UPDATED! Pandemic Diary, May 6th, 2021: Dumpster Fire

Among the news which my Twitter feed offers up today is this raging dumpster fire in the Osborne Village neighbourhood of my home city of Winnipeg:

Dumpster Fire, Osborne Village

Somehow, a dumpster fire is an apt metaphor for the state of my life lately, on Day 417 since I began working from home in self-isolation for my university library system.

Manitoba now has the third highest per-capita rate of COVID-19 infections in Canada (after Alberta and Ontario), and experts are saying that we will soon have to implement a third lockdown to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system here.

Personal visits to other private households, indoors or outdoors, have already been forbidden. I only leave my apartment to go to work at my closed library on Mondays, to do some collection weeding, and to pick up the groceries I have ordered via the Walmart website every 2 to 3 weeks. I am weary of the restrictions, but it looks like it’s going to be this way for at least another 3 to 6 months. I am not due for my second shot of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine until July.

I have not had a hug for fourteen months, people. It is starting to really wear on me.

The medications I am taking to control my blood sugar are no longer working as well as they used to, so my family doctor has put me on injectable insulin for the first time. It has been extremely frustrating to try and figure out what the optimal dosage of insulin should be, and we are still trying to figure that out. My blood sugar has been consistently high this past month, and it worries me greatly. I know I need to lose weight, but it just feels so impossible what with everything else going on.

On top of all this, my psychiatrist is considering leaving Winnipeg to accept a position in British Columbia, and neither she nor my family doctor know if they can find a new psychiatrist to take me on as a patient. The current pandemic has led to a extreme shortage of mental health professionals in Manitoba, at a time when so many people are struggling with anxiety and depression. It is, quite simply, the worst possible time to lose my psychiatrist.

Because of these and other worries, I must confess that my productivity has taken a nosedive. I’m having trouble getting anything done. I tell myself that things aren’t normal, that it’s normal to feel this way in the middle of a pandemic. But somehow today it doesn’t really help.

Today is just a dumpster fire, and I wish I had a few more buckets of water to put it out.

UPDATE May 7th, 2021: This evening, Manitoba’s chief public health officer ordered, among other things, that all galleries, museums, and libraries must close. So I won’t be going in to work on Monday after all. Given the sharp increase in COVID-19 infections in Manitoba this week, this is not a surprise to me.

Editorial: Some Advice on How to Avoid Buying Stolen Content on Second Life (After I Got Fooled)

You will notice that I have removed my most recent blogpost—about two Bento, Bakes on Mesh heads which were available via Midnight Mania boards for only a L$10 group join fee.

It is because I have been informed by a Catwa customer service representative who reached out to me this morning, that they were copybotted (i.e. stolen) versions of Catwa heads, which retail for L$5,000 each. Not owning either the models of the heads in question, I was completely fooled, thinking that I had discovered a real bargain, which of course I wanted to hurry and share with you! I got hoodwinked.

So today I wanted to write up a blogpost to tell you, my faithful readers, how to avoid buying botted or stolen content. “Botted” or “copybotted” simply means that somebody used a program called a copybot in order to make an illegal copy of something: clothing, shoes, hair, even mesh heads and bodies. I have written before about how stolen content gets given away or sold in some OpenSim-based virtual worlds, but it can also happen within Second Life itself.

First, I should have been suspicious when I saw the heads offered as Midnight Mania prizes in a small store with a wide variety of other items for sale—but no other mesh heads or bodies. I should have stopped and asked myself: why is a clothing and shoe store giving away free heads? How many apparel and footwear stores also sell mesh bodies? That should have been my first clue: CONTEXT. It’s like someone selling Rolex watches out of the back of their van; you should immediately be suspicious when the setting doesn’t match the product.

Check the context; if it’s suspicious, it’s probably illegal!
(Image from Pixabay)

Second, ask yourself if you have ever heard of the vendor before. After 14 years in Second Life, I am very familiar with all the major apparel, footwear, hair, and body vendors. The store I wrote about yesterday was brand new to me. The store also sold a wide variety of (probably also botted) clothing and shoes for both men and women. Most stores focus on either men’s or women’s clothing, not both, or just shoes or clothing, not both (although there are exceptions). If you run across a store (either in-world or on the SL Marketplace) which you have never encountered before, selling a mind-boggling variety of goods, that is also suspicious. And if you recognize a product that is sold by another merchant—much like the Catwa CSR discovered up top—that should set all your alarm bells ringing!!

Finally, check the price. L$10 for a Bento, Bakes on Mesh head? If the price is too good to be true (especially form a vendor you have never heard of before), pause and reflect. Most Bento heads sell for at least 100 times L$10, and often more than that!

Unfortunately, I did not do any due diligence before I spent L$10 to join the group to pick up these heads, and even worse, I told other people about it! So I do apologize to Catwa for not doing my homework. Apparently the eye textures in the included HUD were also ripped, stolen from IKON, and I apologize to them too.

So learn from my mistake!