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19 November 2015

Doing Good, and Work and Film Festival Time

Last Thursday night (12 November) found me at the Moore Auditorium of Webster Hall at Webster University ( This was my second volunteer shift at this year's Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) ( I helped provide customers with programs, survey forms, and fan ballots. I also got to go see the documentary feature "Orion: The Man Who Would Be King." It told the story of singer Jimmy Ellis, who masqueraded as Elvis Presley back from the grave during the late 1970s and early 1980s. A fascinating tale that I never knew about, but was glad to have seen.

After work Friday night, I got dressed in suit and tie and headed to the Grand Hall of St. Louis Union Station ( There, I was a guest of my Saint Louis University (SLU) friend Lisa Baudendistel-Suntrup at "Salute: An Evening to Benefit Greater St. Louis Honor Flight." After drinks and a buffet dinner in the Grand Hall, the attendees (about 400, I estimate) went to the midway for the night's program. Greater St. Louis Honor Flight (GSLHF) ( recognizes World War II veterans by giving them all-expense paid flights to Washington, DC to visit the World War II Memorial and other sites of interest. GSLHF board members speak of their efforts, and a video showed a typical day in one of these Honor Flights. It was a very nice program that I was most happy to attend. Lisa introduced me to a US Coast Guard veteran of World War II, and it was most interesting. Also, Lisa's SLU friend Lynne Wilhite (nee Landholt) was there.

I was at work the next morning (14 November) at the rental branch, then headed to the Saint Louis Area Sippers (Coffee Meetup) (, held at Park Avenue Coffee ( on North 10th Street in downtown St. Louis. We had six of us there enjoying coffee and each others company. A good time at a good place, which I had never been to before.

That night, I was on the SLU campus ( for my third SLIFF volunteer shift. This brought me to the university's Center for Global Citizenship, which is in the former West Pine Gym on the western part of the Frost (main) Campus. The documentary "Takin' Place," about life on Chicago's South Side, was screened and I liked it. We had a small crowd, but one that generally appreciated the film.

I was a fan on SLIFF's last day Sunday, going to two films. First, I was back at Webster University's Moore Auditorium for the narrative feature "Four Way Stop," a locally filmed and produced movie. It was about a 17 year old high school dropout on St. Louis' North Side trying to make a better life for himself despite obstacles at home and in society. It was very well done. After the movie, the film's director, other crew, and some cast members spoke with and took some questions from the audience. That night, I went to Brown Hall at Washington University ( for the festival's final film screening, the documentary feature "Dateline-Saigon." It told of five Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who covered the Vietnam War in the early 1960s, often butting heads with the US and US-backed South Vietnamese governments. It was a terrific movie. The film's executive producer, Richard Chapman, was interviewed on stage by Art Holiday of KSDK Channel 5 after the film and they took some questions from the audience.

Work has been going well, with branch management changes coming soon. Last night, some of us were at a happy hour at Double D Irish Pub & Karaoke ( After enjoying beer and food, I took up the karaoke challenge, singing the Moody Blues classic "Nights in White Satin." It wasn't half bad.

Tuesday night (17 November) was the IPMS/Gateway ( at Calvary Presbyterian Church ( in Mehlville. We had our final Modeler of the Year contest of 2015, with my USA-USSR Missile Set entered in the Foot Long special category (at least part of the model had to be 12 inches/30.5 cm long). I didn't win, but we ha d some very nice models entered. We also started taking nominations for the Bob Stroup Award for outstanding service and the 2016 club officers.

This morning, I was at the corner of Lemay Ferry Road and Victory Drive in Mehlville as one of two volunteers there for Old Newsboys Day ( This is an annual fundraiser for St. Louis area children's charities. Randy Johnston and I of the Saint Louis Singles Group: 40+ ( spent over two hours hawking the Old Newsboys newspaper, collecting donations from motorists who stopped by. This was my third time doing Old Newsboys Day, and I was very happy to be a part of it.


12 November 2015

Chi-Town Weekend; Volunteer at SLIFF

After work last Friday night (6 November), I got into my rental car at the branch at began my weekend road trip. I grabbed a bit of dinner on the way and then drove into Springfield, Illinois for the night. I stayed the night at the Motel 6 Springfield (, where I stayed a year ago, and it was a good place to spend the night.

