Farewell Home #3

Last week my life took another sudden turn. I’m not going into it here because not all of it is my business and, as with much of Second Life, real people with real hearts are involved. But suffice to say I am fine, and I sincerely hope everyone else is OK.

Out of everything came the decision to sell the home in Vacuul. I originally bought it on my own on 2 November 2018 in an auction and it was the first place I properly landscaped. I was very proud of it and it was a lovely place to relax either with friends or alone. More recently I shared the place with Abby. But – SL time being what it is – the 124 days for which I owned the place felt like an age, and in a few ways the place held too much history.

Sometimes it’s nice to just rip everything up and start again.

It was sold in just a couple of hours for more than I paid for it – to the person I barely beat to it in the original auction! So that worked out well for both of us, well kinda 🙂

This was actually my third home in Second Life. My first home was a $60L-a-week rented ‘scene changer’ skybox which was actually pretty great – and super cosy! It could be changed into any one of about 25 “scenes” including a beach hut (which was my favourite) but also had options like a Manhattan, Paris or London apartment, a castle, dungeon, various BDSM-rigged rooms (heh, of course *side-eyes-SL-builders*) and lots more. I imagine they are pretty common skyboxes so you might be familiar with these.

Waiting for you
My second home was a 1024 SQM plot my good friend Kendra sold to me for just 100 Lindens (she basically gave it me for free). It was great there because I became her neighbour along with Alice, and we shared some good times.

Sadly it was in the middle of an adult area so did suffer from a bit too much lag, but I did make an attempt at building there – just a simple flat garden around my house, with some little touches. In the end I sold it because I wanted a bit more scope for creativity and I wanted to be by the sea!

missing you

Then when I won the auction I was very excited – it was the first large plot I had ever had at 2560 square metres.

I made a small mistake because I hadn’t realised the sea directly in front of my beach was not ‘protected’ water. And after a long while, one day, it reverted from being sea to having a mesh land mass with a rental sign on it. So it had been rented but unused all that time and it had finally expired. Put it down to lack of experience on my part. So after that I had to pay an additional $650L a week just to keep that rental mesh block reappearing and spoiling the view. However on a positive note it did allow me to add a beach hut and a pier and to moor my new yacht there.

I was super proud of the place, and also had lovely neighbours Candy and Sasha. I will miss it but it’s time to move on, and the future looks positive. More on that in good time.

Here’s a gallery of the old place. Out of curiosity I went back yesterday… funny seeing it all reset and empty again.

Olivia’s Tropical Paradise, 2 November 2018 – 6 March 2019

dunes
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[Edit: SOLD] 2560sqm Mainland parcel

I am selling what was my home in Second Life. It’s a 2560 square metre parcel in a nice moderate region by the sea. It’s not too busy and sim lag is low. But it’s not so quiet that nobody is around -– the neighbours are friendly 🙂

Visit this location in Second Life

Here are a few more photos as it is now, though please note that the objects are not for sale with the land.

entrance steps

garden

dunes

beach

Visit this location in Second Life

On Switching to a Mesh Head

This post is well overdue because I switched from the standard Second Life system head to a mesh head on 19 January, and within a few days I had adjusted it to my liking and was wearing it out in public.

I could never go back!

But gosh I ummed and ahhed about whether I should switch to a mesh head for weeks and weeks. People told me not to change. “Mesh heads cause lag”… “You look great already”, “People with mesh heads all look the same”. There was some truth in these statements. So I will tackle them one by one:

  • Lag – yes everything that has to be loaded in world contributes to lag. By the same argument taken in reverse we could all walk around in textureless cube prims and it would be less laggy in busy places. But I want to look and feel good in my avatar so I want to look as lifelike as possible. De-render me or set a suitable complexity limit in your viewer if you don’t want to see me.
  • You look great already – Well I looked OK from a distance and with some hairstyles. But I was never that happy with how I looked close up and from some angles. And also the main thing for me was not having facial expressions. I had pretty much the same expression in every photo of me. The only time it would change was when certain furniture poses (mostly sex poses) took control over the face. But the system head “enjoyment” expressions looked pretty comical to me.
  • On all looking the same – Some models of mesh head are very popular and some people do not edit the face shape that comes with it. The one I chose was slightly less well known and I spent some time adjusting my face shape until it felt like me. Also the skin I already had came with an applier for my new head so I was able to keep my skin, which itself is a less than common one. I’m pretty sure I don’t look like a lot of other people.

