Wednesday, May 30, 2007

In the News, Again

Well, I've heard it said that a true lady wishes to be read about only on her birth, marriage and death. Well, no one told Nellie Bly, and I admit I have not really got the message either :) I had a lovely visit this morning from Miss Scarlett Qi, a reporter from the Second Life News Network and a thoroughly pleasant lady, very much cast in the manner of the aforementioned Miss Bly.

Well, we didn't go around the world in 67 days, but we did a quick tour about Steam Sky City in order to demonstrate the Orni as part of a larger article on Mr. Todd Borst's wonderful animation program Puppeteer (aka Animation for the Mathematically Challenged). She's put the article up here:

http://www.slnn.com/article/puppeteer/


Oh, in other news, I've put down the deposit on another plot. I'll be leaving Tanglewood and it's marvelous beanstalk (must post about that soon). Happily, my amazingly creative friend Miss Terry Lightfoot will be moving in there.

I will be moving to the telehub of Eyre! As in "Jane Eyre". 1 Rochester Street, that is I :) More later!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Yaaarr, Me Mateys!


Well, one cannot stay sombre for long, and I think it is important to be happy and silly while we remain on God's Green Earth.

Two of my favorite brilliant and funny people, Miss Fuschia Begonia and Professor Alphonso Avalanche, put together a lovely fete hosted on Her Grace Gabrielle Tirel's demense in Caledon Carnaigh. Well, it was a fundraiser ball, of course, for what better purpose can merriment serve than to fight some awful disease like Cancer. Accordingly, over 50,000 Lindens were raised for the American Cancer Society.

But if we were serious in intent, we were not in spirit. We were, in fact, for an eve, pirates.

YAAAAAAAAR!

Well, my command of "Pirate" is hardly fluent, but I did find a lovely Language Learning video that helped me bone up (or is that skull and cross-bone up?) prior to the event. I usually understood everyone around me. Well, at least I understood what they were saying.

HOW TO SPEAK PIRATE
http://loadingreadyrun.com/videos/view/49/How+to+Talk+like+a+Pirate

And no event would be complete sans Mr Oolon Sputnik's exquisite work with the kinescope!



(Here we see Mr. Sputnik, apparently just off the boat from Tanglewood. Dear me, I hope it is not a case of an ahead of schedule regeneration! Well, it would be lovely to have a fuzzy squirrel about, and he could access the more out of the way electrical panels in the ETC with ease. And he would be more portable...)


And here is the fete itself:



Fair Sailing, Jim Lads and Hearty Wenches, all!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Sombre Moment

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. I won't pretend to understand much about why man sets upon man with murderous intent. As tautological as it sounds, no doubt sometimes it's necessary and sometimes not. But I do know, that whatever the need is, the tragedy remains that so many never come home again.

A little over 88 years ago, the guns stopped across Europe. And many thought they wouldn't speak again. I forgive them that wishfulness, as it speaks to that noblest of human sentiments. Hope.







Well how do you do Private William McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
And rest for awhile beneath the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day and now I'm nearly done
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916;
Well I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean,
Or, young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the Death March
As they lowered you down?
Did the band play
"The Last Post And Chorus?"
Did the pipes play
"The Flowers Of The Forest?"



Did you leave 'ere a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And although you died back in 1916,
In that faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed forever behind a glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn, and battered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Did they beat the drum slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the Death March
As they lowered you down?
Did the band play
"The Last Post And Chorus?"
Did the pipes play
"The Flowers Of The Forest?"





Ah the sun now it shines on these green fields of France,
The warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance,
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds;
There's no gas, no barbed wire, there're no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard is still No Man's Land,
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
To a whole generation that was butchered and damned.

Did they beat the drum slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the Death March
As they lowered you down?
Did the band play
"The Last Post And Chorus?"
Did the pipes play
"The Flowers Of The Forest?"





Ah, young Willie McBride, I can't help wonder why,
Did all those who lay here really know why they died?
And did they believe when they answered the call,
Did they really believe that this war would end war?
For the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing and dying were all done in vain,
For, young Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again and again and again and again.

Did they beat the drum slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the Death March
As they lowered you down?
Did the band play
"The Last Post And Chorus?"
Did the pipes play
"The Flowers Of The Forest?"




-"No Man's Land" by Eric Bogle

Up, Up and Away!

Well, the war has been suspended for this weekend it seems. Perhaps it's appropriate, as in the States this is Memorial Day weekend, a time for remembering those who never came home from the real wars. On the other hand, I think it important not to conflate the sillyness we do with the actual nastiness that such real wars do. As anyone who saw the Gun Bunnies video can attest to, the last thing we wish to do with this machima is be sombre or serious!

But that doesn't mean we can't have a bit of pagentry. Last weekend saw us huddled about far too early in the morning attending to this tip top secret brief by Colonel Pearse:



Then we of aeronautical bent were ushered into a back room by Colonel O'Toole (now back on the Side of Truth, Justice and Fuzzy Bunnies, for those who missed the latest plot convolutions). Apparently the red Xs are anti-aircraft batteries. Or was that full parcels? I'm never quite sure...



Some of required just a little bit of "cramming" prior to terms...


(Miss Drier, above, modeling my Aviatrix outfit. Hmmm, I think I must speak to her about the folly of tight-lacing when on Adventerous Missions.)


(And Miss Garmes, of the fuzzy ears, modeling Colonel Pearse's new Aviation ensemble. Never let it be said that we Caledonians don't offer a plethora of costuming choices for all one's active Victorian needs!)

We never got to the full aerial battle that day, but we did get a chance to do a splendid formation departure with me in the lead O_O (Nothing like adding to one's already existant stage fright!). Mrs. Carricre Wind made her appearance to set up her marvelous troop transports.




Here we are, lined up at the Aerodrome.





"Bunny Two" was commanded by Mr. Dowd. "Bunny Three" by Mr. Chaplin, a redoubtable clockwork man who had a bit of a shootout with me once in the dusty Western streets of Steelhead. But he was ever so gallant about winging me--I can scare hold a grudge! Besides, I got better and learnt that in a gunfight, one is far, far better off with a Vickers Aircannon than a two shot derringer.



(Photo Credit, Mr Scaggs. Oh, don't fuss, I said got better!)

Then the pipers played, the pulse quickened, and Caledon's finest piled aboard, guns at the ready!



With the piper sounding a Scotland the Brave that could be heard over the churning airscrews, the cry "First Blimp, launch! That's you, Miss Tombola!" was heard. A quick fiddle with the controls (blimps are ever so stately, if admittedly less nimble, than my heavier-than-air flivvers), and we were off in line!



And then we did it again four more times :D "Next time, with feeeeeeeling!" Colonel O'Toole exhorted. Well, that is show business. It should be a good scene, though. Mr. Sputnik, our cinemascope expert, swears that he had tears in his eyes in the darkroom. Well, perhaps that was the cloud of gas from the photographic chemicals, but nonetheless, I wait with utmost lack of patience.

