Saturday, April 30, 2016

Airship Show - Tradewinds Yacht Club

Starting on April 30 and running through Sunday, May 15, is an extravaganza Airship Show at the Tradewinds Yacht Club (TYC) in Dex. Visitors will get to see a great variety of balloons, dirigibles and airships (see photo, below); only one of each kind was solicited for the show. I spoke to TYC's Harbormaster, Ahab Quandry, who told me, "We have shows every so often, maybe as many as six per year. There are some amazing builds at this particular show, most I don't remember seeing before."

Ahab, pictured below, speaking about the yacht club itself, said, "TYC is one of the oldest clubs in the sailing world and it has been in this location for about 7 years.  We are more relaxed here I think than some of the others and have no rule book as such. There are several sort of unwritten rules but they are more about being polite to our fellows and that sort of thing." The description of the yacht club states, "Home to the independent minded sailor. What we're about is just having fun without the politics. You're welcome to launch your sailboat here and sail." Continued Ahab, "Well, apart from putting on shows and the occasional races we sort of pride ourselves as being one, if not the most, friendliest place to come to.  Everyone (who behaves) is welcome and most of the regulars will always jump in to help a newbie to sailing or boating."

The Tradewinds Yacht Club is located in Nautilus, right at the edge of the Blake Sea. It is a very busy location; I saw a great number of boats sailing past and planes flying overhead while I was there. There are inexpensive boats for sale there, 7Seas fishing gear vendors, and of course, the airships. You might spot colorful balloons, flying pirate ships, and even the Bay City blimp, pictured below. Why not stop over and have a look, and perhaps investigate the joys of sailing in SL while you're there? The airship show will remain at the club for the next two weeks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Where The Sun Sails And The Moon Walks"

Anyone who disputes the fact that Mainland can be beautiful just needs to visit the Pinkwater sim on the TSL continent, pictured below. The entire sim (and half of the neighboring sim of Bull) has been developed by a J. R. R. Tolkien roleplaying group, and it is an incredibly lovely place to spend an afternoon exploring. Two complementary parcels, Brithombar and Eglarest, evoke the homelands of Tolkien's ethereal Elves.

I spoke to one of the land group owners, Iminwiel Elenissiel (eegeltine resident), who told me, "Brithombar and Eglarest came to be through the very generous sharing of land by sim owners Jolly Lebroski (enelya) and Rob Royal (Aranion Sîrfalas). Most of us in the group had met previously in Elven Tolkien appreciation sims. All of us were interested in role-playing Tolkien style and while we wanted to keep true to the spirit of his writing, we also wanted to avoid the famous character roles and make up our own stories in a Middle Earth-like framework. Because the shape of the sim resembled the Maps of Brithombar and Eglarest with rivers and coastline, we sought to recapture the spirit of those places here as a first age-like Middle Earth Coastal Haven of Teleri Elves and Exilic Noldor Elves."

Starting at the Pinkwater Rez Zone, which is a fun dead-end road to visit in and of itself, face the water, turn left, and walk into the realm of Brithombar. Flying is disabled, so you'll need to explore on foot, which will give you an opportunity to spot all of the small details which make these parcels a delight. There is a garden with spots to meditate, places for couples to cuddle or dance, and a community dance circle. Several buildings grace the shoreline: a shipbuilder's workshop, a community hall for storytelling, and a lighthouse overlooking the harbor. Horses graze on a hillside which leads to a concert area (pictured below). Observant explorers may even spot a cavern or two hidden behind the many waterfalls in the area.

Across a small inlet (pictured below) is Eglarest, where you can swim or rez a rowboat to row upstream, further into the sim. Step ashore to dream under an ivy-covered arbor, feed the swans, or relax in the open air bathhouse. A gathering hall with colorful stained-glass windows sits ready for a feast, and a set of three treehouses perches high above the sim in one giant tree. According to Iminwiel, the sim is a work in progress, and the group is constantly adding to the landscaping and the environment.
"The roleplay is something we will achieve in the future and at the moment we are concentrating on landscaping and building a roleplay structure," stated Iminwiel. "We have established a story reading group which celebrates fantasy literature in voice which is currently active and to which all are welcome. Whilst we are building you are welcome to come and explore and develop your own story of a society just holding onto peace with its fingernails." Tolkien fan or not, this lovely area is well worth a visit.

“Farewell," they cried, "Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!" That is the polite thing to say among eagles. "May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks," answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Annotated Hobbit: The Hobbit, Or, There and Back Again

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Got A Whale Of A Tale To Tell Ya, Lads"

Untitled Document Jules Verne, often referred to as the father of science fiction, was a French novelist and playwright famous for such wild, imaginative adventures as Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). In Second Life, Veritas Raymaker has created a museum in the Sea of Fables to honor the life and works of Verne called "St. Michel", named after a series of boats that Verne owned during his life. Before visiting, since some of the museum is located on the sea floor, you may want to pick up the free Nautilus diving suit I'm wearing in the photo below. Designed by Aley (Arcadia Asylum), it emits bubbles from the helmet, bounces and kicks up sand from the sea floor when you walk, and is simply full of old-school awesome. Just the thing for a visit to the Jules Verne Museum.

From the landing point, you can either catch a zip line ride down to the water or walk up the hill to the brick building. Inside the building is a simulated moon surface; cam in and sit on one of the floating jet packs for an immersive experience. Outside the building's front door is a small blue cone which will rez a vehicle (pictured on left, below) to take you to various other destinations within the build, including a fanciful floating skybase (pictured on the far right, below). According to Veritas, "the original site of the Museum was featured in the March 2008 issue of Deja Vu International magazine. That site was used from July 2007 to August 2008. The Museum is presently situated in the sim of Lily, and was opened in January 2009. Spread over 0.7 hectares and comprising self-paced informational experiences, it is hoped that the variations in type and scale of the exhibits will convey some sense of the sheer breadth of Verne's genius."

One of the destinations within the build is a large submarine (interior control room pictured below) which sits on the surface of the Sea of Fables. Under the sub, a series of interconnected underwater rooms allows visitors to observe the sea life while remaining comfortably dry. At each destination, a set of slideshows gives visitors information about the builds and the books on which they are based. Like Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne imagined creations which became reality hundreds of years later. See this National Geographic photo-essay about ten of his inventions which actually exist today.

States Veritas, "I am very happy to have been able to keep the museum open at Lily these many years. The affordances of Second Life align so well with Verne's imagination. The doors of the museum will continue to remain open and all are very welcome :-)" The tales imagined and written down by Verne are still capturing the imagination of readers today, and this museum is a good introduction — and homage to — his works. Come visit, dive in and explore the grand adventures for yourself, and perhaps take home some inspiration for your own adventures. Let's follow the advice of Jules Verne, who said, "Ah! Young people, travel if you can, and if you cannot, travel just the same!"

"Got a whale of a tale to tell ya, lads
A whale of a tale or two'
Bout the flappin' fish and the girls I've loved
On nights like this with the moon above
A whale of a tale and it's all true
I swear by my tattoo"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Teen Second Life, or "That Sharp Continent"

In February of 2005, a separate Teen Second Life (TSL) was created for SL residents who were ages 13-17. Just prior to opening TSL, the Lab offered amnesty to all underage users if they would agree to beta test the new grid. TSL was completely separate from SL, and no interaction between the two was possible. In January of 2011, the Teen Grid was closed, but the TSL Mainland was imported to the main Second Life grid, and can now be accessed by anyone. Most people I've spoken to don't even know that this land still exists. So, let's put on our explorer's boots and go on a bit of a tour there, shall we?

I asked Uccello Galway (uccello poultry), who started her Second Life on the Teen Grid, how it much it really differed from the Main Grid (aside from simply the maturity rating). She replied, "So much creativity. Not as much just wandering around aimlessly as was the typical new resident experience on the Main grid." Mainland TSL is a small continent, rather oddly-shaped, with many roads that dead-end and many land forms that seem cut off or half finished. Because of that, it is often referred to as "that sharp continent". It contains all of the types of land that can be found on the Main Grid, including deserts (pictured below), rocky highlands, beaches, cities, and snowlands. One of the best ways to tour the TSL continent is located in the snowlands there, via the Yavascript Pod station in Cascade.

