A little bit about a lot of things:

•With all the cringe-worthy horror stories one sometimes hears about visiting the DMV, it seemed only fitting that Kat and I chose Halloween to take care of our business at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

We were pleasantly surprised and more than a little relieved to find the the DMV isn’t such a scary place after all. At least not the Los Banos branch which we visited to order up our “federally compliant” Real ID driver licenses (non-compliant licenses will no longer suffice for airport security beginning at some point in 2020).

We were in and out in about 45 minutes, but there is definitely a caveat for that.

In today’s world, especially with the increase in DMV visits attributed to the number of folks getting their Real ID (which can only be done in person), making an appointment is an absolute must unless you like lines.

The line of walk-ins waiting patiently to be called to the window seemed to grow significantly as we went through the process....those unfortunate folks, I’m guessing, were not finished with their DMV business in 45 minutes.

I was impressed, too, with the service we were provided.

The staff member who greeted us was wearing a witch hat, but certainly didn’t reflect that character. She was courteous, pleasant and helpful....as were the other employees.

I have experienced DMV visits in the past where employees have been, to put it kindly, not so pleasant.  There is no excuse for that, of course, but I think that the DMV is not an easy place to work. I would probably not do well there.

Of course, some aspects of a DMV visit are just no fun at all.....such as the taking of the driver license photo, everybody’s favorite part of the process, right? Can hardly wait to see what that looks like....

Those who have to go to the DMV (let’s face it, your local DMV office is not somewhere you go because you just woke up one morning and felt like stopping by) can do a number of things to help make their visit as smooth and pain-free as possible.

Don’t go in person if you can handle your business on line.

If possible, fill out forms online in advance of your visit (something we learned, and had we done probably would have been closer to a 30-minute visit).

Try to know what you need, and have the appropriate documents.

And, yes, make that appointment! Plan well ahead, as appointments are kind of scarce. We did have to make a followup appointment at Los Banos and snagged the last one of the year for that office, shortly before Christmas.

Or wait in line. Your call.

Visiting the DMV will probably never be on anybody’s list of favorite things to do.

But with some planning and preparation, it doesn’t have to result in a Halloween-worthy horror story, either.

•Our nation will honor its past and present military personnel Sunday, Nov. 11, with the observance of Veterans Day. Local veteran organizations are once again sponsoring a Veterans Day parade in Gustine, with a patriotic program to follow in the Veterans Memorial Hall.

The parade begins at 11 a.m.

Those who have served our nation, and who go in harm’s way today as members of the armed forces, are richly deserving of our gratitude and appreciation....not just on Veterans Day but every day that we go about our lives with the freedoms they have fought to defend.

•Some of life’s most frustrating moments are totally self-inflicted.

So it was last Tuesday, when my morning started with a visit to the Gustine Elementary costume parade. Parked my car, put my camera bag together, got everything set to go, jumped out, locked my car and a few steps later retreated to grab my jacket.....only to realize that my keys were sitting in my console.

That is not a fun feeling.

Fortunately, I married an angel and Kat came to my rescue by bringing down my spare set of keys.

She puts up with a lot. If Kat hadn’t earned her angel wings before I met her (and I’m pretty sure she did), she certainly has sprouted them now.

•Halloween is meant to be fun....and it sure was last Wednesday evening on the West Side, where trunk-or-treat festivities were held in both Gustine and Newman.

I thoroughly enjoyed covering the Newman festivities.....great turnout, wonderful weather, elaborately decorated vehicles....what a great event, and I know Gustine’s trunk-or-treat (covered for us by Cruz Fernandez) was as well.

Don’t know who came up with the whole trunk-or-treat concept, but it’s a hit.

Rather than having trick-or-treaters spread out through the whole town, the events offer an opportunity to concentrate the annual candy rounds in one location, really making Halloween a community festival.

Safe, sane and supervised.....and just a lot of fun.

There were still ghosts, witches, super heros and fairy tale princesses going door-to-door, but the trunk-or-treating provides a alternative in which hundreds took part. I hope these celebrations continue.

Great job!

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.