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27 August 2015

Not a Bad Week

It was rather pleasant this week, with mild (for August) temperatures making the days go easier. Plenty of work so far at the car rental branch, with many vehicles to prep for rental.

Off early on Tuesday (25 August), as I'm working this Saturday morning, I chilled out at home. After supper, I traveled with two clubmates to Doug Barton's house in Foristell for this month's IPMS/Gateway business meeting. We planned the September general meeting and discussed the upcoming Region 5 Contest on 12 September. Preparations for that show are going well. I am looking forward to that event. More on the club and the regional here: http://ipms-gateway.com.

Off work today, I got my hair cut and did a bit of shopping. The latter included a nice new external hard drive for my computer. That will make it easier with all the images I have and will have. I was also put in contact with a local newspaper reporter wanting to do a story on the IPMS Regional Contest next month. It will be great to get some more publicity for this event.

I also spent some time this week editing a few more items for the Fall issue of Naturally Autistic magazine, due out in early October. I had some glitches in getting some stories downloaded from email to edit, but once that was overcome, the editing went well. More on the magazine here: http://www.naturallyautistic.com.

This weekend after work, I'll be a volunteer at the International Institute's Festival of Nations, a multi-cultural celebration in St. Louis' Tower Grove Park. I'll help staff a drinks booth on Saturday and a souvenir stand on Sunday. Hope to see you there! More at: http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/.

Later.


23 August 2015

Work, Meetings, and A Thrilling Match

Work continues to go well, and keeping me busy. A week ago Saturday (15 August), I stayed nearly an hour over our closing time to help our assistant manager get some last minute customers into vehicles. It was a lot of effort with only two of us in the branch that day, but we got the customers taken care of, and that's the important part.

After that, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to Creve Coeur Airport for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting, held on a special day. This was to accommodate the guest speaker, John Roper, co-author of the book "Kansas City B-25 Factory." It tells of the factory in Kansas City that produced B-25 Mitchell medium bombers during World War II. I missed Roper's presentation, due to being held over at work, but I did catch the screening of the movie "Catch-22" that followed the talk. I had never seen that movie before in its entirety and thought it was pretty good. More on that meeting and the group here: http://moavhist.org/.

After work Tuesday (18 August), I headed right for Calvary Presbyterian Church in Mehlville for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. I opened the fellowship hall up and helped get it set up for the meeting, which featured a demo on judging ships and figures. We also had another very nice turnout for the Model of the Month "Beauty Contest," plus one more plug for the Region 5 Convention we're hosting on 12 September. More on the club here: http://www.ipms-gateway.com/.

Two days later, I was off work and headed for Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to pick up my Mom, who was flying back from Los Angeles. She spent two weeks with my brother Doug, his wife Helen, and their twin boys born over four months ago. Before arriving at the airport, I said hello to a colleague now working at our firm's Airport location and shopped at the Boeing Store near the airport. After arriving at the airport, I read on the monitors that Mom's flight was delayed, so I headed to lunch at a fast food restaurant and visited some stores before returning to Lambert. Mom's flight arrived and she was there for me to welcome her home. After getting her baggage, I drove Mom home.

That night, I was at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for Saint Louis FC's match against Charleston Battery. This was the return fixture, as both teams played to a 1-1 draw in Charleston the previous Saturday. Charleston went up 2-0 scoring in the first 18 minutes of the match before Saint Louis FC pulled one back later in the first half. Saint Louis FC leveled it seven minutes from time, and won it in second half stoppage time off a free kick. I was seated as usual near the St. Louigans supporters group and we went nuts over that winning goal at the death. Right after the match, I joined other fans on the pitch celebrating the win before walking over to catch the shuttle bus back to Smugala's Pizza Pub. Quite a game. You can read more here: http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index. Also, http://stlouligans.com/.

Next weekend, I'll be at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis to help out at the Festival of Nations, a multicultural celebration. Hope you can come. Here's their website: http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/.

Later.

13 August 2015

Good Week So Far

This week has going well for me. Work has been busy at the car rental firm, but we're working hard to keep our customers satisfied.

Mom is doing well in Los Angeles, visiting my brother Doug and his twin boys. I'm keeping things running here at home. Just mowed the front lawn.

Earlier tonight, I went to dinner at Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria, in Rock Hill, Missouri. I've long been wanting to try this restaurant, and am very glad I did. I enjoyed a Kup's Egg Pizza, which features egg, sausage, and mushrooms. A very tasty meal, washed down with a fine local beer. As I left the restaurant, I chatted briefly with the owner, Katie Lee Collier, and her husband, Ted Collier. I let Katie know how much I enjoyed the meal and she was most appreciative of my kind words. I definitely recommend this restaurant. You can read more on it on their website: http://www.katiespizzaandpasta.com/.

After I work this Saturday morning, I head to Creve Coeur Airport for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting. They will have a speaker talking about production of B-25 Mitchell medium bombers in Kansas City during World War II, followed by a screening of the movie "Catch-22." More on this group here: http://moavhist.org/.

Later.


09 August 2015

Work, Scale Modeling, Soccer, and Seeing Mom Off

The weather is typical for St. Louis this time of year--hot and humid. Still, I carry on with everything. That includes work at the car rental branch, which has been steady busy of late with vacation travelers and business customers in the mix (along with those needing loaner cars). This past week our branch said goodbye to two management trainees: Nick, who's off to help manage the Cape Girardeau branch, and Mel, who's going up the street to our Kirkwood branch. I wished them all the best in their new positions.

Following work last Saturday morning (1 Aug.), I drove to Bridgeton for a working meeting of the St. Louis Space Frontier Meetup group. I was late, but got into the meeting as members discussed some business. This included membership rates and structure, a website for our group, and upcoming events. I found it very interesting, and hope to contribute to this group in the coming months. This group is on Meetup here: http://www.meetup.com/Saint-Louis-Space-Frontier-Meetup/.

After work last Tuesday (4 Aug.), I went to Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles for the IPMS/St. Louis meeting. I gave my colleagues a report on the IPMS/USA National Convention in Columbus. One of the attendees offered to give a demonstration on using pigments to weather models and will do so at next month's meeting (1 Sept.). More info on this group here: http://www.ipms-stlouis.com/.

My mother departed for Los Angeles this past Wednesday, visiting my brother Doug, his wife Helen, and their twin sons. She's be with them for about two weeks. I'm sure mom is so excited seeing her latest grandchildren.

Last night, I went to Smugala's Pizza Pub in Sunset Hills for a beer before hopping on the Pub2Park bus for Worldwide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton. There, I cheered on Saint Louis FC against FC Montreal. Despite several good chances in front of a record crowd of 5,321 fans, Saint Louis went down to defeat, 3-1. Before the match, I did stop by the Mission Taco Truck in the tailgate area for dinner (which was good). Saint Louis FC has some great support. I just wished the team would be doing better on the pitch. We'll see with their upcoming fixtures against Charleston Battery (away this Saturday, home five days later). More on the club here: http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index.

Later.

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.