The desert in Oasis Canyon, an area which used to contain a large shopping mall

In addition, TSL Mainland contains a number of duplicate builds. There is a welcome area in Pullman which is a duplicate of the one in Ahern, a copy of the prim mining equipment that can be also found in ANWR, and even a TSL version of Natoma's Ivory Tower (pictured below). The G-rated Bay City regions were once in TSL, and were added to Bay City after the merge. Well-traveled residents will know where to find the Main Grid duplicate of Harry's crash site in TSL, pictured on the far right of the collage below. When visiting the crash site, make sure to pick up your "I love SL" button. Several Linden Bears can be found on this continent, in the abandoned Teen Grid Linden offices at IWorld.

There are a lot of fun things to do while you explore the TSL continent. Take a ride on Michael Linden's gorgeously shimmering Pegasus merry-go-round at IWorld, bundle up and visit Chalet Linden in the snowlands (pick up more bears while you are there!), or wait at the edge of the city sim of Ni to catch a ride on a really fast monorail. You'll discover a go-cart track with rezzable go-carts if you climb over the wall at the Meiji East rez zone, pictured in the middle photo, below. One caveat: there is still an active war-games element to some of the sims here, so on your travels you may find yourself in a damage-enabled combat zone. If you need a place to rest your feet, I own a coffee shop and hangout called World's End, located at the edge of the Grid in Pop. Visit there and see what happens when you try to walk off the edge of the world! You are also welcome to visit my home in TSL, Whiskey River Canyon, which has what I think is one of the best views anywhere.

Whenever I speak to a former Teen Grid resident about this continent, there is a sense of warm nostalgia that comes through in the conversation. Even after passing through the Teen Grid transfer station in the Sea of Fables on the Main Grid (pictured above, far left), TSL residents have retained their fondness for their former home, and many of them have returned and bought land there. While it may be a land of dead ends (one of which is pictured below), it certainly is not a dead land. Visit the TSL continent, and discover a curiously beautiful land of sharp edges that has captured a great many residents' hearts, including mine!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Interview - Torley Linden

While I have been informally asking around about people's favorite Mainland locations, looking for suggestions for this blog, I decided to ask a few folks to do more formal interviews, which I will feature periodically here. First up, that fabulous amplifier of awesome, Torley Linden (photo on left, visiting The Pen in Bay City). For those of you who don't know who Torley is (and if not, where have you been? under a sculpty rock?) see the wiki here. Torley works for Linden Lab as a Senior Multimedia Producer, who — among countless other things — has created an invaluable series of tutorials for Second Life. His "What Second Life Means To Me" video is well worth a watch.  

Readers looking for Torley's familiar pink and green color palette, fear not! While the photos below are mine, Torley has also included a link after each destination name to a series of his own photos. Plenty of watermelony goodness to be found there, folks. And now, on to the interview!

Kinn: Torley! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this! I have two basic questions (although Question #1 has five parts). First, please name five of your favorite Mainland destinations, with a brief description of each, along with why they are favorites.

Torley: In no particular order, five of my faves... with SLurls inside the pic descriptions:

(1) ESPRESSO YOURSELF @ THE PEN (pictured above)

In my early Second Life as a Linden, Robin Linden was a tremendously positive influence on me, and she gave me a book called The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg. It's about the importance of social surroundings like coffeeshops in creating community. (Context: To this day, I think one of the best examples of SL heritage is the monthly event hosted by Marianne McCann that breathes life into this beatnik building, which I've had the joy of attending on several occasions with friends. You mentioned Espresso Yourself in a previous post, and I recommend that any new Resident of Second Life should explore the broader Bay City — including the museum! — to get a feel for an abundant culture that continues to thrive over the years.

