will be forced to move with no assistance at all from Linden Lab, and it's likely that they will have to pay much more for the replacement land, especially at the beginning when Adult-rated land is scarce. All of the people who are forced to move will have to spend a lot of time rebuilding their residences and stores, and may incur substantial costs rebuilding. (Sure, you can take prims into your inventory and re-rez them for free, but what if you paid a builder to create what you have now? That labor won't be free.)

The bottom line: some squeamish residents are asking for change, and the wrong people are being forced to bear the time and monetary costs. If there really are residents who want a sanitized Second Life, they are the ones who should bear the costs of relocation and rebuilding in new spaces, not the existing residents and businesses who are happy where they are.

Finally, I don't like the fact that LL is imposing restrictions on what I can do with my existing Mature-rated land. I'm actually tempted to create some adult content, put it out on my land, and host a few adult events just so they'll banish me to Ursula! But I LIKE my neighbors... so unless I can convince my entire sim to do the same thing so they'll relocate us all it won't work.
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As of two weeks ago, I'm blogging for the in-world art gallery Brooklyn is Watching. Come read my posts, and visit the gallery in-world.
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Virtual CSI:NY closed on May 15. (It didn't actually get closed until the morning of the 16th, but staffing ended the previous evening. Close enough.) There was a big dance at Club Random and on the Orientation Islands on the final night, with Nexeus Fatale as the DJ (he was the DJ for the regular Thursday night dances at Club Random through the last scheduled one on April 30); it was a bittersweet night as everybody got together and said their last goodbyes.

Now that it's over, I can also say a bit more about its impact on Second Life. (Note to the lawyers; all numbers that I cite here are public data from SLNameWatch.com, and thus not subject to the non-disclosure agreement I signed.)

The CSI:NY registration portal had its own list of last names: Adlerstein, Ashley, Askham, Aubos, Bashir, Bazno, Belfire, Bernst, Boothroyd, Chenaux, Christen, Cliffhanger, Connaught, Dagenhall, Defroig, Delight, Dhanhu, Eldridge, Eleventhauer, Elfan, Emsbury, Eppeston, Firlan, Frabersham, Garmouth, Giadelli, Gordonstone, Harchester, Henly, Ireland, Irling, Ishnoo, Jennings, Jodra, Jolafson, Karphar, Kenthauer, Kingstop, Kirktown, Kleb, Leeming, Liertow, Loam, Lunark, Maudower, Mayflower, Moonbeam, Mosten, Nessen, Newbauld, Njaim, Northolt, Oppental, Orfein, Ostaschon, Oughden, Pappilomo, Periapse, Perrin, Philter, Qaven, Qualcar, Quinsette, Raffles, Ramir, Rasteridge, Redstar, Reinoir, Robenet, Schama, Senne, Shawbridge, Szpieler, Thorsveld, Tischler, Trappen, Trialle, Umbram, Urnst, Vasser, Vlitzen, Vonbaum, Wallifers, Weder, Weidman, Whittenstall, Yengawa, Yeshto, Zebberman. Those names were not available elsewhere, so counting the number of avatars gives us an estimate of the number of accounts that were created through CSI. To the best of my knowledge, this list was active for the entire history of CSI, and there were no other CSI-specific names that were discontinued earlier. As of May 19 (four days after the closing), there were 196,492 avatars with those names. Some avatars were probably created and then closed by their creators or by Linden Lab®, so let's say 200,000 in round numbers.

200,000 may not be quite the flood that some of us thought might arrive, given that the television series has over 10 million viewers a week in the US alone. Still, it's not an insignificant number; it represents about 50% of the number that currently sign up each month -- though there was a big spike in registrations in October 2007. (See the Second Life® economic statistics for more information on Second Life signup rates.) That number also understates the total; some unknown number of people signed up through secondlife.com rather than CBS. From the outside, we have no way of knowing how many of those registration actually represent new humans, rather than alts created by existing Second Life residents, nor do the statistics tell us how many have stayed in Second Life long-term. New registrations were continuing to come in until the end; I compiled similar numbers on May 1, and there were over 5,000 more CSI avatars on May 19.

