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

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Quirks

We all have them; some are more pronounced than others, some we are aware of, whilst we may be completely oblivious to others, some are endearing and others may be horribly annoying and irritating. If it’s often these character traits and idiosyncrasies that make us uniquely who we are.

That little raising of an eyebrow, the odd inflection we attach to particular words, that weird way we have of eating our meals… All distinguishing features that for some reason seem to be more noteworthy and noticeable than the myriad of other qualities and foibles we may possess and are irrevocably tied to our personality.

We should never underestimate the power of a quirk. People are constantly falling in love with each other over such things as simple as the way someone signs off their text messages, or that little smirk they give when they have a random naughty thought. Equally, those same quirks can have completely the opposite effect – somehow those little nuances that once seemed so innocuous can develop into the most annoying habit in the world. It’s funny how the smallest things can become deal breakers, I’ve lived with people whose annoying habits can, over time, become monstrous obstacles to harmonious living: It doesn’t help if you’re just a little bit OCD – but there comes a time when faced with plates put away in the wrong cupboard, yet again, or having to contend with the toothpaste being squeezed from the wrong end of the tube one more time, or putting up with that little tapping sound they make with their nails whenever they’re relaxing… Suddenly you just want to punch their lights out!

Such character traits and behavioural quirks can be equally pervasive in SL too. Many, if not all of the people I spend my time with inworld, have their own personal characteristics that can be quite endearing, at times amusing, and on occasion, downright annoying. Just as in the real world, I suppose we can be influenced in the way in which we might feel about a fellow resident as a result of these quirks, although I’d suggest it’s probably unlikely that we’d persuade ourself to fall in love with anyone inworld as a result of them in the manner we might do in RL – in the real world, it’s those subtle little nuances that we engage with and serve to enhance a person’s character, which we only really tend to become aware of when there is some other form of attraction already present.

On the other hand, we really don’t need to be at all romantically interested in a person to spot, and even be repulsed, by those negative traits that are really pretty hard to ignore. It’s no different in SL – and, just as in real life, it’s entirely possible to be an eminently likeable person in all other respects, yet still have a few odd quirks that drive all those around you mad. There’s the person who’d do anything to assist a friend in need; the very soul of generosity, yet this positive aspect of their character is completely overshadowed by the fact that they seem incapable of turning up anywhere they’ve promised to be at an agreed time. Or maybe they’re a great friend, but they’re constantly putting you into compromising positions, or embarrassing you in company. Sometimes it can just be a person’s manner or the pall of doom they cast when they walk into a room… Even the nicest, friendliest and unassuming SL friend can possess a quirk of character that can infuriate us, drive us to distraction and irritate the hell out of the most saintly and accepting of friends.

Maybe there’s a salutary message there to be learned. The problem with SL is that, without the real life subtext and accompanying essential human characteristics, those less than desirable traits that might otherwise pass practically unnoticed in the real world can be thrown into stark focus when inworld. We perhaps need to be somewhat more self-aware in SL than in our everyday lives, because we might just be antagonising those very people that we’d never even consider trying to alienate under normal circumstances.

And, yes, I really should take a long hard look at myself too in that respect!

s. x

Then she pulled at my stitches one by one, looked at my insides clicking
her tongue and said
“This will all have to come undone”
Missy Higgins – Scar

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Master of none

There are some things in SL that I’ve never quite mastered – simple, everyday things that most people seem to have little difficulty managing, yet for some reason, I’ve never quite managed to get the hang of.

And I do mean the simplest, most everyday activities. After 7 years spent in SL you’d think I’d be able to negotiate a simple doorway or flight of stairs, but even after all this time, I afraid you’d be wrong. Only this week I managed to trap myself in a doorway, helplessly trying to negotiate – and completely missing – the hole in the wall that I was trying to get through. Flying is another straightforward task that I’ve never really mastered, unless becoming hopelessly disorientated, crashing into buildings and spectacularly performing unplanned, wildly out of control aerobatics is actually the proper way to fly inworld, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s not!

