Archive for July, 2011


Love for Norway

I’ve not really known what to think about the tragic murders that took place in Norway this past week. I admit to not always keeping up on major news events like this, and in thinking about it, it feels like I have become overwhelmed by the news of such events.

As mainstream media aims to desensitize us with spin and marketing to make scenes such as has happened seem commonplace, for me it has come to feel like this kind of intense media coverage trivializes the magnitude of what’s happened.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen and heard about far too many events like this in recent years, or that my limited knowledge of other cultures only allows me a superficial level of comprehending, but I feel like I’ve lost the ability to really understand the impact one person can have on a culture, and the world. Words feel sorely lacking.

A friend who lives in Norway has also had difficulty finding words for what has happened there. But she has put together a blog post filled with pictures of the beautiful people of Norway and how they are grieving their loss. It is moving beyond words and has taught me much about the Norwegian people in just a few minutes. Thank you Agnes.

If you’re a Second Life resident there is also a memorial inworld at the Second Norway sim.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Norge/136/152/31

Then I find a blog post from someone who does have some words about what has happened in Norway, and it has given me some context that helps. Her name is Starhawk and her words and ideas have inspired me for years.

The most positive thing I can leave you with in this post is to tell you about her book that literally changed my life, The Fifth Sacred Thing. Now her utopian view of a society in 2048 that embraces diversity, community, and the earth is being made into a very unique film. Please read more about it and see if you can’t give it your support. It’s a story the world needs to hear.

Love and take care of each other,

Calli

My Funeral Weekend

I had the opportunity to attend my own funeral over the weekend. No, I’m feeling fine and still here; pixels and other important things seem to be intact. The funeral happened in an impromptu manner, such as death has a way of doing too it seems.

Gallery Xue had issued a call for decorated coffins for a gallery event they were having this weekend. Undecorated coffins were available without charge on the Marketplace, so I set off to my favorite sandbox lately, the LEA (Linden Endowment for the Arts) Sandbox at LEA5.

The decorating theme was “how would you decorate your final resting place”. For me that’s easy. Anyone who knows me knows that I collect little besides experiences and kindred spirits these days. So I decided to assemble some pics from my time in Second Life to decorate my coffin, and the wool gathering began…

So many great experiences have happened in the short time I’ve been in SL!

What started as decorating my coffin, started to make me think about what my funeral would be like. A simple affair such as the one I did at LEA would be fine; you can pack me up with just the memories I’ve already taken with me as I lie down in that box. A few more people, some music, and people telling fantastic lies about me while sipping cocktails…all would be quite lovely.

The reason this didn’t seem at all morbid is because just as I embrace life, I embrace death too. I see it as just a door opening to another journey. I’ve lived an amazing life and I see each new day as just more icing on the cake. I’m also planning for the next stop after this life to look  something like this anyway, so what’s not to like? You can skip the whole box thing too. I’d be happier if you started my own compost pile for me and I can fertilize the Zucchinis in death, just as I’ve done in life.

Back to the project, I start to link everything together to transport to the gallery, and it seemed that every time I rezzed my coffin there were more pieces missing. Haha, I’ll have to work on that. Then a family member needed me, and that was it for the project. R.I.P. Coffin project. Sorry Faith, I really am going to get a piece to your gallery someday. Thanks for keeping me inspired!

Then, a notice arrives that the Seniors from VB28 were getting together as THE SENIORS MARCHING UNIT
to march in the Virtual Museums Inc’s 2nd Anniversary Parade on Sunday. Yay, I had barely made it to the first performance and then was not able to be in the piece due to my computer being just hours away from a major failure. But now I could don my Senior drag and strut down the parade route with the rest.

The parade was pretty free form from my perspective as we quickly spread out and I had to rejoin the parade route several times from getting lost, even with red arrows on the ground. But that’s just my style. I’m the klutzy one thank you. I do look good though, and really, what’s more important? As you’ll see I won’t be ready for frumpy clothes anytime soon.

Seeing myself looking that old and still trying to be hip was far more scary than the thought of quickly being whisked off to the afterlife before that happens. It would be something to ponder…except there are far more interesting things to think about and do.

So now that I’ve gotten my funeral out of the way, I’m ready for a lot more living.

See you soon,

Calli

More pics at:

VB28 Seniors Marching Unit

Gallery Xue, Amicus Curiae, Second Life

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Amicus%20curiae/120/70/24

LEA Sandbox, LEA5, Second Life

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA5/130/129/24

Virtual Museums Main Campus, Virtual Museums, Second Life

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Museums/46/174/23

A Tale of Two Cultures

Two cultural icons came to my attention this week, and the juxtaposition for me is vivid.  I think the two icons dramatically represent two cultures at odds with each other, and two different ways to deal with innovation and evolution.

