Conscientious Extraversion, part 1

I am not particularly outgoing by nature, and technology has generally removed any need I might otherwise have had for talking to other people except as it pertains to my job or my family. A song from Sesame Street suggests that there are in fact people in my neighborhood, people that I meet each day, but I have found that this need not be the case. Who might I meet each day? A bank teller? Nope, online banking. A checkout clerk? Nope, the self-checkout lane. A gas station attendant? Nope, pay at the pump. Asking somebody the time? Nope, my cell phone. Small talk in a waiting room? Nope, my cell phone. Directions when I'm out of town? Nope, my cell phone. Friendly strangers while I'm out for a walk? Nope, their cell phone (and earbuds). Whew.

At certain points in my life I have made a conscious effort to engage others in conversation where normally I would remain silent. Actually, the first example that comes to mind is not so much about engaging in conversation as it is about opening myself up to conversation, which can be just as terrifying. When I left my high school and the classmates I had studied with for 13 years, I went to Bethel College, where I was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of strangers and barely knew anyone else. I decided that I would probably have a better experience if I met some people, and that probably most other people were not just going to come up and start talking to me. For these reasons I decided to say "Hi" to everyone I met on the sidewalks of Bethel's campus who wasn't already having a conversation. No "how are you" because I hate that most people don't want an answer (or don't give an answer), and no "Hi, my name is Peter" because that's weird and creepy. Just "Hi."

Hi.

A lot of people said "Hi" back, and though I don't remember it leading to any particular conversations, it made me feel a lot less closed off than I would have felt sticking to my nature and silently walking (or rolling) down the sidewalk. I'm sure it allowed me to participate in later conversations that I would have otherwise not been part of, either because I recognized a person from having said "Hi" to them or maybe because they recognized me.

The second example I can think of is a few months ago when I was shopping at Meijer by myself. As I passed by the aisle with the snack crackers I saw a man put a box of orange cheese-flavored things in his and his wife's cart, and she said, "oh wait, do we want Cheese Nips or Cheez-its?" This struck me as a perfect example of the mundane conversations we all have all the time - things that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things yet they're still really important to us on a small scale - and I thought it was hilarious and awesome. The inside of me smiled when I felt a weird urge to ask them which they decided on. This is not me. But, I thought, if it made me smile then maybe it would make them smile too. Or maybe they would just think I was weird. Whether I like it or not, I care a lot about what strangers think of me. On the other hand, there's a good chance I'll never see them again. In the end, my curiosity overpowered my shyness and I turned the cart around and felt myself walking back an aisle to where the cracker discussion had taken place. I don't remember exactly how it played out, but I said something like, "Sorry, but I overheard the earth-shattering discussion happening and now I just have to know: Did you go with Cheese Nips or Cheez-its?" It was at this moment that I suddenly realized what was happening. I had just strolled into a stranger's life and asked them a very personal question about what kind of snack crackers they preferred. What was I doing? This is embarrassing and weird! Wait, I think they're laughing. Oh good, at least it was ha-ha weird and not call-the-police weird. It only took about half a second to think all of that so I just kept going. I peeked into their cart and observed, "ah, Cheese Nips, huh? Good choice. Well, have a nice night!" Freed from the situation I had put myself in I wheeled the cart around and walked, maybe a little faster than usual, back toward the front of the store past the tank full of lobsters who thankfully were unable to point and laugh at my fit of social ineptitude.

Still, it made me feel good to share my observation with someone else and it felt good that they thought it was funny too. I walked toward the self-checkout with a goofy smile on my face.

The Bible

As a Christian, reading the Bible regularly is one of my weaknesses - that is to say, I don't do it as often as I probably should. Recently, however, I felt compelled to start reading the book of James, and almost every day since then I have read at least a chapter or two moving forward from there. This morning I read 1 John chapter 4, and it reinforced what God has been saying to me through the last few books (James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John), which is this:

If we truly believe that God loves us, our reciprocation should be not only to Him but also to our fellow man¹. If we do not have love for the humans around us who have been made in God's image (hint: this is everybody), then we do not have love for God. Our love for others should be a reflection of God's love for us, and He loves us unconditionally.

There are a bunch of verses that talk about this, but I'll just include the last one I read today, which was 1 John 4:21:

And this commandment we have from [God]: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

There are all kinds of current events this could be applied to, but I don't really want to get on a soapbox, so I'm going to leave it at that. God loves all of us more profoundly and more deeply than we can possibly comprehend, and our response should be one of praise, gratitude, and a love for God so boundless that it spills over into unmitigated love for one another.

