Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 Viceregal Address

I used to be a terrible, terrible Grinch. Looking back and forward at how my own flesh and blood behave, well, it's no wonder my brother and his girlfriend left town to have Christmas by themselves at a resort of last resort.

There is a thing, though, learned from the family I married in to. A little secret to a happy Christmas, but first a little preamble. Because there is one person, yourself, you must live with every day of your life, others, come and go, some fade and others storm away, some arrive on the backs of rainbows, angels of mercy in your times of need, some just appear and you realise they've been there quite the while with you hardly noticing. It is because you to yourself are permanent, and all others wax and wane, you must remember yourself at Christmas, and get yourself a little something, something that makes you smile.

This was under $4. And it makes me smile. You go make yourself smile too. You're worth it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Things You Learn Glancing at the TV

I passed by the TV earlier while fetching some tea, and overheard someone mention "I like the bay windows."

I looked over, and it occurred to me, I never knew what those looked like before. I knew the term, and knew the style but didn't match the two up. Further it occurred to me that perhaps the second thing I should do after reading the introduction of a subject is to memorize a list of terminology. This could be why my visual design skills are so weak (or abstract), I know what things look like, but have no idea how to articulate them without a sketch pad. And the reverse, someone speaks of something in particular, I probably need to be shown an example. Some rote memorization is in order.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Misc Phone Pictures

West Coast Breatfast
West Coast Parking

Says more about the management than the clientele

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011


All that Blue Mars work pays off. I make mesh in Second Life.

Snap taken on the deck of the Iron Cloud.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Things Learned from Exporting my Avatar into Blender and Rigging It

This Tutorial wasn't too hard, just a couple places I had to slow down and try again. I had no complete startovers.

Blender 2.49b does not like 64 bit Python 2.6.2. Install the 32 bit.

You'll need SL 3.0 viewer.

To do your first upload you have to do a little multiple choice IP quiz on the SL website.

Rigging the boots to the armature did not work when trying to wear them. In fact, boots may have to be uploaded separately, left and right. More on this another time.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Random Link Find

Text messages from 1890. Early versions of LOL and BRB and of course, flame wars involving clockwork devices.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm Glad I Learned How To Sew

Newish Eddie Bauer jeans, bought in April, worn around mainly in Venezuela, washed no more than ten-eleven times, belt loop broke away. The pockets are fraying. These are the first jeans I've bought in over a decade, I'm usually dress casual for daily wear. Were jeans a lot stronger twenty years ago or am I wearing Nostalgia Goggles?

I ended up using some stiff quilting edging, sewed an inside patch and attached the loop to the patch.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Life Cycle of a Pure Roleplay Area

Yay! Started!
Have fun for awhile, then some joker shows up wanting to be Spiderman.
Drama ensues. Spiderman gets banned after a loud scream fest on general chat.
List of sim rules turns into a five page legal document.
Play continues, 2-3 regulars stop coming as much, people suggest less for fear of being shot down.
Spiderman comes back with an alt, this time wants to be Batman.
Rules turns into a twenty page legal document.
5-6 players remain.
Recruitment drive begins, someone sets the sim 'group only'.
Week later, someone discovers parcel is group only, changes it back but ups up a 3000m high skybox with notecard/LM giver by the TP down node.
Sim languishes mostly empty for about six months.
Sim owner's wife discovers the credit card statements.
Sim's plug gets pulled.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Python Continued

To day for a bit of motivation to pick up the bat and keep swinging I flipped towards the end of the book and read some notes by the author. A line jumped out at me about the book is aimed at giving a 'brown belt', not a real programmer, but ready to move into the real stuff and pick up real books.

Chapters 0 - 25 I had some bumps along the road with, things I just didn't understand but forged on and came back to later, sometimes figuring them out, sometimes not. I have a short list of mild stumpers that will eventually come clear with practice, I'm sure. But Chapter 26 was an exam. "Here's a program. Debug it, even if it takes a few days."

It took me about ten minutes, suggesting all that LSL gave me a green belt to start with.