The first is Google software engineer, Andrew Bunner , the other is musician/inventor/visionary, Onyx Ashanti.

This past week there has been much press about the launch of Google’s new social media site, Google+ and the removal of some accounts deemed to not be “real” people. Those accounts were removed on the basis that the name used on the account was a Pseudonym Identity. Avril Korman has an excellent discussion on the what and why of Pseudonym Identities.

If you’re wondering how a company as big as Google would have the time to track down the many pseudo name accounts even with all those servers, well apparently they can’t. But Andrew Bunner, seems up to the task. In a recent blog post he apparently said, “If you see a person with an obviously fake name, go to their profile and find the “Report Profile” link in the bottom of the left column. Report it as a “Fake Profile”. We want Google+ to be place for real people to connect with other real people.”

Some pseudo’s have already been lost in the battle, such as Opensource Secure, who brought this issue to the light; some such as Summer Seale  who remain Google+ account holders, offer themselves as sacrifice if necessary to speak out about the subject. If you scroll down on this Flickr photo by Opensource you will see a long list of links to articles and blog posts about this hot topic.

A Google search (no irony here) for a definition of “Pseudo Indentity” brought up topics in math and psychology, but not much from a cultural perspective or even a Wiki definition. But it did bring up this article from iKeepSafe on the subject of keeping kids safe using pseudo names.  This seems like reason enough to say pseudo identities are at least an okay thing, and good to have in some situations.

I think the two camps in this discussion will quickly become polarized and entrenched as has happened in Gender studies , and those two camps, the Privileged, in this case those with “real” identities who will fit themselves into the global info structure of a company like Google and conform a little bit more if necessary, and the rest of us who will find open source methods of creating more egalitarian social networks.

Now I want to introduce you to Onyx Ashanti and how he sees life. Watch this amazing video of Onyx performing for TED and read the text on the video towards the end to see why Onyx does what he does. As amazing as the music is, and how he does it, and that he conceived and created the tools to accomplish it, the reasons why he did it are even more important. This is why people like Onyx matter, and whatever name they feel best represent their essence matters too. Onyx’s name would also seem to qualify as a false persona not worthy of space at Google+. I doubt he loses much sleep over such things.

I want to live in a world where people like Onyx are seen, heard, embraced, loved, thanked, and supported. Our global culture seems to be moving away from this attitude toward artists and the arts, as witnessed by the recent news from Holland about the 25% budget cuts to funding for the arts that was supposed to have been set up to be sacred to their culture and immune from cuts.

I say that those on the pro-pseudo side of the discussion can, and should, start their own social networks that represent their own values. Others must feel the same way as anonplus.com has just launched, “Social Networking Anonymously”.  There are also a multitude of tools available on the web to help us interact with each other in ways that work for us. My friends on Facebook, the few I actually know, feel the same. Sharing info is good, having to do it someone else’s way is not. One of my friends on Facebook, one that I don’t know, found a romantic interest through Google Maps recently. Think outside the Facebook box.

We also need to tell each other about such things in more traditional ways as well. If a Facebook post works for you, super. I found it interesting this morning to discover that Onyx is on Facebook and has a mere 300+ fans. I think I was surprised to find he was there at all. None of my amazing friends knew of him or had posted about him there.

In the busy, info-loaded world we live in, I almost missed him too even though this is what I seek out. How long until I would have found Onyx if not for happening to see his video at my friend Zola’s salon on Sunday. Thank you Zola!

I am so taken with what Onyx is doing and the music he is making! But on top of it, I think he is showing us and telling us that we need to be evolving the spaces and methods we use for learning itself. Open everything. So I want to tell the world about Onyx, and I want you to help me. I’m talking viral here.

I almost feel like sending this beautiful man into viral space would be a cruel blow. But someone with his Light and Magic knows why they’re here, and he’s ready. Now that he’s hooked up with TED, that opens that door anyway. So let’s do it up for one of our own! Repost this in every random place you can think of, tell people on the street, lead the next person you find on a computer to him; Onyx Ashanti

See you soon,

Calliope

 

More Orange Weekend!

Riali @ Ozland

In my haste to push the publish button yesterday I forgot a couple of stops I made.

The first was another visit to my friend Riali Sandalwood’s exhibit at Ozland where she is Visiting Artist of the Month. Her “Whismsical Cats” piece is available for free at the exhibit.  Tees are available too with some of her artwork on them, and the original works themselves. My fave is the one with the Love Birds. And it’s orange too. Hmmm.