The most popular CSI avatar name was Delight (9,425), followed closely by Ashley (8.764); Ireland was third (7,041), closely beating Moonbeam (7,030). The least popular by a considerable margin was Ostaschon (234); second place was Oughden (419). Periapse (492) was the only other name with fewer than 500 avatars.

Various things about the way that CSI was run suggest that it was always intended as a limited-time promotional area rather than a permanent community. Aside from the crime-solving puzzles, the only scheduled activity was a weekly dance. Building a permanent community would have involved more activities -- and consequently more staff and more expense. It's possible that the television writer's strike affected some plans. By now it won't do any harm to reveal that the second CSI-in-SL episode was originally planned for February; we were pleased to see CBS reopen the season with it in April.

Another big broadcast television related Second Life project, Gossip Girl, provides some interesting contrasts. As of today, over 76,000 GossipGirl avatars have signed up; not as many as CSI, but the show has a much smaller number of viewers, many of whom are underage for Second Life. (However, the broadcast ratings for Gossip Girl understate the total number of viewers, as it has been a huge hit on cwtv.com and on iTunes.) It appears that a much larger percentage of Gossip Girl viewers than of CSI viewers have signed up for Second Life, which likely reflects the very different nature of the programs and their viewers. The Gossip Girl build is not as impressive as CSI in my opinion, but they are putting in the effort to build community, running at least two events a day.

I think the conclusion to be drawn here is that the success of media-related projects is likely to have as much to do with WHO watches your product as with the total numbers. Programs with young, hip, and connected viewers (witness the huge success of the first big media-related project in Second Life, The L Word) will thrive; programs with different viewer profiles shouldn't be expected to reach as big a slice of the viewership, at least not until virtual worlds become a mainstream activity.
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Last week, a WindLight viewer was officially released and became the primary download. (It's still possible to download and use the previous version if you really want to.) I've been using WindLight a long time -- I tried the original First Look (the one back in the summer of last year) and didn't like it much (the lighting was TOO extreme and there was a major performance penalty), and started using the new series of First Looks and Release Candidates just about as soon as they became available (much better than the earlier one right from the start, and they continued to improve over time). But I've run into a lot of people who HATE WindLight, especially in the fashion community. There has been a lot of conversation about it on the Second Life forums, pro and con, and I've had a few things to say in the defense of WindLight. Since not everybody reads the forums (heck, not everybody CAN, you have to have payment info on file), I am offering my comments here.

First, in response to a comment about the color of the WindLight sunrises and sunsets:

The WindLight sunrise and sunset colors are actually pretty accurate depictions of what the light at those hours looks like -- to a CAMERA. The human eye and brain adapt to lighting color, making the change in light color seem far less dramatic if you are actually standing there looking at things. This may be the core of the disagreement between people who love WindLight and the people who hate it. The WindLight view is cinematic; it attempts to reproduce what a camera would see under various conditions. The people who dislike it want a view more like what they see in their mind's eye after the brain has made all its adjustments.

Try taking some pictures of an outdoor scene at various times of the day, using slide film and a film camera. (Using a digital camera or a video camera might not give you the effect you're looking for, because some of them automatically adjust the white balance. Taking prints rather than slides also won't give you the full effect, because the machine that makes the prints also tries to adjust the colors.) Look at how different the colors look at the different times of day, and how much like the WindLight rendering it is.

If you really don't like the dramatic shifts in lighting color, you can tone them down with the environment editor. In future viewers those environments will be tradeable assets, so you will be able to buy (or get for free) environments that you like better.


Second, about the way that you sometimes get areas of washed-out color and bright spots:

There isn't any way to get rid of it, and LL considers it to be a feature rather than a bug.