As for driving or controlling any vehicle, changing clothes in public whilst still preserving my modesty, or conducting more than one conversation in IM without causing acute embarrassment or confusion… Forget it! I just can’t do it. It seems that when it comes to simple, everyday inworld skills, I’m singularly inept.

Actually, when it comes down to it, I not exactly an expert at real life too. I don’t mean that I’m unable to navigate through doors or drive in the real world – I’m perfectly capable of doing those things, and I think I do them perfectly well – but considering all the varied and wide-ranging activities that I undertake on a regular basis, there are very few that I would say put me into the category of ‘expert’ or even ‘accomplished’. There are many skills I have that would certainly be considered adequate and sufficient for everyday needs, and in fact if I take a considered view, there are actually a vast array of things that I do at a level that is totally acceptable, very good even, but when it comes to excelling at something, this is a far more rarefied situation that could probably be numbered in single digits.

I don’t mind – I’m the sort of person who can turn my hand to pretty much anything and manage to achieve better than average results, and these skills are extremely wide ranging: Routine car maintenance; a variety of cookery styles; photography; film-making; writing; interior design; making computers do stuff; delivering presentations; DIY; wine-making… Quite a lot of things really, although there are some things that I’d love to be able to develop a degree of competence, but have failed to manage at every attempt – particularly art and playing a musical instrument. The thing is, I’d rather be pretty good at many different things and expert at none, than I’d want to be an expert in one or two skills, but hopeless in most other. I know which would give me a higher chance of survival in a zombie apocalypse, (clue: It’s not going to be the ability to play Beethoven’s 5th to appease the brain-eating hordes!). So I’m going to be happy with my lot and accept that although there’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence, it’s not the Holy Grail, and there’s nothing wrong with being just good at something.

Which brings me back to SL, because it’s no different inworld. I’m sure that many of us have tried our hand at most of the skills peculiar to SL: Creating content; entertainment; scripting; real estate management, and so on, only to find that we’re nowhere near as good as we’d like to be, and we certainly can’t even begin to compete with those who have real talent and skills in those areas.Whilst we may be critical of ourselves for failing to live up to our own expectations, that doesn’t mean we should beat ourselves up for it – not everyone can be an expert, even in SL. Sometimes we have to accept the virtual world for what it is, and our place in it is no different to that of the real world; sometimes we’ll find our niche and carve out an empire, but mostly we’ll get along just fine with the skills we learn on a day to day basis – and that’s really all that we need to do just fine.

And even if you are still walking into walls after 7 years practice… Just remember, you’re in good company!

s. x

I am the image maker. I am the magic
Maker. I can turn the most ordinary
Man in the world into a star.
The Kinks – Ordinary People

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Blogging Bytes: 20 April 2017

It’s been ever so long since I’ve done one of these, but – as the bible says – a dog returns to it’s own vomit, so inevitably I’ve been drawn back to my dark side.

Some people wonder where I draw my inspiration from: Usually, for these somewhat darker posts, there is none. A thought – or even a full-blown – story occurs to me and that’s it. However, sometimes there is a trigger, that fires the gun, that splatters the gore of a new story on the pages of this blog.

In this case the trigger was an episode of Family Guy. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Enjoy… Well, actually, probably not – Alt. life: Tiffany-Twisted.

s. x

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
The Eagles – Hotel California

Posted in Alt. life:, Unlikely stories | Leave a comment

Animal magic

It’s all change at The Gallery. My Welsh Odyssey exhibit has moved out and my new exhibition has taken up residence.

‘Africa’ is a project that has been a long time in the making. Around fourteen years ago I had the privilege of going to East Africa on safari – an ambition I’d held all my life, and very much a dream come true. When I returned home, I’d left a part of myself in the savannah and I made a promise that, somehow, I’d return one day, knowing that it was a promise to myself I could probably never keep.

