Saturday, March 3, 2012

Interview with a Mad Scientist

Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence- whether much that is glorious- whether all that is profound- does not spring from disease of thought - from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.

 Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

Yes, dear readers, you read correctly.  I met with and interviewed a self-confessed mad scientist.  This was no garden variety mad scientist.  This one had her submarine base, homemade monsters, and cloud base.  Ian Fleming would have been proud.  To say nothing of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. 

How, you may ask how did I come to meet this person and end up in a death defying meeting with the indomitable Glorf Bulmer?  Therein lies a tale.

Like many of my past adventures, this one starts in one of Perryn Peterson’s Hunts, the Renaissance Faire to be exact.  While enjoying myself and partaking of the festivities, I met a young woman, Glof Bulmer.

Always looking for new people to meet in Second Life (SL) then to hear and tell their stories, I became friends with Glorf.  She was kind enough to include this blog on her blog’s blogroll.  Glorf describes herself as an “adventuress, occasional educator, and breeder of tentacle monsters in the metaverse of SL”.  I had to interview this woman. 

Before I go any further, I should tell you how Glorf Bulmer came to be called “Glorf Bulmer”.  Seems when she first entered SL, she took the Kingdom of Loathing game name of a friend and that of a scifi writer of low renown for a surname.  If it all sounds too improbable, check it out for yourself in her blog. 

So, after Glorf kindly agrees to meet me for an interview, I set off to join her.  We meet at what is known as Miss Bulmer’s Bijou Submarine Pen and Bomb Lab located on Aether Isle. Whereupon, she quickly tells me that if I see anything marked “Do Not Touch”, I’d better not touch it.  (I suspect that my reputation has preceded me.) 

We begin talking about what brought her to SL originally.  Glorf says that it’s the creative aspect which is why she dropped into the “mad scientist” role she has in Caledon.  (In case anyone is wondering if I’m disparaging Glorf by continually calling her a “mad scientist”, she revels in the name.  If you don’t believe me ask her yourself.  Just watch out for her tentacled pets!) 

Glorf adds that mad scientists make the place interesting adding local color, much of it red, but never mind about that she says. 

She started out in Caledon, helping out at the Oxbridge welcome center.  Moving from professor to nutty professor was an easy step for her to take she claims.  Glorf’s a big fan of the major writers of the steampunk canon, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, as well as other lesser lights like William Hope Hodgson, David Lindsay, and J. D. Bernal. 

Glorf talks about her creative processes, thinking of projects "in character" gives her definite ideas to work with. She doesn’t  think "I'm going to make a piece of furniture" so much as "I'm going to make a mad science device, what will it do?"  Or, in most cases, fail to do!  Adding that making things which are interestingly broken, can be fun.

Aethetically, Glorf finds steampunk an interesting setting.  She’d heard of the SL steampunk sim, Caledon, prior to arriving in SL.  She claims to have arrived in Oxbridge originally by accident but stayed because of the Caledonian virtues: Tolerance, Civility, Innovation, and Cake.  Her first weeks in SL had been spent bouncing around infohubs and she found these somewhat low on civility.  The quasi-Victorian setting in Caledon puts a value on politeness and she finds this a good thing. 

For Glorf, Victorian aesthetics are very cluttery and fussy and full of fiddly bits, which is a challenge when you have only a limited number of prims to work with!  So, she continues, it makes you learn to build efficiently. 

I ask if we can now see her tentacled pets that I’ve heard so much about and Glorf leads me off to meet them.  Along the way, she points out that her walkways are without safety railings because they are for wimps.  Although, she tells me that her bravado does not prevent her from falling off regularly. 

Passing through a nearby wormhole (only in Star Trek and SL and they only really work in the latter) into another location.  We arrive in an open sided room dominated by a large organ with two skulls on either side.  Yes, Glorf plays.  (What self-respecting mad scientist would not have her own organ?)  Walking outside, we come to Glorf’s first pet.  This is a potted, tentacle, big toothed plant.  (Not of the potted geranium variety.)  It’s called a lilium bulmerii periculosum and took first place in last year’s Evil Botany speed-building contest. 

Unlike breedables, this creature doesn’t require to be fed.  Glorf says that she has only one killer tentacle monster at the moment and she doesn’t let it out.  (Thank Heaven for small mercies.) 

Glorf next takes me over to the water’s edge to see the big tentacled monster.  I intrepidly mount a platform (I really should get myself an assistant for these dangerous bits) whereupon a large, tentacle beast jumps out of the water and tries to grab me.  Despite Glorf’s assurances that it was not flesh (or pixel) eating, it sure sounds hungry! 

Before we leave the area to go to Steam SkyCity (SSC) , Glorf takes me into a patch of what looks like green quicksand where we quickly sink in up to our wastes.  (What I won’t do for a story!)  She tells me that below this is the entrance to a series of abandoned tunnels that she’s trying to get her mad scientist friends to agree to reopen.  (Am I really writing this?)  Unfortunately, she says that they cooperate like the proverbial cats in a sack. 

Using a local cannon, we shoot ourselves skyward into SSC.  We arrive in as impressive a sim of steampunk craftsmanship as I’ve seen since arriving inworld myself.  However, I do not get too spend much time here with Glorf. 

Caledon and SSC are prim rich environments and, for whatever reason, I keep crashing out.  Even taking pictures is difficult.  So, I have to cut my visit short.  I do encourage my readers to visit Caledon, if they can, and see the very impressive work done there.  (Avoid the tentacled pets.) 

Before I fall off the grid, I do talk with Glorf about what she derives personally from SL.  For her, it’s the creative and social satisfaction.  She enjoys doing her offbeat builds and enjoys the camaraderie in Caledon.  People are motivated to take on land here and to maintain the community. Again, this theme of community is a recurring one in my travels across SL. 

We manage to spend some time talking about Linden Lab (LL) and Glorf’s quick to point out that “bashing LL” is an interest in her SL profile. She feels that sometimes they get bad press unfairly but other times they get what they deserve.  Although, she says that this is happening less under Rod Humble. 

She predicts that SL Marketplace will continue to grow at the expense of other inworld commercial ventures.  People will focus more on what she calls “beauty” projects such as her next one in Burroughs. 

By now, I’m struggling to stay inworld and Glorf has to go feed her typist.  I thank her again for her time and the doorbell for my house that she gave to me.  I take my leave and go back to wherever it is that I come from. 

This week’s visit for me is a classic trip to an extremely well built world within SL and a chance to meet with one of the “mad scientists” who make it all happen.  Despite Glorf’s “cats in a sack” analogy, people are working together in Caledon to bring it all together.  I wish them well and hope to visit again someday soon! 

Finally, I continue to apologize to those whom I still may have appeared to have simply fallen off the grid.  I’m working my way back through my open commitments, albeit slowly.  I hope I haven’t caused any inconvenience and I look forward to seeing everyone again very soon!  As always, I’m open to any and all ideas for places to visit and people to meet. 

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Glorf Blumer

Photo No. 2: Submarine Pen and Bomb Lab

Photo No. 3: Tentacled Pet No. 1

Photo No. 4: Tentacled Pet No. 2

Photo No. 5: Glorf’s Organ

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