Ozland Visiting Art Gallery, Ozland SW, Second Life

http://slurl.com/secondlife//194/250/500

Riali also has another exhibit at Monroe Snook’s Studio 33 with works of a completely different style. You’ll TP to a meditation circle featuring the current artists. Riali’s exhibit is at Art Yard 3 on the teleporter in the circle.

Studio 33, Rockcliffe Conservatory, Second Life

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Rockcliffe%20Conservatory/212/82/22

Calli @ Chelsea HotelAnother place I finally got around to checking out was the Chelsea Hotel in NYC. Second Life’s NYC. I hung out here for a few and did some writing and loved learning about the history of the Chelsea. There is modern history too as a notecard is given about the takeover and subsequent battle for control of the hotel. I’m fascinated by the account as I live in a very similar building on the other side of America. A lot to think about and perhaps write about.

But in the meantime, check out the Chelsea Hotel. It’s full of art and there is a big sale on right now, it’s a great place to chill, and it’s full of history. Good music stream too.

Hotel Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC, Lanestris, Second Life

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Lanestris/53/153/98

See ya soon,

Calli

Random music: Tiesto – Elements of Life

My Orange Weekend!

Out on my Orange Weekend I had the greatest time! Dancing, checking out art, and just some wandering around the grid.

Looking at art was a great way to check out the new computer capabilities. I’ve started seeing detail in graphics I’ve not seen in SL before, more 3D now, and it came just in time to see the detail in textures at Faith Xue’s new gallery, Gallery Xue. http://galleryxue.tw/ .

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Amicus%20curiae/130/68/24

The grand opening on Saturday featured participation in creating a Cairn (Collaborative Sculpture) by modifying one of the available rocks with texture and adding it to the sculpture. Check out the Flickr to see some of the yummy textures.

I was sorry I could not stay longer at Xue but had to be off to the Odyssey Performance Art Festival  where I was participating in the encore performance of “VB15 Gracie/Kris”, a collaboration of Kris, Gracie and Vaneeesa Blaylock. I received the invite to participate just as I was about to ask if I could. It was an enjoyable experience that I’m going to share in another post.

The Festival continues this week and you can see the schedule here. You will find what I think is the most cutting edge art here in SL gathered into one place. Some of which I can’t even see, but you should.

I was able to better see how my graphics work, or actually how they don’t work at times, at an exhibit by Oberon Onmura at Project Z.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Lennox%20Hill/58/151/23

Announced just the day before, I happened to drop by when no one was there and just chilled in the center of the particle beams while waiting for the panels to fully rez and….well they didn’t,  look here.

I know what they are supposed to look like from the teleport poster.

Kind of a cool effect, but I wanted to see what Oberon was doing, or had done as this was not a current work. Maybe this is a new genre of photography where the photographer is visually challenged by way of the camera. Sparks some new wrinkles on a larger discussion as well about the accessibility of art in the new world, and why I’m happy the edge that is being pushed isn’t waiting for the technologically challenged like me.

When things had rezzed as much as they were going to in near optimal conditions, I panned up until the screen jumped to black when I assume particles were filling the entire screen. But just as I’m finding Windows 7 a rather polite host to my online experiences, I merely panned back and colors returned. I also tried the shft-alt-ctrl-9 trick I had just learned and it did bring the world back minus some intense objects including my hair and boots. But cool.

I could have used this yesterday at Save Me Oh’s ScreenMe performance which was on the platform above the VB15 stage. I just tp’d out when it went to black. Too bad, the comments I heard sounded like it was something to see. This just inspires me that there is art in SL that not even all the avi’s can see. A hint of bourgeois in a way, but it is so cool people are doing this stuff. I felt like Bob Uecker in the old beer commercial, “They’re having a good time in there!”

Btw, Oberon has inspired me since I came to SL. The biggest bummer in the Flickr pics I lost were the ones I took at Storm Cells.  I am so happy to edit that out, I found the other Flicker account! I knew it was there. I could feel it. I was catching up on a friend’s work when I noticed she is friends with the old Flickr account.

So now I am too. Two accounts now, one I have no clue how to get back into. But I’ve decided it’s appropriate as the old pics were taken with old graphics, and there is a noticeable difference. It reminds me of Lichtenstein and a fuzzy pixelation. Oh well, I’m so happy to see the Storm Cells again. I wish they were still somewhere where I could hang out on them though…

Maybe the most amazing thing I have ever seen in SL was on Friday at Push. Betty Tureau’s The Pyramids was a complete experience. Betty morphed the entire environment with fabulous colors, images and movement…and music! This is what I’m going for, art AND music, and some other things. The music added so much to the experience. It was perfect. Betty, you rock! (pass that Koolaid, I’d love some!)

