Hoarders anonymous

Hi, my name is Seren, and I’m a hoarder.

As far as I can remember, I’ve been guilty of collecting ‘useful’ things, usually on the basis that ‘they’ll come in handy one day’, or simply because I can’t bear to throw them away. The end result tends to be a lot of boxes, stuffed in cupboards and every conceivable storage space crammed full of a vast array of things, many of which will never see the light of day again.

I’ve improved a lot over the years, mainly because there was a point at which the available storage space dwindled to practically nothing. At my worst though, it was a little bit crazy. At the time, I had a 4-bedroom house, with a large attic space, and for a few years, it was just me and a cat rattling around in all that space. My real weak spot was books – I had a range of books that would have put the average Blackwells to shame! The biggest bedroom, in fact, was my ‘reading room’/library… I had it set up with bookshelves on all 4 walls and additional shelving scattered around the room, with a big comfy armchair and coffee table right in the middle. There were more books in my study, which took up another bedroom, and… Erm there were 2 shelves in the attic, running the full length of the house on both sides of the roof space. I had a lot of books.

I had a lot of everything – stage lighting, sound equipment, a vast range of craft materials in absurd quantities, and the fateful day finally came, when it all had to go. I was moving home… Into a tiny one-bedroom cottage, which would be accommodating me, another person and two cats! You can imagine how traumatic I found the sort and sift.

Every since, my hoarding habit has become less of an issue… Except in SL, where I regret to say my habitual stockpiling is as bad as it ever was. My inventory is massive, and I’m very much afraid that there’s an awful lot of it that squarely falls into the category of ‘hoarded’, and is unlikely to ever see much use, if any at all.

However, it seems that when it comes to SL hoarding, I may actually not be as bad as I thought, in fact, when compared to some I’m a rank amateur!

A friend of mine has a penchant for playing a vending machine for free gifts at a local store. She plays regularly, although quite how regularly hadn’t quite registered with me. So when the topic of helping noobs cropped up, it transpired that she had a few items spare that she was happy to hand out… The box she then rezzed contained 50 sun hats, all neatly packaged up in separate boxes of 10. Then there were the 50 identical lava lamps, at which point she left slip that her alt had even more copies of the same items than her main avatar!

I found that quite astonishing – why would anyone want so many of the same item? I may be a bit of a hoarder, but I’m also pretty good at being ruthless when it comes to weeding out duplicates. The thought of collecting a vast number of identical items, then painstakingly boxing then up, before boxing up the boxes just gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies. I think I have a grand total of 2 boxes I’ve created for the purpose of organising my inv – one contains Christmas decorations and one is Halloween, and I don’t think I’ve opened either box since I created them. I simply can’t imagine being as organised or having any inclination to categorise, sort and save anything beyond those, and if I ever found myself even considering it, then it would almost certainly be time to start considering a big purge and consign the whole lot to the trash

I’ve always lived my life on the basis that there’s always going to be someone who’s better than me in any given field – it’s a good way of keeping a sense of perspective and never getting too big for your boots, but I’ve never really considered it in terms of the sort of things that we’d probably prefer not to boast about… I kinda like the fact that when it comes to hoarding, I’ve still got a long way to go!

s. x

Shed some skin for the fear within
Is starting to hurt me with everything
Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Driven

I’m in the market for a new car. It’s not a position I’ve been in for quite some time, and it’s not really one I want to be in either, but sometimes you don’t get a lot of choice in such things.

When I was younger, through necessity I went through an awful lot of cars. I say ‘necessity’ because money was in short supply, so what I could afford was generally fairly clapped out to begin with and would last, at best, a couple of years before it became economically unviable to maintain. I stuck to a simple principle – when the cost of keeping it on the road exceeded the value of the car, it was time to move on.

It’s a principle that I still follow today, even though I’ve not had to think of it for some time. My current vehicle has performed astonishingly well, even though I’ve given it a bit of a thrashing. It’s just passed its 4th MOT in a row without needing anything doing – something of a miracle for a cat that’s almost 15 years old! However it has a lurking, and – as far as I’m concerned – terminal illness. A leaky water pump may not seem like a big deal, but it’s steadily getting worse, and to replace it will also require the replacement of the timing belt… As the nice man at the garage said: “Big bucks!”

So, I’m afraid the time has come to start thinking about retiring the old girl off and I’m really not going to enjoy it. I know that it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to find or afford anything as fast or powerful as what I have now and I really don’t want to make a decision that I’ll regret in future. Then again, I can’t afford to shell out a huge amount, neither do I particularly want to tie myself down to finance… It’s going to be a headache.

If only things were as simple as in SL. I’ll be the first to admit that even virtual vehicles – half-decent ones, anyway – can be costly, but not ruinously so like their RL cousins; and you certainty don’t need to take out a zillion per cent APR finance deal in order to buy one. Neither are you going to see your new pride and joy depreciate to a fraction of what you paid for it within a matter of hours!

No tax, no insurance, no servicing, exorbitant maintenance charges, MOTs, bridge tolls, congestion charges, fuel costs or cleaning bird poop off your windscreen. You’re unlikely to break down or need new tyres, and you’ll never have to worry about having spare change for parking. You can drive off road and crash as often as you want and never have to be concerned about damage and repair costs. You can even drive on the wrong side of the road, whilst under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, whilst texting, paying no need to driving conditions, and generally behaving like an idiot, with absolute impunity and no penalty. The roads are mostly empty, long, straight and interesting and there are vehicles to suit every taste, from supercars to scooters. It’s a petrol head’s paradise!

If you ask me, virtual motoring has it all – it’s cheap, fun, safe, and it doesn’t harm the environment. In fact, if it wasn’t for one teeny weeny, barely worth mentioning drawback it would be perfect… But there is one blot on the horizon: I’m simply hopeless when it comes to even pretending to be vaguely in control of any virtual vehicle.

Whether we’re talking garbage truck, low rider, dragster, rock-crawler or runabout, all SL vehicles have one thing in common: I’m entirely incapable of driving any of them in any fashion that could be remotely considered as competent.Maybe I’m just a little heavy-handed and need something of a lighter touch when it comes to inworld driving, or perhaps it’s not me at all, and SL vehicles are inherently uncontrollable, but whatever it is, it’s always disappointing to rez a shiny new car and jump into the driving seat, only to career off wildly down the road, bouncing off walls, buildings and barely being able to maintain a straight line.

Ultimately, what I really want is a car that handles like the real thing in SL or, a RL vehicle that possesses the best attributes of the virtual equivalent.

Better still, could I have both?

s. x

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

Posted in RL, SL, Tales of the Road | Leave a comment

A bit premature

Some characteristics of human behaviour baffle me – one of these is the apparent need that some have to be first in line, even when the benefits of being in that is positively limited, or even dubious.

I see it on every train I catch: Anything up to ten minutes before arriving at a station, there will always be a large number of passengers who will gather their belongings together, vacate their seats and choose to stand uncomfortably in the aisle and carriage doorways for the remainder of their journey. I can completely understand why you might wish to do this if you’re unfamiliar with the journey, or maybe need to be front of the queue in order to sprint off to catch a connecting train that’s soon to depart, but a surprising number of these early risers are regular commuters that follow the same pattern of behaviour, day after day, after day. There’s no advantage to it – once at the station, after being jerked off their feet, they wait nose to tail for the doors, before zombie-shuffling forward like a prozac induced conga.

Not me though. I relax, sit and wait, letting the queue pass until the tail end draws level with me and I can simply stand and walk easily off the train and be on my way. It’s far easier, less stressful and – in my opinion – a far more sensible way to do things. I’m not so sure how it would work in practical terms if everyone used my approach, although I’m sure that if those nearest the door stood up first and all others followed suit, everything would go swimmingly… Fat chance of that though!

It’s always struck me as a bit odd that we human beings are so obsessed with being first for the most mundane outcomes, no matter how inconvenient to us it might be. Certainly, there’s a point to being first in a sporting, academic or aspirational field, but we’re just as obsessed with getting to the front of the queue for far less rewarding results. Personally, I find it inconceivable that anyone should feel the need to camp out overnight on a cold, hard pavement, simply to be first through the shop door for the sales; I really don’t understand why anyone would pay over the odds and head off to the cinema at an ungodly hour to catch a movie premier, blow a load of cash to be the among first buyers of a new car registration, or want to brag about being the first in their group to lay hands on a new stamp, coin or similar. Frankly, in every one of those scenarios, I’d be more than happy to either not bother at all, or just turn up later when the crowds and hype have died down.

Why the big deal about being first in such things? And if you choose the discomfort, inconvenience and effort of getting in at pole position, then you really shouldn’t moan about it.

