Vacation Photos

January 20th, 2008 by matt

So less than a week ago, I was still on vacation. Granted, I was flying between AZ and NJ, hoping the nor’easter coming into the East Coast would not mess up any of my flights, but I had yet to return to the UK. Allow me to give you a the nickel tour of my nice 10 days off in back in the homeland:

  1. A trip to New Jersey – I got to spend some time with Carolyn and her family in New Jersey. It was also my first real chance to assist in the wedding planning. So I saw a lot of the malls of New Jersey and got to sample delicious cake and see where the wedding will be. I was happy to be a part of it, but I’m a terrible shopper, so it could be exhausting at times 🙂
  2. Lots of flying. I flew from London -> Newark. Then four days later, I flew from Newark->Tucson via Phoenix. A short 5 days later, I was back on a plane from Tucson->Newark. 12 hours after that, it was back to London again. In a 24 hours period, I was on 4+ hour flights, 1.5 hours on a train and various time on buses and in cars. But it was alllll worth it.
  3. Some fun in Arizona. There was still a wedding component to it, but I was able to take a little timeout and relax after a crazy year. I swam, hiked, took in the beauty of the desert, golfed and got to see this wonderful new home my parents built. And my sister came down for a visit as well which was nice since I hadn’t seen her in a year (sniffle).

There’s the quick tour. Here are some photos:


Since I missed Christmas with family this year (not to say that Dina and Adrian weren’t saints for helping me through a nasty flu), I got a nice welcome back to the US with lots of Christmas. Both the Hysons and Badanes’ kept their Christmas decorations up for me and I got a Christmas dinner from the Hysons. This is Linda and Jim wearing the crowns you get out of those Christmas popper things.


I’m very impressed with Tucson. It is obviously a very dry place, but the geography is diverse, rugged  and mountainous. My parents look out on an 8000 foot mountain, which gets snow in the winter. There are crazy passes that look out over canyons and go up into areas with skiing. And the saguaro’s are everywhere, creating a forest of cacti. This picture doesn’t quite capture that forest, but it is nice nonetheless. It was taken a wild 15 minute drive from my parents place on some cool-ass roads.


This is my parents new place. That long bank of windows in the middle is the kitchen and living room. To the left is the master bedroom area. To the right (out of this photo) are the guest rooms/lisa and my bedrooms. It’s a wonderful house. They built it from scratch (I was there about a year ago when it was in progress), but it was nice to see the mostly finished product. They did some really nice things to it and made it a high-quality, comfortable place to be.


I forgot how easy it is to eat like shit (and eat a lot of it) in the US. However, I couldn’t resist in some situations. Like the above meal I had with Lisa before she headed back home for Arizona. That’d be Jack’s Barbecue – a pork sandwich and fries. Yummy.

Chicago News

January 19th, 2008 by matt

I’m back in England again and just getting back into the flow of things. I’ll be posting some stuff over the next few days. In the meantime, here’s some Chicago news for you:

  1. Looks like calling Cook County Hospital (where ER takes place) Stroger Hospital is no longer so creepy. The man they named it after, former Cook Country Board President John Stroger, died yesterday. He suffered a stroke a few days before a hotly contested primary almost 2 years ago in which his family used some shameful tactics to have his son put in his place.
  2. After many years of political bullshit, the Illinois legislature has actually passed a funding bill that’ll stop the CTA (local public transit) from whinging every year or two about not having enough money. I bitched about this late last year when they yet again dodged a doomsday situation.

Desert Golf

January 12th, 2008 by matt

So, my parents are retired or in the process of retiring. They’ve moved to a lovely house in Arizona with magnificent views of the desert. Since this is Arizona, they have to play golf, right? Well, here’s a golf course about 10 minutes from their house:


As a fun family outing, we decided to give 18 holes a shot. Personally, I play golf once or twice every couple of years. And, while it’s probably not the best use of water in the desert, it can be a fun and relaxing way to spend a few hours. They’re usually very nicely laid out and you spend the time walking around or tooling around in a golf cart (which is fun). But I suck at golf. I can get a few decent shots off now and then, but I am completely inconsistent and have a nasty slice. I lost a crap-ton of balls into the desert on this course. Still, here’s evidence of me playing 🙂


(Oh jeez, that’s the same hole — and here I was hoping to give you a different view — here’s looking back at the 18th hole)


My dad is the best golfer in my family. But my mom is learning and now that they have the time, they should see their games improving. My sister is a hack like me although she should feel free to contest that description in the comments 😛

Morning in Arizona

January 10th, 2008 by matt

Well, let’s try to get things started back up with a view in my parents backyard.


I woke up nice and early and watched the sun coming up over that mountain range. They basically live in a forest of cacti. Very nice. I might need a number of posts to show off this really nice house.

Prior to that, I was in New Jersey having fun doing prep for my upcoming wedding. Carolyn and her mom have been doing an amazing amount of work on this, so I just showed up for some mall trips and tasting cakes (mmmm). I was able to make a quick trip into NYC to see some folks as well. Then I hopped a couple of planes to Arizona where I’m taking in the beauty that is the Arizona desert. More to come!

Busy Busy Busy

January 7th, 2008 by matt

Sorry for the radio silence. I’m in New Jersey and I’ve been spending heaps o’ time getting wedding related things done. I’m flying to Arizona tomorrow and hopefully, I’ll have some more downtime whilst I there to provide some entertaining updates. In the meantime, talk amongst yerselves or something.

First Post of the New Year

January 1st, 2008 by matt

I figured I should start the new year out with a blog posting since it’s been exactly a year since I first posted something on in it and, in three days, since I publicly told anyone I’d be making a trip to England. It’s been a long and busy year. Let’s hope the adventures don’t stop 🙂

I’ll be making a US trip in 2 days. I’ll be in New Jersey to see Carolyn for a few days and then off to Arizona to see my parents in their new environment and my sister. It’ll be a much needed break.

As a result, I was in the UK for the whole of the holidays. Considering how hectic London is during the bulk of the year (7 million people in a single city makes it a little crowded), this was a ghost town the last week. My commute, short as it normally is, was absurd. The roads were empty, the buses were empty, the office was empty. Alas, I was sick, so all the work I planned on catching up on became ‘This needs to be done yesterday’ again. But it’s been nice and relaxing to have everyone off on holidays. And now I get to flee before it gets to crazy again. I’ll post more once I’m stateside!

Oh yeah, if you’re in NYC on 5 January (it’s a Saturday), lemme know as I’m hoping to spend the evening in the city.