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.