I wanted to do this post for a while but needed some comparable shots of old me and new me to do a side by side comparison. Last night i set up this simple photo studio from Strawberry Singh and took off my mesh head to take these some old me shots:

Old Me 1

Old Me 1 (pre-mesh head, see link in description)

Old Me 2

Old Me 2 (pre-mesh head, see link in description)

Now, in fairness to old me these are not that flattering although the front-on one is better than the 3/4 angle one. This was always my main problem with the old head. I was never happy with how I looked in profile.

I should also point out that I didn’t adjust the hair here, which is set up for my new head. With hindsight I should have made a copy and adjusted it back how it was for these shots. My fringe is too low here. The other thing is I normally wore a blonde version of this hair with my old head, but I wanted to only change the head here to make the comparison fairer. There are plenty of more flattering pics of Old Me on Flickr such as this one and this one.

So onto New Me…

New Me 1

New Me 1

 

New Me 2

New Me 2

Well for a start I can smile now! I love my new face so much, it’s much softer and – obviously more expressive. For those who don’t know mesh heads come with a HUD that lets you control your facial expressions (at least the Catwa and LAQ ones do). Or you can set general moods and it just cycles through expressions that indicate that mood.

My mesh head is CATWA Head Lona (mp link)

Yes it’s quite expensive, but it’s the kind of thing you might only buy once. I tried four of their demos including the popular Catya which is also lovely, but this felt more like me. You have to start with the Bento shape that comes with it, which unfortunately also sets your whole body shape – so I made a note of all my old body shape slider settings and then typed them all back in, then finally adjusted my head shape starting from the new Bento defaults until I had what I wanted.

My skin is Solii :Nude: in (E) Chocolate (mp link) by Stix. As mentioned above I had the same skin before. It includes an Omega applier for Catwa heads.

General thoughts

I have picked up on some snobbery about mesh heads. A friend of mine got told meanly she “looked like a crappy noob” because she doesn’t have a mesh head (she is not a noob). I once got told I could not apply for a job as a dancer because I did not have one.

I think they do generally look better than system heads but it is possible to look totally great with a system head too with some adjustment and the right makeup and hair. There’s no need to be an asshole about it. Some people don’t want to spend $5000L on a mesh head or just don’t care that much and that’s totally fair enough. I’m a bit vain I suppose and just want to look my best. And this new head makes me happy and feels more like me. And the other thing is that I am really into Second Life photography (I take too many selfies) so that is a factor too.

But in no way do I subscribe to this idea that everyone has to go down this route. And yes when a sim is laggy or someone has a bad connection sometimes I appear to be headless while it loads. I guess I will just have to deal with that. *sticks out her tongue*

Sun is Shining

I have nothing much to blog about today but, this being social media (well, kinda) that won’t stop me blogging.

In brief… It’s warm and sunny in RL UK. The birds are singing and we are going for a walk. I live in a small town nestled between tree-covered hills, and today is one of those days when you’re reminded how beautiful our planet is.

Second Life… Well, suffice to say I have never been happier. I have had an amazing week, feels like I’m still falling down the rabbit hole sometimes but I’m more than comfortable with the sensation. I love my Second Life so much.

Anyway, in lieu of any real news here is a photo of me in the shower. It’s my most popular Flickr pic so far. Not my favourite but the one with the most likes 🙂

Beach Shower

One Billion Rising in Second Life

I have to admit I hadn’t heard of #OBR until about a week ago when I saw some tweets about it from a few Second Life residents I follow. If like me you were unaware of it OBR is a global movement to end rape and sexual violence against women. You can find out more here on Wikipedia.

