A VERY BAD, TERRIBLE, AWFUL COUPLE OF WEEKS, Go Figure?

What is a person to do?  Each week the world seems to be spinning out of control.  Terrible U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Justice Kennedy retiring and a very conservative nomination will surely take his place, 5 murdered at their desks in Annapolis, MD., and our government is tearing children out of the arms of their parents.  

While the world seems to be coming apart at the seams, I really can’t complain.  I am enjoying summer at my sister Robin’s Westhampton, Long Island home, and completing DIY projects on Scout.  I am grateful that I no longer work as an advocate (aka Lobbyist) for labor unions, beating my head against a brick wall.  I think of my friends and former colleagues each and everyday, still fighting the good fight.  I am counting the days until my 65 Medicare birthday!

GUNS: How can we accept people going to school or work and never coming home?

SCOTUS: I spent the vast majority of my career as a “Union Goon”, and proud of it.  In the last week of the session the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled 5-4 against public employees and their unions, and upheld Trump’s travel ban.  The travel ban got most of the press attention, but the Janus decision will have much greater economic impact on U.S. workers.   Simply: American workers just got hit by an uninsured driver.  Take Joe, the rural route letter carrier who delivers mail here at my sister’s house.  Joe drives a mail truck but doesn’t wear a uniform, because they aren’t provided.  He is an employee, with no benefits.   Joe likes to complain about getting screwed by the postal service, but refuses to join the rural letter carrier union (yes, there really is a rural letter carrier union).  The vast majority of rural letter carriers are like Joe, complain mightily, but won’t join the one organization that could negotiate for better working conditions, pay and benefits.   Have you noticed your letter carrier arriving later and later to your mail box, and working late into the night?

US workers are their own worst enemy.  They believe in individual rights, not collective action.  They vote against their own economic interest.  Worst of all workers think they got their pay and benefits by their own hard work.  HA!   I use to tell Republican Members of Congress they should not hate unions, because labor unions are incubators for new Republicans.  As soon as workers rise into the middle class they start voting Republican, Trump is the glaring example of my theory. 

In Las Vegas, NV  the Culinary union has 95% voluntary membership, because low wage workers know their employer is going to screw them.  Who is more powerful the majority or the minority?  If only a minority of workers voluntarily join their union, they don’t have much clout.  Culinary workers know as individuals they have no bargaining power, but as a majority they have power and can negotiate better pay and benefits.   It is ironic that the Culinary union is vastly composed of immigrants and women.  Rural letter carriers are predominately white men.  Go figure?

Workers who don’t want to join the union, didn’t have to join, but they did have to pay their FAIR-SHARE.  The SCOTUS just ruled workers can be FREE-RIDERS, and not pay their fair-share, but still get the benefits of collective bargaining.  What will happen is as workers drop their membership, unions will have less and less clout.  Less ability to negotiate for better pay and benefits, and even more important social policy for non-union workers.

The law requires drivers to have insurance, but people will try to get away with driving with no insurance.   Our insurance premiums are higher because of uninsured drivers, (or people without health insurance).  The Janus decision is like telling workers they don’t have to buy insurance and let those of us that do – pay for them, too.  It makes me sick!

When unions were at the height of their power (1935) ONLY 35% of American workers were union members.  Now union membership is less than 12%.  Why don’t workers today have pensions, healthcare, vacation and sick days?  Economist and public officials talk about wage stagnation every day.   When employers wanted to avoid unions, they matched the union pay and benefit package.  Union workers lifted all boats.   In the 1970s employers figured it was cheaper and more profitable to kill unions, rather than pay fair wages and benefits.  Wonder why wages aren’t keeping pace with CEO pay?  Go figure?

I am THANKFUL every day for my union pension that will pay me until I die.  Sorry for younger workers who will die before they can retire.  Savings and 401Ks will never replace a guaranteed pension – NEVER.

IMMIGRANTS:  I spent 15 years of my professional lobbying career working with advocates and even the Chamber of Commerce to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation in Congress.    It is heart breaking to see immigrants vilified and treated as criminals.  I could write pages, but here is the debate simply put by my FB friend Steven: “NO IMMIGRANT has taken a job from an American worker.  You were laid off by a capitalistic corporate employer who is taking advantage of that immigrant to increase profits.  Nothing makes him happier than to hear you are an idiot who is blaming the immigrant and not the corporate boss.”  

Debbie took the slogan to the D.C. March.

