Happy New Year for 2023!

Wishing you all the very best in health, fun and life for 2023!

Bay City New Year 2022/23 prim drop in Second Life

Bay City 2022/23 New Year Prim Drop, Saturday, December 31st, 2022

Saturday, December 31st 2022 will once again see Bay City celebrate the turning of the year with their annual Prim Drop festivities.

An outdoor, black tie attire and/or full dress event, the Prim Drop is open to all Second Life residents, with festivities opening at 23:00 SLT at the Bay City Fairgrounds in North Channel. Marianne McCann will be providing the music and fireworks in a 2-hour extended DJ set, and food and drink will be provided.

This will also be the final opportunity in 2022 to donate to Child’s Play Charity,  a US 501c3 non-profit organisation which helps seriously ill children around the globe during their hospital stays with the purchase of games and gaming equipment. So even if you can’t make it to the event itself, do please consider taking a couple of minutes out of your SL day and stopping by the Bay City Fairgrounds and making a donation via one of the collection bins there. 2022 has already seen over L$260,900 raised for Child’s Play – so why not hop along and join the fun and help push the funds even higher!

Get your photo taken at the Bay City Prim Drop 2022/23

About Bay City and the Bay City Alliance

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab® and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest group for Residents of Bay City.

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Looking at the Linden Homes Premium houseboat update

The Jolly Roger – one of the updates to the Linden Houseboat designs released on December 8th, 2022

At the SL19B events in June 2022, Patch Linden indicated that among the on-going work related to subscription plans, the Lab and the LDPW would be re-visiting some of the original Linden Home designs associated with Premium Subscriptions, starting with the Traditional Homes to update them and offer additional , new, floorplans (see: SL19B MTL – Patch Linden: Premium Plus and more + video for details of the announcement).

This work started in November 2022 with the Traditional Homes, and on December 8th, with an update to the Houseboats theme. As I’d swapped back to the Houseboat theme a couple of months ago, I’ve been interested in taking a look at the new designs since their release. However, it has only been in the last few days that I’ve had the time to take a good look at them – so I’m now going to bore you with my thoughts on them!

In all the new update to the Houseboat theme includes:

  • Four new Houseboat designs, with a custom tinting system, controlled via the house control panel.
  • Updated House controllers to reflect the addition of the new designs; which now give the details of the theme, name of last house rezzed and parcel centre in their description field; use a common communications protocols with the rezzer and with houses on the parcels with which they are associated, so that all themes (except Fantasy) may safely be mixed and matched.
  • The addition of the Linden Homes scripted house numbers have been added to the Contents Pack.

Again, just to be clear – this is an update to the existing Houseboat theme, not a new and separate release of houseboats; so if you already have a Houseboat as your choice of Premium Linden Home, you’ll find the new designs available in your houseboat rezzer.

The Dock Holiday Premium Linden Home Houseboat design, with inset to the lower left, a view through from the front room to the rear stairs 

The four new designs included in the updates are a very clear departure from the original four. Whilst the latter might be said to have their emphasis on the boat element of “houseboat” and looking as if they were specifically built for a life on the water, three of the four new design might be said to emphasise the house part – take away the hull underneath them, and they’d look as home on dry land as (say) any of the Traditional homes.

Not that this is a criticism per se; houseboats come in many forms, after all. However, I do wonder how sloping rooftops will look among the original designs, and whether their looks are just a little too “housey” for some. Along with the new designs has come a series of names which continues the use of word play which has marked the naming of groups of regions within Bellisseria; thus we have the Dock Holiday, the Shore Thing, the Knot Shore and (perhaps not quite as punny), the Jolly Roger.

To start with the Dock Holiday. This is a 2-storey houseboat of moderate size and featuring a large deck to one end, with a mooring-side front door and double doors accessing the large deck. The lower floor comprises two rooms, one accessed through the front door and the other connecting to the deck via the double doors. Both rooms are linked via an archway, with the deck-facing room perhaps offering a good lounge area and the larger, rectangular space possibly ideal as a kitchen / dining area. Upstairs is a single room roughly half the length of the lower floor.

The Shore Thing Premium Linden Home Houseboat design. Inset is an interior view of the main room looking through an open door of one of the rear rooms, and a view of the stern of the houseboat and its walkway and window-doors accessing the two rooms to the rear of the design

Both the Shore Thing and the Knot Shore are single-floor designs with a superficial similar, with the Knot Shore offering a slightly longer, narrower house form compared to the wider Shore Thing.

The latter has a total of four rooms – a large main room with access to a large forward desk shaded by an overhanging roof, together with two smaller rooms at the opposite end of the houseboat, each with doors opening on to a small deck area. Between the front and rear rooms is the fourth, offset to one side, allowing space of a short hallway to reach the front room for the main side door.

