Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Gracie Kendal Project

Yesterday, I did something different... after reading on the sl forum about The Gracie Kendal Project, and reading a good part of her blog, I im'ed her to tell her that I would be willing to be part of her 'usual suspects'. You see, Gracie takes front and back pictures of avatars... Her project started with the aim of studying or illustrating online anonymity, but grew to be a study documenting avatars...

I asked her what was the most intriguing in what she had seen, and she mentioned two of the recent pictures she took, one was of a horse, and another one was an avatar named Rask, whose avatar was uncommonly detailed and dirty.... I saw the two pictures on her walls (and both are on her blog, on the November 27th page), and indeed, they are different from her regular pictures. She also mentioned a mesmerizing couple... Mostly she found all of her subjects to be genuine and respectful, creative and imaginative.

As I was standing in her grey half-sphere, waiting for her to be done, I looked at her walls of pictures. She will need taller walls soon, no doubt about that. And everyone pictured there, the appearance, the poses, differed from everybody else, and it seemed I would never have the time to look long enough at every picture.

In the end, my back and front pictures were added to the wall, and I looked at them in curiosity. I have been working pretty hard to give S0phia the look of an older woman (mid-fifties to mid-sixties), and from the picture, I satisfied myself that I seemed to have been successful. She does not have the sweltness of most female avatars, being somewhat thick around the waist, with sagging breasts. The skin was done by a friend of mine, Milla Alexandre, and has wrinkles around the eyes and mouth and the looseness of an older skin. She also did the shape which I later modified a bit. I bought a few grey or white hair, liking those where the hair was tied in a loose bun in the back. Clothes that looked respectable were hard to find... Long dresses (at least below the knee) and blouses or sweaters that often cover the neck... My pictures blended in her wall, and that seemed right.

She is always looking for subjects. Go for it! Send her an im!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Vinogradov -African art

    I only visited the upper platform, where there were a few clothing stores for men and women, ethnic skins and shapes, and Midnight Mania chairs. The most interesting store to me was one on African items (rugs, planters, paintings and photographs). I love stores selling or showing cultural artifacts, like visiting a museum or an artist's studio. I am not showing everything... if you like viewing African art, there is more of it in the store.

The club nearby was quiet and had a section thoughtfully arranged for quiet conversations with a friend or a loved one.

The sim is rated Mature

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Opera Joven -a Mexican destination

I have visited rp sims, memorials, art galleries, shops and residential sims, but Opera Joven falls into a different category: it is a real-world tourist destination, depicting some of the attractions of the state of Jalisco, Mexico. And best of all, I boarded a train and visited the sim without having to do anything, except camming on the scenery (mind you I also visited it on foot, as I discovered the train station when I was nearly done...). The train stops in various areas.

Let's board the train and go! Lucky for all of us, the tickets are free! I am not disclosing everything... you will have to go and discover that for yourself.

The first stop is at Lake Chapala, a World Heritage Site (UNESCO). You can rent a house there. You then go through the tequila landscape, which is hills covered in blue agave.  

You can attend a variety of events at the Auditorium of Opera Joven. Then the train goes by the market, and this is worth a visit. An art gallery displays a variety of paintings, and close-by another has mexican-style furniture, and so on. Not far from it is a restaurant serving local food.

The second stop is at the Cathedral of Guadalajara, "a church with renaissance structure & gothic interior, built 16-17th centuty". I was a little disappointed there at the quality of the build, but it is still a good stop.

The rest of the ride takes you by Puerto Vallarta Beach and Colima's Volcano.

I think using sims for publicity about real-life destinations is a great idea, and I liked the mix of popular and cultural stops.

The sim is PG

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Celebrating your wedding

You can do virtually anything in second life, from some impossible feats (from a real life point of view), to any of the events that could happen in real life. Many people, for one reason or another, strike up relationships in sl, ranging from casual encounters to long-lasting friendship or love, sometimes with all the real life steps such as mariage, house and kids. For some people it is just role-play, something they do in sl without any intent of bringing this to real life, for others, it crosses the line from sl to real life. Whether or not the relationship goes into real life is a moot point for the discussion here. But if you want to marry in sl, places such as this one in the Guest sim cater to your needs and have everything ready for the formal ceremony. What comes before and after is up to you. Just make sure you don't confuse hopes and reality.
    This place here has a wedding chapel or hall, even a store for your wedding gown or suit (no lengthy period required for fitting it to you, no need to worry about eating too much at the banquet either). The wedding cake is always fresh, and people always look their best.

Guest is rated mature.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Casa: an example of a sim built on one theme

Visiting sims with the view of writing about them as I am doing now forces me to pay attention to details. I try to see everything or most everything that is to see there, without trying to discover all the secrets that could be hidden. When I like a sim (or a plot in a sim) and I see a small donation box, I try to leave some lindens.

I am also noticing what attracts me, and one of the first items to me is whether the sim holds together or not, that is, is there an overall theme, and is there something original too in that theme? An overall theme pretty much eliminates most mainland sims. There, if I find anything of interest, it would be a hidden gem lost among the rest of the plots.

Sims or group of sims that are used for rp (role-playing) tend to have an overall theme. So did this sim that I came across yesterday, Casa, a gorean rp sim. There was no-one around when I visited it, and it was lucky because I could not find a visitor tag.

The build was average with a few interesting ideas, like this prison on an island.

There were a few buildings often with rp stores at the bottom and living quarters above.

A communal bath.

Some kind of watch tower.

The fortified city did not make much sense to me, but I don't rp there, and know extremely little about Gor. You could not set watches on the walls... might as well have no walls, then.

Houses on stilts, warehouses completed the picture.

It fits a medieval, pre-technology society, living off trade, though what they traded was not clear from this visit. However, the sim itself was some kind of story book, if you want. The builds themselves were more interesting than the landscaping.

Rated Adult.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Albemarle Cliffs

This is possibly the most disjointed non-mainland sim that I ever visited... and at first I was scratching my head, but the more I looked, the more I found interesting things about it... It's as if someone took a survey of tastes in a varied crowd and then tried to satisfy them all. Outside a couple of private houses, pretty much everything else is opened to the public. First there is a goth/vampirish dance club, which does nothing to me. Then a little away, a museum (in Spanish) dedicated to rock groups like Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Queen, Deep Purple and so on.

Around the center of the sim, a weird derelict building, part morgue and something else still undefined to me (a room with a table with three turn-tables for LPs on it) adds a very dark feel to the sim. On the outside a garbage bin overflows with body parts and is infested with buzzing flies and marauding cats. A little away, vultures are fighting over some human remains.

Along the edge of the sim, a tropical beach (close to a haunted cemetery) lightens the heavy atmosphere so far encountered in this sim.

Almost in the center of the sim an incongruous high peak! It is a climbing wall with a couple of flags on top. You can click on ropes, and with the embedded animations, you will be climbing the wall, changing your hand and feet grips, or rappeling down (some ropes appear to be missing). I thought some of the animations were interesting.

From an open-air cafe, where you can play dart, you can tp to a paintball court. You just need to get two teams organised and there, have a game!!

The rest of the sim... is for you to discover.
Midnight mania. A few clothes and hair shops, a dance floor.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I changed the background picture again, this time it is Arpes, a sim where a friend of mine had an art gallery in honour of her deceased mother. That friend seems to have left sl, and the parcel she occupied has been relinquished well over a year ago. She had organized the area very nicely, and this was a shack where I went a few times to relax, until it disappeared. I have found a few places like this, where either a whole sim, a parcel or just a monument served as a memorial to someone who had died in rl. The memorials often take the shape of art galleries, or parks... all worth exploring...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Westwood Falls

In my continuous visits, looking for interesting places, I happened on this sim. Remember, in one of my blog entries, I mentioned that many of the residential sims opt for the quarter-sim tropical flat sandy beach plots separated by water. Another popular scheme is the snow-covered mountain range. Perhaps because I have lived in the tropics, and spent time on some tropical islands drinking tea made with brackish water, those islands have long lost their magic (they are not the paradise most people want them to be, or they are a paradise only if you have a ticket out of there).... or is it because I love winter and mountains? A sim using this scheme is more interesting than those using the bland pale-yellow beaches where all that catches the eye are the coconut trees. At least here the neighbours are not visible, hidden as they are by the mountains... it becomes a private hideaway. This plot is on Westwood Falls.