It’s something I see all the time in SL – a store notice will pop up showcasing a new release, sale or discount and you just know that if you were to jump on the accompanying LM, you’d arrive to find a throng of semi-rezzed avatars clogging up the landing point – no-one, it seems wants to wait. The same is true every time a new gacha event and fayre opens: It can take hours of constant trying before you can get it, and when you do it’s like wading through custard, such is the crazy lag caused by so many avatars trying desperately to be amongst the first to grab their bagful of goodies. Which is very strange, because – unlike RL – the supply is not going to dry up, and whether you manage to get your greasy little bento hands on the first or the millionth of a particular article, both will be exactly the same, down to the tiniest detail; such is the nature of virtual goods. Yet people will try desperately hard to be amongst the very first to avail themselves of what is available – whilst those more sensible, like me, will amble up a couple of weeks later, when the crowds have dispersed and the lag is insignificant, and help themselves to those very same spoils with total ease.

All very odd, at least that’s what I think. How about you?

s. x

Winner takes it all,
Loser takes a fall
Fight to the beginning of the end
Winner takes it all
Sammy Hagar – Winner Takes It All

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Onesies and wellies

I am not a fashion blogger – that’s something I’ve made abundantly clear many times in the past. That does not mean that I have no interest in fashion – real or virtual – and no opinions on trends and styles.

In RL there are some things clothing-wise that, even if they don’t spur me into impassioned debate, do at the very least, cause me to raise a questioning eyebrow, Mr Spock style, and wonder what on earth some people are thinking. Like the woman I passed on my way to work this morning.

Picture the image, if you will: It’s early-ish, around 6.15, very cold and frosty, and this woman is out walking her dog, wearing a Care Bears print onesie and flowery wellies! In practical terms, bearing in mind that I was fully dressed, with hat, gloves, scarf and winter coat – and I still felt chilly – I can’t imagine it was any protection at all against the elements; whilst, as a fashion statement, the only thing that it was saying to me was something along the lines of “!”

Now, I’m all for people wearing whatever they wish; I’m not the fashion police and I’m ardently in favour of freedom of expression, but along with that I do think that some clothing is inappropriate in some situations. You wouldn’t wear an old t-shirt and jeans to a formal wedding, for example, that’s just disrespectful and thoughtless, and I happen to think that some items of clothing really shouldn’t be aired in public, simply by virtue of their nature or functionality. I’m not the only one who feels this way – there’s a growing trend apparently, more and more frequently reported in the press, of people heading off to the supermarket in their PJs. I can see why some might be disturbed by this – personally, I don’t want to be sharing a checkout with somebody still in their night attire. It raises all sorts of questions for me: Have they showered?; Is there any underwear lurking beneath that flannelette?; How many day’s/night’s wear have they had since the last wash?; What nameless bodily fluids have they marinaded in overnight? – These are not the sort of questions I want to be contending with over my broccoli florets, or in the bread aisle!

Quite apart from that, it raises questions for me about the person themselves. If they haven’t made any effort to get dressed to go out in public, then what does that say about their own self-respect and their respect for the sensibilities of those around them? Maybe I’m being judgmental, but that’s honestly what goes through my mind.

That’s RL, but what about in the virtual world – are things any different?

Weirdly – you may think – my feelings inworld are not so different to RL. Even after all these years, I still find it odd that so many around me in SL seem to have little difficulty in dressing themselves in a manner that does not really befit the occasion. I’ll grant you that pyjamas and onesies aren’t quite so prevalent inworld, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to people wandering around in their undies whilst shopping, bopping or simply stopping for a chat. Neither do I feel entirely comfortable when people will happily disrobe at the drop of a hat at a public gathering; it just doesn’t feel right to me.

I do possess some virtual jimjams, but I’ve only ever worn them in private. Similarly my underwear stays strictly underneath my outer wear. Indeed, you call call me odd (I’ve been called worse), but I tend to feel a bit icky if I don’t change my virtual undies as often as the real thing. It’s obviously nothing to do with personal hygiene, but again, I think it’s a matter of personal self-respect – it just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t.

Maybe I’m a bit of a prude, or perhaps my personal values just don’t mesh with everybody else’s, or maybe I’m just a bit weird… Whatever the reason, I don’t think I’ll ever change, and to be honest, I’m not about to ask anyone else to change either – whether their mindset, or indeed their clothes.

There’s plenty of space in SL for everyone to do their own thing, and besides… What do I know about fashion anyway?

s. x

And how the hell did you get in here
Semi-naked in somebody else’s room?
I’d give my whole life to see it
Just you
Stood there
Only in your underwear
Pulp – Underwear

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL | Leave a comment

14

Is that time of year again when invitations have gone out to apply to participate in SL’s birthday celebrations. It’s also that time of year that I invariably fire off my application and start planning and building in anticipation that I’ll be successful in securing a plot. However, this time round, I decided that I wasn’t going to apply – I’ll certainly go along to SL14B and enjoy the atmosphere and exploring, but for the first time in five years, I’m not actually going to be a part of it.

