Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Battle of Britain in SL -- a "grass roots" commemoration

The Avro Lancaster at Biggin Hill

Seventy years ago this month, Germany's air campaign over England, popularly known as the “Battle of Britain,” took a major turn. The Germans, suffering significant losses, changed their strategy and it became clear that Hitler was abandoning any ideas he had of invading the United Kingdom with his ground forces.

With that in mind, I was pleased to discover in one of my periodic searches of SL places--using key words such as “history” and “authentic”--that there is “The Battle of Britain Airfield” in Second Life at Gurla (53, 239, 64). So I put on my Betty Page hair and a vintage-inspired outfit from Ingenue, and headed over to take a look.

This is an interesting concept: it has been assembled as a “living museum” that incorporates your usual SL vendor area with an immersion environment based upon the actual historic RAF airfield at Biggin Hill, displays of recreated aircraft and vehicles by a number of different builders, and a role-playing group that seeks to honor the men and women of the RAF by recreating a British “unit” from the RAF, much in the same way that military reenactors recreate various organizations from various time periods in real life. It’s just that this living history unit is operating in virtual space.

Inside the control tower--nice detail!

Let’s talk first about the environment: it includes are some great structures that are based upon actual buildings (many of which are still standing) at the Biggin Hill field. These were crafted by a number of different content makers, including Synge Michalak, Punky Pugilist, and sim owner Gaius Luminos, among others. There are quonset huts, shanty-like barracks, hangars of multiple types, and blast bays for the aircraft, as well as a control tower and the dispersal hut (complete with details like the “scramble bell” by the door, and a mish-mash of furniture out front) where the pilots waited for their orders to take off. There are some “off-the-shelf” hangars as well, mostly containing the vendors, but the plan seems to be to eventually replace these with custom historical builds.

There are also a few historical compromises--but the only one that really made me cringe was that the field’s anti-aircraft gun emplacements have German 88 flak guns instead of Allied models such as the British 3.7 inch AA gun or the ubiquitous 40MM Bofors. The 88’s are extremely well-made examples by Rael Ellison, but they are German, after all. But hey, I’m probably one of only a very small number of people who gets her knickers in a twist over such things.

Yeah. It's an 88. It shouldn't have been there. Did that stop me from being a good little Flakhilferin and getting on it to take a few test shots? No, of course not. Don't be silly. And the thing is very well made. Shoots beautifully too.

The only other issue I had was that in a few certain areas the build felt just a smidge crowded. They really need more space to do the environment justice, but then I fully understand that people have financial realities to deal with. One really good decision that the builders made was to place the larger part of the non-period signage, displays and historical interpretation elements inside closed hangars, so they would not detract from the environment. I think they could actually take this a bit further and get almost all of the non-1940s bits and bobs out of the primary historical immersion environment. For example, there is a lovely memorial with pictures and a ring of candles, but it is outside next to the Lancaster bomber. Some of the recreated buildings are actually empty--perhaps the memorial could be moved inside one of them? Just a thought.

The memorial at the Biggin Hill build.

Oh speaking of that Lanc--by god it is perhaps the most spectacular recreation of an historic airplane I have ever set eyes on in SL. Built by Bancos Milestone, it is complete inside and out. There is even ordnance in the bomb bay. There are other fine looking aircraft as well, including flyable Spitfires and a Mosquito by Shana Carpool, and a beautiful static model of a MK I Spit by Julianna Holmer.

To learn more about the build, I contacted the owner and manager of the sim, Gaius Luminos, who very kindly agreed to answer my questions:

Diogenes Kuhr: Your Biggin Hill project is very nice I like the theme...what made you decide to do it?

Gaius Luminos: Thank you very much-it’s 85% historically accurate build of the RL Biggin Hill RAF Station in 1940. I built it as a 'Living Museum' to commemorate the participants of The Battle of Britain...both those in The Royal Air Force, and the Citizens of London who were there during The Blitz, from June thru September 1940, which would include my own family.

Diogenes Kuhr: So members of your family went through the Blitz?

Gaius Luminos: Yes, my Grandparents had the roof of their house blown off, and my Mum was attacked by a Luftwaffe fighter pilot on the ground, whilst she and a group of kids were playing in a Children’s Playground in was a very intense time...and a very historically significant time.

Diogenes Kuhr: You call your build 85% accurate--it looks like a lot of the structures are based on buildings that are still there or pictures--am I correct that a lot of research went into this?

