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22 January 2015

One Less Tooth to Chew With

Last Thursday night (15 January) found me at Creve Coeur Airport for the first Missouri Aviation Historical Society (MAHS) meeting of 2015. This event celebrated the 40th anniversary this month and next of record time-to-climb flights made by the St. Louis-built Streak Eagle, a modified McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle fighter. Several engineers involved in this effort were present, and we saw a documentary film about the Streak Eagle's record setting flights. A most interesting meeting. More info on the MAHS website: http://moavhist.org/.

Saturday afternoon saw a pair of Meetups for me. First, I was at Cafe Ventana in midtown St. Louis for the Saint Louis Area Sippers meetup. About 10 of us gathered for coffee and conversation, and that went very nicely. I met some people from our last Meetup earlier in the month and a few new people. A good time was had by all.

From Cafe Ventana, I drove to Panera Bread Co. in St. Louis Hills for the first get-together of the Multilingual Americans Meetup. There were four of us there and we discussed our experiences learning other languages. (I mentioned my recently starting to learn Portuguese; the group leader said one person who did not make this event knows that language and would be a good learning partner for me.) It was very nice and I look forward to getting together with them soon.

After working Monday morning (19 January), I drove to St. Louis County Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Sunset Hills for a tooth extraction--mine. One of the lower teeth on the left side of my mouth had its root go bad and the dentist could not save it, so he recommended this practice. I was in and out in about one hour, from check in to departure. It went really well and I did have some swelling and pain the next couple of days, but I was well enough to drive to get some prescriptions (for antibiotics and painkillers) filled on the way home. The dentist performing the surgery noticed my Enterprise shirt and he said he has rented from our Chesterfield branch and been very satisfied with our service. It was good to know I was in good hands! (I did pass the dentist's comments to the manager of the Chesterfield branch, who I know well.)

Back to work late the next morning, I got through the work day without any ill effects. I did stick with soft food, so I had a couple of milk shakes on the way in to work and some chili for lunch yesterday. I should be fine now with harder food, although I will need to keep the space where that tooth was cleaned well.

Tuesday night, I went straight from work to Calvary Presbyterian Church for the IPMS/Gateway meeting, which was our annual Swap & Sell and Kit Auction. Several members had their wares (kits and related items) for sale, and I bought something each from three of them. We then had our annual auction of kits and related items donated by club members, with proceeds going to club activities. There were about 60 people at that meeting--January meetings are highly attended due to the Swap & Sell--and included five first-time people. More info on this club here: http://ipms-gateway.com.

Off work today, I typed up the minutes from the IPMS/Gateway meeting and sent those to the board members. I also got out my resume and began to make a few tweaks, in anticipation of career opportunities that come my way.

Later.


15 January 2015

Staying Warm and A Nice Banquet

It has been real cold here in St. Louis lately--the coldest of this winter so far--with temperatures getting down to 5 degrees F (-12 degrees C), with wind chills getting even colder at times. Fortunately, the ice storm feared for early this week did not materialize. It is starting to warm up and it looks like we'll hit 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) this Saturday.

Work has gone well. At least with only the cold and not the ice or snow, it makes my job of preparing vehicles a bit easier. Business has been good.

After working last Saturday morning (10 January) at the branch and relaxing at home, I drove to Vincenzo's Italian Ristorante in Ferguson, Missouri early that night. The Gateway Chapter of the International Plastic Modelers' Society (IPMS) was holding its annual banquet. After a nice buffet dinner in the private room there, the attendees heard club founder Del Miller speak about the origins of IPMS/Gateway 40 years ago and the early days. He was then presented a Life Member certificate in appreciation for his efforts. The club's Modeler of the Year and Bob Stroup Award (outstanding achievement) honorees were recognized, all present enjoyed themselves. The club meets this Tuesday night (20 January) for their annual Swap & Sell and Kit Auction. More information at http://ipms-gateway.com

Tuesday night (13 January), I went to the bar at Schneithorst's Restaurant in Ladue, Missouri for a happy hour put on by the Sex Positive St. Louis Meetup Group. There must have been about 60 people there from our group. I saw a few people I knew from this group and a few I had not met before. I wasn't able to converse much with anyone, but it was nice.

Off work today, I sent birthday wishes to my friend Eliana in Brazil. Off to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting tonight.

Later.

08 January 2015

A Model Display and a Movie Amid Cold Days

After finishing a good week of work on Friday (2 January) to start the New Year off right, I got some models together and was at the Cliff Cave Branch of the St. Louis County Library in Oakville last Saturday morning. There, myself and three others from Gateway Chapter, International Plastic Modelers' Society (IPMS) set up a display in the lobby display case. We had a nice variety of model subjects--aircraft, armor, ships, cars, science fiction, and figures. Plus, we had flyers about our club and the IPMS/USA Region 5 Convention we're hosting on 12 September. The display will be in the case for the rest of this month. Info on our club at http://ipms-gateway.com.

A good work day on Monday (5 January) was followed by a good movie that night. I joined others from the Monday Indie Movie Club Meetup group at Chipotle in the Delmar Loop for dinner before we walked a short distance to the Tivoli Theatre. There, we saw "The Imitation Game," a marvelous docudrama set in World War II and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the British mathematician who helped his country crack German codes during the war and laid the foundation for modern computers. We all very much enjoyed the film and each other's company, and look forward to meeting again soon to see another fine movie.

The temperatures really dipped that night, and we were below freezing in both temperature and (more so) wind chill factor. This made things a bit more difficult at work, at least when I was outside bringing vehicles in for and out of cleaning and for driving these vehicles with customers and ferrying the vehicles. Fortunately, there was very little snow that fell and no freezing rain to complicate things. I did dress in layers under my work outfit, so that helped.

Tuesday night (6 January) after work saw at Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles for the monthly IPMS/St. Louis meeting. Only two of us were present, so it was not much of a meeting. I did hand over the presidency on an acting basis to the other attendee, who is the new chapter contact. I'm glad to not have to do so much of the day-to-day work on this group.

Off work today, I did clear out some old emails from my computer. (It really needed it.) Also, I installed some newly acquired foreign language learning software from Rosetta Stone. I selected Portuguese (Brazil), and just had my first lesson a few minutes ago. It was pretty good to start, but I feel I want to redo that lesson so I feel more comfortable with it. Wish me luck!

Later.

01 January 2015

2015 Begins

A light work week for me, due to today's New Year holiday. I worked full days Monday and Tuesday (29-30 December), and have been off the last two days. (Thursday is my usual day off at work.) Things at the branch went well, even with a frantic Monday morning dealing with frosted over car windows and much business at a satellite office. I'm back in tomorrow.

New Year's Eve was spent rather quietly at home. Just my Mom and I watching TV. When Midnight arrived, we stepped outside to welcome 2015, with Mom banging a saucepan with a wooden spoon and I ringing a cowbell. After a minute of this, we got back inside and had a champagne toast. After about an hour, I retired to bed.

Sleeping until mid-morning today, I had some breakfast and spent time checking my computer. I had a technician diagnose my computer online late last night, and just about all issues are fixed with it. I watched some TV today and worked a bit on a scale model I started on early this week.

Here's to a happy, peaceful, and successful 2015, for myself and for all the world.

Later.

28 December 2014

Christmas 2014

One week before Christmas (18 December), I attended the annual soccer referee recertification clinic, held at Forest Park Community College in St. Louis. Myself and other referees learned of the few changes in the Laws of the Game, and areas of emphasis. We also received our new Law books and 2015 referee patches.

I used the patch and put my knowledge of the Laws of the Game to use the following Saturday (20 December), when I officiated two high school age boys winter league matches at the Soccer Park in Fenton. I ran line on the first match and was in the middle in the second. The matches went well and although I was a bit winded afterward (not having had much running time before those games), I felt fine afterward.

My work schedule this past week was shortened due to Christmas. I worked a full day Monday (22 December), was off Tuesday, worked a shortened (4 hour) day Wednesday, was off Thursday for the Holiday, and a full day Friday, plus yesterday morning. The rather mild weather this past week was fine, and we had our customers taken care off in good order.

Last Tuesday, on my off day, I got my haircut at Great Clips near South County Center in Mehlville, then went to Foundation Grounds in Maplewood to have a coffee and buy my ticket for next month's Sweet Tooth Tour of downtown Maplewood merchants. After that, I went to CRM Hobbies in St. Louis to drop off a master copy of the flyer for next year's IPMS/USA Region 5 Convention in St. Louis, and to buy some paint for a model I'm working on soon.

After supper with my mom on Christmas Eve--which included, per family tradition, baked ham and spaghetti with cheese and tomato sauce--we went to service at Calvary Presbyterian Church. It was a nice service. After that, we were home and we opened our Christmas presents which were under the Christmas tree. I received from family members two neck ties, a bottle of cologne, two books, a model kit, smartphone earbuds, and three gift cards or e-certificates. A family friend gave me a third book. My brothers and I pitched in to get mom a new microwave oven, which I bought on Tuesday. I also gave mom a gift card to Kohl's stores.

It was hard to get in the spirit of this season, the first since my dad died last summer. However, my mother, brothers, and some friends urged me to be positive and know he is looking down on us. So, I did my best.

After work on Friday, I was at Mike George's house in Florissant for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting. Both outgoing and incoming executive boards were present (myself as secretary for 2014 and 2015), and we planned next month's general and business meetings, settled on special categories for the 2015 Modeler of the Year Contests, and discussed other club business.