Then, earlier this year, an unexpected opportunity came up out the blue, and I found myself heading back to Africa, and my camera was going with me!

Wildlife photography is challenging: There’s a reason that professional field photographers tend towards bushy beards and spend months away from home, camped out in hides and surviving on re-hydrated corned beef hash, just to capture that one elusive shot. It’s an approach that, although I’d be more than happy to replicate, in practical terms, it’s just not possible on a two week trip.

But, I can try, and my new exhibit represents a very small sample of the outcomes of that journey. I hope I’ve done it justice!

s. x

Rona ma Africa, ratang ka kopano.
Batho ba Africa, ngothando sizonqoba,
ma Africa.
Eya, batheo beso!
Hans Zimmer – The Journey/Kopano, Part III

Posted in RL, The Gallery | Leave a comment

Snoozed

Things are not always what they seem to be.

Today is my first day back to work after a week off – as far as SL goes, it’s not such a good thing because I’ll have less opportunity to be inworld and the time I could be logging in to SL is going to have to be shared with other, more mundane but essential activities. As far as blogging goes, it’s probably a good thing: Travelling between locations tends to give me more opportunities to put posts together and the routine of work helps me to be more structured and disciplined in my activities.

It doesn’t always work out that way though. The secret is to go with the flow and see what happens, although sometimes it can all go wrong. Take this morning, for example – picture me, (if you dare), all snuggled up in bed in that cosy, pre-alarm somnolence, half awake but still clinging on to the last vestiges of sleep. It’s a time when my mind can often choose to be quite fertile, conjuring up ideas and playing around with them to come up with all sorts of new and fun things.

This morning’s meanderings were particularly productive. I must have spent a good twenty minutes working on what was supposed to be today’s blog post – all based around some thoughts that were bouncing around my head regarding my alarm’s snooze button and the particular circumstances relating to it this morning. By the time the alarm actually went off, I had today’s post pretty much composed… Until I got as far as the bathroom, (you can stop picturing me now!), and if was at that point that I realised that pretty much everything I’d contrived in my head for my next blog post was, in fact, just a jumbled connection of random thoughts, all unrelated and completely meaningless – there was no coherent theme or structure to any of it, (you may think that about most of my posts anyway), and as for that snooze button function, I couldn’t for the life of me work out how on earth it fitted into the picture.

It seems that what I’d done was make the error of thinking that half-awake neurons firing off, first thing in the morning, was cogent thought processes, when actually it was far from it, as I discovered when I tried to formulate it into a recognisable picture and words. In much the same way as our more esoteric dreams tend not to translate terribly well in the retelling, my morning thoughts turned out to be rather less sensible and rather more disjointed than I had imagined.

SL can be a bit like that too: When inworld, it all makes sense, even if sometimes in a weird and wonderful way. We understand what’s going on – most of the time – and we accept the things we see and experience as everyday things; it’s a kind of normality, even though we know that it’s somewhat different, even at the best of times, from reality. It seems, even feels, perfectly normal, rational and straightforward… That’s until we try to explain it some to someone outside our virtual bubble, and suddenly, it makes very little sense, becomes rather incoherent, and totally weird.

“Well, the thing is, there’s this virtual world… Yeah – like a website, or a chatroom but sort of completely interactive and with avatars. No, not just little pictures, but people – virtual people – and you can dress them up and change their appearance and stuff. Yeah, a bit like The Sims, except they’re more real people than characters. And then we – well, our avatars – do stuff, like go shopping and dancing, and… erm… sex. And the thing is, even though it’s not real, it is in loads of ways. Well obviously not in the way you can actually touch other people and things, but they’re real even so, and yes you can get married, and set up home and have babies, and fly! But you don’t have to, because there’s no rules or goals or anything. Y’know what… Some people take it even further and meet each other in the real world and get married, and set up home and have babies. What’s that? No, not the flying bit! So you see, it’s all very simple and sensible. Whaddya mean, a game? No way! It’s like different to that – like everyday life, only it’s not real, but it is.

