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.