Up early the next morning, I checked out, grabbed some breakfast at a nearby McDonald's, then hit the highway for Downers Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I was there to attend the IPMS Butch O'Hare Chapter Contest (, which was held at Lakeview Junior High School. I brought in four models for the contest, including my latest, a 1:144 scale USA-USSR Missile Set. This show uses "Chicago Rules"--few general categories (aircraft, armor, ships, etc.) and three judging teams looking over the models. Instead of the normal 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards for individual categories, the judges can award gold, silver, or bronze medals, with no limit on the number of such awards per category. None of my models won any awards--the competition was too still--but my friend Don Will took a silver and a bronze for two of his entries in science fiction, fantasy, and comic. Frank Ciccarella, a former IPMS/Gateway colleague now in Chicagoland, helped run the raffle with his wife, and his large scale diorama of German locomotives being serviced during World War II won a most deserved gold award.

I did get lucky in the raffle, winning three model kits--all of aircraft--out of six tickets bought for $5. I also bought two more kits from the vendors, and there was quite a selection in the vendor room. My friends Chris Merseal and Dan O'Hara manned the CRM Hobbies stand there, and they did some good business. Overall, it was a very nice show.

I took a break from the show in midday to co-host Writer's Block, the monthly online radio show from Autistic People. ( Tim Pylypiuk and I discussed the fictional universe of Frank Herbert's science-fiction classic "Dune," then I talked about the editing process and how it helps make a writer's work better. I was in my rental car, with the phone connected to the charger while the engine was on in the parking lot during the show. This worked out well.

After I was done with the show, I packed up my models, got into the car, and drove into Chicago for the night. I checked into the Chicago Getaway Hostel (, located in the city's Lincoln Park neighborhood. This was my first time staying in a hostel--I was one of six men in one room, each with a bunk bed--but it was hard to beat the price and the neighborhood (although I had to park my car in a hospital garage three blocks away). It was comfortable and suited me well for this trip.

I took in a continental breakfast at the hostel before checking out early Sunday morning (8 November), then drove into the Loop of downtown Chicago. After parking my car, I walked a few blocks to see the runners go by in the annual Hot Chocolate 15K/5K runs ( There were hundreds of participants in this event, and many of them were doing so for fun, as I saw quite a few stop along the way for selfies. (By the way, there will be a Hot Chocolate 15K/5K run in St. Louis on 13 December; I signed up to work as a volunteer there.) After spending some time with this, I got back to the car and started driving home, arriving at the rental branch in Ellisville in mid-afternoon. Then, I got my luggage out of that car and into my personal car to drive home. I would have liked to see some friends in the Chicago area while I was there, but neither of them were available for one reason or another. Maybe next time.

Back at work on Monday, things were busy as usual for us. I flexed out Tuesday afternoon (10 November), and visited some colleagues at our Kirkwood branch before doing home. That night, I worked my first volunteer shift at this year's Whittaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) ( I was at the Hi-Pointe Backlot (, a small theatre located behind the main Hi-Pointe auditorium. I was taking checking tickets of customers entering the theatre, where they saw the film "Before the Border," a comedy-drama about a law student retracing the Underground Railroad while trying to get back at a blackmailing fellow student. It was quite an interesting movie. Tonight, I'll be at Moore Auditorium of Webster Hall at Webster University for my second SLIFF shift. The documentary "Orion: The Man who Would Be King" will be screened. My final SLIFF shift will be Saturday night at Saint Louis University's Central for Global Citizenship. Hope to see you at the Festival!

This morning, I met with Glenna Gossett, a sales and marketing communications professional, at the Starbucks in Crestwood, Missouri. She gave me some ideas on applying for positions in my field, particularly at where I work, and had a few pointers for my resume and cover letter, which I had been working on updating this week. I think I am getting my ducks in a row for a job search campaign to get going later this month.


05 November 2015

An Unspooky Halloween; Down to the Wire

Last Friday (30 October), our rental branch had a low-key Halloween celebration. We wore costumes that one of us bought of superheroes. I drew Superman, which fits considering how much my car prep and driving efforts help our branch. It was nice and fun.

Home last weekend, I was busy painting a model kit, one of a set of US and Soviet strategic missiles from the 1980s. There are 20 missiles in all, plus the base. I had to make runs to area hobby shops to get paint for these items. The main painting was done with clear coats applied to prepare them for decals.

No trick or treaters came to our house Saturday night (31 October). There aren't very many young children in our subdivision now, compared to years ago. At least it was quiet outside, with no trouble.

