“Success philosophy”

To redefine success, let’s start with its official definition, courtesy of Webster’s.

1: obsolete : outcome, result

2a: degree or measure of succeeding

2b: favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

3: one that succeeds.

Is this your definition? Is it mine? Is it one of your friends’? Your parents’? Probably part is, and part isn’t. One of the problems with defining success is the vagueness of the concept. Anyone’s idea of success, like personality, is an individual mishmash of culture, upbringing, and experience, to name three factors. Fortunately, because most of us have similar cultural and social underpinnings, I can generalize, make some observations, and (hopefully) come up with something new to say.
Our image of success is determined by many things, such as television, role models, our everyday lives. Defining success means making a value judgment-“I feel that something is good, worthy of emulation, and important to have. By being, doing or having that something, I am successful.” What we do is choose who and what we want or wish to be by this value judgment called success.
Success occurs on many levels. Continuing to live is success, as is suicide. Getting your next meal is success, as is fasting for a cause you value. Reproducing viable offspring to success to DNA! Geneticists talk of “successful mutations” and “successful adaptations.” It really isn’t limited to just us higher lifeforms. At the bottom, we are all successes by just being born. It’s all a matter of perspective. (I feel better already.)
Our culture bombards and inundates us with its ideas of success: the Lexus, the house in the ‘burbs, the good job. So what happens when you get these things? And what happens if you want them and can’t get them? If you get them, more things await, receding to the horizon: higher position, more pay, bigger house, more houses, higher pay, better position, more, bigger, higher. Citius, Altius, Fortius. The Olympic competition for Western success spawned the rat race, lifestyle diseases and the 60’s. The rat race slouched through the 80’s, and we now sit in the 90’s wondering what’s next.
Do we opt out? No. Do we buy in? Again, no. Success is a value judgment, so what do you value? We need to use our heads about this. When we define success, we are defining ourselves. “What do you want from life?” The Tubes’ satire of 70’s greed and cultural influence highlights the problem.
Materialism isn’t the answer, as the 80’s showed. Spirituality isn’t the answer either, as the 60’s showed. They answer is, of course, somewhere in the middle. By recognizing the effect of material culture on us, and using our minds, emotions and spiritual nature, our human gifts, to filter and choose our path, only then can we truly define success.
The answer to (re)defining success is an individual answer-with help from those around us-our friends, family, books, culture-but our choices are ours and ours alone.
As a start, I’ll let you in on some of my choices. I want to be happy (but being rich wouldn’t hurt). I want to love and be loved. I want to do good work, to help others’ lives. I want to reach my spiritual goals. I want to help others reach their spiritual goals and discover themselves. I want to leave the world a better place with my existence. If I can do these things, then I am a success.
So, what is your idea of success?

The Golden Dawn

The Golden Dawn (G.D.) is an esoteric ceremonial magic organization. It is also a series of teachings, practices and rituals. It is not a cult, nor is it Satanism. Perhaps it is best described as a form of “spiritual science”.

The Golden Dawn was born out of the late 18th century explosion of secret societies in England, France and Germany. It is the brainchild of Dr. William Westcott, a London physician. Here is what he wrote of its inception: “In 1887 by permission of S.D.A., a continental Rosicrucian adept, the Isis-Urania Temple of Hermetic Students of the Golden Dawn was formed to give instructions in the mediaeval occult sciences. Fratres M.E.V. with S.A. and S.R.M.D. became the chiefs, and the latter wrote the rituals in modern English from old Rosicrucian manuscripts (the property of S.A.) supplemented by his own literary researches.”

From this beginning, a turbulent history has emerged. Many of the facts surrounding the founding of the order, the rituals and workings are cloudy, and the organization itself self-destructed by the turn of the century. Most active in setting up the organization was S.L. MacGregor Mathers, himself a Rosicrucian adept. After Fraulein Sprengel, the German adept that authorized the G.D., died, her associates ceased correspondence, saying that if the G.D. wanted further information, they could get it using the knowledge they already had (meaning they should use the magical powers they gained to make contact with the Secret Chiefs of the Order.) Mathers announced that he had made this contact, and formulated the more advanced rituals of the order. A complete unified system of attainment, working and ritual resulted. Much of it follows Rosicrucian lines, with a bit of Egyptology, Kabbalah and Enochian magic thrown in as well. Some criticism has been leveled that Mathers never made the contact, and that he appropriated the system from several sources available at the British museum. Whatever the method, a very complex system emerged, with significant substance contained therein.