Gaius Luminos: Yes definitely, we were lucky in that we had a staff member of Biggin Hil RL as a design consultant, he is a recently retired Aircraft Mechanic, so was present on the station for years, and obviously has it all he was a big help. And yes, although Biggin Hill is now a commercial airfield, most of the original site is unchanged from its RAF period. The RAF's nickname for Biggin is 'The Strongest Link'..being close to London, it was pivotal during the battle, and was in fact attacked 16 times during 1940.

Diogenes Kuhr: Ah, very cool! So most of the structures in your build are custom, with just a few off-the-shelf bits and pieces?

Gaius Luminos: Yes, everything is custom, with the exception of the aircraft and gear vendor hangers...which we will also shortly be replacing with period custom built ones. There is a historical expo installation on the Sim, which visitors can view, basically a 5 to 8 minute tour of the Battle of includes an aerial photo recon map of Biggin in 1940, so visitors can compare for themselves.

Historicial interpretive exhibit situated inside one of the hangars so as to not distract from the immersion environment.

Diogenes Kuhr: I think it's helpful that you have historical information like that but you don't beat people over the head with it

Gaius Luminos: I totally agree...and that was a big part of the decision to recreate Biggin Hill- yes its an archival source, but it also has a completely active Squadron, that flies Operations in the combat theatre, and functions according to the ethos, protocols and command structure of The Royal Air Force it is history, yes, but history 'come to life' in a sense, rather than being presented like the dry pages of a textbook in a class.

Diogenes Kuhr: I noticed the planes are from a number of different builders...that Lanc that Bancos Milestone did is downright extraordinary--do you have a favorite?

The interior of Bancos Milesotne's amazing Lancaster heavy bomber, looking aft from the cockpit.

Gaius Luminos: I love Milestone’s in RL, it is the centerpiece, which it will also be when we do our in-world memorial fly-bys for the 70th anniversary....but, as far as having a favourite, I can't say that I do. They are all excellent builds, and in fact have many of the in-flight characteristics of their RL counterparts. The Spitfire is an iconic plane of course, and I am as enamoured by that as anyone else, but they're all symbolic of machines that helped prevent Europe, and by default The United States, from becoming an extension of The Nazi Empire, in the Summer of 1940.

Diogenes Kuhr: Are you the owner of the sim as well as the project leader? And when did you open up the build to visitors?

Gaius Luminos: Yes I own the Sim also. It opened approximately 5 months ago. To be honest, i started it as personal project more or less, but we started getting inundated with visitors and group-joins, so it 'took off' (no pun intended) in a way that I hadn't originally envisioned. It seems that there are a lot of people in SL, for whom this subject is close to their hearts....Which has been very gratifying, if unexpected.

Diogenes Kuhr: I think it is interesting that the sim feels alive, not just in the sense that you have the group flying from here, but that also you seem to be continually improving it--adding things, fixing things and making them more accurate over time...what kinds of things do you hope to do in the near future to make it better beside replacing the off-the-shelf buildings?

Gaius Luminos: Well, that's a pretty big laundry list....besides continuing to dial in the build toward a 100% accuracy figure, our mission is to also continue to sync procedures of our in-world group RP to be as close as is possible to those of The RAF in RL, which would include as I mentioned, also conducting the same schedule of Commemorative and other events in SL, that The RAF is doing currently in RL....That and to continue as best we are able, to keep the memory of what was accomplished, and the gift of freedom, that 'The Few' gave to us at their own sacrifice, in 1940.

Diogenes Kuhr: And you are doing this on your own, just as interested individuals--there is no connection with any museum or historical organization, right?

Gaius Luminos: Not at’s all happened quite fast as I mentioned. However, yes, the idea has been broached, and its an excellent idea, to reach out to such organizations in RL, notably The Battle of Britain Society, and some others.

Diogenes Kuhr: do you feel like you learned a lot doing this?

Gaius Luminos: has been and is an amazing learning experience for me personally, both in terms of how to effectively lead in context of a Military Hierarchy, both day to day and Combat Operations, both of which are responsibilities i take very seriously, and externally, from the great font of knowledge we are privileged to have here, from RL Air Force Veterans, Combat Pilots from different Conflicts, who generously give their time and considerable expertise to keeping the Biggin Hill Project as faithful a representation of what it is here to honor, as we possibly can.

