08 December 2017

Amid Cold Days, Holiday Greetings for Colleagues

The week started off fine at work. A usual busy Monday morning, and much business during the rest of the day.

Right after work, I drove to Firehouse Bar & Grill (http://www.firehousebarandgrillstl.com/) in Mehlville, where the annual soccer referee Christmas party was held. I did not feel like partying, so I only stayed long enough to pick up the two referee long-sleeve shirts I ordered.

After working much of the day Tuesday (5 December), I flexed out in mid-afternoon as I will be working this Saturday morning. Before going home, though, I stopped by the three nearest branches: Ballwin, Manchester, and Kirkwood. At all three stops, I dropped off a can of cookies along with copies of my annual newsletter to people I know at those locations. At Ballwin, that would be manager Tessie, management trainees Melissa and William, and preps Steve and Wayne. Manager Billy and driver David received the newsletters at Manchester. I also dropped off cookies and a newsletter for Kory at Manchester Car Sales, co-located with Rent-a-Car. Finally, at Kirkwood, my newsletters went to manager Hannah and management trainees Maggie and Katy. I then came home to rest up, as I felt real tired.

I put in a full day of work on Wednesday, which went well, although temperatures fell that day to just below freezing early in the morning and not much above freezing that afternoon. At home that night, I made plans for the next day.

That Thursday, I got my hair cut at Great Clips (https://www.greatclips.com/), then treated myself to a hot drink and pastry at St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html).

After that brief refreshment stop, it was on to seven locations to bring Holiday greetings to my colleagues. First, it was Creve Coeur, where I had newsletters for manager Cody, assistant manager Jacob (soon to be manager in Washington, Mo.), and management trainer Phillip. Then, manager Tim in Chesterfield garnered my visit. (The day before, a light plane crashed into a service station parking lot across the street, killing the pilot. The wreckage was being removed when I drove by there.)

I headed northwest to St. Charles rental to visit Derek, then nearby St. Charles Car Sales to greet Cayla and Anthony. I then went to Florissant, where I had cookies and a newsletter for manager Justin. Finally, it was to Glen Carbon rental, where assistant manager Leah greeted me and the cookies. I also had the same for assistant sales manager Dan at the co-located car sales location. (Dan recently arrived there from Manchester.) In all, a nice day to be out and about.

That night, Mom and I went out for Chinese dinner at Lemay Wok (https://www.yelp.com/biz/lemay-wok-saint-louis) in Mehlville, where I had the Sweet and Sour Pork. Back home, I remembered the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by playing the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" on my DVD player.

Today, it started below freezing, but warmed up a bit by sunset. We had a full day of work, including bringing in quite a few vehicles from our drop locations late in the day. Things look fine heading into tomorrow morning.


03 December 2017

Into December 2017

Last weekend was a calm one, after the excitement (such as it was) of Thanksgiving. It was just time to chill out at home.

Back to work on Monday (27 November), and it was a busy Monday morning as usual--a bit more so, coming off the holiday weekend. All of us at the Ellisville branch got through the day and this past week with professionalism and effort, and things went very well overall.

Right after work Wednesday night (29 November), I dashed off to World Wide Technology Soccer Park (http://www.saintlouisfc.com/soccerpark) for my annual soccer referee recertification clinic. The lecture portion of the clinic was under way when I arrived; it was covering areas of emphasis for us referees working youth matches. At the end, I received my 2018 referee patch, which I can now wear on my uniform while refereeing US Soccer Federation (https://www.ussoccer.com/) matches.

Off work Thursday, I got my laundry done and went to Office Max (https://www.officedepot.com/) to get some copies run off of my annual newsletter, as well as ink for my home computer printer. I also treated myself to coffee and pastry at the St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html/) location near South County Center in Mehlvile.

That afternoon, I delivered newsletters and cookies to some of my colleagues. First, I went to the Enterprise Holdings, Inc. (https://www.enterpriseholdings.com/en/index.html) headquarters in Clayton to have my newsletter and two cans of cookies delivered to my friend Mel in Field Support. Then, I went to an Enterprise office in Overland to deliver my newsletter and cookies to my friend Kerry in Corporate Information Management (IM). Mel and Kerry later informed me how much they appreciated my gesture.

Friday morning (1 December), as usual, I brought doughnuts at Krispy Kreme (http://krispykreme.com/) in Fenton for my colleagues. The day started fairly quickly, then it got rather quiet much of the day until we had a most busy end of the work day. All was good at the end, though. I also drew the name of a colleague to play "Secret Santa" for, in a gift exchange to be made at a pre-Christmas area "happy hour."

