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Happy Solstice!

As noted yesterday, today is the summer solstice!  Hope everyone got outside and enjoyed the sunshine!  (Apologies to my southern hemisphere readers - hang in there - your days will now get longer!)

Some fun facts you may or may not have known about the solstice can be found here, thanks to our friends at Discover Magazine.

I got out to the park today - was a perfect day - low 80's F and a few white clouds with a light breeze.

I took some pictures - a few here - see em all on my Flickr page (link in the sidebar).  As always, click to make em big!

         

         

                       

To see how people all around the globe celebrate(d) the Solstice, click here, thanks to our friends at National Geographic!

I hope your Solstice was full of sunshine (even if you live in the southern hemisphere)!


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Caffeine!

The title of this blog alludes to my eternal addiction to caffeine.  I thought it was time for a fun post about my favorite chemical compound and drug of choice.

I recently came across this picture:   Considering using it as my userpic here.

I actually don't think I have a physical addiction to coffee as much as I joke about it.  I do tend to rely heavily on it to get me through the afternoon slump that is 3-5 pm.  (And to stay up later so I can be online, of course.)  But I have gone days without it (shocking but true!) with no ill effects.  And especially in the summers I can completely forego my morning jolt and not indulge until the afternoon.  But  I do enjoy it!

If you've ever wondered just how much is too much caffeine, the folks over at Energy Fiend have created a fun (?) calculator to help you out and keep you safe!  Click here to check it out:
Caffeine Calculator.  The rest of the site is interesting as well.

There's been a ton of studies out lately that tout the benefits of caffeine, but I won't bore you with them here.

Chemically, caffeine is a rather attractive molecule.  So attractive that at least one small company makes jewelry in the shape of the molecule!  I saw these first-hand at the National Science Teacher's Association Conference last fall.  They are prettier in person and though I wanted a necklace, I did not have the money.  Nobody I tell believes me when I hint that I want one for Christmas or my birthday, lol.  Click here to see them: Caffeine Jewelry

There's always lots of humor to be found in fellow caffeine addicts.  Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert understands the importance of coffee in getting through a day at the office like nobody else.  The strip below hangs next to my desk at work:



Ok, that's it - nothing too deep - just a light-hearted look at my favorite molecule!

Don't forget to get outside tomorrow as it's the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere.  The day with the most hours of daylight.  For my Australian readers - it's the winter solstice - they day with the least amount of daylight - so get outside and enjoy what there is of it.




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Paraskevidekatriaphobia Anyone?

Yup, it's Friday the 13th!  Personally, just another day.  But to millions around the globe, a day fraught with peril and doom!  (But what a fun word to know!)

Historically, both the number 13 as well as Fridays have been seen as unlucky or ill omens.  For more detailed info, click here:

 http://www.snopes.com/luck/friday13.asp

Putting both pieces together to fear and/or revile Friday the 13th, seems to be a more recent invention, and one relegated to Western, Christian-dominated cultures.

I had always heard it linked to the end of the Templars in Europe, on Friday, October 13, 1307, when King Philip of France ordered all the seneschals in Europe to arrest the Templars on charges of heresy on the same day.

However, there is little written record of Friday the 13th being specifically unlucky prior to the 1800s.

We humans tend to fufill our own prophesies and look for connections when no causality is implied.  When the Apollo 13 mission suffered near-catastrophic failures, people blamed the "bad luck" on the number of the mission.  We seem to want to impose order and reason where there is none.

One survey, quoted in this article from National Geographic,http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0212_040212_friday13.html
cites one fourth of the respondents associate the number 13 with bad luck.

Personally, I feel we make our own "luck" - generally by making wise decisions and listening to our intuition or "gut". 

Do you do anything differently on Friday the 13th?  Let me know in the comments!



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Reflections on a Year in Second Life

I've run across a few things recently that sort of sum up for me what second life is like. 

