28 December 2015

Christmas 2015

Back at work a week ago (21 December), my colleagues and I busied ourselves to getting our customers taken care of as Christmas approached that week. We had plenty of business in the days before the holiday. I flexed out Tuesday afternoon, as I would work the following Saturday. (More on that later.)

I got the last of the gifts wrapped and put under the tree at home. During that time, though, I came down with a chest cold, which did not feel well. I was able to take some medicine, which helped, but which left me somewhat fatigued. Still, I managed to press on with work and life, and trying to get into the Christmas spirit.

Off work on Christmas Eve, I attended a service at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/). It was moving and very nice.

The next morning, my mom and I went to our living room, where the Christmas tree was set up, and opened our presents. I gave mom--on behalf of my brothers--an electric knife, which she needed. I received some clothing from mom--including a sweater, lounge pants, casual shirt, and athletic-leisure shirt. I also received a gift card from Rick for Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/), in lieu of a book he mailed me that disappeared in transit. Mom and I relaxed at home during the day.

The next morning (26 December), I worked at the rental branch. It proved less busy than expected, due to the rain that was falling. A number of reservations were cancelled due to weather concerns. We got through the morning well, but driving home, some flooding at the I-44/Highway 141 interchange slowed my trip. I had planned to attend a movie that afternoon in St. Charles County with a Meetup group, but bowed out due to weather and driving concerns, plus my lingering chest cold.

That day's mail included two more gifts from Rick to me. One is the DVD "JFK;" the other is the book "To Hell and Back" Europe 1914-1949" by Ian Kershaw. Rick thanked me for the book I sent him, and for the St. Louis Cardinals onesie I sent to her daughter--and my goddaughter--Kate.

I basically chilled out this past weekend, trying to save my strength for the week ahead. I was at work today and it was not as busy as normal for a Monday, due to the rainy weather, but things went well nevertheless.


20 December 2015

One Week Closer to Christmas

Work this past week has been very good. We are keeping things moving along with exceeding our customers' expectations. My manager presented my annual review on Friday (18 December), two days ahead of my three-year service anniversary. I am most happy to report that the report was all positive, with high marks all around. I really had nothing to add to that, but am most happy.

Tuesday night (15 December) after work, I was at the IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) in Mehlville. After two years as the club's secretary, I was elected vice president for the coming year. It was also a great night in two other areas. One, I had the highest score in the annual recognition contest (22 of 25 correct). This contest consisted of photos of aircraft, cars, armor, ships, and miscellaneous subjects. Four of the five photos in each category was of the subject, with the last being the sprue of parts for the subject. We had multiple choice answers to choose from on the answer sheet.

The second great takeaway from the night was in winning one of 10 kits the club was giving away. Each member had one ticket and if it was draw, one could pick from any of the kits on the table. I chose the Revell 1:32 UH-1D Huey Gunship kit.

The next night, the old and new club officers gathered at Brad and Julie Vaughn's house in House Springs for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting. (It was moved up by six days due to Christmas this coming week.) We planned the January general and business meetings, planned the 2016 Modeler of the Year contest special categories, and handed off from the old board to new.

Off work Thursday (17 December), I got my hair cut at Great Clips (http://www.greatclips.com/) in Mehlville. The stylist did the usual splendid job on my hair. Then, it was off to the Enterprise branch in O'Fallon, Illinois where my former colleague from Ellisville Tommy is the manager. I gave him his Christmas card and some cookies for the staff. I then visited the Kirkwood branch to give its new manager Kelley her Christmas card.

I also activated my new phone, which arrived the day before. It's a Samsung Galaxy 6S (http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/cell-phones/all-products?filter=galaxy-s) from CREDO Mobile (http://www.credomobile.com/), a quantum leap over the LG Volt I was using from Virgin Mobile. After settling matters with Virgin, I got my phone activated and transferred my contacts and apps from the old phone to the new.

I went after work Friday night to Elmo's Love Lounge (http://www.elmoslovelounge.com/) in University City for Stress Free Fridays (https://twitter.com/stressfreefri), a networking happy hour meeting at various establishments in the St. Louis area. I brought two cans of food for donation to a food drive being held there. It was very nice seeing Mark Anthony Jones and the group again; due to my work, it's hard for me to get to these events after a long day of work.

Yesterday, I completed my Christmas shopping and mailed just about all remaining Christmas cards. Glad to get all that done. Last night, I went to the International Tap House (http://www.internationaltaphouse.com/) in St. Louis' Soulard neighborhood. The St. Louigans (http://stlouligans.com/) supporters group held its annual Christmas party. I had a nice time there, that included bringing some clothing for the group to donate to Peter and Paul Community Services. While there, I ran into my colleague Cayla, who was with others for dinner at a nearby restaurant and was waiting for her table to be ready. We chatted a bit before Cayla's party was called.

After a while at the International Tap House (including two beers), I had a slice of pizza and a soda at Epic Pizza & Subs (http://www.epicpizzaandsubs.com/) next door. I had the Toasted Ravioli pizza and it was most tasty.

I attended service at Calvary Presbyterian Church today, staying around for fellowship afterward. Then, I stopped by Best Buy Mobile (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/promo/cell-phones-20151220) at South County Center (http://www.shopsouthcountycenter.com/), where I got a screen protector and a car charger for my new phone. The guy from Best Buy even applied the screen protector to my phone for no charge while I was there. Very good of him.


13 December 2015

Meetups, Visiting Colleagues, Referee Clinics, and Hot Chocolate

A week ago Saturday (5 December) was busy, although I didn't have an episode of Writer's Block to co-host, as it was cancelled for this month. However, I did attend a pair of Meetups. First, the Saint Louis Area Sippers (Coffee Meetup) (http://www.meetup.com/Saint-Louis-Coffee-Meetup/) got together at Cafe Ventana (http://cafeventana.com/) in midtown St. Louis. Nine of our group got together over coffee and caught up on things. A very nice time we had together, and at a wonderful place.