There’s a number of reasons, the main one being that I’m right in the middle of a major work project at the moment, which is going to continue through to Christmas and means I’ll be working away a great deal and putting in some long hours; consequently, I’m unlikely to have either the time or the opportunity to devote to a new build. What time I do have inworld at the moment, I’d prefer to devote to socialising and relaxing with friends. Besides, I’ve been doing a lot in SL recently… There’s The Wigan Casino, a couple of other builds and a new exhibition at The Gallery, and it feels like could do with a break. I’m a huge believer in the old principle of letting things lie fallow for a period to allow them to recover their vitality, and the same is true for myself, after 5 years, I think a break is in order.

Not that I’ve been particularly inspired by the theme anyway – so, rather than wrack my brains and come up with a half-hearted carnival-themed exhibit that isn’t really my scene, I’d rather opt out on this occasion and see what everyone else manages to come up with instead.

I’m a bit baffled by the way in which the Lindens treat the whole celebration anyway: There was a time when it was Lab organised event, then following M Linden’s infamous speech at SL5B, slagging off SL residents, things went a bit sour and eventually the Lab pulled out and SLB became a ‘community’ event, then more recently the Lab one again got involved and supported SLB, only to revert back to a much lower profile last year, instead focusing their efforts into their own celebratory activities, which also seems to be the case again this year. It’s all a bit confusing, and sends all sorts of mixed messages about how the Lab really feels about how SL residents chose to celebrate the ongoing success of the virtual world into which they’ve invested their time, energy and resources.

It’s also high time that I started diversifying in terms of large scale inworld events. I may have involved myself in SLB for some years, but I’ve not really explored the other longstanding celebrations and events that are a large part of what goes on in SL. Burn2, Relay for Life, and the numerous fayres and expositions have all been a big part of the inworld experience for a long time, but I’m afraid I’ve never paid any of them a visit or participated in their festivities, and I think it’s probably about time I broadened my horizons and gave them a try.

So I won’t be building anything for the celebrations this year, and although that does feel a little odd, it also feels a strangely positive thing to do. Way back in the days when I was young and fit, I used to give up a huge amount of my time to judo, both participating and teaching – I was pretty good at it, and people used to tell me I should do it professionally, but that was something I could never contemplate. There’s a world of difference between doing something for simple pleasure and enjoyment, and doing something from necessity because it’s your source of income. There’s a parallel here for me with SL – everything I do in SL, I do for fun: I don’t do it for profit, or even to break even; it’s not an investment, and whatever I undertake is – in the main – for my own enjoyment and entertainment, and if others also enjoy and are entertained as a result, then it’s all to the good.

That ethos starts to fall apart if what I’m doing starts to become something that is undertaken out of obligation, or out of some sort of expectation or assumption that I will do so, just because that’s what I have traditionally done. It starts to lose the element of fun, spontaneity and freedom, and will eventually become a burden and an inconvenience. You may not feel the same way, and think that there’s nothing more wonderful than doing what you enjoy, day in and day out, but for me that element of real enjoyment would eventually be lost.

So I’m taking a break, maybe just this year, or maybe for longer, I don’t know, but I have a feeling it’ll do me good, and maybe I be giving somebody else a chance instead. I’m sure that I’ll be back for SL15B, and I’ll certainly be spending some time at this year’s event, only this time as a spectator, rather than an exhibitor… Which, in itself, I’m sure will be a fun experience.

s. x

You’ll never find a better way
Lord, don’t stop the Carnival
Let us sing the night and day away
Lord, don’t stop the Carnival
Alan Price Set – Don’t Stop The Carnival

Posted in Builder's bum, Philosophicalisticality, SL, SL10B, SL11B, SL12B, SL13B, SL9B | Leave a comment

Hello World!

This month, within the space of a few days, I’ll be celebrating the anniversaries of me making my first appearance in both real and virtual worlds. To be honest, if I have things my way, both occasions will be something of a non-event.

Whilst I’m more than happy to celebrate and enjoy the rez days and birthdays of others, I’d rather that my own went unnoticed and passed by quietly without any fuss. It’s not that I don’t think that they’re momentous events – of course they are – it’s just that I’m not really bothered about doing anything out of the ordinary to mark the occasion.

