Monday, February 27, 2012

From Graffiti Alley to Suburbia

So in contrast to our family graffiti/street art tour downtown on Saturday, we spent our Sunday in the suburbs looking at homes for sale.

There is no graffiti there, and everything looks the same.  

The houses we saw are spacious and nice.  I could have my own office! Imagine that.  But would we fit in there?  I'm so used to downtown urban living.  If we did move away from the city, I'm kind of worried about adjusting to life in the burbs.  It would be a lot different, that's for sure.

Driving around the suburban neighbourhoods, I was reminded of my Linden home...

Maybe, if we did move the burbs, we could 'tag' our own walls with graffiti so we would feel more at home.  You know, make it look more like our natural habitat...?

Do you think we would still get invited to the neighbourhood street parties with our home all graffitied up?  

Well, whichever affluent suburban neighbourhood or small town we move to, I hope they don't mind the riff raff moving in.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A little break from exploring SL art to explore some RL street art

I think what I love most about graffiti is that it's not supposed to be there.  The nature of graffiti art is that it is out of place, which is part of the appeal.  In my city, and in most other places in the world, graffiti is illegal and basically a form of vandalism.  Creative expression via spray paint on public walls is a defiant act, which I think results in some very beautiful and unexpected street art.  

Funny, because I have lived here in Toronto for 15 years and have never really viewed graffiti as a form of art.  I've seen it, passed by it and thought "wow that's cool" and never really gave any further thought to the question of "is this form of creative expression, art?"

I don't know the answer to that question, but I do appreciate how the various art and murals contribute to the culture of the city and beautify the neighbourhood. 

This wall mural brought to mind Claudia222 Jewell and her current art installation in Second Life, "Spirit".  I guess it's the style of the plants and flowers that I find reminiscent of it: 

Yesterday, with my children in tow, we explored Kensington Market in search of graffiti and wall murals.  Kensington is a pretty popular downtown neighbourhood.  It's very bohemian and hippyish, and is ripe with graffiti everywhere you turn.  I think it's safe to assume that the Kensington community expects the graffiti to show up and even welcomes it.

I've been having fun with taking photos with my iphone and sharing them on  I have a lot more of my graffiti pics up over there.  If you're on and want to follow me, my username is 'callmeSheBear'.

I like dark and skully things, so this Grim Weeper of Kensington, that we found on the side of a produce shop, is a favourite.  Not that they aren't all cool and beautiful in their own ways...

We just barely scratched the surface of street art to be found in Kensington Market.  When the weather is warmer, I plan on going back to take more shots.
As we were hunting out the laneways and alleys downtown, I was thinking about the transitory and fleeting nature of graffiti art.  As "tough" as this art genre is, it is also vulnerable.  It could get tagged, defaced, or covered over by the city at any time. 

Just like 3D digital art in the virtual world, it is transient and fleeting, and could disappear at any time.  The nature of it, frustrating as it is, is part of it's appeal and makes me appreciate it's beauty even more.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Just a few photos from Pteron

So last week was a rough week at work.  I had another big deadline, and of course I was trapped in meetings most of the week.   Today is a holiday here, so I get a long weekend, which is great, but when my thoughts turn towards going back to the office tomorrow, I feel a tinge of anxiety.

I have a backlog of photos to go through and share here, but I have no words.  So, I suppose I'll just post a few photos today and try not to worry about the mountain of paper work waiting for me to push around my desk tomorrow.  Ugh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A politically correct celebration of Love

I read a "disclaimer" like this in a magazine yesterday and have shamelessly ripped it off and expanded on it to make it Second Life appropriate...

Please accept, under no obligation, this not-intended-to-be sexually harassing, politically correct, gender neutral, avatar species sensitive, socially responsible, environmentally conscious token of my like, love, lust of friendship/partnership as defined in the religious, cultural or socially acceptable persuasion of your choice.

This gesture in no way guarantees the success of aforementioned friendship/relationship/partnership or whatever the hell you wanna call it, for any given length of time.

The sender reserves the right to make amendments to this disclaimer when deemed necessary and appropriate.  The sender also reserves the right to claim that it was all just a “SL relationship” for entertainment purposes only when sender gets bored, or finds someone else who has a way hotter avatar to partner with.

*Please note that this disclaimer is deemed null and void should any parties involved are revealed to be portraying an avatar of the opposite gender under false pretenses.

Now that we got that out of the way...

“Will you be my Second Life Valentine?”

(waits while lawyers consult and negotiate...)


Wishing you all an enjoyable, politically neutral, non gender biased, non-denominational, and not just for romantic love Heart Day!  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three years and counting

Well now, last night I happened to look at my profile and realized that my third SL rez day has come and gone and I didn’t even blink an eye!  Can I now claim that I am a “disgruntled oldbie? Well, I completely forgot about my rez day so that definitely qualifies for “oldbie”, but disgruntled? Me? Never!

I thought about writing a long sentimental post with shout outs to all my dear friends and how much they all mean to me, and how much I love Second Life and it’s the coolest thing ever, which is all true…but nah, I’m too damn grumpy to do that ;)

No, seriously, my SLife is good. I have no complaints. In fact, Life is good all around. I remember reading somewhere on the vast internet that the average lifespan of an avatar or person’s participation in online communities is about three years. Don’t ask me where I read that, or maybe I’m deluded and completely made that up. It's my age you know…

Back to my point…

I can’t imagine that my SLife is reaching it’s completion now. That first day that Carrie rezzed at that welcome centre, did I ever think I would still be around three years later and have invested so much time and effort into my virtual life. No. Hell, that first day, I logged out after about 20 minutes thinking this was “a stupid game and I’m never coming back!” (maybe I still think that sometimes ;p)

But I did come back that day, and I keep coming back, so here I am.  Ready and waiting for what my fourth year in SL will bring me.  More art, more poetry, more live music, more blog posts, more pictures to share, more laughter, more good times, more people to meet, more junk in my inventory, more, more, more…

Bring it on...


Sunday, February 12, 2012

A new destination called "Hazardous"

I suppose it's because I live downtown in a large, noisy city, that I am always searching for quiet, peaceful places in Second Life to explore.  I'm particularly fond of minimalist sims with sparse landscapes, and soft music.

"Hazardous" is a new sim brought to you by SL resident, Wendy Xeno who is the creator of the other well known SL destination, HuMaNoiD.  I searched this blog for a link, as I was sure I blogged HuMaNoiD before, but came up with nothing.  Well, that gives me another destination to take pretty pictures of and share here.

If you are familiar with HuMaNoiD, arriving at Hazardous you will immediately recognize Wendy's unique style.  She has a special talent for putting together elements that make Hazardous not only a destination, but also a real 'experience'.

There are recommended region windlight and water settings to use, but you know me, I had to try them all before going back to the recommended settings.  After cycling through almost all my presets, the recommended ones really do look best. 

There are some places up in the sky on floating islands to explore, some pretty scenery, some of it kind of dark, and also romantic spots to cuddle with your loved one.  I think I also saw some couples dance and cuddle poses down below too.  

I missed it the first time I tp'd , but there are some balloons just outside the landing point that you can use to float around the sim if you feel like it.  I tried getting a picture with the balloon, but it's kind of hard hopping on the balloon, steering it, cranking up my graphics to ultra and taking a snapshot of a moving object.  Well, it's not so hard, but on a lazy Sunday morning, I'd rather just float around the sim and sip a latte rather than fuss around with my settings. 

I had a lovely time exploring Hazardous, and I hope you will too!  Now, I must get back to my loud, dense and busy city lifestyle...have fun :)


Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Spirit" by Claudia222 Jewell at Art!

One of the reasons why I love Second Life so much is because every weekend, or any given night/day of the week really, there is amazing 3D artwork waiting for me to enjoy.  

I have always enjoyed and appreciated art, however there is something pretty spectacular about the kind of art you will experience in a virtual world like Second Life.  I can't think of one art exhibit I have viewed in the atomic world that I have felt so fully immersed in and that triggered my senses on such a deep emotional level.  I'm serious.  

The latest art installation at Art Screamer, entitled "Spirit" by Claudia222 Jewell did just that.  It is simply amazing and you must go and experience this for yourself.   

"Spirit" is Claudia's first full sim installation in Second Life and it opens to the public today on the Art Screamer sim, curated by Second Life residents Zach Cale, Chestnut Rau and Amase Lavasseur.

The build is mainly made up of mesh objects, so you will need a mesh viewer to see the
amazingly detailed mesh art work that Claudia has created. 

I literally spent hours there last night and again this morning.  My avatar is parked there now while I listen to the peaceful music and type this.  I never want to leave!

Speaking of avatars, don't forget to pick up the free mesh avatar at the landing point.  This is probably the most beautiful mesh avatar I have ever seen.  I really felt like I had become part of the installation wearing this av.

From the notecard:

"This exposition for me is the letting go of a long period of grief, to let the spirits pass, and to start anew in peace." - Claudia222 Jewell

Well, enough gushing from me on this.  Just get your butts over there and experience it for yourself.  "Spirit" opens today at Art Screamer for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Souvenir from a virtual life

I'm posting this picture today not because I think it is some spectacular, beautifully composed, work of art or anything.  It's just a plain old screen shot that I cropped and threw some filters and a frame on.  Nor do I have anything profound to say today about anything SL related. 

I'm posting it because one day in the future, when I scroll through this blog archive and see this, I will fondly remember a friendship that has come to mean a lot to me.

Maybe my life will be completely different then, and a far cry from my days in this virtual existence.  Who knows?  Whatever the case may be, I will look at this image and recall a wonderful evening of laughter, heart to heart talk, and an all around fabulous time with my favourite dance partner. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Random thoughts while sipping coffee

I was checking out my Google Reader this morning and I happened to notice that my little blog has 68 subscribers.  How did I miss that before?  That number certainly doesn't shoot me out of the stratosphere as a blogging superstar, but that's 68 more readers than I ever thought I would have!  I can't tell you how happy that makes me!

I've never been interested in getting hundreds and hundreds of page views, or racking up followers for social media 'points'.  I would be a lie if I said I didn't care about blog stats and page views.  I care about stats.  I care because as a blogger, it's good to see some evidence that people are reading.  

I blog because I want to connect with others and because I want to be heard. 

I'm trying a new blogging approach.  I tend to write longer posts less frequently, but I kind of miss the habit of blogging a bit every day when I was doing my 365 Project.  I don't want to commit to another project like that right now, but blogging more often, and randomly is kinda nice.  Plus, anything that gets me writing more is surely a good thing.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever run out of things to say here...

Well, if that ever happened, photo blogs are always popular.

My virtual home in Piper Point

Monday, February 6, 2012

A few images of "Under the Sky" by Yooma Mayo

I've been pushing my newly "tuned up and optimized for gaming" little Macbook to the brink to take high quality screenshots.  I hope it doesn't just give up and die on me.  My apologies if I am on your contacts list inworld...for my crashing and/or relogging every five minutes.  When that happens, you'll know it is because I am taking pictures.

My explorations last night took me to the Art Screamers sim in the LEA regions.  I was not familiar with Yooma Mayo until recently, and I was quite impressed with this very large installation.  It's impressive, and very beautiful, even for a someone like me who has an unreasonable fear of insects and crawling creatures

Okay, my fear is not unreasonable.  Maybe one day I will tell you about the time in Costa Rica  when I took a shower and when I was done I discovered a huge tarantula in the corner of the shower...she was there the whole time!  Eeep!  My skin crawls just thinking about it.  But I was okay roaming Art Screamers amongst the very large insects.

Again, todays images are brought to you straight from SL, no post processing, not even cropping.  I say that not to be at all boastful, but because I am still exploring the easily accessible photo taking features in the Exodus viewer.  I understand that most of, or all those features are available in the official SL viewer via the debug menu, but that is not so user friendly.  What a difference it makes to have those options available through the graphics preferences.

As I was working on these photos, and tweaking the settings, I thought for a minute I could easily say good bye to Picnik and PhotoShop and do all my image making right in Second Life...that is of course, if I had a different system that could handle the high graphics.

My system may bot be the best, but at least, I'm back to exploring instead of hanging out on my skyplatform or pointing my camera to the floor just so I can type, so I'm not complaining. 

I really do love making images from Second Life to share here, so I'm happy to have some new options to play with to do that.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A trip through Chouchou with the Exodus Viewer

As of January 8, 2012, the Chouchou regions have been back in Second Life and open to the public.  


I popped over yesterday to take the Exodus Viewer out on a spin for a photo taking trip and try out all the features for screenshots.  The photos I am sharing here are straight from SL, no post processing at all.  They were taken using the Chouchou Cinematic HUD, and the graphics and visuals features available in the Exodus viewer.  The HUD is available for free at the landing point.

The cinematic view that the hud provides gives you a feeling of walking through a movie and was quite an interesting experience.  But in the interest of full disclosure, I found it very difficult to move around while wearing the hud.  Your camera controls change, and while the effect is like watching yourself in a widescreen movie, it took some time getting used to.  

Do try it though.  It took some time, but I started to get the hang of it.

Memento Mori, Chouchou V

I'm really impressed with Exodus so far.  It doesn't run as fast as the official SL viewer on my system, but it's faster than Firestorm and I haven't had one crash yet.  I have however, had to restart a few times while taking screenshots because for some odd reason my screen sometimes turns black when I check off 'deferred rendering' in the graphics preferences.   

But for all the built in photo taking options, I don't mind restarting.  It's fun to play with all those 'visuals' settings in graphics.  

The Bebel, Chouchou XVI

Chouchou is a minimalist region, made up of three sims.  I didn't see any teleporters or info to get to the other two sims at the main landing point, but you can easily open up your big map and tp from there. 

As minimalist as this region is, it's breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful.  I found myself never wanting to leave.  

Go check it out.  You can also read more about it on the Chouchou blog.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Costa Rica, I miss you

Hands up if this Park Life prefab was also your first home in Second Life:

Haha.  I've seen that home in so many places inworld.

I was cleaning out my inventory last night when I came across some snapshots from my early days in SL and I started feeling all nostalgic.  My first home on the grid was in the Costa Rica Sims.
In 2006, in the atomic world, we lived in Costa Rica and my son was born there.  Our plan was to stay and raise our family there, however Life threw a few curve balls at us and we came back to Canada.  New plan, is raise our family here in Canada, visit Costa Rica as often as possible and one day retire there.
I love Costa Rica.  So naturally, when I came to SL and found out that there was an entire region of Costa Rica Sims, it was my first choice to set down some pixel roots.
Last night I decided to go back and visit the location of that first home just to see how it looks today.
It's still there, empty at the moment, but the view and the sunset are still the same.  A lot of neighbours have changed, but there are a few long standing residents in the particular sim where I spent the first year of my SLife.

The last time we visited Costa Rica was in 2009.  We were hoping to go this winter but it looks like we will have to put that off for next year.
Oh Costa Rica I miss you so much.  Your white sand beaches, warm sun on my skin, and the howler monkeys waking us up at 6am every morning...I can almost feel your essence when I visit your virtual world representation.
Next year.
For now, I think I might spend some more time visiting and exploring my old pixel stomping grounds and dream about feeling the white sand under my feet while watching the sun set across the Pacific with my family.

Mal Pais, Costa Rica 2009