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21 October 2017

Dinners with Brazilians and Soccer Legends

Work at the rental branch late last week was good. I was kept plenty busy on the Friday (13 October) and the next morning. Fortunately, no bad things happened on Friday the 13th.

After work last Saturday afternoon, I headed to Creve Coeur Airport ( in Maryland Heights for a vintage aircraft fly-in. It was neat seeing quite a few aircraft--mostly light planes--on hand. I also saw some mates in the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (, who just had a tribute to legendary McDonnell test pilot Bob Little. I arrived after the party ended, but did get some food--including a slice of birthday cake--and chatted with them for a bit. Additionally, I browsed through the aircraft on display at the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum (, which was open and free to the public that day. Interesting to see the aircraft on display there.

After coming home to change, I went to St. Joseph Catholic Church ( in Manchester for the annual Taste of Brazil Dinner, presented by Viva Brasil STL ( I came there to be a volunteer server at the dinner, which followed a mass in Portuguese in honor of Our Lady of Aparecida (, Brazil's patron saint, whose feast day is 12 October. This year marks the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the Virgin Mary statue by fishermen working on the Paraiba River in southeastern Brazil. This 4th annual dinner was very well attended in the church's cafeteria and celebrated life along the Paraiba River. After appetizers of Pão de Queijo (cheese bread) and Pate de Atum (Tuna Pate), I helped to serve the main course. This consisted of Frango Caipira com Batatas (Brazilian Soul Food--Chicken and Potatoes) and Cuscuz Paulista (a vegetable couscous from São Paulo).

After helping serve all the guests, us volunteer servers were invited to eat, so I got the main course and sat down with a few others to eat and talk. It was nice to get to know these people at my table, neither of whom I had known before. Then, it was time for dessert, which consisted of Doce de Banana e Queijo (Sweet Banana and Cheese) and Doce de Abobora (Pumpkin candy). I helped serve this before getting my share. I drank fruit juice and a bit of wine; they also had beer and soda.

There was a slide show on Viva Brasil STL, a raffle of a nice pen and pencil set to benefit the organization's scholarship fund, and a trivia quiz. After this ended, I helped to clean up and straighten out the cafeteria. I also received a jar of Doce de Banana as thanks for my efforts that night.

The next morning (15 October) found me at World Wide Technology Soccer Park refereeing three under 12 girls soccer matches. I worked all three matches in the middle, as my two crewmates were young officials not yet ready to be in the middle. The matches went well, overall.

Back to work the next day, and we had a pretty full day at the branch. Same for Tuesday, though Wednesday was a calmer day. That afternoon, I was sent to our Kirkwood branch to help with car prep and driving there the rest of the day. Their vehicle service agent was out sick and their manager was at a meeting, and they were short handed. I was most glad to help my colleagues out.

Tuesday night (17 October) after work was the IPMS/Gateway ( meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church ( This featured a demonstration of model parts casting with resin, which was very interesting. The model of the month "beauty contest" was also held, and there were a good number of entries there.

Off work Thursday, I got my hair cut at Great Clips (, which did its usual superb job. I then visited Enterprise ( branches in Ballwin, Manchester, and Creve Coeur. I chatted briefly with my colleagues there and dropped off cookies for their branch staff, which were most appreciated.

That night, I met up with four of my soccer referee colleagues and went with them to America's Center ( in downtown St. Louis for the 47th annual St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame ( induction banquet. After drinks and conversation in the hallway, we entered The America's Ballroom for a nice sit down dinner, followed by the program, with Bill McDermott as master of ceremonies. Eleven St. Louis soccer legends were inducted, including my Saint Louis University friend Pat Baker, a goalkeeper and later a youth coach, and my refereeing colleague Herb Silva. Several special awards were also presented. Our party did not stay the whole time, as it was getting late for us. Overall, it was a wonderful evening and it was great for me to be among local soccer legends.

Yesterday at work was great, and not just because I brought in some doughnuts from Krispy Kreme ( Our new vehicle service agent was there that afternoon. He started the day before with us--he had previously been at our Creve Coeur location--and will work Monday mornings, all day Thursday, Friday afternoons, and Saturday mornings. That is a major help to my branch mates and I. We were able to get out of there last night before 6:30 pm, some time earlier than before he arrived.


12 October 2017

A Happy Hour and Some Soccer

One week ago tonight (5 October) found me at Double D Lounge ( in Brentwood, where our company's area had a happy hour. It was nice to chat with colleagues, drink some beer, and play a bit of pool--something I haven't done in some years. The latter was a fun match, as Cory from Creve Coeur and I played Miranda of Ellisville and Melissa of Creve Coeur. It was a nice match, but the ladies just beat Cory and I.

It was a full day of work Friday at the rental branch in Ellisville, plus a good Saturday morning there. That night, I drove to Smugala's Pizza Pub ( in Sunset Hills to catch the Pub2Park bus to Worldwide Technology Soccer Park and the final Saint Louis FC ( home match of the season. After partying with the St. Louligans ( in the parking lot, I marched into Toyota Stadium for the match against Richmond Kickers. The home side was playing for pride, having been eliminated from a post-season berth; however, an early second half goal by Richmond was the difference in a 1-0 loss for Saint Louis FC. They end the season at Bethlehem Steel this Sunday.

I was back at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park late Sunday afternoon (8 October) to referee youth soccer games. Originally scheduled for three 9v9 under 12 matches, my crew ended up doing four matches--I had two middles. They went well.

Back at work Monday morning, it was a usual busy start of the work week. Although two of our staff were out on vacation then, with a temporary addition we got through Monday just fine. More work on Tuesday and Wednesday, including making some trips yesterday to ferry some vehicles to our branch.

After flexing out yesterday afternoon, I browsed at some stores before going home. Today was rather quiet, mostly doing my laundry and watching some history documentaries on home video. Back to work tomorrow morning, where a new vehicle service agent is expected to report to Ellisville branch. I'll be helping that person learn the ropes.


05 October 2017

Plenty of Work and Some Soccer as October Begins

I was at the rental branch Saturday morning (30 September) for work. We had a fine morning of business, and I stayed to help clean up the rest of the branch's vehicles to get them ready for Monday morning. After that, it was lunch, then chilling out at home.

I was at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park the next afternoon to referee some youth soccer matches. I had four scheduled, according to my assignment, but there was no match for the first slot of my assignment. Thus, my crewmates and I waited around until the next match time. The three matches I worked--two as referee, one as assistant referee--went well.

Back at work Monday morning, it was quite a busy week for us. Things did go well, overall. I did flex out Tuesday afternoon, as I am working this Saturday morning. After flexing out, I came home to relax.

Tuesday night found me at Mark Twain Hobby Center ( for this month's Mark Twain Model Club meeting. We had a show and tell--I told of the JH-7A model I was working on and asked for decal advice--and there was a demo on opening car doors and trunks, including how to make hinges for these items. It was quite interesting.

Yesterday was a full day of work, but things went very well for us. After coming home, I opened a package of souvenirs I had ordered the previous weekend from the Experimental Aircraft Association ( These were related to the Ford Tri-Motor flight I had undertaken in Mt. Vernon, Illinois a week ago. I ordered a t-shirt, pin, postcard, and a fact sheet. Very nice items.

Off work today, I bought some doughnuts at Krispy Kreme ( in Mehlville and drove to the Enterprise ( branch in Festus. There, I gave the doughnuts to Meggie, the branch manager, which she really appreciated. We chatted briefly and I also gave her a card to wish her and her husband-to-be all the best when they get married in a month from now.

Going to a happy hour with colleagues tonight. More on that in my next post.


29 September 2017

15 Minutes Airborne In a "Tin Goose"

Last Thursday afternoon (21 September) was supposed to be a branch lunch at a nice restaurant. However, after I got there, I found out the manager and assistant manager were both sick that day and that the lunch was postponed to a later date to be selected. Quite a disappointment.