Rez days are a bit weird anyway. Although I have a list of my friends’ rez days, most of the time I couldn’t for the life of me tell you when mine is – it’s only that I happened to be poking around my profile the other day that the date caught my eye. I’m not entirely sure that it’s the right date to be celebrating either: Although most people know me as Seren, this is not my first avatar, so which date is truly my rez day? If you have 20 alts, do you also get to enjoy 20 parties and rez day cakes?

As for my real birthday, there was a time when such things made me terribly excited. I used to love them, but as I’ve got older and lost contact with friends and family, they’ve tended to turn into rather quiet, even depressing affairs, and it’s not quite the same. This year is particularly weird – I’m feeling completely disengaged from the whole thing but – unusually – there are a bunch of people around me who want to make something of it, which frankly, is a pain in the butt! Don’t misunderstand me, it’s lovely that they do, it’s just not something I particularly want. It doesn’t help that, for the first time in years, I have a number of people around me that weren’t there in the past, and they all want to do something special for my birthday. All I want is a card and a quiet night in with a bottle of wine and my own company, but everyone seems determined to ensure that will be the last thing that is going to happen!

Am I being selfish? Maybe, but what’s the big deal anyway? It’s great that people want to make something of my ‘special day’, but surely if it is my special occasion, then it’s up to me how I want to treat it? In real terms there’s no particular reason why the anniversary of our coming into existence should be any different to every other day; I mean, what’s so special about being one year older? Why not celebrate surviving another month, another week, another day?

Actually, why not celebrate every day… We’re never guaranteed tomorrow, and we really should be making the most of every single one, and the same should apply whether we’re talking real world, or virtual. We should never just log in and mope around wondering why things are so boring and lacklustre… And I know people who do just that, in both lives! Surely the whole point is to get the most from every day, whether it’s birthday, rez day, Friday, or every day. Any day is good for a party, if you ask me!

s. x

These are the chronicles of life and death and everything between
These are the stories of our lives, as fictional as they may seem
You come in this world, and you go out just the same
Today could be the best day of your life
Good Charlotte – The Chronicles Of Life And Death

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Porno and propriety

“Who are those two naked people in your room?”

It was a reasonable, if somewhat unexpected question, aimed at one of my friends whose inworld pad was just across the street. The two people in question, it turns out, weren’t just naked, but were also in the throws of some quite athletic and creative activities of the sort normally found on websites from the seedier side of the .net.

Even in the company of good friends, it’s not exactly the story of question that you’d feel entirely comfortable answering, since if you’re going to confess to knowing that they’re there, it’s implicit that they are they with your consent and that you’re running some sort of establishment of ill repute. On the other hand, if their presence comes as a surprise, you have to then deal with the fact that a couple of complete strangers have seen fit to get down and dirty under your own duvet and in full view of the picture of your mum that you keep next to the bed, entirely without your knowledge. Either scenario is more than a little unsavoury, unless you are entirely without scruples or any sense of decorum.

In this particular instance, I’m sorry to say, it was a case of the latter… Leading to some animated discussion about what should be done about the matter. Had it been my place, it would have been a simple case of eject and ban, (followed by fumigation and a deep clean of everything within sight) – however, being just a tenant renting a room, my friend didn’t have that option. We toyed with the idea of a group of us descending en masse to provide an appreciative audience for the performance, or mischievously rezzing a shedload of prims right in the middle of the action. Personally, I was all for rezzing a big scoreboard in the room and giving them points for technique and artistic merit; but in the end, the landlord gave them the boot.

Now, I know we’re only dealing with pixels here, and the on screen representation inworld of such things is far removed from the real thing, but even so, I can’t help but be challenged by how the virtual environment can alter and corrupt our moral values and sensibilities. This particular incident crystallises several points where this is the case.

Firstly, there’s the most obvious corruption of morality: Whilst I’m sure that there are those in RL who would find the scenario both fortuitous and titillating, I don’t think that the majority of us would ever really break into a complete stranger’s home and get down to business on their living room sofa, or have a poke around (ahem) the bedroom, and play around with the contents of the owner’s secret ‘toy box’. Yet this is one of those things that happens all too frequently inworld – how many of us have returned home to our little virtual hideaway, only to find a couple of pose balls – the ones that we pretend we don’t own – rezzed over the bed, and clear signs that ‘something’ has been going on back home whilst we’ve been out shopping for shoes?

Then there’s the weird sense of violation that we experience as the victim of an unfortunate incident of this kind. The world may be virtual, the setting completely made up, and the activities may only be animations. No bodily fluids were spilled, no physical contact was made, and there’s no tell-tale wet patch to contend with, but the distasteful sense of dirtiness is no less powerful than if the real thing had occurred. Such is the power of the immersive virtual experience.

