Another gem from Seren

Mistaken Identity

identityOne of those things I’ve always vowed never to do is meet anyone from SL in the flesh – for me one of the most attractive features of living in a virtual world is the way in which you can choose for it to be entirely removed and distinct from reality. I can be whoever I wish, and do whatever I want, in whatever context I desire whilst inworld; that does not in itself convey any need or wish for my virtual existence to be in any way connected with the real me. If I choose to share something of my virtual life with someone in the real world, (a situation that has not yet occurred), I will do so, but it will be on my terms and only to the extent to which I feel entirely comfortable. Similarly, if I choose to disclose elements of my real life to those I know from the virtual community, it will be on the same terms, and there are a number of things that will always remain strictly private, confidential and none of your business.

Not everyone feels the same way, but each to their own, and whatever works for you is fine.

When it comes to my virtual friends and acquaintances, I’m afraid this produces an unequal equation: Many of those I know inworld have no problem with sharing information and details about their real lives that I, for one, will never share about myself, except with a very favoured few. There are those who, if I was to run into them in the street, I would instantly recognise: I know roughly where they live and I know what they look like and sound like in the real world. They, on the other hand, could walk past me and never know they’d encountered Serendipidy Haven, unless they are one of the handful with whom I have shared my photo and voice – and even then, it’s such a rare occurrence, I might still pass by unnoticed.

I’m pretty certain however that those of you who do associate with me inworld, or even through the pages of this blog, have some sort of mental picture of the real me, and in some cases that may well be a fairly accurate one. However, I discovered only recently that imagination and reality can be worlds apart when it comes to the facts, with amusing results.

I shall paraphrase the recent exchange that took place between an inworld friend and myself over the course of a few days:

Friend: Who’s that girl pictured on your blog then?
Me: Huh? What girl… What picture?
Friend: That girl. It’s you, isn’t it?
Me: I don’t think so!
Friend: I think it is!
Me: I don’t even know what picture you mean, but I know it’s not me!
Friend: I’m sure it is. I worked it out.
Me: OK – I’m intrigued now – send me a screenshot of the picture.
Friend has offered you inventory
Me: Erm, that’s definitely not me.
Friend: Bet it is.
Me: Nope… That’s Scarlett Johansson!

They were very disappointed; I was very flattered!

litNo doubt, the friend in question will wish to beat me to a pulp when they read this – but I certainly wouldn’t wish to humiliate them over such a sweet mistake, so they shall remain completely anonymous and if anyone asks me who it was, my lips will remain tightly sealed.

It’s weird how our minds, when presented with only the bare minimum of information, will still nevertheless, try to fabricate a coherent picture from what is available, and will latch on to any strand of detail that comes their way, no matter how tenuous it may be. Throw in some intelligent guesswork, a bit of luck and you may – Nutrimatic fashion – end up with something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike me!

This is probably a good thing, since:

a) You will be spared the true horror of experiencing the true reality of me;
b) I will be spared the true horror of ever being recognised in RL by you;
c) I am more than happy to be mistaken for Scarlett Johansson.

There is a further aspect to this whole anonymity thing that also merits exploration – some people in SL really do appreciate the anonymity the virtual world provides, for the simple reason that they actually do wish to remain anonymous and experience things as a normal, everyday person. What if – and you have absolutely no way of knowing the real facts here – what if, in real life, I really am Scarlett Johansson? Surprise!

The problem with being famous is that it’s very difficult to escape to normality – the moment anyone suspects you might be a celebrity, they’re all over you asking for your autograph, taking photos, bragging to their friends about meeting you and generally meaning you never have the opportunity to have fun and do all the things that normal people get to do. It’s bad enough not being able to pop down the shops for a loaf of bread without the paparazzi hounding you, or being unable to leave the house without a disguise, but if you can’t even escape to a virtual world and experience some semblance of normality, then fame can be a real bind. So we may never know when the rich and famous are amongst us in SL – our best friend may be a superstar, and we’d never know it!

scarlett. x

Fame, (fame) what you like is in the limo
Fame, (fame) what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, (fame) what you need you have to borrow Fame
Fame, (fame) it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s just his line
To bind your time, it drives you to crime (fame)
David Bowie – Fame

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Vanilla Sky

by Serendipidy Haven
https://serenhaven.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/vanilla-sky/

Avatar: from the Sanskrit avatāra ‘descent’, from ava ‘down’ + tar- ‘to cross’. A manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth; an incarnate divine teacher. An incarnation, embodiment, or manifestation of a person or idea.

Whilst most of us would hesitate to describe our virtual representation as a deity manifest, few would have any problem with considering our pixel form as an incarnation, embodiment or manifestation of ourselves, or of the more esoteric, nebulous constructs that define who we are. Indeed, a great many of us consider our avatars to be more representative of who and what we are than we would ever dare show, if indeed we could, in our real lives.

There’s little doubt that SL has the capability to release aspects of our character and make up that are heavily suppressed or hidden in our day to day lives,

It’s been said the avatar is a mask; but for me, it isn’t. A mask hides what lies behind – SL reveals it. A mask is expressionless, but SL give us the freedom to express ourselves; there are various explanations for this – many of which I’ve explored before in the pages of this blog. Whether it’s the anonymity that allows us to be our true selves, the freedom we’re given in virtual form, the wide variety of concepts, ideas and cultures, contained within such a small world, or the distance that SL allows us to put between the actions of our virtual selves and reality that gives us the scope to be other than what we appear to be, is largely immaterial. What matters to the majority of us is the simple fact that we can, and do, perceive our virtual selves to be more able, more honest and more open than perhaps we can ever be in the real world.

I’ve heard it frequently stated that the way we present ourselves inworld is, in essence, a mask – that what those around us see is how we choose to be seen. A mask, of course can be perceived in more ways than those which we may think we are presenting to others. It can create anonymity; a mask can hide the truth; we can disguise or change how others see us; a mask can be employed both for good and for less savoury purposes. We can employ masks to mystify, intensify, challenge, invoke fear, provoke laughter and hide our feelings entirely. There’s no doubt in my mind that we can certainly employ our avatars in any one of these diverse fashions, however I feel that to do so misses an extremely important and significant point: Certainly, our avatar can be employed as a mask, however our avatar can equally, and perhaps in even greater measure, be the mechanism by which we unmask ourselves.

I’ve already mentioned in this post how SL permits us to ‘be ourselves’, and over the years I’ve spoken to many, many people who would aver this is true for them, whether in terms of their inworld pursuits, confidence-building or allowing them to be accepted as they are, without the prejudices, brick walls and difficulties that they face daily in real life. Surely this is quite the opposite to putting on a mask, hiding who we are and retreating behind the safety that such a construct provides?

I firmly believe that a great number of SL adherents spend a huge amount of time in the real world wearing a mask of some description. It may not be a tangible, physical mask; even so it can be as effective as any facial covering – obfuscating, obscuring and protecting the truth that hides away behind it. Yet, when these very same people log in to SL, their first action is to take off that mask, hang it on its inworld virtual peg and face the Grid, unmasked and in complete honesty, proclaiming both to themselves and to all those they come across: “This is me.. The real me!”

It’s powerful stuff. We’re in control. We do what we choose. We are who we are.

s. x

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This Place

by Serendipity Haven

This place is like no other.
It is ethereal, inconstant;
ever changing, always shifting.
Hidden from the world
but open to all.
It is a place of contrasts,
of conflict and connections,
alliances and factions.
Give and take.
This is a place where friendships are forged,
and hearts are broken;
where love, lust and loneliness
all have their moments.
Where reality holds no sway,
and fantasy is real.
This is a place of colour and creativity,
darkness and light;
of mysteries and myth,
adventures and miracles.
This is a place where all are equal,
Although some are more equal than others;
where opportunity flourishes
and success is there for the taking.
This is a place of commerce, trade
and money exchanging hands;
a place where millionaires mingle
with paupers in complete anonymity.
A place where paupers can be king,
and kings can be queens;
queens: Dragons; and where dragons
…are real.
This is a place without limits,
transcending boundaries
of country, creed and culture;
where marginalised is mainstream
and normal is over-rated.
This is a place of dreams and visions,
of flight and fantasy,
of suspension of belief
and belief in the limitless.
This is a place where anything can happen,
and frequently does.