Several rather notable people have been associated with the order. Among these are Aleister Crowley, A.E. Waite, W.B. Yeats and Dion Fortune. Various offshoots, splinters and pretenders have arisen over the past century, and non-G.D. groups have used the information contained in the G.D. corpus. Some of these groups are the Stella Matutina, the Ordo Templi Orientis (Crowley’s), A.`.A, Alpha et Omega, Whare Ra, B.O.T.A., Wicca (Gardnerianism), etc.

The Golden Dawn is a grade order, meaning that there are several levels of increasing knowledge that must be learned, projects completed and tests passed to move up a grade. At each grade, there is a ritual that prefigures the knowledge contained in that grade. There is an inner and outer order, several officers and a number of study documents.

The grades contained in the outer order (G.D.) are: Neophyte, Zelator, Theoricus, Practicus, Philosophus. The grades contained in the inner order (R.R. et A.C.) are: Adeptus Minor, Adeptus Major, Adeptus Exemptus. There are several higher grades, contained in an order called S.S: Magister Templi, Magus, and Ipsissimus. (Note: these highest grades are not part of the “official” G.D. grade progression. I include them from Crowley’s work, as a more or less natural progression formulated by a G.D. adept.)

Each of the grades has a ritual associated with it. Each ritual has a specific attribute-for example, the Theoricus ritual is associated with Air. The rituals act as a way to focus energy towards a goal. It is important that not only the outer form of a ritual be learned, but the internal activity and the meaning of each part of the ritual.

Generally the ritual consists of an opening, an initiation and reception, and a closing. The opening sets the stage, cleansing the temple and invoking the appropriate figures. The initiation and reception prepares the aspirant by pledging and instructing on the symbolism of the grade and conferring the grade. The closing banishes the appropriate figures. Of the main rituals, the Neophyte ritual is the most important. This ritual prefigures the entire Order and sets up the aspirant for the road ahead.

There are several lesser rituals, three of which are used often. These are the Lesser and Greater Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram. These are rather short, and are used to cleanse the individual and for basic invoking and banishing. Other rituals are used on the equinox and for consecration.

The officers of the G.D are as follows: Imperator, Cancellarius, Praemonstrator, Hierophant, Hiereus, Hegemon, Kerux, Stolistes, Dadouchos. These officers serve specific roles in the grade rituals, and represent specific attributes, such as the elements, Sephiroth, directions, etc.The information to be learned is quite vast, but fairly easy to categorize. There is kabbalah and Hebrew, divination, talismans and flashing tablets, skrying, evocation, invocation and Enochian magic. These are very general, and each contains quite a bit of material. For instance, the kabbalah/Hebrew section includes the alphabet, sephiroth, angels, archangels, houses, planets, elements, and signs. Divination includes geomancy and tarot. Talismans include making elemental weapons, lamens, talismans, sigils and tablets.

Together, the grades, rituals and information are the G.D. Looking at each grade, there is natural progression of more and more detailed spiritual knowledge. Knowledge of both lower and higher spiritual realms is first learned as theory, then applied through journeys into these realms, and finally realized by working in the realms.

The rituals provide a map of each grade’s scope and purpose, the projects are practical applications of the knowledge to be learned in the grade, and the tests are objective confirmations of the factual content of the grade. Sufficient knowledge and success are the sole criterion for passing a grade, although minimum time periods are enforced to allow for “gestation” of the aspirant.

There are three goals to all of this work and information. When a person is initiated into the G.D. as a neophyte, their unconscious spiritual protection from external influence is removed. One becomes as a “babe in the woods” and protection is now provided by the elders of the order. A goal of the instruction is to enable the aspirant to protect himself again. This is accomplished by making the aspirant aware of spiritual realms and enabling him to work for his own protection in these realms.

The ability to perceive spiritual realms allows for contact between the student and his Holy Guardian Angel, as well as with many other spiritual beings. Contact with the guardian angel is important to making the student aware of his ultimate goal and what type of work is required for him to attain that goal.

Finally, becoming aware of spiritual realms enables the student to perceive the nature of the Great Work of mankind. He is now able to participate more fully in this work.