Diogenes Kuhr: One last one of the things you're going to have done replacing the 88's with british 3.7 inch AA guns and/or 40MM Bofors?

Gaius Luminos: Yes..we are having some built...when we first started, there was a JG (Luftwaffe Base next door to us, so there was an immediate need for an effective defense here: which the 88's definitely provided. However now that Base is defunct, so yes, are now in position to have them replaced with period Allied builds, which we are having made.

Diogenes Kuhr: Cool--yeah they're well made, and I assumed it was just no one was making the 3.7 inch when you started...

Gaius Luminos: No there aren’t as far as I we're having customs made.

Diogenes Kuhr: 88’s do kind of look like a 3.7 in. gun...sort of...

Gaius Luminos: “Sort of” doesn't cut it around here lol...but yes they worked in a situation where we needed something with throw, right away

Diogenes Kuhr: heheh...So...I'm not the only person who has mentioned it, am I?

Gaius Luminos: you are the second!

Gaius Luminos: Also of course, Biggin obviously didn't have a Pub..but we do. However, inside, it has been redecorated as a photo tribute to the aircrew who were in Biggin in 1939..their pictures are all on the walls. I figured that since they no longer have a home to go to in RL (Biggin is no longer an RAF-owned property), that they could feel at home in SL, in the Village Pub...

I encourage you to go see what these folks have put together, for a couple of reasons. The big one, of course, is that whole thing about doing our best to remember and take inspiration from the folks--our parents and grandparents--who fucking saved civilization.

But I think you might also want to go see this build for what it represents in terms of an experiment involving a combination of living history ideas and the work of people who are embracing the sheer joy of building cool shit, mixed into an immersion-style “museum” exhibit...but done by interested individuals rather than meatspace institutions. You don’t have to be the Imperial War Museum or the University of East Dogfart to create an innovative museum experience in a virtual world. Anyone who cares passionately about something can run with it, and often times, have a livelier and more interesting and effective outcome than the institutions seem to.

Holy crap, there are people making gorgeous stuff in SL these days! Look at the texturing on this static model of a MkI Spit by Julianna Holmer.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dear Philip: It's ok, I've changed my mind...

...I have decided that if I ever meet you in person I am not going to kick you square in the balls.

Sincerely yours,

Diogenes Aurelia Kuhr


Having read the above statement, you regular readers of this blog are probably asking, "Why?"

Well, I've been catching up on reading other people's stuff and I came across a piece about a fairly recent interview that Mitch Wagner did with LL founder and newly reappointed CEO Philip Rosedale. You can find the first part of the piece here:

Additional commentary on their conversation may be found here:

Lots of people seem to think of Philip Rosedale as some kind of grand combined muse, guardian, benevolent father figure and guild leader who represents the creative spirit in SL. But I've always seen him as a flawed genius who had a great idea, and then to execute it, created a corporate culture in which the larger part of the customer base was not respected and the workers were allowed to fecklessly fart around doing what they wanted to instead of focusing on the hard work of customer service and making the product run reliably and smoothly. That's why some time ago I issued the warning that should I ever get to meet Philip in real life, first, I would shake his hand to thank him for creating the SL platform, and then I would firmly and enthusiastically plant a size 10 Corcoran boot right in his grocery sack to thank him for how he has mismanaged his creation.

For the most part, the interview with Mr. Wagner suggests that Mr. Rosedale still doesn't entirely get his own product and/or the people who use it.

Nonetheless, based on some things he has done and said since returning, I have elected to issue a reprieve to Philip's junk. If nothing else, I think he deserves it for the following statement he made in his conversation with Wagner:

"I'm back, and the company is going through a change of direction. We're really regarding the situation as serious....We've got a lot more work to do....That work isn't enjoyable in many cases, or fun. It consists of a lot of debugging and quality control that's tedious and unglamorous, but necessary."

Which brings me back to what I would like to say to Mr. Rosedale:

Thank you, Philip for the above statement. You sound like a goddamn adult and an actual leader when you talk like that. Now just translate the words into more actions. Listen to the fucking customers. Keep your staff focused on clear, practical goals; keep them on track and on schedule, and appropriately reward responsible behavior and productivity. Make this thing profitable and stable--even though, as you quite sensibly point out, doing so is a task that isn't always going to be "fun."

