Every Great Dream Begins with a Dreamer

Soul, I Hear You Calling

Soul, I Hear You Calling.
Mangrovejane Resident
Digital Online Photography
6016px x 3316px

Some days I sit at my desk and I dream. Sometimes I dream of a new beginning, new people, new adventures. Sometimes I dream of lines and shapes and colours. Sometimes I walk forest paths or sit quietly on beaches. Sometimes I sit in libraries surrounded by the great repository of knowledge accumulated from the minds of people who can write much better than I. I once dreamed of a life filled with the practice of art and music and adventuring in worlds I could not even imagine…That was a great dream.

Mostly I dream of a peace so overwhelmingly thorough in its tender regard that I long wholeheartedly to sink into the rest it promises me in whispers. These dreams are wistful yearnings for a gentler existence perhaps. Or for just a moment to cease the hectic rush of the everyday. It is precious, that moment. Rare. Cherished for its infrequent visitations and beloved for its lingering embrace.

That, I think, is what is found in Chouchou. Horizons that stretch out endlessly and a minimalist aesthetic combined with beautifully produced and soulful music returning me to that space where I am for a moment at rest. A moment where as a dreamer, I can dream freely, thoughts wandering uninhibited and uninterrupted. It is also a moment where a dreamer DID dream and that vision is what we are privileged enough to experience here.

I read in a Oema’s Blog post, “Chouchou will be closed soon…unless…” , that as the title suggests, the Sim will soon be closed. It is the way of online worlds that the places within it are fleeting and ephemeral. They are the dreams and thoughts and visions of people brought for a moment into existence. Appearing, they wonder and delight us, and disappear again leaving their presence embedded within the reality that we hold within us.

We can see the vision within other people. Comments on social media, forums and Oema’s blog post attest to the many moments people have spent within this place, the memories and also to the grief people feel at the loss of the Sim. This place has been REAL. It has lived. It has had an existence and the possibility of its loss reminds us that the realities built within online worlds are tenuous and impermanent on a much quicker time scale than in the physical world. It conjures up an existential dread that we don’t want to acknowledge because if we acknowledge it, it breaks into the immersion we want from online worlds.

There may also be a chance that Chouchou stays for a little longer should the processes of the world be in its favour as we can see from this post in New World Notes. Or the cycle will rumble on and this dream will fade but somewhere, someone is dreaming of a new dream, a new reality, a new place with new moments…

But either way, we will be reminded that Every Great Dream Begins with a Dreamer…

Every Great Dream Begins With a Dreamer

Every Great Dream Begins With a Dreamer.
Mangrovejane Resident
Digital Online Photography
6016px x 3316px

You are Not a Writer

I listened to those words come out of a close friend’s mouth. It was said with a sneer and not long after she had read a recent blog post of mine back to me in a tone that conveyed ridicule and contempt. I don’t think I have ever claimed to be a “writer” but this sentence really kind of struck me to the core and I’ve been ruminating over it ever since. I write every day, just as I practice my visual arts everyday. Sometimes it works…sometimes it doesn’t. For awhile, those words stopped me from writing because what was the use of writing if it wasn’t good enough?

But why did those words affect me so? I usually just write with the expectation that no-one is reading. I’m just putting my thoughts and words out there and chronicling my journey. I am of the belief though, that if criticism hurts it is usually because you think there is truth in the criticism. So , I guess the truth is that I DO believe it. I am NOT a writer. Good, bad or otherwise.

I am having the same trouble writing my exegesis draft. I have a fear that it won’t be good enough or succinct enough. I am scared that I won’t be able to put in words that totality of the experiences I have had in the world of Second Life and in turn do a great injustice to the people of the world. I am afraid that I am not a writer and so anything I write about this topic will come out wrong and people will, like my friend, sneer and ridicule. I will fail. The world will break. I will prove myself a fraud and the people who love me will stop because I could not find the right words this time.

But that is not true is it? Even if I fail…the world will not break, it will just keep turning. The people who love me will continue to love me because they have already heard the words and they know that those words are only just a few in the very many that make my story.

And so…even if I am not a writer….the use of writing is in being able to express myself. Its using the words that are inside me, forcing them into coherence and reaching out to other people…to explain the thoughts and perspectives in my head. It is the same reason I chose to study and practice art.

I HAVE to.

I MUST.

And so…I will.Don't...Just Don't....

“Don’t…Just Don’t…”
Mangrovejane Resident
4096 x 2160px
Digital Online Photography

The New Subscription Box In SL Town: The Second Life Syndicate Crate

I want to talk to you about this new subscription box that is coming out really soon!! If you are anything like me, you are still weeping over the fact that both Builder’s box AND Deco(c)rate have finished in world and there is no more monthly home and garden goodness to be had. I seriously LOVED both of these subscription boxes and was a regular purchaser. I loved being able to pre-purchase, check out the teasers, then finally opening the box was like Christmas EVERY TIME. The Deco(c)rate box was incredible. From it’s actual look to its animations…so SO good. But…while I can fill a whole post with the sadness and maudlin I feel at no longer having these to look forward to, that is not what this is about…

Second Life Syndicate are putting out the Second Life Syndicate Crates which are soon to be released! Each crate features 6 designers and sells for 1000L Preorder until the release date and then 1500L for the next 3 months after which the crates are officially retired.

