Saturday, January 31, 2009

Port Merrimac

I looked at the map: Blake's Sea stretched out for miles, and it was far from clear that my aircraft had the range to make it across. Still, when Mr. O'Toole said that the Fleet of Wrath Exiles had a new home in Roatan, I thought I should attempt the journey.

The craft was panting a little, and the fuel gauge stuck on "E," when I made it across the sea. There it was: Port Merrimac, with two ironclads in port!

Several members of the fleet were still putting the finishing touches on the port - plywood was everywhere! - so I did not linger. I refueled at the ZATZai airstrip and made the return journey

One of my pet peeves about the grid in general, and Nautilus/Blake's Sea/the USS sims is no exception, is that there are few places to rez an object. No one likes litter cluttering the landscape and eating prims, but it would be nice to be able to rez an airship, or boat, or donkey-pulled cart without having to hunt for some kind soul who left build permissions on. Perhaps a convention could be that, say, the northwest corner of a sim allows rezzing objects, with a relatively quick autoreturn.

Otherwise, one day I'll be sending out an SOS from an uncharted spot in the ocean, having misjudged the headwinds and run out of fuel...

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Heated Discussion Over Children

I have commented before that I am not in-world nearly as much as others appear to be. I have also commented, at least on Miss Orr's Journal, that I have not heard a great deal of uncivil behavior on ISC chat - certainly not to the degree that Miss Orr reports. One possibility is that Miss Orr has higher standards for what ISC chat should be - entirely possible. On the other hand, I may just have been lucky. Two recent episodes have made me wonder if my luck in that department is running out.

A few days ago, during a silly discussion - I no longer recall the discussion, and it's not terribly relevant - someone, in making what he intended to be a funny remark, used a common four-letter vulgarity for sexual congress. It seemed wildly out of context and inappropriate, even given the silly bantering nature of the discussion. As I was preoccupied at the time, I was slow to respond, but Miss Levenque responded that the language seemed quite inappropriate, and asked the person to maintain a more civil tongue. (Miss Levenque was a tad more polite than that.) The episode left me a little rattled.

Fast-forward to last night. I logged into the following lines:

[15:31] Avatar 1: she IS a grown woman in RL, but we are not talking about
[15:31] Avatar 2: I think this conversation is quite inappropriate here and
would appreciate it if you would close it now Avatar 1.
[15:33] Avatar 1: ...and I'm not sure how my conversation could be
considered inappropriate Avatar 2.
[15:33] Avatar 2: However, it could be that [child avatars] shouldn't go
out of their [way] to be unchildlike and annoying.

The child avatar in question - neither of the two speakers - then insults Avatar 2 for the crime of...participating in RP in some other sim.

Of course, a number of others tried to defuse the situation. Mr. Sands employed humor, Baron Wulfenbach suggested gently that, as tempers cooled, various participants might find apologies to be in order, and so on.

Having logged on in the middle of the discussion, I didn't think it appropriate to add fuel to the fire by offering my comments. Instead, I shall offer a few now.

First, there is clearly no question that child avatars are permitted in Caledon (assuming their typists are adults and that the avatars engage in no sexual RP). Second, as everyone should expect politeness from their fellow citizens, so should we be polite to child avatars.

Third, although children are not terribly prevalent in Caledon, there are a few (and some more in New Babbage). I don't understand why someone would want to play a child, but I don't try to understand the preferences of others. Those who enjoy RP-ing children may fail to understand why anyone would want to be me. Fair enough. Most of the children I have met have been delightful, in the sense of playing the role of a child but using the wisdom of an adult to temper the worst attributes of actual children. That is to say, a teenaged young lady tends to act like a young lady (which is good), rather than a teenager (which, sad to say, is often bad) (my apologies to well-behaved teens everywhere - I hate to tar you with the same brush, but the law of averages is on my side here). Similarly, a certain talented urchin of New Babbage, who creates brief cinematic presentations of his town, may act mischievously, but never rudely.

Fourth, I can understand why people would find interacting with children to be annoying. I don't, in part because they work hard at their roles (see the point above), and perhaps in part because my typist has no urchins at home, so my time in-world is not a means of temporarily stepping out of the role of parent. As no one is obligated to interact with others, those who find children annoying can, for the most part, ignore them.

