8 Mar

Lately, I’ve been wondering about the desire to share my injuries.  Why, when I do something stupid and hurt myself in the park, do I feel the need to share the image of my broken face with the world?  Why do the biographies of skaters often include a list of the injuries they suffered in the park?  Why do derby skaters post pictures of their injuries and eagerly search the images of other, similar injuries?  Are we all so morbidly obsessed?

But perhaps it is not a morbid obsession.  Perhaps this too is holy.  Like Paul of Tarsus giving his body to God, we give ours to the park.  Our sacrifice.  Scars and bumps and bruises become physical reminders of all we give for our love.  They become badges of honor, not to the injury itself, but to the commitment and sacrifice the injuries represent.

Tony Hawk relates a story about how he knocked himself unconscious in a skatepark, and his first thought upon regaining consciousness was a realization that he would never stop skating, regardless of what it did to his body.  Often, I roll over in the middle of the night, and my bruised hips or shoulders cause me to wake up gasping in pain.  But this pain almost always makes me smile.  I do not like the pain, any more than Paul of Tarsus liked being whipped or stoned or shipwrecked, however, I love what it represents.  It represents my love of skating, a love that exceeds the love of self, a love so overwhelming that even the destruction of my physical body could not diminish it.

If I die in a skatepark, rejoice for me.

So here, then, are some words on sacrifice from the Bible.  I have rearranged and changed them slightly, to fit my purposes.

Are they skaters?

I am more;

In labors more abundant,

in stripes above measure,

in jail more frequent,

in deaths oft.

Twice was my consciousness taken,

oft was I stoned,

many strandings I’ve suffered,

many nights slept I, as a dog upon the floor;

In journeyings often,

in perils of waters,

in perils of robbers,

in perils by mine own countrymen,

in perils by the heathen,

in perils in the city,

in perils in the wilderness,

in perils in the sea,

in perils among false brethren;

In weariness and painfulness,

in watchings often,

in hunger and thirst,

in fastings often,

in cold and nakedness.

If I must needs glory,

I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

Flatground Energy Transfer, Edges, and Resistance

4 Mar

Edge control is not just the ability to do some fancy stops.  It is the beginning, middle, and end of all skating on flat ground.

The designers of the wheels and bearings and other rolling components on your rollerskates went to great effort to reduce the rolling resistance of those components.  Lubrications have been developed to reduce friction in the bearings.  Materials have been designed to reduce hysteresis in the wheel itself.  Ounces have been shaved, and forms have been tested, and as a result your wheels roll very well along one axis, and one axis only.  They roll forward and backward.

This is the least interesting thing about them.  Set someone rolling forward, and they will continue to roll forward until those tiny friction forces that the rollerskate designers could not entirely eradicate slowly bleed away that initial energy input.  Then they stop.

For anything interesting to happen on rollerskates, the skater must push through the edges of the wheel.  Change requires resistance.  Examples below.

E1. A skater rolling in a straight line on a level floor pushes out and back in order to maintain speed.  If you look at the positioning of the skate and the resulting motion of these pushes, you will see that the input forces operate through the edge of the skate wheel.  The skater turns their feet slightly outward, and then pushes off slightly inward with every stride.  The skater never pushes along the axis of roll, because no force can be supported along that axis.

E2. A skater rolling in a straight line on a level floor leans heavily to the left, causing the trucks to compress on the left side of both skates.  This turns the wheels slightly left of the direction of roll, which means the right edge of the wheels is being pushed against the friction forces of floor.  If the leftward reaction force of the floor on the skater does not exceed the static friction limit of the wheel/floor interface, the skater will turn left.  This is called carving.

E3. Combining the concepts from E1 and E2 produces the cornering technique known as “crossovers.”  Every stride in a crossover is also a carve.

E4.  A skater rolling in a straight line on a level floor turns both their skates 90 degrees left or right of the direction of roll, and rapidly stops.  This is called a hockey stop.  In a hockey stop the inside edges of one skate and the outside edges of the other skate both work together to reduce the skater’s momentum to zero.

E5.  Point the toes towards each other while rolling forward and dig with the outside edges of both skates for a plow stop.

E6.  If one of the skates is allowed to roll instead of turned sideways, it is a half plow.

E7.  Point the toes away from eachother while rolling backward, thus engaging the outside edges of the wheels, and it is a reverse plow.

E7.  Drag the inside edges of the wheels of one skate behind you, and you are doing a T-stop.

Many other slides and stops are possible once edge control is understood.   Start by noticing and appreciating how the edges of your wheels control all momentum transfer that does not rely on toe-stops.  Feel the wheel edges bite the floor in each of your crossovers, in your carving, in your stride.  Feel the way that edge resistance connects you to the floor and the Earth below, transferring energy and information along a friction interface.  Then, when you feel you understand the connection, move on to learning stops and slides by rapidly and aggressively engaging those edges.

Flatground energy transfer requires resistance, and resistance requires using the edges of your wheels.  Nothing changes without resistance, and with it, everything eventually becomes heat.  Every push and slide and crossover you do brings the heat death of the universe infinitesimally closer.  As does your every step, breath, and thought.  Use them all wisely.

Degrees of Freedom and the Theophany

3 Feb

To a rooted plant, the entire world consists of the singular spot it occupies.  Bacteria, however, operate in a linear world, moving towards nutrients and away from toxins. Lifeforms with bilateral symmetry are capable of comprehending a world of area, consisting of left and right, as well as forward and backward, while most creatures with spines and brains seem capable of operating in a volumetric world.  

Thus, degrees of freedom (DOF) inform the structure and perception of living things:
DOF        Lifeform        Worldview
0:             Plant                Point
1:              Bacteria         Linear
2:             Flatworm       Planar
3:             Fish                 Volumetric
4:             Human?          Spacetime

We humans, however, seem stuck somewhere between the third and fourth degrees of freedom.  We are capable of perceiving our journey through time in a way other animals are not; yet we are no more capable of determining our “movement” through that fourth dimension than a fish  We all fall inexorably forward, toward unknown futures.

But what if higher forms of life ARE capable of moving in the fourth dimension, or of perceiving dimensions of time orthogonal to normal time?  Left and right time.  Up and down time.  What if they could take advantage of other dimensions such as the extra six dimensions required by modern string theory?  They would be like gods to us, and we could no sooner make sense of their motives than a flatworm could predict our actions.  It isn’t a matter of a lack of language.  It’s a lack of shared context.  We occupy entirely different worlds.

So, when Philip K. Dick theorizes about God using a “high form of sentient mimicry . . . that no human (or few humans) had detected,” I’m skeptical.  I don’t think God needs to hide itself.  I think God needs to work to make itself known to our limited perceptions and in our constrained environment.

But what would that be like for us, that communication?  Pull a fish from the water and explain to it all about the evolution or possible extinction of it’s species.  You have imparted no knowledge, only pain and terror.  I think the same would likely be true of us.  Belief in a loving god could make the experience less terrifying and perhaps even blissful, but I doubt any religion can help make the experience any more comprehensible.

Still.  It’s fun to try.

The Complete Book of Apokalypsis

21 Jan

In the End:

There are no revelations beyond those you reveal to yourself, no purpose other than your own purpose, and no meaning in the Universe other than that which you bring to it.

Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law, and the law is the The Law of Fives*.

Even for God.




* The Law of Fives, as stated by St. Celine is this: “All phenomena are directly or indirectly related to the number five, and this relationship can always be demonstrated, given enough ingenuity on the part of the demonstrator.”

In the Beginning:

19 Jan

In the beginning, THE INFINITE TRANSITION was without form and all was void.

The matrix of divine thought that sentient beings experience as the material plane, was the null set.  Not even that.  The domain of possible inputs was negative zero to positive zero, not including zero.  The output was identically restricted.  The inherent potential was zero.  There was no differentiation — not even between Here and There, or Then and Now — as space and time themselves did not exist.  Spontaneous independent action was impossible, of course, due to the complete lack of anything capable of action and/or capable of being acted upon.

Then, for reasons unknown and probably quite unknowable, the universe tried to know itself.  This spark of self comprehension is the first action, the birth of potential and differentiation, and the only true miracle that has ever occurred, since the beginning of beginnings.  Nowadays, it is fashionable to call this event the Big Bang, but it has been interpreted differently throughout time and across many different cultures.

Elohim flips on a light switch, differentiating light from dark.  The light wakes Pan Gu, who stretches and breaks the egg releasing all the matter of the universe.   Yin and Yang spontaneously differentiate themselves from this primordial chaos and begin their playful dance.  Lord Brahma splits in half differentiating male from female.  Amen finally gets out of his bathtub.

Q1: What kind of bath did Amen take?
A1: Nun.
Q2: What kind of meat does the Pope eat?
A2: None.
Q3: What if we switch the order of the last two answers?
A3: Pun.  (Though arguably not a good one.)*

The action of creating differentiation and potential where none existed before is the all important unifying concept behind all creation stories, and it is why all creation stories are true to some extent.  But it is the details that everyone remembers, that everyone argues and fights and kills over — the silly details that turn divine words into bad puns.  In the end, all holy texts are shaggy dog stories.  All holy men are pranksters.

And with the telling of the first sacred pun, the world began, not with a bang but with a chuckle.  After all, it’s as good a creation myth as any.




Amen didn’t take a bath, because he didn’t exist before he emerged from Nun, the primeval ocean, and everyone knows Popes have no dietary restrictions.

