Second Life: Beam me up, Scotty — I’m being attacked by an earworm!

Posted on May 3, 2010

5


Another reprint from my misadventures as The Walkin’ Dude in Second Life (I’m hoping to have time to actually create real posts again soon). According to my notes, this was apparently my sixth piece.

NOTE: Second Life has its own currency named after Linden Lab, the company that created the platform for the virtual world. This is shown as L$, such as “L$25,” meaning “$25 Linden dollars.” (And yes, it can be exchanged for American or Canadian dollars, and at a rate significantly better than that of Zimbabwean money .)

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See that worm? That's the Spoonful's "Summer in the City" -- metaphorically speaking.

Ever get a song in your head that just keeps repeating itself like a bad comic?

Professor James Kellaris studies ear worms. Trust him -- he's a doctor.

It’s called an ohrwurm, which is German for “earworm,” and Professor James Kellaris, of the University of Cincinnati, has spent a lot of time studying the phenomenon (probably because he was late filling out his paperwork, and all the good research grants were taken). As might be expected from such a dedicated researcher, Kellaris has produced a boatload of statistics, including the fact that 74% of our earworms come from songs with lyrics, 15% from commercial jingles, and 11% from instrumentals.

This tells us that jingle writers aren’t nearly as effective as they like to believe.

Kelaaris also found that in trying to get rid of earworms, 66% of us try replacing it with another song, 50% try distracting ourselves, 33% talk to somebody about it, and 14% stick with the song all the way to the end hoping that it will go away.

Since all of that adds up to 163%, this tells us that mathematics is a suspect discipline.

At the moment, my personal ohrwurm is the old Simon and Garfunkel tune, “I Am a Rock.”

Now it is often the case that people have no idea why their minds have chosen to grab onto this or that particular song. I, however, know exactly why I’m humming “I Am a Rock.”

It’s because I’m a freakin’ rock!

And it’s all Finn’s fault.

I walk almost everywhere in Second Life. It’s kind of what I do here. Walking provides the reason for these articles.

But it’s not like I never teleport. When a friend comes online and invites me over, for instance, I don’t insist on hiking several thousand kilometres just to visit. And when there’s a shindig in my virtual home town of Washtown, I beam in as smoothly as if Scotty were at the controls.

Transporter beams? Noooooo!

Recently, though, I’ve been coming to appreciate Dr. McCoy’s aversion to having one’s atoms scattered across the universe. Last week I kept turning into a woman — a transformation I had unjustly (but hopefully) blamed on the W-hat gang, a group given to playing practical jokes. One of our staff writers, Phoenix Psaltery, set me straight. It seems that unlike the Garden of Eden, in Second Life the female was created first.

“Long ago,” Phoenix told me, “when the Great Linden created the Avatar, he created Female first. And her name was Ruth. And the Great Linden didst take some useless bit of Ruth or other, and created Male, whose name apparently doesn’t matter. And to this day, every now and then, when you log in or TP somewhere, you’ll get ‘stuck’ in the basic female avatar form, hence the term, ‘getting Ruthed.’”

So last week I was getting Ruthed.

This week? Well, this week I teleported into the middle of a rock.

More of a granite slab to be precise, but the point is I can’t get out.

Like I said, it’s all Finn’s fault.

It's not so bad, once you get used to it.

I’ve written about him before. He’s an acquaintance of mine in SL and just built his first house here. It’s a nice little beach front property located in…well, actually I don’t know where it’s located because he always teleports me there. The point, however, is that I decided to get him a housewarming gift; but in keeping with the nature of the Walkin’ Dude mission, I wanted to get him something from the route I’ve already travelled. I would allow myself to teleport for convenience, but only within the three islands I’ve already hiked.

It was going quite well, too – until I ended up inside a rock with Simon and Garfunkel singing in my head.

I’ve tried teleporting out, but so far haven’t had much luck.

I’m in a lovely area in the Kailli region called The Cove. Behind me is the building I was coming to investigate. Turns out it’s an armament shop. By manipulating my camera I can even examine the weapons which, according to the notecards, you don’t need to talk to. I’ve never talked to a weapon, but I can see how it could detract from the drama of the situation. When you growl, “Are you feelin’ lucky, punk?” it should be followed by a loud bang: not a muttered, “Gun –  Fire!”

Very anticlimactic indeed.

On the ground directly in front of me is a Google Earth picture of what looks to be some kind of old fort. A semi-circle of benches allows visitors to contemplate the scene in comfort. Not that I know what the scene represents.

I feel like a commemorative monument that has no idea what it’s commemorating.

Of course, I guess that’s true of most commemorative monuments.

None of this would have happened if I’d just settled for the neon sign.

LadyBunnys western shop

I saw it at a place called LadyBunnys which specializes in all kinds of western-themed do-dads. She’s got a settler’s wagon at a very reasonable L$200, a western wall mural for only L$50, and a rug with a picture of a cowboy whirling a lasso around his head for only L$25. What really caught my eye, however, was the neon sign of a cowgirl sitting on the ground kicking her leg in the air. If I’d just bought it I wouldn’t be here now. (And in case you’ve lost track – I’m in a rock.)

Not that it matters. If I can’t get out, I’ll spend the rest of my in-world time haunting an obscure historical monument. I’m completely invisible inside the granite slab – unless I stick my arms out to the sides – so I should be able to spook visitors quite effectively.

Still, like Stanley on South Park would say, “I’ve learned something here today.”

We often take our ability to move around for granted and forget that it can be taken from us in any number of ways: through illness, government dictate, or teleporter accidents. We should treasure this freedom while we have it, not bemoan it when it’s gone.

In other words: we shouldn’t take things for granite.

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