The G.D. was founded as a successor to Rosicrucianism. As a part of the Great White Brotherhood, it was intended to work for the benefit of all mankind by providing spiritual instruction and furthering the advancement of individual souls. As an ideal, this goal is the goal of all people, and the G.D. is intended as a method and path of attainment specifically suited to Western temperaments. This is shown by the emphasis in specific grades and compartmentalized instruction, the format of the rituals and the information packaged in them, and by the emphasis on activity and “working”.

The impact of the G.D. on the world at large is hard to gauge. Then, as now, it is a curiosity and the recipient of charges of occultism and Satanism. As an ongoing organization, it carries only limited effect, as groups are not common, do not spread, are only loosely unified, and carry a very low profile.

Former members, such as Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune do carry some weight, but primarily as “New Age” writers. Crowley is especially reviled as a Satanist, and is more of a cult figure (especially in heavy metal music!)

Perhaps the most significant effect of the G.D. has been the loosening the ties of secret societies on the secrets they contain. Several very good books on the G.D., with significant information have been published and are readily available to those who wish to explore.


The Golden Dawn, Israel Regardie, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 55164

Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn, Patrick J. Zalewski, Falcon Press, Phoenix, AZ 85012

Magick In Theory and Practice, Aleister Crowley, Dover Publications, New York, NY 10014

Further Reading:

The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, Dover Publications, New York, NY 10014

The Greater Key of Solomon, L.W. de Laurence, Health Research, Mokelumne Hill, CA 95245

Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Their Attainment, Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophic Press, Hudson, NY

The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley, Samuel Weiser, York Beach, ME

Digital Woes book review

All software has bugs. Buggy software will fail. Failing software can kill.

So what do we do? We can test the software exhaustively at great expense, or not, or take some middle path.

Lauren Wiener explains the issues, the dilemmas, and the options in this mostly clear and sometimes humorous look at the business of writing software.

Non-programmers will get a better idea of programming, and programmers will get some perspective on their craft. Everyone will have a bit clearer view of software’s role in our lives, and a timely warning of its limits.

“Rev Master Class: Recent Developments”

Not so long ago, Revs were flown without slack-line tricks. This is no longer the case. One of the problems with slack line tricks on a Rev is the lack of a shaped wing. Many dual-line pilots have a repertoire of tricks which rely on the wing holding its shape during a slack-line move. For example, during a turtle maneuver, the frame keeps the wing in shape. On a Rev, the wing flutters about and the kite doesn’t float reliably, leading to bowties, wing wraps, etc. Some of these problems can be alleviated by using Magic Sticks and trick lines. For those of you unfamiliar with Magic Sticks, they are a pair of add-on sticks that protrude behind the wing. They give the frame a bit of stiffness, but add some weight as well. Trick lines run across the bottom tips, although I have seen them run from the left top to the bottom, across and up to the right top. Personally, I use neither of these. The lack of a shaped wing doesn’t make it impossible to perform these tricks, just more difficult. You have to be more careful and it helps if you have developed some skill in recovering from wing wraps and the like.

The most common slack line trick is the axel. It looks much like the dual line variety, but is executed differently. There are a few varieties of axels, due to the fact that a Rev can hover in nearly any position. You can’t do a “normal” axel in the upright position, as far as I can tell, although if you pancake it, you might. Since an axel is essentially a flat spin, anything that can get you into this will work. I tend to throw one hand out and pop the other. It’s easiest to accomplish from upside down or one of the 45 degree angles. One thing that makes this move easier is a step forward, then a step back (or two or three!) during and after the axel. This gives the kite room to spin, then recover smoothly afterward. A variation on this is the cartwheel (axel from sideways position) and the launch strobe. After mastering this move, you can also do things like coin tosses or waterfalls.

Next is the turtle and flik-flak trick variety of tricks. This is where the kite is lying on its back (or front), floating. Again, it is much like the dual-line trick in appearance, but not in execution. This move is executed by popping both bottom lines hard from an upright position. You can also do it by tugging on the bottom lines. I don’t because I want my hands on the handles. This move is tough to get. It’s very easy to miss and wind up in a bowtie. Often the kite just falls out of the sky or one end falls toward you, or it doesn’t flatten out at all, just jumps backward a bit. It’s much easier to do with an SUL, pretty easy with a standard, and tough with a vented. The force you pop with is crucial here, even and just the right amount. Harder and the kite is more likely to flik-flak. Getting out of it is normally a matter of pulling hard on the top lines and backing up a few steps. Stepping forward as you pop the bottom lines can help too. If you can get a good stable float, then maneuvers like fades become possible. I also like the “pancake landing”, in which you do the turtle move at ground level and the kite is on its back on the ground. This move can also be executed sideways. Basically, any position where you can reverse will work. A variation of the turtle is the reverse turtle, where the kite is floating on its front. This one is executed from an upside down position. It’s fairly common among beginners. {g}

Well, that’s a quick view of some of the slack-line tricks currently being performed. Next time I’ll talk about some advanced “regular” Rev stuff.

Good winds!

“Ballet for Beginners”

Coming up with a ballet routine that will blow away the judges, spectators and your opponents isn’t easy. You have to make it look effortless and inevitable. This is best done through careful planning, practice, creativity and luck.

There are about five or six steps to making a ballet routine.

1. Figure out the music you’re going to use.

This is really the most important part. Without the right music, you can’t make a good routine. It has to be something you really like-you will be listening to it over and over and over again, for hours at a time. It has to lend itself to choreographing-different parts, variety, stuff you can readily fly to. It has to be something the judges will like-this is tough to figure out-I’d say music with “bigness”-big transitions, big sound, emotion, not all the same, music that shows off interpretation skills. You may need to edit the piece you select to fit time constraints or compose your own or splice bits of different pieces (#1 & #2 are the most creative parts of the process). Once you get the music, burn it on a CD with 2 pieces for walk-on & walk-off music. Record the main piece in the middle to make it easy for the sound guy and label it clearly. I talk with him when I give him the music so he knows what’s going on. Put the CD away so it stays clean. Record the main piece on a cassette or mp3, over and over so you can listen to it while you’re practicing and making the routine.

2. Come up with a routine to go with the music.

While #1 is important, #2 is difficult. What I do is listen to the music so it becomes familiar but so you don’t know it perfectly. Then come up with things to do to parts of it while you’re just listening. Then fly to it and see if what you’re doing goes with the music. Keep flying to it, making a set of moves to each section of the piece. Then come up with transitions to each section. Then write everything down. I tend to block out each section or set of moves in a diagram, so the routine looks like a storyboard.

3. Practice the routine, making changes and refinements.

Now things get fun. Fly the routine over and over, changing things, maybe coming up with new ideas or altering pacing. Things are still in flux here, don’t fix the routine completely (I’m STILL making small changes to my routine and it’s three years old)

4. Practice more, practice still more. Rinse, lather, repeat.

This can get tedious. This is where you put the polish and smoothness on the routine. You should be able to fly it without the music. You might be able to fly it backwards, too! Right now my routine is to fly each move over and over and over until I’m satisfied or too frustrated to continue-then I go to the next move. Finally I’ll fly the entire routine a few times to correct pacing and interpretation.

5. The day of competition.

I try to practice every day leading up to a competition. Depending on when I’m flying or judging, I’ll practice a few times before I compete. I’m finding that I need to run through it 3 or so times to get comfortable. Kite and line selection is critical.

6. The routine.

By now you know the routine so well you could fly it in your sleep. Relax! Don’t worry about a thing! The problem for me is that I get keyed up-that’s why I have bumper music on the CD. A piece I’m familiar with that I can use while I’m gauging conditions to loosen me up and get me ready. The routine itself becomes a matter of nailing each set of moves and enjoying it played over a big echo-y sound system. My issue now is perfection and FOCUSING on the routine. I have problems with competing anyways, so I have to overcome that as well.

“Rev Master Class: “No trickery involved!””

I’m going to focus on more “conventional” and advanced Rev moves and some training practices.

The thing about Revs (and quadline in general), is that the moves you can do are only limited by your imagination. Because of this, anything I write will exclude your favorite move. I’m going to be talking about the ones I use-and I’m coming up with new ones fairly often.

First off, a definition of a “move”. It’s either one thing you do with a Rev, like a dive-stop, or a sequence of things that fit together as one thing, like a ladder. Finally, a move can contain moves.

Most of the moves I’m coming up with lately have been variations of a move I already do. For instance, variations on the ladder or the clock.

The other way I come up with moves is to take more standard Rev actions and combine them. For example, a snap stall. This is a pretty standard dual-line trick. For a Rev, it’s a stop, quarter turn move. The same thing applies to a tip stab-it’s a dive-stop quarter turn into the ground.

The third way is to increase the difficulty of a standard move. A full turn is pretty standard. I’m now trying double turns at full speed. Radically slowing down a standard move or doing it in a difficult part of the window or reverse or on a different orientation can also provide variations on a move.

OK, let’s get into the moves themselves and how they’re done. One thing to note here-practice is the key to getting any move solid.

I’ll begin with reverse circles and move up from there. It’s pretty easy to fly reverse, but circles are another skill entirely (so is flying good straight lines and corners reverse, too). Normally when you reverse, you pull down on the handles and the kite reverses. At its simplest, circles are pulling one handle down more (or less) than the other. In practice, it doesn’t work like that. Revs have a tendency to lose altitude on a turn. This is counteracted by applying a little slide towards the center of the turn as the turn is made. For reverse circles, you also need to “guide” the kite as the circle is made. One thing that helps is to focus on the inner tip and make sure it points towards the center of the turn. There’s also a point in the circle where you need to quickly switch slides from one way to another-usually it’s close the 3 & 9 o’clock position.

Doing reverse corners and straight lines are similar to doing circles in that you need to adjust slide positions at various places in the move. With straight lines, if they’re across the window you need to adjust slide continuously as you move towards then away from the center-you start out with lots at the edges and less and less as you move to the center and towards the edge again. Doing this smoothly is the key to a straight line. Going up and down the window is more an issue of controlling downforce. Down is very easy-the kite does it easily- you need to make a smooth down motion and only very small adjustments the left or right handles-more and the kite starts to wiggle. Up is more difficult to control smoothly-you only need tiny adjustments-more and you wiggle. The move has to be deliberate-no wavering in applying downforce makes for a smooth up-walking slowly backwards can assist in this.

Making reverse corners crisp and clean is tougher than it looks-some directions are easy-others less so. You can’t really “snap” a corner like forwards. It’s more of a deliberate “pull” with a little push of the other handle then a quick release & reapplication of downforce in the new direction. Corners going downwards are easiest, up hardest-especially at the edges of the window.

Some of the coolest moves mix forward and reverse. A key to this is the transition between the two. One way is the snap turn from forward to reverse-I like this best as a half turn, so you’re going in the same direction before and after the move. Also cool but more difficult is a full turn so you’re reversing the way you came-it’s tough to get the full turn and reverse flight to look smooth (I’m still working on this one-and it’s easier starting off in reverse (all of them are)). I like the quarter turn as well-you make a corner but exit it going the other way. There are other types of transitions as well-I use one that’s more of a small circle around one of the ends-this move is an elegant transition from forward to reverse.

Snap turns are dramatic and offer a lot. Essentially any sharp corner is a snap turn and a good foundation for snap type moves. The one I use most often is a snap stall. I’ve described it above, but I’d like to go into more detail and expand the moves that come out of it. The key to a good snap stall is the hover afterwards. You can make the stop & turn sloppy but if the hover is bouncing all over the place it’s not really a stall anymore. I find that a step or two forward during the stop and quarter turn and a step or two back during the start of the hover help out a lot. To make a clean snap stall the stop and quarter turn have to be simultaneous. I do this by snapping both wrists hard in the direction of the turn (for a right turn, right down, left up, snap, snap) and stabilizing the hover. The cleaner the snaps, the better the hover. This move can be done in any direction.

You can expand the snap stall by adding turns to it. I’ve just put the half turn into my ballet routine and and working on the full turn. These moves require a strong down move to get the kite around. Another way to expand the snap stall is to add something at the end, like a tip stab. You do a dive snap stall then a sharp slide to stab the tip. If you do this one too close to the ground you’ll get a broken frame or a side landing. If you get the distance right the turn will stab the tip. Too far away & you need to slide more & more to get the stab. Another bit I like is the snap stall, beat, sloooow reverse.

One thing I just put into my routine is a snap turn into a ladder and snap turn out again at the bottom. This is pretty easy, except for the snap turn has to be very clean, or the ladder doesn’t set up properly. Basically, snap turns can be used anywhere you need a quick change of direction. They can be done as a pivot, as in the ladder, or as a spin, as in the stall.

Next up is ladders. Basically a ladder is a series of half turns up or down the window. But it doesn’t have to be! You can use quarter turns, which looks more like a staircase, or quarter turns on the diagonal. You can do ladders diagonally, or across the window. You can do them reverse-this is difficult-you need to quickly reverse-slide every time you pivot and the ones at the top require some walking backwards. You can alternate forward and reverse turns.

Clock turns lend themselves to variations much like ladders do. You can do eighth or half turns instead of quarter turns. You can do the clock around the tip rather than the center (this can be done in reverse, too.) You can do a “walking clock”, which combines a horizontal ladder so you do quarter turns and move left or right at the same time. Some of these can be tough to transition from the side to reverse hover cleanly-I try to guide the wing going reverse as I’m making the turn.

Slides and slide combinations can lend themselves to good moves. The thing with slides is to start the slide firmly so that it stays straight with as little input as you can do. Corrections lead to wavy slides. I like and use slide circles. The key here is to make the exit point of the circle the same as the entry. You’ll need to do some corrections to get this right. I also like slide corners and half turns. You can treat the slide like forward and reverse-transition between them. Remember that an upright slide is like a reverse one. Uprights are more difficult-it can be hard to keep them going on the “wrong” part of the window. You’ll need to tug and walk backwards to start them. The same advice applies to turns into a slide at some positions in the window. One move I use as well is a reverse, half turn, upright, half turn, reverse slide. For this you need to quickly switch slides on each half turn.

Well, I’ve spent a lot of print talking about moves, and in some respects I haven’t even touched the subject! I’m going to change directions and talk about training practices now.

I have two young children, and don’t get to spend the hours I used to at the beach. Because of this, I have to focus on getting the most out of the time I DO spend there. To this end, I’ve come up with a training routine that works out pretty much every Rev skill.

After getting a feel for the breeze and limbering up my hands a bit, I start with forward flight. I go up, half turn, down, half turn from one edge of the window to the other. I do this at medium speed a few times, then really slow, then as fast as I can. I do the same thing across from the bottom to the top of the window. I’ll usually put some corners in there as well-up, down, across.

I usually take a short break between exercises to keep my hands limber.

Next I do circles. I start at one edge and do medium circles across the window. Then I do them halfway up, then at the top. I do them up and down as well and try to vary the speed, too. Then I do huge circles, then tip circles, then spins. The spins I do excruciatingly slow, slow, fast, medium speeds. Then I do snaps. eights, quarters, halfs, full circles. I’ll do some doubles and 3/4’s as well.

Then I do the same thing reverse.

Next I do slides-close reverse ground passes, upright, then halfway up the window. Then I do up and down slides, corners and circles. I try to vary the speed here as well.

I do a few ladders here as well, and pivot turns, some snap stalls and snap turns, dive stops, some hovering, too.

After that I do some groundwork-tip stabs, somersaults, stab to launch, reverse position to tip, etc.

Next is trickery. I’ll usually start with axels, trying to get good flat spins. I’ll do them at varying locations and angles in the window, from a tip launch, etc. I’ll usually do a few upright ones as well (it’s one of the new tricks I’m working on). I’ll do floats from either side, then float to axel. I’ll usually put a few spin pops also (spinning, heavy slide, popping the back hand hard (this can look cool if you’re popping at the right time). Next is turtle practice, both from upright and reverse positions. I’ll try some fades and side turtles as well, and put some flik-flaks in too.

All this takes about an hour or so, depending on how much walking goes on during the turtle practice!

Next I’ll do the figures slated for the next competition.

Then I start on the ballet practice. I usually do each part of the ballet over and over until I don’t want to do it anymore. After that I’ll put on the earphones and run through the routine a few times. This winter I’ll probably be developing a new routine, so the practice will be more like putting moves in place in the music and refining everything.

Well, that’s all for now-I hope that this little essay has been some help. See you next time and good winds!

“5th Annual Seal Beach Kite Festival”

This is the 5th year for the festival, and the second year for the competition associated with it. It’s been growing every year. It was billed as “the biggest festival west of the Mississippi”-a bit of hyperbole, but in a few years it might just be true, as it was quite well attended.

It’s a two day event, with competition on Saturday and demos and fun stuff on Sunday. Saturday was foggy! It finally burned off around 4PM, and the day was almost over when the sun came out. Sunday was sunny but very light winds, though it picked up in the afternoon.

On Saturday the winds were light and bumpy until the very end. This was a pretty normal Southern California event with about 15 competitors and tight scores. It’s basically a masters competition-with people like Steve LaPorte, Susan Shampo and Ron Despojado flying very well, and teams like Papalotes wowing the crowd. Steve LaPorte took masters ballet and freestyle, Ron Despojado took masters quadline ballet and Against the Wind took masters pairs ballet, but the scores for all events were very close, especially quadline ballet, with 1 point between 2nd and 4th.

But the competition wasn’t the only thing going on. Bay Area Sundowners were in town, and Dave Gomberg was too. Dave had a whole field to himself, and had several HUGE pieces in the air both days-mantas, a teddy bear, an octopus, a pair of legs, etc. There were also a lot of people just flying single liners and a lot of red, white and blue, as you would expect.

Sundowners did more demos than I can count, both days, with trains, quadlines and the addition of Team BiDance (Mark and Jeannete Lummas). Team Too Much Fun (the Lummases, Susan Shampo and Ron Despojado) also did several demos both days, as did a lot of the competitors on Sunday.

But all this wasn’t all that was going on either! Monty Weston of Up, Up and Away Kites had a large tent and was helping kids make and fly kites of their own. There was also a group of Taiko drummers on Sunday, and Lolly from Revolution came up from San Diego and was teaching quadline to anyone who wanted to learn. There were also a group of fighters on Sunday, and Steve Bateman came up from San Diego.

It was a very good two days-a great ending to the fall season. I’m looking forward to next year!

“Handcuffs, please-quadline for dual-line pilots-it’s all in the wrists”

As a longtime quadline pilot, I’m amazed at how much trouble dual-line pilots have when picking up a quadline for the first time. I suppose I really shouldn’t be, as I had the same problem when I started! It did disappear after about a week or so of frequent flight…

Hopefully some of the time I’ve spent at the Revolution demo fields at the Berkeley and Seal Beach kite fests helping people learn to fly Revs will translate to print. I’ll try to get you over the initial hump and show you some basics, and lastly give you a glimpse of some of the vistas available to you when you fly quadline kites.

First, some physics. There is a significant difference between dual-line and quadline kites. The extra 2 lines change everything! Dual-line kites change direction by altering airflow on one side of the kite or the other. As one side comes towards or away from you, air pressure on that side is lessened or increased, making the kite turn in the direction of less pressure (or away from more pressure.) Quadlines use the same principle, but the airflow is altered on the bottom of one side of the kite (or both, or neither.) This makes one side move up or down. Since there are 2 sides, this makes the kite turn. What this means is that most of the control of the kite is in control of the bottom lines, versus the left and right lines (ignoring slides for the time being…)

Enough talk. You’ve bought (or borrowed) a quadline kite. You’re on the field. The breeze is nice. You’ve put the kite together with the bridle on the front, rods on the back (a common problem is rods on the same side as the bridle.) You attached the four lines to the bridle, unwound the lines and attached them to the handles-tops to tops (close to the grips), bottoms to bottoms (reversing this is another common problem-I do it myself from time to time…) All the lines are straight-no wraps anywhere (I’ll go over fixing wraps and such later.) What now?

The answer is simple-launch! Launching a quadline is very much like launching a dual-line-pull back sharply. You can take a step or two back as well to get some more lift. The difference is that you need to let the bottom lines out to maximize lift. This is most easily done by pulling your thumbs towards you. The question now is-did the kite go up?

If you got the kite into the air, great! Skip the bit about launch problems & go to how to turn.

Probably not, though.

It probably ended up doing an upside down ‘u’ and is sitting tips up on the field. No problem. You can do this all day and not damage the kite at all. To put it back on its tips, slowly push down on the bottom lines until the kite floats up, then pull down more on one handle. Slowly is the word here, as quick movement will turtle the kite & you’ll end up walking (this is a trick, by the way…) The kite should turn over onto its tips. Keep pulling if it doesn’t.

Launch again, and keep doing it until you get a good straight launch. Don’t worry if it takes awhile.

Some things that’ll help you are: try to keep the handles steady-you may be favoring one hand over the other, pulling on one hand more. Check for equal length lines and bridle. Try to resist the temptation to steer by pulling or pushing-it doesn’t work. You may need to get your handcuffs and put them on to counteract your hard won dual-line reflexes.