Well, for now, "Cut!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Well.

A week has past since the last post, and I do apologize for that, pleading only the twin excuses of fatigue coupled with an unwillingness for this blog to actually resemble work. Mrs. Virginia Woolf once commented that she held herself to 1000 words a day, but wasn't quite sure if her diary contributed towards that. While it may seem the height of cheek to compare oneself to the greats, one can attempt emulation. Whilst I confess to not having made my daily allotment of verbage, I have not allowed myself to fancy this indulgence of mine to function as a substitute.

Well, that was a tad self-important, n'est ce pas? Lest you imagine me surrounded by stacks of outlines, worrying my hair into numerous elf knots, rest assured I found enough time to wander about in our virtual world! Amongst other things, Steam Piggy is now on the market :) Here is the little fellow debuting at Miss Rothchilde's Creation Day party (a bit of a clumsy term, but she is a clockwork, you see):



Here we are getting acquainted, with me settling him down a bit for the advertisment shot:


And here is the shameless advert itself, complete with the retro rockets at full blast.



I must add that someone-who-did-not-buy-a-piggy sent me the unsolicited advice that I ought not call Piggy's rockets "retro" as they propell him forward, vice slow his descent. Well, thank you very much for the advice, sir. Personally, I feel his overall esthetic is quite "retro", but perhaps I am misunderstanding the term. Besides, as I wrote the gentleman (whom I've not been formally introduced to, outside of our correspondance) in question, the box I got them from quite clearly said "ACME Retro-Rockets". I fear that it may have been a misshipment, as I must confess I was not the addressee. Still, a search through the directory for Mr. Wiley Coyote proved fruitless, so until he gets in contact with me, I feel little guilt about using his Retro Rockets for Piggy. Beep beep!

Well, Piggy needed a Market, and I am glad to say that with the help of Mr. Jess Patton (my dear friend, architect and brother that I've never had), the Steam City Shop is now open for business. Mr. Desmond Shang graciously allowed me to have an opening right onto the hangar floor, and with a bit of craftmanship, Dr. Jules Whittlesea modified the hangar accordingly.

As you can see here, Steam Fishy followed me from Tanglewood (more about THAT build later), and I finally made that Steam Tricycle I spoke of a few weeks ago.


I'm rather proud of the floating lounge, it's really the sort of thing I'd like to see more of. It is powered by steam retro rockets (*ahem*) and rotates slowly, with comfy seats and a chilled champagne bucket which Mr. G. Abel had given me for my birthday. I do like my shops to not just be rooms full of vendors, but rather places to hang about and play, even if you are not interested in purchasing.

I am also absurdly pleased with the demonstration ornithopter vendor I made. Touch the green ball by the hangar door, and it rezzes a demonstration (10 minute life) ornithopter on the hangar floor and hands out an instruction card. I don't wish to name names, but a random sample of five or so people found some of them having difficulty flying the orni at first. Oddly enough, all of said "some" were men. Now, I am not saying a thing, save to point out that upon further inquiry I discovered not a one had read the blessed instruction card! (/composes self). However, with a few gentle words, they all proved dab hands at fluttering about the city, once informed where the controls were.



After such excitement, you might wish to hop into the matter transporter (look for the transparent blue tube), which will take you down to the ground where Dr. Whittlesea's import shop is. I have a few other products there, such as dresses and centaurs, but more notably there are hordes of other's products as well. And do be sure to look at Mrs. Carricre Wind's lovely tug boats, which will soon be on display there.




Well, shall we see if I've learnt to use SLURLs? Here we go!

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caledon%20steamskycity/84/203/75/?msg=LaBicyclette--SteamCity

Ta for now! Do drop by, and don't be shy!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Agatha Clay lives!

Hurrah! Well, I rather knew it, as she appears in the "advanced class". And the strip is named after her. But for some reason, I was still biting my nails on this one :)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Neuatltenberg Propaganda

Well, the Baby Bothering Bosch have their own take on the whole sorry business of the bombing of Victoria city.



A bit one sided, with no mention of how they were repelled at the end thanks to the stalwart defense of the Caledon Militia. Nothing says "pray do not remain" as a Fuzzy Koala--er, Drop Bear--with his back up does, I must say. Cut off their Eucalyptus ration, and the little fellows become rather vicious. But in these circs, who can blame them?



Still, one must credit Her Kaiserine with fantastic kinescope work, as well as good taste in music. Perhaps someday, when this unpleasantness is behind us, the mutual creativity of our kingdoms will bring us together. One can only hope. They do make wonderful chocolate, the Bosch do.

P.S. For new visitors to the blog, all the above is merely about a mutual Machima that Caledon and Neualtenberg are putting together to raise money for the Second Life Relay for Life--a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society.

http://www.slrfl.com/

(DRAT...still having trouble with these confounded links. OTHER blogs have links via pictures and icons and hypertext and roll overs and animations and, and...STUFF! But nooooo, I can't even put a blessed link up :/ Ah well. I'm sure I have other qualities, as they say)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Night Formation



Had a splendid time with Colonel O'Toole, Captain Picnic and Agent Pennyfeather last night practicing aerial manoeuvres. It was good to see them all, and I must say, for novice pilots the Captain P and Agent P certainly put me to shame. There was no formation too snug for the Captain to hold, and as for Agent Pennyfeather, considering that she had never so much as sat in an ornithopter that eve, her skill was astounding. It gives me great hope for the safety of Caledon in the face of the menace of the the Schnitzle-lovers (actually, not much against schnitzle myself, save that I dislike having to alter my stays in the wrong direction)

The Malaprop Bomber proved a sturdy beast, as one might expect from any of Miss Ordinal Malaprop's creations. The bomb bay doors functioned quickly and cleanly, and Colonel O'Toole's deft airmanship kept her steady enough to be guarded with ease. She is not as lively in the air as the Ornis, relying more upon her heavy ironsides. The Cavorite buoyancy compensators display many of the advantages of the more mundane gasbags, but in a compact size with none of the inflammability issues. Sadly for widespread use, the substance is deucedly difficult to work with, and twice as difficult to extract. Still, from the forges of war are born the civilian transports of tomorrow!


Fortune had it that the amazing derrogotype artist, Miss Thibaud, was out strolling the heath that night. She did us the favour of taking the above picture of the event.

For a lovely Magic Lantern show of more of that evening, do follow the following link
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7618380@N06/sets/72157600216530637/show/

Lights, Camera, Gun Bunnies......

Sunday found me mostly trying not to get in the way during the filming of the following sequence--



(and a HUGE thank you to Her Grace, Duchess Carnaigh, for telling me how to link to these cinema sites!)

