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Triskele December 30, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary, Everwind, Triskele.
3 comments

Well, I’ve decided on Triskele for now. I’m officially a member of the main group as well as the cleric’s group. I had to drop Humans of Everwind to make room, but that group was never really used anyway.

Grace posted something tonight on our “goodbye” forum posts, basically hinting that Everwind may come back in the future and inviting us to stay in the sim. You know, as far as I’m concerned she’s shown her true colors, although most of the realm doesn’t realize exactly what she said. I’d be willing to forgive her if I thought what she said was merely said in anger. But these seem to reflect her true feelings, and while I may forgive, I’m not going to forget. Triskele is new, and has a lot of potential. It is also much more relaxed, and many, many Everwinders have already set themselves up there. I talked to a Triskele resident…couldn’t meet a nicer guy. Said that the King and Queen are truly wonderful people, in SL and in RL. With enough people, Triskele can really come to life. It’s a little disorganized at the moment, (the Pantheon forgot to mention Castan!), but we’re getting some highly experienced people there. It will be straightened out in short order.

Princess went to bed early after PHC to recover from her wounds. (No, I did NOT punch her in revenge for the soap incident, and I am offended by the mere suggestion of it. Physical and emotional abuse is crude. I have much more devious punishments planed.)

I stayed up and talked philosophy with Mykyl until well after her bedtime. It was a very thought provoking evening.

Beyond that, it was a pretty uneventful day. Princess is on an “all shake” diet due to her damaged lip (I suggested soup, but you know, I guess you go with what gives you comfort). Prairie Home Companion was fun but I kept crashing so I ended up listening to a large part from Princess’s computer. I accomplished little of earth-shattering significance, but then that earth-shattering stuff usually causes about 5 or 6 billion people to die a rather violent death, so it’s best to avoid that kind of thing on a regular basis anyway.

Have a HAPPY New Year (don’t forget what I said in my last post. I mean it. Grrr.)

Post 100 – Disasters and Reflections December 29, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary, reflections.
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This is my 100th post since starting this blog. I am considerably behind Mykyl in terms of output, but I do keep plugging away at things until I get somewhere, sometimes. Having post 100 come very near the end of the physical year, and somewhat near the time of my true beginning in Second Life, gives me the excellent opportunity to reach for connections and to drone on ponderous reflections, as is my habit.

First, some news on the home front. I was searching through my inventory to find a replacement for the Princess’s island, which she accidentally deleted, when the Princess stated that she had to retrieve some clothing from the dryer. In another few moments, I heard at stumble, a thump, and a cry for help. I rushed across the house toward the basement to find my Princess laying facedown at the bottom of the stairs moaning. A quick evaluation revealed a bloody lip because of the Princess’s unwise decision to take the last two steps on her face as apposed to her feet. The damage could have been much, much worse. The Princess got out of this one luckily, so far. Let’s hope that her luck continues to hold.

Just another typical day in the Peck household.

In Everwind news, the realm is still being closed for RP. There seems to be an organized effort to get ALL the residents over to Triskele. It is a much more relaxed RP environment than Everwind, and it is five sims big, but it seems nice for the most part. I haven’t returned to Everwind since the queen’s rant. It’s another day…let’s see what develops.

I glanced back through the history of this blog, looking back at post one. It feels so innocent, so naïve, so newbie. Since post one, we’ve purchased and sold about a thousand pieces of property, and watched relationships rise and fall (sometimes with a thundering crash). The Master Peck Furniture Conglomerate has grown from a single shop with a handful of products to the Second Life dominating force that it is today (I sold another box of wooden utensils yesterday!).

There are many failed dreams, many failed projects, and in the end, I sit here wondering if I am a different person than the one I was at post one, and, if so, am I a better or worse one. I feel more worn down, and somewhat more cynical, but I do feel I’ve gained a bit of wisdom along the way. Just the forces of life, but vastly accelerated due to the time bending nature of Second Life.

I think I miss Catherine the most. It was she whose own blogs started me on blogging, and she who introduced me to my friends in Faeria. She still pops around from time to time, but she just doesn’t feel like part of “the gang” anymore. Oh well.

