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The Zodiac challenge

This week's #SecondLifeChallenge is the Zodiac challenge. Now, full disclaimer before diving in. I don't believe in astrology. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy inventing stories where astrology could be used, or wear a necklace with my sign (or other), or that I would never ever bring up the topic. I don't believe in it but I don't close the door to the people that believe in it and want to talk about it with me. I don't share their belief but I respect the people. This said, on to the challenge!

  • What is your Zodiac sign?: My birthday is quite close to the end of the year, so that means that not counting the phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes, which moves the whole zodiac band, I'm a Capricorn. But if we count this phenomenon, then I think I'm Sagittarian. Or Acuarius. One or the other, but not the one that typically would be assigned to me.
  • Do you believe in Astrology and read your horoscope often?: Like I've said in my disclaimer, I don't believe in astrology, for many reasons.

    The first one is that don't think we humans are so special that the planets are waiting for us to be born and print in us some characteristics.

    The second one is that I think that reducing the human being to 12 categories is simplifying too much the human complexities - not to mention that there never seems to exist a sign for the murderers, the thieves, the rapists... What do we do of this? Why those traits never appear, why only the good ones or the mildly good ones?

    The third one is that I've met with many people that don't fit in their horoscope. I refuse to say that someone is not a true Pisces. If you're born under Pisces, you're Pisces, period. If you aren't the way you're supposed to be, the problem isn't in you, the problem is in the astrology. (I know, one can tell me now about the ascendant as a modifier of the behaviour - been there, done that, still doesn't fit the people I've met.)

    The list is longer, but you get the idea.

    Now, do I read my horoscope? Sure, from time to time, why not? To me, astrology belongs to the realm of fantasy, and I have no problem with reading fantasy. At times I read my horoscope, more often I read others. In any case, they always predict my day! I find this highly amusing, and it's because of the vague language used, which allows that you fill the gaps so the prediction matches your expectation of your sign. (Ever seen a horoscope predicting a broken bone? Imagine 1/12 of the world population breaking a bone the same day. Now that would make me consider.)

  • What are some of the traits of your zodiac sign and do you feel they reflect who you are?:
    This question is interesting, not because I'm going to list my traits, but because I'm going to claim that we don't know which are our traits. Let's face it, we humans are quite bad at judging ourselves honestly. We may believe we're honest, but then a complicated situation happens and bam, where did our honesty go? We may believe we're loyal, but then we're faced to decide between that loyalty or something dear to us and again, bam, where did our loyalty go? When life is good, we're all good people, and that's what we believe we are all the time. But when life brings trouble, the real us surfaces, and that's the one we don't pay attention to, they one we don't really know.

    What good do I do to myself or my friends if I tell them that I'm always there for them, and when I have problems I leave them aside? It would be more honest if I said "I try to be always there for you, but when I have problems I have to look after myself first." Horoscopes will try to cover this with vague expressions that give us always salvation. "You're brave except when you're not". No kidding! This is why I think that it isn't really relevant how I think that I am. I will always find that in my horoscope either in the you're X part or in the except when [the list of excuses] one, so I will always fit in my horoscope. Or in any other one, for that matter. Ever done that experiment? I have, and I recommend to do it with an open mind.

Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 17/10/2017 at 12:00:00 - 0 Comments

My seven Second Life facts

Yesterday I read colleen Criss and I see that Strawberry Singh's Monday challenges are back!

These are good news to me because, selfishly, they provide with a much needed break from everything going on in my life. The theory is that I had made a blog calendar with topics, but the practice is that those topics would need work, and hence I was in this limbo. Strawberry has saved me providing guidance while I continue working hard in you don't want to know how many things, both RL and SL. So let's stop with the self pity, and on to the challenge we go!

This week we have "My seven Second Life facts". I'll use Strawberry's as a guide.

  • My Second Life Fact #1: I have purchased lindens in the past, but not anymore since I started teaching. Then it came the store and then I had to make a small purchase because it has lost my payment info data. Or I deleted it one night being tired. Who remembers that?
  • My Second Life Fact #2: I don't have a premium account. My 42 full group slots continue telling me to change that. I know I'll eventually end up with a premium account. I own land, the store must be somewhere!
  • My Second Life Fact #3: I don't hate notecards but I prefer a long detailed IM than a notecard. The reason is that I can respond to IMs from e-mail. You have no idea of how many customers have received help while I was in bed because I opened my eyes at 4 AM, couldn't sleep, and took the phone to find their requests in long, clear IMs. I love long and clear IMs. I can answer them basically anytime if I'm offline. Notecards force me to log in to read them, and at times that can mean many hours from the moment the person sent it, until I can log in.
  • My Second Life Fact #4: I can quote this from Strawberry's post as being true for myself: "I love it when my Second Life is quiet and peaceful. I prefer to be alone in Second Life and explore it on my own and learn about new products on my own." I'm an introvert and while I enjoy talking to (some) people, I enjoy my alone time too. I spend almost all my time at my platform, and even there I can't escape from drama at times! (I have an ex that deserves some writing because laughs, and while I could mute him, that would fix nothing because he comes with alts, and I confess, it's more amusing letting him go ahead with the drama and whatever populates his mind. At least I can say I too have some drama in my Second Life!)
  • My Second Life Fact #5: Before mesh heads, I was quite attached to my shape. I remember preferring my system body because the Slink body wouldn't achieve my curves. I was quite attached to those curves. Then it came Maitreya's Lara body and I haven't detached the body except to attach the new updates that have come along. I was also lazy to change skin. I could spend two years in the same skin, if not more. Then mesh heads came... and it was like having me in a stationery store (I have so much to confess about watching stationery porn.) They were so smooth and pretty and photography-ready. I've swapped between mesh heads and my system head a lot until the Trinity head from LAQ came along. It wasn't my usual look, but I loved her smile and the way it made me look. Then Bento heads came and now I switch between them and Trinity. I have a couple of Bento heads. For now. Yesterday I was trying Ana from LAQ so that may change soon. I've been a long time LAQ user, so you can see the pattern, and just yesterday I bought the April skin applier, used it on Ana, adjusted the shape... Yes, I can see another mesh head in my future.
  • My Second Life Fact #6: Once upon a time I managed to have my inventory under 29000 items, which is not bad at all considering I like shopping and I produce an average of six new items every week, with lots of assets in. But one day I was at 50000, planning to purge old items, when the new Marketplace system came and my inventory made boom since now all the items in Marketplace count in your inventory as well. I cry with every weekly release because my inventory grows a lot with all the meshes, textures, poses, and whatnot. I also cry because I try to stay current with Marketplace so again boom. I have to find the time. I'm telling myself that phrase since I don't remember when.
  • My Second Life Fact #7: I have never been bored in SL. It's impossible to me, there's always something to do for the store, for events... and the rare times I'm not working, shopping or with Ansel, I go explore places, mainland, and have a good time out of it.

So those are (some of) my facts. Which ones are yours? Do share!
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 10/10/2017 at 12:00:00 - 3 Comments

Fantasy and reality

It may sound strange, but I'm not a big novel reader. Worse: I've barely read horror stories. (So yes, I was born this twisted.) It's not that I don't like reading a good story: I just don't have the time. My whole life has been all about work in one or another way, be it studying, be it working with my mother, be it working once I left my parents' 18 years ago. I know I'm missing out on a lot, and when I have some time to read, my choices are mostly technical (due to work), or articles (of all sorts, because they demand less time than a full book).

Still, I've read the occasional book here and there, and fell in love with a few like The Neverending Story when I was 13, Los renglones torcidos de Dios when I was 21, or Harry Potter just the last year. The focus of this post, though, will walk through two other books I've read: A song of Ice and Fire (the books behind Game of Thrones) and Fifty Shades of Grey (I can hear you laugh, but I know you've read it too.)

Because they're popular, they attract a lot of criticism. Some of it is valid (Fifty Shades of Grey is not exactly a masterpiece, it's not even a good book), but some other left me thinking.

For example, when I read complaints about A song of Ice and Fire not being historically accurate for reasons like the characters not dressing exactly as in the middle age or another silly reason, I can't help think "hello... Historically accurate? When did in history dragons and White Walkers exist?" It's a fantasy story in a fantasy world. It's not meant to be anything but what the author wants to make of it. If you find a plot hole, sure, that deserves to be commented, but the rest? It's up to the author what they want to do in a fantasy story.

The main criticism I've read about Fifty Shades of Grey, besides the main character being obnoxious (which is true), is that the topic of BDSM is so poorly treated, that it has little to do with the real BDSM. I've read some people saying that the book should educate in the topic. I have to disagree, and here is where I enter into the point of the title of this post.

We could be discussing for hours what reality means, but there's this simple fact: reality doesn't care and will be there regardless of how we define it. Reality doesn't care whether you believe in it or not. It's going to be there. For example, we can define what the reality of a train means, if it's made of matter, if it's a social construct that will stop working when we redefine the social construct... but none of us would willingly stand in front of a train that comes towards us, hoping that by redefining the social construct of what a train is, the train will stop. We know that the train will kill us. That is reality.

Fantasy, thus, is something that is not real. In a world of fantasy, we can redefine trains so they don't kill people if they ride over them, and that is okay if it serves to our story. Fantasy can use a lot of elements of reality to build the story, but because it's fantasy, we cannot expect that everything will behave according to the rules of reality. Then it would not be fantasy, it would be reality. And each novel has a little or a lot of fantasy in it, starting by the point that stories are fictitious, so it's pointless to expect or even demand that the author treats a topic exactly as it is in the real world, particularly when the fantasy world introduces elements that do not exist in reality.

Of course, historical fantasy will be better if the author has done research enough to describe the era, scenarios, and people, as accurately as possible, while keeping the fantasy of the story. But in the case of A song of Ice and Fire this is not even the case. The story happens in a world that isn't ours. And while some of the events are inspired by real events, we cannot demand that the story fits their development like a glove. It's fantasy. And remember, there are dragons, violating the physics laws every time they fly. Even the physics laws can be transformed in this story, if the plot needs it.

Fifty Shades of Grey is a different matter. I've read people saying that the novel should educate people in how BDSM is. I have to ask, and why a novel should educate anyone? Aren't technical books exactly for that purpose, educating?

I understand where they come from. This book will probably be the only book related to BDSM that many people will read, and it's not exactly good at describing it (it's far from it; it's terrible). So many people will get a wrong idea of what BDSM is. For some, this will mean to dig further into their prejudices, for others, to practice things without the proper education in the topic, likely having accidents.

Then why am I opposed to Fifty Shades of Grey having the obligation of educating people in the subject? Because it's not its purpose. The author, I presume, wasn't writing a work on BDSM but rather a romantic story full of clich├ęs, with BDSM as an excuse to present the story as novelty. She did a bad job at researching BDSM and that's why her presentation of the topic is so terrible, but it is not the purpose of novels to educate people.

We can take the chance of her awful work to educate those we know that have read the book and are curious. We can suggest them serious works about the topic. But education is not the task of a novel writer. The task of a novel writer is writing stories that may be more or less accurate, more or less real.

Are you outraged because of that book and how BDSM is treated? Take that as an opportunity to bringing the topic to others and educate them. If you're not willing to educate others, then you don't have the right to demand that education from fantasy writers.

I've also read criticism about the story being about an abusive man taking advantage of a naive girl. You know, this I'm going to say is unpopular. I'm against that... in the real world. In reality. I'm against anyone being abusive and taking advantage of others. But in a book? The author decides the story, and if we don't like it, we can close the book and take action in the real world, so abuse situations like the one described in that book don't happen... in the real world.

I am the kind who closes a book to never finish it when the story is too much for me. But I've never complained that the author should have done something else. It is their fantasy story, and in the fantasy realm, everything is allowed. Be worried when someone confuses fantasy and reality, and tries to bring to reality the fantasy they've just read. But that is not going to happen often and if it happens, either bring that person to a doctor, or stay away from them.

Don't blame the books: you can always stop reading them and put an end to that fantasy story.
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 01/09/2017 at 12:00:00 - 0 Comments

On writing and books

I've been waiting for this moment since almost two years. Reopening my blog so I could write without worries. And now I go silent. Basically, I didn't take into account something important: I'm catching up with two years of delayed work, while trying to bring fresh new items to the store. I think I've released nearly 2/5 of the scripts that were in the waiting list, but that means there are still nearly 3/5 yet to prepare. It's not just a matter of making a script and bam, ready to go. I like to make a mesh object that can be used as sample, to be used in the documentation. The documentation doesn't write itself alone. The mesh item(s) doesn't make itself alone. If I decide making a textures pack, they don't get flattened, in the correct size, uploaded and renamed alone. You see where I'm getting to. I end up exhausted, trying to find balance with the real world (which is demanding a lot of me these months), and with a need I cannot satisfy: the need to write.

I've been taking notes on several notebooks of all the things I wanted to write about. Now either they don't make sense anymore, or I don't feel like bringing that topic up. Speaking of which, I never mentioned a thing about my experience last year with NaNoWriMo, so why not now?

Did I enjoy the experience?

Oh yes. That month I would set apart some time for me and only me, where I would sit and write, off from SL, off from the world. Me time.

Did I complete the story?

Yes, I did, which came as a complete surprise to me, since I had no idea at some points about what to do with it.

Will I publish it?

Likely, not.

I like some scenes because of the mood they set and the situation they describe, but overall, the story is a pretty bad written story. No, this is not self-pity asking that you all tell me "oh come on, I'm sure it's not that bad", but self-criticism.

The story lacks consistency at some points. Some characters are so flat you could never get a ball rolling over them. They are mere puppets that no reader would feel invested with. The mystery is not well constructed (did I mention, lacks consistency?) The main characters are often confusing in their behaviour.

So I know very well what I'm saying when I say that I'm not proud of what I wrote. However, it was an interesting exercise that gave me this insight, once I sat and read it all at once. "Goodness, this is terrible!"

Will I review it?

I don't know. I would like to, because of the parts of the story I like, but with the load of work over my shoulders, I don't know if I could take on the task of writing an outline and basically rewrite the story, perhaps using only those few scenes I like.

Will I do it again (NaNoWriMo) this year?


I've written a possible starting scene of an entirely different story, and I'll do some outlining work if I can, until November arrives. Else, I'll throw myself to NaNoWriMo as I did last year: completely blind, without a route sheet. If only for the me time in the middle of releases, releases and more releases, it will be worth it. At some point either I do this, or my brain will shut off and force me to take vacation.

My first story was a horror story, and I wrote it in English. Given how terrible it was, maybe I succeeded at the horror (although not like I would have liked to). This one will be more personal, and I'm deciding if I'll write it in English or in Spanish. I feel that the flow of words can be easier this time if I write it in my native language. So if I like it, I'll translate it. Maybe.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Did you like the experience? Feel free to share :-)
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 15/08/2017 at 23:00:00 - 0 Comments

Making a Gacha Key, the easy way

Probably many gacha makers know already how to do this, but I'm not a frequent gacha maker, so this was to me like discovering fire or the wheel. I suffered a lot to make the gacha key of my first gacha ever (the gacha key is the picture showing all items, saying which are commons and rares). I sworn I would never do a gacha again if making the gacha key was so complicated: Take pics of each item, cut them, scale them, try to fit them on your background... Really, kudos to those of you that make this on a constant basis.

I wanted to make a tropical inspired decoration gacha set for this round of The Liaison Collaborative, but I was a little afraid of the moment when I would have to prepare the gacha (particularly there being glass among the items.) And I had that "aha!" moment.

I rezzed a box. Made it big enough. Added a full bright background that fitted with the theme. And I started rezzing and arranging my items around, like this, leaving space for the title and the list of commons and rares:

These pieces are prettier than in this photo I've taken on a rush - shame on me

Then you can either do your best and take a pic inworld, or you can link it all together, attach it like a HUD, remove any scripts the items may have (for example, the clocks would have gone mad), and make a picture of the HUD.

There you go, easy gacha keys! Now just add the number of the items and if it's common, rare or whatever, and you're done.

Have a great day :-)
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 26/07/2017 at 12:00:00 - 0 Comments
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