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Big surprise in small box
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A day or two before Christmas I stopped by the Second Harvest Food Bank to wish the front office staffers best wishes for the holiday — a day they had given so many so much food where it was badly needed.  In the middle of the floor was an Amazon shipping box about 3x4 feet in size that the warehouse staff was starting to pass as they were leaving for the day by walking through the office area.    It was a shocking experience for some as there was a surprise inside the box for them.  As they walked by the box, one of the office staff would ask those ending their day if they knew what was in the box, asking them to check, saying it had been there all day.    Leaning over they would rip off the two-inch-wide plastic tape and the 5-foot -1 frame of staffer Kristen Salas would burst out with her arms outstretched and screaming “Merry Christmas”.   

Another smartphone story
Waking up to the alarm of my iPhone for the first time, bleary-eyed I knew I had to get going, shaved, showered  and off to work.  Not recognizing it was 4:30 a.m. instead of the regular 6, I stumbled into the bathroom and shook up what I thought was the can of shaving cream lather, squirting some into the palm of my left hand.  With the razor in my right hand I smeared the “lather” onto my face with my left only to find it was not shaving cream at all but “mousse” that had been left on the counter.  What a wakeup call that was as my eyes came to life in a military form of optic attention. 
The next morning was worse when I went to shave and saw quite an abrasion on my nose an inch long and half and inch wide.  It looked like I had been sleep-walking and fell onto the carpet nose first.  I came to realize it had actually been my cat with her sandpaper like tongue who had worked on me during the night leaving the deep rash.   

 Christmas in
Texas this year
 I spent Christmas at our son Scott’s house in Mansfield, Texas (which also has a Big League Dreams sports complex) over the weekend seeing our two grandkids, Justin 17 and Krista at 22 who is currently in law school after getting her BA.  I attended 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass in their church that is similar to Modesto’s St. Stanislaus that looks something like a small cathedral. It has been 15 months since my wife Mary Lou passed away and I could truly feely her presence next to me all night.  What a special joy that was for me!

 Drones and goats
 I went to a friend’s home at a ranch where she has all kinds of show animals that she uses in petting zoos at events all around the country.  Children really get excited when they can pet a llama or hold a baby goat.  Last year I got to witness the birth of some 30 to 40 goats and this year was extra special with the birth of twins on Christmas Eve — with only one Billy goat to be the dad for the small herd. It couldn’t go without a hitch though, as my son and our host decided to play with a set of drones the kids had gotten under their tree to dogfight over the acreage behind the house.  Her drone immediately gained altitude and she enjoyed total control.  Scott’s on the other hand headed southwesterly and went out of sight.
The next day we went back out to the ranch because he was determined to find that lost drone. The back of the ranch was flooded and was known to have snakes as a hazard so he wore boots to protect his lower legs from snake bites. After climbing a fence and braving the 30 degree plus weather throughout the acreage, he decided to go back into the house — buying another set of drones was the easier of his choices that day — to use discount coupons he had accumulated in his Christmas shopping for the replacement set. 
 Missed flight coming
home Tuesday evening
  My return flight was scheduled to depart at 5:30 from Dallas and I happened to get an estimated time of departure at a wrong gate on the other side of the airport.  Walking as fast as I could, it was an impossible feat after learning I was on the wrong side of the concourse and my plane was scheduled to leave in a short five minutes. The ticket agent made sure I was booked on the next flight nearly two hours later. I got to cool my heels and wait in an empty part of the terminal.  Short staffing at the gate provided yet another interesting challenge with a number of people without boarding passes who had to be processed at the last minute.  It was a fun up and down experience as we encountered some turbulence en route to Sacramento with quite a few exciting maneuvers on the way.  I’ve got to admit that $9.99 sandwich was well worth the cost as it was delicious.  Remember being told when I was in Army Aviation years ago that an airliner’s wings actually flap as much as 50 feet up and down.  The window was close and I could watch to check that without being on an aisle seat. I sat next to a retired gent from Modesto and enjoyed the conversation and the stewardesses were great. I hated traveling alone though.