Feb 28, 2008

Fêtes and Fireworks, by Miss Virrginia Tombola

Quite a lovely work indeed, madame. I happily share it with those friends who may visit my ætheric location.

Feb 27, 2008

Caledon - 2 Year Anniversary

And what an incredible ride it has been!!

Thanks go to our loving and ever patient leader, Guvnah Desmond Shang. Without him there is no Caledon; there would be no "Us".

Desmond dancing his arse off at the 3rd Gala Anniversary Ball of the day

From the Caledon Wiki (and our covenant documents):

Caledon is a small, windswept forested country at a temperate latitude. Wild creatures, country estate life, sights and sounds that were common well over 100 years ago are the hallmark of the land.

Technology is approximately that of the 19th Century, though some astonishing breakthroughs have provided for incredible wonders. Ground vehicles, airships, and even a device known as a 'telehub' are made possible through the power of exotic material properties and the wonders of Steam Technology.

The government is an expansionist monarchy, supported by a strong aristocracy (i.e., residents). Caledon once offered the opportunity for residents to take their turn at "Stewardship", a post which can involve answering questions, restarting sims, banning obvious griefers &c. As the complexity of a large estate grew, the burden on one Steward's shoulders became too great, and the role is now filled by a corps of about 10 estate managers appointed by the Guvnah--some serving openly, some quietly.

As Caledon has grown, it has made contact with a number of other nations that share many of her values. Some of these nations now share direct sea passage and have formed a coalition known as the Realm of the Roses to promote their mutual interests.

But that hardly scratches the surface of what is our community; a community of Steampunks, Gun Bunnies, Victorian themed role players, inventors, socialites, builders, musicians, furries, elves, scientists (mad or otherwise), military role players, æronauts, Ruffian Kings, knights, peers, hobos, gentry, naval architects, librarians, and distillers of fine spirits among many others. We enjoy creation and creativity, celebration, a little more drama than we should, charitable causes (Relay for Life - chief among them), literacy, education, and polite society.

This growing community is far too complex to attempt to qualify or quantify in this brief musing, but know that for the last 20 months of my Second Life it has been my home and my community. We are oftimes a dysfunctional growing family, but we are in the end a family - a community. I continue to be honored to be counted among the Estate Managers for all of the Independent State, and to be able to provide the community with such support as I can.

With my love,

The crowd at the start of the Ball

Excalibur Longstaff

Our Vicereine, Kamilah Hauptmann, dances alongside the Guv

Our host, His Grace of Cymru, Viderian Vollmar
dancing with Miss Samantha Glume.
Her Grace of Carntaigh, Gabrielle Riel, dances nearby as she provides the music for the event

The Anniversary Badge
seen in picture (among others): Miss Terry Lightfoot, Dr. Oolon Sputnik, Iason Hassanov, Cornelia Rothschild

Kamilah, Desmond, and I work the dance floor

Simply lovely

Fireworks on the Firth

Enjoying the impromptu party venue provided in Middlesea by Colonel O'Toole on one of his ships. A large and jovial crowd assembled.

Toasting Caledon! (and many of her people)

Here's to many more successful years!

Feb 26, 2008

Apparently Gnarlihotep Has Really Been Working With His Penguins

Penguin Professors!!! HRONK!!!

Eat your heart out, Alton Brown!

The folks over at Brass Goggles rarely steer you wrong. I came across this post while perusing the æther today.

Over at ConceptArt.org, those terribly skilled artists are deep in the depths of the Character of the Week challenge, or CHOW once again - and this week’s challenge is a Steampunk Penguin Professor (with assistant) in the Arctic. They’re on to the final(s)...... some utterly stunning (and exceptionally charming) entries piling in......

I love the concept of the Penguin as Steampunk Professor: part mad scientist, part cuddly creature, all full of fish and vinegar. Any of these fine gentle-pengis could certainly apply to the Royal Society.

I encourage you to have a look at your earliest convenience.

Hronk! I mean....Slaínte!

Feb 25, 2008

Guns, Airships, Boats, and - oh yes - Dancing

On Friday, the Conservatory a' Ghaidhealtachd was utilized by the Edison Corporation for their Masquerade Ball, which served as the formal introduction of this group to the Citizens of Caledon. Despite some issues early in the evening, the event turned out to be quite successful....a good time had by all.

The scene early in the evening

Dancing with Colonel Somme

Mr. Syxx Craig of the Edison Corporation plays his violin for the enjoyment of the crowd.

As this was the Corporation's event, I tried to stay in the crowd as much as possible, but I fear my hostessing instincts kicked in a couple of times, and I was perhaps more visible than I had intended to be. I did have to pop in and out of the event twice with some RL concerns, but was able to dance with a few of my favorite dance partners, and to speak with several of my friends as we enjoyed the music - and later the display of Edison products.

I am so thankful to Loch Avie's Own, the Caledon First Lancers, for providing an honor guard to the event. I am sorry that I missed the review of the troops, which heralded the beginning of the ball, but I hear that they conducted themselves (as they always do) with the utmost professionalism and grace.

Colonel Somme presents Lieutenant Gustafson

As we talk about the Lancers, I am more than pleased to announce that Diamanda Gustafson was promoted to Lieutenant at the event. During the citation, Colonel Somme told those present of Dia's good service to the Lancers, Loch Avie, and Caledon by her faithful attendance at Lancer events and her willingness to assist with any need that arises. This night that included rescuing the music for the ball during my absence at the beginning. She took control of the stream as needed and kept playing wonderful selections for the remainder of the evening. I have thanked her privately, but now take time to do so in this public forum. My sincere thanks, LT Gustafson.


LT Diamanda Gustafson

We gather outside to view the Edison Corporation product displays
guests including: Carntaigh, Colonel Somme, Loch Avie, Miss Wozniak, Cymru, and Colonel O'Toole

guests including: Kintyre (Lord Erasmus and Lady Lavendar), Lady Patty, and Cymru

Mr. Weatherwax of Prim Perfect, and Miss Glume
Miss Discovolante in the background

Dia and I examine the naval cannon

The next morning, I am inspired to put on the Fleet uniform and get a little ship piloting done.

I must say the Loch is beautiful in this light.

Feb 22, 2008

The Romantic Voice of the Victorian Gentleman

My dear readers, as I frequently do given my romantic disposition, my thoughts of late have turned once again, to romantic notions. Specifically the traditions of courtship and love within the Victorian era in which we (loosely) live in Caledon, Second Life. Having done a little research, I have come across a number of fine references and examples of courtship etiquette and love letters.

The Victorians romanticized love as well as tragedy. They revered love and courtship despite their strict moral code and rules of etiquette. To gatherings, young women were chaperoned generally by their mothers or another married lady to ensure that nothing 'improper' happened. Balls and dances were the means of introducing young ladies to Society. She was expected to stay close to her chaperone until someone asked her to dance and was quickly returned to her chaperone at the end of each dance. To dance more than three times with the same partner was considered forward and improper.

The delight of the average hostess's heart is the well-bred man, unspoiled by conceit, who can always be depended upon to do his duty. He arrives in good time, fills his card before very long, and can be asked to dance with a plain, neglected wallflower or two without resenting it. He takes his partner duly to the refreshment-room after each dance, if she wishes to go, and provides her with whatever she wishes. Before leaving her, he sees her safe at her chaperone's side.

-Mrs. Humphry Manners for Men (1897)

Under this strict code of etiquette, the Victorians invented new ways to play courtship. Items of apparel such as fans, gloves, and handkerchiefs were given meaning as were objects given as gift called 'love tokens' such as flowers, painted miniatures, or jewelry set with gemstones of particular significance. The diamond ring which symbolizes innocence became popular as the engagement stone during this era.

Love letters and cards allowed expression of deep emotion which society dictated was improper to be expressed otherwise. Valentine's Day was the day which allowed complete written freedom. Valentines varied from paper hearts to intricate designs of gilded lace, powdered glass, and parchment art. Books were sold containing verse to copy into customized cards for those not poetically inclined.

Since the words that I have found to illustrate my romantic notions of the moment are written by an unknown gentleman about his beloved, I thought I might provide some general definitions of the Victorian Gentleman:

  • A man of gentle birth, one entitled to bear arms, though not noble; A man of chivalrous instinct and fine feelings.
  • It is still expected that a gentleman stand up the first time a lady enters a room or takes her final leave.
  • It is considered chivalrous to open a door for a lady if he happens to be in reasonable proximity.
  • Should never remove his coat while standing, sitting, riding, or walking with a lady.
  • Shall never ask a lady to dance if he has his coat removed.
  • Shall lift his hat and say Excuse Me when he brushes against a lady on the street.
  • Should always walk on the outside when walking with one or more ladies.
  • Shall not hold a ladies arm, except when support is needed.
  • Shall remove his hat while talking to a lady.
  • When a gentleman is seated in a restaurant and a lady acquaintance enters and bows, the gentleman should return the bow while he remains seated, if the lady stops at his table the gentleman shall rise and remain standing till she departs.

I imagine the scene as I read the gentleman's words below.

He has just left his beloved on the wide veranda of her home, her mother having been sitting at the table just a few feet behind them for the entire interview. Since they have been courting for the last few months, he has been permitted to sit over evening tea with the young lady and occasionally touch her gloved hand as they talk. He has brought her flowers, a lace handkerchief, and a sealed letter as gifts this day.

As he departed, the blushing young woman looked boldly into his eyes much longer than would be acceptable in public and offered her hand to him. The love-struck gentleman seemed to look deeply into her soul as he bowed over her hand and kissed it ever so gently...feeling the folded parchment pressed into her palm...meant for him. Both their hearts beat more rapidly. He caught his breath as she whispered, "Be well, my love. Rest this night and dream of us."

I read the farewell, the gentle request, and smile.

Does she not see the vast galaxy that leaves me to sort through?

So many fragments of wonders fill my soul...

Of sitting stoically as the train pulls out of the station, a virgin
rifle across my lap, watching as she waves me a tearful farewell through the steam....

Of riding through the portcullis slowly, my visor locked down as she watches bravely from the tower, lance set to defend her honor against a foe I cannot defeat...

Of watching her nervously as she plays the spinnet in her mother's
parlour, my hands twisting in my lap, gripping my straw boater tightly to keep from touching her flaxen hair...

Of cursing, coaxing more speed from the battered old engine as she
bravely mans the wheel of my tramp steamer, praying that darkness and pluck allow us to avoid the German blockade...

Of easing her slowly back in the tall grass, laughing together,
ignoring the calls of the friends seeking us as she draws up her skirts slowly, meaningfully, offering me what we have both craved for so long...

Of laying the last card of the straight flush on the green baize
before leaning back dramatically, catching her eye as she rakes in the chips, the gleam telling me I had best get her to our room quickly before she pounces on me...

Of bowing low to her over my walking stick as she curtsies carefully
so as not to unbalance her wig, swelling with pride as she sets one gloved hand lightly on my arm, the entire court watching as I lead her out to the minuet.

Doesn't she realise the worlds contained in "..and dream of us"?

Feb 18, 2008

Caledonian Plate Tectonics and a Mystery Uncovered

(Cue the deep rumbling noise and the dramatic soundtrack.)

Having just arrived home from a week's holiday in the snow-covered higher elevations, I found myself once more in Caledon among friends and neighbors. I spent only a little time at home in Loch Avie upon my arrival...really just long enough to sleep a few hours in my own bed, begin the unpacking and laundry, and to skim through the post that was awaiting me in my office in Taigh Ròis. I was anxious to be out inspecting my property, which appears to be in the early stages of the Spring thaw (although one never knows about the weather this time of year), and to be calling upon friends.

I had just begun my rounds in Loch Avie when a call came in via my secure Tesla Wireless Transmission Device that several Caledonian explorers had not been heard from and were presumed lost. There were cries for rescue parties even as the memorial service was beginning. MI5 was, of course, engaged immediately to join the search and rescue and I managed to get a message off to Lady Kate and the Royal Society geologists so that they might assist as well. Many further events related to this are relayed in the journal of Hotspur O'Toole (including a picture of me along with a few others in front of the Selenite specimen). Thankfully the party were alive and well! After some celebration and at least one Red Map of the sim, I returned home to ride through the Loch.

In preparation for the Edison Grand Ball and Masquerade, which takes place in Loch Avie this Friday, I began making prim space and choosing some simple, yet elegant, decór. As I was reviewing plans with Mr. Syxx Craig, I had a call from Sir Telemachus wishing me a welcome home. He informed me that he was chatting with Torvold, Viderian, and Hotspur, and trying out some of the new weapons from his smithy. I wondered aloud whether I might crash the male bonding and say hello to everyone, as well as get a peek at the new Spear of Darkness, and any of the other new choices for sale there.

Happily, I was able to join them and witness the use of the new weapons as well as get a little practice with my bow. We also posed for a few pictures. This was really perfect timing for me as I have been trying to update my profile picks for the last few days. The Loch Avie Academy of Arms now has quite the picture on display there. :-)

Sometime later, I returned to the Loch and resumed my patrol and inspection. Having reached the most southern end of the rail line, I stood there for a moment gazing over into Lovelace and into the stretch of clean, cool water between us.

It was then that I saw it.....something large and metal submerged below the surface of the water. It did not appear to be a submarine - a least not from the surface. I scrambled back into Taigh Ròis to put on my dive gear and headed into the cold winter water. Thank God for dry suits.

I could hardly believe my eyes. It was a very old rail car and engine! How is this possible? I know of no wrecks occuring off the end of the rail line here in my home. And it appears to be of sufficiently advanced decay leading me to believe that it has been here for some time - possibly covered under silt or dirt until now.

Based on my readings of Mr. James Hall, the American geologist and paleontologist, I wonder if his Geosyncline Theory might begin to explain this. The crust movement that occured when Lovelace appeared off the southern coast of Loch Avie may have exposed the old train. I, however, am not the geology expert in the Royal Society. I determined to send a dispatch to Professor Krogstad immediately, so that he might come examine the wreckage and give us a clue to it's origin, how it came to rest in the waters here, and how it became exposed.