And hey, things could be worse. You know, SL may not be the cool thing anymore, but you've still got a hard core of engaged customers who find interesting, useful and entertaining ways to use your product. Yeah, we might not represent a massive Facebook-style audience that interacts with the product in a very superficial way. But everything doesn't have to be the subject of mass adoption--look at Playel, the great French piano maker. They only make 25 really goddam good pianos each year, instead of trying to compete with cheap Chinese piano makers who crank out thousands of OK instruments annually. Look at the whole skiing industry--it's based on a sport that only a limited audience can take on due to the necessary learning curve and the cost. Even so, lots of people make lots of money off this sport.

Please just keep these things in mind. And then you can completely forget about wearing the protective cup.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Looking for signs of ancient life in SL, part II

In my first house in Alsium.
I've been putting this one off for a while, for no discernible reason other than laziness and a temporary preoccupation with so-called real life. But I guess it's time.

I had promised that I would follow up with you all both on the subject of "looking for signs of ancient life" in SL, as well as providing a bit more detail about what I've been doing with myself during the last three months or so. Not that it really matters what I've been up to, but perhaps talking about my ongoing journey can shine a bit of light on some interesting aspects of what is taking place in certain corners of the historically-themed sims in-world.

As I have noted elsewhere, I have been spending less time than I used to in Deadwood--not because there is anything wrong with it, but just because I was in a weird place emotionally and mentally, and not enjoying it as much as I used to. Similarly I have completely dropped out of Hogwarts United, mostly because I found that I couldn't bring myself to make the kind of mental effort, and fulfill the necessary time commitment to do it well.

So where did I go?

Well, you might recall that back in May, I was exploring the ancient-themed sims. In part this was because I was just looking for something new to experience, but also because I had been inspired by the ancient environments in Heritage Key. It made me wonder, so what's available in SL? The builds in Heritage Key are beautifully done, but not consistently populated, and not really designed for role-playing. They are much more like immersive museum exhibits than a place where you form a community and interact on an ongoing basis with other interesting people. Heritage Key is about teaching, not learning; it's about visiting, not building a set of relationships; nor is it about enabling the creation of your own content--and I have come to realize that those are the elements that do the most to keep me in Second Life, rather than wandering off to places like Blue Mars (which also hasn't made the effort to accommodate Mac users, so fuck 'em).

Anyway, back in May, at the time I wrote the ancient life article part I, I found that there seemed to be a number of historical Egyptian, Roman and Greek-themed builds in Second Life, but generally speaking they were largely devoid of any humanity (at least when I visited), or were mediocre builds, or both. And when I say "mediocre," in some cases, I am being extremely generous.

Not long after I wrote the article, I stumbled across two new places, Alsium and The City of Hydra, and by golly I found myself being drawn in.

When I first saw it, Alsium was literally a brand-new build. It is a representation (or perhaps an "interpretation") of an ancient Roman resort town that actually existed, but for which there is relatively little historical information or physical remains to draw upon for guidance in doing a recreation. While there are things that I would have done differently if it was my build--some improbable statuary, a superfluity of banners, and some other things like limited seating at the arena and a lack of certain public structures that most Roman towns had--it's freakin' gorgeous, and it's a fun place to explore and to play. And hey, it's not my build, not my sim, so at this point I will just shut the fuck up regarding what is or isn't there. Cuz after all, if I really wanted to have an ancient build that met all the criteria I would like for one to meet, then I need to cough up the jack and build one myself someday, right? Well maybe I just will, because the experience of being a part of the Alsium community has been very positive.

Alsium--a pretty resort town on the coast, about 35 km from Rome. This is in the suburbs, away from the town center with its arena, baths and forum. The multi-story structure with the private dock is my current domus.

And in many ways, I was pleasantly surprised at how positive the experience has been. The vast majority of Alsium's players--and characters--are gay males. I have no issues with gay folks, but you could argue that I didn't really fit in. Also, many of the guys are players who have migrated from Gorean sims (and my only previous contact with Goreans had been somewhat ridiculous...I'll have to tell you the story sometime). Initially, I was the only female player and/or character present. So in a lot of ways, on the surface, it seemed like it should not have worked for me being there. But somehow it did, in large part because of some key decisions that were made by sim owner Noah Shepherd: he gave the sim a particular time period to work with--its timeframe is during the latter part of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, roughly in the era from 170 to 175 AD, so there was an historical context; he quickly opened up an adjoining sim that offered a variety of rental properties (a bit pricey, but with huge prim limits), so that residents could do exciting and interesting things in terms of not just decorating but structurally adapting the interior spaces they rented; and he made it clear that what he wanted was not a particular type or style of roleplaying to take place--he just wanted good roleplaying.

