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24 June 2017

Meeting Melissa Etheridge; Getting a Rental Car; Circus Flora

Monday night (19 June), right after work, I headed to River City Casino ( in Lemay to see Melissa Etheridge ( perform in concert, with my brother Brian on drums. He got tickets for myself, my mom, and our friends Jim and Pat Cook to see the show. It was a marvelous show--the third time I've seen Etheridge in concert in the last two years--and Brian got a very good greeting from the crowd when Etheridge introduced him late in her set. During the encore, she joined Brian on the drums. That was great!

After the show, Brian met us in the showroom's foyer, then he took us to the stage door to introduce us to Etheridge. A great thrill. She noted the Enterprise ( shirt I was wearing, and mentioned that she was going to be renting from Enterprise during a break in her current tour. I told her how much we (Enterprise) greatly appreciate the business. I also mentioned to Etheridge--a lesbian--that I would be marching with Enterprise colleagues this Sunday at the St. Louis Pride Fest Parade (, and she was very happy to hear that. After posing for some pictures with us, Etheridge and Brian got ready to board the tour bus and head to their next stop: Springfield, Missouri. I bought an Etheridge T-shirt from the souvenir vendor, but it was on the vendor.

The next morning, I delayed going into work to take my Corolla to the body shop at Dave Sinclair Ford (, so my damaged rear bumper could be repaired. After signing the car over to the body shop, I walked over to the Enterprise satellite office at Dave Sinclair. After a few minutes' wait, one of their management trainees saw me and got me into a Ford F-150 pickup as my loaner vehicle. My insurance firm, GEICO ( is paying for the rental; I just cover the taxes and protection packages. After the walk through and sign off with the Enterprise MT, I got my things from my Corolla into the F-150 and headed to work.

After work Tuesday, I was off to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( in Mehlville for this month's IPMS/Gateway ( We had our Model of the Month "Beauty Contest," and a good presentation on model photography by our Jim Roeder. I also showed my award-winning models from the recent shows in Crystal Lake, Illinois and Branson, Missouri. A few guys in the group, upon seeing my F-150, wondered if I had traded in my Corolla for the pickup, but I explained this is only a loaner for a few days.

Work has gone well, despite the heat and humidity that made it tough in the wash bay after just a few minutes. Temperatures topped 90 degrees F (32 degrees C); however, the humidity (especially in the wash bay) pushed the heat index past 100 degrees F (38 degrees C).

Thursday (22 June) was my off day as usual. I did my laundry and generally relaxed at home during the day. That night, I was at Circus Flora ( in Grand Center. I helped scan tickets as the audience members came to the entrance, then helped as an usher during and after the show, which had a very good sized crowd. Earlier that day, I volunteered to help out at tonight's performance. The current show, "Time Flies," ends tomorrow (25 June).

Our manager Cory treated us at the branch yesterday to quesadillas from Global Quesadilla Company ( He texted me the night before asking what one I wanted, and I asked for something with chicken--which was what I got. It was most tasty.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, with marching in the Pride Fest Parade in the early afternoon, then helping out at Festa Junina, a Brazilian folk festival Viva Brasil STL ( is presenting at the Kirkwood Community Center. Hope to see you at either of those events.


18 June 2017

Air Show and A Modeling Trip to Branson

A week ago last night (11 June), I joined with others from the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group ( at Anis Hyderabad House ( in Creve Coeur for Indian cuisine. It was a good time for our group as we enjoyed our dinner and conversation.

The next day, my Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( colleague Marion Moen came to pick me up at home, then he drove us to Scott Air Force Base ( The base hosted an air show to celebrate its Centennial. Marion and I staffed our Society's table in Hangar 1, in which we gave out info on our group and showed a pair of documentaries we had a hand in on a television screen. I did go out for awhile to view the aircraft on static display and to see the US Air Force Thunderbirds ( perform. It was a hot, but satisfying day.

Work at the rental branch went very well this past week, despite the heat. Temperatures reached 90 degrees F (32 degrees C), with heat indices (heat plus humidity) topping 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). It was busy early in the week and leveled off by mid-week, then picked up again on Friday.

I was off to Toyota Stadium at World Wide Technology Soccer Park right after work to help cheer on Saint Louis FC ( against Chicago Fire in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup ( I marched into the stadium with fellow St. Louligans ( to cheer on the home side, but Chicago escaped with a 1-0 win. It was a game effort by Saint Louis FC witnessed by a standing-room-only crowd.

Off work Thursday, I took my Corolla in to Jim Butler Collision Center ( to get the damage done a week and a half before hitting a telephone pole evaluated by a GEICO ( claims adjuster. He gave me the figure and cut me a check to give to the repair shop I would go to for repairs. I arranged to have it taken this Tuesday morning to Dave Sinclair Ford's Body Shop for the repair work, and for Enterprise ( to have a loaner car for me.

That night, it was off to Creve Coeur Airport ( for this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society meeting. This was a debrief on the Scott Air Show, with several members presenting their pictures, videos, and stories from that weekend. I came early, to bring in the Society's gear from the Air Show booth.

As work ended Friday, I checked into a rental car at Enterprise, then drove home to pack up. Early yesterday morning (17 June), I set off for Branson, Missouri and MOSS CON, a model contest hosted by IPMS/Missouri Ozarks Scale Specialists ( at the Branson Convention Center ( I took nine models to enter in the contest, and some flyers for this September's IPMS/Gateway ( Contest. I shopped among the vendors there, bought some raffle tickets, and had lunch at Famous Dave's ( at Branson Landing ( I won two model kits in the raffle, and one of my contest entries--a Kuebelwagen--took Third Place in its armor category. I had a great time there, and hope to be back next year when IPMS/MOSS hosts the Region 5 Contest.

Midday today, Mom and I went to the hotel at River City Casino ( to pick up my brother Brian, who got into town late last night. He's drumming for Melissa Etheridge (, who is performing at River City tomorrow night. Brian, Mom, and I had dinner at Rich & Charlie's ( in Mehlville, then came home to relax.


10 June 2017

Life Amid Happy Moments and Mishaps

I was one of the volunteers on duty when Circus Flora ( started its 31st season a week ago Thursday (1 June) with "Time Flies," a show with a time travel theme. I served as an usher that night and helped our audience greatly enjoy themselves. This year's show runs through 25 June at their air-conditioned big top in St. Louis' Grand Center.

I brought doughnuts from Krispy Kreme ( to work the next day, and it was appreciated as usual by the staff. After work, I headed for Toyota Stadium at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for Saint Louis FC's ( match against Toronto FC II. Joining with the St. Louligans (, I cheered the home side to a 2-0 victory in the first home match in over a month, due to the recent flooding.

That Saturday afternoon (3 June), Tim Pylypiuk and I hosted this month's edition of "Writer's Block," ( from ANCA World Radio. This program celebrated the life and works of the late Australian artist and autism activist Donna Williams, who lost her fight with cancer earlier this year.

Sunday morning found me at Das Bevo, formerly, the historic Bevo Mill in south St. Louis (, for brunch with the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group ( Our party had a great time at the restaurant, which reopened a few weeks ago after a slight renovation. I dined on beer cheese soup and Bavarian sausage, washed down with Uhlrich's Breakfast (a cocktail). It was my first time there in about 2 1/2 years, and I hope I won't wait that long to return.

Driving out of the parking lot at Das Bevo hit a snag (literally), when I backed my car into a telephone pole in the parking lot, causing damage to the rear fender at one corner. I will have to have that fixed soon; I have an appointment with the insurance adjuster next week.

On a happier note that Sunday, I then went to the Barnes & Noble ( store in Ladue to trade in my Nook HD tablet for a newer Samsung Galaxy Tab A Nook tablet. Doing so saved me $50 off the standard price for the newer tablet; however, I still get to keep the older Nook HD (received as a Christmas gift from my brothers in 2012) for as long as I want. After charging it up, I began transferring my Nook files to the new tablet. That includes the book I'm currently reading at lunch breaks at work, "We Were Soldiers Once...And Young" by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway. A terrific read on the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in November of 1965.

Work has been good and busy at our branch. We recently welcomed Mike, an intern for the summer, and Tyler, a new management trainee, to our staff. I change came in the vehicle prep side, as Jesse will only work Saturdays (he recently started another job), and I will continue to work four days a week, but no more alternate Saturday mornings for the time being. I can live with that.

Going to bed on Tuesday night, my bed's headboard broke off the support post, causing the bed to collapse. That forced me to sleep on the couch in the family room.

After work Wednesday (7 June), it was off to the Marcus Des Peres 14 Cine ( There, I saw the 1972 classic "The Godfather," from TCM ( and Fathom Events ( It was the first time I saw this movie in a theater, and I was thrilled from the first scene to the last. "The Godfather" is nearly three hours long, but didn't feel like it to me.

Off work Thursday, I did some personal business, then was helping out again at Circus Flora. This time, I joined with Julia, the scenic intern, in scanning tickets for that night's performance. We used bar code scanners on tickets the customers presented for admittance. There were just a very few slowdowns in the process; we got our audience members through the ticket line in good order. Then, I came inside the enjoy the show and to help with ushering duties.

It was another busy, but satisfying day at work yesterday. After dinner last night, Mom and I shopped for a new bedframe. After not finding anything suitable at two other stories, we went to Walmart (, where we found a suitable frame for a good price. After checking out, we took the bedframe home. This morning, Mom and I set up the bedframe in my bedroom. It took a bit of figuring out, but we got the frame set up and the foundation and mattress placed on it. I can now sleep in my own bed again.

I'm off to dinner tonight with the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group, then tomorrow I'll be a volunteer at the Scott Air Force Base Air Show ( More on that in my next post.


01 June 2017

Back to Work; Nice Holiday Weekend

Work at the branch late last week was good, though rather busy at times as the Memorial Day Weekend approached. I was working there on Friday (25 May) and Saturday morning, then I could enjoy the weekend. I chilled out at home on Saturday.

Sunday, I was at home watching the Indianapolis 500 on television, then headed to Assumption Greek Orthodox Church ( in Town and Country for their annual St. Louis County Greek Fest ( There was a good crowd there to browse among the vendors, to eat and drink, and to enjoy Greek cultural programs. I had a nice early dinner of dolmades, tiropita, and lemonade. I also took in Greek folk dances from youth and adult dance groups. It was a pleasant way to spend some time.

Memorial Day (29 May), off work, I went to Spirit of St. Louis Airport ( in Chesterfield to get up close to some World War II vintage aircraft on display, courtesy of the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force ( The Wing's North American B-25J Mitchell, "Show Me," was on hand for display and for flights with paying passengers. Also on hand for passenger flights was a Stearman PT-13 and a North American T-6G Texan "Spanish Lady" ( I also saw another T-6, a Nanchang CJ-6A, and a F-1 Rocket. If I had the money to spare, I could have caught a ride on one of those vintage aircraft. Maybe another time.

Back to work Tuesday morning, it was BUSY. We had a lot of vehicles on our lot from customers coming off the Holiday weekend, and there was virtually no let up. We got through the day through some great teamwork and hard work. Yesterday was also quite busy for a Wednesday, mostly the residual from Tuesday. Things went well, though.

Off today, I am doing my laundry and then going tonight to the opening night of Circus Flora ( "Time Flies" is the show for this season, which runs through 25 June at their air-conditioned tent located near Powell Hall in St. Louis' Grand Center. This year marks my third season as a volunteer--helping make sure the seating areas are good before the customers arrive, acting as an usher, and helping police the seats after the show. I will also be a volunteer for performances on 8 and 22 June, and may pick up a couple more shifts during the run. Hope to see you there!


25 May 2017

A Great Weekend in Chicagoland

I picked up my rental car (a Toyota Camry) from Enterprise ( in Ellisville one week ago this afternoon (18 May) for my weekend trip. This car got me to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( meeting at Creve Coeur Airport ( We had an Aviation Open Mike Night, with several attendees giving their aviation-related stories to the audience.

Early the next morning, after waiting out some stormy weather, I began driving to Chicago for my mini-vacation. Late that morning, I arrived at the Museum of Science and Industry ( I had bought my ticket online, so I didn't have to wait in line. That was a good thing, as there was quite a few school groups there that day. I walked through the Transportation Gallery, Science Storms, YOU! The Experience, Extreme Ice,and The Art of the Bicycle. Then, it was (for me) the main reason for my visit, the German submarine U-505. I toured the vessel's interior, and took in the exhibits around the submarine. I remember visiting the U-505 on a family trip nearly 40 years ago. After the submarine tour, I went to the Henry Crown Space Center, where the Apollo 8 Command Module and the Mercury Aurora 7 spacecraft are on display.

Rainy weather and an accident on the Kennedy Expressway slowed the drive out of downtown Chicago late that afternoon, but I eventually arrived at the Motel 6 in Palatine, where I stayed for the night.

The next morning (20 May), I headed to McHenry County College ( for NIMCON 6, the 6th Northern Illinois Model Contest, presented by IPMS/Lakes Region Scale Modelers ( This also served as the IPMS/USA Region 5 Contest for 2017. I entered six of my models in the contest, which used Chicago rules (few basic categories, three judging teams evaluating the entries, no limits on the number of awards per category). Three of my IPMS/Gateway ( mates arrived together that morning. I spent my time there admiring the models, browsing the vendors, taking in the raffle (I won two kits there), and chatting with my club mates and others there. When the awards were announced at the end of the show, I was surprised to receive two Bronze Awards. One was in Armor, for my 1:72 scale Kuebelwagen; the other was in Ships, for my 1:700 scale Tug Boat. I was amazed that those models were good enough for these awards, given the competition in their respective categories. Still, I was happy to receive the awards for entries I had finished early that week for the IPMS/Gateway contest.

After returning to my hotel in Palatine, I ate dinner and watched TV before falling asleep. Early the next morning, I checked out of the hotel and got breakfast in the area, then started to head home. On the way, I stopped in Bloomington, Illinois late in the morning, shopping in a Barnes & Noble store ( before driving to the Prairie Aviation Museum ( It's a small museum, but still most interesting to me. After browsing inside, I headed outside to view the aircraft on display there. I walked around the two helicopters and eight fixed wing aircraft there, taking many pictures. I then returned inside to view more exhibits and bought a few postcards there, and also mentioned the Missouri Aviation Historical Society to them. I left one of the Society's cards with one of the Museum's volunteers.

I then headed to the Enterprise branch in Ellisville, where I removed my luggage from the rental car to my car and then parking the rental on the lot, leaving the keys in the night deposit box in the back of our building. Then, I drove home to unpack and tell mom of my weekend.

Back to work Monday morning (22 May), it was most busy, but we got things done. The work week has gone well, although we were a bit short handed with our manager Cory on vacation this week. I flexed out Tuesday afternoon, as I am working this Saturday morning. It should be interesting with Memorial Day weekend ahead.

I drove to Rick Keasey's house in Edwardsville for this month's IPMS/Gateway business meeting on Tuesday night. We planned the meetings next month and discussed some club business.

After work Wednesday, I went to the Des Peres 14 Cine ( to watch the 1977 action-comedy "Smokey and the Bandit," presented by TCM ( and Fathom Events ( It was great fun seeing this movie, which starred Burt Reynolds.

Off work today, I remembered this was Red Nose Day (, and did my part to help end child poverty.


18 May 2017

Mother's Day and Model Contest Success

It was a busy end of last week at the car rental branch (, with plenty of vehicles for me to clean and position for rental. That included spending time with my colleagues past closing time on Friday (12 May) and Saturday, but the vehicles were all clean and ready to rent for the next business day.

On my off hours last weekend, I worked on assembling and finishing two small models for the IPMS/Gateway ( meeting on Tuesday night. Late Sunday afternoon (14 May), Mom and I went to Tucker's Place South ( in Mehlville for Mother's Day dinner. It was rather crowded, but they had a table available right away for both of us. We each enjoyed a very nice steak dinner--I had the prime rib, she the filet mignon--and Mom had a great day. My three other brothers (Rick, Brian, and Doug) called her and they got to talk briefly with me as well.

Monday morning was most active at the rental branch, with many vehicles to clean and many customers to service. I was told we had just over 60 vehicles rented out that day--one of the busiest I know of in my time with the firm.

After a rather busy Tuesday (16 May) at work, I headed to Calvary Presbyterian Church ( for the IPMS/Gateway meeting. This featured the second contest towards Modeler of the Year, with the special category "It Figures," for models with figures included in, on, or beside the subject. I did not have anything for that category, but I had three other models I entered. My Bf 109F-2--originally built for March's Same Kit Contest--took third in Aircraft, the Kuebelwagen (completed the night before) was second in Armor, and a Tug Boat (finished on Sunday night) won Ships by default--it was the only entry in that category. I'm happy with all that.

Work went great yesterday, with a slow midday bracketed by busy morning and afternoon periods.

Today, I remembered Mom on her birthday by getting her a vase with 10 blue hydrangea flowers. This was on behalf of my brothers and I. She really liked the flowers. Tonight, I'm at Creve Coeur Airport ( for this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society ( meeting. It will be an Aviation Open Mike Night, open to aviation stories from the audience, like at last February's meeting.

I'm off on a vacation this weekend. More on that in my next post.


11 May 2017

Warm and Dry For a Change

Last Saturday afternoon (6 May), I co-hosted this month's edition of Writer's Block (, the Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio show, with Tim Pylypiuk. We discussed the history and role of libraries, and on the role of the written word in the digital age. It was a fine discussion, and you can replay the program and download it for podcast now.

Later that afternoon, I drove to Queeny County Park in Ballwin to help out at the Greater St. Louis Book Fair (, held in the park's Greenfelder Recreation Complex. This is an annual used book sale, with proceeds going to St. Louis area literacy and education programs. After doing a bit of shopping, I helped count books at the check out counter, giving the totals for each customer's purchases to the cashier. It got hectic at times, but having done this a few times in the past, it was nothing I could not handle. I was very happy to help out this event and the causes it supports.

Due to the overflowing Meramec River flooding World Wide Technology Soccer Park, last Saturday night's Saint Louis FC match vs. Rochester Rhinos was postponed until a later date. My soccer games at the Park for Sunday morning were cancelled.

At least the weather was warm and dry this week, and the flooding was ending in the area. Work Monday morning (8 May) was most busy, with many customers in the lobby at times. However, we got everyone taken care of by the end of business that day.

Since I'm working this Saturday morning, I flexed out Tuesday afternoon. I came home to relax catch up on some needed rest. I worked a full day yesterday, which went well.

Off work today, I did my part for Give St. Louis Day (, an annual campaign for St. Louis area non-profit organizations. I gave my money to several groups I am most interested in, such as Viva Brasil STL, Circus Flora, and Cinema St. Louis. I also worked on a small armor vehicle kit for this Tuesday's IPMS/Gateway ( meeting.


06 May 2017

Living and Working Around Flooding

It was a wet week here in St. Louis. So much so, that the Meramec River overflowed and there was flooding in parts of the St. Louis metropolitan area. That included the route I usually take to and from work: I-44 west of I-270 to Highway 141. The 44-141 interchange was flooded out from mid-week, so I had to take another route to and from work. Looks like that should reopen early this coming week.

Work at the branch has gone well, though we had to deal with a crowded lot Monday morning (1 May). We worked around the problem and got it solved. Wednesday afternoon, the manager was away at a meeting and the assistant manager was at a dental appointment, so one of the area managers filled in, with me as the sole car prep on duty. It was busy at times, but all was well in the end.

Yesterday morning (5 May), I stopped by The Donut Palace of Ellisville ( to get some donuts for my colleagues. (Normally on those Fridays, I go to the Krispy Kreme in Fenton, but the road is currently flooded.) It was much appreciated as usual by my colleagues.

Later today, I co-host Writer's Block from Naturally Autistic ANCA Radio ( Tim Pylypiuk and I will discuss two topics: Libraries, and literacy in the digital age. Hope you can tune in live from Noon, Central Time (10 am, Pacific Time; 1800 GMT), or catch the archived rebroadcast from 2 pm, Central Time (Noon, Pacific Time; 2000 GMT).

Tonight's Saint Louis FC match against Rochester Rhinos was postponed, due to the flooding at World Wide Technology Soccer Park. The match will be rescheduled for a later date. My night won't be a waste, though, as I will be a volunteer at the Greater St. Louis Book Fair (, going on this weekend at the Greensfelder Recreation Complex of Queeny County Park in west St. Louis County. I've been a volunteer the past few years, and this time I'll be a cashier. Proceeds from the Book Fair--a large used book sale--go to various education and literacy programs in Metro St. Louis. Hope to see you there!

Also due to the flooding, my refereeing assignment for tomorrow at World Wide Technology Soccer Park is cancelled. I may try to get a make up assignment for that day, or I may help with cutting the back lawn.


30 April 2017

Wet Days Lately

One week ago tonight (23 April) found me at Fox High School in Arnold, where I officiated three youth soccer matches. I had a girls match in the middle to start the set. It was a physical affair and I issued a caution to each team, but the match stayed in reasonable control. The other two matches went well.

Work has gone well, starting with a busy Monday morning as usual. I did flex out Tuesday afternoon (25 April), since I would be in the following Saturday morning.

I hosted this month's IPMS/Gateway ( business meeting. We had five of us club officers there as we planned next month's general meeting and discussed some other club business. I bought some beer for the meeting, but only one bottle was taken (by me). At least we have some for the next few weeks at home.

After work Wednesday night, I headed to the Wehrenberg Des Peres 14 Cine ( for the TCM Big Screen Classics ( presentation of the 1967 classic "The Graduate." It was my first time seeing this in a theater, and there were about 20 of us watching that night. Despite a glitch where the video of the introduction and start of the opening credits was absent (the audio was loud and clear), it was great seeing this film in a restored print.

By the way, that Wednesday at work was the last I saw of Lauren, who is now at our branch in Mount Vernon, Illinois. She's a terrific employee and person, and I wish her all the best.

Off work Thursday, I visited my dentist late that morning for my semi-annual check up. No problems were found, and my teeth were nicely cleaned. I ran off some flyers for this September's IPMS/Gateway Invitational, which I took to Schaefer's Hobby Shop ( in Sunset Hills and Checkered Flag Hobby Country ( in Mehlville.

Friday (28 April) was the first day at our branch for our new manager, Cory, who had previously managed the branch down the street in Ballwin. We had a lot of cars on our lot to start the day, many from customers wanting to return their cars before the rains really hit hard. It was a challenge to find space on our lot for the cars until they can be rented or taken out by our traffic drivers, but in the end it worked out. Cory and I were back there yesterday morning. After work, I had lunch at Yiro/Gyro ( down the street from us in Ellisville. I enjoyed a nice gyro with french fries.

It has been raining a lot the past few days here. After getting just over 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) from Tuesday through Friday, we were soaked with 2.1 inches (5.3 cm) yesterday. The rain kept falling overnight and into today. The soccer matches I was scheduled to referee tonight were called off due to all this rain.