Archive for August, 2009

The seven people you meet in Second Life

August 26, 2009

If you read blogs, twitter feeds, watch the news, or really are connected in anyway to mainstream society, chances are you have heard of Second Life.  It was even a topic of an Office Episode as well as CSI: wherever they were that week a few years ago.  I did an interview once in Second Life.  This wasn’t a job interview, in fact, I blogged about it, way back then.  Well after a few years of wandering around, flying, teleporting, accepting freebies and trying to make an avatar that looked remotely like me (I was never successful), I finally reached a verdict.  This place is stealing time just like youtube, facebook, twitter, espn.com, etc.  You sit down, start doing some exploring and then next thing you know, you have grown a beard and your kids are graduating from college.  Are you any wiser?  Maybe you learned how to build something that resembles a piece of wood.  Or you figured out how to emote (make it look like your avatar is showing emotion not talking).  Perhaps you found a fake pet that circled around you and barked or meowed or wanted to eat virtual food.  Big deal though right?  Can’t you got to Home Depot and get a piece of plywood?  Can’t you get a pet (my house being the exception since the answer here is still “no”) and aren’t emoticons enough?  Okay, don’t answer that last question.    I will say that while I’d like to bill Linden Labs back for time served, I did meet some rather interesting people.  So I present to you, the seven people you will meet should you ever venture in to Second Life.  Why Seven?  Cause Mitch Albom wouldn’t return my calls to see if he has a copyright on the whole “five people you meet” thing.

Harry Helper:  This person hangs out exclusively in information hubs.  These are the places newbies (people who are new to Second Life) go after they have created their online persona.  Since most new people have yet to establish residence (buy land, build a house, rent…yes you can do all that there), they often will use these places as their “home” for when they log on.  Harry is here.  Always.  You can login at any time day or night and there’s Harry.  Most likely, Harry will have a very strange looking avatar with something floating around his head.  He’ll be typing and talking and handing out advice like “your face light is too bright” or “perhaps you should get some clothes that fit”.  In real life, Harry is a 19 year old boy who dropped out of college when he discovered Second Life and sees helping people as his life’s purpose.  At least until his parents kick him out.

Suzie Stripper:  Let’s face it; real life (or RL as they call it in Second Life) isn’t all roses and churches.  There may be a club or two in your city where people pay other people to remove articles of clothing.  Well, the same thing happens in SL except that since you can create your look, there are not those limitations that you have to have legs of a certain length or other body parts of a specific volume.  Suzie most likely is “employed” at a few places and dances for tips.  She goes out and recruits people to come see her by dressing provocatively and heading to hubs to get your attention and teleport you to the club where she is performing.  She will then remind you that her tip jar is next to her dance pole while pointing at it with her stiletto clad foot.  She might also ask you to join her group to announce where she’ll be dancing next.  In most cases, she’ll have another avatar (you can have quite a few) that is her normal one that gets the money she makes and buys things like hair, skin, body shapes, houses, land, etc.  In real life, this woman who on your screen looks 6 foot tall, 42-24-36 is actually 5 and a half feet tall and weighs 280 pounds.  Oh, and she’s a man.

Gerald Griefer:  This guy completely sucks.  His entire purpose in second life is to bother people.  He is either a bully in real life who figured out how to use a computer, or he’s someone who was bullied way too much when he was younger and is exacting his revenge.  Either way, his MO is to fly around from area to area and wreak havoc.  He may stand in an info hub and try to shoot you or come at you with a sword.  He may swear constantly until you feel the urge to leave.  He may throw out pictures from his avatar that gives you nightmares for weeks.  If this guy is around and you are sitting in a multi-position chair, he’ll move you from sitting comfortably to somehow standing on your head.  If you are jet skiing, he’ll ram you with a power boat.  I’m not sure why this guy exists, but he does.  In real life, he drinks Zima that he saved from 1998.

Nelson Newbie:  Way back when I first started in Second Life, you really didn’t have that many options on how your first person would look.  You were either a man or woman (you got to chose that).  When you first appeared you had a generic look and could make changes.  Once you have been “in world” for a while, you will receive or purchase clothing, hair, skin and shapes that can make you look less like the new guy.  Of course, now you have the option of around 20 character looks for your starting avatar.  Still, you will inevitably run into someone who looks exactly like you because neither of you have bothered to change your look.  Nelson is in one of those people.  Oh, and he can’t move very well and talks in local chat even when he’s just trying to talk to one person, and he might be missing a shoe.  In real life, he has created accounts in Second Life, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online and gmail and can’t remember any of his user names or passwords. 

