Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

December 2009

Photography and TravelThursday, December 31st, 2009, (3:15 am)

Leaving the U.S.’s Pacific North West behind I headed off to New Zealand to spend Christmas with my friends Philly and Kerry-anne. This time last year the three of us were on a hectic tour of the North Island, but due to the fact that Kerry-anne is hugely pregnant (I believe the more polite term would be “blooming”) we had a far more sedate itinerary which included a whole lot of nothing, and suited me just fine.

It was a long a torturous flight from L.A to Auckland. My coach class seat was broken and uncomfortable and the woman in the seat ahead of me kept insisting on reclining her seat fully while I tried to eat the unappetizing in-flight meal. She also insisted on pushing her hand luggage and shoes under her seat into the miniscule area where I would be able to stretch my legs if I were five feet tall. In the end I got so fed up with her I took her shoes and hid them a little further down the plane which made for some amusement as we neared the end of the twelve hour flight.

I had a short layover in Auckland before catching my flight down to Wellington. Enough time to slowly stroll from one terminal to the next enjoying the warmth of the summer sun on my face. For an international airport noticing the place felt more like a small airfield as I followed a blue and white painted line along the pathway past grassed areas, a car park, and the main building for ASS, the Airport Security Service.

In Wellington I was met by Philly and Kerry-anne and as we put my luggage in the car and drove to the house it felt like I’d never been away.

Phil and Kerry-anne McGrathTheir was no itinerary for this trip, and no rush to get from one place to the next. When we moved anywhere we moved at a pace slow enough to accommodate Kerry-anne who rather comically waddled like a migrating penguin as she carried their soon to be born first child.

Due on January 14th, baby McGrath is currently measuring three weeks ahead of schedule and Kerry-anne is experiencing ‘Braxton Hicks contractions’ which I’ve now learned is a medical term for false labour.

Not being a parent myself I didn’t really need to hear a lot of the words Phil and Kerry-anne were using in relation to the pregnancy. As much as I love Kerry-anne I don’t need really need to learn anything about her uterus or any of the other bodily functions that become common place for pregnant people to refer to. I would sooner that babies were delivered by UPS and that pregnancy was more like parcel tracking than a nine month scene from the movie Alien.

We spent Christmas with friends Andy and Kate and sat around all afternoon just eating and chatting. On a rainy day we went to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Philly and I went to see the movie Avatar in 3D. All in all we chilled out and enjoyed the calm before Philly & Kerry-anne start their 25-life sentence as their little bundle of joy enters the world.

I also got to spend some time with my friend Yolande from Malaysia who has recently moved to Wellington. We walked around the CBD (Central Business District) and ate good Asian food at a scary little place as we caught up.

I would write more if there was more to write. But in truth my short trip to New Zealand was wonderfully uneventful and fantastically relaxing. Philly and Kerry-anne worried that I would be bored, but quite the opposite was true. It was just great to kick back and spend some good chill-out time with them both knowing that the next time I see them things will be very different indeed.

So with Christmas behind me I boarded a plane to Australia where I will be seeing the New Year in with thousands of other revelers in Sydney where we’ll watch fireworks light up the iconic harbour bridge. I can’t wait!

Have a happy and safe new year everyone!

GeneralThursday, December 24th, 2009, (10:00 am)

I think its a sign of age when you start saying stuff like “Christmas has come around so quickly this year.” As if it were capable of coming around faster that last year.

Sketchy Santas

I found a funny website that you might enjoy spending a few minutes browsing. is a collection of submitted pictures of some sketchy looking Santa’s that have been scaring children over the years. Some of the pictures are hilarious, and as I was looking at them and laughing I started to wonder if it was really okay for me to be laughing at the obvious terror of small children.

Santa is a funny character when you think about it. We teach our young children (and indeed adults) to be deeply fearful and suspicious of “strangers” and never to talk to them. “Strangers” are not to be trusted under any circumstances, yet on this one night a year we tell children that this fat old man is going to break into their home and come into their bedroom while their parents sleep in another room, but this time it’s entirely safe and okay.

Eventually they learn that -spoiler alert!- Santa isn’t real and that in fact the reason why Daddy looked a lot like Santa is because Daddy IS Santa! I can’t remember when or how I learned that Santa wasn’t real. My brother probably told me, or my overly intelectual friend Darryl who likely constructed some convoluted ‘scientific’ experiment with his chemistry set to determine the truth behind Santa’s logistical mastery over Christmas eve.

I wonder though, how does this work for religious people who tell their children that Santa is delivering their gifts? When a religiously indoctrinated child realises that Santa isn’t real do they then start to wonder if Daddy might also be God too?

“Well Johnny, I admit Santa isn’t real, but God really IS real. And this time I mean it, he really is, honestly!”

Anyway, I hope you all have a great Christmas and that ‘Santa,’ whomever he might be, brings you all that you wished for.

See some sketchy Santas at
Funny Christmas decorations

GeneralTuesday, December 22nd, 2009, (10:38 am)

Simon’s top tip for travel: Embrace local ways and customs.

Sarah Palin and the snuggie

When traveling it’s always a rewarding experience to embrace the local culture as much as possible. As you can see in the picture above, here in America’s Pacific North West I have immersed myself in the rich and diverse culture of the United States.

2009 Year of the Snuggie
Video : Snuggie commerical (Yes, this is a real ad on US TV!)
Video : Sarah Palin’s Greatest Hits
Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
The Snuggiesutra

Found on the webWednesday, December 9th, 2009, (6:37 pm)

In the run up to Christmas many of us will end up posing for photographs with family and friends. Back in the old days those old pictures would likely be hidden away in some dusty photo album somewhere. Any embarrassment they could cause was thankfully limited. However, the old days are long since gone and those pictures you hoped would never see the light of day might find a new lease of life on the internet thanks to a hilarious website ‘celebrating’ awkward family photos,

Awkward Family Photo

The website is aptly called and according to the sites founders, Mike Bender and Doug Chernack, it’s intended to be a “communal celebration of awkwardness.”

“It hit us that there was something universal about the awkwardness of family and we thought it be cool to blog about that,” Said Bender. “And what better way to show that than through the family photo, something everyone can relate to?”

The site is very familiar to one which I am itching to make a few submissions to. is another photo submission site this time ‘celebrating’ the geeks of the world.

Since it’s creation in May this year has received many thousands of submissions. Indeed the site has been such a success that a coffee table book of awkward family photo’s is set to be published early next year.

The blog still gets more than 100 submissions a day from all over the world. Below are just a few of the my favorites.

Awkward Family Photo

Awkward Family Photo

Awkward Family Photo

Awkward Family Photo

I haven’t made any submissions to the site (and I’m hoping my family will also resist the temptation to do so!), though I do feel that a good addition would be the picture of President Obama and the First Lady with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, his wife, and their two goth daughters who had never been seen in the media before.

The site is very funny and well worth a visit if you have time. Visit it at
Chronic taste failure
Beyond words