Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pet Peeve #487 - Politically Correct Cartoons

I know, I know. It's been a long time since I last posted. I have no excuses except that life has felt quite hectic, but if I had to list out my schedule of what I do every day, it would sound like I have plenty of time to kill. Most of the time I'm making sure my 10 month-old doesn't kill his little fool self as he's trying to get around, and the rest of the time is spent entertaining and cleaning up after my 3 year-old. By the end of the day after I've cleaned up dinner and put the kids to bed, I have about 60-90 minutes to my self. And lately, I've had other pressing things to work on.

But back to the point of this post. My 3 year-old loves to watch Curious George (CG) on PBS. Most of the time, I have no problem with this because CG usually teaches kids about science and math concepts. The only drawback is that George is a monkey, and therefore can't talk. So my son often hoots and hollers like a monkey instead of talking. And once in a while, the writers will throw in some politically correct (read liberal) issue like recycling. Ok, that's fine since I do a bit of that myself. And then there's the appropriately diverse cast with characters of different skin tones, ethnicities, and species (dogs, cats, elephants, skunks). Fine, George lives in a large city based on NYC so there should be plenty of diversity (although I doubt many city dwellers would be thrilled with the large variety of animals running loose).

Occasionally, however, it gets a little ridiculous. During one interlude, some kids visit a bicycle shop in Boston named "Bikes, Not Bombs." Er, okay. One little boy helpfully explains the name, "They sell bikes here, not bombs." Obviously. The name of the shop is just the kind of liberal sanctimony that drives me up the wall. I mean, who defines themselves as something they are not? I wonder if the owners of the shop also have stores named, "Coffee, Not Coffins," "Art Supplies, Not Artillery," "Donuts, Not Dynamite," or "Juice, not JDAMs." Ridiculous!

And then there's Clifford the Big Red Dog (or Clifford's Puppy Days). One day last fall I was thinking, "Gee, Preston watches a lot of great kids shows on PBS. Maybe I should send them a couple bucks for their pledge drive. And then an episode of Clifford comes on called "Fall Feast." So Clifford's owner, Emily Elizabeth, and her family make some yummy food to take to their grandma's house for the "Fall Feast," but they get stuck in the railroad station with all their neighbors who have all made their culturally appropriate side dishes for their own "Fall Feast." Of course, I've figured out that "Fall Feast" is their code word for a politically-correct-let's-not-offend-anyone-with-a slight-reference-to-giving-thanks-to-deity major holiday more commonly known as THANKSGIVING! I mean, come on people! Who actually says, Happy Fall Feast?!

Maybe it's an east coast thing that I haven't heard of because I'm down here in the Bible Belt, but this is taking political correctness too far. Maybe they'll stop saying have a happy Fall Feast too because it might offend depressed people who don't get to go visit their grandmas so then it will just be, "Have a Fall Feast or have a Day (or not). So anyway, my thought of contributing any money to PBS just disintegrated at that point. I figured that they've got my tax dollars, and they're lucky to get that much for this crap.

And to make things worse, a few days later I had to suffer through an episode where Emily Elizabeth and her friends shared the ways they celebrated the "First Snow" of winter, i.e. Christmas. Good grief! I should have called up and complained that PBS was discriminating against people that lived in places where it didn't snow, like Texas. Maybe that saying is true--the squeaky wheel gets the grease--and the people that are offended by all things American or Christian spend all their time complaining to the powers that be and that's why we get stuck with this kind of P.C. crap. Maybe it's time for the rest of us to mount our own campaign to wrest back our holiday celebrations from the grinches in this country. What do ya'll think?

Update: Upon further reflection, I think the campaign should be called the "Let's Offend Everyone and Have a Great Time Doing It" campaign.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Basements, Closets, and Twisters, Oh My!

It's been a relatively exciting couple of weeks while my computer's been down. First we had some spring storms wreak havoc in the DFW area. Spring is tornado season in North Texas, and although I've lived here for almost 10 years, I still can't get used to the tornado sirens. I can't imagine anything more scary than your house being torn off it's foundation while you and your kids cower in your closet. My Texas-born friends are pretty blase about--Oh yeah, we just jump in the bathtub with our pillows and blankets. It's like camping. Um, sure. Except while camping you don't run the risk of being skewered with a tree or flung 100 yards across a field while you're sleeping.

There's two classifications for storms with possible tornado development--1) tornado watch, where there's a possibility for formation of a tornado and 2) tornado warning, where a tornado has been spotted and those in the area had better take cover and PRAY. And where does one take cover when a tornado is bearing down on them? In Texas, it's an interior closet, or a bath tub. There are no basements here. Why, do you ask? Well, when we looked into it while we were building our house we got a number of answers--the soil is not right for it, the water table is too high, the limestone under the topsoil is too hard,etc. The real reason we found is that hardly anyone knows how to do it correctly and therefore it is prohibitively expensive. I suppose one could build an above ground bunker out of concrete, but again that is very pricey. I suppose most people figure it's cheaper to just take your chances that your house won't get hit and if it does, the insurance will cover the cost to rebuild. Okaaay. At least the weather forecasters and tornado spotters are on the ball.

So anyway, last Thursday at 3:30 a.m. we were all jerked out of a sound sleep by the tornado sirens down the street. I ran upstairs and scooped up my older son, ran down the stairs, and picked up my youngest, and we all huddled in the closet as my husband fiddled with the T.V. and radio so we find out what was going on. Fortunately, none of the homes in our neighborhood suffered any major damage, although throughout the area many trees were uprooted, and power lines knocked out due to straight-line winds of 50-70 mph. A couple of small tornadoes were later confirmed to have touched down and damaged some homes, but fortunately no one was killed (one man was seriously injured however).

I learned few good lessons about emergency preparedness:

1) Remain calm. It does no good if you and your children are shaking and screaming for dear life. Plus, if nothing happens you will feel pretty silly and your kids may want to sleep in your bed with you every night until they leave for college. Praying helps a lot here.

2) Keep everything you may need in an emergency in a handy place e.g. inside the closet where you "take cover." If a tornado is bearing down on your house, it's not a good idea to run out of your "safe room" because you forgot the toilet paper that you might need if the toilets get blown away.

3) If you happen to have a 72-hour kit (as all "good" Mormons do), it's helpful to pack the emergency radio and batteries on top so you don't have to dig through all the diapers, cans of chili, and granola bars.

Overall, we made it through the storms unscathed. We got the kids back to sleep and managed to catch a few winks ourselves before getting up for work and preschool. I feel horrible for people that actually experience a tornado. It's no fun feeling you are at the mercy of the weather or wondering why this scary thing happened to you. I'll take hurricanes any day over tornadoes. At least with hurricanes you have some warning and can pile the kids in the car and drive inland. Yay, we're going camping!