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June 2009

On the one hand, and on the other hand

On the one hand:

"Today we're introducing the beta version of a new dashboard on the Second Life website, and we want to know what you think! We fully believe that the immersive nature of Second Life is the way to go, but we're also excited about how the web can help you stay in touch with your Second Life community at times when you can't be inworld." SL Website Dashboard Beta

On the other hand:

Unable to send your message to the chat session with [RECIPIENT].

No. I am sick to the back teeth with this now. No more features. Nothing at all until basic damned functionality is fixed. Functionality which the Laboratory knows is appallingly broken. What on earth am I going to get out of a "dashboard" when I cannot even reply to people?

Perhaps we could have a redesigned Search, too, which enables us to find people with whom we cannot talk far more efficently. Perhaps a highly sophisticated listing of Groups, which lets us find organisations with common interests and then not be able to communicate with them. It could have all sorts of "AJAX" type arrangements and shaded buttons! All of which could tell us that regretfully the service did not work.

Geography of Perenelle

Flora and Fauna of Perenelle

The Chessboard and the Operation of Fortune

Upon first entering Perenelle I was greeted by a peculiar message that seemed to be sent from something called a "chessboard". Normally I am not used to being addressed by chessboards, and was surprised to hear that it informed me of my "fortune" - something along the lines of my being "one hundred per cent fortunate", which is of course good to hear.

Initially I put this down to some sort of malfunctioning mechanism, spouting Nonsense due to the decay of its Artificial Mind. I am not known for my attention to fortune-tellers of any sort.

I quickly found the Chessboard that had sent me the message, and saw that the "pieces" were not the normal rooks and pawns but in fact, representations of visitors to the area, namely, myself. As well as this it seemed aware of quite what I was doing at the time - walking, typing, flying et cie. I suppose that the Chessboard must needs be aware of whomever is in the area in order to send them Messages, and did not pay it all that much mind at the time, though it is an odd feeling to be spied upon by a Chessboard. It did not seem to be bothering me unduly and thus I felt no need to bother It.


Upon my first encounter with a Jellyfish, and the painful sting that resulted, the Chessboard proceeded to send me the entirely superfluous information that I had been rather unlucky to be stung - though I was surprised to see very detailed information on precisely how unlucky I had been.

When I availed myself of some of the antidotes present in the Expedition's supplies, I was then informed that I had been lucky, again in a very detailed way. I did not really pay an awful lot of attention to this until such a time as I was stung to excess and found myself entirely removed from the area, sent back to my Caledon home. My luck, I was informed by the Chessboard, had entirely run out, and I had been doomed!


From this I drew two conclusions:

  1. That luck and fortune were somehow very significant in Perenelle, above and beyond their physical manifestations;

  2. That the Expedition had placed this Chessboard in Perenelle in order to make them aware of their current state of Fortune to a more detailed level than is usual, which is something which would fit my Uncle's character well, at least in his more sensible periods.

These impressions were confirmed by further revelations from his Expedition Journal, which you may see if you care to read onwards.

The Environment of Perenelle

History of Perenelle

Journal: The Nature of Fortune

This Decyphered Entry I found to be most interesting and also useful information as regards the operation of Fortune in Perenelle.

Perenelle is a place where fortune is not just a reflection of what occurs to one and how good or bad it is, but is an entity in itself. Luck is descriptive and also proscriptive.

This sounds like superstitious nonsense, but I have conducted experiments which prove it to be the case. I was made aware of it in the first place due to the gambling habits of my crew - a certain amount of gambling is reasonable to stave off boredom, and I have no quarrel with it as long as debts do not interfere with the process of the expedition. The crew are aware that they must only wager matchsticks and empty cans and rocks and other tokens.

In this case, however, I noticed that James C., a particularly unfortunate sort with cards, was far more likely to succumb to the stings of the damned jellyfish than anyone else, despite being of immense stature, extremely healthy and not at all given to malingering.

On a whim I secretly noted his successes and failures in the nightly games of Bridge, and drew up a table comparing them to his cases of jellyfish poisoning. The results had a clear implication. At times when he regularly lost at cards, the slightest touch of a jellyfish would send him to the physician. At times when he won, he was far more durable.

I expanded my research to cover more members of the crew and damned if the same didn't hold true for the lot of them. Moreover, when they had been fortunate or not in other areas, it seemed as if that affected their endurance as well. William S., who fought off five jellyfish with merely a knife after winning the entire pot at Bridge and also locating a key sulphur deposit, was stung the next day to a point that should by rights have killed him, yet seemed unaffected, if confused.

It is as if the poison from the jellyfish is less important than how unfortunate it was to have been stung. This phenomenon disturbs me. I am not a credulous type, but it seems that we must now pay attention not only to matters of health and fitness but also to our general level of fortune.

Still - a man can make his own luck with bravery, wisdom and strength of character, just as he can lose it with cowardice, foolishness and weakness of will. The former qualities are essential in any expedition in any case, so perhaps the effect of this bizarre situation will not be significant.

I have decided that I shall not mention this to the men, or prevent the gambling - what it takes from one it gives to another - but if anyone seems to be on a losing streak I shall make sure to have them on washing or guard duty or whatever keeps them out of the game, until a time has passed so that they regain their fortune. Just simply not encountering any hazard in Perenelle is lucky enough it seems to restore one to a state of "good luck". In any case, the effect on morale from arbitrarily banning games of chance would be terrible; the men deserve their recreation.

I made some casual remark to William S. on his good fortune, and he put it down to his possession of "lucky heather" from his grandmother, which he has, comically, preserved in a tin using the Tinning Machine. Whilst I did tell him off for inappropriate use of the Machine, I couldn't help but laugh. I suppose that if this heather really is lucky, the tinning process will enable it to survive longer than we do!

The Ordinal Amethyst Hatpin

I have been waffling on about this Hatpin on the PlurkThing over the weekend and really, it should now be released for Public Consumption; hence here it is. The Ordinal Amethyst Hatpin is a perfect accessory for anyone wishing to hold various parts of a hat together. As a minor extra function, it can also be used to stab people in eight different ways, with the usual custom animations, and also jab them to encourage their Rapid Movement.

Second Life006

There are all sorts of fascinating Historical Details existant regarding Hatpins; or, at least, slightly diverting ones. For instance, this particular Hatpin would have been illegal to wear in public (without a licence) in Arkansas or Illonois after 1908, due to it being slightly over Nine Inches in Length. Such laws do not exist in Caledon or in general upon the Grid, but I would advise Purchasers not to jab too many people in the Behind, as this may be Socially Unacceptable.

A free Hatpin, incidentally, to the first Commenter pointing out the hidden meaning in the design.