Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Steampunk Sculpture

Here are a couple of shots of a completely out-of-context Steampunk sculpture sitting inside a mall/casino complex in Niagara Falls, Canada. (It's the Fallsview Casino, just outside the main casino entrance.)

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I'm not sure what it was supposed to be about, but I'm willing to swear I've seen its sibling in Second Life.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Room with a View

I've had good hotel rooms and I've had bad. Loud kids next door, loud TVs, loud music, loud adults engaging in adult activities. Loudly. Dirty rooms. A huge bug in the bathtub. Insufficient lighting to read. Dodgy neighborhoods.

Sometimes one's expectations are exceeded, however. Below, Niagara Falls.

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From the hotel room. Sure beats waking up to a view of the parking lot.

Below, a few closer-in views. First, the Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls from the Maid of the Mist.

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The Maid viewed from the U.S. falls.

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The U.S. falls:

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Okay, there's a certain cheese factor in Niagara Falls. But I like waterfalls, and these are pretty darn good.

And you can't beat the view from the room.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Numantia and Numantia Maris

Rounding out my tour of the western isles, adjoining the new Stella Maris, is Numantia and the new Numantia Maris, both owned by Miss Stonehedg Magic and Mr. Wordsmith Jarvinen.

Approaching from the sea, the stone lighthouse is the most striking feature on land.

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The town itself has a high wall on two sides, providing protection from the sea...or invaders. At the center is a castle made of light-colored stone.

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The terraced gardens provide a pathway from the castle toward the sea.

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On the far side of the island is a small village.

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Numantia Maris is a new section of the duchy, consisting of much water. The striking feature of this area is an airship mooring tower.

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A grassy meadow grives way to this stone building.

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The strange lands of the Caledonian West...

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Duchy of Caledon Stella Maris

The Duchy of Westmoreland has faded, but Stella Maris has appeared in its place. Established by Miss Patty Poppy and occupied by a Professor Wombat as well (though I have not had the pleasure of his acquaintance), this area is best approached by the sea or air, as it has no direct connection with the Caledon mainland.

As though celebrating the area's naval heritage, the manor house takes the form of a large ship embedded in the rocks.

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Another flat surface - of which the area has few - contains this humble block structure.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Earth Really Did Move Under My Feet

August 23, 2011, the day the Big One hit. Hmm, not so big, you West Coast folks say? Barely a ripple according to you Alaskans and Japanese? Thank goodness! What an interesting sensation, to be in an earthquake! (Not one I'd recommend, however.)

I was in the hallway of my office building, eight floors up, when the building began to shake. My first thought was that the contractors rehabbing the structure had a big-time screwup; earthquake was guess number two.

After things had settled down, I went back to my office. No sooner had I sat down to work, however, when a security guard came by and said the building was being evacuated. (Note to the relevant people: if you want people to leave the building, try using the alarm system.) I trudged down the stairs, which were eerily empty. Most everyone else was already milling about on the sidewalk. (How is it safer to stand under and near scaffolding than to be inside the building?)

I decided to venture to Metro - God knows when we would be allowed back in the building, and I didn't see the point of standing around for an hour and a half, only to go home at that point. Metro, bless their hearts, was open and I boarded a crowded train. We were limited to 15 mph as a safety precaution, but at least we moved. The 25-minute trip took a little over an hour, standing all the way, but I was grateful to have made it home without much fuss. Apparently the system reached meltdown a little later when the combination of slow speeds and the Federal workforce leaving en masse overwhelmed the capacity of the trains.

Thanks to Mr. Vivito Volare, I saw this picture, which nicely sums up the extensive devastation that the earthquake wrought.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aether Salon - Forks! in "forks in the road" or "stick a fork in 'em, they're done," both of which apply to last Sunday's 28th and final Aether Salon under the aegis of founders Viv Trafalgar, Sera Puchkina, Jasper Kiergarten, and the day's principal speaker, Jed Dagger.

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Mr. Jasper, Miss Jed, Miss Sera, and Miss Viv, one last time.

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Miss Solace Fairlady, Miss Darlingmonster Ember.

Miss Jed talked about the formation of the Salon, some of the work that went on behind the scenes, and some of the not-ready-for-prime-time moments of Salons past

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Master Jimmy Branagh, Mr. Vic Mornington, Miss Bookworm Hienrichs, Clockwinder Mosseveno Tenk, and Mr. Linus Lacombe.

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Miss Gabrielle Riel, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach.

Although the talk was principally backward-looking, commemorating the more than two years of Salons, Miss Viv did let slip one gratifying tidbit: that Baron Wulfenbach would be playing a role in keeping the Salon going, though the Baron, ever tight-lipped, merely bowed. We all await the Salon's next incarnation.

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Miss Ceejay Writer, Mr. Blackberry Harvey.

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Mr. Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Breezy Carver-Fabre, Mr. Simeon Beresford, and Miss Ceejay Writer.

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Miss Kimika Ying, Dr. John Watson.

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Your humble narrator.

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Miss Jed, in full rhetorical flourish.

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Dr. and Mrs. Rafael Fabre.

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Miss Krystine Qwuinn and Winterfell's Senechelf, Miss Serra Anansi.

After one final craft box from Mr. Jasper - a lovely tea set commemorating the Salon - it was over. Mr. Mornington served as DJ for a post-Salon dance that, alas, I could not make.

I'd like to thank all the founders of the Salon for their hard work in providing the Steamlands with such wonderful speakers. I learned a great deal, and had fun in the process. Who could ask for more?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back to Caledon Prime

Exploring the western edge of my immediate neighborhood, I found myself in Caledon (or Caledon Prime, to distinguish it from its younger siblings) for the first time in many moons.

