Skip to content

Nineteen Cents Short Of A Paradigm Posts

Life in Secondlife

Posted in Blog, and Gaming

Been having a lot of fun in SL the last few days…

Discovered a ‘game’ in-world called GTFO! – Get The Freight Out – which is a bit like an Eve Online hauler simulation. There are hundreds of docks, airports, warehouses, and what have you scattered about the mainland continents, and you deliver items between those points with whatever vehicle you have handy.

There’s a lot more to it that that; vehicle size and capability versus what the hub has available, legit versus illicit cargo, time and distance factors, etc… But the gist is simply going from this place you’ve never seen to that place you’ve never seen along paths you’ve never taken – for useless in-game currency and pointless experience points.

I’ve been using my Triumph TR3A and the little bay-cruiser I own to move little things around here and there, and getting to see a lot of SL I’ve never seen before.

It’s funny; I’ve been playing around in SL since 2004, but I tend to stick to the sims I own and pretty much never leave them, so there’s a lot of SL I’ve simply never seen or experienced before… Which leads to a lot of “Oh wow – look at that!” and folks I know in SL saying “Yeah, that’s been there since 2007…”

Anyway, I’ve had enough fun with GTFO! that I’ve volunteered my cove for a small shipping hub for the game, which will allow people to boat in and out picking up and dropping off virtual goods – and getting to enjoy my little mainland empire.

The biggest issue with the mainland is neighbors; a lot of the mainland is, well, ugly. Giant piles of full-bright prims slapped together in haphazard arrangements, all covered with blurry circa-y2k textures and every kind of goofball particle emitter you can imagine. And the parcel holding this visual cacophony usually sits next to someone else’s hand-crafted photo-realistic color-matched high-resolution virtual-environment.

For example, this is part of my setup in Hikuelo, with its carefully crafted mesh geometry, specifically made textures and bump mapping, little interactive touches like the functional footbridge, and things like seagulls that sound like seagulls…

And if we pan just a bit to the left there’s something made entirely of full-bright prims with antique alpha textures and dozens of maxed out light sources. There’s the prerequisite copious particle use and loud media sources as well…

Basically everything that was new and amazing – back in 2005…

This issue comes about because a lot of the mainland is owned by avatars that are 14+ years old, who were gifted 1024m2 or more from Linden Lab simply for existing – and they no longer exist. So there’s a lot of 3D time capsules like this where nothing has been touched for a decade, but because the land is comped and LL never deletes accounts (gotta keep those numbers up!) the land never goes up for sale and remains cringe-worthy forever.

Wild Wild West

Posted in Blog, and Photography

With the zombie threat having abated so we can leave our homes again, and my car having been recently serviced and ready for a road trip – today I headed south to my property near Walsenburg.

The trip was multi-faceted; I wanted to visit some friends down that way, wanted to give them 5-pounds of complimentary Government Cheese, wanted to get away from the city, and wanted to put a few rounds down-range from my 45-70.

All of this and more is possible by simply driving 175 miles south on I-25…

I left the house at 09:30, topped off the tank in the Murano and picked up some road-sodas, and the first stop was in Pueblo at 11:30 for lunch at “Country Kitchen”.

From the hill at the north end of Pueblo. The three power plants center frame are Comanche 1, 2, and 3.

I met up with Painless and Griffy at the restaurant at noon, we ate some really good grub, and then I continued on to Walsenburg while they finished up some shopping in Pueblo and would meet me at the property once they were done.

Arriving at my property I got out my 45-70 lever, put five rounds of bog-standard Marlin 405 grain in the magazine and five more in the butt-cuff, and grabbed three of the hotter Sellier and Bellot rounds just to try them out. Painless strapped on his Luger and a few spare mags, and then we went to walk the fence-line.

Looking west from the south gate into the property

It was a beautiful day for a hike into the wilds; about 80 degrees, partial cloud cover, and a decent breeze coming down off of the mountains.

It’s also been really wet this year, so we were treated to some really fantastic wildflowers:

Flowering cactus

Some kind of super-purple desert flower

We followed the fence line out the the north end of the property which abuts state land…

We hiked out to that ridge just under the mountain line, center-frame, where we could be certain no one was around

Once we were a good half-mile away from anything even remotely civilized I squeezed off a few rounds; I still need to sight in the scope on the 45-70, but it worked well enough for about 70 yard shots into a convenient arroyo.

Probably the best part of 45-70 is the sound – it’s an earth-shaker round and the report echos off the mountains for a good ten seconds.

Once the barrel was nice and warm I safed it, stowed my ears, and we walked the rest of the fence…

Looking north-west from the north end of the property.

Looking east from the east end of the property

Eventually it was time to head back to Denver though, so I packed up, said my goodbyes, and headed North – stopping at Cracker Barrel in Colorado Springs for dinner at 19:00.

I topped off the tank again when I got back into town; 11.26 gallons of gas to cover 350 miles – or about 31 MPG… The Murano is an amazing highway cruiser. 🙂

Anyway, I pulled into the garage here at home at 20:30, unloaded the car, and once I post this I’m calling it a night.

Friday Update

Posted in Blog, and Gaming

It’s been a fairly productive week…

A while back I mentioned how expensive steaks were; $18 a pound at Walmart, and Walmart steak is usually cut funny and contains a lot of fat and gristle so half of what you get for that $18 is inedible. So I decided to employ my local ranch plan again and ordered a big styrofoam cooler full of steak.

$120 for ten pounds of much, much better meat.

Earlier in the week I was talking to some “youngsters” online, and somehow the topic got onto what we ate in the 80’s. And this somehow got onto the topic of Government Cheese…

Back in the 80’s, my Grandmother got Government Assistance packages once a month – not that she needed them; she was on welfare only because she was old and didn’t have active income – even though she was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anyway, one of the things in the box from the Government was a five-pound block of cheese… It was kind of like a slightly firmer Velveeta and made from a blend of various cheeses so it had a lot more flavor, and made the best grilled cheese sandwich in the history of humanity.

The memories of said sandwiches got me to poking around on the Internet, where a lot of other people had the same recollection of the cardboard-boxed Government-issue cheese-product – and it turns out “Land O Lakes” still makes the stuff!

Unfortunately you can’t just ‘buy’ this cheese anywhere; it’s a food service item and is only sold by the 30-pound case…

Soooo – I ordered 30 pounds of cheese, which arrived in another styrofoam box the next day… And I promptly opened one of the six 5-pound boxes, cut off a half an inch of cheese, had some cheese and crackers with my lunch.

The 21st century version of Government Cheese. The ziplock bag is an easy way to seal the cut end of the loaf.

And it was pretty much exactly as I remembered.

Now, while this stuff is ‘institutional’ and has a 270 day shelf life, there’s simply no way I can eat 30 pounds of cheese by the end of the year – so several people I know who were also around back in the day are getting 5-pounds of “Government Cheese” to enjoy.

Spreading the love.

Let’s see – what else?

Oh, I’ve been slumming in SecondLife again… I kinda ran out of steam with World of Warcraft and wanted to actually make stuff in-game again, so it was back to SecondLife.

This time around I’m on the ‘mainland’ – the Linden Labs owned collection of a thousand or so contiguous regions – versus one of my own private regions. This is partly because all of my private regions are rented out, and partly because I managed to score a killer deal on some extremely prime virtual real-estate.

First I need to explain how land works in SL – because it’s complicated…

The world of SL is divided into regions. A region, or simulator (sim), is a 256m by 256m square area of virtual turf supported by a single server instance. Each sim is a self-contained virtual area and can be be either privately owned or part of the Linden Lab collective of regions.

Sims can either sit alone in the virtual ocean, or can be connected to create contiguous landmasses where you can travel seamlessly between them. Privately owned sims tend to be solitary areas of 1-4 regions, while the Linden lab ‘Mainland’ is basically continents comprised of hundreds of sims.

A map of SL

On the map above, private regions tend to be on the left side, while the mainland ‘continents’ are on the right.

At a smaller scale, land is measured in square meters and each square meter supports some number of ‘prims’. A ‘prim’ is a vestigial term for a single 3D object (cube, cone, sphere, etc) that can be spawned by the SL client – but these days is known as “prim equivalence”. This is because you can import 3D models (and associated physics) from external tools, which aren’t made up of prims.

