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30 July 2015

Back to High Heat After My Columbus Trip

Last Friday (24 July) was a busy day and night for me at the International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention in Columbus, Ohio. After waking up early in my hotel (Red Roof Inn in Grove City), I drove to the parking garage at the Columbus Convention Center, when walked to the Hyatt Regency next door where the convention was held. I pulled a two hour volunteer stint as a vendor room checkpoint, making sure only registrants and paid visitors entered the room. No problems here. Then, I attended a seminar for On the Job Trainee (OJT) contest judges. There were about 20 of us there learning about judging contest entries, and I felt that I could be an effective judge.

After grabbing lunch in the Convention Center's food court and browsing in the contest room, I then pulled another vendor room checkpoint stint, followed by attending a seminar on advanced concepts for US Army Air Corps (USAAC)/US Army Air Forces (USAAF) aircraft of the late 1930s and early 1940s. I found that most interesting, as I found out about concepts I had never heard of before.

I browsed some more among the vendors and got a dinner at the food court, then I reported to the judges' meeting. There were at least 150 judges in the room, as the head of IPMS/USA's national contest committee briefed us on what to look for in the contest entries and how to record the results for each category. Afterward, I waited with other aircraft judges to hear my name called to join a judging team as an OJT. My name was called and joined the other three judges on a team as we walked to the contest room. Whatever nerves I felt going in soon went away as our team found the category we were to judge (157: Civil, Sport, Racing, and Air Taxis, 1/144 and 1/72. There were 15 contest entries we judged, one by one, and I recorded our assessments of the strong and weak points of each entry, plus contributing my thoughts about each model. We decided after much careful thought on the first, second, and third places and I recorded those on the sheet that was turned into the contest registrar. It took us about 2.25 hours for us to judge this category.

After that, we waiting until all the aircraft categories were judged and then we considered the candidates for Best Aircraft. After examining several candidates, we decided on a exquisite P-47 Thunderbolt. We left the contest room just over four hours after I entered it to help judge. It was a good experience and I would very much like to judge again at future IPMS/USA National Conventions. I drove back to the hotel and turned in for the night.

The next morning, I returned to the convention, where I did one more visit of the contest and vendor rooms, ran one more checkpoint stint, and took in a seminar on real space modeling run by my friend and former IPMS/Gateway colleague Mike Mackowski. I went to eat dinner in the food court while the banquet took place, chatting with two modelers from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Then, I went to the banquet room for the announcements. The contest chairman thanked his staff for all their hard work, and several national honors were announced. The folks from Columbia, South Carolina pitched the 2016 National Convention they are hosting, and Omaha, Nebraska was announced as 2017's host. The contest results were announced, with photos of the models shown on screens in the hall.

After the ceremony, the attendees headed to the contest room to look over the contest winners and to pick up your models. I packed up my four contest entries (neither of which won), and chatted with a few people I knew before I left the contest room and went to my car.

By the way, there were 847 registrants at this year's convention and 2431 contest entries. (With multiple models in a few entries, the total models present was 2780.) More on the convention and IPMS/USA here: http://ipmsusa.org/.

I woke up early Sunday morning (26 July, packed up my things in my rental car, and checked out of the hotel. I then drove into Columbus for breakfast at a Panera Bread Co. restaurant with my high school classmate Mike Anderson, who lives in nearby Pickrington. We chatted for over an hour, getting caught up on things. Then, I began my long trip back to St. Louis. After stops for fuel, lunch, and personal breaks, I got into Ellisville late that afternoon. I drove to the car rental branch, where my car was parked, took my things from the rental car and loaded them into my car, then parked the rental car by the branch and put the keys in the drop box before driving home to unpack.

I was back at work early the next morning, and didn't miss a beat. I helped keep things going well, despite the heat early this week. It got up to 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), with the heat index making it feel like 115 degrees F (46 degrees C). I did my best to stay cool and hydrated, with the encouragement of the branch management. At least it got a bit cooler the past couple of days, so that's an improvement.

