My, it has been an awfully long time since I posted properly...
In Dallas for a security consulting group offsite. Due to the flights being so much cheaper, the big boss in the US said they'd pick up the tab for the extra night's stay so I flew in Saturday evening with Paresh to get a day's sightseeing in.
Saturday evening, we visited the Big Bass Pro shop and Grapevine Mills mall. Main observations:
- Not a pedestrian friendly area - lack of pavements and the pedestrian crossing lights change so quickly there was no way we could get across in time without jogging at least part of the way.
- The Big Bass Pro: one-stop location for all your boat, fishing, hunting, camping and personal weaponry needs. There was a row of enough bows, shotguns, handguns, rifles (and I'm sure I saw what looked like Armalites too) to equip a small army. One of my local colleagues says they have a firing range there where anyone can rock up and hire weapons to fire there. Hmm... could be interesting (mind you, he also said he has a handgun in his car).
- I'm sure there's terminals at Heathrow smaller than either Big Bass Pro and Grapevine Mills. Good thing I came with a half-empty suitcase.
- Also not a vegetarian friendly place
Sunday we headed into Fort Worth to visit the historic Stockyards area. We got there just in time to catch the end of a cattle drive. Needless to say, the area was very touristy but still entertaining. The Cowboy Church was a bit of an eye-opener. Downtown Fort Worth wasn't nearly so interesting so we caught an Amtrak to Dallas (commuter service doesn't run on a Sunday).
As we were running out of time to get back for an informal drinks bash in the evening, we only had time to see Dealey Plaza, the Grassy Knoll and the Sixth Floor Museum. There was also a chap with a big board by the side of the road pointing out key points on the road ("First shot! Second shot! Fatal shot!") and telling everyone where the other snipers had to have been.
The Museum itself, in the old Book Repository, was pretty impressive. As well as the recreation of the sniper nest, there were extensive exhibits of Kennedy's administration, his visit to Dallas and the aftermath of the assasination, including a summary of the common conspiracy theories.
The offsite itself has been pretty enjoyable - met a lot of people I only knew as names on email lists, finally met two of the guys I worked with on the big firewall project last year, even discovered a chap who used to work where I'm currently assigned (with handy insights on people and how things work there) and started working on some of the senior managers that I'd be quite keen on a secondment/assignment in the US next year (particularly in the DC area, after April (aeshna_uk
, did I get that right?)).
Another thing that was quite surprising was that the projects I'd worked on I got highlighted several times (as did I) as major success stories and one of the senior managers I spoke to about the US secondment said that he'd have no hesitation about arranging it based on what he'd heard about me.
That, on top of the highly unexpected 5/5 I got for my last appraisal has left me rather surprised. I can only conclude I should have transferred to enterprise security from the mobile/wireless group much sooner...
Ah well, not flying out till 5.30 local time so we plan on making a group pilgrimage to the local Fry's to do some geek shopping!ETA
Evidence that Dallas/Texas is not designed for pedestrians: the lights for the pedestrian crossings between the hotel and Grapevine Mills changed so quickly that it was impossible to walk across before the lights changed - you pretty much had to jog for at least part of the way!