This sim is mature/moderate, and the url is:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dreamworld Reef

    A portion of the sim is a club that is also an exhibition of artwork. The art itself is too abstract for me... I never claimed being an art critic, or even trained in the visual arts, but I took a picture of two of the pieces so that you can judge for yourself. 

After looking at the art, I started walking around. I must say that I loved the mountain texture used, it had a feel of real rock strata, of turbulent geological history. The person(s) who build the sim used subtle effects, I find, which makes it a somewhat darkish place, but it  holds together. One of the buildings was isolated on an island, with the door closed so I did not enter it, as I was not sure if it were private. I meandered in the sim. Close to some ruins, I fed the swans in a pond, which was a lovely touch. 

At the top of one of the peaks (you are allowed to fly in that sim) a zeppelin is parked close to a watch station. At another peak, a condor was circling, a majestic sight.

Some of the sim was more magical in appearance. A strange 'bird chair' had wings that could be changed, from dragonfly-like wings to bird-like ones. Another house was steampunkish in feel. A huge greenhouse with a delightful wingback chair seemed to have as sole purpose to protect a single tree.

A last building definitely looked steampunk, with antenna emitting bright red lights, and spot lights beamed on the second peak, the one with the vulture. I looked up to follow the direction of the light beams... and smiled when I noticed the phone booth almost at the top. At the bottom of that peak, a skull and bones sign indicates to beware that deep pond. A surprise lurks in there... Are you courageous enough to go for a swim? Inside the radio station (I am calling it that, but I dont know if it is) I found accidentally the way to get the ramp to come out...

I love a place that has surprises, and I wonder how many more I have missed. I have not described everything to be found here as it is complex but in a quiet dreamily way. Such attention to details endeared that sim to me.


It is rated mature.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dexler Beach -a gallery of imagination

Outside a couple of private houses and a store of wedding gowns, medieval gowns and gorean wear for men and women, Dexler Beach had nothing of interest to offer, I thought, until I saw the 'Galerie Imagination'. Intrigued, I went into the tunnel that serves as entrance and I knocked on the magical door that so much reminds me of Alice in Wonderland...

At once I found myself in a very colourful environment. The pictures I took do not honour the place... I tried several angles, but still... Ponds of changing colours, fall-coloured trees and brilliant flowers...

And just as I was about to leave, I noticed in one of my pictures a staircase. Puzzled, I searched for it, and started the climb, going towards more unknown.

I eventually emerged from water (again thanking sl for not having suffered from breathing water into my lungs, especially since I had not noticed I was under water), and I found myself in an art gallery. There were over 20 paintings of various abstract style, all of them pleasing in different ways: colour, shape and even movement! This art show was an unexpected and marvelous discovery! I will not spoil the surprise so I am only showing these two below.

Again, the pictures do not do justice to the place. I would simply say: go check it out!

Dexler Beach is rated mature

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Seasons in sl

I visited a couple of sims yesterday, none had anything remarkable in them, except a variety of stores, and both sims were very unfinished, lots of vacant land or land for sale. They both were on mainlands, and I generally find these less interesting, but perhaps it is just that I never explored one that I really liked. I will continue looking.

I stopped by Shantos yesterday (mature/moderate). It has a cuddle park, the only place where there was an attempt at making this a more interesting corner in the sim.

The rest was mostly empty land, sometimes closed to the public by those annoying "No entry" barriers, protecting me from more empty land...

A few freebies were present, rolex watches (that reminds me of the story a friend told me of meeting a seller of rolex watches on the street *psssst real cheap* and who later discovered those were fake. He had bought one knowing full well that at that price it likely was stolen properly... only it was not stolen, it was a scam!), textures and shoes, furniture, carpets, and Christmas decorations.

