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31 December 2016

2016 Ends

After the Christmas holiday, it was back to work Monday morning (26 December). The week as a whole was rather quiet compared to most weeks, primarily due to the Holidays and with customers wanting to keep their vehicles longer during this time. Things went well for us at the branch, and we stayed on top of things. So much, in fact, that I was released from work about 35 minutes early last night. Not that I was complaining.

Off work on Thursday, I took care of my laundry, and had some shopping done.

Late this morning, I drove to the Church of the Immacolata (http://www.immacolata.org/) in Richmond Heights to watch final day action in the Mary McDermott 3rd Grade Basketball Tournament (http://www.glennon.org/mary-mcdermott-basketball/). I caught one full game and parts of two others in this 8th annual tournament, whose proceeds benefit SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. I bought my lunch from their concession stand, and I looked at the sports memorabilia offered up in the silent auction. (I passed up on the latter; this was too rich for my blood, unfortunately.) At the tournament, I saw my friend Bill McDermott, Mary's father, who acted as public address announcer and as a guiding light for this event. (Mary McDermott died at age 24 in December of 2004; a new Hybrid Cardiac Catheterization Suite at Cardinal Glennon is being named for her.) I was very happy to help in at least a small way in this most worthy cause.

Home that afternoon, I turned on the TV and watched the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Black Hawks at Busch Stadium. It was neat to see all those legends from those teams playing at least one more time, and before a packed crowd. The Winter Classic is Monday afternoon at Busch. I just hope the weather isn't too bad; there's a strong chance of showers that day. (I'll be at work that day, but I'll record it on the DVR to watch later.)

I'm home tonight to welcome 2017. Nothing special. There were good things that happened to me in 2016, and some not so good things. I hope for all of us a great, prosperous, and above all Happy New Year!

Later.





25 December 2016

Christmas Day 2016

This week started very cold. At work on Monday (19 December), I was spending time warming up cars and scraping ice off their windows so I can get them to the customers. We had a lot of customers, due to the ice storm the previous weekend. It was hectic, but we got things done and our customers satisfied and in rental vehicles.

After flexing our Tuesday afternoon, I brought cookies to the Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com) location in Manchester, then dropped off some cookies at the St. Charles Enterprise Car Sales location, along with a newsletter for my friend Anthony, who worked there. I also shopped at Mark Twain Hobby Center (https://www.hobby1.com/), where I bought a car model to build for the February IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) contest and dropped off some IPMS/Gateway flyers for the shop.

That night, I attended the IPMS/Gateway meeting at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/). We had final nominations and voting for the 2016 Bob Stroup Award for Outstanding Service and for 2017 club officers. I was reelected vice president by acclamation. We also had a drawing for several kits; however, I did not win. Club president Bill Wagner mentioned our donation the previous Friday of $560 to Toys for Tots. I mention the publicity this received on local online media. This meeting also had our annual recognition contest; I scored the best, with 20 or 25 correct.

Off work Thursday (22 December), I finished my Christmas shopping, ordering some skin care products for Mom from my high school and church friend Lisa Campise, a Mary Kay (https://www.marykay.com/) representative, and an Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/) gift certificate for Brian.

Friday, we had a fairly busy day at work, and I met our new management trainee, Melissa, who just started the day before. This is her first assignment with the firm, and I think she'll do very well for us.

That night, after dinner at home, I met my good friend and Mehlville High classmate Tim Popp at OSP Tap Haus (https://www.osptaphaus.com/) in Oakville. Over glasses of beer (one for me!), Tim and I got caught up on things. He lives in Oklahoma City and was visiting family over the holiday weekend. Always great to see Tim.

I worked at the branch yesterday morning. We had some customers and everything was settled by noon, when we closed--one hour earlier than usual, due to the holiday. After doing a bit of shopping for myself, I came home. I went with Mom to Christmas Eve service at Calvary, where I saw my high school and Sunday school friends Susan Shrum and Lisa Crain. After the service, Mom and I came home to open our presents. I told Mom about the source of the skin care products when she opened the package, and she was very impressed.

Santa was very nice to me. Among other gifts, I got: an emergency flashlight, suitable for my car; the books "General Ignorance: There's a Lot of It Out There" and "The Nation's Hangar: Aircraft Treasures of the Smithsonian"; thermal underwear; a flannel shirt; the DVDs "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and "The Fugitive"; and, a Bluetooth music hat. (The latter gift was from my Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Harold in Fircrest, Washington.) My brothers got me a ticket to an upcoming St. Louis Blues (https://www.nhl.com/blues/) game.

Mom picked up her friend from church, Michael Knuckles, and brought him here for dinner with me. We watched some DVDs of Bob Hope specials this afternoon, before Mom took Michael back to his home. I'm back to work tomorrow.

Later.













18 December 2016

Work, More Branch Visits, a Party, and a Concert

Work at the rental branch this past week has gone well. We had a real busy last Monday (12 December), due mostly to the car repair facilities calling us for loaner vehicles for their customers. It was a bit stressful, but we got it done. The rest of this week has gone well, though the cooler weather did have its challenges (such as scraping ice off of car windows and salting the pavement). We're doing good, though.

My Portuguese Language: Beginning II class ended Wednesday night (14 December) at St. Louis Community College-Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/). We learned some more pronouns, and we were treated to Brazilian delicacies by our instructor, Elizabeth Bittencourt, from the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home). I enjoyed this class, and plan to sign up for Beginning III after the first of the year.