The Knot Shore Premium Linden Home Houseboat design, release as part of the theme update on December 8th, 2022

Knot Shore, meanwhile features three rooms, two larger rooms to the front and rear, and a smaller room between the two, again offset to allow a hall to link the front and back rooms. A large exterior deck runs along two sides of the design. Overall, this is probably the smallest of the new designs in terms of internal floorspace.

Of the three thus far noted, I’d say the that Dock Holiday offers the greatest flexibility of use overall, thanks to it’s large, semi-open lower floor design and upper bedroom area. However, all three are liable to feel cramped in comparison to the fourth design: the Jolly Roger. To call this “roomy” would be an understatement, and its design is made all the more flexible by both the lower and upper floors being directly and easily accessible from dockside.

The Jolly Roger and, inset, the interior of the large upper deck seen from its curved, forward end

On the lower floor is an entry hall / room which could potentially double as something like a dining area for those wo wish, with stairs going to the upper deck, and two rooms opening off of the room which could form, say, a bathroom and a kitchen. Forward of this, via another door, is a large rectangular room which could form a comfortable living area. If you opt for a “traditional” up / down style of house layout, that is.

However, the upper floor – which runs to over 3/4s of the Jolly Roger’s overall length – is a single, large open space. This offers lots of opportunities for subdivision, should you want multiple bedrooms or more privacy. However, it also naturally lends itself to becoming the main living space – lounge, dining, and kitchen – leaving the rooms downstairs to become sleeping, etc., areas.

A possible design for the upper deck of the Jolly Roger

This is the approach I’ve taken with the Jolly Roger, the upper floor of the design providing plenty of room for me to install a living area, a dining area and a kitchen on an open-plan basis. What’s more, the size of the space means it is not in any way cramped and actually has room for some additional furniture; I’m thinking of a nice recliner / reader to go alongside the bookcases!

Nor does the flexibility end there: with careful placement, the upper deck area can be used to offer stairway to the flat roof of the Jolly Roger, which lends itself to a variety of uses – including (for me) a helipad, utilising a rezzer to call up my MC-900 Explorer whenever needed (and thus not being a blot on the view neighbours might otherwise enjoy from their houseboats or camping out on LI unnecessarily).

Another view of a possible layout for the Jolly Roger upper deck, laid out as a living area

Overall, the new houseboat designs have much to offer,. The updated house control panels mean the new houseboats have about the same options for interior décor as some of the more recent Linden Home designs, providing them with a fair degree of options for decorating.

It’s too early to say how popular these additional houseboat designs might be – scouting around my watery corner of Bellisseria didn’t reveal too much in the way these designs being put to use as yet. However, given the low-key announcement of their availability and the fact it is the holiday period, more time is really needed for them to gain traction. For may part, I’ll continue to tinker with the Jolly Roger; it has all the potential to be a roomy second home – so if you have a houseboat, why not hop over to it and take a look at the new designs yourself?

A Return to Buddha Garden in Second Life

Buddha Garden, December 2022 – click any image for full size

In February 2002, I visited Buddha Garden, a “paradise of pleasure” put together by Gian (GiaArt Clip) and Havih. As I noted at the time, it was tucked into the north-west quadrant of a Full region and formed a place deserving of its description, as I noted in A Buddha Garden in Second Life.

So when co-creator of that iteration of the setting, Gian, dropped me a line to say that Buddha Garden has relocated to a Homestead region, I knew I’d have to hop over an take a look for myself. Now working with the assistance of Ella (Shaye Suki), Gian has produce a setting that builds on the original, keeping much of what made it a pleasure to visit back in early 2022 whilst offering an entirely new take on the original vision.

Buddha Garden, December 2022

The main part of the setting retains its highlands feel in the form of a west-facing arc of cliffs from which great falls tumble into a round lagoon embraced within the arms if low sand banks and rocky outliers. The landing point for the region sits on the southern of these arms, alongside little wood-built café-cum-teahouse. Japanese in tone, this sits across open waters from a small island which is home to a small Onsen style bathhouse and accompanying cabin reached via  a ridge of sand sitting just under the waves.

Follow the sand of the beach towards the cliffs, and you’ll find a pool sitting at the base of alone waterfall. Steps on either side of it respectively offer paths up to a hideaway overlooking the pool and also up around the east side of the main island. Here a further set of falls drops through a series of natural steps linking rocks and pools guarded by carved statues of Buddha sitting in quiet meditation despite the roar of water.

Buddha Garden, December 2022

Two further pools set at the base of this falls, one clearly man-made and with a hideaway behind it (and another cooled by a curtain of water sitting above it and reached by its own steps); the second pool forming a natural body of water bordering the inland side of a grassy field. A paved path marks the outer edge of the field, passing a garden camp site warmed by a blazing fire and an old fence separating the garden from the field,

More fence posts march out into the open waters. They mark another submerged path, this one leading to another off-shore island topped by a stone tower. This is the home of the Khin Tower Art Gallery, offered by Gian as a place for artists to display their work free-of charge for between a week and four weeks total.

Buddha Garden, December 2022

2D SL images digital art, paintings and illustrations are welcome (but no nudity), and there is some potential for 3D pieces to be displayed. Those interested should contact Gian in-world for further details (the sign at the foot of the path leading up to the island also offers information on the gallery).

Back on the island proper, the stone bridge arches over a small stream fed by a low-lying waterfall issuing from under the crossed legs of one of the cliff-side Buddhas. Beyond the bridge, the path passes onwards through a copse of trees to a clearing where a monk in the traditional orange robes signifying peace sits reverently in meditation before a further, aged, statue of Buddha, watched over by young wolves.

Buddha Garden, December 2022

A horseshoe pool sits beyond the clearing and trees, fed by yet another waterfall tumbling from the lip of an out-thrust of rock mid-way up the side of the main cliffs. This high lip is home to another location carried over from the original Buddha Garden; a retreat reached only by ascending the wooden steps climbing the face of the sheer rocks on the far side of the wide pool.

The base of these stairs and platforms also points to where people can pass by way of makeshift bridges, sandy beach and tall rock arch to the second arm of the west-facing lagoon. At their top, meanwhile, the stairs only provide the means to reach the retreat, but also to way further up the cliffs past the butterfly cave from the original build, and on up by way of more platforms to where an ancient ruin stands in wait of visitors and lovers of tai chi.

Buddha Garden, December 2022

All of the above still only scratches all that is available within Buddha Garden; within its expanded beauty are multiple places to sit and relax or engage in meditation and / or enjoy the company of a close friend or loved one. There are hidden details I’ve intentionally not mentioned here – they deserve to be found by the keen-eyed and focused explorer. As such, I’ll leave it to you to explore the island for yourself – you won’t be disappointed!

My thanks to Gian for the invitation to re-visit.

Buddha Garden, December 2022

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The appeal of Dido’s greyscale Nudes in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

Since co-launching the original Nitroglobus Gallery and, over the last several years, Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, photographer-artist Dido Haas has established a well-deserved reputation for curating one of Second Life’s most engaging galleries for art in Second Life. Month on month she brings out the very best in the artists she invites to exhibit within the gallery’s halls, resulting in perhaps the most consistently enthralling series of art displays each and every year, hence why I attempt to cover the gallery as fully as possible through the year.

However, there is a drawback to all of this: such is the amount of work involved in managing and curating the gallery, Dido’s skills as a photographer-artist rarely get to be seen in-world, and this is a shame, as her work is the equal of any of those she invites to exhibit at the gallery. Hence why, when she drops a note about presenting a (possibly short-term) exhibition of her work in the Nitroglobus Roof Gallery Annex, I’m scooting across to take a look.

Nudospective, as the name implies, is something of a “retrospective” in a much as it comprises a set of images Dido has produced over time. It is also, again as suggested by the title, utilises nudity as a linking theme. As such, this is an exhibition that might best be considered NSFW when viewing.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

My love of Dido’s photography lies in several elements. First, she tends to work predominantly in black-and-white or greyscale or with a monochrome lean. Secondly, she specialises in avatar studies and thirdly – and most importantly – she has the ability to communicate so much through her work simply through the use of angle, pose, and focus rather than relaying on excessive props or post-processing.

This is very much in evidence within Nudospective; mostly presented in greyscale, these are pieces which – although utilising nudity – are not in any way directly sexual or voyeuristic. Rather, they are elegant narratives on the beauty of the female form as visualised through the medium of a virtual avatar, some of which offer what might be considered a subtle commentary on the subtleties of beauty compared to the expectations of beauty.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

Take, for example, Legs. It features what is all too frequently a tool of heightened (literally and metaphorically) sexualised beauty: the high heel. But is it the heels that give the legs image their inherent form and beauty, or is it their muscle tone, angle and placement – all of which could be present sans the heels? Similarly, in Freckles alongside of it, is it really the firmness and curve of a breast – again so often seen as an expression of sexuality – really as worthy of our attention as a mark of beauty as much as the simple patina of freckles over the flesh of an upper arm and shoulder?

Across the hall, and a little conversely, Belly Piercing comes from another direction entirely. Within it sits a duality of innocence pointing towards a certain sexuality. On the one hand, it offers a natural statement on the beauty of a body piercing, whilst on the other the ball of the pearl, sitting on the cusp of the navel and the play of shadow within it offers a suggestion of focal point of female sexual pleasure.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

Beautiful executed individually, taken collectively, Nudospective forms an engaging, easy-to-appreciate exhibition of photography which potentially has a lot to say.

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A coastal retreat in Second Life

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022 – click any image for full size

I first came across the work of Kaja Ashland and Marcus Bremser when, in 2014 I visited the AERO Golf Club and, whilst not a fan of golf in the physical world, found myself enjoying the game. This led to several returns over the next few years and prompted me to write about the club again in 2017, after it had undergone an extensive redesign.

Since then, both Kaja and Marcus have launched individual projects, and in 2020 and again in 2021, I visited and wrote about Kaja’s Noweeta Homestead region. As such, a write-up of Marcus’ latest project, Moruya, is long overdue.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

At the time of my visit, this roughly 12,000 sq m parcel of land sitting on the east coast of Sansara’s Islandia North, lay presented as Moruya Sanctum, which Marcus describes as a tropical beach fronting high cliffs, the landscape transitioning to something more temperate in nature as visitors climb up to its high table top.

I’ve no idea if Marcus has drawn on the name Moruya from Australia’s New South Wales and the Moruya River (the name drawn from an Aboriginal word, mherroyah, said to mean “home of the black swan”). Given his Profile states he spends “extended periods abroad”, it’s tempting to think so even if his Profile also states his current time zone is only 12 hours ahead of SLT, rather than the 19 one might expect for far New South Wales. Not that there is any similarity between Moruya Sanctum and the Aussie river of which I’m aware (other than having its own stream flowing eastwards to reach the sea, doing so via a high waterfall rather than a broad estuary); it’s just an idle direction my little imagination wandered off towards during my visits.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

The landing point for Moruya Sanctum is presented as a little dinghy tied up to a small, T-shaped wooden dock reaching out a short distance from the beach. Bracketed to the north and south by shoulders of rock extending from the main cliffs, the beach is split by the aforementioned falls and the water which flows out from them in a short, shallow channel. The south part of the beach, on the far side of the water from the dock, offers a little place to enjoy the Sun, complete with palm tress for a degree of shade.

The path up to the highlands switchbacks up the cliff above the north side of the beach as a mix of sloping rock, steps and ladders. Getting up this path takes a little care (I noted several people have some issues, mainly because they were trying to take shortcuts up very tall rocks – just follow the obvious steps and take care at the narrow pass at the top of the ladders, and you’ll be fine.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

A stone arch greets visitors at the top of the climb, a final climb of steps running up to the main path between the head of the waterfalls and a stone-built gazebo. The arch and a stone wall bridging the waters of the stream offer the first suggestion that these highlands may have once been home to a structure constructed of cut stone blocks, some of the stone from which may have been used to create the tile-roofed gazebo.

The gravel path immediately offers a choice of routes. To one side, it curves neatly around the gazebo to reach a grassy little faerie round for sitting in the shade of trees, nicely secluded from the rest of the plateau. The second route takes you across a wooden bridge over the stream to a further fork in the path, both of which again hint to a structure of great age having once stood here, thanks to the presence of moss-covered stone steps along both arms of the path.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

To the left, curved steps rise to a small grassy meadow cut through by the continuing arc of the footpath as it passes between mature pine trees to reach further steps leading up to more extensive ruins overlooking the upper reaches of the stream and the waterfalls feeding it from the cliffs at the western end of the setting. Meanwhile, the second arm of the path reaches back over the water via a great slab of rock to where steps lead up to another secluded seating area set out in the grass and facing the ruins from across the channel of the steam.

But these aren’t the only routes across this upper reach of land; at the base of the curved steps pointing the way to the ruins is a ribbon of grass in seed. Take this and you’ll find yourself with a choice of natural trails reaching to pools of water isolated from the stream and offering their own outlooks and places to sit. Travel onwards along the upper of these trails as it runs through the grass and under the shade of more mature trees, and you’ll find a nicely hidden camp site, complete with its own back route up to the ruins above the stream.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

Secluded seating and sitting spots aren’t the only secrets awaiting discovery here, however. Tucked away within Moruya Sanctum is a gently winding throat of a cave, its sandy tongue reaching deep under the high cliffs to lap at an emerald pool of water.

You’ll have to find the entrance for yourself – part of the fun of exploring Second Life is finding such hidden spaces, so I’m not going to give everything away here (not that the cave entrance is that hard to find). Suffice it to say, find your way into the cave and you’ll find bats, places to sit, cats, and the opportunity to bathe in the waters of the pool. All of this is overlooked by two figures, one carved in stone, the other cast in bronze, and one of which, together with the banners hanging from the rock walls, offers a hint of Arthurian legend.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

Cosy yet with a rich sense of space, easy on the eye (and the viewer), with plenty of opportunities to relax and / or take photographs, Moruya Sanctum makes for a highly engaging and picturesque visit.

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