Fun flights to London

February 25th, 2007 by matt

So I’m back in London. It wasn’t exactly easy, but I’m back. Let me preface this by saying that I’m pretty lucky to have made it out of town at all. My flight was scheduled for Saturday around 8pm. Everyone had been predicting snow, rain and ice from Friday night onward. But Saturday dawned overcast, but still none of the bad stuff. I spent the day doing all sorts of errands just getting ready for the trip. Carolyn came by to drive me to the airport and still nothing. But, the second we got into the car, down came the ice. And it kept getting progressively worse.

I arrived to the airport, said goodbye to Carolyn (sniffle) and found that my flight was still on time. I met up with my boss, Andrew, and we went to the terminal. The plane boarded nicely and on time. But outside, the wind was swirling and ice was sticking to the plane. And then, miracles of miracles, the de-icers showed up. I don’t know if you have seen a de-icing vehicle but it’s basically a cherry picker with a hose in the basket (which is often covered) that spews some freaky colored chemicals. One of the de-icers didn’t have cover for the poor guy in the cherry picker. He looked really miserable.

They needed to do three passes over the plane to get it nice and clear of the ice. And then we got to experience what it’s like for a Boeing 777 to back out of a space onto runways covered with snow and ice. And then taking off on an icy runway. But we got into the air without a problem. That pilot has to have nerves of steel for that takeoff.

I figured the rest of the flight would be smooth but then came dinner. As soon as everyone had their food and drinks the plane hit some nasty ass turbulence. It was bad enough that the pilot called out to the flight attendants to get themselves to a seatΒ  immediately and we all sat gasping for about ten minutes whilst trying not to get all our food and drink spilled on us as the plane bumped and dropped and shuddered.

Anyway, with all that fun, we managed to only be an hour late, which seems to be kind of normal for the long haul flights, even with good weather. The news is mentioned many flights at O’hare being canceled, but I get the impression that the international flights don’t get canceled unless the airport is closed outright.

Now I’m in London in a swanky place. I’ll post pictures later. I’m good and jetlagged but need to make it through dinner before passing out. I’ll also post pics from my going away party, too!

Getting very close!

February 21st, 2007 by matt

So today was a milestone of sorts. It was the day I got the page in my passport with my visa! It means that, after 2/25/2007, I can work in the UK and come and go as I please. It sort of makes this whole thing seem very real. Anyways, my plan at this point is to have a few friends over on Friday to celebrate my departure back to the Old World, wake up the next day and shake off the hangover and pack. Then I’m going back to London for 2 weeks for more work and house hunting. After that, I have a quick two weeks back in the US and, at the end of March, I make the final move. Meanwhile, I’m slowly but surely churning through my list of things to do.

I promise to try to make my next trip to the UK more entertaining from a blogging (god i hate that word) standpoint. Pictures and stuff will be a-plenty! For now, it’s just a lot of busy work and a little bit o’ fun. wheee!

Nothing Exciting

February 10th, 2007 by matt

For the four or five of you who regularly read this, sorry for the lack of any news. Everything is pretty routine right now. Carolyn’s parents are in town and we had a lovely meal at what can only be called either neo-american tapas or dim sum. Tasty stuff.

Anyhoo, I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by all of this. I just try to get something accomplished every day that will get me closer to being able to leave the country on March 5th. I’ve only got 3 weeks to go, which is pretty daunting. So, until I get myself moved, things will probably just consist of “woke up, went to work, did some moving related crap, feeling stressed”. Hopefully, this will be sprinkled with plenty of “hung out with X and did Y for the last time before i leave”. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Just Chillin’ in Chicago

February 6th, 2007 by matt

Nothing exciting to report. I’m back in Chicago doing the work thing. Trying to keep up with the class I’m taking (I’m about a week behind and have an assignment due on Thursday).

It’s absolutely frigid. The river is frozen for the first time in years and there was a nice snow today. And the Bears lost the Super Bowl. That was not a fun game to watch πŸ™‚

At this point, here’s the plan. They would like me to have a start date of March 5th. That gives me a month to take care of a whole lot of things. I’m not going to bother to list them right now. This week, I’m going to finish up my responsibilities for getting my house sold. Then I start the process of getting a work entry visa, packing things up and figuring out what I’ll do with all my furniture (sell, scrap, store, ETC). There’s a calm right now, but it’s going to get very stressful very soon. Oh yeah, and amongst all this fun, I want to try to see everyone I know and love here as much as possible and see all the things I’ve loved about Chicago these past 5 years. And then it’s on to a new adventure in a new country. cool!

Back in the US for a Chicago Super Bowl

February 4th, 2007 by matt

So until we landed, I had a very lovely 8 hour flight home. I had my own row, which meant I could stretch out, read, watch movies and eat the food and drink provided by the nice people of British Airways (who kindly didn’t strike last week). Alas, O’Hare wasn’t exactly running so well and we sat in the plane for 25 minutes whilst we got a gate (what good is getting in on time if they don’t have a parking space for ya?). And, to make it even more fun, it was so cold, the baggage grabbing thingys weren’t working so we sat waiting in customs for 30 more minutes for our bags (and they kindly block cell phone service meaning the kind people who come to pick you up have no idea what’s happening).

But, I’m back in the US, just in time to see what will hopefully be a triumphant Bears Super Bowl win. From what I saw on the car ride home, half the billboards and all the neon sign thingys have something about it. It should be entertaining.

On an unrelated note, I was sad to see that the area I was visiting during my sabbatical decided to resort to violence during a Palermo-Catania soccer match. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. It also explains why Italian stadiums are designed entirely for riot control.

Comin’ Home

February 3rd, 2007 by matt

Well, my time for my first trip to England is over. I hoped to come back massively in debt, but with a nice apartment lined up. However, I had an offer in on a place and it fell through. So, when I make the move for good in March, I’ll have a temporary period of homelessness whist I look for an apartment. Interestingly, it seems as though a lot of places turn over in a week or two, so the pickings weren’t great since there wasn’t a whole lot of places that wanted to wait until March to fill the place. At least a couple of people in my office experienced this too. It all depends on if you get lucky. Anyway, it’s been a fun trip, but I’m excited to come home and see people and get myself ready to make the big move!

Global Warming

February 2nd, 2007 by matt

Perhaps it’s happening over in the US now (who am I kidding? it ain’t happening), but the British government and public have a whole lot of awareness about global warming and the environment. I’m watching the BBC morning news show, which is pretty much as useless as any morning show in the US, but they have a whole series right now where they are tracking a family month-by-month and looking at their carbon footprint. There are billboards and ads everywhere about water conservation and talk about your carbon footprint. And the UK government just increased taxes on flights which is supposed to go into environmental programs.

It’s just interesting to see how a different country is handling the environment.