OBR is marked on 14 February every year in Second Life, and you can find more about the event at onebillionrisingsl.wordpress.com. It consists of a big music event and lots of art installations and exhibits – each on the theme of unity against all forms of violence against women.

Here’s what the official website said about this year’s event:

The Second Life event will feature a four-region stage where 200 people can come together to dance, surrounded by an area of art installations, arenas for poetry, live music, and dance and dramatic productions, and informational exhibits. A variety of performers will play over the 24-hour period and poetry and dance events will be held at different times, enabling people all over the world to attend this virtual event no matter their timezone.

Sheree made it down to the event on 14 February and blogged about it here and also shared some photos on Twitter.

I was busy with real life stuff during the day but made it down for half an hour very late in the evening along with Abby. Most the the music had finished but there were still plenty of people dancing to some live music at one of the main arenas.

I don’t know how long the regions will exist for (I can’t get into SL today to check) but here is the SLurl: maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/OBR%20Rise/166/236/24

On Friday (15th) in the evening I had a few hours on my own in Second Life so went back and tried have a good look at as many of the art installations as I could. I found lots of what I saw to be beautiful, thought-provoking and also very moving.

I took quite a few photos and you can see them here on Flickr.

I wanted to also share a few favourites here. I’m afraid I didn’t note down the artists’ names or the titles of the work where they were given… A lot of them didn’t seem to be named at all, so please forgive the lack of artist credits provided here.

Untitled

Walls

Earth Fountain

One Billion Rising…

One Billion Rising

Pedestal

One of the most poignant areas was the #MeToo Garden. As I stepped off the main path into that area I saw a cave entrance and instinctively walked in. I found myself in a winding tunnel. I worked my way along the tunnel for a few moments until I stepped into the main cavern. It was beautiful.

Safe Place cave at the #MeToo Garden

I passed a woman near the entrance to the main chamber and said Hello. She was wearing one of the official OBR 2019 t-shirts. After exploring for a moment I told her that I thought it was beautiful, and mentioned that I was taking some photos. She kindly offered to get out of the way.

I asked her about the cave and she told me it was her creation. (Unfortunately I spoke to her in Nearby chat and I don’t have the chat log to find her name.)

She told me she didn’t want to prescribe meaning to others but, as I had asked, she told me that it represented to her a safe place that she had needed to go to at some times in her life. And that the sharp edges represented violence and pain, and the warm colours represented the happiness and magic in her life.

Safe Place cave at the #MeToo Garden

While arguably this cave was not the most visually iconic or sophisticated piece of art at OBR 2019, for me it was the most memorable. Standing in the middle of her creation the woman’s words moved me to tears. I think most of us can relate to that happy place in one way or another, and for me in some ways, and at some times, Second Life itself represents exactly that.

I am sorry I don’t have a name to credit the work to!

Fix your ankles!

So… You probably noticed a lot of us in Second Life like to wear high heels a lot of the time. Unlike real life there is no such thing as impractical footwear. Go for it – wear your stilettos on the beach! Run in them! All day! Zero blisters. Yay!

And for the uninitiated: most of us have a mesh body right? The thing is your underlying (hidden) system avatar has no idea you are wearing highs. It thinks your feet are flat. So when some poses get set (we are talking furniture poses typically) and the animation tells your avatar to point her feet, the hidden system flat feet do just that but your mesh body feet, which are already at their limit in your 6″ heels, bend way past that point.

So this is the result:

Screenshot 2019-01-17 09.08.14.png

Source: anon (Flickr)

OK so I gather that with some pretty niche extreme high heel training in RL (really not recommended) it is possible to push the limits of your ankle a bit but nothing like that!

Am I the only one for whom this makes them feel a bit queasy? It looks to me like someone’s come along and smashed your ankles with a sledgehammer.

Kathy Bates in Misery

Now each to their own and all that… Maybe hobbled ankles are your thing. But last time I checked heels are meant to look sexy, so this just kills it for me. Makes me feel a bit…

disgusted.gif

What’s weird is:

  • It’s super easy to fix.
  • Half of people either don’t notice or don’t seem to care.