I don’t want to write too terribly much this morn. I can’t reflect too much because I feel in the middle of too many things that will yet need another time to be reflected on. To probably misquote John Lennon, life is what happens while were busy planning other things.

I will probably post at least once more before the end of the year, but I expect everyone, EVERYONE, to start preparing for a freekin’ HAPPY new year. This is a holiday shared by virtually the entire world (except for maybe the Chinese), and I expect everyone to be happy next year. No more of this depressed, dramatic, angst bullshit. Happiness is mandatory. Take illegal drugs if you have to. Go to a plastic surgeon and have your lips altered into a permanent grin. Hire a BDSM mistress/master to torment you the moment you start bitching about something. Just…be…HAPPY.

See y’all later. 🙂

The Fall of Everwind December 28, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary, Everwind.
15 comments

The Everwind sims are soon to close for role play. Grace and Slip have announced that running the sims simply aren’t “fun,” anymore.

This is only part of the story, of course. The reasons for the crash are just a little more complicated than that.

The whole problem seems to have started over age verification, something that I considered a non-issue but something that the Princess keeps telling me is a BIG issue. The company that does the age verification, quite simply, sells the information they get—a fact that is apparently quite evident after doing any amount of research about them. She was insisting that I NOT age verify—she did not want the last four digits of my social security number or my driver’s license number going out to the highest bidder. That and the fact that there is no way that the company can REALLY age verify from the information we give them anyway. She feels that the company is running a scam, and she is usually right.

Be that as it may, Grace had announced that age verification was going to start for Everwind in early January. I was not even aware that it was out of beta yet, but again, no matter. The residents of Everwind, both through the forum and through the dropping of notecards on Grace and Slip, were mounting a campaign to stop it. I don’t know what the notecards said, but the forum was very polite but firm, trying to get them to reconsider, offering alternatives, and some people saying that they would stop coming to Everwind if this came through.

Slip, a litigation attorney in RL, was explaining that, since Linden was offering the option, that they HAD to do this to prevent potential lawsuits should teens get into the sims and become morally wounded; a strong argument. And the fact remains that Everwind owned by both Grace and Slip, and they can do whatever they want with it.

What happened was a rant by Grace at the end of the forum thread. I’ll include a snippet here, but let me assure you that I am not taking this out of context:

“I appreciate a great deal that you love and play in Everwind so faithfully. But I have to tell you, while that’s all well and good…I ain’t willing to put myself or the safety of a minor out there on a limb so you can have a place to play. Your threats to leave or your “disappointment” over this decision are not going to score you any points. Everwind has never been about traffic or dwell or income (obviously) or even entertaining other people. It has always been about my need to create and our desire to see people appreciate it. I’m not here for you….and you are not here for me. Everyone of us are in this for themselves. Other than your avatar, I don’t know you people. Anymore than you know me. You are essentially strangers…why on earth do you think I have some obligation to ensure your experience in Second Life is pleasant? Do you ensure mine?”

This little speech cam essentially be summarized to say that she isn’t going to take any risks (fine and dandy) and that she couldn’t care less about the people of her realm (not).

The thread was locked after this rant, and I opened a new one, tentatively and timidly, merely stating that I am indeed in this for myself, but part of myself is making other people happy, and that while I can not ENSURE that anyone’s experience is pleasant, I do my best to help make other’s experiences pleasant when I can.

This was very carefully phrased. I was in fact quite angered by her statements, and what I was doing was essentially offering her an opportunity to apologize. She did respond, but no apology was forthcoming, just more angry denouncements. And again the thread was locked.

And then, a couple of hours after that, she sent an in-world announcement that role-play in Everwind was stopping. I can’t help but wonder if my re-opening of the issue and her follow-up rant was what caused it. Oh well. I was angry enough over her attitude to leave anyway. I’m more that just a pretty ornament for her enjoyment.

Everwind was having a free-for-all last night, which meant that the entire realm was having one final grand battle—everyone against everyone else. I chose not to participate. I instead IM’d a couple of friends and tried to find out about another role-play sim to which we can move. Someone suggested Triskele. I’ll check it out when I can. Even if the King and Queen reconsider, I doubt I’ll be returning to Everwind.

