Michael J. Fitzgerald has been a journalist for 40 years, working as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and web publications. In 2014 he published the novel, "The Fracking War." In 2015, he published his second novel, "Fracking Justice." He writes or contributes to five blogs. He and his wife Sylvia Fox are the owners and principal partners in *subject2change Media, a multi-media firm involved in print, video and broadcast. He writes a weekly column, "Write On" for the daily 'Finger Lakes Times' newspaper in Geneva, NY. He was a journalism professor at CSU Sacramento from 1986 to 2011 teaching Newswriting, Column Writing and Magazine Writing.
SOMEWHERE OVER KANSAS, 33,000 FEET -- The plane is comfortable enough, and I would be very much at ease, except for the duct tape.
Yes, duct tape. I saw duct tape on the part of the wing that slides in and out (flaps?) just before we took off from San Francisco on a flight back to Philadelphia (and ultimately Elmira, N.Y. and Watkins Glen). We are on our way for sad duty -- Sylvia's mother died suddenly and we are going to take care of arrangements, have a memorial service and then return in a few days.
But about the duct tape. And yes, dammit, I have used miles of duct tape in my life and I am telling you I saw duct tape on the wing of this United Airlines flight from SFO to Philly.
Duct tape. Jaysus H.
We were pulling away from Gate 69 when I spotted the six-inch duct tape patch on the wing, a patch I'm not sure I will be able to get a photo of because the airlines are absolutely wacky about 'approved electronic devices' being on during take offs and landings. When I flew America West from Mexico to San Diego two days ago, I nearly had my camera confiscated because I was taking photos during our landing at Lindbergh Field. The flight attendants on that run were both about 19-years-old, sported bad hairdos (and even worse complexions), and obviously were enamored with the power of being in charge of the 20 passengers on a plane with 84 seats. My usually witty repartee didn't work on either of them earlier in the flight before I started my photo shoot. And then when they saw me shooting photos I became an apparent security risk. They hovered by me while I put the camera back in my bag.
When we hit the tarmac in Philadelphia, I'll pull out the camera but keep it well hidden to see if I can get the duct tape captured for viewing in this blog. It will be about sunset so it's hard to say how well it will show up.
The shock of going from 84 degrees with 90 percent humidity in Mexico to 60 degrees with 50 percent humidity in Sacramento will now be compounded by nights of about 9 degrees and God-knows how much humidity. I'll be staying inside at a $40 per night motel for a good portion of our four days in Watkins Glen, much of it pounding on this keyboard or down the street at one of the many pubs that serve excellent brews.
Writers have to watch out for dehydration.
In upstate New York in the dead of winter, $40 actually buys you a pretty nice room, I'm promised, cable TV with premium stations and even a wireless Internet connection in the room.
Look for a photo or two of the Seneca Clipper Inn Saturday -- provided, of course, that this promised Internet connection materializes.
The pilot just said it's a balmy 36 degrees in Philadelphia. Cold enough to keep the duct taping sticking we can hope.