January 2010


How NOT to get invited back to Kite Festivals.

My Favourite T-Shirt
My Favourite T-Shirt
Image courtesy of Frans Schmit

'orrible weather here; our coldest October since 1943 and November's even freezinger. It's 8 degrees today and this is summertime and we're on the same latitude as the south of France. Our warming seems to have been stolen- probably it's a global conspiracy. I suspect Copenhagen- they're warmer now than we are- and seem set to heat up even more in the next few weeks.

But it's a relaxing time of the year here- for me anyway. I haven't stepped onto an aeroplane now for six weeks and hope not to for another six. Not that I have anything against aeroplanes mind - In fact I have a perfect flying record so far (with aeroplanes that is, not with kites, no no no). In 50 years and 1000's of flights since the first (DC3 / 1959,) I've kept a perfect score with exactly equal numbers of takeoff's and landings- the basic principle for safe flying.

And it's a time to catch up with workshop projects like the next iteration Piwakawaka Stirling engine, a winch for UKS and a special buggy for NABX '10- and to do some planning for next year's round of kite events, which are starting to loom alarmingly.

And it's not that I have anything against kite festivals either- I really really love them- but it has crossed my mind to consider what it would take to NOT get invited, purely as an academic exercise of course.

Having even just one more take-off than landing could possibly do it- I don't expect to actively participate in many kite festivals when I'm dead- and the odds of this happening increases with the number of flights for sure- although, perversely, our perception of risk decreases with familiarity so that infrequent fliers are much more likely to be worried about crashing than Gold card holders, though it should be the converse.

But seriously, what does it take to NOT get asked (back) to kite events? Festival organisers probably won't tell you, not wanting to burn any bridges, but I'm beginning to get some inklings of what might do it.

Perversely, sending in an extensive resume with multiple pictures and performance claims might work- event organisers tell me they notice an inverse relationship between the degree to which they get bombarded with pre-invitation importuning and actual on-the-field performance. As Edwin Land (inventor of the Polaroid camera) said; "--advertising is what you do when your product's no good."

Another T-Shirt Bali 2009
Another T-Shirt.
CAUTION: graphical content
Complaining definitely does it, particularly complaints about adjacent kitefliers. Event organisers just hate being kite policemen and resent fliers who try to make them do this, and those who's actions generate the complaints, right or wrong. I'm sure their view is 'a plague on all their houses'. If you want to stay home; complain loudly about how you can't fly because someone else's kite is misbehaving in your airspace, or that your anchor's been stolen or that the field is too small or the wind is bad- or even that the anchors are inadequate and unsafe (my special beef). Whinging about the quality of the on-field catering is pretty sure fire also.

Sitting out the bad wind (whether too little or too much) also definitely does it. The best opportunity to get noticed is when it's most difficult- and when others aren't flying- which requires an attitude, dogged unreasonable persistence and having kites for all seasons. First up, last down AWITA style performance is definitely what not to do if you want to stay home. This coming season I'm hoping to earn an AWITA B team tee shirt to wear on alternate days with that 'Master of Disaster' one. Unwillingness to risk damage to your kites by flying in close proximity to other fliers and natural hazards is also an excellent way of being noticed negatively- but personally I draw the line at offshore winds unless rescue boats are on hand. Damage is repairable, but losing a maxi to the sea removes it from the sky forever- and costs a lot as well.

Flying small kites that can't be seen by any spectators further than a few metres is a way to not impress organisers who have sponsors and the public to answer to. From a kite fliers perspective, large kites are not intrinsically better than small kites-but from a spectators perspective they are. There is no issue that arouses more ill feeling, resentment and territorial behaviour amongst kitefliers than this one but it's a force majeure situation; the inexorable festival trend continues to be towards more and bigger kites flying in (relatively) ever smaller spaces. About the only relief for smaller kites is that the large ones don't need to be in the front row- their appeal isn't lost when flown on the fringes as a frame to the event. But when wind direction places small kites on the downwind side, turbulence and re-launching of the large kites after inevitable snarl ups will still trash them- and refuel their flier's righteous rage.

Justifying laziness by the rationale of not being paid as much (by way of travel assistance and accommodation) as someone else, also doesn't go down too well, and is distressingly common. But fairly, there are fliers who insist on paying their own way so they can choose when to fly and when not to. I do feel a bit queasy about this- kite festivals are a team effort and all of us should be giving 100%, but there's a bit of a point here. And, event organisers could take some of the blame for this also- it's not unknown for them to expect local kitefliers to work for less than those from afar. Except, organisers are the real heroes (and the least rewarded- they often don't even get to fly kites!) so can do anything they want.

Hitting these organisers up for costs that weren't agreed to before hand- like excess baggage charges or taxis or whatever isn't good sense either, unless you want to stay home next time. This works for TV as well; I recently declared war on on a TV company when they refused to pay anything towards costs because the amount hadn't been settled beforehand (negotiations were overtaken by filming). They wouldn't try this on with a plumber or lawyer, but kitefliers are of an even lower order it seems. Highly aggrieved I was, snarled like a mad dog until they coughed up. They won't be inviting me on their show again!

Of course, claiming too large a share of the available travel budget- by living too far away, or taking expensive flights- directly impinges on your value to an event. There's not much choice about where you happen to live, but fares can vary enormously between full service and budget carriers, especially for advance bookings. This isn't the entire picture though as fare quotes level out a lot when baggage allowances and lost time (costless to the organisers but not to the flier) are factored in. Being about the furthest away from everywhere that it's possible to be, New Zealand should be a good place to be based if not going to events is the goal. It's a good theory, just like the C02 mechanism in global warming*, doesn't seem to work in practise though.

And, pickiness about accommodation, and especially unwillingness to share a hotel room imposes extra costs on organisers that they definitely remember. Sure some of us snore really loudly, and stagger in during the wee small hours knocking furniture over. But hey, we're all one big family and sharing a room provides opportunities for the less advantaged ( and just plain tight) to slide out from under bar tabs and phone bills- our very own kite flier specific social welfare system.

So there it all is, chapter and verse,

Merry Xmas and see you at an event somewhere soon!

Peter Lynn,
Ashburton New Zealand,
November 30 '09

Download PDF file:
*  Falsification of the atmospheric co2 greenhouse effect within the framework of physics.



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