Pandemic Diary: October 4th, 2020

I have been spending this weekend working on various projects for my full-time paying job as an academic librarian for my university library system, and doing the dishes and the laundry in my apartment (I have a kitchen counter piled high with unwashed dishes, even though I have a dishwasher). I barely leave the apartment, usually only to throw out the trash and to go for brief walks in the sunshine to top up my Vitamin D.

To give you an idea of how infrequently I have been leaving my apartment, I filled up the gas tank on my car on March 15th, 2020—and it lasted me a whole six and half months! I have been taking out my car, on average, less than once per week. I never even took off the winter tires this year!

In my off hours, I have been binge-watching various TV shows and movies on Netflix and on Apple TV+ (I got a free one-year subscription to the latter when I purchased my iPhone 7 last year).

I just finished watching season one of For All Mankind, an alternate-history TV series on Apple TV+ that examines what would have happened to the space race if the Russians had been first to set foot on the moon, instead of Neil Armstrong. It’s the little details, like Teddy Kennedy becoming president and pardoning Richard Nixon for Watergate, that make it so enjoyable! (In this alternate timeline, the Chappaquiddick scandal never happened, but Teddy does get himself mired in a later sex scandal with Mary Jo Kopechne while president, putting him at risk of losing to Ronald Reagan in the next election.)

For All Mankind: In this alternative timeline, Richard Nixon responds to the Russians putting the first woman on the moon by recruiting the first class of female astronauts

I have also been busy picking up free store credits in Second Life for my small army of alts (more details here and here). Between Addams, Bumblebee, Scandalize, and Seniha, there are L$1,750 in free store credit or gift cards available, which is a goldmine for us freebie fashionistas in Second Life!

The lag at the Scandalize store is just absolutely horrendous, with transactions timing out constantly, and even occasionally locking my avatar account out of the store credit collection panel until a certain number of days have passed. All this hassle makes me wonder why I even bother with this nonsense in the first place, but Second Life is one of those hobbies that helps keep me sane and distracted during the pandemic, so I persevere.

I picked up this beautiful Azahara ballgown for free, using the recent gifts of free store credit at Scandalize (complete styling details here). You can never have too many ballgowns in Second Life! 😉

And I actually got fooled in Second Life, something which happens rarely to me with my almost 14 years of experience in SL. I have an alt named Artist Scientist and when I teleported into the Seniha store sim to get their store credit, I got this message immediately:

{ Greenies } MoneyGrabber: [Redacted Name] stole 80L$ from Artist Scientist

I check my total balance and it’s at L$1. Even worse, I can’t remember if it was higher than that before I teleported in! The episode led to a rather lively discussion thread on the official Second Life community forums, where the culprit turns out to be a harmless prankster’s attachment for sale on the SL Marketplace.

I would flag it, but it appears to be permissible, since it does not actually steal any money; I lost no Linden dollars. Lesson learned! So now you know, if you should encounter it (and a reminder that you will see something like the following strong warning whenever anybody or anything tries to take money from your account outside of an actual sales transaction (see image, right).

And I have still been actively avoiding all social media (except for a few subReddits to follow coronavirus news and the myriad editions of RuPaul’s Drag Race) and the news media. In fact, I only learned that Donald Trump had contracted COVID-19 from a meme somebody posted to the RuPaul’s Drag Race subReddit community! But so far, my strategy appears to be working overall, and I plan to continue with it.

I have heard through the grapevine of many people who have, like me, decided to quit Facebook to avoid the toxic dumpster fire currently taking place there, where misinformation and conspiracy theories are spreading like wildfire. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Stay sane and stay healthy! May you find hobbies and pastimes to help you cope with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, much as I have with Second Life and other virtual worlds and social VR platforms and the blog!

Image courtesy of 1920s Berlin landlady Jo Yardley (source)

UPDATE 4:04 p.m.: The following message has been posted to the Scandalize group in Second Life:

Scandalize sim, it will be closed for a while, due to maintenance. We will be back soon.

