Por Favor, Nanny
Houston moms help the help
By Richard Connelly
First World Problems, part XVII: Communicating with your nanny. A hassle!
Luckily, three plucky Houston mothers have banded together to put out a new book called Por Favor Nanny, Please Make Dinner, which comes complete with a Por Favor Nanny Web site.
We are three busy moms who are raising our families in Houston, Texas. Like most mothers, creating healthy meals at home while juggling the busy schedules of our families can be very time consuming.
Some of the wonderful women who care for our children and style our homes with their impeccable tidiness speak a different language. Because of this language gap, asking for help in the kitchen is difficult.
That's Catherine Chastain, Jennifer Kearns and Heather Talbert, who are about to launch the book and site.
One reader wrote us calling the thing "racist" and saying it "seems to take the attitude that the 'nanny' is a complete idiot."
We asked the authors about that, and via e-mail Talbert said the accusation is completely off-base:
The nanny can be anyone, the mom, the dad, the babysitter, the housekeeper, the grandparent or the nanny hired to help the family. A nanny is a trusted member of the house who helps keep things running smoothly when mom and/or dad are away. I can't think of any more honorable profession than one that invites a person into your home to help take care of your family. What a blessing these women and I'm sure a few men are to the families they work for.
So you need to learn Spanish phrases for your mom?
The Web site does offer some insight into the book. Things to apparently remember about your nannies, given some of the choices on the "how do you say" page: You need to keep a sharp eye on the money, and the germs. My god, the germs!
Among the phrases translated:
• Please bring me back the receipt. (Por favor, traeme el recibo.)
• How much did you spend? (¿Cuanto gasto?)
• Please wash hands before preparing food. (Por favor, lavate las manos antes de preparar la comida.)
• Please wash hands after...using the restroom, coughing or sneezing. (Por favor, lavate las manos después de... usar el baño, toser o estornudar.)
There will be a series of book signings around town, at such places as the Blue Willow Bookshop and the Bering's on Westheimer.
So if you've been having trouble getting the nanny to understand what it is you want, act now!
Or for this reason, offered by Talbert: "I know there are a lot of people who come to Texas for business that don't speak English. If a child comes home from school asking for lasagna and mom doesn't read English, isn't it nice to have Por Favor Nanny, Please Make Dinner available with the Spanish translation?"
The Five Worst Bass Pro Shop Racist Quotes
By Richard Connelly
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against the national Bass Pro Shop chain here in Houston, alleging it routinely discriminated against minorities in its hiring practices.
The nine-page complaint offers these gems:
5. In 2006, the human resources manager in a Louisiana store asked the manager why a qualified applicant was rejected. He "really doesn't fit our profile," was the answer. How so? The HR manager asked.
"We don't hire niggers," came the alleged blunt reply.
4. In one of the Houston locations in 2005, the manager told the HR department "it was getting a little dark in here, you need to hire some white people."
3. In 2008, an employee in Indiana was regularly seen discarding applications if he believed the name "sounded like a nigger name."
"Niggers steal and do not make good employees," the manager reportedly said.
2. The manager at a Houston store "would, on a daily basis, use the words 'wetback,' 'Pedro' and 'Mexican' to refer to people of Hispanic origin.
1. An Indiana manager said, "Hispanics should be shot at the border by the border patrol."
Bass Pro Shops: Sensitivity training, coming soon!!!
NASA Drafts on Star Wars' Heat Again
By Richard Connelly
NASA officials hyped a press conference recently about a new discovery via the way they know best: Trot out the Star Wars references.
People connected with the movie and SFX gurus Industrial Light & Magic were on the panel to discuss how the Kepler space telescope had discovered a planet with two suns. Because, you know, the non-scientist's expertise was needed to explain to the media how there was once a science-fiction film with two suns.
It wasn't the first time NASA has played the Star Wars card, and it likely won't be the last. And we just don't mean the photo ops or the tie-ins between the movie franchise and space-museum displays.
Here are five times NASA's played the Star Wars card in press releases:
5. A Saturn moon looks vaguely like the Death Star
From a release last year: "Cassini collected the data on Feb. 13, during its closest flyby of the moon, which is marked by an enormous scar called Herschel Crater and resembles the Death Star from Star Wars."
4. We'll even latch onto the prequels
A May 1999 press release was predicated entirely on how NASA technology was like that seen in the upcoming masterpiece The Phantom Menace:
Speed checked by radar
Who's directing traffic? In the 21st century, the U.S. skies could look a little bit like a scene in "Phantom Menace" where everyone seems to by flying around town. NASA's Advanced General Aviation Technology Experiment is developing the tools that could make it possible.
No Jar-Jar references, however.
3. Sure, we'll take up a lightsaber if it gets us some pub
In 2007, the space shuttle Discovery took up the lightsaber prop from Return of the Jedi on a mission because...because...ummm...
Astronaut Jim Reilly, who flew three missions and has conducted eight spacewalks, said there is a symbolic tie between the lightsaber and the real-life work NASA does in space.
"There's a kind of a fine line between science fiction and reality as far as what we do and it's only just time really because a lot of what we're doing right now was science fiction when I was growing up," he said. "I think it's a neat link because it combines two space themes all at one time."
2. Double promotion
The space robot that looks quite human is called Robonaut 2, which can be shortened to...R2!! Imagine!
NASA took the opportunity to trumpet this advance with heavy product placement: The headline on the press release was "Star Wars Meets UPS as Robonaut Packed for Space." Brought to you by Valvoline, it somehow didn't add.
1. Hyperdrive, emphasis on the "hype"
How do you get anyone to finish a press-release sentence that begins "Scientists and engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., are developing propulsion technologies"?
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Easy. Tack on the magic words!
Scientists and engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., are developing propulsion technologies closely akin to the "hyperdrives" of "Star Wars" fame.
Don't forget the scientist quote! "Achieving the level of technology portrayed in 'Star Wars' is quite a challenge. It will require very powerful fission, fusion or antimatter-driven rockets for rapid travel within interplanetary space," George Schmidt, deputy manager of Marshall's Propulsion Research Center, said in the release.
In other words, forget about it unless you want to actually up NASA's budget.