I’m not explaining this very well, am I?”

Sometimes, it’s better just to think of SL as a kind of waking dream: Something to be kept to yourself, because frankly, it doesn’t make a whole load of sense to anyone else when you try and rationalise it out.

s. x

Wake me up, wake me up inside, I can’t wake up,
Wake me up inside, save me,
Call my name and save me from the dark, wake me up
Bid my blood to run, I can’t wake up
Evanescence – Wake Me Up

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Chow mein

Back in the day – and I’m talking of the days of my youth – the big thing here in Britland and the last word in convenience and tastiness could be summed up in a single word: ‘Vesta’.

Vesta ready meals were awesome – there was curry, beef risotto, paella, chicken supreme and, everybody’s favourite, chow mein – most of which were based on the principle of ‘add water, stir and simmer’, and twenty minutes later you’d have a simply fab meal. I don’t know whether Vesta meals found their way to other corners of the globe but if not, you really don’t know what you missed. Not only were they simple enough for a complete culinary numpty to prepare, but they were great fun too, as anyone who enjoyed the thrill of watching those crispy chow mein noodles puff up in hot oil will tell you. I had my own little trick for getting the most deliciousness out of those twenty minutes, and I dipped many a slice of bread in the tasty broth that would eventually become a paella or risotto: Just too much deliciousness to wait for! You can still get Vesta meals, but it seems that they’ve had their day, and we now have more discerning tastes, but every now and again I can’t deny having a hankering for such halcyon days.

The clever thing about Vesta meals was that they were essentially a meal kit. Opening the box revealed a variety of interesting packets, each with their own printed instructions for preparation; apart from the odd knob of butter, dash of oil and water, everything you needed was in that box. A good kit, whatever its intended purpose, will contain pretty much everything you need to achieve the desired result, without the need for anything other than the most basic of additional items, and when complete will produce something that resembles the picture on the front of the box. The same is true whether you’re preparing a meal or putting together a 22″ scale model Eagle Transporter.

Kits are not only fun, allowing us to create things that we might otherwise struggle to produce, and in that particular regard they’re not just limited to the physical world – there are plenty of kits available to SL users too, although as always seems to be the case, there’s always somebody in SL who’ll take exception to any aspect of the virtual world that doesn’t sit well with their own inworld view; a particular bone of contention that seems to arise in relation to mesh clothing.

I do find it hard to understand the arguments against mesh clothing kits. I’m not so sure that they stifle creativity, I don’t agree that they are the preserve of lazy or untalented creators, and I fail to see how they are deceiving the customer. If anything, mesh kits allow those who don’t have the time or ability to create original mesh to take their place in a competitive market and quite possibly drive those who do make original creations to continue to diversify and keep the market buoyant. Creating original mesh is, I’m afraid the preserve of only a few, who do control market forces and trends, it is not an easy process and it takes a lot of time, effort and hard cash in order to succeed. Few of us are in a position to make that sort of investment, and mesh kits allow the masses to at least have an opportunity to dabble in a field that is very much monopolised by those with the talent and the time.

As for deceiving or betraying the customer, really? Surely if the customer likes what they see then they’ll buy it with little concern about the method of its construction. If you don’t like it, don’t buy – it’s that simple – and that’s also the choice you have if you choose to take a sort of moral high ground and wish to protest against the proliferation of kit mesh.

If it was that bad a thing then you have to wonder why on earth mesh kits should be available in the first place, surely it is those same talented mesh creators who have made their own designs available for others to utilise – and, if it’s fine by them, who are we to complain on their behalf?

