28 December 2014

Christmas 2014

One week before Christmas (18 December), I attended the annual soccer referee recertification clinic, held at Forest Park Community College in St. Louis. Myself and other referees learned of the few changes in the Laws of the Game, and areas of emphasis. We also received our new Law books and 2015 referee patches.

I used the patch and put my knowledge of the Laws of the Game to use the following Saturday (20 December), when I officiated two high school age boys winter league matches at the Soccer Park in Fenton. I ran line on the first match and was in the middle in the second. The matches went well and although I was a bit winded afterward (not having had much running time before those games), I felt fine afterward.

My work schedule this past week was shortened due to Christmas. I worked a full day Monday (22 December), was off Tuesday, worked a shortened (4 hour) day Wednesday, was off Thursday for the Holiday, and a full day Friday, plus yesterday morning. The rather mild weather this past week was fine, and we had our customers taken care off in good order.

Last Tuesday, on my off day, I got my haircut at Great Clips near South County Center in Mehlville, then went to Foundation Grounds in Maplewood to have a coffee and buy my ticket for next month's Sweet Tooth Tour of downtown Maplewood merchants. After that, I went to CRM Hobbies in St. Louis to drop off a master copy of the flyer for next year's IPMS/USA Region 5 Convention in St. Louis, and to buy some paint for a model I'm working on soon.

After supper with my mom on Christmas Eve--which included, per family tradition, baked ham and spaghetti with cheese and tomato sauce--we went to service at Calvary Presbyterian Church. It was a nice service. After that, we were home and we opened our Christmas presents which were under the Christmas tree. I received from family members two neck ties, a bottle of cologne, two books, a model kit, smartphone earbuds, and three gift cards or e-certificates. A family friend gave me a third book. My brothers and I pitched in to get mom a new microwave oven, which I bought on Tuesday. I also gave mom a gift card to Kohl's stores.

It was hard to get in the spirit of this season, the first since my dad died last summer. However, my mother, brothers, and some friends urged me to be positive and know he is looking down on us. So, I did my best.

After work on Friday, I was at Mike George's house in Florissant for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting. Both outgoing and incoming executive boards were present (myself as secretary for 2014 and 2015), and we planned next month's general and business meetings, settled on special categories for the 2015 Modeler of the Year Contests, and discussed other club business.

Yesterday after work, I was at Stone Spiral Coffee in Maplewood for the Saint Louis Area Sippers Meetup group. It was my first time with this group and I had a fine time with the others in attendance. I am looking forward to more get togethers with this group.

This afternoon found me at Creve Coeur Racquet Club refereeing boys futsal matches. I worked four matches--one of under 14s, then three of high school aged. These games went well, although I did have to crack down a few times when players got too rough for my mood.

Back to work tomorrow and 2014 ends on Wednesday night. I hope for a better 2015. How about you?


18 December 2014

Helping Out at a Run; Futsal; and a Knight Out

Early Sunday morning (14 December) found me in downtown St. Louis, by Soldiers Memorial, volunteering at the Hot Chocolate Run. This was a pair of road races--15 km and 5 km--through downtown St. Louis, part of a nationwide series and whose proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. I was a course marshal, positioned at the intersection of Tucker Boulevard and Page Avenue. There, I was to direct the runners and make sure onlookers stayed off the course. I was on station for nearly 20 minutes before the first runner appeared. A few appeared in the next 10 minutes, then the great mass of entrants followed. There were approximately 8,000 participants that came through over the course of two hours and I was yelling encouragement at them and ringing a cowbell issued to me and the other volunteers. (On the downside, the cowbell's handle cut into my fingers and I'm still sore there.) After the last runners passed, I was picked up and brought back to the volunteer area for complementary hot chocolate and chocolate fondue. It was a lot of fun (rather mild weather for the date helped) and I would do this again in the future. If you're interested in more about this event, visit http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/stlouis/.

After coming home late that morning and changing, I was at Christian Academy of Greater St. Louis in Maryland Heights that afternoon for a set of four youth futsal games--the first I refereed in the season. These were under 14 girls matches and they generally went well for my partners and I.

Work has been going well. We said goodbye to one of our branch assistant managers, Rachel, as she transferred to a branch up the street. Business has been a bit slow, thanks to the mild weather and lack of snow (until today), but at least we got some good housekeeping work done at the branch. Yesterday, I received my annual review from the branch management--high marks. (My official two-year service anniversary is this Saturday.)

After work on Tuesday (16 December), I helped get Calvary Presbyterian Church's fellowship hall ready for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. It was a full meeting, and included the annual recognition contest (guessing the kit subject from redacted box art), elections for next year's club officers (I was reelected secretary by acclamation) and for the Bob Stroup Award (for outstanding service to the club). We also had our annual Same Kit Contest, and I was among six members who finished a kit of a knight in armor for it. We chose from either the Black Knight of Nurnberg (my selection) or the Red Knight of Vienna. I finished my kit early Tuesday morning before work. It did not win--this was by popular vote of meeting attendees--but it was a nice experience in figure modeling that should be helpful for the future.

While I was at work on Saturday morning (13 Dec.), two IPMS/Gateway officers presented the US Marine Corps Reserve with the club's $550 donation to Toys for Tots in Metro St. Louis. This was at a toy and cash drive held at Gravois Bluffs Shopping Center in Fenton, Missouri. I wrote out a press release later that day announcing our donation and got it posted on stltoday.com. Here's the link: http://interact.stltoday.com/pr/non-profits/PR121314042819722.

Off work today, I have a soccer referee recertification clinic tonight in Fenton. More on that next time.


13 December 2014

Trying to Find the Holiday Spirit

I'm having a hard time trying to get into this Holiday season. Perhaps it's the after effects of my father's death last July. Perhaps it's uncertainty about my future. Perhaps it's my advancing age. It's just that I can't get real excited about Christmas and New Year's, and seem to be going through the motions. I hope this can improve for me rather soon.

