Thursday, February 7, 2019

The ice storm

I was working in Second Life today and disappeared for an hour.  When I finally returned,  both cold and wet, I had a bunch of instant messages waiting patiently for me to reply.  One asked if I was away writing a story.  Yes... yes I was.  And here is that story.  A completely made up story that has nothing to do with me.  Because it would be far too embarrassing had it actually been me.

The fictional character named Willow
     To preface the story,  I should mention that the main character, lets call them BO,  well Bo was
fostering an 8 month old black Labrador retriever dog named Willow.  Willow had been living with Bo for a month and was quite energetic to say the least.  Bo saw her at the animal shelter where she had been dropped off and felt Willow would do much better living in a warm house until she was adopted by a family, than in a cold shelter. Willow has medical issues going on with her back legs so the vet felt the bandages needed to stay dry.. so when BO takes Willow for walks around town some yellow plastic dish washing gloves must be pulled over the bandages and taped.  Also to stop Willow from bothering her feet she needed a lamp shade thing over her head.  Lets just say that when Bo takes Willow for walks she gets many strange stares from people wondering why someone would put dish washing gloves over a dogs feet.  Why not those dog booties or something.  In fact Bo is starting to become the odd person around the neighbourhood I think, judging by the amount of rubber necking and laughter.
     So last night there was a big ice storm in this made up story.  Kind of like the ice storm Toronto got last night, but not the same one obviously since its a made up story with made up characters.  The ice storm covered everything in a very slippery layer making it treacherous to walk.  Anyway Bo, not aware of this, lets Willow out into the back  yard, after a while Bo hears Willow barking and looks to see her standing, in her rubber gloves, at the bottom of the porch steps unwilling to climb up.  Bo opens the side door and calls down "Willow come on up! why are you waiting down there?"  Willow just barks.. and barks.. and barks a bit more and Bo realizes it's very slippery and Willow is having nothing to do with climbing those slippery steps.  Now Bo works from home and so admittedly doesn't always get dressed RIGHT away in the morning.  Might actually be wearing pajamas at that particular time, which is not a crime!  Anyway so Bo feels that Willow needs encouragement and steps down in slippers to the icy deck and immediately realizes it is far more slippery than anticipated.  So slippery in fact that Bo must move at a snails pace to get along the deck and slowly down the steps, but fortunately Bo brought gloves so the ice on the handrails was not too hard to grasp.  Reaching Willow, who was gleefully barking this whole time, they both look back up at the steps and realize its too slippery, and so they must take the side gate to the front door to get in.           

     Walking slowly to the wooden gate Bo discovers that it is frozen shut and impossible to push open.  It's like a snowman sneezed all over it.  Willow then takes Bo's gloves and runs away with them wanting to be chased.  Slowly inching to the steps Bo hatches a plan and begins to climb the back up to the house.  The steps are very slippery as I said and it was with no shame that Bo decided to crawl up the icy steps, perhaps looking a bit like a dying crab, while Willow barked at Bo's bum.  Finally reaching the house our hero, Bo, boils a (sealed) pot of water and returns to the deck and then down the steps to the gate.  Pouring the water around the bottom of the gate the ice melts freeing it from its icy prison.  The ordeal is finally done!  Thinks a shivering Bo.  Holding willow's collar together they walk the path to the front door.. the path is very slippery so Bo decides to crawl beside Willow, seeing as there is nobody around to see.  Well until the mailman arrives unexpectedly and sees someone in their pajamas with a dog wearing bright yellow dish washing gloves crawling to meet him.  Bo makes it to their feet and says to the Mailman, who is looking at bit perplexed at the pair, "Oh I can take the mail, you don't need to put it in the box."  Bo attempts a conversational tone thinking perhaps this might hide the rather ridiculous scene and make it seem a bit.. normal.  The mailman leaves and Bo and Willow take the mail and go back into the house.   Bo notices that Willow no longer has the gloves and that they are likely in the icy back yard still.  Bo decides to buy new gloves.
     In Canada many of us don't lock our front doors.  I don't usually, and Americans think its because we have no crime and are very trusting.  The truth is we don't lock our front doors in case there is an ice storm and we get stuck outside in our pajamas without keys.  That's the real truth.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

New arts grant from Canadian government

     I was just informed a few days ago that I have been awarded another grant from the OAC, a
Canadian government arts funding organization.  I am so pleased and would just like to thank the OAC for their continued support over the years.   This is the fourth time I have been awarded a grant by them and to be honest I am not sure where I would be in my career without their financial help.  There is a saying in Canada among artists that many of the larger art organizations support Canadian artists once they have become successful elsewhere, almost as though they need evidence that other countries think we are talented in order for them to accept and support us.  They don't take us while we are fragile and encourage and support our growth thus helping to create the success, but rather appear once it is evident from the perspective of other Countries that you actually do have talent.  I don't know if it is true or artists griping, but when I look at my own successes ranging from Vogue, to television in other countries to exhibiting in museums in Germany, Moscow and galleries and festivals in the USA... I have to admit that I have never been approached by anything Canadian except Universities which have me on their syllabus.  Actually Universities have been really great too.  So I would like again to thank the OAC because they do support me and it is very much appreciated.

     So about the grant.  It is substantial and will allow me to further embrace working with the Oculus and other technologies to create immersive spaces.  One element of the grant is to film the work "Hand" and build it in Sansar (will also go in Second life).  The first obstacle?  Sansar doesn't support the space navigator mouse which is used for filming.  From what I understand it is not going to be supported anytime soon either.  There is a feature request that I submitted a while ago if anyone wishes to encourage them to work on it https://help.sansar.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/115018282103-Space-navigator-3D-mouse-support
     I understand that Sansar has lots of things to work on and they are often coming up with new features.. just a few weeks ago they announced the ability to sit in chairs.  They are doing great but my humble suggestion would be to focus on things which will help promote Sansar.  Machinima is a great promoter and Sansar might be  an ideal place to make machinima.  A news article or blog post is great too.. but they are static and show the space in 2d snapshots.  Machinima is the best was to show people the virtual space other than them actually going there to try it.  The thing is, if I can't film in Sansar for my grant,  then I will have to try High Fidelity (a competitor) or Second Life.  See I told you artists gripe about things.  Ok I will confess why I am griping today.  I am fostering a black Labrador 8 month old puppy from the Shelter.  It is exhausting!  She has leg issues so I have been keeping her at home for the last month rather than her staying in the rather cold and lonely animal shelter.  She needs people.  Once she is healthy someone will adopt her, though sadly I can't though I would dearly love to.  But it is exhausting.  I spend most of my time trying to get my gloves back after she has snuck them out of my pocket or rooting things out of her mouth.  That's a gooey job.  The other day on a walk she ate a cigarette butt.  Its like .. why? that must have tasted like stink!  Also the other day she suddenly launched herself at me while I was reading and shoved her entire tongue into my mouth.  Possibly a bit of her nose too.  She is lovely and  sweet really, but I also have had to put on one of those lamp shade things around her heads so she can't bother her feet, and then she turns into a wrecking ball.  She hasn't figured out her turning radius yet so she is constantly knocking over everything... and worst thing is she wants to go for a walk at 5am every day!.. and will  bark.  So yes I am griping but its justified! justified I say!  I am sleep deprived.  Anyway, to sum up yay! grant and thank you OAC, spacenavigator please and dog gah!.