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12 August 2017

Pool Time, Busy Work Week, and Family in Town

One week ago Thursday (3 August), on my second off day from work that week (I was also off the day before), I went off to Kennedy Recreation Complex (http://stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation/RecreationComplexes/KennedyRecreationComplex) in south St. Louis County to do some swimming. I haven't done any swimming in the past couple of years, so I was really looking forward to it. I hit the pool, and had no problems--even in the deep end of the pool, which was 13 feet (4 m) deep. I enjoyed my swim there, helped by sunny weather. If only I put on some sunscreen. I sure paid for that in the coming days!


It was back to work the next morning, after an early morning area-wide meeting to review procedures. The rest of the work day went well.

Saturday night (5 August) found me at Smugala's Pizza Pub (http://smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills) in Sunset Hills, where I caught the Pub2Park shuttle bus to Toyota Stadium at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for that night's match between Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) and Swope Park Rangers. I arrived at the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) tailgate to take in the scene, then marched in with them to the stadium for the match. It was fun as usual to sing along with the St. Louligans, but the match ended in a 0-0 draw.




After a calm Sunday at home, it was bright and early at work on Monday (7 August). Due to personnel changes from the previous week--assistant manager Cayla was off to Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com/) and intern Mike left to return to college--I worked all five days a week, 10 hours a day. Yes, it was a lot of work, but at least it wasn't too hot. Things worked out well, even if we were shorthanded. That should change next week, with a new assistant manager on board.

Thursday (10 August), my brother Rick and his daughter (and my goddaughter) Kate came in town for a few days with Mom and I. It was my first time seeing Kate in person and it was very good. This morning--after I got my hair cut at Great Clips (https://www.greatclips.com/)--we all went to the Saint Louis Zoo (https://www.stlzoo.org/). It was my first time there in a few years and we had a fine time there. We then came home and had dinner.





Later

02 August 2017

Going Downtown at the IPMS National Convention

The first two days of last week (24-25 July) were busy ones at the rental branch. Things were challenging at times, but not enough to trouble us and we made sure our customers were well taken care of. At the end of business that Tuesday, I picked up a Nissan Sentra that I would drive on my vacation, which started the next morning.

Early Wednesday (26 July), I headed for Omaha, Nebraska, site of this year's International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention (http://ipmsusa2017.com/). It's slogan was "Going Downtown," harking back to the US air attacks on North Vietnam's capital of Hanoi during the Vietnam War. After arriving in Omaha, I checked in at the convention venue, La Vista Conference Center (http://embassysuites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/nebraska/embassy-suites-by-hilton-omaha-la-vista-hotel-and-conference-center-OMAESES/index.html). I then registered my contest models and placed them in the contest room, and started checking out the vendors at the show. A few people I knew were there and briefly I chatted with them.





Late that afternoon, I checked into the Travel Inn Omaha hotel, which I found on hotels.com (https://www.hotels.com/). It was a rather sparse room, but it was enough for me, since I would hardly spend much time in it. I got dinner at the nearby Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q restaurant (http://www.hogwildpitbbq.com/), then turned in for the night.

There was much to see and do at the convention, including a raffle of model kits. I bought a few tickets on the first day, and they paid off on day two when I won a very nice ship model kit. (I also had won an aircraft kit from one of the vendors, but I missed that and could not claim that prize. Win some, lose some.) I also took in a seminar on using computer programs to catalog your model kit and reference stash. Quite informative.




Thursday night, I joined with other attendees to go by bus to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum (http://sacmuseum.org/) in Ashland. We enjoyed a buffet dinner before checking out the aircraft and other artifacts on display. It was very nice to go through there and see the aircraft up close.



Friday (28 July), I took in a seminar on the F-105 Thunderchief, then saw my old friend from the Scouts, Tom Tokos, an Omaha resident. I showed him around the contest and vendor rooms and he was impressed. Tom told me he did some car models when he was young. We then had lunch and had time to get caught up on our lives before Tom had to leave. It was great seeing him.




There was to have been a tour of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base that day, but that was cancelled when the convention began. I understood it was due to the aircraft that was to be displayed not being able to be at Offutt that day.

That night, I joined with 219 others to judge the model contest. After a briefing by the head judge, I joined with other aircraft judges to get our team and category assignments. I joined with three others--a team head, another experienced judge, and an On the Job Trainee (OJT) rookie--and we set about doing one of the propeller aircraft categories, which had 16 aircraft. It took us about 90 minutes to evaluate the entrees and to determine the three places for awards. I then helped with one of the special awards, for US Navy Vietnam War subjects. I was in the contest room for about 4.5 hours, leaving there about 10:30 pm for my hotel room. There were 2160 contest entries in 199 categories at the contest.