The character I created was a Greco-Egyptian lady from Alexandria, the widow of a wine merchant who died of a fever while I was accompanying him on a buying trip. My premise was that I was sort of stranded in Italy, and needed to keep the business going in order to meet his obligations and settle our debts. And as time went on, with the help of his "servus" who had helped him run the business, the enterprise was becoming profitable and my character was finding that she enjoyed being a wine merchant.

Keeping the business going: the cellar of my first house in Alsium, filled with casks and amphorae.

I soon discovered that this character and her little storylines did fit in pretty well with what was going on, and that the guys all treated her with the greatest respect and consideration. Yeah, I kind of made it a point to not be around when they would get into their...well...being a bit randy, enjoying their "boys will be boys" grab-ass, slightly Fellini-esque fun and games. But there were plenty of times that we collectively had storylines going in which that I could be a contributing player.

I decided to rent one of the houses that came available, and put considerable work into researching Roman life, business, society and decorative arts. I had a wonderfully good time learning new things purely on my own, inspired by the roleplay, and then, as time went on, I found other people in the sim who were very interested in sharing information as well. Members of the growing Alsium community (which is gradually becoming more diverse) put on classes for each other, discussing matters such as food, daily life, the Roman client system, classes, and slavery.

Ah yes...slavery. A very touchy issue. But you can't represent Roman life without incorporating that element. It would be like trying to do "Spartacus" and claiming that it was just a labor dispute that got out of hand. I'll be honest, I am not terribly comfortable in dealing with the subject in rp--even though there are aspects of ancient slavery that are very different from how we understand slavery in the context of American history. I even have a hard time calling someone a slave, in the same way that I simply cannot bring myself to use the "N" word when playing a 19th century rebel widow. And I am not going to treat my servi badly. Historical authenticity be damned, there simply are things I am not willing to do. Oddly enough I have two very good friends who have decided to come in and play the servi in my household now and then. Sometimes, I may refer to them as "servus," but more often, I will say "this is my man, Serenek," or I will describe them as "members of my household."

Not everyone is so careful--but then that in itself is historically authentic: even in the ancient world, various people in different circumstances saw slavery in multiple ways and treated enslaved people differently than their contemporaries did. And in the roleplay we do, different people who play slaves are obviously exploring historical and personal issues in wildly divergent ways--I'm not entirely sure what all is going on, but I do know that in this sim (as well as the next place I am going discuss) there is an on-going effort to help the residents to distinguish between the historical form of slavery that is part of the ancient Roman story, and the largely BDSM-based style of fantasy slavery that is part of the Gorean canon.

By the way, that is one of the really interesting things that I have heard from some of the guys who came to Alsium from Gorean rp--they say a big part of what they found frustrating in Gor was the restrictive nature of Gorean canon and community life. They actually find this historical context to be more flexible. I'm still pondering the significance of that one.

Hard at work in my new house in Alsium.

So I have been having a great time being a part of this community, learning new stuff, going to the arena and cheering on the guys who have been working so very hard to master the combat system...and I have really had a great time building and decorating, rebuilding and redecorating, making textures of actual ancient mosaics, wall art, frescoes, etc....

...and not having responsibility. I just come and go, fiddle around with my "domus" and have fun.

Oh yes, and I also periodically go over to the City of Hydra. The folks there have established a grittier environment for ancient Roman rp--a representation (again, not a completely historically authentic recreation) of a generic Roman-occupied commercial port city out in the conquered territories somewhere (I think it's supposed to be on the Greek coast or something like that).

It is sort of a classical dystopia--urban, ugly, corrupt, crowded and crime-ridden. Hydra is an unplanned jumble of check-by-jowl town houses, apartments and stores that is hard to find your way around.

If I was the Roman governor of the city I think I would have simply sold the inhabitants, razed the buildings, and started over. But that's just me.

The City of Hydra.

Seriously though, I don't play here too often, not because of the stories or the build or anything like that--it's just that it seems to be mostly populated at times when I have to be at work. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see a place that is so completely different from Alsium.

Alsium is a beautiful place where the corruption, the penchant for violence, the tension between competing interests and factions is all under the surface, bubbling forth into visible form only periodically, not unlike some fictional Steven King New England resort town.