I've moved on into logic operations, the section there was way, way better than any other logic table tutorial I'd seen, or maybe the student was ready, and then into if statements and loops, something else I'm an old hand with by now and am doing anyway for the syntax help and inevitable moments of 'oh god, I've been doing this wrong all along'. Sort of like the logic tables. :)

So far, so good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Learning Python

I've some experience now with LSL, some days I've worked with it up to fourteen hours with few breaks. Some people have asked if I'm some sort of child prodigy. Ha. No. I'm just a hard worker when I'm doing something I find interesting. It's been my intent for awhile now to try my hand at something approaching a real programming language. I just have no clue what I'd do with it.

Today I stumbled across a link on Hacker News with someone asking for advice on what language to learn in order to learn, one of the suggestions was Learn Python The Hard Way. So I nosed around the web a bit querying what the language is used for, and learned I could conceivably use it to have my Second Life vendors sent information to my web server and dump the data into a table that I can download and back up more easily than I can with the Linden Labs tools. Okay, I have a basic goal even if I never get around to doing that.

So, looking at the lesson plan I've begun to appreciate Zed Shaw's sense of practical humour more than I already had, and also now have a gedit app and a Command Promt shortcut on my desktop. Thank gawd I'm familiar with DOS or I might have been lost there. Maybe my old age is an advantage in some ways.

My first stumper came in Exercise 3. I know my basic arithmetic, but had never before seen a modulo operator. ZenMondo, despite not knowing Python, was able to suggest what it was, and wikipedia explained the rest. Again, modulo operators are a thing I have no clue why I'd ever use it, but knowing it exists and being able to recall how to research its use, my math vocabulary has grown. I'm the same way with language, the more words you know, the more thoughts you can have. This is a good thing.

I think I might be able to get through this in a couple weeks if I keep at it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Slippers that Went to Eleven

Leveled to 85 in Two Weeks

I bought a pair of shoes in Caracas, they're nice shoes, I'll wear them a lot. But in Venezuela I wore the slippers I'd worn by mistake almost exclusively. They've:
  • Tromped the streets of Caracas.
  • Wandered various Venezuelan beaches.
  • Been through dodgy public markets.
  • Relaxed in fine Caracas restaurants.
  • Witnessed the little balloon house atop Angel Falls.
  • Adventured in the jungle around Canaima.
  • Traveled the islands Coche and Margarita (Both sides.)
  • Come back home in one piece, just needing a rinse on the soles.
Not bad for a pair of Haflingers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Mar 29
Today I learned:
Cement mixers are viable children's toys.
Bottle caps and gravel makes a neat mosaic.
Having 11 Bs. Per $US in reserves while pegged at 4.3 and a fake 64
billion on the balance sheet leads to $2200 iPads, $25 for 12 rolls of
toilet paper, and wheat product shortages.
Margarita has a wildly varied geography.
Freshly crushed coconut juice can't be beat.

Mar 30
Taxi drivers are better drivers than anyone else.
Motorcycle helmets are for pansies.
Sunburns happen despite hiding in the shade.

Mar 31
So I stupid lose my passport, we phone around after hours and to the
cabbie and the hotel and the tour agent and they all go bonkers
searching to the point the cabbie dropped the keys to his house gate
and thus was late picking us up the next day. Laughs all around and
I've been sure to slip them a cash apology.
Fun fact: In Venezuela, you can't make a collect call. This includes
calls to your bank about credit cards or to your consulate about
passports. :)
So later I find it in the room safe of all places.
Anyway, we were tramping around in the jungle around Canaima today
looking at waterfalls with a tour we picked up from the hotel. Well,
the climb kicked the butt of one of our party and I had to just about
carry them back. The boatman hopped to and took us back to the camp
where we were looked after with much water and some of the best BBQ
chicken I've had in my life. Ongoing monitoring and a seat by the fan
for our stricken party member went on until everyone was satisfied
they'd be alright. It's not like they had a clinic out there, but they
did have some experience with out of shape city people sweating it up
in the jungle.
Anyway, it was an Angel Falls flight tour, two bumpy passes by the
falls, before landing. :)
But I'll let you in on a little secret. If you look hard enough, and
wish hard enough, you can see the little house with the balloons up
top. But first you need to believe in fairies and be forever a child.
The pilot of that 16 or so passenger prop plane was an artist. The
descent was predictably lumpy in a craft that small but each time the
wheels hit the ground it was like a ballerina. Great tour, that,
highly recommended, but be in at least half decent shape.

Apr 1
Turns out you shouldn't get into a fist fight with a bootleg currency
exchange guy in Venezuela. This is apparently how a French tourist at
our resort got shot. When the shooting breaks out, count on the staff
and security to run like hell.

Apr 2
Back in La Guaira, on a lucky unsecured wifi, might be my last contact
until Toronto, early Monday morning. I dunno if I'm gonna miss this
Margarita was pretty nice but the whole country feels run down and
stuck in the 70s-80s and moving backwards. Everything is more
expensive than you get it in norteamerica, constant shortages of
essentials. Who in their right mind would export to Venezuela and
accept Bolivars? What's Chavez gonna do? Force American wheat growers
to take that funny money at gunpoint?
Just remember to leave your fancy pants camera at home, bring your $99
Wal Mart special. Your Blackberry makes you a target. Outside at night
is a no go in Caracas, although Margarita was a lot more laid back,
also a good hub for tours all over. Your tour guide in the resort will
likely 'know a guy' buying $ though the black market rate in Margarita
will be lower than elsewhere due to the prevalence of tourists, alas,
such hardship.
Nice things I can say about Caracas is the fine dining experiences.
And you speak Spanish, right?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Random Blurbs

Following blurbs written on a notepad due to no internet in La Guaira.

Political Asylum:
We spent the morning at the apartment of a lady who's done the
diplomatic circuit in years before Chavez, and since does document
interpretation from her apartment. Over a mixed pastry breakfast we
were shown her political rally bag with the national flag and the
badges and first aid goods and the vinegar and rags for tear gas
defense with a wonderful view of Mount Avila out the window. We talked
about the upcoming Venezuelan census and the fear it will lead to the
forcible 'reallocation' of homes based on number of people and number
of domicile rooms. We concluded with a left hand toast to a Cuba Libre
and carried on with our day.
Later, the government of Canada fell to the first successful
non-confidence motion in Commonwealth history.
I later telephoned our breakfast host and asked for political asylum
and offered to be counted as a resident during the census. I don't
think either of us will stop giggling over that for a long time.

Wild Ride:
So, yeah, I get into a truck with real seat belts and off we go, me
the only Anglo in this part of the two car convoy to the airport to
drop off the sister in law's mother. So being good hosts, they pass
back a mixed whiskey drink and off we go into the streets of Caracas,
the driver passing the other drink back and forth to his wife. Is that
a check engine light? :) Again Caracas is a mixture of fascinating
urban decay and renewal and coloured light fountains dancing to music.
All that and thankfully only one face full of booze as we bounced and
jounced over hill and pothole onto the freeway and out of the valley
to the sea.
Once again I surprise everyone around with the breadth of my basic
Spanish and we achieve some basic communication with a mix of Spanish,
French and steadily drunkening pantomime.
I'm not afraid anymore, even without the help of booze, although I
remain wary and alert in the airport. Horay, after the delay in
currency exchange I've been able to spend my first Bolivars. At an
airport fried chicken shack. Nobody there knew if anything drinkable
was caffeinated. At this point, who gives a damn anymore. :)
We see mother off, and pile back into the cars, crack some fresh
beers, and set off to the sister's beach apartment. Pass a few police
checkpoints where we just lower the beers, and away we go past barrios
and parks and the beach crowded with teens pumping tunes from their
cars while the odd police truck cruises by to keep the peace. And
damn, it's hot at sea level, and the beach apartment is really cute.

All Night Party:
When music volume is consistently making a car alarm sound in a gated,
locked, patrolled by man and dog condo compound, the reasonable
response is to turn up the music, right? It's 2:38 am, and the car's
been screaming for 14 hours. Waitaminute. Ricky Martin sings in Spanish?

March 24 - 25

I just can't eat much, so warm. *burp* And this lack of fiber sources
other than plantains and corn is killing my butt.
And rabbit is pretty strong meat.

We were near a barrio today. I have not seen poverty before.
And we're making Chinese food tonight. :) Lotta Chinese in Venezuela.

March 23

So here is mostly wrapped up my first real Latino party. It's 1:12,
music still loud while we clean up. I did what I could until all the
mess was moved into the kitchen, then there were just too many of us
to move.
Besides, my feet hurt.
I like it here despite the general insanity. Gawd we norteamericanos
can stand to learn a thing or two from Latin America. Alas, my
family's about the opposite of touchy feely and about as flexible as
an anvil.
I still liked China a bit better, but I'd definitely come back here
again, provided I was staying with locals.
And oh yeah, picked up at the airport too. The gauntlet of sleazy
operators we had to wade through to reach our waiting party at the
Simon Bolivar was 'interesting'.
I'd never before heard some guy offering currency exchange in the
hushed tones of a drug dealer.
I'm also surprised I remembered as much Spanish as I did.
And ya, Des, Venezuelans are more like Spaniards than Mexicans. Very
elegant people, plus touchy feely. And they prove that it is possible
to have some machismo without a bad attitude. So note to Americanos
paranoid about Latinos moving into your little white bread
subdivisions. Find out first just how much they can teach you about
grace, class, style, and that two men hugging does not equate to
homosexuality. Claro? Cheveret.

March 22

Chief difference between South and North Americans: norteamericanos quarantine food components. Here they eat everything at once after cooking all day. I am so full. :P
There is no heating in this house. Who needs it when it's late spring all year long? The city smells like gas fumes despite all the green; I'm surprised I'm not in allergy hell.
It's not too hot or humid either. We're pretty high above sea level after all.
Big family gathering tomorrow, the sister-in-law's birthday.
And slow, timid people are annoying in traffic circles, no? :) Rule Britannia!
(And Pax Caledonia.)

March 21

Landing at night was really pretty, especially under the light of that
full moon. The mix of white and orange city lights was interesting to
see, and I later learned the white lights are the Barrios, or shanty
towns with housed piled up the sides of the hills stacked several
By and large, my deepest paranoias fed by the western media were let
down, as I was not immediately shot on arrival, nor was the airplane
shot from the sky by rebels. Bother, culture of terror foiled again.
Rupert Murdoch, you lied to me. :(
Still, it says something when every house has bars on all windows,
even in the 'good' neighbourhoods. All houses walled, some with
electric fences. Walled houses, very Spanish/Moorish. Electric fences
and bars, not so much. Good luck escaping an electrical fire with the
ancient wiring. Bonus, though, the outlets are American standard.
We drove around a lot today, no seatbelts and often texting driver
while out in what amounts to pinball machine traffic in a country
where it costs a buck or two to fill your car at a full serve gas pump
and stop signs are suggestions, and made a first stop at a fairly
modern, and huge, shopping mall, had food court Venezeulan food with
the sister-in-law at whose house we're staying, and got me a pair of
shoes. Much love to anxiety disorders, I'd left for the airport in my
slippers convinced I'd be dead within twenty-four hours. If this is
dead, I'll take more of this, please.
So, no, I'm not leaving the house at night.
Fresh baked bread in the morning, however, is heaven.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fun Picture Series

The year 2000 as imagined in 1910.

And after that giggle, here's the horror that is that was.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Aspire

I'm a little drunk but not too far out, I'll admit, and hoping this doesn't make little to no sense, but I had a momentary glimmer of observation.

Watch this, and when he says 'brick', you hear 'prim'.

What does a prim do? It aspires. I've had my first rezzed prim in my Port Caledon Cathedral for awhile now. The object name is, 'I Aspire'.

This, this is a principle roadblock I encountered when trying to develop content for Blue Mars. When working in SL, I am present. It's a computer emulation, an avatar, yes, but when I rez a prim, it is there, at my virtual feet, asking me to make it into something great.

When working in Blender, there's a drab backdrop of a grid, and I'm not there, in the work, handling it out of love. Importing into the upload environment, that's not me either, if I'm working on a clothing item. That's someone else. I'm not invested in the work. It's not personal.