Anyway, work has been going well. Plenty of business at our branch, and I'm good with that. I was working this morning and the four hours seemed to fly by.

While I was working today, colleagues at IPMS/Gateway made our club's annual donation to the US Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program in Metro St. Louis. This year, our club contributed $550 to the cause of making sure every child in our area has a toy to unwrap on Christmas morning. I wrote a press release announcing this contribution, and it's been posted on stltoday.com: http://interact.stltoday.com/pr/non-profits/PR121314042819722.

Speaking of IPMS/Gateway, our meeting this Tuesday night will include the annual Same Kit Contest. Along with several other club members, I've been working on a knight figure kit. I will have it ready by that night. More info on the club here: http://ipms-gateway.com.

One week ago today (6 Dec.), I co-hosted this month's episode of "Writer's Block," the monthly show from Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio. Host Tim Pylypiuk and I discussed the influence and genius of the late Robin Williams and on the intersection of mental illness and art. You can listen to the archived program here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2014/12/06/writers-block-bleeding-heart-10am-pstradio-drama-grooming-hour--11am-pst. The next edition is Sat., 3 January 2015.

I'm up early tomorrow morning to volunteer at the Hot Chocolate Run and to later referee futsal games. More on that in my next post.


04 December 2014

Back in Town to Figure Something Out

My mom and I flew home from Charleston last Saturday morning (29 Nov.), flying via Atlanta. We were a bit late getting out of Charleston, as the aircraft needed deicing before take off (wise move), but we were back in our homes around 10 am that day. Plenty of time to unpack and start getting caught up on things in St. Louis.

I was off work on Monday (1 Dec.), as I thought we would not be in town until Sunday or possibly Monday. (The flight reservations were made after I had got my vacation time approved.) Thus, I did miss the ice storm that hit our area early on Monday, which did make things rather interesting at work, from what I understand.

Back at work on Tuesday, and things went well. We did get a bit of run on rentals from customers whose vehicles were damaged on Monday, but we got our customers taken care of and that's important.

After work Tuesday, I was running the IPMS/St. Louis meeting at Mark Twain Hobby Center. With just five in attendance, it was hard to do much more than my recap of my Charleston trip and a bit more hobby news. However, this was my last meeting as club president, which I made clear the past few months. Their website: http://www.ipms-stlouis.com/

Off work today, I was able to get some modeling done. This 1:8 scale kit of The Black Knight of Nurnberg is the subject of IPMS/Gateway's same kit contest at their meeting this month. I have much of the assembly done, and spent time today painting the face. I haven't done a figure model at all, but found some tips on painting faces, which I used to help. It has come out very nicely, I must say. Looks like this kit will be done in time for the meeting on 16 December.

Speaking of IPMS/Gateway, I also went to a couple of area hobby shops this afternoon, dropping off club flyers and giving each store a flyer announcing the IPMS/USA Region 5 Convention we're hosting in September of 2015. Here's IPMS/Gateway's website: http://ipms-gateway.com


28 November 2014

Doing the Charleston for Thanksgiving 2014

I spent last Sunday (23 Nov.) taking care of some personal business and starting to pack for this week's trip. (More on that soon.) Thus, I did not go to see another film in the St. Louis International Film Festival, which concluded that night. Wrap up, including award winners, are here: http://cinemastlouis.org/

The next day, I put in a full day of work at the car rental branch. Work was heavy in the morning, as usual, but calmed down by late morning, before picking up in the late afternoon. After work, I came home to finish packing and get some rest.

Mom and I were up early the next morning (25 Nov.) to catch our flight. A neighbor drove us to the airport, and we boarded a flight to Atlanta. After arriving there, we waited approximately one hour before flying from Atlanta to Charleston. A relative met us at the airport and we went to the guest house, where we have been the past few days. Mom and I went out for lunch in downtown Charleston and came home to rest.

Wednesday morning, I got a ride to go to Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, just north of Charleston. There, I boarded the retired aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10), a veteran of World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Arriving just before the museum opened at 9:00 am, I stayed aboard Yorktown for just over four hours, following a tour throughout the ship, ranging from the engine room to the flight deck. I clicked away with my camera, taking over 700 images of the ship, several aircraft displayed on the flight and hangar decks, and displays throughout the ship. Despite the cold, overcast, and windy weather outside (which I thought was good for flight operations), I had a ball. The audio tour option that I chose was a great enhancement to my enjoyment of the visit. After lunch on board Yorktown and a visit to the souvenir shop, I was heading back to the guest house. Highly recommended to any history buffs (especially of naval and aviation history). You can find out more on USS Yorktown and other sites of interest here: http://patriotspoint.org/

Thanksgiving Day yesterday was real nice. I stayed at home, to--among other things--enjoy the 2014 MST3K Turkey Day Marathon streamed on YouTube. Six episodes of the 1990s movie-riffing show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (MST3K to its fans) were streamed online and I had fun reliving the hilarity of a man and his two robots talking back at some awful movies. Here's the link to MST3K's official YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFzph9x-n9FR52BI94Zfgww

The feast--smoked turkey and company--was served early last night. My one brother and his family, and some friends of theirs, joined my Mom and I in the dinner. It was very nice and the food--especially the turkey--was delicious, plus we all had at least something to be thankful for in our lives. Here's hoping my fellow Americans enjoyed the holiday and had at least something to be thankful. (In my case, I'm thankful for having steady work, a place to call home, and many good friends and acquaintances around the world--in person and online.)

This morning, I was driven to Sullivan's Island just north of Charleston to visit Fort Moultrie, which is part of Fort Sumter National Monument. Established in 1776 to help defend Charleston, Fort Moultrie's defending troops successfully fought off a British fleet on 28 June 1776. This was an early victory for the Americans during the American Revolutionary War. Confederate guns bombarded the Union garrison at nearby Fort Sumter on 12-14 April 1861, starting the American Civil War. Fort Moultrie was modified and upgraded over the years, serving as a active coastal defense installation until 1947. The site is now maintained by the National Park Service. I had a great time visiting the fort and nearby visitor center for about three hours, snapping over 500 images. For more info on Fort Moultrie, visit: http://www.nps.gov/fosu/historyculture/fort_moultrie.htm

After the visit to Fort Moultrie, it was a good lunch at a Charleston restaurant, then to the guest house. Tonight, I'll start packing up for the return trip. I'll be back in St. Louis tomorrow and back to work on Tuesday. I hope all is well with you, especially those of you in metro St. Louis. The grand jury decision came down Monday night. Mom and I did not see any protesters on our way to the airport, but I am saddened by the violence that has occurred. I am not happy with the grand jury's decision and the underlying issues need to be addressed and soon; however, there is no justification for violence or bullying or other negative behavior by either side in this matter. I'll let it go at that.


23 November 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


13 November 2014

Scale Modeling Road Trip to Chicagoland

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

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

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

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

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

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


06 November 2014

A Weekend of Soccer, and a Great Book Club Meeting

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

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

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

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

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


31 October 2014

Halloween 2014: Grease is the Word at Work

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

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

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

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

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


23 October 2014

A Friend and Colleague Now in the Hall of Fame

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


28 August 2014

Surviving the Weather, Enjoying the Festival of Nations

I put in plenty of work late last week and earlier this week. I came in last Thursday afternoon (21 August) to our Ballwin branch, per a request from their branch manager. I did so, and worked my normal shift the next day at the Ellisville branch. My efforts have been most appreciated by the staff, which is most gratifying.

That night, I was at the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting at Creve Coeur Airport, where I took in a presentation on the Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. Dana "Perk" Perkins, a Boeing test pilot, gave a very nice presentation on the aircraft. I also put in a plug for the IPMS Gateway to the West Model Contest and Swap Meet next Saturday (6 September). Looking forward to that show. More info at this link: http://ipms-gateway.com/invite2014.html

Last Saturday and Sunday, I was at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis for the International Institute's Festival of Nations. On Saturday morning (23 August), I was there to see members of the Making Friends Around the World Meetup group, which met there. We talked for a bit and took in a performance of Scandinavian music. That afternoon, I worked a shift at one of the drinks booths, where I helped get cans of beer and soda and bottles of water to customers.

I was at the Festival grounds Sunday morning, helping one of the shuttle bus drivers understand her route, then pulled a shift as a festival ambassador, handing out programs to visitors and answering their questions. After a short break, I then worked to survey visitors about the festival, getting feedback to help in planning the festival in the future. Attendance was down a bit due to the high heat, with head indices (temperature plus humidity) reaching 110 degrees F (43 degrees C), but otherwise it went very well. I really enjoyed being at the Festival and helping out. Seeing all these ethnic groups showing off their cultures (music, dance, art, crafts, and food) is a very good thing to me.

Work this week has been good, despite the heat outside. Yesterday afternoon (27 Aug.), a sudden thunderstorm drenched me as I was cleaning a vehicle. Wisely, I stayed inside until the rain let up. I'm working Saturday morning, but we're off until Tuesday of next week, with the Labor Day Holiday this Monday. Also next week, we're moving our branch location a few feet east to the building next door.

Tuesday night (26 Aug.), after work, I was at Marion Morris' house for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting. We planned the September general and business meetings, and discussed the latest on our upcoming show. In my dad's memory, I have purchased a trophy sponsorship for that show. I'm sure my dad would really appreciate the gesture.


21 August 2014

Plenty of Work, Heat, and Humidity

If there is any doubt summer is back to normal regarding weather here in St. Louis, this week has quelled any doubts. The heat indices have topped 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), which is not much fun when one is outside working, as I have been doing. In fact, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory through this Sunday. I'm definitely hitting the water as much as I can!

I worked Saturday morning at the branch and throughout this week. The past two days found me on temporary duty at our sister branch in Ballwin, doing vehicle prep work as their prep person is away. At least this branch has an enclosed wash bay, which is most welcome these days in getting out of the heat. Our new branch building is coming along great. The company signs were mounted yesterday morning, and it's closer to the building opening next month. That branch will have two wash bays for vehicles. Hooray!

Sunday afternoon (17 August) found me at Kutis Funeral Home in Affton, playing last respects to my friend and refereeing colleague Paul Dueker, who died late the previous week from a heart attack at age 59. I met a few of my fellow referees there as we viewed the body and gave our condolences to Paul's family. He was a good man and will be missed. You may make memorial donations in Dueker's name to the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame (http://www.stlsoccerhalloffame.com/).

After work Monday (18 August), I was at the Grand Glaize Branch of the St Louis County Library for the monthly soccer referee in-service clinic. We got a rundown on the law changes for the coming season (minor ones in player equipment), and discussed officiating situations at the recent FIFA World Cup in Brazil--good and bad. The next day was quite a full one, which included lunch at Wild Smoke, a barbecue restaurant in Creve Coeur. The car rental company's area manager treated me and other full-time vehicle prep people to lunch, to thank us for our hard work. This was most appreciated, and the food there is very nice.

After work that night, I was at the IPMS/Gateway meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Mehlville. We had a good crowd there, plenty of entries (38) in the Model of the Month "Beauty Contest," plus a contest judging seminar ahead of our Contest on 6 September. (Details on that at http://ipms-gateway.com).

This morning, I'm getting my laundry done and some other chores before going into work, back at Ballwin. Last night after work, I was at a Happy Hour with colleagues at Senor Pique in Ballwin when the assistant manager asked if I could work this (Thursday) afternoon, although today is normally an off day for me. I said yes, and will do so. After that, I'm off to this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society meeting at Creve Coeur Airport (http://moavhist.org/).

Saturday and Sunday, I'm a volunteer at the International Institute of St. Louis' Festival of Nations at Tower Grove Park. It's an annual festival of music, dance, food, crafts, and art from various nationalities. This is my second year working at this event, and I am looking forward to it. You can get more info on the Festival at http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/.


