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23 November 2014

Of Voodoos, SLIFF, Scale Models, and Old Newsboys Day

I'm running a few days late with this post, but it's been busy of late. Anyway, here goes: A week ago yesterday (15 Nov.), I was at the James J. Eagan Civic Center in Florissant for a special meeting of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (MAHS). This meeting celebrated the 60th anniversary of the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, a long-range fighter-bomber, photo reconnaissance, and interceptor aircraft. There was a panel discussion with pilots and engineers involved with the Voodoo, exhibits on the F-101 from the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum, and a movie about two record setting flights flown by Voodoos in the late 1950s. It was a most interesting program, and afterward I took photos of a restored F-101F interceptor-trainer displayed outside the Civic Center. More info on this event on the MAHS website: http://moavhist.org/

That night, I pulled my first volunteer shift at this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) at Winifred Moore Auditorium in Webster Hall on the Webster University campus. As a volunteer, I helped answer questions from attendees, offer festival programs and give fan ballots to attendees, collect and tally ballots after the films, and even got to see some movies once my pre-show duties were done. Two environmental themed documentaries were shown that night: "Wrenched," about author and environmental activist Edward Abbey and his influence on environmental activists today; and "Above All Else," about activists in east Texas using passive resistance to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from passing through their land. Both were compelling in their own ways. More on SLIFF later in this post; for more on SLIFF and its organizer, here's the website: http://cinemastlouis.org/

After work last Monday (17 Nov.), I was in the police building of St. Louis Community College-Meramec, in Kirkwood. No, I wasn't in trouble with the law; it happened to be the venue for the annual futsal referee recertification clinic. My colleagues and I learned of the law changes, points of emphasis for the coming season, and (after presenting proof of registration payment and passing the online test) I received my referee badge for the new year.

It was cold early this past week, with temperatures below freezing. Fortunately, it wasn't really a problem at work (and work has been going well for me this past week). That was not the case this past Tuesday night, when IPMS/Gateway met at Calvary Presbyterian Church. The heater was not working, so it was rather cold inside the fellowship hall and many of us kept our coats on. Nevertheless, we did get in our final Modeler of the Year contest with the Humor special category, plus beginning to accept nominations for the 2014 Bob Stroup Award for Outstanding Achievement and 2015 club officers.

Last Thursday (20 Nov.) was my off day from work, but not from volunteering. I was up early to be a newsboy on Old Newsboys Day, an annual fundraiser for St. Louis area children's charities. I joined two other volunteers in Mehlville--the corner of Victory Drive and Lemay Ferry Road--to hawk the special edition newspaper, for whatever people care to donate. In just over three hours, I sold at least 20 papers and raised about $40. I was a bit cold from the weather, but warm in my heart for my efforts.

Later that morning, after a stop at home to change clothes and warm up, I drove to Plaza Frontenac Cinema for another SLIFF volunteer shift. Here's I helped staff the information table, although I did go see one movie: "Traitors" (Exit Maroc), a thriller from Morocco about a female punk singer who helps smuggle drugs in order to raise money for her parents and her band. Very interesting film. By the way, the SLIFF venue captain I worked with, Barbie Snitzer, reviews movies on her website: http://lemoviesnob.com/ Check it out.

That night, I was at Robert R. Hermann Stadium to support Saint Louis University's men's soccer team against Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA Championship. Two second half goals gave the Billikens a 2-0 win that sent me and most people at the stadium home happy. SLU plays at Louisville today (23 Nov.) in the second round. More at http://www.slubillikens.com/

After work on Friday, I was at Brown Hall on the Washington University campus for my third and final SLIFF volunteer shift. They screened a German film, "Windstorm" (Ostwind-Grenzelos frei), about a girl sent by her mother to the girl's grandmother in the country for a few weeks. Although she had never been near a horse in her life, the girl immediately took to a highly spirited horse, which she learns to ride in equestrian competition. (Think "The Horse Whisperer" meets "Rocky.") I really liked this movie.

