My Novel & My Writing

Along with a lot of people in this world, I’ve been suffering my way through the COVID era, and I’m sorry to say that I lost the handle on my novel writing. In fact, I’ve been more active as a blogger and social network commenter than I have as a writer. Now, I’m trying to get back in the saddle, so to speak.

This pic kind of feels like where I’m at right now.

I know what I want Book II of The Temporal Expeditions to be. I know how I want it to progress. I know that it will be at least 120k words, of which I have about 70k words in first draft format. But the completed work is the ending half of the novel, and I’ve been struggling to fully map out the first half. I call this writer’s block’s crazy uncle.

In the year and a half since I published The Temporal Expeditions, Book I I’ve lost the context of that book in my thoughts. I mean, it isn’t fresh because I’ve had to do a mental refresh several times, and that means I’ll need another refresh cycle. I’m planning to use Read Aloud to reread Book I to me. This will help me plunge into the writing of Book II. I use the reader because I’m dyslexic and spoken words enter my thoughts more easily than reading. Yeah, I know this is odd but dyslexia is weird.

BTW, dyslexic writers are not that uncommon. In my case, words pour out easily. I’m even a pretty good speller. But drinking the words into my thoughts through my eyes requires a lot of discipline.

I’ve added a new tab to this blog: My Writing. In general, I’ll be pulling in meaningful posts from my Journal blog, so all of my blogging activity will be focused here. I’m not sure this is going to workout well, but I’ve already added the first entry about the inspiration for The Temporal Expeditions.

I plan to continue writing about Second Life and Gaming in general. In fact, playing Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 put me in a mindset of existing in a world where all of our precious civilization is rough and raw. It’s abstract, but it lets my thoughts roam over a different landscape.

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“Tryin’ to get that feeling again”

Okay, I know Barry Manilow is really old timey but he did so many memorable songs, like Tryin’ to Get That Feeling Again (go ahead, give it a listen, it’ll strum your heartstrings). Anyway, I’m feeling the sentiment of that song, even though there’s no woman or man in my lyric, just my second life or Second Life.

BTW, I didn't know Manilow but I've always liked "I Write the Songs" because a different songwriter I knew joked with him: "No, I write the songs!" And I think that joke became a thing among songwriters of that era.

Yesterday, I spent several hours checking my file of Landmarks, mainly looking for places that have live entertainment, and after tediously deleting locations that were either gone or had become something other, I discovered that I’d deleted two-thirds of my entertainment landmarks.

The good news is, many of the old clubs and scenic areas are still there and I’m thrilled about that, but I only found one favorite entertainer still doing live shows. There are probably plenty of new entertainers, but I’m feeling that: You can’t go home again thing.

So, seeking out new venues and new entertainers is certain something to feel excited about. And getting back in the cockpit of my Street Dancer (I think I used to call her, Seabiscuit) and racing around the Blake Sea is still cool. And there’s flying. I was never very good at it; I always was more happy just being a passenger. But I’m still thinking about that SR-71 Blackbird. And hey, there’s always a chance of falling in love again, kinda-sorta. For sure: I want to attend the Junkyard Blues 14th Anniversary!

You can dock your boat a Honah Lee Field and shop for an air planes. Cool, yeah? The tiny girl is me.

In my last post, I was still thinking about keeping my SL premium account, but it expires in June and I’m not sure anymore. And then there’s Fallout 76 waiting with some new quests and adventures. Oh, yeah, and there’s that real life thing too. Like I just bought some old Hemingway books I want to reread, and I’ve also got to get past a new bout of writer’s block if I even intend to finish my trilogy. So…

...I've been/ Up, down, tryin' to get the feelin' again/ All around tryin' to get the feelin' again

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Second Life: 14 Years Later

It’s hard to comprehend where I was when I joined Second Life on April 6th, 2007. I vaguely remember seeing a report on CNBC that featured Philip Rosedale and the virtual world he’d created. I was fascinated by the idea of a virtual city and made my decision to join this new world. Before I knew it I swept into the scene with all it’s drama. In hindsight, it felt like I was in high school again with a new body, new clothes, and a tendency to do the crazy things that only make sense to teenagers. Yeah, I was nuts. Heh. It was so much fun though.

It all came together for me at a tiny club named “PIER”, but unfortunately I didn’t know how to use the camera at the time and don’t have any pics of those early days. I used to go to PIER late at night, hop on a Salsa dance ball, and dance to the tunes of the many DJs that got started there. A few years later the PIER closed but in 2010 I rediscovered PIER had reopened. Below is a pic from that era. I guess the owner decided it was too much effort to keep it going, but she left it roughly where it had been in the beginning. It’s still there.

PIER didn’t change much between when I attended regularly and the reopened club.