Whether you like them or not, mesh kits are here to stay. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can also choose to ignore them, but always remember that – like my Vesta ready meals – they can also be a great starting point for those who may have the ambition, but not the ability, to make something better – but maybe, one day in the future, they might actually graduate to the real thing. Speaking for myself, I now make a pretty mean risotto and chicken supreme. Although, I have to say, I don’t think I’ll ever beat those crispy noodles!

s. x

For your garlic flavored steak I’d suffer nightmares
For your mashed potatoes, I’d even dig the dirt
For your roast beef, I’d even get a haircut
And to keep the larder full, I’d even work
Pete Townshend – Cookin’

Posted in Builder's bum, Half-Baked, RL, SL | Leave a comment

A matter of record

One aspect of the information age, which we are all familiar with, is that data can be quite a bulky thing. Not bulky in quite in the same sense as we may have thought thirty years ago, when most data was recorded in paper form, or in a manner that required physical space for storage and there was a clear delineation between public and private information – not based so much on content, but equally on our capacity to hold and gain access to that information. Whilst such things as bills and bank statements were a necessary evil that the individual was compelled to make space for, the sheer space we could afford for the keeping of other, less personal information, meant entrusting it to civic amenities such as libraries and local town halls. Limitations on space would mean that, at best, the average home would stretch to a couple of bookcases, and maybe – for the fortunate – a full set of bound Encyclopedia Britannica, paid for and over a million monthly instalments.

Then came the digital revolution: CD ROM, hard disks of ever-increasing capacity, flash drives, and eventually cloud storage – not to mention that the accumulated knowledge of the world, along with every type of public data imaginable, is easily accessible quite literally at the touch of a mouse button. No longer do we need physical space to store our data, but even so, data still needs to be stored somewhere, and that’s the modern day problem that we all face, with increasing frequency.

My first computer had no hard drive and my digital world was stored away on 720kb, 3-inch floppy disks. My current computer has, (pause a moment, while I count them), nine hard drives and several terabytes of capacity… And the problem is, I’m still running out of space!

Part of the problem is the quality of information that we deem worthy of retention. I have many Gigabytes of images that I’ve accumulated on a whim: Pictures from the .net that have appealed to me, made me laugh, or which have struck me as being ‘keepers’ – a good quantity of which I use as screensavers, but those aside, I have many, many images that I’ve never looked at since first saving them, all taking up precious space that I could be using for, erm… New screensavers? Then there’s all the hidden stuff: Log files that applications delight in recording for no apparent purpose; all those .xml documents that seem to be vital to the operation of any sort of software, but in reality probably do nothing at all; ‘Read Me’ documents that nobody has ever read; And thousands of files that enable me to do whatever I need to do in hundreds of different languages, even though I only ever use English. All of them, creeping death to storage capacity.

But, what about all that stuff that falls into the category of ‘useful’? Because, sometimes I do wonder just how useful it really is, and have to question myself on the logic of keeping so much information that – if pressed – I really couldn’t tell you why I’m keeping it. I have SL chat logs and IM logs going back almost to day one of my SL journey. I say almost, because thanks to an infamous moment of madness by Linden Lab, who once thought it would be a great idea for a new installation of the viewer to delete all previous logs, I lost my earliest records of SLife. However, what I have does go right back to June 2010, which in a way, is complete madness. Why on earth is there any need for me to keep records of conversations, and for that matter local chat, that took place seven years ago? What possible useful purpose could it serve?

Well, funny you should ask that… Only recently, I had great fun looking up the first occasion of meeting a number of friends and seeing what our first conversational exchange was, (Spoiler: Mostly it was variations on “Hello, pleased to meet you”). Apart from that, however, it is a little difficult to explain why, other than for the old catch-all, ‘nostalgia’. In fact, now that I think about it, much the same could probably said for the vast majority of data that I’ve pulled from SL, stored and – in the main – left undisturbed for years. Images, logs, exported builds, textures… The list is long and undistinguished, and ultimately, of very limited value other than to myself as a reminder of the past events of my virtual life.

Nostalgia aside, it’s really hard to justify keeping any of it. Unless I publish it in these pages, who else is going to ever see, read or use it? And, when I finally go off to that great virtual world in the sky, do I seriously think that anyone is going to want to wade through years’ worth of information, little of which will make any sense to them, and none of which will have any relevance to their own lives? Probably not.