Yes, while Caledon sleeps, a vicious assassin stalks the night! This foul fiend of darkness was played by Mr. O'Toole, with heavy makeup and my Prussian Death's Head Hussar outfit on. La Bicyclette claims no liability for any assassination attempts perpetrated whilst wearing our outfits :)

Fortunately, the Gun Bunnies are ever vigilant. As I said, I really had little to do with the whole affair, other than to try not to giggle too loudly during the shoot. I did get a can of "Whup--***", which I am keeping ever handy, should unfortunate circs require it.

Afterwards, Doctor Whittlesea kept his Tanglewood mufti on and tooled several victory laps about the demense in Mrs. Wind's amazingly clever Gun Bunny Transport craft. The little side cushions are for little fuzzy soldiers to sit upon, ready for instant deployment into unpleasant areas!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thank You for the Music



Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich
(March 27, 1927 – April 27, 2007)



Not Steampunk, Victorian or Second Life. But I just found out a few hours ago. I suppose 80 years is a good run, as they say. And lord, how he played. But his bow now rests forever.

Farewell.

Undaunted Mothers

I am a member of the Second Life Group, "The Wind Society for Undaunted Ladies". As Mrs. Wind, our founder puts it, it's a society for those of us who refuse to accept a given "place" assigned for us in the minds of some.



OUR GLORIOUS LEADER



I admit to being a suffragette. Oddly enough, I am still very much a Victorian--I truly feel quite out of place in the modern world. You might say I am afflicted with the impossible dream. I yearn for the etiquette and aesthetic of a bygone age, yet I would eschew some of the uglier aspects of it such as child labour, unchecked pollutants and the restrictions that were placed on women.

But for all those restrictions, women of the time period hardly took it all sitting down. They might not have the vote, or until 1882, the right to own property separate from their husband--but that didn't stop many from running off and having amazing adventures, writing, doing scientific research, or just plain out speaking their minds.

Despite what one might think, in fact many in the Victorian period accepted the idea of adventurous women (perhaps so long as it wasn't their wife or sister). For one, it made good copy--the adventures of Annie Londonderry and Nellie Bly were eagerly followed by both men and women alike. For another, despite the modern image of Victorian women as frail fainting flowers, truthfully, they were as tough as the dickens. Being a "mere housewife" back then involved amazing amounts of physical labour, even for the middle classes with servants. Just think about the logistics of laundry day--hauling huge tubs of boiling water about, stirring and cleaning a week's worth of linens with the paddle. As I write this, the RL me is sitting at a keyboard, watching the clock to see when it is time to dump the clothes in the dryer. I must admit, I am grumbling at the thought that I will have to trudge down a flight of stairs to the machines. Now, who is the fainting flower--I or my great great grandmother?

It sounds odd that Annie Londonderry was a mother of three. The modern mind might think of someone who had no time to exercise, and yet was able to ride around the world on a cycle. I humbly submit that there was hardly anything else that could have prepared her so well for her voyage!

"Miss" Londonderry wasn't the only mother who performed such amazing exploits. Miss Storm Chatnoir sent me a link the other day about an amazing woman named Madam Marie Driancourt. She was a pilot in the days before the Great War, tragically dieing in 1914 (probably from TB) at the age of 27. But while she lived, she lived, as the saying goes. Here's some excerpts from an interview with her--





------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Newpaper interview clipping courtesy of RĂ©gis Gatineau, grandson of Mme
Driancourt.
Written and published sometime between 2 April and 16 April 1912. Paris.
Referenced event dates list at bottom of page.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DOES A WOMAN HAVE THE NECESSARY QUALITIES TO MAKE IT IN AVIATION?

A young aviatrix Mme Driancourt answers us boldly: yes, and endeavours to
prove it.

The daring air voyage from Paris-London which has just been achieved, with the
aviator Hamel, a very young girl, Miss Davies, raises all enthusiasms. The
feminists exult: If a woman can be a passenger full with 'cold-blood' as they
say, [have the nerve, coolness, cool-headed] she lacks little of the thing to
be an aviatrix!

Those who find, to the contrary, that aviation is an anti-female sport, exult
a similar lament: Women have just discovered, that they say, her true and
single manner of flying: to be a passenger of an experienced and vigorous
pilot, putting bravery to the test, able to face without weakening, the always
possible danger.

And here has returned in question this mystery raised already for a long time
and what the recent death of the young Mlle Bernard made emotional: do women
have the necessary qualities to make it in aviation? This enigma can be solved
only by an aviatrix: I questioned Mme Driancourt.

~ Chez Madame Driancourt ~ [At Madame Driancourt's]

There is nothing masculine about this small woman who in her long mourning
veils resembles a bird half hidden under its wings. The face is irregular but
full of expression. The large mouth says will, and, made deeper by the thick
fringe of fair hair which goes down to her eyelids, eyes superb of spirit and
of courage, similar to this azure which they dared to admire more closely than
us, shine through long black eyelashes.

She has all the grace of her sex and also her sensitivity, sounding drunk with
enthusiasm, she prompts a little instinctive logic. She has moreover this
not very widespread quality of women... ambition; she wants to give her life a
goal, to "earn" it in order to be independent and fortunate and, because her
ambition is conscious, reflected, she possesses will and courage.

All these qualities she reveals them without thinking of it, while talking
with humour and animation, often with a bit of emotion which she finishes in a
smile.

One still cannot fly as a vocation. The thing is too new - Mme Driancourt did
it - as one imagines well that any woman was to do it - by enthusiasm.

"I saw Blanchard² crash", she says to me, "I did not retain anything of the
horror of his death, I understood the beauty of it, and that that sublime
undertaking alone called for such devotion. I dreamed at once that I would
have wings, me also, and that I would not fall.

- You were not afraid?

- Not for a minute! They put me on a machine... I was enraged because I found
that it did not go quickly enough... finally one day I left straightforwardly.
Imagine that I feel sea-sickness on the autobus... up high I felt very well in
spite of the violent [wind] that slapped at my face and the drops of oil which
were stuck to my skin: My engine whirred... it was safety, I listened to it
with pleasure. I descended by gliding, in great silence, without a jolt... it
was exquisite!

She laughs and begins again:

- As it is sad that there are sometimes crashes... in the end!

- You have crashed?

- But yes!

- And your 'cold-blood' did not leave you?

- Hold on! I felt as quiet as sitting in this chair, I said to myself: This is
it, the end, take it on well! The fall started at a 100 meters height. I tried
hard to direct it like a flight, and, seeing that I was over a group of people
present, I went into the trees. My machine was broken... I was full of sorrow,
it is my - toy! I regretted my two beach smash-ups much less !

- And your nerves, your nerves of a small sensitive woman... what does that do
to you?

- I get them sometimes at home, but I never take them along with me.

- Are you never lacking physical strength?

- It is not necessary to be very strong to take up aviation... a simple
movement of ones finger is enough to control the entire machine!

- And the sense of orientation that all men miraculously possess, and what the
women almost always do not have?

- It is true, I lose myself in the streets of Paris! Perhaps I would lose
myself up high if I did not have my chart and a compass, but with them one
very quickly learns how to aim and one does not fear anything anymore!