14 August 2014

A Nice Weekend and a Pleasant Week So Far

I was out and about the metro area last weekend with Meetup group activities. On Saturday late afternoon (9 August), I was at a house in the Central West End for a house party with the Making Friends Around the World group. It was a going-away party for one of the interns, a person from China, and it was nice seeing some people I know from previous meetups of this group and a few new people. It was a nice time.

The next afternoon found me at Shaw Park in Clayton with the STL Food Lovers group. It was the last of the summer's Food Truck Sunday events at the park. About 12 food trucks were present and I bought food from three of them: Holy Crepe, 2 Girls 4 Wheels, and Sia's Italian Ice. The food was tasty and it was nice to enjoy the various cuisine. After the formal part of this meetup in the park, many of us in the group headed to Jilly's Ice Cream Bar in University City for ice cream. This was a very fine time to spend with other like-minded people.

Earlier on that Sunday afternoon, I worked to polish an article I look to submit to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's newsletter. I will tell more once the article is completed and ready for publication, but I can tell you now it should be something I will be most proud of presenting.

Work has been going well this week. The weather has been a bit cooler and less humid than normal for this time of year, which is most appreciated.

Late last night, my brother Rick came into town for a few days. He's helping my Mom out with some business related to my Dad's recent passing. After dinner tonight, we three visited my Dad's niche at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. It was the first time I have been to his final resting place.

Today, I had lunch with a friend, Linda Taylor-Gallup, at Rich & Charlie's in Mehlville. It was our first in-person meeting--we have been Facebook friends for some months now--and we had a very pleasant get-together. Linda and I got to know each other better over a very nice lunch.


07 August 2014

Into August 2014

I was to have co-hosted Writer's Block on Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio last Saturday (2 August), but the show was cancelled for this month, due to more pressing matters that the host had to attend to that week. I will be unable to co-host next month, due to the IPMS/Gateway show that day.

Work has been going well. Plenty busy most mornings, and towards the end of the days, but midday lulls allowed my colleagues and I to rest a bit and get caught up on housekeeping chores. We welcomed a new management trainee (MT) this past Monday, and said goodbye to another one on Tuesday. (The latter MT is transferring to the airport location.)

Before going into work last Tuesday (5 August), I cast my ballot in the primary election. Voter turnout was light--I was the seventh voter in that polling place--and it did not take me long to vote. I was quite happy with most of the results, although some of the state ballot issues that I opposed did pass.

After work on Tuesday, I ran the IPMS/St. Louis meeting at Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles. We had a nice turnout of seven people--three of them, there for the first time, were the son, grandson, and son-in-law of one of our members. It was a brief meeting and several of us then browsed in the shop for a bit before going home.

A rather quiet off day today. It was raining most of the day and into tonight, so I stayed home to catch up on some business. That included getting the listing for the IPMS/Gateway Show on 6 Sept. posted onto a couple of online events calendars. Hopefully that will help get a few more people to our show, along with other efforts, such as posting show flyers in area hobby shops.


31 July 2014

Moving Forward As July Ends

My mother, my brothers, and I are doing fine two weeks after my father's passing. We are moving ahead in our lives, just as my father would want us to do, and living as best as we can is the best way to honor my father's life. My thanks for everyone who has expressed their condolences to me and to others in my family. Your words of comfort were most appreciated.

Work has been going well. I worked all day last Friday (25 July), last Saturday morning, and the first three days of this week. I'm doing my best to keep things moving forward for the branch.

Sunday afternoon (27 July), I went to St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia to see three World War II US military aircraft on display. They were a P-51 Mustang fighter and two heavy bombers: a B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-24 Liberator. They are owned by the Collings Foundation and they offered rides in these aircraft for $450. That was too rich for my blood (as much as I would have loved to do so), so I paid just $15 for self-guided tours of these aircraft. I saw them when they were in St. Louis a few years ago, but enjoyed seeing them again up close. I took plenty of photos of these three warbirds, including a selfie of me about to enter the B-17.

After work this past Tuesday (29 July), I joined with three IPMS/Gateway colleagues at the Cliff Cave Branch of the St. Louis County Library in Oakville. There, we put models into the lobby display case, which I reserved for the club earlier this year. Our display--which includes an unassembled model kit, a recent copy of the club newsletter, and flyers for the club and our show in September--will run until the end of August. Feel free to check it out if you're in that area in the next few weeks.

Off work today, I took care of some personal business. This morning, I got the oil changed on my Corolla. Later in the morning, I got my hair cut at Great Clips. It sure needed the trim. I also got my laundry done and cleaned out my email inbox.

Tonight, I was in the Benton Park neighborhood of St. Louis with 11 others in the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group. We had dinner at Yemanja Brasil Restaurante, a Brazilian restaurant which I had not been to before. We all had a great time there, with such good food. I had Feijoda de Ogum, a dish of black beans, beef, rice, collard greens and orange slices that is considered Brazil's national dish. This was washed down with water and Capipirnha, the Brazilian national cocktail of crushed limes, sugar and cachaca (spirit distilled from sugar cane). I definitely recommend Yemanja, 200 Missouri Avenue, 63118. Their website is: http://www.brazildining.com.


24 July 2014

Harold R. Delaney is Dead, But Not Forgotten

Things have been real for me and my family since my father, Harold R. Delaney, died one week ago today. I pulled a full day at work last Friday, never complaining. My colleagues offered their condolences, which were most welcome. I kept on moving in life, knowing that would take my mind off my father's passing and that my father would have wanted me to keep going in life.

I went to Smalls Tea and Coffee in south St. Louis last Saturday morning (19 July) for a gathering of the Saint Louis Singles Group: Ages 40+ Meetup. There were two others with me in the place, a small establishments I had never been to before, but that was the point. It was a quiet get-together, an opportunity for me to really enjoy conversing with others without all the background noise. We had a nice time with this and I plan to attend another such Meetup next month. Also on the weekend, I did a bit of shopping at CRM Hobbies, and delivered flyers for the IPMS/Gateway show in September to two other hobby shops.