There was a stop at another artist’s gallery I have to tell you about. Most of you wouldn’t think of this as a gallery, or art. But I do. I’m talking about Powers of Creation, P.O.C., and Kai Heideman.

I’ve been in love with latex since I was a too young to buy any and Kai’s creations are my fave latex in SL. His stunning, ultra shiny creations were used in Vaneeesa Blaylock’s VB17 Dark Side of the Moon, and that is where I first heard about Kai. For fit, price and shine, I think they’re the best, and I’ve been shopping at P.O.C. since.

I was feeling like something new for the summery weekend, and some bright seasonal color when I headed over. I didn’t think I was after orange, but cycling through the display the orange jumped out at me. It was a quick pick.

Not only are Kai’s creations of excellent quality, I love how he leads you through his process. The notecard that came with my lovely orange suit/dress told that this model, Halle, was inspired by an outfit Halle Berry wore to an awards ceremony. Nice. But then Kai goes on to explain (rant?) about some of the system limitations here in SL regarding avi shapes that make some challenges for him and us. It was as if a personal tailor was talking to you as you picked up your new custom-made order. He tells you in a conversational manner how to use his creations as he intended them to work for you.

I also find the store displays remind me of info and signs you would find in a gallery. Shock and hype are pleasantly missing, just informative signs and plenty of space to wander. To my eye the visual appeal of the typography and layout of information subtly informs.  I love the name and logo too. Score! Perhaps it’s all the time I spent in retail when I was younger that makes me notice and appreciate these things, but I love how it’s the product itself that is the star and worthy of being so. And Kai just has to sell you one; you’ll happily come back for more.

Here’s the notecard that came with my orange weekend outfit:

Hello and thank you for buying the *poc* Halle in Latex-Outfit.

This outifit is based on a picture I saw by chance of her at the premiere of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. I liked it so much because of this combination of simplicity and sexiness and thought: “Wow – that must look great in latex, too!” Now you have bought the results and are, as I hope, satisfied.

But…there is an issue with this outfit. It uses the “system skirt”, the skirt Linden Labs has defined for the avatar; and this is, to be honest, mediocre. It doesn’t fit well, as you might have noticed. But it is the only way so far for having a tight-fitting skirt that follows the movement of your legs. So – you have to die one death, and I choose the way for you to die…

The system skirt makes a fat ass: It bustles quite a lot in the back. To get over this, create a copy of your shape and make a skirt-verison of it. Wear the skirt and play the sliders for Butt Size, Hip Width and Saddle Bag until the skirt hugs your form perfectly. This shape will look ridiculous when worn without a skirt…

The system skirt clips: When you walk the legs always peek through the fabric. To come over that there are some glitchpants you can wear underneath that mask this clipping.

The system skirt is strange: The seamed version of the dress simulates the seams you can see on the picture. These are intent to run in a nice line from top to bottom of the dress. To do this they have to cross from the top-layer of the avatar-texture to the skirt. So they have to fit perfectly, the way *poc* always tries to make it. Depending on your shape this doesn’t work, as I had to find out. I tried it with several shapes and some matched nicely, others didn’t. If you are one of the victims, please don’t blame me, blame the Lindens…or, again, adjust your shape to get a match, it is possible

Anyway – I hope you like your dress despite my little rant.

Kai Heideman

Thanks Kai!

Powers of Creation, Eliza, Second Life

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Eliza/95/34/25

And that was my orange weekend. Dancing and meeting some new friends topped the list as always.

See you soon,

Calli

More random photos from the weekend at Flickr

My weekend outfit:

Orange latex suit: “Halle” by Kai Heideman, Powers of Creation

Boots: Bootgasm

Various scarves: BoHo HoBo

Second Life 2.0

Well I’m back.

It’s been almost a year since I was in SL with any kind of regularity or being able to participate in much here; and it’s been quite a year as well in that life they call real.

One of the biggest impacts was not having much of a place ever to log in. It wasn’t that I could not get in at all, but just randomly and then from a coffee shop, more and more Starbucks for the quality of the Internet connection. But it was difficult to feel like I was in SL while sitting in one of the main arteries of American culture in 2011, Starbucks, who does consistently have an SL-capable internet connection.

Once you start frequenting places less often or not at all, your conversations with SL friends gets more difficult to maintain as you lose context and knowledge of life in SL. So you drift. I told many of my good friends I’d be gone a while, and have picked up with most of them now that I’m back. But some have gone, and others are doing new things like I am, and so the context of what brought you together changes. Just the same as happens in the concrete world.

