Waking the Sleeping Integer … 16

Ch. 16 ~ A little bit of history repeating

“Hey, man…”

You could just about hear the laughter in Lucy’s voice, but she wasn’t laughing.  She was born with a smile in her eye that trickled down into her throat and set into motion a rolling-swaying kind of lumber to her upper body that, well, rolled and swayed and lumbered ever so slightly as she sat cross-legged on the ground.  She had flowers in her hair, Lucy did.  That’s right.  In.  Her.  Hair.  In fact, she had Flowers Everywhere.  Not to mention Diamonds in her Kaleidoscope Eyes.   And all of this made Lucy smile even more deeply than her non-photorealistic skin caused her to do.  Because all of this reminded Lucy that she could be or do or create anything she wanted to, anything at all.  She almost wished someone would alt-click onto her face so she could flash her pearly whites and reflect to the outside inworld what Lucy felt so deeply within her inside outer world being.

Everything this fine day was so absolutely “Groovy,” Lucy breathed into the universe.   Heck, that was true every day because Lucy was one of the very first few adventurous souls to enter into and live and be in this Brave New Inworld.  In fact, the Bleeding Edge Gridworld that Lucy found herself in was *the* very first of the Brave New Inworlds that would be born over the next dozen or more years like so many stars scattered across the universe back to the beginning of time.  But that was later.  Billions and Billions of years and stars later, as the saying would kind of go.   As for now, in the beginnings, the stars and universes that busied themselves with being born were digital, and this First of all Inworlds constituted the precise time and place for the rezzing of Lucy Galaxy, who usually spent all of that precise time and place inworld in this Brave New Frontier flying unassisted in the sky because – “WOW!,” she’d laugh and yell as she pulled her arms into her sides and lifted her chin, using her head to propel her body through the heavens, “where ELSE can you do this!”

But for now, for today, Lucy had parked her tuckus on Gaia’s Good Green or even Technocolor Grid and sat down for a sit-in with some like-minded early-adopter souls.  Today, the metaverse mood and culture was all Peace, Love, and of course, Freebies.  Well, not only today, but every day.  Because that was the way of this world.  Except when it suddenly wasn’t, but that critical juncture — and it was highly critical in every sense of the word — happened later.  As for this present moment, well, Lucy swayed and rolled and smiled so brightly her Freebie Warehouse “Diamond-Iris Purple Sunrise Kaleidoscope Eyes” sparkled and dazzled nearly as blindingly as the most popular of all the freebie facelights.  She knew this to be the case because TimothyLeary Writer, HunterThompson Gestalt, and GloriaSteinem Bunny each nodded their heads in appreciation while they too sat in on this sit in, pointed their fingers in the general direction of Lucy’s eyes, and muttered in a long cool drawl of near Valley Avatar speak, “whoaaa…blindingly cool, man.  Mind blowing righteousness.”

Maybe it was Lucy’s eyes they admired.  Or maybe it was the Flower Particle Shower that enveloped their little sit in.  Suddenly, there were more flowers in her hair.  More flowers everywhere.  Someone had set the particle show off for no other reason than they could.  It was probably that HunterThompson fellow, Lucy decided.  He made manifest the coin of the realm in the early days of this Brave New World, and that coin of the realm was simply Imagination.  Everything that happened there, happened because it could.  Un-hindered.  Un-judged.  Un-classified.  Un-categorized.  Un-navel gazed.  It existed because it existed.  It was the best aspect of the cult of Rand, minus the Rand Vaccuum made up entirely of an unmitigated self-absorption:  because it was only Rand’s perspective and Rand’s alone that was declared “truth.”   (Just ask her jilted lover who she had banished from the Inner Rand Truth Circle to an Intellectual Siberia soley because his particular perspective of freedom and truth included cheating on her when her particular perspective of “universal” freedom and truth came with several caveats, chief among them his particular freedom to act on all of his perspectives…including cheating on her.)  The truth of the matter was that everything was because it was but also that everything was interconnected.   And that made everything basically free, so that imagination wasn’t forced to torque itself into the unimagined consequences of supply and demand, consequences that so often eventually crashed every party.  This party proved to be no different.  But that was later.

As for now, for today, Lucy giggled.  She was actually breathing, but she didn’t know how to breathe without a lilt of a laugh, which had the effect of making her sound like she was perpetually giggling.  Her tonsils danced with the air bubbles lifting the Flower particles around her head.   “I love the flowers,” she laughed.  And on a rolling, swaying, lumbering whim, she passed some Inworld Currency Love over to that HunterThompson fellow as a kind of a thank-you gesture for the particle show.

“Gonzo!” he muttered in surprise.

“And what’s so horrible about ‘Gonza’,” GloriaSteinem asked the air precisely.  Precisely, because she rarely let her hair down…even as a Bunny.  And the Air because not many paid much attention to her initially.  They just liked looking at her pretty face and figure.