Sigh.

Anger and defining the rules for one’s own sim is one thing. Treating real people as non-entities is quite another.

Souls Divided December 27, 2007

Posted by Steve in philosophy, reflections.
3 comments

One of the inexorable facts of human existence is that we are ultimately, always alone inside our heads. Discounting the divine and ignoring the possible yet tasteless jokes about multiple personalities, there comes an incontrovertible fact that our thoughts belong to us and are, forever, only ours.

Writers do their best to express thoughts on paper or in digital form, but I suspect that to express truly and fully the fullness of even a single instant of our simplest thoughts would take hundreds of pages, connected as each of thoughts are to our history and our learning experiences.

And this would not even touch upon the unconscious; the low level motivator behind the scenes that can generate entire worlds, buildings, and complete, fully detailed human beings from scratch through the “simple” act of dreaming. The unconscious mind seems to act like a puppet master—the animator for we, the animators. The only way to express unconscious thoughts is to turn off the conscious and hope that what we write or say afterward is in some way vaguely comprehensible.

Our minds are alone, and our minds are not particularly good company for themselves, either. Our minds need “reality checks”, without which our minds drift ever further from the reality based on external inputs and relies more and more on the reality as generated from our internal thoughts alone. When this happens, either we become clinically weird, or we become artists, which is really saying much the same thing.

And how do we attempt to conquer this isolation? One way is via the quest for love, the search for a “soul mate.” We seek someone less to share our thoughts with, but more to share our bodies and minds with. Many of us seek someone we can completely understand, and someone for which we can be completely understood, for this is the closest we can come to breaking the isolation of our minds.

I cannot help but wonder if this is part of the reason we are both so desiring and so fearful of God. First, how great would it be that someone knows our every thought, and that we are never alone. Second, how terrifying is it that someone can know our every thought, and that we are never alone.

May we all find a way of expressing that which we are to another or others, and may this isolation of aloneness be mitigated by sharing our spirit with our friends.

The Random Drivel History of Christmas December 26, 2007

Posted by Steve in nonsense.
3 comments

This post is just kind of rambling, but I wrote it, and I thought perhaps at least one out of my many thousands of readers may actually enjoy it. I admit, however, that this is unlikely. Oh well, I wrote it, it’s my blog, so get over it.

————————————

According to legend, Jesus was born December 25, two thousand and seven years ago.

In far greater likelihood, he would have been born about two to seven years earlier. Shepherds would be out sometime between February and October. Haley’s comet made an appearance in the summer of 6BCE. For these and various other reasons, therefore, let us say that the best guess would put his birth sometime in September of the year 6 BCE.

Well, celebrating a birth on a day different than the actual day doesn’t really bother me to much. In the United States, it is common practice to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on the third Monday of January so that it is less disrupting to work and to give workers three day weekends. Same goes for Lincoln and Washington’s birthday. So we, in America, anyway, are quite used to celebrating birthdays at the time of greatest convenience anyway.

Anyway, let us say that legend is wrong, and that Jesus was born about two thousand thirteen years and three months ago. After he was born, legend has it he did some other stuff and then died, giving us another holiday.

The date of Saint Nicolas’s birth is also not know exactly, but he died December 6, 325 A.D.

Just as legend has it that Jesus was resurrected 3 days after his death, Saint Nicolas was likewise resurrected after 3 days, on December 9th. He was not taken bodily into heaven, but instead stayed on earth, and, like Jesus, was granted the gift of eternal life. He dashed up to the north to escape religious prosecution, having acquired a mysterious following of dwarfs and midgets along the way.

Once in Northern Finland, he set up a holy religious shrine, and adapted to Finnish cuisine, growing fat on lutefisk, which he found particularly delightful. Being far up north, not many came to his religious services, and the midgets and dwarfs, having nothing else to do, spent their time going forth and multiplying and making small trinket toys for their many children. Soon there was a surplus of toys, and the good saint gathered the extras around and started making small scale pilgrimages to bring the gifts to Finland’s children. Jesus though it was a cool idea, being a woodworkers son, and bestowed special powers upon the saint to make it possible for him to fly and visit every Christian house throughout the world. Even though Jesus’ birthday got changed to December 25, they both agreed that they could really care less about what day it was, and that the 25th was close enough to the longest night of the year which would make doing the impossible task a little easier.