Fifth, the exception to my generally tolerant view of child avatars is the subset of children who act very young. Well, I suppose if they played the role of pre-verbal infants, that would not be annoying in the least, but, by definition, we would not be hearing from those children in ISC chat, unless out of character. But the baby talk that some affect is quite annoying, as well as hard to understand. (Harder than Jaeger-speak, really.) If someone wants to play a role of a character that young, I would think that he or she would also play the rest of the role - be seen and not heard. One can then ignore social interactions in which it would be appropriate for such a youngster to speak to an adult stranger.

Fine and dandy, Rhianon, I can hear you say, but there is a problem: the youngster has just as much right to participate in ISC chat as the adults. True, and therein lies the last point. Sixth, people vary in their adherence to remaining in character during ISC chat. Some try to remain in character - one thinks of the Baron Wulfenbach, addressing others as Frau(line) or Herr, and saying "bitte" and "danke"; or the Jaegers, even discussing vintage Renaults in Jaeger-speak. Some are in character when possible, but willing to step out of character for the duration of a discussion - Mr. Volare and Doctor Obolensky come to mind as examples. Others have no well-defined character other than Victorian lady or gentleman, and participate in ISC chat as more or less themselves - many people fall into this category, perhaps most notably the Guvnah himself. Thus, it is not essential to remain in-character in a group discussion. More to the point of this essay, to participate in an adult conversation, one should participate as an adult. Pwetty baby talk, how-wevah tweet, is swimply annoying awnd fwustwating, and not appropriate in chat because it's not in character anyway.

This is a long-winded way of saying: children, yes; annoying baby talk in ISC chat, no. Is that too much to ask? And, really, Avatar 1 and her child were trying to move the terms of the argument: starting with the reasonable proposition that child avatars were permissible, they made an incorrect leap of logic that baby talk in chat was just fine.

That gets me back to the original topic of this essay, which is impolite behavior in ISC chat. You, Dear Reader, may disagree with any number of the points I raised, and you are free to do so. There are polite ways of expressing that disagreement, and impolite ways. Similarly, there are both polite and impolite ways I could respond to this hypothetical disagreement. In person, it's all too easy to blurt out something one later regrets - I know I do it all too frequently. When forced to write out a response, one can take longer, and Revise and Reconsider. Please do so, rather than Rue and Regret.

And kids...stay off my lawn!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Last of Glamorgan?

Barring an unexpected development, the Duchy of Glamorgan will soon cease to exist, as Duke ambiant explains. In four days, the parcel will be subdivided and sold piecemeal. Below is an aerial photograph of the site of the duchy, now located on Rothesay.

The current Duke cites to circumstances for both him and his typist by way of explanation for the sale. I wish him and his typist well. I know he has expressed unhappiness about the current state of affairs regarding SL.

It's interesting that no buyer for an entire duchy has come forward. Perhaps the big landowners are all duchy owners now - certainly the Openspace sim shakeout has caused a major rearrangement of duchies, and has led to the Volares staking out the "old" Glamorgan (now Caer Firnas), Miss Ilsa Munro purchasing Loch Avie (Duchess Ilsa! And to think I knew her back when...), the Nachts purchasing Cafall, et cetera. Perhaps people are reluctant to sink that much money into a single area, perhaps the joy in using a title is not what it used to be, perhaps many factors are at work. Still, the changes are a little sad.

And perhaps someone will decide in the next few days that the title Duke (or Duchess) of Glamorgan suits him or her!


Gotham...the name evokes the dark side of a great metropolis, as well as some memorable inhabitants: the Caped Crusader, Alfred the butler, Commissioner Gordon, and a host of flamboyant criminal masterminds.

Gotham City is also one of Caledon's closest neighbors - geographically, if not thematically - lying just west of Cavendish. (In fact, I was greeted with a "Hello Caledonian lady" by a nice gentleman whose title was "Goon." I'll hazard a guess that I wasn't the first visitor from our fair land.) Above, residents in planning mode. Below, I consider making a withdrawal.

It appears that the residents are still putting the finishing touches on the city, but they are already gearing up for heavy-duty roleplay. Visitors are requested to wear an "observer" tag, and one may apply for a particular role. Below, a political advertisement. Don't you hate it when politicians wrap themselves in the flag?

Here I am, captured by the forces of darkness, who are preparing to interrogate me. Does anyone have a copy of the Geneva Conventions?

Gotham City has a big jail cell, too, as though they wanted to be prepared for a big roundup of criminals. Hey, let me out! The bit about the bank "withdrawal" was just a joke!

As it turns out, one has to be careful. Gotham Island is also a dark, gritty urban environment. Some of its denizens are costumed. But that's where the similarity ends. Below, a street shot of Gotham Island.

That doesn't look very comfortable!

Hmm, I like dancing. Perhaps I should apply for a job? Oh, that kind of dancing! Never mind.

I particularly liked the concept of "Elite Thursdays." Elite members can have their way with anyone on the island (other than other Elite members - gotta have standards). Um. Well, isn't that special. I thanked my luck that I visited on a Wednesday.

To each his own style of roleplaying. Me? I hightailed it back to the Jameson Home for Incurable Flirts and Gossips, and brewed a soothing cup of tea. Then added just a splash of it to a large glass of Tennessee sipping whiskey.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back Underground

Here is another entry point for reaching below Victoria City - right in the middle of a shop!

Unlike the nice clean tunnels, however - well, clean barring the odd rat or dead body - this leads into the murky water below the city. I found a large safe, but could not open it to check whether it contained the remains of a missing Caledonian.

Also in the discard section was an old bed, a cap, and some furniture.

Hasn't anyone heard of recycling?

Airships Aweigh!

Second Skies seems to have moved, although perhaps it's just faulty recollection. The airship hangar and runway remain aloft through a propellor system. Kathy took the Steamray back there to see how badly she needed a new airship.

She ended up test-piloting the SSA-1901 Lakehurst, a five-passenger ship.

The ship is sleek and maneuverable, although, in the end, she decided it was perhaps a little more airship than she needed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Castle Breakwater

High above Port Amaranthine, in Winterfell, stands Castle Breakwater, Miss Uni Ninetails' domain. It is an imposing structure, to be sure.

Despite the imposing exterior, the castle boasts a luxurious interior, in an austere sort of way.

Other properties on the estate are also lovely, such as this imposing gothic house that, for whatever reason, reminds me from this angle of a steamboat.

Lest one think that an unannounced visit to a castle is all fun and games, let me assure you all that there are dangers involved. In this case, a guard dragon.

Fortunately, I was wearing my asbestos had and frock.

Kids, don't try this at home!

A Carriage Ride Through Oxbridge Village

Thanks to the kind efforts of Miss Virrginia Tombola, Miss CoyoteAngel Dimsum, and, of course, kind permission from the Guvnah, one can now ride a hansom cab through Oxbridge Village, into Oxbridge itself, and back again. The carriage stops at the Oxbridge train station, should one have need to transfer to or from rail.

Upon hearing of this opportunity, Kathy took advantage of it at once.

As the pictures below show, the carriage is pulled by a rather handsome horse, who is sufficiently well-trained in his route that no driver is needed - a fantastic labor-saving device!

Under Victoria City

Mr. Subghoul Epsilon had noted on the Forums and in his Journal that the tunnel network under Victoria City (and Rothesay) had been expanded. Naturally, I had to take a look.

I descended into the tunnels. The network extends under the Library and the reading room, the Epsilon estate, the Great Lawn, Pearse'd and Cut, 221B Baker St. (no doubt Mr. Holmes uses the tunnels to move about unnoticed), and even under the Young Gentlemen's Association (I saw no gentlemen, young or otherwise).

Which way do I go?

Ahh, the road less traveled! I found myself under the Whitehorn Library, in Mr. Drinkwater's secret lair, complete with nuclear-powered heater and a cask of whisky. I knew I should have become a librarian!

This seemed a pleasant place to sit for a moment and to sip a whisky as a restorative. A second one seemed like an even better idea.

I woke up the next day with a vicious hangover. Mr. Drinkwater needs to stock a better quality tonic! (And, conveniently, he is now out of his poisonous distillate.) (Though, to be fair, it could have been the quantity, rather than the quality, that is at fault.)

My explorations continue...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shopping in The Village

I had written before about The Village, the homage to the 1960s television series "The Prisoner." What I did not realize was the area's substantial Caledonian presence.

