Monday, September 20, 2010

Drill Baby Drill

Offshore Oil Rig in ANWR

In the wake of the BP oil spill, there is panic in the Gulf of Mexico. The people that are panicking are academic researchers, politicians, journalists, environmental scaremongers and money-grabbing opportunists. Why the panic? They can't find any oil in the Gulf nor any long-lasting ecological damage to the coastal areas. Certainly not anything even remotely resembling the environmental catastrophe that these people were eager to showcase and exploit. The white sand beaches are clean. Marsh grasses are sprouting. The fisheries and shrimping areas are back and given a clean bill. As one prominent marine scientist working with the response effort put it, "There's a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it." What happen to the oil? Much of it evaporated. More was dissolved or dispersed in the vast volume of seawater. Still more, and perhaps most, was consumed by microorganisms that find hydrocarbons especially yummy and went into a feeding frenzy in those oil plumes.

We feel sorrow for the families of the eleven men who lost their lives in the accident. Of course, the executives at BP have been rightfully hoisted up by the lapels for their gross negligence, heads rolled, and the company (i.e. the retired pensioners of Great Britain) will be made to pay dearly for damages. But the hype by environmental scaremongers and the media is also responsible for significant and costly economic damage to the Gulf states as the hype hit hard their tourist, fishing, and oil industries. Will they ever be held responsible for the damage they caused or even admit to it? To say nothing of the administration's unnecessary moratorium on all deep water drilling in the Gulf that knowingly put at risk 23,000 jobs in the region to make a phony demonstration of leadership in the midst of demonstrative ineptitude.

Deep Water Drilling in Second Life

I wanted to visit a deep water drilling platform while we still have a domestic oil industry. I was delighted to have found that opportunity in Second Life.  The rig is wickedly located in ANWR.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them
for better viewing

Deep Water Drilling in Real Life

The platform at ANWR has details and touches that give you the feel of being at sea on a drilling platform. Regardless of your views on offshore drilling, ANWR provides a diverting virtual experience that is worth your while.  You might leave with an appreciation of these engineering marvels.

I love the look and sounds of industry on this rig. In the background, you hear the pumps and drilling. Pipes and valves are all around. Better look out for the hot steam jetting from those pipes. And best of all, in real life, are the brawny rig workers, skilled technicians and brainy engineers that put in the long hours and endure the hardships and dangers of life on these platforms.


Control rooms intrigue me. I like all the buttons and switches and flashing lights. I pressed a combination of buttons at random when all of a sudden bells began ringing, a horn went off (ooga ooga), and people began jumping over the sides.  I hope those hydrocarbon eating microorganisms are still hungry.

Thank goodness, it was a false alarm. By evening, things had settled down, and the night shift took their stations. It was time for me to go.

Thanks guys for filling up my gas tank.



The Hype:

The Hysteria: The Whole Sea Floor under the Gulf is going to Blow Up, and it's BP's fault. - "Think Mount St. Helens underwater."

 The Good Guys: A look at Life on an offshore Oil Rig


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chinese Brush Painting/ A New Mariko

China, a Chinese Brush Painted Sim

Second Life offers many artistic pleasures; the best of which explore the potential within virtual worlds to be uniquely entertained and enlightened by the arts. In Second Life, I've experienced paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali that have been rendered into three dimensions in our virtual space. So, rather than merely viewing the painting, one can actually enter the work, wander about its composition, and interact with its objects. Imagine walking about Vincent Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles, viewing the room from all perspectives, and plopping down on Van Gogh's bed. It was great fun.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing

But the most immersive art experience that I have had in Second Life was not an immersion in a particular work of art but immersion in an particular art form, that of Chinese Brush Painting. Chinese brush painting has a long history dating back to 2000 BC . Its techniques were codified in the 5th Century A.D. by the venerated master Hsieh Ho. Chinese brush painting emerged from calligraphy, considered by the Chinese as the highest art form, and utilizes strokes of a brush dipped in black or colored ink.   The artist paints with rapid brush strokes; some are strong and some are light, some are thick and some are thin, and some are wet and some are dry.  Each stroke is defining and never elaborated. The spirit (chi) of the artist flows from within and animates the movements of the brush. A master paints with authority and a spontaneity that captures the essence of the subject.

