You know what the first rule of flying is?

For over eight years now I’ve been helping to guide the ship known as The Wastelands.  We had a phenomenal boom when we were but larvae on the Second Life grid; thanks to mostly word of mouth and Warren Ellis documenting our growth.  In the early days our land ownership capacity was always full, and we were struggling to just build more lands for people to come live on.  But then that bubble suddenly popped.

A series of growing pains came to Second Life right at the end of 2007.  An almost perfect storm of things.  Virtual gambling and then “banking” bans, major commercial content developers pulling out, news articles decrying SL as nothing but a sexual deviants paradise, pedophiles, a glut of virtual land, and pricing changes all made the grid start hemorrhaging it’s player base.  Just after all of that happened, the first CEO and pioneer of SL decided to move on to other projects.  The growing pains became more intense with a 66% employee layoff, the reign of M Linden and trying to turn SL into Facebook or Twitter, and what seemed like utter paralytic stagnation in terms of SL development for years.  For the most part The Wastelands has weathered all of this rather well, we’re survivors after all.  But it wasn’t easy…

It was as if we were all in a long dark tunnel in a mountain.  The kind that curves so you can’t see any light from either end.  You know you’re someplace in there with all the other vehicles trying to find an end — but you don’t know if you’re going to make it because you’re choking on the exhaust fumes.  You feel hopeless in the dark.  So many regions and excellent places in SL are just gone now, as they certainly couldn’t make it out.  Whole estates in SL have been gobbled up by bigger estates, others have just crashed and burned, and some have just taken advantage of peoples’ trust and their wallets.  The Wastelands even had to cut off a few regions just to stay alive, all while even the mega estates collapsed and vanished.  It was all very cutthroat, do or die, survival of the fittest.  Undoubtedly, these were the darkest ages of Second Life.

After what seemed like the longest years of SL, Rodvik Linden came in, shook up the place, and quickly left.  But I feel that due to his efforts during his short tenure, we could finally start to see the light shining around the bend.  Either a lot of low hanging fruit from the projects Linden Lab was working on had fallen, or just a lot of newer smaller projects got developed that made big impacts on SL seemed to turn things around in the right direction.  LL as a whole started to diversify into other not-SL things, but still kept steady enough development on SL to make positive progress. Then Ebbe Linden came in and kept up the momentum.  It’s pretty much been nothing but good news for SL since.  More recently there’s even been positive “news” articles about SL.  We just need to keep riding this wave high until the next storm comes.

Over this past weekend for the first time since 2008, I was one parcel shy from full capacity.  I have no doubt we’ll be completely full by time summer break arrives.  I may even have to have a waiting list for a new region.  Certainly all the damaged isn’t reversed, but I genuinely feel like everything has finally turned around.  Sure SL still has some issues to hammer out.  But just like my projects, they’re never REALLY done.  There’s always work to be done.  If you’re going to do anything well, you’ve got to really put your best work into it.  You have to be passionate, even manic, to really survive against improbable odds.  Even then, the amount of effort we put into things doesn’t always add up to a net gain, and for some that’s fine.  In more ways than one, The Wastelands is like the ship Serenity in Firefly.  We keep flying because of love.

I don’t apologize for the 1.5 years lapse in posts, I have been busy.

Are you shopping on Thanksgiving? You’re an asshole!

The title should say it all but I feel the need to throw in a few caveats, and explain why you’re a terrible person if you head to a shopping mall tomorrow.

First the caveats.  Lets pretend you’re driving to visit your family and you’re going to top off the tank at the gas station, then you see a random <insert gift here> on the shelf. It’s okay to pick that up.  It was something in passing, spontaneous, and more importantly at a place that is typically open 365 – 24/7.  From my experience from working at a gas station or convenience store, holidays are a must and comes with the job.  It’s not as if you actively went out of your way to stand in line at some sort of special sale at a store;  sales that are typically reserved for AFTER time with your family.