(2) PIRATE'S OUTPOST @ KINGSPOST (pictured above)

This is one of my fave LDPW builds and a cool example of what used to be a blank island, transformed by our Moles. In the pics link above, you can see I stumbled across it in its "naked" state, only to revisit several years later as I was doing a photo shoot for our Linden Marauder pirate ship Premium gift. The intricate details are really nice. But it doesn't end there, as I've also been in race events that traveled past. Also, look under the water and you'll find relics of an earlier era. Simulated debris and detritus fascinates me, it gives a place so much personality. Anyway, it's a great example of somewhere you might not come across unless you're out and about exploring — and when you're feeling whimsical, isn't that the best way to do it? :)

(3) INSPIRE SPACE PARK (pictured above)

Has this really been around 9+ years? And my, how it's endured. Innovative use of vertical space on a mainland parcel. Its theme is still cool to this day — meditate and/or dance amongst the galaxies. It's a sort of progenitor build, it's inspired (get it?) the birth of many immersive scenes contained within a skybox or orb that seek to create a universe of their own. Feels a lot larger on the inside, like a TARDIS. And I'll also remember this as being one of the first places you covered on Mainland Matters.

(4) EAST RIVER AIRPORT (pictured above)

East River is one of the most prominent self-organized communities, and with great reason — ambitious, realistic, to-scale builds like this! It's fun because avatars (being the self-propelled flight superheroes that we are) technically don't need to go on planes, but as I like to say: when we surpass limits, we seek to recreate them. This airport and others have done simulated flight schedules, which is another layer of dedication. Be sure to check out the train system and connected airports, too. Much respect to cofounders Elisha Paklena and Indigo Mertel, and everyone who made it possible.

(5) BETA CONTRIBUTOR WALL (pictured above)

I periodically come to pay my respects to the earliest Residents of Second Life, those who paved the way for what we have today. While many of them are no longer with us (or in a few cases, being low-profile on alts), I will always be grateful to their pioneering steps into a brave new virtual world. Plus, this is near Lime, which contains a mirror of the old Ahern welcome area (before it was remodeled), which always takes me back to where I began and used to hang out. Though it is abandoned now, I'm glad the build is still up in interactive 3D.

Only five? I could name a number more off the top of my head with the personal stories I have attached to each, but I suppose this will have to do for now.

Kinn: And now for Question #2: Why does Mainland matter to you?

Torley: Mainland represents my roots. I will always remember where I began my Second Life in Sept. 2004 — in the Ahern Welcome Area (pictured above), in an age where you could get together with friends and traverse the grid from coast to coast, one contiguous chunk before continents emerged. Even if it took overnight. I formed bonds on these "virtual road trips", learned a lot about myself... and where I wanted to go in my first life.

To this day, there are many hidden treasures to be found — and rediscovered — on the Mainland. I am so happy your blog focuses on shining a light on these. Some of these lost gems include LDPW builds that were long-forgotten. Occasionally I will come across an object past-me left behind, years ago! It's intriguing that some aspects of Mainland are like a time capsule, such as a strip mall left untouched by a lifetime account who hasn't logged in ages, whereas other parcels in some of the oldest regions have continued to change over time. Mainland can be enjoyed by any Resident, whether you own land or not.

There's a vibrant serendipity when you close your eyes and double-click to TP to a region you've never been before. It's the engagement of the explorer instinct, where you may not find anything of note immediately, but allow yourself to wander through adjacent regions, and amidst a row of expected houses, you may discover a cool art sculpture, created solely for that artist's autotelic purpose. Come back a week later and it may be gone, yet the moment remains — and perhaps pictures, if you were wise to capture your adventures as I often do.

Sometimes there is a bigger purpose beyond the individual, a tremendous community-building, be it the Linden-guided Bay City... or the drive to team up and buy all parcels in a region and beyond in service of unifying for a shared vision, such as East River.

Ultimately, it's a curious question: how can digital land in a virtual world hold so much emotional power and intense nostalgia for so many? All I know is that Mainland is sufficiently vast, and I can only summarize in the broadest terms. I've had a diverse wealth of magical experiences in a great many, many of these places, and have constantly come away touched and inspired by what our Residents make with Mainland.

And that is why Mainland continues to matter to me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

O, Discordia!