I dared make a statement:

- You know that you flout death. Are you right to expose yourself thus...
Do you leave nobody behind you?

She threw a glance at her clothes of mourning.

- I am widowed, as you know. I have three girls that I adore. Be it me that
arrived on misfortune, I would leave them with their grandparents who are
wealthy and who like them with all their hearts. They would be as cherished as
by their mommy.

- Have they seen you flying?

- But yes, and they say that later they will also take up aviation. While wait-
ing they go up on chairs which they imagine to be aeroplanes and the eldest
says to her sisters "Especially don't break it"... Forgive me, but it is a
term that they are use to hearing on the air-field. They are darlings...
oh! the nice manner that the little one has, who is three years old, to say to
me when I have returned to the house: Bonjour, mon z'oiseau! [Hello, my bird]

- Do you believe there is a future for women in aviation?

- Why not? In my view, a well balanced woman of strong will possesses all the
qualities necessary. She must therefore succeed and she will succeed, I am
sure, if she manages to overcome the obvious ill-will of men. It is necessary
that they let her prove to be reliable and if she is presented for some exhib-
ition or demonstration that she does not unfortunately get the response too
frequently: "No, we prefer a man!"

"I am well decided to fight on until the end," finishes the audacious young
woman, "I do not fear anything. I shall work as much as will be needed...
I still have ten pairs of ribs to break - and all of my limbs!"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

¹First five French women to be awarded piloting certificates:

1. Baronnee De la Roche #36 - 8 Mar 1910
----
2. Marthe Niel #226 - 19 Sep 1910
----
3. Marie Marvingt #281 - 8 Nov 1910
----
4. Jeanne Herveaux #318 - 7 Dec 1910
----
5. Marie Louise Driancourt #525 - 15 June 1911


²Aviator Fernand Blanchard died 26 Oct 1910 at Issy-Les-Moulineaux, Paris.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Translated from original source material by Rod Filan. 12/10/04

*******************************************************************



Happy Mothers Day to all you brave women out there, whether you fly or just ride herd on the little scamps!

Friday, May 11, 2007

More Birthdays!!

Well, after all that excitement, what does one do about here? Why, hold another birthday fete, of course. Mr. Sputnik had informed us that Professor Avalanche's birthday was yesterday, so of course, there was nothing for it but to make a few prezzies and hold a party.

Well, Time Lords are not always so good about precise dates--as it turns out, the Good Professor's birthday was on Tuesday, which even time zone confusion could not make Thursday. But, this was hardly the point, as the banner had already been made.

Here we are awaiting his arrival. It gave us all a chance to try on our new medieval dress Dr. Whittlesea's sister, Miss Jackie, had made for us, complete with the newest hairstyles of the late 15th century. She is quite brilliant, and I look so forward to seeing this and her Versailles dresses up for sale.

It was a bit of a wait. I shan't go into details, but apparently there was an embroidery bookshelf collapse somewhere in Northern England. Professor Avalanche was gamely called into action to fix the mess he had made...I mean, save the day, and was not allowed on line...I mean, could not tear himself away from his heroic duties until it was all fixed.



Well, he is a strongman, so he made his appearance soon enough. Here he is, clearly thinking brilliant thoughts with his new Steam Powered "thinking fez".



Then it was off to try the Splendid Kilt Miss Lightfoot had made for him, festooned with fierce tigers. Miss Begonia mentioned something to the effect that Professor A was extremely secure in his masculinity, and then started giggling wildly. Truthfully, I am not quite sure of her meaning, but she knows him well enough, I suppose. The inside jests of close friends, one must think.



Then it was time for the final present--a very special set of weights Miss Lightfoot and I had made. As you can see here, he is truly a man of strength, as he lifted the weights up with the greatest of ease!



And then he continued to lift :) Well, we wouldn't wish to disappoint the creator of Snorty the Flying Steam Elephant with a mundane set of weights. We did our best to rise to the occasion. :P




To a very large number and beyond! And to many more happy returns!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Battle of Caledon

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to....OMG!!!! Sorry, IM hell :( BRB"

-Governor Desmond Shang




(Roleplaying Disclaimer. I don't really know how to knit.)




THE BATTLE OF CALEDON

Some weekends simply do not go as anticipated. I remember idly thinking at Miss Rothschild's birthday affair that the tensions of the last few weeks had quite calmed down. Amidst the piles of mechanical toys and cheerful little mechanical men, who could possibly think of the tensions between those Teutonic fellows and our fair nation? Surely, there can be no misunderstandings under a clear blue sky when one is stuffing one's face with cake and the necessary ice cream.

In retrospect, perhaps we ought have invited the Jaeger over for tea that day, and perhaps even an invigorating bounce on the steam trampoline. But such wishes are merely water that has passed down stream. Like milk that is spilt after the barn doors are open, we cannot press our wishes into present day fish servitude. Or something like that. I never do get my aphorisms correct.

So, Saturday morning found me nursing a sugar headache with a call on the Marconi from Mr. Sputnik. Some such about how his gravity switches were all awry. I had visions of him floating aimlessly about the Etheric Travel Cabinet. A pleasant enough party game perhaps, but hardly the sort of thing that contributes to getting actual work done about the place.

Not wishing to abandon my favorite Timelord (by which I mean perfectly ordinary inventor type fellow and certainly not a time hopping alien from Gallifrey), I took the Aether transport up to the hangar and stoked the orni. Lord, I am glad for the draughty halls of Steam City that inspired me to eschew modest attire and throw my flight uniform on.

So, soon I found myself shouldering over-large jugs of quicksilver down at the ETC, wondering just where Professor Avalanche had got himself to these past few days. As befitting his modern tastes, the good Time...person had a cylinder of lovely jazz music on and despite the abysmal excuse for tea that he makes, I found the headache disappearing. And then it was back to the aforementioned shouldering. Well, nothing like breaking out in a glow to make a girl feel right as rain, I must say.

Just then, one of the numerous lights in the Cabinet started flashing, which is hardly unusual save that it wasn't the fault of my accidentally dusting a lever or some other such occurrence. Seeing this as an opportunity to lower my load, I looked up to see Mr. S looking positively worried as he clamped the Marconi's earpiece to head.

"The d--- you say!" he shouted into the receiver whilst hurriedly flipping things that no doubt warranted flipping.

I took the time to adjust my scarf in a focusing mirror. Real silk, you know. Imported from the orient and everything. Good for polishing one's glasses, and looking sharp. Comes with every set of Aviation Flying Gear, available at your local La Bicyclette outlet. But I digress.

"Virginia!" he said, failing to roll the extra R. "It's Colonel Pearse."

I remembered the Colonel's mysterious words from Friday morning. "Miss Tombola, do keep your Vickers limbered up as we expect the Neualtenbergers to attack Caledon at 1304 Local, at an altitude of 547 metres on a heading of 287 to 293 magnetic." At the time, such words had seemed but a vague warning.

"Oh, do tell him Miss MacAllister would want him to wear his woolies, sir," I said helpfully. Quite frankly, the lack of knitted garment wearing by the Caledonian men was getting under my skin. It was not for nothing that I nearly impaled myself learning to knit for the war effort! But the modern fellow seems overly concerned about having the proper number of arm holes in his vest and other absurd niceties. I ask you, did Nelson say "Caledon expects that each man will do his duty, unless he should have a badly knitted set of knickers?" Of course not. For one, he wasn't Caledonian.

Such thoughts occupied me long enough to ensure that Mr. S got his own blessed equipment together. I had to blink at the Cinematicatron thingee (or whatever it's called).

"Sir," I said, discretely pouring the remnants of the alleged tea into a nearby potted plant, "whatever is that for, and where ever is it going?"

He winked in that charming way he has (may we thank the Lord for the existence of Miss Ladybird!). "Need to head up into the skies and do a bit of scouting. Shouldn't be a moment." I was about to query him in regard to what he meant by "scouting", but he was trotting quickly away. I've seldom seen him so tense.

Following him up the spiral staircase (where did that come from?) to the roof, I found him stuffing his photographic equipment into the rear seat.

"Think you can hold it steady enough?"

I pulled the weight and balance slide rule out from under the instrument panel. "Under 15 stone, sir?"

He looked embarrassed. "Virginia, you know my fondness for Tedaskian Pudding."

"I meant the apparatus, sir." Fudging things as best as I could, I dismantled the rear cross braces. For some odd reason, I have fond the poor little ornithopter cannot get airborne with more than 310 stone worth on board. Toss a butterfly on top, and it sighs gracelessly and goes nowhere. Professor Avalanche has explained to me that it is a physical property, which seems a bit of a tautology to me. Nevertheless, I shan't dispute the brilliant--and there was no disputing that we were fair onto maximum gross weight. Mr Sputnik isn't the only one who could profit from one less pud or two in the gullet.

"Cap or helmet, sir?" I asked. I must admit, the flying helmet gets a bit of an odour after a long flight.

He met my eyes. "Helmet. Definitely helmet." I so wanted to tell him that we ought finish up the quicksilver sorting, and maybe take time for a dip in the pool room. But I knew seriousness of purpose when I saw it.

Soon, the wings of the ornithopter were flapping and we were airborne. Lord, how I love flight. Somehow, even with the noisy Wind-Whittlesea dynamo chugging and the wind rushing by one's ears, it all seems so peaceful. Being a tad bracing at altitude, I took her down low and was rewarded with the moist wet air below the cloud tops. Dodging the occasional offended gull, the green shores of Caledon soon came into view, still partially obscured with the morning sea mist.

Glancing quickly over my shoulder, Mr. S seemed to have set himself up a veritable airborne camera studio. He was panning the cinematron around, seeming to focus on the clouds for some unknown reason. I so wanted to ask him what he was about, but there is only so much communication possible in an aircraft. I have to admit, dirigibles can be far quieter and peaceful. But none are so fast. And none can bring an Aircannon to bear quite so quickly, as I would soon have cause to be grateful for.

"Primverness!" he shouted, pointing excitedly to the North East. Dear reader, I do not wish to give the impression that Mr. S is an easily excitable or frivolous man. Far, far from it. So when I saw him so agitated, my heart leapt in my chest as only leaping hearts can. Steeling myself, I opened the main steam valve and pulled back, taking us far up into the skies above the wide spaces of Primverness.

I needed to speak, so I secured the wing lifters for a moment and slowed to reduce the wind roar.

"What does the Colonel want from us, sir?" cried I.

"Haven't the slightest, really," he said, fiddling with the lens. "We're here to observe, and try not to get too perforated up in the process."

Future chroniclers might add splendid words amongst us at this point, and perhaps imbue us with a certain foreknowledge of the attack. Oh, well, foreknowledge we had, I suppose. But perhaps last night's cake was still addling my brain. All I could think of was the perforation business. I'm not proud. I was terrified.

Mr. S handed me a stoppered flask of tea. I was too shaken to complain about it for a change, though in retrospect, I am certain he used the "ether-wave" to make it. As I sipped nervously, he tapped my shoulder.

"Take her down, lass. I think I see something."

Those were the last words I would be able to hear for a while. I'd shot the Vickers before, and the arming procedures were automatic. But when I tested it, it seemed to roar as it had never spoken before. Then, it was a pull on the primary valve, lifters back on, wings stroking back and the nose pointed forward towards a hill swarming with bright red figures. Neualtenbergers.

I know full well the orni smoke is visible enough at full bore, so an overbank and an almost late pull up later, I ran her down the rills that proliferate about Primverness. Popping through a cleft in the hills, I eased down to treetop level and then some, the Wind Whittlesea roaring with an angry hiss. Someday, I will learn to avoid branches, but that wasn't the day as I had to duck behind the windscreen to avoid wayward flora.

A thump from Mr S on my right shoulder brought me up, just as I heard the gentle popping of rounds going off. I saw a blurred image of a Hussar then slapped the stick over and right, following Mr. S's suggestion. Or at least I thought that was what he meant me to do.

Regardless, we escaped that one well enough, though I rued my timidity in not spending a single cartridge. I stared at Mr. S, who was calmly changing reels. With as casual a thumb as you might imagine, he pointed back towards the hills. By now it was a full army. Victoria city was under attack.

We knew where we, or at least he was needed. Arcing down in an English bunt that nearly pulled the tea flask from my grasp, we risked one more pass over the remaining Jerries. This time, I forced myself to squeeze the triggers and was rewarded with more noise and smoke in the cockpit. I doubt very much (and frankly hope) it did no harm, but it seemed to keep them down long enough for Mr. S to do the necessary with his camera.

Victoria City hove into view, her topless towers ringed with dark smoke. I indulged in a few loops down the main street, as I've oft done for fun--but here I hoped to stave off that "perforation" Mr. S spoke of. For the first time, the awful reality of it all set in. There would be no dress shopping in the main square for weeks, that much was certain. Rolling out over the governors mansion, I felt actually angry, and held the Vickers open for a long moment, until the rounds jammed from heat. But there was little time for emotionalism. We would be needed, we knew. As every man and woman would be.

We put down on a roof top and clambered out, he with his revolver, and I with my absurd little derringer. I know well enough how little good that thing does outside of three paces. It might annoy a small cat, but below we could see mounted Neufy hussars charging. They weren't riding cats.

Whilst my mind was still adjusting, Mr. S was a blur of motion. With he camera under one arm he was diving across the roof, just as a small troop came about the corner. I have no idea what happened next. I heard the Vickers go off, and all was confusion. When it settled, well, there were no more horse troop to be seen. The may have run; they may have been cut down. I had neither time nor inclination to investigate. Mr. S credits me with such offensive antics, but I truthfully will say that I was lengths away from the ornithopter by then. Perhaps the guns cooked off or some such--I am no munitions expert. Perhaps the orni was discovering clank-like properties. I wish I could ask it.