After a busy Monday (2 November) at the rental branch, I was home to get a well-deserved rest. Early the next day, I fought fog to cast my vote in the Mehlville School District ( tax increase referendum. I voted in favor, as did most voters: approximately 76 percent did so. I am very happy about that.

Late Tuesday afternoon, my boss at work told us our branch's customer satisfaction score achieved a new high, and invited me to join the rest of the staff at happy hour that night. I accepted, and we went to the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings in Ballwin ( for drinks and finger foods. We were all in a great mood, and justifiably proud of our accomplishments.

I was back to the model on Wednesday night (4 November) after work, applying decals to the base and the missiles. I finished painting and assembly today. I will be taking that and three other models with me to the IPMS Butch O'Hare Chapter's contest this Saturday in Downers Grove, Illinois (a Chicago suburb). ( I'll be leaving for Chicago after work tomorrow night, stopping over in Springfield, Illinois for the night before heading to Chicago the next morning.

During that show Saturday, I'll take a break at Noon Central Time (10 am Pacific Time; 1800 GMT) to co-host Writer's Block. I hope you can tune in--live or to the archived program later. You can join in here:

I'll let you know more about the Chicago trip in my next post.


29 October 2015

A Weekend with Coffee, Soccer, and Car Models

One week ago today (22 October), I spent some time at the Drury Inn & Suites ( in Brentwood for a business expo, presented by the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce ( My friend Gina March--a former Webster University colleague--is the chamber's executive director and she invited me to this event. I wondered around tables staffed by Brentwood merchants of many kinds, ranging from financial services and restaurants to healthcare. I ran into two people of note at this expo. One was Peggy, aka Krazy Peg, who I knew from a Meetup group I was in a few years ago. She and her husband run a print shop and we chatted for a bit. I was also chatting with Kitt Weis, an Edward Jones financial advisor who graduated from Mehlville High three years after I did and who knew my brother Brian. It was nice getting caught up on things with Kitt.

After some time at the expo, I headed to the Tivoli Theatre in the Delmar Loop for the volunteer orientation for the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) (, which runs 5 to 15 November at several St. Louis area venues. The volunteer coordinator went over the duties of the volunteers--including offering programs, survey forms, and ballots to the attendees entering the theater; and, collecting survey forms and ballots after the show. I have volunteered for three shifts; I will tell you more closer to the time. I also received several SLIFF posters and promotional cards to have posted around the St. Louis area to promote the festival. This will be my fifth year as a SLIFF volunteer and I'm looking forward to this!

At work last Friday morning (23 October), I brought in some doughnuts from Krispy Kreme ( in Fenton for my colleagues. They included Hannah, the new management trainee who joined our branch the day before. She is brand new to the company, but I feel she will do very well. We had a busy Friday (especially in the late afternoon), but the day closed out very nicely. I was back the next morning to work, and we got through the morning very well.

After work Saturday, I headed to Rise Coffee House ( in the Grove for the Saint Louis Area Sippers (Coffee Meetup) ( get together. Eight of us got together for some refreshments and talk, which is always most interesting. It it great with these meetups in checking out various coffeehouses I would not have otherwise known, and each place having a charm of its own.

Back home after the meetup, I changed clothes, ate supper, and headed to Saint Louis University's Robert R. Hermann Stadium to cheer on the Billikens men's soccer team ( against Atlantic 10 Conference rival Davidson. SLU won the match 1-0, scoring early in the second half of a match they pretty much dominated. The win keeps the Billikens' chances of qualifying for the season-ending A-10 Tournament looking good.

The next morning (25 October), I was at the Kirkwood Community Center ( for the Midwest Model Vehicle Association-St. Louis (MMVA) ( Fall contest and swap meet. I joined with two other IPMS/Gateway ( colleagues in staffing our table at the show. I brought in an assortment of my models and Doug Barton brought in two club displays: "The King and His Court" (stock cars from Richard Petty's final NASCAR season in 1992) and St. Louis-built Chevrolet Corvettes. We also had flyers promoting our contest on 10 September 2016. I didn't stay for the entire show, but I did have a look at the contest models and shopped at several of the vendors.

That night, I went online and made hotel reservations for my trip to Chicago early next month. Going on (, I got some very nice deals for the two nights I'm staying--first in Springfield, Illinois on the way over, and then in Chicago after the model show that day. More on this trip in the upcoming posts.

Work has been going well this week. Busy much of the time, but we are getting our customers completely satisfied, which is the important part. After work Tuesday night (27 October), I joined with other colleagues from our area for a happy hour at Double D ( in Brentwood. I enjoyed the company for a few minutes before having to leave to attend this month's IPMS/Gateway business meeting at Marion Morris' house in Maplewood. There, the board members present planned next month's meetings and discussed a bit of other business.

Last night after work, I drove to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( to get my photograph taken for the church directory. I brought a blazer, dress shirt and tie that I changed to for the photo session. It was done in just a few minutes and I was on my way home.

Today on my off day, I bought some sanding tapes and a magazine from CRM Hobbies ( in South St. Louis, and dropped off a pair of dress trousers at a tailor shop for a minor repair. I used those sanding tapes in smoothing out some parts for a model kit I hope to finish in time for the IPMS/Butch O'Hare Chapter ( show I'm attending next Saturday (7 November) in Downers Grove, Illinois. Looking forward to it.


22 October 2015

I Like This Extended Indian Summer

Today is a most pleasant day to be out on my off day from work. It's sunny and nearly 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) today. It's been that way the past week. Cool overnight--getting down to about 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) at night--and then unseasonably warm by midday. Not that I'm complaining, though. We did get a bit of frost last weekend, and it looks like we'll get some much-needed rain this weekend.

Work has been fine at the branch. Hectic at times, but definitely manageable. We're getting a new employee at the branch today--I'll meet her tomorrow morning--which should help with staffing at busy times. Overall, we're moving forward.

Last Thursday (15 October), I updated my resume into versions aimed at public relations (PR) and publishing fields. One copy was sent to a staffing firm, for a PR opening, and I also sent it to several trusted friends asking for their critique. I have heard back from a few, who said overall it was very good, with only minor adjustments needed. One I am hoping to hear back from soon has experience with many resumes, so I will wait until I hear back from him before making the changes. I'm laying the groundwork for an active pursuit of full time opportunities in those areas (although I am keeping my present job in the meantime).

Also on Thursday, I got my hair cut (thanks for a great job, Great Clips), and that night was at Creve Coeur Airport ( for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (MOAVHIST; meeting. Air Force veteran and flight instructor Brian Kissinger spoke at the meeting, where he presented clips from "Fly Now! The Movie" (, a reality aviation documentary he executive produced and starred in. The film--based on Kissinger's book "Life Short, Fly Now!"--tells of Kissinger's experiences flying around St. Louis and attending airshows around the country, while expressing the basic spirit of flight. It's also an inspirational story of going after your dreams, be it through flying or some other passion. Kissinger told the attendees of his recovery from brain cancer about 10 years ago and how that has affected his outlook on life. Jeff Wilson, director of "Fly Now! The Movie," also spoke at the MOAVHIST meeting.

Kissinger invited the attendees to a screening of the movie, which was that Saturday (17 October) at the Hi-Pointe Theatre ( in Clayton, Missouri. About 75 people attended the screening, which followed brief remarks from Kissinger. Afterward, I joined Kissinger and some others for lunch in the Dart Room of Blueberry Hill ( in the Delmar Loop. We had sandwiches and beer, and I joined Kissinger and two others in playing darts. Not having played darts in a few years, I felt I did fine. A good time was had by all.

Right after I came home from Blueberry Hill, I got dressed in a more formal outfit and joined several refereeing colleagues at the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame ( induction dinner, which was held at America's Center ( in downtown St. Louis. Nearly 1000 people attended the event, in which 11 St. Louis soccer greats were inducted and several players, coaches and teams were honored. This was poignant for me (and others, I'm sure) in that one of this year's inductees was my late acquaintance and refereeing colleague Paul Dueker, who died last year. He was a goalkeeper for school and club teams, and he was a great fan of the sport, both locally and internationally. My group had to leave early--one of our party had an early game to referee the next morning--but it was most enjoyable and a wonderful way to celebrate soccer in St. Louis.

Sunday found me at home clearing out hundreds of email messages from my inbox, dating back nearly a month. It was a long effort, but worth it. I just need to be more proactive in culling my inbox daily or at least during the week.

After flexing out of work Tuesday (20 October), I got some cell phone storage hints from a salesman at Best Buy Mobile at South County Center, then went home to relax a bit before going to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( in Mehlville for this month's IPMS/Gateway ( meeting. We had a nice crowd and a good turnout for the Model of the Month "Beauty Contest," plus a demo on marking models for painting, which was very informative.

Off work today, I went to my dentist in Kirkwood for a minor procedure relating to a tooth that was pulled some months ago. I was out of the office within a half hour and then visited three Enterprise branches where former Ellisville colleagues worked, bearing cookies for their respective office staffs. First, I saw Maggie and Melissa at the Kirkwood branch and chatted with them briefly. Then, I drove to the Truck Rental office in Earth City to see Adeline, who's assistant manager there, and get caught up with things. Finally, I went to our Airport location and chatted with Kerry. After these visits, I shopped a bit at The Boeing Store ( in Hazelwood. On the way home, I stopped to get gas and a wash for my car. All that occurred between 8:00 am and noon. Rather productive.

I have some stuff going on later today that I'll mention in my next post.


14 October 2015

Time of Doubt

Things are going well at work of late. We're all working hard to keep the customers busy and coming back to us. Even with short staff at times and major surges of customers (like we had this morning), everyone in the branch in pitching in to make it happen. I'm glad to be a part of such a team, even if I do leave the branch at night rather tired.

This past Saturday morning (10 October) found me at the St. Louis Artists' Guild ( in Clayton for the Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC) meeting. There was a panel discussion of children's books, with three local authors of these works telling about the processes they followed to get their books published. It was a rather interesting program, and I mentioned this to one of the authors that spoke. This was also the first time I visited the guild, which was located at the basement of the old Famous-Barr store, and which had an exhibit of textile art, which I found pretty interesting. For more on MPC, visit their site:

After the MPC event, I shopped for work shoes at a Famous Footwear ( store in Brentwood before going to Cafe Ventana ( near the Saint Louis University (SLU) campus in midtown St. Louis. At Cafe Ventana, I met Lisa Baudendistel-Suntrup, a SLU grad I met at the party at Humphrey's late last month. We talked over coffee for about three-quarters of an hour, getting to know each other more. Lisa particularly wanted to know more about me and to try to help me out as much as I can. It was a very nice time and I really appreciated Lisa meeting me for this.

That night, I went to Amsterdam Tavern ( in south St. Louis to watch the CONCACAF Cup match between Mexico and the USA on TV. I joined with other USA supporters to eat, drink beer, and watch the game. We came away disappointed, as Mexico won 3-2 in extra time.

Sunday (11 October), I helped my friend Linsey Daman with a letter of recommendation for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), in which she serves in a communications role. Linsey asked me to recommend her for promotion in the organization, so I wrote a letter that she gave to her superior that night. Hopefully, this helped her. I was to have seen Linsey the next night at the CAP meeting in Hazelwood, but she mentioned that afternoon she would not be able to come, so I passed on the meeting. Maybe next time.

Lately, I've not been feeling very well about myself. I'm greatly concerned about where I am in my life, and wondering if I will ever get ahead. I want to find a better paying job doing what I love--paying enough to enable me to move out on my own. (Nothing against my current employer, of course; I just don't want to be cleaning cars all my life.) Also, I want to find a girlfriend, not really having had one ever. This makes me wonder if I will ever find true happiness, whether I will ever have a viable future. I just feel so frustrated right now.

Anyway, I am off tomorrow (Thursday), so I should have some time to recharge.


08 October 2015

Nice First Week of October So Far

The weather has been nice--not too cold and not too hot. That's fine with me.

The week has been good at the branch this week. Enough to keep us busy. Yesterday, I said goodbye to Katie, one of our management assistants, who's leaving the firm this week. She's moving to Chicago and pursuing opportunities there. I certainly wish her all the best. We hope to touch base soon after she settles into her new place.

After work Tuesday night (6 October), I was at Mark Twain Hobby Center ( in St. Charles for the IPMS/St. Louis ( meeting. We had six members and guests present and we talked for a bit about our latest projects, news from around the hobby, and admiring two figures one member brought in. I also browsed for a bit in the store before the meeting.

Off work today, I typed up a short article for Middle Marker, the Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( newsletter. It was a summation of our most recent meetings. Still feel good about editing this newsletter, after my initial anxieties subsided. Still wish I had it all ready for us to put it out by our next meeting (Thursday, 15 October), but it should be ready by the beginning of November.

Also, found my backup thumb drive that has my resumes and related materials on it. I was able to call those files up and print out several of them, and save the files to my computer's hard drive and external hard drive. I plan to update these materials in the coming weeks, and let some of my trusted connections have a look over. I'm looking to get myself out there and see about opportunities in publishing or public relations. (Not that I hate what I'm doing now; it's just I want to do something more in my career wheelhouse.) You can check out my LinkedIn profile here: