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04 December 2016

Into December 2016

It was an afternoon at the movies last Sunday (27 November), when I went to the AMC Chesterfield 14 ( There, I joined with seven others from the STL Screeners Meetup group ( to see a presentation of the 1961 classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (, presented by Turner Classic Movies ( and Fathom Events ( This was the first time I saw this romantic comedy on a large screen with an audience, and it was a wonderful experience. After the movie, we gathered in the food court at Chesterfield Mall ( for dinner and discussion. A good time was had by all.

Work at the rental branch this week went well, with returns from Thanksgiving holiday travelers early in the week, plus quite a few customers at the repair shops needing loaners.

After work Monday night (28 November), I was off to St. Louis Community College-Meramec ( for my annual futsal referee recertification clinic. We reviewed local league policies and concerns, and saw video clips of high level game situations. I had paid my registration fee and passed the test online, so I received my 2017 futsal referee patch at the clinic's end, along with the others (some 20 colleagues with me).

I was back at STLCC-Meramec two nights later for my Beginning Portuguese class, the first in two weeks (we were off the night before Thanksgiving). We reviewed more items to help us understand the language a bit more. Just two more sessions to go in this course.

Off work Thursday, I took care of my laundry at home. That night, I was at Big A's on the Riverfront ( in St. Charles for a Pre-Dating Speed Dating ( event. I and nine other single males, in our late 40s and 50s, each had six-minute dates with women in our age range. It was a chance to size each other up and see if each was a good fit to further pursue. I felt nervous going in, not having done this sort of dating in a long while, but it went well. However, none of the ten ladies I talked to expressed interest in me. Oh, well, maybe next time.

Last Friday being pay day, I stopped by Krispy Kreme ( in Fenton on the way to work and bought a dozen doughnuts for my colleagues. They appreciate the every other Friday gesture.

I drove to Clayton yesterday morning for this month's meeting of the Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC) ( at the St. Louis Artists' Guild ( Laura Peters, director of archives at The Muny (, spoke about her efforts to pull together nearly 100 years of The Muny's history. She showed (via PowerPoint) photos of the Muny's Forest Park facilities over the years, actors of note who performed in Muny productions, and advertising in Muny show programs. A most interesting talk.

Then, I headed to the St. Louis Bread Co. ( in Brentwood Square. I parked in the lot to co-host by phone this month's edition of "Writer's Block" (, the online radio show about writing and storytelling from the autistic perspective. Host Tim Pylypiuk and I talked about Christmas Myths and Stories, touching on such classic tales as "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life." I had printed off the show's script and several online articles mentioned in that script, and had that with me in the car as I contributed my part of the discussion. This show (paired with Radio Drama in the second hour) is now archived online, for streaming or downloading for podcast.

After the show, I had lunch at that St. Louis Bread Co., then shopped at a few places on my way home.


27 November 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

One week ago last night (19 November) found me at Yemanja Brasil Restaurante ( in St. Louis' Benton Park neighborhood. I came for a delicious Brazilian dinner and a concert by Brazilian musician and movie director Gustavo "Buda" Acioli (; This evening was presented by the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (, and a few people I know from that group were also there. It was a wonderful show--even though I did not understand most of the words, I understood the passion and feeling "Buda" put into his music. (He played an electric guitar.) For my meal, I had an entrada (appetizer) of torradinhas, followed by the prato principal (main course), piscado miranda, which features cod. I washed those courses down with two caipirinhas. Overall, a very good night.

Up early the next morning, I was at World Wide Technology Soccer Park ( in Fenton, where I officiated three youth soccer (football) matches. These were all under 12 boys, 9v9 matches, on the final day of the Premier League fall season. My matches went well, including my middle in the second match.

This past week at the car rental branch was rather busy through Wednesday night, as quite a few customers were renting out for Thanksgiving Day weekend travels. Our branches were closed on Thanksgiving Day itself, and I was back the next day (25 November) for a rather quiet day, especially in the late afternoon. Same for yesterday morning, when I worked. Tomorrow will be a different story, for sure.

I flexed out of work on Tuesday afternoon (22 November), and came home. That night, I was at Brad and Julie Vaughn's house in House Springs for this month's IPMS/Gateway ( business meeting. After enjoying a supper of red beans and rice, prepared by the Vaughns, the club executive board (eboard) planned the December general and business meetings, and discussed some other club business.

Thanksgiving morning found me at home, watching parades on TV: The Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade in St. Louis, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Mom and I had a nice, if low-key, dinner with turkey breast and trimmings. That afternoon, I camped in front of my computer, watching the annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) Turkey Day Marathon on MST3K's YouTube channel ( It was fun watching these classic episodes of the show, especially "Manos: The Hands of Fate," one of my (and many other show fans') all-time favorites.

I skipped shopping on Black Friday (as I was working), and Small Business Saturday (working, and not having my shopping lists in yet). Maybe something will happen tomorrow, Cyber Monday.


19 November 2016

This Week: Work, Scale Models, and a Book Launch

Back to work at the car rental branch on Monday (14 November), we had a good amount of business as usual for the week's beginning, with returns off the weekend and rentals to start the week. I had plenty of vehicles to prep for rental, and to drive--be it to pick up or return customers, or to ferry vehicles to and from drop locations or other branches.

Right after work on Tuesday, I was off to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( in Mehlville for this month's IPMS/Gateway ( meeting. Our crowd was late in arriving, due to a traffic tie up on southbound Interstate 270/255 in south St. Louis County. (I got off I-270 at Tesson Ferry Road and made my way to Calvary from there.) We had our fourth and final model contest towards Modeler of the Year, which had Heavy Haulers as the special category. I didn't have any models to enter, and might have helped judge the contest, but was needed to record the meeting minutes, due to our secretary not being there. I did give a report on my recent trip to Kansas City and my visits to several museums there (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, National World War I Museum and Memorial, National Airline History Museum, TWA Museum). Additionally, I plugged the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting two nights later. (More on that meeting in a moment.)

My off day Thursday started with a drive to the corner of Union Road and Weber Road in Affton. There, and at a 7-Eleven store on the corner, I bought two Old Newsboys Day ( newspapers from volunteers, paying $1 for each. Old Newsboys Day--the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day--is a St. Louis tradition since 1957, in which volunteers sell a special edition newspaper, which donations going to local charities serving at-risk children. I was a volunteer newsboy last year, but was not asked this year, so I was happy to help out with a donation.

That afternoon, I picked up a suit from the dry cleaner, and dropped off some IPMS/Gateway flyers at Checkered Flag Hobby Country (, which had moved from Concord Village to a new location in Mehlville. The shop manager appreciated me bringing these flyers, which should be of help to his shop's scale modeling customers.

The Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( met at Creve Coeur Airport ( that night. Daniel L. Rust, a former professor at UMSL and now at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, made a presentation about the history of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport ( This was a tie-in to Rust's new book, which was released for sale at our meeting: "The Aerial Crossroads of America: St. Louis's Lambert Airport" ( After his talk, Rust signed copies of his book--including mine. This book is the culmination of the Society's Lambert History Project, an effort of over two years to chronicle the airport's story going back to its founding by Major Albert Bond Lambert in 1920. I was proud to have helped a bit in this project, and am very pleased to see this book in print at last. Copies of "The Aerial Crossroads of America" are available for purchase through the Missouri Historical Society (, the University of Chicago Press, at St. Louis area bookshops, and through ( All royalties from the book will go to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society.

Back at work yesterday, I brought in some doughnuts from Krispy Kreme ( for my colleagues. We had a lot jammed full of vehicles to clean and spot, and it was a challenge to find space for all of them. Still, we got things in good order by the time we closed up last night.


13 November 2016

Film Festival and Election Day

One week ago tonight (6 November) found me at Moore Auditorium of Webster Hall, Webster University ( It was my first volunteer stint at this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) ( I was an usher handing out fan ballots, SLIFF patron survey forms, and festival programs to audience members as they entered the theater. After the audience was taken care of, I could watch the movie, then collect the ballots and survey forms, and help tally up the audience votes. Last Sunday had a double feature, starting with the 2016 documentary "Long Live the King," about the enduring fascination with the 1933 classic film "King Kong." It was a very nice film, and was followed by some discussion lead by Tom Stockman, editor of We Are Movie Geeks ( Then, it was the second half of the bill, the aforementioned "King Kong," which I had not seen on a big screen with an audience before. It was thrilling as always.

My brother Rick and his family (wife Melissa, son Alex, and daughter Kate) had a fine time with my mom and me. More with my mom, since I was away at work and SLIFF much of the time they were there. They returned to Charleston on Tuesday. I was back at work on Monday.

After flexing out of work Tuesday afternoon (8 November), I drove to ROC Ministries ( in Mehlville to cast my vote in the national election. I was most happy to do my patriotic duty. Most of my candidates and issues lost, and I will leave it at that.

I put in a full day of work Wednesday, then was back at St. Louis Community College at Meramec ( for the Portuguese Language: Beginning II class. Our instructor Elizabeth from Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis ( guided us through more Portuguese, including numbers, months, and days of the week.

Off work Thursday (10 November), I got my hair cut by Great Clips ( on South County Centerway in Mehlville. I met a friend for lunch at the St. Louis Bread Co. (, also on South County Centerway.

That afternoon, I was off to the Tivoli Theatre ( for a SLIFF volunteer shift. I was outside the theater where a collection of five documentary short subjects with the theme of Valor. I did not see these films, but saw the stars and producers come into the adjourning theater for the US premier of the film "Drawing Home."

After my volunteer shift, I was off to the Plaza Frontenac Cinema ( to watch a SLIFF film "Jules & Dolores (O Roubo da Taca)," a caper comedy from Brazil, which I enjoyed a lot.

I got off work a few minutes early on Friday, which was unusual, but welcome nevertheless. I did work at the rental branch yesterday morning, and that went very well.

I got a bit of a lunch while on my way from work to Brown Hall at Washington University ( My SLIFF volunteer shift spanned the end of one narrative feature, "Phantom Boy," and all of the next one, "Heidi," a 2016 German/Swiss version of the long-time favorite children's story. I didn't see either film, as I was at my volunteer station just outside, but both were very well received by the audiences.

This morning found me at World Wide Technology Soccer Park ( to officiate three Premier League under 12 girls matches. These were all nine-a-side, small field matches. I ran line on the first two matches before working the middle on the third match. All three went well.

After a shower and change of clothes at home, I went to my fourth and final SLIFF volunteer shift, at .ZACK ( a new performing arts incubator in midtown St. Louis. I caught the tail end of the documentary "The Last Laugh," about comedians dealing with or avoiding the Holocaust. There was a break of some minutes, then we had one more documentary feature, "Tower," about the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin. I thought that was a terrific film. SLIFF is ending with its awards show as I write this; the results will be posted on the Cinema St. Louis website tomorrow (Monday), I would presume.


06 November 2016

Into November; Family in Town

This past week has been good at work. A good amount of business at the car rental branch. We had a low key Halloween on Monday (31 October), with three of us dressing up as animals. I was not one of them.

It was off to Mark Twain Hobby Center ( in St. Charles right after work Tuesday for the Mark Twain Model Club meeting. We had a demo on chipping techniques for weathered models. Brett Avants showed with a tank model how to weather a model using hairspray or chipping fluid. A handout was also provided that summarized this method. I also gave a talk about my visit to the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.

Another session of the Portuguese Language: Beginning II class was Wednesday night (2 November) at St. Louis Community College at Meramec ( Elizabeth, our instructor provided to the college by the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (, guided us through more verbs and their conjugations. I came home from that class to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

I was out and about a bit on Thursday. First, I got my Corolla's oil changed at Jiffy Lube ( Then, I succeeded at getting St. Louis International Film Festival ( at one Mehlville location each of Starbucks ( and Saint Louis Bread Co. (, on their community bulletin boards. The Festival began that night; my first volunteer shift is tonight at Webster University's Webster Hall, Moore Auditorium. I'm at the Tivoli Theatre late Thursday afternoon and Washington University's Brown Hall late Saturday afternoon. Hope to see you there!

Yesterday, my brother Rick, his wife Melissa, and their two children (Alex and Kate), arrived in St. Louis from Charleston, South Carolina for a visit. They came home with Mom just before I co-hosted this month's edition of Writer's Block ( Host Tim Pylypiuk and I discussed time travel in literature, especially in science-fiction.

All of us got together at Chili's ( in Kirkwood for dinner. We were joined by Melissa's cousin Oliver Block, his wife Astrid, their two children, and Astrid's parents, who were visiting from Germany. It was quite a nice get together. Except for Astrid's parents, we were all at Calvary Presbyterian Church ( for the Rememberance Day service, in which new sanctuary doors were dedicated to my late father Harold. After the service, we had cake, cookies and coffee in the Fellowship Hall, then went to Cafe Telegraph ( for lunch.


30 October 2016

Saluting Ozark Air Lines; Vacation in KC

I worked Saturday morning (22 October) at the rental branch, then headed for the St. Louis Science Center ( for a special program presented by the Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( This was a special tribute to Ozark Air Lines, which operated from 1950 until 1986. Several former Ozark employees told of their experiences at the airline, and two documentary films were screened: "The Swallows' Tale: The Story of Ozark Air Lines" and "Ozark Air Lines: The Sky's the Limit." Additionally, the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum ( displayed Ozark artifacts in its collection. It was quite a nice program, with quite a few former Ozark employees in attendance.

Midday last Sunday found me at Whitfield School (, where I helped referee an under 13 boys' soccer friendly. Two teams from the same club played the match, and it was intended for giving the players plenty of match experience in a more relaxed environment. It went well, I thought.

Work this week has been busy, but good. It was a manic Monday as usual, but we got through it well.

Right after work Tuesday night (25 October), I headed for the Delmar Loop ( After dinner at Chipotle Mexican Grill (, I walked to the Tivoli Theatre ( for volunteer orientation for this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (, which runs from 3 to 13 November at 11 venues in Metro St. Louis. I and several other volunteers got a briefing on our duties, had our questions answered, and we received some posters and cards to promote the Festival in our neighborhoods. I'm working three Festival shifts: Sun., 6 Nov., 6-10 pm, Webster University's Webster Hall; Thu., 10 Nov., 4:30 to 7 pm, Tivoli Theatre; and Sat., 12 Nov., 3-6:15 pm, Washington University's Brown Hall. Hope to see you there!

Thursday (27 October) marked the start of a three-day vacation I took in Kansas City, Missouri. After renting a car that morning from Enterprise ( in Ellisville, I headed west. My first stop in Metro Kansas City was at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum ( in Independence. I had not been there in many years, but I really enjoyed seeing the museum's presentation on Truman's life and presidency. After making some purchases in the gift shop, I drove by the Truman home ( a few blocks away to take pictures of the building before going to check in at the motel in Independence.

That night, I was back at the Truman Library for a discussion with historian and author H.W. Brands (, author of the new book "The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War" ( The library's director interviewed Brands, then opened the floor to some questions from the audience. After that, Brands signed copies of his book--including one I bought that day at the museum's gift shop. (I actually started reading an ebook version recently, but could not pass up the chance to meet Professor Brands and to get his autograph on his book. A very nice person, he is.) It was a very interesting and informative evening, which was recorded for telecast.

After a good night's sleep, I was up early Friday to enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then began a busy day of sightseeing at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art ( In approximately two hours spent there, I enjoyed seeing a great variety of art objects, ranging from Baroque era paintings and English pottery to modern photography and African masks. A terrific place to get immersed in fine art, and it's hard to beat its admission cost: Free.

Then, it was quite a change of sightseeing gears, as I went to the National World War I Museum and Memorial ( It was a most impressive museum, starting with walking on a glass bridge over a field of 9,000 poppies--one poppy for each 1,000 persons killed during the war. There are displays and artifacts about Europe and the world before, during, and after World War I. Display items include weapons, equipment, uniforms, art, and photos. The museum also has a recreation of a Western Front Trench and a large shell hole, helping give you that "you are there" feeling. There are also interactive displays that help you understand the war and those who fought it. I also went to the top of the 66 m (216 foot) tall Liberty Memorial, and enjoyed the view (although it was a bit windy). After raiding the gift shop, I left the museum with a great feeling. I highly recommend this place.

Before going back to the hotel, I dropped by Country Club Plaza (, a gorgeous and long-time (since 1922) shopping and dining complex. This is a great place to at least window shop, with many fine retailers (including Barnes & Noble, Tiffany & Co., and Tesla Motors), plus some local shops. I also spent time admiring the Plaza's J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, a real beauty in a city of fountains. I got dinner at Burger King before returning to the motel for the night.

I checked out Saturday morning before visiting a few more sights. First, it was the American Jazz Museum (, located in the 18th & Vine area. I very much enjoyed reading on the history of jazz and of jazz greats: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Kansas City's own Charlie (Bird) Parker. I then walked to the nearby Charlie Parker Memorial, a simple, yet eloquent memorial to the great saxophonist.

I drove to the National Airline History Museum (, located at Kansas City Downtown Airport (the former Kansas City Municipal Airport). A volunteer showed me and two other visitors around the museum's displays of photos, maps, models, crew uniforms, and other artifacts from various US airlines over the years. The volunteer took us to the hangar, where several aircraft (including a DC-3) were being restored, and took us into a Martin 4-0-4 airliner. He then took us out on the ramp and into their Lockheed L-1049 Constellation airliner. Quite a nice little museum.

Then, I made my way across the airport to the TWA Museum at 10 Richards Road (, which told the story of Trans World Airlines from its founding in 1925 until it was merged with American Airlines in 2001. Photos, models, advertising, crew uniforms, dining service items, and memorabilia told the TWA story. They also had flight procedures trainers and airliner seats on display, and we also got to go aboard the TWA McDonnell Douglas MD-80 "Wings of Pride," with its unique red with white trim scheme. Another nice little museum, and also--like the National Airline History Museum--worth a visit.

My time in Kansas City concluded with lunch at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (, located in the Kansas City Power & Light District (, a neighborhood of shops, restaurants, and bars. I enjoyed a Czech Pilsner beer, brewed on the premises, with a Marzen BBQ burger and garlic french fries. After walking a bit around this area, I got in my car and drove home, arriving that night.

Just been relaxing today, getting my laundry done and doing a bit of piece work. Back to work in the morning. Happy Halloween!


20 October 2016

Two Nights of Soccer Activities

After a busy Friday at work, it was time to relax a bit on the weekend. Late Saturday afternoon (15 October), I met with my friend and fellow referee Austin Gomez at his house, then we and another colleague, Kevin Winkelman, met with two others--Zorinko Milicevic and his son, Ivan--before we headed to America's Center ( in downtown St. Louis. There, we attended the 46th Annual Induction Dinner of the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame ( After a happy hour, we entered the dining hall for dinner, followed by the program, which was hosted with his usual aplomb by Bill McDermott. Four future soccer stars (two boys and two girls) were recognized, and ten people were inducted. These inductees included my Saint Louis University (SLU) classmate, Steve Maurer; my former refereeing colleague, Nancy Lay-McCormick; and Karen Lombardo-Baker, wife of my friend from SLU Pat Baker.

Several other awards were presented, including one to the 1966 Quincy College men's soccer team, which went undefeated and won the NAIA National Championship, and to the New Dimensions Soccer Program, which uses soccer as an outreach program for refugee, immigrant, and underserved children in Metro St. Louis. I also saw a few people I knew there, including several fellow soccer referees (among them: Holly Hollingsworth, Randy Masterson, Sam Chan, and Tom Lutker), former Webster University men's soccer coach Marty Todt, and my SLU classmate Steve Hunsicker. Overall, it was a very wonderful night for remembering St. Louis soccer's greats and looking forward to the future.

Sunday morning, I proofread a calendar for my friend, Janette Lonsdale (, which she had prepared for her client. It went very well, with hardly anything needing correcting. That night found me at the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex in Maryland Heights. I ran line on two St. Louis Youth Soccer Association (SLYSA) ( matches. They went well, although my legs were a bit sore afterward.

Back at work Monday morning, it was a busy time at the rental branch. We all worked hard to keep things moving forward and getting our customers completely satisfied. It was unseasonably warm early in the week, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) on Monday, but things cooled down to more fall-like temperatures by mid-week. It was rainy yesterday afternoon (19 October), with temperatures getting down to about 45 degrees F (7 degrees C) that night.

After flexing out of work Tuesday afternoon, I took care of personal business at home, then went to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( for this month's IPMS/Gateway ( meeting. I supplied photos our Invitational last month, which were projected on a screen during the meeting. We also had a good turnout for the Model of the Month "beauty contest."

After work last night, I went to St. Louis Community College at Meramec ( for the first session of Portuguese Language: Beginning II. There were four others in this class--all but one had been with me in the Beginning I class that ended the week before. We are instructed by Elizabeth Bittencourt, provided to the college by the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis ( I enjoyed the first session, despite noise from the air conditioner making it hard to be heard at times in the classroom, and will be back for the remaining seven sessions.

On my off day from work today, I went to Kaldi's Coffee ( in Kirkwood, where I met Norm Podorski, a networking contact. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes before he had to leave, and got caught up on things. I then had my semi-annual check up at my dentist. It went well--no cavities. After lunch at Qdoba (, I bought some cookies and brought them to the Enterprise branch in Kirkwood, in thanks for my helping them out last week when they were short staffed. The manager there, Kelley, greatly appreciated the gesture.