Off work on Thursday, I spent the morning visiting my colleagues at other branches. My travels took me to three in Illinois (O'Fallon, Highland, and Glen Carbon), plus one in Florissant, Missouri. I chatted briefly with the people I knew who were there (including Meggie at Highland, Leah at Glen Carbon, and Dan at Florissant), and they greatly appreciated the holiday newsletters I gave them and the cookies I gave their whole staffs. It was great to see them, and to see how they and their branches were doing, and to help their morale just a bit.

That night was party time for members of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/). Instead of the regular meeting, the society's members and guests had a Christmas party at Creve Coeur Airport (http://www.crevecoeurairport.com/), which featured a catered dinner with a custom decorated cake. It was nice having time with other society members and their guests.

The weather went bad Friday afternoon (16 December), as temperatures dipped well below freezing and freezing rain fell, which caused roads to get slick. Pavements were like skating rinks, and roads were parking lots at times. We at the rental branch did get our customers taken care of, and we were able to leave not too long after closing time. Things were brighter there earlier in the day, as it was ugly sweater day at the company. I wore one I made the day before, using a kit I bought at Target. Also, two of my colleagues were saluted by Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com/) for recently referring customers to them, with the subsequent customer purchases meaning my colleagues get a bit more cash in their paychecks.

Right after work, I dashed off--as best I could under the road conditions--to River City Casino (https://www.rivercity.com/). Melissa Etheridge (http://www.melissaetheridge.com/) was in concert there, with my brother Brian Delaney on drums. I met my mom and our friends and neighbors, Rick and Diane Holtz, at the casino, and we then went to the Events Center for the show. (Brian left us tickets at the Will Call desk.) It was a wonderful concert, with Etheridge playing a mix of Christmas-themed songs, music from her latest album, MEmphis Rock and Soul, and some of her hits. There were a few empty seats, mostly likely due to the weather and traffic conditions. Mom, the Holtzes, and I had a great time, and we got to chat with Brian for a bit after the show, before he joined the rest of the group to head to their next tour stop.

Late yesterday morning, I drove to the PetSmart (http://www.petsmart.com/) in Sunset Hills, where Needy Paws Rescue (http://www.needypaws.org/) was holding a Stuff The Bus For Pups dog care product drive. My friend and Enterprise colleague Brittany Mohrman was there with the group, and we were very happy to see each other. (Mohrman, under her maiden name Becker, was a management trainee at the Ellisville branch three years ago; she's now in corporate human resources.) I bought about $50 of merchandise on the group's wish list--including a dog bed, rawhide bones, a collar and a leash--which I donated to Needy Paws Rescue. Mohrman greatly appreciated my gesture and I told her I was very happy to help her group out.

I did a bit of Christmas shopping at several stores after that, but did not find anything I was looking for. Not much shopping time left until Christmas.

The weather got worse that afternoon, with more sleet coming down. I stayed at home rather than chance the weather and streets to attend a Christmas party in south St. Louis, which was cancelled anyway. The overnight weather, which included a dusting of snow, also caused Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) to call off this morning's service.

Later.







11 December 2016

Busy Nights, Branch Visits, and Make & Takes

Work this week has been good, and plenty busy. Quite a few customers came from the car repair shops in our branch's area, and we scrambled at times to get vehicles ready for them, but all our customers were taken care of in good order. We also welcomed Andrew, the new vehicle service agent, who will be working part time at our branch. The early indication is that he will be a good addition to us.

After a very busy Monday (5 December) at the branch, I went to Firehouse Pub & Grill (http://www.firehousebarandgrillstl.com/) in Mehlville for the annual Eastern Missouri Soccer Referee Association (EMSRA) Christmas party. It was nice seeing my colleagues and enjoying a nice buffet dinner, but I was so tired from work (and from a traffic jam on the way to the party) that I left for home after awhile.

I flexed out of work Tuesday afternoon, then visited four nearby branches with cookies for the staff and my annual newsletter for several friends and close acquaintances at those branches. They appreciated the goodwill gesture I was providing. After dinner at home, I went to St. Louis Community College-Forest Park (http://www.stlcc.edu/FP/) for the annual soccer referee recertification clinic. We sat through an overview of Law changes now in effect, plus reviewing procedures for dealing with concussions by players and seeing video clips of game situations that referees should be on the watch for in their matches. We also got some tips on dealing with unruly fans in youth matches. After all that, and having previously providing proof of registration payment and passing online tests, we each received our new 2017 referee badges.

It was a full day of work Wednesday (7 December), with my reading about the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor during lunch. After work, I was at St. Louis Community College-Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for my Beginning Portuguese class. Our class had more practice on pronouns and on tenses. The class ends this Wednesday night. I may go for the Phase III class after the first of next month.

My off day Thursday included visiting five branches in mid, north, and west St. Louis County bearing cookies for their staffs and newsletters for friends and acquaintances. Just as with Tuesday's visits, my presence and gifts were well received. I also did a bit of shopping at the Boeing Store (https://www.boeingstore.com/) in Hazelwood.

That night, I drove to the Deer Run Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library (http://www.youranswerplace.org/deer-run-branch) in O'Fallon, Missouri. I joined three of my IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) colleagues in running a make 'n take model building session for children. This was the fourth of seven make 'n takes being held at St. Charles County libraries from mid-November to late this month. We had 25 attendees this night--children and their parents. The children were given a snap-together scale model kit (either a car or aircraft) to assemble, with parents there to help where they can. My club mates and I went around helping the children with these kits, which they got to take home when assembled. Best of all, there was no charge to these families; IPMS/Gateway donated the kits and their members the time.

I worked at the branch yesterday morning (10 December), then went to the Kathryn Linnemann Branch (http://www.youranswerplace.org/kathryn-linnemann-branch) in St. Charles for another make 'n take. This event drew 34 children and their parents, plus myself and three other IPMS/Gateway members. (One member present at all of these make 'n takes is Mark Carroll, who organized this series.) My experience in scale modeling came in handy, as I was needed a few times to help with problems a few children had with their kits. Overall, however, it was a another triumph for us, as the club got much great feedback from attendees.

Last night was at home, as I watched the MLS Cup match on TV. I was happy that Seattle Sounders won on penalty kicks over Toronto FC, as I was pulling for Seattle. (Having relatives in the Puget Sound area gave me a dog in this fight.)

I'm looking forward to this Friday night, as my brother Brian will be drumming for Melissa Etheridge (http://www.melissaetheridge.com/) when she performs at River City Casino & Hotel (https://www.rivercity.com/entertainment/concerts-and-events/melissa-etheridge-and-holiday-trio/) in Lemay.

Later.




04 December 2016

Into December 2016

It was an afternoon at the movies last Sunday (27 November), when I went to the AMC Chesterfield 14 (https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-theatres/st-louis/amc-chesterfield-14). There, I joined with seven others from the STL Screeners Meetup group (https://www.meetup.com/STLScreeners/) to see a presentation of the 1961 classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (http://www.fathomevents.com/#event/breakfast-at-tiffanys/more-info/details), presented by Turner Classic Movies (http://www.tcm.com/) and Fathom Events (http://fathomevents.com). This was the first time I saw this romantic comedy on a large screen with an audience, and it was a wonderful experience. After the movie, we gathered in the food court at Chesterfield Mall (http://www.chesterfield-mall.com/) for dinner and discussion. A good time was had by all.

Work at the rental branch this week went well, with returns from Thanksgiving holiday travelers early in the week, plus quite a few customers at the repair shops needing loaners.

After work Monday night (28 November), I was off to St. Louis Community College-Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for my annual futsal referee recertification clinic. We reviewed local league policies and concerns, and saw video clips of high level game situations. I had paid my registration fee and passed the test online, so I received my 2017 futsal referee patch at the clinic's end, along with the others (some 20 colleagues with me).

I was back at STLCC-Meramec two nights later for my Beginning Portuguese class, the first in two weeks (we were off the night before Thanksgiving). We reviewed more items to help us understand the language a bit more. Just two more sessions to go in this course.

Off work Thursday, I took care of my laundry at home. That night, I was at Big A's on the Riverfront (http://www.bigasontheriverfront.com/) in St. Charles for a Pre-Dating Speed Dating (http://www.pre-dating.com/) event. I and nine other single males, in our late 40s and 50s, each had six-minute dates with women in our age range. It was a chance to size each other up and see if each was a good fit to further pursue. I felt nervous going in, not having done this sort of dating in a long while, but it went well. However, none of the ten ladies I talked to expressed interest in me. Oh, well, maybe next time.

Last Friday being pay day, I stopped by Krispy Kreme (https://www.krispykreme.com/) in Fenton on the way to work and bought a dozen doughnuts for my colleagues. They appreciate the every other Friday gesture.

I drove to Clayton yesterday morning for this month's meeting of the Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC) (http://www.mpc-nfpw.org/cpsiteframepage.lasso?-token.lpuserref=113815.113118) at the St. Louis Artists' Guild (http://www.stlouisartistsguild.org/new/). Laura Peters, director of archives at The Muny (https://muny.org/), spoke about her efforts to pull together nearly 100 years of The Muny's history. She showed (via PowerPoint) photos of the Muny's Forest Park facilities over the years, actors of note who performed in Muny productions, and advertising in Muny show programs. A most interesting talk.

Then, I headed to the St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html) in Brentwood Square. I parked in the lot to co-host by phone this month's edition of "Writer's Block" (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2016/12/03/connected--writers-block-10am-pstradio-drama-the-princess-8-11am-pst), the online radio show about writing and storytelling from the autistic perspective. Host Tim Pylypiuk and I talked about Christmas Myths and Stories, touching on such classic tales as "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life." I had printed off the show's script and several online articles mentioned in that script, and had that with me in the car as I contributed my part of the discussion. This show (paired with Radio Drama in the second hour) is now archived online, for streaming or downloading for podcast.

After the show, I had lunch at that St. Louis Bread Co., then shopped at a few places on my way home.

Later.



27 November 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

One week ago last night (19 November) found me at Yemanja Brasil Restaurante (http://www.brazildining.com/) in St. Louis' Benton Park neighborhood. I came for a delicious Brazilian dinner and a concert by Brazilian musician and movie director Gustavo "Buda" Acioli (https://soundcloud.com/budasongs; http://www.ouvirtopmusicas.com/musicas/gustavo-acioli.html). This evening was presented by the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home), and a few people I know from that group were also there. It was a wonderful show--even though I did not understand most of the words, I understood the passion and feeling "Buda" put into his music. (He played an electric guitar.) For my meal, I had an entrada (appetizer) of torradinhas, followed by the prato principal (main course), piscado miranda, which features cod. I washed those courses down with two caipirinhas. Overall, a very good night.

Up early the next morning, I was at World Wide Technology Soccer Park (http://saintlouisfc.com/soccerpark) in Fenton, where I officiated three youth soccer (football) matches. These were all under 12 boys, 9v9 matches, on the final day of the Premier League fall season. My matches went well, including my middle in the second match.

This past week at the car rental branch was rather busy through Wednesday night, as quite a few customers were renting out for Thanksgiving Day weekend travels. Our branches were closed on Thanksgiving Day itself, and I was back the next day (25 November) for a rather quiet day, especially in the late afternoon. Same for yesterday morning, when I worked. Tomorrow will be a different story, for sure.

I flexed out of work on Tuesday afternoon (22 November), and came home. That night, I was at Brad and Julie Vaughn's house in House Springs for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) business meeting. After enjoying a supper of red beans and rice, prepared by the Vaughns, the club executive board (eboard) planned the December general and business meetings, and discussed some other club business.

Thanksgiving morning found me at home, watching parades on TV: The Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade in St. Louis, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Mom and I had a nice, if low-key, dinner with turkey breast and trimmings. That afternoon, I camped in front of my computer, watching the annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) Turkey Day Marathon on MST3K's YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/mst3kofficial). It was fun watching these classic episodes of the show, especially "Manos: The Hands of Fate," one of my (and many other show fans') all-time favorites.

I skipped shopping on Black Friday (as I was working), and Small Business Saturday (working, and not having my shopping lists in yet). Maybe something will happen tomorrow, Cyber Monday.

Later.






19 November 2016

This Week: Work, Scale Models, and a Book Launch

Back to work at the car rental branch on Monday (14 November), we had a good amount of business as usual for the week's beginning, with returns off the weekend and rentals to start the week. I had plenty of vehicles to prep for rental, and to drive--be it to pick up or return customers, or to ferry vehicles to and from drop locations or other branches.

Right after work on Tuesday, I was off to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) in Mehlville for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting. Our crowd was late in arriving, due to a traffic tie up on southbound Interstate 270/255 in south St. Louis County. (I got off I-270 at Tesson Ferry Road and made my way to Calvary from there.) We had our fourth and final model contest towards Modeler of the Year, which had Heavy Haulers as the special category. I didn't have any models to enter, and might have helped judge the contest, but was needed to record the meeting minutes, due to our secretary not being there. I did give a report on my recent trip to Kansas City and my visits to several museums there (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, National World War I Museum and Memorial, National Airline History Museum, TWA Museum). Additionally, I plugged the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's meeting two nights later. (More on that meeting in a moment.)

My off day Thursday started with a drive to the corner of Union Road and Weber Road in Affton. There, and at a 7-Eleven store on the corner, I bought two Old Newsboys Day (http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/old-newsboys-day/) newspapers from volunteers, paying $1 for each. Old Newsboys Day--the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day--is a St. Louis tradition since 1957, in which volunteers sell a special edition newspaper, which donations going to local charities serving at-risk children. I was a volunteer newsboy last year, but was not asked this year, so I was happy to help out with a donation.

That afternoon, I picked up a suit from the dry cleaner, and dropped off some IPMS/Gateway flyers at Checkered Flag Hobby Country (https://www.facebook.com/Checkered-Flag-Hobby-Country-488152001202821/?rf=160139410673404), which had moved from Concord Village to a new location in Mehlville. The shop manager appreciated me bringing these flyers, which should be of help to his shop's scale modeling customers.

The Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) met at Creve Coeur Airport (http://www.crevecoeurairport.com/) that night. Daniel L. Rust, a former professor at UMSL and now at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, made a presentation about the history of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (http://www.flystl.com/). This was a tie-in to Rust's new book, which was released for sale at our meeting: "The Aerial Crossroads of America: St. Louis's Lambert Airport" (http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/A/bo25077991.html). After his talk, Rust signed copies of his book--including mine. This book is the culmination of the Society's Lambert History Project, an effort of over two years to chronicle the airport's story going back to its founding by Major Albert Bond Lambert in 1920. I was proud to have helped a bit in this project, and am very pleased to see this book in print at last. Copies of "The Aerial Crossroads of America" are available for purchase through the Missouri Historical Society (http://mohistory.org/node/57873), the University of Chicago Press, at St. Louis area bookshops, and through amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Aerial-Crossroads-America-Lambert-Airport/dp/1883982898/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479570301&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Aerial+Crossroads+of+America). All royalties from the book will go to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society.

Back at work yesterday, I brought in some doughnuts from Krispy Kreme (http://www.krispykreme.com/) for my colleagues. We had a lot jammed full of vehicles to clean and spot, and it was a challenge to find space for all of them. Still, we got things in good order by the time we closed up last night.

Later.






13 November 2016

Film Festival and Election Day

One week ago tonight (6 November) found me at Moore Auditorium of Webster Hall, Webster University (http://www.webster.edu/). It was my first volunteer stint at this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) (http://www.cinemastlouis.org/about-festival). I was an usher handing out fan ballots, SLIFF patron survey forms, and festival programs to audience members as they entered the theater. After the audience was taken care of, I could watch the movie, then collect the ballots and survey forms, and help tally up the audience votes. Last Sunday had a double feature, starting with the 2016 documentary "Long Live the King," about the enduring fascination with the 1933 classic film "King Kong." It was a very nice film, and was followed by some discussion lead by Tom Stockman, editor of We Are Movie Geeks (http://www.wearemoviegeeks.com/). Then, it was the second half of the bill, the aforementioned "King Kong," which I had not seen on a big screen with an audience before. It was thrilling as always.

My brother Rick and his family (wife Melissa, son Alex, and daughter Kate) had a fine time with my mom and me. More with my mom, since I was away at work and SLIFF much of the time they were there. They returned to Charleston on Tuesday. I was back at work on Monday.

After flexing out of work Tuesday afternoon (8 November), I drove to ROC Ministries (http://rocmin.com/) in Mehlville to cast my vote in the national election. I was most happy to do my patriotic duty. Most of my candidates and issues lost, and I will leave it at that.

I put in a full day of work Wednesday, then was back at St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for the Portuguese Language: Beginning II class. Our instructor Elizabeth from Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home) guided us through more Portuguese, including numbers, months, and days of the week.

Off work Thursday (10 November), I got my hair cut by Great Clips (http://www.greatclips.com/) on South County Centerway in Mehlville. I met a friend for lunch at the St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html), also on South County Centerway.

That afternoon, I was off to the Tivoli Theatre (https://www.landmarktheatres.com/st-louis/tivoli-theatre) for a SLIFF volunteer shift. I was outside the theater where a collection of five documentary short subjects with the theme of Valor. I did not see these films, but saw the stars and producers come into the adjourning theater for the US premier of the film "Drawing Home."

After my volunteer shift, I was off to the Plaza Frontenac Cinema (https://www.landmarktheatres.com/st-louis/plaza-frontenac-cinema) to watch a SLIFF film "Jules & Dolores (O Roubo da Taca)," a caper comedy from Brazil, which I enjoyed a lot.

I got off work a few minutes early on Friday, which was unusual, but welcome nevertheless. I did work at the rental branch yesterday morning, and that went very well.

I got a bit of a lunch while on my way from work to Brown Hall at Washington University (https://wustl.edu/). My SLIFF volunteer shift spanned the end of one narrative feature, "Phantom Boy," and all of the next one, "Heidi," a 2016 German/Swiss version of the long-time favorite children's story. I didn't see either film, as I was at my volunteer station just outside, but both were very well received by the audiences.

This morning found me at World Wide Technology Soccer Park (http://saintlouisfc.com/soccerpark) to officiate three Premier League under 12 girls matches. These were all nine-a-side, small field matches. I ran line on the first two matches before working the middle on the third match. All three went well.

After a shower and change of clothes at home, I went to my fourth and final SLIFF volunteer shift, at .ZACK (http://www.zack.events/) a new performing arts incubator in midtown St. Louis. I caught the tail end of the documentary "The Last Laugh," about comedians dealing with or avoiding the Holocaust. There was a break of some minutes, then we had one more documentary feature, "Tower," about the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin. I thought that was a terrific film. SLIFF is ending with its awards show as I write this; the results will be posted on the Cinema St. Louis website tomorrow (Monday), I would presume.

Later.





06 November 2016

Into November; Family in Town

This past week has been good at work. A good amount of business at the car rental branch. We had a low key Halloween on Monday (31 October), with three of us dressing up as animals. I was not one of them.

It was off to Mark Twain Hobby Center (https://www.hobby1.com/) in St. Charles right after work Tuesday for the Mark Twain Model Club meeting. We had a demo on chipping techniques for weathered models. Brett Avants showed with a tank model how to weather a model using hairspray or chipping fluid. A handout was also provided that summarized this method. I also gave a talk about my visit to the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.

Another session of the Portuguese Language: Beginning II class was Wednesday night (2 November) at St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/). Elizabeth, our instructor provided to the college by the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home), guided us through more verbs and their conjugations. I came home from that class to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

I was out and about a bit on Thursday. First, I got my Corolla's oil changed at Jiffy Lube (https://www.jiffylube.com/). Then, I succeeded at getting St. Louis International Film Festival (http://www.cinemastlouis.org/about-festival) at one Mehlville location each of Starbucks (http://www.starbucks.com) and Saint Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html), on their community bulletin boards. The Festival began that night; my first volunteer shift is tonight at Webster University's Webster Hall, Moore Auditorium. I'm at the Tivoli Theatre late Thursday afternoon and Washington University's Brown Hall late Saturday afternoon. Hope to see you there!

Yesterday, my brother Rick, his wife Melissa, and their two children (Alex and Kate), arrived in St. Louis from Charleston, South Carolina for a visit. They came home with Mom just before I co-hosted this month's edition of Writer's Block (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2016/11/05/connected--writers-block-10am-pstradio-drama-the-princess-7-11am-pst). Host Tim Pylypiuk and I discussed time travel in literature, especially in science-fiction.

All of us got together at Chili's (https://www.chilis.com/) in Kirkwood for dinner. We were joined by Melissa's cousin Oliver Block, his wife Astrid, their two children, and Astrid's parents, who were visiting from Germany. It was quite a nice get together. Except for Astrid's parents, we were all at Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for the Rememberance Day service, in which new sanctuary doors were dedicated to my late father Harold. After the service, we had cake, cookies and coffee in the Fellowship Hall, then went to Cafe Telegraph (http://cafetelegraph.com/) for lunch.

Later.



30 October 2016

Saluting Ozark Air Lines; Vacation in KC

I worked Saturday morning (22 October) at the rental branch, then headed for the St. Louis Science Center (http://www.slsc.org/) for a special program presented by the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/). This was a special tribute to Ozark Air Lines, which operated from 1950 until 1986. Several former Ozark employees told of their experiences at the airline, and two documentary films were screened: "The Swallows' Tale: The Story of Ozark Air Lines" and "Ozark Air Lines: The Sky's the Limit." Additionally, the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum (http://www.airandspacemuseum.org/) displayed Ozark artifacts in its collection. It was quite a nice program, with quite a few former Ozark employees in attendance.

Midday last Sunday found me at Whitfield School (http://www.whitfieldschool.org/), where I helped referee an under 13 boys' soccer friendly. Two teams from the same club played the match, and it was intended for giving the players plenty of match experience in a more relaxed environment. It went well, I thought.

Work this week has been busy, but good. It was a manic Monday as usual, but we got through it well.

Right after work Tuesday night (25 October), I headed for the Delmar Loop (http://visittheloop.com/). After dinner at Chipotle Mexican Grill (http://chipotle.com/), I walked to the Tivoli Theatre (https://www.landmarktheatres.com/st-louis/tivoli-theatre) for volunteer orientation for this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (http://www.cinemastlouis.org/about-festival), which runs from 3 to 13 November at 11 venues in Metro St. Louis. I and several other volunteers got a briefing on our duties, had our questions answered, and we received some posters and cards to promote the Festival in our neighborhoods. I'm working three Festival shifts: Sun., 6 Nov., 6-10 pm, Webster University's Webster Hall; Thu., 10 Nov., 4:30 to 7 pm, Tivoli Theatre; and Sat., 12 Nov., 3-6:15 pm, Washington University's Brown Hall. Hope to see you there!

Thursday (27 October) marked the start of a three-day vacation I took in Kansas City, Missouri. After renting a car that morning from Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) in Ellisville, I headed west. My first stop in Metro Kansas City was at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum (http://www.trumanlibrary.org/) in Independence. I had not been there in many years, but I really enjoyed seeing the museum's presentation on Truman's life and presidency. After making some purchases in the gift shop, I drove by the Truman home (https://www.nps.gov/hstr/index.htm) a few blocks away to take pictures of the building before going to check in at the motel in Independence.

That night, I was back at the Truman Library for a discussion with historian and author H.W. Brands (http://hwbrands.com/), author of the new book "The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War" (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/253136/the-general-vs-the-president-by-h-w-brands/9780385540575/). The library's director interviewed Brands, then opened the floor to some questions from the audience. After that, Brands signed copies of his book--including one I bought that day at the museum's gift shop. (I actually started reading an ebook version recently, but could not pass up the chance to meet Professor Brands and to get his autograph on his book. A very nice person, he is.) It was a very interesting and informative evening, which was recorded for telecast.

After a good night's sleep, I was up early Friday to enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then began a busy day of sightseeing at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (http://www.nelson-atkins.org/). In approximately two hours spent there, I enjoyed seeing a great variety of art objects, ranging from Baroque era paintings and English pottery to modern photography and African masks. A terrific place to get immersed in fine art, and it's hard to beat its admission cost: Free.

Then, it was quite a change of sightseeing gears, as I went to the National World War I Museum and Memorial (https://www.theworldwar.org/). It was a most impressive museum, starting with walking on a glass bridge over a field of 9,000 poppies--one poppy for each 1,000 persons killed during the war. There are displays and artifacts about Europe and the world before, during, and after World War I. Display items include weapons, equipment, uniforms, art, and photos. The museum also has a recreation of a Western Front Trench and a large shell hole, helping give you that "you are there" feeling. There are also interactive displays that help you understand the war and those who fought it. I also went to the top of the 66 m (216 foot) tall Liberty Memorial, and enjoyed the view (although it was a bit windy). After raiding the gift shop, I left the museum with a great feeling. I highly recommend this place.

Before going back to the hotel, I dropped by Country Club Plaza (https://countryclubplaza.com/), a gorgeous and long-time (since 1922) shopping and dining complex. This is a great place to at least window shop, with many fine retailers (including Barnes & Noble, Tiffany & Co., and Tesla Motors), plus some local shops. I also spent time admiring the Plaza's J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, a real beauty in a city of fountains. I got dinner at Burger King before returning to the motel for the night.

I checked out Saturday morning before visiting a few more sights. First, it was the American Jazz Museum (http://americanjazzmuseum.org/), located in the 18th & Vine area. I very much enjoyed reading on the history of jazz and of jazz greats: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Kansas City's own Charlie (Bird) Parker. I then walked to the nearby Charlie Parker Memorial, a simple, yet eloquent memorial to the great saxophonist.

I drove to the National Airline History Museum (http://www.airlinehistory.org/), located at Kansas City Downtown Airport (the former Kansas City Municipal Airport). A volunteer showed me and two other visitors around the museum's displays of photos, maps, models, crew uniforms, and other artifacts from various US airlines over the years. The volunteer took us to the hangar, where several aircraft (including a DC-3) were being restored, and took us into a Martin 4-0-4 airliner. He then took us out on the ramp and into their Lockheed L-1049 Constellation airliner. Quite a nice little museum.

Then, I made my way across the airport to the TWA Museum at 10 Richards Road (http://www.twamuseumat10richardsroad.org/), which told the story of Trans World Airlines from its founding in 1925 until it was merged with American Airlines in 2001. Photos, models, advertising, crew uniforms, dining service items, and memorabilia told the TWA story. They also had flight procedures trainers and airliner seats on display, and we also got to go aboard the TWA McDonnell Douglas MD-80 "Wings of Pride," with its unique red with white trim scheme. Another nice little museum, and also--like the National Airline History Museum--worth a visit.

My time in Kansas City concluded with lunch at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (http://www.gordonbiersch.com/), located in the Kansas City Power & Light District (http://www.powerandlightdistrict.com/), a neighborhood of shops, restaurants, and bars. I enjoyed a Czech Pilsner beer, brewed on the premises, with a Marzen BBQ burger and garlic french fries. After walking a bit around this area, I got in my car and drove home, arriving that night.

Just been relaxing today, getting my laundry done and doing a bit of piece work. Back to work in the morning. Happy Halloween!

Later.











20 October 2016

Two Nights of Soccer Activities

After a busy Friday at work, it was time to relax a bit on the weekend. Late Saturday afternoon (15 October), I met with my friend and fellow referee Austin Gomez at his house, then we and another colleague, Kevin Winkelman, met with two others--Zorinko Milicevic and his son, Ivan--before we headed to America's Center (http://explorestlouis.com/meetings-conventions/americas-center/) in downtown St. Louis. There, we attended the 46th Annual Induction Dinner of the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame (http://www.stlsoccerhalloffame.com/). After a happy hour, we entered the dining hall for dinner, followed by the program, which was hosted with his usual aplomb by Bill McDermott. Four future soccer stars (two boys and two girls) were recognized, and ten people were inducted. These inductees included my Saint Louis University (SLU) classmate, Steve Maurer; my former refereeing colleague, Nancy Lay-McCormick; and Karen Lombardo-Baker, wife of my friend from SLU Pat Baker.

Several other awards were presented, including one to the 1966 Quincy College men's soccer team, which went undefeated and won the NAIA National Championship, and to the New Dimensions Soccer Program, which uses soccer as an outreach program for refugee, immigrant, and underserved children in Metro St. Louis. I also saw a few people I knew there, including several fellow soccer referees (among them: Holly Hollingsworth, Randy Masterson, Sam Chan, and Tom Lutker), former Webster University men's soccer coach Marty Todt, and my SLU classmate Steve Hunsicker. Overall, it was a very wonderful night for remembering St. Louis soccer's greats and looking forward to the future.

Sunday morning, I proofread a calendar for my friend, Janette Lonsdale (http://janettelonsdale.com/), which she had prepared for her client. It went very well, with hardly anything needing correcting. That night found me at the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex in Maryland Heights. I ran line on two St. Louis Youth Soccer Association (SLYSA) (http://www.slysa.org/) matches. They went well, although my legs were a bit sore afterward.

Back at work Monday morning, it was a busy time at the rental branch. We all worked hard to keep things moving forward and getting our customers completely satisfied. It was unseasonably warm early in the week, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) on Monday, but things cooled down to more fall-like temperatures by mid-week. It was rainy yesterday afternoon (19 October), with temperatures getting down to about 45 degrees F (7 degrees C) that night.

After flexing out of work Tuesday afternoon, I took care of personal business at home, then went to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting. I supplied photos our Invitational last month, which were projected on a screen during the meeting. We also had a good turnout for the Model of the Month "beauty contest."

After work last night, I went to St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for the first session of Portuguese Language: Beginning II. There were four others in this class--all but one had been with me in the Beginning I class that ended the week before. We are instructed by Elizabeth Bittencourt, provided to the college by the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home). I enjoyed the first session, despite noise from the air conditioner making it hard to be heard at times in the classroom, and will be back for the remaining seven sessions.

On my off day from work today, I went to Kaldi's Coffee (http://kaldiscoffee.com/) in Kirkwood, where I met Norm Podorski, a networking contact. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes before he had to leave, and got caught up on things. I then had my semi-annual check up at my dentist. It went well--no cavities. After lunch at Qdoba (https://www.qdoba.com/), I bought some cookies and brought them to the Enterprise branch in Kirkwood, in thanks for my helping them out last week when they were short staffed. The manager there, Kelley, greatly appreciated the gesture.

Later.


Two Nights of Soccer Activities

After a busy Friday at work, it was time to relax a bit on the weekend. Late Saturday afternoon (15 October), I met with my friend and fellow referee Austin Gomez at his house, then we and another colleague, Kevin Winkelman, met with two others--Zorinko Milicevic and his son, Ivan--before we headed to America's Center (http://explorestlouis.com/meetings-conventions/americas-center/) in downtown St. Louis. There, we attended the 46th Annual Induction Dinner of the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame (http://www.stlsoccerhalloffame.com/). After a happy hour, we entered the dining hall for dinner, followed by the program, which was hosted with his usual aplomb by Bill McDermott. Four future soccer stars (two boys and two girls) were recognized, and ten people were inducted. These inductees included my Saint Louis University (SLU) classmate, Steve Maurer; my former refereeing colleague, Nancy Lay-McCormick; and Karen Lombardo-Baker, wife of my friend from SLU Pat Baker.

Several other awards were presented, including one to the 1966 Quincy College men's soccer team, which went undefeated and won the NAIA National Championship, and to the New Dimensions Soccer Program, which uses soccer as an outreach program for refugee, immigrant, and underserved children in Metro St. Louis. I also saw a few people I knew there, including several fellow soccer referees (among them: Holly Hollingsworth, Randy Masterson, Sam Chan, and Tom Lutker), former Webster University men's soccer coach Marty Todt, and my SLU classmate Steve Hunsicker. Overall, it was a very wonderful night for remembering St. Louis soccer's greats and looking forward to the future.

Sunday morning, I proofread a calendar for my friend, Janette Lonsdale (http://janettelonsdale.com/), which she had prepared for her client. It went very well, with hardly anything needing correcting. That night found me at the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex in Maryland Heights. I ran line on two St. Louis Youth Soccer Association (SLYSA) (http://www.slysa.org/) matches. They went well, although my legs were a bit sore afterward.

Back at work Monday morning, it was a busy time at the rental branch. We all worked hard to keep things moving forward and getting our customers completely satisfied. It was unseasonably warm early in the week, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) on Monday, but things cooled down to more fall-like temperatures by mid-week. It was rainy yesterday afternoon (19 October), with temperatures getting down to about 45 degrees F (7 degrees C) that night.

After flexing out of work Tuesday afternoon, I took care of personal business at home, then went to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting. I supplied photos our Invitational last month, which were projected on a screen during the meeting. We also had a good turnout for the Model of the Month "beauty contest."

After work last night, I went to St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for the first session of Portuguese Language: Beginning II. There were four others in this class--all but one had been with me in the Beginning I class that ended the week before. We are instructed by Elizabeth Bittencourt, provided to the college by the Viva Brasil Association of St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home). I enjoyed the first session, despite noise from the air conditioner making it hard to be heard at times in the classroom, and will be back for the remaining seven sessions.

On my off day from work today, I went to Kaldi's Coffee (http://kaldiscoffee.com/) in Kirkwood, where I met Norm Podorski, a networking contact. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes before he had to leave, and got caught up on things. I then had my semi-annual check up at my dentist. It went well--no cavities. After lunch at Qdoba (https://www.qdoba.com/), I bought some cookies and brought them to the Enterprise branch in Kirkwood, in thanks for my helping them out last week when they were short staffed. The manager there, Kelley, greatly appreciated the gesture.

Later.


13 October 2016

Serving and Eating a Brazilian Dinner

Last Saturday evening (8 October) found me at the Cardinal Rigali Center (http://archstl.org/cardinal-rigali-center) in St. Louis. This venue hosted the annual Taste of Brazil Dinner presented by the Viva Brasil Association in St. Louis (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/home). I was among the volunteers at this event, helping serve a full course dinner to a sell-out crowd. (Many of the attendees came to the dining hall from a Portuguese language Mass celebrated at the Center's St. Vincent de Paul Chapel.) After helping serve for the first hour, I was relieved to enjoy eating the dinner, which included a green mango salad, chicken stroganoff with rice and shoestring potatoes, and pork chops with creamy pumpkin. It was all very tasty, and everyone I chatted with had a good time. Brazilian music was played over the public address system, and a large screen showed a presentation on Viva Brasil STL and some Brazilian travel videos. I was very happy to have helped out at this event, and seeing some of my friends there.

Early the next morning, I was at the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex in Maryland Heights, officating in the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Fall Festival youth tournament. These were my first games since last spring and I was concerned about how well I would do. Fortunately, all three games (under 13 and 14 boys) went well, including refereeing the first match of the set.

After my games, I got lunch at Which Wich (https://www.whichwich.com/#!/), a sandwich shop, in Des Peres. I had a reuben with chips, soda, and a cookie. A very nice lunch.

Back to work Monday morning (10 October), I did my part keeping things rolling at our branch. We also started using wash cloths for wiping down interior surfaces and glass, in place of the paper towels we've been using for many months. The reusable cloths are working out very well so far, proving to be more effective than paper towels in efficiently cleaning the interiors.

Late Tuesday afternoon, I was dispatched to our Kirkwood branch to help them out, as they were otherwise down to two people. After I reported in there, my colleague Leah--who had previously worked with me at Ellisville--chatted briefly with me before leaving for an appointment. I got some vehicles cleaned and dropped off some customers. Things worked out very well and the assistant manager, Abby, thanked me for helping out.

After work Wednesday night, I was at St. Louis Community College at Meramec (http://www.stlcc.edu/MC/) for the final session of Portuguese Language: Beginning I. Sandra, who taught this class on Saturdays, filled in for Priscila, who was moving out of town with her husband. We did some more exercises on basic verbs and their proper use. This morning, I signed up to take the Beginning II class, which starts next week, also at Meramec. I have gotten much from studying Portuguese, and look forward to continuing this class.

Relaxed at home today, doing laundry and watching TV. As I write this, I am watching the St. Louis Blues (https://www.nhl.com/blues/) play their home opener against the Minnesota Wild. This season is the Blues' 50th, so they had some special ceremony before the tame started.

Later.