Just got back from the local gun range where I got to spend some quality time with my 45-70 and some legitimate MOA targets at 50 yards.
I put 20 rounds of 405 grain downrange over about an hour period to dial in the scope, and I can sure feel it in my shoulder. There were quite a few questions about the gun, especially after the first round; it shakes dust off the rafters when it goes off.
Anyway, the local range is really nice and laid back, and wasn’t super busy. It’s in the middle of Cherry Creek State Park, so you have to pay to get into the park ($11) and then pay for your range time ($22), and that apparently dissuades folks.
Speaking of, I got my range time for $18 versus $22 because I’m former Navy – that was nice of them.
Also, the range has a hotdog / sausage vendor on-site called “Top Dog”, and he sells game meat sausages and whatnot…
I had the elk cheddar and jalapeño sausage and it was incredible… I might have to drive over here for lunch on occasion.
Anyway, I got a 1-year pass for the park while I was there – because while I’d never been to Cherry Creek State Park before, it was really nice and I can tell I’ll be visiting often enough to make the $83 worth it.
But now I’m home and really should clean the rifle before packing it away for a week or two…
The NIST audit at work for the various accredited work we do ended well. I mean, no one escapes a NIST audit unscathed, but we made it out with only a few comments – and none of those had anything to do with my portions of the audit.
My areas of the audit deal specifically with network stuff like data security, and hardware acquisition / distribution / maintenance / etc. And every two years when we do this my approaches and designs typically wow the auditors.
Seriously, “Jim from NIST” has been doing our audits for years, and I’ve worked with him now for six audits (12 years). He always looks forward to seeing what I’m doing and getting a thorough explanation of the how’s and why’s of it all as it seems other groups aren’t quite as inventive.
I’ve been doing this gig since the literal dawn of time – since before there were books and classes and certifications even, so I guess my solutions to problems probably tend to be outside the box a bit.
Outside of work I’m still hanging around in SecondLife, enjoying building stuff and chatting with friends. One of those friends is the virtual incarnation of Shawn Keller, a freelance animator and all around nice guy / loony tune who, like me, slums in SL as a break from the real world.
He’s been working on a side project with this character named Athena that seems to have taken off, and we spent an evening this week going over some sample animation and the storyboards for the next episode.
In SL he’s been dragging my avatar around to various night clubs this week, which has been pretty interesting just from a 3D design perspective; most of the more popular clubs in SL are literal works of art.
Here’s Valinye, my SL avatar, at a club called ‘FurZona’:
Usually the first reaction when someone sees Val on my blog is a double-take. Yes, Val is female and yes I am not, and no it’s not some sort of wish fulfillment or something.
Valinye is actually patterned after one of the main storyteller characters in my Caerth RP setting, so outside of the avatar the character has been around for about thirty years. So I like to think I’m pretty good at ‘playing her’ in SL, and even people who know I’m behind the character tend to forget that she doesn’t really exist.
Val’s SL existence came about in 2010, mostly as an alt for my “main” avatar, Aelfyre Twilight, who has been in SL since early 2004… She was created for all of the stuff I did in SL between 2010 and 2020 because I owned and operated the sims and the leadership in MLP tended to be female… So Valinye here has been Empress Aurora, Queen Ruina, and later Iridae from the various storyline sims I created over a decade.
Due to this, Valinye has literally hundreds of thousands of things in her inventory from the creation of dozens of sims, and because she was in daily use for the sims she is also the creator of a lot of the stuff I made during that decade and sell on the SL marketplace – so she gets most of my L$ mad-money from marketplace sales.
She also owns all of my rental sims that have come online since 2010, so all of my back and forth L$ to US$ transactions to support my virtual land empire run through her.
I could fix this and transfer everything Val owns over to Aelfyre, but it would take weeks of work in land transfers and marketplace reposting. That and Val is pretty well known and well respected in the sim rental and RP milieus; and in SL all one really has is their reputation because all else is virtual… It would be a lot of work to get that back too.
Outside of the functional issues, Val is also just fun to be. One of the more entertaining things about a female avatar is the incredible plethora of ‘looks’ you can work on. I mean, guys tend to be a lot more reserved and Aelfyre has like five outfits ranging from a formal suit to casual slacks and a button down shirt – and that covers every possible social interaction he has in SL…
Val on the other hand has hundreds of outfits I’ve put together over the years. She has era options, seasonal options, social setting options, hair options, makeup options, jewelry options, accessory options – hell, she can color-coordinate her fingernails…
Guys generally don’t do that – not that we cant mind you, it’s just not a common thing… I mean, for most of us as long as the naughty bits are covered and none of our appendages are sticking together we tend to be good to go.
But the availability (and acceptability) of so many options means that for Val the sky is literally the limit for her couture, and it’s fun to play with all of the possibilities. For example, the above outfit is something I put together specifically for that evening of clubbing because one of the places had a vampire theme going on…
Now for the elephant in the room…
No discussion of SL is complete without mentioning the fact that SL, for a lot of people, is little more than an internet sex simulator. A lot of SL is dedicated to it – from entire sims dedicated to various kinks to an entire multi-million U.S. dollar industry that just makes sexy-time animations…
I mean, you can purchase a bed on the marketplace with four thousand sex animations. Four – thousand…
I, for one, don’t participate in this.
SL for me tends to be about making cool stuff, creating places and settings that only exist in my head, and playing characters in those settings. I like courtly intrigue, whodunit mysteries, and just chit-chatting as a character – and have absolutely no interest in all of the sex stuff.
Because of this Val is somewhat known as a prude; she’s rarely seen in anything more racy than an evening gown that shows just enough leg to be scandalous and sticks to more G-rated locations like Luskwood or her own areas on the grid.
She still gets propositioned though, a lot – she’s a semi-famous sim owner / designer, is a Unicorn both literally and figuratively, and apparently my avatar design skills are pretty good – so I guess this makes her a worthy quest.
I find it all to be entertaining, to a point. But every now and then someone will take it too far and they quickly discover that Val is not to be trifled with.
This happened last evening in fact. I was back at the FurZona sim to catch a virtual wrestling match that someone else I know in SL has been working on, and encountered someone who couldn’t take no for an answer…
He got a verbal lashing in IMs and after telling me off left the area, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the exhibition – so I chalk that up as a win.
So, that’s SL. It’s really fun and I really do recommend it to anyone wanting to play around in “cyberspace”. Just be warned that many “Internet People” can be kinda – gross and sticky. 😀
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.
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”.
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.
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:
We followed the fence line out the the north end of the property which abuts state land…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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…
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…