High above the Mainland continent of Corsica sits a fanciful land of chaos and whimsy called Discordia, owned by Dr Larry Battle (TimeLord67). Upon arrival, you are greeted with a shout ("The Realm of Chaos shouts, Welcome to Discordia!") and you might pause there for a moment to take in the vast array of sounds and colors that assault your senses. The pictures I took for this blog post don't do the place justice, because they can't quite convey the constant motion that surrounds you from the moment you enter the realm. Things to play on and with are everywhere: I clicked on the 8-Ball pictured below, and received [19:11] Magic 8 Ball: I've got nothing [19:11] Magic 8 Ball: Ask Jesus.

Rather than using the direct link above, visitors can also enter Discordia from ground level. From the Circuit La Corse in central Corsica (one of the two major roads on that continent) travelers might spot an immense purple pinwheel, pictured below, spinning in the sky above the rocky plains of Trellumare. Clicking on that pinwheel gives you a portal to two different destinations: Timesville or Discordia. Timesville, states sim designer GJliz, is the main town and hangout, but it is currently being renovated. And so, today let's choose some glorious chaos and port to Discordia.

When I asked GJliz (pictured below) about the inspiration for this place, I received this reply:
"So, Discordia is a realm created by the fictional character, Discord. From My Little Pony: Friendship is magic. It's a place where the creature entertained himself by taking what he knows about the natural order of the world and changing it into something else. He believes the natural world is mundane, and he is obsessed with chaos. He created himself a home to enjoy the topsy turvy deconstruction and reassembly of what was once all ordinary things. He tried to make an art of it. It's the only place he could without being shunned and resented for it. This is a place he finds himself always amused, and wants others to join in on the fun."
Fansites and conventions (and sims, apparently!) based on the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (MLP:FIM) are part of a well-documented phenomenon of fans who are outside of the original target demographic of young girls. According to the MLP:FIM wikia, the character Discord is based on the Star Trek character Q, and is even voiced by the same actor. "Discord appears with a bright white flash, and the two even share some mannerisms, including a fondness for 'games'and snapping his fingers to use his powers. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Q Who, Picard refers to Q as ' of kin to chaos'."

Discordia is filled with colorful and playful items by Rachel Breaker and others, all jumbled together in really fun ways. (Rachel's marketplace is always a great place to explore, btw, as is her own sim, Off The Wall.) In Discordia, things you'd think you could sit on (couches, for instance) you can't, but try the huge hamburger or the lake filled with lava. Up is down, and down is up, and sometimes things even go sideways in this magical pocket of chaotic joy. If you enjoy your visit as much as I did, please consider leaving a contribution at the landing point for the sim's upkeep. But most of all, have fun exploring the chaos!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meauxle Bureaux

A good number of the destinations I've featured on this blog are creations by the "moles" of the Linden Department of Public Works, private residents who are expert builders, scripters and artists who have become contract workers for Linden Lab, tasked with creating Mainland infrastructure and community builds. At Meauxle Bureaux, the moles at last have their own homes, but not, as you might suspect, in dark burrows in the ground. Instead (pictured below) they have nested in an expansive medieval walled town on a large island in the Coastal Waterway...and it is open for the public to explore!

There is a fixed landing point, which will deposit you in the middle of a large town square full of market stalls. Currently, this square is still decorated with Valentine's balloons and messages...perhaps the moles have been too busy working to notice it is Spring! In any case, looking to the East, you'll spot a large castle-type building that serves as a community hall. Inside, you can pick up some winter gifts, enjoy a Mad Tea Party and other fun pose props, examine the portrait gallery on the second floor and try to guess which mole is which, and click the various posters which line the walls to receive LMs to other mole builds around the grid. A guestbook is located by the front door if you wish to leave the moles a message before wandering outside to explore the charming cobbled streets that wind through the town (photo below).

As you walk through the town, you'll notice that some moles share storefronts on the main roads (photo, below right), some have small duplexes just outside of the town, and at least one, Abnor Mole, runs a bar (first photo on the left, below). At "Ye Olde Abnor Mole Pub", visitors can play pool, enjoy a lively round of Cards Against Humanity, drink beer or espresso, or just relax and read. There are some other fun things to spot around town as well; try to find Ancient Mole's animated cave...inside one of the storefronts!

