Month: March 2016

Exit 100. I’ve stayed true to that mission.

This is my 100th post.

Well, technically it’s my 101st, because the first post I wrote here said something like “Hi, I’m starting this blog, but I don’t know what I want to do with it yet.”  A few posts later, when I started numbering them, I didn’t include that first one.

This blog is a weekly, and since there are approximately 52 weeks in a year, that means I’ve been doing this for almost two years.  Hard to believe it’s been that long.  Time seems to keep going faster and faster as I get older, and my upcoming 40th birthday this summer serves as a reminder of that.

In the aforementioned first post, I said that I didn’t have big expectations for this blog, I didn’t have a specific topic for it, and that I’m just going to be me and share my thoughts in a public place.  In two years, I would say I’ve definitely stayed true to that mission, if you can call it a mission.  I still don’t have a specific topic, and I’m still just me, sharing my thoughts.  When I started this, I didn’t know if I would build an audience beyond people who already know me.  I haven’t exactly made an effort to.  But I occasionally get likes and comments from people I don’t know, and I’ve followed and interacted with a few of them in return.  That has been a very positive experience.

As I’ve said before, blogging is a big business for some people, and I haven’t really made an effort to turn Highway Pi into a business.  But that’s okay.  I’m not trying to.  I’m doing exactly what I wanted to with this blog, and I will continue to do so indefinitely.

Thank you all for reading.  Happy Easter/Resurrection to those of you who celebrate.  He is risen.

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Exit 99. Sometimes I feel guilty for having friends who care.

I’ve been going through a rough couple weeks, both because of issues with work and things going on with friends.  Times like this really make me appreciate the friends who are there for me, who are willing to listen when I’ve had a rough day, or invite me out for a last-minute karaoke outing at 11pm followed by the kind of crazy late night at Denny’s that have been fewer and farther between the last few years.  (By the way, I know that one of the individuals involved in the things going on with friends used to read Highway Pi, and in case she still does, I should point out that nothing in this post is intended to be passive-aggressive.  At this point, I feel that everything that needs to be said has.  And the nature of these issues is not where I’m going with the rest of this post anyway.)

Even though I greatly appreciate everyone who has been willing to listen and offer comfort the last few weeks, sometimes I feel guilty for having friends who care.

As I’ve said before, I had issues with outbursts as a child, to the point that it sometimes affected my ability to function in a classroom.  I’ve definitely outgrown this to some extent, but not entirely.  In elementary school, no one cared about how I was feeling.  I didn’t really have friends.  When I was upset, the other students would just laugh at me and provoke me to get a reaction, and adults such as teachers and my parents would generally make me feel ashamed for overreacting.  I know they were trying to help, trying to make me realize that my actions had consequences, and that better ways existed to deal with the issues underneath, but this had the unintended side effect of making me feel like I didn’t deserve to have people care about me when I was upset.  I remember about halfway through my first year of college, when I had my first such outburst in front of my new friends, I eventually left the dorm building and sat in my car for a while trying to calm down and decide what to do next, whether to run away and leave it all behind, or sneak back in the building, try to get some sleep, and apologize to everyone in the morning for my behavior.  I chose the second option, but I didn’t even make it to my room, because all my friends who saw me get upset had been in the lobby the whole time praying for me.  When they saw me come back, they didn’t seem upset at all; they were mostly relieved that I was safe.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I was expecting them not to want to talk to me anymore, or at least to be scolded for having that kind of reaction and reminded how inappropriately I was behaving, because that was the way I had been treated most of my life.

There weren’t exactly any outbursts involved recently… well, not quite.  But even when I’m feeling quietly upset, I’ve often been told that no one wants to hear about my problems, and no one really wants an honest answer when they ask me how I’m doing, it’s just an empty greeting.  (I’ve written about this before.)  So when I am upset, and I turn to a friend for a comforting ear, I always feel like I shouldn’t have to do this, and I feel like I need to apologize afterward.  I really don’t want to be seen as the kind of person who whines about everything to the point that no one wants to be around me.  I’ve been accused of that before.  But in my efforts not to be perceived that way, sometimes I am so cautious that I tend to think that the other extreme is preferable, where I feel like the ideal is to put on a fake happy face all the time.  Of course, I don’t put on a fake happy face, but the point is that I feel guilty because I’m not.

It really shouldn’t be this way.  That’s not what friendship is about.  Friends should be able to share everything with each other, the good days and the bad, both giving and receiving that comforting ear that is so often needed.  I don’t want to feel guilty for that.  But I don’t want to take advantage of people either.  There has to be a balance.

 

Exit 98. I have learned that I was wrong.

I am ready to recant a position that I held in my childhood and teen years.  I have learned that I was wrong.  I was misled by a desire for attention and a lack of knowledge of the history involved, and for many years I betrayed my roots.  But I have seen the error of my ways.

I don’t do The Wave anymore at sporting events.

For those of you non-sports people, The Wave is a cheer where people stand up and scream for a few seconds, then sit down.  Fans are supposed to stand up and cheer when the fans next to them start doing it, so the cheer ends up progressing like a wave around the stadium.  When I first saw this on TV at some point as a kid, I thought it was fascinating, and it looked like a lot of fun.  I started trying to get The Wave going at my brother’s Little League games.  It usually didn’t work, and my mother would always tell me to quiet down and stop making a scene.  I’m not sure why she was always so against me being loud and having fun – you’re supposed to be loud at sporting events, after all, right?  Maybe because she grew up in the kind of family where children were seen and not heard when in public, and that was all she knew.  (Mom, I know you read this.  No hard feelings.  I’m not holding a grudge.)

During my senior year of high school, I went to every football game, both home and away.  At away games, I always sat with the group of students from my school who made the trip (much of this group consisted of the girlfriends of football players).  A few times, I got them to help me start The Wave, and it actually succeeded.  It felt good to have people actually pay attention to me being passionate and not discourage me from making a scene.

I never really tried to start The Wave on my own after that, but occasionally I would be at a sporting event where The Wave got started, and I would enthusiastically participate.  About a decade ago or so, though, I started hearing more and more people point out that Giants fans (this is San Francisco Giants baseball) don’t do The Wave.  I never knew why, and I never really gave much thought to it, although since then I had noticed people at Giants games being discouraged from doing The Wave.  But I also had a memory from childhood of a Giants game where The Wave actually happened.

A few years ago, I was at a math teachers’ conference, attending a session about, um, I don’t remember the topic now, but the presenter was modeling how to get students to think in an open-ended way about math problems.  She presented a scenario involving The Wave, and some questions about the speed of The Wave and the number of participants.  She began the presentation asking for volunteers to ask any questions we might be able to think of about The Wave.  Most of the questions were mathematical in nature (“How fast does The Wave travel?”  “How many people are needed to successfully start The Wave?”).  I took a different approach and suggested the question, “Why don’t Giants fans do The Wave?”  Another teacher in the presentation answered my question, saying that Giants fans don’t do The Wave because it started at an Oakland Athletics game.

I did the research when I got home, and although the origin of The Wave is disputed and unclear, one of the earliest documented performances of The Wave was indeed at an Oakland Athletics game, during the 1981 playoffs.  Another early performance of The Wave was in Los Angeles, during soccer at the 1984 Olympics.  An origin in Oakland or Los Angeles would each be unacceptable to Giants fans, with the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers being the Giants’ primary rivals.

Last week, I was at a Sacramento Kings (basketball) game, and The Wave got started at one point.  For possibly the first time ever, I didn’t participate.  Now that I know the full history behind why Giants fans don’t do The Wave, I have to stay true to that, even though this was an entirely different sport.  More importantly, though, The Wave is often a distraction for fans who are bored with the game itself.  I was trying to watch the game.  Five minutes were left on the clock, and the Kings were losing, as is usually the case these days.  One of the few positive things I noticed about the game, however, was that the Kings had not missed a single free throw for the entire game.  During the time that The Wave was going, a Kings player (I think it was Rudy Gay) was shooting a free throw.  The Wave passed by behind the basket just as Rudy was shooting the free throw… and it missed.  The Wave ruined our perfect free throw shooting night.

So I’m through with The Wave.

Exit 97. This year I welcome the rain.

It rained hard last night.  It was windy too.  It has been dry so far today, at least since I woke up, but I noticed when I left for church this morning that my garbage cans had been blown over at some point since I had last left the house (which was late afternoon yesterday, to get the mail).  I’ve always told people that I don’t like rain.  I don’t like being outside and having to dodge this wet stuff coming from the sky, and I don’t like the cold, gloomy feeling that comes with gray skies.  Many people say that cold, rainy days are perfect for snuggling indoors with your significant other, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate while watching movies.  Yeah… like that’s something I can relate to.  That’s as relatable to me as a billionaire telling me that he loves weekends because he can go wherever he wants in his private jet.  Of course, that’s different, because I love weekends too, but still.

This year feels a little different, though.  California has been in a severe drought for the last several years.  California has very dry summers, so most of the rainfall happens in the winter.  Some communities get their water pumped out of the ground through wells.  The high elevations get large amounts of snow in the winter, and as the snow gradually melts through spring and summer, it flows into rivers, many of which have dams and large reservoirs trapping much of the water.  Over the last few years, the water in the reservoirs has slowly drained as the mountain snowpack has reached its lowest level in centuries, and overpumping of groundwater is causing part of the San Joaquin Valley to sink.  The drying pores in the ground may eventually turn this rich agricultural region into a desert (I have written on a related topic before).

Since last summer, long-term weather forecasters have said that an El Niño weather pattern in the central Pacific has a good chance of bringing a wet winter to California this year.  December and January brought much wetter winters than the last few years have seen, but February was dry, warm, and spring-like.  A spring-like period of a couple weeks in February is fairly common in this part of California, but this year it seemed to last a little longer, bringing the total precipitation and snowpack totals for this year back below average.  Last night was very wet, though, and forecasters are predicting a wet March.

All of this talk of drought has made me appreciate rain much more than I ever did before. I am actually enjoying rain this year.  It’s kind of scary to think about a possible future without enough water.  In previous years, rain in the forecast was a disappointment to me, but this year I welcome the rain.  And I still say that my computer can read my mind… I have my music on shuffle, and this came on as I was writing this.