The St. Louis Artists' Guild (http://www.stlouisartistsguild.org/new/) in Clayton was where I was yesterday morning for this month's Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC) (http://www.mpc-nfpw.org/cpsiteframepage.lasso?-token.lpuserref=113815.113118) meeting. This gathering featured a discussion, "How to Tell a Better Story," with tips on better storytelling for various audiences. The panelists were: Eli Chen, science editor of St. Louis Public Radio (http://news.stlpublicradio.org/) and producer of The Story Collider podcast (https://www.storycollider.org/); and Dr. Ken Haller, a Pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital (http://www.ssmhealth.com/locations/cardinal-glennon-childrens-hospital), professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University (http://www.slu.edu/), and an actor and cabaret performer. It was a most fascinating program, which included Chen and Haller answering questions from the audience. I was able to chat a bit with fellow MPC members before and after the program.

I did a bit of shopping yesterday afternoon; otherwise, I stayed at home this weekend. I did some prep work for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) newsletter, The Arch Scaler News.


25 November 2017

Refereeing, Soccer, and A Low-Key Thanksgiving

Last weekend, I was out on the pitch for the last weekend of youth soccer matches in the Fall season. One week ago (18 November), the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex (http://loufuszsoccer.com/facilities/) in Maryland Heights for three under-13 matches. It was cold and windy, and it rained heavily midway through my set. Fortunately, my crew got through our matches in good order.

The next morning, I went to Sportport International (http://www.sportportintl.com/) in Maryland Heights for another three match set of under 13/14 contests. It was at least sunny, but just about freezing when we started. My crew mates and I did our best and kept the matches under control.

Back home after those matches, I went online to take--and pass--my online futsal referee test, which was part of my annual recertification. The next night (20 November), after work, I headed to the Lamborghini Gold Coast Athletic Centre (http://lamboathletic.com/) in St. Charles for the futsal referee clinic. We went over areas of emphasis in the Laws of the Game (no changes from last year) and in the two youth leagues in the St. Louis area. Later, we went on one of the futsal fields in the complex to practice mechanics and go over common situations. After that, I and the others received our 2018 futsal referee patches. The youth season started this weekend.

Work at the Ellisville branch this past week was good. We had quite a bit of traffic, mostly from customers renting out for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It peaked on Wednesday afternoon, with much activity before we closed for the holiday on Thursday.

Early Monday morning, before going to work, I dropped my Mom off at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (https://www.flystl.com/), so she could catch her flight to Charleston, South Caroline. She has been with my brother Rick and his family there for the Thanksgiving holiday. So far, it is going well. Mom comes back to St. Louis Tuesday afternoon.

Last Tuesday night (21 November), I came to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for the IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting. I helped judge the last Modeler of the Year contest of 2017, with Ice and Snow as the special category. Additionally, we took nominations for the Bob Stroup Award (for being am ambassador for the club) and for the 2018 executive board. The revised Constitution and By-Laws were also discussed. I also received much praise for the work I did in taking over the IPMS/Gateway newsletter, The Arch Scaler News. That was most gratifying to me.

Thanksgiving this year was rather low-key for me, with no one around with which to celebrate. I stayed home all day, heating a turkey and stuffing entree in the microwave for my feast. It was a day for binge watching online, as I took in the annual MST3K Turkey Day Marathon of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (http://www.mst3k.com/) episodes, which humor me to no end.

Yesterday was a relatively quiet Friday at work, with some rentals and returns, but not the great rush for Fridays. This was due to people traveling for the holiday and that many repair shops we work with were closed that day. In fact, I got off work about 30 minutes early, and the rest of the crew got off soon after the facility closed at 6 pm.

This morning, it was time for beer and soccer on TV at Amsterdam Tavern (http://amsterdamtavern.com/) in south St. Louis. I joined with other FC Schalke 04 (https://schalke04.de/en/) supporters as that team played Borussia Dortnumd in the Reveirderby in Germany. We enjoyed a free German breakfast--sausage and sauerkraut on a bun--and beer as we watched the match on TV. There was despair at first, as Dortmund jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first half. However, Schalke came back to score four second-half goals--two after a Dortmund player was sent off for his second caution of the match--and this ended in a 4-4 draw. I saw one of my fellow St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/), Kate, in the rather crowded bar.

Also appearing at Amsterdam Tavern that morning were Schalke's mascot, Erwin, and Louie, the St. Louis Blues (https://www.nhl.com/blues) mascot. I also got a free Schalke 04 scarf and can coozie. Quite a morning in St. Louis, and quite a match!

