03 August 2022

Vacation in Omaha: IPMS/USA National Convention (2)

Friday morning (22 July), I woke up in the room at the Doubletree Suites that I was sharing with my IPMS/Gateway clubmate Jim Victor. I then walked across the complex to the Bistro at the Marriott for a breakfast meeting of IPMS/USA Regional Coordinators (RCs). Eight of the fourteen RCs were present, including myself as RC-14, and we were joined with IPMS/USA President Dave Lockhart and Director of Local Chapters (DLC) Jeff Neal.

In the meeting, we had a full discussion of various issues affecting the regions and their chapters. These topics included updating chapter information online, what constitutes a Regional contest, and ways to increase efficiency in model contest entries and results reporting. It was great being part of this group within IPMS/USA. After this meeting, I headed to the La Vista Conference Center next door for Day Three of the IPMS/USA National Convention.

At the Convention, I browsed among the contest entries, which were filling up the tables in the Model Room, and among the vendors in the Vendor Room. I made a few small purchases from the latter.

That afternoon, I attended a seminar given by Michael Jones of Sprue Brothers Models, who spoke about his experiences during Operation El Dorado Canyon on 15 April 1986. At the times, Jones was an Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) in an EF-111 Raven that accompanied the F-111s that attacked targets in Tripoli, Libya from bases in Great Britain. It was rather fascinating to get the perspective of an EWO on this mission, when we usually get that from the crews that dropped the bombs. After Jones' talk, I went to the Squadron stand in the Vendor Room and purchased the F-111 Aardvark in action book. I then took it to the Sprue Brothers stand for Jones to sign it on a picture of the Raven he flew during El Dorado Canyon.

After dinner, I joined other contest judges in the Model Room for the briefing before judging began. We received our instructions for judging the models, and saw judges being recognized for service milestones (such as for three years, 10 years, and 20 years). Then, I gathered with other aircraft judges to get my team and category assignments from the head aircraft judge. My team did a category with 24 entries, and it took us about 2.5 hours to evaluate all the entries and determine the top three finishers. After that, I enjoyed a snack of cookies and soda before waiting about an hour until all aircraft were judged. We then looked over candidates for the Best Aircraft from the top First Place finishers in their respective categories. After that, my night was done and I headed to my room to sleep.

Saturday morning (23 July) after breakfast with some of my IPMS/Gateway clubmates at the Embassy Suites, I checked out of my room and put my luggage in the car. Then, it was back to the Convention. I sat in at the National Business Meeting, where the executive board (e-board) of IPMS/USA reported on the Society's operations in the past year and looking forward to next year. Overall, IPMS/USA is in good shape.

Following this meeting, the e-board listened to bid presentations for groups seeking to host the 2024 National Convention. There was only one bid, and this came from Madison, Wisconsin. It certainly looked like an excellent bid from where I sat. After these meetings, I made a last pass through the Model and Vendor Rooms. 

I hosted a Region 14 Business Meeting in the afternoon, but only a few members showed up. It was a nice time, though, bringing the attendees up to date on what I learned from the RC and National Business Meetings.

After a light dinner, I filed into a meeting room to witness a livestream of the closing ceremony that came after the banquet. Unfortunately, the stream didn't work as it should, so I ended up going to the banquet hall to see for myself. I missed the opening remarks and National Honors but took in all that followed. The 2023 National Convention hosts from San Marcos, Texas made their presentation to invite all to come down there next year. Then, the Madison group made its presentation for 2024.

Announcements of the contest results came next. I heard they had 2808 entries--the third-most in IPMS/USA history. My IPMS/Gateway clubmate Rick Keasey won four category awards: A First Place in Figures, two Seconds in Dioramas, and a Third in Collections. He also won a theme Award--The American Soldier--for his bust of a soldier on D-Day. 

One of the Aircraft entries was the big winner.  A scratch-built Friedrichshafen FF.60 (an experimental German floatplane of World War I) not only won its category, but also Best Aircraft, Best World War I Aircraft, Popular Best of Show (by vote of attendees), and Judges Grand Award as best model of the entire contest. Absolutely incredible work.

This ceremony ended the Convention and most of us filed into the Contest Room to congratulate the winners and to pack up our entries. After making the rounds with my congratulations (including the hosts from IPMS/Fort Crook), I packed up my entries and put them in the car. Then, I stayed to help Keasey with taking his entries to this truck. With that done, I departed La Vista just before Midnight to begin the drive home.

