Sunday, June 15, 2014

Retiring the Fairchang Parrots

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Garth Fairchang was one of the earliest residents of Second Life; he first came in world in 2003. With Pituca Fairchang, his wife in real life and Second Life, he owned and operated Fairchang Estates. Alas, Garth died in 2009 of pancreatic cancer.

It must have been around 2007 when I learned Garth was giving away his creations. I took myself to Fairchang and picked up one of everything from birds to automobiles to yachts.

The best of the lot were Garth's parrots and gulls. They were brilliantly scripted and lovely when in flight, but when viewed up close, they were just butt-ugly.

I placed both parrots and gulls in considerable numbers on Whimsy-- gulls mostly on the beach, of course, and parrots around the caldera of the volcano Pele, where they put on a great show, darting and wheeling in a realistic fashion. They were beautiful in the air-- and consider-- this was in a day when most birds flew only in circles.

The gull weighed in at eleven prims and the parrot at twelve-- not bad for the time, but when there were perhaps 25 birds on Whimsy, they required a lot of prims. Garth's birds were the best available, and the price-- free-- was not to be argued with.

All was fine for a couple of years, and then Second Life's Havoc physics engine was updated. The gulls were unaffected, but the parrots suddenly began to fly backwards (Sweetie suggested we leave them that way). Garth didn't respond to my IMs and notecard-- I had no idea he was dying and unavailable to fix them-- so I did surgery, creating a gull-parrot hybrid I called a paragull by modifying Garth's prims and scripts. Like Garth's originals, the paragulls were hideous.

Still, they served admirably for a half dozen years, tirelessly filling the air above Pele's caldera.

Today's animals tend to be a lot smarter than those of old, and far better looking, and they use only a fraction of the prims. Since I had just replaced the many ancient Delilah fish that had been circling on Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom and Whimcentricity, I thought it was time for a parrot upgrade-- especially since Sweetie had discovered flying seagulls to replace the Fairchang gulls.

I bought a couple of inexpensive parrots on Second Life Marketplace, but was unimpressed. Then I found I already had the ideal parrot-- a lovely blue and red flying bird made by Jahna Bing that weighs in at six prims and flies beautifully.

Today there are a dozen or more new parrots on Whimsy, and four or five on Whimsy Kaboom-- and I have about 75 freed-up prims to use for other purposes.

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