Friday Update

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…