“Lucy, man…”

“Uh, Lucy would be a ‘woman’, Hunter.  Hear her roar…but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself,” Gloria drew each word out carefully.

“Lucy, chick…” Hunter slurred a bit relunctantly.  Taking direction just wasn’t his bag but that weird Bunny chick over there scared the crap out of him.  She talked too much for a pretty girl, and she still had her top on.  How weird was she.   “You dropped some money on my head.   Do you know…” he paused, suddenly listening to a diatribe in his mind “…the Fat Cat on the bill talks?  He keeps saying ‘catnip!  catnip!'”

“Well, stop sitting there letting the Fat Cat get up in your grill, Hunter,” TimothyLeary said, “and whip out the catnip!”

And so HunterThompson did, and everyone in their little sit-in and eveyrone nearby shared in the catnip until everyone got positively spazzy.  And when they ran out of catnip, everyone dropped more Inworld Currency Love on HunterThompson’s head until the Fat Cat in his mind barked “catnip! catnip!”, and then they would all have catnip again in spades.  And Lucy giggled and Gloria nearly tore off her top but started with her bra instead and burned it in the fire while her perky little mounds dangled and bounced precisely in the air and everybody cheered until the cheering morphed into a breathy moaning from a sudden orgy that everyone writhed themselves into and all was good Inworld.

Until it wasn’t.

Another revolution aside from the sex and drug revolution was tangled in the air right under their very noses.  TimothyLeary wasn’t as stoned as he looked to be.  He possessed a calculating mind that one.  Even when he found himself in positions that involved other people’s thighs being wrapped around his head, he constantly crunched the numbers of opportunity.  He knew when to sit-in and when to drop out, and he was soon about to drop out yet again but this time into the edges of the culture’s new margins.  How can you be an iconoclast when you suddenly find yourself doing what everyone else is doing, he reasoned.  At this point, mounds of people inworld dropped in and dropped out and soon found themselves with multiple pairs of thighs wrapped around their heads.  Sure, Lucy, Hunter, Gloria and he may have been one of the very first ones to define the Inworld Anti-Establishment Movement but as soon as the Anti-Establishment Movement went Mainstream, well then, TimothyLeary figured, all bets were off.  Because at that point the only sure bet was that the Anti-Establishment Movement had just become the New Establishment.  And that bummed his head, because if nothing else, TimothyLeary was all about fighting The Man.  On that, the Intellectual Bunny and he agreed.   TimothyLeary just went about fighting The Man in his own way; that was the only difference (if you could really call even that a difference).  So, now feeling the weight of the New Establishment bearing down on his shoulders and his back at every twist and turn (with most of that New Establishment wearing temporary tattoos of brightly colored flowers along the legs), TimothyLeary watched with great interest as hordes of people wound themselves into a tizzy of dropping Inworld Currency Love on HunterThompson’s head, the poor wretch.  Hunter was on an unusually aggressive trip and didn’t have a clue what was going on.  Half the time, he unwittingly gave the money back, all the while shrieking “Gonzo!  Damned Fat Cat!” and swatting furiously at it.  This only encouraged the hordes to drop even more money on his head until, exhausted from flailing about at the Damned Talking Fat Cat, he finally gave up and accepted it.  And then there was once again “Catnip! Catnip!” for all.

“So this is free…”  TimothyLeary muttered at the edge of his consciousness.  He expanded his mind even more, crunching the opportunity until it took shape.  “The freedom to give money in exchange…for something even if it wasn’t much of anything really.  What a concept!  A concept not currently mainstream.  So, this was the New Anti-Establishment Movement.  Fight the Freebie Man!”  And so was born the New Anti-Establishment Movement, ushered forth just as rapidly by Leary.

“Hey, man,” he said now in a stronger voice that weaved its way through the throngs of limbs writhing around his head.  “Who loves this groovy good Gaia land that gives us this wild orgy, man?”  (Cleverly avoiding the fact that the land had nothing to do with generating the wild orgy, but it was belief systems Leary addressed, not fact.)

“I love this groovy good Gaia land, man,” Lucy giggled up through a tangle of interwoven arms and legs.

“Hey man, me too, man!”  “Yeah man!” a chorus erupted.

And then all at once the owners of all those voices began to alt-click on the parcel, dropping mounds of Inworld Currency Love into the account of the land owner:  one TimothyLeary Writer…who also claimed a percentage — call it the top 1 percent — on every bit of currency the thrashing HunterThompson realized in exchange for his catnip, cleverly avoiding the fact that Leary had absolutely nothing to do with generating the catnip and HunterThompson was in no state of mind in those moments to even realize much less bring up this point.

