Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I am Marnix. Hear me roar.

I fancied a change last night. So I wandered over to the extravanganza that is Grendel's Children.

Anyone need a pet or mebbe a guard-cat? I'm quite tame. And house-trained. Mostly.

Monday, March 30, 2009

German castles with Dutch names

While the rest of the population of the SLuniverse were hopping around the place like bunnies over the weekend, I was out exploring.

I had a bit of spare time (although admittedly I probably should have been in bed and will suffer for it this afternoon) so wandered back to Destination Station to find my next tp adventure. This time I chose somewhere without velociraptors.

I fancied somewhere a bit ancient, rather than somewhere modern or futuristic, and I was feeling in a building sort of a mood, as opposed to countryside and stuff. A quick whizz round the Destination Station boards (which would have been a lot quicker if I had realised my graphics settings were set to 'ultra' for some unknown reason) left me to plump for Kasteel Verloren, which translates from Dutch as Lost Castle.

Now, before I get on to exploring the place for you, I'd just like to point out that if you google Kasteel Verloren you get returned a few pages so I'm not the first person round here. Which makes sense if it was actually built in 2005 as something I read suggested. The suggestion is that the castle in SL is actually a representation of Schloss Neuschwanstein in RL Bavaria which was the castle that appears in both Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Spaceballs and supposedly was the model for the Disney trademark castle too.

I wrote before about being unsure about exploring SL representations of RL places but I didn't know this place existed RL when I was checking it out. So I reckoned my back is covered ;)

So yeah, the castle... (please excuse the dodgy textures that appear in the water in some of my shots. I have no idea what's going on there. Anyone?)

Well, first off, this place is huge. Like really huge. It basically fills a whole sim. It's massive. And it's stunning. The detail in a place like this blows my mind. When you go over the drawbridge and first enter the castle courtyard you're met with a hedge maze. I guess I could have flown over it but that kind of seems rude when the designer's gone to so much trouble, I reckon. At least I could head up the staircase and grab a better vantage point for planning my route.

This place really has to be seen to be believed. So many interlinking rooms and interwoven corridors, all in imaculate detail. I could have spent hours here. In fact, I think I did.

While wandering round the interior and the gardens of the castle I realised what a stunning location this would make for a wedding. It's got everything you could possibly want for your big day.

The throne room would make an excellent place for the ceremony...

There is a huge great ballroom too, and a dining room suitable for a banquet. That's me all the way down at the end there. Hello, Marnix!

There are bedrooms galore for guests, staff quarters, a huge kitchen, a library, and a games room complete with pool table. I think the table was definitely authentic 19th century.

And there are also numerous, numerous varied spots for taking photos of the happy couple's special day.

There are even horses you can take for a ride round the well-marked trekking route. I am not sure I was doing it right though...

All in all, Kasteel Verloren is a beautiful, well-crafted castle, lovingly modelled and built. Well worth a visit, if you can get over the whole German castle/Dutch name thing. Especially if you're looking for a place for an up-coming wedding. All I ask, as commission for recommending it to you, is a slice of the cake. And your first-born daughter.

Oh yeah, and thank you Raven Pennyfeather for the work you do with RFyre. You produce some beautifu, beautiful clothes.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Is it usual, I wonder, for every single person on my (short but distinguished) friend list to be (ostensibly) a lass?

11 out of 11 friends on Plurk and 9 out of 10 of my blog followers too.

I wonder why that is.

And while we're on the subject of friends, I'm still finding the whole 'right time to be-friend' people thing somewhat trying. When I first arrived inworld, I was young(er) and naive(r) and whenever I met anyone and exchanged more than two sentences I offered friendship. Multiple rejections and whole lot of blog reading on etiquette later I am now more tentative, but perhaps overly so.

Obviously it's a really useful tool to know when people you might want to talk to are online. It saves playing IM tag until eventually you send one and don't get the 'this person is offline...' thing thrown back at you. And there truly are people whose blogs I read, whose plurks I share, who read and comment here too, that I'd love to meet in SL. So many interesting and funny people.

And some of them are blokes too!

Smooth threads

When I arrived inworld last night my short and pathetic friend list was decidedly unbolded. (Oh, apart from Chey who said a quick hello. Hello Chey!) And given my recent regained enthusiasm for discovering new and exciting sartorial elegance, due in the mostpart to a fashionista vampiress, I decided to go shopping. I had some L$ lying around burning a hole in my pocket, y'see.

Now, this is not a fashion feed blog thing, and it never will be. For one thing I'd be rubbish at it given I'm not very good with listing product names and shops and designers and costs and stuff! But I thought I'd share with you, my lovely readers (and the not so lovely ones too), what you may see me out and about in during the next however long. That assumes we ever cross paths, of course.

First things first - I hate the lag that seems to universally occur when I am shopping. It's definitely a real buzz kill.

But yeah, so there we go. I think, looking at that stuff above, I need to be invited to a few more balls. It's not exactly beachwear is it? Although I guess wearing a kilt to the beach could be quite refreshing.

I definitely spent too much money, but I could easily have spent more. A lot more. Last night's retail therapy comprised RFyre and Silent Sparrow. I spent ages just wandering round marvelling at the amazing detail of the clothing. Some designers really are talented, you know. Stylish and well-made threads. It never ceases to blow my mind. Sure there was some stuff there I'll never wear but there was a lot I could see myself clothes-horsing. I think I did well to restrict myself to two outfits from each shop.

Oh, and if I ever need a suit of chainmail for some sort of knight-rescues-the-damsel-from-the-evil-dragon-stroke-witch scenario (it could happen - and in fact perhaps I need the outfit in my wardrobe just in case?) I know exactly where I am headed, Miss Raven Pennyfeather.

One more thing before I leave though, and that's just to wonder how on earth people who blog about fashion and releases and clothes and stuff do it? Time-wise, I mean. How do they get it all done and still have time for a SLife? I have major admiration for them. Getting outfits options and poses and hair and stuff sorted for that picture above took a CSI:Miami and half a Criminal Minds. And it still looks amateur compared to the gently soft-lit, smooth-edged stuff we see every day around the blogosphere. Talented photoshoppers, I salute you. EDIT: and how do I get rid of those annoying jagged edges to clothing, particular trousers (pants, if you're North American?)

And no, I don't know quite what's happened to my leg in the pose on the left. Maybe it's caught in a rabbit hole. Or something.

Hunt my arse

Y'see, this is why I can't get into the whole hunt thing that seems to drive the rest of the SLuniverse mental with excitement.

I'm just not sure it's my colour.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Norty neighbours

Oh yeah, forgot to mention in that last post about my neighbours. The place I'm currently living has other sims around it. And due to timezone issues there never seems to be anyone in the adjoining apartments to say hello to. But whenever I log on, a house on a neighbouring sim always seemed to have a green dot in it.

Eventually curiosity got the better of me and (after changing into the outfit of the day, natch) I flew over to have a look. It's a lovely beach house with pier stretching into the sea over breaking waves. And as I got closer I realised that it was not one green dot, but two. And the house had windows, so it's not really invasion of privacy is it? Hehe.

Well, two green dots that look like one green dot. You all know what I'm saying. But listen, let me be clear on this, I didn't hang around watching or anything. Or taking photos.

But the next time I logged in, there again, one green dot that was actually two. And the next time. And the next and the next. In fact pretty much everytime I log in there they are, making the beast of two green dots.

It's kind of become a bit of a fascination for me. I just can't resist going to check. Are they still at it?!?

So, the reason I mention it is because last night I logged on, and just before Banana IM-ed me I noticed not two green dots, but four. Ah, I thought, they've got friends around for drinkees. But no. Kinky, not drinkees. The usual couple had another very willing (and slightly preganant) participant while a bloke in a white suit stood, fully dressed. Watching.

I'm not 100% sure why I needed to tell you all this. I just felt I needed to share it. As part of my SL development. And therapy ;)

I was thinking that this blogpost needed a pic to complete it. But some of you might have a sensitive disposition. Or could be reading at work. So I resisted.

Flying without wings

I didn't intend to log on last night. And then I just intended to log on and reply to a couple of IMs I'd received. And then I hung around all night. It gets like that doesn't it?

I blame Banana. If she hadn't IMed me I would have been in and out in no time at all. So to speak. But she'd IMed me, so I replied. And then found she was online. She IMed back "Have you ever been hang-gliding?" I replied in the negative and before I knew it I was tp-ing over to her friend's place (Loka, I think it was called).

She climbed aboard a hang-glider and soared off into the sky. Woh, thinks me. That looks like fun. I jump aboard the newly rezzed hang-glider and press go, ready to follow Nana off into the sunlit sky. Except I don't. I nosedive into the turf.

"Press fly" says Nana. Now there's an idea. Thanks, chick. And here's me scrabbling around in the dirt looking for thermals.

So eventually I get airborne. And I think I get the hang of it. And then a tree decides that I'm flying too close to it. So it reaches out and grabs me and deposits me in a chair suspended from its bough.

At this point I gave up. As you can see from the shot below, there was no way I was ever getting out of that predicament. And Nana's guffaws were so not helping.

I was knackered by then, after all that panting and struggling to free myself from the evil swing chair's clutches. So we went for a sit down. It a cat basket. It turns out Nana's friend is neko. So there's a lot of cat paraphernalia around the place. Comfy though.

So then I was logging off and going to bed. For real this time. Only it wasn't quite midnight and I'd set myself a midnight limit so I thought I'd just try out a landmark someone gave me weeks ago that I'd not had chance to visit yet. Next stop, Crimson Shadow. (You'll have to forgive my lack of SLurls but I don't presently have the requisite facility available).

I have to say, as I wandered round the place, marvelling at the intricate detail, I was struck by how amazing some of this vampire/gothic clothing can be. I wish I had the vocabularly to express just how exquisite the pixel needlecraft is. Sometimes I think it's easy to fall into the habit of settling for second best in terms of clothing, and maybe more so being a bloke, with relatively little choice. Add to that the fact that I struggle to be captivated with the more 'modern' clothing and jeans and t-shirt type stuff and you can see why I haven't been enthused with shopping recently. I've been happy with the few 'sharp' outfits I have, am liking the way my look has developed, and perhaps have gotten lazy. Already.

With that in mind, it was perhaps fate that I ended up in Crimson Shadow. And the SL gods were smiling on me when they brought a little green dot onto my radar screen. Enter one lass. Soon to be my vampiric fashionista tour guide for the evening.

It seemed rude not to say hello, given we were the only two around. And as the conversation developed her interest in all things fashion became evident. I expressed my recent-found lethargy for shopping and she boldly took up the challenge and proposed to introduce me to her favourite shopping haunts.

What followed was a whistle-stop tour of Avid, Gothicatz, Footfetish and Haute Couture with passing reference to Redgrave I got plus marks for wearing Redgrave shoes when our conversation began. I learned a lot from our time together last night and certainly have some places to go back and visit with a little money in my wallet. Some of the stuff was perhaps a bit too RP for me, but some of the stuff was right up my alley. My enthusiasm for shopping has thusly returned. But I have learned I have expensive tastes. Quality does not often come cheap.

It was interesting meeting a vampire last night too. My only previous encounter with a pointy-toothed one was in my first couple of days of SLife, possibly on one of those Orientation Island places, when I had no idea what I was doing or what was happening and ended up getting bit. (Supposedly my soul's in limbo now, it seems). This sort of thing gives vampires a bad name, I think. I've read in a few places that they're not always flavour of the month, what with the randomly biting naive and innocent noobs who don't know better stuff. But last night I have to say, I found all that bad press is unfounded. This vampiress didn't even get her fangs out. Sure some vampires might grief and stuff. But equally not all griefers are vampires. I learned last night that it's like a Venn diagram with a set of griefers and a set of vampires. There is an overlap of the two sets but one set is not entirely enclosed within the other. (Sorry, non-maths people!)

So, in terms of vampires I've met, it's a 1-1 draw. But the nice vampire's goal was a screamer as opposed to the scrambled mess and miskick the griefing one scored he says, taking the analogy way too far.

So another 2am good night yawn!. I had such high hopes for myself too. Maybe tonight I won't log on. Mebbe.

On the positive side, I love the way that SL is like that. A forgotten LM, a chance meeting, and then I spend two hours hanging and chatting with a vampire from California who I never knew existed up to that point.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Metal mickey

One of the first places I ended up exploring in SL was Whimsy, an amazing and diverse place with kayaks, train rides, whales, active volcanoes and a giant tiki head. You could tell an awful lot of time and tears had been poured into the place by Cheyenne. When I'd briefly met Chey, only a few days into my Slife, she'd told me about her next project, something she was currently working on. She told me that it wasn't finished yet but I'd be welcome to have a look around and sent me a landmark to the Whimsy Kaboom Robot Sanitorium. Later I went a had an explore and liked what I saw but as it wasn't finished I resolved to return. One day.

So it was with great glee I read the other day that Cheyenne has declared the Robot Sanitorium open. Last night, when I had a little spare time I headed down there to take a nosy.

I think the first thing I have to admire is just the detail of the place. It is so obviously lovingly designed and textured. A real feat of engineering beauty and design. I am still amazed daily at the magnificent mental architecture that spills onto our screens as a result of the labours of some talented designers and programmers we share our SLives with. I am sure different people work in different ways, but I often wonder if places are designed and visualised before being realised, or whether they start and evolve with no set plan, but just a cloud of vague ideas. So yeah, the Robot Sanitorium - as well as being visually complex, it's interactive and humorous. You can even follow through an intricately imagined mechanical process to become a robot yourself. After my first experimentation with changing avatars the other day (and the whole velociraptor in the burlesque club thing) I was a bit less tentative about becoming something other than the usual Marnix.

OK, so you follow the signs and wander the tunnels and end up in a sort of reception areas. Once you sign the consent form on Bender's clipboard you receive the basic starter bot box. This is where your journey into robot-dom begins. Just follow the arrows.

You head through the door, follow pipes and tubes, and end up in the conversion room. First stop, the hydaulic press. Here you get crunched, munched and squeezed into your robot shape. It kind of feels like once of those car crusher things you get in scrapyards I guess. As part of the process you end up red hot. And not in a sexy way.

Hmmm, does my bum look big in this?

As any good robot knows, the way to cool down a smoking bot is to take a bath. And luckily enough the next stage of the process fulfills that need. Simply click on the crane to be hoisted up and hauled along an overhead rail before being plunged into liquid nitrogen. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh! Refreshing!

The next stage is intellect. At the moment you're just an empty metal shell. You need a brain. Moving right along you reach the brain section where you are implanted with your relevant processors and programmed using Asimov's three laws .

And then that's it. You're done. Robot finished. All that is left is, like any good make-over show, the before and after shots. It's just a subtle change, eh?

But lest we forget, this is a robot sanitorium, complete with padded cell.

No padded cell will hold Marnix however, and I escaped the guards and made my way out and headed back to the main floor. Glowing head is punishment for inmates who use the lifts, I think.

Klaatu barada nikto, Cheyenne.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Top of the Pops

I read earlier today on Alicia's blog about a ranking of SL blogs. It is something ArminasX Saiman has pulled together and it sounds like it was a lot of work. Major kudos goes to him for attempting this, as well as for putting up with the disgruntled crap that will be flung his way as a result.

The first thing to spring from this collection of blog rankings was the number of active SL blogs out there. ArminasX lists 585. Woh. And I thought my reading list was long. I find it dually a comfort and a worry that there are that many. It's a comfort to feel our small community is actually not so small after all. And it's a worry because I am so obsessive about this sort of thing that I know if I start going through this list I'll add even more to my reading list and I'll find it even harder to fit RL work around SL reading.

The second thing to spring from this collection of blog rankings is that I'm not on it. Hurray! I actually find it quite liberating to not be on the list, strangely. I'm not sure why though. After all I could be the 343rd highest ranked SL blog (just below Digital Knickers) and I'll never know.

But then, looking through the list and reading the multitude of comments I've found I'm not the only one to have been missed off. There are loads that haven't shown up, for whatever reason. I actually find that more disappointing than being missed off the rankings list in the first place. Maybe I just liked to think I was unique but that sheen is now tarnished.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


A little while ago I read on one of the many blogs I follow (and I can't remember which - sorry if it was you!) about an amazing place. It's called Destination Station. As the owners describe it - "It's like an Infohub except it has COOL places to go and explore". And they're exactly right. 100 or so places, all gathered together, filtered by others for our benefit. Just click on a pic and TP. And they've all got notecards for background too. Can you think of anything cooler?

I've resolved to explore them all. And post a blog about every single one. Bear with me it might take a while.

Well, I can tick one off. Last last week I headed on over to Dinosaurs Park. It's a pretty nice-looking place and seems very modelled on Jurassic Park, but that's not a bad thing. The only thing I would say is wait until it's finished if you're keen on a visit. The major part of the park is still under construction. It's a shame the owner spent time constructing the cafe and giftshop before working on the main attraction.

On the plus side, there's a rather nice little gadget where you can buy a dino av. I wasn't sure I wanted to buy one but they have catered for the less decisive too, with the ability to rent the av. Quick as a flash I click and bought the two-day rental, and a few seconds later was striding round in a raptor outfit. I even took a trip up to the observation tour.

Imagine the universal surprise, though, when I entered a burlesque club wearing it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Indicting society

One thing I really like about SL is how, to some extent, we befriend people via personality. The connection is due to our interactions, rather than our appearance.

It is true that to some degree the appearance of an avatar may sway us one way or another, within broad boundaries, but to a large degree, SL connections are personality based. I think the SL blogging community is a perfect demonstration of that. Many of the people I interact with as a result of SL and more directly SL blogs, I've never even met in SL. The interaction has to be personality based. I am quite sure it is the same for many of you out there.

I guess though, the sad thing is that this is only really noteworthy because, on the whole, this isn't how society exists. In RL connections tend to primarily first and foremost appearance based.

Yeah, sure, it's not true for all of us and it's not true in all situations, but for the mostpart can we really deny it? There's some well-quoted stat about us forming an impression of people in the first four seconds after meeting them or something. We decide in that time whether we'll bother trying to like someone. And a lot of that must be down to appearance. In SL I don't think that same rule applies. And I for one celebrate that fact.

Not that I'm saying you wouldn't talk to me if you saw me RL, you understand ;)

Upside down

I've read (and written) quite a bit about how RL influences SL and how many of us find it impossible to treat our SL selves as a completely different emotional and experiential being to our RL selves. So in that way RL influences SL. Who we are in flesh and blood is an indication of who we will be in pixels. But what about the other way round? Do you think we can find our SL selves influencing our RL?