Creating Your Own Skateless Potential Fields

15 Jan

The potential field in a skatepark is easy to understand;  it is physical and unchanging, cast in concrete and coping.  Finding the potential field of an urban plaza, however, is more difficult, and creating your own potential field on flat ground requires a great deal of creativity and confidence.  The creativity used in flat ground work will determine the refinement and interest of the output line, as the potential field must be wholly conjured from the line artist’s mind.  However, the confidence required to create a potential field from nothing, to live in it and skate it and to truly believe in it, borders on the fanatical confidence of blind faith.

Think of the first bank and pool riders.  Even they, with their radical redefinition of the urban environment, did not create wholesale new ideas from nothing.  They had the template of surfing to build upon, and they had the environment to interpret.  Jamskaters have their music.  The structure of these outside influences guides the line artist.  The purest magic requires stillness and silence and isolation from outside influences.

The line artist, the magician, the medicine woman, knows this.  They create potential fields without the assistance of outside influences, and therefore are capable of redefining even consensual reality.  The rest of us just muddle through a world defined by them, never realizing that we are the shapers of that world, just as much as the world shapes us.  We are in a feedback loop with our environment, a loop of infinite potential, differentiation, and spontaneous independent action, just waiting for the barest hint of one of those inputs.

Some say that in 1979, Saint Mullen of Rodney inscribed the image of God into a potential field in Oceanside, California, though very few of the witnesses to this miracle understood what they had seen.  Those who stood in judgement on that day did not understand what they had witnessed, though they knew enough to honor him with sacrifices.  But even Saint Mullen at least had his board.  

Done Got (More) Religion

5 Jan

Crash Course in Enlightenment:

The fastest way to a physical understanding of the Taoist concept of wu-wei, is to put very hard wheels beneath your feet, and then drop into a complicated bowl, park, or pool.  A line artist, in such circumstances, will find her illusion of control replaced by a true enlightenment about the nature of the park.  She cannot make plans or even decisions about her actions, and instead must rely on the spontaneous independent action that arises from the real-time interaction between herself and the environment.

Neophyte line artists experience this interaction in large time scales — second by second — and The Way will likely be obscured by ego-noise and distractions.  A more advanced line artists, however, operates on a finer scale of microseconds between input information and output “reaction” information.  As the line artist increases in skill, the time scale gets smaller and faster, so fast in fact, that there is not enough time for electrical impulses to travel from her limbs to her brain and back again.  Therefore, the brain is bypassed, and the body acts alone.  The line artist becomes a master when the time between input information and output information collapses to zero.

If enlightenment is not induced after the first drop, try harder wheels, more complicated parks, tighter transitions, more speed, and/or more height.  Sacrificing your own pain and blood may also help.

The Wheel:
The wheel is a manmade image of the INFINITE TRANSITION.  However, worshipers of the wheel have confused the landscape with the map.

The Skatepark:
Skateparks pay homage to the INFINITE TRANSITION: graven images of concrete, metal, and wood.  However, worshipers of the skatepark have confused the idol with the god.

The fabric of spacetime mimics the INFINITE TRANSITION in countless curves, dips, and bumps.  However, worshipers of spacetime, have confused the works with the worker.

The INFINITE TRANSITION, itself, is the PRIMUM MOVENS.  By rolling the PRIMUM MOVENS one relinquishes control and rolls the path of infinite potential, differentiation, and spontaneous independent action.

Taoists call it “The Way,” and Hindus call it “Dharma,” but it’s all just a good sesh on the edge of the infinite.


The INFINITE Skatepark:

The line artist creates beauty in a skatepark, by working with the structure of the skatepark, not by forcing her will upon it.  The size, shape, orientation, and composition of the transitions in a certain skatepark define the potential field of that park.  The transitions are a map to the places where kinetic energy becomes potential energy and vice versa.  It is the line artist’s joy to find paths through this potential field, converting energy in a seamless dance that is also a journey and an act of praise.

The potential field of the INFINITE TRANSITION is not infinite at every point.  If it were, the derivative at all points would be zero, and nothing would ever change.  We observe from the world around us, that this is not so.  However, the domain of the INFINITE TRANSITION contains all points from negative infinity to infinity, and the output range is similarly unbounded and continuous at all points.  The output, while not being infinite at all points, is constantly changing depending on the observer, and is capable of infinite output at all points.  Therefore, the line artist of the INFINITE TRANSITION finds joy in creating paths through a potential field that is her own creation.

Take a moment to contemplate this ecstasy.  The line artist of the INFINITE TRANSITION skates an infinitely large park that she is in the process of creating.  She understands that the structure of the things she has created before will inform the structure of the things she has yet to create, but recognizes that she is free to create anything at any moment.  Park and artist are a feedback loop of infinite potential, differentiation, and spontaneous independent action.

Call it Samadhi.  Call it enlightenment.  Divine guidance.  The name is unimportant.  Live in that moment.