Friday, April 25, 2008

Baby, plight my fire

Three cheers for SL!

Okay, I'm not much of a builder, have received less then a positive response as a dragon escort but SL has let me fulfill my – and I suspect – any male's deepest dream.

No, I haven't just had sex with Angelina Jolie. I have become a fire fighter.

And all thanks to the kind people at the Ontario Public Service, or OPS as us fire fighting guys like to call it. The OPS (slurl here) has set up a sim which allows you to discover all sorts of things they do in RL. You can analyse traffic patterns, test water for pathogens or get stuck in a helicopter (well, at least I did). But what I really wanted to do was become a fire fighter, defy the heat, save forests and generally make an impression and have something to chat to Angelina about later. They're even so kind to provide you with a complete fire fighters suit and a hose (which sort of stops abruptly three metres from the nozzle, but does spurt water). So three cheers for the OPS as well!!!!!!!

You can even experience the excitement, dread and thrill of putting out a smallish forest fire – that is you can, if you have enough fantasy. The entire idea is not only to explain what the ONS does all day, but maybe also interest you to become a water tester, traffic controller or, perhaps, a fire fighter.

Now this worries me a little. It doesn't worry me half as much as being in a plane, the pilot and co-pilot dead, the flight attendant asking if anyone knows how to fly a plane and the guy next to me who has just installed Microsoft's Flight Simulator raising his hand.... but it still worries me.

The thing being: It's not really that realistic. I see myself caught in my log cabin, a fire raging towards me and someone who has done this simulation my only barrier between life and a charbroiled future. I envision him having this conversation with his superior while the flames slowly lick their way towards me:

Superior: You have, I take, fought fires before?

Fire Fighter: Sure, lots!

Superior: And you can handle the hose?

Fire Fighter: Sure, though it does seem to travel quite a distance. And it's heavy.

Superior: We need to contain the fire just long enough for the water drop from the plane.

Fire Fighter: Yeah, sure.. been there, done that.

Superior: Just keep the flames under control as long as possible. Any questions?

Fire Fighter: No. Wait. Yes. If the flames get to intense won't that increase lag?

Superior: Nah. Lower area girdling won't be a problem.

Fire Fighter: If it gets out of control then I just TP, right? To safety?

Superior: Well, that shouldn't be a problem, but if you're in danger, do TP, terminate procedure as required.

Fire Fighter: I've found it rather helpful to fly above the flames in my training. Would you advise that here too?

Superior: Yeah, sure.. let it fly over the flames. The water will eventually cut off the oxygen to the fire.

And so on.... I think you get my point.

There are some things you just have to learn in RL But I have to be off... got to go practice my tango skills at Hot Sax again.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Economic Whoas

I’ve always felt mildly embarrassed when I meet a builder in SL. Usually, because without a second thought I pipe up and mention that I’ve built stuff too.

"What are you into.“ They ask, "Housing, attachments, furniture...?“

I proudly hand them over my one – and only – creation.

"What’s that?“ they usually say. And even without Voice Chat I can hear that undertone one knows so well from when you’ve passed on a dead rat to someone.

"It’s a lamp. And it glows in the dark!“ I add hastily. "And, I... ehm... wanted to keep it minimal and simplistic. It's done a bit in the style of... Erik Magnussen," I add the last bit after quickly googling "minimalistic design".

This is about the time when they suddenly realize that they have that important „SL-Builders Conference“ to go to - which I, for some strange reason, can never find in events.

Okay, I can’t build. I’m pretty good at boxes and can just manage a ball, but as soon as it gets to putting two things together I curse my parents for taking away my Lego blocks. I seem to lack the eye, talent and patience to be a builder in SL. So I really admire what they do.

I also feel a bit sorry for them though. Even the most complex thing I have bought in SL cost me no more then about 3000 Linden. That’s not even 10 US-dollars, Or 482 Afghanistan Afghanis or 31 Malaysian Ringgits. How can these guys make a living?

I suspect they just don’t.

Let me just do some armchair economic number fiddling. Let’s say a decent suit would cost me, erring on the high side, 1000 Linden – or about 3 Dollars (or 3.72 Bulgarian Leva). How many of these would I have to sell to lead an easily life, in – let’s say – a trailer park somewhere just out side of Tuskege, Alabama? About 300 a month, I’d guess – if Pa paid for his whiskey himself. Are the SL-Builders getting that kind of money, rocking on their chairs outside in the humidity and hearing the virtual cash register go “Ka.Ching”?

I doubt it. Or, to stay in character: Thay'rs mo chance of a possum becomin' pr'sdent.

This sort of makes me feel better when I sorrowfully turn my meagre lamp in my hands. It also makes me want to go out and buy, help the economy, help people move out of the trailer park. I hope it does the same for you….

By the way, would you be interested in a lamp?

Striking the pose

Yesterday I discovered myself doing something rather odd in RL….....

I found myself casually flipping through a GQ magazine, pondering advertisements and wondering how the stuff might look on me. When I realized what I had been doing, I paused, looked around guiltily and laid the magazine aside.

I’ve never done that before! I am, maybe unfortunately, in RL the kind of guy who goes to the same stores all the time and when asked what I’m looking for points lamely at what I have on.
„Something like this. But, newer. In fact, do you carry these pants?“

I truly think I’m a bit better then most men and try to keep up with style changes, let’s say every five years. So what am I doing browsing advertising in GQ?

I think that SL has made me fashion aware, or fashion conscious or maybe just a fashion victim – take your pick. I used to think of clothes in terms of “shirt, socks, shorts, pants, shoes… dressed! That is slowly changing.. (And may I also insert that Tia has done more then her part too, explaining, for example, that a certain colour is “aqua” and not just “light blue - as I believed; that a cardigan is a type of sweater and not some backbench British politician; that my black hair allows me to wear “primary colours”, and then kindly describing what they are.)

I’ve always been taken back by people who write they love shopping in their profiles. It seemed too trite, trivial and even a little bit self-demeaning – a little dirty secret that one does not have to broadcast to the world. But, although I’ll never put that up in my profile, let me come out of the closet and admit: I enjoy shopping too.

And I’d almost say I love it - were SL a more male friendly shopping paradise. Case in point: I recently pointed out a dress that I liked to Tia and received the quick retort “I don’t want to look like an escort.” (Maybe in a later post I’ll delve into the subject of what men like and women want to wear and why the twain shall never meet.)

But to men’s clothing. At least Tia has the option! And so many more. She can buy anything from ballroom gowns, fluffy sweaters, latex jumpsuits, tops, blouses, skirts, mini-skirts, to things that look like they might eventually become skirts when they grow up. She can go in for the sweet and demure look, the aggressive vamp, the businesswoman attire, tarty and naughty, and on and on and on.

I’m not even going to mention shoes.

What do I have a choice of? Black Mad Max get ups, tuxedos or jeans and t-shirts!

I know there are some good designers in SL for men’s attire, but they are few and far between – and between them are usually miles and miles of very good women’s stores. Travelling from one place to the other I often get distracted and end up ogling, wistfully, women’s clothing. I feel like that guy who hangs out in the bra section at your local department store.

The unfair treatment of men doesn’t just stop there, Case in point number two: demos. I can’t remember the last time I actually saw men’s clothing being offered with a demo to check out before you buy. Probably because I never have. I see that sort of thing all the time at stores that cater to women.

And I fear, dear masculine mates of SL, that it’s our own fault. We just don’t buy like women do. Tia has a longer list of Demos in her Inventory then I have of clothes. I just buy, try it on, think “Damn that looks good”, but more often “Damn, another 250 Linden down the drain”.

And then I go off to paw the gowns.