#

What can I say about the land war that hasn't been said better by my betters? Everything seems almost grey in my memory, so I cannot be held as a reliable witness. Arriving late at the party, as it were, I heard snatches of rumours-- how Miss Garmes took a bullet for the governor, how the appearance of the Fabled Drop Bear put the Jaegar to flight, how an airship had made its appearance overhead, just as we were (perhaps fortunately) putting down.

This last would prove dramatically significant to us. Colonel Pearse pulled me aside, his usual jauntiness none the worse for the wear, despite powder burns and a clockwork arm replacement.

"We've spotted the troopship, Miss Tombola. How many ornithopters can you field?"

I am ashamed to say, I had neglected the duties of my honourary captaincy in the Air Corps. A true, plucky soldier would have popped to attention, saluted and cried out, "The Aircorps stands ready with a flight of twelve well-maintained fighter craft, sah!" But I'd spent more time fussing in the shop than practising close order formation with a theoretically flying squadron.

I stammered and looked at my feet. "Well, sir. There is myself. And Mr. Sputnik wishes to film from the backseat." I looked around at the disordered garden in the palace. Caledon deserved better.

"And I've one of your crates, if you remember," he said in his comforting drawl. I almost said something about his arm, but thought better of it. "Major Smashcan has one as well, does he not?"

I looked where the Colonel was staring. The aforementioned Major was reclining gracefully on the grass, his jacket darkly stained.

"Wakey wakey!" Colonel Pearse cried, and I will swear on a pound of Belgian chocolate that the Major leapt to his feet right there, as easily as my puppy does when she senses I might possibly be entertaining the possibility of tossing the ball about with her.

"Hullo, Miss T," said the Major, grinning in that way that only six foot or better Scandanavians with ice blue eyes and impressive shoulders can. "What should I wear?"

"I find it cold up there, sir," I said, buttoning my jacket up.

"Hmm? A tee-shirt, then, at least," he said, rather unfathomably.

"Right, then," said the Colonel, brandishing his riding crop. "We'll make do. Here's what. Large flying battleship, about to drop a few tonnes of bombs on the city. It's up there, ah, somewhere." He flourished the crop heavenward. "We'll just pop up there and let them know we won't stand for that sort of thing around here. Not cricket, though it might pass in Australian rules football. Hardly the point, of course."

I am often confused, so I can easily recognize the condition when I feel it upon me. "Sir, I'm terribly sorry, what is the plan of attack?"

Colonel Pearse stroked his muttonchops. "Plan?"

"Yes, sir."

"Wouldn't survive contact with the enemy," he said with a shrug.

Mr. Sputnik clapped me on the shoulder, causing me to stagger. "It's just like shooting wombats in Beggar's canyon back home, lass."

As is frequently the case, I wondered what he was on about.

#

So there you have it. No doubt we looked very fine as we rose up into the sky trailing Colonel Pearse in fingertip formation. I truly think there are few prettier things than a lacquered wing shining in the sunlight, and there we were, busily flapping away two wings apiece.

But despite all that, I will confess that I didn't feel particularly ooja-cum-spiff. My belly was grumbling that I really ought have gone for that second crumpet that morn, or at least have been a tad more liberal with the jam knife. I really felt in strong need of a tub by now, and was wondering what act of vanity had caused me to pass over my athletic stays today. I usually know better--but the flight jacket is a tad form fitting, and I had known I might be seen in public. Vanity, thy name is dunderheaded bicycle maker.

I was wondering if Mr. Sputnik would notice if I slit my lacings when we broke through the overcast. There, framed against the golden clouds, was the Brynhilde.

"That's no moon," said Mr. Sputnik loudly, and a bit pointlessly, as it was clearly not moon-ish at all. More, battleship-ish, much akin to the Persephone.

A chill went down my spine as I followed the Colonel's lead and armed the aircannon. There could not be TWO Peresephone's. I flashed back to Mr. Heinrich's tour of her decks.

"BWAH HA HA!!!" he had commented. "With this, I shall rule the WORLD! Or at least the beachfront areas with high property values." I had nodded politely at the time, overawed by his craftmanship and oblivious to the undercurrents of duplicity that were now making sense to me. He was a traitor, who had traitorously turned coat with his creation. Why, never again would I trust a badger. I didn't care how catchy their theme song was.

There was no time for reflection, however. I had hoped that we might be able to sneak up on the ship and do whatever it was that needed doing. But ornis at full bore were hardly quiet, and our initial pass was interrupted when Major Smashcan's beastie had a momentary engine failure. We regrouped and plunged in, but not before the main guns started booming.

One might wonder at the sense of sending an ornithopter to do an airship's job, but the Caledonian airships are a peaceable lot. For all the potential they have to carry cannon, their great silk bags make for easy targets. As it was, we had our hands full keeping the ornis moving. When in doubt, fly upside down, is my motto. You might not know what you are doing, but it's also doubtful if they do.

Passing through the billowing yellow black flack clouds, our modus operandus became clear. Well, at least not particularly murky. There was no chance on the great iron sides, but above the guns, we were as safe as babes in a Steinbeck Patent Safety Crib. We could pick and choose where to target. I began to wonder if there was any tea left in the flask.

That was when the sharpshooters arrived on deck, spoiling our fun tremendously. Splitting off in all directions, I found myself careening wildly towards the silhouette of the Jaeger himself as he took aim at Major Smashcan as the latter executed a neat pirouette over the fantail. Without thinking, I squeezed the Vicker's triggers hard, screaming like the madwoman I no doubt was at this point. The Jaeger did me the favour of diving to the deck as I rolled triumphantly overhead.

As I turned to smirk at Mr. Sputnik, another blast rocked the ornithopter. My vision clearing, I looked up in horror to see myself headed for the side of Colonel Pearse's craft. With all my strength, I buried the stick in my lap and we leapt upwards, momentarily brushing him, but with no apparent ill effects.

"I thought I'd get some altitude," I yelled at Mr. S, who, with his characteristic unflappability, nodded and reloaded a film canister. Having a second or two to reflect, I realized how valuable the intelligence on that film was. But it wouldn't do us much good if Victoria City was bombed. I pointed the nose straight down at the ship and opened up.

I suppose there is nothing like a target head straight at one to motivate marksmanship. Distantly, I heard a pop, then followed by a loud crack. Light brown oil from the hydraulic lifters sprayed over the cockpit, erupting into smoke as it touched the boiler section. The ornithopter spun out of control like a debutante with four glasses of wine in her.

I reached for the emergency hydraulic pumps, then I remembered.

"Not bad work, Miss Tombola," Mrs. Wind had said, looking over the craft. "Don't forget to install back up systems, though."

"But Mrs. Wind, I wanted to put it on the Exchange today. Look! I've already taken the publicity photographs."

"Well, if you have a press kit, I'm sure you'll be fine," she said sagely. "Just don't fly it yourself, mmmm?"


I flashed back to the present where my control stick was flailing about the cockpit like a broom-handle seeking wayward rats.

The film! Mr. S needed to escape. "Jump sir!" I yelled, trying to push him out of the cockpit with little success. He started to clamber forward to assist me. That dratted chivalric can be such a bother at times.

I was wondering what the odds of my flight boots achieving the necessary cameraman-dislodging force when the wing settled the issue by folding like a visitor to a Polymath card game.

I watched him disappear in the smoke, then I heard the sound of collapsing wood. I have ironed enough blouses in my time to know the smell of burning fabric intimately. But I was too spent to care.

#

I must say, for a crowd of Baby Bothering Bosch, they were a nice lot. The Jaeger himself dropped by and offered my this substance they *call* beer, but as far as I can tell, is more of a general anesthetic. Tastes well enough. I imagine that sooner or later there would have been a prisoner exchange of sorts. But to be honest, I had a few orders I needed to get to work on back at the shop. And the Neufys had been good enough not to notice my parachute.

What can I say? I might be hopeless at many things, but when it comes to falling accidentally off high platforms, I acknowledge no peer. Next time, I'll try to miss the duck pond.

Monday, May 7, 2007

L'Ornithopter en le News

Well, so much has happened this weekend, I really don't know where to start. Friday saw Miss Cornelia Rothschild's birthday with amazing toys and whatnot. I particularly liked Mr. Sputnik's Robot, and Mr. Wormser's automated quizzer was up to his usual spectacular scripting ability. But first prize was given to an incredibly detailed, imaginatively designed, um....surgery table with a fuzzy plushie bunny designed by Mr. Mesmer. I am not certain how I feel about that--it was clever, but seemed a bit macabre to me. But Miss R assured me that clockwork people (and by extension plushies) are not as squeamish about having their innards worked upon as flesh and blood people are. I shall take comfort in that. Besides, I was the one who put heat rays on Piggy. I ought not to talk (and vanity compels me to mention that Piggy took second place).

Saturday was the Invasion of Caledon. I ought write eloquent words about this, but truthfully, today has been a writer's block day. My novel has stalled at the dramatic first kiss scene (yes, I write such scurrilous stuff :P), and with such inability presenting itself, I can scarce say anything that has not been said better elsewhere. But all in all, it was great fun and my blood was truly pumping as our flight of three ornithopters led by Colonel Pearse rolled in on the Flying Battleship Brynhilde. We raked her well in the name of Caledon's Sovereignty, and after had a pint (although the stein looked rather large for a pint!) with our gallant adversaries on the deck of the ship. War can be quite fun, so long as no one really gets hurt (I did break a nail with my rapid throttle changes, but I should be well enough soon).

Mr Pearse has a full account on his blog here-
http://victorianaesthetic.blogspot.com/

In the meantime, here's a few pictures (his, I'm afraid I haven't the steel nerves that allow one to take photographs whilst being fired upon)






Oh, speaking of ornithopters, apparently the French have discovered Caledon! Looking for ornithopters in Google, I saw an interesting article entitled "Un Etrange Oiseau dans le Ciel de Second Life" Bonjour mes amis, et retournez, s'il vous plait!

http://secondworld.wordpress.com/2007/03/01/un-etrange-oiseau-dans-le-ciel-de-second-life/

Thursday, May 3, 2007

One if by sea, two if by air

Well, all that birthday excitement was quite exhausting (poor thing, you no doubt are saying with a touch of facetiousness). Well, justified in my fatigue or not, I was happy to jump at Mr. O'Toole's gracious offer to go sailing with him the other night.



I love RL sailing, and as odd as it may seem, SL sailing offers the same relaxation in many ways. The views are pretty, it offers quiet moments of relaxation, followed by WHOOSH windy moments. Yes, yes, all things being equal, I do prefer real boats, but the company was splendid and one is hardly about to trot down to the slip on a Wendsday night and heave off for parts unknown. Besides, Mr. O'Toole is a skilled hand with his ship and I even might have the opportunity learn more about the real sport (these days, I am more Chief Sandwich Maker and Hey, Mind Going Forward and Grabbing That Line Girl).



Certainly, the SL ships are clever enough. The Lucky Dragon affords the ability to raise and lower sails, turn about realistically (so far as I can tell), adjust sail angle, and even fire cannon (last week I saw a SL sea battle--Jack Aubrey would have been proud!)

And of course, there is always the possibility of Landing in Strange Lands with Unusual beasts....




Today though, it was time for me to start work on my Steam City build. I am a bit disappointed that the shop doesn't open up directly onto the hangar as I thought it might, but still it is nice to be close. Demo ornithopters might still be a possiblity. In the meantime, I filled it with my usual Steamy Knick-Knackery.

More complete outfitting to follow next week, but in the meantime I think I can divulge that while at the lower parcel and docking area, I was appoached by the Guv---er, a nameless official--and asked to serve my Homeland with my little ornithopter.



So it was a quick trip to the hangar, whilst along the way I limbered up my trusty Vickers Air Cannon. Brave soul to have accompanied me! I don't think I shot out too many windows.

I need emphaize that this is all in good fun. After all, in RP circles, the aforementioned Mr O'Toole is a Traitorous Secret Policeman :P Well, he's as much that as I am a Fearless Fighter Pilot. But together we will all be making a cinematic extravaganza, hopefully one that will raise more money for the Second Life Relay For Life.

For those of you who aren't SL players, you might wish to look at the aforementioned Relay For Life website--it is a charity raising money for the American Cancer Society--

http//www.slrfl.com

In the meantime, stay alert and keep an eye out for Enemies to the Motherland. Um, whoever they are. Pass me that script again, won't you?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Older, Not Wiser

Well, not any more foolish than I was the day afore yesterday. But nevertheless, regardless of my own state of seriousness, there is little that is more restorative to one's health, spirit and the great et cetera than being incredibly silly with one's friends. And silly we were :)

Miss Paravane set up a nice little Maypole, and with the aid of some jig-ity-jg bracelets, we were all merrily dancing away in no time flat. There was a brief call to all dance in one direction (I am certain I heard "Widdershins" called), but that met with little success, perhaps exacerberated by the espoused, but not universally accepted, notion that the ladies ought go one way and the gentlemen the other. I found it expedient to stick to the outside of the circle, to be quite honest :P

Here's a little cinematicatron (or whatever that device is called) or the whole affair, courtesy of Mr Sputnik (and to the set who seems intent on calling me "Girl Genius", I still am quite unable to fathom how to put links up, much less post videos on this blog. I really did follow the instructions :/)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXzWH8Irgm4&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Foolonsputnik%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F

Well away, at least I can show some other pictures! Here is my fellow birthday girl, the talented and amazing Miss Vi Paravane:



And here we are all, dancing merrily about from aside and above:




And, I must add with some degree of embarassment, we both were indundated with lovely prezzies. I have remarked on the ones of last night, but truly, I was not quite prepared for this showering of largess.



I think I have been dutiful with my thank you posts, but allow me to post my gratitude further here!

From Miss Begonia and Professor Avalanche a combination set of Fancy Riding Clothes and an amazing Monowheel (see two posts ago)

From my favourite card shark, Mr. Hotspur O'Toole, a clever deck of cards that plays Spades and Hearts, not to mention the humously animated 52 card pickup.

From Miss Vi Paravane, a clever book that I scribble in vice type when I chat. And Miss P, I just noticed the title and author today :) You are beyond clever! And I do hope you like your present from me--suffice to say, Miss Lightfoot and I missed your company when we went riding last.

From Miss Lightfoot, a amazing Ocean Mandela painting she did herself (like many in SL, Miss L is a full time professional--I am lucky to know so many!)

Speaking of professional artists, from Miss Lapin Paris a delicately sculpted Grecian Urn that now has pride of place in my mermaid's grotto in Tanglewood.

From Miss Imogen Saltair, a Sparkly Faberge egg (see on the left)

From Mr. G. Abel, an amazing horse drawn coach (!) and champagne bucket. I promise not to drive and drink! Well, the horse does know the way, doesn't she?

From Mr J. Drinkwater, the Caledon Librarian, my very own library card. He'll make it back in overdue fines, I am sure.

From Miss Shylah Garmes, a Second Life Relay for Life Pin, and a donation to that charity. Thank you, Miss Garmes, for a present that really can make a difference (I have a photo of it, but it is perched attractively on the decollatage of my Regency dress. I had forgotten how racily our ancestors dressed, to be honest, and I have limits to what I shall post in public ;))

From Miss Cy Vanderverre, a flower chaplet that was perfect for the Maypole dances. Imagine that!

From Mrs Wind, an artillery piece of some size. Pictures to follow on that (BTW, she is making a universal combat system--from sword to airborne artillery, it will be covered. Eeep!)

And along that lines, a "mini-gun" (which was hardly mini at all!) from Mr. O. Sputnik. Really, one zips about but once or ten times with a Vickers firing off, and everyone thinks you a 19th century Boudicca....

Well, fortunately, Miss Rothschild showed up and I discovered that her birthday has come and gone (she was created a year ago this April 25th). The party, however, is on the 5th. Nontheless, it meant I could finally give her the special present I made for her--a Steam Piggy with Heat Ray Eyes and Steam Retro Rockets. Here he is, being fair well behaved at the dance (Miss R displayed a talent for keeping him in line right from the start).



Not wanting JUST to receive, I proposed an ornithopter race with the demonstration ornithopters I pulled out. First to the waiting hangar above was Mr. Smashcan, who related his winning techinique of swinging wide to Caledon I in order to make a proper landing approach through the hangar doors (me, I usually half loop in, but it involves a certain indifference to dragging a wingtip :P). He received a SkyCycle for his Aeronautical daring.

All else seemed contented enough with my unicycles, which seemed a silly enough contrivance for the occasion. Some, of course, have to out do all the others, and our normal quiet librarian was spotted doing a fair up tempo jig atop his.




Well, after that I had to head out for RL celebrations (caught me a bit flat footed, really. Wasn't expecting it, but suffice to say it started with iced fruit after a good ride and ended with a bit of music playing and this French custard thingee with cherries. I am still coming slowly down from all that sugar!). So I left my dancing SL friends as the new SL sun slowly set its virtual way. I can think of few nicer places to spend a birthday afternoon, and none I would have rather spent it with.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Drama a la Bicyclette

Never let it be said that all the drama about here is strictly the province of the boys (and girls) in fancy dress uniform! The birthday cake is in the oven now, and (brace yourself, dear reader)--I ate large quantities of uncooked batter! I know, I know, one cannot trust the modern chicken to be as pure as her historical counterpart. Flips and nogs just aren't what they used to be, *sigh*.

Well, I shall put a brave face on this whole enterprise. Timourlessly, she strides forth to Rotate the Pan!

Mayday Baby

Well, there is no minute like the last minute! I really, really should have sent invites out for this earlier, but what with all the excitement and fetes, I've rather fallen down on the job.

Anyway, the most amazing thing is that my dear friend Miss Vi Paravane and myself share RL birthdays. Down to the day, even (though I must add that she, being Indian, is, by virtue of global rotation, older than I. And will always remain so :P). No, I shan't tell you our real ages--suffice to say we are no Mariannes, but not out of the age range of Austen heroines.

Here is your official invite!



Well, if you are passing through Second Life today, do IM either of us around 2ish. Miss P has a nice maypole we shall all dance about, then tea and cake. Or something. I shall be making cake myself to nosh on during the party, and here is the recipe:



Chocolate Bundt Cake

3 oz Bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
¾ cup cocoa powder (dutch process if you can get it)
1 tsp espresso powder
1 cup boiling water
1 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350, put rack in middle. Spray bundt pan (or cake pan) with baking spray.

Combine chocolate, cocoa and espresso powder in bowl, cover with boiling water. Let sit 5 minutes to melt the chocolate, then whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and soda together.

Process the chocolate mixture, sugar, oil and eggs until smooth. Transfer to large bowl, mix in the flour mixture until lumps are just gone.

Pour into Bundt pan, smooth the top, bake 55 minutes. Rotate halfway through cooking.

Cool 10 minutes on rack, invert cake onto rack and cool 1 -2 hours, sprinkle with sugar OR glaze (I like the glaze)

Glaze--whisk together 1 cup of confectioner's sugar, 1 tbs milk and 1 tbs of vanilla extract with a pinch of salt. Drizzle over cake, let set 15 minutes.




I cannot be faulted for playing with the card deck that Mr. O'Toole sent me from the Exchange. I mean, I already knew what it was, correct? I shall have to start up a game of Spades at the party. And Miss Lapin Paris sent me a lovely grecian urn, and she was right there, so I needed to open it so I could thank her immediately for it, correct?

In that sort of "can do" spirit, after endless seconds of deliberation last eve, we decided to open our presents from our UK friends. After all, it was already the first in the UK, correct (that lovely global rotation thing again!). Miss Begonia and Professor Avalanche did themselves proud with a combination of Smart Cycling Attire and a Fabulous Monowheel (fully animated! The cyclist pedals and the wheels turn)--



By the by, that monowheel is a reproduction of an actual monowheel from 1869. It was built by Rousseau of Marseilles.

I do hope the Professor takes me up on my offer to stock it in my shop.

And Miss Paravane caught me flat footed by giving me a lovely little chat device. Now, instead of foolishly typing when I chat, I scribble away in my little book. Much more dignified, don't you think? I have her present now, and I do hope she likes it. I went the time honoured route of getting her something I very much would have liked myself :)

Well, hope to see you all this afternoon/evening!