On the North and West sides of the island are docks where you can enter the town if approaching via the Coastal Waterway by boat or Yavascript Pod. The  Maebaleia North M1 pod route serves both sides of the island. (Meauxle Bureaux is located off the Northeastern coast of Satori - sometimes called Maebaleia - just south of the Blake Sea.) On the larger set of docks in the North (see the very first picture in this post) you will find a rez zone so you can use your own boat to go exploring, or pick up a free sailboat or kayak near the Mole Marina in that same area. A sign near the free boats will tell you how to use them.

In first life, I will be traveling to the Republic of Ireland this summer, and the colorful houses of Meauxle Bureaux (pictured above) reminded me of the town of Cobh, which I plan to visit while there. I do hope that you take some time to explore the homes and shops in Meauxle Bureaux, and take a moment to celebrate the SL residents who, as LPDW moles, use their creativity, talent and humor to make the Mainland more beautiful, and more fun!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"I Am Little Jack Frost, But I Am Warm Through and Through"

As Spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere of first life in fits and starts, let's take one last look at some snow-covered SL terrain by visiting the Alpine Byway in the Northern Snowlands of Sansara. One of my favorite things about the Mainland is the infrastructure, especially the roads, and this area has some rather unusual road features. In Durango, tucked under a large bridge over the Grindlewald River and spanning a cascading waterfall, is a smaller bridge made entirely of light (see photo below).

Let's start up the hill at on Amundsen Road at the Durango rez zone. Look to your right, and you'll see a cobbled stone roadway leading off from the main road (pictured below). Walk down the incline until you reach the river, touch the sign, and a bridge of light will appear before you, allowing you to cross long as you hurry!

Once on the other side, you'll find yourself in Grindlewald (pictured below). Looking around, you'll see another sign announcing the Light Bridge. Go off the road and down the hill next to this sign, and you'll spot a small dock. This is the Grindlewald River Rez Zone, and here you can rez a boat to take you upriver to Zermatt Lake in the East; just make sure you don't steer West and end up going over the falls! If you don't feel like navigating the icy waters of the Grindlewald River today, let's follow the road Southeast to Seefeld.

In Seefeld Square you'll find a couple of choices: to your right, there is a sledding hill, and a small stump will lead you quickly to the top. Directly in front of you is a rough, stone path through the woods, and to your left, the cobbled road continues. This area is a rez zone, so you can rez the vehicle of your choice, or continue on foot. For now, we are going to choose the left path and make our way upriver to frozen Zermatt Lake. The lake truly is frozen over - you can walk on it under the shimmering "Aurorae Lindenalis" and explore the island in the center with the completely blinged-out snowman (first photo), a giant igloo with ice couches that claim "Linden Lab is not responsible for frozen rear ends" (grab a pair of free ice skates near the igloo), and an animated snowman band inside a life-sized snowglobe (image below).

Behind the snowglobe, you'll find the other end of the stone path you first glimpsed in Seefeld. Take that path through the woods and up the hill (sharp eyes might spot some interesting freebies in the woods!) until you reach Seefeld Square once again. This time, port to the top of the hill via the handy tree-stump, grab a sled, and go! Be careful, however, as the path is riddled with mole-holes, and you may bump a few in the head on your way down! Alternatively, you may wish to explore the area by Yavascript Pod. Head to the pod station in Durango, and choose "YavaScript Pod S4 (River&Mountain)". This pod (which changes from pod, to sled, to boat, to ski lift all in one trip!) will take you through all of the areas we just visited, plus the Kanin ski resort, where you can find free skis, a sled rezzer, a snow tube tour, couples cross country skiing, and downhill skiing. So dress warmly, and enjoy the Winter fun!

"I was little boy lost, and I was little boy blue
I'm little Jack Frost but I am warm through and through
It's not easy to hide when your heart's on full view
Oh, tonight, cruel world be forgiving
Oh, for once in my life I am living."

Little Jack Frost, Kate Rusby