Friday, June 26, 2009

Learning to read

I don't remember learning how to read when I was a little kid. Accounts from various family members differ slightly, but they all agree that I was able to read Dick-and-Jane-type books aloud, by myself, with minimal help, by the time I turned 2 years old. Apparently my mom taught me to read using Hooked on Phonics... but, like I said, I don't remember.

I never really realized how unusual that was when I was a kid. I remember going to the bathroom one day in preschool and seeing a memo to the teachers posted up on the wall by the toilet. I read it and didn't understand something it said, so I asked the teacher about it when I got back to the classroom. Apparently it really freaked her out, and when my mom came to pick me up that afternoon, the teacher said, "Do you know that she can read?!" To which my mother replied, "Yes, I told you that at the beginning of the year, remember?" But that exchange didn't happen in front of me, so I didn't realize that being able to read the teachers' memo was such a big deal. Plus, I wasn't the only kid in the preschool who could read -- they took a group of five or so of us out of our reading lessons with Dick and Jane every week and started teaching us to write. (I still don't hold a pen properly, by the way... supposedly this is because the muscles in my hands weren't developed enough when they started teaching me to write.)

Then, for elementary school, I went to a magnet school for gifted and talented children. Everybody in my kindergarten class could read and write. Each week we had to write two or three sentences about what we had done over the weekend. One Monday I wanted to write about something we'd done in Girl Scouts, but I didn't know how to spell the word "twenty". When I asked the teacher, she told me to go look it up in the dictionary -- we had illustrated children's dictionaries stacked up on a counter on the far end of the room. Another time, we read The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read. His wife went out of town and told him what to buy at the store. But he couldn't read the labels, so he bought things based on the shape and size of the packaging. So he was very disappointed to get home and figure out that he had bought wax paper instead of spaghetti, salt instead of sugar, etc. I had such a hard time believing that there was such a thing as a grown man who couldn't read.

When I was 10, the TV show "Christy" began to air. There's an episode where Christy teaches Fairlight Spencer to read using the Bible, and I was so jealous. How come I didn't get to learn to read using the Bible? I loved my Bible -- it had a pink cover with gold embossed lettering and Precious Moments illustrations. Plus everything that Jesus said was printed in red instead of black. And our preacher had signed it for me when I was baptized the year before. My grandmother gave me that Bible, and I was heartbroken when it was stolen out of my backpack at school a few years later.

Well, here I am, 15 years later, learning to read Hebrew. The only text I have at home with Hebrew and Hebrew transliterated into the Latin alphabet is a photocopy of the Pesach Haggadah that my synagogue uses, so I am practicing with it. I'm still at the point where I see the Hebrew and my brain freaks out thinking that it's unreadable gibberish, but when I force myself to sound it out, I manage halfway decently. I'm still too slow to follow along in the Hebrew side of the Siddur, but hopefully with some time and study and patience, that will come, too. (I guess I should be waiting until Hebrew classes start in September to do this, but I'm not exactly a patient person.)

15 years ago I never imagined that one day I'd get to learn to read with prayerbooks and the like... too cool. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Now I know my ABCs?

So, last week I learned the alphabet song in Hebrew, so I know the names of the letters and what order they go in.

This week's challenge: learn to recognize them all and write them correctly. I'm at the point right now where I can sing my ABCs, but I can't tell the difference between P and T. Can someone please tell me why hay and chet look so much alike? Or dâlet and chaf sofît? Or shin and sin?

Sure, I could wait until Hebrew classes start in September to do this, but I want to be able to read along in the Hebrew side of the Siddour now, darnit. (I never was good at patience.)

So I'm copying and recopying and recopying the alphabet. My poor alephs are pathetic looking. And I need to make some flashcards. I feel kind of like a little kid drilling math facts or something...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Things I didn't expect to see today

1. A hijabi riding a motorcycle down by Gare Cornavin.

2. An electric company truck repairing a power line -- while jacked up over a foot off the ground so that the workers in the truck's arm could reach the line.

3. I'm sure I'll come up with more as the day goes on...

Edit: I saw another very unexpected thing today! But I probably shouldn't say what... suffice to say, my eyes are burning. ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I just talked to my mom yesterday about how badly I need a suitcase and how expensive they are here. Well, I stopped by the grocery store on the way home today, and what do you know! They had all their luggage on sale for 50% off. So I got a big suitcase to replace the one I busted a zipper on a few months ago, and it only cost $70! (And it's bright purple.) My little suitcase and its matching carryon bag are still in good shape, so I didn't replace them.

Talk about a great coincidence!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crashing into teddy bears

I got in and out of the OCP today in an hour. Awesome. I was reflecting on my luck in the bus, where there was a really little kid squirming around in the seat across from me. When the bus took off, she flew through the air and belly-flopped on my knee by accident. Cried so much the bus driver had to stop and come back to make sure she was okay (she was). The poor mom was so embarrassed and kept apologizing to me over and over. I was fine... little kid tummies are pretty soft. I swear, these things only happen to me!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This proves my point.

This is why you never, ever trust anyone who says they can translate into multiple languages: because unless they're completely bilingual (which is very rare, even in Europe), they can't. Case in point: AZ translation center. They claim to be the best rated around the world for translations into English. Here's an excerpt from their website:

Functional approach to translation

We apply style known as functional approaching to translation in Translation Center: translated document shall be used as original of its text in adopted culture. It means that if document is legal document, it shall be considered in legal document form. If it's in technical means, target shall be corresponded to all weight and size used in the culture.

We translate everything page by page, too. You will get prints, colors, distances, graphics, formats, headings in formalization form under original. Each of person using from translation will not need to go to other place for checking translation and words among original, sentences, annexes or extracts. We are pleasure to present translations of title papers and when a lot of document translations been in normal format you are getting title paper format without any expenditure.

Translation Center provides services for some business, schools, hospitals, organization of health and service to people, law companies, banks, art organization and individuals. Clients include great multinational businesses, local small business and individuals. We are center of full service with service in language more than 30. Majority of our clients are in Baku, but we have national and international clients in increasing number.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Current earworm

48 hours ago, I couldn't recite the Hebrew alphabet beyond aleph and bet. Now I can't get it out of my head...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good dog!

The group sitting next to us at the restaurant today at lunch had a dog that looks a lot like my dog Lucy. The dog was all sweet and friendly with us, and we enjoyed talking with its owners. Near the end of our meal, though, some panhandlers came up and started pestering us for money... and the dog barked ferociously and lunged at them and made them run away. It was pretty awesome.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I have a confession to make.

It's me. I'm the sock monster. I'm the reason half your socks don't have mates.

Good thing the sock I vacuumed up today wasn't from one of my favorite pairs!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Toto, we aren't in Switzerland anymore

I decided to engage in some much-needed retail therapy today. While I was on the way to the store in the tram, I sneezed really loudly. The lady next to me said, "A vos souhaits!" That has never happened to me here before.

Then a lady in front of me got into a coughing fit. A man she didn't know asked if she was okay and offered her and her friends some Certs. I've definitely never seen that happen here before!

Maybe it's something in the water lately...

(And happy birthday, Mom! I love you!)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nice TPG man

Today I bought a bike! But I bought it in France and I don't have a helmet, so I had to take it home in public transport. I checked on the TPG website beforehand to make sure I could, and they say you can take bikes on the weekend. Perfect.

Except that only trams go out to France, and you're not allowed to take bikes on trams. Or so the tram driver said. But I explained the situation to him, so he let me sneak the bike in the very back car.

So, now that it's home, where am I supposed to park it???

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


With the writing part of my thesis, that is. Now I just have to edit it... There really is a light at the end of the tunnel!