Still alive

Sorry for this pic: the selfie stick malfunctioned...
Sorry for this pic: the selfie stick malfunctioned…

It’s been a while since my last blog post… 24 months to be precise (that’s two years). Even I thought it was dead –yes, dead–, but all habits die hard, they say. And so I’m kind of thinking in getting back to business, though I don’t know why. Should I?

A blog is like a conscience with public outreach in mind. Most of the time, it plainly helps the poster (if at all) to organize his/her thoughts and experiences into a coherent map that may unveil some course of action taken in the past –that perhaps we didn’t understand so well– or that is under consideration for a future event. If someone else stumbles upon it –very likely by chance– and finds it amusing, said random visitor may later decide to come back and start reading it regularly. That’s why I refuse to let this blog die, so to speak: mostly to refresh my memory from time to time (it costs nothing, so it doesn’t hurt), or to entertain readers with all the nonsense I naively post at random intervals.

Anyway… I would like to start by saying I’m still involved in SL, and as active as usual… Well, I want to believe so, but the truth is that since September 2017, after the land of my RL avie was hit by two category 5 hurricanes in the course of two weeks (yes, you read it right, no kidding), RL hasn’t been that fun and SL hasn’t been possible (no wonder since the second storm destroyed everything on its path, and it happens his house was right in the middle of it). At the time of writing, he still have no internet at home and electricity comes from a portable generator that, even when it’s pretty benevolent to the ears, it still adds some unwanted background noise to the collective cacophony at night (sooo hateful). That can happen (and frequently too) when you live in the countryside of a mountainous tropical island short on all kinds of resources, overpopulated, and possessing an economy only rivaling that of Greece (yes, it’s mostly dead). In any case, that translates to almost no SL whatsoever, except for some 3 hours a week distributed at irregular intervals of some minutes per day (down from about 30 hours before), temporarily based in a spot that is not home. If friends have been wondering why I have suddenly stopped talking to them, know that it’s not that I don’t like your new T-shirt or that colorful underwear.

Have you ever feel you’ve been violently cut off from the rest of the world? Or an alternative: as if the world has forgotten your existence? That’s how it feels somehow (sighs).

In the meantime, I’ve been going over this old blog, perhaps as a nostalgic approach to see how life was like in better times… and it happened that I came across these two posts: Mesh body… (snatchers) and Mr. Defaulthead. The first one is from 2015 and the second one from a year later, but right now both are worth revisiting. Why? Because things have changed since then –a little bit late for me, a regular SL user (that’s to say, not a fashion idolescent whatsoever), but it happened at last: I’m all mesh now, woot!

While I acquired a mesh body almost as soon as they became available, by February 2016 (the time when the blog went dormant) I was still holding on to the original avie head –the last vestige of old times– because the first generation of mesh heads were too rigid for my liking (and money). There was no way to make them more “unique” because you couldn’t tweak them to your liking. With the advent of Bento, the official way to call the long-awaited improvement of the old avatar skelly, the mesh is no longer so static, responding to adjustments easily done with SL’s built-in shape editor. Basically heads function as mesh bodies do (they’re one and the same), so now it’s possible to alter your facial features to your head’s… I mean, heart’s desire (though there are still some sliders that do nothing at all –they seem to add nothing significant anyway, so who cares), and what is even best: your eyes blink –not only at the normal rate, but any speed programmable–, and winks look even sexy, I tell you. I think your nose twitches too (kind of), and your mouth definitely works as if having its own personality disorder. The ears… well not so much has happened to those, but you can mask them and attach a third-party offering and be done with their lack of charisma that way. They could do better out of the package I presume, but anything out of the ordinary (staying put, that is) would surely hit the ear entrepreneurs too hard and possibly endanger that part of the SL economy, and we don’t want that, do we?

Not a face...
Not a blurry face, nope.

Faces are a pleasure to look at now, really… as long as you don’t leave all features on all the time. Doing that would have strangers asking –from a safe distance– if something is wrong with you and dialing 911 as a precaution. Actually, now that I think of it, the world of animation overwrites (commonly known as AOs) in SL should be more “complicated” than they are now adding so many facial expressions as there are individuals online. Is that part of the market still unexplored?

I won’t say much about male mesh bodies, except that there are –finally– more options than there were a couple of years ago: Belleza, Signature, Slink, Lelutka, just to name some major brands with Bento technology, varying in their degree of muscleage and epic prices; there are some lesser known choices –for me, at least–, even those catering to specific audiences. (A quick advice: Avoid any product that has seen no updates in a long time –like never– or hasn’t moved from the beta stage since release day, with no indication of being alive or currently under development. It’s for your own good). My only regret is that, as far as I’ve noticed, none of them adjust so well for skinny types, though that’s partly to blame on skin designers, who rarely have options ready for the thin and slender. Anyway, skinny, though favored by a few fashion designers and manga addicts (sorry, I didn’t mean it that way) are never considered sensually appealing by most, and so they are mostly avoided (low marketability perhaps), even in SL’s expansive gender-bending –seemingly– plurality.

Part of the good news is that the shape market is also on the rise after so long being on the low.

So, after so many years, the SL avatar is on part to today’s standards… more or less. It’s far from wonderful, but it’s a better attempt at being more maleable, somehow. So now, instead of going mad at the pathetic bumpiness of the old basic body, we can settle down to worrying about that collar on the neck where seamlessness breaks down like the results of paternity tests (99.99% of the time)… and may herald the rebirth of chokers and turtlenecks back to fashionable. But that’s a minor glitch that –let’s hope– won’t take another 14 years to fade away, literally. Or you can also pretend you’re Matrim Cuathon reborn and go missing your left eye one of these days…

(Some things don’t change, though, and I’m still a bad photographer, so that’s why the pictures accompanying this post are as crappy as usual.)

Something old... from 2016.
Something old… from 2016.

Sansar is also a reality now, too. The Second Life sibling probably developed to kill… I mean, to succeed it, is trying hard to catch a hold on the virtual reality market (maybe it’s doing it right now, and I don’t know it yet), but that one has even higher computer specifications than the old renown resource-hogger SL ever did, and so far it only runs on Windows. That leaves those with Mac or Linux flavors stranded in the old vicinity for the time being (I guess it would be possible to use an emulator to run it in other platforms –albeit not natively–, but I haven’t heard of anyone trying it yet… and I’m not in a position to experiment right now). Even when some people may be embracing the new virtual environment with equal favor as the old one (be either Sansar or another option –because there are more choices now), people tell me SL population is still stable and willing to go on for some more roller-coaster rides.

As a matter of fact, my biggest problem right now is the lack of proper clothing… or how to find and fit it. But that story will have to wait for another post, or 24 months will turn to 25 before I even realize it.

Mr. Defaulthead

Mr. Defaulthead

A few years ago, I would classify as an abominable anomaly anyone –usually a hardcore oldie with very practical ends (just being a landlord and collecting rent, for instance)– sporting a naturally-rendered wig: the default system hair. Even in 2007, they looked like aliens from outer space next to an avatar wearing avant-garde prim hair. So cool, wasn’t it? Flexiprims were so in for their “natural-looking” waving when you walked around (me roll eyes today).

Now I think that, in a way, I’m facing the same dilemma, not because I’m too circa 2007, yet for a pretty similar reason: my looks are too 2014. The what? Yes, I transitioned to mesh clothes and mesh hair a long time ago, but I’m resisting going full mesh. For what I regularly do in SL, a mesh body is not a requisite… even less a mesh head. Yet, that’s the dominating trend, especially since 2015, and I’m starting to feel like the out-of-place guy when going to SL events because my hands are so splayed and rigid (yeah, because mesh hands are so flexible), and because my face is so passé.

I’ve seen lots of advantages in wearing mesh bodies and heads (and don’t forget mesh eyes as well) mostly in photography, but that’s not one of my main SL pastimes. Yet, despite criticizing the default –and bumpily ugly– SL body more than once before, I feel their mesh counterparts, while masterly curvy and smooth, are also turning SL into a Barbie-like world, where everybody has to be stylish and clean-cut 24-7. There’s never been so much diversity in SL –not that the old-time skins made you so unique– but it seems there’s only two or three well-built pre-approved mannequin templates walking around today, and you must be one of them to fit in. If you’re male and want to look a little bit different, your only choice is wearing a mesh beard (and me roll eyes again).

I’ve always thought that if you really appreciate SL you should embrace whatever new technology is introduced right away because that’s the way to properly show your support to the platform you freely adopted as your world. Yet, fear of homogenizing the scene too much and not finding a reason to be a mesh model myself are holding me back this time, to the point that I’m afraid I may end my SL1.x days like this oddball friends are trying to convince that a system body is that scary thing of the past you must conceal from view behind the transparent alpha mask your elegant mesh body needs anyway. (Uff, that was a long sentence, wasn’t it?)

Not a fashion post

Sorry Gabriel

My avie changes outfits like once or twice a year (yep, that’s true), so with such low fashion requirements to satisfy you can guess I’m mostly out of date when it comes to knowing where to go and when, when it happens I decide I need a change. Fashion blogs help a lot, but when I finally find something appealing to me it’s usually no longer available… or so it seems. I hate that, really.

Today was one of those rare instances when I realize a change was in order. Browsing some blogs, I quickly came across a pair of strap pants from a store named Gabriel, which look pretty cool and apparently were available in a fashion event called Monsieur Chic, of which I’ve never heard of, of course. I teleported there, and thankfully one of the first booths turned out to be Gabriel’s. Lucky me!

The pants were still on display, and they indeed looked nice (I got a demo to try them out), but what I really liked was a stripped flower jacket from the same store I fell in love with immediately. Due to my ignorance of sale schedules, these products are limited editions, and all the jackets sold before I even knew about them. Introduce a huge “sigh” here.

Another sigh… Something tells me I’m keeping this year-old outfit a little longer…