Monthly Archives: May 2012

Motor learning

I once wrote about the learning curve for learning to ride a RipStik and my own penchant for teaching whatever skills I have learned. About 18 months ago a five year old learned to ride a RipStik on our porch and then she left for another island. She had not seen a RipStik for 18 months.

Fresh off the airplane she did not seem to remember me nor the times we spent together a year and a half ago.  Upon reaching the house she saw the  RipStik and immediately took to trying to ride it. After a couple failed attempts, she was back up and riding.

18 months cold, the motor memories remain encoded
18 months cold, the motor memories remain encoded

Whatever the mechanism for this long term motor memory, it is rather amazing given that much of the rest of her world of 18 months earlier is for the most part forgotten.

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Pohnpei Sailing Club

Dr. Kazuo Ishikawa shared details of the upcoming Pohnpei Cup regatta. The month of June will be used to prepare for the cup races in July.

Dr. Kazuo Ishikawa leads the class at the start of the sailing lessons
Dr. Kazuo Ishikawa leads the class at the start of the sailing lessons

The guidelines shared were:

The First Pohnpei Cup Race Schedule
1 The organizing authority Pohnpei Sailing Club
2 Rule Pohnpei local rule
IYRU Racing rules (2009-2012) will apply
3 Date From 7/7/12 to 7/28/12
4 Location Kapingwamarangi
5 Eligibulity and entry Member of Pohnpei sailing club and others
6 Entry fee Include 7/28 Final party fee
Junior member 1 $/boat
Adult Member 20 $/boat
Others 30$/boat
Party only 10$/person
7 Entry term From 6/16/12 tp 6/30/12
8 Date of Racing
Primary 1 7/7/12 pm 12:00
Primary 2 7/14/12 pm 12:00
Semifinal race 7/21/12 pm 12:00
Final Race 7/28/12 pm 12:00
9 Prize The first prize- the fourth prize
First Cup
Second Certificate
Third Certificate
Fourth Certificate
CS heads out on to the water
CS heads out on to the water

The calendar for June and July:

Pohnpei Sailing training schedule
From May/26/2012 To Aug/25/2012
Date Time Coach Theme
5/26 pm:13:00-16:00 Ichihara 2nd grade Examine Pohnpei Cup application start up
Kazuo Racing exercise, Basic sailing
6/2 pm:13:00-16:00 Ichihara
Racing exercise, Basic sailing
6/9 pm:13:00-16:00 Ichihara Racing exercise
Basic sailing
6/16 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu 3rd grade Examine
Kazuo Racing exercise Race application start
6/23 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu 3rd grade Examine
Kazuo Racing exercise
6/30 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu
Kazuo Racing exercise
7/7 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Pohnpei Cup Sailing Race
Kazuo Primary 1
7/14 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Pohnpei Cup Sailing Race
Kazuo Primary 2
7/21 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Pohnpei Cup Sailing Race
Kazuo Semi final
7/28 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Pohnpei Cup Sailing Race
Kazuo Final
8/4 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Abandon
Kazuo
8/11 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Cruising
Kazuo
8/18 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Race exercise
Kazuo
8/25 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Monthly champion race(Aug) Top 8
Kazuo
9/1 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Race exercise
Kazuo
9/8 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Race exercise
Kazuo
9/15 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Race exercise
Kazuo
9/22 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Race exercise
Kazuo
9/29 pm:13:00-16:00 Umezu Monthly champion race (Sep)Top 8
Kazuo
YL gets ready to Skipper
YL gets ready to Skipper

All boats in the regatta will be Toppers. The club hopes to field four boats at a time, but much depends on what can be put together in the field. The rudder that was lost two weeks ago was never recovered, the boom that went missing in March remains missing.

YL and MLL out on the lagoon
YL and MLL out on the lagoon
SLL and CL will go out with Dr. Ishikawa for directed instruction
SLL and CL will go out with Dr. Ishikawa for directed instruction

Rivers in the lawn

Between graduation and summer school there is a brief break, time to celebrate the passing river of time as marked by birthdays, time to attend book and boat launches.

Heavy rain on Friday generated rivers where none existed before
Heavy rain on Friday generated rivers where none existed before

Friday brought an all day flooding downpour that created rivers in the lawns of the college.

Birthday celebrants
Birthday celebrants

Marking the passage of another year swimming in the river of life were two in the house at three and twelve. The twelve year old discovered that he is now an adult ticket for the new Avengers movies here on Pohnpei, but not yet sufficiently adult to have a FaceBook account.

A recent graduate and his son, both headed off-island
A recent graduate and his son, both headed off-island

The smaller one above is soon to turn one, while his father marks his graduation from his associate’s degree program.

Maps of Micronesia puzzle book
Maps of Micronesia puzzle book

Saturday morning brought clearing skies and the release of the Maps of Micronesia children’s puzzle book.

Birthdays boys with their new treasure
Birthdays boys with their new treasure
Maps of Micronesia
Maps of Micronesia
Outer Islands of Pohnpei puzzle page
Outer Islands of Pohnpei puzzle page

The above puzzle page caused my daughter to realize that Kapingamarangi is farther from Pohnpei than is Kosrae. Kapingamarangi now has some meaning for her as Kapinga is the ancestral home of her sailing friends.

A line is being used to secure the rudder to the hull
A line is being used to secure the rudder to the hull

Saturday afternoons are sailing afternoons.

Two small children hope for a chance at a ride
Two small children hope for a chance at a ride

A first class student prepares to go out with a third class instructor. Two freeloaders hope for a chance at a free sail, but to no avail.

My daughter enjoying a cruise on the lagoon
My daughter enjoying a cruise on the lagoon
My daughter changing tack
My daughter changing tack
My son under the tutelage of a Kapingan instructor
My son under the tutelage of a Kapingan instructor

After a brief joggle in town, time to get out and relax with friends. The usual press of marking papers is gone with the passing of the spring term.

Evenings are a time to catch up with friends
Evenings are a time to catch up with friends

Faces

For eons humans had only the memory of the faces of those who have passed away. One  could know only the faces of one’s parents, possibly one grandparents, extremely rarely a great-grandparent, and no more. With the passing of generations, faces were lost in the mist of time.

The urge to pass along the image of loved ones may have first met a method for doing so in the caves of Europe some 27,000 years ago. The development of oil based portrait painting some 1400 years ago provided a technology that could realistically capture a face and pass that image down across generations.

In the 15th century oil painting migrated from wooden panels to canvas in Europe. The renaissance would bring an exponential increase in the number of faces retained for posterity. No longer were only the faces of gods, kings, and saints committed to physical media, now the elite could have their visage recorded.

Photography would exponentially increase again the number of faces that could be recorded and retained across time. One no longer needed to be elite to have one’s face remembered.

Yet whether charcoal on cave rock or Polaroid, the images only stare at us. They are static images devoid of words. We can look at the images lovingly, projecting our own memories onto the portrait.

A young mother of elementary school age children passed away here. Her social media page retains not only her image of her hugging her children, but also her comments on those pictures. Her conversational interactions with family and friends. In the exclamations and the laughing out loud she seems so vividly alive. Posts from but a day before her sudden passing away that are silly and fun.

Viewing those images with their words brings a sense of intensely painful loss. Rather than being left looking at a static image and only our own memories, we are faced with the words and thoughts of the young mother. We see her joys and her frustrations. Instead of being lost in our own reveries, we are filled with her thoughts and her reactions, with her memories.

As painful as those words and images are for me, how much more emotionally difficult are they for her intimate family? Can they ever return to social media without continuously re-encountering those images and words, and then reliving the extreme sense of loss. Social media becomes an emotional mine field.

Dad

My memories of my own father are only those in my head and a few pictures of him. Of his words and conversations with friends I have essentially nothing. I can look back at a man who was larger than life for me, a figure who inspires me to this day, and who loved me unconditionally. I feel that love and his presence in my life. There are no social media conversations to contradict my own mind’s version of my past. What would it be like to have a life time’s worth of comments and conversations?

My own children may indeed have exactly that – comments and conversations – available to them long after I am gone from this life. My foibles and inconsistencies forever giving me clay feet instead of the rosy golden glow of selective memory.

I can only hope that the pictures and the words bring them comfort and not pain, that they will be encouraged and sustained by who I was and my love for them. And while I plan to be here for many more years, I am keenly aware of how suddenly we can lose someone out here no matter how apparently healthy they might seem.

Faces and words, even videos, bringing new ways to be reminded of our losses and for that loss to be remembered across the generations. May the last thing out of this modern Pandora’s box be the hope that this new manner of storing vivid memories brings also comfort and love.

Nahlap

The Kosrae Student Organization overnight term-end retreat coincided with my son’s birthday. As I am the faculty advisor, the coincidence seemed propitious and I took the family out to Nahlap for the night. A wonderful time was had by all.

Beach play
Beach play
Cumulus build over the lagoon
Cumulus build over the lagoon
Shrue in the cook house with Hattie
Shrue in the cook house with Hattie
Non-stop water play
Non-stop water play
The dock evokes a Myst island reverie
The dock evokes a Myst island reverie, a place to explore but with clear limits
Romantic moments out on the point
Romantic moments out on the point
Cart pushing
Cart pushing
Out in the inky dark waters lurks sea creatures...
Out in the inky dark waters lurks sea creatures…
Emerging from the dark water after a seven hour soak...
Emerging from the dark water after a seven hour soak…
Part fish, part human, completely waterlogged
Part fish, part human, completely waterlogged, unwilling to leave the water until long after the sun went down.
Out star gazing
Out star gazing

Sakau nights, sailboat days

The end of the term has not brought an end to the work to be done, but the pace is a less driven pace. Instead of spending a Friday night grading, I can spend an evening at a local mud hole wallowing in kavalactones.

D & A's market in Nett
D & A’s market in Nett

The next day was a Pohnpei Sailing Club day. While a two-day fishing tournament wrapped up involving a plurality of expats and some seriously expensive water craft, the local youth continued to reconnect with the sea and to learn to sail.

Rigging a Topper
Rigging a Topper

A close look at the lanyard dangling from the mastgate reveals that the toggle is not there. The toggle became untied. The Toppers are taking their share of knocks from the learning-to-sail junior members.

Working together
Working together

The club started with five Toppers, but a boom went missing from the dock last spring. The fleet is now four Toppers.

Learning to lean
Learning to lean

The future skippers tend to capsize with some regularity, but for the most part they are quite proficient at righting their Toppers. The local neighborhood youth are completely at home in the water, swimming around the lagoon without regard to distance from shore.

Heading out in command, a skipper in the making
Heading out in command, a skipper in the making

When a Topper capsizes, the Kapingan youth skippers simply swim around and right the boat using the daggerboard. Some can right their boats in under 15 seconds, and all are competent at this task. Going in the water is never a cause for concern for them.

Spectators
Spectators

On Saturday, however, a first class non-Kapingan student who was soloing ran downwind out of the practice area and capsized the boat. I had noted this student to be somewhat uncomfortable in the water, and never one to ever take off his life jacket.

Out on the water, SLL at the helm
Out on the water, SLL at the helm

No sooner than he had capsized, he began yelling “Help!” while bobbing around in his life jacket. By the time the other boats could reach him the boat had turned too far over and the rudder – not properly mounted – fell off and sank into the depths of the mud bottom lagoon. He never did swim around to right the boat, the boat only getting righted by the Kapingan youth.

Bring the boat back to dock
Bring the boat back to dock

Minus a rudder, the hapless and helpless student had to be towed back in to the dock. As he was towed in power boats came down the center of the lagoon, returning from the second day of the fishing tournament. Some of the boats were in clearly in the over one hundred thousand dollar category. The plurality of the boats owned by expats.

I was out in the lagoon swimming around as were some of the Kapingan youth. They called out to each other, impressed by the power boats and their massive twin outboard motors. An hour of fuel for one of those boats would replace more than a Topper rudder.

Umezu on the right
Umezu on the right

In bringing in the Toppers, Umezu has done the unprecedented. He has chosen to share the joy of sailing with the local youth and has clearly made a significant outlay to acquire the Toppers and to bring them to Pohnpei. He has not only been generous to the community here, but his choice to target the youth with the free lessons is inspired. He is giving them responsibility and authority, providing a unique learning experience.

Sustainability of this project, however, remains uncertain. At present Umezu is the sole source of funding for the project, and the Toppers are getting hard use.

After an afternoon of swimming and watching a next generation of sailors being born, a sunny evening called for bookends weekend sakau. A good friend tipped me off to an Olter family fund raiser.

Fund raiser at the Olter place
Fund raiser at the Olter place

The sakau was excellent and the company was all the better.

Sakau production staff
Sakau production staff

Empowering a next generation of sailing instructors

The Pohnpei Sailing Club initiative provides a chance for young Pacific islanders to not only sail, but to teach others to sail. The youth who have made third class are sent out as instructors of other youth. This thrusts upon them a leadership role and responsibility that is not typically available to young islanders within the traditional cultural structures.

Instructor on the bow, first class student at the helm
Instructor on the bow, first class student at the helm

The opportunity to teach others brings a new way for these young women and men to see themselves.

Another instructor on the bow, student at the helm
Another instructor on the bow, student at the helm

The instruction is peer-to-peer with both male and female instructors.

 A power boat moves through the middle of the lagoon
A power boat moves through the middle of the lagoon

The boat moving through the middle of the lagoon is said to consume seven hundred in fuel in a single trip around the island. Pohnpei is not without its wealth disparities. Through the boats he has generously provided, Kiyoshi Umezu of South Park Hotel is providing a real opportunity to economically less advantaged youth to learn to sail and to connect with the ocean. As far as I know, no one else has ever made such an investment nor such an effort to reach out in this particular way here on Pohnpei.

During this particular afternoon a rudder part gave way. Repairing or replacing that part will be difficult here. At this point only the generosity of Kiyoshi Umezu keeps the Toppers on the water. The cost of a few minutes of fuel from a boat with twin 225s would probably purchase the necessary part.

Two instructors guide their students back to dock
Two instructors guide their students back to dock

The sailing club fleet includes five hulls, but only four boats can be fielded on the water. The fifth Topper provides spare parts for the rest of the fleet for now, and I gather it lacks a boom. The boom apparently went missing at some point.

Giving specific directions
Giving specific directions

With about four Saturdays of instruction under his belt, a first classman was given the opportunity to solo.

A first class student successfully returns from his first solo
A first class student successfully returns from his first solo

Another sailor is born with a love of the wind and sea. Although he capsized once, he was trained to stand on the daggerboard and to right the boat by himself. He successfully righted the Topper and brought the boat back to port with confidence.

Another student is taken out onto the water
Another student is taken out onto the water by an instructor

COM-FSM 5k

Taken while running
Taken while running just past the Namiki turn

The 5 May COM-FSM fun run saw my son lead from the start and stretch out that lead all the way down to the causeway on a lower route run.

First place male 12 and under
First place male 12 and under

At the old one way I caught up to him, but only because he had a side stitch. We went up the hill together to the Spanish Wall water stop. I stopped to get an update from Lihno, who was manning the water stop, on the KSO trip in the upcoming week. My son used the time wisely to put a hundred meters on me.

Although I would catch up to him by Namiki, he was back to moving at my joggling pace and he finished strongly just ahead of me – the first time he has finished a 5k ahead of me.

He was often in sight just ahead of me. Seeing my son running out in front brought a real sense of joy to me. There is something about following in the footsteps of one who has always been following in your footsteps. This was a very special run.

Shrue Lee Ling, Abigail Asher Kim
Walking contingent

These walkers came in around the 60 minute mark.

First place 12 and under
First place 12 and under

A time of 33:38 earned him male 12 and under first place, I crossed the line at 33:40, with a 5k time of 34:31 with the parking lot lap added.

Father and son team
Father and son both bring home the hardware