Anyway, I expanded out from PIER and raced all over the grid for the next five or six years. I found a real home at Junkyard Blues, but enjoyed several other clubs. I built numerous Zen gardens and expanded my Harvest Moon CafĂ© every time I found a newer and bigger plot of land. I remained active in SL until about 2013 when I moved on to other things, but there’s something about Second Life that always drew me back. And so it was about a week ago; I just wanted to see what was going on, who was still inworld, and what kind of changes have been made.

About a month ago, a viscous hack of Microsoft servers caused them to make some changes to mitigate the damages. I’d been playing on Xbox and a lot of things when wrong, so I’ve been reluctant to reengage. That’s partly why I’ve reengaged in SL during the past week, and I’ve felt the draw of Second Life again. There are so many things to do in SL that I’ve been scampering around, checking things out.

I even looked into buying an SR-71 Blackbird. Okay, some explanation: I once visited the flight museum near Boeing Field where they have one of the retired SR-71s. And let me say simply, if you’ve never seen an actual Blackbird, you have yet to see the most amazing aircraft of the past century. I was in awe of the enormous aircraft, but also about the story of when and how it was built in the early 1960s; built with slide rules, flying at speeds in excess of Mach 3, and altitudes above 80,000 feet! The SR-71 set a record: New York to Los Angeles in two hours. Below is an advertisement for a Second Life plane I’m still thinking about buying.

Check SL Marketplace for the LuciForge ad. I’m just worried that I’ll crash this beautiful airplane.

I did a lot of other things during the past week. I spent time on the Blake Sea where I sped across the open water sims with relative ease; most of the serious problems related to sim crossings seem to be resolved. And it is a thrill to go fast on open waters, it just is! Here’s a shot of me at rest; I forgot how to snap a shot while speeding around. I know.

That’s me in my trusty Street Dancer speedboat.

I also spent some time over at the massive Bay City sim complex. It is a huge city right in the heart of Second Life, but I’m sorry to say that there weren’t many people there enjoying the many facilities that include an insane asylum, amusement park, stores, houses, hotels and so much more. The lack of activity is sad.

In Fallout 76, a multiplayer game, there are vast landscapes and post-apocalyptical cities and they are full of life in a sense because they have many Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and monsters. Of course, the monsters are ready do attack you, so you often have to fight for your life, but hey (*smiles*). That artificial activity gives FO76 a sense of life that is missing in SL, except at the SL clubs and a few sites. Perhaps, a city like Bay City would be far more enjoyable if there were some NPCs doing menial tasks, maybe even talking about their personal stories. It’s just an idea and would probably create a great deal of stress on SL’s underlying game architecture, but I saw signs that work is being done on something akin to NPCs. Just saying. OTOH, communicating with friend in FO76 is really difficult unless everyone has a headset and I rarely run into peeps wearing headsets.

One thing that caused me some consternation, a lot of my old shoes were broken. I thought I’d fixed this problem ages ago, but maybe a new problem has been introduced. When I left SL I had over 200 outfits organized in “My Outfits” and now I’m having trouble figuring out how to get a single outfit organized; this is on me, I just need to figure things out. Also, my Intan dance ball didn’t work. So, I’ve had some frustrations. I did some fun shopping though, kind of just weird spontaneous buying: Some military pants and some short-sleeved mohair sweaters. Here’s a new outfit.

I know this outfit is incongruous, but FO76 has given me a taste for the military-ish look.

To make a long story short: I’m kind of at a “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Night” (Robert Frost) moment.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

I’ve been so tempted to plunge back into SL with both hands and feet. I’ll keep my premium membership for at least one more year and all that. I’ll be around from time to time. But I still have promises to keep “and [hopefully] miles to go before I sleep.”

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Second Life: Return to Calas Galadhon

I keep dropping into SL and poking around, but today I teleported into the giant Calas Galadhon park, run by Truck Meredith and Tymus Tenk. I’d been there many times in the past and it was great to get back to the familiar vast forests and seas. I was delighted to find that the Mirrormere and Misty Mountains sims were very much the way I remember them.

Near the entrance to Mirrormere
That’s me (didn’t change clothes yet) at the lake within the Misty Mountains
Inside one of the cozy cabins in Mirrormere.
I even made my way over to Armenelos.

There’s so much to do in Second Life that I’m feeling the draw. I’m also feeling the dread that I might loose sight of some of my important projects. As Lele would say: Time will tell.

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Second Life: Phil Kearny’s Ambrosia

I spent several more hours in SL yesterday, trying to find stuff in my inventory and learning about stuff that no longer works, like my Intan Couples Dance ball. I was a bit overcome by a sense that a lot of things might not work anymore, but as I was about to sign-off I got an IM from Phil Kearny to tp into his Ambrosia nightclub. I was a bit surprised that Phil even remembered me, but I took the tp and landed in front of the DJ stand where Phil was spinning tunes (below).