But, even though rationality tells me it’s a relatively pointless thing to do, I know that I’m by no means the only one – many thousands of SL inmates throughout the world are doing exactly the same thing, and perhaps one day, many years in the future, when humankind has finally blasted itself into oblivion, some enlightened civilisation from across the galaxy might stumble upon the remains of our planet and work out how to operate our hard disks.

And I’m sure they will be utterly baffled by the world they discover and wonder how on earth humanity lasted long enough to even record what they were up to!

s. x

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
Judy Collins – In My Life

Posted in Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

24/7

An odd thought crossed my mind this morning – like most of my thoughts that I share on here, I’m sure you’re thinking. It was one of my early starts: The sun was still struggling through its first coffee of the day before parting the cloud curtains and peering through to see what sort of a day it was going to be in the world below, and the only other people on the streets were dogwalkers and joggers.

As I passed by the darkened windows and drawn curtains, the random part of my brain, having little else better to do, went off into its own unique world of weirdness. It was considering my little inworld railway, and how the trains sound their whistle at various points on their journey. It toyed with the idea that the neighbours probably don’t appreciate such a racket first thing in the morning, or late at night, and perhaps I should do something about it.

It was at this point that the sensible part of my brain muscled its way back into the frame, gave randomness a slap and told it to get a grip… Normal conventions of time do not, of course, hold much sway inworld, and terms like ‘morning’ and ‘night’ are largely irrelevant. This is illustrated by a scenario that regularly crops up when members of my regular circle of friends log in and out – since it’s usually at the end of my evening, it’s natural to wish them a good night – but then I remember that they’re somewhere in the States, when it’s mid afternoon, or Australia, where they’re probably off to breakfast, or Upper Volta, in which case I have absolutely no idea. No-one seems to have a problem with this, but when the realisation dawns, I feel the need to give a time-appropriate greeting, only to make myself feel weird because I’m saying ‘good morning’ to someone, when a quick glance out of the window clearly tells me it should be ‘good night’.

SL is one of a few places where life really does go on 24/7 – unlike my local supermarket, which purports to be so, but closes early on a Sunday, and if you do happen to turn up to do the weekly shop at 3am, they look at you strangely and assume you’re there to stack shelves. Instead, in SL, the activity continues unabated throughout the circadian cycle. As Europe starts to log off, bleary-eyed and partied out, America is logging on, all ready to have a nice day; and in the bits in between, different time zones are all doing their own thing in their own time, no matter what the SLT clock may be saying.

Persistence of Seren

Not that SLT is anything but an artificial construct anyway – yes, it’s a handy frame of reference that we can employ to ease the organisation of events and get-togethers, but it serves no real purpose apart from that – unless you happen to live in San Francisco it really has no practical use, other than providing that common link between disparate parts of the world. It doesn’t even tie up with the inworld day and night cycle – by the time the clock has made full circle in RL, almost a week will have passed inworld, running to its crazy 4-hour day and night cycle. SL years are like dog years: According to SL, a ten year old avatar would be nudging 60 in the real world, (no wonder I feel old).

Not that any of that matters anyway, since we’re at liberty to freely alter the time to suit ourselves whenever we fancy. I always have a little smirk at a club I frequent in SL, where the advice is anyways to set the time to midnight for the best experience… I don’t: I always put my settings to Torley’s ‘Raw Sewage’! (best not to ask!) – The plain fact is that everyone present could well have their day cycle set to a completely different time, totally at odds with what the real world time may be in their location, and nothing like the official time that Linden Lab are telling us it is. Potentially totally confusing, yet somehow we all seem to cope, even if – like me – you haven’t a clue how SLT relates to real time, at any time!

To return to my morning thoughts… Eventually, the sun decided it was having nothing to do with today and headed back to the duvet for a lie-in, leaving the clouds – now bored with hanging about in the sky – to descend to earth in a thick grey pall of foggyness; like God’s flatulence, only without the smell. In the gloom, it didn’t really matter what the time might be, other than it definitely felt far too early to be up and about, and I came to the conclusion that it also didn’t really matter whether my trains whistled in the day, night, or any other time – it was irrelevant… If they were going to annoy anyone, they would do so whatever the time.

And that’s exactly what they’re going to keep on doing.

s. x

The train kept a rollin’ all night long
With a heave and a ho
I just couldn’t let her go
The Yardbirds – Train Kept A Rollin’

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Temporary failure

Ever had a brilliant idea that turned out not to be quite so brilliant after all, and all because of a single weak link in the connection… Yourself!

For years, I periodically found myself facing the inescapable prospect of wasting innumerable boring hours unpacking, examining, sorting and storing the accumulated mountain of unopened boxes and detritus of a million hunts, events and shopping trips that I’d never quite got around to neatly filling away in my inventory at the time of acquisition. I’m sure it’s a familiar story to many of you, and we all have our strategies for dealing with such things. Some simply don’t care and, as a result, possess inventories that resemble jumble sales from hell; others will have weekly clearouts where all their latest bits and pieces are collated, catalogued and carefully filled away; still others are insanely well organised and put stuff away, immediately it lands in their inv, complete with descriptive folder and identifying photo. None of which describes my own approach.

When it all got a bit too much for me, and I decided I couldn’t face another time-consuming, life-sapping session of sorting out, I came up with my own Seren Solution™ – I set up a new ‘temporary’ folder and resolved that anything that found its way into my inv would either be worn or rezzed immediately, and thereafter put away in an appropriate place when I’d finished with it, or would be dumped into my new temporary accommodation until needed – when that happy day came, it would also be consigned to its final resting place after use.

All good so far, but I know what I’m like, so I came up with one further condition that would make it far more difficult to ‘forget’ or ignore my new, disciplined approach to inventory management. I resolved that, from that point onwards, I was not allowed to wear any existing item or clothing from elsewhere else in my inventory, (apart from special occasions and costumes), without first clearing out my temp folder. Genius!

Not.

Don’t ask me how, but somehow I’ve managed to accumulate so much in my temporary folder, that for the past few weeks, or that could even be months, I simply haven’t needed to visit my existing inventory for clothing. Worse still, I still have a whole load of unopened boxes just waiting to be opened. Rather than simplify the process of sorting my inventory, I somehow seem to have made the task even more complex and – oh the horror – this week I came to the terrifying conclusion that at some point soon I’m really going to have to dedicate a good long time to unpacking, trying out, sorting and saving the vast accumulation of items that are now residing in my temporary folder of hell! I haven’t fixed the problem at all, I’ve just moved it somewhere else!

Although that’s not really the problem at all… It’s not that I have too much stuff, too little time or that my life is hopelessly disorganised – the real root cause of all my grief is: Me!

Yep, I’m a compulsive, inveterate collector of pretty much anything and everything. I do have certain standards and, I would hope, a degree of taste, but that hasn’t stopped me from accumulating a vast amount of things at a rate that simply exceeds my ability to deal with them. Here’s a little visual to demonstrate the problem:

Here you see the accumulation of virtual stuff over time. I only have a finite capacity for sorting out new stuff as it arrives into my inventory, and that’s something that stays fairly constant – the ‘Capability Event Horizon’. However, you can clearly see that once the accumulation of stuff exceeds the CEH, I’m fighting a losing battle, and the only way to stop it, is to stop accumulating stuff… Which, of course, is not going to happen.

Why, you might ask, is that not an option? Surely it would be better all round if I simply elect to lay off collecting new things, just long enough to get back below the red line, and then try and stay below by not overdoing things in future.

Well, of course, I could, but where’s the fun in that?

s. x

It’s not a picture perfect life
Not what I had in mind
Let me write my own line
I’ve got this place
That I’ve filled with empty space
Oh I’m trying not to face what I’ve done
My hopeless opus
Imagine Dragons – Hopeless Opus

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