Once you get a clean launch, let’s do the usual “try to make small left and right turns at the top of the window” practice. This is where the handcuffs come on (if you haven’t got them on already!) NO PUSHING AND PULLING-WRISTS UP AND DOWN ONLY!!! This advice MUST make it into your head and body. Resistance is futile. Slowly pull down a little bit on one handle, let go, pull down on the other, let go. If you oversteer, try not to panic and start pulling on the other side-it won’t do any good at all. Let go with the hand on the turn side and pull down on the other hand. Try not to pull too much or the kite will spin and maybe bowtie. Once you get over the initial panics and frustration with trying and failing to use your dual-line reflexes you should get into a nice “pull down one side, let go, pull down other side, let go” rhythm.

To get it on the ground, just pull down on one side, then let go. You can also pull slowly down on both sides to reverse down. I would practice launching, easy turns and landing until you feel comfortable. Next we’ll get better control over the bottom lines with forward flight and turns, circles and spins, stops and reverse flight.

The initial difficulty of pushing and pulling when you should “wrist up, wrist down” should go away with practice. Let’s move on to making the kite do what you want it to.

To go straight, pull up with no wrist movement (you will need to adjust direction with tiny movements.)

Any single wrist movement translates to a turn, moving both wrists can translate to a spin or reverse-one up and one down spins, both down reverses.

The more you move one wrist down and the other up, the sharper the turn until it spins on its axis.

A sharp down then a sharp up makes a corner. The sharper and longer the snap down the more the turn.

Slow down force will make a circle, depending on how far down you move your wrist.

Pulling up on both is “gas”, making the kite move faster.

Less pull up slows the kite-the more you pull down on both the slower the kite goes until it stops, hovers, then starts reversing.

The more you pull down, the faster the reverse.

A sharp pull down stops the kite. Too far down pancakes it.

All these bits translate into control of forward and reverse flight. Again, practice this until you’re comfortable with everything. Now it’s time to take off the handcuffs! Next up is sliding.

I lied when I said that “it’s all in the wrists”. A critical skill to flying quadlines is left & right movement (also known as “sliding”.) This is done by pulling or pushing either hand, just like a dual-line. This move is easiest from an upside down or sideways position-just pull either hand. Upright is more difficult because you lose lift quickly-you’ll end up tugging and walking backwards to maintain position.

Sliding is also key for altitude control during turns and spins. Revs have a tendency to fall while turning-to demonstrate, start a spin halfway up the window-you’ll end up on the ground after a while. To counteract this you need to push and pull to keep the spin in the same place.

Well, that’s about all the basics. Keep working on these and you’ll be a competent quadline pilot in no time! Now for some tips about winding 4 lines and the care and feeding of Revs, then a quick survey of advanced stuff and trickery.

Winding 4 lines is fraught with peril. It’s very easy to end up with a tangled mess-we’ve all spent a lot of time untangling (ask anyone who was part of the quadline mass ascension at the Berkeley Kite fest in ’99!) The key is: separate everything before, during and after winding.

Here’s what I do: Land the kite upside down (this is the normal landed position, by the way.) Put the handles on the stake. Take off each set of lines and larkshead the bottom to the top on each side. Put the loops back on the stake. Do the same at the kite & take the kite apart & put it in its bag. Put the loops on the winder. Put two fingers between the left & right side. This is critical. It keeps the sides separate. Wind. When you get to the end, make sure each side is separate and loop around the winder.

When you unwind, put the lines on the handles-it doesn’t matter which side-and unwind. When you get to the end, take each side, spread them out and tug a bit to clear the lines all the way to the handles. If not, you need to try to separate until the winds are as close to the handles as possible. Attach the lines to the kite. Walk back to the handles, keeping all 4 lines as separate as you can. If you have tangles, you’ll need to remove one line from the handles and untangle it, then another, then a third. Sometimes you may just need to spin the handles to remove top and bottom line twists. Sometimes you may need to pass handles between each other to remove ladders.

Caring for Revs is pretty easy-put them away dry & reasonably well folded & rolled up. Eventually you’ll get tears in the top mesh. I repair them with a glue gun. You can use mylar or ripstop tape on sail tears (someone cuts theirs in the shape of a Rev! (cute, eh?)) or a glue gun. The sticks are pretty durable-you need to crash hard off-center, run into something or fly in too much wind to break them.

Here’s some of the stuff you can look forward to doing with a Rev: slow spins right at ground level. Stopping and hovering anywhere in the window. Strobes, flat spins, axels, coin tosses and cascades, turtles anywhere in the window. Ladders, facet turns, dive stops, catches and tosses. The possibilities are bounded only by your imagination!