Donald Trump uses immigrant labor in his hotels and built his Las Vegas hotel with steel imported from China.  FACTS, not fake news.   

Reading the newspaper is depressing, but at least I am reading REAL NEWS and sitting next to a pool with a pleasant ocean breeze.   But the events of the past several weeks are difficult to shake.  I am privileged and blessed with good health, great family and friends and a beach to walk on.  My thoughts are with others less fortunate and grieving.

Thank goodness for my DIY projects!  I got the curtains and seat cushions done, my quilt is back from quilting and I am sewing on the edging.  Yesterday, I fixed the four drawers, because the very funky cabinet hinges where flying open while towing.  Ceiling fans installed.  Re-upholstery of the dinette benches, and installing a new TV antenna, and I will be done with Scout and can finally play some golf!  I have a great sense of satisfaction when I can Do It Myself!

I plan to read less news, read more fiction and listen to more music.

P.S. Check out my favorite streaming radio stations KPIG and 107.3 Mod Radio from Palm Springs.

Stay tuned for pictures of Scout with all her new stuff.  

 

MaxxAir Fan Installation

There is possibly nothing you can’t do, if you watch enough YouTube videos.  This summer Scout is sitting in my sister Robin’s driveway in Westhampton, NY, while Maggie and I enjoy her home and daily trips to Cupsogue Beach.  

I decided to replace the two ceiling fans, because they are very noisy, and when it rains the hoods must be closed to avoid raindrops on your head.  Also the trailer can become very stuffy.  MaxxAir fans look great.  The fan can remain open when it rains and promises to be quiet when running, and there is even a remote control!

Caulk Removal tool

Available via Amazon, the fans arrived as promised, and after watching 3 YouTube videos I felt adequately empowered for DIY installation.  Climbing on top of the Airstream is not my idea of fun, but once on top I felt confident I could do this.  A check-list of tools and supplies is a very good idea, and saving me from multiple trips up and down the ladder.  A trip to the local True Value Hardware store for a caulk removal tool and denatured alcohol, recommended in the YouTube videos.  I was ready to DIY.

Every project I embark on is judged by the number of trips to the hardware store and the purchase of additional tools for any project.  I am pleased to report this project only required 2 trips, the second for self-drilling metal screws because the pre-drilled holes didn’t line up.  I plan to write to MaxxAir and suggest they offer an Airstream model.  The wiring was super simple, only 2 wires: 1 black and 1 white.

It was the removal of the old fan and caulk that took the most time, but the denatured alcohol is a great solvent.  I am thinking I might re-caulk the entire roof, which is suggested maintenance every 5 years.  But maybe too ambitious.   When am I ever going to play a round of golf with all these projects?

Originally I was thinking I would only install one, but when I saw how great the first was, I decided to do both.  The kitchen fan has a remote control, so I lay in bed and control the speeds.   No more rain drops on my head, and peacefully quiet.

 

 

DIY

My younger (very successful) sister Robin has a lovely home in Westhampton, NY (Long Island), but is working for Disney in Los Angeles.  Her Long Island home is mine for the summer.   How lucky can a sister be?

As a RVer (almost full-time), it is great to have a home base to get things done.  I really enjoy DIY (do it yourself), but it never ceases to amaze me how long a DIY project takes.  When I was a home owner, I always tried to do the job before I called an expert.  I am even more committed to doing it myself, now that I am retired.  I have all the time in the world to figure stuff out.

It only took me “all-day”, 2 trips to the local True Value Hardware store (thankfully only 5 minutes away), to complete today’s project.

I was replacing a very old and rusted recessed light fixture.  Leaving a gaping 11-inch hole.  So, I needed to jerry-rig the hole to install a new outdoor light fixture over the front door.  Thankfully across the street there is a house under construction and the non-English speaking workman were very gracious and helpful.  I needed a 14” 2×4 piece of wood to secure the light fixture.  

Why don’t I take before, during and after pictures; or better yet YouTube videos? 

My summer Airstream/Scout projects are to make new curtains, finish cushions, make a new bed coverlet, re-upholster dinette, replace ceiling fans, and repair kitchen drawers.  Thankfully, I have all summer.  But, I am already feeling the summer is quickly slipping away.  CRAZY.

Regardless, I am a lucky sister.  Thanks Robin!

Lydia and Bruce arrive next week for the PGA Open Golf Tournament, and visiting Bruce’s Mom in Montauk. Robin will be here in mid-June. Lots of fun for 4-of-July, and Yellow Party.  So looking forward to former work colleagues Madeleine and husband Norman, Nanine and Michael, and Alaskan pals Mary Ann & sister Melissa (with Alaska fish).  Ann and Jamie?  It is going to be a very fun full summer.

Dates are still available, so come and visit!

P.S. I have 3 very sucessful sisters.  Becky, No. 1, sister is a realestate mogel in Cary, NC; Kerry, No. 3,  is a wonderful retired school teacher in Anchorage, Alaska and continues to promote early childhood development.  Robin is No. 4. and I am No. 2.

Most of all my sisters are my best friends, we fight and fuss, but we love each other.  I am so very, very lucky.

Back in Washington, D.C.

Maggie and Lola enjoying the pond at Congressional cemetery.

Always fun to be back in my adopted hometown of Washington, D.C.  Maggie gets to hang with her BFF Lola, walks in the hood and daily visits to the Congressional Cemetery — the very best dog park ever!  Yes, dogs run free and off leash and get to pee on the interned.  J Edgar Hoover has a little fence around his plot, because peeing on him was a favorite attraction. 

Cemetery’s K9 Corps is a private dogwalking program, bringing life, community, and volunteerism to this extraordinary burial ground. Dog walking at the cemetery is permitted by membership only. As far as we know, it is one of the first programs of its kind. It is organized for the continued support of the ongoing work at Historic Congressional Cemetery through funds raised through donations and each member’s ongoing volunteer work. Day passes for non-members are offered during office hours Monday – Friday, 9-5 for $10, and interested dog walkers can apply to join the waitlist through this website.  Read the stones behind this dog in the video below.

Take a walking tour with your cell phone, compliments IZI Tours app and radio reporter Liz Ruskin.   Historic Congressional Cemetery: The Dead Tell the Best Stories.

I love Washington, D.C., especially Capitol Hill.  Best of all, I am no longer one of the self-important people who populate the city.  I have almost run-down 3 pedestrians who stepped off the curb in front of my truck against the light, because they were engrossed with their mobile phone and texting while walking.

D.C. is under construction.  There are construction cranes littering the skyline. Glass and steel high-rises everywhere.  Good architects incorporate the old facades of houses and buildings, incorporating them into the new structures, retaining the remnants of the old city.

Best of all is the new Anthem, a fantastic new music venue and auditorium opened in October 2017, the Anthem is part of District Wharf, a comprehensive redevelopment of the area.  Gone are the old all-you-can-eat (gross) seafood buffet restaurants and seedy motels, replaced by luxury apartments, condo, shops and trendy restaurants with outdoor dining.  The old fish market is the only thing that remains from the previous waterfront establishments.  Another neighborhood yupification (infested with Yuppies) in D.C.

The Anthem has a movable stage and seating that provides a capacity of 2,500 to 6,000.  Balconies are closer to the stage than most venues, I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house and the acoustics are fantastic.   I heard Brandi Carlile there on Saturday night, it was possibly the best concert I have attended.  The Anthem is AMAZING.

While in D.C. Maggie will see her Vet, and I am doing my routine health appointments, dentist, etc.  I am also trying to see as many dear friends I can before heading north to Long Island for the summer.

Beautiful and interesting sites to visit, remember all Smithsonian museums are FREE!  I am always amazed how many foreign tourist come to see our National Capitol.

 

Spare tire!

When I say spare tire, I don’t mean the one around my waist.  My tire karma has not been good.  First, the tire on the passenger side of the Airstream shreds into pieces while driving at 60 mph on 40 East.  I had planned to buy new tires this summer for Scout, so was not a huge surprise the tire shredded.   I now have 3 new tires, 2 on the trailer and a spare.  

Yesterday, driving north to Washington, D.C., the passenger side tire goes flat.  A brand new Goodyear tire!

What the F*ck!

Thanks to good Samaritan Roy, who stopped and tried to plug the hole, then put the spare tire on. So where should I spend the night waiting for the Goodyear store to open?  You guessed it, in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  

Lessons learned: 1) just put the spare tire on, and don’t try to patch a brand new tire; 2) “Never say never”, because one-day sleeping overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot, is the best option.

Lola and Maggie, can you tell them apart?

Today, arrived in Cheverly, MD where Scout is parked in friend’s Madeleine and Norman’s driveway.   Maggie and I will stay on Capitol Hill with Liz, Tim, and Lola, Maggie’s best friend.  Then on to Long Island for the summer at sister Robin’s house in Westhampton, NY.   Come visit!