Clarence Corporate:  Clarence works for a company, probably a fairly large company.  He was hired a few years ago into the research group and went to a few conventions where he heard about what other corporations are doing in Second Life.  Clarence is a bright person who immediately set up a business plan and convinced his management to invest in an island or two for their corporation.  He then recruited other people inside the company to join him on the island for meetings and brainstorming.  These people then went to their management who asked them to figure out how they were going to make money in this area where they were spending time.  When the answer was, “we’re not really sure, but it is a great place to meet and talk with customers….” Deaf ears meet with the rest of the statements and Clarence is left to watch his team disappear one person at a time.  In real life, Clarence will be just fine, he’s a researcher, all he needs is another idea to look into and he’ll find funding. 

Amelia Addict:  Remember when you were in college and your roommate had a Nintendo with Tetris and you found yourself playing it during breaks and before going to class in the morning and late in the afternoon and drawing the blocks on your notebooks and trying to work strategy in your head while lying in bed trying to sleep?  Right, I don’t remember that either.  Well, Amelia logs in to Second Life in the morning while her coffee is brewing.  She’ll check in after the shower before heading to work.  Depending on where she works, she might check in during a break or lunch.  In some cases, if she works at home, she might even stay online and just tell her friends she is away from her keyboard if she needs to do something like eat, drink, or talk on the phone.  She’ll be on before making dinner and tell everyone what she’s making and then will stay on late, falling asleep at the keyboard.  She is very quick to share personal information about her unhappy single life or how she has partnered in SL twice already and it didn’t go well.  She wants you to talk with her if you are online, even if you are not in the same area and will complain if you do not reply to an instant message.  She has described her self in RL as short and petite and in her early thirties.  In reality, she is short, not so petite and in her mid forties.  Oh, and she’s a man.

Lorraine Lonely:  Lorraine and Amelia are close, but Lorraine will declare that Amelia is too obsessed with SL, unlike her.  Lorraine retired a few years ago from RL work and spends her day running a business in SL because she doesn’t really need to make money in RL any more.  She divorced twice in RL and has a live in boyfriend, or that’s what she will tell you the third time you meet.  Lorraine, much like Suzie, has three or four avatars.  Two of those are partnered (the equivalent of marriage in SL except lets face it, it’s not really the same thing) and if she’s crafty, neither partner will know she runs both avatars.  Lorraine has tried everything in SL and is a great source of information for someone like Nelson, or even Clarence.  She has reported more than one Gerald to Linden Labs and tried to partner with Harry when she first joined SL.  She has been here for three years already and will be there when they close the servers down for the last time or when they shut off her internet access.  I have to guess she is not a man, but this is SL, so who knows.

Seven people you will meet in Second Life.  Well, when it isn’t crashing.  Let me know who I forgot.

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Boom goes the tire

August 11, 2009

Last Friday, fantastic weather and an available vacation day converged to allow for another attempt at increasing my mileage on my road bike.  My plan was to crank through 75 to 80 miles solo.  This would be the longest I had ridden alone.  A month ago, along with two other people, we road 80 miles so it was not a matter of getting that far.  The biggest issue was carrying all the things I would need to consume on the trip.  I’m not sure how things are in your town, but I do not feel comfortable leaving my bike outside a convenience store to go in and purchase water.  Perhaps I’m paranoid. 

Riding gives you a lot of time to think, and sing songs in your head.  I tend not to take an iPod or MP3 player on ride.  Never mind the fact that I don’t own either of those, I just find it’s better to hear the cars, motorcycles, semi-trucks and tractors coming up behind me rather than just noticing them as they drive by.  The further I got in my ride, the more I noticed the change in roads, traffic, wind patterns, smells, and wildlife.  Either that or I got progressively delirious.  Somewhere halfway through my ride, I decided I should try to recall something about each road with the exception of mine since there really is nothing memorable about it.  Let’s see how good my memory is.

Jefferson Road:  I didn’t start on this road, but after a few miles, started here and headed East.  Nice shoulder on both sides of the roads.  That’s one thing about this area, if a road is part of a bike route; they tend to put a nice wide shoulder on there.  That way there really isn’t an excuse for not riding on it.

East Street:  not part of a bike route and therefore, no real shoulders, but light traffic.  I should mention that I had quite a great day with cars on the road.  They were all very courteous, waved me to go ahead at four way stops, gave me plenty of space, waited before passing on curves, and with the exception of one car of idiots, it was a nice clean ride.

Park Road, Route 96, Fishers Road:  This was a little detour so that I could get a few hills in early in the trip.  I was not on 96 for long thankfully.  Park Road and Fishers takes you through and around Powdermill Park past the fish hatchery and then out toward Victor.  Fishers Road took me to Main Street in Fishers.  This was a road I had ridden a few times, at least part of it during the black diamond duathlon.

Mile Square, Taylor, Strong, Dryer, Willis Hill:  A nice little circuit that eats up a few miles with some rolling hills.  Willis Hill is a nice easy down hill where you don’t pick up too much speed and can relax a little.  In other words, it’s a great place to eat a bagel and peanut butter sandwich while you cruise along.