SLS Upgrades Ad

The very first crate is one I am particularly interested in is called “Upgrades 1.0”, which is of course, Sci-FI Themed! SO let’s go through and check out who the first 6 designers to participate are:

  • Contraption sell Steampunk and cyber punk attachments (masks, prosthetics, etc.), as well as décor items, furniture and homewares. A lot of it is kind of horror/goth inspired and some of it reminds me of the story that you follow in the game Bioshock Infinite.
  • Deadly Nightshade sell Fantasy based Avatar Attachments (wings, horns), weaponry (swords Staffs, etc.), props and spell effects
  • Ex Machina have a variety of items on their Mainstore sim including Skyboxes, buildings and home décor. It’s all industrially themed based and seriously good quality original mesh.
  • Hilted. They also appear to have their own exclusive themed box in which you receive 5 items based on a theme for 500L preorder or 700L after. Hilted do a range of really cute home items, furniture and décor as well as some aimesh shoulder pets
  • This is Wrong do a range of truly exquisite handmade tattoos, clothing and shapes and makeup. I particularly liked their Dead Tree Body tattoo and the Moloch Makeup, both of which I HAD to buy while I was at the store.
  • Violetility. I had the best time in Violetility. Now they sell a range of props, homewares and fashion, as well as Kink adult props and tools. I actually spent quite a bit of Lindens in this store after I recorded there because I loved the statues and the overlarge book prop so much that I had to have them. You have to check this place out. I may have to do a Have you seen store exploration here because I loved it all.

Having such amazing designers in the first box bodes REALLY well for the quality of items we are going to receive and makes me look forward to this box even more. You can preorder your boxes at the Second Life Syndicate headquarters, SLS marketplace or participating stores from May 17th to May 31st. And also…the Second Life Syndicate headquarters is this great place to hang out and play some games. Its set out really nicely to encourage people to stay for awhile and meet people.

If you need any more information about this box, you can head over to SLS Discord Channel, Website, Facebook, Social VR, inworld group or their headquarters.

Let me know what you think of it when it comes out and also if you like Sci Fi and Cyberpunk Roleplay sims, check out Cocoon. I have been wandering around there as a visitor for a couple of weeks now and it looks INCREDIBLE!

The New Subscription Box  in Town
What the heck is happening in this photo: (Pose) Simple Bloom Poses Thinking Girl 07; (Head) Akeruka  Lulu; (Hair) !Oleander Tegan; (Skin) Lara Hurley Abby; (Body) Maitreya Lara; (Arm) Shu Mesh N.cc Nuada Arms Implant; (Monocle) Bauhaus Movement Verlaine Monocle ; (Wristband) Una&Mushilu Cyber Punk Wrist Band ; (Leg Band) :::SOLE::: GRPE C.Leg ; (Coat) Bakaboo Sora Top ; (Top) Alaskametro Karena Bralet ; (Pants) Stories & Co. Signature Vinyl Leggings ; (Shoes) Ingenue Britta Bootie

References:
Second Life Syndicate Crates Webpage
https://secondlifesyndicate.com/sls-crates/
Second Life Syndicate Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SecondLifeSyndicate/
Second Life Syndicate Social VR https://socialvr.me/secondlifesyndicate
Second Life Syndicate Flickr Group
https://www.flickr.com/groups/2981462@N20/

Cocoon Space Station Slurl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Esperia/237/166/4086

Contraption Slurl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ministry%20of%20Invention/122/70/119
Contraption Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/waltonwainwright/
Ex Machina Slurl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/ExMachina%20Flagship%20Store/107/205/25
Ex Machina Marketplace https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/16570
Ex Machina Flickr group https://www.flickr.com/groups/4479818@N24/
Deadly Nightshade Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/142985607@N03/
Deadly Nightsdhade Slurl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cult%20Grounds/195/226/1839
This is Wrong SLURL http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Chaos/157/163/1028
This is wrong Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/142007505@N03/
Hilted Slurl  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Kremlin/182/230/2557
Hilted Flickr https://www.flickr.com/groups/4484639@N20/

Glitch: Adventures in Second Life Photography, a Lesson in Frustration and Shutting the Door on Perfectionism

It has been quite a learning curve week of playing around and learning new techniques in GIMP. I am having quite the moment of perfectionism panic as I stare at my latest photo that has taken me ALL DAY to learn to do and still did not turn out how I wanted it to. However I did learn a couple of things and I am slowly but surely breathing through the panic and reminding myself that experiments don’t have to be perfect. They just have to BE.

So what exactly is going on here? Well….Earlier this week, I released this photo, which was quite an easy technique to learn and I enjoyed the result of it. Smoke and Mirrors

Today, however, I spent the whole day feeling frustrated and annoyed at myself for not learning quickly enough, despite the fact that I had chosen to learn a technique that was pretty damn complicated. I look at the photo, and I cringe. I see only the flaws and my failure to get the vision I have in my head out into the world. And I know THAT is the ugly monster that is the unrelenting standards of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder playing with me.

So I breathe. Slowly. In and out. I shut the door on the monster and I upload the photo to FLickr, where again, because of the compression Flickr needs to do when uploading, the result is not what I want or expect. I remind myself again…it’s ok. Breathe. This is not about perfection. This is about learning. And so I also shut the windows on the monster, despite knowing it is still prowling around outside…for the moment, I can breathe. 

So here it is…This is Glitch. 

Glitch

I wanted it to be more like the glitch in a video of a badly done surveillance camera. But when the photo gets compressed in Flickr, I lose a lot of the detail. Below is the photo before I uploaded it to Flickr. The detail is small, but to me in this present moment…oh so large. Glitch NuNoX 5ac2a 20190404_001

There is also I think, another couple of GIMP techniques I am missing out on to make this be what I want it to be. There needs to be a static of sorts in the photo that is missing. But for now, this will do because it is time I turned my computer off and ventured out. Breathed fresh air and talked to people. 

I will say just one more thing before I go though…this photo was taken at the most incredible sim called NuNoX Cyberpunk City. If you get a chance…head out and take a look. You won’t be disappointed. 

She WAS the Storm

I have had this picture in my mind for a very long time. I actually took the original photo for it last year and have been slowly working on my GIMP skills in order to get it somewhat close to where I wanted it to be. Truth be told I will always look at my pictures and artwork and think they are not finished and see their imperfections. I have a tendency to see what they are not, rather than what they are. However, there comes a time when you just have to stop and move on and for me that time is now. This picture has taught me everything I needed it to teach me, so now it is time to let it out into the world and show you what I have been working on so I can start a new and more ambitious project.

This photo was highly edited using the GIMP program. I love this as editing and drawing software. I can hear your groans and exclamations of, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST USE PHOTOSHOP?!?!” Well…umm…just because ok?? I like GIMP, I am familiar with it and I like supporting open source software and developers whenever I can. Also…I’m a poor art student and am too cheap to fork out for the photoshop subscription. Add to that, GIMP is a powerful tool when used properly, it can do some really amazing visuals and I’m really impressed with how it performs. So yeah, you can just keep your GIMP complaints to yourself.

I can’t even begin to explain what I did in order to get it to this place. However, over the course of doing this photo I have learnt a whole lot more about using layers correctly, different ways to use gaussian blur, inserting backgrounds, choosing different brushes for different effects and playing with colour curves and gradients. I’m going to link some GIMP tutorials I have been following down below for my own records and also for anyoone who is interested in learning some basics and new techniques.

But for now, that’s enough blabbering from me..here is…

Title: She WAS the Storm.
Artist: Mangrovejane
Medium: Digital Online Photography (manipulated)
Size: 4448px x 2355px

She WAS the storm//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

What the heck is she wearing? (Body) Maitreya; (Head) Akeruka Lulu; 
(Hair) Tableau Vivant - Summer Hairplay - Coromuel;
(Eyes) Buzz Gleam Eyes; 
(Outfit)Wiccas Wardrobe Naesala Armguards, Belt, Dress;
(Shoes)The Forge Livia Sandals

For further reading/watching:
GIMP 2.10 Basics: Complete Overview Tutorial for Beginners 2018
https://youtu.be/2EPIUyFJ4ag
GIMP Tutorial 5: 5 things you didn't know GIMP could do
https://youtu.be/oxUMtv07Sys
How to Blur Backgrounds in GIMP 2.10 - Shallow Depth of Field Effect
https://youtu.be/AfM9uMIkZoU
How To Blur The Background In GIMP (Create Shallow Depth of Field)
https://youtu.be/GpGfcHcSX4s
GIMP tutorial: Using the blur filters | lynda.com
https://youtu.be/mog3Bnnc2a8
Mastering Layers & Masks in GIMP
https://youtu.be/GIon0DgCCOI
Gimp Clone Tool Tutorial - [ gimp tutorial for beginners - gimp clone stamp tool ]
https://youtu.be/5p7mqkQ7YzM
GIMP Basics 2018: Intro to Layers and Advanced Layers (GIMP 2.10)
https://youtu.be/pCyBF0NwIDU
Editing with Cassie: Color Burns and Overlays
https://youtu.be/lSicScnglnc

Making a (Linden) Dollar in Second Life by Reselling Gacha

 

Let’s talk about gacha reselling. This is apparently quite a controversial thing in Second Life for a few reasons. Gacha are basically machines in SL that hold a set of items by one creator. These items are transferable, most times modifiable but not copyable. These sets contain common items as well as rare(s) and you pay a certain amount of Lindens to play for the items you want. They have multiple events (Arcade (1), The Epiphany (2), The Gacha Life (3), Gacha Garden(4)) based exclusively around gacha and they have proven to be quite popular. Gacha have become a huge part of the culture in Second Life, economically, socially and visually, and so, I have done this little video explaining the whole thing and what I do with my gacha in order to make some extra (Linden) Dollars.

For me, I get a kick out of reselling gacha items because I kind of like to see it being used by someone else who can get some use out of it rather than having that item sit in my inventory. It’s like second hand goods…I genuinely also like having items in RL I no longer need or use either sold, donated or given away as well.

I like having a little shop that I can go to, stock with items and sell things in that other people may want. It keeps me out of trouble and amuses me when I am having some down time and its fun to set things up the way I want. In all honesty, you could probably make a much better living out of gacha reselling than I do if you were really serious about it and worked at advertising and bumped your prices up a bit more, but that’s just a bit much like hard work for me.

My own gacha store (5) is located on one of the Gimme Gacha Sims. I chose this particular place for a few reasons. For a start, I liked the layout and the look of the sim. It seems to get a lot of traffic through. They have lots of incentives for people to buy there such as a rewards scheme and giveaways. They are competitively priced. I pay 1000L per month which works out to be 250L per week for 250 prims. Management is really active here so if you have a problem or need some advice, they is usually someone on hand to talk to.

So that is my take on one of the ways to make a Linden dollar in Second Life and the whole gacha situation. What do you think about gacha? Do you love them or hate them? What do you do with all your extra gacha if you play?

The Gacha Shop

What the heck is going on here? (Pose) Ana Poses Sydney; (Hair) Magika First Light; (Head) Akeruka Lulu; (Body) Maitreya Lara; (Skin) Lara Hurley Abby; (Eyes) Atelier Pepe; (Glasses) =Rebellion= Savant Specs; (Top) Tres Blah Carrington Cardigan and Undershirt; (Pants) Pixicat Classy Pants; (Necklace) Maxi Gossamer Violette Cut Bead Boho; (Shoes) Empire Flax 

References:
1. The Arcade http://thearcadesl.com/
2. The Epiphany https://www.theepiphanysl.com/
3. The Gacha Life https://www.evilbunnysl.com/
4. The Gacha Garden https://www.thegachagarden.com/
5. My own gacha resell store, “All The Things” http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Pelvoux/128/203/2496

The Ending of One Year and the Beginning of Another

Ugh. Dammit. I wish I was one of those people who could come up with a catchy title at the drop of a capital letter. But I’m not. I’m one of those people that just throws a title down, rolls it around a little bit, changes it completely, hates it, then changes it back in exasperation. And that’s what you get. Sooo that’s a thing…now onto what I am actually supposed to be talking about in this this post. What was I talking about? Ohhh yeah…It’s THAT post. You know the one where I am going to ramble for awhile about all the things that happened this year and then talk about the things I want to happen next year. Yeah yeah…I know… Just feel free to like the post, comment about how much you loved it and then move on to a blog post about how to use the sex furniture in SL if you like…

Right…You still with me? Then let’s get on this thing!

So what the heck happened this year? Well…SO much happened. I’m going to try to be as honest as I possibly can be for reasons I will get to when I get to the bit where I am talking about where I want to go next year. This is more difficult than I thought it would be so please excuse any ridiculous rambling and weird turns of thinking….

My Real Life stuff…

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I’ve always had some seriously blurred lines when it comes to my First Life and my Second Life stuff so I’m shoving this stuff in here real quick so you kind of understand the things that happened in my Second Life as a result of my First Life.

I guess I’ll start with the biggest and most difficult thing I’ve been dealing with this year and that is that I had a bit of a mental breakdown about halfway through the year and ended up being sent to a clinical psychologist for diagnosis and treatment. It has been a really difficult journey and I am still working really hard on my mental health. I feel a huge amount of shame and embarrassment about what I perceive as my failure to keep myself together so even now I downplay a lot of what happened. Basically, most of my anxiety stems from this idea that I can never be good enough…or even just enough. And so I will work myself to the point of exhaustion and then just keep going until eventually I fall over. There are other things connected with this but I won’t bother you with them right now because I think I have given this part enough page space but if you would like me to talk about this another time, let me know and I will try to fill you in with my progress.

I have achieved a lot this year. I managed to win first place in a competition with one of my SL photos. I took part in a group exhibit, put together a pop up gallery and curated and held my first solo exhibit. I spent a year studying audio at the Conservatorium of Music. I developed a new idea that had been tossing around in my head for quite some time in order to make interactive paintings by adding proximity sensors and audio compositions in order to augment the reality of the viewer. To transport them, if you will, into a different space. I currently also have audio compositions at Southbank that I made in order to allow people to experience the place through my memories of it through time. These are triggered using a mobile phone app and headphones.