Above the China sim in Second Life is an encapsulated world where the virtual reality is that of brush painted impressions. Its not a world of realism; but one of essence. We walk among translucent shadows that are groves of bamboo in our mind's eye. In the distance, a dark shadow is a fisherman's shack set a shore of a lake whose rippling waters recede into the horizon. Above us is an ink washed sky. It's otherworldly; but hauntingly beautiful.

I showcased myself against this beautiful background because I want to introduce you to an updated look to my avatar. Many people express their creativity through the design of their avatars. Some of my friends change their shapes and skins so frequently that I recognize them chiefly by their name tags and not by their avatar. To me, my avatar is not a fashion accessory. Its design captures the essence of 'Mariko'. I am intimately familar with this essence. I know it when I see it. It's an important part of what defines me in Second Life. I've updated my avatar only once before. And any update must capture that essence.

Leena Ying, the owner of DrLife, is the greatest designer of avatars in Second Life. Her artistry is unsurpassed. And Leena is my oldest and dearest friend in this virtual world. She is the primary designer of my avatar. I perform the final tweeks. Leena had been trying to get me to update my avatar for almost a year as the artistry of her skins reached ever higher heights. Time and again, Leena would present me with a new skin. I would put it on; but, always revert back to my old skin. I could tell that this peeved her. But as artistically lovely as these new skins were, they just didn't capture 'Mariko'. Until she persented me this last one. It was close. Each skin has its own peculiarities that must be dealt with. And after countless tweeks and checks against references, 'Mariko' emerged once again. And the artistry is lightyears beyond what I previously had. Bless you, Leena.


The kimono that I'm wearing is from Sweetaholic Kimono Shop and is called Reishoku#black. It was designed by Asalt Eames and devil Babii and sells for L$500.  Sweetaholic Kimono Shop has an outstanding collection of kimono and accessories. I love this particular kimono because it looks very much like my mother's kimono, rarely worn and then only for special occasions. It is a family treasure. Reishoku#black also comes with a black feather shawl. The hair that I am wearing is from DrLife and is called Leena. Leena was designed by Leena Ying and sells for L$350. With Leena, you get 9 hair colors which you can select from a menu.


Sweetaholic Kimono Shop

DrLife Skins and Hair are available at Mariko in Mont Saint Michel


Videos - Chinese Brush Painting:


Monday, September 13, 2010

Goodbye Hallelujah

The sun sets on Hallelujah Azul

Hallelujah Azul is gone. This community had been an important part of my second life. I was introduced to the sim over two years ago, and it has been my home for the past year.  And here, I made friends and enjoyed a convivial and comfortable social life. The end came slowly. Ultimately, it was the economy and the high cost of sim ownership that brought the community to a close. I have great respect and admiration for owners of virtual communities and the owners of Hallelujah in particular - PT Beardmore, Owly Indigo, and Gwendolyn Bieler  - as they bear a significant out-of-pocket cost to create something truly special. Certainly, I am feeling sad. But I have such warm memories. So, rather than dwelling on the sadness,  I want to celebrate here a wonderful community that enjoyed a long and magnificent run.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

Hallelujah Places

Hallelujah had small town charm and plenty of character. We had a retail district of shops, apartments, and art galleries that ran along a water front and formed a picturesque Town Square in the interior of the district. I loved the beautiful Garden District where I lived in one of the district's townhouses. On the outlying areas were island parcels where residents could build homes to their preferences. Add the people and it all came together to form a wonderful community.

Hallelujah Town Square

Hallelujah Town Square

Retail District Water Front

Retail District Water Front

Hallelujah Town Square Performance Stage

Gwen, the last owner of Hallelujah, had a shop on the Town Square

Lulubelle Muircastle and Scylla Rhiadra brought their Shakespeare's Sister to Hallelujah. Shakespeare's Sister is a bookshop specializing in the works of women writers.

Shakespeare's Sister in the Town Square

The Garden District

The Garden District

A Gathering of Friends in the Garden District

Townhouses of the Garden District

My Townhouse

The interior of my townhouse.