That night, I was with the Ethnic Restaurant Fans (http://www.meetup.com/Ethnic-Restaurant-Fans/) Meetup group for dinner at Flavor of India (http://www.flavorofindiastl.com/) restaurant in Creve Coeur. Our group of 20 enjoyed a very tasty buffet of Indian cuisine, and I greatly enjoyed the food and company that night.

Back to work on Monday (7 December), things have been going well. Plenty to keep us busy. After flexing out Tuesday afternoon, I paid a visit to the three nearest branches to mine. First, in Ballwin, I brought cookies to the staff and gave Christmas cards to Cory and Adam there. Next, I was at the Manchester branch, with cookies for all and cards for Maggie (who just started as manager there) and Meggie. Finally, I went to the Kirkwood branch with cards for Derek, Mel, and Kim, plus cookies for all. At these branches I visited, they all greatly appreciated the gesture.

After coming home that Tuesday (8 December), I took and passed the online futsal referee test, and took that result with proof of payment to Lamborghini Gold Coast Athletic Centre (http://lamboathletic.com/) in St. Charles for the annual recertification clinic. A good crowd of referees was on hand to learn of points of emphasis, plus time on a court for exercises in mechanics. At the end, I got my 2016 futsal badge for my uniform.

My off day Thursday found me visiting more branches in the morning. This started with the one in Columbia, Illinois, where I left cookies and card for Tim, who was away when I arrived. Then, it was the Airport branch, where I had cards for Alex, Kerry, and Adrian. I chatted a bit with Alex and Kerry, who were there. Traveling northwest, I stopped by the St. Charles Car Sales location and chatted with Anthony, bringing him cookies and a card. I then left a card and cookies for Dan at the St. Peters rental branch. Finally, it was the branch in Fenton, where I chatted with Drew and Kevin. A most productive morning.

That afternoon, I took and passed my outdoor referee test. All was ready for the recertification that night at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park (http://www.stlcc.edu/FP/). We went over the rule changes (very minor), plus viewed video of game situations and went over points of emphasis for our youth soccer matches. I received my 2016 referee patch and Laws of the Game at the end of the night there. I treated myself to a milkshake at a nearby Steak 'n Shake (http://www.steaknshake.com/) before driving home.

After work yesterday (12 December), I got the car washed and bought some cargo pants. I also went to bed early that night, for an early wake up call the next morning.

Today, I was up around 4 am, as I had to be in downtown St. Louis by 5:45 am. For the second year in a row, I was a volunteer at the St. Louis Hot Chocolate Run (http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/stlouis), 15 kilometer and 5 kilometer runs through downtown St. Louis. Hundreds of runners took part in this event, whose proceeds (along with other Hot Chocolate Runs around the country) benefit Ronald McDonald Children's Charities. I was one of the volunteers working the 15K gear check in, near the start and finish lines south of Soldiers Memorial (http://stlsoldiersmemorial.org/index.php). I and other volunteers took the runners' gear (like wallets, keys, etc.) and stashed them in boxes in the tent. We kept the gear secure, then returned it to the runners after the run. We had no real problems with this process, all runners got their gear back in good order. After my shift ended, I was treated to hot chocolate and some treats (banana, rice krispies treat, mini pretzels, marshmallows) and chocolate syrup to dip the treats in.

After the run, I walked through Citygarden (http://www.citygardenstl.org/) and past Ballpark Village (http://www.stlballparkvillage.com/) back to my car, parked just west of Ballpark Village, and drove home. Time to rest up and get ready for another week of work.


05 December 2015

Back to Work and Starting December

Last Sunday (29 November), I composed my annual holiday newsletter. I send this either with or in lieu of a Christmas card to family, friends, co-workers, and others I know. It recaps the past year for me and includes a photo of me taken last summer. I also have many of the ways people can contact or at least follow me--by mail, phone, or online. The first batch went out Wednesday, included with Christmas cards for my rental branch colleagues.

We had a problem with the clothes washing machine Sunday night, as it suddenly stopped in the midst of a load. My mom--who came back from Charleston Monday afternoon--called in a service technician. He came by Thursday afternoon (3 December) and found it was a loose connection. It was soon fixed and the machine is running like normal.

We had a good bit of business early this week at the branch, due to many people returning their vehicles from the Thanksgiving weekend. Our new assistant branch manager, Cayla, started with us on Monday and she will be a great addition to our branch.

After work Tuesday night (1 December), I was at Mark Twain Hobby Center (http://www.hobby1.com/) in St. Charles for the IPMS/St. Louis (http://ipms-stlouis.com/) meeting. Only three of us were present, as I showed off my USA-USSR Missile Set completed last month and shared some hobby news.

My off day Thursday was very nice. I met my friend Ramona Bass for lunch at Lotawater Creek Southern Grill (http://lotawata.com/index2.html) in Fairview Heights, Illinois. She had dined there some years ago and recommended the place. I soon found out why: Wonderful atmosphere and tasty food at good prices. I had the meat loaf lunch and it was very good. Ramona and I chatted about each others lives and it was a very pleasant time for us.

After lunch, I bought some holiday cookies from a nearby Walgreens and visited two branches were former co-workers from Ellisville now work. First, it was the downtown truck rental, where Adeline recently became manager. She was away--meeting with clients, I presume--so I gave a co-worker Adeline's Christmas card and the cookies (the latter for the office staff). Adeline later emailed me to thank me for the thoughtful gesture. Then, I drove to Chesterfield to see Tim, its manager. He thanked me for the card and cookies, and we got to chat a bit. I'm planning to visit other branches on my off time in the coming weeks, bearing cookies for the staff and Christmas cards for my friends and acquaintances.

Today's scheduled edition of Writer's Block (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-) will not air today, as the host is having to deal with pressing personal matters. We'll be back next month (2 January) at noon Central Time (10 am Pacific Time; 1800 hours GMT). I hope you can tune in then.

A bit of fog this morning. Hopefully, it will clear off for the Saint Louis Area Sippers Meetup this afternoon. More on that next time.


28 November 2015

The Balloon Goes Up on Thanksgiving 2015

Work at the car rental branch has been going well, with the increased traffic going out for the Thanksgiving holiday. We said goodbye to Alex as he left our branch to become assistant branch at the Lambert Airport location, and we welcomed Liz back to our branch as our new manager. (She had been assistant manager in Ellisville before going to the Airport earlier this year.)

The weather last weekend did cause some concern. Enough for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (http://moavhist.org/) to cancel a member's holiday lunch last Saturday afternoon (21 November) at Creve Coeur Airport. I did make the most of the day, though, going to lunch at Noodles & Company in Chesterfield (http://www.noodles.com/Chesterfield) and getting a coffee and dessert at The Wolf Public House in Ballwin (https://www.facebook.com/TheWolfPublicHouse).

That night found me at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park (http://saintlouisfc.com/soccerpark) in Fenton for a town hall meeting bringing together the management of Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) with members of the St. Louigans (http://stlouligans.com/), the supporter group. It was a very nice program, with the STL FC management talking about this past season and looking ahead to 2016, plus taking questions regarding the club and the game experience. I asked about the Pub2Park shuttle bus service, and was told there were no changes anticipated to it in the coming season. It was especially nice chatting with two of STL FC's management team, Chief Executive Officer Jim Kavanaugh and Chief Financial Officer Tom Strunk, who I both knew from Saint Louis University when they played for the Billikens. Kavanaugh and Strunk also hold those titles with Worldwide Technology, Inc. (https://www2.wwt.com/), an information technology integrator.

I was back at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park the next morning to referee soccer games. It was the last Sunday of the Fall youth season and I worked three small-sided (8v8) matches. Yours truly was in the middle for the first and third matches of the set--my first this fall. It was fine, despite a bit of concern over not having done any games in several months. Futsal will start next month.

My mom left town on Monday to spent the week with my brother Rick in Charleston, South Carolina. I carried on at home. After flexing out of work Tuesday afternoon (24 November), I took care of some personal business, then was at Del Miller's house in Sappington for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting. That went well and we got the December meetings planned.

After work Wednesday night, I was along Cherokee Street in south St. Louis volunteering at the Condom Crawl, a program put on by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-st-louis-region-southwest-missouri). Along with a few other volunteers, I passed out safe sex kits to people in the bars and shops along Cherokee Street. It was a nice thing to do and it was appreciated by those we met.

The next morning found me in downtown St. Louis for the Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade (http://www.christmasinstlouis.org/thanksgiving-day-parade/). I was there as a balloon handler, invited by our family friend Kit Weis (nee Maxwell), a 1985 Mehlville High graduate. She's a financial advisor with Edward Jones (https://www.edwardjones.com/index.html?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=edward+jones&utm_campaign=Brand_Exact), who sponsored the Kermit the Frog balloon in this parade. I and others handled Kermit, while Kit and some others took charge of the balloon depicting Animal of the Muppets. It was a challenge with the wind kicking up at times, but we got through the parade route very well.

That night, Kit and her husband Dan invited me to their house in Oakville for Thanksgiving dinner. I happy accepted, as I would have otherwise been alone that day and night. It was a very nice dinner with turkey and the trimmings. I joined Kit, Dan, their three children, Kit's mother and step-father, Dan's mom, and Kit's brother Rob, who got along famously with me. It was a very nice time and I greatly appreciated the time I spent with them.

Back at work yesterday and this morning, and things are doing well. I stopped by CRM Hobbies (http://www.crmhobbies.com/) in south St. Louis this afternoon to pick up an airbrush hose and regulator I ordered. I got them hooked up tonight, although with some connection difficulties that necessitated a return visit to CRM for a connector. Now I look to resume working on some scale models soon.


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 (http://www.webster.edu/). This was my second volunteer shift at this year's Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) (http://cinemastlouis.org/about-festival). 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 (http://www.stlouisunionstation.com/grand-hall/). 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) (https://www.gslhonorflight.org/) 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) (http://www.meetup.com/Saint-Louis-Coffee-Meetup/), held at Park Avenue Coffee (http://parkavenuecoffee.com/) 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 (http://www.slu.edu/) 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 (http://www.wustl.edu/) 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 (http://doubledstl.com/). 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 (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) 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 (http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/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+ (http://www.meetup.com/Saint-Louis-Singles-Group-Ages-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 (https://www.motel6.com/en/motels.il.springfield.1189.html), 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 (http://butchoharemodelers.com/), 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. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2015/11/07/writers-block-steady-ships-10am-pstradio-drama-grooming-hour--11am-pst) 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 (http://www.getawayhostel.com/), 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 (http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/chicago/). 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) (http://cinemastlouis.org/). I was at the Hi-Pointe Backlot (http://hi-pointetheatre.com/), 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 (http://www.mehlvilleschooldistrict.com/) 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 (http://www.buffalowildwings.com/en/locations/Detail/3750) 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). (http://www.butchoharemodelers.com/view-event.php?id=79) 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: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-.

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 (https://wwws.druryhotels.com/PropertyHotelServices.aspx?Property=0164) in Brentwood for a business expo, presented by the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce (http://www.brentwoodmochamber.com/). 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) (http://www.cinemastlouis.org/about-festival), 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 (http://www.krispykreme.com/) 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 (http://risecoffeestl.com/) in the Grove for the Saint Louis Area Sippers (Coffee Meetup) (http://www.meetup.com/Saint-Louis-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 (http://www.slubillikens.com/SaspxportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27200&SPID=93202&SPSID=632571&DB_OEM_ID=27200) 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 (http://www.kirkwoodmo.org/content/City-Departments/1856/community-center.aspx) for the Midwest Model Vehicle Association-St. Louis (MMVA) (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/MMVAStLouis.html) Fall contest and swap meet. I joined with two other IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) 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 hotels.com (http://www.hotels.com/), 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 (http://doubledstl.com/) 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 (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) 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 (http://www.crmhobbies.com/) 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 (http://butchoharemodelers.com/) 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 (http://www.crevecoeurairport.com/) for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (MOAVHIST; http://moavhist.org/) meeting. Air Force veteran and flight instructor Brian Kissinger spoke at the meeting, where he presented clips from "Fly Now! The Movie" (http://flynowmovie.com/), 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 (http://hi-pointetheatre.com/) 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 (http://blueberryhill.com/) 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 (http://www.stlsoccerhalloffame.com/) induction dinner, which was held at America's Center (http://explorestlouis.com/meetings-conventions/americas-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 (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) in Mehlville for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) 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 (http://www.boeingstore.com) 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 (http://www.stlouisartistsguild.org/new/) 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: http://www.mpc-nfpw.org.

After the MPC event, I shopped for work shoes at a Famous Footwear (http://www.famousfootwear.com) store in Brentwood before going to Cafe Ventana (http://cafeventana.com/) 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 (http://amsterdamtavern.com/) 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 (http://www.hobby1.com/home.php) in St. Charles for the IPMS/St. Louis (http://www.ipms-stlouis.com/) 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 (http://moavhist.org/) 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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rsdelaney


04 October 2015

Articles Edited as October Begins

It's been some good, productive days at work lately. We're having plenty of business and we're working hard keeping the customers satisfied. This past Friday (2 October) marked our manager David's last day with the firm. He's left to take a sales position outside our firm. Sad to see him go, as he's done very good work since beginning to manage our branch last spring, but happy that he's found a good position going forward.

After flexing out this past Tuesday (29 September), I stopped by the Kirkwood branch to say hi to a colleague, Melissa, who used to work with me at Ellisville. We briefly got caught up on things and I asked her to say hello to her boyfriend and her mother for me.

I made much of my day off last Thursday (1 October), getting the oil changed on my Corolla in the morning. Then, I spent some time editing articles for Middle Marker, the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (http://moavhist.org/) member newsletter. I worked on four articles, including my feature for the cover story and a smaller photo feature. Scheduled for publication in mid-October, it has now been pushed to beginning of November, due to some late items we need from our society's president. Still, it was a productive time.

After working yesterday at the branch, I headed to Coffee Cartel (http://thecoffeecartel.com/) in St. Louis' Central West End for the Saint Louis Area Sippers Meetup. Three of us were there most of the time, before a fourth arrived late in the event. We enjoyed drinks there and chatted about this and that. Plus, we observed many people walking by our corner. A nice time we all had. On the way home, I stopped at CRM Hobbies (http://www.crmhobbies.com/) in south St. Louis to browse for awhile.


24 September 2015

Meetings and a Dentist Visit

Last Thursday night (17 September) saw me at Creve Coeur Airport for the monthly meeting of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (http://moavhist.org/). A presentation on aviation photography was made by four of the society's members, which I found most interesting. I also touched base with others regarding the member newsletter, Middle Marker, which I am now editing. The society's board is meeting this Saturday morning, so I can get them up to date on things from my perspective.

Work at the car rental branch has been going well. I was working last Saturday morning (19 September), and we got through the shift very well. This week has been fine so far.

Saturday night found me at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for Saint Louis FC's final match of the season. Saint Louis came from behind to defeat Louisville City, FC, 2-1, before a packed house. I briefly joined the celebration on the pitch after the match. Although Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) missed out on the playoffs, I feel they have a great start on next season, on the pitch and in the stands.

After work Tuesday night (22 September), I got dinner at a Jack in the Box, then drove to Bill Wagner's house in Oakville for the IPMS/Gateway business meeting (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/). The board members discussed the very successful recent Regional we hosted, and planned our next general meeting for Tuesday, 20 October, plus some other club business.

Today, on my off day from work, I went to my dentist for my semi-annual cleaning and checkup. It's going pretty good, although the dentist's assistant recommended I modify my brushing technique a bit to reduce plaque buildup. The dentist also wants me in next month for a minor tooth repair, so I will.


17 September 2015

Back to Warm Weather, and the IPMS/Gateway Meeting

Back to work this past Monday (14 September), after quite a good weekend. Plenty busy in the morning, as usual, and leveling off as the day went on. Work has been going well. Warm weather has returned after a mild stretch, with temperatures approaching 90 degrees F (33 degrees C).

Flexing out Tuesday afternoon (as I am working this Saturday morning), I relaxed at home, then opened up Calvary Presbyterian Church's fellowship hall for the IPMS/Gateway (http://ipms-gateway.com) meeting. We had a nice turnout of entries in the quarterly contest, including two of mine. I entered my Jupiter C model--the one that took second in its category at the Regional last Saturday--in the Made in America special category. Neither model won, but at least I got some points for entering this contest. We also had a wrap up of our very successful Regional.

Off work today, I did my laundry and going tonight to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (http://moavhist.org) meeting, with a presentation on airshow photography. Should be interesting. Also, I hope to get materials together to put together the Society's member newsletter, Middle Marker. It will be quite a challenge, but I believe I am up for it.


13 September 2015

A Terrific Scale Modeling Show

A week ago Saturday (5 Sept.), I co-hosted "Writer's Block," from Autistic People. Host Tim Pylypiuk and I discussed the unique languages of some literature, including works of William Shakespeare and Anthony Burgess' novel "A Clockwork Orange." You can listen to the archived program (and download it for podcast) here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2015/09/05/writers-block-loose-lips--10am-pstradio-drama-grooming-hour-11am-pst. The next edition of "Writer's Block" is Saturday, 3 October, at 10 am Pacific Time (Noon, Central Time; 1800 hours GMT).

After the show, I went to an ATM to get some cash for the weekend, and I picked up several copies of the South County Times. That newspaper had a piece on International Plastic Modelers' Society (IPMS)/Gateway Chapter and the Regional Contest we're hosting a week later. The newspaper interviewed me and others from the club for the story, which was prompted by show information I shared with the paper's calendar section. It was a very nice article and the club members who saw it agreed. Here's the online article: http://www.southcountytimes.com/Articles-Features-c-2015-09-03-196405.114137-sub-Plastic-Modelers-Share-OldSchool-Art-Form.html.

I went to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis' Central West End (CWE) for its 98th annual Greek Festival. It's a great ethnic festival, with food, music, dance, crafts for sale, and church tours. I have gone the past few years and have enjoyed it every time. After spending time at the Festival, I walked up Euclid Avenue to Left Bank Books (http://www.left-bank.com/), an independent book store, where I browsed for a while before walking back down Euclid. After having a ginger ale at Coffee Cartel (http://thecoffeecartel.com/), I walked back to my car and drove home.

I chilled out at home that Sunday and enjoyed some more of the Labor Day holiday on that Monday (7 Sept.). (The rental car branch was closed that day.) Late that morning, I joined members of the St. Louigans at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton to help them paint two banners for Saint Louis FC's final regular season matches this month.

Back to work the next day, it was VERY busy, with much traffic coming in (mostly renters back from the holiday weekend), plus renters getting vehicles for the start of the short week. We got through it, though, and the rest of the week was much calmer by comparison.

On my off day Thursday, I went to Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield (http://spiritairport.com/spiritairport/index.jsp) to see aircraft from the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) on display this past week. The three World War II-era aircraft I saw were a Beech C-45 Expeditor transport, a General Motors (Grumman) TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, and the star attraction, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress named "Fifi." I saw these aircraft on the ramp and took a good number of pictures. I also entered the B-29's cockpit and admired the view. It was a great time for the aircraft buff. More on the CAF's aircraft on tour here: http://www.airpowersquadron.org/.

Yesterday (12 Sept.), I was at the Holiday Inn St. Louis SW--Route 66 in Sunset Hills, Missouri (http://www.holidayinn.com/hotels/us/en/st-louis/stlsw/hoteldetail?qAdlt=1&qBrs=6c.hi.ex.rs.ic.cp.in.sb.cw.cv.ul.vn&qChld=0&qFRA=1&qGRM=0&qPSt=0&qRRSrt=rt&qRef=df&qRms=1&qRpn=1&qRpp=12&qSHp=1&qSmP=3&qSrt=sBR&qWch=0&srb_u=1&icdv=99504440&siclientid=9948&sitrackingid=733967223&glat=SEAR&dp=true&icdv=99504440). This was for the International Plastic Modelers' Society (IPMS) Region 5 Convention, hosted by IPMS/Gateway. (Region 5 was made up of IPMS/USA chapters in the Midwestern US.) It was a terrific show all around. I took money from attendees at one of the two entrances, and later helped judge the model contest. I don't have figures for how many people attended, but it was a lot for a show of this sort. People came from as far away as Minnesota and Kentucky for this event. We did have nearly 400 contest entries, including four of mine. My 1:48 scale Jupiter C rocket took second place in the Real Space category (within Space and Science Fiction)--my first regional IPMS contest award since a second back in 1995, also in St. Louis. No complaints from attendees and we all had a great time. We can't do much better than that.

After the show, I had dinner at Smugala's Pizza Pub in Sunset Hills (http://smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills) before boarding the shuttle bus for Worldwide Technology Soccer Park. There, I cheered on Saint Louis FC as they defeated Charlotte Independence 2-0 in the next to last match of the season. They had a record crowd of over 5,600 for the match. Yes, the St. Louigans were there in full force. Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) finishes the season this Saturday night at home against Louisville City FC. By the way, this past week I renewed my season ticket for 2016.

Several of us in IPMS/Gateway were at the club's annual picnic, hosted by Brad and Julie Vaughn in House Springs. We enjoyed a barbecue lunch and good company. Our club's next meeting is this Tuesday night at 7:30 pm at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Mehlville. More on the club here: http://www.ipms-gateway.com/index.html.


03 September 2015

The Festival of Nations, and a Hospital Visit

After much work at the auto rental branch last Friday (28 August) and Saturday morning, I was off to Tower Grove Park in St. Louis. There, I pulled the first of two volunteer shifts with the International Institute's Festival of Nations, a large multi-cultural fair. That Saturday, I staffed a drinks booth and was busy getting water, sodas, and beer to our customers, as well as taking customers' money (and getting them change as needed), and restocking the drinks at our booth. It was a rather busy stint of about three hours, but we got it done. I got some dinner from a Senegalese food booth, and toured the grounds before going to my car and going home.

The next morning, I was back at the Festival, where this time I helped staff a souvenir booth for some three hours. I helped with various Festival items--T-shirts, water cups, carry bags, cookbooks, and pins--that customers asked for. This also went well and I treated myself to lunch from Brazilian and Thai food booths. Overall, the Festival of Nations went very well as far as I was concerned. More info here: http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/.

Also over the weekend, I accepted the position as editor of Middle Marker, the member newsletter of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society. I will be in charge of getting our newsletter back on track (not having published since early this year). It's quite a bit to do, but I believe I can do it. More on this group here: http://moavhist.org/.

Back to work on Monday morning (31 August), we had plenty of business--and plenty of vehicles to prep. Plus, the temperatures and the humidity had both risen over the week before, so it was a bit of a challenge to stay hydrated and cool. Still, I got through the work week just fine, and so did our branch.

After work Tuesday, I was at Mark Twain Hobby Center (http://www.hobby1.com/home.php) for the IPMS/St. Louis meeting. We had a fascinating demo on using pigments in armor modeling, as Brent Avants showed the products and techniques used for realistic weathered finishes. There were five others (including myself) at the meeting, and we all learned something useful from Avants' demo. More on the club here: http://www.ipms-stlouis.com/. By the way, the next club meeting will be Tue., 6 October at 7:00 pm at Mark Twain Hobby Center's meeting room.

The next morning (2 September), I began test preps in earnest for the colonoscopy I was scheduled to undergo today. (I began some early preps one week ago.) This was a procedure my primary care physician requested a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I went with a liquid diet all day, plus later in the day and night drinking a mix of laxative powder and sports drink. This did have the desired effect of loosening my bowels. Fortunately, my colleagues at work were most understanding and let me off early that day. (Besides, things were well in hand at my end of the business.)

I finished the prep early this morning and my Mom drove me to St. Anthony's Medical Center in south St. Louis County (http://stanthonysmedcenter.com/). After admission, I stripped down to the gown and I was prepared for the procedure before doing into the room. The doctor and his assistants had me put under anesthesia and I was soon asleep, before the procedure was performed. I woke up about one hour later, a bit groggy but fine. The doctor gave me most welcome news, in that he did not find any polyps associated with possible cancer in my colon. After a few minutes, I dressed and was taken to my Mom's car, where she drove me to a nearby Saint Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html/) for lunch. I rested at home much of today (it was my off day from work, anyway), and feel better now. I'll be back to work bright and early tomorrow.

This Saturday, I co-host Writer's Block, the monthly online radio show from ANCA Radio Shows, which is returning after a summer break. Host Tim Pylypiuk and I will discuss using a different language in writing, such as in the works "A Clockwork Orange" and "Dune." The show airs live this Saturday at Noon, Central Time 910:00 am, Pacific Time; 1800 hours GMT), and will be immediately archived for download. You can get more info here: http://www.naturallyautistic.com/radiotv-oline/, and http://my.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-lat. Hope you can tune in.

A couple of reminders before I go. First, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) will bring its CAF AirPower History Tour to Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield next week (9-13 September). This tour will include "Fifi," the world's only flying B-29 Superfortress, and other aircraft. Details here: http://www.airpowersquadron.org/#!st-louis-mo-/caf. More on this in my next post.

Second, next Saturday (12 September) is the IPMS Region 5 Contest, hosted by IPMS/Gateway at the Holiday Inn St. Louis SW--Route66 in Sunset Hills. It opens at 9:00 am, with contest entries accepted until 1:00 pm, and awards announced around 3:00 pm. Admission is $3 for touring the show, and $10 to also enter the model contest. Children 14 and under are free with an adult. More info here: http://www.ipms-gateway.com/2015-Region5/IPMS-region5-2015contest.html.


27 August 2015

Not a Bad Week

It was rather pleasant this week, with mild (for August) temperatures making the days go easier. Plenty of work so far at the car rental branch, with many vehicles to prep for rental.

Off early on Tuesday (25 August), as I'm working this Saturday morning, I chilled out at home. After supper, I traveled with two clubmates to Doug Barton's house in Foristell for this month's IPMS/Gateway business meeting. We planned the September general meeting and discussed the upcoming Region 5 Contest on 12 September. Preparations for that show are going well. I am looking forward to that event. More on the club and the regional here: http://ipms-gateway.com.

Off work today, I got my hair cut and did a bit of shopping. The latter included a nice new external hard drive for my computer. That will make it easier with all the images I have and will have. I was also put in contact with a local newspaper reporter wanting to do a story on the IPMS Regional Contest next month. It will be great to get some more publicity for this event.

I also spent some time this week editing a few more items for the Fall issue of Naturally Autistic magazine, due out in early October. I had some glitches in getting some stories downloaded from email to edit, but once that was overcome, the editing went well. More on the magazine here: http://www.naturallyautistic.com.

This weekend after work, I'll be a volunteer at the International Institute's Festival of Nations, a multi-cultural celebration in St. Louis' Tower Grove Park. I'll help staff a drinks booth on Saturday and a souvenir stand on Sunday. Hope to see you there! More at: http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/.


23 August 2015

Work, Meetings, and A Thrilling Match

Work continues to go well, and keeping me busy. A week ago Saturday (15 August), I stayed nearly an hour over our closing time to help our assistant manager get some last minute customers into vehicles. It was a lot of effort with only two of us in the branch that day, but we got the customers taken care of, and that's the important part.

After that, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to Creve Coeur Airport for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting, held on a special day. This was to accommodate the guest speaker, John Roper, co-author of the book "Kansas City B-25 Factory." It tells of the factory in Kansas City that produced B-25 Mitchell medium bombers during World War II. I missed Roper's presentation, due to being held over at work, but I did catch the screening of the movie "Catch-22" that followed the talk. I had never seen that movie before in its entirety and thought it was pretty good. More on that meeting and the group here: http://moavhist.org/.

After work Tuesday (18 August), I headed right for Calvary Presbyterian Church in Mehlville for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. I opened the fellowship hall up and helped get it set up for the meeting, which featured a demo on judging ships and figures. We also had another very nice turnout for the Model of the Month "Beauty Contest," plus one more plug for the Region 5 Convention we're hosting on 12 September. More on the club here: http://www.ipms-gateway.com/.

Two days later, I was off work and headed for Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to pick up my Mom, who was flying back from Los Angeles. She spent two weeks with my brother Doug, his wife Helen, and their twin boys born over four months ago. Before arriving at the airport, I said hello to a colleague now working at our firm's Airport location and shopped at the Boeing Store near the airport. After arriving at the airport, I read on the monitors that Mom's flight was delayed, so I headed to lunch at a fast food restaurant and visited some stores before returning to Lambert. Mom's flight arrived and she was there for me to welcome her home. After getting her baggage, I drove Mom home.

That night, I was at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for Saint Louis FC's match against Charleston Battery. This was the return fixture, as both teams played to a 1-1 draw in Charleston the previous Saturday. Charleston went up 2-0 scoring in the first 18 minutes of the match before Saint Louis FC pulled one back later in the first half. Saint Louis FC leveled it seven minutes from time, and won it in second half stoppage time off a free kick. I was seated as usual near the St. Louigans supporters group and we went nuts over that winning goal at the death. Right after the match, I joined other fans on the pitch celebrating the win before walking over to catch the shuttle bus back to Smugala's Pizza Pub. Quite a game. You can read more here: http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index. Also, http://stlouligans.com/.

Next weekend, I'll be at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis to help out at the Festival of Nations, a multicultural celebration. Hope you can come. Here's their website: http://www.festivalofnationsstl.org/.


13 August 2015

Good Week So Far

This week has going well for me. Work has been busy at the car rental firm, but we're working hard to keep our customers satisfied.

Mom is doing well in Los Angeles, visiting my brother Doug and his twin boys. I'm keeping things running here at home. Just mowed the front lawn.

Earlier tonight, I went to dinner at Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria, in Rock Hill, Missouri. I've long been wanting to try this restaurant, and am very glad I did. I enjoyed a Kup's Egg Pizza, which features egg, sausage, and mushrooms. A very tasty meal, washed down with a fine local beer. As I left the restaurant, I chatted briefly with the owner, Katie Lee Collier, and her husband, Ted Collier. I let Katie know how much I enjoyed the meal and she was most appreciative of my kind words. I definitely recommend this restaurant. You can read more on it on their website: http://www.katiespizzaandpasta.com/.

After I work this Saturday morning, I head to Creve Coeur Airport for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting. They will have a speaker talking about production of B-25 Mitchell medium bombers in Kansas City during World War II, followed by a screening of the movie "Catch-22." More on this group here: http://moavhist.org/.


09 August 2015

Work, Scale Modeling, Soccer, and Seeing Mom Off

The weather is typical for St. Louis this time of year--hot and humid. Still, I carry on with everything. That includes work at the car rental branch, which has been steady busy of late with vacation travelers and business customers in the mix (along with those needing loaner cars). This past week our branch said goodbye to two management trainees: Nick, who's off to help manage the Cape Girardeau branch, and Mel, who's going up the street to our Kirkwood branch. I wished them all the best in their new positions.

Following work last Saturday morning (1 Aug.), I drove to Bridgeton for a working meeting of the St. Louis Space Frontier Meetup group. I was late, but got into the meeting as members discussed some business. This included membership rates and structure, a website for our group, and upcoming events. I found it very interesting, and hope to contribute to this group in the coming months. This group is on Meetup here: http://www.meetup.com/Saint-Louis-Space-Frontier-Meetup/.

After work last Tuesday (4 Aug.), I went to Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles for the IPMS/St. Louis meeting. I gave my colleagues a report on the IPMS/USA National Convention in Columbus. One of the attendees offered to give a demonstration on using pigments to weather models and will do so at next month's meeting (1 Sept.). More info on this group here: http://www.ipms-stlouis.com/.

My mother departed for Los Angeles this past Wednesday, visiting my brother Doug, his wife Helen, and their twin sons. She's be with them for about two weeks. I'm sure mom is so excited seeing her latest grandchildren.

Last night, I went to Smugala's Pizza Pub in Sunset Hills for a beer before hopping on the Pub2Park bus for Worldwide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton. There, I cheered on Saint Louis FC against FC Montreal. Despite several good chances in front of a record crowd of 5,321 fans, Saint Louis went down to defeat, 3-1. Before the match, I did stop by the Mission Taco Truck in the tailgate area for dinner (which was good). Saint Louis FC has some great support. I just wished the team would be doing better on the pitch. We'll see with their upcoming fixtures against Charleston Battery (away this Saturday, home five days later). More on the club here: http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index.


30 July 2015

Back to High Heat After My Columbus Trip

Last Friday (24 July) was a busy day and night for me at the International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention in Columbus, Ohio. After waking up early in my hotel (Red Roof Inn in Grove City), I drove to the parking garage at the Columbus Convention Center, when walked to the Hyatt Regency next door where the convention was held. I pulled a two hour volunteer stint as a vendor room checkpoint, making sure only registrants and paid visitors entered the room. No problems here. Then, I attended a seminar for On the Job Trainee (OJT) contest judges. There were about 20 of us there learning about judging contest entries, and I felt that I could be an effective judge.

After grabbing lunch in the Convention Center's food court and browsing in the contest room, I then pulled another vendor room checkpoint stint, followed by attending a seminar on advanced concepts for US Army Air Corps (USAAC)/US Army Air Forces (USAAF) aircraft of the late 1930s and early 1940s. I found that most interesting, as I found out about concepts I had never heard of before.

I browsed some more among the vendors and got a dinner at the food court, then I reported to the judges' meeting. There were at least 150 judges in the room, as the head of IPMS/USA's national contest committee briefed us on what to look for in the contest entries and how to record the results for each category. Afterward, I waited with other aircraft judges to hear my name called to join a judging team as an OJT. My name was called and joined the other three judges on a team as we walked to the contest room. Whatever nerves I felt going in soon went away as our team found the category we were to judge (157: Civil, Sport, Racing, and Air Taxis, 1/144 and 1/72. There were 15 contest entries we judged, one by one, and I recorded our assessments of the strong and weak points of each entry, plus contributing my thoughts about each model. We decided after much careful thought on the first, second, and third places and I recorded those on the sheet that was turned into the contest registrar. It took us about 2.25 hours for us to judge this category.

After that, we waiting until all the aircraft categories were judged and then we considered the candidates for Best Aircraft. After examining several candidates, we decided on a exquisite P-47 Thunderbolt. We left the contest room just over four hours after I entered it to help judge. It was a good experience and I would very much like to judge again at future IPMS/USA National Conventions. I drove back to the hotel and turned in for the night.

The next morning, I returned to the convention, where I did one more visit of the contest and vendor rooms, ran one more checkpoint stint, and took in a seminar on real space modeling run by my friend and former IPMS/Gateway colleague Mike Mackowski. I went to eat dinner in the food court while the banquet took place, chatting with two modelers from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Then, I went to the banquet room for the announcements. The contest chairman thanked his staff for all their hard work, and several national honors were announced. The folks from Columbia, South Carolina pitched the 2016 National Convention they are hosting, and Omaha, Nebraska was announced as 2017's host. The contest results were announced, with photos of the models shown on screens in the hall.

After the ceremony, the attendees headed to the contest room to look over the contest winners and to pick up your models. I packed up my four contest entries (neither of which won), and chatted with a few people I knew before I left the contest room and went to my car.

By the way, there were 847 registrants at this year's convention and 2431 contest entries. (With multiple models in a few entries, the total models present was 2780.) More on the convention and IPMS/USA here: http://ipmsusa.org/.

I woke up early Sunday morning (26 July, packed up my things in my rental car, and checked out of the hotel. I then drove into Columbus for breakfast at a Panera Bread Co. restaurant with my high school classmate Mike Anderson, who lives in nearby Pickrington. We chatted for over an hour, getting caught up on things. Then, I began my long trip back to St. Louis. After stops for fuel, lunch, and personal breaks, I got into Ellisville late that afternoon. I drove to the car rental branch, where my car was parked, took my things from the rental car and loaded them into my car, then parked the rental car by the branch and put the keys in the drop box before driving home to unpack.

I was back at work early the next morning, and didn't miss a beat. I helped keep things going well, despite the heat early this week. It got up to 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), with the heat index making it feel like 115 degrees F (46 degrees C). I did my best to stay cool and hydrated, with the encouragement of the branch management. At least it got a bit cooler the past couple of days, so that's an improvement.

Since I am working this Saturday, I flexed out Tuesday afternoon (28 July), but returned to the area after business hours to join in a happy hour celebrating the departure of our intern Kate, who's heading back to college this fall. Power outage at the original venue meant we headed to another one, but it was crowded. Then, we found the power was back on at the original venue, so we headed back there. However, I had to leave to head to the IPMS/Gateway business meeting, so I had to say goodbye to Kate then and there. The business meeting was a bust, though, as only four of us were there and that was not a quorum.

Off work today, I cut the grass at my mother's house, shopped for some new work shoes, and ran off some flyers for the Region 5 Convention IPMS/Gateway hosts on 12 September in Sunset Hills. More info here: http://www.ipms-gateway.com/.


23 July 2015

In Columbus for Scale Modeling's Big Show

After working 1 1/2 days early in the week, I flexed out early on Tuesday (21 July), got my rental car from the branch, and made final preparations for my trip to this year's International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention in Columbus, Ohio. First, I opened up the fellowship hall at Calvary Presbyterian Church for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. It was a nice meeting with another great turnout of models for the monthly beauty contest (38 total), plus a car model judging seminar. Nice meeting. For more on this club, visit: http://ipms-gateway.com.

Early the next morning, I got into my rental car and hit the road for Columbus. It was about 7 hours of driving time, not counting stops for fuel and lunch when I arrived at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, near the Convention Center. I got registered for the convention, entered my four models in the contest, and began making the rounds of the vendors set up for this year's convention. I saw a few people I know from St. Louis and from elsewhere. I then checked into my hotel, located south of the Hyatt Regency, then went to dinner at Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant, a Columbus institution. It was a long wait to get a table (over an hour), but once I was seated, I had a great dinner. After a cup of potato salad, I enjoyed Sauerbraten with kraut, applesauce, small potato pancakes, and a roll. All washed down with a glass of good German beer. To top that off, I had a chocolate creme puff. One of the best dinners I have ever had anywhere (outside home, of course). Definitely check out Schmidt's when your in Columbus. Their website is: http://www.schmidthaus.com.

This morning, after a light complementary breakfast at the hotel, I drove to the Hyatt Regency for the big tour today. I joined with others aboard two motor coaches for a trip west to the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. Our group first went to the Presidential and Research & Development hangars, which are separate from the museum complex, to see the aircraft and other artifacts there. After about an hour, we went back on the buses to the museum itself, and spent nearly 5 hours going through the three display hangars full of aircraft and other artifacts. I snapped away with my cellphone camera, taking over 900 images at the museum. Good thing I had a larger in my phone, plus a generous battery pack to recharge my phone. I also took up an offer and signed up as a Friend of the museum, and got discounts on merchandise in the souvenir shop and a snack in the cafe. A great time. I had last visited this museum 39 years ago, on a family trip, but this museum has changed beyond all recognition. A must see for aerospace fans. The museum's website is: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/.

We got back on the coaches for the trip back to the Hyatt Regency in Columbus--tired, but very happy. Back at the convention site, I visited a few more vendors that had set up after I had left yesterday, plus spent time in the contest room. It was filling up with more contest models. I also volunteered to be an On the Job Trainee (OJT) judge for the contest, when judging occurs tomorrow (Friday) night. I'm working as a vendor room checkpoint in the morning, then can attend the OJT seminar. I may take in other seminars that afternoon. More info on the convention here: http://ipmsusa2015.com/.