Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


First, a moment to thank all who responded to Acacia’s moving tribute to Symphony. It was a beautiful place, and was enjoyed by many thousands of residents which truly pleases me. On the one hand, it is sad to see such a thing become part of the Second Life legacy of impermanence, but this is something we know and understand as residents of the foremost virtual world in existence. Nothing lasts forever, especially not pixels.

However, I am proud to say that the soul of Symphony did not pass from Second Life, and has been reincarnated in Harmony Vista. I’ve just opened a new residential sim that has all the hallmarks of the Symphony experience – creative builds, natural environments, wide vistas and intimate hidden places. Returning from Symphony, in a new environment and wearing new “clothes,” are the old Mill House and the Lighthouse. Birds once again chatter at each other and soar above the ocean waves, grasses and flowers wave in summer breezes, horses wander the fields idly, and rabbits do… what rabbits do.

Through the middle of Harmony runs Mill Creek, a gentle, tree-lined, burbling brook graced on either side by walking paths, waterfalls, songbirds, and other woodland creatures. This community area features a small, well-lit coffeehouse called The Greenhouse, a community mercantile where residents may sell their own creations, free canoe and horse rentals, and a place to gather for events and play.

The lush terrain is beautifully crafted by Saiyge Lotus of Oubliette, and adds so much to the beauty and realism of Harmony Vista. Eight residential builds dot the shoreline, high and low, and feature the work of Ando Joubert, Ruki Ragu of Embryo, and Jenne DIbou of JD Toy Factory. Whether you prefer your living rustic, charming, or elegant, there is something here to please most tastes.

Next door to Harmony Vista is Prelude, built in the caldera of an extinct volcano, with open water for boating, lots of undersea exploring for the SCUBA set, mountain tops for meditation, and places to kick back, relax, and enjoy nature.

Come to visit, come to photograph, or come to live – it’s all here waiting for you!


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The other evening I had a sad and sobering experience. I watched the deconstruction of what was clearly one of the most beautiful sims Second Life has ever known. Ando Joubert, Symphony’s creator, took up the final structures and objects on Symphony, leaving a vast, flat and melancholy wasteland where there had once been a veritable natural paradise, an island of beauty and tranquility in a virtual world that has far too many soulless builds, the pixel equivalents of strip malls and ticky tacky houses.

Symphony was a loving and authentic tribute to the Pacific Northwest Coast, the place Ando calls home in real life. The soaring sea birds, playful otters, basking seals and breaching whales moved within a terrain of native trees and flowers, realistic rocks and ocean waves. It changed with the seasons.  Stone and wood structures artfully dotted the sim, from the hilltop library whose textures came from a building outside Portland, Oregon, to the mill house whose rustic mill wheel moved to the rhythm of water that cascaded from the most exhuberant waterfall in Second Life. Every piece was exquisitely detailed and expertly built.  The mill wheel turned a grindstone; the lighthouse light was rotated by power from gas canisters which turned a wheel mechanism.  The entire sim was a coherent, well integrated whole, a rare phenomenon in Second Life.

But now it is gone.  Irrevocably, it seems.

In its wake is a growing sentiment among many with whom I’ve spoken that Linden Lab doesn’t care about its builders and residents but is looking to make SL a corporate haven. There is a malaise settling in on residents, a sense of hopelessness about the future of this world to which so many have given so much of their time, talent and treasure to build and maintain. Limits on inventory (anathema to builders) and scripts (likewise), the consignment of anything adult to a gulag, the elimination of free items on SL Exchange, despite vociferous protests from blindsided residents . . . all of these and the loss of far too many classic and beautiful SL builds, conspire to lower morale and make some of our most creative talents ask, “Why bother?”

Sometimes people ~ ordinary people ~  not a corporation or the very wealthy, create something of genuine beauty for others to share ~ a unique vision, a place that offers comfort or delight to their fellow residents. In this instance, it was a piece of the American Pacific Northwest, with its woods and wildlife and its magnificent waterfalls and ocean shore. Tomorrow it will be some other treasure that succumbs to the high price tag placed on virtual dreams.

A dear friend of mine said of Second Life . . . the reason it will always fall far short of real life is that in Second Life, there is no place for memories. In real life you can revisit as your heart dictates the place you had your first kiss or heard news that shattered your world. The World Trade Center, though gone, stood on a specific spot, and any of us can go there and have a time of silent reflection. In Second Life you simply can’t go home again. Favorite places disappear and with them the opportunity to share them with new found friends or to reminisce about a lost love or a dear friend who has passed away. And there are places you would love to share with a newbie . . . to demonstrate the magic that’s possible in this amazing world. Places that are gone now. Places like Symphony.

I’m one of those who never saw Second Life as a game, but the demise of Symphony makes me rethink that stance. Despite the much larger and more emotional investment many thousands of us make in this . . . whatever you call it  . . . the real lifeness and respect we come to invest it with . . . it’s this whimsical demise of the best of our created world that pulls Second Life down from the lofty heights of “not a game” to the more mundane . . . “ok, next round, Player #2’s turn.”

That’s what makes me want to propose a “Second Life Virtual World Trust.” I call on Linden Lab and all of us who love Second Life to establish something akin to landmark status for the really remarkable builds that ought to be our collective virtual heritage. We all know the places that constitute our Cultural Treasures in this world. Places that make the “best of” lists for their beauty, their educational value, their creativity or their flawless execution. These are the places that transcend the typical, the ubiquitous, the shoddy, the fly by night. There are plenty of strip malls in Second Life. No need to preserve them. But those places that are treasures ought to have some recourse. Perhaps before they face the wrecking ball, there could be a petition process that would allow the best to be rescued and maintained as part of our collective heritage. Perhaps the corporations that Linden Lab is so actively courting could do in this virtual world what real life corporations do all the time – contribute to the community. Consider corporate sponsorship of the Virtual Trust sims, which will be designated by a committee of skilled artists and builders, longtime residents, and those Lindens who really get Philip’s original vision “Your world, Your imagination.” For a big time corporation, to sponsor a Virtual Trust site at $300 per month would not be a very big deal in the grand scheme of things, and there would be a kick back of good will from grateful residents. Linden Lab would have to set up a mechanism for this, but it would add immeasurably to both the morale and the experience of residents, would create a legacy for future residents, would encourage our artists and would invest corporations in SL as a community rather than just a tool.

This is something for the Lindens to consider, but what about the rest of us? Surely we have a responsibility as well. Call it civic pride or community spirit. All of us have seen tip jars in our wanderings to the special places in Second Life. Sometimes a floating text or proffered note asks, “If you like this, please support us to keep it going.” Sims cost money . . . first to buy at a whopping $1,000 . . . not for the faint of heart . . . and then to maintain month after month at $300 per. That’s a lot, particularly in these hard times, something that only those with steady and disposable income can afford. But what of the talented ones who don’t have the luxury of that kind of money, but who nonetheless create something beautiful for all to enjoy . . . something without a commercial intent?  A freebie.

Next time you see a tip jar in one of those places you love, seriously consider leaving a decent donation. Or face the very real possibility that the next time you click that landmark to return, the place you love won’t be there. If you enjoy a place enough to visit frequently, to bring your friends to, to share with a date or visit often to slough off the cares of the day, ask yourself “is it worth $10 a month to me to keep this place alive?” If 30 people who loved a sim like Symphony each paid $10 a month, less than a movie ticket, the sim would be secure. Symphony could have been saved if the hundreds of SL residents who loved it, who returned again and again, who took countless pictures for their flickr pages, had thought to contribute something to its maintenance. As residents we have to begin to have that ethic or soon the mom and pop type sims will give way inevitably to corporate sims with their bland and conventional sameness. When that happens, the quality of the Second Life experience will be degraded for us all. Consider adopting a sim that you love. Make that commitment, so that the places you love won’t go the way of Symphony.

In one little place in my very human heart there still exists this eternal optimist who thinks with blind hope that Symphony could still be saved. It’s a bit like Peter Pan asking the audience to clap if we believe in Tinker Bell and by our clapping long enough and hard enough, so that her little light comes back to life, Tinker Bell lives for thousands of other delighted children. May it be so for Symphony.

One final note: Thank you, Ando Joubert, for providing all of us who loved her with a place to call home, a place to share with loved ones and new friends, and a place to become inspired by what is possible in Second Life, for those who have time, talent, treasure and generosity to share with their fellow passengers on this amazing journey through a brave new world.  Symphony was a work of genius.

Now, for the record, here is a very small glimpse of what we’ve all lost:

Pacific Northwest Inlet

Farewell Ride

Mill House and Stable

The Old Mill House

Pause for Reflection

Intricate Works - Mill House Interior

Hopper House Gallery . . . Above the Falls

The Lodge and Water Pump

Highest Point and View of Lighthouse

Captain Alcott's Lighthouse - Intricate Works

View from the Top . . . Library, Lodge

Library Interior

"Nothing beside remains ~ boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away."

You can see more photos of this breathtaking build here:


And so, goodbye . . .

~ Cacie

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Imagine my excitement on hearing the news that one of the beautiful photos Morgana Nagorski did of the Symphony sim brought in $25,000 lindens in a charity auction.

The auction was part of  Jamm for Genes charity weekend  organized by Australian rl and sl musician, Ohmy Kidd.  OhMy Kidd said  “Jamm for Genes is part of the annual ‘Jeans for Genes’ fundraiser for the Childrens Medical Research Institute, an Australian charity with global benefits.  Jamm for Genes is all about live music raising money, for research into cell biology that helps with both prevention and cure of childhood, congenital and genetic diseases.”  Morgana, also Australian, had donated two of her photos to the auction.  The second one brought in a donation of $1,000 lindens.

I thought you would like to see the high bid photo, which is also on display and for sale at Hopper House Gallery on Symphony through August 22. Tour the sim and see the objects and places, all the creative vision of Ando Jourbert, that inspired Morgana’s lovely work.

The Willow Weeps Brought in $25,000 Lindens for Charity

The Willow Weeps Brought in $25,000 Lindens for Charity

You can read more about the charity Morgana’s photos raised money for here:  http://www.cmri.org.au and here:  http://www.jeansforgenes.org.au

Our next exhibition will feature the vibrant abstract photos of Sledge Roffo.  The reception is scheduled for September 5th.  Hope to see you there!

~ Cacie

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Ordinarily this blog focuses on Symphony and its younger sibling, Prelude. However, today I wanted to draw your attention to Ando Joubert’s most recent build, and arguably one of his finest.

Tol Galen is one of a cluster of Elven sims, and as such, called for something fey and magical. I will leave to Ando the description of his creative process and his work with his visionary clients. He promises to write soon . . . but both real life and Second Life commitments are taking his attention right now. In the meantime, I want to share with you some of what you will find when you visit Tol Galen.

Since a picture says a thousand words, today’s post will feature pictures and captions.  Something by Enya or Secret Garden might be nice right about now.

You might want to start on the platform above the Planetarium, overlooking the entire sim.  In an Ando Joubert build, be sure to notice the details.  The sim is themed around a planetarium and there are references to the planetary bodies throughout the build.  Planets, stars and planetary motion are the build’s dominant motif, reflected in everything from teleport stations to lighting fixtures.

Tol Galen Compass Rose Platform

Tol Galen Compass Rose Platform

Down below, Sol is a spacious gallery currently featuring the luminous abstracts and sculptures of SL artist Sunn Thunders.  From Sol you can see the Pathway to the Stars, leading to the viewing platform, beneath which the Planetarium resides.  The viewing platform is where the build began . . .

Classical arches frame the pathway to the platform

Classical Arches Frame the Pathway to the Stars

I have several favorite things on Tol Galen.  Right at the top of my list, is this amazing telescope that Ando crafted, including the pose and a glimpse of the moon within.  Be sure to read the memorial plaque on the  side.

Sol Central Gallery with Ando Joubert Telescope

Sol Central Gallery with Ando Joubert Telescope

Another favorite spot is Summer Night, an ethereal meadow within the planetarium orb, and a wonderful place to get away from the cares of the world.