I spent some really long days and nights recording in different types of forests. It was pretty exhausting but ultimately satisfying. I’d really like to explore some more environmentally based artworks that rely on the recordings of the natural world and work more with audio composition but I may have to wait a little in order to do so due to the heavy workload I have coming up this year.

My Second Life Stuff…

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Wow…where to even start with this. It’s been…a journey. I started the year sitting on a BVN discussion panel about non-traditional blogging (in which I had great difficulty getting my in game voice to work to start with…so THAT was a bit embarassing)¹. I then continued on to guest on a Podcast called, “The Avatar’s Voice” with my good friend Mondrian talking about all things virtual world related². I showed up in a article called Casja’s Choices³. I managed to take part in two art exhibits in world. I kept up the photography and showed my work in RL exhibits. I kept up with the videos (sporadically) and the blogging (even more sporadically).

I lost a friendship that was very dear to me. I was…incredibly hurt and confused for a quite awhile and so spent a lot of time avoiding people in SL. I felt my social anxieties kick in and I tried reaching out to a couple of people but couldn’t stop beating myself up long enough to let them in. So yeah…screwed THAT one up too. But then…there were the people who stayed. The people who kept hammering at me no matter how many walls I put up to hide behind. People who just quietly persisted in being who they were and called me to them time and again and to those people, I am truly humbled and thankful.

I managed to make 17 videos. 15 of which were totally SL related content. The other two were about my RL art which is always related to my SL art. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but each time I did a video I tried to learn something new about editing or presenting a video or audio. I’m proud of that and its really nice to see that my subscribers have doubled over the year.

Onwards and Upwards…
So, it’s at this point I’d usually split this blog post into two parts because this one is getting pretty long, but I’m not going to do that today. If you have made it this far…WOW! Good on you!! If I meet you in RL, I owe you a drink. The drink will probably be water. From a tap. But I’ll put ice in it to fancy it up a bit for you!!

I know a lot of people don’t like setting New Year’s goals because a lot of goals get left undone, but I have to say…I am that SUPER goal oriented person. I love working towards a goal. It gives me a sense of achievement and control and allows me to focus on one thing at a time instead of in a million directions at once. So..here are my life plans for 2019…

1. Finish my Masters program. This is by FAR the things that weighs most heavily on my mind. I am now 2 years into my designated 3 and I am at the point now where I am looking forward to the end.
2. Strive to make my mental health a priority. I am working on this. Every day I remind myself, one moment at a time. Stop. Breathe. Catch and stop the negative thought cycle so you don’t spiral out of control. I owe it to myself and I owe it to the people around me. And most of all…POSTIVE…MENTAL….ATTITUDE is my new mantra.
3. Make more time for friends and family. Even to just spend 10 -15 minutes every week or two reconnecting with each of my friends and extended family (not my immediate family, my partner and children get unlimited access to me unfortunately for them) and listening. Just to let them know I am there, thinking about them and that they are important to me.
4. Be more transparent. I started this blog and my videos in order to document my process and my journey from the beginning days of my time in SL and I feel like I haven’t done a great job of that. It’s all a little bit scattered and I kind of lost my way somewhere. I’d like to bring that more into line with my original goal of documenting my journey which brings me to…
5. Increase the consistency and frequency of my vlog and blog posts. Ideally I’d like to post once a week but I know what a heavy workload that is with everything else going on in my life so I would like to aim for once every fortnight. That would bring me to 26 vlog and blog posts for this year.
6. Interact more with my SL community. I stopped halfway through writing these goals to read Strawberry Singh’s new blog post (as aside, I was totally thrilled and delighted to hear of her big news which I won’t spoil here but go check it out with this link)…and I am taking this idea from her post and really want to do it. I know that when someone comments on my blog or my vlog, it gives me a thrill every time. It’s really lovely to have someone reach out to you. So…this year, I would like to stop being a lurker and make sure I am commenting at least once a week on someone else’s blog or vlog.
7. Publish one article in a peer reviewed journal. Yup. Another academic goal. Can’t be helped because I need it to achieve my next goal…
8. Find and secure a supervisor to take me through the next stage of my academic studies. Finding a supervisor that suits you and is going to be what you need for what you are going to do is like going on a long and exhausting dating show. This is someone who you need to get along with and who will be what you need to get through a rigorous course of study over a long period of time. So you really need to spend some time searching out that person and making sure you both suit one another and can work together. And now…for me, it’s time to find that person.
9. Enjoy and explore both worlds. I have spent some time this past month getting out and going places in RL. I felt like I needed to step back a little and reconnect with the world I lived in. In a lot of ways, I feel like I also need to do that in SL. I miss that joy of exploring and finding serendipitous things. I want to show people these things and let them feel that same sense of wonder for themselves. Expect to see some blog and vlog posts about that 😉
10. Lastly, but not leastly…Don’t forget my physical health as well. I am starting this by having a dry February. No alcohol this month. After the first week, I will add to it the no C (caffeine), R (refined sugars), A (Alcohol) and P (processed foods) 6 week plan that I completed last year. It was one of the best things I did for myself to kick start a health plan and I want to do it again. Throughout the year, the most important aspect of my health I need to take charge over is my sleeping. I do it very badly. Just those things. It’s not too much, but it’s enough.