I remember when Black Friday became a thing.  I know the event has been around for decades, but it wasn’t really a thing until the past ten years.  Every year it gets crazier and crazier, and the stores that have these sales try to extend it longer and longer.  For instance there is now cyber Monday, and week long black Friday events.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to either of these things.  It spreads the mania out, and lessens the burden on everyone involved.

What I am opposed to are the special sales treading on to an actual holiday like Thanksgiving.  For me the Thanksgiving holiday means being with family.  I know some people dread the thought of spending time with your creepy uncle, but I know a lot of people also appreciate this family holiday. Even if you don’t have family to spend time with, it’s just nice to have a day off.

Instead stores are threatening to fire workers if they don’t show up, and telling them not to even ask for time off.  With this economy, they’ve got you by the balls. Before the housing crisis you could easily tell such employers where to shove their draconian demands.  Now you’re practically forced to work a job you most likely dislike, instead of relaxing with your family.

Those fuckers at the top of the Walmart food chain have the biggest balls ever.  They’re worth 36+ BILLION dollars, are paying people minimum wage, and telling each other to donate food to each other for Thanksgiving meals.  On top of that they’re forcing people to work on Thanksgiving. As if they need another few million dollars. I won’t even step into a Walmart unless it’s an absolute fucking emergency, or I cannot buy what I need within 100 miles of where I live.  In the past 10 years I have been into a Walmart three times.  One for a midnight birthday gift.  One because all the grocery stores were closed and I needed baking powder. And once for some Type C vacuum bags (that they didn’t even have but their website said they did).  Know what Walmart (and other stores that are open on Thanksgiving) should do?  Close down everything for a day as a sign of appreciating their workforce and their families.

But no, the economy is so shit, that lots of people can’t afford to lose their minimum wage jobs by saying “no way” to a mandatory Thanksgiving shift.  I used to joke about being a wage slave years ago, but now it’s a harsh reality for many people.  As consumers we should support the people who are forced to work on Thanksgiving by boycotting Black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving and not shopping at all on that day. No one should be forced to work with the threat of losing their job, that’s called extortion.  We’re all people with families, not just tools of mega-corporate greed.

Fred Phelps in Drag

Fred Phelps in Drag

I was watching the newest episode of Doctor Who titled “The Crimson Horror”, and I couldn’t help but make an uncanny association with a fictional villain and a real one.

Also that Tom-Tom joke was fucking terrible. God hates Dr. Who!

Neo’s Grocery Adventures (April 2013)

Many people find grocery shopping dull, but not me!  For the most part I am highly entertained by all the ways consumerism, trademarks, bad marketing, and with the combination of my guttural mind warp what is seemingly innocent products into terrible things.  Just about every time I go to the store there is something new and amazing (in terrible ways).  So I figure that I’ll share my choice findings with you all. Besides, today is rolling restart day in Second Life.  We all know how much we can get done inworld while that’s going on!

20130416.Grocery_001First up: Salad Toppins — not Salad Toppings, or Salad Toppin’s, but Salad Toppins. These were found amongst the bacon bits, both real and fake. Upon finding them I just cocked my head a little and tried to process what I was seeing. We had already passed the croutons a long while ago, and these obviously weren’t bacon bits — but there they were amongst the fake bacon flavored chunks.  Skeptically we picked them up and shook them.  Southwest was the flavor, and all I could think of was how depression and retirement homes in Arizona tasted. Occasionally we buy things in the name of science, but this time we did not. Apo said something like, “These should be called Seasoned Starch Nubbins”. We put them back and moved on.

20130416.Grocery_002Near the end of our grocery adventure we ran into this little gem. It is an air freshener that is supposed to smell like BLACK iCE. Most of my adult working life has been driving jobs in Minnesota, and so I know a lot about black ice; both through the news and experience. I looked over to Apo and told her, “This smells like a fatal car crash!”. Being the horrible people we are we chuckled for a second, then sighed the sigh of depression. I know they’re trying to be “cool” with marketing and the like.  And I know Texas probably hasn’t experienced Black Ice.  But some marketing people should have done their research instead of stringing a cool sounding phrase together.

 

20130416.Grocery_003Moments before we saw the BLACK iCE at the end of the greeting card isle, at the bottom of  a giftcard rack, we saw this. It was a card with a half naked dude and a wiener dog on his lap who is saying “You look absolutely wonderful today!”.  At first I thought, “Oh the wiener dog is his wiener!”  But then I noticed the wiener dog is actually defying gravity on it’s own. It was then that I realized that the dog is being supported by his wiener. Oh the horrible wrong-bad places I go for a laugh. Just because you can make greeting cards with photoshop, doesn’t mean you should. I did not open the card, but in retrospect I should have.

Why a Tier Reduction Won’t Bring Back Old Second Life Users

Earlier this week I made a strange realization that Second Life is much like The Never Ending Story.  In the Never Ending Story movie, there is a world called Fantasia.  It is created from the imagination of the people of our world, and more specifically the books we read and write.  Fantasia becomes endangered when the world is slowly being destroyed by a mysterious force called The Nothing. Eventually this force bleeds into our world, blanking out our books. Without spoiling the movie it takes quite a hero to put things right at the very last possible moment.

In a lot of ways Second Life is like the Never Ending Story. It’s created by the imaginations of people who exist in our world, who help breathe life into an alter-world.  Each region is like a book that tells someones story.  Each avatar is a character of that story.  Sadly, much like the movie the nothing is affecting us too.  The grid continues to shrink at a steady pace; sometimes hemorrhaging more regions than average each week. Slowly we’re losing our creative spaces — and if the “authors” of these creative spaces leave the odds of them coming back for a special sale are pretty slim. They’re gone for good.

Recently Linden Lab offered old discounts to educational entities that were in SL. While it may seem generous, it is too little, too late.  Here’s why:  If you’re an educational entity, you’re either going to pay someone to build your region, or build your region yourself.  If they paid someone, the odds are they’ve paid at least a couple thousand dollars to build it, and it took months to build.  If they made it themselves, the odds are it took many people several months to put it together. If they left Second Life, their regions and all the effort they put into it is gone.  A sale or special offer simply is not enough to compensate for the time and money they’ve already spent, and lost.

Even if tier were reduced for everyone today, I doubt it would bring back more than 5% of the creators who’ve already left Second Life. They already know that SL is a specialty platform, and that working on it can be very, very difficult at times. Starting over with a blank canvas on any other medium usually a breath of fresh air, but SL is a specialty case where the value of the service is at best tolerable. SL is expensive, plagued by bugs, plagued by service disruptions, filled with stolen content, and a champion of doing the bare minimum for customer service.  If SL could knock out half of these problems for good, it would add a lot of value to the service, and almost make it worth $295 a month for one region.

Right now, a special offer will do very little to win back anyone who’s left. The only thing a tier reduction would do now is encourage people who are still here to stay. It might entice new users in SL to try to create more immerse spaces. For a while it may staunch the loss of regions every month. What SL needs more than anything right now is MORE immersive places. But for now, the Nothing is consuming the grid, and the only way to battle it is to make the entry level into creating immerse spaces easier to obtain or make SL worth the fees we’re charged.

Katelynn Lysette

(Tralala IMed me that someone was outside of their plot being kind of crazy, and had followed her from Insillico I TPed in to observe, though I saw nothing. She flew into the sky after that, and I assume she was going up to a skybox. I was about to follow, but she IMed me.)

[16:15] Katelynn Lysette: do you know tralala?
[16:15] NeoBokrug Elytis: Kind of, why?
[16:15] Katelynn Lysette: please tell the piece of shit to stop being a lil coward and talk to me

(Okaaaayy…. Do go on!)

[16:16] Katelynn Lysette: pathetic how he is acting
[16:17] NeoBokrug Elytis: People can mute people for no reason at all. They don’t have to talk to you.
[16:17] Katelynn Lysette: lol
[16:17] Katelynn Lysette: well
[16:17] Katelynn Lysette: this piece of shit insulted me like no one ever has
[16:17] Katelynn Lysette: our friend died 2 days ago
[16:17] NeoBokrug Elytis: Then mute her
[16:17] Katelynn Lysette: im seriousl, if you know this douchbag peice of shit, i urge you to challenge him
[16:17] Katelynn Lysette: thats not a fucking girl
[16:18] Katelynn Lysette: discover for yourself what a fucking piece of shit this person is
[16:18] NeoBokrug Elytis: I don’t care much.
[16:19] NeoBokrug Elytis: The only person being kind of crazy right now is you. I don’t know you and you’re swearing up a storm. Tralala has been nothing but cordial to almost everyone I’ve seen her interact with I’m sorry that you’ve got a grudge, but people have a right to mute others.
[16:19] Katelynn Lysette: fuck ff lol

(Whoops, estate banned!)

[16:19] Katelynn Lysette: sorry i messaged you
[16:19] Katelynn Lysette: dont get involved in this
[16:19] Katelynn Lysette: lol neat
[16:20] Katelynn Lysette: you the owner oif this shithole sim?
[16:20] Katelynn Lysette: lol
[16:20] NeoBokrug Elytis: Yeah, I think I will. I don’t appreciate you on my estate stalking the residents.
[16:20] Katelynn Lysette: fuck your estate lol
[16:20] Katelynn Lysette: and fuck tralala lame
[16:20] Katelynn Lysette: there’s a difference between stalking and trying to talk to soemone
[16:20] Katelynn Lysette: she needs to face me
[16:21] Katelynn Lysette: is wrong what she said to me, you dont fuck with and insult someone about their lover that died 2 days ago
[16:21] NeoBokrug Elytis: She doesn’t need to.
[16:21] Katelynn Lysette: fuck for gwtting involved and thinking you are someone
[16:21] Katelynn Lysette: and fuck your trashy ass sim
[16:21] Katelynn Lysette: lol
[16:21] NeoBokrug Elytis: What would your lover do? How would they feel about how you’re acting now?
[16:21] Katelynn Lysette: excuse me?
[16:21] Katelynn Lysette: thats none of your business

:C

[16:22] Katelynn Lysette: tralala lame said some crazy stupid shit to em and she needs to answer for it
[16:22] Katelynn Lysette: it’s not right
[16:22] Katelynn Lysette: you dont fuck with people when they are burting
[16:22] Katelynn Lysette: wake up.
[16:22] Katelynn Lysette: thim not interested in any more of your silly shit
[16:23] Katelynn Lysette: fuck you for interefereing, your place or not
[16:23] Katelynn Lysette: fucking retard
[16:23] NeoBokrug Elytis: Just thought I’d strike a chord. I don’t typically ban people from the estate for hanging out on peoples ban lines, but we have a rule here that’s called “Don’t be a douchebag”, and I was going to try and have a civil conversation with you. However, it’s pretty apparent I can’t.
[16:23] Katelynn Lysette: Katelynn Lysette (busy response): The Resident you messaged has blocked you from sending them any messages. Sorry
[16:25] Katelynn Lysette: you can tell that piece of shit that i’ll be waiting for him when he returns to his other shitty wanna be diner at insilico
[16:25] Katelynn Lysette: no place to hide there
[16:25] Katelynn Lysette: welcome to my mute list shithead
[16:25] NeoBokrug Elytis: http://i.qkme.me/3p3u87.jpg
[16:25] Katelynn Lysette: Katelynn Lysette (busy response): The Resident you messaged has blocked you from sending them any messages. Sorry
[16:29] Katelynn Lysette: amazes me how stupid you must be
[16:29] Katelynn Lysette: sad

(I thought I was muted?)