Summer Night

Summer Night

This is just a wee taste of a very magical place ~ one to visit with someone you love or on your own, and in all moods of your windlight day.

~ Cacie

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Ando Joubert’s taste runs to beautifully detailed, expertly executed renderings of real life places and artifacts. His inspiration for the Hopper House Gallery on Symphony was a 1925 paining by Edward Hopper, “House by the Railroad.” The painting, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was probably based on a house in Haverstraw, NY, and was painted when Hopper was living in Nyack.

Hopper House Gallery

Hopper House Gallery

As I cleared out the previous exhibition last night, I paused for a moment to reflect on how real our experiences in Second Life are. This empty house, a virtual replica of a two dimensional replica of a real place that once housed the hopes and dreams, the daily life and desolation of other human beings, stirs the same melancholy feelings in me that one in the real world would . . . feelings that seem to have arisen in Hopper at the sight of the abandoned house he painted. It is a moody piece, its sky filled with a sense of emptiness and loss.


There is something evocative about empty walls . . . a sense of either abandonment or possibility. I prefer to dwell in possibility. Empty walls simply wait to be filled . . . a blank slate to accept our vision, to reflect ourselves . . . taste, memories, choices. They will quicken, spring to life, delight us again one day.

You Can Almost Hear the Sound

You Can Almost Hear the Sound

For just a few days more Hopper House Gallery stands empty. On Saturday, July 18th, her walls will be filled with the gorgeous photographs of Morgana Nagorski, a “Serenade to Symphony” ~ three floors of beautiful pieces capturing the moods and meanings of this breathtaking place. Please join us then (4 p.m., slt), or visit Hopper House Gallery in the coming month while Morgana’s photos are on display.

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The first prize for the recent Symphonic Pieces photo competition went to an amazing photographer, Morgana Nagorski. Once we became acquainted with her work, Ando and I wanted to host her at Hopper House Gallery for a single artist exhibition. So, on July 18th at 4:00 p.m. SLT, we will open “Serenade.”

I recently had the opportunity to interview Morgana about her art. Morgana is Australian. She has been making art in various media all of her life.

Morgana Nagorski

Morgana Nagorski

What led you to photography in SL?

I came to SL in October 2006. After a few weeks I started ‘playing’ with photography. Then I met someone, and everything went on hold. I started arranging shows for him, being his handmaiden, framing his pictures, hanging them, whatever.

Then in October 2007, he started working towards a show with a theme I suggested, with props and locations I found. After some thought, with much trepidation, I suddenly said I wanted it to be a joint show. He would deny that he hesitated, but the surprise was palpable! And from there my interest in photography took off.

What inspires your work?

The main inspiration is my own emotions. I am drawn to the melancholy. My heart bleeds easily. I resonate to the minor key. Symphony pictures aside, most of the rest are RAW emotion, cathartic even. I am sometimes embarrassed, but cannot help myself.

Biggest musical influence: Leonard Cohen

Artists: Klimt, Beardsley and Waterhouse as disparate as they seem

I don’t know that they are reflected in my work though, except for the angst of Leonard.

Shelter In Her Storm

What themes or topics or images excite your imagination? Where is your art going?

What excites me most is an exploration of my feelings and emotions, and my art will go more and more there even though maybe not noticeable to people who don’t know me.

How do you view Second Life?

I wish I could live there.

Why Symphony as a subject for your work? What is there about the sim that has led you to set photographs here?

The Symphony contest was suggested to me by a friend. Apart from two isolated pics, it was the FIRST time I was not shooting MYSELF. At first I thought I couldn’t. I was quite terrified really. But feeling someone thinks I cannot makes me be determined to “can”. Does that make sense?

Do you have any future projects in mind that you can share with us?

I have SO MANY series planned that I sometimes get lost in daydreaming
Just a few are
• a series based on Leonard Cohen songs
• a series revolving around images of Marilyn Monroe . . . classics photos that I would replicate in Second Life
• a flamenco and/or tango series
• erotic pics pushing the boundaries
• a series of nude men reminiscent of classical statues
• a series semi-recreating famous paintings, like the Birth of Venus or Lady of Shalott
• a series suggesting religious icons


Your photos are primarily of human subjects . . . you in various manifestations. Why?

I find the human form beautiful. I think our avatars are a primary work of art here.
And I am the most obedient and co-operative model I know. (laughs)

On a serious level though, many of my photos are about my emotions and feelings, and what better way to express them than through my avatar?

Ahhhh . . .

Ahhhh . . .

How do you work with images offline to prepare your final photos? Do you have a preferred program for processing?

I use Photoshop. I am a novice and sort of stumble through it. But mostly my post processing is minimal. I crop and add light, and fix up the SL bits like hair poking through bodies. For the most part I try to get the shot as right as possible in SL

There are only about 1/2 dozen pics that I have manipulated, like pasting something that was not there; and usually it was . . .I just might have moved something closer for better composition, or like in the mill house ones I did that, and also painted out some things I didn’t want.

and doors

and doors


I want to thank Morgana for her time and for sharing her thoughts and her art with us. Please mark your calendar for Saturday, July 18th and plan to attend the opening of “Serenade” on Symphony. Guests will receive a complimentary commemorative bottle of wine with one of the exhibit photos on the label, a hallmark of each of Morgana’s openings. The wine is courtesy of Sapphoria Shilova and Zanphoria Vineyards Exclusive Bottling. The Serenade souvenir bottle would look great in your SL home. Please join us.


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Symphony is growing! Please welcome our newest addition, Prelude. I’ve created Prelude in the same geographic vein as Symphony, bringing more of the U.S. Pacific Northwest to Second Life. The terraforming is reminiscent of a volcanic crater formation, common to the Cascade Range from British Columbia to northern California. Unlike Symphony, Prelude will feature little in the way of buildings, offering instead a park-like setting, wildlife refuge, and much more authentic marine biology.

So bring a tent (the only kind of camping you will find in the Symphony Islands), a bottle of wine, and a friend, and come visit Prelude!

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Stop by Hopper House Gallery on Symphony to see the winners of the Symphonic Pieces Photo Competition.  Some pieces are set to sale and several benefit RFL.  This show will run through July 15th.  On July 18th we will have an exhibition of photographs by the amazing Morgana Nagorski, the winner of this competition. Morgana will present a new series of photographs of the beautiful Symphony Sim. That show will open on July 18th, and we will send out details in advance.

"Symphonic Pieces" Runs Through July 15th

"Symphonic Pieces" Runs Through July 15th

Ando and I look forward to your visit.


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Sunday, June 14th, from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. s.l.t., we will be celebrating the official opening of the Symphony sim. Ando Joubert will announce the winners of the Pieces of Symphony Photo Contest, and guests are invited to meet and mingle and visit the Hopper House Gallery, where the top ten photos will be on display, some for sale.

This would be a wonderful time to tour the sim . . . we have beautiful paths, secluded beaches, luscious waterfalls, and lovely buildings.

Formal attire is suggested . . . this is a celebration and a milestone for us!!  The first of many!!

The evening will begin in the town square.  After the announcement of the contest winners, you are invited for wine and cheese at the Hopper House Gallery or to remain in the square for dancing and conversation.  Please join us!

Map:  Symphony.

Town Square Symphony

Symphony Town Square

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So . . . I caught part of an interesting program on television last night (television has taken a decidedly back seat since I discovered Second Life) called The Oprah Effect, describing the impact exposure on The Oprah Winfrey Show has had on various products, and one segment really caught my eye.  So . . . (grrr . . . there’s that “so”-logism all my thirty-something friends seem to use, beginning every other sentence with “so”). Anyway, Living Oprah is a blog written by Chicago actress (and now writer J) Robyn Okrant, chronicling a full year of living her life following the advice of Oprah Winfrey.  For one full year, Robyn watched the show, read O Magazine, and kept up with the Oprah website, culling advice about everything from what to eat, what to read, what movies to see to major life revisions and makeovers.  And she wrote about it every day, with humor, self-reflection, and commitment to the project.

The idea of Robyn’s blog (http://www.livingoprah.com) really appealed to me, so I spent a little time this morning reading both recent and early entries.  And, I can see myself going back to it regularly.  It’s well-written and interesting, plus you get some good tips on reading and recipes and all those other lifestyle things that can pull you out of your daily rut.  I’ve been making the same round of recipes for far too long.  You know, the tried and true, that you can make in your sleep.  Really good but really boring after a while.  Sooo . . . long story short, I decided to do a little bit of “Living Robyn” today.

Second Life, which used to be all about relaxing for me, has more recently become more goal-driven.  I try to take classes, from 2-3 every weekend, mostly at NCI.  I’m trying to wrap my brain around scripting, which is akin to the melon surrounding the prosciutto.  And I’m trying to make something new for Minuet, my shop on Symphony, every couple of days.  Then there’s Symphonic Notes.  Seriously, I go into every weekend with a “To Do” list, something I don’t do very often in first life, for heaven’s sake!

One of Robyn’s observations from Oprah hit home: 

“Surrender to the idea that I can’t run myself ragged and I must take time to relax.”

Now, you would think that living on Symphony I would have figured this out long ago.  The sim was built with peace and relaxation in mind, from the rocky beach with little tide pools and cozy beach log fire, to the dreamily realistic coral reef with its melancholy wrecks and myriad sea creatures.  There is the Honkyoku* Bath, with the strain of a Japanese flute (shakuhachi) rising just above the sound of the waterfall and steam rising from what is decidedly a very warm and relaxing tub.  I can almost feel the deep heat easing my knotted muscles, painful from too many hours in front of a computer.  But perhaps best of all for relaxing on Symphony is Serenity Point.  I have to say I think both Robyn and Oprah would love Serenity Point. 

Ando put in a gong that responds to the intermittent SL wind. Bronte added a Tibetan Prayer Wheel and some circling dolphins from Serenity Falls.  There are birds, butterflies, realistic waves, trees, and flowers.  Cushions for meditation or for lazily dangling your hand in the incoming surf beneath a cascading waterfall, one of four on the island.


Listening to the Sound of Waves

Listening to the Sound of Waves


It’s really a peaceful and serene place to which I have brought my friends when they were having a bad day and needed a getaway that didn’t involve airfare and a rental car.  So . . . without anything further, I’m off to Serenity Point.  I’m going to set my sun to something delicious, using the Advanced Sky settings, and just sit.  No clearing out inventory . . . that would be multitasking and 15,000 items is not too many.  I met a woman yesterday who carts around over 100,000.  I didn’t even think that was possible.  I’ll just sit and relax and dream and revel in the fact that Second Life affords these wonderful resources for taking time to relax and smell the virtual roses.  Thanks, Robyn!  And, as always, thanks, Ando!


Serenity Point with Seagull

Serenity Point with Seagull


Visit Symphony by typing Symphony into your world map.  The Photo Contest ends June 5th. 

~ Cacie

*Honkyoku (本曲, “original pieces”) are the pieces of shakuhachi or hocchiku music played by mendicant Japanese Zen monks called komusō. Komusō played honkyoku for enlightenment and alms as early as the 13th century.  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

A few notes on some of the creators of Serenity Point and Honkyoky Bath items.  

Waterfalls, Bath House spa, Japanese Garden Lantern: Ando Joubert; Monarch Butterflies, Emerald Forest tree, Emerald Forest Willow:  Straylight; Critters: natural rabbit, seal from Sculpty Creations; Dolphins:  Julia Hathor; Jay, Loon, Seagulls, Hummingbirds:  Animania; Koi Japanese Scroll:  Hosoi Ichiba; Japanese flute:  Max Pitre; flower field: Mikatsuki Matova (forest feast); Stump:  Truth Hawks; Maritime Pine, Broom, Birch, Olive and other trees:  Lilith Heart; Meditation Cushion (free): Acacia Merlin; Old Bench:  Mystery Moonlight; Sounds:  Cardinal and Mourning Doves, SoundBrite; Tibetan Prayer Wheels: Donk Kongo; Chinatown Wind Gong:  Chelsea Malibu; Poses: wade and daydream, TorAn Cruyff; Candles: Naiman Broome.

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