Pandemic Diary, January 2nd, 2022: A Playlist of Uplifting Music for Pandemic Times

My new playlist for Omicron times

It is now officially 658 days since March 16th, 2020, when I began working from home for my full-time paying job as a science librarian at the University of Manitoba.

Suffering from a wicked case of insomnia, I finally got out of bed around 2:00 a.m. and started working on a playlist of music, using a previous playlist I had created to get me through a five-week strike at my university as my starting point.

I just finished, and I have been listening to these tunes on loop all morning and afternoon, and I am feeling immeasurably better! These are songs about finding strength in the face of adversity, hope, resilience, never giving up, etc. I now share them with you in hopes that they will help you get through this pandemic.

I named this playlist after two of the songs on it: Invincible (by Kelly Clarkson) and Overcomer (an absolute BANGER of a Christian song by Mandisa, with an inspiring video; see below). Yes, I have included a few songs by contemporary Christian artists, which I still listen to even though I now consider myself an atheist (or perhaps agnostic); I hope you don’t mind! You can always skip them if it offends you. 😉

Invincible, by Kelly Clarkson
Overcomer, by Mandisa

Stay safe, and stay healthy in these unprecedented times!

UPDATED! Pandemic Diary, November 17th, 2021: Some Uplifting Music to Get Through Difficult Times

I am now in the third week of a union strike by professors, instructors, and librarians at my university, during the rising fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic here in Manitoba, and having just been blasted with our first big dump of winter snow.

In other words, I am completely stressed out.

One of the reasons why I have been blogging almost exclusively about Second Life lately, and not about what’s going on in the broader metaverse, is that SL is my happy place, where I go to escape messy, chaotic, and painful reality. Second Life (plus the RuPaul’s Drag Race and Dragula franchises) are helping me stay sane and get through this time of high anxiety and high uncertainty!

I wanted to share a short playlist of five songs which I have been listening to, when I feel anxious, upset, and stressed. I know that many of you (including the faculty, staff, and students at my university) are feeling pretty stressed out as well, and I sincerely hope that listening to this uplifting music helps in some small way. Maybe you’ll even find a new song to help you get through the tougher times in your life!

YouTube Music: https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgsEMkuBXPb9EGepUhCOmpNwsyq77546i&feature=share

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/173526c5AnIurL6sFH2MA3?si=360ddc00f51e4b95

Here’s my playlist:

Rise Up – Andra Day

This Is Me – Keala Settle

(Something Inside) So Strong – Labi Siffre

You Gotta Be – Des’ree

Proud – Heather Small

I hope this music cheers you up during your stressful times!

P.S. I am open to suggestions of other songs along this vein, so if you know of a great uplifting song that you think should be added to this playlist, please leave a comment on this blogpost, thanks!

UPDATE Nov. 19th, 2021: I have had another suggestion for another great song to add to my playlist. Thank you, Scott Forbes!

I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty

UPDATED! Visit the Metaverse Festival in Decentraland, October 21st to 24th, 2021

The Metaverse Festival is a four-day celebration of music, culture, and creativity in the blockchain-based virtual world of Decentraland (DCL), starting today and running through to October 24th, 2021. Here’s a sitemap with coordinates (you can see this in a larger size on the Metaverse Festival website):

The festival boasts an impressive lineup of over 75 performers, including 3LAU, Alison Wonderland, deadmau5, and Nina Nesbitt. You can get details on when and where to catch your favourite artist on the Decentraland events listing. A complete lineup of performers is on the Metaverse Festival website, which features a suitably trippy design:

A four-day celebration of music, culture and creativity in the virtual social world of Decentraland, the Metaverse Festival is a grand collision of light, sound and portable toilets.

It’s the first event of its kind – a fully decentralized celebration of music that offers a weird and wonderful brew of world-class headline acts, mind blowing stages, games, exclusive artist merch, collectibles and more.

So, on October 21, dress your avatar in your very best wearables and jump into an experience like no other.

And if this is your first time in the virtual world, be sure to take a look at our Festival FAQs, which explain how you can be a part of the fun.

We can’t wait to see you in the metaverse!

Gah, that word again…”decentralized”. Decentraland may be many things, but one thing it is most certainly not is decentralized. Everything runs on Decentraland’s own servers, on Decentraland’s artificially scarce and increasingly expensive virtual land (called, of course, LAND).

It just irritates the hell out of me when PR people cavalierly toss around meaningless descriptions like “a fully decentralized celebration of music”. And “the first event of its kind”? Second Life would like a word. Festivals in virtual worlds have been around for years, people.

Apparently, even Paris Hilton herself is making an appearance at Decentraland’s Metaverse Festival (hmmm, I guess she gave up on Staramba Spaces/MATERIA.ONE, another blockchain platform which I savagely reviewed here and here on my blog). God only knows what she’ll be doing up on stage (probably trying to deejay).

Anyway, that’s enough kvetching for one day. If you want to visit the Metaverse Festival, you will likely need to set up a wallet (here’s a quote taken from the Festival FAQs document):

The best way to fully enjoy the Decentraland experience is to get yourself a digital wallet. Digital wallets work as your personal account, keeping all your digital assets (such as NFTs, LAND, cryptocurrency) and in-world progress safe. And when you return to Decentraland, you just need to hit ‘connect’ and you’re in.

You can still enter Decentraland without a wallet, by signing in with your email address (via Fortmatic) or as a Guest, but you won’t have the chance to – for example – receive daily rewards and airdrops, trade in the Marketplace or log in with a different device using the same ID and avatar.

Learn how to get a wallet with our simple Beginners Guide.

Got all that? Cryptonewbies might also want to refer to the blogpost I wrote when Decentraland first opened its doors to the general public: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Get Started in Decentraland (and Some Caveats for New Users).

Have fun and enjoy the festival!

You can follow what’s going on in Decentraland via Twitter and Reddit, or catch up the latest news via their blog. You can also join their official Discord server.

UPDATE Oct. 23rd, 2021: I have been informed that Decentraland actually is decentralized; Jin (one of the 600+ members of the RyanSchultz.com Discord) shared the following paragraph from the DCL FAQ:

Does Decentraland run on top of its own blockchain?

Decentraland uses the Ethereum blockchain to store and verify information about LAND ownership and LAND content. It does not run on its own independent blockchain. Content within Decentraland is hosted and served to users via a network of community-owned content servers.

So, I stand corrected! Thanks, Jin 😉 Here’s the GitHub for the software if you want to set up your own DCL content server (and, of course, you need LAND!).

Stageverse: A Brief Introduction

Stageverse is a new social VR platform for musical performance, currently available for the Oculus Quest only (not other VR headsets), as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. The platform features full-body, customizable avatars and spatial voice chat.

Today, Stageverse launched their first show, a 360° video recording of a 2-hour Muse concert held in Madrid, called Muse: Enter the Simulation. According to their website:

Muse: Enter the Simulation is a mixed reality experience of the Simulation Theory live show, recorded at the sold-out tour stop at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. This is an interactive, social experience allowing you to meet up with friends and fellow fans as avatars, at the Stageverse Stadium. You can explore the show from 16 different viewpoints, all in 360 degrees – and in 3D in virtual reality. You can express yourself with interactive toys, and exclusive virtual outfits from Muse and Balmain Paris, including the recreation of Matt Bellamy’s jacket worn onstage. Available on mobile or Oculus Quest headsets, guaranteed to transport you out of reality and into the simulation.

From this video, it would appear that you and your friends are avatars in a space where the 360° video is being played, and you can switch viewpoints to catch the concert from various angles. The concert is free to attend “for a limited time only” (whatever that means; I assume it means that they intend to start charging for future events).

Also, Stageverse has future plans to hop onto the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) bandwagon, with something called the Future Culture Club, which you can sign up for on the website:

For more information about Stageverse, please visit their website, join their Discord server, or follow the project on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I will be adding Stageverse to my ever-expanding comprehensive list of social VR and virtual worlds.