I worked yesterday morning, then drove to the Delmar Loop neighborhood in University City to watch a SLIFF movie at the Tivoli Theatre. I saw "A Master Builder," a drama about a controlling architect who sees his control challenged late in his life. It was riveting; I could not take my eyes off the screen. After that, I drove to Webster University for a SLIFF special event, "Tribute to the Nicholas Brothers." Repertory film programmer and Nicholas Brothers friend Bruce Goldstein presented a talk about Fayard and Harold Nicholas, two African-American dancers who starred on stage and in movies from the 1920s through the 1990s. I really enjoyed this program, and I had a greater appreciation of and respect for the Nicholas Brothers after watching this.

I hope to catch one more SLIFF film today, plus taking care of some personal business. I have plans for Thanksgiving this Thursday. More on that in my next post.

Later.

13 November 2014

Scale Modeling Road Trip to Chicagoland

After work last Friday (7 Nov.), I got myself and my gear into a rental car and drove to Springfield, Illinois for a night stop. Early the next morning, I checked out of the hotel in Springfield and drove to Downers Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The Butch O'Hare Chapter of the International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) was presenting its annual model contest at Lakeview Junior High School. It was my first time attending this show and I was most impressed. I entered two aircraft models in the contest, but did not place in the contest. This contest had a few general categories (aircraft, armor, cars, etc.) and judging teams that could award an unlimited number of gold, silver, and bronze medals in these categories. There were many high quality models in the contest, and some displays by the Butch O'Hare Chapter and several other model clubs in Chicagoland.

There was also a large vendor room to shop at, and I did buy a kit each from two of these vendors, plus a precision glue applicator tool from a third vendor. Having purchased six raffle tickets, I was lucky and won three more kits there. I saw a few friends from IPMS/Gateway who were there for the show, and a former IPMS/Gateway member now in the Chicago area. A friend living near Downers Grove, Kris Monroe, came by the show for awhile to visit with me. I knew Kris when she was playing softball for Saint Louis University while I was working in sports information there in the late 1980s. We had been in touch over Facebook, but this was out first face-to-face meeting in years. We got caught on things and I showed her around the show, which impressed Kris. (I had hoped to see some other friends in the area, but they weren't available for various reasons. Maybe next time.)

After the show, I checked into a hotel in Downers Grove and--apart from going out for dinner--stayed in my room until the next morning. After getting breakfast, I checked out and started the drive home to St. Louis, where arrived in the late afternoon. I was tired, but happy. The rental car worked great for me during this approximately 610 mile (981.7 km) round trip.

Monday morning (10 November), I drove the rental car to the branch to report for work and to settle my account. Work has been good this week, although the sudden downturn in temperature from Tuesday morning on took some getting used to.

Off work today, I got my hair cut, got a flu shot, and mailed a package to my brother Doug. Also, I got my laundry done. Back to work tomorrow.

This Saturday, I'll be at the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting in Florissant in the afternoon, and at Webster University that night for my first volunteer shift at this year's St. Louis International Film Festival. Information on these events at http://moavhist.org/ and http://cinemastlouis.org/, respectively.

Later.

06 November 2014

A Weekend of Soccer, and a Great Book Club Meeting

After working at the car rental branch last Saturday morning (1 Nov.)., I came home to get ready, then went to Fox High School in Arnold to officiate two boys' youth select soccer matches. I was in the middle for the first game, an under-14 contest, which was rather spirited, and I had to issue two yellow cards--one per team--to help keep the players in line. Fortunately, all ended well. I had to work with only one regular referee, as there was a shortfall of available officials, and we had to use a club linesman for each of the two games we did. I'm glad to say it worked out well.

The next day, I was at Saint Louis University's Robert R. Hermann Stadium to cheer on the Billikens against Rhode Island in the final regular season home fixture. The Billikens left it late, but won it 1-0 on a goal scored in a goalmouth scramble three minutes from full time.

Work has been well this week. I was allowed to go home early on Monday and Wednesday, which I take was due partly to the efficiency of myself and my fellow car preps.

It was good to have gotten off early yesterday (5 Nov.), as this allowed me to get to Laredo on Lafayette Square, a Mexican restaurant in south St. Louis, in time for the Big Ideas Book Discussion Group Meetup. There were eight of us last night to enjoy Mexican cuisine and to discuss the book "The Man Who Never Died," a biography of Swedish-born US labor activist Joe Hill. He lived in the western US in the early 20th century, until he was executed by Utah in 1915 for a double homicide the year before in Salt Lake City. Many believed Hill was innocent of the crime and that he was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed because of his association with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), for which he wrote songs. The book, by William M. Adler, provides a fully-researched look at Hill and his times. The consensus of our group was that this was a good book, if bogged down in detail at times, and recommended reading. The meal was very nice. This was my first time dining at Laredo on Lafayette Square, and I very much hope it will not be long before I dine there again.

I'm traveling this weekend. Will tell you more in my next post.

Later.

31 October 2014

Halloween 2014: Grease is the Word at Work

For Halloween today, our branch adopted the theme of the musical "Grease." Other branch offices of our company adopted their own themes. We had the office decorated with streamers and pennants like Rydell High in the story, and we dressed up like characters from the musical. In my case, I wore a leather jacket, t-shirt, and jeans, plus my hair was slicked back. I came off pretty good, I thought. It was fun.

Work has been going well for me personally and for the branch. That's good. I hope to send a bit of my business there way soon.

Back on the soccer pitch last Sunday (26 Oct.), I was at Fox High School's stadium in Arnold, Mo. for a three game set. My middle was the first match, which pitted two under-14 boys' teams. It went well, with no controversies and plenty of action. I'm back at Fox High tomorrow (1 Nov.).

After work on Tuesday (28 Oct.), I drove to CRM Hobbies in south St. Louis, where this month's IPMS/Gateway business meeting was held. We planned out general and business meetings for November and discussed other club business. I took down the notes as secretary and will type up the minutes for the board and our newsletter in due course.

Speaking of IPMS/Gateway, I was at the Northwest Branch of the Jefferson County Library in House Springs, Mo. yesterday morning. I took my models out of the display case in the library, where our club had a display there this past month. It was good to help contribute to such a display, which helped promote our club and our hobby. For more on IPMS/Gateway, you can visit their website: http://ipms-gateway.com.

Later.

23 October 2014

A Friend and Colleague Now in the Hall of Fame

Last Saturday afternoon (18 Oct.), I joined with my friend and refereeing colleague Austin Gomez and some other colleagues in going to the America's Center in downtown St. Louis. There, at the America's Ballroom, Gomez and ten others were inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame. He was chosen for his 50-year career as a soccer referee, instructor, and assessor. It was my first time at this event, and I was impressed. The crowd of just over 1100 also saw several other former and present players and coaches honored by the Hall. I was very happy for Gomez, who I have known for nearly 30 years and have worked with several times on games. (I got my picture taken with Gomez before the dinner.) There is more information on the Hall and this year's inductees on their website: http://www.stlsoccerhalloffame.com/

The next afternoon found me at the Kolping Kicks Complex in south St. Louis County, where I officiated two youth matches. After running line on a rather one-sided under-18 girls' match, I took charge of a under-13 boys' match that was much closer: 1-0, with the goal scored well into the second half. It went well, and I didn't feel too bad in my legs afterward.

Work has been well this week, with the weather cool and more autumn-like this week. After work on Monday night (20 Oct.), I was at the Grand Glaize Branch of the St. Louis County Library for the monthly referee clinic. The new hall of famer Austin Gomez moderated talk about on recent game situations and what the correct calls were, and presented acronyms for refereeing concepts.

