Archive for October, 2009

Thanks for perpetuating the stereotypes!

Posted in Musings with tags , , on October 28, 2009 by xxxicana

liv tyler and Royston langdonSo, will Liv Tyler and Royston Langdon dress in black face for Halloween next year?

How lazy is this?

Posted in Musings on October 21, 2009 by xxxicana

on a segway_001

Hehee!  My avatar is spinnin’ around SL on a virtual Segway!

Last night I was visiting the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life (  It’s an excellent presentation!  Thanks to Pablo Rangel for giving me the heads up.  The sim includes embedded videos (aka machinima) on Afro-Latino music, Dance & Masks in a Mexican community in the US, and other subjects, and an exhibit on the Olmec (see my previous post re the Olmec in the virtual Mexico sim).  Vistors to the museum can click on images, people, or places and be connected to the extensive collections held by the Smithsonian.  Heads up  . . . there will be a Dia de los Muertos celebration from Oct 29-Nov 2 in the museums placita.

If you’re wondering why I’ve been in SL so much, I ‘m down with the flu, hopefully not  H1N1     ^o^         plus, It’s research!!!!!


Archaeological tour of Mexico in one evening!

Posted in Musings with tags , , , on October 19, 2009 by xxxicana

It’s  fall break at UNL which gives me a little bit of extra time to focus on projects and have a little R & R.  So, I headed off to Mexico, courtesy of the Mexican Board of Tourism — all from the comfort of my living room.  Talk about being an armchair tourist!  Of course I didn’t ACTUALLY go to Mexico, I took a VIRTUAL trip via Second Life.  Here are photos from my trip:

Snapshot_001First, I did some upgrades to my avatar . . . new skin, different eyes, better piercings.  Vanity, thy name is avatar!  This photo was taken in the colonial section of virtual Mexico.

First stop: La Venta and the Olmec Archaeological Park

Snapshot olmec4_001

I have to say that the builders of this sim did a great job.  I think they must have used photographs of actual monuments which were then copied onto the simulated monuments.  The details are accurate and visually stunning. It is like being there — except no schlepping your luggage around or getting all sweaty in the coastal lowlands of the Veracruz area!

Snapshot olmec_001

Next stop:  Palenque


The above photo is of the Temple of the Inscriptions, famous for housing the tomb of the great Maya king, Pacal.  In the sim, one can climb up the temple and then down the shaft into the center of the pyramid to view Pacal’s tomb.  I’ve done this in real life and the payoff is outrageous!!  I’m very impressed with this sim . . . again, just enough detail to entice and give the feeling that one is looking at the “real” thing, but not too much detail to make the sim run too slow.


This is the palace at Palenque.  Nice addition of the fire for ambiance!

colonial church_001

Shot of a colonial church. The tourism board created a sim that features several archaeological sites, beaches, jungles, and colonial architecture.  It’s pretty amazing! There’s a musical soundtrack, ambient sound, and the discos have preset dance animators that allow your avatar to salsa like a local! Unfortunately, no one has yet found a way for you to enjoy a cerveza con un plato de enchiladas!


No trip to Mexico would be complete with out picking up souvenirs.  I got a free sombrero, but it didn’t fit!

poster for chichen itza_001

Alas, not all is perfect in the virtual world — but the imperfections reflect real world issues.  The above photo is of a voting booth (you vote which sim you like best).  The prize for voting is a “Beautiful Mayan Inspired Outfit.”  OMG, this is cultural appropriation at its worst!  But, just the kind of sexy, exoticized pastiche of stereotypes to appeal to tourists!

I’m teaching a course right now on the Ancient Maya . . . I’ll have to work these images into my next lecture!

Second Life is truly amazing and this simulation of Mexico presents tourist destinations in a way that entices while not fully satisfying.  I sat through a short tourist board video that showed Mexico and Mexicans — which was a cool way to insert the real into the virtual.  The overwhelming message of the video and the sim was “VISIT MEXICO.”  I’m curious as to the effectiveness of this sim as a promotional device.  SL boasts of +1 million visits per month.  When I log on there are usually 40 – 65 thousand people inworld — that’s a lot of people!  A great deal of time, energy, and expense went into the creation of this sim, but it probably costs less than running TV ads and has the added bonus of giving avatars the opportunity to “experience” Mexico.  Probably for some, this is as much experience as they will want to ever gain . . . but for others, it is an engaging way to test the waters.

From an educational perspective, I can see the utility of sims of this nature.  I can send students inworld to virtually experience walking up the steps of a massive pyramid.  I have in mind the development of a course doing virtual ethnography in SL . . . a great way to learn how to do anthropology without the trouble (and expense) of going into the “field.”

Anyone interested in reading about SL should check out Tom Boellstorff’s text “Coming of Age in Second Life.”  It is an excellent presentation of SL and the possibilities of doing anthropological research in the post-modern/post-human era.  I “met” Boellstorff in SL . . .  it’s kinda funny . . . he’s from Nebraska and teaches at UC Irvine while I’m from Orange County and teach in Nebraska!  Even the virtual world is full of coinkydinks.

So much for blogging today . . . the kitty wants some pate . . . do you think I spoil her?

1st snow proves that Henny & Penny are hardy lasses, indeed!

Posted in Urban Farming on October 11, 2009 by xxxicana

I was awakened Saturday morning to Tom’s loud exclamation, “Oh, F@#k . . . it snowed last night.”  Needless to say, Mister Man is not favorably disposed to the winter season.  Fortunately, it was just a light ball in snow

But, it did require some “farm” chores.   Henny and Penny weren’t too sure what was going on . . . it was their first snow.  So, I raked up the snow from around their yard so their little toes wouldn’t get too cold.  Maybe I should ask Onion Tears to knit them some gloves!  Tom had already fortified their coop with straw bales to keep out the wind and retain heat.

winterized coop

Here’s a video of the chickens enjoying the brisk winter air (and Balam, too).

I fortified the “chickie cave” to keep the snow out . . .

photo chicken cave

The girls seem to appreciate it!

The rain barrel had to be drained

rain barrel

So, that was Saturday morning . . . trying to winterize in early October . . . frankly, we were not prepared for snow.  We still had not taken the garden hoses off the spigots and Thursday evening we were out at 11 pm picking green tomatoes in the dark.  Global warming is perhaps a misnomer . . . we should call it global climate change.  Our summer was very cool and winter has made a fairly early appearance.  The cats, however, don’t seem to be too phased by the whole thing


They spend most of the day sleeping

fast asleep

The kitties are best buddies now.

Tom & cats

Mister Man enjoying cat company

cleo & car sleepingCleo and me taking a nap

What better way to enjoy the cooling weather?

Phew, what a day!

Posted in Musings, Urban Farming with tags , , , , on October 4, 2009 by xxxicana

Mister Man had a gig with the New Delta Boogie Boys at the 4th Annual Veg Fest held in the “Historic Havelock District”.


This event was organized by several organizations that we support . . . and they invited the NDBB to play.  It was a brisk afternoon, pleasant enough, but hard on the musicians (stiff fingers).  As always, Tom, Stan, Pablo, and Patrick served up some great  blues to entertain young and old alike.

Delta boogie BoysYou can keep track of upcoming gigs at

Veg Fest also hosted a salsa contest (the condiment, not the dance) with the stipulation that the ingredients had to be locally grown and include melon.  Luckily, our neighbor Keith had just given me a watermelon earlier in the week. So I diced, seeded, chopped, tasted, salted, sawed, scooped, and garnished a recipe I made up for the contest.  Here’s my entry:

Watermelon and Mint Chiffonade Salsa

salsaJudging was by Pepe Fiero (owner of Pepe’s Veggie Mex Bistro), Maggie (owner of Maggie’s Wraps), and Judy a la Carte  (radio host on KFOR).  It was a blind taste test . . . competition was a little lacking . . . only 3 entries until the final minute when two more showed up.

judgingJudging. . . . .


certifFirst Place!!  And there were prizes!

1st place

Woohoo!! A Rain Barrel!!

1st place 2the long view

At the end of Veg Fest a few of us headed over to

Bobs taverto enjoy a few brews with friends.

Dave and Joan were kind enough to schlep the barrel to our house since it wouldn’t fit in my car even if it hadn’t been filled with Mister Man’s guitars, gig bags, guitar stand, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Had beer & wine with Dave and Joan.  Ran out to DeLeone’s for quick Mexican food  . . . and then just enough time to powder my nose, touch up my lipstick and drive over to Q to join my BFFs for the Drag review.  We had a great time.  Girls looked great  . . . I was complemented by a couple of performers on my hair and boots !!!  YES!  What we all need sometimes – validation that our internal diva-ness is workin’ it!

A lot of fun packed into one day!  Phew.  I think I’ll take it easy today.