Upon the good saint’s recommendation, Jesus later gave strength and and a powerful speaking voice, and the Saint gave the gift of a pitchfork, to Saint Urho, who eventually drove all the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the Finnish wine crop. Miracles are not without their consequences, however, and soon afterward grapes stopped growing in Finland, which is just as well as Santa had begun to drink heavily in his effort to wash down the lutefisk.

Saint Nicholas’ name was changed to Santa Claus through some Finnish thing that I don’t care about, and Santa lives in Finland to this day. (The North Pole is both a rumor and a clever misdirection—the Finnish government knows exactly where Santa lives and is forever grateful to him for helping them stay an independent country despite having lost every damned war they ever fought.)

So children, put this down in your history books—this is the true background of Christmas. Jesus and Santa are still pals, and spend many a night eating lutefisk together and getting hammered on sacramental wine. The midgets and dwarfs, now mutated by inbreeding into a new race called elves, are basically now genetically bred to do nothing but make toys.

Merry Christmas to All. And if you don’t have cookies to leave out for Santa this year, lutefisk and wine work all the better.

The Chirstmas Train December 24, 2007

Posted by Steve in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

[RL] Well, Christmas is almost here, as well as the good old holiday traditions of stress and worrying about last minute presents and such. Too much to do, not nearly enough time to do it. I saw the holiday approaching from the middle of the train tracks and watch the train come around the bend and come rumbling toward me, while I sat in my cozy little chair and did everything but move. Oh well, typical Christmas. I wonder if 7-11 has improved their gift selection this year.

2007 has not been a particularly stellar year in terms of my accomplishments. Much…well…most of the year was spent on the sidelines, watching the world go by. I would like to say for sure that 2008 will be different, and I will, of course, resolve that 2008 will be different, but I have not detected a notable change in my motivation levels.

More pushups. Maybe that’s all I need.

In any event, there is much to accomplish this day before Christmas, and this blog, while extremely important in many ways, is another great way to spend time as I try to count the number of souls flattened on the train’s front as it ran over them from days of Christmas past. I’m close enough to feel the heat from the engines now. I suppose it’s time to move my chair…

…but it REALY is a comfortable chair. Maybe just a few more hours…

Sploders and the existence of God December 22, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary, Everwind, reflections.
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We had a great time at the Everwind party yesterday, but I felt bad about missing the Aianna Yule party. I’d been looking forward to the Everwind party all week, and didn’t know about, or at least notice, Aianna’s party until the last minute. So I simply decided to go to Everwind. We had lots of good music (as well as lots of bad music involving cats meowing to Christmas carols.) I wish I could have been two places at once, but…oh well. Sorry Aianna.

Anyway, there was a Sploder ball at the party. There’s something about Sploder balls and me. The first time I ever played one I won the biggest prize (something like L$200, which, as a newbie, seemed like an impossibly huge sum of money). I kept putting extra money in to give a little back to the other people who were playing, but I kept winning the big prize. I finally gave up so that someone else would have a chance.

This time when I arrived I immediately put L$20 in the ‘Sploder, and the pot went up to about L$1500 (generously contributed to by Queen Grace Loudon, by the way, whose real life animator has an AMAZING voice, but I digress), and I, again, won the biggest prize…about L$850. I just kinda expected it to happen that way. I was pleased, but I can’t say that I was surprised. I made small bets on occasion through the rest of the evening, but didn’t win anything else of significance.

Later on I was able to guess one of the trivia questions right. (Who was the first ghost who visited Scrooge: Answer—Jacob Marley). This won me another L$200. So all in all I came out about L$1000 ahead just for dancing. It was a great party.

It’s things like what happen to me with the Sploder that occasionally cause me to wonder more about the nature of reality. Once my animator walked into a convenience store to buy some soda, and he suddenly knew that if he bought one of the instant tickets he would win. My animator bought the ticket, much to the surprise and ridicule of his wife, brought it home, and, sure enough, had to walk back to the store to claim the $50 that he won.

Now, the only possible explanation that science could offer for this is pure luck and coincidence. Mathematically, I am quite sure that my statistical “luck” is quite is in no way outside the norm. And in my head, I accept this as the explanations. But the heart wants to believe in more than just coincidence. It is because of incidences like these that I for a long time refused to deny the possible existence of God. True, the prizes were small. True, it would seem a very odd way for God to pass evidence for his existence along. But it’s been big enough to grab my attention.

Oh well. I don’t want to dwell on this any further. It’s the kind of thing that would only appear significant to me, and I’m not interested in starting a religious debate. Be well, everyone, and may all your Sploders be good to you this holiday season.

Everwind: The backstory of Alphonsus Peck December 21, 2007

Posted by Steve in Everwind.
4 comments

Alphonsus was born into a wealthy and learned family in an entirely human realm. Dragons, fairies, and elves were all considered mere fantasy by the educated, and Alphonsus grew up quite sure and proud of his scientific and “enlightened” education.

Being well known for his mathematical prowess, as a young man Alphonsus was approached by the royal guard and asked if he would help tutor someone. Alphonsus of course agreed, and he was escorted to the top of the palace tower, where he found a heavily guarded door. Alphonsus gazed in wonderment as the door was opened and the room on the other side was among the most luxuriously decorated he had ever seen.

And then he met the young woman he was to tutor. She was beautiful beyond compare, with pale skin and long flowing red hair. Alphonsus and the woman quickly got too their lessons, and he found her to be remarkably intelligent. Over several days, they gradually learned that the people guarding them were dumb as rocks, and they were able to slip into other, non-mathematical topics such as philosophy, without the guards being any the wiser. They challenged each other in their discussion, and Alphonsus found himself falling hopelessly in love with the young woman.

On the day that the queen of the realm died, the visits came to an abrupt stop. There was some disruption and fighting on the palace grounds, and Alphonsus dared not approach. It was finally announced that the queen’s sister, who lived in a nearby realm, would come and take the throne. Once the coronation was completed Alphonsus tried to return to the tower, only to be told by palace guards that he was not allowed on the premises and that the tower was now empty. He then realized that he had never even learned the name of the woman whom he had tutored.

Desperately worried, Alphonsus decided to approach the new queen and try to learn of the fate of the young woman in the tower. Time after time he was rebuffed, but once he happened upon one of the old tower guards, who took pity on him, and said he would see what he could do.Days later, the royal guard again appeared at his door, and demanded that he come with them. Fearfully, he obeyed, and found himself taken into the palace himself. He was roughly shoved into a plain room and told to wait. After several minutes, the door opened, and he found himself again gazing upon the lovely face of the woman in the tower.

“M’lady, has the new queen released you from captivity?” stammered the surprised Alphonsus.

“My dear Alphonsus, I AM the new queen,” she smiled.

She explained that her queen sister had had her locked into the tower to prevent her from becoming a rallying point for rebellion.Alphonsus stayed long into the evening talking to the queen that he loved. Wanting to serve her in some way, he agreed to take a carpentry job in the city and report to her the feelings and sentiments of the general population.

Many years passed, and one day war came to the shores of their land. Knowing that the battle was going poorly, Alphonsus grabbed his sword and rushed to the castle, using the secret passageway he had always , used to enter the queen’s chamber. Upon entering he saw an amazing site. A child like woman with broad wings floated in the middle of the room. The child woman looked to him and asked him to please leave, and that the queen was being kept safe.

Alphonsus scoffed, knowing that trickery must be involved, and quickly spotted some movement behind the curtains. Ignoring the winged woman, he dashed across the room, and simultaneously pulled aside the drapes as he thrust his sword into the chest of the person hiding behind them…

…only to see the face of his beloved queen as his sword passed through her heart.

He immediately pulled his sword back and caught the queen in his arms. With love and understanding in her eyes, her last words to him were, “Alphonsus…my love…escape…live…this is…my final command…”

She then went limp in his arms.

Numb with unimaginable grief, Alphonsus had little knowledge of what happened over the next few days. When his mind returned to partial sanity, he found himself alone in the woods, with a small sack of mushrooms and bluebells for him to eat. He returned to his home to gather up what gold he could find, learning that the city had fallen completely to the invaders, and escaped the city never to return again.

Alphonsus wandered aimlessly through forests and cities for the next several years, keeping himself alive only because he could not bear to disobey the queens last orders. He drank heavily, but even then he could not escape the unbearable guilt over what he had done.

After much time, Alphonsus stumbled into Everwind, where he saw wonders that defied all of the learning and science he had ever been taught. In that place he decided to live, to really live, again. For the most part, Alphonsus has become a wiser version of the man he once was, turning to Castan for comfort and a reminder that truth is not always what they teach in school. While mostly cheerful, he is still vulnerable to almost random moments of extreme grief, and still finds it very difficult to avoid the attraction of alcohol to help forget the anguish of his soul. In his heart, he is still hopelessly devoted to the beloved queen of his memories, and while he may occasionally be tempted by other women, his spirit would never allow him to fall in love again.

Blogs, Brutes, and Speedos December 20, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary, Everwind.
2 comments

With a little digging, I was able to discover the blogs of two of my Everwind friends, Wren and Malakyte, and I’ve added them to my Friend’s Blogs section. Hello out there. Thank you for providing me with fresh reading material. This will give me even more ways for my animator to spend time devoted to me instead of living his own dumb life. I do appreciate this.

I wasn’t able to get in-world at all yesterday between the system down time and my animator using me to defeat brutes in Halo 3. There’s about 50 of them, all of them crack shots, several with sniper rifles and a couple with heavy artillery. There is exactly one of me. That makes the odds about even. (Cracks knuckles)

Well, in truth they’ve been killing me pretty regularly for a while. My animator is trying to defeat the game at its hardest level. I’m not sure if my pride will ever really adjust to getting splattered a hundred times in a row.

I’ll flit back over to Second Life tonight and try to decide what I’ll wear for the Everwind party (tomorrow?). Despite the persistent urging of my friends, I probably won’t wear Christmas Speedos. I am the speaker for Castan, and there is a certain level of dignity I must uphold. Perhaps some reindeer antlers? We’ll see.

My wife and sister-in-law are encouraging me to continue the story I put down yesterday. I’m usually good a starting things. Finishing is another matter. I know roughly how I want the story to go, but I’m afraid I’ll peter out somewhere. Nevertheless, I’m giving it a try. One of the problems is that there isn’t a big market for short stories anymore. The science fiction angle will help. There’s always Analog and Asimov and maybe a couple of others. Still, that’s secondary. First thing is to finish writing the darn thing. Sigh.

Well, that’s all I have to say for today. Safe paths, and may the dragons of Everwind not mistake Santa for a flying Christmas treat. That would truly be a very sad thing for the world, and I would imagine that his magic bag of toys would cause severe indigestion. See y’all tonight.

Joy, and Nothing to Talk about but a Can December 19, 2007

Posted by Steve in excerpts.
5 comments

I have had more than one person say that they like to look at my blog daily, and are disappointed when I don’t have anything posted. I like to post things, but the problem is I edit myself a lot. That is to say, I try to avoid whiny, negative posts, and there are times that if I wrote every day I would be afraid that many of them would be just that.

But then, maybe it’s a discipline thing. Mykyl says to look for joy in every day. Maybe a daily post where I force myself not to be whiny will improve my overall outlook on life. Maybe these blog posts are the secret to everlasting, blissful happiness, with birds and butterflies flitting about me all the time and flowers growing under my feet where ever I walk.

You may say unlikely, but having never tried it, I can’t be sure of that. Give it a try, and let the ducks fall where they may.

That being said, I still don’t have a lot to say, so I’ve decided to include a clip of an unfinished brain fart–an incomplete story I started with only the concept of garbage in mind. It will likely never be finished, but I liked the beginning, so here goes.

———————————-

The Can

It had never been in complete darkness: not quite. The yellow glow of a street lamp, over a hundred yards away and partially shaded by a tree, caused a barely perceptible glimmer on the slightly rusted metal.

It was not lonely. It could only be described as such by writers and poets, anthropomorphizing beyond the animal into the non-living. It was an inanimate object: a soda can, carelessly discarded more than a week earlier. It was simply a collection of iron and aluminum molecules, held together in unspectacular structures, no more capable of thought or feeling than all but an infinitesimally small number of molecules in the universe.

As the sun rose, its glimmer increased. While it had been a relatively dry night, there was still a small amount of moisture that had formed on the can’s surface. It sparkled in the black and white tones of early twilight. It could now be seen well enough to perceive that it lay in a slight depression in the ground. Despite the sun’s rise, it was still very nearly invisible.

It was just visible enough, however, for the Child to spot it. It was just interesting enough, however, for the Child to alter her path by more than fifty feet to approach it more closely.

The Child seemed young: far too young to be out alone this early in the morning. Still, the Child did not exhibit any of the many tendencies that children her perceived age might exhibit. The Child’s eyes were sharp and intelligent. She moved smoothly, with a grace more befitting of a mature matriarch than the five-year-old that she appeared to be. She moved surely, without wandering, without skipping in playful innocence.

Despite the can’s lack of remarkable features, the Child gazed on it in fascination; as if the can were the most wondrous of objects that the Child had ever before seen. She knelt to pick it up. Above the ground, the can picked up much more light. The few drops of dew that had rested upon it dripped down its sides, dampening the Child’s fingers. It was slightly dented, and it was covered by grass clippings, tossed from an automatic lawnmower that had passed near it a few days before.

With a smile, the Child placed the can into the plastic grocery bag that she wore like a backpack over her shoulders. It made a metallic clank when it fell upon one of its brethren.

The Child quickly surveyed the landscape of the park again. She could see the silhouette of a distant female jogger, but no other telltale sparkles caught her eye. She did not expect any–this can was an unusual find. The park was in a good neighborhood. The surrounding populous were not generally the littering types.

They were, however, wealthy, lazy, and wasteful enough to throw away the metallic, ten-cent objects that were the Child’s primary interest. Therefore, the trashcans of the park were usually far better hunting grounds. There were always cans to be found somewhere–metallic manna from heaven. The cans meant money. The money meant food. The food meant another day of survival.

Another day of survival meant another day of continued research.

The Child could generally do quite well on fifteen or so cans per day. On days with a when she found more than this, she saved the excess money so that she would not have to spend as much time searching for them. The less time searching, the more time studying. And studying was the most important thing of all.

However, as rare a find as the can was, it was, in the vernacular of the local populous, just extra gravy. The Child already had enough cans for two days worth of food, and, while she would continue to collect when the opportunity arose, she would not need to make it her obsession.

She could occupy her time with far more useful things.

The jogger was no longer in sight, and the sun appeared over the tops of the homes on the east end of the neighborhood. She wondered briefly where she should go next. She felt tempted to return to the shopping mall, partially because she liked it there and partially because she didn’t stand out quite so much. But she reluctantly dismissed the idea as selfish. She had already gotten all the useful data that there was to get from the mall. She decided instead to go to the casinos in the city. It would take several hours for her to walk there, and she would stand out much more conspicuously. What’s more, once she got there she knew that she would not be allowed to enter any of the casinos proper. What she would have to do instead was observe from the outside all the people who came and went. She would have to keep moving around, and stay near other couples or families so that observers would just assume that she belonged to them. If she were lucky, she might find a way to be detained by the casino security and gain access to the inside. If she were luckier still, she might find a way to escape for several minutes to wander the floors and observe the gamblers at work. It would be a highly risky venture, but one with major pays offs if she could pull it off successfully. She immediately made her decision and began walking in the proper direction.

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That’s it. It clearly has the makings of a science fiction story. I wrote some other paragraphs, but nothing really wowed me, so nothing else came of it.