It didn’t take long for word to travel far and wide, with all the juicy details of the Free Love and Free Sex on TimothyLeary’s property (not to mention the Free Catnip).  Droves of folks from all cultures and all backgrounds flocked to the grid, mainly out of curiousity to turn on, tune in and drop out on Leary’s parcel, where they pursued all things Free:  free love, free sex, free catnip!  At least they thought they were in pursuit of all things free, because on Leary’s property, “free” was theirs only when they freely parted with their Inworld Currency, something Leary called “Thanks-Giving.”  The key was “Freely” parting — at least in the beginning — because of course it was an individual choice, and the “Thanks-Giving” was any amount the partiers wanted to give.  But very soon from that point forward, TimothyLeary took it upon himself to declare his first incarnation as a freedom loving hippy as “dead and over.”  Instead, he now fully personified this updated incarnation of TimothyLeary the Capitalist (otherwise known as TimothyLeary the 1 Percent, because who else had landed on this incredible idea of his to make hordes of money from virtually nothing!).   Sure, he continued to rail against the current Establishment, only now he railed against the New Establishment — the Freebie Man — that he himself had had a major hand in creating!  And he fought the Good Fight by creating a fixed-price entrance fee that he attached to the Pursuit of All Things Free as well as to all of its soon to be endless lines of merchandise:  fixed-priced Free Love tshirts, fixed-price Free Sex hot pants, fixed-price Free Catnip bongs, you name it.  Even Free Land that initially sold for just pennies on the inworld currency but rapidly became priced increasingly higher with each flip from one seller to the next and all because of the ever addictive TimothyLeary hype.  Free Hot Potato!  Just throw the word Free in front of it and attach a price.  Because how better to fight the Establishment than by redefining the institution and redefining its language.  Free now meant that it came at a cost…yes, so low that it was just about free, but far enough above zero that it was, in fact, a price.  Leary’s “Thanks-Giving” surcharge started out as 1 dollar here, then 5 dollars there, then 50 dollars just about everywhere before things went chaotic and the prices on all the items varied based on some value of “Thanks” that Leary felt justified in requiring the partiers to give to him, the host of these increasingly popular and heavily attended soirees.  And all because he could…because the hordes paid without question.

Then one day, a moment of clarity not only emerged but also seeped into HunterThompson’s pores and he sweated out a question.  He asked in a voice muffled by GloriaSteinem’s flower-covered inked upper hips, “Hey man…how loaded are you now, Damned Fat Cat Leary!”  With that question, HunterThompson, just as much a king of altered states as TimothyLeary, dropped what amounted to the most rational of all possible buzz kills, because out of all the gonzos uttered by the man, the question of TimothyLeary’s new-found wealth was the one thing that actually registered with people and that they actually took seriously.

There was an unmistakable lull among the hordes of partiers.  They held their collective breaths in wait of an answer.  Each set of eyes stared at TimothyLeary through the veil of entwined limbs and flesh.  (Don’t ask what their hands were doing.)

He wasn’t about to wiggle out of this one and he knew it.

“Um…” he hemmed and hawed.  But he was a fast thinker and stuck to what he knew.  Everything was all about fighting the Establishment, whatever the particular Establishment de Jour was.  Even if he, himself, had created it, dammit.  That irony hadn’t escaped him.  And yet.  …he thrust a finger at the Good Gaia Grid.  He wailed and cried, “Do you have ANY idea how robbed blind I am by Governor Rand!?  She demands everything I own and everything that I possess because EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS ALL her SET OF RULES!”  His perspective, his truth…so it must have been real, eh?  Hell, yeah.

“Freedom!” someone yelled.

“Yeah, yeah,” Leary rebounded.  “Freedom that is being terrorized by the Governor’s rules of what freedom is and should be!  Who is the GOVERNOR to dictate what freedom is and isn’t, what is owed to her by others, I ask you!  Think for yourself and challenge authority…even Randian authority that masquerades as freedom!”

“FREEDOM,” HunterThompson echoed, then half tripping added, “FREEDOM FROM THE GOVERNMENT!”  And TimothyLeary’s eyes lit up like the fiery end of HunterThompson’s ever-present cigarette.  “Psychedelic, baby,” was all that he said, and he watched as the horde’s hallucinogenic fervor shaped the New New Anti-Establishment Movement:  Fighting the NEW Man – Fighting the Governor!”

“Gonzo!  Fight those Damned Fat Cats along with it!” HunterThompson crackled and continued to flail at the air.  Unfortunately, far too many took this far too literally.

Flower particles and orgies gave way with alarming ease to griefing attacks and demonstrations, class and identity wars at every level of the culture and subcultures.  Where once there had been cats and dogs living together, now Nekos and Kitsunes savaged each other’s appearances and belief systems.  Immersionists and Augmentalists carved out diametrically opposed viewpoints and attacked the other’s position with lazer tipped tongues.  Scientists and Spiritualists clashed over the strength of that which could be measured versus the power over all of that which was yet to be learned.  Prepsters and Stylists reemerged from their long slumber and Freebie Warehouse gluttony and networking to issue directives on everything from how to dress, how to speak, what colors to wear, what shape to own, what form to be, what friends to have, what skin to buy to what stores to frequent.   The meaning of Nudity — once a source of celebration and expression — turned itself inside out and became a source of shame and embarrassment.  GloriaSteinem rediscovered not only the bra but a seamless padded corset stuffed with enough material to just about pulverize any evidence of a nipple or a navel.  Child avatars were admonished while bratty behavior in the blogosphere was exonerated just so long as the brattiness came from an adult avatar.  There was a run on the grid with increasingly vocal demands from the community that the Governor provide access to land in a way that was Fast, Easy, Fun…which translated into premium parcels for cheap, cheap, cheap, with those prices skyrocketing as the parcels were flipped at a manic pace and traded hands between all the fully-organized inworld real estate developers.  In no short order, the new social order flirted with intolerance, which resulted in anything “different” being plucked from the masses and quarantined into a grid all of its own complete with iron-clad rules for entry.  And strip malls popped up everywhere.  Soon, the Inworld feast for imagination kept its meal ticket stridently clean by flirting dangerously closely with Thought Control and by refusing to mix peas with carrots or carrots with potatoes and gravy or patotoes and gravy with meat.  And still the tide of chaotic Mainstream couldn’t be held back.  Before long with prices on everything from parcels to freebie items skyrocketing and a widespread drought in terms of parties interested in those things, panic spread throughout the grid, content creators closed up shops, markets collapsed, parcels sat barren and empty, differing viewpoints were stifled, hell, if there had been books inworld they would have been burned, moles in the Governor’s employ felt the blade of the unemployment axe and on and on and on.  The cry went out for Authentification.  Unleashed was the fight for getting rid of the ridiculousness of all of this free imagination crap when there existed plain as day the lunacy of the vapor markets in the atomic world! (And does anyone still expect others to believe that Inworld is somehow any more “unreal” than something like the global market meltdown of the atomic world? Please.)  Because who would take imagination seriously without monetization, the new hip buzzword, come on!  Even vapor monetization!  Avatars began shouting for customers!, partiers!, buyers!, employers!, jobs! jobs! jobs!, currency! currency! currency!  The right to flip!  They marched along the routes of the forums and the blogosphere, protesting the greed of the top 1 percent, the very group founded by TimothyLeary who had lit this chaos-nomic frenzy firepit of overpriced hype and who had benefitted from it at the top of every successive wave ridden to the hilt by what seemed to be an endless stream of starry-eyed entrepreneurs who chased the monetizing pyramid scheme.

Until the stream chasing that scheme proved itself not to be endless.  Because suddenly it wasn’t. 

It was then that Lucy pulled her head up to breathe.  She stared at the sky, all awash in windlight.  She flopped her arms slowly out from the tangle of bodies and laid them to rest quietly on either one set of legs, or legs from two or more avatars, she wasn’t entirely sure which.  It was difficult to see where it all began and where it all ended…if in fact it ever did. 

“Like a big ole plate of spaghetti,” Lucy laughed softly to no one in particular. 

The mound of tangled, entwined bodies rippled slightly.  HunterThompson turned first an ear toward Lucy’s statement then his eyes.  He watched in fascination as the Damned Fat Cat tap-danced along each strand of spaghetti, spraying meatballs and sauce everywhere, startling HunterThompson and annoying the china plate no end, which quickly grabbed a fork and pointed it in an ominous manner at the Damned Fat Cat, demanding that the dancing feline guzzle a liter of wine.

Hunter blinked through the sauce and shouted at the spaghetti, “Resist conformity!  Fight the Damned Fat Cat!”, then immediately dueled with the fork-weilding plate by waving his cigarette furiously at it.

“Hey, man,” Lucy Galaxy giggled, not because she was laughing but because she was born with a smile in her eye that trickled down into her throat and set into motion a rolling-swaying kind of lumber to her upper body that, well, rolled and swayed and lumbered ever so slightly as she lay sprawled and entwined with multiple bodies heaped onto each other across the parcel on Gaia’s Good Technicolor Grid.  “That is sommmmeeeee Damned Fat Catnip!  I just took the most wild trip…that you just wouldn’t believe,” she laughed and this time she did indeed laugh because she was so relieved to see flowers and orgies everywhere and GloriaSteinem’s bra still burning.

“Had to have been hell if the Damned Fat Cat was involved,” HunterThompson growled and swirled the tip of his burning cigarette wildly in the air.

Lucy nodded, her sparkling Freebie Warehouse “Diamond-Iris Purple Sunrise Kaleidoscope Eyes” shining.  “You just wouldn’t believe it…even if I could describe it.  You just wouldn’t…” she muttered, shaking the memory from her head, “You just can’t make this stuff up…”

But then again, maybe it all could be believed.  Because after all “…fiction often makes the best fact” ~ Hunter S. Thompson. 

Gonzo!

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 3,650. Total wordcount to date: 44,470 of 50,000 (not including any of this notation). Yes, I intend to hit the 50,000 word count if it takes me one year to do it.

Reflections (literally) on Giants Within

Over the past several months, I’ve read a fashion weblogger I really admire rave about Kirstens viewer.  I became curious so I installed it, tried it a couple of times only to find that for some reason I kept crashing every time I tried to log in.  I tried it again today, hoping I wouldn’t crash and that I could take my usual several hours to set up for a photo session of wonderful new items that Tiffy Vella, creator of Eclectica Jewellery, dropped to me.  Happily, I didn’t crash when I logged in, but I was very much Ruth’d … Glow Ruth, not the Original Ruth, who despite the awkward appearance would be kinda fun to see again on occasion.  (You know, nostalgia and all!)  So, I relogged — hoping I would un-Ruth — but I didn’t.  So then I teleported thinking maybe that would do the trick.  Nope…still all aglow, but the sun and the shadows, which I understand V2 has as well, made for an interesting effect.  Take a look…just me, Glow Me, and my reflection:


Giants within…on multiple levels (even for our avatars) and even in all worlds it would appear.  Very fun, very much fun indeed!

Speaking of Amazing Giants…Happy Father’s Day!!

In search of Picasso

In the process of moving sliders to see how strongly I identify with a particular shape and face (and I really do), I began to push the facial sliders along the extreme.  Not so much to challenge my sense of identity, but I suddenly wondered if I could approximate a portrait that mimmicked Picasso’s signature “full face and profile” portraits.  Here’s my first attempt:

I think it’s not possible to mimmick Picasso’s full face and portrait technique fully inworld.  Even the extremely loose approximation shown above was tricky to achieve.  The other thing I noticed is that even with exaggerated slider positions, the world really is quite hardwired for conventional notions of beauty.

SL Wiki wow … on inworld photography

I’ve not really explored the SL wiki much.  But I’ve learned a bit more about SL’s wiki from v very wonderful Dale who posted his awesome continent detector script to the SL wikiDale’s script is really a wonderful creation that gives you a sense of place every time you teleport.  Upon landing, I immediately look to see the script identify the continent I’m in, and from that I have developed a larger sense of the overall context of the grid…which really is a very fun thing.

So as I think about taking more fashion photos — this time, items from the Fantasy Faire, which I confess is my favorite annual fair in all honesy — I searched SL’s wiki for advice on taking quality photos.  In four years of taking inworld photos, I can see that I’ve developed more technique than I originally possessed.  But I know there remains so very much I still don’t know about taking quality photos…either in raw format or in post-processing.  One thing in particular that has vexed me and vexed me mightily for four years is the whole issue of removing jagged lines that invariably show up when I model clothes and snap my picture.  Typically, I’ve made all the attempts to correct the jagged lines in photoshop:  painstakingly run a blur on a small soft brush along every edge, tried to teach myself various airbrushing techniques, tried to learn and use various actions, tried some kind of liquid tool to move sharp lines.  Each time, I was never quite satisfied with the result.  And each time, I was frustrated because I have always had a pretty decent graphics card…true, it burned out a couple of months ago, but I since purchased a very new and pretty darn powerful graphics card.  So again, I have found myself muttering:  “Why do these dang jagged edges keep dogging me!”

Torley’s SL wiki post on taking snaphots finally solves the problem!  His section on “Turning on antialiasing and antrostrophic filtering” (about half way down his entry) proved to hold the key.  I knew about turning those things on inworld with the graphics setting.  What I didn’t know was that I could turn them on and change the setting on my actual NVIDIA driver.  After following the steps Torley lists, the jagged edges in my photos are gone.  Exhibit A:  a photo of an outfit and skin from the Fantasy Faire, details forthcoming in the series of posts I have planned on the Fantasy Faire.

I mean just that simple.  Wow.  You have no idea how very long I’ve been trying to figure that out…well…4-1/2 years now.  Long process with that, you say?  Perhaps.  It’s not exactly intuitive.  So utterly tenacious, well, you can count on that.

All I can say is thank you to the generous, talented individuals in the SL community who share their talents and knowledge in all kinds of ways — including via the SL wiki — so that others can benefit from their knowledge and hope to learn too.  My goodness.  Thank you.

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 14

Ch 14 ~ The World on a (Wireless) String

Today was the day.  Megan just about catapulted out of bed a full half hour early, beating out the morning ritual of her smart phone sounding the alarm.  A quick 15 minutes later, after attending to the matters of personal hygiene, and Megan carefully yanked her outfit off of the hangar in the closet — where the frock had hovered in a holding pattern in patient anticipation of this very day when it would finally drape across Megan’s body, step outside into the world, and see the very bright light of this very bright day.  And how was this day bright, Megan confirmed in her mind.  The possibilities for her future nearly blinded her, but she didn’t shield her eyes or any part of herself from those possibilities.  Instead, Megan was fully jacked into and jazzed up about the path that lay before her because today was the first day of the future:  a final interview awaited, one for that coveted position with that high flying company doing that way-cool jazzed-out thing that the market just loved loved loved…which sure beat doing things the market just loathed to pieces.  Especially in these times.  The economy sucked rocks for the past two years — didn’t it know it should shape up because Megan was finishing her last year in grad school? — and the economy outright sucked boulders now since she hit the job market half-a-year ago.  But all of that was about to turn around.  By God…if not by Wall Street.  Who the hell could count on Wall Street except for Wall Street anyway?  (I’m sorry, but that’s precisely what Megan thought…no point in trying to sugar coat it.)   Because on a wing and a prayer — in this rocking slick suit that Megan wore close to the vest finished off with her skirt and its back pocket that she slid her smart phone into close to her hips —  today was the day that Megan cracked the world wide open, started her future and claimed permanent residency on Cloud Nine.

She strutted her stuff, professionally appointed suit and all — a crisp navy blue jacket paired with a white shirt, a patterned shock of scarf inked in neon red, and a tightly fitted skirt — out of the house and forward along the sidewalk to her car.  She was in motion.  Forward motion, baby.  Her hips swung, her tooshie bounced.  And yes.  All at once.   Entire worlds rocked and swayed and moved.

The screen flickered to life just as Megan entered her all terrain vehicle, painted in an Electric Shock Yellow hue.  Somehow the color was appropriate.  Sure, it was bold, but it suit her.  She had washed the vehicle and vacuumed it and put a shine to every inch of its detail.  No one would care or know that the rugged earthy bit of machinery was incredibly reliable even if out of warranty.  Megan still babied it like it had just been driven off the lot, and it gleamed extra bright today.  All anyone would see was the blinding sun of her wheels, the blinding sun of her personality and talent, the blinding sun of her brilliant career. 

Look out World, here she came.  Literally.  She arrived at precisely the same time as she had plopped her plump rounded tooshie onto the upholstered driver’s seat.  She came or the World came — it was difficult to say which came first — but there the World was, and in it, so was Megan. 

Except the base of her spine wasn’t so much fleshy anymore.  Not that this was all about her backside, but the fact of the matter was Megan was flying by the seat of her, well, skirt, in this instance.  But in this world, her skirt was more like a shredded loincloth and her backside was so chiseled you might as well pick your handholds and foodholds and climb up it.  Above her rather unforgiving thighs and wrapped tightly around a waist that just about taunted for a fight, Megan wore a thick, weathered belt that carried an assortment of cruel weapons.  She hardly needed any of them by the size of her hands and arms and upper body, all of which was punctuated off by torn elven ears and the low-rumbling scowl that rode the tail of a firery cresting mohawk.  Body poised and flexed for something not yet visible, she stood in watchful wait for a problem that every one of the massive fibers in her body told her was about to erupt into this World.   And then it did.  Because life was filled with challenges and the life of an Orc was no exception.

“Can you move it along!” she barked at the long sea of traffic that snaked before her eyes.  As if to emphasize the point, she leaned forward enough to just about smother the steering wheel with her breasts and barked into her front window for a second time.  Megan was usually cool as a cucumber but she just *hated* being late and this unexpected mob of vehicles was about to seriously take the shine off of her day. 

“ARRCKKK!” the Orc boomed incomprehensibly before catapulting onto the mass of bodies that formed around the front grounds of the fortress.  

“Outta my way!” she yelled before swerving wildly across three lanes of traffic, just barely threading the open spaces within a hair of her life and that of everyone around her.

A giant ladder arched itself up into the sky and wound itself up into the air, as if biding its time before it landed on the turrent of the fortress keep.  The Ocr lunged wildly forward and clutched at a rung, then swung her powerful body heavily forward and around until her clawed feet and treetrunk legs fixed themselves onto the handholds.  She clutched a jagged knife between her foul teeth and leaned forward in an impatient wait that gathered in thick darkness for the chance to mow over anything that got in her way.

“HEY!!  Loser!  Where did you learn how to drive!!”  She tore the words out from over her shoulder and flung them at the driver of a semi that came barrelling down the ramp. 

Hurling herself off of the ladder, the Orc suddenly ripped the knife from between her teeth and lashed out wildly in the air at anything within arm’s length until she crashed with a punishing thud on top of the turrent and rolled onto the floor of the stone walkway.  Miraculously, no one was hurt.  

Heart pounding and she was certain her eyes flaring, Megan floored the pedal with barely a second to cut in front of the speeding truck before she launched her all terrain vehicle and her highly aggitated self onto the exit ramp.

It was a wild, bumpy chaotic ride from the highway to the side roads but somehow at last, Megan’s vehicle screeched into a stall in the parking lot of the high-flying company that did all the latest things that the market just loved loved loved.  As she manuveured the vehicle, her body rocked side to side until she slammed on the brakes.  A beep and a whoosh eminated from her smart phone through the tightly woven fabric of a skirt that threatened to suck her hips in down to the tops of her kneecaps.  She made a mental note to check the device later.  But for now, she kept it tucked securely in her back pocket, she smoothed her face, caught her breath, grabbed her portfolio, and dashed out of her all terrain vehicle to leap across the parking lot to the building.

Furry Rabbits dashed incredibly gracefully, even when they wear stiletto heels.  Ears fluffed back, eyes peeled open, and her nostrils whiskering the air, this Furry Rabbit like all Furry Rabbits stayed alert at all times and mapped out a route before one even made itself known.  Like the path of least resistance to the building.  Megan’s gaze locked onto the set of revolving doors that made for the fastest route into the all-glass and steel facility, then with her eyes, she mentally outlined the full length of the path as it passed the main and guarded entry desk and into the bank of elevators.  She scampered lightening fast across the clearing and into the safety of the pumpkin patch where she burrowed clear into the thicket.  Satisfied, she blinked her big almond shaped eyes and with her furry paw smoothed the tufts of hair around her eyebrows.  And then she sighed a sigh of calm because now — tucked into the back of one of the elevators behind a thicket of professional type people — Megan had smoothed the near panic of the morning commute out of her hair and face.  She was well on her way to retrieve the carrot of a brilliant career with the added bonus that she could bank on arriving a pleasingly 10 minutes early for an interview for a new job that was going to launch it all.

“Good morning, how are you?  Megan Than here for a 9:00 interview.” 

“Good morning to you too, Megan.  Have a seat please.  I’ll let them know you are here.  And good luck, by the way.”  The receptionist smiled.  It was a warm smile but it didn’t promise anything…like insider knowledge about the interview process.  Still, Megan took it as a good sign that the receptionist wasn’t aloof.  She returned the smile with the best Miss Congeniality expression that she could muster up as naturally as possible given that she was so incredibly excited that her energy flirted with nervous disaster, and after she thanked the receptionist, she quietly yet with a pleasing amount of self-assurance claimed the center chair in the waiting area.  When she sat, another beep and a whoosh sounded from the back pocket of her skirt but had barely registered in her mind.  Yet like all of the times before this time, the beep and the whoosh had occurred even if Megan hadn’t acknowledged it.  But, how could she at this moment?  The competition that began to file into the waiting area was thick and openly threw daggers at her.  The thing is though that Megan would have none of their negativity.  She was too excited.  Because my God…here she was!  Well, really…it was really more along the lines of:

“Anddddd here she is!  Miss Virtual World of the Metaverse!”  Impossibly long, impossibly gorgeous, impossibly sexy with all of her features impossibly refined and beautiful, and her mouth impossibly drawn in the most emphatic expression of confidence that anyone could ever dream of mustering.  Yet Megan managed to muster it even beyond the extraordinary because the competition had challenged her to a deathmatch stare down.  Nostrils pinched to the extreme and lips drawn so full yet so fiercely clamped together, it was a wonder they could even breathe.  Stare down or no stare down, Megan had won and won clearly, so inhale all of the regalia of her beauty contest royalty she did.  She smoldered in her gown as she glided down the catwalk.  She set the world on fire with her Editorial Hairstyle and her layers of baubles around her neck that draped in worship on her curved back. She commanded the center of all attention, Megan did…even in the center chair of the waiting area where she suddenly dialed back the ramped up self assurance and lifted the corners of her mouth into a smile that broke the polished veneer away and that was delivered warmly to the Interviewer.

Gosh but this interview went fast.  From the time they sat down in the conference room (where another beep and a whoosh echoed distantly down her ear canal) to the time when the Interviewer wrapped things up, it turned out they had talked for a couple of hours.  And in that time, Megan stepped fully into herself and emerged as a masterful artist.  She painted a very clear picture of the value she could provide to the company.  Painstakingly yet with a real enthusiasm, she described every detail of how she could create worthwhile solutions that the company hadn’t yet envisioned.  She presented and examined the Muse within the torus and the sphere, the cone and the prim, all the basic building blocks for creation.  She demonstrated the language of building:  the stretching and rotating, texturing and coloring, flexible paths and glow, hollowing and twisting.  She laid out the heart of creation whereby piece by piece, link by joined link, she built an expansive vision for creating an environment that nurtured imagination, for encouraging the unbounded exploration of creativity, for fostering the realization of outright innovation as the aim.  At last her ideas encouraged a conversation and their exchange of ideas and views reached a point of mutual understanding, mutually envisioned potential.  Then when Megan asked if she could describe anything in more detail or answer any other questions, all that she heard was:  “Welcome aboard.  When can you start?”