The reason I ask is that my RL self took a wander at lunchtime away from my desk, around the shops and stuff. And browsing through clothes shops I found myself drawn to stuff that my SL self would wear, but not what my RL self would typically wear. Could my SL self be influencing how I am RL? Is my SL self really part of my inner RL self that SL is causing to surface?

It's an interesting question to ponder of a Friday afternoon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As I mentioned before, the analyst within my RL self just luuuuuurves Google Analytics. I love the depth of the information it provides.

How many people hit my blog? When? Where from? How did they get here?

It's the last of those questions that's intriguing me at the moment. Just how did people reach my blog? Many, of course, are referrals from other blogs, those bloggers who've included me in their blogroll thingys. Some however, are via googling. And it's just amazing what people search for and what will lead them to me.

Like "reasonable desires". On 9th March a person googled that and their journey led here. Somehow. Because a search of my blog doesn't yield that phrase.

The best google search string though is "i need marnix". On 14th March, someone somewhere needed Marnix. Whether that was me, or some Dutch bloke they needed we'll never know. All we know is that they found me. I do hope I satiated their need.

The joy of RSS

I love RSS feeds. They're brilliant. New articles, cartoon strips, blog posts all delivered quickly and smoothly right into my waiting inbox.

But they have a downside. I have to remind myself why I read the blogs I do. It's not just about watching from afar. It's about interaction. And just as I love comments, to have acknowledgement that people are out there, I know that others seek the same. I will go to a page straight from the RSS post if I feel the urge to comment, but if I don't I will miss the comments others post. And that is part of the richness of the interaction that these blogs provide us with.

If I don't post a comment on your blog, be assured that I am still reading. It's just that RSS has its downsides too.

Why am I here?

I do wonder sometimes why do I blog? I mean, what does it add? For me? For others? Am I writing for me or for others?

I think the answer I usually arrive at is "it depends".

Sometimes I am blogging so that I can look back over time and see my progression (like when I come across photos that show what I looked like in the early days!) I guess it's like keeping a diary in RL. It is therapeutic to relive those emotions and experiences from days gone by and reflect on lessons learned. And bad hair and clothes.

Sometimes I am blogging because I just solely want a record. I want a moment in time to be remembered.

Sometimes I blog just to empty my buzzing head of thoughts and questions. Just to get it all down there in black and white. To clarify my thinking.

Sometimes I am writing to share with others. I want them to know me better, to understand me, to see through my eyes. I am Marnix; share my life.

Sometimes it's just waffle. Just because I feel I want to write. So much of my RL life is numbers that it's nice to use words for a change. Mindspill.

Sometimes I blog just to seek a connection with someone, somewhere in the world. Seeking others who'll nod and empathise, remembering similar experiences themselves.

And sometimes it's like a pick-n-mix assortment of all of the above.

I guess the bottom line is, as I say, it depends. I do know that my reasons have probably evolved over time, as my SL self has absorbed more and more of the RL me. I started in SL and wondered how to meet people; nice, intelligent people. Googling SL at work illuminated the path towards SL blogs. Creating an SL blog identity allowed me to connect with them, reading those blogs and commenting on them - it was all about making connections, even if timezones would mean we'd never meet inworld. And then, since I was here, I decided to write, to see what happened. I had no preformed ideas about where I was headed.

But over time the reason for blogging changed and developed. I discovered other motives and causes for posts that I didn't know existed within me.

Ultimately the blog did allow me to make connections. And it still does. A few of those connections have been replicated inworld. Not enough, in my mind, but I'm still new. There's time.

It continually amazes me that I post a lot more on my SL blog than my RL blog. The RL blog had only one real purpose. Well two maybe. To document stuff, emotions and experiences, for myself when I moved to the other side of the world, and to share that stuff with friends and family back home. It was easier and more frequent than a Christmas letter. But within those constraints there is so much I cannot write. Inner thoughts I wrestle with, issues I wrangle over. My anonymity here does not restrict me in the same way. Here if I want to talk about a girl I met, a crush that developed, a potential love lost I can. Here dreams and fears are common knowledge, public information. I appreciate the chance to be open, to be candid as CeN describes me, and to know that in some small way, people are listening and connecting with me.

Strange adventure

I went a-wandering tonight, and came across a kayak. There was a note to say that it was free for anyone to use, so I sat down, picked up the paddle and embarked on a curious adventure.

I passed dolphins, I passed a giant drinking bird and a chinese junk. Eventually I came to the place where I had to leave my kayak and proceed without it, the end of the rainbow.

I attempted to make my way over to the rubber ducky ring, but the current was strong and I was swept away into the mists. Suddenly, from out of the smoky clouds a vision appeared, towering over me. A sea serpent swam on by, as I cowered, it not noticing me.

The mists cleared and I came across a Spanish galleon, abandoned by all crew. Eerie and silent, I looked around and then noticed why the crew had left the ship so.

Fighting back my fear, I invited Kong for tea. He duly accepted, the polite fellow. I made scones. Afterwards he lifted me high into the sky in his hand and showed me the extent of his kingdom.

To repeat my footsteps search for 'Whimsy' or 'Eccentricity'. Awesome places both.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Messing with settings

I was messing with light settings and graphics settings and stuff earlier, just to see what difference it made. I first was messing with windlight settings, or at least messing with the presets. I was quite surprised with all the various looks you can achieve, just by changing to another preset. Second up, I messed around with the graphics presets to see what effect they had. The difference was quite remarkable. Take there two shots as an example? I presume you can tell which was with everything on high and which was on low.

Wouldn't be nice to be able to wander round in ultra the whole time, eh?

Nuff sleep

I was prevented by RL from logging in to SL last night. As a result I was in bed by 11 and had a most decent amount of sleep.

I am hoping this will stem the emotional outpourings.

Sheesh, I'm meant to be a bloke.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

There's tea in the pot

Come on in, grab a mug and a slice of carrot cake and join me by the fire. I have a story to tell you.

Once upon a time there was a bloke called, let’s say, for argument’s sake, Mornix. He was a traveller, a wander, and one day, after a long hard journey over many days and many mountains he arrived in a strange and foreign land. The land filled with the most wondrous places, the strangest sights and the most exotic people Mornix had ever seen.

Mornix spent hours wandering around the towns and cities and villages and countryside of this foreign land. He filled his senses with experiences and enjoyed talking to the people he met along the way. It was such a different place to his homeland and the people were so varied. He thought he could wander forever having his eyes opened to this strange new land, seeing and hearing new things each and every day.

But then one day, Mornix stumbled through the doors of a tavern, hoping to meet some interesting people inside to share talk of dragons and castles and goblins and mountains with. When his eyes adjusted to the light he was met with the shimmering image of a beautiful princess. She was working in the tavern it turned out. The credit crunch had hit her father’s kingdom hard and even the princess was expected to pay her own way.

Mornix sat in a corner, nursing a warm mead, trying to summon the courage to approach startling beauty who flitted around the room, lighting up every dark corner. Eventually the mead melted the nerves and Mornix spoke to the princess. And to his surprise, she spoke back. The tavern was empty by now so the princess sat with Mornix and they talked and laughed, and laughed and talked. Hours went by, them talking about everything and nothing, but eventually the time came for Mornix to leave. He said goodbye and left the princess. He was smiling and happy-hearted.

The next day Mornix returned to the tavern, hoping to again meet the beautiful princess. He arrived but found the place dark and empty. With the hopeful heart of an eternal optimist he summoned a carrier pigeon, wrote a message to the princess, telling her how he enjoyed their time together the previous evening and hoped to meet her again, and sent the pigeon off into the night skies. Mornix sat down and waited.

A short time later he was wakened from his daysdreams by the rustle of feathers. The pigeon had returned. And to his Mornix’s joy it was carrying a message for him from the princess. She was at the market in town, the message said, and if he wished, the princess would be happy for Mornix to meet her there. The message ended with some handy GPS coordinates.

As quick as a flash Mornix was on his feet. He hopped on over to the market as quick as his teleport...er feet would carry him and rushed up and down the rows of stalls searching for a glimpse of the princess he’d met the night before. Finally, after he’d almost given up hope, he spotted her. She was stood by a jewellery stall, the glow of her beauty overshadowing the gems before her, their glistening colours mere shadows in comparison to her radiant form.

With butterflies in his stomach the size of melons Mornix approached the princess and spoke. She turned and smiled a smile that would melt the heart of the strongest man. They wandered off to a cafe together and sat, the sunlight warming them as they talked the hours way.

Over the next few days and weeks Mornix and the princess saw each other regularly. They talked and laughed and explored and danced and sat. Hours seemed like mere seconds when they were together and the connection and attraction and tenderness between them grew. The princess was funny and intelligent, witty and charming and Mornix could think of nothing but spending time in her presence.

But then one day the princess said she had something to tell Mornix, something about her life back in her father’s kingdom. Mornix sat and listened while the princess talked. She was open and honest about her life back there, how it was before she arrived in this foreign land. Mornix deeply appreciated the openness the princess displayed, the trust she showed in him. It touched him.

In fact, in touched him so much that Mornix realised he had something to share with the princess in return. In the time they’d spent together he’d come to care for her and realised he had to tell her about his life back in his homeland, his life before he’d left to come travelling and exploring. He had to tell her before things developed to a stage that it’d be too late to tell her. Now it was his time to talk openly and honestly while the princess listened. And when he finished, she just sat there. She was silent for a while and then spoke, telling Mornix she appreciated his honesty but that things were different now.

Mornix knew he had done the right thing but it didn’t stop the hurt and disappointment both of them felt. They talked a little longer until it was time for Mornix to leave. He stood and walked away, this time his heart heavy and with no smile on his lips. He tried to convince himself he had done the right thing.

The next day Mornix and the princess met up. He tried to make conversation but she said she wasn’t chatty. The conversation was friendly enough, but strained. Mornix could understand why. The princess told Mornix that she had to return to her father’s kingdom for a couple of weeks and would be in touch on her return. They said their farewells, Mornix wishing the princess a safe and comfortable journey without incidents with giants and wolves, and parted.

Mornix knew that the trip home had arrived at an opportune time for the princess. And for him too for that matter. He knew he had a long-distance carrier pigeon that he could use to send messages to the princess but didn’t know if she would have instructed the castle guards to shoot his bird down. So Mornix sat, and he waited.


Oh, damn. The last page has been ripped out. How is this story going to end? Do all fairytales have happy endings?

Mr Lonely

I realised last night how few people I know in SL. I wasn't in a particularly sociable mood so didn't feel like meeting new people much, and I wasn't in a mood to go exploring. I just wanted to hang with some friendly faces and chat about nothing, setting the world to rights, waffling and stuff.

But I couldn't find any. Maybe at times like these I need to learn to switch SL off and go and do something else.

But then I come into work, switch on my email, and find my RSS feed loaded to the gunnels with stuff from yous guys. And I smile :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Surprisingly easy

I've been surprised how SL creates drama and heartache with remarkable ease. I've heard it said that one week in SL is like a month in RL. I wouldn't disagree.

Friday, March 13, 2009

You know you've been hanging in SL too much when...

...you start thinking in emotes. In RL.

/me should update his blog this afternoon
/me wants to do something silly
/me wishes the work day was over

I remember when I spent an extended period in Foreign with work a while back I ended up thinking and dreaming in Foreignese. I guess it's like that. Total immersion.

Does it mean I'm settling in?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bouncy girl

I met a lass last night just outside my apartment at Starting Point. She was on a pogo stick. Now she was having fun.

I heart technology

Google Analytics really is brilliant, isn't it? How cool is it that we can see where people who read our blogs are located in the world? I LOVE it. It makes the planet feel smaller somehow. I guess for many that's what SL is all about, eh?

Aurora, Buxton, Aix-en-Provence, Ljubljana, Petaling Jaya, Melbourne and Auckland are all just a click away.

And another thing...

...hunts, right. What are they all about? It may be something that comes with time, but I just don't get it.

Sure, I like the idea of getting free stuff. Don't we all? But then all I read about is days following the completion of the hunt having to spend time opening boxes before cleaning up your inventory and deleting the crap you've spent hours collecting that you don't like.

And then everyone else the whole wide SLuniverse is doing the same hunt, collecting the same free stuff, chucking away the same crap and keeping the same good stuff. Sure we all have different tastes, but we can all tell wheat from chaff can't we?

Maybe though, it's about the chasing, rather than the catching. And the social aspect. Banana has spent many patient hours (ok, minutes) extolling the virtues of hunts and the fun she has doing them, helping others, meeting folk. I do applaud her patience and dedication to the cause of hunt evangelism. But I have to stand up and confess - my name's Marnix and I'm a hunting atheist.

I'm a big boy now

I think (but I could be wrong and I can't check just at the moment) that I'm a month old today. As much as these hollow and inconsequential temporal counting blocks have any relevance at all, it feels like a big deal to me and is well worth flagging.

Think of all the people I've now met that I had no idea existed a month ago. All the places I've been, the sunsets I've watched, the times I've lagged and crashed.

And all the blogposts I've read. I guess there is something innately voyeuristic about all of us that we like to read blogs (especially if they have something interesting to say, are entertaining, are a bit spicy or just contain gratuitous lingerie pics!) I don't know what it says about us that we like to write them. What is it about us that we like to invite people into our thoughts and minds and ideas? Maybe we just are all so insecure that we want to feel people want to be invited into our thoughts and minds and ideas? I don't know.

Some SL blogs have a reason, a purpose - fashion tips, freebies, interesting places to visit and things to see. Others (and I class my own among them) just ramble a bit and touch on some other stuff sometimes. I think there's a place for all of them. And personally, I like writing, even if no-one reads. It gives me a place to tell people what I'm thinking and how I'm feeling even if no-one's listening. Kind of a cyber-therapist. A virtual speakers' corner.

Who else could I share this crap with if not you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So many

How many blogs is too many blogs to be following?

I blame RSS feeds. They're the mutt's nuts, but they do make it awfully easy to spend your life reading blogposts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Maybe it's because I'm avoiding RL work or maybe it's just because I'm just that deep. Either way I've been doing a lot of thinking today. Like about relationships. In SL, I mean.

SL relationships can transcend into RL relationships. I've heard friends tell me as much. And it can work. And be brilliant. But is it possible to keep SL relationships as SL relationships? Is your avatar having a relationship with my avatar, or is it really you and me?

I guess a lot of the answers to those questions come down to who you are and who your avatar is. Is your avatar purely a pixelated representation of your flesh and bones reality. Or are they something else? The true you, you'd want to be? The true you, you'd not dare to be? A false you, created for an SL detached from your true self?

We all wear masks in life. I guess SL just makes it harder for others to see behind those masks. RL masks can hide the person, but SL masks can hide the shape, the skin, the gender, ...

In so many ways I try not to wear RL masks. I am what I am. I crave approval so I leave nothing hidden. Somehow. As such the SL me is in so many ways the RL me. But this is where my dilemma lies. The SL me doesn't have to be the RL me. Should it be? I don't know. Do I want it to be? Again, I don't know.

And back to relationships. My current thinking is that my RL self should not put my SL self in a situation that my RL self would not put my RL self. I should not do something via my mouse that I would not do in good old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness 3D reality. If I would not right-click / touch in the universe why should I in the SLuniverse?

But what if temptation, or even a potential SL relationship should seek me out? Do SL masks relieve morality boundaries? Do graphics soften reality? It is still me interacting with you, at the end of the day. The medium may change but the sentiment remains, whatever masks we're wearing, whatever role we're playing. Do I believe that enough?

OK, nuff mindspill.

Noob is in the mind

Here's a question I've been pondering for a day or so - at what stage are you no longer noob? Is it a set date post-rezzing or does it depend entirely on an individual's time and experience? Is noob-ness relative, with you being a noob around one group of people, but non-noob around another? Is noobness in the eye of the beholder?

Hardly important issues really. Just a label that doesn't really exist. I guess the reason for all this navel-gazing and philoSLophy is because I've been feeling a bit more settled in my SL life recently. A bit more non-noobie.

As I expressed earlier a big sign of settled-ness for me is getting IMs when I arrive inworld without me IMing first. People being pleased to see you and wanting to say hi. I guess of my current massive friend list (comprising all of ten people! - hehe) there are three who would do this. It's a start, eh? Perhaps unsurprisingly all three are either in or close to my timezone. I'm realising that being in most people's 'tomorrow' is a bigger deal than I'd first thought.

So yeah.... noobness. The reason for this post. To recap, /me is feeling less noobilicious. Or at least, I was. Last night I was given guided mystery tour of some of the less salubrious parts of SL. (Thank you. You know who you are!)There are some pretty 'differently-orientated' places out there. Parts of the tour, most of it in fact, were definitely an eye-opener. The whole trip reminded me that am a noob after all.

Perhaps in RL as well as SL.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Feeling hot, hot, hot

And not in a good way :(

Why did no-one warn me that excessive time in SL would cause my graphics card to heat up so much that my laptop would shut down on me?

I feel very rude, you know, having a conversation with someone, be it a friend or some French lass in a blue rubber catsuit with a bullwhip and 12" heels, only to suddenly disappear without warning leaving them wondering what they said or what was so important that I had to shoot through without even paying for the coffee.

I'm nicer than that. I really am.

SL problems call for RL solutions and I am hoping my very recent purchase of a notepad cooler pad will minimise my hasty exits mid-sentence. We'll see.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Been shopping

I decided I need to define a Marnix style. There is just so much out there, even for blokes, that I felt I needed to define who Marnix is, and what I wear will be one part of that. I decided that I wanted the word 'sharp' to define me. Smart but casual. Tailored.

So I did a bit of shopping. I think I'm happy with the results. For now.

Sharp enough, do you think?

Oh, and I discovered sunnies. I think I suits shades.

Are ya dancin'?

Banana took me to my first party yesterday. I felt overdressed, like wearing normal clothes and stuff, but it was fun. It felt like I was on the express train to Crash City, stopping only at Lag Town and Freezeville, but it was fun nonetheless. We had a good boogie.

Banana told me that many of the people in the room were among the elite of the SL fashion world and key in the Twisted Hunt. If I'd known any better I'd have known to be awestruck. As it was none of the names meant anything to me ;)

Friday, March 6, 2009


I realised last night that I'm still struggling with the issue of privacy in SL. Just how private is it?

Let me give you an example. At one point last night I was leaping from island to island, just looking round, exploring a bit. And then I landed somewhere and some note came up about being in a private area and to leave in ten seconds or be ejected. OK, thinks me. Fair enough.

I bring the map up, choose my next random place and tp in. And the same thing happens again. Leave in ten seconds or be ejected.

I shrug and bring up the map once more. Choose my next tp spot, somewhere with some green dots this time, and whoosh, off I go.

I land and begin to wander over towards three people I can see off in front of me. I get halfway there and suddenly some notice comes up about being frozen. And then I am notified I've been ejected and also banned from that sim. Come on, what's that all about?

I guess I am still learning just what in SL is public domain. So much is designed and offered by its creator for the public to enjoy, (perhaps in some way showing vanity in seeking approval and acknowledgement?) so it comes as a surprise when a place is LOCKED and PRIVATE. And when you're forcibly removed. And when you pick three private sims IN A ROW.

It probably comes back to my noob naivety again, believing that SL could be different to RL. I still blush when I think back to my first few days. This one time (on band camp) I landed on an island and saw that two green green dots were off in the house in front of me. There I go, wandering along, hammering open the door and wandering in without even a thought. Thankfully the occupants were understanding of noobness and not too unamused but I made my apologies for my rudeness and left.

Why would I do that in SL when I'd never consider such a thing in RL?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wilkommen zu Koeln

Despite my recent little trip to Paris, I am unsure how I feel about SL places modelled on RL. I mean, isn't SL about creating from your imagination rather than recreating reality? I think it is for me.

Despite this, when I saw that Sai had been to visit Cologne Cathedral I couldn't resist following in her footsteps. Y'see I love Cologne Cathedral. In RL, I mean. It is such an amazing building, so much detail, the identifying twin spires, the sheer scale.

And the SL version does it justice. It really does. Whatever you feel about recreating SL locations, you have to admire the sheer artistry that's gone into this recreation. It is breath-taking.

Dress to impress

I've found a whole plethora of SL fashion blogs for lasses. Some of them are a good read (as well as having pics of pretty girls!) so I persevere with them. It keeps RL at bay too. But, being a bloke, I'm not likely to ever need a ruby cocktail dress, stilettos and a heap of silky locks. Not for every day use, at least.

But I care about my image. I like to think I've got a certain style about me. I like to look good. Even if there's no-one I know on the grid and no-one of my (very) small list of friends are inworld, I like to look my best. You never know who you'll find on the next tp-bounce. And being a noob still (one month rezday celebration next week!) I need advice. Sure, I could search for "men's clothing" but I'm sure there's a hell of a lot of chaff among with the limited kernels of wheat. What I need is someone who's been around a little, who knows style and wants to share it. The men's equivalent of the lasses' fashion blogs.

I'd come across a few blog-hopping but I do have to give a quick nod of the head now in thanks and acknowledgement to Mar at SL for nowt (is that a good Yorkshire accent I hear there?) who presented me with a nice list of fashion blogs for blokes.

I think, like anything, there are ones that don't work for you, where the styles being presented just aren't your thing, but there are also the ones that click for you right away, where everything you see is something you could see yourself wearing. One like that for me, and especially the smarter stuff shown there, was Karr Fall's A Male Perspective. It's just frustrating that it's not been updated since October! Aargh! Close but no cigar!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Talk talk talk

I noticed a meme-thingy on Laleeta's site (that apppears to have originated with Alicia) and, to be honest, completing it myself seemed to be a better idea that RL work. So, a snapshot for you into the musical world behind Marnix.

What does your music library say about you?
  • Put Your iTunes, winamp, mp3 player or whatever on SHUFFLE
  • For each question, press the next button to get your answer (no cheating!!)
  • You must write down song/artist even if it doesn't make sense
  • Include any comments in parenthesis
  • Post into a NOTE with #25 as your Title (Nope I won't, I am a rebel I make my own titles!)

  1. What do your friends say about you?
    We believe – Red Hot Chili Peppers [It's nice to think that they trust in me]

  2. How would your coworkers describe you?
    Ironic – Alanis Morisette [Sarcastic, yes. Ironic, I'm not sure]

  3. How would you describe yourself?
    Luxurious – Gwen Stefani [Hehe. Most definitely. Come, lounge on Marnix. He's luxurious]

  4. What do you like in a romantic partner?
    Take a look around – Limp Bizkit [It's good to explore each other]

  5. How do you feel today?
    A place for you – Breaks Co-op [Aw, bless. There's always a place for you]

  6. What is your life’s purpose?
    Fade – Staind [Drifting off into oblivion and obscurity mebbe, notable for nothing]

  7. What is your motto?
    Modern Way – Kaiser Chiefs [I am the very model of a modern major-general]

  8. What do you think about the most?
    Are you gonna go my way? – Lenny Kravitz [Yep, always on the look out for someone to go my way]

  9. What are you going to do on your next vacation?
    My last breath – Evanescence [I'm never going on holiday again!]

  10. What do you think of your first love/date?
    Primavera – Santana [Ah, spring. Love in the spring-time]

  11. What is your life story?
    New religion – Duran Duran [Having one, or being one?]

  12. What did you do yesterday?
    Things I’ll never say – Avril Lavigne [I'm too embarassed to tell you ;p ]

  13. What do you think of when you see the person you like/love?
    Betterman – John Butler Trio [She makes me want to be one. Seems fair]

  14. What describes your wedding?
    Venice Queen – Red Hot Chili Peppers [Yes, we looked lovely in those gondola-themed outfits]

  15. What will they play at your funeral?
    Stop the rock – Apollo 440 [The par-tee is OVER!]

  16. What is your obsession?
    Ordinary world – Duran Duran [Escaping it mebbe...]

  17. What is your biggest fear?
    What’s your name – Moorcheeba [Anonymity is scary]

  18. What is your biggest secret?
    U + ur hand – Pink [On the back row at the movies as teenagers perhaps]

  19. What is your biggest turn-on?
    Clocks – Coldplay [That rythmic ticking does it for me every time]

  20. How do you describe your friends?
    Woo Hoo – 5,6,7,8’s [Party animals, the lot of 'em]

  21. What would you do with a million dollars?
    Every little thing she does is magic – The Police [Are we talking escorts?]

  22. What is your opinion of sex?
    Made-up love song #43 – Guillemots [The only way to get a lass into bed is with a made-up love song]

  23. What is your biggest regret?
    All good things (come to an end) – Nelly Furtado [The party cannot go on forever, however much we'd like it to]

  24. What would you rather be doing right now?
    Laura – Scissor Sisters [I don't even know anyone called Laura]

  25. What will you post this list as?
    Talk Talk Talk – The ordinary Boys [Seems appropriate]
So there you have it. I think the comments are perhaps just as revealing as the songs in my mp3 player.

Dancing girls and mystery tours

It always amazes me, as I hop from island to island, that every third or fourth tp finds me in a land with a strip club.

Are we all that obsessed with getting nekkid?

Not that I'm being prudish about this or whatever. Don't get me wrong - I like nekkid as much as the next bloke, it's just the scale of the "adult entertainment industry" in SL that amazes me. Of all the shapes the virtual outpourings of our fellow residents' imaginations could take, one in four is nekkid-shaped. Or maybe my random tp-ing is just drawn to them. Like a moth to a nekkid flame.

I presume I'm not the only one around these parts to engage in some unplanned sim-jumping. It's always a nice surprise to look at the large map, pick an island on the edge of the view and just tp in, not knowing what to find, what to expect. Will the sim be derelict, under construction or beautifully finished in intricate detail? Will it be a place to shop, a place to live, or a place to wander? Should I pick a place buzzing with people, or somewhere deserted? There's something liberating about the whole process. A magical mystery tour with no bus driver.

I do think though, it'd just be nice sometimes to have someone to share those moments with. My list of friends is slowly growing, it's true, but I probably have more regular contact with SL folk in the blogosphere, rather than the Sluniverse, which seems strange. I think timezones are probably my major problem. Being located on a tiny island at the bottom of the Pacific means my usual inworld time tends not to overlap with that of others. Even if I stay around until 1 in the morning my time. Again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I received an email overnight from my ISP. It told me that I had used 80% of my monthly data allowance. If I exceed my monthly data allowance they will knock my connection speed down to the equivalent of dial-up. There is still more than a week until the end of my billing month.

I think I need to move from the 'Explorer' plan to the 'Adventurer' plan.

It's clearly a better option than cutting down my time inworld.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Frogs' legs

I've never been to Paris in RL. So I thought I'd go and have a look at the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe in SL. It's pretty much the same isn't it?

Unfortunately the sim seemed pretty laggy so I didn't stay long. Which was a shame as it was a lovely looking place. I couldn't tell you what else is there, other than the tourist magnets, as it was just too painful to walk around. It might have been me though, not the sim, so do go there and have a look yourself.

I fancied a European city tour but I couldn't find a suitable Rome or London. Instead I went on safari.

And then went for a game of footy.

Panic attack

If I've been this anxious about getting my skin, shape, hair and eyes to a level I deem satisfactory - what am I going to be like if I ever end up owning property that needs furnishing? Heaven help us!

And the thought of actually designing a home sends me into a cold sweat. So many options to consider and decisions to be made...

It's the Arts, luvvee

I was chatting to someone the other day and somehow we got on to talking about live gigs in SL. I had heard rumours of such things but haven't seen one with my own eyes (or heard one with my own ears) so was interested in knowing more. I was kinda intrigued about how it would all work. My presumption was that it would be done through voice although my second guess would have been some sort of series of animations with a music track (recorded live?) over the top. The lass filling me in, however, informed me that it's usually done with live streaming. Now that's pretty clever, eh? I should get me along to one of them there gigs sometime, I reckon.

From gigs the conversation turned to other events, such as poetry readings and drama. Like the arts, and everything. Thinking about it, I could probably find art exhibitions and sculpture installations somewhere around here too.

This last couple of weeks has continued to blow my mind with revelations such as this. I really did not comprehend, as Marnix was born, what a diverse and cultured place this metaverse of ours would turn out to be.

I had expected a bit of escapism, I guess, and to some degree that is what you get. But you also get this rich, vibrant community if you look for it. A community filled with designers and artists and musicians and poets bringing their RL talents to a new audience, an SL audience, and enriching our lives with their work. I hadn't expected to find this.

I guess that's the beauty of having a resident-designed world. We are not constrained by the imagination of the programmers of that world. We are freed by the ocean-deep imagination of those who inhabit it.

Seperated at birth

I think I must be suffering from sleep deprivation. I tried on this hair earlier and was suddenly overcome with a major sense of deja vu, like I recognised the person I was becoming. And then it came to me. Hands up if you remember Hawk from Buck Rogers?

Tick some more off the list

I somehow ended up with a bit of peace and quiet tonight. I was going to do a bit of exploring but then I remembered my messy inventory and over-sized to-do list. So I rezzed a platform 300m above a sandbox (no neko this time) and set about ticking some stuff off.

I am very pleased to announced I can now tick off my skin and shape. I think I am happy with what I have come up with. I am seeking feedback, however.

I presume everyone else (or at least most people) spent as much time as this sorting out their appearance during their first however long in SL. I presume everyone else had an inventory full of eyes and shapes and skins and stuff that they had to go through to get the perfect nekkidness even before clothing their new bods. It's not just me is it? Also does it ever end? Or does the whole thing just go round and round and round? I can understand that clothing, and to some degree hair, is a continual process, but skin and shape?

Speaking of hair, I've followed Natalia's most excellent hair resizing tutorial earlier and managed to make my new hair fit my headsize. I am sure it's not quite as exciting news as it felt at the time, but I was rather proud of myself.

Both these styles are from Sirena and I especially like the one on the left. Can't remember if that's Dominic or Kevin. The other one's the other one. There'll be a time and a place for that one too, I reckon.

I feel a major sense of relief to have got these things sorted. I feel one step closer to actually being able to explore again. It's kinda weird that I feel I had to get all this stuff dealt with before I could comfortably be seen out in public. Very weird actually.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Moulin Rouge

I got tp-ed over to a club today by a friend, Chry. A strip club. No, keep reading. This place is different.

It's not your usual 'all about sex' strip club. This place has more. The club's philosophy seems to be "the true art of striptease", the burlesque striptease. A higher class of strip club.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Ellie's. Wear something smart.

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