So there you go…that is the end of one year and the beginning of another…Wherever you are, however you have come to me, I hope this finds you hopeful and joyful. I hope your 2019 continues to be hopeful, joyful, incredible, delightful and wonderful. And for the moments it is not, I hope for you strong hands to pick you up, and the courage and strength to keep walking on.

Then Ending of One Year and the Beginning of Another
What the heck is in this photo? (House) Scarlet Creative Daylily Cottage; (Couch) Merak Patio Couch – Monotone; (Body) Maitreya Lara; (Head) Akeruka Lulu; (Hair) Magika – Reading; (Eyes) Atelier Pepe Dreamy Eyes; (Top) Vinyl Ephixa Leather Jacket and Hoodie; (Pants) zOOm Candy Love Jeans; (Shoes) AsteroidBox Wonho Shoes

References:
1. Bloggers and Vloggers Network Live Presentations #30 https://youtu.be/02aWVZQpUXM
2. “The Avatar’s Voice: Mangrovejane” Podcast by Mondrian https://youtu.be/XbR21UAytlc
3. “Cajsa Choices: MangroveJane, RL Artist Whose SL Art Is Featured In A Real Life Gallery” https://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2018/02/perceptions-of-reality_invite-sl-pics-rl-gallery.html

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – The SL Christmas Expo Part 2. The Jingle Bells Sim

BREEDABLES!! I have a fascination with breedables. I think it’s pretty incredible that in a virtual world we make things that simulate life in some way and that can recreate one another. There was even a whole sim once called SVARGA that had the most incredible array of simulated life. It was an artificial ecosystem that reproduced itself. Plants grew, insects pollinated plants…or so I am told. I wasn’t around when the original SVARGA was built in Second Life but I have toured the new Svarga. It is still a place of impressive beauty and thought and a wonderful testament to what once was. But…I digress…I was talking about Breedables.

So Breedables, for those not in the know are virtual pets that can be fed and bred to make brand new pets. Some of the offspring will be rare and you can make quite a decent amount selling the rare ones. I am unashamedly particularly fond of the Buildables Breedables, which are robots. Not only do they come in all sorts of incredible designs (Check out the One of a Kind buildable at the at the Auction…it’s seriously fabulous) but the community are super friendly and the creators/managers are top notch in their customer service.

If you head out to the Jingle Bells sim though, you will find all kinds of breedables from horses and cats to robots and fairies and even Cannabis plants!!! There were definitely breedables there I had not come across before and it was just kinda nice to walk around and see what is available.

OH! And don’t forget the dates for the auctions that are being held here too….

The Silent Auction runs from the November 30th at 9am SLT to Sunday, December 9, 10am SLT and you can put your bid in and see the One of a Kind breedables at this Slurl:

Live Auction bidding will open Sunday, December 9, 10am slt. The opening bid is the final silent auction bid.

SL Christmas Expo - The Jingle Bells Sim

What the heck am I wearing? (Makeup) Tone 2 EyeGloss,  Tone 2 Festivus Pallette Lipstick; (Skin) Lara Hurley Abby; (Hair) Magicka Sparkle; (Eyes) Atelier Pepe; (Head) Akeruka Lulu; (Body) Maitreya Lara Clothing: (Boots) Charisma Designs Ankle High Heel Boots; (Top) Charisma Designs Nina Cropped Sweater; (Pants) Charisma Designs Nina Leggings; (Jewellery) Meva Boho Gacha Belly Chain Silver; (Pose) Ana Poses Sydney 1

References:
SL Christmas Expo Website https://slchristmasexpo.com/
Buildables http://mybuildables.com/
Evo http://www.evosl.com

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – The SL Christmas Expo Part 1. Sleigh Ride Sim

OK….so I’m not saying I’m doing Vlogmas this year…but I’m basically doing Vlogmas. Now I know I swore blind last year that I wouldn’t do it again because it’s a lot of pressure, so that’s why I’m not SAYING I’m participating in Vlogmas ok?? Yeah, soooooo now I have justified the fact that you are about to be spammed with multiple blog and vlog postings over the next few days, let’s sit and chat about the reason I am here today! So, maybe a month or so ago I applied to blog for both the Second Life Christmas Expo and the Winter Art Showcase for a few reasons.

Firstly, I freaking LOVE Second Life Christmas. Seriously…my house explodes into this crazy sparkling example of all things Christmas and I go NUTS hopping from one advent calendar shop to another. I hang around at all the Christmas and Winter Sims I can find and if there is a Christmas event, I will sleuth that thing out, throw on my gaudiest Christmas gear and party on like the happiest Christmas elf ever. I have a problem alright?

Secondly, you all know I am doing my postgraduate studies in online worlds. You’re totally over hearing about it…I get it. But here’s the thing…I am here because of those studies and it’s kind of important that I do some things that follow along the course of those studies and reveal aspects of reality within the world. So I wanted to be able to show what Christmas was like in the world through a series of posts and videos which is why I chose and event that covered all the bases. I chose to do the Winter Art Showcase as well because I had really wanted permission to be able to show an Art event as well as I know this is something that really confuses a lot of my academic peers.

Thirdly, I wanted to be able to give something back. Christmas is the season of giving and both Events I am covering have connections with really important charities, which undoubtedly, I will talk about in future posts as well. The Winter Showcase is affiliated with Team Diabetes in SL and The SL Christmas Expo is one of the largest fundraising events for Relay for Life. I can’t give a lot in the way of money, I am a poor art student after all, however I CAN give my time and my skills. And so, it is my honour and my privilege to be able to do so.

SL Christmas Expo - The Sleigh Ride Sim

What the heck am I wearing? (Pose)Elephante Poses ‘Tis Autumn (Hair)!Oleander – Billie, (Head) Akeruka Lulu, (Skin) Lara Hurley – Abby, (Makeup: TONE 2 triumph Eyes Palette, TONE 2 Shine on Lips Palette, (Top) Blueberry Minnie Winter Coat, (Jeans) Blueberry DWL Jeans, (Shoes) White River Co. Eventide booties,

Alrighty then, so where did I go with this particular VLOG/BLOG? I hopped on over to one of the SIX SL Christmas Expo Sims. Now this took me WAY longer than I thought it would in the editing so I am a little behind at this moment. There was a ridiculous amount of cutting and editing and I had some audio issues to do with my new set up where my Mic is next to my keyboard, so it picks up EVERYTHING. Every tap of my keys, every movement of my mouse…and it was LOUD. And as it was, I’d had to turn the gain right down in order not to get the sound of the very loud birds that were partying in the tree outside my window, so in the post processing, I had to boost the vocal volume of a thousand little cuts of audio. Ahhh the fun and games of editing video and audio.

But back to the SL Christmas Expo, the SLEIGH RIDE sim is the merchant Bazaar where you can find over 30 fine creators selling their wares. At the stalls you will find items that give back a certain percentage of the proceeds of sales going back to Relay for Life in order to raise money for cancer research. It’s a great place to go shopping for Christmas fashion, homewares, decorations, poses and all sorts of stuff. You will find a lot of great bargains and you can feel good about spending because really, you are GIVING!!! Aren’t you a wonderful person!!!

Come Sit With Me
Come Sit With Me…

What is going on in this picture? (Milk Motion) concrete house with piloti, Magnum Opus Sidetable, .:TM Creation:. Xmas C12 Tree Merry ChristmasLlama Inc. Candle TreeCleo Design Luna SofaSerenity Style- Mozart Spring TableAbsinthe and Others Candy Cane Martini GiverPurpleMoon – Set of Domes with lights & SnowmanDekute Dekor Christmas Player Piano NaturalLlama Inc. Photo Tree
What the heck are we wearing? He: (Hair) Stealthic Obscura, (Head) Akeruka Julian, (Body) Signature Gianni, (Top) Not So Bad TESEO sweater, (Jeans) {COLD-ASH} Mens Riley Boot-Style Jeans, {COLD-ASH} Mens MESH WOODCREEK BOOTS  She: (Hair)!Oleander – Billie, (Head) Akeruka Lulu, (Skin) Lara Hurley – Abby, (Makeup: TONE 2 triumph Eyes Palette, TONE 2 Shine on Lips Palette, (Top) Blueberry Minnie Winter Coat, (Jeans) Blueberry DWL Jeans, (Shoes) White River Co. Eventide booties

Some really important sites you need to connect to:
SL Christmas Expo Website and Blog
https://slchristmasexpo.com/
This will give you all the information you need to plan your trips to the expo. Check out all the events happening because there are so many you are bound to find something you like!
SL Christmas Expo Twitter
https://twitter.com/SLChristmasExpo
Some really important information about the cause
Kenyatta Patient Navigator

Slurls:
Sleigh Ride Sim https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Sleigh%20Ride/108/12/23
There are too many merchants to list here but if you head on over to their stalls at the merchant Bazaar, you should be able to find a LM giver to their shop from there!

A Day in the Second Life

I’m always interested in the sort of things people do with their days. I’m a bit of a reality voyeur and busybody like that. I actually had a list of things I wanted to do in SL today. But I think I only made it about halfway. Some days, that’s just how it seems to go in both my RL AND my SL.

The way I spend my days in SL are a bit different to how I used to spend them when I first started two years ago. I actually wrote a blog post at the beginning of last year, a few months after I first landed in world about the rhythm of days (1) that I will link you down below just in case you want to see what my days used to look like. I like looking back sometimes and seeing what I used to do and get up to. That girl who wrote that blog post a year and a half ago…she is in for some adventures! Some things changed during the past year and a half, but some stayed the same. For a start, I now know how to dress myself…although it may still take me just as long…

Which brings me to the first part of my day…getting dressed. Whenever I log out at night, I always get dressed into pyjamas, get into bed, set the windlight to midnight and THEN I log out. It’s just something I have done since I got my first place to call my own. My first place was actually an apartment (2).

view-from-front-door_001I remember it being quite cheap but I only had about 50 prims to play with. Luckily it came fully furnished and it had a control panel that allowed you to change the look of the apartment as well, which was great for me because at the time I had no furniture. So I mostly used that apartment for logging out and into as well as ..getting dressed and trying on clothes.

I have to admit, it takes me ages to get dressed, especially if I am getting ready to do a photo. Today, I’m getting ready to do a new photo in a series I have been doing every week. I’ve been documenting the SWAGGRAB clues every week (3,4). It’s just a good way of keeping me doing a photo regularly when I have been too busy in my Real Life to set up and do a lot of photos on various themes. So once I am in an outfit that isnt’ the same as any of the others I have used in previous photos ( and sometimes I have to actually look on my FLICKR page just to make sure) and its sort of appropriate for where I am going I will pull up the Teleport point and head on over.

The first thing I do when I am there is put on my gift grab HUD and grab the gift before scoping out the place. Now if you haven’t got the gifts from the previous 8 weeks, I am afraid you are out of luck because they are limited time only. The HUD was one of the things I got from the welcome area of SL15B when it was on and so it is also not available now. However, one of the things I really enjoy about this hunt is that I have visited so many places I never knew about and had some really fun experiences. I’m still trying to get through some of the games…oh who am I kidding…I’m stil trying to get through ALL of them..But they do keep me coming back time and again to these places that before this, I knew nothing about.

Once I have explored a bit, I find a spot to take a photo, usually pretty intuitively. And then the next part is all settings and Windlights, posing and camera angles.

Swag Grab Clue 9 A New Day
A New Dawn

Once I was done looking around and taking photos at the Swaggrab location, I thought I would check out a location that my friend, Wavie had set me on to. The owner of the Sim, Dema Fairport had contacted me as Wavie had told her I have an interest in libraries and art. So I headed over there to check it out and it was SO beautiful. I can’t even describe the wonder of this place. The landscaping is exquisite and there is a gorgeous view around every corner. The SLurl (5) for this is down below and I BEG you to go see it.

Before you go though, there are a couple of things you should know about the Athenaeum. Athenaeum is an artistic adult environment, focusing on the bdsm/kink friendly community. Now, I know that I don’t usually visit the sex sims in SL but watch the video and trust me…this place is GORGEOUS and tastefully done. You don’t have to be Rp’ing to be here, you don’t have to be about to get into the sexy times…but you DO have to be respectful and aware that some people WILL be.

On that note, you should also be aware that this is an ADULT RATED sim. As such, child avatars are not allowed and age play is also not allowed. Not only is this against the TOS, but also that is just common sense. Just as there are some places in RL that a child shouldn’t go, this is a place in SL that a child avatar should not be.

The Athenaeum is also home to the Carter/Johnson Leather Library in SL which is a RL library featuring the collective history of various communities who have chosen to live and love differently. There is a gorgeous café, places to sit and meditate and it is beautiful day or night. It is a place of quiet moments, inspirational views and cosy spots to think and smile. Bring your lovers or your friends or just come by yourself and take some time to enjoy the scenery. You should also check out their Flickr group for some truly captivating photos of the sim! (6)

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So that is what my day in SL looked like today. Photos and exploring. It’s a fairly typical day for me at the moment and takes probably a good 4 hours to do all that. Sometimes, like today, I don’t do it all at once, I just log in as I can during the day and do bits as pieces as my RL schedule allows. It’s rare these days that I will get a solid block of 4 hours to do everything all at once. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to, but I am happy with what I did get to do and well…that just leaves me more things to look forward to tomorrow.

The World is Full of Wonders
The World is Full of Wonders

Credits:
Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Hair: Magicka Fight Sleep
Jacket: //Ascend// Molly Jacket with Fur – Espresso
Jeans: Vinyl Halsey Smoker Bootcut Jeans
Shoes: !Aphorism! Brogue Boots

References:
1. Rhythm of Days Blog Post https://alisonjamesart.com/2017/04/11/my-avatar-my-self-and-the-rhythm-of-days/
2. My First Apartment Blog Post https://alisonjamesart.com/2017/02/15/my-first-apartment/
3. Swaggrab Location SLurl https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Volterra/144/215/21/
4. My Swaggrab Flickr Album https://flic.kr/s/aHsmijLM7o
5. Then Athenaeum SLurl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Athenaeum/13/176/25
6. Atheneaum Flickr group https://flic.kr/g/GaGqp
7. Dema Fairport’s (owner of Athenaeum) MP Store https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/52960