Wednesday, February 25, 2009

YAY! I'm an official VKC trainer!

For those of you (all one, apparently) who might not be familiar with it, the Virtual Kennel Club was founded by Enrico "Rico" Genosse to promote adoption (OK, "sale" if you want to be all OOC about it) and training of dogs ("canidroids") which he built and scripted.

In no particular order, the VKC adopts out Bloodhounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Labradors, Australian Shepherds, Rottweilers, Chihuahuas, Bichon Frises, Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Dobermans and Chow Chows. (You can't get the hyenas any more unless somebody's feeling really generous.)

Watch the film: VKC... The Story Begins

When Steelhead's Port Harbor was being pre-booked, I wrote to Mister Genosse about opening a dog park in Steelhead - and instead, he suggested I run it! We worked out arrangements to pay for the land, I started landscaping it into a space for people to enjoy the view as well as the dogs, and eventually when our schedules synched up, he gave me the Trainer test and the contract!

Without trying to make fun of Mister Genosse, it was kind of funny. The current trainers, especially Rosanna Himmel, did a really good job of preparing me over a series of about four training sessions. The test was to teach the dog a trick - pick up a frisbee, go around a pole at one end of the space, then cross back, go around/over/through a fence and drop the frisbee on the other side. First thing I asked was if I had been made a friend of the the test dog, a very handsome Chow Chow. This would allow me to give the dog commands almost as if I were his owner. Ooops. He fixed that quickly.

Then we got the spare frisbee out of the way.

See, VKC dogs can "see" objects when they've got active scripts in them, like Uni Ninetails's trees for instance. The post that the dog was supposed to circle was set like this, but somehow it acquired a very odd name -- the same one I was wearing at the Steelhead "Phantom of the Opera" masquerade dance! Rico thought I was joking when I told the dog to "go the mushroom of the catacombs", but honestly, that's what the post said. I don't even think I was wearing my RPTool.

He had some tricky bits - the dog wouldn't "go" to the post, after the name was fixed, because his "go" command had been changed! I spotted that and fixed it quickly, then taught the dog some marks, locations for the dog to remember and be able to be directed to. A little more fiddling and plotting on my part, and the chow nicely left where I was standing, circled the post, headed for the fence, stopped where he was to drop the frisbee, circled around the other end of the fence and returned to me with a nice little playful rollover to finish.

One problem - he didn't take the frisbee. "chow take frisbee" (dogs don't like capital letters). No response. Well, well, well. Another sneaky challenge! "dog forget take" - this should have removed a taught, overlaying behavior and returned "take" to the default action. Except... now the dog didn't do anything. "chow help" - this lists all the dog's marks, instincts, tricks and status. "chow list take" - no response at all.

Ooops. This broke "fetch" too, of course, because "take" is part of "fetch". It was more adventurous of a test than we expected! We found a script bug! He said I passed. :D

Now my beautiful park will be opening Friday - we'll take about an hour for final setup with proper signage and such, then the public is welcome at 5 PM, just enough time for people to check things out before Steelhead's Mardi Gras dance at 7. AND there'll be a special VKC event on Saturday too!

Oh, and for no good reason at all:
Adopshun by lolcatz - Not so grate acksually

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Relay For Life in Second Life has officially begun


  • Ask people you like to be with and who you trust. Choose greatness!

  • Have a team kickoff to recruit new members and get things going

  • Set a team fundraising goal of at least $100/person or $1000 for the team
    • fundraising year around will lead to more success and less burnout

    • don’t forget to plan some on-site fundraisers for the day of Relay

    • see the Encyclopedia of Fundraisers for great ideas get creative with FUN-raisers that the whole team can help with and enjoy

  • Select a co-captain to help you

  • Organize your team by forming team committees
    • Lay out team fundraisers on a calendar and discuss team members responsibility for each

    • delegate

    • trust and support your team members

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate!
    • have regular team meetings

    • copy and distribute the Relay newsletters

    • do a team newsletter

    • call and email with updates, good news (“Kimberly just got a $20 donation!”), reminders about fundraisers, upcoming team meetings, etc.

  • Attend team captain meetings or send someone in your place
    • pass along information you get at team captain meetings

    • keep your team informed about incentive prizes, rules, games, contests, etc.

  • Make sure you turn in your registration fee and form by the deadline. Don’t forget to turn in any other forms needed by the Relay committee.

  • Motivate, excite and enthuse your team
    • dedicate your team’s efforts to a cancer survivor share information about the American Cancer Society programs and services that you receive at team captain meetings

    • be their cheerleader and their biggest fan!

    • ask survivors that you know to come to Relay and walk in the Opening Lap

    • hang Relay posters, banners, balloons in your office

  • Take up the fight against cancer and volunteer to help with ACS programs and services. The ACS is always in need of volunteers. There are many opportunities for you and your entire team to get involved – from driving cancer patients to and from treatment to educating others on the importance of prevention and early detection to helping with the American Cancer Society’s legislative agenda by becoming a grass roots advocate.

  • Have a Team Wrap Up Party
    • review the team’s activities, fundraisers, etc. to find out what worked well and what could be improved

    • distribute/announce any awards your team won.

    • you can even have your own awards for your team’s Top Fundraiser, Most Laps Walked, etc.

    • start planning for next year’s Relay !

  • HAVE FUN ! !

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A sim to keep an eye on (or watch in terror, as appropriate)

Caliburn Susanto, Friend to All (really, he's a great guy!) posts previews of the new Arkham sim -- and invites people over.

Take a look here!

A RL Tiny!

From ABC News: Fifteen-year-old Jyoti Amge of Nagpur, India, is the "world's smallest girl," according to the Indian Book of Records. She was born Dec. 16, 1993, and now measures just 1 foot, 11 inches tall, and weighs 11 pounds. Doctors say that it is unlikely that she will grow any taller than her current height.
(BARM/Fame Pictures)

(She needs a "Mind Below" sign, or at least a helium balloon....)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A view of Avaria

I've had occasion (see the Mushroom Hunters' Ning for why) to tromp around a lot of Avaria recently, and this well-done slideshow of photography both from the floating buildings and the widely-varied environment on the ground really does a beautiful job of showing off this astonishing land.

(What, a cavern? I've missed something?!)

P.S. Good soundtrack.