On non-WindLight viewers, the lighting level clamps at maximum; that is, once it reaches a certain point, pumping more light into a scene has no effect. WindLight handles lighting more realistically; it is possible to overlight a scene and have colors wash out. A few bright colors wash out under the noon sun, just as they do in RL, and you can also over-light a scene with local lighting.

Unfortunately, many pre-WindLight personal lighting systems (facelights, etc.) are WAY too bright. On the old viewer, that didn't matter, because the light level just goes to maximum and stays there. On the WindLight viewer, the result is very ugly. The best fix is for the owners to adjust their lights.

The use of full-bright textures may also need revisiting on WindLight. Adding local lighting to a scene with full-bright textures can result in washed-out areas.


Finally, a response to somebody who thought that the lights and shadows are overdone:

It's like this. WindLight brings in more realistic lighting... but that includes change of lighting color depending on time of day, much stronger light and shadow effects, and the possibility of colors washing out in strong light. Pre-WindLight Second Life is more like an eternal cloudy day; the lighting is very flat and constant in color, just the intensity changes a little depending on time of day.

But some people LIKE the eternal cloudy day. You can get that in WindLight by leaving your time set permanently to 5:30am (just before sunrise)... everything will be a bit dark compared to the old viewer, but you can adjust your monitor to compensate. (No blue sky though.) Or you could develop a custom preset that would be flat lighting but brighter. By the way, it's easier to leave your personal time constant in a WindLight viewer; if you force a time of day it doesn't automatically reset to region time when you enter another sim.

What the original comment meant (if we change it any more we might as well not have it) refers to the fact that LL toned down the light and shadow effects in later versions of the WindLight viewer, compared to early ones. Toning it down much more would return us to the world of flat lighting, making the whole exercise pointless.

For now you can stick to 1.19.0 if you don't like WindLight; there is a link on the blog to download it if you need it. But the days of non-WindLight viewers are numbered; eventually there will be a mandatory update that will cause all the pre-WindLight viewers to stop working -- not for that reason, but because the non-WindLight viewers lack some other code feature that is necessary for the proper functioning of Second Life. Perhaps by then we will have tradeable WindLight assets, so people can buy a set of flat atmospheres if that's what they want.
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I changed the title of my LiveJournal today to comply with the new Second Life® guidelines for using trademarks. I'm not changing what the journal is about; it will still about my experiences in the Second Life virtual world. I've just taken it out of the title to please the lawyers.

(Second Life is a registered trademark of Linden Lab®. There, happy?)
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I have been working as a greeter in Virtual CSI:NY. (Yes, real-life employment for which I get money.) So I have spent a lot of time there, and got a early look at the project before it was available to the public. I have some good things and some bad to say...

The project prepared for the possibility of massive numbers of visitors. On opening night, there were 104 copies of the CSI:NY build in operation, each of which occupies four islands (two orientation islands and two for exploration and crime solving). With 416 islands in operation and an avatar limit of 50 on each, it would have been possible for more than 20,000 avatars to be in CSI at once. I was on the 10pm-3am SLT shift greeting that night, so I missed the first peak when the show aired on the east coast. During the time I was there, I never saw it get close to completely full, but I'm sure that the peak was over 5,000 avatars in CSI at once, making it the largest event ever held in Second Life by a substantial margin. The number of copies was reduced to 26 the next day, and to 7 this week, as the initial rush died down. There was a second spike in people coming in last night -- CBS aired more promos for CSI in Second Life during the show last night -- but it was within the capacity of the seven copies of Virtual CSI that are now online.

With so many people present, it should come as no surprise that there were some lag problems on opening night. The biggest problem was avatars whose clothing never seemed to bake and who were unable to move. I suspect some of that was caused by new residents whose computers proved to be inadequate to the challenge of running Second Life well. People had feared that the influx of people would cause lag in the rest of Second Life, but it does not seem to have happened.

Newcomers who come through cbs.com were brought to a third-party registration portal run by the Electric Sheep Company (ESC), the builders of Virtual CSI. There, they downloaded a new viewer called OnRez that was developed by ESC; it makes some user interface changes to the SL viewer in an attempt at making it easier to use. The OnRez viewer also comes with the CSI toolbar already worn by the avatar, which you choose from a set of twelve pre-designed avatars. Once you arrive at CSI Orientation, the lessons are nearly all about crime solving, with only brief mentions of the movement keys and chat and IM. Because the orientation is mostly about solving cases, I recommend it for all CSI visitors, even those with plenty of SL experience.

Existing SL residents, and newcomers who went through secondlife.com rather than CBS, do not get the special pre-designed avatars or the toolbar; they could pick up a toolbar HUD from a sign at the landing point at Orientation. Unfortunately, many people missed the sign, perhaps because of rez delays, so the greeters spent a lot of time reminding people to get the toolbar. You can also click the sign to get a link to download the OnRez viewer (it's not required to use Virtual CSI, although the toolbar is); it's worth a try to see how ESC has redesigned the viewer, and using it makes Virtual CSI rez faster. (The faster rezzing is specific to CSI; it's done by having the textures pre-loaded in the viewer. It probably also helped keep down the hit on the asset server. The standard LL viewer does the same thing for the textures on LL's Orientation Island.)

The usual information about avatar customization is omitted. I believe that the designers expected that the CSI fans would want to get into solving cases immediately, rather than spending time designing their virtual selves. However, the television episode DID spend time showing avatar customization and shopping for virtual clothing, so unsurprisingly a lot of the newcomers asked about those things. I directed many of them to Fashion Avenue, a shopping area that ESC set up along with Virtual CSI, which has a second orientation that explains how to change your avatar and how to buy things.

Once you get past orientation and onto the main CSI islands, you can solve cases. Currently, three are open. The High Flying case is simple; an experienced SL user can solve it in under 30 minutes, and thus it makes a good introduction. The other two are more difficult. New cases, and additional evidence for the continuing Finding Venus case, will be introduced later.

The build is good but not jawdropping. The level of detail in the buildings is modest; the designers appear to have wanted to reserve prims for the crime scenes, and to keep the total prim count of the build reasonable to keep lag down. There aren't many blatant mistakes, but one did slip through; the "billboards" on the orientation islands advertising "Chefanista's Deli... fine meats and pultry". Chefanista's Deli is involved in one of the cases; it is possible that the misspelling is intentional. Me and other greeters were employed pre-release to check out the build; many errors were corrected after that testing. Most of the buildings are just shells that you can't enter; only a few actually have interiors. Surprisingly, there is very little to buy in CSI, though there is a small props and souvenirs shop. (Signs in Central Park do direct people to Fashion Avenue, however.)

Fashion Avenue is worth a visit even for experienced residents. The Simone! Design / TorridWear store is especially recommended, as the two designers have chosen to offer some special bargains; it's hard to beat a Simone dress for L$10!

The biggest lack in the project: there doesn't seem to be any obvious way to build community in Virtual CSI. There are no public events, and not a lot of natural gathering places. (Central Park could serve as one.) I would like to see some events held in CSI, and some attempt to tell the newcomers about the Second Life that exists beyond CSI. Unless that happens, I don't think that many of the CSI visitors will stay in Second Life, or at most will visit a couple of times a month to solve the new cases.

[two updates a week later. The number of copies of the CSI build that are open to the public is now down to two. The Sheep have been listening on the community issue; there is a dance party scheduled tonight, November 8, from 7-9pm SLT in the CSI:NY amphitheater.]
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Mostly this isn't a fashion blog, but I couldn't resist showing off Simone's new one-piece swimsuit, Lamar. If you've been looking for something to wear to the beach with a little more coverage than a bikini, look no further. Cute, available in at least six colors (black, blue, green, orange, pink, and red), and like all Simone creations, very well crafted. You can't see it in the LJ pic, but the seam matching -- both at the sides and top to bottom -- is perfect.