To support the infrastructure to store, host, and display end-user stuff, every square meter of SL costs someone something. How much it costs is based on how much virtual turf you own and if that turf is a private region or one of the mainland sims:

Monthly costs for mainland sims

By way of comparison, a private region runs $229 a month – which is a bit more than an entire mainland region, but you don’t have to deal with the neighbors. 🙂

One of the bonuses to the Mainland is that Linden Lab owns and maintains various road networks and waterways – meaning no one can build there, everyone can use them, and the features are permanent. And the road / water networks are pretty extensive, even going as far as there being virtual oceans between virtual continents.

Which leads us to my killer property deal…

Prime real-estate in SL tends to be things that are next to Linden owned areas – kind of like how real property value increases if it borders Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, because you can almost guarantee that side of the property will never have something built on it.

My island in the Hikuelo region is bordered on all sides by Linden owned waterway, making it a truly private location…

It also borders “Aich” to the west, which is a Linden owned harbor off of the ocean – so one can literally sail to my island from anywhere in the mainland.

Due to this I also picked up a boat…

My island, my avatar, and my boat

Boats and other vehicles in SL tend to be very high-tech simulations of the real things, right down to the physics of how they move… And in some cases even the complexities of driving them!

Take my boat up there for example, you have to trim it correctly for your speed and the water conditions, it will actually get on-plane if you do it right, it has inertia and even drifts according to the wind which makes tying up at a dock interesting, you can’t push the engine hard for too long or it will overheat, and you need to put gas in it.

Now, granted, it’s a simulation so all of that stuff is optional… You can 100% just get in the boat and drive it somewhere without much effort – but having owned boats, I like the closer to reality boating simulation. 🙂

Back to the island, I had to build it from the ground up – so every rock, blade of grass, tree, the gazebo, the house, the piers were built by me over the last few days.

And the fellow I bought the island from has also decided to sell me his other land holdings in the region (he and his BF are moving to the Blake Sea area), so I’ve picked up about a quarter of the sim so far, in various odd-shaped pieces.

The island itself though is my new virtual home… It’s really calm, quiet, and comes with amazing sunsets…

New Keyboard

Posted in Blog, and Computers

For the last five or six years I’ve been using an Azio “MK HUE” keyboard, which worked fine up to the point it didn’t; some sort of internal fault caused half of the keys to stop working.

Luckily this happened after I’d acquired an Azio “Retro Classic” keyboard from my roommate; he’d acquired it years ago but didn’t use it much because he wore off the keycaps and isn’t a touch-typer. He’s since moved to using the default Apple wireless keyboard, which makes me wince, but to each their own I guess. 🙂

Anyway, I found it during my final walk-through of the old duplex where he’d left it behind, so I picked it up, decided to clean it up, and buy a new set of key caps for it.

So after spending $60 on a new set of keycaps and having my regular keyboard die, I started using the “Retro Classic”… Unfortunately while it looks neat, it sucks as a keyboard.

So, last weekend I picked up a new Logitech G815 keyboard, and it seems to be pretty nice.

It’s a little cramped for my huge hands, but it types well and I’m almost settled in on it… I really like the big volume ‘knob’ on the upper-right of the keyboard though, that’s the killer feature for this model in my humble opinion.

Cost of Living

Posted in Blog

Just got back from the grocers…

Two years ago my weekly grocery run averaged right about $50. In February of this year it was $70. In March it was $80. Last week I spent almost $120, which took May to about $100 average.

And today was $180…

Granted, almost $40 of that was the two small steaks I picked up… $18 for a sketchy 8oz steak.

All this would lead one to think I’m eating caviar and gold-plated ice-cream or something, but no… I tend to buy Walmart/Sam’s store-brand stuff like single-serve salads, $5 take and bake pizza, generic chips, and frozen stuff like potpies for dinner and breakfast bowls to eat at work when I get there at 0630 in the morning. I also buy canned soups and raman bowls for lunches.

The steaks are a once a month thing – but I’ll probably stop doing that.

Add to this that gas is pushing $4 a gallon, my insurance just went up, my utility costs just went up, and taxes are getting stupid – and I’m seriously pondering a second job just to afford getting up in the morning.

But hey, at least we don’t have mean tweets anymore.