Tuesday night after work, I was at the IPMS/Gateway meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church. We had our model of the month "beauty contest" and a demo from Mike George on glossy paint finishes for car models. Well attended meeting and we had a new member join us at the meeting. More on our club at our website: http://ipms-gateway.com/

Off work today and taking it easy. A handyman has been here the past two days installing new doors on the house, which do look very nice.

Later.

18 October 2014

Through Rain to Crisp Autumn Days

We've been having some rainy days lately here in St. Louis, certainly since I last wrote here. Fortunately, those days were just made for the enclosed wash bay at work. What a difference that bay has been for our branch in getting vehicles turned around and ready to rent. Yesterday, it was nice and sunny and so is today, with cooler temperatures more in line with this time of year.

Last Sunday (12 Oct.), I was at Columbia High School, on the artificial turf. I had a rather exciting under 13 boys match in the middle to open my set. One team took the lead late in the first half, but the other team leveled it at 1 about two minutes from full time. Then, the second game didn't happen because only one team showed up. (The other team may have had a schedule problem that caused them to missed this day and time.) Our crew hung out until the final game, a nice under 13 girls match although it ended a scoreless draw.

My mother's brother, Harold R. Koenig, Jr., came to town this past week from his home in Fircrest, Washington. He was here from last Sunday to last Wednesday and we had a nice time (although I only saw him in the evenings, since he was asleep when I left for work). He's doing fine, considering his age, and it was good to see him.

Thursday night, I joined six other non-fiction book lovers at Rich and Charlie's in Crestwood for the Big Ideas Book Discussion Group Meetup. Over a good Italian dinner, we talked about the book "Story of My People" by Italian author Eduardo Nesi. He writes about how globalization negatively affected him and his town. Nesi had to sell his family's clothing plant due to cheap imports from China. We had a great discussion and are looking forward to meeting again next month to talk about another book.

This morning, I was at the St. Louis Artists' Guild building at Clayton's Oak Knoll Park for the Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC) meeting. MPC is a group of writers and PR people, virtually all women, who meet to promote professional development. Today's program featured a local best-selling fiction writer, Susan McBride, speaking on her writing career. A rather fascinating program, I felt.

Tonight, I'm at the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame Induction in downtown St. Louis. More on that in my next post.

Later.




09 October 2014

Back in the Middle, and Cleaning Up at Work

Off work today, but work has been going well. Keeping busy getting vehicles cleaned up and ready to rent, and driving customers. Having the enclosed wash bay with the powered water hose has almost become second nature to me. Our vehicles are turned around rather quickly, being washed inside and out. This should help us improve our customer ratings. Of course, with the washing of the vehicles comes keeping the wash bay floor clean, so whenever we get a break and before leaving for the day I sweep the floor, brushing away the excess water, liquid soap, dirt, and leaves.

I had my first soccer games of the fall last Sunday (5 Oct.) at the AC Columbia complex in Columbia, Illinois. My crew was assigned to work three games there; however, the middle game was not played as neither team showed up. I had the middle on the first match, an under-13 boys' contest, in which one team was so far better than its opponent. After going up 9-0 at halftime, the leading team's coach told us he was having his players let up in the second half. They did and the match ended 9-0. It was a challenge in a match like this to keep my focus and to make sure neither team misbehaved. The teams did behave well and all were in good spirits after the match. The line I ran on the under-12 boys' match later that day was fine. I have games scheduled for this Sunday, also at AC Columbia, weather permitting.

After work on Tuesday (7 Oct.), I drove to Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles to run the IPMS/St. Louis meeting. We discussed the club's new website (http://www.ipms-stlouis.com/) and modeling topics. On the way to the meeting, I listened to part of the Cardinals' National League Division Series game and heard the call of Matt Adams' three-run home run that put St. Louis ahead to stay. I let out a big yell at that event. They won the game and play in the National League Championship Series starting this weekend.

Later.