Maybe I’m just fussy about details (I am) but a big part playing with avatars is to create an immersive simulation. Stop me if I’m wrong. The avatar is *all* about the visual. So why leave a glaringly obvious deformity?

OK… if you just forget for 5 minutes IW no big deal. I’ve done a lot worse. But to actually take photos and post them on Flickr like that. Like… can’t you see?

I mentioned this to a friend the other day. She was completely oblivious to the problem or (once I’d pointed it out) how to solve it.

If you really don’t know then read on.

See? That wasn’t so hard now was it?

 

 

Six Months Old Today

I joined Second Life on 15 July 2018. Well, OK, yes, I had a previous life in 2016 but that is ancient history. I didn’t progress far in that life but I did learn a lot and that meant when I decided to come back I was able to get up to speed quite quickly.

These last six months have been completely different and I would say a life changing experience. I think I have learned enough to be out of NOOB territory, but I am not the one to be the judge of that. And having said that, because most of my Second Life friends are SL veterans it feels like every other day I still make some embarrassing faux pas due to misunderstanding something. *rolls eyes*

NOOB avatar party at Paradise Disc O Theque

Second Life is full of arbitrary curiosities and things you just have to know, which is half the charm of it I suppose but can also be confusing! There is always lots more to learn. I have a terrible memory for names of things, which doesn’t help.

For example clothes! I wish there was a visual wardrobe for individual items, or a thumbnail preview when you hover over things in the inventory. ‘What was that jacket called again?’ I need to get my head around using saved outfits I think, and saving a picture of each one. A mammoth task for that quiet day alone in SL which never seems to come along.

Avatar wise… the next thing for me that I want to do is find a mesh head that I am comfortable with. I am pretty happy with how I designed my avatar and my current head. And the skin and eyebrows I found. And people compliment me on my appearance and tell me not to change it. But I don’t like the facial expressions or sometimes lack of expressions that you get with the standard avatar head. In most pictures of me I have exactly the same expression. But I am a bit scared about looking so different with a mesh head it changes how I come across.

getting ready to go out

I am looking into the Catwa Catya head. I have had a demo in my inventory for a few weeks but have not had time to try it out because of other priorities. My skin (from Stix) that I have, and which I love, has an applier for Catwa so my understanding is that this will make it match my body perfectly. But I am still confused a bit about faces… Whether the face is set by the skin or just by the shape sliders or both, or by some other add-on else as well, and so on…  I have had it explained to me but didn’t really understand fully. I just need to try it out and see what happens!

❤️❤️❤️

People! When I joined in July, after I had spent a few days making my avatar, I looked up an old friend from my old life and hung out with her at a place she runs and met a couple of new friends. It wasn’t long after that I followed one of those new friends down a teleport rabbit hole one night and found myself at god-knows-where-but-some-adult-stuff-seems-to-be-going-on-and-oooh-ok-then… A sim called Chi Tau City.

When you are new and if, like me, you are curious to try new things there is the novelty of adult stuff in SL. I had not really explored it freely in my old Second Life and did, I admit, enjoy a few weeks hanging out at this adult sim and trying various things sometimes with complete strangers.

On the roof terrace with Boda

As in real life I love sex but I don’t like to talk about it too publicly. Maybe partly that is being British and maybe I should get over it. Suffice to say I am not prudish at all in private, but generally speaking I prefer to keep what goes on in the bedroom to myself. I like to try and maintain a bit of self respect in public.

Before long I got a little bored of what was sometimes basically interactive porn at this adult sim. To be fair many there do role play well and made it feel more real than just empty animations but still… Also there were a couple of occasions when I looked back at the previous night and felt a bit ashamed. I was playing this slutty version of me because I guess it is ultimately safe in SL so what the hell right? but as I got more into my life I just felt uncomfortable opening my legs so willingly. The other thing is there was no need for flirting or need for “the chase” there. Sex was the default. New guests are welcomed with a blowjob. And so for me it was a bit devalued and didn’t turn me on as much as it used to.

I still go back from time to time though usually clothed, just to hang out and chat or go to the club there.

DJ Kendra

The main reason I mention Chi Tau is I did met some lovely and wonderful people there, many of whom remain friends to this day. Two of them, Alice and Kendra were neighbours for a while when I first owned my own place. Kendra sold me my very first land parcel – 1024SQM for only $100L (I later sold it for $8,000L but she refused to let me share the profit with her, bless her).

We have since moved away from each other due to me buying a better parcel by the sea and them also moving, but those were the first people I developed a real friendship with. Alice and I sit and chat for hours sometimes. Timing is tricky because she is in Australia but we try to find some time at least once every week or so.

Chatting round at Alice’s

Also I don’t want to take anything away from the people who run Chi Tau… It is pretty big and a lot of work goes into making it run, with events every day and games and scoring systems and so on. For a lot of people it’s a great place, just depends what you want in life. For me it was a stepping stone that took me from newbie with no friends to having a social circle, and for that I am thankful 🙂

❤️❤️❤️

Lena. We shared some intimate secrets. We fell in love and were very close. I can’t really put succinctly what went wrong. Suffice to say she did nothing wrong, and it is a private matter. I wanted to mention her because she was a big part of my first six months in SL and I am very grateful for the magical times we spent together. I hope she is happy and well, whatever she is doing.

I resolved after separating from Lena to have a bit of a break from all of that heavy emotional stuff and get back to having fun, and also getting creative such as with the work I did on designing my new home.

retro games

Around this time I had met Sheree on Twitter and then met her in-world when I visited to her cafe, which at the time was set up for Halloween. Sheree has been a close friend ever since and has taken me on lots of adventures including sailing, speedboating, flying in a helicopter, flying in a plane and invading an aircraft carrier.

Puss-Air buzzing the Coast Guard

Sheree is also a vampire and was the first to bite me, inducting me into the world of Bloodlines which is a vampire RP game that runs in Second Life. We don’t take it super seriously but it is a lot of fun and a good excuse to bite people (or in my case be bitten). And also within Bloodlines there are clans, and through our clan Angels of Cyrus I have met even more new friends and been to some great parties too 🙂

Sheree introduced me to her partner Abby, who you can see in the next picture about to sink her fangs into my neck! That turned out to be quite a day…

Feeding my darling vampires

It’s hard to believe that was only six weeks ago. Maybe it was the bite, but something infected me that day and I started seeing Abby quite a lot, both with Sheree but also sometimes just the two of us hanging out and going shopping or exploring.

To be honest… and I had to keep this to myself for weeks… trying to play it cool (which I later learned I did a pretty bad job of lol)… I didn’t really care so much where I went or what I was doing so long as it was with Abby.

Uh-oh… yes here we go with all that emotional stuff again.

Abby came to visit

What was lovely was all of the time I spent with Abby was out in the open. It’s lovely to meet a couple so mature and open about things that they can comfortably welcome a new person like me into their world. Especially given how people live in different time zones, or have different hours or days when they can access Second Life, open relationships can make a lot of sense for people who have the right attitude.

my butt photobombing an otherwise perfect shot

And so it was… just six days ago that I had a chat with Sheree and she told me that Abby and I had her blessing if we wanted to make it official, which of course we did because… well, I don’t need to spell it out. ❤️❤️

And furthermore I was invited me to take the family name Honeyflower (which I happen to think sounds just perfect after Olivia) and also come and share their lovely home. Thank you so much!

On the deck at Vinyard Island West

So that is how, exactly six months into my life, I come to be writing this sat out on the deck by the water’s edge in one of the most exclusive and beautiful spots in all of Second Life and feeling like I’ve won the romantic lottery too.

It has been a whirlwind six months and I just want to say how grateful I am to all the people mentioned above. But especially to Sheree for being generous, lovely and selfless, and to Abby for putting up with the emotional soap opera in my head, and being there for me in so many ways. I love you.

Olivia over and out. X