The danger of obsession, the path of reincarnation and tales to tell

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday May 25th

13:30: Tea-time at Baker Street: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

Tea-time at Baker Street sees Caledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen and Kayden Oconnell open the pages of The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, the final set of twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories first published in the Strand Magazine between October 1921 and April 1927.

This week: The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.

The year is 1902, and Sir James Damery visits Holmes and Watson on behalf of his mysterious and illustrious client. The latter never actually directly revealed to the reader, although it might well be the king himself.

Damery’s client is concerned about the relationship between Violet de Merville, daughter of General de Merville, and Baron Adelbert Gruner, from Austria. Gruner is viewed as a rogue and a sadist and – in Damery’s and Holmes’ opinion – a murderer.

Despite the matter of his last wife’s mysterious death and his reputation, Violet de Merville will not be dissuaded from her determination to marry Gruner. So secure is the latter in his position that he is unfazed by a visit from Holmes – indeed, he warns the latter that a French agent who once confronted him with similar accusations finished-up a cripple for life after receiving a beating from thugs shortly afterwards; a veiled threat if ever there was one.

So, lacking obvious proof, how do Holmes and Watson prevent Violet de Merville from marrying Gruner and possibly facing the same future as the Baron’s last wife?

Find out more by joining Cale, Kayden and Corwyn.

18:00: Magicland Storytime: More Selections from Flora and Ulysses

Join Caledonia Skytower in Magicland Park as she selects more reading from Kate DiCamillo’s second novel to win a prestigious Newbery Award (the first being The Tales of Despereaux in 2004).

Monday May 26th, 19:00: Hunter SL Thompson

Join the inimitable Crap Mariner in what is certain to be a most enjoyable and unusual voyage of words (the clue is in the title, folks!

Tuesday May 27th, 19:00: A Dog’s Purpose

Reincarnation can be confusing for a human; reborn into different lives, trying to learn lessons of the past in order to discover one’s purpose … Imagine what it must be like for a dog.

That’s exactly what humourist W. Bruce Cameron has done in his 2010 best seller A Dog’s Purpose.  Bailey, pup of a stray, is rather surprised to find himself reborn as a Golden Retriever after being euthanized. It surprises him even more when, after a happy life involving a young boy, a farm and more, Bailey passes from the world … only to return, this time in the body of a German shepherd bitch, and the realisation he is serving some higher purpose – but what?

Travel with Caledonia Skytower and Kayden Oconnell as they journey through Bailey’s heartwarming and funny tale of many lives, a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend; a story in which love never dies, and true friends are always with us.

Wednesday May 28th, 19:00:  Aoife in Ireland

With Aoife Niphredil.

Thursday May 29th

16:00 Freda in Progress

With Freda Frostbite.

19:00: Scylla and Charybdis, Part 2

From the pages of Greek mythology come Scylla and Charybdis, two immortal and irresistible monsters who beset the narrow waters (though to be the Straits of Messina) traversed by the hero Odysseus in his wanderings as described by Homer in his epic Odyssey. Scylla, a supernatural creature, with 12 feet and 6 heads on long, snaky necks, each head having a triple row of shark-like teeth, was once human in appearance, according to Ovid. Her transformation, he claimed within his Metamorphoses, was the result of jealousy and witchcraft on the part of Circe.

Credit: Bookpalace.com
Credit: Bookpalace.com

Charybdis, on the opposite shore of the narrows, was said to lurk under a fig tree and drank down and belched forth the waters of the straits three times a day. The shipwrecked Odysseus barely escaped her clutches by clinging to a tree until the improvised raft that she swallowed floated to the surface again after many hours.

Join Shandon Loring as he takes us, as the saying goes, “between Scylla and Charydbis”.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for May-June is Habitat for Humanity: envisioning a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

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Loki: using the Xbox Controller with the Oculus Rift

Earlier in May I reported on Dave Rowe’s work integrating the Xbox 360 controller with his CtrlAltStudio viewer, allowing it to be used with the Oculus Rift or Stereoscopic 3D viewing options in that viewer, as well as with the normal display mode.

On Saturday May 24th, Loki Eliot tweeted that he’d been working on a similar approach, using the Xbox 360 controller and a dictation feature of OSX Mavericks to provide greater control over his avatar when using the Oculus Rift.

loki-tweet

Since tweeting, Loki has produced a blog post on his work, including links to the software he’s used and tutorials to help get things sorted out. his original video was posted to Telly, which WordPress.com doesn’t like, embedding-wise. However, Draxtor has, with Loki’s permission, reposted it to You tube, and so it’s that version I’ve embedded here.

Loki is the first to admit this approach doesn’t solve all of the Oculus related issues when using Second Life – he has a few wry observations as to where things will “suck” (his expression – not mine!). He also gives some musings on how technology might further assist things in the future.

Loki's work on integrating the Xbox 360 controller for use with SL and the Oculus Rift (image via Loki Eliot)
Loki’s work on integrating the Xbox 360 controller for use with SL and the Oculus Rift (image via Loki Eliot)

The use of HMDs brings with it a lot of challenges – some of which, the Lab freely admits in releasing its Oculus Rift project viewer, it has yet to really tackle. Seeing experiments like this is therefore interesting, as they demonstrate potential alternative (and not necessarily hyper-expensive) means of providing control over basic aspects of using SL with a headset which are not reliant on the keyboard and mouse and, in this case at least, also not dependent upon in-world voice (which many people don’t like to use for a wide variety of reasons). I wonder if approaches like this and Dave Rowe’s work with CtrlAltStudio might raise an eyebrow or two of interest at the Lab …?

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In the garden of The Snow Lion

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

The roar of the Snow Lion is a call for the awakening and integration of the body and the mind.  This garden is dedicated to that perfect integration and to the resulting bliss.

Thus reads part of the description for The Snow Lion, which occupies a quarter of Oceanside dAlliez; a place of serene beauty and tranquil settings.

The design, by parcel owner Sethos Lionheart, carries a strong oriental theme – which is the reason it caught my eye when browsing the Destination Guide – and is cleverly laid-out, offering paths to explore and secluded spots to discover.

The arrival point is in the lower portion of the garden, and the motif here may not be readily apparent until you cam out a little. When you do, you’ll realise land and water have been carved into a yin-yang, the Chinese philosophical concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

The cleverness of this design is easy to miss: the yin is formed by the water element – in keeping with its passive, soft, and wet characterisation and its association with water. It is rich with water lilies as it curls around the landing-point to join with the sea. The yang element, by contrast, forms a sweep of land, fully in keeping with its solid, hard character. Follow its curve, and it will lead you to a torii gate sitting before a bamboo grove and guarded by two lions. Here the path climbs upwards, passing under a stone arch before splitting left and right.

Follow the path to the right, and it will take you on around the lower part of the garden to a natural-looking pool, fed by water from falls on one side, and open to the sweep of the water “yin” on the other. A stone bridge arches over the water, offering the way to a western-style folly and a quiet place to sit.

To the left, the path runs past a stone terrace, home to a grand piano shaded by the boughs of a huge cherry blossom tree, before climbing more steps upwards to a grassy nook. Here sit cut logs on which to sit, and a harp to play, while the path passes onward  to come before the stone figure of The Wise General, branching right and left before him.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

Whichever branch you take is up to you. Follow one through the mid-level of the garden to tranquil lily pond where one can sit alone or with a friend, in quiet contemplation beneath a leafy canopy which naturally hides it from the garden above. Take the other, and it will lead you by stair and bridge to the highest level, passing another quiet glade along the way, this one presided over by a white figure of Buddha.

It is on this uppermost level that you’ll find the garden’s single building, a place of decidedly Tibetan looks, yet guarded by two Chinese Imperial lions. It offers a place to meditate or to partake of yoga or to enjoy a cup of simmering Japanese tea. A garden of wild flowers links it with a broad stone terrace, walled on both sides and watched over by the tall forms of torii gates, and which runs the length of one side of the garden.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

Here you will find speaking scrolls made by  Sethos Lionheart, each one bearing an image of traditional design and which offer words of wisdom when touched. These can be purchased for a modest L$50 each, and would grace the wall of any home. Along this terrace, through a set of wooden gates, another place for contemplation can be found.

The garden offers many places to sit, with poses for individuals, couples and friends exploring together; discrete bird boxes offer opportunities to dance for those who would like to do so. Paper lanterns hang from the cherry trees to light the path at night,  while kimono-dressed foxes hold up lamps to illuminate terrace and folly.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

All told, The Snow Lion is a lovely place to visit, and an attractive demonstration of yin-yang at work. These can be found in everything from the simple divisions of the path as it leads to very individual points in the garden, each with its own focus, yet still part of the whole, through the expression of the harmonious nature of high and low as you travel up and down through the different levels, to the complementary mix of cultural influences revealed as one explores: Chinese, Japanese, and western. Do make sure, as well, that you have local sounds enabled as you wander the paths and enjoy the terraces and glades.

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