Yesterday after work, I was at Stone Spiral Coffee in Maplewood for the Saint Louis Area Sippers Meetup group. It was my first time with this group and I had a fine time with the others in attendance. I am looking forward to more get togethers with this group.

This afternoon found me at Creve Coeur Racquet Club refereeing boys futsal matches. I worked four matches--one of under 14s, then three of high school aged. These games went well, although I did have to crack down a few times when players got too rough for my mood.

Back to work tomorrow and 2014 ends on Wednesday night. I hope for a better 2015. How about you?

Later.

18 December 2014

Helping Out at a Run; Futsal; and a Knight Out

Early Sunday morning (14 December) found me in downtown St. Louis, by Soldiers Memorial, volunteering at the Hot Chocolate Run. This was a pair of road races--15 km and 5 km--through downtown St. Louis, part of a nationwide series and whose proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. I was a course marshal, positioned at the intersection of Tucker Boulevard and Page Avenue. There, I was to direct the runners and make sure onlookers stayed off the course. I was on station for nearly 20 minutes before the first runner appeared. A few appeared in the next 10 minutes, then the great mass of entrants followed. There were approximately 8,000 participants that came through over the course of two hours and I was yelling encouragement at them and ringing a cowbell issued to me and the other volunteers. (On the downside, the cowbell's handle cut into my fingers and I'm still sore there.) After the last runners passed, I was picked up and brought back to the volunteer area for complementary hot chocolate and chocolate fondue. It was a lot of fun (rather mild weather for the date helped) and I would do this again in the future. If you're interested in more about this event, visit http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/stlouis/.

After coming home late that morning and changing, I was at Christian Academy of Greater St. Louis in Maryland Heights that afternoon for a set of four youth futsal games--the first I refereed in the season. These were under 14 girls matches and they generally went well for my partners and I.

Work has been going well. We said goodbye to one of our branch assistant managers, Rachel, as she transferred to a branch up the street. Business has been a bit slow, thanks to the mild weather and lack of snow (until today), but at least we got some good housekeeping work done at the branch. Yesterday, I received my annual review from the branch management--high marks. (My official two-year service anniversary is this Saturday.)

After work on Tuesday (16 December), I helped get Calvary Presbyterian Church's fellowship hall ready for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. It was a full meeting, and included the annual recognition contest (guessing the kit subject from redacted box art), elections for next year's club officers (I was reelected secretary by acclamation) and for the Bob Stroup Award (for outstanding service to the club). We also had our annual Same Kit Contest, and I was among six members who finished a kit of a knight in armor for it. We chose from either the Black Knight of Nurnberg (my selection) or the Red Knight of Vienna. I finished my kit early Tuesday morning before work. It did not win--this was by popular vote of meeting attendees--but it was a nice experience in figure modeling that should be helpful for the future.

While I was at work on Saturday morning (13 Dec.), two IPMS/Gateway officers presented the US Marine Corps Reserve with the club's $550 donation to Toys for Tots in Metro St. Louis. This was at a toy and cash drive held at Gravois Bluffs Shopping Center in Fenton, Missouri. I wrote out a press release later that day announcing our donation and got it posted on stltoday.com. Here's the link: http://interact.stltoday.com/pr/non-profits/PR121314042819722.

Off work today, I have a soccer referee recertification clinic tonight in Fenton. More on that next time.

Later.


13 December 2014

Trying to Find the Holiday Spirit

I'm having a hard time trying to get into this Holiday season. Perhaps it's the after effects of my father's death last July. Perhaps it's uncertainty about my future. Perhaps it's my advancing age. It's just that I can't get real excited about Christmas and New Year's, and seem to be going through the motions. I hope this can improve for me rather soon.

Anyway, work has been going well. Plenty of business at our branch, and I'm good with that. I was working this morning and the four hours seemed to fly by.

While I was working today, colleagues at IPMS/Gateway made our club's annual donation to the US Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program in Metro St. Louis. This year, our club contributed $550 to the cause of making sure every child in our area has a toy to unwrap on Christmas morning. I wrote a press release announcing this contribution, and it's been posted on stltoday.com: http://interact.stltoday.com/pr/non-profits/PR121314042819722.

Speaking of IPMS/Gateway, our meeting this Tuesday night will include the annual Same Kit Contest. Along with several other club members, I've been working on a knight figure kit. I will have it ready by that night. More info on the club here: http://ipms-gateway.com.

One week ago today (6 Dec.), I co-hosted this month's episode of "Writer's Block," the monthly show from Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio. Host Tim Pylypiuk and I discussed the influence and genius of the late Robin Williams and on the intersection of mental illness and art. You can listen to the archived program here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2014/12/06/writers-block-bleeding-heart-10am-pstradio-drama-grooming-hour--11am-pst. The next edition is Sat., 3 January 2015.

I'm up early tomorrow morning to volunteer at the Hot Chocolate Run and to later referee futsal games. More on that in my next post.

Later.