Virtually Speaking

Second Life along with the First.

Ticking Away

Sometimes you just have to let the guilt build long enough that you can use it as motivation to do something when nothing else works.  That’s how I’ve been with this blog the last three weeks or so.  It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say – that’s never my problem.  It’s that my interest has wandered away from Second Life to family matters over the Holidays, my participation in a certain MMOG beta, and the health of my father. 

And so, I stand before you, guilt-ridden and suitably caffeinated, my inbox full of flotsam that doesn’t fit any kind of cohesive whole.  I’m just going to throw it out here and worry about being prosaic later.

I received an email from a very good friend of mine the other day which alerted me to a nice article over on Wired Magazine.   It’s by Regina Lynn, titled “Where I Come From“. The pertinent quote that made me stop and nod my head:

“I still believe the internet will help us create a more tolerant society, and provide time for people to explore and bring their new understandings into the rest of their lives. It does not surprise me that we leap into virtual worlds to explore what we aren’t encouraged to do elsewhere. Sex is a force that can’t be held back for long.”

 The article’s worth the two minutes of your life it will take to read.

About my Dad:  Those of you close to me know that he’s had a series of recurring nosebleeds that have landed him in the emergency room a few times.  Ultimately it resulted in a T.I.A. – a Transient Ischemic Attack,  also called “precursor strokes” or “mini-strokes”.  It’s not unusual for someone his age (he’s 80), but in my Dad’s case there’s this little thing called “denial” inserting itself.  He’s old-school Pennsylvania Dutch, more stubborn than a mule and has lived his life thinking he had complete control over everything.  Now suddenly, Nature is serving notice that he is, in fact, mortal.  He will die one day.  And there’s a chance that it could be a long, slow process of physical and mental deterioration. 

I think he’s scared to death and he’s covering up his fear with anger and denial.  He ‘fired’ his neurologist when the doctor tried to explain that, no, it wasn’t dehydration that caused the nose bleeds but that they were symptoms of something else going on in his skull.   The fact that the MRI and CAT scan and all the other ABCXYZ alphabet soup scans turned up nothing has made him feel like he’s right.  Four adult children can’t convince him otherwise, nor can his long-suffering wife.   What do you do with a man who has all the denial in the world bottled up inside him?

With a brother out of state and my other siblings all over an hour away from me, email has turned out to be a great boon.  We’ve analyzed, worried, consoled and commiserated with each other without picking up the phone every five mintes.  I told them that this was much like my late grandmother before she died.  She was 99 years old, not due to turn 100 for another few months, but she was slipping very quickly.  She insisted to everyone that, not only was her long-dead husband still there but that she was 100 years old.  I sat by her bed, holding her frail hand and listened to my father try to explain to her that, contrary to her insistence, she was not 100 yet.  She was 99.  And Grandpa died in 1982.  Grandma was as stubborn as Dad.  I could feel the last moments of my time with her slipping away and gave Dad a hard stare.  “Dad, she’s paid her dues.  If she wants to be 100, let her, ok?”

Dad shrugged and begrudgingly gave up the fight.  I think this is a similar situation — sometimes you just have to stop trying to control other people and concentrate on letting them know you love them.  Because those moments tick away far too quickly, and after they’re gone you can never get them back.

About Second Life:  Anyone else notice the correlation between drastic degradation of network performance and the rise of concurrent usage these past few months?  (What we in the bidness call a “Duh” statement)  When I joined SL, we might have 3,000 people online at one time.  That was a busy night.  Usually – not always – it ran fine.  Then, after June of 2006 when Linden Lab opened the door to free accounts, concurrency spiked.  Ten thousand.  Twelve thousand.  Fifteen thousand.  Last night, there were 21,000 residents online at one time.  Teleporting was a crap shoot.  Chat lagged and came out in reverse order.  Building and torturing prims was the usual frustration it’s been lately, which isn’t fun.  Having to delicately align small prims just so, then have them rubberband on you makes you want to throw eggs at Linden Lab office windows.  Finding out that some genius programmer changed the sort order of textures in the EDIT window — again — so that now they’re sorted by alpha instead of by date makes me want to use something heavier than eggs.  I have, literally, over 8,000 textures in my inventory (20 months of building does that).  If I don’t move the uploaded textures to their own project folder before I try to retexture that prim (a futile exercise in itself since the drag-and-drop has a nasty habit of dropping the target window down a page), I have to scroll and scroll and scroll … and it’s no longer work, it’s ridiculous frustration.

Like I said.  Life ticks away too quickly and you never get it back.  I’d rather not spend it sorting my virtual inventory in a virtual world. 

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January 8, 2007 - Posted by | Second Life

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