Indoor Kite Flying On Ice

In what feels like a past life, back in the late 1980s I was very involved in kites. I designed them, made them, flew them. All sorts. I traveled extensively in the process. I did a little competitive kite making & flying, won a couple of awards, and generally had a great time.

During this time there came to the realm of kites a few new ideas, including indoor kite flying. Indoor kite flying is more than a little counter-intuitive as most people think that you need wind, hence you need to be outdoors. Not true as it happens.

With the adoption of modern materials like extremely light, strong carbon fiber tubes and whisper-light rip-stop Polyester cloth, kites can be made light enough to fly the faintest hint of a breeze. Extremely light, strong Spectra fiber string helps, too. Combine these new materials with the fact that just walking backwards you move at the equivalent of 2 mph, and you have the ability to induce sufficient breeze through movement.

Flying indoors is not easy because it requires near constant movement, and extreme sensitivity to the behavior of the kite at the end of your stings. It takes a certain finesse to do it well. Flying sport kites indoors was the exclusive domain of just a handful of very ambitious and silly people in the early 1990’s…and I was one of them.

Fast-forward almost twenty years and this is what you get….

I simply cannot express how unbelievably good this couple are at what they’re doing. They have a combination of grace and a diversity of skills that you may never again see collected in quite the same way. I stand in awe of the the beauty and spectacle of their creativity.

Sesame Street: Cookie Monster Auditions for Saturday Night Live

CM can do whatever he puts his mind to. I’ve long been a fan.

A Not-So Chilling Tale Of Halloween Fog

The past few years our annual Halloween display included fog effects augmented by the use of “chillers” to cool the output of the fog machines. This year we tried a new design for fog chillers. This is a little report on the differences, and why the new design was something of a disappointment.

[Read more…]

Retailers Of America: Hold Your Fire!

This is just a simple notice to the retailers of America. Christmas is in December. Traditionally the holiday retails promotions begin around Thanksgiving. That’s early enough, ok?

Halloween is only just past and we’re seeing some signs that the retail transition to Christmas is beginning…Thanksgiving be damned.

Well, those of you who are overly eager to get on with the holiday shopping binge do so at your peril. I’m planting a stake in the ground. Jump start your Christmas promos much before Thanksgiving and your establishment will not be enjoying my custom.

Of course, I’m just one guy. But some near to me know just how fiscally irresponsible I can be, which often plays out in your favor. Consider yourselves warned.

Those of you carrying the Wal-Mart banner can ignore this little warning. As in the past ten holiday seasons we won’t be seeing each other. I don’t miss you. Do you miss me?

Keith Olbermann: Wisdom On The Tea Party

Aussie Pet Mobile Earns Our Disdain

For a couple of years we used a service called Aussie Pet Mobile. This is a company that has Chrysler Sprinter vans nicely modified to perform pet grooming at your home. It’s a really good idea and we loved the service here in Houston. I think we used it from very early in the life of this particular franchise.

The service is simple enough. You call the local franchisee and book an appointment, then they come to the house and groom the pets. It’s fast and convenient. We always had a great experience with the field staff who came to do the work.

[Read more…]

Halloween 2010: Part 2 – The Soundtrack

Not only do we stage a pretty good set of visuals for the Halloween kiddies, we support it with sound and lights, too. We usually have 2-3 kw of sound reinforcement fed by a couple of Logitech Squeezeboxes. It’s 3 or 4 pair of powered monitors like my Behringer B2031As and a couple of Behringer B2030A powered subwoofers. It’s not uber-high-end, but it’s clean and can get very loud when necessary.

The past couple of years I’ve been taking the easy route and using a simple mixed track that combines several commercial sound effects CDs for the season. They’re fine but I’ve always wanted to make it more musical, to mix the sounds effects with recognizable musical tracks.

My own tastes run toward Pink Floyd as appropriate for the night. That’s what I always play during the setup process. I’ve got everything they’ve ever recorded, including various symphonic remakes. I’ve also go the various members solo records, some of which seem appropriate.

However, Pink Floyd alone seems a little one-dimensional. I think that there may be value in crowd-sourcing ideas for the sound track. So I ask you; what would you pick as part of an ominous soundtrack for Halloween? All ideas welcome.

There’s two weeks before the big day so I need to start soon if I’m to get it done. If I actually get a custom mixed track assembled I’ll publish the playlist so you get a sense of what was done.

Halloween 2010: Part 1 – The Web

Reconstituting My Personal Blog

In the chaos of last June when my SOHO tech blog was suffering hosting issues I killed off my personal blog. It was no accident. It was just a matter of priorities. The need to get the larger tech blog to a new home loomed large, so the personal blog went down…that is until today.

Now that Graves On SOHO Tech is more or less happily living on a VPS at Unmetered VPS.Net I’ve reconstituted my personal blog here at the old BlueHost shared hosting account.

I’ve decided to put each site at a different domain, with the SOHO Tech blog remaining at since that’s a long established address. The personal blog resides at, a domain that I acquired just a couple of months ago.

It’ll take some time to dress this up a bit, but it’s good to have a soap box for matters that don’t relate to issues of technology.