“He > I” why context matters

I was driving home from the grocery store today and saw a really interesting window sticker on the car in front of me at the red light.  The sticker read:

He > I

As a person with an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering I have taken a lot of chemistry.  A year in high school.  Two semesters of basic chemistry in college, two semesters of organic chemistry, a semester of surface chemistry, and too many chemical engineering classes to count.  I know chemistry.  So this window sticker fascinated me.

Helium is greater than Iodine

The light turned, we all started driving, and my brain turned.  Helium is 2 on the periodic chart, and Hydrogen is 1, so Helium is greater than Hydrogen, but that’s about it.  Iodine is…oh my gosh…how can I not remember where Iodine is?  I mean five years of chemistry and I can’t remember that?  What is wrong with me?  But I know it’s not lower than Helium.  Are they talking about some other property of the elements?

A few more minutes of pondering when I realized that the sticker probably wasn’t about Chemistry.  It was probably about God.  Oh.  Right.  Like He, God, is greater than I, a mere mortal.  I came home and told my husband about the story, and he said, “Yeah, that’s totally about God.”  My knowledge from four years of engineering school overwhelmed my zero years of going to church.

Then my lifetime of researching stuff took over and I Googled the sticker.  It’s a clothing store in Hawaii.  Their front page says:

He>I Hale’iwa Hawai’i

Guess I’m an idiot and my husband is an idiot.  The sticker is about Hawaii.  But I don’t get it either.  How does Hawaii come out of He>I?  I can’t get the word play to work.  So I went to the about page of the site and read.  Turns out it IS about God, but not about Chemistry at all.

Their about page says, “Most people have a story about when they first discovered what our logo (HE>i) means – either by figuring it out on their own or having someone share the meaning with them.”

I’m totally sending them my chemistry story.  I think they’ll love it.


Image by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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