Townhouses of the Garden District

The Townhouses at night.

Residences on the outer islands.

Hallelujah Boathouse

The Jittery Junco Coffee Shop

Bumble Cafe

Interior of the Bumble

Most of the socializing at Bumble was outside on the back deck.

Happenings in Hallelujah

January 8, 2009 - Before I was a resident, I would come to Hallelujah for the weekly Tub Talk. Tub Talk was a ladies only event that was hosted, on a rotating basis, by one of the residents. We would gather in a hot tub and engage in lively girl talk. Later, Tub Talk was opened to the guys.  

October 2008 - Tub Talk wasn't only talk. There was an infamous Tub Talk where 8 bikini clad babes in cowboy hats (including yours truly) piled on and rode a poor rubber ducky. The incident is known as the 'Cowboy Hat Duck Ride Orgy'. The duck loved it.

February 20, 2009 - Shakespeare's Sister opens in Hallelujah.

February 20, 2009 - Friends gather at Shakespeare's Sister to congratulate Lulu and Scylla on the relocation to Hallelujah.

June 12, 2009 - I become a resident of Hallelujah and move into my townhouse.

June 20, 2009 - Grand Opening Party for the Jittery Junco Coffee Shop. The square in front of the coffee house was filled with friends. Everyone was glammed up and looked fantastic. The girls put on a veritable fashion show. We all danced until early morning.

July 21, 2009 - The first appearance of Nine Warrhol at Hallelujah.
He is sitting on the floor at the lower right

October 9, 2009 - Kasbah comes to Hallelujah and holds a truly memorable grand opening with live performances throughout the day. The crowd grew and grew and reached epic numbers. And I never before experienced such stupefying lag as on that day. But, the club was a welcomed addition to the community, in my opinion.

October 23, 2009 - Sylar Morrisey gave the first live performance
at the Town Square Stage.

November 14-30, 2009 - Hallelujah Azul Art Walk. A wonderful event that brought the work of 15 artists from across the grid and the world to Hallelujah.

March 7, 2010 - It was Academy Awards night at Hallelujah, and the community and its guests celebrated in a grand style.

April 24, 2010 - The Bumble Cafe replaces Jittery Junco and becomes
the new social center at Hallelujah.

People of Hallelujah

I would like to end this homage to Hallelujah with pictures of some of the delightful and dear people of the community. This is my no means a complete gallery of people. I do have a large gallery of Hallelujah people in an earlier post called 'Jittery Junco Coffee Shop - The People'. A link to the post can be found below.

Gwendolyn Bieler

PT Beardmore

Owly Indigo

Shyla Bookmark and Janelle Darkstone

Nine Warrhol, PT Beardmore, and Ariel Wingtips

AngieBabe Perl

Lulubelle Muircastle

Scylla Rhiadra

Jaysun Dagger

Rocko Olifone and Tricia Frischein

Leesa Donner

Dagmar Heideman

Geesus Lisa

Lafite Abeyante

Michael Langway

Sasha Bazilinski

Howard Niosaki

Soy Source

Me with Syd Straaf and Stig Tiratzo

Scarletoke Susanowa

Samantha Kazakov

Johnny Firehawk

Me and my sister Victoria

A Special Thanks to Frey Brevin for bringing me to Hallelujah.

Previous Posts on Hallelujah:

Thursday Night Tub Talk at Hallelujah (January 8, 2009)

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah (June 13, 2009)

Toga Winners - Jaysun Dagger & Mariko Nightfire (June 21, 2009)

My Hallelujah Townhouse (July 15, 2009)

Garden Party (July 19, 2009)

Cerulean Zessinthal is Dead (July 22, 2009)

Jittery Junco Coffee Shop - The People (August 14, 2009)

Kasbah Comes to Hallelujah (October 10, 2009)

Hallelujah Azul Art Walk - November 14 to November 30 (November 15, 2009)

Oscar Night at Hallelujah Azul (March 8, 2010)

Spring Awakening - My Early Spring Garden (March 12, 2010)

Bumble Cafe, Hallelujah's New Meeting Place (May 1, 2010)

Hallelujah was named in tribute to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah: