Archive for Laffy’s big road trip

When reality intrudes on a blissful weekend in California's wine country


Temecula South Coast Winery hotel wine tasting room

Mr. Laffy, the twins, a good friend of theirs, their dog, and I went on a fantastic weekend away in Temecula, a part of California's wine country. We loved our hotel, we loved the wineries, we loved the wine, we loved the people we encountered (they all seemed so happy!), and we loved the company.

It couldn't have been more relaxing, beautiful, yummy, and fun.


Somehow reality made its way into the trip, so I decided to write about it.

It started with our room service attendant, a sweet, friendly, talkative man who was willing to share his circumstances with me. I asked him if he was a union member and/or if the resort hired union workers. He said no, he was paid minimum wage with no benefits.

We immediately promised him a huge tip to help compensate, informed him that we were sympathetic to his situation, and that I write for a political website that covers this issue regularly, supports unions (scroll) and pushes for raising the minimum wage (scroll).

He makes eight dollars an hour, California's minimum. Of course, we all got into a conversation about how impossible it is to support a family on wages like that, especially with no health care benefits, and we commiserated for some time until he had to get back to work.

We left him a very generous tip, as promised. We hope it helped, but, sadly, knew it wouldn't make much of a dent.

Then, as we were leaving for our big day, we ran into a housekeeper who was vacuuming the floor near the elevator. She was very pregnant, so I expressed my happiness for her. She said she was in her eight month, and said, "No more! After this no more! This is my last!" She was pretty young, and we shared a laugh with her over her "Never again!" response.

The elevator came, so off we went, but Mr. Laffy and I were also concerned with her circumstances, doing heavy duty cleaning at a huge hotel while at the point of her pregnancy when she could go into labor at any time while having to be on her feet all day carrying a heavy load (been there, done that, and it's not easy), and doing all this at a salary that wouldn't meet her obvious needs.

Finally, Mr. Laffy and I were unpleasantly surprised with our final bill. This hotel was pricey enough, but they tacked on extra fees and charges that made no sense to us and were not explained satisfactorily. So I insisted that we leave a note to whom it may have concerned.

Mr. Laffy agreed that, despite the superb quality of service and amenities, comfort and hospitality, we should make our voices heard (they did, after all, ask us to fill out a comment form).

So we did just that, twice. Once on the form:

Temecula pay min wage note

... And once in a note to our house cleaning service attendants. We hope they shared it with management:

Temecula pay min wage note 2

After a fantastic day with our boys, our friend, and Timmy the Dog, visiting wineries and sampling many of their fine products, we ended the trip with a sense of having tried to do what we could at the moment and hopes that enough people will also take the time to do the same.

My only regret is that we couldn't have left an even bigger tip, expressed ourselves more effectively... and sampled even more wines.

One more disturbance made its way into our otherwise peaceful weekend. We were ambling through Old Town when we heard a loud BANG! It could have been a gun or other explosion and it startled us out of our vacay-comfort-zone. Then we heard it again, and again, and then again. We realized it had to be a local exhibition of some kind unless we were under some kind of attack.

And that's what was so distressing. As it turned out, it was a staged reenactment of some scene from the Old West. We figured that out within a minute or two, to our great relief.

But what magnified the Moment of Temporary Trauma was my son's reaction, or what he described as"lapses into PTSD" after the Boston Marathon Bombing. He was there, only two doors away from the second explosion ("My son just called from Boston: Two explosions at Boston Marathon finish line. UPDATE: Son’s statement to press"), and ever since that day, he experiences jolts of fear when he hears loud noises. Reality, meet Temecula Wine-Tasting Weekend:

Temecula reenactment shooting

So we spent the rest of the day doing this:

temecula europa winery

And then spent the evening back at the hotel:

  Temecula vineyard hotel

Temecula vineyard grapes

And finally made our way to their wine tasting room and restaurant, where we were served a delicious dinner and consumed more excellent wines.

Here's a snap of the dining room:

temecula restaurant

... and finally made our very-buzzed way back to our very well-appointed room with a very lovely view of very grapey vineyards and fell fast asleep.

We drove home the next day, but not before making those written statements to let everyone know they should be treating their employees better. Let's hope they heard us.


So anything happen while I was in San Francisco?


SF dec 2012 bay bridge cityscape smaller

My family and I have been in San Francisco for the past 5 days or so, all of us coldy-sick the entire time, but it didn't much matter. Despite being pretty miserable, we managed to have a great time being together in our favorite California city. We're all determined to move there one day.

Paddy, David, and Andy did a great job keeping TPC chugging away, and I did my best to check in when I could on a teeny tiny notebook 'puter that refused to cooperate. My sincere thanks to all of them for allowing me to get away for awhile.

I was forced to cancel most of my vacation plans (including Tweet-ups) because of the endless cold that still lingers to this day, but I pushed myself hard to go out to dinner on Day One with @AliKat747 and one of my all-time fave people and MSNBC contributors, Joan Walsh, who is even more wonderful in person.

But first this happened: If you're familiar with Laffy's Big Road Trips, you remember our 2010 Big Road Trip from Hell. This vacay threatened to rival the one in '10, but thankfully never attained that awful status. Two hours on the road, we stopped for lunch at... ta daaa!... Pea Soup Anderson's in Buellton when Mr. Laffy suddenly turned to me and said, "Uh oh, I think I have some bad news for you." I couldn't imagine what it was considering we were all together standing in line to get a table and nothing new and scary had happened in the past 5 seconds. At all. It was most certainly a WTF Moment.

