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23 February 2017

Busy Nights and a Mini Road Trip

Back at work on Monday morning (21 February), I welcomed a new crewmate to the Ellisville branch. Jesse, our new Vehicle Service Agent (VSA), reported for work. He is new to the firm, and I showed him where everything is in the wash bay, how to clean and park the vehicles in an efficient manner, and where all the repair locations in our area were located. I think he will do very nicely in the job. Having a second vehicle prep sure would help us out in some peak times during the week.

I spent that night after work at my model workbench, finishing up my two model contest entries: a 1:32 scale 1963 Studebaker Avanti, and a 1:72 scale ZiL-157 fuel truck. The next night, I took them to the IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/). My models were among many entries in the Out of the Box Contest, the first of four to determine Modeler of the Year. Neither was judged good enough to place in their respective categories, but each entry earned me two points towards Modeler of the Year: One for entering, and one for the contest's Special Category (Out of the Box). The next contest is in May. Our meeting also featured a demo on basic modeling techniques. There were five first-time meeting attendees, and I (in my capacity as Vice President) gave each a sanding stick as a thank-you gift for coming.

After a full day of work yesterday (22 February), I changed from my normal work clothes into a suit and tie, then made my way to The Country Club of St. Albans (http://www.ccstalbans.com/). The clubhouse hosted a lecture and dinner program, La Culture Francaise. The speaker, a French linguist, spoke about the French region of Brittany and its distinct culture and language, with assistance from her PowerPoint presentation, a doll of a Breton woman in native costume, and books and postcards from the region. Following the lecture, the crowd of about 12 people sat down to a three-course French dinner. I chatted over dinner with several attendees, including a magazine publisher. He asked me to send me some work samples in the coming days. It was all a very nice evening.

My off day today was quiet at home, but it started on the road. I left the house early this morning to drive to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. After getting some doughnuts from a Dunkin' Donuts (https://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en.html) in town, I drove to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) branch. There, I gave the doughnuts to Liz, the branch manager who previously managed the Ellisville location. She was very happy to see me and to accept the doughnuts, and she introduced me to the staff. Liz and I chatted for a few minutes, getting caught up on things, before I left to drive back to St. Louis. It's always great renewing acquaintances with people you worked with, as they can come in handy down the road.

Later.




19 February 2017

Two Meetings, Two Dinners, and an Exhibit

Late in the afternoon one week ago Saturday (11 February), I drove to the Schlafly Tap Room (http://schlafly.com/tap-room/) in downtown St. Louis for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/). The supporter group for Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) met to discuss their plans for the upcoming season and to hear from the team. Saint Louis FC officials--including my Saint Louis University classmate, team CEO Jim Kavanaugh--spoke about how they are most optimistic about the upcoming season, and about the latest on the effort to get a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team in St. Louis. I and the approximately 350 people there had a real fine time.

Right after this meeting, I headed to Sanctuaria Wild Tapas (http://sanctuariastl.com/) in the Grove for dinner with the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group (https://www.meetup.com/Ethnic-Restaurant-Fans/). Five others from the group joined me for dinner at the Latin American restaurant, which features small plates for sharing. I ordered some Papas Croquetta for the group, and sampled from other plates our group ordered. A cocktail washed down the good food. We had a real fine time at Sanctuaria, and can highly recommend the restaurant.

The next day, I drove to Taqueria el Bronco (http://www.taqueriaelbronco.com/) in south St. Louis for lunch with six others from the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group. We enjoyed authentic Mexican cuisine in a no-frills setting, with most reasonable prices. I ordered two tacos--one with carnitas, the other with chorizo--with beans and rice. Another very fine place I can recommend. After lunch, I walked with three others from our party down Cherokee Street to Diana's Bakery (https://www.yelp.com/biz/dianas-bakery-saint-louis) to buy some freshly baked pastries. This is another wonderful place to go.

Back at work on Monday (13 February), we had a rather busy week for the most part. Plenty of work, and plenty of customers for our vehicles. I did my best to stay on top of things, and to help our branch exceed customer expectations.

I flexed out of work Tuesday afternoon, as I would work the following Saturday morning (18 February). Off on Thursday, I headed to the St. Louis Public Library's Central Branch (https://www.slpl.org/locations/CENTRAL/). I was there to tour their exhibit, "50 Years of Blood, Sweat and Cheers--A Tribute to the St. Louis Blues and their Fans." The Grand Hall included a manekin of Blues goaltender Glen Hall making a save in front of goal, with the goal judge box behind it. Dash boards from the Arena were also displayed there, along with an all-time Blues roster, a list of Blues award-winners, and portraits of Blues greats. An exhibit hall on the third floor featured 50 years of Blues memorabilia: Player sweaters, sticks, programs, tickets, posters, photos, pucks, and souvenirs. There was a timeline of Blues history along the wall, and a speaker played a loop of Blues radio play-by-play calls. I also got to take a selfie in front of a green screen there, with the image added to one of three backgrounds celebrating Blues history. The exhibit runs to 4 March, and I highly recommend it to any Blues fan.

I came home to sit for a webinar on job search strategies aimed at the older job seeker. Some information I had heard before and others were new to me. I left the webinar after I learned that the presenter's fee for her fully helping out job seekers was in the four figures--too rich for me.

That night, at Creve Coeur Airport (http://www.crevecoeurairport.com/), I attended the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) meeting. It was an aviation open mike night, with attendees invited to tell their aviation-related stories. I led off with tales of my first airplane flight as a 12-year-old Boy Scout and a flight to Europe some years later.

Well into Friday afternoon at work, my assistant manager Cayla asked me to take keys for some vehicles on our lot to the traffic center in Berkley, east of St. Louis-Lambert International Airport. I needed to get the keys delivered by 5 pm, so the traffic people could come the next day to take the vehicles off our lot. I did, and then went home; Cayla told me there was no point in returning to the branch for just a few minutes at day's end.

After work yesterday morning at the branch and lunch, I came home to work on a couple of model kits I'm looking to finish in time for this Tuesday's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting. It will be a push on one kit, but the other is virtually done. I also worked on the models today.

Last night, mom took me out to dinner at TGI Friday's (https://www.tgifridays.com/) in Concord Village. We had a coupon I received for my birthday that was used there. I ordered the Jack Daniels grilled chicken and shrimp, which was most tasty.

Later.







11 February 2017

Plenty of Work and Doughnuts, and A Birthday

Work this past week went well. Plenty of vehicles to clean and ready for rental. Plus, some driving of vehicles to pick up and drop off customers, and ferrying them to and from drop locations.

My birthday was this past Tuesday (7 February). It was low-key, which was just as well at my age. After work, mom had dinner for me, plus a nice cake. She gave me a history book, "Once in a Great City," by David Maraniss, plus a shower caddy for my shampoo and body wash.

Off work Thursday (9 February), I bought 24 doughnuts from Krispy Kreme (https://www.krispykreme.com/) and took them to Enterprise's Airport location. The staff behind the counter really appreciated the treats, which I got in honor of my former Ellisville colleague Hannah becoming their assistant manager. (She wasn't there when I came, but the staffers would let her know.) I then bought some mini-doughnuts at a convenience store and dropped them off at the National/Alamo branch at the Airport. I left them for the attention of the manager, Maggie, who was away when I came by.

During my free times this week, I worked on two models I'm seeking to finish for the IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) contest on 21 February. I should finish the car this weekend, and have the aircraft ready to paint early next week.

Yesterday morning, I admired a full moon in the sky as I drove to Krispy Kreme, where I bought a dozen doughnuts to bring to the Ellisville branch. They were well received as usual, especially as we had a very busy day with many vehicles to prep.

I'm off to a meeting and dinner later today. More on that next time.

Later.






05 February 2017

Into February and Hockey

This past week had gone rather nicely. Work at the car rental branch has been rather steady. Most days we have plenty of vehicles available for rental. At times, finding room to park all of them was rather challenging, but it gets figured out in the end.

Spent some free time this past week continuing work on a car model I'm looking to enter into the Out of the Box Contest at this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting. I finished painting the body and have the interior and windows installed into the body. Should have it all done by week's end, plus I'll get back to another model I should have done by that meeting.

After work at the branch yesterday (4 February), I had lunch at a newly opened Arby's restaurant (http://arbys.com/) in Ellisville, then went home. Early that night, I drove to Scottrade Center (http://www.scottradecenter.com/) for the ice hockey game between the St. Louis Blues (https://www.nhl.com/blues) and the Pittsburgh Penguins. My brothers bought me the ticket as a Christmas gift and I got a very nice seat--halfway up the lower deck, behind one end of the rink.

I walked around the arena's concourse before the game, taking in the atmosphere and visiting exhibits relating to the Blues and other St. Louis sporting events and events. This was my first visit to Scottrade Center in a few years.

There was a sold-out crowd for the game; however, most fans went home unhappy as the Penguins defeated the Blues 4-1. (There were a number of Penguins fans in the house.) It has been a maddingly frustrating season for the Blues and I was hoping for a strong effort against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Still, it was great just to be there and to cheer on the Blues in person.

Taking it easy at home today. Back to work in the morning.

Later.




29 January 2017

Work, Meeting, Scale Modeling, and Women's Basketball

It has been a rather busy week at work. We had plenty of cars on our lot, primarily from returns, and we were planting several at our drop locations as much as possible. Certainly, our customers had no problems getting into vehicles and on their way.

Right after work Tuesday night (24 January), I was off to Rick Keasey's house in Edwardsville for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) business meeting. After enjoying a nice barbecue dinner, we attendees planned the February meetings and discussed other club business. We also had some good comments about the club banquet the previous Saturday night.

Off work on Thursday, I went to the downtown Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) branch with some doughnuts for the staff--especially the new branch manager, Alex, and the assistant manager, Adam. I worked with both of them when they were at the Ellisville branch in the past. Alex and Adam greatly appreciated my stopping by and bringing the doughnuts, which they thought made a great start to their day.

During some free time this week, I spent time working on a car model for next month's IPMS/Gateway contest. Mostly, it was painting the interior and body of the car, so I can assemble these parts. With good fortune, I should have this and three other models done in time to enter in the contest.

I brought in doughnuts for my Ellisville colleagues Friday morning (27 January), a gesture much appreciated by the staff.

Last night, I went to Chaifetz Arena (http://thechaifetzarena.com/) to cheer on the Saint Louis University women's basketball team (http://www.slubillikens.com/SportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27200&SPID=93216&SPSID=632636&DB_OEM_ID=27200) against Atlantic 10 Conference (http://www.atlantic10.com/) rival Fordham University. This was the Billikens' annual Pink Out Game in support of breast cancer awareness. Saint Louis took charge from the get go and won, 82-58, before a crowd of 6,157. I had fun watching the game, and was so happy at halftime to see several former SLU women's basketball players and coaches recognized at halftime, including those I knew from when I worked at SLU's sports information office in 1988-89. After the game, I ran into two of those players, Julie Hacker Buehne and Missy Meinberg Nazzoli, and we chatted. It was so good seeing them--we had not met in person in some years. (Before the game, I saw my high school classmate and friend Laura Trelford, who was also attending the contest.) The Billikens are 17-5 overall and 7-2 in A-10 play--good for second place in the league. I definitely hope you can catch the Billiken women in action as they pursue an NCAA Tournament bid. They won't disappoint you.

Later.






22 January 2017

Time with Modelers, Aviation Enthusiasts, and Sweet Treats

It was real cold--below freezing--a week ago, but it starting warming up early this past week. Work at the rental branch went well, as we got vehicles cleaned up and rented out. At times, our lot was one crowded bit of asphalt, but we found a way to make it work.

Making a step in my professional efforts, this past Monday (16 January), I joined Missouri Professional Communicators (http://www.mpc-nfpw.org). MPC is the Missouri affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW) and the Communication Arts section of the St. Louis Artists' Guild. I have attended several MPC meetings in recent years, and decided to take the next step in advancing my career. Additionally, being a member makes me eligible to enter in the annual Communications Contest, and I have entered several items I wrote this past year.

After flexing out of work Tuesday afternoon, I went home and got ready for that night's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/). It was the annual Swap & Sell, in which members could sell or trade model kits and related items, and the Kit Auction, in which donated model kits were auctioned off. Auction proceeds went to club activities. I won a few publications in the auction, and bought a publication and a kit from the vendors. (Being at the meeting did force me to miss a company area happy hour in Manchester that night.)

Off work Thursday (19 January), I took care of some shopping and financial matters at home. That night, I was at Creve Coeur Airport (http://www.crevecoeurairport.com/) for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) meeting. This meeting was the 2017 kickoff, which featured representatives from over 20 organizations making presentations on the state of aviation in Missouri. These organizations included: Scott Air Force Base Air Show and Open House; The Aero Experience; ARCH Films; Boeing; Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force; Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 32; Exploring of St. Louis Boy Scouts of America; Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum; Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum; Lambert-St. Louis International Airport; Missouri Aviation Historical Society; Museum of Transportation; Sky Soldiers Demo Team; St. Louis County Parks; Saint Louis Science Center; Spirit of St. Louis Airport; St. Charles Flying Service; St. Louis Space Frontier; The Space Museum of Bonne Terre, Missouri; and, Warbird Rides USA. Overall, a great night to learn more about these organizations.

Yesterday was a busy day, starting at work in the morning. We had some customers we put into vehicles, but we also had quite a few returns to clean up and spot on the lot. After that, I was off to downtown Maplewood for their annual Sweet Tooth Tour of area food merchants (http://mo-maplewood.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=382). After parking on a side street, I walked rapidly to Mystic Valley (http://mysticvalleyonline.com/), one of the 14 stops on the tour, to pick up my ticket. (I reserved it about two weeks ago, which was good, as it sold out a couple of days before the event.) At each stop, I presented my ticket to have the destination checked off, and enjoyed a sample food product there. A few of the venues also had drink samples. (A cup of beer was offered at Schlafly Bottleworks.) I hit all 14 stops in about 80 minutes. This was my third time on the Sweet Tooth Tour and I really had a lot of fun doing so. A warm, sunny day helped make this day go great.

After coming home, I changed and headed to Firehouse Bar & Grill (http://www.firehousebarandgrillstl.com/) in Mehlville for the IPMS/Gateway banquet. About 24 of us--members and guests--attended, and enjoyed a nice buffet dinner. After the dinner, Dan O'Hara and Gary Liming of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society made a presentation on Missouri aviation history and the Society. This was very well received by the audience. It was then awards time, as club president Bill Wagner presented Andrew Graf with the Junior Modeler of the Year Award, and Mark Carroll with the Modeler of the Year and Bob Stroup Awards. All attending had a wonderful time.

I was home most of today. This afternoon, I did to to Schaefer's Hobby Shop (http://schaeferhobby.com/) in Sunset Hills to get paints for a car model I'm starting to work on for next month. On the way home, I got my car washed at Concord Wash & Detail (http://concordwash.com/).

Later.




15 January 2017

Strange Weather

A week ago Friday night (6 January), I went right after work to Helen Fitzgerald's Restaurant and Pub (http://helenfitzgeralds.com/) in Sunset Hills. I was attending a Lock and Key Dating Event (http://www.lockandkeyevents.com/) for singles in my age range. The men got a key and the women got a lock, and the men were supposed to find women and try to open a lock. After finding such a match, we would get a new lock and key and start the process again. I was able to open 10 locks in just over 90 minutes. I was able to chat briefly with the women taking part, but did not get anyone I would talk to after the event. It was fun, though.

I was at work the next morning at the rental branch, and we busied ourselves with getting vehicles prepped and rented out. It was a busy, but successful morning. I then chilled out at home for the weekend.

This has been one strange week for weather. It's been said, "If you don't like the weather here in St. Louis, wait a few minutes." The past seven days were proof of this statement. Early in the week, we got as warm as 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) and sunny at times. That changed drastically later in the week, as it went down to 15 degrees F (-9 degrees C) at night.

The week at work was busy, but went well. Finding space to park our vehicles on our lot was a major challenge at times, even with a backlot in play. Still, things were handled very well as expected.

My off day Thursday (12 January) saw me go to Berry Park in Eureka (http://www.eureka.mo.us/departments/parks-recreation/park-locations-amenities/), where I took a brief walk with a friend. It was brief, as the temperature got colder. Then, I got my hair cut at Great Clips (http://www.greatclips.com/) in Tenholder Plaza in Mehlville, followed by a hotc hocolate and bear claw at the nearby St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html). I got home in time to beat a Winter Storm Warming for our area. Starting that night and into the next few days, we got freezing rain that started making travel most hazardous. At work that Friday morning, it was a rush to get vehicles prepped and spotted ahead of the worsening weather. Fortunately, many people stayed off the roads, which made it easier for the highway crews getting anti-freezing materials laid onto the roads. I was sent home early that afternoon, as the branch had all the vehicles ready that it would likely need that day and Saturday. After stopping for lunch at Penn Station (http://www.penn-station.com/) in Ballwin, I made it home fine.

I stayed in the house throughout the weekend, venturing outside only to get the mail. The ice storm came in three waves over the weekend, dropping up to 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) of ice by mid-Sunday morning. Fortunately, the temperature warmed up late this morning and the ice melted, so it should not be too bad to travel tomorrow morning.

Later.