I've been wandering through a tiny slice of Second Life, which is vast world indeed. Many parts of it are astoundingly beautiful and well designed. Other parts reflect the maladies or obsessions of First Life, albeit amplified to strange heights.
I've been at Orientation Island for a while getting my legs. It's a tiny place designed to contain the initial experience with SL. Eventually I learned how to teleport, and found myself in Help Island where I practiced (terribly) at creating objects. Getting a bout of virtual cabin fever, I decided to teleport at random to another place: Atis. Now that was strange since the teleHub (the common point of entry) was in someone's house. Or, perhaps, that house was a nice way to conceal a public port of entry. Interesting. I wandered about the grounds and ran into a no-entry barrier that surrounds a property. It is invisible until one gets within 10 feet or so of it, and at that point, thin red lines appear on its surface. One cannot get past it. In my wanderings I saw another person round the corner. He approached and we talked. The fine gentleman is Pipp McKinney, associated with the templars group, friendly and generous, he invited me to his castle nearby and we then hung out on his boat. He briefed me on the tougher parts of SL: the slavers, the griefers, the ease of spending a lot of real money if one is not careful. He became my friend and I now have a place to stay in the GurlyWood district, of all places :-)
I finally met up with rowanf yesterday in her gardens, although when I teleported there my entry was met by multiple repulsar barriers. Since all the adjacent lands also had 'no entry' barriers established, my poor avatar was tossed to and fro in a Vitus Dance du Morte. Luckily I recalled reading somewhere in the introductory orientation material that one should fly straight up to get out of those kinds of tumbles. Looking down, I could see the area crisscrossed with the gossamer thin but impenetrable red-lined barriers. RosMairta kindly adjusted the force shields to admit me, and I joined her in her lovely gently dancing garden, sitting beside her on a picnic blanket. Conversing in SL is a lot like IM chatting, though it has less hurried qualities. Someday soon the chatting will be actual audio, but that's for another time. Rosmairta led me to her drumming circle, a beautiful arrangement of tablas, congas, and Djembes, and we played together for a while. These are smart drums with the ability to select several interlocking drumming patterns. Next we doffed our clothing and sunk into the steamy waters of the elegant hot tubs and we passed the time reminiscing. A while later, mr_kurt showed up and joined us. I let them catch up on their musings, then we all chatted for a while. Unfortunately I had some first life email to handle, so they bid me farewell having chosen to go to a 420 event. I really appreciated their generosity to let me visit their place as needed.
The next day I chose to strike off on my own again to travel through the world (albeit a teensy part of it since it is vast). Renaissance Island is a agreat place complete with free peasant clothes offerings. The Phat Kat Jazz club was great albeit a bit crowded. I was also a bit under dressed for that scene, so I wandered off to the Hobbit's store, which is sited in a tranquil place designed to encourage conversation. You get paid $L to sit in the tables and I picked up a free Celtic t-shirt. Nice.
I decided to look at the land for sale to see how the Linden dollar economy is doing. First, I found a small parcel of available land right next to Rosmairta's garden. It is a gently sloping grassy area, probably cleaned up by the surrounding land owners to become a park like setting with a few Narnia lamps and trees. It is lovely and I might consider buying it. It could be a great place to tether the DragonsFlight zeppelin, once I create it. I opened the map HUD to view the surrounding landscape, and I then teleported to the larger for-sale properties. I was surprised to find many of those places are abandoned improved lots with operational but otherwise empty buildings. It's spooky to see the same pattern of failed businesses, vandalized structures, people wandering aimlessly through them. I soon realized the landless need someplace to go to stay out of trouble. Yes, trouble can find you in SL if you're in the open (more on that later).
After completing my tour of available lands, I decided to go to some events. SL has many event spots ranging from educational to downright fun/party, so my wanderings took me into the Pharos Lighthouse, a huge casino and dance palace complete with expensive art, products, and services. I chose the free route and danced with fellow avatars, listened to the hot disco beat. One fringe benefit of the place is that the pads pay you to dance. I'll have to visit the place when its jammed with people, though I'll have to glitter up first.
The sun set and it was getting dark, so I returned to an empty corner of Rosmairta's and Scarlotti's land to find a quiet place to sort through my inventory and get it organized. Since it was dark, I took out a torch I copied someplace else and set it down next to me for illumination and for practice. The torch instantly popped back into my lost&found inventory folder. I forgot their land (and nowadays, most lands) have auto-return objects enabled. So, I flew over to the vacant land and discovered I could leave objects on it. I practiced adjusting the shape and textures, and then I reivewed the animation scripts and the cool particle generator which animates the flame and smoke. It is remarkably compact.
I usually leave the minimap display HUD up because it alerts me to nearby people. as I was engrossed with the object building practice, I did not notice the guy approach; he was dressed in fatigues, desert patterning, holding an assault rifle. He asked "what are you doing in the woods alone?" I responded "nothing much just relaxing. What are you doing here?" "Looking for Taleban. Where are you hiding Al Queda?" Crap, a griefer. Next thing I know he switches off the safety on his rifle and say "We'll have to take you to Gitmo". Thankfully, I was sitting down, which in SL prevents anyone from 'pushing' or shooting you all over the map. I had just enough time to mute him and then teleport directly to Rosmairta's garden safe from his harrassment. From that safe vantage, I watched the mini-map waiting for him to depart. Afterward I went back to the vacant land to pick up the objects I left behind. It's a rude act in SL to litter a place with prims.
So Rowan, Kurt, Thank You!!!! Many hugs