Near the Telehub is Miss CoyoteAngel Dimsum's estate, with gadgets sitting in a field:

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The gardener has not been in some time, it appears, as the grass is quite high:

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The Welcome Center still anchors the area:

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Next to it is Miss Aevalle Galicia's Aether Education and Travel, providing information on a wide variety of destinations within the greater Grid, focusing on both Steampunk and Educational sites.

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On the other side of the area is the wide open expanse of the Vannevar Bush Reading Room (part of the Caledon Library system), Dame Ordinal's remnant of her Ordinal Enterprises store, and a long swathe of land owned by Miss Victorian Magic, known as Centre Court. This includes her manor house...

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...and this cozy Steampunk house.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ahavah Synagogue and Memorial Garden

Saturday afternoon saw the unveiling of a synagogue and memorial garden in Caledon Ahavah. The Duke and Duchess (Mr. Walter Schnogginstein and Miss Yenta Bernheim) were there for the opening, with Miss Patty Poppy serving as the mistress of ceremonies.

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Above: the Duke (far left) and Duchess (front center). Mr. Jorge Serapis and Miss Skye McLeod in back.

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Miss Poppy, Miss Solace Fairlady, and Miss Darlingmonster Ember

Miss Poppy said:

Good afternoon or evening new friends and old friends. I'm not quite sure why I was chosen for the honor of presenting this lovely Synagogue and Memorial Garden on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Ahavah, but I am humbled and so very pleased to be here.

We gather today to mark another milestone in Caledon history. This milestone is to present to the community a beautiful Jewish Synagogue and remembrance garden. To my knowledge this is the first synagogue to be constructed in Caledon. My humble apologies if this is not the case.

This sim is called Ahavah – In the Hebrew language the word meaning Love. I think you will agree a most fitting name for this beautiful sim and home for this new synagogue (shul) and memorial garden . These additions are dedicated to our community from our own Yenta Bernheim and Walter Schnogginstein.

Inspired by Yenta's vision, other known artisans contributed to these Icons. Yenta and Walter wish to recognize Jorge Serapis, Kaluura Boa, and Bram Hallison for the building of the Synagogue. Alastair Whybrow for the creating of the Torah and all their full dress. It is with humble gratitude we present to Caledon and the Second Life virtual world this truly lovely and inspirational Jewish memorial and garden. This is a place that is open to all to come for comfort, reflection, remembrance, meditation or for prayer.

A bit of history about Yenta's vision: Miss Yenta lost her parents at a very young age and has had a dream of creating a memorial to her parents and grandparents inspired by Jewish tradition. Her grandparents and father both attended services in the original schul (synagogue) and her father studied Hebrew within its walls in Belgium. The synagogue before you is a replica of the Arlon synagogue found in the city of Arlon Belgium. They have named this Synagogue "Beit Chesed-Ahavah" (house of loving kindness and love).

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Mr. Jorge Serapis, Miss Annie Rosen (in the white dress), Miss Magadalena Kamenev.

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Miss Valerie Bluebird and Mr. Alastair Whybrow.

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I don a hat for the occasion.

The crowd was large and enthusiastic. In addition to those pictured above, Miss Nyree Rain, Mr. Ravelli Ormstein, Miss Remember Snowfall, and Miss True Irelund, Duchess of Kintyre, among others, attended.

After Miss Poppy's speech, the synagogue was unveiled.

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The interior:

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Miss Poppy continued:

Let's now turn to the Memorial Gardens. Yenta and Walter wish to acknowledge Darlingmonster Ember, Solace Fairlady and myself for work on this garden.

There is a maternal symbolism of regeneration represented here. As I mentioned before it was inspired by Yenta's vision. Darlingmonster and Solace created this living work of art. Yenta and Walter want to recognize them both as well as Yenta's Mother h'en (grace). We present the “Solace Ember h'en Memorial.”

Through generations it has become a tradition in Jewish communities to leave a small stone when one visits the grave of a loved one. It is a small remembrance of a loved one saying "we still remember". The custom began hundreds of years ago when grave markers were but a mound of stones over a grave. Over time, stones disappeared for any number of reasons and it was necessary to replace the missing stones. Over time it became a lovely custom.

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A lovely and unique part of Caledon!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Highlands Beauty

I had been meaning to pay a visit to Caledon Highlands ever since the Vikings (Mr. Roberto Viking and Mrs. Soliel Snook-Viking) had relocated there. As soon as I stepped foot in the area, walking along the stone path as it began climbing from the lowlands of Caledon II, I realized I should have come earlier.

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An amazing variety of plants was there to greet me, a dizzying array of colors on trees and shrubs, some familiar, some unknown to me. A short distance away was the greenhouse that marked Soliel's Garden Centre.

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Not far away was a covered bridge over a gentle stream.

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Beyond was a white church.

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And what would the Highlands be without the famed Highland Coos? (I dared not get too close!)

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The Vikings have a large manor house, complete with those newfangled horseless carriages.

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There's even a local watering hole, the Dog and Pony Pub!

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And if one needed to leave paradise, what better way than via a leisurely sail aboard a wooden ship?

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Soothing Spot

After a hard day in the Steamlands - you in the back, stop laughing; I work hard some days - one sometimes needs a place to unwind and soothe the soul. Not far away from the Sky City is Miss Panacea Luminos' pastoral Victorian Gardens.

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A flower-lined path, complete with gas lamps, leads the visitor toward the manor house. (Note the floating neighbor to the right!)

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The imposing manor, with its stone exterior, overlooks a fenced-in yard to the right and a hedged garden to the left.

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The stone bridges are particularly striking in the twilight.

Victorian Gardens may be sparsely populated, but what is there is beautifully done. Just right for one of those days.