27 December 2010

A Christmas Gift


We were surprised with a white Christmas this year. I say surprised because, even though it was forecast, it wouldn't have been the first time that snow was forecasted down here in the South, yet not even a solitary flake appeared. The snow is still here, and probably will be for another day or so.

The snow isn't that deep, but it shut many important roadways down. It's a bit embarrassing, having lived up north with six months of the year having some degree of snow cover that only rarely resulted in major closures. Of course, around here underneath the pretty blanket of snow typically lies a treacherous sheet of ice, making driving and walking outside sometimes a bit tricky.

The white snow made a nice background for the menagerie of wildlife in the backyard...especially the birds. There are many species there, depending on the season. The male cardinals in their bright red feathers stood out more than the rest. That particular species of bird is not known for sharing with other birds, and they often run off other birds from the bird feeder. Except on Christmas....

Take a look at the photo. You'll see cardinals sharing with other birds. This went on all day and has not been seen before or since. The only explanation we have as to this uncharacteristic behavior is that it was Christmas.

These birds illustrated a major theme of Christmas: sharing and giving to others. Ask yourself if this Christmas you sought out what you could do for others and give to others rather than what you could get. If not, well, we're all only human. It's never too late to start cultivating a giving spirit and helping other people.

11 December 2010

Some Praise for TSA


Despite the recent TSA debacle with the Indian Ambassador to the US, I have something nice to say about some TSA agents. Just recently I returned to the US, entering through Portland, Oregon. I made sure every last piece of metal, including gold, was removed just to be on the safe side. Thankfully I didn't beep, so there was no need for conflict. The several TSA officers there at the security check, though, were extremely nice, friendly, and professional.

With all the image issues TSA is currently suffering, those officers who behave well deserve to be praised openly. The conduct of the officers is even more important given the precise security screening location they were staffing. It was the checkpoint passengers go through when they enter the country from an international flight and then proceed to take a domestic flight. For Americans, professional, polite, and proper conduct by TSA officers at such a checkpoint makes one's re-entry into the US more pleasant. For foreign visitors, this is one of the first images of the US that they will see. Professional, polite, and proper conduct by TSA officers there will give them a much better feeling and impression of the US.