Saturday morning, I did some last viewing of the contest room models and shopping from the vendors. I also took in one more seminar, on little known colors used on US Army and Navy aircraft between the World Wars, which I found most informative. I retired to my hotel room for some rest. Early that night, I returned to the conference center where the banquet was being held. I and others went to an adjoining room to listen to the awards presentation that followed the meal, which included a slide show of the award winning models in each category. A few people I know from the St. Louis area placed in the contest, so I was very happy for them. None of my models placed, but I wasn't too concerned.


Soon after that, I went into the contest room to get my models out of there and to talk to a few people I knew or wanted to know. It was quite a show. An online gallery has been posted for the convention: http://www.ipmsusa3.org/gallery/v/events/2017Nationals/.

I retired for the night at my hotel, then checked out early the next morning and began the drive back to St. Louis. I arrived home in mid-afternoon, and unpacked at home. The next morning (31 July), I returned the Sentra to the Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) and put in my full day of work.

After work yesterday, I went to Mark Twain Hobby Center (http://www.hobby1.com/) in St. Charles for the Mark Twain Model Club meeting, which had a recap of the IPMS Nationals and the World Expo figure show earlier in July in Chicago.

I was off work today and will be tomorrow. My manager asked me to take the extra day off this week so I could work all week (Monday through Friday) next week. We have some personnel changes, with assistant manager Cayla leaving after this Friday to go over to Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com/) in St. Charles.

Later.

23 July 2017

Really Hot Days, Aviation History, and Soccer

This past week at work was a tough one in one sense: the weather. We had a heat wave in the St. Louis area since at least this past Tuesday (18 July), with temperatures topping 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) throughout the week. Yesterday, it hit 108 F (42 C). Making it rougher was the heat index, combining temperature with humidity. That hit as high as 115 F (46 C), and that's most uncomfortable. I needed to take frequent breaks at work, going inside the air conditioned office area to cool down and drink iced Gatorade I bought on the way to work at QuikTrip (https://www.quiktrip.com/). Fortunately, my colleagues at the branch understood this need of mine. Despite the heat, we got things done well.

Right after work Tuesday night, it was off to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) meeting. We were open early, due to this being our annual Slam Fest, in which we had two hours to assemble and finish a model kit. I took a 1:144 scale F-14 Tomcat kit and got it done in about 1 hour 45 minutes. Mine was one of six models completed and judged by a popular vote of meeting attendees. Mine did not get into the top three for prizes (hobby shop gift certificates), but it was not a bad effort under the circumstances.


Off work Thursday (20 July), I had my annual physical examination. Everything checked out fine. I then treated myself to an iced beverage from Starbucks (https://www.starbucks.com/).

That night, I was at Creve Coeur Airport (http://crevecoeurairport.com/) for this month's Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) meeting. Our guest speaker, Doug (Vasilchin) Kennedy, spoke about flying the F-111 in combat missions late in the Vietnam War. A video about the F-111 and some information on the aircraft's development--including escape pods built in St. Louis by McDonnell Aircraft, later McDonnell Douglas--were also presented.


I had been working on a model to enter at this week's IPMS/USA National Convention (http://www.ipmsusa2017.com/) in Omaha; however, problems that developed during decaling Saturday morning caused me to not complete it in time for this show. I'll work on it for IPMS/Gateway's September contest. I did make rental car and hotel reservations for the trip, but need to confirm with my travel mate regarding his coming along.

Late Saturday morning, it was back to Creve Coeur Airport for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society's annual member barbecue. It was a very nice turnout of members and guests and we enjoyed a good lunch. This event was livened up by the visit of two World War II era fighter aircraft making a fuel stop here. They were a P-51D Mustang and a P-63 Kingcobra, both of the Commemorative Air Force (https://commemorativeairforce.org/) Dixie Wing (http://dixiewing.org/) based near Atlanta. The aircraft were on their way to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for this week's EAA AirVenture. I and others in our Society got to meet the pilot and to walk around the Mustang and Kingcobra before they departed for their next stop. I then went back to the barbecue lunch.




That night, I was at Toyota Stadium of Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for the Kings Cup darby match between Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) and Louisville City FC. The two teams played to a scoreless draw in Louisville at the season's beginning. I joined in the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) tailgate, which was visited by the Coopers, supporters of Louisville City. We raised over $1800 for the Greater St. Louis Food Bank, which helps needy people.

The match itself started off well, with Saint Louis scoring just before halftime. However, a Saint Louis player was sent off early in the second half for a vicious foul on an opponent (at least the screen shot I saw this morning looked vicious to me), and Louisville City took charge. The visitors ran off 4-1 winners.


Stayed home today. Working tomorrow and Tuesday, then it off to Omaha for the IPMS Nationals. Going Downtown. More on that next time.

