Sunday, 22 June 2008

A Long Weekend of Travel


I drove to Exeter for a meeting of the South-West Regional Branch, and did my "state of the nation" thing. One question concerned the completeness of vision – how all the strands fit together, and how ICT Heads of Profession can develop the appropriate strategy and gain board buy-in, I wasn't able, adequately, to answer, but it's a key issue, I believe, for Socitm to lead on, and is closely linked to some other themes we are developing. I therefore hope to work to ensure I'm better-placed to provide a convincing answer in future!

My journey home took two hours longer than getting there – mainly because of rubber-neckers on the motorway ogling an accident on the opposite carriageway, and causing further minor accidents on our carriageway in the process! Got home at 8.30.


I sacrificed my lay-in with "The Week" to travel to Heathrow for our flight to Philadelphia (Chris travelled with me to join the GMIS Partners'' Programme.) I found that British Airways have found a great way to derive value from technology themselves, while making the passenger experience even worse, if possible! Having done a lot of the Airline's work for them, by booking online, checking-in online and printing our own boarding cards, I found that the baggage-drop queue has become even worse than the former queues for checking-in. In the hour-long snake to deposit bags, you're beset by constant pushing-in, often from people who haven't done the airline a favour by checking-in online, and have just used the self-service check-in terminals, and people who are becoming late for flights that are closing because of the time spent queuing are pulled-out of the snake to go in front of you. As you get to the front of the queue at one end of the drop-off zone, you realise that half the desk-clerks are idle because people at the front of the line can't see that spaces are available, and have to be summoned by Airline staff.

I was too late home to book seats in the emergency exit row, which is always my first choice, so booked two seats alone just in front of the loos. At least we wouldn't have to clamber past other passengers. On boarding the 'plane, it turned-out our two seats were three, after all, and seated next to us was a crazy British guy – Professor David Hircock – en route home to Philadelphia from Perth (Australia) with his family. We struck-up conversation over lunch, and I found that he tours the world to expose, and try ameliorating social injustice. David had a great many harrowing stories of personal encounters with evil and child exploitation –such as two year olds being made to work in underground mines. However, as a representative of the IT profession, I was especially interested in slave labour and exploitation to recover scarce minerals used in the manufacture of computer technology. We agreed, therefore, to start corresponding on the subject, and I will hope to provide regular reports to raise awareness in our profession, and to develop informed, ethical procurement practice.

At Philadelphia, a van containing our luggage, among others', went AWOL, delaying us for about an hour. Chris also got to visit the Customs Supervisor's office, and stood bemused for a dressing-down for not having given her green slip in the last time she visited the country. She should have read the back, which makes clear it's her responsibility, and if she doesn't comply with the conditions of the visa waiver programme, she could be refused entry to the country. I always knew my wife was a serious threat to world peace!

A car and driver had been booked to take us and three other delegates on the hour's journey to the Tropicana Casino Hotel & Resort, in Atlantic City, where the GMIS Conference was to be held. We just had time to get lost in the resort, find our room in the Havana Tower, get lost again, then meet-up with the GMIS Board for dinner in the Red Square Restaurant. A highlight of the evening was dressing in Russian garb – great-coats for the men, and minks for the women – to down shots of vodka in the Ice Room (50 below zero)!


Up reasonably early to have the breakfast we think of as American and always look forward to when visiting the States – pancakes with maple syrup, bacon, egg & grits, then to the Resort's Transportation Centre at 8.00 to meet-up with fellow delegates for a day-out in Philadelphia – the first time I visited the city since I was sixteen! We did a bus tour of the City, of course visited Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, had lunch at the City Tavern, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at Independence Seaport Museum, which is well worth a visit.

Back at the Resort, there was just time for a quick freshen-up before the Conference Reception.

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