"What?!" I asked in a more confused state than usual.

"I forgot to pack your clothes."


Mr. Laffy has always been the official clothes packer. We lay out our stuff, he packs our stuff. It's been that way for years. But this year our cats decided to trample all over my laid-out stuff, so Mr. Laffy moved it, and then forgot to pack it.

As Rick Perry would say, "Oops."

I was too sick to buy new stuff, let alone fight the Day After Christmas shopping crowd in SF, plus who knows if I'd find anything? And I had that dinner coming up that night with Joan and Ali. All I wanted to do was rest up so I'd be well enough to see them. So, around we turned and back home we went to pick up my clothes.

12 hours after we first took off for San Fran, at about 11:30 pm, we arrived at our hotel and fell into bed. The rest of the trip was great, if you ignore the semi-permanent coldy, coughy, laryngitisy state were were all in.

It's good to be back, but it was soooo nice to be away. I hope every one of you had a happy holiday and I wish you a slightly early but very happy, healthy New Year.

Now we're home safe and sound, still coughing and hoarse, but as Ed Schultz would say, let's get to work. Because, from what little I saw while I was gone, we have a whole lot to do.


The Most Dangerous Women in America, Then and Now


Nicole Sandler, a friend and my absolutely wonderful Tuesday morning radio host, connected me with Amy Simon (a listener, as it turns out), an absolutely wonderful performer, producer, and writer out here in Los Angeles, and I am so glad she did.

Both invited me to Amy's one-woman show, "She's History! The Most Dangerous Women in America, Then and Now" which I saw yesterday. It was well worth the calamitous ride home* and even more worth posting about.

Produced in collaboration with Women's Museum of California (correction below) The show is educational, touching, hilarious, and eye-opening. As the program puts it, "the show was inspired by motherhood, Gilda Radner, Lily Tomlin, Jane Lynch, Fabulous Forgotten Females (among many others), and dialog of historical women, including (among others) Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, Susan B. Anthony, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Golda Meir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lucretia Mott, Lily Ledbetter, Soujourner Truth, and Victoria Woodhull.

Mr. Laffy was the only man there.

The show has ended its run, for now, but I wanted to give you a few of the best quotes from a few American women who have made a real difference:

Lucy Stone to her daughter on her death bed:

"Make the world better."

Sarah Moore Grimké:

"I ask no favors for my sex... All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from of our necks."

Anne Hutchinson on trial for preaching to women:

"What law have I broken?"

And my favorite, from Sojourner Truth:

"That little man says woman can't have as much rights as man because Christ wasn't a woman. Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man has nothing to do with him."


Amy not only brought these remarkably strong, women, true leaders, pioneers, and (s)heroes, to our attention, she brought them to life. Standing O.

*On the way home, our car literally stopped working in the middle of the Hollywood Freeway. We managed to coast to a busy three-lane off ramp, but came to a full stop on a dangerous curve. The 30 minutes waiting for the tow truck to show up were spent being terrified that a speeding car would ram right into us. The 45 minute, jouncy , non-air conditioned tow truck ride home (in 90 degree weather) not only cost us $200, but it was pretty traumatic to my years-old, pain in the ass slipped neck disks. Thankfully, the car's in one piece and in the shop, and we're also in one piece. Now we can't wait to see how much the Mystery Problem will set us back.

What a treat, huh? All too reminiscent of our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Car Trip from Hell.

CORRECTION: The show is not produced in collaboration with the Women's Museum.  They are Amy's fiscal sponsor for the SHE'S HISTORY EDUCATION PROJECT. Amy is the sole producer of the show.


Laffy's Big Road Trip is over. Time to tackle 2012.


I left my heart in San Francisco, but I missed all of you so much that I had to come back.

Okay, no. Yes, I missed you, but we came back because we ran out of money, and Mr. Laffy and I have responsibilities (ew) back here in SoCal.

A HUGE thank you to Paddy for holding down the fort so gamely, so prolifically, and so well, despite the trials and tribulations that she and Jeff went through (He only has 9 1/2 fingers now? Ouch!), and another huge thanks to Muther Bear, Marty Weinstein, Karl Knox, and Joe the Nerd for helping Paddy out with guest posts while I was off frolicking at Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, and Sausalito (the few photos I posted here don't begin to reflect the picturesque, quirky beauty and utter bliss of this trip).

I am determined to move back there one day. The one year I spent living there was not sufficient, and our trips are making us lean more and more toward a future move.

My family was great, the food was great, the weather was great, the friends I got to hang out with were great (Elayne Boosler, @Jazzcattrio, and my first-- and soon-to-be-again-- radio host Angie Coiro), and even my son's dog was well-behaved... for the most part.

Elayne Boosler was even more hilarious, sweet, brilliant, and charismatic in person. 

I couldn't have asked for a better remedy to the Road Trip from Hell of 2010. But it's so good to be home, and as soon as the warm-and-fuzzy haze of vacationland wears off, I'll get back into snarkitude and Whack-a-GOPutz mode.

Thank you all for being good to the best co-editor ever, the one, the only Paddy K.

Until then, I will bask in what's left of my San Francisco glow, enjoy the remnants of my moments of mellow, and, reluctantly, begin my descent into reality.

Speaking of which, I forced myself to watch the Tee Vee Machine this morning (I pretty much ignored it while I was gone); is there anything else the news [sic] programs can cover other than the Republican clown car and the "horse race" aspect of this election year? Can we ever examine what the candidates really stand for, and not just the cosmetics?

Ugh. I think my descent into reality just ended with a big, abrupt, jarring media coverage thud.