Sunday, January 30, 2011

Memories of New Babbage

Miss Serafina Puchkina curated a small New Babbage pictorial retrospective at the R.F. Burton library in Babbage Canals. This retrospective, which I believe closed on the 29th (my apologies for the tardiness of getting this posted), contained a number of illustrations and daguerrotypes of earlier days of New Babbage.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crabaholics Anonymous

Hi! My name is Rhianon, and I'm a crabaholic. ("Hi, Rhianon!")

I complain a lot. It's a fault, I freely admit. I'm here today with my fellow problem complainers in order to do something about it.

Honestly, I often have no idea why petty things annoy me so. Some people have a great deal to complain about. Their spouses beat them; their cars break down and they can't afford the repairs; their jobs don't pay well, or have disappeared. Serious stuff.

Me, I complain about the trivia in life. I don't get a good seat on the train, or I end up sharing the seat with a seat hog. The guy in the quiet car has now taken three cell phone calls in fifteen minutes. It took me 45 minutes instead of two to change an outdoor light bulb that rusted in the socket and broke when I tried to remove it. I could go on, but you get the idea. Heck, I complain incessantly about my job even though it pays pretty well and my boss and colleagues are pretty good people. Sure, it's annoying that my wise advice is ignored consistently, but as long as the paycheck keeps coming, what's the real problem? And who among us hasn't felt that her great thoughts have been ignored?

What makes me a crabaholic? Damned if I know, except... I think that complaining about our lot is part of human nature. We worry about things, complain about things, most of the time concerning ourselves with things we can't change. We want to believe there is order in the universe, so we take personally things that are almost surely not personal. Yes, that tuneless whistling is highly irritating, but, thought about rationally, the whistler is surely not doing so to annoy those around him. (The seat hog, on the other hand...)

I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. They tend to be grandiose and unachievable, and, when they are not achieved, create a sense of letdown. I'm going to write the Great American Novel this year, or walk two miles a day. Okay, two miles starting the day after tomorrow. Maybe a mile next week? But the constant crabbing about things was starting to get even me down, so I grabbed my little book of meetings and wandered down to this church basement to drink some bad coffee - oops, there I go again - and tell you my story.

The first step in solving a problem is recognizing the problem exists. When I find myself getting irritated at something, I've stepped back and asked myself why I find it irritating, and whether it's really a big deal. This method hasn't stopped the world from irritating me entirely, but it has given me a little perspective about not sweating the small details.

Not that it's been easy. I was doing fairly well - some minor episodes of falling off the perspective wagon - until the other night, when my commuter train broke down and we sat in the dark. For an hour. While the next train whizzed by. No announcements, other than vague, inaccurate, and out-of-date emails. The next train arrived, parked, and took those passengers close enough to a conductor to hear that we had a method of escape. My car was still left in the dark, both literally and figuratively. We eventually got going, whatever problem with the engine resolved, and made it home an hour and a half late. Needless to say, I was grumpy. I think there was a real grievance: that communication, both from whatever entity controlled information about a rescue train and from the conductors aboard our train, could have been vastly improved. On the other hand, engines do break down because of things beyond the control of anyone in the system, and we did manage to make it home, so getting frustrated at the entire situation was probably not the right reaction.

Ah well. Consider this a work in progress.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rosser's Landing

Thanks to Steampunk Adventures magazine, I learned of the Steampunk-themed Rosser's Landing sim (two sims, actually, though connected by water only).

I have a distinct feeling that I had been to the sim some years before, when it was most assuredly not Steampunk.
This incarnation is filled with airships, steam engines, a Tesla generator, weird science (see above), and even a pirate flag (see below).

"Land ho, Cap'n!"

The sister sim, Rosser's Landing 2, seems more of a work in progress, but is also worth a visit.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Trip to the Desert

Following the cold days spent in New Babbage - first on the trail of the archaeologist's killer, then at the Clarendon (though perhaps I was not precisely in 19th century Babbage, but it was still awfully cold), and finally at the Aether Salon - I was ready for warmer climes. What could be better than a trip to the desert?

I piloted the Hangover Two toward Westmoreland, then further west to Numantia, and still further west until I reached Cala Mondrago, an oasis in the desert.

This nation is somehow vaguely allied with Caledon - these shifting geopolitical alliances in the Steamlands often confuse me, and by the time I figure them out it is possible that the need has passed - and contains a mixture of shops and residences. One such business is a small tea house (one of two, in fact). I stopped for a relaxing cup of tea before continuing my tour.

"Seek the answers you desire within," read the sign. Was this the come-on of a fortuneteller? Alas, the tent was empty.

As evening drew near and the shadows grew longer, I found myself at the power plant. The Moorish architecture was evident throughout the land, including the municipal buildings.

A picture of one of the covered bazaars:

Another tea house!

The Laughing Djinn, a place for entertainment, including belly dancing.

One of the private residences:

As I took off in the airship, I captured one last daguerreotype of the city, framed by the last rays of the sun. The fortress perhaps speaks to an earlier time when the city - or its neighbors - was not so open and accommodating. An attack by sea would seem to be difficult, though I imagine assault by air might be easier. My sense is that the building predates air travel.

