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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.

02 October 2014

Finishing My Vacation and Back to Work

Last Friday (26 September), I ended my time off with visits to two places in Metro St. Louis I have not visited in years. First, I went to Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site in Collinsville, Illinois, northeast of St. Louis, which I visited on a school field trip years ago. It was a pleasant day and I enjoyed the visit to the interpretation center and walking to the mounds. I walked to the top of Monks Mound, which is about 300 feet (91.4 m) tall. To think this was accomplished centuries ago by Mississippian people who only had hand tools was most impressive. Cahokia Mounds is on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list.

After that visit and lunch, I drove to City Museum in downtown St. Louis. It's full of one-of-a-kind exhibits, mainly taken from old structures and other manufactured items. For example, there was an exhibit of building decorations (doorways, corners, window sills, etc.) from now-demolished buildings. It's rather interesting, with some exhibits that I think kids would find more exciting.

After a nice relaxing weekend, it was back to work on Monday (29 September). Business has been going well at the rental branch of late, and I did my part to keep things rolling along.

After work Monday, I was at the monthly soccer referee clinic, where we discussed refereeing controversies at the FIFA World Cup over the years and what teachable moments we get from them. I also received my ticket to the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame induction dinner on 18 October. I'll have more on that in due course.

Working tomorrow, and refereeing soccer on Sunday. Should be fun.

Later.

25 September 2014

Having a Nice Staycation

After working last Friday and Saturday morning, I've been off on vacation this week. It's my first paid vacation with the firm and the first in quite a few years, going back to my last full time work.It's a "staycation" for me, not going anywhere. If I had more money in the bank, I'd go out of town. Maybe next time.

It's mostly been at home, taking care of some personal business. Last Sunday (21 Sept.), I was at St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in downtown St. Louis for their annual Lebanese Festival. It was my first time at this event and I thought it was nice. Lebanese good, music, crafts and dance. I just had a bit of cake with coffee, but I liked it. A rather nice time.

The next day, I put the finishing touches on a story on a preserved aircraft at Jefferson Barracks in south St. Louis County. I am hoping to submit this story with photographs to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's member newsletter. I got a tentative yes from the newsletter's editor, and hope to hear a final answer soon. I actually had more material than I need for the story, so I proposed putting the extra items on our website. We'll see.

Tuesday night (23 Sept.), I hosted the monthly IPMS/Gateway business meeting. We planned our next month's meetings and discussed other club business. As secretary, I took down notes to be submitted to the board and to the club newsletter in the coming days.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I was at HandleBar, in the Grove neighborhood in St. Louis, for a happy hour. It was put on by the Friends from Around the World Meetup, and included several interns from other countries working with organizations in Metro St. Louis. I met a young man, a native of Rwanda now living in the St. Louis area. It was nice spending some time there with some people I know and others I just met there.

Today, I made a trip, starting late in the morning with a brief stop at the Anheuser-Busch Gift Shop to browse, then went to Crown Candy Kitchen just north of downtown St. Louis for lunch. It's a soda fountain in business since 1913, but I have never been there before. After waiting a few minutes for a table, I sat down and ordered a Reuben sandwich with potato chips, a soda, and a Swiss Chocolate Sundae for dessert. The whole lunch was so good and I loved the ambiance of the place. I will definitely recommend Crown Candy Kitchen to anyone in town (resident or visitor). Their website is http://crowncandykitchen.net/

Then, I drove to the Kirkwood-Des Peres area to visit the Museum of Transportation, which I have not visited in quite a few years. There's been quite a bit of changes to the place since that last visit. For one, the automotive display was very nicely spiffed up. Also, they did some nice work on the railroad artifacts (locomotives and rolling stock). Don, a museum volunteer, showed me through some railroad passenger cars on display and talked about some work he and his fellow volunteers have been doing lately. It was nice to get this perspective from someone like him, something I would not have received on my own. Here's the museum's website: http://transportmuseumassociation.org/

I'll do a bit more sightseeing this weekend before returning to work on Monday.

Later.

18 September 2014

Working Around the Rain

Work has been going well. A few days under my belt at our branch's new facility and I am loving the place--especially with the wash bay. My fellow car preps and I are getting the hang of using the pressurized water hose and liquid soap on the vehicles, and we are getting our vehicles cleaned inside and out with a good turnaround time (especially with the exterior washing factored in). We have had a bit of rain off and on in recent days, which makes having the enclosed wash bay even more valuable to us.

I'm working tomorrow all day and this Saturday morning before taking a week off. Looks like it will be a stay-cation (staying at home), but I'll check out a few sights in the area I have not visited before or have not visited in a long time. Plus, I may be able to get some things done around the house.

After work Tuesday night (16 Sept.), I helped run the IPMS/Gateway meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church. We had a wrap up on our show and picnic earlier in the month, had a build night (I worked a bit on a knight figure model), and we had our quarterly Modeler of the Year Contest. Great turnout for the contest: 50 entries total, including 10 in the Grim Reaper (death-related) special category. I'm hosting the club's business meeting this coming Tuesday night.

