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14 September 2017

A Wonderful Scale Modeling Contest

I put in a hard day of work last Friday (8 September) at the car rental branch. We had the usual rush at day's end, but my colleagues and I got the job done.

Early the next morning, it was on to the Holiday Inn St. Louis Southwest--Route 66 (http://www.hiroute66.com/) in Sunset Hills. Saturday was the 12th annual IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) model contest. I came to help where I could on set up before we opened for the public. When that happened, I was at my station at the east entrance, helping take money for admission and contest registration, and surveying them as to how they found out about our show. I don't have definitive attendance figures, but I am estimating about 100 people came to our show.

I also entered three models in the contest, and bought some raffle tickets, with proceeds to Toys for Tots (https://www.toysfortots.org/) in Metro St. Louis. I got lucky in the latter, with four of the six tickets I bought winners. I got a collection of four modeling reference books, and three kits. I later traded two of those kits with vendors for three kits. (At least I came out a kit ahead.) The raffle raised $561 for Toys for Tots.

That afternoon, I helped judge the Automobiles categories in the contest, as I did not have any entries there. The contest drew 219 entries from 55 contestants. The awards were presented later that afternoon, and I was one of those receiving awards. My Prinz Eugen took second in Ships, 1/351 and smaller. I was very happy about that, and about how successful our show turned out. I heard good news from all those attendees I spoke to that day.




I then headed to Smugala's Pizza Pub (http://www.smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills) in Sunset Hills for dinner. I had one of their thin crust pizzas, which are very good. Then, I caught the Pub2Park bus for Toyota Stadium and that night's Saint Louis FC (http://www.saintlouisfc.com/) match against Harrisburg City Islanders. After hanging out in the tailgate with the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/), I marched in with them to the stadium. After falling down 1-0, Saint Louis leveled in the second half, only for Harrisburg to pull out a last-minute 2-1 win.


It was back to soccer the next morning (10 September), this time refereeing youth matches at Lou Fusz Soccer Complex in Maryland Heights. I worked three matches there, with the middle in the second match of the set. It was rather intense, but all was good.

After the games, I drove to Deer Creek Park in Maplewood (http://www.cityofmaplewood.com/79/Maplewood-Local-Parks) for the IPMS/Gateway picnic. I joined with some members and their significant others in food and conversation.

Back to work Monday morning (11 September), I put in my hard work getting our vehicles ready to rent. Twice that day, I was taken to our Kirkwood branch to pick up vehicles, and chatted briefly with their new branch manager, Hannah, a former colleague at Ellisville.

Tuesday was a shorter work day, as I am working this Saturday morning. That morning, my colleague Melissa--another former Ellisville crew mate--came from her new branch at Creve Coeur to get one of our vehicles. We chatted for a bit.

After flexing out, I headed to St. Louis Lambert International Airport (https://www.flystl.com/) to pick up Mom, who came back to town after nearly two weeks of visiting Doug and his family in Los Angeles. On my way to the arrivals area, I stopped by the Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) counter and chatted briefly with Jake, who was working there. I wished him and his airport colleagues all the best.

I got her bags, then drove Mom and myself to The Concord Grill (http://www.concordgrill.com/) for an early dinner. It was my first time there, but I really enjoyed the Reuben burger I ordered. Then, it was home.

After a full Wednesday at the branch, it was off to Francis Field (http://www.washubears.com/facilities/francis-field) on the Washington University campus to see the men's soccer match between Wash. U. (http://www.washubears.com/landing/index) and Webster University (http://www.websterathletics.com/). The host Bears dominated the match, defeating the Gorloks 2-0.


Off work today, I made treats runs to our Kirkwood and Florissant branches. First, it was doughnuts to Hannah and her colleagues at Kirkwood, which she greatly appreciated. After chatting briefly, I was on the road to Florissant to delivery cookies to that branch. Justin, the new manager there (and formerly mananger at Ellisville) was not in the branch when I arrived (I left the treats with one of his colleagues), but Justin pulled up in the parking lot as I headed to my car, and we chatted for a bit.

Back home, I did my laundry and went out for a late afternoon run. Mom and I had dinner at Lemay Wok (http://places.singleplatform.com/lemay-wok/menu), a small Chinese restaurant that is a favorite dining place of Mom and I. We then went for desert at Dairy Queen (https://www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/?localechange=1&). Back to work tomorrow.

Later.

07 September 2017

Back to Work After Labor Day 2017

Back at work Tuesday morning (5 September), it was a rather busy morning, coming off the holiday weekend. Still, we at the rental branch got our business taken care of in good order.

After work, I headed to Mark Twain Hobby Center (http://www.hobby1.com/) for this month's Mark Twain Model Club meeting. I helped plug this Saturday's IPMS/Gateway Invitational (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/invite2017.html) model contest and swap meet at the Holiday Inn St. Louis Southwest--Route 66. We also had a demo on science-fiction scratch building that was quite interesting, and they raffled off some kits and publications. I won a four year old aircraft modeling magazine.


Mom is still out in Los Angeles with Doug and his family. I saw a few pictures they took and they all seem well, especially Doug's twin boys, Luca and Matteo.

I put in another full day of work yesterday, and things went well that day as well. (I did find out that the candidate who interviewed for a vehicle service job with us decided to work elsewhere.)

Off work today, I did my laundry, mowed and watered the lawns, jogged for a half hour, and tried (with little success) to transfer some photos from my phone to my laptop. I wanted to make some space on my phone for the photos I will inevitably take at Saturday's show. I also printed off admission charge signs and attendance survey forms for Saturday.

Later.

04 September 2017

Ethnic Festivals and Back into Soccer

After work on the end of the last full week of August, I was at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis for the International Institute's Festival of Nations (http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/) on that Sunday (27 August). I spent some time walking around the grounds, checking out the various food, shopping, and information booths. I then spent two hours helping at the Viva Brasil STL (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/) booth, where I helped spread the word about Brazil and our organization. I then helped tear down the booth. After that, I worked at one of the Festival's drinks booths for the final shift of the day. Then, I assisted in tearing that booth down. It was a very nice day and a real good turnout of people for the Festival.


Back at work the next day, it was a busy morning as usual, and quite busy the rest of that Monday. The work was fine that week. Hopefully, I will get help in vehicle service soon at the branch.

I flexed out Tuesday afternoon (29 September), and got the oil changed on my Corolla at Jiffy Lube (https://www.jiffylube.com/) in Mehlville. They also changed the automatic transmission fluid (well overdue) and rotated the tires. All this should help my car run better in the coming months.

That night, I hosted the IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) business meeting at home. We discussed the final preparations for our contest this Saturday in Sunset Hills. Overall, things are in very good shape for the show. We also discussed some other club business, including my taking over as editor of the club's newsletter in the near future.

Off work Thursday (31 August), I took Mom to the airport, where she caught a flight to Los Angeles. She's spending a few days visiting my brother Doug, his wife Helen, and their sons Luca and Matteo.

I worked Saturday morning (2 September) and it went very nicely. Then, I began to enjoy my holiday weekend. I relaxed at home the rest of the day and night.

Yesterday morning, I was at World Wide Technology Soccer Park (http://www.saintlouisfc.com/soccerpark) in Fenton to referee matches in the SLSG Gallagher Friendlies (http://slsgsoccer.com/tournaments/gallagher-friendlies). I worked three matches, including the middle on a under 13 girls contest. The referee coordinator there gave me a new referee shirt, which I changed into after the first match, which is of the new style and pattern. It feels cooler than the previous one. My legs were tired--these were my first matches since last spring--but am looking forward to more games this fall.


After the matches, I drove up to Mark Twain Hobby Center (http://www.hobby1.com/) in St. Charles to drop off some flyers for this Saturday's IPMS/Gateway show. They had a few already at the front of the store, but the manager was happy to have some more flyers promoting the show.

Today, I was at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (http://www.sngoc.org/) in St. Louis' Central West End for the final day of its 100th annual Greek Festival (http://www.opastl.com/). I stayed briefly, enough for a lunch (gyro and spanakopita) and watching a bit of Greek dance in the auditorium. Still, it was a nice little time.


Back to work tomorrow. Should be busy. The rest of this week will be too.

Later.

24 August 2017

Solar Eclipse and A Win at the Death

Monday (21 August) was a busy morning as usual at the car rental branch, with returns off the weekend and rentals to start the week. We got a respite in the early afternoon, due to the total eclipse of the sun that we had in the St. Louis area and a good portion of the United States that day. I was able to get out into our front parking lot and--wearing sun-safe goggles--witness the moon passing in front of the sun. I also used those goggles to take some pictures using my phone. When the period of totality arrived, it was like early evening for a brief time, with lights going on around our area. Then, the moon continued its journey and the sun began returning to its usual self. It was the first time I witnessed a solar eclipse in person and it was incredible.





I also got good news that afternoon from my doctor's office, as the results of last week's blood test came back all good for me.

I worked the next day, then flexed out in mid-afternoon. That morning, I was driven to our Creve Coeur branch to pick up a vehicle. There, I chatted briefly with Melissa, who just started at that branch after a few months working at the Airport. She started her career with the firm at Ellisville, and we were so happy to chat in person for the first time since then. Melissa is a fun gal who gets the job done very well.

I was to have hosted this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) business meeting; however, it was called off due to a lack of quorum. Hopefully, we'll have that meeting next week. In the meantime, I've been making sure our upcoming contest gets listed on some area news websites and calendars of events.

After work yesterday (23 August), I headed to Toyota Stadium for a midweek match between Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) and Tulsa Roughnecks FC. I got a bratwurst and a beer at the concession stand, then made my way to Section 8, where I joined with the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) in cheering on Saint Louis FC. The home side was down 1-0, but they rallied back and won 2-1, with the winning goal scored in the 90th minute. After the match, the Saint Louis FC players came towards our section and led a song in tribute to the St. Louligans. It was a fun night for sure.





This weekend, after I work Saturday morning, I will spend time in St. Louis' Tower Grove Park for the International Institute's Festival of Nations (http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/), an annual multicultural festival. I will help staff the information booth of Viva Brasil STL (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/) on Sunday afternoon, and may volunteer with the Festival later that Sunday. Hope to see you there!

Later.

20 August 2017

Scale Models, Blood Test, Soccer and Work

One week ago (13 August), I went to service at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) with my mom, my brother Rick and his daughter (and my goddaughter) Kate. We had a fine time with that, and the fellowship time after the service. We went out for dinner at IHOP (http://www.ihop.com/) in Mehlville, then went home for some quiet time. I said my goodbye to Kate, as I she and Rick would fly back to Charleston while I was at work the next day.


That night, I was at Toyota Stadium for the Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) match against Tampa Bay Rowdies. It was a wild match, with Saint Louis taking an early 2-0 lead, then Tampa Bay scored three times to lead 3-2 at halftime. Saint Louis scored twice in the second half--the winner coming one minute before full time--to win 4-3. I joined with the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) in cheering on the home side.


Back to work on Monday (14 August), I welcomed our new assistant manager, Miranda, who had worked at our branch earlier this year when she started off with the firm. It was a busy Monday as usual for us, but we got through it just fine. Later in the week, we welcomed a new management trainee, Will, to our branch.

After work Tuesday, I dashed home to get my things, then went to Calvary Presbyterian Church for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) general meeting. We had a contest judging seminar, to help our members judge our contest next month. We also saluted the models of Rick Keasey and Jim Triola which won awards at last month's IPMS/USA National Convention in Omaha. Our group paid tribute to members Fred Amos and Richard White, who died in recent weeks (along with the wife of member Myron Lane), and we had our Model of the Month "Beauty Contest." I volunteered to host the business meeting this Tuesday.



The next afternoon (16 August), I flexed out of work in the afternoon, as I would be working the following Saturday morning. I took care of business at home, and ate an early dinner before fasting that night. I was at the medical testing lab in Concord Village the next morning for a blood test. Blood was drawn for testing, as requested by my doctor last month. Hopefully, all will be well.

Thursday afternoon found me at Marcus Wehrenberg's Ronnies 20 Cinema (http://www.marcustheatres.com/theatre-locations/marcus-ronnie's-20-cine-imax) in Concord Village to see the movie "Dunkirk" (http://www.dunkirkmovie.com/). I saw it in the IMAX format and was most impressed. A very well done movie, I think.

That night, I was at the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) meeting at Creve Coeur Airport (http://crevecoeurairport.com/). This meeting featured a reading on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal, and the screening of a 2014 video on Tom Mohan, a veteran of that battle who flew in a restored SBD Dauntless like the one he flew as a rear gunner at Guadalcanal. It was quite a nice evening. I also plugged the IPMS/Gateway Contest with flyers for the event.



After work yesterday morning, I had lunch at Which Wich (https://www.whichwich.com/) in Chesterfield. Back home, I got ready for the Saint Louis FC match against Pittsburgh Riverhounds. After going to Smugala's (http://smugalas.com/) in Sunset Hills for a beer and to catch the shuttle bus to Toyota Stadium. I went to the St. Louligans tailgate for chili and beer (after having some chili at home!) before marching in with them to the Stadium. However, Saint Louis could not hold on to an early lead and lost 2-1. It was a quiet ride on the bus back to Smugala's, then a quiet drive home.





Later


12 August 2017

Pool Time, Busy Work Week, and Family in Town

One week ago Thursday (3 August), on my second off day from work that week (I was also off the day before), I went off to Kennedy Recreation Complex (http://stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation/RecreationComplexes/KennedyRecreationComplex) in south St. Louis County to do some swimming. I haven't done any swimming in the past couple of years, so I was really looking forward to it. I hit the pool, and had no problems--even in the deep end of the pool, which was 13 feet (4 m) deep. I enjoyed my swim there, helped by sunny weather. If only I put on some sunscreen. I sure paid for that in the coming days!


It was back to work the next morning, after an early morning area-wide meeting to review procedures. The rest of the work day went well.

Saturday night (5 August) found me at Smugala's Pizza Pub (http://smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills) in Sunset Hills, where I caught the Pub2Park shuttle bus to Toyota Stadium at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for that night's match between Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) and Swope Park Rangers. I arrived at the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) tailgate to take in the scene, then marched in with them to the stadium for the match. It was fun as usual to sing along with the St. Louligans, but the match ended in a 0-0 draw.




After a calm Sunday at home, it was bright and early at work on Monday (7 August). Due to personnel changes from the previous week--assistant manager Cayla was off to Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com/) and intern Mike left to return to college--I worked all five days a week, 10 hours a day. Yes, it was a lot of work, but at least it wasn't too hot. Things worked out well, even if we were shorthanded. That should change next week, with a new assistant manager on board.

Thursday (10 August), my brother Rick and his daughter (and my goddaughter) Kate came in town for a few days with Mom and I. It was my first time seeing Kate in person and it was very good. This morning--after I got my hair cut at Great Clips (https://www.greatclips.com/)--we all went to the Saint Louis Zoo (https://www.stlzoo.org/). It was my first time there in a few years and we had a fine time there. We then came home and had dinner.





Later

02 August 2017

Going Downtown at the IPMS National Convention

The first two days of last week (24-25 July) were busy ones at the rental branch. Things were challenging at times, but not enough to trouble us and we made sure our customers were well taken care of. At the end of business that Tuesday, I picked up a Nissan Sentra that I would drive on my vacation, which started the next morning.

Early Wednesday (26 July), I headed for Omaha, Nebraska, site of this year's International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention (http://ipmsusa2017.com/). It's slogan was "Going Downtown," harking back to the US air attacks on North Vietnam's capital of Hanoi during the Vietnam War. After arriving in Omaha, I checked in at the convention venue, La Vista Conference Center (http://embassysuites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/nebraska/embassy-suites-by-hilton-omaha-la-vista-hotel-and-conference-center-OMAESES/index.html). I then registered my contest models and placed them in the contest room, and started checking out the vendors at the show. A few people I knew were there and briefly I chatted with them.





Late that afternoon, I checked into the Travel Inn Omaha hotel, which I found on hotels.com (https://www.hotels.com/). It was a rather sparse room, but it was enough for me, since I would hardly spend much time in it. I got dinner at the nearby Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q restaurant (http://www.hogwildpitbbq.com/), then turned in for the night.

There was much to see and do at the convention, including a raffle of model kits. I bought a few tickets on the first day, and they paid off on day two when I won a very nice ship model kit. (I also had won an aircraft kit from one of the vendors, but I missed that and could not claim that prize. Win some, lose some.) I also took in a seminar on using computer programs to catalog your model kit and reference stash. Quite informative.




Thursday night, I joined with other attendees to go by bus to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum (http://sacmuseum.org/) in Ashland. We enjoyed a buffet dinner before checking out the aircraft and other artifacts on display. It was very nice to go through there and see the aircraft up close.



Friday (28 July), I took in a seminar on the F-105 Thunderchief, then saw my old friend from the Scouts, Tom Tokos, an Omaha resident. I showed him around the contest and vendor rooms and he was impressed. Tom told me he did some car models when he was young. We then had lunch and had time to get caught up on our lives before Tom had to leave. It was great seeing him.




There was to have been a tour of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base that day, but that was cancelled when the convention began. I understood it was due to the aircraft that was to be displayed not being able to be at Offutt that day.

That night, I joined with 219 others to judge the model contest. After a briefing by the head judge, I joined with other aircraft judges to get our team and category assignments. I joined with three others--a team head, another experienced judge, and an On the Job Trainee (OJT) rookie--and we set about doing one of the propeller aircraft categories, which had 16 aircraft. It took us about 90 minutes to evaluate the entrees and to determine the three places for awards. I then helped with one of the special awards, for US Navy Vietnam War subjects. I was in the contest room for about 4.5 hours, leaving there about 10:30 pm for my hotel room. There were 2160 contest entries in 199 categories at the contest.

Saturday morning, I did some last viewing of the contest room models and shopping from the vendors. I also took in one more seminar, on little known colors used on US Army and Navy aircraft between the World Wars, which I found most informative. I retired to my hotel room for some rest. Early that night, I returned to the conference center where the banquet was being held. I and others went to an adjoining room to listen to the awards presentation that followed the meal, which included a slide show of the award winning models in each category. A few people I know from the St. Louis area placed in the contest, so I was very happy for them. None of my models placed, but I wasn't too concerned.


Soon after that, I went into the contest room to get my models out of there and to talk to a few people I knew or wanted to know. It was quite a show. An online gallery has been posted for the convention: http://www.ipmsusa3.org/gallery/v/events/2017Nationals/.

I retired for the night at my hotel, then checked out early the next morning and began the drive back to St. Louis. I arrived home in mid-afternoon, and unpacked at home. The next morning (31 July), I returned the Sentra to the Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) and put in my full day of work.

After work yesterday, I went to Mark Twain Hobby Center (http://www.hobby1.com/) in St. Charles for the Mark Twain Model Club meeting, which had a recap of the IPMS Nationals and the World Expo figure show earlier in July in Chicago.

I was off work today and will be tomorrow. My manager asked me to take the extra day off this week so I could work all week (Monday through Friday) next week. We have some personnel changes, with assistant manager Cayla leaving after this Friday to go over to Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com/) in St. Charles.

Later.