That’s Phil and his ever luvin’ tiger waiting to descend on griefers. Heh.

I made my way to the dance floor and used the dances in my HUD to get into the scene. I was amazed at what good dances I had and they worked. I had been worried that I’d have to buy a whole new inventory of dance anims. And that’s me below, dancin’ and prancin’ as I used to, back in the day.

Maybe you can see my cool hat. I think I got it at Maitreya’s.
It was a Tuesday evening, so kind of slow for Ambrosia but Phil was giving out all kind of personal advice, including advice on getting the COVID vaccine. He also said you’re kind of a dumbass if you don’t. That’s the Phil Kearny I remember and why people keep coming back to Ambrosia.

After hanging out at the club I felt a whole lot better but I still have so much to relearn about SL. It’s been eight years since I was doing stuff like building Zen gardens and cafes. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to doing that stuff, but I do plan to spend some time at one of the sandboxes, dusting off all my building and scripting stuff. More soon.

BTW, Ambrosia and Junkyard Blues are two of the oldest and best clubs in Second Life. If you are new to SL, they are a must visit.

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Second Life: What a Wonderful Evening

It’s been almost six months since I visited Second Life. I’d been thinking about returning for a while but last night I teleported inworld to catch DJ Frog’s show at Junkyard Blues. Right away I couldn’t get sound working, so I tp’d to Ambrosia Club but still no luck, then I discovered I the problem and returned to the Junkyard.

Yordie Sands is the author of The Temporal Expeditions

That’s me in the red sweater. I didn’t take a pic of my former partner.

Low and behold, right where I tp’d in I saw my first SL partner (I won’t mention his name). He had a great new look and I didn’t know what to say other than “LTNS”. A couple moments later we began talking. It was wonderful, just like old times; some people are like that, you can just talk as if a decade hadn’t just passed.

I also chatted with other old friends: Lele, Dina, Vanessa, and Frog. It was a wonderful evening, experiencing the magic of seeing old friends. Dina and I had fun talking about  The Dreamgirl Pajama Party back in 2009. After the Junkyard and visiting Lele’s island, I was a bit overwhelmed. So, I went back to my Linden Home this morning and shot a few pics for the record.

Yordie Sands is a blogger, writer, and gamer.

That’s my upstairs bedroom. I’ve had it for years.

Yordie Sands is an author.

I played around with some hairstyles in my adventure planning room.

Last night was a wonderful experience but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the energy for making it a regular part of my day again. Back when I was gallivanting around with half a dozen different partners or girlfriends, I became addicted, so I just had to walk away. I do hope to go back more often though because catching good tunes and dancing is a unique, soothing virtual experience.

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Follow-on: The Microsoft Hack 2021

It’s a complex puzzle, but major media sources including the New York Times are saying that Microsoft suffered a major hack between February 26 and March 2. I can attest to the fact that the hack was real because on I was playing Fallout 4 on Xbox One X during the night of February 26th.

Yordie Sands is the author of The Temporal Expeditions

It was like this! And the game I began in 2019 was wiped out.

Suddenly, I lost my connection to Microsoft connection. I did routine reset procedures but Xbox didn’t come back for hours. In the interim, I checked Xbox Status and saw that four major services were down. The one service that troubled me was “Accounts”. There was only token information available, but my thoughts immediately turned to The SolarWinds Hack that impacted a massive number of U.S. businesses and government agencies.

Well, almost two weeks have passed since the attack and I believe I’m still experiencing negative effects of the attack. I lost the iteration of Fallout 4 I was playing; I had begun that game in 2019 and it ended February 26, 2021. I didn’t play that iteration non-stop but I had fully developed over a dozen settlements. Fortunately, I was thinking of setting it aside for a while, so the lost was hard but I was on the downside of playing.

I use many Microsoft products and services (Windows, Office, Xbox, others), and I’ve worked with Microsoft indirectly for decades. So, I trust Microsoft and their software engineers and have confidence that they will get a handle on both the SolarWinds and Microsoft hacks. After all, this company has been the most attacked company since the launch of the Internet and it has prevailed.

I’ve seen a wide range of weirdness, mainly on Xbox, but have also seen important emails from trusted vendors disappear. BTW, I’ve also noticed that large amounts of junk mail have disappeared also. I believe that wonkiness will persist for some time to come, but I’m hoping Microsoft will introduce stricter management of Internet traffic. During the SolarWinds hack, one Microsoft official said that a line in the sand had been crossed and I’m hoping that our government will have enough sense to help Microsoft in this battle.

We are so reliant on the Internet. It’s almost impossible to imagine life without it.

Just sayin’

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