Monthly Archives: November 2008

Happy Deathday, Allyosha

This morning, I had to put Al to sleep. He threw a blood clot, couldn’t move his back legs, and his heart was also damaged.

Al lived a long and happy life (almost 20 years!) in Chicago, Neenah, Portland, Boston, and Los Angeles. My brother got him from a pound and named him after the youngest of the brothers Karamazov. When Kevin moved to Japan in 1991, I became Al’s custodian. He was so shy that my dormies didn’t see him for the first month. Once Al and Calliope finished their turf war, he began venturing outside my room, then running back inside. He eventually conquered the landing, the stairs, and the first floor. By the end of the year, both cats would chase each other throughout German House.

I love him and miss him.

And here is the most boring video of Al drinking milk. After Calliope died, he became quite insistent that I keep feeding him milk too. It may not be healthy for cats, but it brought him pleasure in his old age.

Mii and Mirrors

Two weeks ago I bought a Wii. This is the first time I have ever purchased a game system. Even though I grew up in a family that played games – alphabet soup in the car, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, cards, Stratego, and later RPGs – we never became obsessed with computer games. My family had some antiquated console (not Atari!) that we got for free from a timeshare presentation. My sister had C-64 that had some adventure/strategy game; its codeword at the end was CONDOR, if my memory serves me well.

Back in the 1990s, my roommate had Myst. I was engrossed within its world. When I was out in the real world, I wanted to click on buildings (especially ones on BU’s campus) to see what would happen. This level of involvement/addiction scared me. I swore off computer games. It helped that I didn’t had an old computer that wouldn’t run most games.

Yet I broke my self-imposed bad an bought a gaming system. I love it! Best of all, I have not become addicted to it. Yet.

I am troubled, though, by my Mii. I had fun putting it together. I even added a mole to my face. The face did reflect my own. And then I realized it was a mirror reflection. The mole on my Wii is on my right cheek, but is on my left in real life. Same with the part on my hair. I had created myself as if I were looking in a mirror.

Is this normal? Do most people create avatars that are mirror reflections? Wouldn’t that be a cool research project – compare how people construct their avatars across different systems? I hope that someone has already done this, or is in the midst of it. As we said at Reed at that moment of epiphany, “Thesis!”

My Second Life avatar is fanciful. I never even tried to make it into a self-portrait. Yet with the Mii, it felt natural to make one look just like me. I’m going to make a new Mii that is not a mirror reflection. I wonder if it will disturb me at some level.