The first is a song you may have heard on a Mac advertisement, but that I first heard on my favorite RL radio station.  It's called New Soul by Yael Naim.  The lyrics are a great statement for what joining SL was like for me:

I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and now fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

See I'm a young soul in this very strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout what is true and fake
But why all this hate? try to communicate
Finding trust and love is not always easy to make

If I ever invest the time and money into machinima software, this is a song I want to make an SL machinima to.

The second thing is a wonderful post Torley made today: click here to read it.

SecondLife has allowed me to grow in ways I never dreamed possible and in a very short time.  I've forged connections  - deep and lasting connections - with people I would never have met otherwise as they live far away and often in distant lands.  

I've been able to transfer lessons learned about myself and about dealing with other people to real life, and that is just a wonderful gift.

SecondLife has challenged me on multiple levels, and it continues to draw me in and keep me engaged intellectually and emotionally every single day.  

Before SL, I was existing - just getting through each day.  

Now I am LIVING.  Both lives.  It's been a wild, crazy, amazing ride - I don't want to get off any time soon!

Today I am thankful for:

1. A wonderful year in Second Life.
2. All the amazing people I have met during the last year.
3. Air conditioning.
 


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Autobiography of an Avatar (age 1)



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We Were All Newbies Once

 I spent some time today going through old pictures in my inventory, trying to find ones that document my growth from utter newbie to today.  (I promise the "1st year in SL" post is coming very soon!)  Amazed at what I thought looked "good" a year ago!

I took a break from that to catch up on other blogs (see the sidebar).  And what had Torley posted recently?  Why a survey about newbie avatars!  FINALLY, Linden Labs is doing something about the utter hideousness (is that a word? Well it should be!) of newbie avatar choices.  Torley's giving his readers a "sneak peek" at some of the ideas they are tossing around.  It sounds like there will be a more formal survey and/or announcement on the SL blog in the near future.  But if you'd like to feel like your opinion matters now - in the planning stages - go take the survey here: http://torley.com/do-these-avatars-rock-suck-other-you-be-the-judge

Some are incredibly...awful.  Others are wonderfully diverse! People who are not white! People who are clearly not under 30!  Avatars that are not human!  And Nye, if you are reading this - you have to take the survey just to see the one I affectionately call "boxy".  The commentors to Torley's blog post have some very good points, but it was refreshing to see at least baby steps in the right direction!

Maybe it has something to do with the new CEO, M Linden, and his recent newbie avatar experiences.  Click here to read all about his first week in-world as CEO: http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/05/27/my-first-week/

Do YOU have embarrassing baby newbie pics lurking in your inventory?  Post 'em here so we can all laugh together.  Ok, I'll start. 

 

Sigh....just...sad.  I think my photography skills have improved since then too.

Today I am thankful for:

1. People who thought I was beautiful even though I looked like the picture above.  yikes!
2. School's officially done, though I have a work day tomorrow.
3. My migraine went away (boo to high pressure fronts - yay for 20 min naps!)


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Rez-Day!

Yesterday was my SL rez-day; my one-year SL-birthday.  I cannot believe it's been an entire year.  I think if I added up all the days I was not in-world for even a few minutes, the number would be countable on my own two hands.  I know that within a week, I'd made several good friends (three of whom I still keep in touch with today) and felt I'd found a home in Bear (Bear Infohub).

I want to blog more thoroughly about my first year in SL when I have the mental faculties to do it justice.  I've just come off a 60 hour work week followed immediately by a 15 hour work day yesterday.  I am beat.  So...lengthy, introspective post will be coming soon.

However!  Advance notice here - I will be hosting a rez-day party on my beach this coming Saturday, 7 June.  Time to be determined (if you look at the map in the sidebar you will see my scheduling dilemma).  I now have a cool fun trivia game (thanks lance!) and there may even be a beach movie streamed in!  If any of my DJ friends reading this would care to put together a few hours worth of songs (not necessarily beach songs) or could donate a stream for a few hours and walk me through how to stream (I once knew how!) that would be awesome!  Otherwise we'll find some music to dance to and throw all the dance balls I still have out on the sand.  Mostly, just come and hang out and have some fun reminiscing and seeing old friends.  The LM is in my picks under ~Me, or look for the invite soon.

But, so you are not left empty-handed with this post, I have an awesomely fun video for you to watch! The sound adds a lot, so do turn that on.  It's work friendly-ish, just...different.  Check out the whole website when you're done (peter - you HAVE to watch this one!).  It's about 7 min, but seems less than half that long!

clicky here: http://blublu.org/sito/video/muto.htm  (Thanks to Lefty for the link!)

Today I am thankful for:

1. Graduation is OVER!  woot!
2. I got all my grades turned in and finished the permanent record files as well.
3. Friends who find fun things to make me smile (i.e. trivia and the above video)



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Ethereal Teal

Wow...ten days since my last post and already the last day of May!  Time flies when you're under stress!  

But today...a visual treat!  One of the first places to ever make it into my picks in my SL profile was Teal.  (Thanks Will!)

Teal is so much!  But it's primarily about particles.  Particles in SL are actually generated client-side, meaning they are generated by your computer.  So how you see Teal may be different than how I see Teal.  The key to optimal viewing (and there are signs posted everywhere to remind you of this) is to go into preferences on the edit tab and on the graphics tab there, move the slider for particles all the way to the right.  Or as far to the right as you can go without crashing your machine.

The primary mode of transport around Teal (Ethereal Teal is the actual name of the (PG) sim) is by balloon! 


Once seated in the balloon, you can choose to visit all that Teal has to offer.  I suggest starting off in St. Mark's Square.  A well-done replica with a few buildings you can enter and explore.


Another fun way to get around teal is by gondola.  Unfortunately, the last two times I've visited, the boat-rezzer was not working.  Hopefully Jopsy will get that fixed straight away (more on Jopsy later).  

The next place I take people when showing them Teal is the caves.  It's an incongruous bit of Middle Earth, but great fun if you are a fan of LOTR (Lord of the Rings for those who are not fans).  At the center of the meandering caves is a fun treat! I could spend hours just zoning out to the ever-changing particles within the sphere.  There used to be chairs to sit in so you could do just that, but standing works just as well in SL.

       

A lot of the fun stuff in Teal  is up in the sky!  (That's where the balloon comes in handy.)  There's a cloud chateau and a floating citadel to explore.


But the main draw to Teal is particles as I mentioned above.  There are two places to view the particles, the Cloud Chateau and the Fireworks display.  Be aware that the fireworks only run sundown to sunrise sim time.  I actually HAVE spent hours just watching the particle shows on this sim.  With my new graphics card, I was finally able to get some amazing shots to share with you.  I took over 30 pictures, but I will only inflict a few on you today.

                     

                 

             

Click to make em big and tell me they would not make awesome desktop images?  Particles are a blast! And there's SO much you can do with them besides make pretty pictures!  They add movement and a measure of realism to SL.  

If you catch the particle bug and want to learn how to amaze your friends, never fear!  The main draw to Teal is Jopsy's Particle Lab!

The particle lab is an interactive tutorial that will walk you through everything you ever wanted to know about how to write a particle script!  There's even a handy sandbox in the middle to try out your new skillz! 

    

All of this was created by the AMAZING Jopsy Pendragon.  He was away from SL for a while, but came back several months ago and keeps tweaking things and making Teal more amzing every time I visit.  I was lucky enough to run into Jopsy shortly after he came back in the sandbox above.  He was very nice and helpful to everyone there even though he was busy working on his own projects.

There are more treats hidden around Teal I did not mention here...there's a shop of silly things (peter -check out his Fae Wings), a beach for snuggling with your sweetie, and if you can find the oracle you will laugh for days!

Want to go explore Ethereal Teal rightnow?  Click here!   http://slurl.com/secondlife/Teal/128/128/30

Today I am thankful for:

1. Friends and family new and old that make SL so much fun every day.
2. Challenges like scripting particles that make SL so intriguing and mentally stimulating.
3. Yesterday was my last teaching day...only four more days of meetings and graduation to get through and summer can begin!



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Here Be Dragons...