Mr. Whybrow mentioned the connection to Miss Kathy, who relayed it to me, who...well, I did what I do: travel and take pictures. Miss Virrginia Tombola has an outpost of La Bicyclette:

Miss Zosie Zenovka has a Chemical Kisses shop:

Though the signs are a little difficult to read, the one on the left is the familiar Steampunk and Tesla logo, while the one on the right is that of Oblonski.

Finally, a three-fer: Mr. Whybrow's Sparkle of Sound fine jewelry store, Miss Madeleine Munro's music box store, and a smaller version of Mr. Theodore and Mr. Draco Nacht's NachtMusic gentlemen's clothing store.

I was initially a little surprised at the ties between Caledon and The Village. The fashions of Victorian England and the Mod stylings of Swinging London seem to have little in common, and the group aesthetic of the former period seems to have little in common with the Cold War paranoia of the television series.

Upon further reflection, though, the Steampunk movement celebrates, among other things, the triumph of the individual scientist/inventor/evil genius over the dismal lives of the masses. At a time when an increasing number of people were working in factories, sweatshops, and the "dark Satanic mills," the individual inventor could tinker in his workshop or laboratory and develop a world-changing device (at least in a Steampunk alternative history). Similarly, The Prisoner reflects a world with an increasing distrust of governments, presenting both sides of the Cold War spy business as equally morally suspect (how else to explain why Number Six cannot determine which side holds him?), and celebrates the triumph of the individual over the state.
Now, if only our version of The Village would send out fewer group notices...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Caledon On Sea Promenade

Sunday morning, Miss Nicolette Levenque had suggested a promenade through Caledon On Sea, as a method for getting to know one another and the neighborhood.

I arrived late, owing to obligations Elsewhere, but the group had not yet departed the Botanical House. Miss Levenque is on the left, foreground; following clockwise is Mr. Wraith Constantine, me, Miss Nocti Heliosense, and Mr. and Mrs. Taff Nouvelle (Sienna Harris).

Miss Terry Lightfoot also arrived, in a festive outfit.

During the portion of the promenade I was able to attend, we examined a large ship at the dock. There, we were joined by Miss Ger Udimo, below,

as well as young Minko Masala, wearing the same dress as Miss Levenque.

Another picture of Miss Heliosense and Mr. Nouvelle.

Mrs. Nouvelle.

From the dock, we admired Mr. Constantine's tower and castle, so Mr. Constantine kindly invited the group to tour his home and grounds.

I left shortly thereafter, but I can report that Mr. Constantine has a lovely home, with rooms that reflect his many travels. The grounds are spacious, and the island, of course, has unobstructed views in all directions. He has constructed a small sitting area facing west, from which one can enjoy the sunset while sipping a drink.

Blake's Sea

Last night, Mr. Hotspur O'Toole was kind enough to announce to Caledon that Blake's Sea would soon come into existence. Blake's Sea, if I recall correctly, was what was once the United Sailing Sims. The Openspace debacle made these sims financially non-viable, but the USS group made arrangements with Linden Lab to have the space (or some fraction thereof) relocated to the east of Nautilus. Blake's Sea provides a substantial buffer between the Mainland (including Nautilus) and the USS sims.

Kathy was flying aimlessly when she received word of the sea's impending arrival, so she flew to Lost Isle to wait. When she arrived, a small flotilla was already in place:

Naturally, when the time came, the event was fairly anti-climactic. Kathy set out into the new waters, only to be greeted with a message "You do not have permission to enter this region," followed by movement into the region, at which point she was completely stuck. Ah well.
I could not help but notice that the region immediately west of Lost Isle was named "Blake Sea - Kendra." Methinks Mr. O'Toole had something to do with that. Speaking of whom, the Fleet Captain has a brief film of the event here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekend Dances

I'll let Kathy write this one:

The weekend is the time to let one's hair down, so to speak, and socialize. I'll confess that almost everyone else in the planet is better at it than I am.

Winterfell had its Winter Dance, at Taure En Lor, hosted by Miss Emilly Orr (below, center):

Seneshelf Serra Anansi dances in the foreground:

The same day, the Caledon Crown Colony of Magellan held a Winter Lights Ball at the Marzipan Tearoom. Below, Duke Mako Magellan, Miss Emilly Orr, and Miss Mitsu Figaro dance:

Miss Petronella Piers and Mr. Magellan dance:

And the wallflower is there, at least briefly.