Finally, from an entirely different perspective, what on earth were we – the onlookers – thinking? Whilst again there will be some who’d be quite happy to spectate whilst somebody else was getting down and dirty, I’m pretty sure that faced with the scenario in RL, the majority response would be acute embarrassment and unwillingness to even observe, particularly if the action was occurring, uninvited, within your own home. Yet inworld, every one of us present on this occasion had a good old nose at what was going down (if you’ll excuse the expression), and whilst the appropriate thing would probably have been to look away and leave our friend to go and do the virtual equivalent of hammering on the door and ordering the aberrant couple to get the hell out of there, we instead zoomed in and got as close to the action as we could.

Such sensibilities are, of course, extremely relative, and how we will react in any given situation isn’t always a forgone conclusion, but I do find it fascinating just how much SL can blur the lines between what we would find unacceptable in the real world, but perfectly OK when logged in. Similarly, it’s remarkable just how much our sensibilities can be ruled by what we see on the screen in front of us, no matter how much we may tell ourselves it isn’t real – in many ways, that’s is exactly what it feels like!

s. x

In books
And films
And in life
And in heaven
The sound of slaughter
As your body turns
The Cure – Pornography

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Fringe benefits

I can’t see through my fringe. (Translation for American readers: I can’t see through my bangs).

I’ve recently adopted an inworld hairstyle that’s reminiscent of a Sia Furler wig. Although it’s a bit of a departure from my normal SL look – if indeed I have a ‘normal’ look – I really like it and, judging by the comments of others, it suits me. It is, however, not something I’d put up with in RL. Having to deal with having my hair constantly in my face is not something I tolerate well, and any style that intentionally does so is a definite non-starter; even on other people – I can’t help but get irritated when in the company of someone who has to constantly flick and handle their hair to remove the constant facial obstruction that such styles cause.

Not that such things matter in SL – we can wander around with our head in a burlap sack if we wish, without the slightest detriment to our vision, such is the beauty of viewing the world from a third person perspective. It’s great that we’re not constrained by the same restrictions the real world imposes once we’ve logged in, allowing us to explore unknown territory and personal styles that would either be impractical or simply not suitable in a real world setting.

Many of us have jobs or responsibilities that prevent us from stepping outside a fairly narrow remit when it comes to our appearance. Perhaps we’re unable to sport long hair, or exotic makeup, nail polish, bright colours or are confined to wearing a uniform during our daily life, and unless we’re heading out to enjoy ourselves afterwards, it can be a real drag to make the effort outside work… Nobody wants to dress up for an evening of cooking and washing-up, or vegging out in front of the TV. So the chance to go for broke in SL is one that most of us jump at.

And we don’t hold back either! Many of us will possess not only far more virtual clothes than real ones, but they’ll often be a whole lot more adventurous than those we tend to wear in RL. There are, of course, a number of reasons for this – we can have the ‘perfect’ body inworld, and that will undoubtedly influence the way we dress; without any real world constraints dictating how we should look and what we should wear, we can really express our character and personality through our appearance; and virtual wearables can be a whole lot easier to manage than wild and wacky can be in RL.

It’s not just clothing – my own personal fetish for different and occasionally crazy virtual hairstyles is a case in point, then there’s make-up, footwear and a mass of accessories that we might not even consider in the real world, but may go so far as even defining our own personality, once we’ve logged in. The fact that our inworld look may be a complete departure from RL is no surprise – how many of us have an avatar with bodies and features that accurately portray our real world selves? There’s no rule that says we have to, and equally, there’s no requirement for us to conform to reality in the way we choose to dress and present ourselves. And why on earth should we?

If you ask me, there are far too many rules and regulations, conditions and conventions that govern our lives, and we also, to some extent, moderate the way in which we choose to present ourselves to the world around us, so it’s only right that maybe we should feel free to express ourselves in any way we fancy when in SL, even if that means playing entirely out of character and breaking our own RL rules to do so.

Surely that’s the whole point of rules anyway… To be broken?

s. x

Why should I care
If I have to cut my hair?
I’ve got to move with the fashion
Or be outcast
The Who – Cut My Hair

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Condiment Street

Sometimes I manage to surprise even myself when it comes to the inspiration for these posts. Walking home from the station yesterday, it seemed that every few metres there was a discarded condiment wrapper lying on the path – the sort you get in cafés and takeaways. “It’s like this is Condiment Street”, I thought to myself, and the germ of an idea was born.

People in SL, when inworld, can fall very easily into stereotypes – more so than they might do in RL, I’d suggest, because the virtual world does tend to draw focus upon certain character traits, and we ourselves capitalise on the freedom of expression that the virtual environment fosters. Consequently, there are a number of instantly recognisable avatar types that I think could benefit from their own system of identification… The Haven Condimentary Avatar Classification System.

Is a work in progress, but this is what I have so far:

The Vinegar Avatar
The sort of person who has a habit of saying things in open chat about other people that makes you wince. Invariably, they usually manage to say it with appallingly bad timing, just as the poor avatar in question walks into chat range. Not only is Vinegar totally oblivious to their incredibly inappropriate comment, but by virtue of the fact you were party to the offending conversation, you now become the unfortunate victim, as the person slighted now thinks you’re complicit in the slander and views you as their mortal enemy!

The Tomato Ketchup Avatar
The overwhelming impression you receive can probably be summed up by the words ‘voluptuous’ and ‘bubbly’, this applies to both their character and their appearance. They’re the sort who will smother you with kindness and simultaneously smother you in a massive inworld embrace, from which you have no hope of escaping. Ketchup, like the condiment can at first be tricky to entice out, but once they are out, they’ll be all over you… And the floor!

Brown Sauce Avatar
Brown is the complete opposite to Ketchup. Whilst some may see them as slow and stuck in their ways – they still wear underwear baked into their system skin, and flexi-prims are a fashion statement too far – the reality is that they are simple, down to earth avatars who know what they like, and stick to it. Everybody needs a Brown Sauce in their friend’s list, because although they’ll drive you mad with their appalling fashion sense and constant procrastination, they’ll always stick up for you and fight your corner.

Salt Avatar
Salt is a bit of an enigma – these avatars can be irascible, anti-social, antagonistic and they do not suffer fools gladly. They have a cynical and pragmatic view of the virtual world, although that’s not to say they’re incapable of humour, albeit somewhat dry and occasionally morbid. Salts provide an essential seasoning to SL, which would otherwise become far too frivolous and fun-filled for its own good.

Pepper Avatar
You might suppose that Pepper would be the opposite to Salt, but not so. Pepper Avatar is actually the less predictable cousin of Salt – equally jaded and cantankerous, but with a tetchy streak that means they can be a little volatile. Try and befriend them, and you’re likely to be rewarded with a torrent of abuse and a kick up the pixellated butt – don’t take it personally, it’s not you – it’s them.

Sugar Avatar
Sickly sweet, fans of dressing-up, baby speak and playing games. They can be incredibly tiresome, and once they’ve formed an attachment to you, I’m afraid you’re stuck with them. Unfortunately for you, they may be sweet and delicious on the outside, but upset them and they’ll turn on you like something out of a 1950’s horror B-movie!

Salad Cream Avatar
This virtual grouping are an enigma: Despite giving the impression of being perfectly nice and enjoyable people to have around, they’re actually pretty slimy and unpalatable, and have a habit of ruining anything they coming into contact with. They are the sort of avatar who’ll come across as friendly, but five minutes later they’ll proposition you with a sleazy IM inviting you back to their dungeon for freaky furry bondage sex.

Thousand Island Dressing Avatar
These look the part, with their perfect bodies, gorgeous clothing, fabulous hair and the very latest in mesh acoutrements. If anyone is going to have bento bits, and all the latest in innovative enhancements, it’ll be these. Be aware though, these guys are not always what they see, under the shiny veneer of loveliness, and hint of tropical promise, they have little of substance about them… Just as RL Thousand Island is nothing but mayo and ketchup, these avatars are pretty basic and boring beneath the surface – if you’re looking for scintillating conversation and intelligent observation, I suggest you look elsewhere!

Chilli Sauce Avatar
Hot stuff, possibly far too hot for your tastes – be very careful taking on a Chilli. Hot tempers and a fiery disposition means that you’ll spend most of your time fire-fighting drama and pouring oil on troubled waters.

Marmite Avatar
You either love them, or you hate them!

Balsamic Vinegar Avatar
BVAs are the real deal: Expensive tastes, refined, stylish, desirable and seen in all the best places, with the best people. The sort of avatar who thinks nothing of joining groups that charge for membership, and they will expect to be treated in the manner to which they have become accustomed. You’ll need deep pockets and oodles of time to lavish on these avatars, and in return, well they may just grace you with their presence, provided you come up to scratch!

So, on the condiment shelf of SL… Where do you sit?

s. x

Cut my eyes out, dear
So I can’t see your smug grin
You’re right you always win
Snow Patrol – Get Balsamic Vinegar Quick You Fool

Posted in Half-Baked, Philosophicalisticality, SL | Leave a comment

A series of unfortunate events

Sometimes it just feels as if life has got it in for you. Not necessarily in a big way, but in a niggle, annoying, irritating way that just winds you up and gives you hassle.

How we deal with runs of bad luck depends to a great extent, of course, on what exactly life has thrown at us, and also on our attitude to life’s little challenges.

In the last three days, I’ve had just such an annoying experience: Walking to work, my knee suddenly decided to have the equivalent of an out of body experience and is still feeling decidedly and worryingly dodgy. The same evening, whilst tucking into a lasagne supper, a distinctly un-lasagne like crunch heralded the breaking-off of a sizeable piece of tooth! Not a particularly good day.

The next day wasn’t a lot better… When a senior manager at work – someone who really should know a lot better – decided to offer some unmerited and wholly spurious criticism about a piece of work I’d done, behind my back, and totally without foundation. That upset me and pretty much ruined my day and stopped me sleeping that night. At least things could only improve, right?

I wish! Next morning, I managed to break a pair of glasses, and then the car blew up! OK, maybe that last one is a bit of an exaggeration – what actually happened was a massive plume of smoke belched from under the bonnet, and when I dared to look, I found the entire engine bay bathed in a film or nasty, hot, smelly gunk.

All in all, it’s not been a particularly good few days – alright, nobody died, there were no visits to casualty, and – in the wider scale of things – my woes pretty much pail into insignificance, but even so, it’s been a bit crap.

However, as irritating as it has been, I’m a firm believer in Newton’s Third Law – ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, which is of course completely irrelevant in this context, but it brings me some comfort. You see, even if I have a bad knee, I’ve still one good one in reserve; I’ve plenty of spare teeth and dental cover, so a broken molar isn’t the end of the world; as for the car, well its a bit of a bummer and it’s going to cost me, but it’s the MOT in a fortnight anyway, and I’ve had 3 years failure-free, so it’s probably about time something needed fixing; specs – ten minutes with a jeweller’s screwdriver and I’ll have them fixed, so no biggy. 🙂 As for the criticism at work, I fired off a crisply-worded email to my boss, who had backed me up completely and assured me I have absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

Maybe I’m just a bit more laid back than some, or perhaps life has taught me that there are some things it’s just not worth getting wound up about – and believe me, there was a time when such things would have caused me a major meltdown, but time and circumstance have mellowed me, and these days I tend to shrug off misfortune more often than succumb to it. Which is more than I can say for many people I see frequenting SL.

Some people – and you may certainly correct me if I’m wrong – take our virtual escape from the real world far too seriously. You come across those profiles where you’re warned off by dire threats to invoke TOS or be thoroughly beaten to within an inch of your virtual life – and for what heinous crime? Quoting them! Yep: Quote me and I’ll break every bone in your body and have you banned from SL. However, that’s nothing compared to dissing their SL family, in which case, you’ll be hunted down by their daddies, mommies, sistas and widdle childrens and be taken apart pixel by pixel. Don’t you dare add them as friends, IM or TP them without first negotiating a legally notarised contract, because these are some of the worst things you can possibly do to a fellow resident, apparently.

Then you have those poor, long-suffering souls for whom SL has gone sour and who bear the afflictions of a thousand inworld tribulations: Those who feel slighted when a content creator refuses to create them a custom outfit in pale marmalade-orange for the same cost as the one in faded marmalade-orange, (because the customer is always right – yes?); the gacha-addict who is traumatised because when they spend a zillion lindens and still don’t get that ‘rare’ they’ve set their heart on, (hint – it’s marked ‘rare’); the slighted 50-year old woman who pretends she’s 21, single and has the looks of a goddess, infuriated because the hot adonis she’s been having pixel sex with turns out in RL to be a bull-dyke, and has six alts that have been having pixel sex with anything with a pixel pulse, (and occasionally, hooves); the entitled prima donna having a breakdown because her new mesh body has glitchy alphas… Yep, virtual people experiencing disasters and calamity of an order never before experienced in the history of history itself.

Grow up.

Chill out.

Be happy!

(Oh, and don’t forget Haven’s Modified 3rd Law: ‘Be a twat, and one day you’ll be twatted right back!’)

s. x

I’m bulletproof nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
Sia – Titanium

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL | Leave a comment