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22 September 2016

"Mein Fuehrer! I can walk!"

A week ago tonight (15 September), I took in two events in one night. First, I made a brief appearance at the International Institute of St. Louis (https://www.iistl.org/) campus in south St. Louis. (This was the former St. Elizabeth Academy campus.) It was a party for volunteers who worked the Institute's Festival of Nations the previous month. I munched on a buffet and chatted briefly with some other volunteers from the Festival.

After a brief stay there, I headed to Creve Coeur Airport (http://www.crevecoeurairport.com/) for this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) meeting. This meeting featured a speaker talking about the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) C-17 Globemaster III, which made its first flight 25 years ago. (The aircraft were assembled in Long Beach, California, with some components made in St. Louis; hence, the Missouri connection.) It was quite a fine program and I learned quite a bit about the C-17 that I never knew before.

After a busy Friday at the rental branch, I relaxed at home. (Miranda, who recently moved to our Airport location, came by to help up late on Friday, which was most appreciated.) Back the next morning (17 September), I worked at the branch that morning before coming home to catch up on some rest. That night started at Smugala's Pizza Pub in Sunset Hills (http://smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills), where I caught the Pub2Park bus to Worldwide Technology Soccer Park. After hanging with the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) in their tailgate, I marched with them into Marshall Wireless Stadium for Saint Louis FC's (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) final home match of the season, against Louisville City FC. Despite a sell-out crowd, Saint Louis FC could not hold its early 1-0 lead and lost 5-1. (A sending off of a Saint Louis FC player soon after the goal for a vicious foul didn't help.) Still, it's been a fine season with some good memories, and I will look forward to 2017.

Sunday night, I joined with four others from the STL Screeners Meetup group (https://www.meetup.com/STLScreeners/) at the AMC Chesterfield 14 (https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-theatres/st-louis/amc-chesterfield-14). We came to a screening of one of my all-time favorite movies, "Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/). This was a national revival screening from Turner Classic Movies (http://www.tcm.com/) and Fathom Events (http://fathomevents.com/). This was the first time I saw Stanley Kubrick's 1964 satire on a big screen; all the previous viewings were on television or home video. It was a blast, and the rest of our group really enjoyed it. I only wished more people were in the theater that night; we just had a few others in the theater.

Work has been good this week. A bit warm heading into the end of Summer and the start of Autumn today, with temperatures hitting 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). Next week is shaping up to be cooler, though.

Right after work Tuesday (20 September), it was off to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for the IPMS/Gateway meeting (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/). We had a recap of our Invitational earlier this month, and our quarterly model contest towards Modeler of the Year. I did not have any contest entries this month, which left me free to help judge the contest. We had 50 contest entries, including 20 in the Worn Out special category--a great turnout.

The next night, I was back at St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for the beginning Portuguese class, which went into more verbs, possessive pronouns, and present progressive verbs. This was the fifth session of eight, and our instructor Priscila gave us some homework to do for our next session this Wednesday.

This morning, my off day at work, I bought some doughnuts from Krispy Kreme (http://krispykreme.com/) and dropped off a dozen each at the Manchester and Kirkwood Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) branches for my colleagues there. They very much appreciated the gesture. I'll do the same for my mates in Ellisville tomorrow morning.

Later.




15 September 2016

A Scale Model Show and Brasil Day

Last Saturday (10 Sept.), I was up early and bound for the Holiday Inn St. Louis Southwest--Route 66 (http://www.hiroute66.com/) in Sunset Hills for the IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) Invitational scale model contest and vendor swap meet. We had about 150 attendees, 50 contestants, and nearly 200 contest entries. These figures were lower than last year, but we hosted a regional a year ago, so there would be higher figures for a regional than an invitational. I worked the main entrance, helping taken admission money and asking where they heard of our show. I also entered three of my models and helped judge two aircraft categories I was not entered in. Although the contest numbers were lower than last year, nevertheless the quality of contest entries was high. One of my entries--a 1:144 scale USA/USSR strategic missile set--took second place in Armor--Missiles and Railguns. (To be fair, there were only two entries in that category. Still, I am happy with this award, the second it picked up this year.) We'll be back on 9 Sept. 2017 for our next Invitational. Save the date!

After helping tear down the show, I headed to Strauss Park in midtown St. Louis' Grand Center for the annual Brasil Day St. Louis (http://www.brasildaystl.com/) street festival. It is held the Saturday closest to Brazilian Independence Day (7 Sept.). I got a nice dinner from the booth of Dona Flor STL, a Brazilian food catering company (http://www.donaflorstl.com/). I also tried my had with dancing to samba music. It was not easy, but I gave it my best shot. It was a fun time.

The next day, after church, I was at Deer Creek Park in Maplewood (http://www.cityofmaplewood.com/index.aspx?NID=79) for the IPMS/Gateway picnic. Many of us members and our significant others enjoyed a barbecue lunch--burgers and bratwurst--cooked by Chris Merseal, with attendees bringing side dishes. (I brought in some chips and dip.) We had a fine time eating and socializing, and the weather was very nice.

Work this week has been good. Plenty of customers, and things have been going well for our branch. This past Monday morning (12 Sept.) was very busy for us, even for a Monday. We got through it in good order.

Flexed out Tuesday afternoon (13 Sept.), and came home to prepare for a happy hour that night at the Signature Room in Overland. It was put on by Sex Positive St. Louis (http://sexstl.com/; https://www.meetup.com/Sex-Positive-St-Louis/). I stayed a bit after talking with two women there, but neither had any chemistry with me.

Back to Portuguese class last night after work, at St. Louis Community College--Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/). We are now halfway through the class, and things are going well.

Off to a pair of events tonight: a party for Festival of Nations volunteers, and the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting. More on those in my next post.

Later.






09 September 2016

Labor Day Weekend with Japanese and Greeks

The end of last week went well for me at work on Friday (2 September) and Saturday morning. After work on Saturday, I came home to rest. I just chilled out at home that day and night.

The next day (4 September) found me at the Missouri Botanical Garden (http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/) for their 40th annual Japanese Festival. It was quite a few years since I last attended this event, but I am glad I went--even if alone. After a sushi lunch from Drunken Fish (http://www.drunkenfish.com/home), I began walking the Garden's grounds. I browsed among the various vendors--clothing, food, bonsai plants, and other Japanese items--and took in the Japanese Garden, Seiwa-en (garden of pure, clear harmony and peace). I also took in a performance of Japanese drum-based music performed by St. Louis Osuwa Taiko. I did buy from a vendor a Japanese headband of the kind used by kamikaze (divine wind) suicide pilots in World War II. I thought it looked nice on my head.

Work was closed on Monday (5 September) for the Labor Day holiday, and I spent part of it at the 99th annual Greek Festival held at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (http://www.sngoc.org/) in St. Louis' Central West End. I grabbed lunch--an authentic gyro sandwich and a spanakopita (filo dough filled with spinach and cheese)--before watching some Greek folk dancing performed on the stage by the young people of the church. I also browsed among the souvenir stands before leaving the festival. Another nice time, albeit alone.

Back to work on Tuesday, which felt like Monday. It was one very busy morning at our branch, with all the returns from the holiday weekend. However, we got through all that fine.

After work that day, I drove to Mark Twain Hobby Center (https://www.hobby1.com/) in St. Charles. The scale modeling group formerly known as IPMS/St. Louis was meeting, and I found out that it was renamed the Mark Twain Hobby Club. There was a nice crowd there--about 15 people--and I presented an update about tomorrow's IPMS/Gateway contest (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/invite2016.html) in Sunset Hills. We had a show and tell of current projects and recently completed models (I brought in three models in progress), plus a demo on using Bare Metal Foil as trim on models. I have to hand it to Chris Morosko and Brett Avants for restarting this club, and I plan to stay with it.

It was appropriate that, after work Wednesday (7 September), I was at my Portuguese class at St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) on Brazilian Independence Day. Priscila, our instructor from Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home), acknowledged that holiday before going into that night's lesson.

Yesterday was a busy off day from work for me. I started by getting a dozen doughnuts from Krispy Kreme (https://www.krispykreme.com/), which I then took to the Enterprise branch in Brentwood. I was honoring a promise made to Hannah, when she left Ellisville to become Brentwood's assistant manager, that I would bring some doughnuts to her branch. Alex, the manager (who I also worked with when he was at Ellisville), and Hannah greatly appreciated my gesture and were very happy to see me.

After a short stay, I then headed to Weiss Toyota (http://www.weisstoyota.com/) in south St. Louis County, where I had the front passenger airbag inflator replaced per a major recall of such items. This was free of charge to me. The service advisor then said I should get the front brake pads replaced, the brake fluid exchanged, and the windshield wiper blades replaced. I told him to do it, and it was done. It cost me about $370 for the job, but it would have been $42 more if not for a coupon they happened to have that week on brake pad replacement.

That afternoon, I drove to meet my friend Linsey Daman (http://cacstlouis.com/index.html) in Eureka and I drove her to Berry Park (http://www.eureka.mo.us/departments/parks-recreation/park-locations-amenities/), near Eureka High School, for a walk and a conversation. It was a good time we had together, catching up on things.

This morning, I stopped by Krispy Kreme to buy a dozen doughnuts for my colleagues in Ellisville before going into work. It was a soggy morning--much rain since the night before--and work was fairly show until late this afternoon, when it got very busy. We got it all done, though. As usual, the doughnuts were much appreciated by the Ellisville staff, which included Kory, back to us after several months at the Airport location. (Miranda just started work at the Airport a few days ago, transferring from Ellisville.)

Now to relax before a big day tomorrow--the IPMS/Gateway contest, then Brasil Day in midtown St. Louis (http://www.brasildaystl.com/). More on those events, plus Sunday's IPMS/Gateway picnic, in my next post.

Later.





01 September 2016

Helping Bring Brazil to St. Louis

Last Friday morning (26 August)--as usual on payday Fridays--I bought some doughnuts for my colleagues at the car rental branch. They appreciate my gesture, helping brighten their mornings. Work went well and we were kept busy late in the day.

Late Saturday morning, I headed to Tower Grove Park (http://www.towergrovepark.org/) for the International Institute's Festival of Nations (http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/), an annual multicultural festival. I browsed among the various craft, information, and food booths, before getting lunch from the Brazilian food booth from Brasilia Restaurant. I chose Vatapa de Frango, a grilled chicken breast in a cashew nut gravy, served with rice and collard greens. Additionally, I had a vanilla flan desert and drank mango juice. Very tasty. I also chatted with my friend Dayna O'Brien, who was volunteering at the St. Louis Sister Cities booth.

After lunch, I made my way to the Viva Brasil Association in St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home) information booth at the Festival. I spent about two hours in the booth, talking with visitors about our group and Brazil in general. It was great helping out the group, and others in the group--including Mauricio Gobbo, his wife Susan, and Sandra Schulte--were very happy that I helped them out. Priscila Borba, my instructor in the Portuguese course I'm taking, also stopped by the booth.

After my volunteer shift, I headed back home to get ready for Saint Louis FC's (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) match against San Antonio FC. After taking the Pub2Park shuttle bus from Smugala's Pizza Pub in Sunset Hills (http://smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills), I walked over to the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) tailgate for a while before walking into Marshall Wireless Stadium. Unfortunately, two first-half goals for the visitors were the difference as San Antonio FC won 2-nil, dimming Saint Louis FC's post-season hopes.

I spent Sunday morning (28 August) editing some articles for the Fall 2016 issue of Naturally Autistic magazine (http://www.naturallyautistic.com/). I also edited a few items late last week. Then, I headed back to the Festival of Nations, where I hung out with the Viva Brasil booth and chatted with others from the group who were staffing the booth, and with visitors. We had many visitors at the booth that weekend, which was great. I then reported for a volunteer shift helping staff one of the Festival's drinks booths. I was originally to help out at the beer tasting booth on the west end of the Festival grounds, but it had just ran out of beer and was closing up early. I was then reassigned to a drinks booth in the eastern end of the grounds. I helped with beverage sales for the last hour before the festival closed, then helped to tear down the booth. It was great to help out this Festival for the third year.

Back to work Monday, it was a rather busy first part of the week at the branch. I edited a couple more pieces for Naturally Autistic magazine after work on Monday. I flexed out Tuesday afternoon (30 August), as I am working this Saturday morning. Early Tuesday night, I drove to Three Kings Public House in Des Peres (http://threekingspub.com/) for a Happy Hour with my branch colleagues. Hannah, our former branch colleague now at the Brentwood branch, also came and we enjoyed appetizers and beers while talking about this and that. I was able to take some leftover appetizers home with me.

After work Wednesday, I was off to St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for the second night of Portuguese Language: Beginning I. Instructor Priscila Borba led us in more instruction on the language, including how to use the proper prepositions and correct pronunciations. The class is coming along very nicely.

My off day today started with getting blood withdrawn at a lab for routine tests my doctor ordered for me, followed by breakfast at St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html). Late today, I got a call from Weiss Toyota telling me they had the replacement part for the recalled airbag on my Corolla, and we scheduled a service appointment on Thursday of next week. It will be free of charge, due to this being a recall.

Back to work tomorrow and Saturday morning, then I can enjoy the Labor Day Weekend.

Later.



25 August 2016

Road Trip to KC

After working at the rental branch Saturday morning (20 August), I drove to the Barnes & Noble Bookstore (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/) at West County Center (http://www.shopwestcountycenter.com/) in Town and Country. There, I had lunch in the cafe (redeeming a coupon for a free iced tea) and bought two magazines.

I then drove to Amsterdam Tavern (http://amsterdamtavern.com/) in south St. Louis, where I joined others in watching the Olympic men's soccer (football) gold medal match between Brazil and Germany. I and others were happy when Brazil won the match on penalty kicks (5-4 in the shootout, after 1-1 draw after extra time). Very happy for Brazil, after a very entertaining match at the Maracana.

After the match, I drove to Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios (http://www.stonespiralcoffee.com/) in Maplewood for the StL Tea Club Meetup (https://www.meetup.com/StL-Tea-Club-Meetup/events/233317713/). I joined four others there to sample some fine teas from East Asia and to have some fine conversation.

Late Sunday morning, I drove to Hotshots Sports Bar & Grill in Fenton (http://www.hotshotsnet.com/locations/stlouisarea/fenton.aspx) for lunch before boarding the chartered bus with others from the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/). After stopping in St. Peters to pick up a few others, we headed for Kansas City, Kansas to cheer on Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) in its match against Swope Park Rangers. After our bus arrived at Children's Mercy Park, the St. Louligans marched into the stadium, where we had a section to ourselves. The match in the stadium--which holds 20,000--was sparsely attended. Saint Louis FC took a 1-nil lead in the 80th minute, but Swope Park leveled it two minutes from time. It was a fine match, but we would prefer a win at this point. We then got on the bus for home, arriving back at Hotshots abound 1:20 am. It was my first such road trip, and I hope it was not my last.

I took Monday (22 August) off from work, to get some nice down time. Back to work Tuesday, things went well. We also said goodbye to Hannah, who is now assistant manager of our Brentwood branch. I promised her I would bring her and her colleagues doughnuts soon after Hannah settles in at her new post. After work, I came home to host the IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) business meeting. Besides discussing club business (including our contest next month), we talked of the shocking news that CRM Hobbies in south St. Louis closed for good last Saturday. Owner Chris Merseal sold his inventory and will just order items for us and sell through his ebay site.

After work yesterday, I drove to St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for my first session of Portuguese Language: Beginning I. It is an eight-week course, for two hours on Wednesday nights. There are about 12 of us in the course, with Priscila--a native of Brazil--as our instructor. She comes courtesy of Viva Brasil St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home). We spent the first session getting acquainted, starting to learn the pronunciation of the Portuguese, and starting to learn a few words. It should be great, and I'm looking forward to it.

Speaking of Viva Brasil St. Louis, I have volunteered to staff their information booth this Saturday from 1:30 to 3:30 pm at the International Institute's Festival of Nations (http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/) an annual multicultural festival in St. Louis' Tower Grove Park. I hope to see you there!

Later.




19 August 2016

A Downer Match; A Pleasant Stroll

Some hours after working at the car rental branch last Saturday (13 August), I drove to Smugala's Pizza Pub in Sunset Hills (http://smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills) for a beer at the bar before catching the Pub2Park bus. The bus took me and other fans to World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton for the Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) match against Sacramento Republic FC. I hung out at the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) tailgate in the parking lot, then marched with them into the stadium. There wasn't much to cheer about, though, as Sacramento scored four goals in the first 16 minutes of the match en route to a 4-3 win. Disappointing for sure.

I spent some time Sunday getting word out to the local online events calendars about the IPMS/Gateway show (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/invite2016.html) coming up on 10 September. These include listings on stltoday.com (http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/calendar/#/details/IPMS-Gateway-Model-Contest-and-Swap-Meet/2687902/2016-09-10T09) and timesnewspapers.com (http://www.timesnewspapers.com/calendar-82812.114137-Gateway-Chapter-IPMS-Model-Contest-and-Swap-Meet.html). Additionally, I posted a press release on the show on stltoday.com (http://interact.stltoday.com/pr/non-profits/PR081416112526958). Hopefully, these and other promotion efforts will pay off in good attendance at the show.

I flexed out of work Tuesday afternoon (16 August) and rested up at home before going to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for the IPMS/Gateway meeting (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/). We had a good turnout of models for the Beauty Contest, and a contest judging demo was held. There were four first-time visitors to the meeting, and I greeted each one with a complementary file stick.

Work has been going well this week. My colleague Hannah interviewed on Tuesday for the assistant manager position at the Brentwood branch. She found out on Thursday and will start there sometime next week. I am very happy for her. Hannah's a real go getter for the firm and a very nice person.

Off work Thursday (18 August), I spent about two hours in the morning with my friend Linsey Daman (http://cacstlouis.com/index.html) at her house in Eureka. We took a stroll together up and down her street as we talked about each other and what we liked to do. It was a most pleasant stroll, if a bit warm out. After seeing a counselor and shopping at a newsstand, I came home to rest a bit and eat. That night, I was at the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) meeting at Creve Coeur Airport (http://www.crevecoeurairport.com/). (Linsey Daman was there, too.) That night's program looked back at the F-15 Eagle ASAT (Anti-Satellite Missile) program in the 1980s. I also plugged the IPMS/Gateway show next month.

After a pretty busy day at work today, I busy weekend awaits. More on that in my next post.

Later.


11 August 2016

Meetup, Picnic, and Work

Last Saturday afternoon (6 August), I was at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters in Ladue (http://www.slcl.org/content/headquarters) for the STL Aspies Meetup (https://www.meetup.com/STL-Aspies/). I ran the meeting, in which the six attendees talked about themselves, how they are coping with having Asperger's Syndrome, and how they are moving forward. After this meetup, most of us headed to Saint Louis Bread Company (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html) at Plaza Frontenac for a snack and talk.

The next day found me at Greentree Park (http://www.kirkwoodmo.org/content/City-Departments/1830/greentree-park.aspx) in Kirkwood for a picnic thrown by Viva Brasil St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home) for those who volunteered at their Festa Junina in June. It was a pot luck supper, including some Brazilian cuisine, along with beer, soda, and water. I got to meet others in the organization, and I was presented with a thank you letter for my help at the Festa Junina. They were very pleased to hear I have a friend in Cuiaba, Brazil who has stirred my interest in Brazil, and that I will take a introductory Portuguese language course starting later this month at St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/mc/). Viva Brasil St. Louis provides the instructors for this and other Portuguese language classes offered by the college. This is a wonderful group and I look forward to working more with them at future events.

Back to work Monday (8 August) at the rental branch, and plenty to keep us busy. I flexed out Tuesday afternoon, as I will be working this Saturday morning. The weather is heating up some this week, with temperatures approaching 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) and heat indices topping 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). Good thing the fans are up and running in the wash bay; they make it much more tolerable in there on hot days.

I've been following the Olympics from Rio (https://www.rio2016.com/en) and find myself not only cheering on the USA athletes and teams, but also those from Brazil. It might be quite tough on me when USA and Brazil teams meet up in these games. In that case, may the better teams win.

Later.