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The Universe and Everything Else January 31, 2008

Posted by Steve in excerpts, reflections.
6 comments

[RL] I love science. I have been a science geek for as long as I can remember. Once, as a child, I got a fold up map of the solar system from McDonald’s. I loved that thing, despite the flying french fries and hamburger space ships. I used to take my finger and pretend it was a space ship, and spend what seemed like hours flying from one planet to another. Kidtime is somewhat elongated, so it was probably no more than five minutes. But, as odd as it sounds, I remember that as one of my happiest childhood memories.

As virtually everything does, this brings me back to considerations of religion. One of my principles problems with the Bible is its earth-centric viewpoint of creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The heavens. 99.9999999999999999999% of creation is tossed away as an afterthought in that sentence.

Does the reader really have any idea how big “the heavens” are?

In my unpublished and one day to be rewritten book, Of Cabbages and Kings, I considered this question. I tried to create a version of God that was consistent with the universe as science says exits. Satan is one of the characters within the story, and he has been living largely in hiding under the name of Alphonsus Luke (sound familiar) for the past 1000 years.

At one point, he relates to the story’s protagonist, Alex Taber, and Alex’s girlfriend, Charlene, the tale of how he was once allowed to see the universe the way that God sees it. This is an excerpt:

******

“Dr. Luke?”

“Call me Alphonsus, Charlene.”

“Okay. Alphonsus. I have to ask you something.”

“Yes?”

“I need to know if…well…I mean, have you killed people?”

Dr. Luke closed his eyes and sighed deeply.

“Charlene, I know what you’re asking. But you’re not really thinking. The real question you want to ask–the real information you wish to divine, is if I am evil. One definition of evil is murder–killing. But really Charlene, what do you think? I’m 39 thousand years old. Those thirty-nine thousand years cover every violent moment in recorded history. Do you really think that I, as an immortal being, could have gone through that much of life without having killed anyone?

“So, the answer to your question is yes. Yes, of course I’ve killed people. Look at Alex. He’s only an embryo at forty years old, and he’s already killed people.”

Alphonsus paused a moment, remembering.

“Life long ago was much different from life of today. Just as one sample, look at language. You have to understand, Charlene, that ancient languages were not always very flexible. There were usually not a lot of words, and sometimes it was difficult to get one’s point across. Often disagreements were caused by simple inability to get someone to understand what you were talking about. Many times, if there was a significant enough disagreement, the easiest way of settling a dispute was simply to cut the other guy’s head off.

“But,” he continued, “the real question you’re asking is if I liked killing people, and the answer to that question is no. Do I think some people are better off dead? Of course, but if I’ve learned one thing after all this time it’s that sometimes even the worst people can surprise.”

Dr. Luke hesitated a moment. “Most of the time they won’t, of course. But I’m not going to take it as my role to rid the world of the assholes. There’s an infinite supply of them, and I have better things to do with my time.”

Charlene snorted. “You don’t want to play God, in other words.”

He grimaced bitterly. “Why should I? Most of the time even God doesn’t play God.”

Alex interjected, “I thought that was the reason you got kicked out of Heaven. I thought it was because you wanted God’s job or something.”

Luke stared at him for a long moment, and then he smiled, closed his eyes, and began to laugh. It was not a happy laugh, or rather, not one that suggested happiness. Rather, it was a laugh that suggests irony or pain.

He laughed for an uncomfortably long time.

Finally, he stopped himself and opened his eyes again, smiling.

“Do you have the slightest idea what God is really like? Do you have the slightest idea how incredibly powerful–yet limited–He really is?

He paused and became serious. “All Knowing? Everyone assumes it. I believe it. I have seen what he sees. But have you ever given any thought to what the words really mean?

“He is capable of managing a Universe. An entire Universe, Alex! The Universe is not a fantasy. It is really out there, and it is large. You are both educated individuals. Do you have any idea of just how big it really is?

“Well, no matter what you think, you don’t. I don’t either. Gigantic. Colossal. No word is big enough. Not by a trillionth. The human mind cannot even conceive of its real size. The imagination is not capable of it. Think of infinity. Multiply it times infinity. Imagine what you get. Do you think your imagination is accurate? It isn’t.

“He sees all of it at once. He can focus simultaneously on each of the six billion people on this planet all and at the same time count the number grains of sand on a beach on the other side of the Universe, call it, oh, nineteen billion light-years away as the trans-dimensional crow flies. And he sees every star, every planet, every dust mot, in between.

“Do you think I would aspire to do something like that? I can barely manage myself some days, Alex.”

He looked at us for a moment, suddenly frowning uncomfortably, his expression darkening. He seemed to be remembering something.

“He took me into his realm, once,” he said after a long pause. “His realm … His reality … I don’t know what else to call it. He did it soon after He created me. I think He wanted to deal with me on a one to one basis; face to face, so to speak. His regular angels go there all the time. I think that’s why He created me–so that He could finally deal with a human on His level. A normal human body could never survive there.”

He paused again, and then continued hesitantly. “I found it…disconcerting…to say the least. Basically, I saw…no, I can’t say that I saw…I became aware of, the entire Universe, all at once.

“And then, there was the awareness of His presence. It was…indescribable…there are no words–no concepts that I can draw parallels from. You may trust, however, that the idea of some old fart sitting on a throne is mistaken. And, you may also trust that if we were created in his image, then Jackson Pollock is a realist.”

He paused. “The experience left me in a catatonic state for, well, how could I really tell how long, but at least several decades. It certainly would have killed me if such a thing were possible in my current state.”

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Pain January 29, 2008

Posted by Steve in reflections.
9 comments

So much pain throughout the world. Emotional pain. Physical pain.

So much pain in my friends. So much pain in those whom I love the most.

I know the pain encompassed in my own loved ones…in my own circle of friends, and I try to imagine all the other pain that must be out there. Pain even worse than what these people suffer. What would the pain of 6 billion people look like if piled into one place. Could even the mythical Hell be worse than what is suffered by some in our earthly paradise?

I want so much to heal the world; to take all this pain and make it vanish for people. I want to have the strength to be able to take everyone’s burdens and place them on my own shoulders. I can’t bear to watch another suffer while I stand idly by.

Yet, I know that I haven’t the strength. I can’t even bear my own emotional pain. I can’t carry another’s physical pain—I can’t hardly tolerate going to the dentist to get my teeth clean.

If I was given the chance—the gift—to take all the worlds pain unto me, so that the world would free of it finally, I’m certain that I would do it. I would die from unbearable agony moments afterward, but in the moment before that happened I would be happy, knowing that I was doing the right thing.

Alas, I do not expect such a gift to be given to me. So I must suffer as I watch others suffer. Helpless. With folded hands. Knowing that whatever comfort I can offer will be at best, fleeting. I haven’t a cure for anyone, and for some there are not even words that I can say that would ease the suffering even a little.

I want to heal the world. I can’t even heal myself.

Aianna, you have my blessings and prayers today, for whatever they are worth. The same goes for my loved ones who are in pain. I don’t know what to offer other than kind words and support…

These are not enough to affect much, but even if they are completely useless, they remain all I have to offer

Love and blessings, all Please keep the pain at bay as much as possible. I may not be able to help you, but please know that I desperately want too..

Random Stuff January 28, 2008

Posted by Steve in diary, Triskele.
4 comments

Ok, I admit that I haven’t been posting as much lately. My inspiration for my blogs have been uninspiring. Everwind, however, is done. I shan’t bring it up again no matter what happens next.

I feel like I spend the majority of my time talking about Triskele in my posts lately, and I do apologize for this to my non-Triskelian readers. It’s just kinda where my brain is right now. My duties there are already backing up. It’s been a bad week for me for in world activities. I’m hoping this week is better, or at least I’m more motivated.

I once mentioned that I had no dreams anymore. I now realize that this was not true. It’s just that the dreams I had for my life seemed so simple and unspectacular that I didn’t even notice them. Well, I’m now beginning to wonder if even these simple dreams will ever come true.

Oh well. No grousing. I have a cleric’s meeting tomorrow at 5pm SL, and maybe a Council meeting at 6:30. I not a Council meeting, I want to talk cleric spells over with Winkie.

I want to hammer out the rest of our gods, and get them good and solid. We can tweak later if we need to, but lets start building from a solid draft. And I need a building. Even a temporary one would be nice.

Triskele had a pretty decent RP tonight…the first full fledged one that I participated in. The drow queen captured the Queens Council and a dragon. There was a furious battle, but we got them back, and the drow queen was bound and brought into custody. I was the one responsible for healing her wounds and getting her cleaned up. (At least I appointed someone else to do it). Cavity searches also needed to take place. I wasn’t part of those, other than ordering that they happen. The drow queen was pretty cool about the whole thing. I like her.

Overall, she was treated, if not comfortably, then fairly. I treated a number of other minor wounds, including Malakyte who managed to get a number of arrows pumped into her in the last skirmish of the evening.

Hestia kicked me out of Faeria yesterday. She wanted to play, her computer wasn’t working, and she said that I was “boring”. I guess I am compared to her, but then not many people can compare to her when it comes to stirring things up. I still was able to listen to PHC while she played, but I felt dethroned. I’m gonna need to get revenge on that little imp.

Very tired, as usual. Good night, all. Fair thee well, and may all of your dreams come true. Warm hugs.

An Oddly Mixed Day January 24, 2008

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

I spent this day with a relatively good mood. My mind felt sharp, my thoughts were clear. I got plenty of sleep the night before, and I felt rested and at peace with myself.

Yet, as with virtually every day, I found myself being very unproductive.

I did manage to have my cleric’s meeting in Triskele tonight, and that went quite well even though only 3 people were able to attend. The queen finally announced my promotion to the realm, which felt good.

The King and Queen of Everwind banned me from the Everwind forum sometime last night or today. I am truly honored. I’ve never been banned from anything before. I feel so…naughty! /me giggles. I might even be banned from the physical grounds. Despite how exciting this would be, it would be disingenuous for me to find out as I already made it a practice never to step on the land again.

I have a long in-world to do list, but it seems to be getting done in the few moments I am able to spend online. I am quite relaxed now, having found that my little tussle with Grace and Slip actually improved my general disposition. Safe paths, everyone. And, as always, hugs to anyone who wants or needs one.

The Excitment of Being Discovered January 23, 2008

Posted by Steve in Everwind.
1 comment so far

It was with some degree of amusement that I discovered that my blog entry, The Fall of Everwind, was discovered and commented on by Everwind’s King and Queen, Slip Barret and Grace Loudon.

I was not shocked or humiliated by their discovery of this entry. Indeed, I wrote, as I write all my entries, fully expecting that it may one day be found by the people whom I’m discussing. I know that Slip had stated that he found blog entries by former Everwinders before and was infuriated by them: rightly so, as they unfairly disparaged his character in the mater of Grace and Slip’s temporary breakup. When I say something, I am always very careful about considering the feelings of those involved. This does not mean that I “filter” what I say, but it does mean that if I make a statement in a blog, I try to word it as fairly as possible, and to have adequate support for my assertions. If I am proven wrong, I will freely admit it and post an open apology. The ethics of blogging are something I hold very dear.

Slip responded not so much to my blog, but to the people who posted responses to my blog, most of whom are not Everwinders. This I find rather surprising in that most people responding to blog entries are automatically going to offer support for the blogger. They’re comments are meant to help me, but they can’t be expected to know the “fullness” of any situation, and they know it. Therefore, casting criticisms upon them for their statements is the equivalent of criticizing someone who sends an, “I’m sorry” card to someone who got fired. It doesn’t really matter if the person deserved to get fired or not. They are there to support the person, and not to do a full investigation as to what the truth of the matter is.

Slip made a response where he lambastes virtually everyone who responded to my entry. Princess tried to make a conciliatory statement afterward, only to get further lambasted by both Slip and Grace. I was dropped from the Everwind group by Grace immediately afterward. I honestly can’t say that my heart is broken by it. It seems that the two of them feel they have the right to castrate anyone who even expresses the mildest disappointment over how they handled the closing of Everwind to roleplay. I can understand anger, but theirs seems disproportionate to the crimes. Please do not lump my wife and friends into the same class as those who sent you hate notecards over Age Verification. To quote Slip, to put it quite bluntly, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

And really, Grace, must I be spotless before I express disappointment over what someone has said? I freely admit that I am not spotless. No one is. I freely admit that I have faults. I have expressed them amply in many blog posts. I would detail them here, but I would be typing for many months and probably bore people quite to death after a while. The key is not in obtaining the impossible goal of spotlessness, but in freely admitting where we are flawed. To deny these flaws is to live in a delusion that may ultimately destroy us. But not to diplomatically express our honest feelings over what someone else has done that has hurt us would truly be to live as a victim, afraid of to say anything in fear of having one’s own flaws, irrelevant to the case in quesiton, pointed out.

Anyway, those who are interested and not sensitive about being attacked are welcome to read over the comments they made. Slip desires it, and I don’t wish any unhappiness upon either him or Grace.

Safe paths to all.

Anxiety and exhaustion January 22, 2008

Posted by Steve in diary, Triskele.
2 comments

I was voted in as the new Head Cleric of Triskele last night, (eep eep Hurray!), and I almost immediately find myself falling behind. There is a LOT of work to do to try to build this guild into something worth being in. There are only 13 members in the guild at the moment, so support looks like it will be hard to come by. We don’t have a building yet. I announced an All Cleric meeting for tomorrow night at 4pm SLT, but I’m not anticipating big attendance. I’m not even sure the announcement went out, as I never got it.

Somehow, within a month, I want to turn the Cleric’s guild into a reasonably strong and self-sufficient union. Right now, it barely exists.

The Council meeting ran ’till 12:30 am last night, and I am exhausted today. My stress levels are high, and I don’t think I’ve breathed in the last hour or so. This would have worked out SO much better had I been appointed at the beginning of the weekend instead of the end.

Oh well. It WILL be fun. Right now I’m just stressed about everything.

Choir tonight. Cleric’s meeting tomorrow night. Pre-teen Thursday. Date night Friday. DART meeting Saturday. Sunday sleep–maybe. Cauldrons to script, gods to create, libraries to build, desks to clean, backups to catch up on, new buildings to advertise, new products to develop, diets to maintain, to-do lists to create, textures to work on…

Okay…breath…

/me slams head against table many times…

Ahhh…that’s better….

/me collapses unconscious, a smile on his face.

Submitted for Head Cleric. Waiting on approval. January 19, 2008

Posted by Steve in diary, Triskele.
4 comments

I’ve talked with the Triskele Queen, Leanne Jael, and with Destion, Triskele’s regent, about my interest in becoming head cleric. They asked me to submit my plans for the guild, which I’ve included below. I’ve received positive feedback from Destion, Wren, and Malakyte. Nothing from the queen yet, but she won’t be the one to make the decision anyway. I might not get approved until Monday because Destion will be out of world until then. That is the day of the next council meeting anyway.

The problem is is that I have time to do things NOW. I’m anxious to start setting up the guild building and to send out some group notices. I could do both of those now, but I’m not going to for political reasons. I want to wait for final approval so I don’t step on anyone’s toes.

Well, I guess I could be working on a guild texture. Anyway, here’s draft 2 of my ideas.

____________________________

Priorities…
The first priority for the Cleric’s guild will be to give the members a sense of purpose and activity. If we don’t address this issue immediately, our membership will drop.

In more developed sims, there was a constant call for clerics because people were constantly being injured. That does not seem to be the case here. Rather than hiring thugs to hurt people so we can heal them, we need to come up with other ways of dealing with this, and to make it apparent that clerics are there and what they are there for. This may involve “staging” role-plays at first. Perhaps an event where the queen gets sick, or a bunch of volunteers from either one or several races come down with a mysterious disease which the clerics must work furiously to find a cure for.

If all of this happens in a private area of the sim, where no one sees it, all of our efforts will be for naught. Triskele does not seem to have a “downtown”…that is, an area where all the players tend to congregate. If one of the taverns were moved to the Marketplace area near Triskele castle, it might encourage a congregation place. Baring this, the most central places are the tavern near Castle Zylamius, or the arenas, both of which are largely ooc. It should still be possible to create an IC event at one of these locations that will create murmurs.

I would also like to have a weekly meeting of ALL clerics and acolytes for at least the first month or so. Not only would this build a sense of community, but also it would bring the clerics together to combine minds and develop RPs NOW, when it is needed most. I want to have a completely structured guild within the first two months…preferably sooner. I will need a lot of buy in to reach this objective.

We also have to get the guild building furnished and signaged soon. I have a lot of furniture already built that I can just throw in there, but I’d like it to function as a hospital, a place for study and meditate, a place to meet, and a place for clerics to lay down and rest after a hard day’s healing of people. I’d like to have a picture of all the god symbols in one room that gives people a summary of the god associated with it.

Making the clerics stand out…
There is likely a lot that can be done with this, but the first idea that comes to mind is a monthly, generic festival. Something that ALL clerics (and the realm) can share. I see this as something like a giant bonfire, where the clerics all make pilgrimages to do something seen as worthy by their faith. Generically, this can be a donation (real or role-played) to charity (I’d like to find some real SL charities to give all donations too). Everyone in the realm would be invited of course, and they, too, would be invited to make pilgrimages and donations. While not pilgrimaging, people would be dancing, imbibing in special faith foods and drinks (I can see competitions growing around this), and in general be having a rowdy good time. DJs could be hired if we get enough cash inflow.

This monthly festival can be devoted to specific gods or belief if the individual faiths come up with a concept for a party they’d like to have.

Structure and ranks…
The highest ranking members of the guild will be the Speakers. Speakers are either leaders of the faiths or administrative. First Speaker will be the guild leader, Second Speaker will be his/her second. Ranking from this point downward will be determined by the player’s RP abilities as judged by the other speakers. The first speaker can also be a faith leader, as can the second speaker. Within each faith, there can also be a second.speaker of faith. This allows for multiple layers of redundancy.

After the speakers and their seconds, there will be full clerics, clerics, and acolytes. Non-Members must choose their alignment before they can become members. In order for this to be possible, a far clear description of each god must be made. People cannot base their alignment to faith based on the descriptions currently available.

When the First Speaker is unavailable, any of the other speakers can take the role and make decisions on the part of the guild. He/she will be equal in power to the First. My goal here is to build in multiple layers of redundancy so that, with luck, there will always be someone in world able to make executive decisions about the guild.

Promotions in rank…
I like the idea of having the promotions being quest oriented, but I’d like to make it so that the quests involve a little bit of role-play, or at the very least make the quest results give out instructional notecards as to how to do things at the rank you are questing for. I don’t want to have promotions based solely on how good you are at finding things, otherwise we’ll have a bunch of clerics who aren’t necessarily good at role-play.

News flash: Head Cleric of Triskele steps down January 17, 2008

Posted by Steve in diary, Triskele.
2 comments

Bri, the Head Cleric of Triskele, has resigned his role. At least that is how it was left this evening. I don’t want to reveal too much here, but it sounds as if he would not be welcome back even if he tried. Stranger things have happened though when tempers cool.

The explosion happened over a new direction that the guild was given. Bri hated the idea, and I expect told the king exactly that in so many words. The new idea, I feel, needs some tweaking, but I think it has a basis from which we can build from.

Anyway, this leaves me with a decision to make. Do I step up to take the Head position? I’m pretty sure I would be welcomed if I do.

I was originally interested in the Head Cleric position. Bri seemed very interested in keeping the position, and was working to move things forward. Things were admittedly moving slowly, but then, there is a lot to do…

And I am not always Mr. Reliable and Speedy. It took a considerable number of pokes to get me to finish that shop. I had a great time building it, but I am often quite happy to sit back and let events take me where they will. I’ve taken on some large roles in the past, and have occassionally dropped the ball. Plus, my home life does not always make it easy to be in-world. Plus there are days when I just want to kick my feet up and diddle with the XBox. There are times when turning the brain off has a very high priority.

And no one in Second Life would know it, but I can be so damned shy sometimes. I’m afraid to approach people, and sometimes I think my shyness is taken for aloofness. Combine my shyness and my poor memory together, and it adds up to something pretty pathetic.

But then, it sounds like a challenge and potentially a lot of fun.

Sigh.

I’ll probably end up doing it, but, to be honest, it’s scaring the hell out of me.

Goodnight, and Good News.

Triskele Council January 16, 2008

Posted by Steve in diary, Triskele.
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Because my RL animator had chorus tonight, I didn’t get in world tonight until late. When I did get in world I was immediately nabbed by Malie to sit in as second at the council meeting in place of Bri. It was an interesting and long meeting, and I put in my 4 cents several times. The Queen stated at the end that she would like to have seconds at all the meetings.

Works for me. I really enjoyed watching how it all works behind the scenes. Next meeting is on Monday.

I managed to qqqqqqqqqqqqa Q1

(16 hours later…)

Well, I don’t remember what I managed to do because I fell asleep at the keyboard again. I have a bit of a cold and the cold medicine does a number on me.

Anyway, I got an invitation to the Triskele council group this afternoon. I will officially be a member of the council when I log in next time. There will be a cleric’s meeting either today or tomorrow evening. Some good ideas were presented by Stormy and Chance (ex-drow King and Queen of Everwind) regarding the cleric’s guild.

Gotta get back to doing whatever it is I do around here. Love, peace, and Coca-Cola to everyone. Later.

Master Peck’s Home Branch Relocated January 15, 2008

Posted by Steve in diary, Triskele.
2 comments

After spending one day building a completely new shop, and another evening of moving merchandise, I have successfully changed location’s for Master Peck’s home store. The Faeria store is now in the new market square, freeing Mykyl up to proceed to the next step of her master plan, which, I believe, involves tearing down the old store and relocated the pub to that location.

The new store has a layout I’m satisfied with, but it still seems to be a bit dark. I’m thinking of putting down a lighter wood for the floor. I also still need to put in an updated visitor counter/greeter and twiddle with the way that some of my benches sell. AND I still need to update the location for the store in SLExchange. Oh, and I have to put an updated landmark in all my for sale items. And remove the old store from the Cataporter.

Beyond that, it’s ready, not counting all the things I have to do that I’ve forgotten about. Just another evening’s worth of work that may take a week or two. Sigh.

The Princess still needs to move some of her items from the old store area. Beyond that, it’s vacant. She is going to set up her items to the right of the new store in a little outdoor garden shop.

She is also anxious to start setting up her new gallery on the second floor of the Master Peck building. The second floor is somewhat brighter and more modern than the first. Some of her most recent photos have been amazing. The child who will soon be formerly known as teenager has been doing a bit of post production work for her, making her original concepts sparkle. She definitely has an eye for photography. She just needs it pointed out to her from time to time.

Regardless of the state of Master Peck’s, I need to spend some serious time in Triskele. Cleric stuff is stacking up, and we need to start a recruitment drive. Not enough Odinites yet, and the other faiths are similarly dry. Action. Adventure. Other stuff. All of it awaits the Cleric’s Guild. Bri wants my help decorating the new guild building, and I really want to start building the new hud, as well as the gadgets and gizmos o f the guild. We’re going to need some sacred trinkets and whatnot. I still need to develop the symbol of Odin. Lot’s of fun stuff.

Goodnight, my friends. Hugs and or affectionate squeezes to any and all who need them.