Thursday, July 31, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Vampire Bear Cow

A cow says "moo" and our dear friend Vampire Bear appreciates that. It's that "ooo" sound that he is focused on in this week's lesson of Learn To Read Hebrew with Vampire Bear. You don't see too many animals on the farm that naturally make that sound so Vampire Bear was pleased as punch that this milk giving animal inspired him to be able to teach the vowel that makes the ooo sound. If only he could inspire Shrimpy to stop running away every time he hears the cows - they scare him, apparently.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Jessie Spanno

I don't know about you, but for some reason there's a certain Rick Springfield song that always makes me think of Jessie here instead of some random dude. I think you know which one I meant. Oh, Jessie. You thought that men were pigs and so chauvinistic and then somehow your portrayer got pretty top billing on the bomb of a movie called Showgirls. Let's not think about that for the moment.

Let us instead focus on Jessie, who rallied for the inclusion of a girl on the wrestling team and then went against the same girl when she seemingly was going after AC Slater. Let us remember the Jessie who sang "I'm so scared" to the tune of "I'm so excited" when Zack Morris came to save her from herself. Let us also remember that Jessie was one of Kelly Kapowski's best friends and was also close with Lisa Turtle; and can we forget what almost happened between Jessie and Screech?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - It's Just Coffee

Horror! A coffee shop chain is closing 600 of its stores in the United States and over 60 of its stores in Australia. What is the world to do with itself? Shall it get people to sign protest petitions which will then be taken directly to the office of the person in charge of the corporation? Should people stage sit-in demonstrations and hold hands, maybe setting themselves on fire and having starvation protests? Perhaps we should try a more sensible approach and realize that there are still thousands of the stores in existence and that there are tens of thousands of other places where coffee products can be obtained for the price of a few dollars. After all, it's just coffee.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Raw Pink Shrimp Sushi

Let's take a trip to a sushi restaurant, shall we? You're sitting in front of the conveyor belt, plate ready to receive your delicious sushi. You're not quite sure what you want to eat today but that's okay, because the conveyor belt has a plethora of goodies from which you can make your decision. All of a sudden, you see it: the raw pink shrimp sushi. It's almost as if it's just beaming up at you, wanting you to just snatch it up. All of a sudden, you see someone a little further down from you who looks like he may take it. You sneak a marble out of your pocket and throw it down on the floor where it makes a loud clatter, and by the time your competitor is done realizing what made the sound you already have the raw pink shrimp sushi on your plate. Good going, sneaky sushi loving warrior.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Raul Julia

I'm going to be quite honest with you. Prior to his unfortunate passing, the only way that I had any knowledge of Mr. Julia was through his work in being in the Addams Family films and more amusingly as General M. Bison in the Street Fighter film. I wonder if he was given a different name in the Japanese release of the film, given the discrepancy of names in the video game.

Here's a curious fact: he was a regular cast member of Sesame Street during its entire third year but not afterwards at all. He was a lover of theater and performed in Broadway and film version of The Threepenny Opera as Mack the Knife - are you familiar with the Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald recording of the song Mack the Knife? Both are excellent. Raul Julia passed away at a tragically young age and surely could have given us much more theater and film to adore.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Vampire Bear Grapes

Grapes are one of the seven species of fruit that are special to the Land of Israel - did you know that? I think that our darling little dear Vampire Bear knew that, which is why he chose it to help him teach all about the letter Gimmel in his ongoing series, Learn To Read Hebrew with Vampire Bear. Check it out - if you look at the printable download, all three of the bears are eating the grapes at the same time. I wonder how many grapes Shrimpy will be able to eat before he is just about full? I think three at most. Any takers? Goobie Bear is a grape lover.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Andrew Keaton

It's really a sad story. For one, a lot of people hated him right from the start. They didn't appreciate that Andrew Keaton was born and was nearly immediately hit with what is frequently referred to as SORAS, or Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome - he went from being born to being able to talk in about a year. This blog makes the claim that Andrew was the reason that Family Ties "jumped the shark," so to speak.

Then you have problems with dear actor Brian Bonsall. For one, he has never found lastinc success since Family Ties ended. Then there are the law problems: he has had at least three encounters with the long arm of the law since 2001. Can things get better for Mr. Bonsall? I'm not interested in writing him off and personally think that he can do great things for himself; it's not impossible, and other actors have pulled themselves out of deeper slumps to achieve greatness. (Remember where John Travolta's career was before Pulp Fiction? Was anyone looking for another Look Who's Talking sequel?)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Kiss Me; My Level 70 Character Won't

What? We need love in Azeroth, too.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Soy Sauce

Would it be naive of me to assume that everyone is familiar with the world famous Kikkoman soy sauce commercial? It wasn't until years later that Matsubara sensei told me that there was a pun in the song - "show me / show you" is funny because "show you" is a good homonym for "shoyu" which is what soy sauce is known as in Japan - and has been since the seventh century, when it was introduced by Buddhist monks.

Fun fact: Japan is the leading nation in producing tamari. Fun fact two: the word "umami" is a word used to describe soy sauce's distinct taste.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Karen Carpenter

She has influenced a world of female drummers in the twenty five years since she tragically passed away from complications related to her anorexic condition; a condition that people didn't quite understand at the time. Despite being a brilliant musician, the band that she and her brother formed was frequently criticized on the basis of the clothing that they wore without even mentioning her spectacular vocal style and flawless drumming that went along with the complicated musical arrangements that were written for the band.

The accolades that she won didn't stop her from going on numerous drugs or going on diets that eventually would spell the end for her in early February of 1983, when she was trying to get her life back in order.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Vampire Bear Lasso

I'm not sure how comfortable I am seeing Vampire Bear in action with a real lasso like that. What is the object of this lassoing? Does he plan on reeling in a nice big can of baked beans? On the plus side, he got to use the lasso to teach all about the Hebrew letter Lamed (along with a quiet little helper vowel) in a new lesson from Learn to Read Hebrew with Vampire Bear. The lessons are really coming along nicely, did you know? It's never too late to learn how to read Hebrew, if that's what you want to do. (One of the greatest rabbis ever, Rebbi Akiva, learned how to read the language after he turned 40. If he can do it, so can you!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Lisa Turtle

The Lisa Card: Don't Leave Home With It. Do you remember that episode of Saved By The Bell? Lisa had an emergency credit card that she used to buy herself a fabulous new outfit and when she realized how expensive it was, everyone got to work to help pay it off. That's a storyline that has been used on so many teen sitcoms, it's barely even funny anymore but Saved By The Bell was one of the first to use it; this probably had something to do with the fact that most parents wouldn't think of letting their children use a credit card prior to the late 1980's / early '90s.

Even though Lisa rejected Screech from the very beginning until the very end and never really had a serious relationship, she still had a lovable character with whom people could really identify; I know that I did. Believe it or not, the producers originally wanted Lisa to be a white Jewish girl from Long Island but when they auditioned Lark Voorhies they just knew that she was it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - I Want To Rock

This button is too awesome for words.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Floppy Disk 3.5"

How solid they were. How formidable when compared to the bigger disks that preceded them, that held half as much information and yet were so much more prone to being broken. Then there was that ickle little tab that caused so much consternation - was it locked or unlocked? Could you write to the disk or not? I remember the moment when I saw that computers were no longer coming loaded with the 3.5" disk drives. I thought, how are we going to get our data from one place to another? Now there are little gadgets the size of a thumb that hold as much as a thousand of these disks. Imagine how much easier it would have been to install Space Quest IV if it had come on a thumb drive instead of a dozen of these?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Tupac Shakur

Perhaps it is proper that Tupac Shakur was named after an Incan who was the leader of an uprising in Spain that led to the namesake's punishment by death. It was appropriate in that he too led a sort of revolution, although it was a musical revolution that saw him become the best selling rap artist of all time, a record which has not been yet bested to date despite his having been killed over twelve years ago.

Shakur was also the progenitor of the first double rap album, All Eyez on Me, though it was counted as two separate albums for all record keeping purposes. Incidentally, though he created and belonged to a group called "Thug Life" (which was an acronym that stood for something a little too vulgar for this family friendly blog) he understood the term "Thug" as someone who overcame difficulties in life and managed to do something positive. I guess that makes Koichi and I a couple of thugs.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Vampire Bear Rays of Sun

Vampire Bear is squinting because of the sun; the rays coming down are a bit harsh, so to speak. It gave him a great opportunity to teach about a letter and a vowel in this week's edition of Learn to Read Hebrew with Vampire Bear. Those were the reish and the solid a vowel which of course has a name that I cannot remember. What a good bear he is, trying to teach people how to read Hebrew that want to know how to do it. How kind and thoughtful.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Steven Keaton

Growing up, sometimes I think that I had several father figures. There was of course my wonderful biological father, without whom I would not have much of the knowledge I possess today. Then there were great inspirational fathers of the television variety; fathers that would educate us children indirectly by means of teaching their ficitonal television children.

One of my "television fathers" happened to be none other than Mr. Steven Keaton. Long before I realized how really cool PBS was, I admired his awesome job and the way he could go into a television studio to make quality programming. Naturally he also did quite a good job of instilling good values in the kids; though they opposed in political viewpoints even Alex had a great deal of respect for him.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Grow a Garden

The problem with the cost of food is that it seems to be going up in price and it doesn't match how our salaries go up every year. Even I, who buys wheatberries in bulk, noticed that berries that used to cost 35 cents per pound now cost 99 cents per pound. It still ends up being a lot cheaper than buying packaged food (another button for another day) but meanwhile, what to do about fresh vegetables? How about being like these wise people and starting a community garden?

Even if you don't start a community garden, a small garden in your own home or apartment (it is possible) will yield a lot of fresh delectable food that you know is free of pesticides and chemical treatment. The next time a commercial comes on to grow fresh tomatoes in your own home, I think you will know what to do.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Calculator

When I was a kid we once went to a fast food restaurant and the cashier's register wasn't working at all. The person working could not for the life of her figure out how much change to give us and it took one of my parents to tell her how much was due to us. As we drove off my father marveled at how inept the cashier must have been in the field of simple mathematics that she could not handle a simple matter of subtraction without the aid of her mechanical friend.

I think it has something to do with these small friendly devices - the calculator. Whether powered by the rays of the sun or not, the calculator has simultaneously made us a little faster and yet a little bit dumber; or has it? The bigger question is how does the ancient abacus feel about its successor? For that matter, how does one incorporate decimal points into an abacus? I guess if you eat at a restaurant that has menus with no decimal points, it doesn't matter.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Daily One Inch Button: Independence Day

Many score (and then some) years ago, our fathers and mothers fought forth to bring us this new nation. Sure, the flag you see on the button isn't nearly the same as the one made back then but what we do know is that on July 3rd / 4th, 1776, a plethora of John Hancocks were inked on a document asserting the rights of these United States. You might be thinking that we have lost some of these rights along the way. To you I say, fear not: we have a bright Obama future to which we can look forward. I know I'm excited: are you?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Vampire Bear The Thinker

Vampire Bear looks like he's really thinking hard about something. Actually, he is thinking about how he looks like the statue called "The Thinker" and how it applies to this letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Did you know that darling little Vampire Bear teaches a weekly course titled "Learn to Read Hebrew with Vampire Bear?" He does, that darling tyke. All he really wants to do is to help people. Chiefly he does that by answering questions but once a week he gets into the groove and teaches you how to read the Hebrew language.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - Kelly Kapowski

I think if you were to have a marathon session of watching every single episode of Saved By The Bell (including the few episodes of The College Years that were made as well as the movies; yes, there was more than one movie made) you would probably have to say at the end that it was pretty obvious right from the start that eventually, Zack would end up marrying Kelly. How could it not be any more clear?

Sure, there are numerous moments of hesitation and doubt, such as when Kelly decides that she is going to break up with Zack to be with Jeff. Who couldn't have seen that eventually he was going to turn out to be a jerk? It's a bit like when a main character says at some point in a two part episode that they are going to move away: you know that somehow they will have to change their mind.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Daily One Inch Button - NPR & PRI

When I was a kid, I didn't know much about the radio other than it was the thing my mother frequently listened to in the car. It never occurred to me that it was a reasonable thing to do to listen to it outside the car because the television was so much more entertaining in that it had fun for the eyes as well as the ears. What really brought me back to radio listening was none other than the amazing world of podcasting, and a friend of mine recommending that I listen to a program called This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass. Since that time I have discovered a number of interesting and educational programs distributed both by NPR (National Public Radio) and PRI (Public Radio International) - the beauty of public radio is that, being publicly funded, it does not  have corporate crass scrawled all over it. You aren't interrupted every few minutes to hear about buying yourself a hamburger.