Time for another cool SL sim spotlight post!  I've known about this sim for what seems like forever, but have not been back in quite a while.  The Isle of Wyrms (Wyrm being the Old English word for dragon) is a phenomenal place to visit.  When you first arrive, you are in the cathedral:  




Inside, you can find all the information about dragons and other related creatures.  Also hedgehogs.  (To my understanding, the sim owner/creator has a vested interest in a RL hedgehog rescue organization and just loves the little creatures.)  But it's mostly dragons.  There are dragon eggs arrayed on one wall - one for each breed of dragon.  By clicking the eggs, you can choose to preview that dragon avatar in one of three forms - hatchling, wyrmling, or dragon.  Wyrmlings are smaller than full grown dragons.  The selected dragon avatar will then temp-rez in the middle of the room. 

At any given time, you can find humans and dragons to converse with in the cathedral. (note the eggs along the wall in the first pic)

         

A hatchling is much smaller than a wyrmling (shown above).




The three sizes of avatars vary in cost, as one might expect.  But here's the real catch.  You can actually only purchase the wrymling or hatchling size!  The full-sized dragons (and they are HUGE) are only made available four times each year - on the equinoxes and the solstices.  AND - it's by lottery.  That's right - only 210 dragons will be made available for the summer solstice.  Rather an ingenious marketing ploy - but once you start exploring the Isle of Wyrms...you won't care!  There's a group to join and find out about all the fun events they have - and many welcome human avatars too for those days you just don't wanna put on the scales.

There are also wyverns available - dragon-like creatures that walk on two legs and can wield a sword.  Only two varieties are currently available.  In the picture behind the wyvern eggs you can see just how much customization one can do to one of these avatars. It's all hud-driven and very easy to do.



Once you purchase an avatar, you are given an egg to rez and then open and copy the parts into your inventory.  If you'd like to do it RIGHTNOW you can walk across the bridge....

And through the portal into the sandbox below:



There is so much more on this sim!  It's really a whole community and culture unto itself.  And if it all seems a bit daunting, never fear - there's a wiki and even forums on the Internet to help you get acclimated.  You can even preview each breed of dragon there and find out more about the lore surrounding each one to help you choose which one you want to become.  http://www.daryth.com/draconica/index.php/Main_Page

This time around, I went with the ice dragon. I actually love winter and the ice dragon just looks really sleek.  Plus I was rather amused by the contradiction of an ice-breathing dragon.  I took my egg home to unpack it:


And then proceeded to "wear" my new avatar: (warning! don't forget to go into appearance and SAVE your current avatar shape, skin, hair, eyes, etc...for easy changing back to human)  It breathes snow and ice!  And it looks really awesome in flight!

    


So...get thee to the Isle of Wyrms (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Cathedral/124/89/102) and get thee a dragon!  See ya at the next drum circle!  And please post pics here of your new avatar!

Today I am thankful for:

1. Dragons!
2. Friends new and old.
3. Finally getting my Master's Degree! woot



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I came across this website while reading the forums of a site I belong to.  It was under the "Off-Topic" section of threads, so don't assume anything!  

It's part of a British advertising campaign for K-Y Touch massage oil, so part of it is shameless plug but it's mostly funny. 

It cracks Me up.  You'll need Flash installed and headphones (or speakers if you live alone - this is NOT a work-friendly site!).

Are you British in bed?  http://www.areyoubritishinbed.co.uk/...ectflash=false

Do run through it more than once just for laughs, as you'll get some different questions each time.

The first time I did it I was dubbed: 56% Congolese! (who knew?)

"You are wild & unpredictable!

Like the murky waters of the Congo, your lovemaking is wild and unpredictable, and always, always, deep. You are very possessive of your territory in the bedroom and always put up a fight before being conquered."

BEFORE BEING CONQUERED?! EXCUSE ME?! hmph!

Well anyway, good for a laugh or two!  Go run through it and post your results here - I wanna know!  *wink

Today I am thankful for:

1. Wonderful supportive friends who make me laugh.
2. New shoes!
3. Caramel lattes with three shots of espresso....ahhhhh... bliss!



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