Since I am working this Saturday, I flexed out Tuesday afternoon (28 July), but returned to the area after business hours to join in a happy hour celebrating the departure of our intern Kate, who's heading back to college this fall. Power outage at the original venue meant we headed to another one, but it was crowded. Then, we found the power was back on at the original venue, so we headed back there. However, I had to leave to head to the IPMS/Gateway business meeting, so I had to say goodbye to Kate then and there. The business meeting was a bust, though, as only four of us were there and that was not a quorum.

Off work today, I cut the grass at my mother's house, shopped for some new work shoes, and ran off some flyers for the Region 5 Convention IPMS/Gateway hosts on 12 September in Sunset Hills. More info here: http://www.ipms-gateway.com/.

Later.

23 July 2015

In Columbus for Scale Modeling's Big Show

After working 1 1/2 days early in the week, I flexed out early on Tuesday (21 July), got my rental car from the branch, and made final preparations for my trip to this year's International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention in Columbus, Ohio. First, I opened up the fellowship hall at Calvary Presbyterian Church for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. It was a nice meeting with another great turnout of models for the monthly beauty contest (38 total), plus a car model judging seminar. Nice meeting. For more on this club, visit: http://ipms-gateway.com.

Early the next morning, I got into my rental car and hit the road for Columbus. It was about 7 hours of driving time, not counting stops for fuel and lunch when I arrived at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, near the Convention Center. I got registered for the convention, entered my four models in the contest, and began making the rounds of the vendors set up for this year's convention. I saw a few people I know from St. Louis and from elsewhere. I then checked into my hotel, located south of the Hyatt Regency, then went to dinner at Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant, a Columbus institution. It was a long wait to get a table (over an hour), but once I was seated, I had a great dinner. After a cup of potato salad, I enjoyed Sauerbraten with kraut, applesauce, small potato pancakes, and a roll. All washed down with a glass of good German beer. To top that off, I had a chocolate creme puff. One of the best dinners I have ever had anywhere (outside home, of course). Definitely check out Schmidt's when your in Columbus. Their website is: http://www.schmidthaus.com.

This morning, after a light complementary breakfast at the hotel, I drove to the Hyatt Regency for the big tour today. I joined with others aboard two motor coaches for a trip west to the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. Our group first went to the Presidential and Research & Development hangars, which are separate from the museum complex, to see the aircraft and other artifacts there. After about an hour, we went back on the buses to the museum itself, and spent nearly 5 hours going through the three display hangars full of aircraft and other artifacts. I snapped away with my cellphone camera, taking over 900 images at the museum. Good thing I had a larger in my phone, plus a generous battery pack to recharge my phone. I also took up an offer and signed up as a Friend of the museum, and got discounts on merchandise in the souvenir shop and a snack in the cafe. A great time. I had last visited this museum 39 years ago, on a family trip, but this museum has changed beyond all recognition. A must see for aerospace fans. The museum's website is: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/.

We got back on the coaches for the trip back to the Hyatt Regency in Columbus--tired, but very happy. Back at the convention site, I visited a few more vendors that had set up after I had left yesterday, plus spent time in the contest room. It was filling up with more contest models. I also volunteered to be an On the Job Trainee (OJT) judge for the contest, when judging occurs tomorrow (Friday) night. I'm working as a vendor room checkpoint in the morning, then can attend the OJT seminar. I may take in other seminars that afternoon. More info on the convention here: http://ipmsusa2015.com/.

Later.

19 July 2015

Hot Days and Nights in Town

It now really feels like summer in St. Louis. Daytime temperatures this past week have gotten to about 96 degrees F (36 degrees C), while heat indices (temperatures combined with relative humidity) have reached 105 degrees F (41 degrees C). It's been quite a challenge anytime I've been outside, be it for work or pleasure. At least my co-workers have been understanding and making sure my colleagues and I get well hydrated and stay inside as much as possible.

Plenty of work going on at the car rental branch, with summer vacation season in full swing. We're all working hard and yet our morale is very good. We truly enjoy our colleagues and that helps make the work day go better.

I've been finishing a model the past few days for taking with me to Columbus, Ohio later this week for the International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention. Just a last bit of finishing to do and I can get that all done tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to this trip and will give you plenty of info in my upcoming posts. The website for the convention is: http://www.ipmsusa2015.com.

On my off day last Thursday (16 May), I had a blood test done at the request of the doctor who examined me the week before. The nurse called me the next day to say it was good news overall, with nothing that a little adjustment in diet and exercise could not help. I then got my haircut, which needed it.

I was at Creve Coeur Airport that night for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting. We had one of two air traffic controllers who helped talked down a US Navy aircraft who had a fuel emergency to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in 2012. He talked of his experience that day and on being in air traffic control (ATC) work. We also had a presentation on the history of ATC and a local pioneer in this field. More on this meeting and the organization here: http://moavhist.org/.

Yesterday (18 July), I went to the St. Louis Area Sippers Meetup in the Tower Grove South neighborhood of St. Louis. We were to have met at Mokabe's Coffeehouse; however, we found the place was closed for a week while the owners were on vacation. We then found a nearby Saint Louis Bread Co. location and had our Meetup there. The five of us present had a nice time talking about various things over refreshments.

That night, I went to International Tap House in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis to join other Saint Louis FC supporters in a watch party for their match at Toronto TC II, which was being streamed via YouTube. Saint Louis won, 1-0, thanks to a Toronto own goal late in the first half. We'll take it. I will be out of town this Saturday, but Saint Louis FC will be home Saturday night against Oklahoma City Energy. Hope you can Pack the Park! Info at: http://saintlouisfc.com. Check out the International Tap House; their website is: http://www.internationaltaphouse.com/.

After the game, during which I had two beers, I walked next door to Mission Taco Joint for a snack. Their have very nice tacos and other Mexican food, and is worth the visit. Here's their website: http://missiontacostl.com/.

Take care and I will blog again from Columbus. Later.


09 July 2015

Brian & I on 3 July; A Garden Party on the Fourth

Last Friday night (3 July), right after work, I drove to the campus of Washington University, where I parked my car near Francis Field and walked about two blocks east to Forest Park. From the park's entrance, I made my way to the Fair Saint Louis fairgrounds, on Art Hill between the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Central Lagoon. Finding my way to a concession stand near the mainstage, while Blondie was playing its set, I got my pass and made my way backstage. There, my brother Brian and I chatted briefly before he played drums for Melissa Etheridge. She played an approximately 90 minute set and I greatly enjoyed it from my place on the Art Hill grass. Soon after the show, I got backstage again and chatted briefly with Brian. I then stepped out to enjoy the fireworks display that capped the show. Etheridge's website is: http://www.melissaetheridge.com/.

The next day, Mom and I relaxed at home. Brian came over in the afternoon to spend some time with us before he rejoined Etheridge's band for the next tour stop. That night, I was at the Maplewood home of Kurt and Beth Heidrich for a garden party they threw for friends. It was very nice, although I knew so few of the other guests, and there was much to eat and drink. After dusk, Kurt set off fireworks in the back yard. It was a wonderful night. Beth runs STL Culinary Tours, which takes guests on tours of St. Louis area restaurants. More info on this business here: http://www.stlculinarytours.com/.

I was at home Sunday (5 July) when I watched the FIFA Women's World Cup Final on TV. I was hoping for a USA win over Japan, but did not expect the 5-2 rout by the Americans. I was very happy with the result, though.

Work has been going well. Had quite a few returns on Monday from the holiday weekend, and pretty steady business during the week. Our office received a visit Tuesday morning from two young women doing marketing for Red Bull energy drink. They gave out samples of Red Bull from their backpacks, and chatted with us before going down the street in their car, decorated with a large Red Bull can.

I flexed out early Tuesday afternoon (I'm working this Saturday morning), and went to Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles that night for the IPMS/St. Louis meeting. The four of us present talked about recent modeling projects and news. We had a first-time visitor among those attending, and it looks like he'll be back. The club meets on the first Tuesday of the month. Their website is: http://www.ipms-stlouis.com/; Mark Twain's site is: http://www.hobby1.com/.