(OOC note: though I've seen the sim described as "Steampunk in the desert," there is plenty of desert but little Steampunk, beyond the clever power station and, somewhat oddly, a branch of the Steeltopia (I believe, rather than Steelhead, though I could be mistaken) bank. A more accurate, if longer, description might be "Vaguely Victorian era-ish, Ottoman-influenced desert environment." Still, the desert setting is a little different from the usual Victorianesque builds.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

East and West Speirling in Winter

East and West Speirling are magical at any time of the year, but perhaps especially so in winter.

Among other things, one can walk to the isles from the Caledon mainland. Try that after the spring thaw!

But all things come with a cost: poor Nessie, trapped under the snow and ice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Aether Salon - Diplomacy!

Sunday's Aether Salon started with a surprise: as I arrived, one of the sims that the Salon straddled was going down, and refugees were fleeing to the Academy of Industry side.

Once order was restored, it was down to business: a discussion with Baron Klaus Wulfenbach , Europa consul, and his vice-consul, Frau Annachen Lowey. (And my apologies to Frau Lowey for the picture below - even after more than an hour she never rezzed completely for me.)
The pair started by discussing the concept of diplomacy, then described the role of the consulate of Europa within the Steamlands. This was followed by a brief but spirited question-and-answer session.

Next month's Salon will be on the timely topic of Romance, with Lady Eva Bellambi, pictured below, with Mr. Ry Larwyck in the background.

Below, Miss Random Wezzog, Professor Bodhisatva Paperclip (no longer an opossum!), Miss Bookworm Hienrichs, Miss Solace Fairlady, and (seated on the ground) Miss Darlingmonster Ember:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bedlam in Babbage: Space Edition

It looked like New Babbage. The sign said I was in New Babbage. I recognized The Clarendon, where Mr. Edward Pearse would be spinning his wax cylinders. And yet... that craft in front of The Clarendon did not look like it belonged in Babbage. Naturally, I went in anyway.

It seemed that this edition of Bedlam in Babbage was taking place in space, in a part of the timestream unfamiliar to me. Although I wasn't dressed for the occasion - people in the future will dress oddly, it seems - I joined the festivities.

Mr. Vox Wright

Dr. Watson (Elilke Sieyes) and Mr. Holmes (Elina Koskinen)

Inspector Beth Lestrade (Miss Robin Thorr)

Mr. Blackberry Harvey

Miss Mariah Lanfier (left) and Miss Scarlet Jaggernov (right)

Miss Breezy Carver

Our DJ, Mr. Pearse, floating along in zero gravity

Your humble journalist

Mr. Jorge Serapis

Soon I had to return for tea at Chez Jameson, so I made my farewells and attempted to navigate the timestream back to 18__ Caledon . I heard one last piece of advice as I departed: "Avoid the 20th Century!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Tour of Steam Sky City

Having toured Aether and Dreadnought Isles, I thought that, while I was in the vicinity, I should stop by Steam Sky City herself. From the prow of the city (do cities have prows? well, this one ought to), the view had not changed much from my last visit.
However, as I wandered the decks, I found that a great deal had changed, starting with Mr. Volare's getaway vehicle touring dirigible waiting mid-city.

The Caledon Air Transport had a prominent location, including a map of all the CAT routes. (I think it was updating locations in real time; unfortunately, the darn thing never completely rezzed for me.)

In the aft section there was now a Japanese tearoom.
Nearby, Mr. Kozlov has an ornate residence.

I was amazed at the workmanship throughout the city, and kept taking pictures:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Aether Isle and Dreadnought Isle

Aether Isle and its smaller companion, Dreadnought Isle, are the two land masses on the ground near Steam Sky City, and both have seen new residents with new builds on their property of late.

The old airship tower is gone, replaced by...a new airship tower! The Caledon Air Transport company has a stop in SSC, right on the corner of Aether Isle.
The old Falcon Tower is gone - I'm a little nervous to think how SSC is getting its power now (my lights have been dimming a fair bit recently, so perhaps the answer is as simple as "stealing it from the Downs") - replaced by the Black Hole Laboratory and Top Secret Counterfeiting Factory.
Below, the interior of the Laboratory. Youth must be served, but in my day stealth was an important factor in the Mad Science business. One wanted to keep a plausible facade of respectability and not simply announce one's evil intentions to sundry passers-by.
Across the way, Miss Glorf Bulmer has her Bijou Submarine Pen and Bomb Lab. Again, a worthy venture, but perhaps announced a little too forthrightly. Taking advantage of that honesty, however, I erred on the side of caution and did not touch anything, lest it be a sensitive part of the bomb-making apparatus.
Further down the road is a proprietorship by the name of Golem Engineering. Hmm, what could possibly go wrong there?

Across the way, on Dreadnought Isle, is Miss Tinker Radium's Tesla Death Ray. Below, the control room...
...and the following picture shows the Tesla Tower itself.

I heartily applaud the concept of having a Death Ray in the vicinity. Burglars are likely to think twice about breaking into a house protected by one, and the entire city is likely safer from enemy attack. At the very least, any rival Mad Scientist intent on doing harm to SSC would be wise to concentrate her initial firepower on the Death Ray, giving the remaining residents time to mount a serious counterattack. This seems only Prudent.