And yes... sl celebrates most of the western Christian- or pagan-type of holidays (I don't remember a sim celebrating any muslim holidays, or hindu). Hallowe'en is a biggy, surpassed perhaps only by Christmas. And who says Christmas says decorations, and stores selling them...

7 Seas Fishing. Midnight Mania, Lucky Chairs, and a variety of money games.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Zayka -Ashwood Resort: much more than a tropical sandy beach

I have seen many residential sims following the same pattern of what 'paradise' should be: a flat sandy beach with a few palms trees, the sim divided in 4 plots delimited with water and with a house on each plot if the plot is rented. Boring... This sim however is way above that.

First, the sim is all integrated into one landscaping theme, and yes it is a tropical theme but it works! There are hills, and islands, places for fishing and surfing, secluded areas, a pirate ship and a small club for live performances... and I might have forgotten a few things...

Let's visit it, bearing in mind that it is still a work in progress: not far from the landing place on the top of a hill, you can see the pirate ship, stark and menacing in the water... The underwater world... One of the joys of sl is to be able to swim endlessly or even walk along the bottom of the sea without risk of drowning or without the need of any scuba equipment (unless you strive for realism). The bottom of the sea is not flat and endless wavy sand with a jumping whale or two but contains underwater air vents, and pillars and slopes, making it as much a joy to explore as the land part of the sim. Watch out for the shark that apparently attacks those not wearing the group tag (I did, so I was safe, but I did see the skeleton of someone who was not so lucky)... Stingrays also swim elegantly in those waters, as do colourful schools of fish. The water teems with wildlife of all sort.

Above water is also well landscaped. The houses are tasteful and sober, blending well in the environment, with an aquarium being a distinctive note. One of the houses for rent is the honeymoon place, and is well-protected in its own valley, with its private hideaway... A horse corral had one horse only, but I hear there are breeding plans for more. The last place I saw was a secluded beach area with a surf board rezzer.

High up above, the owner works on a winter scenery scheme, where soon you will be able to go after the sauna-like tropical beach in order to roll in the snow.

The sim is rated mature.


7 Seas Fishing

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guardamar -wildlife past and present

If you are a nature lover like me, Guardamar will please you. From swimming or jumping fish, reptiles (turtles, dinosaurs and a Loch Ness monster), birds like flamingos, pigeons and eagles, marine mammals and so on for sale, there is bound to be something of interest. Some of them are in giant versions, others in normal size version, all of them with attention to details. Many of these are free. Some are made for being located off sim, so are great for decorations that way. The sim also boasts having 'possibly the largest whale of sl', and it is big!

(See the flying swordfish in the upper left corner of the picture below)

The dinosaurs are kept on a separate island (à la Jurassic Park?) that you can reach with a rickety wooden bridge. If this flimsy bridge is to keep them on their small island (any of them would surely break the bridge by trying to use it), I doubt it will work: the dinosaur island is not separated by a wide enough or deep enough straight!

Another part of the sim is someone's playground, and its landscaping is well in keeping with the rest of it. There was something about the waves there that made them look very realistic. The lovers had written their names on the sand which added a sweet touch to this island.

Guardamar is one of those quiet stores where you can meet people with similar interests, brought there because of a search on a key word. This fascinates me about sl... you can be visiting a sim that caters to some specific niches, as in this case I made a search on "penguin", and while you are there, a visitor teleports in... if you feel chatty, you can say hi and then if the other feels chatty too, a conversation may ensue. It might be just one of those passing conversations, or who knows, it might lead to an interesting friendship.

The url: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Guardamar/36/221/22
Guardamar is rated mature/moderate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fleetingness of sl

I've changed the background picture, this time it is the Antonia sim which I visited well over a year and a half ago, in the days when I was visiting places but not keeping much track of anything. I just checked it.... This build does not exist anymore, such is sl, places, builds come and go, it is impossible to see all of it, I am barely touching a significant number of sims. And a sim today or tomorrow might pass into other hands and all that was build on it gone. Or simply the owner wants something different and builds it or hires a builder. There is nothing permanent in this virtual world, evanescence is a main characteristic. A background picture where most of it is hidden by the blog post, hinting at what may have been there is perhaps a fitting way of emphasizing  its transience.