Later

16 July 2017

Work in High Heat, and Meetings with Friends

Working with my colleagues, I do my part at the rental branch to make sure we exceed customer expectations. We ended a good first full week of July with a good showing.

One week ago (9 July), I went to the Starbucks (https://www.starbucks.com/) in Fenton for coffee and conversation with my friend and Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) colleague Melissa Needles. She was a management trainee at the Ellisville branch two years ago; now, she works in field support at our corporate headquarters. Mel and I spent a nice time getting caught up on things. She also brought the dog she and her boyfriend have to the outdoor table we were at. Such a nice dog.

Back to work the next day, and the whole week was a challenge. Not so much due to customers, but to the heat and humidity this past week. By midweek, we hit 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), with heat indexes reaching up to 110 degrees F (43 degrees C). It was a challenge to stay capable under those conditions, but I followed common sense by taking short breaks inside the air conditioned lobby and sipping Gatorade thirst quencher--which I bought in the morning at Quick Trip (https://www.quiktrip.com/) on the way to work--between car cleanings.

Right after work that Monday, I headed to Dado's Cafe (https://www.dados-cafe.com/) in south St. Louis for dinner with the Ethnic Restaurant Fans Meetup group (https://www.meetup.com/Ethnic-Restaurant-Fans/). Six of us had wonderful conversation and enjoyed very delicious Greek cuisine. I went with The Big Fat Greek Combo Platter: Pastitio, dolmades, and spanakopita, with Greek salad. Very nice and I highly recommend the place.


I did flex out Tuesday afternoon (11 July), as I would be working the following Saturday morning. That was most welcome with the heat. I did rest at home and did a little work on a model on my workbench.

Off Thursday, I did my annual eye exam at Crown Vision Center (https://crownvisioncenter.com/) in Tesson Ferry. The optometrist said my eyes were fine, but I did pass on new glasses. The spectacles I got one year ago were fine (apart from having to repair en eye frame) and I didn't want to spend money on new glasses. I then treated myself to a coffee beverage at the nearby Saint Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html/).

That night, I went to a happy hour at Corner Pub & Grill (http://www.cornerpubandgrill.com/) in Chesterfield, which was put on by our area manager. It was for the Enterprise branches in our area for a great June. It was nice to hang out with my colleagues and enjoy some beer and appetizers.

After work yesterday morning (15 July), I got home to work a bit on my model, then got ready for soccer. I first drove to Smugala's Pizza Pub (http://smugalas.com/smugalassunsethills) in Sunset Hills, where I enjoyed a beer before boarding the Pub2Park shuttle bus for Toyota Stadium in Fenton. There, I joined with the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) in their tailgate before marching into the stadium with them for Saint Louis FC's (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) against Charleston Battery, the top team in the Eastern Conference of the United Soccer League (http://www.uslsoccer.com/).

It was a hard fought match played before a packed crowd, but Saint Louis FC prevailed, by one goal to nil. It should have been 2-0, but an apparent goal was called off due to a foul. Still, a great effort by the home side and we St. Louligans were so happy.


Today, I spent time getting my model ready for the main painting, which will start tonight. I also met my long-time friend from school, Tim Popp, at Rich & Charlie's (http://www.richandcharlies.com/south-county/index.php) in South County for beer and conversation. Tim's in town for a while, commuting here for a his work part of the month. It was nice as always to get caught up with him.


Later.

06 July 2017

Quiet Independence Day For Me

Friday morning (30 June) was payday, so it was off to Krispy Kreme (http://krispykreme.com/) in Fenton for a dozen doughnuts to take to the branch. It was quite busy that day for us, with the holiday weekend upon us, but we got things taken care of very well.

This past weekend was rather quiet for me. I did not feel like going out at all, but I did work on a model I have on my workbench now. It's Trumpeter's 1:72 scale JH-7A Flying Leopard. It's coming along well and I hope to have this done in time to take to Omaha for the IPMS/USA National Convention (http://www.ipmsusa2017.com/) later this month.


I watched some movies and other programs on TV during the weekend, including a few videos I had.

Back to work Monday, we had a rather busy morning, though not quite as hectic as most Mondays. I guess with Independence Day the next day, not as many people wanted or needed to run before then, or had done so the previous weekend. Still, there was plenty of work for me to take care of during that day.

Off on Tuesday (4 July), I spent it at home, mostly watching TV. That night, my mother and I saw my brother Brian drum for Melissa Etheridge (https://melissaetheridge.com/) when she played with the Boston Pops Orchestra (https://www.bso.org/) on their annual 4th of July concert on Boston's Esplanade. Brian had texted me early that night that the show would be telecast on Bloomberg, so I was able to record it on the DVR and for Mom and I to watch Etheridge's three-song set live. That was quite a show, in front of about 500,000 people that night.

Back to Work the next day, it was rather busy. Not easy working with the high humidity of the place, but frequent sips of Gatorade--which I bought at QuikTrip (https://www.quiktrip.com/) on the way to work--and short breaks in the lobby helped.

Right after work, I was off to Worldwide Technology Soccer Park for the match between Saint Louis FC (http://saintlouisfc.com/landing/index) and Rochester Rhinos. This was the match that was scheduled for 6 May, but postponed due to flooding at the Soccer Park that time. I joined up with the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/) just before kick off and joined in the chanting. The match ended in a 0-0 draw, as Saint Louis FC had few chances against a good Rochester club. Fortunately, Saint Louis' goalkeeper kept them in the match.



Just after getting home from the match, I proofread Leonora Gregory-Collura's column for the new issue of Naturally Autistic magazine (https://www.naturallyautistic.com/) and sent it back to her. That--and a piece her husband Charlie Collura sent me to proofread the day before--were the last items for this new issue, which is out soon.

Off work today, I did my laundry and some personal matters. This included checking on messages I sent out Tuesday night to some of my contacts on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/feed/). I asked them to look over my profile and make some suggestions on improving it as I seek a full time position in public relations or publishing. I gave them until the end of July, taking into account vacations they may take, but already got a few bits of feedback. A few items I am already putting into practice. I will await hearing back from others before making further improvements to my LinkedIn profile.

Tonight, my mom and I went to Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken (https://www.leesfamousrecipe.com/) in Arnold for dinner. Today, I'm told, is National Fried Chicken Day, and the chicken we had was delicious. We then shopped at a couple of places in Arnold before coming home.

Later.


29 June 2017

Circus Flora, Pride Parade, Festa Junina--and My Car Has a New Bumper

Last Saturday night (24 June), I volunteered once more for Circus Flora (http://circusflora.org/), on the next to last night of this year's run. I served as an usher for the performance of "Time Flies," which drew a nice crowd for a Saturday night. After turning in my volunteer apron and badge, I told the house manager, Harald Boerstler, how much I enjoyed helping out for the fourth year, and he greatly appreciated my help again this year. I added that God willing, I will be back as a volunteer in 2018.



I was in downtown St. Louis late the next morning, assembling with other Enterprise Holdings (https://www.enterpriseholdings.com/en/index.html) employees and family members to march in the St. Louis Pride Fest Parade (https://pridestl.org/). About 400 of us, joined by three cars from Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com/) and a truck from Enterprise Truck Rental (https://www.enterprise.com/en/trucks.html), walked the parade west on Market Street. A very good crowd lined the parade route and cheered us and the other parade participants. This was a sunny day, but not too hot and humid. It was such a good thing for me to do, knowing some Lesbian-Bisexual-Gay-Transgendered (LBGT) people I have run across in my life.



Right after the parade, I headed to the Kirkwood Community Center (http://www.kirkwoodmo.org/content/City-Departments/1856/community-center.aspx) to help out at Festa Junina, a Brazilian folk festival presented by Viva Brasil STL (http://www.e.vivabrasilstl.org/). I was put to work clearing dining tables as guests finished eating, and being able to step in where and when needed. I was able to walk around the rest of the festival, which included food and drink booths, information on Viva Brasil STL and its Portuguese language classes, children's game booths, a photo booth, and Quadrilha (square dancing). Right after the Festa ended, I helped to tear down the tables and booths and to clean up the center. It was a lot of fun to take part in this event.



Back to work Monday morning (26 June), it was busy for me most of the day. This was not easy with the heat and humidity we had this week. Still, I did my best to help our branch exceed customer expectations.

Midday Tuesday, the Dave Sinclair Ford Body Shop (http://www.davesinclairford.com/bodyshop/index.htm) called me to say my Corolla's rear bumper was replaced and that my car was ready for me to pick up. I was able to get off work a bit early to drive from Ellisville to Mehlville, dropped off the Ford F-150 pickup loaner vehicle by Enterprise's satellite office at Dave Sinclair, then went to the body shop. There, I settled my account with them, dropped off the pickup's keys, and drove off in my Corolla. It was nice having the F-150 for a few days, but I really like having my regular car again.

After that, I drove to Bill Wagner's house in Oakville for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) business meeting. I was first to arrive, well in advance of everyone, and Bill and I talked while he started grilling pork steaks for dinner. Those of us attending the meeting enjoyed the dinner before we got down to business. We planned next month's general meeting and discussed other club business.

Off work today, I did my laundry and mowed the front lawn. I bought some doughnuts at Krispy Kreme (http://krispykreme.com/), then took them to the Enterprise branch in Mehlville. It was to thank them for doing such a great job on my recent rental, and to thank Kevin, the branch manager, who I knew when he was at Ellisville with me. I then got my hair cut at Great Clips https://www.greatclips.com/).

Later.