So now I sit in the comfort of the distillery, listening to the bubbling and crackling of the stills and the fires, sipping a little hot tea, and writing my note to Adso.

My oh my - what a first day back from holiday. And you know? I'm just silly enough to enjoy it.

Feb 11, 2008

Ah....The Mountains!

Everyone needs a little holiday every now and then. So once the Snowflake Ball and the Burns Night events were done, I determined that I should get away for a little while and take a holiday. Rather than searching for warmer climates, I decided to take advantage of the cold and head to the mountains where I might find even cooler, more crisp air. And SNOW! I do love to ski.

Thankfully, the last minute details of ensuring that Loch Avie is cared for, and that the distillery, MI5, and the Academy training grounds are monitored came together quite nicely. Lady Kate Nicholas has volunteered to mind the distillery for me as well as tend to the day-to-day needs of Nellie and the Loch. She has been working on a water pumping and filtration system for the distillery anyway, so this seemed like not too much of an imposition on her.

Colonel Somme with his new Lancers riding gear.

Colonel Somme, Commanding Officer of the Caledon First Lancers, came by to offer his assistance, and I was pleased to take him up on it. He and Lt. Colonel O'Toole will assist by having the Lancers patrol the Loch on a little more frequent basis, and will ensure - along with Sir Telemachus - that the Academy training grounds are safe and maintained. I also have made arrangements with a few of my operatives to keep MI5 running smoothly in my absence.

Once I completed the details with Lady Kate and Colonel Somme, I had a little time to make my rounds and to wait on the water taxi, which would ferry me to the waiting airship.

I truly look forward to my time in the mountains. The beauty of them renews my soul as does that first run in the morning. That run in which my skis make the first tracks in the virgin snow, and all that may be heard is the schooshing of my skis, the soft falling of snow, and the sounds of nature.

a skiing poem by Jim Vaughn

The landscape, surrounded by whispers of snow, and the occasional glimmer of dancing sunlight, as it kisses the clouds.

Standing before me, beckoning me, like the siren’s call, of the ancient mariner.

Drawing me out, upon the steep pitch, coaxing me ever closer to the abyss of pleasure.

I ascend into the chute, careening like a bowling ball, thrown downward, bouncing, picking up speed by the second.

I stick my pole, deep into the virgin snow, which had yet to be tracked that day.

Feeling it sink, then suddenly take hold, I turn, and before my eyes, is the euphoric rush, of seeing nothing but the trees, entrenched into the rock wall, like centurions poised to repel attack.

The ski’s under my feet become weightless, I hang ever so delicately, in the sweet embrace of gravity.

I feel the air rushing around me, the kaleidoscope of colors, that once, was the rock wall, flashes by.

My eyes begin to focus, forever it seems, I’m free of the restraints that bind me to the earth.

Abruptly, my descent stops, jarred back into reality, my legs start pumping again, I slide into the next turn, and start the whole process over again.

Feb 9, 2008

Slàinte Iason Hassonov! Slàinte!

Mardi Gras parade
(shhhhh - Don't tell the Bishop that the parade took place 2 days into Lent)

Talk about an event that brought the community together! On one count I made, there were at least 70 participants in the parade, and several more spectators along the route. The lag provided irrefutable evidence of the high level of participation. Well that and the huge numbers of prims per float.

About two weeks ago, Iason and I were having a lovely conversation when it seemed an idea struck him. He said, "Your Grace! What would you think about a Mardi Gras parade for all of Caledon?" I was just about to answer when he said, "Hold on....hold on.....I'm working on the notecard!"

And thus the event was conceived. How brilliant it turned out to be, my friend! I am unsure of the final count on the floats. And the lag was so bad that I was not able to actually get pictures of very many of them. But I do know that everyone seemed to have a great time - just being together - laughing, cracking jokes, and dancing away. The Exotic Women of Caledon could not get their float working, so we all called for our horses and were back in the parade straight away.

Standing on the Exotic Women of Caledon float

No float? No problem!

At one point I crashed so hard I ended up back home in the Loch. Bucephalus and I decided to head into Vic City and the the Moors to wait for the parade to catch up to us. For old time's sake I sat at my old Moors plot. Shortly after my arrival there, Miss Underwood, Miss Nadir, Mr. Somme, and some unknown tinker (ahem) showed up to watch the parade with me. We had a lovely time chatting and watching the floats.

Some of the beautiful floats

We then rode our horses as fast as we could to Iason's property. The mood was extremely festive! Gabrielle put on some fantastic Mardi Gras music and we partied and laughed together for quite some time.

Thank you Iason! And thank you friends and neighbors for such a wonderful, creative response.