[16:30] Katelynn Lysette: you can pretend that people are right to mute others
[16:30] Katelynn Lysette: but i have never had someone say such stupid and rude things to me
[16:30] Katelynn Lysette: sometimes people need to answer for their behavio

(45 minutes later, still not muted.)

[17:12] Katelynn Lysette: it’s funny how you try to talk to me..
[17:12] Katelynn Lysette: ‘stop stalking my tennent’
[17:12] Katelynn Lysette: lol
[17:12] Katelynn Lysette: sad that you let this person confuse you
[17:12] Katelynn Lysette: she must have messahed you crying lol
[17:15] NeoBokrug Elytis: Thought you muted me: http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/24231123.jpg
[17:15] Katelynn Lysette: look, i dont think it was right earlier
[17:16] Katelynn Lysette: im sorry for causing trouble, but it’s wrong how people can do things in sl and then mute the person they did them to
[17:16] NeoBokrug Elytis: http://static.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/1338588384177_4783689.png
[17:16] Katelynn Lysette: what is this link?
[17:16] NeoBokrug Elytis: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l8q0okIaDc1qzv40bo1_500.jpg
[17:16] Katelynn Lysette: so instead of communicating you put links up?
[17:17] NeoBokrug Elytis: http://weknowmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/oh-no-im-out-of-fucks-to-give.jpg
[17:17] NeoBokrug Elytis: Finally: http://i.imgur.com/nhRgD.png
[17:17] Katelynn Lysette: why dont you just talk to me instead please
[17:18] Katelynn Lysette: lol thats about as lame as it gets
[17:18] Katelynn Lysette: what are you like 15 yrs old?
[17:18] Katelynn Lysette: fucking retard LOLOLOLOL
[17:19] Katelynn Lysette: now i see why that happened
[17:19] Katelynn Lysette: because you’re an immature lil douchbag too

(Many hours later)

[20:54] Katelynn Lysette: wow i’ve been to the wastelands and enjoyed it many times, thought it was an interesting place, i never imagined that it ws owned by such a childish pathetic lil shithead lol
[20:54] Katelynn Lysette: seriosuly, you’re fucking pathetic
[20:54] NeoBokrug Elytis: http://www.lolmadly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/dropped-the-fuck.jpg
[20:54] Katelynn Lysette: lolol
[20:54] Katelynn Lysette: exactly what a childish lil douchbag would say instead of responding intelligently
[20:54] Katelynn Lysette: have anything real to say, shithead?
[20:55] Katelynn Lysette: seriosuly, grow the fuck up
[20:55] Katelynn Lysette: lol
[20:55] Katelynn Lysette: 15 year old fag
[20:55] Katelynn Lysette: lol
[20:55] Katelynn Lysette: cant respond inteligently can you?
[20:55] Katelynn Lysette: you;re too busy being a lil bitch lol
[20:56] Katelynn Lysette: wow your gf looks like shit too, oh well birds fo a feather i guess lol
[20:56] Katelynn Lysette: probably another fake girl like tralala
[20:57] Katelynn Lysette: you can ban me thats fine, but if i ever see you anywhere else in sl it’s going to be your ass
[20:57] Katelynn Lysette: remember that;)
[20:58] Katelynn Lysette: see you around, shtihead:)

(I’ll keep updating the more she IMs me)

The Wastelands: Six Spans in the Sand

WL6B_poster

Click to see our events!

The Wastelands is going to be 6 years old in a few days.  In Second Life years that’s far beyond extinct.  We’ve beaten the odds most estates face on a year to year basis. Historically, nothing lasts very long inworld unless a huge effort is made. It is because of the really awesome community in The Wastelands that we’re still here today. I’m glad everyone is still comin’ by to visit. If you’re in Second Life come visit and celebrate with us this weekend!