That night, I was at the Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( meeting at Creve Coeur Airport ( Members from the Gateway Chapter of the Army Aviation Historical Foundation (, based at Creve Coeur Airport, spoke about their organization and presented a short film from the mid-1960s of US Army Aviation aircraft on maneuvers prior to the Vietnam War. The Chapter also plugged its Barbecue Fundraiser on Saturday, 21 October at Creve Coeur Airport. Proceeds from the event go to their restoration of two Vietnam War-era helicopters, an OH-58 and a UH-1 Huey.

Work at the branch at the end of last week kept my colleagues and I plenty busy. Fortunately, all went well.

Saturday night (23 September), I was at Smugala's Pizza Pub ( in Sunset Hills for a beer before catching the Pub2Park shuttle for World Wide Technology Soccer Park ( for that night's Saint Louis FC ( match against FC Cincinnati. I took in the St. Louligans ( tailgate in the parking lot before we marched into Toyota Stadium for the match. Saint Louis jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but could not hold it as Cincinnati scored twice--leveling on a penalty kick in stoppage time--to earn a 2-2 draw. A disappointment for sure, though we had fun during the match.

Sunday afternoon found me back at World Wide Technology Soccer Park, this time to referee youth soccer matches. I worked two under-12 girls matches, 9-a-side on a small field. It was a very warm day, so my crew granted water breaks midway through each half for player safety. Both matches went well.

Work started off well on Monday, which was busy as usual. We had plenty of business going and I did my best to keep things running smooth.

After flexing out Tuesday afternoon (26 September), I went home to take care of some personal business. I went to Marion Morris' house that night for the IPMS/Gateway ( business meeting. Besides planning upcoming meetings, we discussed some club business at length. I will disclose that in more detail in due course.

After a full day of work Wednesday, it was a full off day Thursday (28 September). After doing some laundry that morning, I drove early that afternoon to Mount Vernon, Illinois. My first stop was Mt. Vernon Outland Airport (, where my flight was waiting in the form of a ride on a Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor operated by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) ( The aircraft, built in 1929, arrived in Mt. Vernon for rides that day through this Sunday ( I ordered my ticket online that morning before driving to Mt. Vernon.

I signed in at the airport, then waited with the nine other passengers for that fight. We took in a brief safety briefing in the airport terminal before walking out to the Tri-Motor, nicknamed the "Tin Goose" due to its corrugated aluminum skin. I took my seat in the second row on the right side of the cabin, with the Number 3 engine nacelle and right main landing fear just outside my window. This was the Ford's second flight of the day; the first one had several local press people aboard, and a few press people were on this one. The pilot started the three engines and warmed them up briefly before taxiing to the active runway. We got airborne after a fairly short run and climbed to about 1000 feet (304.8 m) for the 15 minute flight around the airport. The plane flew at its cruising speed of 107 mph (93 knots; 172.2 kph). It was noisy in the cabin and there was vibration and slight turbulence, though the skies were clear. However, I was one very happy traveler, as were the others on board.

We landed and taxied to the terminal, and got out after the engines stopped. It was one great experience for all concerned, a flight back to the early years of commercial aviation. I took a few pictures of the Ford before leaving the airport.

I then drove to the Enterprise ( branch in Mt. Vernon, where Lauren, my former colleague at Ellisville, serves as assistant branch manager. She was away at a satellite location, one of her colleagues told me, but I did say hi to my colleagues there and gave them a tin of cookies, which they appreciated. (The next morning, Lauren messaged me to thank me for the cookies and for stopping by, and apologizing for not being there when I came by.)

After driving back home and changing clothes, I drove to Forest Hills County Club ( in Chesterfield, where Enterprise branch personnel in our area gathered for an event celebrating our contributions to the United Way of Greater St. Louis ( There was a buffet supper, beer and wine to drink, a raffle of donated gift items (the number of tickets depending on our United Way pledged donations for the coming year), and an auction of some premier items. It was great seeing colleagues working at other branches and in area management. Plus, I got to wear coat and tie to a company event. I didn't win any raffle prizes, but some of my branch mates did. Overall, it was a fun night, and I treated myself to a concrete at Andy's Frozen Custard ( on the way home.