There was definitely some magic afoot for me to be back and writing this today, and it’s given me new thoughts about accessibility and privilege I want to explore.  A few factors that helped me were:

A random wireless connection that appeared one day from my new digs  in the City

A computer crash and then Resurrection

The fact that in a year of living on my feet (the real ones), I managed to hang on to my aging laptop in working condition. Thank you Gods of Technology!!

My 3+ year-old laptop, one step up from the bottom, is not supposed to run SL anyway, It has decent graphics for a laptop of it’s era and pedigree, but now an aging dinosaur in the light speed world of technology. While I’m pretty happy with some of the changes and plans I’m hearing from the Lindens since I’ve been back, the renovations to the grid have been working my Win Vista laptop to the limit.

Then things stopped altogether.

And the Resurrection brought improvements

Windows 7 – fresh install

Memory – 2 to 4 GB

Cooling – the laptop is elevated about 4 inches above the table now with a $13 fan blowing across the exhaust fan. It barely gets warm, if that.

Now it works really well! When it still has a moment, it’s not a blue screen freak out like before,  just a polite black screen that you can back out of. Sa-weeet!

I can also multitask now with the new memory and the Win 7 environment. Yay! At the moment, I’m listening to music from my patio in SL, while typing in Word with Firefox on and a few tabs open like WordPress. This really is a whole new experience to me to be able to work outside SL while I’m in-world. It was not easy to do before.

As long as I’ve been in SL I’ve heard that I, among many, have never really seen SL. That since I don’t own at least a certain level of machine I can’t appreciate the SL experience as it was meant to be. I’m sure that experience is truly amazing, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. But I’m also here to say that I’ve built a fabulous life in SL with a door to entry that was supposed to be locked, and I snuck in anyway. I realize I ‘m on borrowed time and the upgrade has kept me surfing just ahead of the crest of the technology wave, so a new surfboard is in the works.  But I’m here!

Many things in our modern culture come with critical thresholds we are warned to abide by, or else….or else what? I find that in our hurried busy lives we often accept much too easily the words of modern soothsayers who probably have different goals for such limits than you do if you were ever to chat with them about such things. Those safe limits are created by people that like where they fall on those thresholds. In fact, their perspective determines what they can ever be. Yours is likely different. So trust your intuition and plunge ahead. In many situations any damage is not corporeal or substantially impacting anyway. How safe do you want to live life? I suspect there is a whole population of people like me living happily below those margins because SL is still very cool with what you’ve got, clunky moments and running into things not counted.

For me this upgrade has meant a much richer detail on textures. They have really come alive from previous photography or just viewing on my laptop. Interestingly all that old photography was blown away in what I’m calling The Great Computer Crash of 2011, but I am having fun with SL photography again and out filling up a new Flickr account. It seems the old account was lost in some tech merger or something while I’ve been away. Oh well. This is all obviously the work of Gods and Goddes… well probably just the Gods. But no worry…it’s my Second Life 2.0!

So I’m back in SL and loving every minute of it. I missed the art, and the technology, but mostly I missed the people. Old friends and new ones I’ve  just met- I’ve missed you all!  Because I don’t find that many of you in my RL. Perhaps because you are already in front of your screen as I race back home from necessary RL errands to get back to what’s really become my real life, here with you. SL is where I think the people I’m looking for hang out. It’s where I find myself when the larger world makes me pull in just a bit. Here in SL I find the part of me that doesn’t always find it’s way out in the concrete world. In my SL I can have experiences that escape me in the other world; cost, time, or maybe you can only get across town once in an evening even with a reasonably unlimited budget. Those are very real factors for many people even in a place like San Francisco. In SL, those barriers are much smaller.

And where else can you have a Vegas-style weekend like I just had over America’s Fourth of July weekend. One where you awaken to find you’ve taken some vows of some kind with a person you could easily spend much time with…never to see that person again. Haha. I love being able to laugh about those things when they happen here. Outside of SL an experience like that would likely bring much to untangle; here I can remember what fun it was and remember it’s the experiences that are the wealth I seek.

We’re a young republic here in SL, and we come here with some hurts from the other world, but taken altogether I’ve not met a finer batch of folks anywhere. It is truly my joy to meet more and more of you in SL. It will keep me coming back for the duration. I just met a few more lovely folks during what I’m calling My Orange Weekend, and I’ll post about that next. No, that’s not a nod to the overload amount of the color orange you see everywhere in San Francisco. Think orange latex, of which there is a shortage even in Fog City.

Be seeing ya,

Calli

Random music during post:

That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne Warwick

Dinka – Elements (Edxs 5un5hine Mix)

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