She smiled in that electric shock yellow all terrain vehicle for quite a while before she revved the engine.  She relived the conversation — especially the part of the job offer — and just about did back flips.  Her mind threw a tiny party, delivered on the wings of a euphoria complete with particles and dancing.  My God she was hungry after such a coupe!   So hungry and elated, in fact, that she finally managed to pull her mind out of her reverie.  Either that, or the incessant beep and whoosh finally tugged Megan by her chin and forcibly drew her attention to her smart phone.  She yanked it out of her back pocket.  She stared at it. 

“Oh my goodnees,” she laughed.  She rolled her head back onto the headrest and kept it there for a few seconds while she snorted at herself.  At last, she rejoined her chin to her chest and gazed again at the image on the screen of her smart phone. 

“So much for butt dialing,” she smirked out loud.  “Looks like now I’m butt logging into virtual worlds.”  She shook her head and smiled.  “I always enjoy being a tiny.  They are fun.  hmmmm though…I do wonder what else I was this morning…”

And with that, she leaned forward and tumbled the keys in the ignition.  She suddenly had a hankering to find the biggest stack of waffles out there in the worlds.  Because without question today was the day for it.

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 2,410.  Total wordcount to date:  37,700 of 50,000 (not including this notation).

By all appearances

Botgirl’s recent post about Gracie Kendall’s 1000 avatar project presents Gracie’s pictorial documentary in an interesting way:  as a complete counterpoint to virtual identity narcissism.  By “virtual identity narcissism,” Botgirl offers the example of photostreams of individuals whose visual conversation consists primarily of hundreds of self images.  (That was alot of “of” in that sentence, whew!)  I find Botgirl’s point interesting and compelling.  I admit to being one of those who runs a visual monologue, if you will, with images in my flickr account almost entirely of myself.  I share my primary reasons for this in a comment to Botgirl’s post, and her reply to my comment continued the conversation in a great way but in a way that also served as a challenge (whether or not Botgirl intended to offer a challenge). 

I love to explore different skins primarily because I sketch faces in RL.  I’m very curious about the effect created by different skins.  I do also change my shape to fit the skins, because frankly, my features aren’t such that I can switch into different skins and make no modifications whatsoever.  (If I don’t make those modifications, the effect is often freakish.)  I’m astounded by claims of being able to do this with a sea of inworld skin lines.  Yet through conversation with my v v wonderful friend when we happened to talk about this topic in particular, I came to realize that even when I change my shape, I don’t really change my features too drastically.  I often move the sliders drastically, yes, but that’s to get the skin to fit my features… features that I clearly identify with in a deeply fundamental, intrinsic way.  When I realized this, I also realized a challenge had presented itself.  So what I’ve been exploring a bit is to try to truly alter my features, again without going into the land of the absurd although that could be an interesting exercise as well.  Anyway, here’s my first attempt (which took a long time believe it or not).  In my flickr stream, I call this photo “Felicia the Bull” because the horns with flowers reminds me of The Story of Ferdinand:

Dale asked me what I’m learning so far from trying what we had talked about together.  As I shared with Dale, what I’m learning from this first attempt is that I do see a difference in the features, yes, and at the same time, I do still see myself in spirit and in features.  I’m also learning that my beliefs, the very nature of my identity as expressed through my features pulls at me incredibly strongly.  And I’m also learning that it’s really very difficult to create a plain face (which was what I had intended to do with this first attempt).  It’s really truly quite difficult (again without going into the land of the absurd to do it).  I’m not sure if that’s because of how powerfully identity calls, or the gorgeous skins that are all so perfectly made up, or the system tendencies or all of those combinations.   That said, I plan to keep going with this experiment because now I’m very curious to see if I can create vastly different features.  (Even my RL sketches tend to favor very attractive faces, interesting enough.) 

As I think again about Botgirl’s original question and go beyond the comments already made, some of the reasons for countless self images with no real discernable difference in features could also include a very real sense of self-knowing, of recognizing identity, of self-awareness as communicated by the features.  It could also be a subconscious proclamation of existence, a way to create and ensure that a mark is left on the world:  I am here.   I was here.  I will forever be here. 

Or as Neil Diamond sang:  “I am I said.”

* I really like this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote Gracie uses at the header of her Avatar Project weblog:   “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.   Reminds me of a specific lyric I love and use from John Hiatt’s song “Child of the Wild Blue Yonder:” a full blooded woman dreaming, with the power just to be. 

** As an aside, I view Gracie’s 1000 Avatar Project as a great visual representation of the richness of the SL community.  This project has to be a PR dream for the Lab.  Surely, the Lab has heard of a similar celebration and promotion of community that Mashable embarked upon with a photo wall project where they took the photos of their Facebook fanbase and created an entire wall of these images in their headquarter offices.  Not only great PR, but talk about a way of keeping your customers front and center in your mind.  Not a bad idea at all.