¹yes, as in 'mankind.' Yes, that includes all of humanity. You know what I meant, no need to fuss about it.

#Shelfie

My last post detailed the progress (or seeming lack of it) made so far on the remodel of the main closet in my office. I am happy to report that this closet is now complete!¹

When we last left our heroic closet, it looked approximately like this:

Since that time, I added additional baseboard along the long back wall - some of the floorboards didn't quite make it to the back of the closet, so this was my way of covering up those gaps. After that, Caitlin and I painted the inside of the closet a bright white that matches the trim in the rest of the office, and then I was able to replace the old outlets not just in the closet, but in 3 other locations around my office as well. I also installed the face plate for the network jacks and set the shelves in place on their cleats:

These are pieces of 3/4" red-oak-faced plywood which I had cut (a little too long, as it turned out) and stained nearly a year ago. They sat nicely on the cleats and were pretty stable once I installed some small L-brackets to hold them in place, but there was still a notable amount of flex near the middle of the shelves. While they probably would have been okay, I didn't want them to sag over time, so I attached a piece of 1x2 pine to the bottom of the shelves at the front as shown in the photo above. To prevent splitting, I pre-drilled about 10 holes per board (just under an 8' span) and then screwed this reinforcement piece to the shelf above it. This added a lot of rigidity. The final step was to add a face piece to the edge of the shelves in order to clean up the look a little bit. I went back and forth on several options but ended up going with strips of PVC lattice, a little over 1-1/2" wide and around 1/8" thick. I attached them to the shelves using J-B Weld ClearWeld Epoxy. I wasn't sure how well that would turn out but it went much better than I would have guessed.

I mixed up the epoxy and used the stir stick to spread a thin layer on the back side of the face strips and on the edge of the shelf. Then I stuck them together, using two clamps to help wrangle the long flexible strip into place. I left the clamps in place for a few minutes until the epoxy had set, during which time I also used several pieces of painter's tape to hold the strip firmly against the shelf. This worked very well:

The plastic below is to catch any drips from the epoxy, but that turned out to be a non-issue.

After the epoxy had cured (I gave it about 90 minutes) it seemed like the strip was securely in place, so I repeated the process with the next two shelves. This time I used a foam brush to get the epoxy to spread more evenly across both surfaces:

I was quite happy with how well the PVC strip cleaned up the look of the shelves:

And with that, the project was complete! Here's my #shelfie:

¹okay, fine: mostly complete. That space up above the closet needs to have the sliding doors painted and reinstalled. However, they don't prevent me from using the shelves below which means I can get this office back in order! Excitement abounds.

Office Closet Remodel

If you happened to follow the rävenfoto blog when it existed, you may recall a post about remodeling one of the bedrooms in my house into an office. It was a fairly big job; we repainted the walls from a weird green to a dark gray, repainted the ceiling and trim from off-white to bright white, pulled up the carpet and refinished the red oak flooring underneath, added several outlets and four network jacks, and replaced the lighting fixture with track lighting that runs all the way around the room.

When all of the above was completed, the remodel was probably 90% complete, and I began using the room as my office... at which point nearly all progress on the remodel ceased. A few things got done afterward - we replaced the folding wooden shutter doors on the odd over-the-stairs closet with an aesthetically clean white piece of wood; I finally installed shades on the windows - but one task loitered in the corner, looming over me, leering at me. It was a gaping hole (two, actually) in the otherwise-quite-nice-looking room. It was: THE CLOSET.

Unlike the odd over-the-stairs closet or the former walk-in closet doorway that is now a bookshelf, this is just an ordinary bedroom closet. 8 feet wide, a few feet deep, with a rack to hang clothes on and some shelves on either end, and a nice big hole in the drywall 19" high and 26" wide... you know, just a normal closet. (As near as we can tell, there was previously a hole on the other side of the wall as well, and maybe a previous owner had a TV situated in the wall so as to view it from the living room. If there is one thing our house does not lack, it is features.)

In the process of refinishing the oak floor, I removed the folding doors which had previously spanned the now-gaping maw of the formidable closet. I decided that an open-front closet would make the room feel a bit bigger, and that having the interior painted bright white would bring a little more light into a room with dark gray walls. Sounds pretty great, right? *pats self on back* The only problem is that I then proceeded to use the closet, in its dreadful state, to hold stuff.

Gentle reader, I will let you in on something. Stuff does not like to move. In fact, Newton's first law of motion confirms to us that once you put stuff somewhere, said stuff will stay right there unless somebody¹ does something about it. So you see, the stuff was not taunting me, nor tormenting, nor purposefully blocking my progress on the closet project. It was instead dutifully following the laws of the universe, just waiting for some action on my part to overcome my default state of inaction, to move that stuff out of the way and to keep the project rolling.

I found it much easier to just blame the stuff.

I did make some baby steps² - by last year sometime, I managed to get some nice 3/4" oak plywood to use for long shelves in the closet (I even cut it to size and stained it), and had removed the ugly/boring wire rack from the closet. Other than that, though, not much changed. Eventually, however, I did make a little progress by getting that stuff out of the closet. As a result, some of that stuff ended up in the main area of my office, where it was (is) in the way all the time. I knocked out the old shelves, and in order to get that stuff back in the closet where it would be out of my way and where I could access it easily, I have to get some shelves back in place.

I ran four more network cables, for reasons.³ I finally got that stupid hole patched up. I finally have some new baseboard to go across the back of the closet. I finally got some cleats attached to the wall to help support the new shelves. It finally feels like this thing might get finished soon, after all.

A day or two ago, I sat in the closet doing some work but lamenting how long it was all taking - it seemed like as I got closer to the end there were more and more things to do to get it done right. It seemed like I wasn't making progress but there I was, sitting in the closet, doing work. My perspective at that moment was one of defeat, of frustration at the "one more thing" that needed to be done. Instead, I should have realized that showing up to do the work is a win in itself. It's like I forgot for a moment that I have this blog to help me do things by way of sharing them with the internet.

So here I am, and here it is - progress:

The white cleats previously held shelves that went the short way across the closet. All that's really left is to put a bit more trim at the baseboard, paint everything (except the floor - note the [plastic] dropcloth!), and then install the shelves (which still need to be trimmed down by about a half inch, because apparently I can't measure). I guess at that point I'll still need to install the faceplate for the network jacks and swap out the receptacle for a newer style one to match the rest of the office. Okay, so that list got a little longer than I expected, but still - progress! Real progress too, not the kind where you think you're getting stuff done but really you're just staying busy for the sake of busyness.

ANYWAY, thanks as always for joining me as I attempt to do stuff and then share it with the internet. I really appreciate your company.

 - Peter

¹ I'm using the term "somebody" fairly liberally here, perhaps more accurately rendered "some body" because really all it takes is an unbalanced force to move the stuff, which could come in the form of a celestial body straying too close to Earth and drawing the stuff in by its gravity (though at that point we've got bigger fish to fry), or by a body of water forming in my office and causing the stuff to float away (though again, bigger fish), or by shifting tectonic plates causing an earthquake that dislodges the stuff from its happy nook (at which point the closet would remodel itself as well, though perhaps not in the fashion desired). The point is, the stuff is unlikely to move unless a person moves it, and I'm the only one who's likely to do that, especially now that Caitlin is pregnant and is not supposed to move stuff. Doctor's orders, you know.

² The term "Baby Steps" is kind of a misnomer unto itself - I mean, what baby can actually take steps? I guess you could classify crawling as step-taking, though that's really a stretch. By the time a baby takes said steps, it is well into the territory of "toddling" at which point the child is by definition a toddler. Get with it, idiom!

I did just consider the fact that the "baby" in "baby steps" could itself be a metaphor, referring to the diminutive size of the proverbial steps. On behalf of grumpy linguists everywhere I would like to formally apologize to both the idiom and its mother.

³ Reasons! First of all I just enjoy running network cable to places where it may be needed. In this case I ran four of them because I planned to use two for my wireless access point/router (one coming in from the modem and one heading back down to my 16-port switch), and one for my networked printer. "But wait!" cries the astute reader, "Two plus one equals three! This is a different number from four!" If the astute reader is you, you are correct. It just seemed better to put in four because it's a lot easier to find a four-port keystone plate, and because I've got a 24-port patch panel so why not? It was after wiring up these four ports that I sheepishly realized that my networked printer contains only a wireless adapter, having no ethernet port. Ah, well... reasons. I'm sure I'll find a use for the extra ports sometime.

Video Production!

This past weekend was a busy one. On Friday I shot video at a wedding and reception in Portage and Valparaiso, respectively (thanks to Joe for his assistance!); on Saturday I shot video at the recital we held for our music students; on Sunday I got to play along with our worship band after church (I'll be playing occasionally starting soon). The weekend rolled on into Monday when I shot a promotional video for the EZ-Trieve Pen, a product for which I am helping with marketing and launch strategy. (Thanks to Will for his assistance!) After that wrapped up we had a couple of hours before our next thing so we went to Notre Dame and wandered around filming things.

I wanted to get a feel for working with the footage from the C100 because it had been a while, and also I wanted to stretch my editing muscles with something inconsequential (again because it had been a while) so I dumped all of the ND shots into Premiere and picked out the ones that were least bad. Behold:

This was much fun to shoot and refreshing to edit. Next up will be the recital video because I can knock it out quickly and then the wedding video because I promised a 2-week turnaround time. The EZ-Trieve pen will require another day of shooting further down the road before I have everything I need so it will be on hold for a bit as soon as I get some preliminary work done first.

When the recital and wedding videos are complete my next project will be to finish the logo and website for my friend Chelsea, who is an editor (of words, not videos) and you should hire her if you need any words edited. Clearly I could use some help in this area but this is just a silly blog so I think we'll be okay. If you have anything that matters, though - a book, say, or a dissertation, or even a resume/cover letter - you should definitely email Chelsea@SafeHarborEditing.com and she can help you out.

Well there we have it. It looks like this blog achieved its stated goal once again, because I made a thing and shared it with the internet. Thanks for being here!

An Update:

Last Monday evening, my daughter got sick. Then my wife got sick. Then I got sick. It was dreadful. Thankfully, my son managed not to show any signs of illness, though he had been sick the previous week so maybe he's the one that handed it off to the rest of us.

At any rate, today is the first day I've felt mostly normal in just over a week (though it feels like it was two weeks) so that's why you haven't seen any updates from me in a while.

See you all soon!

MORE Audiotool

This time around I decided to try my hand at producing a rap-oriented track. I've had this little hook rolling around in my head for months, and now that I've gotten a handle on the basics of Audiotool it proved to be a good way to put some bones on the idea and see how it moved.

That was a weird metaphor.

Anyway, here it is - I'd love to hear any feedback you might have!


Audiotool, too

Yesterday I talked about Audiotool (a ridiculously cool website for making music) and shared my first Auditool creation, imaginatively titled "Experiment #1". Today I'd like to share my second Audiotool creation, given the increasingly clever moniker "Experiment #2".

In this track, I played a lot more with automation, where I program the instruments to take certain actions at specific times (filter sweeps, turning effects on or off, etc.)

I'd love to hear your feedback on these first two tracks, whether it's here on the blog, on Facebook, or on SoundCloud! I'm having a lot of fun playing with this website and I'm excited to keep learning with it.

Audiotool

Recently, my brother Matt introduced me to a website called Audiotool.com - it's a web app that facilitates music creation and it includes several virtual instruments, a mixer, a multitrack sequencer/editor, and the ability to import your own sounds or samples.

Here's the layout of instruments for my completed song, if you can call it that.

I played with it for a few minutes the night he showed it to me, and then yesterday I played with it for a few hours. I didn't get super deep into the features available with Audiotool, but it's pretty intuitive and I was able to play with several of the included modules. None of the modules are directly named what they've been designed after, because of course the names are copyrighted. That said, I used a TR-808 and TR-909 (both Roland drum machines), a TB-303 (bass sequencer), and a 3-oscillator synth that seems a lot like a Minimoog. I also used a couple of reverb pedals, a distortion pedal, and two somethings. In Audiotool it's called a Tonematrix but I'm not sure the real-life thing it's modeled on, though it looks more or less like a Novation Launchpad, but with 16x16 buttons. The virtual instrument acts as a sequencer though it can also output its own notes as well which sound a bit like a marimba.

Anyway, here's what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it!

Dollar Shave Club

I recently decided to finally try out Dollar Shave Club after first hearing about it several years ago. I don't usually shave that often, but after letting my Novembeard grow all the way through the end of March I decided to go clean-shaven for a while.

Dollar Shave Club has three membership levels to choose from, and I went with the middle option - $6 per month, free shipping, and you get 4 four-blade cartridges per month along with a handle when you first sign up. Here's my experience with the first shave:

The supplies come in a simple but well-planned box with a friendly welcome message and a long fold-out pamphlet explaining what to expect and so on:

There was also this friendly reminder to make sure you use up all four blades in a month so you keep your subscription active ;)

The small box contained my allotted four blades, and in the larger portion was a nice handle with rubberized grip, a sample size of their "Shave Butter," and an advertising piece for the Shave Butter:

Righty-o, time to shave. I trimmed my face whiskers down to the shortest length offered by my hair clippers:

 

I'm looking forward to trying the Shave Butter but since it had been so long since my face felt the shave of a razor (probably close to a year) I opted for the shaving gel and aftershave lotion that I had used before. I held a hot washcloth to my face for 30 seconds or so, bathed my whiskers in shave gel, and said goodbye. It wasn't so bad.

Overall, I was quite happy with the shave. Especially considering that a handle and four blades was only $6, I'd recommend Dollar Shave Club to anybody looking for a cheaper way to shave. The only downside I noticed was that the razor cartridges don't rinse out as easily as some other designs. Note in the photos below how obstructed the back side of the blade is in the Dollar Shave Club cartridge (left) vs. the Gillette FlexBall blade (right)

Dollar Shave Club

Gillette FlexBall

I will say that the Gillette FlexBall does provide a better shave than the DSC blade, but at a much higher cost. I was lucky enough to get the FlexBall for free a while back as part of a promotional giveaway, otherwise I think it's unlikely that I would have tried it out. I paid for the Dollar Shave Club blades with my own dollars, but if you try it out through my links to their site, I do get a $5 credit for the referral.

Well there it is. Shout out to  my cousin Joel  via the shirt.

Well there it is. Shout out to my cousin Joel via the shirt.

Buy My Things

I've added a new section to this website titled "Buy My Things," which ought to be straightforward enough for you to figure out.

I have too much stuff, so I am selling some of it. Right now everything I have listed is new or used skate gear, but I expect to have miscellaneous other stuff up there sooner or later.

SO PRETTY

This section was set up using the Commerce features built into Squarespace, which was pretty easy to configure, but there are two things I don't like about it. 1) Payment processing is required to go through Stripe. I'd much rather just use PayPal, but whatever. 2) Shipping charges are either really smart or really dumb, and I'd like something that falls somewhere in the middle. For example, you can either have it calculate shipping based on total weight of everything (which requires me to know the weights of the things I'm selling) or it can charge a flat rate per order plus an optional flat fee per item. If I were selling a bunch of stuff that was all roughly the same size and weight this might make sense, but since I've got everything from skate wheels to complete skateboards listed up there right now, it doesn't really fit. Using that second method may end up way overcharging people who just buy a set of wheels, or way undercharging people who buy three skate decks. It also doesn't allow for local pickup, though you could set that as an secondary shipping option I guess. Actually, I'm going to add that right now.

[several minutes later]

Okay, so now people can choose "local pickup" if they're going to get the stuff from me directly. The other option, which I was getting to before I got distracted, is labeled "BILL SHIPPING SEPARATELY," which pretty much does as it says on the tin. With this option I'll go ahead and ship the items, send the customer an email with the exact shipping fees I paid, and hope they reimburse me via PayPal or something. If I were running a business I wouldn't really trust people to do that, but since my main goal is to get rid of stuff I figure it's worth the risk of losing out on a few bucks in order to cut down on the junk in my house.

Also:

Yesterday I described some of the things that have been keeping me busy and away from the blog for the past month or so.

Today I'd like to share something that will be keeping me busy in the future...

...specifically starting around October of this year.

See, that's my sweater on the far left; Caitlin's is next to it, then Elias', then Amelia's, and then... what's that?

I'm chuffed to bits to share that the four of us will be welcoming a fifth family member this fall!

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Hi there.

It's been a while since I posted here, and that has been for one very good and one very bad reason.

The bad reason: It seems like I, or some of my family, or all of my family, has been sick for the past several weeks :(

The good reason: When I wasn't sick, I was doing a lot of stuff! I got a new computer put together, I published the first episode of Let's Play Friday and hosted a launch party for it, I've been working on branding and promotion for a new product a client is bringing to market and doing the same for a friend who's launching her business, I got my office decluttered and rearranged, I got an Arturia Minibrute SE analog synthesizer (tons of fun!), and lots of other stuff too!

So, I haven't had a lot of time to post here, but I would like for that to change.

Anyway, I hope to be posting more here soon and hope that you'll join me in my adventures!

Synology DS415+ Setup

As mentioned in Tuesday's post, I recently bought and set up a Synology DS415+ Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. I recorded a video of the unboxing and setup process, which you can check out below:

I'm planning another video to document the process of setting up my current (soon to be "old") video editing PC to record video directly from the Atari 2600 and other game systems.

Let me know if you found this useful, interesting, etc. Also let me know if there's something you want to see, something I could have done better, or any other suggestions!

Let's Play Friday [update 2]

As I prepare to launch Let's Play Friday, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff to get set up before I record the first show. In my last status update I discussed the webcam I'll be using to record myself as well as the capture card I'll be using to record the gameplay. Another major part of the production process is having a place to store and archive all the raw video as well as the finished products. I do my editing on a desktop computer so it's fairly simple to stick an extra hard drive in there when I run out of space, but a solution I've been wanting to implement for a couple of years now is Network Attached Storage, or NAS. Essentially, this is a box full of hard drives that sits on the network, making it easy to access your data from any connected device (and potentially including access across the internet, similar to Dropbox).

I love everything about this device except the fingerprint-magnet of a front panel

I recently purchased a Synology DS415+ 4-bay NAS enclosure, along with two Western Digital 4TB RED drives designed for NAS use. Last night I got everything put together and set up on my home network; it was a shockingly easy and quick setup process. I also recorded a video of the whole process which I'll be editing together over the next couple of days and will post up for anyone who's interested. Coming up after that will be a video showing the install/configuration of my Hauppauge TV Tuner card to capture incoming video and audio from my old gaming systems, along with a build video for my new editing PC, which I'm super excited about.

Skateboarding.

I've been skateboarding about as long as I've been walking. My older brothers (7 and 8.5 years older than me) got me into it because it's what they did. As a kid, skateboarding was just another way to get around and have fun outside, same as a bike or scooter (and I don't mean razor scooters; we had one with 8" inflatable tires we could ride through the yard!). It never seemed unusual to me to skateboard; it never had that outsider status to me because it's just what I did and what my brothers taught me. And yet, there was nobody else I knew of who skateboarded while I was growing up. I was riding in a vacuum, but because my brothers skated sometimes and because I constantly watched the McGee and Me video "Skate Expectations," I never really noticed the lack of community.

Don't be fooled into thinking that I'm actually talented as a skateboarder just because I've been doing it so long. I'm not. While other things certainly play into it, I think a big contributing factor to my lack of talent is the lack of community described above. Without other people to skate with, it can be hard to progress. There's nobody to push you forward, nobody whose tricks you can build off of, and nobody to benchmark against.

There's a lot more to my skateboarding story moving into high school and especially my college years, but I think we'll stop here for now because I want to spend a little more time on the importance of community in skateboarding.

Rodney Mullen is a professional skateboarder, a true innovator and undisputed leader in the sport going back to the 1980s and lasting even through today. Recently he has found additional success outside of skateboarding as a speaker at tech companies, bringing a skateboarder's perspective to traditionally technological ideas such as Open Source movement. As someone who tends to straddle the line between geek and nerd, I've really enjoyed watching some of those talks and gaining a new perspective on how my seemingly disparate interests are related. Recently, however, I came across a video of Rodney talking to a group of skateboarders; his peers. He was presented with the question "What is skateboarding?" and his answer was the best I've ever heard:

Being a skateboarder: I think it starts with a sense of community; something that we seek - I think all of us as skaters feel a little bit like outsiders. I certainly did, and a lot of my friends feel that way too. And so, in an effort to both be an outsider - that inner sense of not belonging - and yet with a deep yearning for belonging (which I think all human beings have) - how can you do that, how can you find a sense of community? In this sort of multidimensional platform that we have with skateboarding, that we can create on our own terms with never-ending (and I think it’s safe to say never-ending) possibilities. And even atop the possibilities each one has a style through which we can define ourselves through what we do and a voice that we have that’s specific to us. The more we individuate ourselves and separate ourselves, the more we get a sense of belonging, because that’s what the community itself seeks - is to be separate and yet belong. So the more we individuate ourselves through what we do, the more we are embraced by the community around us, and we leverage what the community gives us (that is, the tricks; that is, the ethos imbued through the arts) and when we give that back we are recognized by our peers and that only brings it up higher, and all of this together creates that synergy that really is skateboarding.

In this, Mullen sums up the core dichotomy of skateboarding: it is by culture's definition an outsider's sport, yet we all as humans feel a deep need for a sense of belonging. Skateboarding serves both needs - the need for individual differentiation and the need for community acceptance - and in fact these two factors work together to advance the sport. As new tricks are conceived and new innovations are realized, they are fed back into the community and expand the palette shared by all skateboarders.

At its best skateboarding is about a group of individuals pushing the boundaries of the sport, each in their own way, in order to constantly redefine and elevate what it means to ride a skateboard.

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment! Your comments help me decide what to write about and help me get better at this blogging thing.