This is a place where life
is lived to the full.

And you call it a game?

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Halloween 2015

Halloween is here again and we had great fun in The Junkyard. Here are three of the sets built by Rosalee for DJ Siani, DJ Mij and DJ Spooky. Great fun was had by all.

Siani’s Spooktacular

DJ Mij

DJ Spooky

I am the ghost flittering around…

dudeghosty

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Welcome Back to Second Life

Yes I have been away for a while and my lovely friends through me a psychedelic party. Was great fun they had elephant avatars too cute. Rosalee Icanardi built the set and its gorgeous. Here are some pics and a video at the end.

elephants_002

eledancers

Special thanks to Rosalee, Storm, Bridget and our fab DJ Siani.

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Perspective

From my friend Serendipidy Haven’s blog:

Perspective

by Serendipidy Haven

vangoghA brief trip to the National Gallery recently brought me face-to-face with Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’, or at least, one of his variations of this most well known of his subjects. Sunflowers was my main reason for the visit – since i’ve never seen the work in the flesh before, but it also gave me the opportunity to become re-acquainted with another of his paintings that has pretty much passed me by up until now.

Van Gogh’s chair has never really inspired me or struck me as being particularly special. It lacks the thickly daubed, tormented brush strokes of his later pieces and the finesse displayed in his other works of the period. It’s a peculiar thing, worth getting up close to; where the warped, almost child-like perspective of the composition is offset by the painstaking attention to detail the artist gives to the most mundane of features. You’re struck by the effort that’s gone into painting the door hinges, knots in the wood and the weave of the chair seat… but, on this occasion – for the first time – i stepped back, and suddenly everything changed.

From the middle of the room, the painting that had always struck me as rather flat and distorted resolved into something entirely different. It was almost as if i was seeing through Van Gogh’s eyes, sat at his easel, glancing over the canvas towards the chair on the other side of the room. That bizarre perspective which offends the eye when seen in close up, becomes completely natural and lifelike when viewed from a distance – the painting becomes less a flat canvas and more a three dimensional moment in time, captured in oils. It was an unexpected and somewhat humbling moment.

paint_001How often do we see things from our own viewpoint with  a skewed perspective, failing to understand what is right in front of our eyes, and not seeing the picture as it really is? Probably quite often and, as users of sl, it’s something that we’re very used to experiencing from the ‘outside’ world. Those who’ve never had the opportunity to properly get to grips with becoming part of a virtual world tend to have a distinctly distorted picture in their minds of what sl is about. Like me peering closely at Van Gogh’s canvas, they’ll seize on the little details that make sense to them, whilst remaining utterly puzzled and bemused at the bigger picture. So the common perception of sl, from those who have no experience inworld, is that it’s an environment that’s primarily about pixellated sex, a ‘game’ played by geeks sat in their basements with curtains drawn and snacking on cheese puffs. They seize upon the bits that stand out to them and write off the larger part as irrelevant, uninteresting or incomprehensible.

It’s a matter of perspective. And perspective works both ways.

The perspective from which we see sl differs dramatically according to where we stand – on outside looking in or, equally, on the inside looking out – and we residents can be just as guilty of skewing the overall picture as those who have no experience of the virtual world. From the inside, we are terribly good a painting pictures of sl from a palette based entirely upon our own perceptions and experiences, rather than taking a balanced view, (this is something that ex-residents, in particular, can take to an extraordinary degree). The result is a very narrow-minded and distorted view of sl… the servers are always down, it’s full of griefers and content stealers, it suffers from nightmare lag, gacha events are corrupt, and so on. Even when we’re positive we tend to pick and choose to focus on the bits that matter to us, ignoring the fecundity of the virtual community and excluding whole swathes of SLife that we personally have no particular interest in.

Perhaps it would do no harm to occasionally break these self-imposed rules and try to look at things from a different perspective – who knows… perhaps that aspect of sl that you never understood, never appealed and that you’d managed to convince yourself was of no worth at all, might look very different from a different angle, or when you take a step back and try to appreciate what it’s all really about.

Or, you could just stick with the perspective you’ve got, and maybe miss out on a much bigger picture.

If you’re not swayed then think on this a moment: Vincent Van Gogh was completely unappreciated in his lifetime, purportedly only selling one painting before his death. Now he’s one of the most recognisable artists that has ever lived, and his paintings sell for millions. Just imagine how all those people who turned him down and derided his work might have felt if they’d known how he’d now be appreciated. Sometimes, focussing on the details and the ugliness of what we perceive means that we can be blind to the potential and the beauty of what we are seeing.

vincent_001

s. x

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
Don McLean – Starry Starry Night

Excellent stuff well done Seren

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The University Cat

The University Cat: A Tale for Grown Ups and Graduates

A new book from Jessika Jenvieve

The University Cat  Red Q

Click on the link below to buy. A damn good read!!

The University Cat : A Tale for Grown Ups and Graduates

Gargoyles are said to frighten off harmful spirits and protect the buildings they guard. They nicely embodied the concept of evil, and those approaching the University’s gothic splendour at night are advised to use caution. If you think that a Gargoyle is simply made of stone, you are terribly mistaken.

Penny, the super intelligent, well-educated Siamese cat moves into Professor Eagle’s office and sinks her claws into the soft, exquisite calfskin binding of his books. The Gargoyles have her firmly fixed in their sights.

There are terrifying times to come in the University Museum and a wicked plot to prevent Professor Poppett and Poodle from winning the Dog Show. If you thought it was safe to go to University, you might need to think again.

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Tails From The Cat Shop Special Offer

TAILS FROM THE CAT SHOP
COUNTDOWN DEAL (USA Only)
6 to 12 June 2014
Buy for a limited time special discount
Follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/TAILS-CAT-SHOP-Jessika-Jenvieve-ebook/dp/B00IFRFR7G

 

 

bookFantasy meets Reality in Cyberspace, in a world where our online and offline experiences, friendships and even, our identities are excitingly entangled. Avatars are extensions of us, leading lives parallel to our own dull everyday existence. Having a Virtual Life sets you free to dream and some dreams do come true.

Meet the Divine Penny, the Italian-speaking Siamese cat, with the delicate chocolate paws, and find out if Professor Poppett’s poodle recovers from ‘indoor barking syndrome’. Go on an adventure in the alligator infested bayou to hunt for the Golden Kitten and find out why love always wins the day.

 

 

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Tails From The Cat Shop

Great new book out from Storm! Must Read! Click on the picture to buy.

Fantasy meets Reality in Cyberspace, in a world where our online and offline experiences, friendships and even, our identities are excitingly entangled. Avatars are extensions of us, leading lives parallel to our own dull everyday existence. There are no limits to our Virtual Lives and we are free to live in any World we choose. Having a Virtual Life sets you free to dream and some dreams do come true.

Storm and Dude are partners. In spite of the fiercely opposing time zones, they meet and fall in love on the dance floor of the Junkyard Blues Club in the Virtual World of Second Life. They begin collecting breedable cats and their Second Life gets very crowded, so together they open Not Another Kitten, a Cat Shop in Cyberspace. Then the Cat Shop meets the University and both Worlds collide with laughter.

Meet the Divine Penny, the Italian-speaking Siamese cat, with the delicate chocolate paws, and find out if Professor Poppett’s poodle recovers from ‘indoor barking syndrome’. Go on an adventure in the alligator infested bayou to hunt for the Golden Kitten and find out why love always wins the day.

tails book

Quite an achievment. Started as a blog and became a book. Well done Storm very proud of you!