In Hydra, the unpleasant realities of life are pretty much all out there to be seen and savored, if that is how you like to spend your vacations. It reminds me a lot of New Jersey.

I will say that one thing that has kind of turned me off on Hydra (which by the way, should not be confused with a "Hydra" that apparently exists on a Gorean sim), is that they make a point in describing themselves as offering "Excellent, immersive Roman roleplay -- only the Best."


OK. I've met some really good people there. And yes, I've experienced some very good rp in Hydra. But I have also experienced some very good rp in Alsium.

A place like Alsium admittedly has a number of folks who exhibit a wide variety of rp styles and levels of experience. Some people are just starting out and some of what people do could be described as "RP lite." But you know, I find that Alsium's residents generally try to accommodate one another and adjust to make it work. That's about all you can ask for. In fact, I think you can make a pretty good argument that the variety of styles and skills and levels of experience is actually a strength.

Look, I think it's good to aspire to providing a quality experience. But when you give yourself labels like "only the Best" (as Hydra does on their landmark card), I find it just a tad off-putting, especially when there are so many interpretations of what constitutes "good rp," let alone what might be considered "the best."

Still, it's an interesting build and I encourage you to go look at it.

So that's the bottom line. In the end, I did manage to find some entertaining, engaging places for ancient rp in SL. There's even informal, self directed learning going on in these places. There's some great people to interact with. And I think, most interestingly, you might find yourself reconsidering how you look at certain groups of people, as your assumptions about the members of various communities are challenged.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Has Second Life changed...or have we?

I've been trying out some different things lately--this is Alsium--I'll tell you more about it soon.
Not too terribly long ago, I was talking with my friend Aldo, and he mentioned that he had gone in-world to pay his rent on the Falling Anvil pub in Tamrannoch, Caledon. While doing so, he got an IM from Prokofy Neva, who he has known since our days in The Sims Online. Prokofy isn't perhaps the easiest person to get along with, but Aldo seems to do pretty well at it, and Prok seems to have respect for him. He said that Prok asked him if he thought that SL is dying, and Aldo replied without hesitation, "no...but it definitely is changing."

So he and I kicked that around some: how it is changing; the evidence for why it isn't dying (unless the labsters seriously settle down with the intention to kill it, once and for all); and speculation about why it is changing. And the thing that I came to conclude is that, yes, Second Life has certainly changed, but perhaps more importantly, a great many of us have changed and are continuing to change, both in how we approach our virtual lives and how important those lives are to us.

Of course, all I can really give you is personal anecdotal evidence for this. I wish I had hard numbers based on serious research and extensive surveys of former and current SL residents...but I don't. All I have to go on is what I am seeing and what I have experienced myself. So yeah, this is yet another opinion carefully extracted from the recesses of mine own middle-aged ass, and its ultimate value should be judged within that highly questionable context. But I can say that I have witnessed--and experienced--some things that make me think that an awful lot of us have changed, much more so than the platform itself has.

For starters, you probably noticed that I haven't written anything in a dreadfully long time--since June. I'm sorry about, but there's a great many factors that influenced that: I took on a new job that has been very intense, one that required me to move again, and that has involved some energetic kicking-of-ass-and-taking-of-names to get things on track. So, by Gawd, I just haven't had the mental energy (nor sufficient time) to actually sit down and write more of the palsied drivel that I was regularly spewing here. More importantly, I felt like I didn't have anything to say that was even remotely worth you all taking the time to read. Not like that stops lots of other bloggers from wasting their readers' time, but hell's britches, y'all, I got more respect for you than that.

To be honest a big part of what was going on was that SL just didn't seem all that important in the larger context of the real life shit that I was dealing with. Yeah, I kept showing up in-world when I could, and I even tried out some new stuff, which I will tell you about in another post. But an awful lot of the time I was angry, and I transferred a lot of those feelings about real life stuff into how I was acting and interacting with people in-world...and, yeah...jeezuschristonafuckingpogostick, I became the original Holy Roman Bitch.

Partly this was because I was having to be a ball-bustin' beeyotch in my rl work, in order to get shit done, to shut down the forces of vile self-interest that were torpedoing the work that needed to be accomplished, and to make sure that the agencies I was working with would not be pissing away the People's money.

I guess I kinda found it hard to shut that off at the end of the day.

And you know, it seems that a lot of friends and acquaintances are going though a similar thing: if you have a job, more than likely, the pressures of doing it well and making sure that you keep it will have an impact on what you are like when you go in world, if you go in-world at all.

I know Aldo is going through something like this. Hell, he is planning on getting rid of the Falling Anvil--that's the oldest continuously operating social venue in Caledon--the home of what may have been one of the first (if not the absolute first) storytelling series in Second Life. His partner Betty has already abandoned her shop next door to the Anvil. She tells me it hadn't been profitable for a long time, but she had held on to it for sentimental reasons, because it was her first place of business in SL, and she and Aldo met there in Tam and wound up getting married irl. But now, it apparently just doesn't seem that important to her in the same way...

Another interesting aspect of this is that Aldo checked in with Desmond, his landlord, to see if there was anyone still on a waiting list for land in Tam, and Desmond replied that no, he actually had quite a bit of land available throughout Caledon. So I take that as another indication of many of us having changed what we consider important--like having a piece of property in a certain place...

Oh, and I had a sad bit of news from another one of my good friends--the kind of news all of us have had recently. My old friend Roku--yes, that Roku, the inspiration for the cynical, gunslinging, hard-ass woman security guard/courtesan in my stories--told me that she was giving up on SL. Leaving her dancing job, selling her land, pullin' up stakes and headin' out. To some extent this is because she's got some health issues going on (and I regualrly say a prayer for her continued progress with it). But most of all, she said she "just wasn't having fun anymore."

Another friend of mine--a very smart and creative lady, an academic irl, dedicated to the idea of education in SL--suddenly announced to me not long ago that she had given up on a particular sim that she had been associated with for a long time. This was a project that from its inception had been meant to have educational value, but the organizers never really quite figured out how to make it work. This friend of mine had nonetheless hung on--literally, for months, if not years--always hoping for an improvement, working to help make the sim live up to its potential. And then all of sudden she decided it wasn't going to happen. She shook the dust from her sandals and moved on. And I don't think it was about SL changing, or the sim changing (if anything, it was perhaps that it wasn't changing). Something changed within her....I think...

I know what that feels like. For a long time, I cut way back on spending time in Deadwood, and it wasn't because of what was going on there. There new build is SUPER, the folks there are working hard to make good stuff happen and to do good rp... so it wasn't the sim or was me.

Likewise I have now left Hogwarts. Why? Well, a lot of people I liked to play with aren't there anymore. But at the same time, some very good folks--folks who I am extremely fond of--are still there. But I found it hard to keep going and putting in the kind of commitment it took to play one of the adults in that set of storylines. Again, it wasn't the sim or the people or the stories--it was me. I think I just got tired. And mean.

I think you can see these kind of changes in the personnel at the Lab as well. While I was taking a break from blogging, M took his leave. Mind you, I never had issues with M the way some folks did. I liked the fact that it appeared that he was trying to make LL run in a more business-like fashion. Of course, he was fighting with a corproate culture that had essentially embraced irresponsibility and elevated fecklessness to the level of an admired virtue. But I wonder, was he forced out, or had something changed inside of him? Had he gotten burned out and tired...or simply saw that what he wanted to happen just wasn't going to happen?

And woopdefuckindoo, now we have Phillip back. Except he's changed too. Did you notice how the whole Emerald thing was handled? There seemed to be none of the old Phil Rosedale style, hippy-dippy, warm and fuzzy, "well kids, let's see how we can work this out with you creative little rascals" type of response, where things would drag on and nothing would happen and you would know that in your heart of hearts, somewhere, a group of miscreants was getting mollycoddled in the typical overly optimistic, California mollycoddling tradition. Nope. Instead it was a fast and hard response, with Phil himself coming forth and saying "hey motherfuckers. You CAN"T DO THAT SHIT. Now cut it the fuck out, RIGHT NOW, or I will make castanets out your testicles."

And lo and behold, the castanets were made.

So either Philip has really changed, or maybe his understanding of how things have to work has evolved.

But things do keep changing. Including us. I'm starting to spend some more time in Deadwood again. I am really enjoying my experiments in NEW STUFF in an ancient Roman sim (which I will tell you about soon, if you would care to listen). I've come to grips with the fact that even though I need to be keep being ol' Blood and Guts in rl, I can get back to being a bit more reasonable in-world. And I am going to get back in the habit of writing here..not as often as I used to, but more often than once every three months.

And I definitely want to get a set of those new Philip Rosedale-brand castanets.


Hmmm. I guess maybe I haven't changed that much. I'm still pretty mean.