Saturday, July 30, 2011

Caledon Ahavah

Where Caledon Downs once stood there is now Caledon Ahavah - Hebrew for "love," I am reliably informed. Owned by Miss Yenta Bernheim and Mr. Walter Schnogginstein, the area borders Glengarry on the west and is connected via a high suspension bridge:

Below, the Bernheim/Schnogginstein residence.

An ornate but, at present, empty building in the center of Ahavah:

Oddly, the C.A.T. station, the former Downs airfield, and one store still remain. Below, the C.A.T. airship has just landed:

Behind the residence and below the ridge is a terraced garden area.

Near the Windemere border is a train station, plaza, and shopping area.
As yet, only one shop is open: a Jewish deli, from all appearances!

Across from the train station is the art gallery.
The gallery features works by Miss Bernheim and by Miss Teasa Adored.

For the Guvnah's sake and that of the rest of Caledon, I hope for a long and prosperous stay for Ahavah and its residents!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Flying in the Dark

For the first time in...well, ever, I changed the blog layout. Normal people would do so to shake things up, provide new visual interest, perhaps modernize a dated look.

Not me. Nope. I did it to solve a problem. Ever since I started using Mars Edit to upload entries, the pictures have been huge. I'm guessing that Blogger itself has some magic to shrink pictures to some predefined sizes, whereas Mars Edit just sends 'em the way they are. I'll eventually track down an easy way to resize the things before inserting them, I suppose.

What this has meant is that the pictures kept getting cut off by Blogger. As Mrs. Volare thoughtfully pointed out, the picture of the Vicereine a few posts back originally cut the poor lady in two. (I fixed that by deleting the original picture from the site and manually inserting it again in Blogger, which made it fit.) Interestingly, the "Preview" mode of Blogger doesn't use the template of the actual site, so the pictures showed up just fine, as they also do in Mars Edit.

I played with the HTML code in the original template and widened the text area, which made the entire picture appear. Unfortunately, the background (a yellowed parchment look) was a .jpg stored on some other server and not something I could edit, so the edge of the "parchment" went right through the text. Very distracting.

I thought about removing the background, but seemed easier to change templates. (One day, I've promised myself, I will know enough about this stuff to do it from scratch.) This one has the text on the left and seems to allow the pictures to stretch themselves across the canvas as far as they are inclined - even if it means encroaching on other elements of the page, such as the blogroll, which is why I moved that to the bottom. (Just in case you still want to see who hasn't updated her site in over six months. Heh.) The pictures are big, which may increase page load times. Then again, they show more detail. I waffle about how quickly I want to deal with this issue. In the meanwhile, problem solved.

Anyway, a long post about a small issue.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More of Aether Isle and Dreadnought Isle

I continue my stalking of my new neighbors.

Continuing south down Aether Isle, past the Labyrinth, Miss Glorf Bulmer has The (insert function) Resource Centre, certainly a versatile name.

Aether Isle 7 20 11 002

The Centre comes complete with a plant that seems...vaguely threatening. "Down, boy!"

Aether Isle 7 20 11 001

Sir Zen Wormser has his long-standing FreeFlow Academy of Code Poetry across the way. Should you venture inside, and should you see a box that says "Do not touch," I urge you to heed the warning.

Aether Isle 7 20 11 003

In the foreground below is Miss Magdalena Kamenev's soothing spot, Magda's Lea. Behind it is the Volares' L'Engle Tesseract Generator.

Aether Isle 7 20 11 004

Inside the domed building are a set of mysterious controls...

Aether Isle 7 20 11 005

...and some heavy-duty equipment. If you have not experienced the sensation of the generator, I quite recommend it.

Aether Isle 7 20 11 006

On the other side of the city is Dreadnought Isle, home to Miss Elixia Writer:

Aether Isle 7 20 11 008

Dreadnought Isle also contains Mr. Burton Newell's Pumping Station, which helps ensure a clean water supply to the city, despite any stray body parts that might otherwise be in the system.

Aether Isle 7 20 11 007

Next, I venture into the city!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Kryptonite

It's Friday afternoon as I type this, and I'm sitting in my office, avoiding the 100-degree-plus heat outside, and contemplating jotting something down. Then - decision paralysis. Which pen do I reach for?

Never mind the absurd numbers at home: the set below is what I have on hand to choose among.

The top row, from top to bottom: OMAS 360 fountain pen, Conway Stewart Duro, Sailor 1911. Bottom row, left to right: Levenger True Writer in Sea Glass, Parker 51 converted to a cap-activated ballpoint, Parker Sonnet rollerball, and Parker Duofold rollerball.

Yes, I have a problem.

Still, these things occasionally provide comic relief. Earlier today, a friend was fiddling with the OMAS and twisted the bottom knob, which controls the piston-filling mechanism. Ink went everywhere (the blots on the top right of the picture are from that episode).

Good times.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Vicereine Visits Hope Beach

One picture that didn't make it into the previous posts on RFL (and then I promise not to mention those three initials for many months): Kami paid a visit to the Team Caledon camp site.

I presume the gossamer wings helped on the track (though it's unclear if anything truly helps slice through the lag)... the lady surely just borrowed the halo, however. :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Caledon Quest

A little under two weeks ago, the Deans of Oxbridge announced a challenge for Caledon's visitors and residents: the Caledon Quest.

The quest starts at the Hall of Caledon, in Oxbridge.

Quest 003

Inside, a poster gives some information about the Quest, while the Caledon coin depicted below the poster shows the item for which one is looking. The poster:

Quest 004

The coin:

Quest 005

One receives a HUD at the start, which records the coins found and objects received. The coin also provides a clue to the next location. The Quest takes one across 24 Caledon sims. Some clues are very specific; others require a broader search. Some knowledge of Caledon will make the search go faster. As with most hunts in Second Life, sometimes the object is easy to find while at other times more patience is required.

After each of the coins is in one's possession, one receives a Steampunk flying chair, which one must fly into the kraken-infested air of Middlesea to complete the last mission and receive one's prize: a special topi.

Quest 001

Quest 002

The entire Quest took me several hours and reacquainted me with parts of Caledon I rarely see. Great fun to be had!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Undress a Victorian Lady, Or, Why I Love Steampunk

Via author Gail Carriger's blog, the Wall Street Journal has a piece entitled "How to Undress a Victorian Lady in Your Next Historical Romance." The article notes the popularity of historical romance novels, which require historical accuracy in their, ah, romantic encounters. In particular, budding authors want to know how a Victorian gentleman manages to get a Victorian lady out of her corset and into her knickers.

As we denizens of the Steamlands know, this is not an easy process. (Each reader may have his or her own definition of "know" in the previous sentence. We don't judge.)

Some people who haunt historical RP sims in Second Life, such as the witty and talented Miz Dio Kuhr, strive for complete historical accuracy. While I admire that greatly, I also find it exhausting. With Steampunk, I can just wing it, making things up as I go along without fear of nitpicking from the reenactor's peanut gallery, which makes things ever so much nicer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Home and Neighbors

Home is now the north end of Aether Isle, in an old Pullman car, situated in the shadow of the sky city. It's a cozy spot, but suits my itinerant lifestyle. I just have to remember not to irritate people in the city above. When is trash day and do they have a better disposal method than dumping it over the side?

Across the road is the C.A.T. station:
Do those things run all night? I have to remember to purchase a good set of earplugs. *shakes a fist at the noisy airship*

Next to the C.A.T. station is one of Miss Glorf Bulmer's properties. I took a peek in the window.
To more-or-less quote Tom Waits: "What's she doing in there?"

Next door to me is young Miss Samm Florian's maze and shop. The shop is quite clever: it is itself a maze, complete with sliding walls and such. One has to want the objects for sale!

More later as I wander further down the Isle and into the Sky City!

Monday, July 18, 2011

RFL in Second Life for 2011

This was my fourth RFL, and I enjoyed chatting with friends as we cheered on the runners. I had various obligations both Saturday and Sunday, so I wasn't on much and didn't try to run a lap through the lag, but I did take several pictures of the activities at Caledon's Hope Beach:

RFL Saturday 001

Miss Renee Caxton, Col. CronoCloud Creeggan, and Miss Yenta Bernheim

RFL Saturday 002

Miss Solace Fairlady, RFL Team Caledon Co-Captain Miss Patty Poppy, and Mr. Lucien Brentano on the boardwalk as I lurk in the background.

RFL Saturday 003

On the boardwalk, Miss Dream Wexan and Miss Random Wezzog.

RFL Saturday 005

A motley crew of Caledonians dances while supporting the runners.

Caledon was again well-represented among the top runners: Mr. Viderian Vollmar was in second place, with 40.69 laps;* Miss Darlingmonster Ember was fourth with 38.23; in seventh place was Miss Solace Fairlady, with 34.29 laps; Miss Kiralette Kelley came in 13th with 27.63; Miss Random Wezzog was 15th, at 26.57; and Frau Annechen Lowey was 19th, at 25.37 laps. Well done! (Data from

* I'm told Mr. Vollmar was officially third, and that the additional laps came later. Either way, very impressive.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

RFL Builds of the Steamlands

The night before the Relay, I snuck onto the track to look for the Steamlands' builds, and found a number of good ones.

I started in the Team Caledon camp, Hope Beach, a Victorian seashore resort, complete with bath houses, a carnival stage, and airships galore.

RFL Caledon 002

RFL Caledon 001

RFL Caledon 004

Down the road a bit was the properly piratical Armada build:

RFL Armada 001

After that I found the marvelous New Babbage build:

RFL Babbage 001

RFL Babbage 002

There was even a hope factory! Who knew that's how hope is made?

RFL Babbage 003

RFL Babbage 004

RFL Babbage 005

RFL Babbage 006

A little further down the road, I saw a build that looked ever so much like New Babbage in the winter:

RFL Babbage 007

And indeed it was! A miniature New Babbage, just because.

RFL Babbage 008

Nearby was the Steelhead camp:

RFL Steelhead 001

The two ghostly dancers waltzed on and on...

RFL Steelhead 002

Another marvelous set of builds!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Steampunk Sim - Titus Groan

Continuing the trend toward more specialized Steampunk locales is Titus Groan, which focuses on a gay clientele.

Titus Groan 006

Above, Reignbeau's Gay Male Strip Club

Titus Groan 005

The town square

Titus Groan 004

This structure turns out to be the home of Energy Menswear

Titus Groan is the name of a novel by Mervyn Peake. Not clear what the novel has to do with the sim, but everyone needs a name.

.Titus Groan 009

An view of the town from the hilltop

Titus Groan 008

A house in the residential neighborhood

Titus Groan 003

Another view of the town square, with the chapel in the foreground

Titus Groan 002

The Engine Steampunk Gay Club

Titus Groan 001

Interior of the Engine Club

Dr. Fabre had reviewed Titus Groan in the Steampunk Tribune some weeks ago. Parts of it looked oddly familiar, and, indeed, I had seen an earlier incarnation of the Engine Club a few months back:

Engine Steampunk Colony and Gay Club 001

Interestingly, while the build itself incorporates a number of Steampunk designs, the inhabitants that I saw when I visited did not seem to embrace any form of Steampunk attire.