the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zero hour

In my never-ending quest for Internet access that actually provides me access to the Internet (shocking demand! shocking!), I had the privilege today of overhearing a conversation between the Netvision guy and the Hot chick that revealed a certain confusion on the part of said chick regarding the difference between Hebrew and English and did not do much to raise my estimation of her company as a whole.

Netvision guy Anan, the first Israeli I have encountered who bears the Hebrew version of the flower child/American Indian-sounding name Cloud, took me patiently through a whole lotta steps to figure out what the problem was and concluded that the router was faulty and needed to be replaced. Then he called back and said he needed to make sure it wasn't the modem after all, which entailed a conference call with Hot.

When he finally got the brains of tech support on the phone, he asked her to do an "ipus" (איפוס - pronounced ee-pooss) of the modem. Since she showed little indication of understanding what he meant, he changed the form of the word to ask her "le'apes" (לאפס - to reset) it. Both words come from אפס (effes), the Hebrew for zero. (Morfix translates לאפס as: to calibrate, to zero, to set on zero; to reset.)

The Hot representative clearly had no clue what the hell Cloud was on about (maybe she couldn't check the dictionary because she couldn't get online either?), so she insisted that whatever he was asking was impossible and attempted to make it clear that she knew just what she was doing. She did this by adopting that tone of righteous indignation, replete with a declaration of her experience in the field, that I can recognize from a mile away as a clear sign that the person doesn't have the slightest idea of what to do and, more dangerous still, will never, ever admit it.

"I didn't just start working here yesterday, and I can tell you that there is no such thing," Hot insisted. After a bit of back and forth along these lines, she finally figured out that Anan - whose name, despite its airy-fairyness, puts me in mind of a good cuppa joe, thanks to a certain unnamed world body - wanted her to reset the modem.

"Oh, la'asot [to do] reeeeset!" she said. And then, I kid you not, she went on to ask: "Why don't you speak in Hebrew?"

Anan sounded as taken aback as I was. "Ipus is Hebrew," he informed her. "Reset is English."

Not surprisingly, given the admirable personality traits she had already demonstrated, Ms. Hot blithely continued as though Anan had not pointed out what a total lamebrain she was, and finally accomplished the task.

Conclusion: It turns out that both the router and the Hot representative are faulty.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vertical new world

I said in my last post that I could easily see Rimonit pulling herself up... in another couple of months. And I was right... but way off-base; she started pulling herself up the Shabbat before last.

Over the past week and a half, she has stood up by leaning over a couch cushion placed on the floor, by holding on to the coffee table and holding on to her high chair, and by leaning against the back or side of the couch.

A couple of days ago I thought I could sneak in a quick catnap by resting on the bed in the guestroom while she played on the floor of the most Rimonit-friendly (read: empty) room in the house, but the kid had other ideas. I had only just closed my eyes when I noticed that there was a little head peering over the top of the bed, the big blue eyes about even with mine. My incipient rest was disturbed by a mysterious sensation of having my hair tugged just before a little elf tried to steal my glasses right off my face. I looked down and for the first time was able to apply the concept of "height" to the suddenly vertical being next to me. It was a bit of a weird sensation. Wonder if I fell asleep after all and was only dreaming...


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

RP update: The dog we never had

The kid started doing some serious crawling last week. She now bears a great resemblance to the dog we never had: She crawls under the table and eats shoes (yum!). She also loves books and newspapers (rustle, rustle!), meaning that she is eating her words before she can even utter them.

She had started moving forward a couple of paces on all fours two weeks ago, and did that for a few days before really taking off on her hands and knees.

And although I said in a previous post that she was getting in some top teeth, they didn't start actually breaking through the gums until this week, in a not particularly fun experience. :( On the bright side, RP has also chosen this week to fall head over heels in love with her reflection, so any time she gets upset (say, once the teeth start hurting but before the Acamoli kicks in), all we have to do is bring her to a mirror, and behold: an instantaneous transformation from crying Rimonit to smiling, loquacious Rimonit, who immediately begins a conversation with herself that almost inevitably begins and ends with "da."

I can also see a marked increase in Smunch communication skills, commensurate with her newfound ambulatory abilities. Now instead of staying in place and crying if she's hungry, tired or wants to be picked up (usually because she's hungry, tired or both), she crawls over to me to hand-deliver the message and pulls on whatever article of my clothing she can reach to get my attention. A couple of weeks ago, she did this partway, crawling (well, scooting on her tummy at the time) to her stroller, which was midway between me and her, and giving me the most pitiable, hangdog look through the mesh of the stroller basket. So I caved in and gave her a doggie biscuit. (Just kidding, savtas!)

The kid, who just turned nine months old, has also shown signs of wanting to reach further still. The other day I was sitting on the couch-bed in the guest room, trying to do some work on the laptop while she played on the floor. When she had enough of this arrangement, she did not satisfy herself with crawling to the edge of the bed and making her appeal from there, but knelt on her knees to give herself the most height and reached up as high as she could to make sure I had heard her plea. It's not hard for me to imagine her pulling herself up in another couple of months.

The smunch has been getting herself to sitting position for a while now, I would say about a month or so. She isn't yet able to sit herself up if she is lying flat on her back, but she gets herself into sitting mode from the all-fours position. She started doing this when she was still in crawl training camp. But when she's tired she sometimes just can't hold herself up anymore and will fall over from a sitting position or repeatedly lay her head down for a few seconds in mid-play.

Two weeks ago Rimonit started clapping (applause!), but I have yet to work out if she does it for any specific reason. Sometimes she does it when she hears music, but other times there doesn't seem to be a particular cause. If she starts clapping and I clap in imitation, I sometimes merit a big smile. I've also been trying to teach her to wave in the appropriate situations (mostly when leaving day care), but that doesn't seem to have caught on yet. I have the feeling that now is a good time to start teaching her sign-language signs for certain key words (food, drink, more, enough), but I'm not comfortable enough with what the signs are myself. I know I could just make it up, but I'd like the signs to be recognizable by others as well so that she can communicate with them too and not just with me.

Over the last few weeks I have also really seen a difference in her understanding of the concept of object permanence. She now can really appreciate peekaboo (called "kookoo" in Hebrew), giving me a big grin when I pop out of hiding, and when her toy drops off the changing table she tries to dive off to get it back instead of just forgetting about its existence as soon as it disappears from view.

As for food, I have been giving her a mix of baby cereal (so far, rice cereal and kasha cereal) and actual pieces of food (white potato, sweet potato, carrots, corn, banana, rye bread, pear, skinless red and yellow pepper) that she can pick up and eat with her hands. Sometimes she is more willing to eat with a spoon and other times she prefers to use her hands, so I try to offer her both at every (attempted) meal. I have also just started trying to get her to drink from a cup. She drinks from it fine if she lets me hold it for her, but if she wants to hold it herself there is the small problem that she likes to hold it upside down just as much as rightside up. I am also trying a sippy cup, which she enjoys putting in her mouth the right way, but I'm not convinced she is actually getting anything out of it.

And that, folks, is RP in a nutshell at this moment in time. No doubt by the time you read this she will have changed in a dozen more ways.