Last night after work, I was at The Wolf Public House in Ballwin for the first get-together of the Big Ideas Book Discussion Group on Meetup. There were four of us for this meetup for people into non-fiction books. We hoped for a better turnout than this, but hopefully this will occur the next time. Anyway, it was great getting to know the others in the group, and enjoying dinner and the setting of The Wolf.

Later today, I'm off to a networking event in Maryland Heights, then the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting at Creve Coeur Airport.

Later.

11 September 2014

The Big Model Show; Moving Into New Work Digs

The IPMS Gateway to the West Contest and Swap Meet last Saturday (6 Sept.) was great. I was there at the Holiday Inn St. Louis SW-Route 66 in Sunset Hills from about 7:30 am to help with setting up until just after 4:00 pm to help with tear down. In between, I was taking admission and contest registration fees at the east (main) entrance from show opening at 9:00 am until about 12:45 pm, when I assumed the role of contest judge. There was a great turnout: The contest had over 350 entries from some 70 modelers (including one I had), and some very good quality work. I helped judge aircraft and there were a few tough calls for the top three places in each category. The vendors seem to be happy with business and we all had a great time. Next year, IPMS/Gateway hosts the 2015 IPMS/USA Region 5 Convention, back at the Holiday Inn St. Louis SW-Route 66, on 12 September 2015. Hope you can come.

Right after the show, I drove to the Benton Park Neighborhood in south St. Louis for the Brasil Day STL outdoor cultural festival. This was held on a section of Pestalozzi Ave., right by Yemanja Brasil Resturante. I had a very nice time taking in this festival, which featured food (from Yemanja's food truck), drinks, live music, dancers and children's activities. It was my first time at Brasil Day STL, which was in its second year. (I found out about it from going to dinner at Yemanja a few weeks ago.) I would love to come again next year.

The next day found me at Charles C. Forrester Park in Vinita Park, Mo. for the IPMS/Gateway banquet. They had freshly grilled hamburgers and bratwursts with buns, sides and desserts provided by picnic attendees (I brought two bags of potato chips), plus soda, beer, and water. It was a nice time to socialize with other members and their significant others, while also talking about our show the day before and looking ahead to next year.

Back to work on Monday, as we began preparing our move just a few feet to the east, which was accomplished yesterday morning (10 Sept.). My colleagues and I are very happy to move into our new facility, which is larger and nicer than our old facility. We have computer terminals for all work stations (including those of the car preps), separate men's and women's restrooms, a break room, offices for the branch and area managers, and--best for me and my fellow preps--an enclosed wash bay that could hold two vehicles at a time. The bay has a pressure water hose, a vacuum cleaner, and space for cleaning supplies. This bay is already paying dividends, enabling us to clean our vehicles even when it's raining outside, as it did at times yesterday. We do have to work about a limited number of parking spaces by the branch facility, but we'll figure out something. Overall, I am most happy with this new work place.

Today, on my off day, I had an appointment with my dentist for a routine check up. After my teeth were cleaned, the dentist told me I have no cavities--good news for sure.

Later.

04 September 2014

A Nice 2014 Labor Day Weekend

After working hard on Friday (29 August) and the next morning at the car rental branch, it was time for the Labor Day Weekend. After I came home Saturday, I basically crashed, taking a long nap that afternoon and evening. Apparently, I was rather tired and needed to catch up on my sleep.

Early Sunday afternoon (30 August) found me in the Bevo neighborhood of south St. Louis taking in the 10th annual Bosnian Festival. It's rather small by festival standards, but nice. I had a bit of lunch (Cevapi, grilled beef sausages in a large bun), and enjoyed some music and dancing. On the way home, I stopped by Auto Zone to replace the battery in my car key's fob (which enables remote locking and unlocking of doors), as the battery was running low.

Monday (1 Sept.) found me at home. (Our work was closed that day.) Early that afternoon, I drove to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis' Central West End for their 97th Annual Greek Festival. It's a great event that draws large crowds. Having had a bit of lunch, I just had a bit of Greek pastry and a beer, but it was nice. I saw some Greek dancing on the auditorium stage, which the crowd enjoyed. After being at the festival, I walked up and down Euclid Ave. for several blocks before getting back into my car to drive home. I chilled out at home the rest of that day.

Back to work Tuesday morning, and it was busy (as can be expected coming off the holiday weekend). We got our customers taken care of well, despite the crowded lot that Tuesday morning. By the way, our move to the new building mere feet away from our current location was delayed. Instead of this week, it will be later this month.

After work on Tuesday, I ran the IPMS/St. Louis meeting at Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles. I gave a plug for the IPMS/Gateway show this Saturday, heard about plans for a new club web site in the works, and offered up my resignation of IPMS/St. Louis president at the end of this year.

Today on my off day, I got the battery replaced on my laptop. The one I had bought a year ago was lately having problems holding a charge. The salesman at the store assured me this new battery will be much better and should last for two years at least. I also finished an e-book I've been reading lately, "Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood" by Mark Harris, which I really enjoyed. I have a new book in my Nook player I'll start reading tomorrow on my lunch break.

This Saturday is the IPMS/Gateway to the West Show and I'm looking forward to it. I'll let you know how that goes in my next post. Here's the website: http://ipms-gateway.com/invite2014.html

Later.