The cruise control on the Toyota Corolla I rented from Enterprise sure came in handy on the long drive home. I made a few short stops to get snacks, refuel the car, and to take a cat nap before arriving home just after 8:30 am. My road trip covered 892.9 miles (1437 km) in all. After unpacking at home, I took a good rest. I was tired, but most happy about this vacation.


Websites of Entities Mentioned in This Post:
2022 IPMS/USA National Convention: IPMS 2022 (ipmsusa2022.com)
IPMS/Fort Crook: Fort Crook IPMS/USA


27 July 2022

Vacation in Omaha: IPMS/USA National Convention (1)

Last week, I went on vacation, starting that Tuesday (19 July). Early the next morning, I drove in a rented Corolla to Omaha, Nebraska, site of this year's International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention. After approximately 6.5 hours of driving, I arrived at the La Vista Conference Center just west of Omaha, site of the Convention.

I walked into the facility, got my convention packet, entered my three contest models, and began making the rounds. My three entries were an aircraft (1:48 scale A6M2 Zero), which I had just completed early that week, an armor (1:72 155mm M2 Gun), and a ship (1:720 USS Alabama).

I browsed around the Model Room, admiring the contest entries so far. Then, walking through the lobby, I received a free penlight from Sprue Brothers Models as a gift for being a loyal customer. There were two Vendor Rooms that I visited, checking out the various vendors. Along the way, I said hello to fellow IPMS members I knew and vendors at their stands.

Late that afternoon, I checked into the Marriott connected to the Conference Center. I roomed with an IPMS member from Iowa, Mike Halliday, who had an opening for that night. We got along very nicely.

Thursday morning (21 July), the first full day of the Convention, I packed my bags as I would be staying at the adjacent Embassy Suites the rest of the week. At the Convention, I took in some seminars that morning. One was by my friend Mike Mackowski on the history and modeling of lifting bodies and single stage to orbit space craft. Mike presented some highly interesting information on this topic. That was followed by one where several hobby industry people took questions from the audience on how they dealt with inflation and supply chain issues.

After grabbing lunch from a concession kiosk at the Conference Center, I viewed the Contest and Vendor rooms and chatted with others I knew or heard of that were in attendance. In mid-afternoon, I checked into the room I was sharing at the Embassy Suites with my IPMS/Gateway mate Jim Victor. The accommodations in Omaha were superb.

Thursday night, I joined other Convention attendees on a tour of the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. We went by chartered bus to the museum, which was closed to the public but open for our group. Attendees browsed among the aircraft and other exhibits on display, then enjoyed a buffet dinner in a display hangar among several aircraft. That dinner--barbecue pork sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, cookies, iced tea or lemonade--somehow tasted better in the museum and among fellow IPMS members. It was a fun time going around the exhibits and even going into a few aircraft on display. Our group then got on the bus and returned to La Vista.

More on this Convention in my next post.


Websites of Entities Mentioned in This Post:

IPMS/USA: IPMS/USA Home Page | By Modelers... For Modelers (ipmsusa.org)

2022 IPMS/USA National Convention: IPMS 2022 (ipmsusa2022.com)

La Vista Conference Center: Embassy Suites Omaha-La Vista/Hotel & Conference Center (hilton.com)

IPMS/Gateway: IPMS Gateway Chapter (google.com)

Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (sacmuseum.org)



23 June 2022

Helping at Circus Flora: "The Quest for the Innkeeper's Cask"

This season, Circus Flora's show is "The Quest for the Innkeeper's Cask," which began its run on 9 June and will last until 3 July. The story has the circus troupe going through St. Louis' underground caves searching for a ghost innkeeper who has been causing mischief in town.

I report to work one hour before the show begins to put on my volunteer apron and button, before cleaning the seats. Just before the house opens 30 minutes before showtime, me and the other volunteers get our briefing from house manager Harald Boerstler before assuming our positions. We act as ushers helping the audience find their seats.

When the show begins at approximately 7:00 pm, I find a seat in the mezzanine to watch the performance. There is a 15-minute intermission midway through the show, and the volunteers help the audience members as needed in leaving and then returning to their seats before the second act begins.

The last act is a flying trapeze routine, and I help the ring crew by sitting near one of the safety net supports. This is so any audience members that may walk by there don't get tripped up by the cable. The ring crew takes down the net right after the company leaves the ring, and then the audience safely leaves the tent. The show ends after approximately two hours. After the audience leaves, I and the other volunteers pick up any trash left near the seats and dispose of it before checking out.

"The Quest for the Innkeeper's Cask" has a variety of acts, including equestrian artists Caleb Carinci-Asch and Lea Innocenti; The Flying Cortes trapeze act; The Flying Wallendas high wire act; featured performers Britt Lower and Ambrose Martos; Russian Cradle act Sam Renaud and Louis Joyal; The St. Louis Arches acrobats; and Trio Black Diamond, who perform trio hand balance equilibrium and duo antipode (foot juggling). Cecil McKinnon plays Yo-Yo the Storyteller and there is a five-piece band performing throughout the show.

We had about 180 attendees at last night's show, and they all enjoyed the event. Seeing these people leave the Big Top in such a good mood makes my work worthwhile.

I have one more volunteer shift scheduled for this season, this coming Wednesday night (29 June). Hope to see you there.


Websites of Entities Mentioned in This Post:


05 June 2022

Cheering on Fire & Ice in 2022 WPSL Action

This afternoon, I drove to Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville, Illinois. Fire & Ice WPSL, a team in the Women's Premier Soccer League, was hosting Central Illinois United in Fire & Ice's second match of the season. (Last night, Fire & Ice defeated Iowa Raptors FC 4-1 at home.) I came by myself, wearing a St. Louligans shirt and carrying a Fire & Ice scarf commemorating their 2017 WPSL Championship.

I found a seat in the grandstand about 15 minutes before kickoff. From the get-go, Fire & Ice had the run of play, constantly attacking Central Illinois United. These efforts paid off with two first half goals and the home side led 2-0 at the interval.

The second half saw more of the same, with Fire & Ice scoring again six minutes into the half. A fourth goal later on iced the 4-0 win, and Fire & Ice was 2-0 on the season.

Just after the game ended, I stayed for a few minutes showing my support for them by raising my Fire & Ice scarf in salute as the players walked off the field.

Fire & Ice is on the road next weekend for two games, then play their two remaining home games on the 18th and 19th of June. They are worth your support.


Links to Entities Mentioned in this Post:

Althoff Catholic High School: Althoff Catholic | Belleville, IL
Central Illinois United: Central Illinois United

30 May 2022

Memorial Day Weekend 2022

After a busy Friday (27 May) at work, I came home for dinner with my mother and relaxed at home. The next morning, I cut the front and back lawns, then relaxed at home until late afternoon, when I left for Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Town and Country. They were hosting the annual St. Louis County Greek Fest this weekend. This year, it was only a drive through food ordering and pickup, so I placed my order and came back a while later to pick up my dinner: Pastitsio and Karithopita. They were tasty.

I ate that while driving to the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood for Art Outside, a festival it was hosting this past weekend. I bought a can of Schlafly's Dortmunder, a lager beer, and browsed among booths staffed by various area artists offering paintings, sculptures, jewelry, housewares, and leather goods for sale. A cover band was performing rhythm & blues classics for the crowd. It was a nice event to attend.


Home on Sunday morning (29 May), I watched the Grand Prix of Monaco on TV, then the pre-race coverage of the Indianapolis 500. I could not watch the race itself, as I had to be at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton. The final day of the Gateway Memorial Classic, a youth soccer tournament jointly hosted by St. Louis Scott Gallagher and Lou Fusz Athletic clubs was yesterday. I was assigned to officiate two finals in the under-11 age group. In my first match, I was in the middle for a girls group final, which went well. After a nice break, my crew did a boy's match with me on a line. That also worked out well. The only thing bad about that match was the heat--it got up to 85 degrees F (29 degrees C) but felt about 10 degrees warmer on the artificial turf field.

After that match, I got home and quickly took a shower and changed clothes before driving to Bartolino's South Italian Restaurant in Greek Park. Our neighbor, Ed Reinhardt, was moving to a senior residence in Texas, and his daughter Jill threw a dinner in his honor. My mom was already there, along with Reinhardt's son Ed and his wife, Ralph and Charleen Sartori, and a few other friends of Reinhardt. It was a very tasty dinner with some enjoyable conversation.

Today, I chilled out at home, except for taking mom out to Walmart to buy some groceries. We stopped at Steak n Shake to get lunch before coming home. I spent time after lunch restoring the headlights on my Toyota Corolla, which had yellowed over time. After about 45 minutes of work using a restoration kit from 3M, my headlights are much better looking. More importantly, the headlights will be more effective with a clear lens.


Back at work tomorrow morning. It will be a busy morning for sure.


Websites of Entities Mentioned in This Post:
St. Louis Scott Gallagher Tournaments--Gateway Memorial Classic: St. Louis Scott Gallagher — Club Soccer in Saint Louis (slsgsoccer.com)

24 April 2022

Fleacon 2022--Road Trip to Monticello

Just after 4:00 am yesterday (23 April), I left home for the long drive to Monticello, Iowa. I was attending Fleacon 18, the annual model contest and vendor swap meet held by the Alexander Lippisch Chapter of the International Plastic Modelers' Society (IPMS). After brief stops for fuel and refreshments, I arrived at the show site, the Monticello Berndes Center, just after 9:30 am.

After paying my registration fee, I waited for my name to be called to the judging area. This show's contest used teams of two judges who evaluated each entry against a set of standards for construction and finish. After the models were judged, their builders would place them on the contest tables for their respective categories. After about one hour, my name was called, and my three models were judged. I entered a 1:720 scale USS Alabama battleship in Ships and two 1:72 scale aircraft: an I-16 Type 18 and a J-10.

I milled about the Berndes Center, admiring the models on the contest tables and browsing among the vendors. There were 26 tables full of vendors to shop from, and I did buy two aircraft kits that were inexpensive. I also chatted with several vendors, and with the IPMS/Blackhawk Model Builders Society, who were at their first Fleacon as an IPMS/USA chapter.

For lunch, I bought a chicken dressing sandwich and a can of Pepsi from the Center's kitchen. It was satisfying. I had also bought some raffle tickets but did not get lucky with that.


The contest drew 211 entries from 60 entrants (including six juniors). The regular awards were placed by the models prior to the major awards being announced. My I-16 earned a Silver award, while the J-10 and USS Alabama each earned a Bronze. I was happy with how this turned out.

After giving my thanks to the hosts and packing up my gear, I got in my car and started driving home. After a brief stop in downtown Monticello to admire the scenery, and stops for dinner and fuel, I came home around 10:15 pm last night. My journey to Monticello and back covered 653.3 miles (1051.4 km).


Websites of Entities Mentioned in this Post:

IPMS/Alexander Lippisch: Home | Alexander Lippisch Model Club

IPMS/USA: IPMS/USA Home Page | By Modelers... For Modelers (ipmsusa.org)

Monticello Berndes Center: Parks and Recreation (monticello.ia.us)

Blackhawk Model Builders Society: (1) Blackhawk Model Builders Society | Facebook

03 April 2022

2022 Surgicon in Des Moines

After work Friday night (1 April), I got on the road to Hannibal, Missouri. After driving for nearly two hours, I checked into the Motel 6 there for a night stop. (Reservations were made earlier that week on Hotels.com.) Check in at Motel 6 was smooth and I settled in my room for a good night's sleep.

Early the next morning, I checked out and got on the road to Des Moines, Iowa. After a few brief stops for breakfast, fuel, and to stretch my legs, I arrived nearly four hours later at the Euclid Room of Hy-Vee on East Euclid Avenue in Des Moines. This room was the venue for Surgicon 26, the model contest and swap meet hosted by IPMS/Plastic Surgeons. I checked in my two contest models at registration, placed them in their respective contest categories, and began walking around the venue.

I admired the other models entered in the contest, purchased some raffle tickets, shopped among the vendors, and talked with fellow scale modelers I knew (at least via email). Besides representing IPMS/Gateway, I also went in my capacity as IPMS/USA Region 14 Coordinator. Touching base with several chapter contacts from this region and meeting people from these chapters really made this trip worthwhile.

This was my first time in Des Moines and at this show, which had not been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It looked like everyone there was having a good time.

For lunch, I walked over to the buffet section of the Hy-Vee supermarket and got a Chinese meal to go. I ate it in the Euclid Room as the contest judging began. It took over three hours for the judging to be completed, including for the special awards. I did win a few raffle prizes and bought three kits and a cockpit detail set from the vendors.

Additionally, I brought flyers for IPMS/Gateway's Invitational on 10 September and picked up flyers for upcoming shows in the region. Prior to the contest results being announced, I and others were invited to promote upcoming shows like that of IPMS/Gateway and the IPMS/USA National Convention in Omaha this July.

The contest drew 297 entries from 55 entrants. My two ship entries did not win any awards--the competition was too strong--but I wasn't worried about that. Being at the show was what mattered. After the announcements, I packed up my contest models and other gear, thanked the hosts, and got in my car for the drive home. I was tired, but happy to attend this show and see some terrific people.

Not counting stops for dinner and fuel, it was about 5 1/2 hours driving time between Des Moines and St. Louis. I was prepared to make a night stop along the way if I was too tired to drive, but it wasn't a problem and I got home safe and sound late last night. My trip to Surgicon and back covered 706.2 miles (1136.5 km). 

Aside from helping my mom buy groceries this morning, I have been relaxing at home today. Back to work tomorrow morning.


Websites of Entities Mentioned in this Post: