Participate in events which live in both worlds

Friday, October 10, 2008

The NPR radio show Science Friday has been airing its shows with an added Second Life component. The team has designed a spiffy outdoor ampitheater and Ira Flatow has an avatar he uses in world to represent him. His producers read the questions and comments that fly by in chat, relaying the more interesting ones to Ira, who will acknowledge the questioner and answer the question on national radio. During this session, I was delighted to actually have him addresss one of my questions on the air. It was my fifteen seconds – hehe!

Following is my transcript of my notes I took live. Please forgive the rough nature of the notes.

Science Friday host Ira Flatow on Oct. 10 hosted a 2-hour radio show which ran on National Public Radio and also in Second Life, with opportunities for questions from both.

The show included guest Robert Colwell, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut.

Scientists have found a bacterium that is self-sufficient – contains all the tools they need to eat and grow.ร‚ย ร‚ย  Here’s a link:

Off-duty Linden Prospero Linden attended the show in Second Life. “Self-sufficient bacteria should be able to take over the Earth,” he commented in the chat window during a discussion of the self-sufficient bacteria discovered near a gold mine. “They really CAN kill off all other species without worrying about themselves.”

View image

Visit Science School in Second Life
Be sure to visit the Science Friday Web site for background information about the guests and the topics discussed, as well as a replay of the show.
You can listen to the show live online at
Bjorlyn Loon, the Science Friday group manager in Second Life, adds: “From Birth to Death and Bench to Clinic: The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists, Policymakers, and Campaigns”
Question: re: Congress getting pertinent information from lobbyists, why can’t legitimate science organizations provide information to Congress in addition to lobbyists?
Answer: There is an increasing effort on the part of nonprofits to provide good information to the government. Example: The Bioethics Briefing Book.
The Hastings Center is next working on a book about end of life issues like hospice care and palliative care.
Also, the Hastings Center is working on researching the ethics of performance enhancers such as steroids, etc.

The chat log is scrolling very fast now and people are vociferously debating the ethics of health care policy and how it should/can be made better.
*End of first hour**Second hour to start soon*
A law has been passed which classifies some forms of mental illness as coverable by health insurance. William C. Moyers, Vice President for Internal Affairs at Hazelton Foundation.
The biggest highlight is that Congress and the President have acknowledged that diseases like bipolar and depression are actual chronic diseases that need to be treated and included with other diseases in terms of coverage by private health care insurance.
So the bill is a major step in the right direction of acknowledging mental illness as a legitimate illness. This would affect businesses over 50 employees and are already covering addictions treatment. It would require the same copay for that kind of treatment as for other kinds of treatment that are not classified as mental illness.
Will insurers be able to refuse an application for insurance based upon a family history of mental illness? Moyers said he really didn’t know – it is possible. He said he is a recovering addict and alcoholic and he thinks being able to talk about one’s recovery is a healthy thing and not a negative.
Is addiction treatment a bipartisan issue?
The reality is that this is an illness that has reached across both aisles of Congress. We have a terrible problem with the War on Drugs where we just lock people up for being addicts. Governmental leaders are waking up to the idea that we need a different way to handle this by holding addicts responsible for seeking their own treatment for this.
Correcting an earlier attribution: Not “Hazelton” but “Hazelden” –
Has there been an emergence in this country as talking about addiction as a form of treatable illness.
Stat: Only 25% of people who need treatment for addiction ever get it in this country. (needs attribution)

Question: Does the new law limit the number of visits to the doctor for treatment? It’s not a carte blanche and companies need to be able to limit the overall costs of health care, but the point of the bill is to make the treatments for mental illness and addiction treated in the same way by insurance companies (copays, etc.) as other kinds of illnesses, for companies that cover both already.
Broken: My Story of Redemption and Addiction is the name of Moyers’ book.
Next segment: Gardening
Gardening all year long: four-season gardening.
Most important ingredient for a buffer crop in your own back yard is COMPOST.

Find out why your compost heap just isn’t working.
First guest – Barbara Damrosh, owner of Four Season Farm in Brooksville, Maine and a Washington Post correspondent.

Maine is very cool, moist climate, but not a lot of sun. Growth is pretty much continuous so right now there is just harvesting going on.
ABCs of fall gardening:
1. Clean up any debris or weeds.
2. Put down a couple of inches of well-rotted compost to begin soaking in
If you don’t have to till or dig you can get started more quickly in the spring.
If you want to get crops in early winter, you have to sow crops in early fall or late summer. Some areas are still okay to start this stuff. Look for unusual greens that do well in cooler areas like asian greens, etc.
If you’re in the South you probably can leave them in the regular ground. But if you’re farther north you need to use a cold frame in the ground.
Some of the root crops do very well in colder soil.

Debra Martin on worms and composting. You can set up a worm bin in your home with a plastic storage container of about 14 gallons. Your worms will eat a couple of pounds of kitchen compost per week. The soil should not be too wet but only lightly moist. Martin started her bin with about 200 red worms from a fishing bait store.
Interesting: red worms like warmer environments like manure rather than wild worms which are for the most part night crawlers and like cooler temps.
Preparation of the worm bin – drill some holes in it about 6 inches apart for air flow.
Shred some 3-inch pieces of wet newspaper, mix in a cup of compost and a cup of soil to help the worms digest the food.
Throw in a cup of corn meal to start the food. Mix well and add worms.
When are the worms ready for the kitchen scraps? Not long – a couple of days. Monitor the bin by lifting the lid – if there is a lot of condensation or the worms are near the top, it may be too moist and you’d want to prop the lid up for a while to air it out.
Worms don’t tend to like anything with a potential to grow, as in seeds. They like:
coffee grounds and filters
tea bags
apple cores
bad spots on veggies
egg shells
bread crust
moldy bread
cooked vegetables (not greasy or salted)
NOT onions or citrus
Damrosh has a compost bin outside.
Flatow says there is a video on the Web site about how to make a compost tea out of worm compost. I think it is this one:
Correcting the spelling – not “Damrosh” but “Damrosch”
Managing larva in your compost bin – scrape them off and remove them.
Bury the food in the compost soil to make the scraps more available to the worms and also to discourage the flies from being attracted.
Damrosch’s book can be found here:
Other ways to garden when it’s cool:
floating row cover
wall of water
cold frame
Martin’s book info can be found here (as well as her Web site with lots more info about composting):
Martin – on the care of the worms and harvesting the compost :
dump the compost out on a piece of newspaper in a lighted place in a volcano shape. Gradually scoop off the top and sides of a cone. The worms will continue burrowing to the center to avoid the light, and in this way you can get compost for the garden without getting your worms. Use a soil sifter to get the rest of them before putting the compost in your gardens.

The author of this blog gardened in Oklahoma for 10 years and thoroughly enjoyed it (except for weeding in August!). I got a strange pleasure from handling the worms, but I didn’t know to try out the red worms. I just had night crawlers. But my compost bin was a great design – like two farm pens with a lower dividing section in the center. Both sides had a gate with latch so you could easily turn the pile from one section to the other. Bricks were underneath.
Can you compost with seaweed? Yes, you can – has lots of nitrogen and trace elements and composts very easily. Shells are also wonderful for the compost bin and will gradually break down. Lobster shells and similar chitin coverings also will compost, a bit more quickly than the clam shells.
“Worms Eat my Garbage” by Mary Hasselhoff
Great starter book on worm composting.

Can you grow mushrooms in the worm bin in your house? I asked and Ira repeated on national radio. Answer: Yes, we’ve grown mushrooms in worm compost before. It’s worth a try.

These notes were taken using the online live blogging tool If you haven’t yet tried this tool, you really will like it. See the transcript and get a link to the site so you can try it too.

Participate in an online discussion

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One of the things I enjoy doing in Second Life is participating in, and helping with, online discussion groups. I volunteer with a group called Play as Being, which holds daily meetings in Second Life for the purpose of discussing the results of their experimentation with meditation techniques.

There’s not a teacher or a lecturer; rather, it’s a loose grouping of people having a free-form discussion which sometimes closely follows the meditation topic and sometimes only touches on it. The participants, a mix of regulars and new drop-ins, are diverse in their geographic locations, level of expertise in the topic, and spiritual beliefs.

As a group leader for the Thursday night meeting (7 p.m. SLT), my responsibility is mostly to welcome new people and explain the premise of the group as needed. I also help facilitate a good discussion by asking questions and clarifying to keep people engaged, but I don’t guide or teach, because I am not an expert by any means.

With the permission of the participants, we save the chat log from the meetings and post them to our Play as Being wiki with comments from the “Guardian” that was facilitating at the meeting.

After participating in these meetings for a few months, I now realize there is a natural pattern to these meetings which helps everyone have a better experience in the discussion. What follows is my attempt to offer some suggestions to all participants of online discussion groups, in Second Life or otherwise, which will make the overall group experience much richer.

Basic etiquette for any gathering in a 3D world:

  1. Take care to choose your appearance to match the formality of the group; avoid wearing extremely revealing or possibly
    offensive clothing or attachments until you know the group norms better. If everyone else has a hat on, get out a hat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Adjust the size of your avatar or use a smaller avatar if it looks like it will be too large to fit in the discussion area. Some avatars are very large and could fill entire rooms or block views.

  3. Avoid using sounds or gestures unless the group is okay with that. In Second Life dancing events, for example, it’s considered polite to show appreciation for the musician or DJ by making cheering noises such as Hooooooo! In a quieter discussion group, this would be off-putting.

  4. Follow group behavior norms about avatar positioning to avoid distractions. If everyone else is standing, stand. If everyone else is sitting, sit.

  5. If someone offers you inventory, such as a toy or a garment or a notecard, be sure to thank them in regular chat or in IM. If possible without disrupting the group activity, wear the object or in some way try it out to show your appreciation.

  6. Tipping of the musician/DJ and hosts is customary in entertainment venues. It’s not expected and probably would be considered rude to directly tip a discussion group leader. If you appreciate what the group is doing and want to help, ask the leader if there is a tip box somewhere in the region. There usually is, and donations would be appreciated there.

  7. Choose your entry and exit points with consideration for others. In 3D worlds like Second Life, you can teleport to specific locations and save those locations as landmarks. Save the landmarks for locations slightly outside the discussion group area so that if you follow a landmark after the group has begun, you don’t suddenly appear on top of someone’s head. If someone lands on your head by accident, be forgiving. It happens sometimes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tips for better discussions in any kind of chat, 3D or otherwise:

  1. When you are responding to something another participant said, start your response with his or her assumed name. Even if you know someone’s real name, don’t use it in open chat.

  2. If you know that someone is in the middle of expressing an idea (i.e., you can see their hands typing or they’ve already said something that appears to be an incomplete thought), hold off on adding your comment to the chat until they have had a chance to finish. This will make the conversation flow more understandably.

  3. Try to stay with the general topic of the discussion group and try to contribute to the specific topic that’s being discussed during that particular meeting. Sometimes a change of topic is a helpful thing, but if the group is still chatting about a previous topic, it can be jarring to have a new one brought up.

  4. Differences of opinion can be stimulating and helpful for the discussion, but be sure to phrase your responses respectfully and in a way that will encourage everyone to keep participating.

  5. When you join the group late or must leave early, try not to interrupt the flow of the discussion beyond brief greetings and good-byes.

  6. Try to be mindful that each participant brings something of value to the discussion and comes from a different background. What they say may be different from what you would say, but each comment can further the exploration of the topic.

  7. Ask for clarification or more information when someone says something that you are not sure you understood completely, or when you sense that there is something interesting that’s being left unsaid.

  8. Share examples from your personal life, literature, or even pop culture.

  9. Remember to be careful about making jokes because they can easily be misunderstood in an environment where people cannot see each other’s faces. Humor is a wonderful addition to a group discussion, but be careful to phrase it so that it is not perceived as an attack.

  10. Phrase your remarks for a diverse audience to avoid accidentally offending someone. The participants’ names or avatars probably don’t match real life. For example, someone who appears male may be actually female, and someone who appears skinny may be in real life overweight.

  11. Role play should be reserved for regions where this is commonly agreed to be acceptable. While exploration of other appearances is fine and sometimes a great learning experience, in a serious discussion, adopting a whole new personality or faking experiences or knowledge can be offensive to the participants and misleading to those who are trying to explore a new concept.

Bonus suggestions (extra credit if you can do these):

  • If someone makes a “faux pas” in the group setting, try to have a sense of humor and be gentle. Understand that not everyone has had a chance to read this blog entry (LOL) and may need a little time to realize that there are norms to be observed. Patience and tolerance can enhance the group experience.

  • If you really like a group that you attend, tell others, give them landmarks, and bring them along to meetings. Be sure to give them a few pointers about the behavior norms for the group before their arrival so that they don’t suffer from embarrassment after missing a cue. Take care to remember the group’s preferences to make sure that the person you invite is not an inherently bad match for the overall tone of the group.

If you follow even a few of these suggestions, your group experience will be much more pleasant and constructive. Being a good group participant is an art and can lead to lasting and significant friendships.

Try out an SL ride

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nostrum Forder gave me a simboard lesson this weekend so I wouldn’t look like a complete idiot while playing with my new toy.

Sylectra Darwin: help me understand how to change the design.
Sylectra Darwin: It’s asking for a texture but when I opened the Paw Prints design there was only a script in there and no texture.
Nostrum Forder: What version of the simboard do you have?
Sylectra Darwin: 4.3
Nostrum Forder: OK
Sylectra Darwin: Just updated it
Nostrum Forder: Rez the board [pull the object from inventory onto the ground]

The simboard talks on the main chat channel to give extra hints and information.

FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: -Click board for Menu-
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Startup Tip: Hold C and any movement key to roll & tilt if you fall over.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Stand Position Adjusted.
Nostrum Forder: Do you have the design?
Sylectra Darwin: I do, it’s a folder called Simboard Paint Job: Paw Print
Nostrum Forder: Are there instructions in it.
Sylectra Darwin: And it has a script in it called Simboard Paint Job: PawPrint
Sylectra Darwin: No.
Nostrum Forder: You put that script into the simboard.
Nostrum Forder: Edit your board.
Sylectra Darwin: And when I open the script it says I don’t have permission to see it.
Nostrum Forder: Drag the script from inventory into the contents tab.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: If this script is in your simboard, Touch the board to activate retexture process. (Ignore the boards menu for this process)
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Setting Texture.. Please wait..
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: No image found. Make sure you have a full perm texture in the boards inventory.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Make sure the image shows in the boards inventory before clicking ‘Set Design’
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Paw Print design is now set.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Texture script is now removing itself to minimize lag.
Nostrum Forder: there you go.
Sylectra Darwin: I dragged the script into the content folder
Sylectra Darwin: hey!
Sylectra Darwin: that worked!
Sylectra Darwin: Glad not EVERYTHING is hard.
Sylectra Darwin: OK, I am ready for my lesson, Nossie.
Nostrum Forder: before you get on.
Nostrum Forder: click on it and open the menu
Nostrum Forder: and click “engine”
Sylectra Darwin: ok
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: -Directly click engine panel to select options-
Sylectra Darwin: ok
Nostrum Forder: this part is a little tricky.
Nostrum Forder: You want to get the settings down to where you can control it.
Sylectra Darwin: I see the warning about taking a copy
Sylectra Darwin: OK
Sylectra Darwin: so less power, right?
Sylectra Darwin: lol
Nostrum Forder: You have to cam to where you can see it [alt-click on the engine panel to orient the point of focus and then zoom in].
Sylectra Darwin: OK, I see F_Gain 10.00
Sylectra Darwin: There are up and down arrows on the board
Sylectra Darwin: Plus and minus buttons too
Nostrum Forder: Press the up arrow until you see “Speed”
Sylectra Darwin: rez…rez [all the controls were shown with textures, which take a long time to load in Second Life]
Nostrum Forder: and then press minus until you have it set to 5.
Nostrum Forder: It’s a pain.
Sylectra Darwin: I hate texture-dependent interfaces.
Nostrum Forder: textures are a huge problem in SL.
Sylectra Darwin: yes.
Sylectra Darwin: what’s the default setting for speed?
Nostrum Forder: all of this should be addressable by commands
Sylectra Darwin: I am still waiting for the words to rez
Nostrum Forder: I dunno. Mine was 7.
Sylectra Darwin: Maybe they are through the HUD [a user interface with menus visible to the person but not anyone else]?
Nostrum Forder: that’s it
Sylectra Darwin: okay, found it
Nostrum Forder: Make it 5
Sylectra Darwin: ok, got it
Sylectra Darwin: what next, my guru?
Nostrum Forder: Click, get the menu, and press engine to close.
Sylectra Darwin: We’re just adjusting speed?
Nostrum Forder: Right
Nostrum Forder: now we ride

Sylectra Darwin: I’m looking for my copy I just made
Nostrum Forder: Just ride this one.
Sylectra Darwin: ok
Nostrum Forder: Use the arrow keys to control speed and turn
Nostrum Forder: OK
Nostrum Forder: Here’s a tip
Sylectra Darwin: it’s a little disconcerting
Nostrum Forder: View menu
Sylectra Darwin: no brakes
Nostrum Forder: Back arrow slows you
Sylectra Darwin: view menu?
Nostrum Forder: down arrow
Nostrum Forder: View menu – Show Property lines [on the View menu of the Second Life program, there is a check box item to show or hide property lines]
Nostrum Forder: Stay in the blue boundaries.
Nostrum Forder: ๐Ÿ™‚
Sylectra Darwin: what happens when you cross?
Nostrum Forder: Nothing usually
Nostrum Forder: but if there’s a ban line
Nostrum Forder: it sucks
Sylectra Darwin: then all hell breaks loose?
Nostrum Forder: left-up

Nostrum Forder: Now for the more interesting ones
Nostrum Forder: hold “page up” and press left or right arrow
Nostrum Forder: this causes you to spin
Nostrum Forder: which also kills your forward velocity.
Sylectra Darwin: that’s actually a good thing if I go out of control
Nostrum Forder: also try the combinations of arrow keys
Nostrum Forder: left-down
Nostrum Forder: press left and right puts you into a “crouch”
Nostrum Forder: Press left, right, and up and you’ll go Real Fast. Be careful with it.
Nostrum Forder: press up and down together, you’ll do a “layout” on the board.
Nostrum Forder: the page-down button controls rolling
Nostrum Forder: Try page-down and left together
Nostrum Forder: You need some forward momentum

I went upside down. So sorry, I didn’t get a pic of that for you to enjoy. The film didn’t turn out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sylectra Darwin: holy crap!
Nostrum Forder: You can also forward-roll or backward-roll with page-down and up or down
Sylectra Darwin: um…
Nostrum Forder: nice face plant
Nostrum Forder: If worse comes to worse, edit yourself back. [right-click on the simboard and select Edit, then choose the Rotation radio button and drag the directional markers until the simboard is right-side up again]
Sylectra Darwin: thanks
Sylectra Darwin: haha
Sylectra Darwin: thanks for the lesson!

I think I did pretty good. Only one completely stupid moment.

Take lots of photos and share them

I have accumulated nearly 200 photos of Happy Clam Island and its citizens in just a few months, so I decided it was time to move them into a group that others can contribute to. The Happy Clam Island group pool is on Flickr. If you have HCI photos to contribute, please tag them with HCI and then join the group! If you want to help organize the photos, tell me you need admin level access. I certainly don’t want to hog all the fun.

See a sampling of the most recent in the badge below, created using Flickriver:
Happy Clam Island (HCI) - View this group's photos on Flickriver

Here are some photos from Happy Clam Island’s volcano party on Saturday night (August 23, 2008). To read more about the event and the building/detonation of the volcano, click on these photos and read the captions.

View 'HCI, volcano' photos on Flickriver

Play as Being photos

My photos taken at Play as Being meetings in Second Life.ร‚ย  Play as Being is a wonderful example of what can happen when many like-minded people gather in one place. Four times a day, every day, a volunteer leads a discussion on meditation methods. Specifically, the discussion is about the 9-second pause which is recommended 4 times per hour; to be used in lieu of or in addition to regular meditations. The group’s purpose is to play with different ways of getting into the right headspace and then share what happens with the group. It’s been meeting in Second Life since April of 2008.

items in Kira and Play as Being More in Kira and Play as Being pool

Attend a lecture

Friday, July 25, 2008

I’ve been chatting with a number of Second Life friends and I am starting to find parallels in our conversations, even though each friend comes from a different background and they don’t know each other. There is a lot of great research and commentary about the social/cultural/economic impact of virtual worlds, especially those with active economies like Second Life.

I had attended Metanomics a few Fridays ago. This was a panel discussion held in the Nokia region in Second Life. The moderator was really good at keeping everyone focused and navigating voice chat with the speakers and audience members. Very sophisticated stuff and done very well. I guess I have to admit that I was more keenly interested in HOW they organized their session than in WHAT they had to saw about economics in Second Life. Both were interesting aspects though.

The Metanomics Web site has an interesting blog entry on boundaries between real and virtual worlds, although I was a little disappointed in the weak conclusion after such an amazing lead-in. Blogger Roland Legrand on 7/23 wrote about trying to apply the deconstruction method of philosopher Jaques Derrida to Second Life. “I speak now to you live but Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm having texts around me. I can assist my words though I see you as avatars, and I cannot see your physical faces and bodies, I am here in this virtual auditorium, and yet I am far away,” wrote Legrand. “Virtuality cannot be understood by using simple opposition such as real versus the unreal.”

The Virtual World entry in Wikipedia has a section on boundaries which is just as interesting, because it mentions the magic circle, which is supposed to be the line between RL and the virtual world. It also describes that line as being quite porous, a wonderful word for the phenomenon. If Second Life gets better integration with open-source Web apps and we start seeing mashups, Google searches, and better social networking capability, that porosity will increase tenfold.

In my opinion that’s a good thing but also a sad thing, because SL is a magic place that most ordinary folks find too difficult or too time-consuming to be worth their effort, which tends to ensure that the ratio of smart to stupid people stays high.

Economics are another good example of the porosity of that boundary: “The fantasy environment of the virtual world is protected from the intrusion of real life by this magic circle, but practices such as the sale of virtual items and virtual currency for real life currency challenges this separation while reinforcing the notion that objects in the virtual world have real life value.”

This is the stuff that gets me excited.

Find something amazing and learn more about it

Sunday, June 15, 2008

DJane Solace spins for Organica

Friday night I joined the multi-DJ trance event at Organica, having put together a killer outfit with a slight Goth lean (kinda like cute Goth – think Paulie Perrette). When I got there, the lovely and awesome DJane Solace was already on the decks and there were about 15 people dancing.

The problem with that count is that I can’t be sure how many people were there. As you can see from the pic, the particles were particularly strong and beautiful that night, so sometimes we couldn’t see ANYBODY else. We just had to ASSUME there were others out there.

The inestimable Nos

I think the various types of particles were created by Nostrum Forder, who Thomtrance O’Toole tells me is a particle genius. We saw stars, hearts, fog, balls of electricity, rainbows, streaks, and more that night. Nos is also a joker, it would seem. When I announced I would be right back after a bathroom break, Nos asked me if I needed TP. I misunderstood and thought that meant a teleport to a bathroom – noooooo, Nos gave me an object called “TP”. After much deliberation (out loud for everyone’s amusement) I decided to click on the dastardly thing and see what it did. You see the result. There were LOLs and ROFLs all over the chat window. They were loving it. I danced like that for a few minutes more, considering it my initiation dues for hanging with this wonderful bunch of people on Happy Clam Island.

My “hazing”

Yummy DJ Thomtrance O’Toole

Then Thomtrance took over for Solace and as usual I completely lost my train of thought for at least 30 minutes. I love goa trance and the idea of a DJ who can pick out good techno and also program in several languages is oddly compelling and exotic to me. Besides, he has really good bling. Soon my buddies showed up, popping in one at a time: Stevenaia, Gar, and Devon. A happy cluster of dance!! What fun. We were cracking jokes all over the place while Thom simultaneously kept up with the conversation, greeted all new arrivals, and spun music.

Qee was the DJ after Thom. Qee is something of a legend in DJ-dom in SL, and it was evident many people agreed as the dance floor (a wooded clearing with grass) filled to capacity. Lag put us through forced slo-mo several times during this as people hooted and capered through the changing particle showers.

Orange ball lightning.

The particles were absolutely stunning all night long. We saw juicy, tart orange ball lighting, heavy fogs of cerulean blue, zombie green, flash hangover yellow and poppy red. There were swirling, slicing ribbons of rainbow, effervescent hearts in every color, round rainbow and streak particles, stars of every color, and even sparkles to add to the overall effect. Every second was a completely different experience. I found the particles to be a major part of my experience there that night, and want to learn to make them. To that end, Nos sent me a link (it’s like a stone tablet at the beginning of a quest):

I can’t stress enough to you, my readers, how important it is to really connect with the people you meet on SL (and in real life too, for that matter) and LISTEN to what they are telling you. There is a treasure trove of wisdom and knowledge in these nice people and if you are sweet to them, you can be a part of this happy energy.

The following chat excerpt has been added with Nos’ generous permission.

[7:27] Sylectra Darwin: Did you do all the particles Friday night?
[7:27] Nostrum Forder: I don’t know what “all” means in that context. I bring mine, which tend to be massive. People bring theirs, and the DJs have effects.
[7:27] Nostrum Forder: I do try to play off what I’m seeing other people emit.
[7:28] Sylectra Darwin: That answers my next question, which was – are you varying the effects?
[7:28] Sylectra Darwin: Yes, I knew about the others but once you’ve seen them they are easy to identify. I saw all new stuff which I believe was all yours.
[7:29] Nostrum Forder: yes. I have a set of basic throwers. Some of them are timer -based, and some of them are triggered by command.
[7:29] Nostrum Forder: My own stuff is not currently commercially available.
[7:29] Nostrum Forder: People have asked, and I’m not opposed in principle. It’s a matter of time.
[7:29] Nostrum Forder: If I tried to package for sale, I’d never get laid.
[7:29] Sylectra Darwin: HAHAHAHA!
[7:29] Sylectra Darwin: You should DEFINITELY sell them.
[7:30] Sylectra Darwin: Yes, I heard you’re the particle god.
[7:30] Nostrum Forder: There are better out there.
[7:30] Nostrum Forder: I’m an integrator. I’ll use commercial throwers if they work.
[7:30] Nostrum Forder: There are people ike Vandelite who are miles ahead of me technically, when it comes to the scripting and such.
[7:31] Nostrum Forder: I got started doing this, for what it’s worth, by tweaking a mod-able dance sphere script live while Qee was playing.

Get your own virtual home sweet home

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The question goes, if the tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? Along those same lines, those new to SL are always amazed that their avatar bodies poof out of existence when they are not logged into the world. However, you can have a stamp of permanence if you buy or build your own residence in Second Life.

I finally took the plunge and rented a piece of land on SL with NOTHING on it, called Sylectra’s Spiral Paradise. I repeat, NOTHING. This was both terrifying and scintillating. The rental fee was breathtakingly high for only a small spit of land – about $1200 Lindens per week, or US$20 per month. Didn’t care. I was going to have some fun with this as long as I could.

It was on this wonderful island that I discovered called Happy Clam Island, and after meeting a few of the residents (shout out to Finn and Thomtrance) I decided I needed to be near these incredibly neat people.

Apologies if I paraphrase incorrectly, but I believe the group’s vision is to bring more public awareness to the problem of global warming and sustainability in general. Sustainability has to do with using the available resources (animal, vegetable, and mineral) in such a way that it does not burn through the planet and its people in record time. A wonderful concept which is not new, but which has new impetus because of the price of oil and (finally) official government acknowledgment of global warming.

View from the front porch overlooks Organica.

To think that George Bush mocked the scientists warning about this coming global catastrophe just a few short years ago still amazes me. Now only a fool would continue to say our climate is not changing and that there is nothing we can do to help. We live here. We have to take care of our planet and each other.

Butterfly dome. My design.

I am not sure why I am in SL with this group of people and also good friends with Willy, who has a wonderful similar vision, but I want to be in these circles with these wonderful people and learn what my purpose is. And maybe that will change as time goes by, but something is gently tugging on me and it feels so exhilarating.

This move to rent the land is just one of several I have recently taken which are the start of my new path to ? I have no idea. When Mom took her journey to the next world, she was ill for about a year and passed away just after her birthday (Christmas day) in 2006. She was so accepting and philosophical about it, and her experience changed me for the better. I resolved to continue to let positive experiences change me, to open my heart to these wonderful connections to other human beings, to turn my spirit to something greater than myself.

Meet a Linden, tour a friend’s SL home

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nostrum Forder and Sylectra Darwin attend Torley Lindens office hours in which he amplifies our awesome.
Nostrum Forder and Sylectra Darwin attend Torley Linden's office hours in which he "amplifies our awesome."

I met Torley Linden (above, in pink hood with green eyes) yesterday during his office hours! This is the guy who works for Linden Labs and does instructional videos for residents. He was very considerate and answered all my questions. Torley is famous so I am quite honored he had time for one of the little people. It’s only because few people are in Second Life as yet.

Also, Willy introduced me to one of his younger friends, Jeffrey, who lives in his (RL) neighborhood and sometimes borrows one of his computers. This nice fellow is 18 years old and owns a couple of new ventures in Second Life, including a Motley Crue tribute band which performs in SL. He’s a newlywed and lucky for him, his wife is also a Second Lifer. He gave us a tour of his condo that they are renting. He’s got it decorated with lots of red and pink and romantic themes – sounds like his marriage is a success! I unfortunately didn’t get to meet her – next time I hope. His activities in SL give him enough income to afford the weekly rent! I think it’s a laudable goal.

A one-prim creation made from a rectangle shape with a handmade texture slapped on it.
A one-prim creation made from a rectangle shape with a handmade texture slapped on it.

On the building front, I made a Japanese shoji divider screen (at left, red birch with rice paper and brass hinges) from scratch using Adobe Photoshop Elements and uploaded the resulting texture to my inventory, where I slapped it on a single prim shape. It’s beautiful, and low-lag. I am proud. Looking at it again though, I would rather have a 3-prim screen so you have realistic zigzag positioning. To make it economically attractive, I have some other ideas about the patterns.