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18 May 2017

Mother's Day and Model Contest Success

It was a busy end of last week at the car rental branch (, with plenty of vehicles for me to clean and position for rental. That included spending time with my colleagues past closing time on Friday (12 May) and Saturday, but the vehicles were all clean and ready to rent for the next business day.

On my off hours last weekend, I worked on assembling and finishing two small models for the IPMS/Gateway ( meeting on Tuesday night. Late Sunday afternoon (14 May), Mom and I went to Tucker's Place South ( in Mehlville for Mother's Day dinner. It was rather crowded, but they had a table available right away for both of us. We each enjoyed a very nice steak dinner--I had the prime rib, she the filet mignon--and Mom had a great day. My three other brothers (Rick, Brian, and Doug) called her and they got to talk briefly with me as well.

Monday morning was most active at the rental branch, with many vehicles to clean and many customers to service. I was told we had just over 60 vehicles rented out that day--one of the busiest I know of in my time with the firm.

After a rather busy Tuesday (16 May) at work, I headed to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. This featured the second contest towards Modeler of the Year, with the special category "It Figures," for models with figures included in, on, or beside the subject. I did not have anything for that category, but I had three other models I entered. My Bf 109F-2--originally built for March's Same Kit Contest--took third in Aircraft, the Kuebelwagen (completed the night before) was second in Armor, and a Tug Boat (finished on Sunday night) won Ships by default--it was the only entry in that category. I'm happy with all that.

Work went great yesterday, with a slow midday bracketed by busy morning and afternoon periods.

Today, I remembered Mom on her birthday by getting her a vase with 10 blue hydrangea flowers. This was on behalf of my brothers and I. She really liked the flowers. Tonight, I'm at Creve Coeur Airport ( for this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( meeting. It will be an Aviation Open Mike Night, open to aviation stories from the audience, like at last February's meeting.

I'm off on a vacation this weekend. More on that in my next post.


11 May 2017

Warm and Dry For a Change

Last Saturday afternoon (6 May), I co-hosted this month's edition of Writer's Block (, the Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio show, with Tim Pylypiuk. We discussed the history and role of libraries, and on the role of the written word in the digital age. It was a fine discussion, and you can replay the program and download it for podcast now.

Later that afternoon, I drove to Queeny County Park in Ballwin to help out at the Greater St. Louis Book Fair (, held in the park's Greenfelder Recreation Complex. This is an annual used book sale, with proceeds going to St. Louis area literacy and education programs. After doing a bit of shopping, I helped count books at the check out counter, giving the totals for each customer's purchases to the cashier. It got hectic at times, but having done this a few times in the past, it was nothing I could not handle. I was very happy to help out this event and the causes it supports.

Due to the overflowing Meramec River flooding World Wide Technology Soccer Park, last Saturday night's Saint Louis FC match vs. Rochester Rhinos was postponed until a later date. My soccer games at the Park for Sunday morning were cancelled.

At least the weather was warm and dry this week, and the flooding was ending in the area. Work Monday morning (8 May) was most busy, with many customers in the lobby at times. However, we got everyone taken care of by the end of business that day.

Since I'm working this Saturday morning, I flexed out Tuesday afternoon. I came home to relax catch up on some needed rest. I worked a full day yesterday, which went well.

Off work today, I did my part for Give St. Louis Day (, an annual campaign for St. Louis area non-profit organizations. I gave my money to several groups I am most interested in, such as Viva Brasil STL, Circus Flora, and Cinema St. Louis. I also worked on a small armor vehicle kit for this Tuesday's IPMS/Gateway ( meeting.


06 May 2017

Living and Working Around Flooding

It was a wet week here in St. Louis. So much so, that the Meramec River overflowed and there was flooding in parts of the St. Louis metropolitan area. That included the route I usually take to and from work: I-44 west of I-270 to Highway 141. The 44-141 interchange was flooded out from mid-week, so I had to take another route to and from work. Looks like that should reopen early this coming week.