Route 251:  This road was a little rough.  The shoulders are a bit narrow, but at least there are some.  Cars go by fast, but tend to give you space.  The challenge was the headwind heading up to Route 65.  It’s been a while since I went into Honeoye from the north not the west.  Two nice down hills and a long, long up hill and you are down in the town to stop at a gas station to offload garbage, refill a water bottle (and lighten your back pockets) and in case your mother calls (mine did), you can talk with her while you’re stopped.

27 miles in is a great time to check progress.  How are the legs, neck and lets not forget your butt.  After all, it’s not like those bicycle seats are made to be incredibly comfortable.  Yes, I know there are bike shorts, I wear them and refuse photographs, but even those can allow for some discomfort after a while.  The next part of the plan was to head to Conesus Lake where we were planning on camping later in the summer.  Of course, I didn’t want to take a direct route, what fun would that be.

Honeoye Falls Road #6:  One of my favorite roads at the moment.  This is a nice rolling road that is fairly straight, has some nice ups and downs and finishes on River Road in Avon.  There are only two problems.  1.  There is a quarry which means dump trucks are going to pass you empty heading there and full heading back.  2.  The gun club.  There is nothing like riding along listening to the sounds of nature, wind, cars and rifle shots.  I always feel like I need to duck as I ride by.

East River Road, North Avenue and East Main (routes 5&20) puts me in Avon and heading back East.

Pole Bridge Road:  As soon as I turned on this road, I noticed a hill.  Well no problem right?  This is what I was supposed to do, ride hills.  Of course after cresting that hill, I found another.  Then another, another, and a few more appeared.  Passing farm land, clusters of houses, and trees, there is a certain peace that appears under your helmet.  You get in a rhythm as the pedals are pushed, your hands shift the gears, your bladder fills.  Okay, let’s skip that part.

Lakeville Road (20A), Big Tree Road:  sent me looking for the campground which I did not find.  After returning I saw on a map it was further south on the east side of the lake and I didn’t really feel like adding unneeded miles when I was worried about my water supply.

Bronson Hill Road:  There was nothing at the entrance to this road that noted if it was named after Charles, but I was questioning how they could really call it a road.  Bronson Path was being generous.  The shoulder was there, but it was filled with tractor tracks.  The road was surrounded on all sides by farmland, mostly corn, so most of the traffic is probably tractors.  The right side of the road had been patched and patched.  I felt like I was arriving in France on the Champs Elyses; sort of anyway, minus the cheering crowds and podium girls of course.  This was the beginning of the struggle for me.

You might experience The Wall.  I don’t think it is a foreign concept.  There is this point during a run, workout, workday, concert, ride, whatever where you hit a point and have a few choices.  You can struggle through until you get your second (or third or fourth wind), you can coast through to the end, or you can quit.  I couldn’t quit at this point, I just waited for my second wind, and waited, and waited, and waited.

East Avon Road:  not yet

Jenks Road:  nope

Gilbert Mills Road:  water bottle refill and natural break, but no

Honeoye Falls #6:  still not there

Five Points Road:  the deer jumping at the road side didn’t help

15A:  maybe?  Ok, no

251:  I don’t think it’s going to get here

Pinnacle:  Okay, let’s just hang on until we get home.

Two things happened in the last 2 miles.  I had gone 70 miles on my bike.  Had been gone from my house for over 5 hours and had only really stopped four times and ate while moving.  I hit a wall, but pushed through; all I need to do was get home.  Then I heard the thumping.  I looked down at my rear tire and noticed a bulge.  Two miles from home, I slowed down.  I think if I had let some air out of the tire, which might have helped.  Could this be the woodchuck hit from a few days earlier coming back to haunt me?

“PENIS!!!”

What?  Seriously?  I looked up to see a kid, probably high school aged with his head out the window of a black Infiniti SUV laughing as he and his friends passed me.  They laughed at their cleverness as they must have plotted ahead, hey, look, a cyclist, let’s shout something at him and make him flinch, won’t that be fun.  Yeah, yeah, and let’s shout something hilarious, something that will make all of us laugh.  Oh, and then let’s all go to the mall in daddy’s car and we can tell our friends how we made this guy jump.  We are so cool.  Obviously, I think these kids are idiots.

BANG!!!

That was my rear tire.  A hole was blown right through the tire.  No patching for this, this tire was done.  Time to walk the rest of the way home, happy that it waited that long to go, and I only had to walk a mile in my own shoes.

All in all a decent day, tainted by two events: the tire I can replace, and the shouting I can chalk up to youthful idiocy.  To the idiots in the car, if you were curious if I have one, the answer is yes.  We all do.  They come in different sizes.  I’m guessing yours is rather small.