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On the eve of 'Second Life' convention, Chicago gets griefed

Thunderstorms and even a tornado stir up the Windy City just as hundreds of 'Second Life' enthusiasts are supposed to touch down.

Thankfully, Chicago did not get hit with a tsunami. Daniel Terdiman/CNET Networks

CHICAGO, Ill.--They call it the Windy City, but I don't think travelers to this weekend's Second Life Community Convention in Chicago were expecting tornadoes to get in their way.

The Midwest was smacked with thunderstorms and flooding on Thursday, with winds in one storm hitting 70 miles per hour, and a tornado (albeit not a very big one) running amok and even entering the grounds of Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

I, for one, was scheduled to take a 4:25 flight out of New York's JFK Airport that would (allegedly) touch down at 6:15 p.m. Central time. The actual arrival time was closer to midnight.

As of Friday morning, many flights are still postponed or canceled, even though the weather has cleared up, for the most part; and many of O'Hare's waiting areas on Thursday night were filled with uniform rows of cots containing travelers who had been delayed overnight.

It was the kind of headache-inducing inconvenience that, had it happened in the 3D environment of Second Life, could have been considered a "griefing"--a prank, often in the form of natural or unnatural (i.e. a torrent of Super Mario characters) weather phenomena designed to overload and crash the virtual world's servers.

(I'll let your personal spiritual affiliation dictate your conclusion as to the identity of the prankster who griefed Chicago.)

Second Life, it should be noted, has natural disasters too, and they're not all pranks: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has used the virtual world to demonstrate the effects of hurricanes and tsunamis.

Perhaps it could be turned into a positive overture for the SLCC: even though Second Life has come under fire for lag time and unreliable servers, it's still a lot more inconvenient when delays and lag time happen in one's "first life."

There are two additional things that Chicago-bound Second Life residents can be thankful for: one, that the worst of apocalyptic weather happened on Thursday, not Friday; and two, that it was only some thunderstorms and tornadoes, not flying penises.