On my off day from work today, I went to my doctor's office for a physical exam. Overall, he says I'm in good shape, but he did ask me to get some blood tests done soon. Tonight, I went to Faust Park in Chesterfield for a food truck festival. I got tacos, chips and salsa from a Mexican food truck, and shaved ice from another truck. It was nice, there was a good turnout for this event, and a cover band was playing.

Later.

01 July 2015

Looking Ahead to Independence Day 2015

Last Thursday night (25 June), I performed my final volunteer shift for this season of Circus Flora. We had a great crowd under the big top for this performance of "One Summer on Second Street." I helped some customers find their seats, moving one woman with a can find a seat closer to the floor, and helping another customer find his missing cell phone. It was all good and we had another superb performance. Circus Flora's season ended last Sunday night, but I'm already looking forward to volunteering next year. For more on the circus, including making donations to them, visit http://circusflora.org/.

Work has been going very well at the car rental branch in recent days. For me, that included working last Saturday morning (27 July), which went rather smoothly for a Saturday.

That night, I drove to Smugala's Pizza Pub in Sunset Hills, where I caught the Pub2Park shuttle bus to World Wide Technology Soccer Park for Saint Louis FC's match against New York Red Bulls II. There was a sold out crowd that night, but Saint Louis lost 4-1. However, I came away a winner of a cooler. My cell phone number was chosen at random early in the match and at halftime I claimed my prize. It's a very nice cooler, with the Saint Louis FC emblem on it, and I will be proud to bring beer or soda in it to some event. The club's on the road this week, but back home next Saturday; more information here: http://www.saintlouisfc.com.

I switched off with a colleague and am off today and working tomorrow, rather than the usual working Wednesday and off Thursday. After work last night, I took in the weekly staff meeting, then we went to the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings for happy hour. We had chicken wings and beer, with conversation, plus watching sporting events on the TVs there. That included the USA's 2-0 win over Germany in the FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal. The Stars and Stripes advanced to Sunday's final against the winner of tonight's England vs. Japan match. Looking forward to the final.

Before that, I'm looking forward to Independence Day this Saturday and to Fair Saint Louis in Forest Park late this week. My brother Brian will be drumming for Melissa Etheridge when she performs Friday night. I'll go see that show after work, and Brian told me by email today he may get me a VIP pass for Etheridge's show. He'll be in town until late Saturday night, so Mom and I can visit with him for a while before going on to the next tour stop. More on Fair Saint Louis here: http://www.fairsaintlouis.org/. Etheridge's official site is: http://www.melissaetheridge.com/.

Last weekend, I made my hotel reservations in Columbus, Ohio for the IPMS/USA National Convention later this month. So, all I need is to reserve a rental car, and I get an employee discount for that. Looking forward to this trip. More on the convention at: http://ipmsusa2015.com/.

Later.

25 June 2015

One History Discussion, Two Soccer Matches, One Dinner at the Circus

One week ago tonight (18 June) found me at Creve Coeur Airport for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's monthly meeting. This meeting was a panel discussion about Project Gemini on the 50th anniversary year of the first manned Gemini flight. Earl Mullins, curator and founder of The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, Missouri (http://www.space-mo.org/), moderated a most interesting discussion with a panel of five engineers and designers who worked on the Gemini spacecraft for McDonnell Aircraft. There was a good crowd at the meeting, including several from the St. Louis Space Frontier Meetup Group, which I am in, and was so happy to see them in attendance. More on that meeting here: http://moavhist.org/2015/06/03/moavhist-to-hold-exclusive-qa-panel-for-50th-anniversary-of-project-gemini/. (There will be video of this discussion to be posted on that website in due course.) More on the Meetup group at: http://www.meetup.com/Saint-Louis-Space-Frontier-Meetup/.

Right after work Friday, I was at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton to cheer on Saint Louis FC against Colorado Springs Switchbacks. The home side lost 1-0 in the USL match, but granted it was Saint Louis FC's third match in nine days (including a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tie three days before), I should not be too disappointed. Anyway, Saint Louis FC returns to action this Saturday night, when they host New York Red Bulls II. Tickets available; for more info, visit http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index. By the way, I read online this week (http://coachbailey.blog.com/2015/06/20/usl-attendance-2/) that Saint Louis FC is 5th in average attendance among USL teams to this point of the season. The team has averaged 4,573 fans per match--88 percent of Marshall Wireless Stadium's 5,200 capacity. Good going, Saint Louis FC supporters! Let's keep it up.

Late Saturday afternoon (20 June), I drove to Lutheran High School of St. Charles County in St. Peters, Missouri to watch St. Louis Lions face PDL rivals Springfield Synergy FC. (The match was moved to this artificial turf field from the Tony Glavin Complex in Cottleville, Missouri due to heavy rain this past week.) The Lions prevailed, 2-1, on a hot and muggy day. They are on the road for several games before returning home early next month. For more, visit their website: http://www.stllions.com/.

Sunday was spent at home staying cool and working a little on a scale model on my workbench. That night, I was at Circus Flora right after their 5:30 p.m. show to take in their annual volunteer dinner. The circus was thanking us volunteers for all our hard work during this season's show, "One Summer on Second Street." After posing for a photo, we entered the ring where a buffet dinner--including fried chicken, salad, baked beans, and strawberries--awaited. I had some food and took in the moment before going home. I'm back there to help out at tonight's show. "One Summer on Second Street" ends its run this Sunday, but you can still take in this marvelous show. More info, including tickets, here at: http://circusflora.org/.

It's been real hot and humid here this week, but at least the rain has held off (unlike the week before). Work has been going well, although the hot and humid conditions outside (as well as inside the wash bay) makes me realize the importance of staying hydrated during the day. Things are going real well for us at the branch.

Tuesday night (23 June) I was at CRM Hobbies in south St. Louis for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting, hosted by club president Chris Merseal at his shop. Those of us board members attending planned next month's general and business meetings, and discussed a bit of other club business. I also got in a bit of shopping at the store, which was normally closed those nights. More on the club at http://www.ipms-gateway.com/. The shop's website is: http://www.crmhobbies.com/.

Later.





18 June 2015

Wet, Warm Days

I volunteered again last Thursday night (11 June) at Circus Flora's show, "One Summer on Second Street." I was located on the opposite side of stands from where I was the two previous shows. Thus, I got to look at it from another angle. It is still such a great show, and recommend it highly. "One Summer on Second Street" runs through 28 June. Show info, including volunteering (the show still could use some volunteers) here: http://circusflora.org.

Work keeps me busy, as we got plenty of trade at our car rental branch. We said goodbye to one management trainee last week and welcomed another person to our branch staff. I was working last Saturday morning (13 June), with our manager, and we were kept most busy. However, we got through the morning fine. It's been rainy the past few days, adding much humidity to the heat of late spring here. This makes being outside working a bit more challenging, but not impossible.

After work last Tuesday (16 June), I went to Calvary Presbyterian Church for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. I brought in my completed Soviet UFO model, where it was entered into the Model of the Month Beauty Contest. It didn't win, but it did get some good comments. I found out that, due to a lack of completed entries, we won't enter our UFOs at next month's IPMS/USA National Convention, but would do so next year. A disappointment for me, after all the work I put in it. However, I do have two models I hope to have ready by the time the convention starts in Columbus, Ohio on 22 July. More on the club at http://ipms-gateway.com.

I've been paying attention to the FIFA Women's World Cup--on television and on my mobile phone--and am glad the USA made it to the Round of 16. I'm also following Saint Louis FC, who lost it's fourth round Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tie at Sporting Kansas City Tuesday night. Saint Louis FC is back home for a USL match against Colorado Springs Friday night. More here: http://saintlouisfc.com.

I'm off tonight to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting at Creve Coeur Airport. The 50th anniversary of Project Gemini will be celebrated with a panel discussion. Should be good. More on the group here: http://moavhist.org.

Later.