My brothers and their wives started coming to town on Monday (21 July) to be with my mother and I. I kept with my schedule of events, including work and the IPMS/Gateway business meeting Tuesday night at the Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation building in south St. Louis County.

The next morning (23 July), the family assembled at Lord Funeral Home near Sylvan Springs Park for the trip to nearby Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. My mother, three brothers and their wives, my cousin Bertice Brown and her husband Ed, and our friend Cindy Strohm were joined by Rev. Emma Dobson, the pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church. After a short motorcade into the cemetery, we arrived at the shelter where the interment ceremony would take place. The container with my father's ashes was placed on a table, with a folded American flag and a challenge coin placed nearby. We sat in two rows of benches facing the table, and Rev. Dobson conducted a short service of prayer. Then, a nearby rifle squad of three men fired three volleys in salute, followed by the playing of "Taps." Two soldiers unfolded, then refolded the American flag, and one of them presented the flag and the challenge coin to my mother, as he said, "On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation." We each placed a red rose beside the remains to conclude this service and we then drove home. My father's ashes will be placed in a nook at the cemetery.

That afternoon, there was a standing-room-only crowd in the sanctuary of Calvary Presbyterian Church for the celebration of my father's life. Rev. Dobson led the service, which included the singing of two hymns my father liked a lot, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Pass It On." Attendees were invited to share memories of my father, and I told of how much my father wanted me to stay positive and not think I had disappointed him in life. I also read three stanzas of "Amazing Grace" to the audience. After the service, there was a reception in nearby Lewis Fellowship Hall. I met a number of people I had not seen in years, and my family was most heartened by how much they regarded my father in life and how they well remembered him now. (I got Wednesday off from work for these events; I told my boss that I only needed this one day off, with the next day being my day off and I would be back to work on Friday.)

My brothers and sisters-in-law all departed for their respective homes last night, except for Brian, who flew out today. Mom and I took him to the airport, then we stopped at Denny's for lunch on the way home.

I am holding up very well under these circumstances, and so is my mother. We will need some time to get fully adjusted to life without my father, but I am confident we will do well in the years to come. Thank you to everyone who has expressed their condolences to me and my family. Your kind words are most welcome.

Before I go, I've attached a photo taken of my father in 1991, when he completed his time as Calvary's Clerk of the Session (the elder who serves as recording secretary for the parish in a Presbyterian congregation), along with a photo of the American flag and challenge coin my mother received at yesterday's service.


20 July 2014

Final Arrangements for Harold R. Delaney

Thanks to all of you who have expressed to me their condolences on the death of my father, Harold Delaney, this past Thursday. They are most welcome.

The final arrangements have been made for my father, and I am sharing those with you now. They come from the obituary of him that appears in today's edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Here's the link to the online version: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/stltoday/obituary.aspx?n=harold-r-delaney&pid=171789989&fhid=16836

His remains will be cremated and interred in a private ceremony Wednesday morning (23 July) at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. There will be no visitation nor funeral; instead, there will be a celebration of his life on Wednesday at 1:00 pm at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Mehlville, which will be followed by refreshments and fellowship. The family requests no flowers to bent; however, you may made donations in his memory to: Calvary Presbyterian Church, 3400 Lemay Ferry Road, St. Louis, MO 63125; AT&T Pioneers/JB Museum Fund, 4410 Gemini Drive, St. Louis, MO 63128; or, to a charity of choice.


17 July 2014

Losing My Father, After Some Happy Days for Me

Today, my father, Harold R. Delaney, died peacefully at home in his bed. He was 90 years old and had been suffering from lung cancer in recent weeks. No more suffering now. My mother Joan, my brother Doug, and I were beside his bed when my father breathed his last. After a hospice nurse came by a little while later to confirm his passing, his body was taken away. Final arrangements are pending.

I was the first of Harold and Joan's four sons. Throughout my life so far, I have had many ups and downs (mostly downs), but my father never expressed disappointment in me and told me so. He was very well liked and respected by family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and associates. Harold served in World War II as a radio technician in the US Army Air Forces, and worked for 41 years with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in St. Louis. He was active in our church, Calvary Presbyterian, including serving several years as Clerk of the Session. He was also involved with the Telephone Pioneers of America and in the Cub and Boy Scouts when my brothers and I were there.

My mother is really keeping a firm control of herself--in good part because his death was expected--and Doug and I are also keeping an even keel. My other two brothers, Rick and Brian, should be here in a few days for the memorial service. I'll report on that in my next post.

My father's passing came after what has been a good past few days for me. Last Saturday midday (12 July), I was at St. Louis Outlet Mall in Hazelwood, Missouri for a meeting of the Singles Over 50 Meetup group. About eight of us were there, and we had lunch and shopped at several stores there. I bought a couple of small flags at Flag World, and browsed at Books-A-Million. It was pretty good. On the way home, I stopped by the recently opened Half Price Books store in Chesterfield, Mo., where I browsed the stacks and bought a couple of books.

That night found me at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis' Central West End. Cafe Eau at the Chase hosted a art and cocktail party, in which local artist Ted Collier displayed his latest work, "Waves." It was nice to see the paintings displayed on the cafe's walls, and several of them were sold by the time I arrived there. (Collier donated $25 percent of the art sales proceeds to St. Louis Children's Hospital, a few blocks south of the Chase.) I stayed around for about an hour before leaving.

The next day (13 July) had me at Amsterdam Tavern in south St. Louis to join other soccer fans to watch the FIFA World Cup Final on television. Arriving about two hours before match time, I had time to have a couple of beers and to take in the atmosphere with about 200 other fans--mostly supporting Germany, but there were some Argentinian fans there. Most fans came home happy, as Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in extra time for their fourth world championship. It was an exciting game, mostly clean, and I was happy about that. Overall, I would say this FIFA World Cup was the best I've ever witnessed, and I've been following this tournament since 1982.

Back to work Monday--frantic Monday, of course--and it's been going well. I can't complain about the weather, with high temperatures near 80 degrees F (27 degrees C). Right after work Tuesday night (15 July), I was at Calvary Presbyterian Church for the monthly IPMS/Gateway meeting. This month had our annual Slam Fest, where members had two hours to assemble and finish a model kit, which would then be judged in a popularity contest. I honored by employer by building a small (1:1200 scale) kit of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) from World War II. I had the kit assembled, painted and decaled with about 20 minutes to spare. It was one of three kits completed in that time frame to be judged in the contest, by a vote of meeting attendees. My model came in second, to a very nicely done car model, and I received two $5 gift certificates from CRM Hobbies as my prize. It was real neat, and I showed the Enterprise model off to my dad, who liked it.

In closing this post, I have attached a photo of Doug, Harold and myself taken on Christmas Day (25 December) 1999 at home. RIP, Dad.


12 July 2014

Work, Networking, and the World Cup is Almost Over

Been a bit busy late this week with this and that at home, so I haven't written you a bit sooner. Anyway, here's my latest post. Work at the car rental firm has been going well. We were closed last Friday (4 July) for Independence Day, but I worked the next morning at the branch. It was rather busy with customers getting vehicles to rent out for the holiday weekend. Monday (7 July) was rather hectic as customers were returning vehicles from the weekend. Also, it was very hot, with heat indices topping 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). Fortunately, I stayed inside as much as possible and drank plenty of water. Last Wednesday (8 July), after delivering a vehicle to one of our satellite branches, I ran into a former colleague, who was there getting work done on her vehicle. We chatted a bit before I had to get back to business, but it was great seeing her.

On my off day Thursday (10 July), I edited some short articles for the upcoming issue of Naturally Autistic magazine. Most were short pieces that didn't take much time to do at all. That magazine comes out this fall; more info at www.naturallyautistic.com.

Also on Thursday, I went to the Barrett on Washington in midtown St. Louis for a creatives networking event. It was rather nice to go. I did see a few people I worked for while temping at a staffing agency (which hosted this event) and got them up to date with myself. I also chatted with a few others to let them know I'm keeping my eyes out for career opportunities in editing and PR. We'll see how it goes from there.

The FIFA World Cup ends tomorrow (Sunday) and it's been a fabulous tournament so far. Plenty of action and surprises. As much as like Lionel Messi and Argentina, I think Germany will be too strong and will win the Final. I went to a watch party on 4 July for the Brazil-Colombia quarterfinal at Amsterdam Tavern in south St. Louis. Big crowd on hand, with many Colombian supporters and some Brazilian fans. Those rooting for Brazil ended up happier after their country won, although Neymar Jr.'s injury late in the match made it a Pyrrhic victory.

This week also marked get-togethers with two high school classmates I have not seen in some time. Last Sunday, my friend Tim Popp and I met. He lives in Oklahoma City and is in town on business. Tim and I met at the bar at Rich and Charlie's restaurant in Mehlville as we got caught up on things. Thursday afternoon, I saw Michael Anderson, who I had not seen since high school. We met at the St. Louis Bread Co. near South County Center. Michael lives near Columbus, Ohio, where he just retired on disability from a federal job. He's doing pretty good, considering, and we had a good time catching up on things in our lives.

I'm off to a singles meetup at midday today in Hazelwood, Mo., and plan to attend an art exhibition tonight. More on all that in my next post.


03 July 2014

A Movie, the World Cup, a Dinner, and Heat

One week ago tonight (26 June) found me at Creve Coeur Airport for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting. There, we saw the 1954 movie "The High and the Mighty," which starred John Wayne. It's a drama about an airliner flying from Honolulu to San Francisco that has trouble and about the people on board with their own dramas. I had not seen this film in a few years and enjoyed it a lot. More info on this group at http://moavhist.org/

When not working, I was at home watching the FIFA World Cup matches that went into the Round of 16 last weekend. I was disappointed that the USA could not beat Belgium and was eliminated on Tuesday, but the Stars and Stripes put in a good showing against a favored side and can go home with heads high. The radio in the branch office was tuned to that game, and I also followed it on my phone (via the FIFA app) and in the vehicles' radios. It's been a real interesting tournament so far, and looking forward to the quarterfinals tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

Speaking of work, it's been going well. Not so much fun being outside in the heat last Monday (30 June), when the heat index topped 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). At least I stayed inside when not having to work and kept hydrated, so I was OK. Temperatures did cool down after that, so it only feels like about 80 degrees F (27 degrees C).

After work Tuesday, I went to Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles for the IPMS/St. Louis meeting. We had five total attendees, including one first-time visitor. After giving the latest news in the hobby, I began a discussion on how to improve our club. This led to discussions of having our own website (currently, we're using a Facebook page), and perhaps having in-meeting contests. We'll have more discussion of these ideas in the coming weeks.

Last night (2 July) after work, I went to India's Kitchen in Ballwin for the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group. It was my first time at this restaurant and with this Meetup group, and I had a great time. There were 10 of us enjoying dinner (India's Kitchen specializes in South India cuisine) and conversation. I had Rasam, a soup, and Masala Dosa, a crepe-like dish, and both were very tasty and worth the price. A good night, overall.

This morning, I went back to the rental branch early because I had taken our fleet credit card that we use to buy fuel for our vehicles. I had borrowed it from the boss, but forgot to give it back before I left for the day. (It was rather hectic late in the day!) I gave him the card back, and he very much appreciated this gesture. Later this morning, I had my car in for a 90,000-mile (144,841 km) service check at a car service center. They found my car in good shape, apart from rear struts they recommend that I have replaced. However, it would cost just over $600 and it wasn't urgent, so I passed on this for now.

Tomorrow (4 July) is Independence Day in the USA. My workplace is closed, so I have some fun that day. Not too much fun, though, as I have to work Saturday morning.


26 June 2014

"I Believe That We Will Advance"

One week ago today (19 June) found me in downtown St. Louis. First, it was a late afternoon party with the Friends from Around the World Meetup group at the Hard Rock Cafe at St. Louis Union Station. It was nice to meet the interns from overseas; however, the power went out at that cafe (but not elsewhere at Union Station) after a while. Thus, the restaurant could not serve anything but water and could not charge me or others for what I ordered before the power went out. Still, it was a nice time.

Then, I hopped aboard Metrolink to ride to Busch Stadium for the Cardinals' game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies. My parents were there along with my brother Rick, his wife Melissa and their son Alex. We had good seats looking down the left field line and had a nice time, although the Cardinals lost that game. I left after the seventh inning to go home early, as I was tired and needed to be up early the next morning for work.

Saturday morning (21 June) found me taking a defensive driving class for work at the Safety Council of Greater St. Louis. There were 16 other students taking the course with me, and I had no problem passing the four-hour class. Then I was back home to watch more of the FIFA World Cup on TV. By the way, work has been going well, although a bit hectic at times.

The next day, I stopped by Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in south St. Louis for the Autism-Aspergers Meetup social there. Only two others were there, so it was a rather short stop, but it was good to visit Ted Drewes for a concrete, which I have not had in quite awhile.

I was home that night with my parents watching the USA-Portugal match on TV. It was quite a nail biter, with Portugal pulling out the draw in the dying moments. Earlier today, I was at the Amsterdam Tavern in south St. Louis for the USA-Germany match. We as a crowd were disappointed that the USA lost 1-0, but happy that our team still advanced to the Round of 16. Good luck, Stars and Stripes!

After work last Tuesday (24 June), I was at Brad and Julie Vaughn's house in House Springs, Missouri for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting. After a fine supper featuring red beans and rice, we of the club's board planned next month's meetings and other club business. Tonight, I am at the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting. More on that in my next post.


19 June 2014

A Thorough Hair Coloring; U-S-A!

One week ago tonight (12 June), I did my third and last volunteer shift of the season at Circus Flora in midtown St. Louis. We had a great crowd and things went very well. The following Sunday night (15 June), after the show, I joined with many other Circus Flora volunteers for a party the circus threw for us. We enjoyed a buffet supper in the ring and some conversation. I had to leave early, since I needed some sleep before going into work early the next morning.

I was able to follow the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup via my TV and mobile phone. Some real nice action so far, including the USA's match vs. Ghana on Monday. I followed the first half on my phone, and the second on the radio after work, as I drove to Arnold, Missouri. Parked outside the salon, I listened to the last few minutes of the match and was real excited when the USA won 2-1 in thrilling fashion.

After that, I was inside Starla's Salon and Spa for a hair coloring and cut performed by my friend, Linda Huie. She had offered to do this a few months back, and we finally were able to mesh our schedules to get this done. Linda and I chatted while she applied the color, let it set, then washed it off my hair before cutting it. She did a much better job than I was able to do myself with a store brand coloring. I appreciated Linda doing this and we greatly appreciated the time together.

Work has been going well, despite the high temperatures and humidity this week. Yesterday, it hit 95 degrees F (35 degrees C), and being outside made it tough while trying to get vehicles cleaned up and ready to rent in a timely manner. However, my colleagues and I persevered and we're doing very nicely.

IPMS/Gateway met Tuesday night (17 June), and I went to Calvary Presbyterian Church for that right after work. After helping get the meeting room set up, I chatted with come colleagues and marveled at the models on display. We had 43 entries in the monthly "Beauty Contest," the most I've seen at an IPMS/Gateway meeting in a long time. I also took minutes of the meeting, submitted my club membership renewal, and entered the Same Kit Contest this December by paying my fee and getting the kit to be built: a 1:8 scale kit of The Black Knight of Nurnberg. Should be fun.

My brother Rick is in town with his wife Melissa and son Alex. They arrived yesterday and will be here for a few days.


12 June 2014

The Wait (in Brazil) is Over

As I type these words, it is a little under four hours from kickoff of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. I am so excited. I am off work today, so it's no problem for me to be in front of my TV set at home to watch the opening match, Brazil vs. Croatia. I am ready. Hope you are, too. I wish all the teams in Brazil best of luck. As for me, Go USA!

One week ago tonight (5 June) found me back at Circus Flora, working my second volunteer shift. Before the show, I helped wipe the seats and put inserts into programs, then acted as usher during the show. We had a real good crowd, thanks for attendees receiving tickets from Ameren Missouri, one of Circus Flora's sponsors. I'm back for my final shift of the season tonight. The current show, "The Pawn," runs through 22 June, so don't miss it. You can find out more at http://www.circusflora.org/.

After work on Friday, I headed to The Marquee Restuarant and Lounge in downtown St. Louis for Stress Free Fridays, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary. It was my first time at this place, which I liked, and I sure enjoyed meeting up with the Stress Free Fridays group for the first time in a few weeks. I was originally going to make it just an hour-long stop, but it ended up a two and one-half hour visit, but I didn't mind. You can check out Stress Free Fridays on Twitter (https://twitter.com/stressfreefri) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/25325462204/).

Last Saturday (7 June) at home, I co-hosted this month's edition of Writer's Block, the monthly online radio show from Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio. Host Tim Pylypiuk and I wrapped up our discussion of Western literature from last month and started talking about science-fiction writing. Our next show is Sat., 5 July at noon, Central Time (10 am, Pacific Time). Last Saturday's show is now archived and you can check it out here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2014/06/07/writers-block-sci-fi--10am-pstradio-drama-the-grooming-hour--11am-pst.

Work has been going very well. Busy much of the time, but we do have slow spots. Getting some more families renting vehicles for summer vacations lately.


05 June 2014

Running Off to Join the Circus

One week ago tonight (29 May), I did the first of three volunteer stints with Circus Flora, an annual circus staged in midtown St. Louis. It was opening night for this year's show, "The Pawn," a chess-themed presentation. I came to the tent pitched behind Powell Symphony Hall and joined other volunteers in getting programs ready for the audience before the show, and then serving as an usher. I had never seen Circus Flora before and had never attended a circus for years, but I was impressed by this show. The audience we had at opening night was happy, and so were the other volunteers as far as I can tell. I will be volunteering again tonight and next Thursday (12 June), so I hope to see you there. More info at www.circusflora.org.

Work has been going real well of late, as we get more families coming in to rent vehicles for their vacations now that school was out until fall. The recent heat and humidity--plus rain yesterday--did make things a bit more challenging for me, but nothing that I could not handle.

Last Monday night (2 June) found me at Plaza Frontenac Cinema after work, joining The Monday Indie Movie Club (STL) Meetup group to see the documentary "For No Good Reason." It's about British cartoonist Ralph Steadman, who provided the visual sided of Gonzo journalism from the late 1960s. Actor Johnny Depp visits with Steadman and interviews the artist about his life and work, and the people Steadman worked with--especially writers Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs. A most interesting film, and I recommend it.

After work on Tuesday, I was at Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles to run the IPMS/St. Louis meeting. Only four of us were present and we didn't have a program, so it was a brief meeting. Big hobby news came around midday today, when I got word that IPMS/Gateway will host the 2015 IPMS Regional Convention, in September of next year. Alright!

One week from today, the FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil. Looking forward to it.


29 May 2014

Memorial Day Weekend 2014

After working the morning shift at the car rental branch last Saturday morning (24 May), I headed to O.B. Clark's in Brentwood. There, I joined with other soccer fans to watch the UEFA Champions League Final on television. Real Madrid came from behind to beat crosstown rival Atletico de Madrid 4-1 in extra time for Real's 10th European title. It was not the greatest Champions League final I'd seen, but it wasn't the worst and it was rather entertaining.

Sunday morning found me at home watching auto races on TV: First, the Grand Prix of Monaco, followed by the Indianapolis 500. After the latter race, I drove to Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Town and Country, Missouri for its annual St. Louis County Greek Fest. I took in some nice Greek dancing by the church's youth groups, had a nice snack of Greek food (in this case, dolomathes and tiropita), and generally took in the environment. There was a good crowd of people at this festival.

Work was closed on Monday (26 May) due to Memorial Day, and I mostly relaxed at home. I did go visit three outlet malls in Metro St. Louis: St. Louis Outlet Mall in Hazelwood, Taubman Prestige Outlets in Chesterfield, and St. Louis Premium Outlets, also in Chesterfield. It was the first time I visited the latter two malls, and although I wasn't impressed much by Taubman, I did like the latter place. At the adidas Outlet Store, I purchased two T-shirts that were on sale; both had a FIFA World Cup theme.

Back to work on Tuesday morning, and that day and Wednesday were busy ones. Despite the heat and humidity, which sapped my strength outdoors, I was able to work with my colleagues to get vehicles ready to rent and transport customers.

Off work today, but I'm running off to join the circus--at least for the next three Thursday nights. That's when I'm a volunteer ticket taker and usher at Circus Flora, which begins its run tonight in Midtown St. Louis. I'll let you know how opening night goes in my next post. In the meantime, you can visit its website: http://www.circusflora.org/


22 May 2014

A Full Weekend Around the Metro Area

Last Saturday (17 May) was quite an interesting day from a social standpoint, as it would take me to three different events in three different parts of Metropolitan St. Louis. It started at The Heights in Richmond Heights with a morning meeting of the Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC). After a continental breakfast and some networking, the attendees took in a presentation by Beth Heidrich, the founder of St. Louis Culinary Tours. Joined by Moira Ross, owner of Plum Vintage Rentals, Heidrich told us about her experiences in food and in public relations, and how they came together to promote her business. It was a very interesting talk. I had not been to an MPC meeting in over a year, and several people of the group hoped I would be back as a member. By the way, I was the only male in the entire room.

After that meeting, I was bound for Trailhead Brewery Co. in St. Charles for my first event as member of the Singles Over 50 Meetup group. The eight of us there had lunch at the establishment--a brew-pub--then went for a walk up and down Main Street with its historic buildings and specialty shops. This Meetup was particularly nice for me as I finally met my friend Lisa Foster for the first time in person. Lisa and I had been in touch via social media and phone for several months, but we finally met face-to-face.

Soon after walking back towards where I parked off Main Street, I got in my car and headed towards the Chase Park Plaza Cinema in St. Louis' Central West End (CWE) for my first event as a member of the Singles Cinema Meetup group. (I joined both these Meetup groups that week.) We were there to see the new movie "Million Dollar Arm," a fact-based story of a US sports agent seeking baseball pitching talent in India. The film starred Jon Hamm, a St. Louis native and star of TV's "Mad Men." We all liked this film, and then almost all of our party walked just over two blocks to Rasoi, an Indian restaurant, for dinner. It was my first time at that restaurant and I really enjoyed the service and the tasty food served there. (I had the Curry Chicken, which was not too spicy for my taste.) Quite a fine day, from Richmond Heights to St. Charles to the CWE in just over 12 hours.

I was in Maryland Heights the next morning refereeing two girls' soccer games at the Real STL complex in Creve Coeur Lake Park. The games went well--I was in the middle for a rather intense under 13 girls' match--and we had good weather. Back home after the matches, I joined my parents for dinner that night at Tucker's Place in Mehlville, where we celebrated my Mother's birthday.

Back to work on Monday morning (19 May), and things have been going well so far. I found out I have some vacation time due and have an idea how to spend at least part of it. Tuesday night, I went right after work to Calvary Presbyterian Church in Mehlville for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. That meeting featured a model contest for the club's Modeler of the Year and a build night, where members could work on their model kits.

Summer unofficially starts tomorrow with the Memorial Day Weekend. I hope all of my fellow Americans do take time to remember those who fell in battle for our country.