Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hamlet, Act I, Scene iv, 87-91

There was something terribly wrong about today. It started as a trace feeling felt on the fringes of my subconscious and slowly crawled it's way into the forefront of my mind. But still, I could not pinpoint the source of this discomfort, this aberration from the State of Nature. Yes, even the fuzzy woodland creatures that scamper across the telephone lines and glide ever so precariously through the urban canopy could tell something was off kilter. But the source of this abnormality eluded me.

Then I looked down.

And saw these:


Shoes and Socks.

A horrid combination to be sure, the very antithesis of my island lifestyle. So confining, so restrictive. A hot, stuffy prison designed to coddle our once proud, strong, and functional feet, leaving soft, tender, fleshy bags sewn to the bottom of our legs.

But that's not it, my friends. Even with the discovery of this oddity, I could still sense a peculiarity, something that didn't sit right with me.

I felt it in my gut. No, not my gut, that's not quite right. It was more of a burning in my chest. A lingering, wanton fire, smoldering just left of center (where most people mistakenly think their heart is). I'd imagine it's the same feeling that headless chickens, or cockroaches must feel at the moment of decapitation. A distinct sense of loss, longing, and separation.

I looked in the mirror and noticed something terribly wrong:

No shirt pocket. No collar. No lapel. No buttons. A T-shirt.

An explanation to my slovenly, dejected and defeated dress? Field Trip.

The morning teachers arranged for a field trip into Chinatown for a walking tour (quick note. The tour organization, the Chinese Heritage something something, is run by my relatives, a collection of Aunts and Cousins. Considering my entire family is Japanese, this is rather confusing. But, cross-culturalism is always a good thing. But still, really?). And as a good teacher, employee, and son, I volunteered to help chaperon one of the groups, since I was the only one available on the payroll and able to legally be in charge of a group.

I love walking around Chinatown. Sure, it's dirty and kind of dangerous to wander around, but the food is fantastic and dirt cheap. Look fun noodles for less than a dollar a roll. Ma Tai Su, Pork Hash, and Manapua all for a few cents a piece. Needless to say, I had a very good lunch that day.

One of the most interesting things I noted with some delight was the transliteration of Hawaiian street names into Mandarin (which most Chinese in Hawaii don't speak, since most came from Guangdong a generation or two ago, and therefore speak Cantonese).

Here we have North Pauahi Street (named after Bernice Pauahi Bishop, part of the old Hawaiian royalty, and a Philanthropist who threw a lot of money into education.) The transliteration reads: Pu3Wa2Xi1Jie1(Bei3).

Here we have Mauna Kea St (most likely named after one of the 5 volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaii {the Big Island, as it is called}. The other 4 are: Mauna Loa, Kohala, Hualalai, Kilauea). The translation reads: Mo2Na4Gei1Ya1Jie1.

Aside from one heat induced bloody nose in one of my kids, the day went rather well. No one got lost, no one got hurt. No broken merchandise had to be paid for. Many samples were had.

I also found a candy I haven't had in a long time. I technically started learning Chinese in 3rd grade, when Mr. Wong (Huang2 Lao3shi1) would come once a week and teach us language and cultural things. He was pretty cheap (pake {pah-KAY), as locals call it), and so would reward us with virtual prizes (pieces of paper with pictures of cake, candy, and cookies on it) I suppose we were meant to collect. But on the rare occasion he would actually give us something material, he would reward us with Haw Flakes:

Not a roll of Haw Flakes, but a single wafer (think Chinese Neco Wafers). Regardless, I used to love them, though people's opinions differ greatly on the matter. The characters read Shan1Zha1Bing3, which translates to Hawthorne Berry Cakes.

This field trip was also one of my proudest moments as a teacher. We were waiting by the canal for the bus to come, and one of my students runs up to me and tells me: "Mr. Sakimoto! Come here! Look! It's a crab and it's camouflaging! Look! It's the same color as the rock, so it's hard to see! Camouflage!" Terribly, terribly proud.

After an amazing lunch back at school (Char Hung Sut, amazing Ma Tai Su, so-so manapua(cha1shao1bao1, for you Mainland types)), I was very full and very sleepy. But I had to actually start teaching, so no time for a nap.

Today we covered inherited traits, through the guise of a bingo game. I gave them a lot, but some of the more interesting ones include:
-Hitchhiker's thumb
-Widow's peak
-When you clasp your hands, which thumb is on top, right or left?
-Same for crossing arms
-Is your 2nd toe longer than your big toe
-Hair color
-Eye color
-Can you do the Vulcan sign?
-Tongue rolling (which I've read actually has no genetic basis. Oh, well)
-Which is taller, your pointer or ring finger?

So here's the thing about the last one on that list. I can easily tell that my ring finger is longer than my pointer finger. And both hands are the same way. But apparently determining such things are not easy for everybody. One of my kids had the pointer longer on one hand, and the ring finger longer on the other hand.

And some people have freakish hands altogether. One of my students, M-----, came up to me, and told me she had both (or neither) taller. I didn't believe her and asked her to show me. If she held her hand with palm away from her, her ring finger was taller:

But if she rotated her palm towards her, it switched:
Her pointer was now longer than her ring finger! This blew my mind. I must have asked her to show me a dozen times. Pretty awesome, as evidenced by the amused looks on my students' faces. But still very perplexing, as evidenced by my sister's confuzzled look in the back. I'd have to guess that it has something to do with how your musculature and tendons are interconnected, and turning your wrist/elbow tugs and pushes your fingers forward and back. Made my day.

Three day weekend, since it would be a shame to waste such a fun holiday as 4th of July on a weekend. I've been tinkering around with an electronics kit I got as a kid, since we'll be covering electricity, circuits, and magnetism next week. This kit is pretty sweet, now that I'm older, have taken physics classes, and know what all these things are. Aside from a motley assortment of capacitors, resistors, LED's, bulbs, transistors, diodes, photovoltaic cells, and transformers, it also comes with a reed switch, which I'm going to have a lot of fun with. After PChem Lab and Physics with Shankar, I think I can make some pretty nifty circuits. Hopefully.


  1. Are you planning to make a burglar alarm with the reed switch (though a regular switch would work fine, too)?

    Hmm...I counted, and this entry's title seems to correspond with:


        You shall not go, my lord.


        Hold off your hands.


        Be ruled; you shall not go.


        My fate cries out,
        And makes each petty artery in this body

    What lines did you intend?

    Man, you must've been totally out of your comfort zone without a shirt pocket!

    Wow, your teacher would only give you a single shan1zha1pian4? That's like giving a student one Sour Patch Kid. (BTW, I like shan1zha1bing3, too, though I'd prefer a bag of chips. Or Sour Patch Kids.)

  2. Hmm, maybe I counted the lines wrong. I was talking about the "there's something rotten in the state of denmakr" line.

    And yes, a single pian4.