Tai Chi and Banners

After the horrible past few days, I had a great opportunity to try something new today – a Tai Chi class (really!). A few weeks ago (June 9th), as usual, I met an interesting person while sending my banners on their maiden voyage (my blue one wasn’t quite finished as I still hadn’t added the stars I had planned) – a Tai Chi instructor by the name of Ryan – at Doheny State Beach. Ryan and I chatted for a fair amount of time as I was flying and also let him fly my Rev 1.5 (it’s almost as fun to watch others as it is to fly myself). As Ryan indicated he liked my banners (okay, I’m proud of them), he asked me to come by one of his Tai Chi classes he was going to hold that was planned for today at the same place (Doheny State Beach). As I can ALWAYS use some more stress relief and certainly never tried before, I thought I’d go. He also asked me to bring my banners.

As usual, it was tough getting up this morning (between the stress and my sleep disorders, it was next to impossible) but I managed just the same. I got there just before ten and put up my banners. Not only was there a light but steady breeze but it was also a beautiful day. I’ve also got to admit that Tai Chi was really great – very relaxing and I can’t think of a more beautiful place (or day) to do it!

Following Tai Chi, most folks stuck around and socialized. I had brought my fighters with me again and spent quite a bit of time flying my Fandango, along with letting others give it a try. I think I might now have the hang of flying fighters (at least as a beginner). It was great fun watching others struggle and then learning how to fly the Fandango too. After that, I took the video attached to this entry to show them blowing in the wind. Stupid me, I forgot to bring my mallet and had to pound the stakes into the ground with a rock (which is the reason why they’re leaning so much in the breeze – I couldn’t get the stakes down as far as I wanted). I certainly hope I can do this again soon – it was a terrific way to spend the morning. Unfortunately, I came back and slept another seven hours. Oh well…

I think I might start finishing my arch kites. While the kites themselves are done, I haven’t added the spar pockets, made the spars (each kite only has one – the vertical one), or sewn the kites together (they’re sewn to the line that also serves as the horizontal spar).

My Fighter

I’ve been quiet lately – too quiet. I often allude to some of the stressful things in my life, which kiting helps relieve, but I don’t really say much about it. I’m going to break the silence now (at least on this blog) to note that one of the things that I’ve been fighting for the past year and a half is the fact that the Los Angeles Child Support Services Department (LACCSSD) has been literally stealing my money based on their entirely fraudulent claims that I’m “in arrears” on my child support. Not only have I never missed a payment in seven years but I’ve actually over paid. In fact, after the subhuman creatures from LA County started harassing me, I even obtained a court order that PROVED I had overpaid. That; however, hasn’t stopped the cretins from garnishing my wages, trying to get my teaching credential revoked, stealing two years worth of tax refunds, stealing my unemployment checks when I’ve been laid off from my part-time job over the summer, refusing to provide an accounting of all the money they’ve stolen from me, and a lot, lot more.

Having spent countless hours writing to countless people and agencies, the Los Angeles County Fraud Unit finally picked up on my complaint (good for them) and has opened an investigation. As it turns out, they’ve already found a MAJOR computer problem whereby the LACCSSD has been waiting three months (actually MORE) before posting payments. Of course, that hasn’t stopped LACCSSD from stealing more – two days ago, one of LACCSSD’s shysters tried to blackmail me into sending them even more money (they OWE ME!) as a condition for fixing my credit report which they destroyed a full year ago. Even though LACCSSD’s latest bogus audit finally shows that I was overpaid at that time (which the court had long ago determined), they are trying to extort more money from me as the condition upon which they’ll stop their fraud. I reported that shyster to the bar association. Anyway, I’ll rant about these monsters later (and on my other non-kite related blog). Like I said, I’m currently lining up an attorney to sue the Los Angeles County monsters in Federal Court. BTW, LA County just lost in Federal Court for doing the exact same thing to another father just a few months ago. Again, I’m lining up an attorney to sue them at this very moment.

That explains just one (of SEVERAL) of the horrible things that I’m dealing with right now – that explains why I’ve also been so silent. While I haven’t flown at all for the past couple of weeks, I have been working on an “arch” – I’ve just about finished thirty kites (I still can’t believe that I’ve actually made them) and will be assembling them soon. I’ve had horrible sleep problems for the past couple of weeks (hardly sleeping at all and when I finally pass out, I sleep forever) so I’ve worked on my arch. Today, after church, there was a good breeze which cried out of a bit of flying. Church started one of their special summer Saturday night activities (they had “Luau Night”) so I hung out for the music and Polynesian dancing they had before going to a park, across the street to put up my fighter.

My Fandango

The last time I flew, was at the monthly San Diego Kite Fly for June (I didn’t take any photos) where I actually managed to learn how to get my fighters (the Hoopty and the Fandango) up in the air – what a thrill! Anyway, I had both of those with me today and spent some time getting my Fandango up. While it was getting late, I still had fun. I only had my cell phone with me but did manage to get one picture of my Fandango. Double clicking on the photo will display a larger version of my kite. In addition to the one picture I managed to get, I also captured a couple of videos – again, these were taken with my cell phone so their not of the greatest quality. As you will note from the video I’ve added to this blog entry, my kite managed to get away from me (I accidentally lost my hold on the line!). Fortunately, I trampled after the line and managed to step on it! One of the very interesting things about fighters is that they are quite small. They are intentionally built so that they are unstable. The way in which they are controlled is to pull on the line when the top of the kite is pointing in the direction you wish the kite to go. By letting the line loose, the kite will spin out of control (intentionally) and once it’s facing the desired position, you pull on the line again. It’s really quite fun! So far, I haven’t built one yet (I’m working on my sewing skills with my kite arch) – but making my own fighters is certainly on my list of things to do. Hopefully, I’ll get a reprieve from the other horrible things going on so that I can fly more. Right now, making kites is how I’m using my time when I can’t fly (i.e., late at night) and am not dealing with attorneys (during the day).

Oh, almost forgot! Towards the end of my brief flying experience today, a tree ate my Fandango (ugh!) Fortunately, I had the poles I’m using with my banners (I finished putting stars on my blue one but haven’t flown it since I did that). I was able to fish my kite safely out of the tree!

Caught my boy reading under the banner

Caught my boy reading under the banner
Originally uploaded by Bassoon Man.

Having just returned home from Junction, I couldn’t wait for my first opportunity to go down to the beach (Doheny State Park) and put up my banner and send my carp on its maiden voyage. As usual, there was almost no wind but I managed to get both up. My boy, located under the banner, spent the afternoon reading a book while I tried out my new fighters for the first time. I had no luck with the Hoopty and just limited success with the Fandango. I’ll keep trying. At the moment, I think I’ll start working on my next banner.

Fighter kites and a master fighter

Okay, so I’m posting things out of order – I haven’t written my post regarding the GREAT time I had at the Junction Kite Makers Retreat (I’ve already posted my American Airlines rant [they still have NOT responded to my complaint] and haven’t yet looked that the few photos I took – I’ve just been too worn out to do much since I got home). Even so, I’ve spent some time (while I wasn’t sleeping) looking up fighter kites on the Internet, which I was first introduced to at Junction. While we did not make them, I had a chance to fly one on my first day there. Fighters are very small (in fact, they’re surprisingly small) single line kites that are highly maneuverable. In addition to making more of the same of the goodies I created at Junction, I wanted to try and make my own fighters. Yesterday, I stopped by a few stores and purchased some Mylar, along with a few other supplies. Unfortunately, according the instructions I’ve found on the Internet, fighters are now usually made with carbon rods for durability.

What surprised me even more; however, is that I was just introduced (only a few weeks ago), to a man by the name of Vic who runs a well-known kite shop called “Kite Country” in San Diego. Little did I know at that time that Vic is considered to be quite famous in the fighter kite world as not only a champion fighter but also as a master fighter kite maker! His kite, “Vic’s Fighter” is still highly regarded by kiters (is that a real word?) around the world. So. . . I decided to take a quick jaunt down to his shop today (about 72 miles from home) to pick up some carbon rods and a few other goodies. Okay, I spent a bit too much (UGH)! Just the same, I got to pick Vic’s brain for quite a long time and learned a lot (the only problem is I probably won’t remember even half of what he told me).

Much of what Vic did have to say was quite fascinating! He told me stories about how he has chased everything from joggers to dogs on the beach (who hadn’t a clue that they were being followed by a kite) as well as having his kites “peer” into the windows of hotel visitors. While my experience with fighters is currently very limited (I got to fly one at Junction), these kites are, apparently, VERY maneuverable. Can’t wait to try some more!

In addition to four fighter kites (a Hoopty, a Fandango, and a Flick [all by esteemed kite maker, Jeff Howard], as well as an Indian made Mylar fighter with bamboo spars, I bought my son a Rev (so he will be able to fly his own, instead of mine)! I’ll have to post pictures of these kites later. I also purchased some carbon rods and other small hardware so I can try my hand at making my own – which is something that I would prefer to do, once I learn how, that is!