The Week in Review

Overall it was a pretty productive week.

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’:

This is about as racy as Valinye ever gets

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. 😀

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