Work at the branch has gone well, though we had to deal with a crowded lot Monday morning (1 May). We worked around the problem and got it solved. Wednesday afternoon, the manager was away at a meeting and the assistant manager was at a dental appointment, so one of the area managers filled in, with me as the sole car prep on duty. It was busy at times, but all was well in the end.

Yesterday morning (5 May), I stopped by The Donut Palace of Ellisville ( to get some donuts for my colleagues. (Normally on those Fridays, I go to the Krispy Kreme in Fenton, but the road is currently flooded.) It was much appreciated as usual by my colleagues.

Later today, I co-host Writer's Block from Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio ( Tim Pylypiuk and I will discuss two topics: Libraries, and literacy in the digital age. Hope you can tune in live from Noon, Central Time (10 am, Pacific Time; 1800 GMT), or catch the archived rebroadcast from 2 pm, Central Time (Noon, Pacific Time; 2000 GMT).

Tonight's Saint Louis FC match against Rochester Rhinos was postponed, due to the flooding at World Wide Technology Soccer Park. The match will be rescheduled for a later date. My night won't be a waste, though, as I will be a volunteer at the Greater St. Louis Book Fair (, going on this weekend at the Greensfelder Recreation Complex of Queeny County Park in west St. Louis County. I've been a volunteer the past few years, and this time I'll be a cashier. Proceeds from the Book Fair--a large used book sale--go to various education and literacy programs in Metro St. Louis. Hope to see you there!

Also due to the flooding, my refereeing assignment for tomorrow at World Wide Technology Soccer Park is cancelled. I may try to get a make up assignment for that day, or I may help with cutting the back lawn.


30 April 2017

Wet Days Lately

One week ago tonight (23 April) found me at Fox High School in Arnold, where I officiated three youth soccer matches. I had a girls match in the middle to start the set. It was a physical affair and I issued a caution to each team, but the match stayed in reasonable control. The other two matches went well.

Work has gone well, starting with a busy Monday morning as usual. I did flex out Tuesday afternoon (25 April), since I would be in the following Saturday morning.

I hosted this month's IPMS/Gateway ( business meeting. We had five of us club officers there as we planned next month's general meeting and discussed some other club business. I bought some beer for the meeting, but only one bottle was taken (by me). At least we have some for the next few weeks at home.

After work Wednesday night, I headed to the Wehrenberg Des Peres 14 Cine ( for the TCM Big Screen Classics ( presentation of the 1967 classic "The Graduate." It was my first time seeing this in a theater, and there were about 20 of us watching that night. Despite a glitch where the video of the introduction and start of the opening credits was absent (the audio was loud and clear), it was great seeing this film in a restored print.

By the way, that Wednesday at work was the last I saw of Lauren, who is now at our branch in Mount Vernon, Illinois. She's a terrific employee and person, and I wish her all the best.

Off work Thursday, I visited my dentist late that morning for my semi-annual check up. No problems were found, and my teeth were nicely cleaned. I ran off some flyers for this September's IPMS/Gateway Invitational, which I took to Schaefer's Hobby Shop ( in Sunset Hills and Checkered Flag Hobby Country ( in Mehlville.

Friday (28 April) was the first day at our branch for our new manager, Cory, who had previously managed the branch down the street in Ballwin. We had a lot of cars on our lot to start the day, many from customers wanting to return their cars before the rains really hit hard. It was a challenge to find space on our lot for the cars until they can be rented or taken out by our traffic drivers, but in the end it worked out. Cory and I were back there yesterday morning. After work, I had lunch at Yiro/Gyro ( down the street from us in Ellisville. I enjoyed a nice gyro with french fries.

It has been raining a lot the past few days here. After getting just over 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) from Tuesday through Friday, we were soaked with 2.1 inches (5.3 cm) yesterday. The rain kept falling overnight and into today. The soccer matches I was scheduled to referee tonight were called off due to all this rain.


23 April 2017

Interests Meetings and Honors for My Writing

Work this past week was good. Monday (17 April) was the last day at Ellisville for our manager, Justin, who became manager of our Florissant branch. It was hard to see him go, what with the great job he did, but am happy for him moving on in the firm. Justin told me he was very appreciative of my work with him and the Ellisville branch these past few months. We should get a new branch manager in the coming week.

After work Tuesday night, I was at Calvary Presbyterian Church ( for this month's IPMS/Gateway ( general meeting. This meeting featured a demo by Marion Morris on removing mold seams from aircraft canopies, which I found most informative. We also had our Model of the Month "Beauty Contest."

Off work on Thursday (20 April), I stopped by Dierbergs ( in Creve Coeur to get some miniature cupcakes. I took one package of these treats to the Enterprise ( branch in Creve Coeur as a belated thanks to Scott for filling in at Ellisville recently and for Miranda recently passing the Management Qualification Interview (MQI). They greatly appreciated my gesture. I took the other miniature cupcakes over to our Chesterfield branch, where they were also warmly received.

That night, I was at Creve Coeur Airport ( for this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( meeting. Steve Dobronski, a retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, was the guest speaker. He's currently F-15/F-18 Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) global product manager at Boeing ( and Dobronski spoke about improvements to the F-15 Eagle in recent years. It was a most fascinating presentation, complete with PowerPoint slides and video of F-15s in an air combat training exercise.

Since this past Friday was pay day, I stopped by Krispy Kreme ( in Fenton on the way to work and bought a douzen doughnuts for my Ellisville colleagues. This was greatly appreciated by Assistant Manager Cayla and Management Trainee Lauren. It got hectic the last couple of hours, but we got our customers most satisfied.

Yesterday, I was at the St. Louis Artists' Guild ( in Clayton for the Missouri Professional Communicators ( Spring Connect Luncheon. The event began with greetings and tastings of wines from the Missouri Grape and Wine Board (, followed by a buffet lunch. This was followed by brief remarks by MPC President Janice Denham and by Kathryn Nahorski of the St. Louis Artists' Guild. The featured speaker was former St. Louis television reporter Betsey Bruce, who retired last December after 46 years with Channels 4 and 2. Bruce spoke on "The Growing Conflict Between Journalism and Social Media," and it was quite a fascinating speech. She also took a few questions from the audience.

Then, Denham returned to the lecturn to present the awards for the 2017 MPC Communications Contest. There were entries submitted by 11 MPC members, including myself, and all three of my entries were honored. Two press releases I wrote and disseminated for IPMS/Gateway last year were recognized in the News or Feature Release--Single Release category. I took First Place for my release announcing the IPMS/Gateway Invitational Model Contest and Swap Meet last September, and Second Place for my release on the club's donation to Toys for Tots last December. The judges praised my releases for being succinct and kept to one page each.

I also earned Second Place in the Feature Story--Magazine, Newsletter, or Other Non-Newspaper Print Publication category for my piece on Missouri aviator Charles Morley, which ran in last year's edition of Middle Marker, the journal of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society. The judges noted that it was a very interesting article about a local hero, and that the pictures helped tell the story of Morley's tragic death.

I was most humbled and honored to receive this recognition from my peers. This was my first entry in this contest. I should tell you that I am the only male member of MPC, and the judges were all females within the organization. That First Place entry is also going on to the Communications Contest of MPC's affiliate, the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW), with results to be announced later this year.

I wanted to go to a bar to celebrate, but one was not open yet and the other was packed with hockey fans following the St. Louis Blues' playoff game that afternoon. (The Blues defeated the Minnesota Wild in overtime to win the first round NHL Stanley Cup series.) I settled for St. Louis Bread Co. ( in Brentwood, where I treated myself to a frozen mocha drink.

After I got home, I changed clothes and headed to Smugala's Pizza Pub ( in Sunset Hills, where I caught the Pub2Park but to Toyota Stadium and Saint Louis FC's ( match against Charlotte Independence. I took in the St. Louligans ( tailgate in the parking lot before marching in with them to the stadium. Unfortunately, an early lead by the home side did not stand, as Charlotte won the match, 2-1.

Home now, with youth soccer games to officiate tonight.


16 April 2017

Easter 2017

A week ago last night (8 April) found me at Toyota Stadium of World Wide Technology Soccer Park for the Saint Louis FC ( match against defending United Soccer League ( champion New York Red Bulls II. I went early to take in the nice tailgate put on by the St. Louligans (, then marched into the stadium with them. Saint Louis FC took an early lead before Red Bulls II surged ahead, then the home side retook the lead to stay with two late goals. We St. Louligans were a most happy group that night when all was said and done.

After a relaxing time at home the following day, I went to Fox High School in Arnold to officiate two youth matches early that night. Both matches went well for myself and my crew.

Back to work Monday (10 April), and we at the rental branch kept things moving positively. I flexed out Tuesday afternoon, as I would work the following Saturday morning. My off day Thursday (13 April) saw me help out in the yard a bit, until the lawn mower suddenly stopped and I could not restart it. I may look to get it looked at later this week.

Friday morning, I received word from my manager Justin that he has been promoted to manage our Florissant branch, starting early this week. I congratulated him on this move, and he thanked me in advance for my help during the time he's been at Ellisville.

After work yesterday morning, I went to West County Center ( I ate lunch in the food court (specifically, from Mandalay Asian Cuisine), then shopped at Barnes & Noble ( Taking advantage of a 20 percent off coupon, I bought the book "The Marne, 1914" by Holger H. Herwig, about the World War I battle. Started reading it and it's most interesting so far.

Easter was spent at home, apart from this morning's service at Calvary Presbyterian Church ( On the way home from church, I ordered pizzas from Cecil Whittaker's Pizzeria ( to take home for lunch with Mom. After lunch, Mom served a Easter tradition here, a lamb cake. (No mutton, though; it's pound cake baked in a lamb-shaped mold, with white icing and coconut.) I spent the afternoon and early evening watching "The Great War," ( the American Experience three-part film from last week, off my DVR. A most interesting series on the US and World War I.


08 April 2017

Soccer and Voting--No Fooling

After working at the rental branch last Saturday morning (1 April), I came home to relax. Late that afternoon, I headed to Smugala's Pizza Pub ( There, I had a beer before catching the Pub2Park shuttle bus to World Wide Technology Soccer Park and that night's Saint Louis FC ( home opener against Ottawa Fury FC. After arriving at the Park, I joined in the St. Louligans ( tailgate party in the parking lot.

We marched into Toyota Stadium as a group for the match, which Saint Louis FC won 3-2. The home side scored two early goals to take the lead, then Ottawa pulled one back, then leveled it late in the match. Saint Louis FC won it two minutes from full time. We St. Louligans were one most happy bunch. Saint Louis FC hosts defending USL Champions New York Red Bulls II tonight. Should be a dandy match.

The next day (2 April), I went to Fox High School to officiate three youth soccer matches. My middle came in the second match, in under 14 boys. The matches all went well.

Back at work on Monday, this past week has gone well at our branch. We kept busy and kept our customers satisfied.

After work Tuesday (4 April), I drove to ROC Ministries ( in Mehlville to cast my vote in the St. Louis County election. I voted for Proposition P, a sales tax increase to help police forces in the county. (It passed.) I also cast votes for the Mehlville school board and Mehlville Fire Protection District directors. I was disappointed that City of St. Louis voters defeated Proposition 2, which would have provided sales tax money for a soccer stadium. I'm afraid this will end the ope of St. Louis getting an MLS franchise.

It was movie night right after work on Wednesday. I headed to the Marcus Wehrenberg Des Peres 14 Cine ( to watch a revival screening of the 1959 classic "North by Northwest." This was part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series, presented by Fathom Events (, which brings classic movies back to cinemas--the way they were meant to be seen. There were about 30 to 35 people in the theater with me. It was the first time I saw "North by Northwest" in this way (the previous times were on TV or DVD), and it was great to watch. There are more Big Screen Classics coming this year--"The Graduate" is later this month--and I look forward to seeing them.

Relaxing at home this afternoon, apart from helping some family friends remove some of my late father's woodworking supplies from our basement. I did some shopping and errands this morning.