Heres the URL again : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IFRFR7G

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Seren Says

Reblogged from SerenHaven.wordpress.com

 

Planet Happy

happMost of us – whether we’d admit it or not – have a love-hate relationship with sl. There are those times when we’d happily proclaim the virtual life to be far better than the one on the other side of the screen, whilst there are other times that we’d happily consign sl to the most noxious pits of virtual Hades. On the whole, the good side seems to triumph… or you wouldn’t still be here reading this, would you?

Even so, the way we approach our online life is often extremely polarised – in a world that manages to encompass 16 million colours, in pretty much 3 dimensions, it always surprises me that we seem to appreciate it as only black or white and that we often only see into it only as deeply as the flat screen in front of us.

yin_001When our shoes fail to rez, or we find ourselves waiting impatiently for buildings to form from grey spheres… when the audio stream stutters… when the TP fails, for some reason, rather than treat these as the minor irritations they really are, (and yes, they really are just minor irritations, even if they happen umpteen times in a session), we slide the self-pity control up to 11 and behave as if it’s the end of the world. Our reaction tends towards what would possibly be appropriate if someone was petrol-bombing our granny, when really it should be, ‘Oh dear, i’ve been logged out in the middle of listening to a song that i’ve heard a million times before, whilst surrounded by my friends with whom i’ve spent the last hour talking utter bollox nonsense. i’ll just click this button and log back in…’

When things go wrong we rant and we rave about how Linden Lab couldn’t organise a gangbang in a brothel and how their creaky, cardboard and duct tape viewer is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, blah, blah, blah! And deity forbid that a new feature should ever be introduced that might possibly make our inworld experience better… that’s guaranteed to ruin sl forever!

We lose all sense of perspective – what we never do is consider, for example, how much time we’ve spent in sl in the past week, against how much time it’s gone wrong in that time. Here’s a little equation for you to consider next time you fancy a moan…

x/y * 100 = z
100 – z = H

x = number of hours i’ve been logged in this week 
y = number of hours sl has been borked for me this week
z = permitted proportion of outrage you’re permitted to feel entitled to

So, if i’m logged in for 20 hours this week, and if i add up all the unsatisfactory minutes that sl passes my way in that time… say 30 minutes, tops; my outrage factor is:

0.5/20 * 100 = 2.5

Which brings me to ‘Factor H’ – the Happiness Factor, (also known as ‘Yay! Capacity’), and in this example, Factor H is a massive 97.5 – so, how come it’s always the measly 2.5 micro-measures of outrage that i’ll inevitably dwell on?

i’ll be honest with you, in the past couple of weeks, my inworld experience has been that of living on Planet Happy. Fooling about, taking pictures, exploring and generally having a whale of a time have been the order of the day, and it’s been blooming good fun! Yes indeed, there were crashes, glitches, bake-fails and the occasional lag-induced walking off into the virtual sunset, but i couldn’t actually give squiddly-doodle-squat about any of that nonsense, because on the whole, my Factor H levels were far more important to me! My bucket was full, i knew where my cheese was and my Tao was full of Pooh.

Here’s the thing: sl is no different to rl in many respects – we just think it should be. If you wander round in rl looking for problems, you’re going to find them, surprise, surprise! Worse, the more problems you find, the more they’re going to bog you down and screw you up. Then again, there’s those immensely irritating people who can always find humour in a disaster, beauty in a mass of rubble and sunshine on the crappiest British summer’s day.

Guess which i am.

meta meta life4_001SL will never work properly or perfectly… rl never does, and we’ve had more practice at that! Besides which, it runs on computers, need i say more? So, what’s the point of dwelling on the teeny, weeny crapsicles that occasionally – or even frequently – strew our virtual footpath, when we may as well grin and bear it, and get on with the serious business of simply having fun?

s. x

But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas!
But it’s all right. Im jumpin jack flash,
Its a gas! gas! gas!
The Rolling Stones – Jumpin Jack Flash

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