Now composing blog post, while getting my laundry done. I also finished work earlier today on my annual Holiday newsletter, which I will send out soon to family, friends, and acquaintances.


17 November 2017

SLIFF Concludes, Plus Work and Meetings

One week ago Thursday night (9 November) found me at the Tivoli Theatre (https://www.landmarktheatres.com/st-louis/tivoli-theatre) in the Delmar Loop for my second volunteer assignment of this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) (http://www.cinemastlouis.org/about-festival). I handed out fan ballots and demographic surveys for the film "The Light of the Moon," a drama about a woman in New York City dealing with being raped. This screening replaced the originally scheduled film for that night, "The Upside," which was pulled before the festival due to the sexual harassment allegations against its producer, Harvey Weinstein. "The Light of the Moon" was very well done, and I stayed after the movie to catch some of the panel discussion on sexual assault, as well as helping collect ballots and surveys.

Back at work the next morning, it was a usual busy (for much of the day) Friday, but all went well.

Saturday morning (11 November), I drove to the Missouri History Museum (https://mohistory.org/) in Forest Park for my next SLIFF volunteer stint. I helped pass out ballots and surveys for two films screened there: The French (but dubbed into English) animated feature "Mune: Guardian of the Moon," a nice family-friendly film; and "Nat Bates for Mayor," a documentary about a mayor's race in Richmond, California in 2014. I was able to get a break midway through my stint, so I grabbed lunch at Bixby's restaurant (http://bixbys-mohistory.com/) and browsed through the Museum Shop (https://mohistory.org/shop). In the latter, I found copies of the book "The Aerial Crossroads of America: St. Louis's Lambert Airport," which the Museum has published and which I helped out a bit in research.

After my shift ended at the Missouri History Museum, I went to Coffee Cartel (http://www.thecoffeecartel.com/) in the Central West End for a latte. I sat in the shop for awhile enjoying my beverage and the view out the window.

After a break at home, it was on to Winifred Moore Auditorium at Webster University (http://www.webster.edu/) for my fourth SLIFF volunteer assignment. This was a screening of a restored print of "Wanda," a 1970 crime drama that was written by, directed by, and starred Barbara Loden. It was quite a good movie--very sparse dialog, no music, a basic movie that was the antithesis of Hollywood product. I enjoyed the movie, in between distributing and then collecting ballots and surveys.

Home on Sunday, I worked on the November issue of The Arch Scaler News, the newsletter of IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/). This month, I am taking over from Brad Vaughn as newsletter editor, a job I held in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, with advances in word processing and desktop publishing, I can do a much better quality newsletter than I did back then.

That night, I was at Brown Hall at Washington University (https://wustl.edu/) for my fifth and final SLIFF volunteer assignment. It was providing surveys and selling concessions at the documentary "Intent to Destroy." It was about the Armenian Genocide just over 100 years ago and the making of the 2016 feature film "The Promise," which was set during that time. I was most impressed by this film, seeing film and pictures of that period that I had never seen anywhere before. I came home tired but happy to have helped out in at least a small way in making SLIFF a success.

I followed a busy (as usual) Monday (13 November) at work with a meeting at Christian Academy of Greater of St. Louis (http://public.cagsl.net/) in Overland for the monthly board meeting of Viva Brasil STL (https://www.vivabrasilstl.org/). Carolina Holtmeyer, the board president, invited me to attend because she and other board members think I would be a great fit for their board. I went with an open mind, but came away with a good impression. I told them I would be interested in serving on their board for 2018. Elections for that will be held at next month's board meeting.

After work Tuesday and Wednesday, I came home to work on The Arch Scaler News. I assembled the articles and photos into a document that would be sent via email and US Mail.

Early yesterday morning, I drove to the corner of Bayless and Union/Weber in Lemay to buy a newspaper for Old Newsboys Day (http://www.stltoday.com/old-newsboys-day/). Held one week before Thanksgiving since 1957, this program raises money for St. Louis area children's charities by volunteers selling a special edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Articles inside the paper tell of the children impacted by these charities. People paid what they could for the newspaper--I paid $5 for my copy.

Back home after that, I finished the newsletter and printed a handful of copies at OfficeMax (https://www.officedepot.com/) in Mehlville, for those members who wanted a mailed copy. Then, I got postage on them at the Post Office and mailed them out. That night, I send the majority of members The Arch Scaler News via email, along with a copy of the revised Constitution and By-Laws, to be considered at the meeting this Tuesday night. I was very happy to get this first newsletter of my new stint done.

Last night, I was at Creve Coeur Airport (http://crevecoeurairport.com/) for this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) meeting. This event was the launch of the new book "Swift As An Arrow: The Story of Thomas Benoist, Pioneer American Aviator," by Melody Davis (grand niece of Benoist) and Gary R. Liming, a board member of the Society. I bought a copy of the book, signed by the co-authors, and watched a slideshow on Benoist that Liming presented to the audience. Several descendants of Benoist were in attendance at the meeting. I also put in my reservation for the Society's Christmas party next month, to be held at Creve Coeur Airport.


09 November 2017

TigerCon, SLIFF, and Scott Kelly in Town

Last Friday morning (3 November), per usual, I stopped by Krispy Kreme (http://krispykreme.com/) to buy some doughnuts for my colleagues on the way to work. The day went well at work and all hands were able to get our vehicles cleaned and positioned on the lot before calling it a day.

My IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) colleague Bill Wagner came by my house the next morning to pick me up, then drove to Hazelwood to pick up our mate Nick Elliot before before heading to Columbia, Missouri. We--and others from the club--were there for TigerCon, the annual scale model contest presented by IPMS/Central Missouri Scale Modelers (CMSM) (http://www.cmsm-ipms.org/). After a pretty good drive, we three arrived at Hickman High School, the show venue, and checked in our contest models. (I had four entries.) We touched base with others there, including our fellow club members, admired the models in the contest room, and shopped among the vendors. I bought one aircraft kit and two tools from vendors there.

I also helped to judge automotive entries in the contest, which went rather well. IPMS/CMSM said this was the most number of attendees and contest entries for TigerCon, which was in its 7th year. I did not win for any of my entries, but a few of my club mates won awards. I also won an aircraft kit in the raffle. Overall, a nice day in Columbia for us. We got back to town early that night.

Sunday morning (5 November) found me at Kolping Fields in south St. Louis County, officiating youth soccer matches. I refereed the first match and ran lines on the other two. They went well, and the warm and humid weather for this time of year meant I wore my short sleeve uniform shirt.

That night, I was at .ZACK (http://www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org/zack/) for my first volunteer assignment at this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) (http://www.cinemastlouis.org/about-festival). I scanned tickets for attendees before they entered the theater to watch the documentary feature "Working in Protest." (My friend Kim Althage was among those who attended the screening.) Myself and the other volunteer were in the lobby during the screening, and right afterward took fan ballots and demographic surveys from the attendees. The ballots were counted and the venue captain then reported the results to SLIFF organizers. It was a pleasant night to be out at the movies.

Back to work on Monday morning, and we had one very busy morning with many customers coming in to pick up or drop off vehicles. I was sure kept on my toes. We got through the day just fine, though.

After work on Tuesday, I went to St. Louis University High School (SLUH) (http://www.sluh.org/) in west St. Louis. I attended a talk by former astronaut Scott Kelly (http://www.scottkelly.com/), who spent 340 days aboard the International Space Station in 2015-16. The event was presented by Left Bank Books (http://www.left-bank.com/), and my ticket to the event included a signed copy of Kelly's book, "Endurance." Ramanath Cowsik, James S. McDonnell Professor of Space Sciences at Washington University of St. Louis, interviewed Kelly about how he became an astronaut and his experiences in space. Then, Kelly took a few questions from the audience. It was a most interesting talk--informative throughout, with a bit of wit. I am very much looking forward to reading "Endurance."

Work yesterday was well--after a calm late morning and early afternoon, we had a most busy late afternoon. We still got it done, though, exceeding customer expectations.

Off work today, I spent time helping Mom out in trimming some shrubbery, doing my laundry, and starting work on this month's issue of IPMS/Gateway's newsletter, The Arch Scaler News. (I'm now editing this publication.) This afternoon, I headed to the Plaza Frontenac Cinema (https://www.landmarktheatres.com/st-louis/plaza-frontenac-cinema) to watch a SLIFF film. Going in free thanks to the voucher I received for Sunday's volunteer shift, I saw the Belgian/French comedy "Lost in Paris," which I and the audience found very funny. Tonight, I'm at the Tivoli Theatre (https://www.landmarktheatres.com/st-louis/tivoli-theatre) for a SLIFF volunteer shift. Hope to see you there!

I also have SLIFF volunteer shifts Saturday at the Missouri History Museum (10:30 am to 3 pm) and at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (6:45 to 10:30 pm), and Sunday at Washington University's Brown Hall (7 to 10 pm). Maybe I'll see you there.