“I am sorry, could you please repeat that?”

It is not often that something leaves me with my mouth gaping open as I struggle for something to say, but the following quote made by Jack Ablin succeeded.  The BBC news item is titled  ‘Dow industrials hit pre-crash 13,000 landmark’.  Mr Ablin’s astonishing intellect was bought to bear and the remarkable insight that has been reported, is as follows;

“I think it’s a momentous day for investor confidence,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.

“What this number implies is that the financial crisis, that we were all losing sleep over, it never happened because now we’re back.”

I am sure that I heard a collective cheer echoing around the world from the millions of unemployed and homeless who suddenly realised that actually the financial crisis never happened and they can all go back to their previous lives.

Some final considered advice.  If you have any money in Harris Private Bank, it might be a good move to take out as soon as you can before Mr Ablin invests it.

To read the news article click this link.

To leave your thoughts on Jack’s Facebook page you can go here

Or you can read Jack’s bio here

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Costa “Castrated”

First it was the Costa Concordia which had the side ripped out as the captain was “saluting”his friends, now it is the Costa Allegra floating without engines or electricity after a serious fire in the engine room.

The first incident cost the company a fortune in both lost future revenues for this year, passenger compensation and costs and of course the inevitable legal claims that will come.

 I can imagine that the CEO and the other company executives had just begun to regain some degree of sleep after the first farce had slipped from the front pages of the world’s news agencies.

I would have given anything to hear the first words to come from the CEO’s mouth when he answered the call 2 days ago about the Costa Allegra.  I suspect that they may have been something like “you have got to be fucking joking!” as he sat bolt upright from his bed or desk getting to grips with – another of his ships out of action, no refrigeration or air conditioning, no electricity, no entertainment, no cold beer, no engines, passenger compensation, helicopter provisioning flights, elite military squads to repel potential Somali pirates and more front page news than he can deal with.

You can only sympathise with the stakeholders and investors who must all be wondering what they have done to be so thoroughly “fucked by the fickle finger of fate”.

How do you move a blog?

You can move house, move jobs even move country and the process is usually clear and well-defined.  The question this week, is “how do you move a blog?”  I have decided to move this blog to hosted platform and base it on the WordPress.org structure instead of the WordPress.com platform.  Whilst the .com platform is fine and of course it is free, it comes with too many restrictions particularly with the restrictions on the use of widgets.  WordPress as a platform is amazing and the versatility is amazing.  I want to have the freedom to develop this blog.  For example I want to add a separate page that I can post to where I review the hotels and restaurants that I use.  God only knows there is enough of them and I think that is worth sharing with those of you who travel as well.

So the question, “how do you move a blog?”, I think the answer is “relatively easily”, but watch this space in a few days, I might have a different tale to tell.

I am beginning to hate my Blackberry with a passion

I have had a Blackberry Bold for around 2 years now.  I need to be clear that I didn’t buy it, it is a work phone.  In the beginning I was really happy with it because it was a quantum leap forward from my Samsung, which was the most appalling piece of crap I have ever owned.  To be fair, it wasnt any of the newer Samsung smart phones.  It was one of the earlier ones that had the Windows operating systems and I am not suspect that it was more to do with the OS than the phone.

Anyway, when people asked me what I thought of my Blackberry I would wax lyrical, singing its praises.  About the same time I bought an iPhone as a personal phone, so there has been this unintentional comparison developing as I have used the two.

I can now tell you that from my perspective I think the Blackberry is a piece of shit and I can see why RIM is beginning to slowly fade into obscurity.  Here are just some of the challenges.

It updates and reboots in the middle of the night.  Not often, but when it does you need to the sim passwords for it to register once again on the network.  Any calls or sms’s don’t come through. 

Every now and then for no rational reason the alarm fails to go off in the morning – this morning being an example.  Alarm was correctly set for 6.15am, nothing happens.

I travel a lot.  Often it struggles to find which network to sign onto and this usually requires the removal of the battery, reboot and at least 10 minutes boot up time before it signs on.

Calls drop.  You sit in one place, usually the office and part way through the conversation the call drops.

The frustration I feel when I want to just hurl this piece of crap against a brick wall, and I can’t because I would resent having to pay for it even more.

So much for 2012 being a quieter year

At the close of 2011, K & I were reviewing the year and were amazed at how much had happened in 12 short months.  We both agreed that 2012 needed to be slower, with more time for each other and more time to relax and enjoy the things that make this craziness all worthwhile.  Little did I know …………

I am writing this entry on February 20, less than two full months into the year and this is what it currently looks like.

Arrived back from NZ on January 2nd.  Within one week I was in Lausanne for business. Then I have been backwards and forwards to London, again for work, four times.  This weekend K & I went to Antwerp just for time out.  I then have to go to Paris for 4 days in the second week of March for work.  I get back home at 9pm on the Friday night and leave on a flight to NZ at 10.00am the next morning.  I come back from NZ very early April and then I am supposed to be going to Johannesburg and then Dubai in April.  At the end of April there is a long weekend so we are planning to go towards Austria or Switzerland and then at the end of May we are going to Italy for 10 days.  In between all of this there are trips I need to make to London and Milan.

I look at this and think “so much for the quieter year”.

Criminal Fraud – by whose definition?

Over the last week there has been two separate news items about two very separate men, who are linked only by the virtue of them both working in the banking industry.  What differentiates them at this moment is that one is in prison and the other is not.  After reading the two articles it struck me that the only thing that keeps one of them in jail and the other out, is scale, job title and the ability to bullshit, as neither one has seemingly been blessed with a strong business acumen.

So lets look at the hapless bastard who is now in prison and was refused bail this week because of (quote) “the serious allegations backed up with cogent evidence”.  I am of course referring to the UBS trader – Kweku Adoboli.  Kweku’s “crime” is to have lost UBS £1.5bn in alleged unauthorised trading.  Apparently he is accused of doing this to (quote) “try and make personal gain”.

Now lets look at Fred Goodwin, who until this week was better known as Sir Fred Goodwin, who headed RBS bank until it collapsed in 2008.  He has just been stripped of his knighthood that he was given in 2004 for – “services to banking”.  Sir Fred was so adept at providing his services that by 2008 RBS had suffered losses of £24bn and needed a £45bn injection of taxpayers money.  Did Fred provide these services for free or did he do this to “try and make personal gain”?  I will let you come to your own conclusion on that vexing question after ruminating on Fred’s compensation.

 2001: £733,000 salary, £825,000 bonus
2002: £832,000 salary, £1.73m bonus
2003: £898,000 salary, £990,000 bonus
2004: £990,000 salary, £1.5m bonus
2005: £1.09m salary, £1.76m bonus
2006: £1.19m salary, £2.76m bonus
2007: £1.29m salary, £2.86m bonus
2008: £1.3m salary, no bonus awarded

Total: £20.75m

Pension pot: Worth £342,500 per year (although this was cut from £703,000 per year)

So lets go back to my earlier thoughts;

Scale: – £1.5bn loss versus £24bn

Job Title: ‘Trader’ on the Delta one desk versus ‘Chief Executive’ of RBS.

Ability to bullshit: who got a knightedhood for “services to banking”?

Consider the two cases and think about the scale of the respective losses, which situation required a massive injection of taxpayers money and which had the greatest knock on damage to the UK economy and you begin to realise that we all live in a complete fantasy world that would be impossible to dream up without some very serious drugs and you could never sell it as a television series because you would told that your idea was “to far divorced from reality”.

Final thought – ‘Sorry, who is in prison’?

Kumbah Mela – India – 2013. Photography opportunity of a lifetime.

For those of you who read this blog you will know that I have a photography love affair with India. You can see the results of the last couple of trips on my photography website.

I thought it would be worth posting about the trip I am planning next year to the Maha Kumbah Mela in India.  I have wanted to do this for years because as a photography trip and a life experience it will be like no other.  This is the major Hindu festival in India which happens once every 4 years.  This one is special as the Maha Kumbah only happens each 144 years.  This is where all the Sadhu’s in India come together which is like nothing else.  Over the month some 60 million visit this place.  I will be there on the two bathing days that matter, the most important being on Feb 10.  I am also going to have a day and a night in Varanasi because it is an amazing place and then a day and night in Delhi because photographing in the old part of the city is also an amazing experience. 

I am putting together a small group of photographers who want to join this once in a lifetime experience. The catch is that hotel rooms in Allahabad need to be booked now because they will quickly sell out.  My agent is holding a few rooms but I will need to confirm by the middle of February this year.

If anyone is interested, contact me immediately for details.  The trip itinerary is below. 

 

Itinerary :

 

Date Day Itinerary City Hotel

04-Feb

Sat Arrive Delhi, transfer to hotel Delhi Ashtan Sarovar Portico

05-Feb

Sun Fly to Varanasi (SpiceJet SG 116 – 09:35  10:50), arrive Varanasi and transfer to Allahabad (2hrs). Allahabad Kanha Shyam

06-Feb

Mon At the Kumbh Allahabad Kanha Shyam

07-Feb

Tue At the Kumbh Allahabad Kanha Shyam

08-Feb

Wed At the Kumbh Allahabad Kanha Shyam

09-Feb

Thu At the Kumbh Allahabad Kanha Shyam

10-Feb

Fri At the Kumbh Allahabad Kanha Shyam

11-Feb

Sat Drive to Varanasi.  Afternoon sightseeing and prayer ceremony. Varanasi Radisson

12-Feb

Sun Dawn boat ride on the river, sightseeing and fly to Delhi (SpiceJet SG 119 -16:15  17:40). Evening at leisure Delhi Ashtan Sarovar Portico

13-Feb

Mon Delhi sightseeing and fly out End NA