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.
BERKELEY, Calif. - The wild turkeys of California (the birds, not the ones in the state legislature or running the universities) are so plentiful that they are becoming suburban pests, the San Francisco Chronicle reports today.
When we lived along the American River, we would walk by several almost every morning. The river walkway is a sanctuary for wild animals and all the foxes, turkeys, coyotes, squirrels and snakes are safe.
Well, the snakes aren't safe if I have a rock in my hand.
It's a classical California Thanksgiving today - cold right now but with the promise of 70 degrees later today. We might even have a barbecued turkey, but that's up to daughter Anne.
At some point, we'll take a stroll back along the river and say hello to our turkey friends (not the ones in the state legislature or running the universities) as a special Thanksgiving treat.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - It had been two years since the last time I wandered into my dermatologist's office for a lookover. The last time he sent me home because, he said, I was too tan.
That was not a problem today, as the tan of summer has long since disappeared, even in the mild weather of fall. No tank tops these days. I'm happy if I get to wear a t-shirt instead of a sweatshirt.
The always affable doctor brought in his magic canister to freeze the pre-cancers, but said this time, for my face, he was prescribing a cream that does pretty much the same thing - including turning your face a beet red for maybe a month.
Ah, the price of beauty!
The best news though, was that everything he saw was pretty run-of-the-mill, 57-year-old pre-cancer stuff. Nothing even remotely malignant.
This came as particularly good news because just yesterday I found out that a colleague at the university was going out on sick leave to have a prostate cancer operation. Sure, they are different cancers but kee-rist, he's the same age as I am.
Today's experience was quite different from two years ago, when a gaggle of medical students - most of them female - came in to observe and do some of the diagnosis and treatment. For that exam, a young woman doctor handed me a gown and told me to shed all my clothes - even my underwear.
When I protested dropping trou, she asked me if I ever sunbathed (or went swimming) in the nude.
I had to tell the truth. I was raised Catholic, after all.
So I got to be poked and prodded by several students, sans any attire. Thank God they didn't find any pre-cancers in any sensitive areas and try to zap them with the liquid nitro or whatever they use.
Ouch, that would hurt.
Today the doc did find three spots on my back that he decided to hit with the freeze bottle, only instead of just touching the trigger, he opened it up like he was trying to put out a grease fire at Greek restaurant. The three areas blistered up the size of silver dollars and still are a little sensitive.
So what is Elizabeth Taylor doing with this blog?
You guessed it, she's had numerous treatments for skin cancer, paying the price for those years as a youngster (as in the photo) when she was a beach goddess.
Not much concern about sun for the next few months in San Francisco Bay. But by June, it will be time to sail up into the Delta where the temperatures are great, the water warm enough to swim in and Elizabeth Taylor wannabees most often are windsurfing.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY - The first official San Francisco Bay cruise for Sabbatical (back after our five-year hiatus to San Diego and Mexico) was just what you would expect from San Francisco in November.
Cold, rain, fog and flukey winds.
Happy Veteran's Day, y'all.
Even so, we had a great sail across the Bay and into the Alameda Channel where we spent Friday night at Marina Village, where an earlier Sabbatical was berthed for eight years before Sylvia (shown freezing at the helm), spotted the current ship and said: I want this one.
The highlight of trip (besides hitting 7.9 knots sailing by Angel Island) was an all-too-brief reunion with Don Tiffin, the fellow who built Sabbatical and who still has a tremendous fondness for his creation. Don looked over the boat and gave me some advice on how to fix the bow - crunched slightly from when I managed to bash a fuel dock at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. You don't get that much docking practice in Mexico. Anchoring, yes. Docking, not very often.
Don and his friend Thomas were waiting in the harbor in Alameda for a good weather window to start their trek to Hawaii aboard his new boat, Aquavit. Don eventually will be sailing to Fiji where he spent years aboard Sabbatical, then called Ocean Girl. The seas outside San Francisco Bay were in the 12-15 foot range - too big for any sailboat to take comfortably - even Sabbatical.
Saturday we had to go home, though the weather cleared off and it was about as nice a day as you ever get on the Bay. By the time we got back to our present home port of Richmond, the temperature was in the 70s and it was hard to tie the dock lines.
But in a few weeks we will be heading out for adventure again, this time a three-day foray to San Francisco's South Beach Harbor with granddaughter Samantha Allen aboard, all our rain gear and a good supply of hot chocolate to complement the rum the captain keeps handy for those cold days.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The governor tried to smile as he talked about all the failing measures from the special election he called - an expensive election called over the objections of many people who said 'Just wait until June, bozo!'
But the smile was more a grimace as his year of reform agenda went down hard, a reflection of many people's opinions that this outsider guy is really an insider guy and more interested in his wealthy donors than the people.
He managed to piss off nearly all of the major constitutencies in the state, save one - the ultra-wealthy. And as so often happens with propositions, if the voters have any doubt, they vote no.
And they did, big time.
The election did one very important thing - it galvanized the people who were attacked by the various propositions and, in a paraphrase of what Arnold says in his Terminator movies - they'll be back.
But when Arnold runs for re-election - and that's not far away - he might not be.
SAN MATEO, Calif. - The Legend of Zorro, the second installment of what will probably turn into a Zorro franchise like Rambo, Star Trek and Rocky, is a fun film, especially if you are looking to escape from responsibilities.
With a Hell week ahead for me, a simple movie about heroics - with some romance thrown in - seemed perfect.
What Hell week? Well, when the voters of California get done on Tuesday and the results are counted, I'll be part of the media throng writing about at least three of the propositions on the ballot. And the deadlines will likely be pretty tight.
But such considerations didn't exist for Antonio Banderas or Catherine Zeta-Jones, who reprise their earlier roles from The Mask of Zorro. They do look older, though the stunts are even more outrageous than in the earlier film.
In this movie, check out their on-screen son, Joaquin, who steals the film and probably will be back as a teenager in the third Zorro movie. Maybe that one will be Zorro Rebels, and turned into a pimple movie to draw teens in.
And Zorro's horse! Good God, even he stole several scenes.
But for now, escape to California on the eve of the Civil War where the bad guys have wooden teeth and the most evil of all is a fellow from France.