I’m not surprised; it has just been hammered with avatars trying to get in. I really do think that the more popular SL stores need to rethink how they handle these sorts of events in future. For example, do you really need to be holding a hunt, and putting up several dozen popular lucky boards, at the same time as giving away free store credit? The Scandalize sim is already crowded due to one thing, so why combine three things to make the situation even worse?

UPDATED: Version 4.0 of the Kalhene Anya and Alexa Bodies: A Great Second Life Bakes-on-Mesh Bento Head and Body Package Gets Even Better!

I have been following the progress of the Kalhene Bento, Bakes on Mesh bodies (the Anya female body and the Alexa transgender body) for some time now, and I am mightily impressed with how often the creator issues updates. We are now at version 4.0 of the Anya body, which I have found to be nearly 100% compatible with apparel and footwear designed for Maitreya Lara mesh bodies!

Pay a visit to the Kalhene store (located opposite the N-Core shoe store), and for only L$1,795, you get not only a Maitreya-Lara-compatible Bento mesh body, with a top-notch HUD, but you also get a Bento mesh head, plus pretty much everything else you need to get started—skins, eyes, hair, a starter wardrobe, even an AO to control the eyes, head, and hands! All you need to add is a body AO and you’re all set!

Let’s draw up a side-by-side comparison chart, showing you what you get for your money: column A is the Kalhene Anya version 4.0 head and body, and Column B is the Maitreya Lara version 5.3 mesh body with a Catwa brand of Bento mesh head (the most popular combination):

Kalhene Anya 4.0Maitreya Lara 5.3
Base Cost of Mesh BodyL$1,795L$2,750
Petite Breast OptionIncluded (all clothing in the package works with it) L$599 extra
Flat Chest OptionIncluded (all clothing in the package works with it) L$499 extra
Implant (Large) Breast OptionIncluded (all clothing in the package works with it)Not included (not sure what the extra cost would be!)
Bento Hands and Nails Included; Fingernails come in 36 colours and patterns, and 5 styles Included; Fingernails come in 19 colours and 5 styles
Mesh Feet 3 feet heights controlled by HUD (flat, medium, and high) 5 feet heights controlled by HUD (flat, kitten, medium, high, and point)
Bento Mesh HeadIncludedNot Included (Catwa heads cost L$5,000)
Starter SkinIncluded (5 skin tones in regular and flat-chested versions)Included (22 skin tones)
Starter WardrobeBikini (12 colours), dress (8 colours), shirt (4 colours), leggings (4 colours), flat shoes (5 colours, 2 styles), high-heeled shoes (5 colours, 3 styles), plus black and white pantyhose/stockings and finger rings. All apparel fits flat. petite, regular, and implant breast versions of the Anya body.Bra and Panties by Erratic (9 colours) and Zaara (black)
TOTAL COSTL$1,795L$8,848 (not including the cost of a starter wardrobe)
Comparison Chart: Kalhene Anya versus Maitreya Lara with a Catwa head

Also, because the included skin tones that come the Maitreya Lara body and your choice of Catwa head will not match, you will also have to shell out for skin appliers from your favourite skin store (or a Bakes on Mesh skin, since both Maitreya and Catwa now support BoM). You could easily spend well over L$10,000 before you’re done with the Maitreya/Catwa combination, whereas you could take that extra money and put it towards apparel, footwear, hairstyles, and Bakes on Mesh skins, cosmetics and tattoos if you opt for the Kalhene Anya mesh body.

Here’s a look at the HUD that comes with version 3.0 of the Anya body. Note that unlike earlier versions, there are now three feet heights, controllable by the HUD (instead of separate mesh bodies): flat feet, mid-height feet, and high heel feet.

There’s a pretty complete set of alpha selections on the HUD, which compares quite favourably with those of the major mesh body brands, and of course you can also use the alphas that come with the clothing you buy. If you do need a set of alphas to use with clothing that does not come with them, you can pick up a free set from Little Black Dress at this SLURL (just click on the bag on the floor).

The separate clothing HUD allows you to change the colour and style of the included hairstyle (bangs/no bangs), as well as all of the included starter wardrobe items, including the metals and gemstones on the included set of rings, the ability to show or hide the rings on each finger, and the colour and style of two kinds of shoes, flat and high (including the flats shown here; other options include sandals and pumps). Black and white pantyhose and tights (in all three feet heights and four different transparency levels) are included in the package, too.

Here’s a look at a completely styled version of the Anya mesh avatar, showing you where on the body and clothing HUDs I made selections:

As you can see, you can create and style a complete avatar look using only the elements in the Anya package! However, I also wanted to show you how this body would look with a different head and skin (the Anya head and body are separate attachments, and of course you can mix and match them with other BoM-compatible heads and bodies as you wish).

This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head: Strong Face gift Bento mesh head from The Genus Project (free group gift)
  • Mesh Body: Anya version 3.0 from Kalhene (L$1,695; Kalhene has a a small store located opposite the N-Core Design footwear store (here’s the SLURL)
  • Skin: Brielle by Amara Beauty (a former free group gift; group is free to join)
  • Hair: Beyoncé hair by enVOGUE (a L$1 gift from a previous year’s Hair Fair)
  • Gown: Azahara ballgown in red by Scandalize (which I picked up using the recent group gift of L$400 store credit; the Scandalize group costs L$100 to join, but if you hurry, you can join for free and pick up a second L$400 store credit offer! I believe today is the final day you can join the Scandalize group for free.)
  • Jewelry: I pulled this old set from my inventory; they came from a store that has long since left the grid!

TOTAL COST OF THIS AVATAR LOOK: L$1,696 (L$1,695 for the Kalhene Anya mesh body when I purchased it, and L$1 for the hair; the rest was free!)

UPDATE March 31st, 2021: I wanted to report that Kalhene has now released version 4.0 of the Anya mesh body! If you bought an earlier version of the Anya body, you can get a redelivery at their in-world store here; just click the large REDELIVERY sign on the wall as shown here:

Among the new features in this latest release are:

  • a new mesh head (version 2), with a stronger jawline, more arched eyebrows and some soft changes on the nose and lips;
  • three new different breast positions via deformer animations in the HUD (which works for all breast sizes: petite, regular, and implants), to give a more natural look to the breasts;
  • a neck fix for LeLutka mesh heads; and
  • new body oil materials (for the mesh body Bakes on Mesh only).

I have now been using the Anya mesh body with dozens and dozens of outfits that were designed for the Maitreya Lara body, without any issues, except for two minor ones:

  1. sometimes, on only a few very long-sleeved shirts, there is a problem with the wrist and hand area, where the hand pokes through the sleeve; and
  2. with a few pairs of jeans or pants, the waist of the pants is a bit wider than the waist of the body (see image, right), a problem which does not occur on the Maitrey Lara mesh body.

However, these problems are so uncommon (I have encountered them only 4 or 5 times in well over a year of testing!), that I can recommend the Anya 3.0 mesh body without hesitation if you want a Maitreya Lara-compatible mesh body at a bargain price!

Here is the version 4.0 the Anya body paired with the recent dollarbie group gift of the Catwa HFPRO Queen Bento mesh head, along with a look at the new HUD:

A look at the version 4.0 Anya body HUD (the alpha HUD is separate)

Note that the alpha sections HUD seen in the version 3.0 pictures earlier in this blogpost is still available; it’s in the box marked “BOXED -Kalhene- ANYA Mesh Body V4.0 (BoM + Alpha HUD)” in the version 4.0 package, which must be unpacked separately (the alpha sections HUD looks identical to the one pictured above). Please also note that you must use the bodies in that particular unpacked folder with the alpha sections HUD! For some strange reason, the alpha HUD didn’t work with the bodies from the main folder.

So, wait are you waiting for? Get shopping! 😉