 

(Disclaimer: I am one of Simone's Supermodels, so I get this stuff for free. I'm not paid further to put it on my LJ, though.)
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I survived the third round of the Simone Supermodels competition -- event hosting! (All of my fellow Vintage Vixens made it through as well -- congratulations!) The next step in the process will be classes in runway skills and shape design; then on to the modeling gigs. I think I'm already pretty good with shapes (I design all my own), but I'm sure I can learn more.

Aside from that, my Second Life has been fairly quiet. I get in from time to time to see my friends, and that's been about it. I will probably get a burst of creative energy once I finish recovering from the school semester.

Morgana, I still miss you. I hope you come back to Second Life some day.
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Come to Calico Kitty tonight for Fabulous Forties, presented by Vintage Vixens! Here's the SLURL to get there.

The full event announcement:

Please join us for a fun 1940's flavored evening and a chance at several prizes!

Throw on your best 1940's attire and get ready to dance the night away at Calico Creation’s Island! Test your forties savvy and style to win one of our contests with fabulous prizes from Simone! Design, Calico Creations, and ~silentsparrow~!

Addicted to shopping?
Love having fun?
Craving some prizes?

Head on down and meet the Vintage Vixens!

Chele Lane
silverkat Tiger
Simone Sautereau
Starr Raine
Kalia Meiklejohn
Shirley Marquez

Event Date:
May 31, 2007

Event time:
7:30 - 10:30 pm

Simone Sautereau took some fabulous pinup pictures for the event. Here are mine:



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Tonight, I was at Club H2O. They were having an event for furries, so I put on the rainbow tiger I picked up a few days ago when I was bored. (Naturally, just buying it wasn't enough; I also customized it by dyeing the hair red, and redoing the shape to be more curvaceous.) Just after the event ended (which I won -- woot!), the owner showed up and returned EVERYTHING on the land!! Just like that, the place was closed; no advance notice to anybody. There were still more events scheduled, and the host for the next one was already on hand waiting to start it. Places close in SL all the time, but I've never seen a closing quite as abrupt at that. People had rented spaces on other areas of the island; as I write this, they don't know whether their rent will be refunded. (Certainly I hope the land owner will do the honorable thing and refund it, though it may have to wait until the land sale goes through and the owner actually has money.)

The imminent demise of Foo Island comes close, though. The people involved with that only found out about by reading a forum post by the island owner offering it for sale. Again, there are renters wondering what will happen to the spaces they paid for. For now, the island is still in operation -- the land hasn't been sold yet -- but the axe could fall at any time.

Sunday was the final day of operation of the Angry Ant. Its owner, Sarah Nerd, has gotten increasingly involved in land buying and selling, and wanted to pursue that rather than running the club. (And she probably makes a lot more money at it!) There was a somewhat teary all-day farewell party for the Ant; the next day, the entire build was gone. (Tearing things down in SL is easy; one click on "return objects" will do it.) The thing I'll miss most about the Ant is the music; there isn't a lot of alternative rock being played in SL.

Finally, Renfest Island has less than a week to live; it's closing on September 1. That's the one that affects me most directly; I rented a small merchant space there. But the owner didn't pull any surprises; we were notified more than a month in advance, and if we hadn't paid rent all the way out to September 1, we were given the space for free for the duration. People who had paid farther ahead were given refunds. I'm sorry to see it go; it was a beautiful build. But kudos to the owners for handling the situation well.

All in all, it's been a time to make you really think about the impermanance of life, and expecially of Second Life.
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I was hanging out with a couple of friends at The Bluffs yesterday, and a new resident flew in, said hello, and asked whether we were having a reunion of the relatives of Latin American writers. We all thought about it (me, whose last name likely comes from Gabriel García Márquez, 1928-, Colombia), Morgana Neruda (from Pablo Neruda, 1904-1973, Chile), and ZeroOne Paz (from Octavio Paz, 1914-1998, Mexico) and were amused. We all came into SL during October of last year; LL must have been on a streak of such names that month. They don't seem to have used Borges or Cortázar, though... nor either of my favorite Latin American writers, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003, Chile) or Edmundo Paz Soldan (1967-, Bolivia).

Too busy...

Dec. 6th, 2005 10:34 am
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I haven't added anything to this journal; I apologize. I've just been far too busy living my Second Life to write about it!

For starters, I'm no longer an SL virgin. The first time was very sweet; thank you, Angelo, for a special memory I will always remember. Others have been sweet, hot, sexy, passionate -- all the things that sex should be. All of my lovers have understood my wishes to be non-exclusive, and many of them are friends of each other as well as me -- the tribe of friends and lovers that I dreamed about is starting to form!

Efshar has been wanting me to meet his other girlfriend, Karra, for a while, but was apprehensive about. Last night, we finally all made it happen, and to his surprise (but not mine or Karra's), the two of us immediately hit it off. We had a long conversation which included topics like housebuilding and shopping, but also had a continuing undercurrent of teasing and innuendo, as well as some straightforward talk about our relationships with each other. I think Efshar had trouble understanding that jealousy simply wasn't going to be an issue; we are both genuinely happy to make him happy. I was delighted to meet another person who helped make the life of my friend better, and hope that she will also be a good friend of mine.

Morgana... how can I count the ways I love you? You have been the big sister I never had in RL. You have been my shopping buddy, my dance partner, my confidante. You have introduced me to people who have become important parts of my life. You're my very very bestest friend in all of Second Life. I know bestest isn't really a word, but merely "best" doesn't fully express how I feel.

Of course, I've done a lot of shopping over the past month. I've got a lot of fun new outfits; I so enjoy changing my look thoroughly from day to day, so that my friends never know quite what to expect. Highlights of the wardrobe expansion: some great jeans from IC Designz, a salsa dress from Simone's, a couple of Japanese goth outfits from Barerose, a little number from GlamOur Girls that makes me look like a Parisian streetwalker, and an amazing vintage dress from West Trade Imports. And a new skin from Govindra that is a much closer match to my natural tone. I can tell you what not to expect: drab, boring, unattractive -- I always dress to thrill! I love outfits with accessories like leg cuffs or gloves, so I have something to leave on as decoration when I undress. And I always (well, almost always) wear the TEASE necklace -- even when I wear nothing else ;)

After a week living in the tent, and another week or so in a starter house, I finished my own house! Some of the elements started life as pieces of the "free gray 30-prim house" that is freely available, but I totally disassembled it, made changes, and put it back together differently, to the extent that the original really serves more as a lesson on how to build houses than as an actual house. The final house has three levels. On top of the deck is the party room; just one big 10x20 meter room with very little furniture. (There is one couch in case people need to rest a bit from dancing.) The front wall is entirely glass, including large sliding doors, to take full advantage of the view. Below the deck, one side of the house has my bedroom and a guest room; the other half of it is the living room, with a high ceiling (which really helps with the camera angles in such a small house). I've made a few adjustments since, including shingling the outside walls (and then redoing it after I discovered, to my chagrin, that I had installed them upside-down!) and adjusting the boards on the deck, but I'm happy with the basic design. This week, I put up the Christmas tree and a few other decorations; what I can do is limited, because I just have the one plot of First Land so far, and I'm up against the object limits.

On a sadder note, Club Felix has been dying on the vine. The building is still there, more glorious than ever; Detect Surface continued building new additions to the club until a few days before Thanksgiving. (He has now maxed out the land, and his RL has gotten busier, so there probably won't be much new added for a while.) Evangeline Elytis, the formerly tireless social leader of the club, has been taking some time off to recover, and that has been a huge blow; most evenings, the place is empty now. I really miss it; Felix was the first place in Second Life to make me feel really welcome, and it was my home away from home for a while. I have checked out other clubs, but none of them can quite fill the place in my heart that Club Felix did.

I can't share any pictures right now; SL is down for maintenance. (Maybe that's why I finally had time to write!) I'll post some when it's possible again.

(Edited to correct Karra's name -- sorry about that!! Edited again to fix a typo.)
shirleymarquez: (Default)
I've been on a shopping spree recently...

A couple of days ago, I went out shopping with Morgana Neruda. I got some new outfits, some hair... and a skin. It's not a perfect match for my own lovely skin tone, alas, just the best match I could find off the rack. Oddly, it matches pretty well in sunlight, but looks much darker than my own skin at night. Someday, I want a skin that is really ME -- one made to match my natural skin and hair colors, but complete in all the right places ;) So I think I'll save this one for special occasions; private parties, and club nights that call for it. (Not at Felix, which is PG, but for things like the wet T-shirt contest they had at The Edge recently.)

Yes, I have been checking out some of the other clubs. Besides The Edge (mentioned in a previous entry), I have also been over to Club Vixens, and to a hip-hop place the name of which I can't remember right now. But Felix is still my home away from home; I love the people there. Evangeline Elytis is a very special organizer; she has a knack for getting people up and dancing, and not just because she has a machine to do it.

Later, Morgana and I had a little party in my tent; we had a couple of guys over to watch us dance in our skins and smiles. Sorry, readers; no pictures of this one! My LJ follows Second Life community standards; publicly-available content must be PG. I didn't have the music on my land working in time for the party, but it's working now; at the moment, it's tuned to Funky Hot Mix, the same station that plays at Felix most of the time.

I also started my very own group: Shirley's Housemates! The inspiration was that one of my newest friends, Laurabel Bjornson, was looking for a safe place to live. (She's involved with a guy that she wants to be able to get away from once in a while.) I wanted to offer her my little space as her home setting, but for that to work, it must be group land, and she had to be part of the group. So I created one, deeded the land over to it, and invited some friends to join. All the women are officers; the men are Party Crashers. What can I say; it's a matriarchy. Once I finish the house, it will have guest rooms where all the group members will be welcome to stay whenever they like.

Yesterday, more shopping. I got Laurabel a bit of bling to thank her for inspiring me to get my group going; she picked out a lovely pair of earrings at RICX's. We also checked out Curious Kittys, which features some wilder looks than you have seen me in; lots of Japanese-inspired goth stuff. I picked up a new hairdo there that I wore to Felix last night, along with the shiny red catsuit that I also bought yesterday. The party was in the newest part of the club; a rather industrial-looking area with dark walls. Pictures at a later time; SL is down right now for the 1.7.2 upgrade, so I can't get in to take one.

There was a bit of excitement at Felix yesterday afternoon. A couple of guys broke in and started bombing the place. Fortunately, due to a quick response by Felix Marat and Detect Surface, there was no lasting damage, and the perpetrators have been banned from the premises. Afterward, I talked to Felix for a while; he talked a bit about the plans for the future of the club, and showed me some of his dance moves.

My new neighborhood has been developing rapidly. When I moved in just a few days ago, it was nearly all empty land. Now, there are a number of houses nearby, and even one large commercial-looking building. For Sale signs have popped up on a number of nearby plots of land; it looks as though some of the area has been bought up by a developer. There is a small patch of protected land right behind my lot, so I'm guaranteed to have a little bit of open space nearby. I just hope that people don't put up stuff big enough to block my view!

(Edited to eliminate an ambiguous use of a pronoun.)
shirleymarquez: (Default)
This is another meta-entry, on taking responsibility for our sexual natures.
Read more... )
shirleymarquez: (Default)
This is another of my occasional meta-entries. Warning: this one isn't in Shirley's usual sweet voice; non-meta readers who don't want to be disillusioned will want to skip it.
Read more... )
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