If you have any suggestions of sims for me to visit, I will gladly consider them...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


A whole sim dedicated to Tiny Avatars, and Pets of all kind! Needless to say, I felt like a giant in there. Ok I admit my bias, I find hard to believe that there could be so much interest in tinies. Many of these avatars are based on fairy tales, movies or tv shows, and books, and most of them belong to a part of culture I am not familiar with at all. I find these tinies often cartoonish or childish, but others, to my surprise, are amazing and highly-detailed gems. Cats and dogs and other familiar pets inspire a whole range of tinies, as well as unicorns, and dragons; a shop even had tiny kangaroo clothes, though I did not see the avatar itself! 

On this sim, you can buy pretty much anything any avatar would need (as long as you are tiny): clothes, furniture, tractors, helicopters... though perhaps an helicopter is not of any use if you are a butterfly avatar (3 different kinds, inspired by the blue mountain butterfly, the well-known monarch and the majestic birdwing -unceremoniously called the green butterfly). Now, the shop also had caterpillar avatars, and I was wondering if the caterpillar eventually became a butterfly: that would be so fascinating to see, from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly at last, the wings stretching and drying after emergence, the antennas unfurling...

Most shops are housed in medieval-looking houses or buildings. What is not shop territory is in keeping with the theme of tinies and other magical creatures... giant mushrooms, some of which look poisonous to my eyes... the decor is fairy-tale in colours and artefacts, not very sophisticated or refined, but I appreciate the attempt to keep to one theme. 

Far from the stores, in a secluded area of the sim, a sea monster is swimming endlessly in a pond, close to a cave that seems inhabited. At the other end of the pond, tinies can sit at a colourful picnic table protected from the sun by an equally colourful sunshade.

One of the shops sold an astrological Planetary Rotation Machine which, I must admit, grabbed my attention, though obviously the planets were rotating much too fast around the sun to be a true representative of our solar system, but I thought of the use of such a contraption in a classroom before the computer era... Now, this Machine does not reflect today's reality where Pluto has been demoted from being a planet to being one of the several dwarf planets... but I like Pluto as a planet, it makes it... more dignified, don't you agree?

Games present: 7 Seas Fishing. Midnight Mania


Extrovirtual is rated PG

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pride Isles

Nearly the whole sim is occupied by a one store... of captivating imagination...  (:: 2Xtreme :: Mainstore, Design furniture and Beyond). Not far from the landing place, you can hitch a ride to the space station...

... and there you can play with weightlessness and artificial gravity, first while sitting in chairs situated in cylinders that are rotating. My skirt did follow gravity, more or less, but not my hair. In fact, I am not sure how either should have been behaving... but sl has limits to some of the realism it can effect, and perhaps that is good. In the zero gravity room, I wore the free degrav dispenser and survived the 60 seconds demonstration of zero gravity, and that experience was great fun!!! I am glad that the campfire in the fireplace (which I thought was a bit strange to have in a space station, but this is sl, afterall) remained in place. Perhaps the fireplace had its own gravity field, or the wood could have been magnetized and attracted to the plate at the bottom of the fireplace... but then, what would happen to the ashes? But aside from those preoccupations of a first-time virtual space traveller, the space station is worth a visit.

I examined the photography galery in the  space station, most of the photos were of architectural designs, and a few of paintings or everyday life. Looking though a porthole at an asteroid nearly overgrown with a fern and with a twinkling lamppost, I could not but be reminded of 'The Little Prince' of Saint-Exupéry, where a planet was overgrown by baobabs, or where a lamplighter had to light or extinguish a streetlamp every minute because of the rapidity of his asteroid's rotation. The thought filled me with a tender melancholy likely helped by the Albinoni cd I was listening to at the time.

The items for sale in the store are varied, high quality furniture inspired by real life designers like Poul Kjaerholm, with a section being an art store selling masterpieces from some of the greatest artists in the world, and an art gallery with pictures of Marilyn Monroe. There are birds, and crocodiles, and more animals for sale than I could mention!!!