Back at work today, it was a busy one, especially late in the day with many vehicles dropped off. We stayed until about 7 pm--one hour after closing--getting the vehicles cleaned up and parked for tomorrow. There will be another Vehicle Service Agent joining us a week from today. This person will work mostly on Mondays and Fridays, our busy days, and will help ease the burden on my colleagues and I.

This morning, I picked up my former colleague and branch manager David Abraham, who was in town for a friend's wedding. We got caught up as I drove him to the branch for the rental. David apparently asked for me personally to pick me up. I am most flattered by that.


21 September 2017

Watching and Refereeing Soccer; A New Refrigerator

It was a good day of work last Friday (15 September), with plenty of business for us to take care of. Things worked out great.

Same with the next morning, as I worked at the branch that morning. We kept our customers most satisfied and handled things most efficiently, so we did not have to stay too long after closing time.

After lunch and coming home to change, I made my way to Smugala's Pizza Pub ( in Sunset Hills, where I caught the Pub2Park bus to Toyota Stadium in Fenton for that night's Saint Louis FC ( match against Orlando City B. I joined in the tailgate with the other St. Louligans (, enjoying a nice spread courtesy of Saint Louis FC, then picked up a large print of the head of club chief financial officer Tom Strunk, whose 50th birthday was that day. We marched in to the stadium before the match and pleasantly surprised Strunk with all the large head prints. We then took our place in Section 8 and cheered on our side, which won the match 2-0.

At halftime, after a demonstration match put on by St. Louis Ultimate (, we St. Louligans came on the field to sing "Happy Birthday" to Strunk, which he greatly appreciated (I think). After the match, after the players serenaded the St. Louligans in appreciation of our support, I chatted with Strunk and with Saint Louis FC chief executive officer (and Saint Louis University classmate) Jim Kavanaugh. Tom signed my head print of his, which I will keep at home under lock and key. I also bought a pair of socks from St. Louis Ultimate, as a fund raiser for that group.

The next morning (17 September), I was at Kolping Fields in south St. Louis County to run lines on two under 15 boys soccer matches. They went well, with no real problems for my crew. I chilled out at home the rest of the day.

Back to work Monday morning, it was plenty busy. Fortunately, a Vehicle Service Agent (VSA) from another branch was there in the morning to help me and my team out. The manager said we should have a new VSA to join me at Ellisville in the coming weeks.

It was a bit slow going into work the next morning, due to fog. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad to be a real problem, but it did mean taking it easy on the drive to the branch.

After work on Tuesday (19 September), it was on to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( in Mehlville for this month's meeting of IPMS/Gateway ( Perhaps it was the heat that night and/or the fatigue after hosting our Invitational contest earlier this month, but we had a low turnout of members and of entries in our quarterly contest for Modeler of the Year. I helped judge, as I had no entries, and our judges got it done in just a few minutes. We also had a recap of our show.

I flexed out of work yesterday afternoon, since I will be working this Saturday morning. I did some trips to pick up vehicles for our branch and to ferry the Ballwin branch's manager to the Manchester branch, so she could get a car for her branch. I came home to rest, and to catch up on the current film "The Vietnam War" running on PBS this week. I viewed the two most recent episodes from the DVR cache, then watched last night's episode. A terrific series.

This morning, after a jog to loosen up my legs for this weekend's games, I helped my mom with getting our new refrigerator installed in the kitchen. Two people from Sears ( came to remove the old unit and to plus in the new one. After mom and I performed a hookup of water to the refrigerator (which also includes a freezer, and a panel for getting drinking water and ice in one of the front doors), we loaded the unit up with food.

Off to a company lunch this afternoon, and the Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( meeting tonight. More on all those events and others next time.