Al Franken, and Hot Coffee

Al Franken is a casualty.  I don’t believe Franken is groper.  I hope he will run in the 2018 special election to represent the people of Minnesota.  They would be smart to re-elect him. He was a very good U.S. Senator, hard-working and always prepared, and tried not to be funny. 

Certainly, I do not condone sexual harassment.  Any person who uses their power and position to harass subordinates or co-workers should be fired. We can all think of one.  But Franken didn’t do that.  He may have put his hand in the wrong place while posing for pictures, and he pictures taken of the sleeping woman were just plain stupid.  But, at that time Franken was a comedian, not a Senator.  I watched lots of people getting their pictures taken with elected officials.  Everyone quickly takes a position and smiles for the camera.  Electeds have an amazing ability to put on a perfect smile – I have never seen a bad picture of Hilary Clinton with a group of constituents.   I swear electeds practice in the mirror at night, their eyes are never closed, their smiles are always “picture perfect”.

Franken came to the Senate after a protracted election, his 300+ vote win was challenged and it took almost 6 months for him to take his oath of office.  When he finally arrived one of his first actions to oppose mandatory arbitration clauses (MAC), and became a champion for Jamie Leigh Jones.  Jones testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to being gang raped by her co-workers, and then held in a locked container by her employer before she could get medical treatment. When she got home she tried to sue her employer KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, but little did she know that when she signed her employment paperwork there was a MAC.  She told the committee, rape was not what she signed up for in Iraq and she wanted to sue.  But because of the MAC, she couldn’t go to court.  You can watch Jones’ testimony in the documentary film “Hot Coffee” on Netflix or Amazon.  You can also see me sitting a few rows back in the audience.  At that time, I was working with a group of advocates trying to pass legislation banning MACs from private employment, credit card and consumer contracts. 

Another valiant effort to protect the little people, that never passed in Congress.  Years later the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) did write regulations banning these MACs from banks and credit cards, but Trump recently signed an executive order reversing those rules.  Another win for big banks and credit card companies, another “screw-you” for the little people, (but that is another story).

Now don’t get me wrong, I love arbitration.  I did many of them when I was representing workers.  But in union contracts, arbitration is a fair fight.  Both sides are represented and the arbitrator is paid by the losing party.  Under consumer arbitration clauses the companies win 99.9% of the time, because the deck is stacked in favor of the company.  The arbitrators are hand-picked by the company and if they want to keep getting picked they rule in favor of the company.  Not to mention the consumer is on their own to represent themselves.  Of course, they can hire an attorney, if they can find one who wants to take the case.

Disputes over phones, bank or credit card fees should go to small claims court, or better yet Judge Judy.  Nope, with mandatory arbitration companies can deny their customers the right to sue, and employers can force workers to fend for themselves in a rigged arbitration.

So, this week when Senator Franken took to the floor and announced he would resign, it really pissed me off.  Franken didn’t talk dirty or sexually harass anyone.  He put his hand or tongue in the wrong place for an instant.  Not that he should have done it, but I don’t see the firing offense.  When I represented men accused of harassment in the work place, there were instances when it didn’t happen.  To be fair, accusations of poor hand placement for a photo-op, isn’t they same thing as showing your junk to a subordinate, intern or job applicant.

Franken didn’t use his power to intimidate or harass.  He was asked to take a picture, as a comedian and a celebrity.  I for one don’t think he did it, but if he did, the woman should have turned around and slapped his face.  Isn’t that what they do in comedy sketches?


Fish & Family, 3 days

We survived Thanksgiving!  More important we celebrated my beautiful Mother’s 88th birthday Saturday (11/25) with homemade Indian food.  I am exceeding my 3-day rule: ‘fish and family’, because of delayed Airstream repairs.  Families are born to fuss, or fight.  I am fortunate that my 3 sisters and I are very close and “when push, comes to shove” we always end-up on the same page.  I know there are many families who are estranged, differ so much they can’t be in the same room, county, state, or even on the same continent.   We are so fortunate to be where we are at this stage in life.

Families always struggle with distance, and ours is no different.  Nephew David is now stationed in Italy with the Air Force, and niece Rachel is finishing her medical residency in Seattle, WA.  So, this Thanksgiving it was the big kids, and a single millennial nephew Connor.  We did not discuss politics, thankfully.  We are all Democrats.  In 1978, Mom married Erv a Republican.  YIKES!  My Mom’s powers of persuasion converted Erv and he is now the chair of the Democratic precinct at Carolina Meadows (their retirement community), and loves Rachel Maddow.  Go Figure? We should have let my Mother loose on the Republican party, maybe she could have converted more of them?  

We are celebrating good news of a blending family.  My oldest sister Becky (18 months older) is now engaged to Chuck.  Chuck’s oldest son Chuck and wife Cynthia drove from Virginia and joined us for dinner, and pie!  Sister Kerry (18 months younger), husband Buzz traveled from Anchorage, Alaska.  Their son (nephew) Connor is finishing his last year of a Master’s in Architecture at Portland State, OR.  Sister Kerry is enjoying retirement after 30 years in the Anchorage School District classroom, and Buzz is getting ready to retire.

How did we get to be so old?

I am waiting on the call from Airstream Virginia that Scout II is repaired and road ready for traveling south.  Maggie and I are so very ready to get back on the Road2Reinvention.  We have a new/used 2015 Toyota Tacoma truck, and new/used 2014 Flying Cloud Airstream.  

Ready to Launch!






Parts are HERE!

Happy Thanksgiving 2017.  I have lots to be thankful for: family, friends, health, Social Security, union pension, Maggie the dog, and not working as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.  Pie!

I am most thankful for the great news my Airstream parts have arrived in Virginia, and the Airstream aka Scout II should be repaired and road ready next week.

I hope all my readers are enjoying a safe and happy Thanksgiving, not watching the news. 

My family will be playing lots of games: 5 Crowns, The Great Dalmuti, Hearts, and Mexican Train Dominos.  We have always played games on holidays before and after dinner.   


Another Bump in the Road

The very best plans are made to change.  Here I am still in Washington, D.C. waiting for parts from Jackson Center, OH.  Apparently Airstream manufactures many parts as needed, not stored in a warehouse.  I am told it will take 4-6 weeks for the parts to be made.  So, I will travel on Tuesday to Chapel Hill, NC for Thanksgiving with family, and return to Virginia when the parts have been received.  Not what I had initially planned but the joy of retirement is no schedule.  Fortunately, good friend Sylvia will ride along, we call it our Thelma and Louise road trip.

Here is more about the history America’s iconic travel trailer, the Airstream. 

Airstream’s creator was Wally Byam a graduate of Stanford and avid traveler, Wally began building his own trailers in his backyard. Wally’s dream was to build a travel trailer that would move like a stream of air, be light enough to be towed by a car, and create first-class accommodations anywhere. During World War II, Wally suspended building trailers, and worked at Curtiss-Wright aircraft manufacturer and learned about factory production and aircraft design.  Over the next 80 years putting experience plus millions of miles on roads the Airstream continues to evolve built with aerodynamic design and with no planned obsolescence. 

The Torpedo Car Cruiser, was the first factory-produced trailer designed to towed by a car.  In the early 50’s, Airstream moved its operation from California, to Jackson Center, Ohio with the help of  Wally’s lifetime friend and financier Neil Vanderbilt, who served on Airstream’s board of directors.   Wally died in 1962, but the production of Airstreams continues to this day.  In 2006, 65% of the Airstreams built since Wally Byam’s first trailer were still on the road.  The newest model is the Basecamp, which looks like Wally’s original small trailer.  
Airstream produces a limited number of trailers each year, and they hold their value.  
An Airstream is an investment.  At least that is what I am hoping for.

We’ll Follow the Sun

It has turned cold in Washington, D.C. and I am so very ready to head south for the winter. There are more leaves on the ground then on the branches.  Hopefully, Scout II will have the necessary repairs done this coming week, so Maggie and I can hit the road.   I have very little in the way of winter clothing, and I certainly don’t want to buy turtle necks and sweaters. 

Our delayed departure and colder temperatures are making changes to our travel plans.   After Thanksgiving we will head south to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or farther south.   I hope the weather in early December allows me to play some golf.  Our goal is not to be in weather below 55 degrees anywhere this winter.

The beauty of an RV is you can adjust your travels to follow the sun, and avoid rain and cold (regardless of a very nice heater in the Airstream).  That’s exactly what we will be doing this winter, following the sun. 

Counter top and drawers!

All the while getting comfortable with new Scout, more space and new features of a solar panel on the roof, and a backup camera on the rear.

I also need to install a truck bed cover for the new Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck, so I can hide my golf clubs and pull cart, which will give Maggie more room in her new back seat.

The solar panel offers longer battery power.  However, we try to stay in places with electric and water hook-up.  I enjoy the comradery of a campground, rather than the isolation of “boondocking”, which is the term for camping out in the boonies; on public lands in the middle of nowhere, without water or electric, and no port-a-potty in sight. 

I did lot’s of remote camping in Alaska.

Nellie Martin US Forest Service Cabin

Beach at Patton Bay, Alask

Years ago, I spent an August week alone on Montague Island in Prince William Sound, walking the 2 miles of beach and catching silver salmon on a fly rod.  Flying from Anchorage in my stepfather’s Cessna 172 and landing on the beach.  My pals Barbara and Howard were suppose to come with me, but Howard broke his ankle playing softball the week before.  It was an amazing week of sunshine and unusually warm weather.  At week’s end I looked like I had spent a week in Hawaii, and not on a beach in Alaska.

Later I cooked at a fishing lodge on the Yetna River for the month of July during the king salmon run.  It was an unusual vacation waking at 5 a.m. to cook breakfast and get the fishermen out on the river, making lunches for the guides to take along, and cooking dinner at 10 p.m. after the fishing had closed.  I was alone at the lodge with 3 dogs during the day and enjoyed the solitude.   I was never armed with any guns.  While I saw bears in the distance, I was fortunate to never have a close encounter on Montague or the Ketna.

Needless to say I gave up tent camping after my 20’s.  I prefer a cabin, lodge and now an Airstream.