The sim is rated Mature.

The url: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Pride%20Isles/177/230/22

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I landed on Euskadi on an open plaza, and right away noticed an old building and fountain. In this building (see picture below) someone is exhibiting photographs of a bull run (from Pamplona I think). Some of the pictures are enough to make me shudder. The building is not very refined, but it gives an idea of what the real one would look like. Besides the fountain, the real-life picture of the fountain (which also shows in the background the building mentioned above) helps appreciate how accurate the sl depiction is of its real life appearance. I just find it regrettable that what flows out of it is blood.

I admired the Escher-like pictures of the Galerias Carla. Her exhibit is titled: La magia de los Fractales (the Magic of Fractals). Just for that, the sim is well worth visiting! The pictures seen from close are much better than what my snapshot can show you here. It is actually a mix of Escher, fractals and surrealism, with places to sit and relax. Over 20 pictures await your visit!


There is also a strange park overgrown with wildflowers, with a burning police car, and a dolmen, right next to a two-cell prison, a intriguing juxtaposition of post-apocalyptic inner-city dereliction and mystic symbols.


The sim hosts a football stadium. It is also otherwise filled with uninspiring houses, though some of them display various shops. You can find statues, clothes (some for men), avatars and various other items. Perhaps of interest, there were freebies here and there.

The url: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Euskadi/197/9/37

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I visited the Zxio sim today... please note that there is no real reason for going to this place rather than another one. I often take a random three letter 'word' (like aqu), put it in the search... then pick one of the results, either randomly or by interest. And today, it was Zxio, as the name intrigued me.

I used the landmark of Ali's Joyas/Ali's Jewells shop and landed at the back of the store close to a cuddle place.

 The shop itself contains jewellery of all kinds, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings (including the wedding rings). I like it when stores try to beautify their surroundings as this one did. On the side of the store are park benches, in front a beach with orcas and dolphins jumping out of the water. The most original seat is that on the crescent moon which rotates above the beach, and with a star spinning against the moon's rotation. The beach itself was ordinary.

Zxio's cuddling moon

 Associated with the store is a lovely cave with meditation cushions, floating pools. I am not sure if it is private or opened to the public, but I could visit without problems. However, some of the stones around the outside pool had no physical structures to them (you can tell I am not a builder), so you would just sink through. However that pond has a spiral path that goes down in the water and reveals a couple more poseballs in an eerie aquatic environment, with an improbable campfire, but I must say that I find this area tasteful and charming.
Zxio's cave

Zxio's magical hill

Buena Vista Mall is mostly empty, with a bland architecture, nothing special about it distinguishing it from countless other malls.

Rakan Resort is unfinished. Will it be finished? I entered the house located on the resort (it had a Welcome sign), obvioulsy a cat lovers' house.

Zxio's cat mural

yuiyui Shop is for furniture and animations, with sets of poses called Good friend poses, for use in photography, I would think. Also couples animations which looked sweet and tender. It has its own version of lucky chairs too one was for a witch's broomstick with a cat on it, but I did not win it. There was a dresser with animations too, which makes me think that I would buy a dresser in sl only if I can see myself in the mirror when sitting on it. That, I think, would be very hard to do... but as you probably gathered already, I am not a builder and not a programmer. Some of the table-and-chairs furniture had a variety of poses (like putting your feet on the table). A regular lucky chair was upstairs. A few shapes are for sale too,  though I found them in general to be too wide-eyed, too childish-looking... but hey! if you look at my picture you will see that I am well past my 20s. Animations and shells for mermaids are sold here too.

There is some private land too on this sim. The land is not shown as private, but there is a dog that will keep coming at you and bump you into the water. I am the kind of person that a simple warning sign would suffice to keep out. But you have to admit that it is difficult sometimes to distinguish what is build for the public enjoyment's and what is private. There were a few boats and other means of transport (an helicopter for example). I took a picture of a simple house I thought was lovely.

Zxio's private residence

All in all, the sim lacked an overall theme. Note that the sim is rated mature.

A url to get there: