We were attending a White Collar Crime Conference at the University of the West of England Campus that was next to the hotel. Fascinating talks by some excellent speakers.
While I was in Las Vegas at a Computer Security Conference recently, I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Jim Feist. He treated me to lunch at Kojo’s at the Orleans. I had been introduced to him by my co-author David Lesperance.
Jim is an American Institution. He is a famous ‘capper, or handicapper … what on this side of the pond we call a tipster … but on a grand scale. He studies the ‘form’ of various sports, and then packages and sells his tips … very successfully. He is the principal panelist on Proline, America’s premier handicapping television show on the USA Cable Network.
Now just in his seventies, Jim started hustling pool at the age of fourteen. Meeting him was like coming face to face with a Damon Runyon character, relocated from New York to Vegas. Rumour has it that he was the model for the Al Pacino character, Walter Abrams, in the 2005 film Two for the Money, co-starring Mathew McConaughey.
Personally I don’t see it. Jim was charming, great to talk to, full of fascinating anecdotes, not a hint of cynicism, and he shared his encyclopaedic knowledge of Vegas freely … nothing like the manic Walter.
I’ve just returned from the Aspire conference in Krakow: “Acting Local, Winning Global 2014”. As usual Andrew Hallam put together a marvellous team of speakers, and the conference is going from strength to strength. This is a picture of me standing on the stage of the magnificent Slowacki Theatre pontificating about Smart Cities – Krakow being an exemplar.
Memories are made of this. A photograph of the Royal Holloway College Rugby team, 1969-1970. It was sent to me by team member Bob Shafee – front row, third from the left. I’m the short-arse in the back row, fourth from the left. In those days I had a lot more hair, and I was about six-stone lighter. Bob was an undergraduate studying Maths and Computer Science, I was a post-grad in the Computing and Statistics Department.
Tuesday 18th March. Visited my good friends Andrew and Kay Hallam for an excellent lunch at their home in Tadley. Ostensibly we were meeting to arrange my presentation at the upcoming Aspire conference in Krakow in May. In reality it was a great opportunity for a friendly chat and to catch up. We hadn’t met since Christmas dinner in the Beijing Restaurant in Addlestone … I don’t count Skype calls as meeting.
Andrew is a founding member and President of Aspire – the Association of IT and Business Process Services Companies in Poland. Kay of course is the President of Andrew.
March 1st 2014. Just returned from a fabulous three weeks in Costa Rica with my wife Mary. We travelled to five different lodges: El Silencio, Arenal Nayara, Hotel Borinquen, Dantica Lodge, Lapa Rios. All were of the highest quality, the rooms palatial, the food fantastic, and the staff polite, efficient and extremely helpful. Nothing was too much trouble. I can recommend this country as a great place for a break. I shall be going back at the first opportunity.
We went with a list of ‘must see’ wildlife. Toucans, Scarlet Macaws, Humming Birds, Tanagers, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, Motmots, Jacamars, Iguanas, Armadillos, Tree frogs, Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Coatis, Caiman, bats. On and on. We saw them all. On a three hour boat trip on Caño Negro we saw more wildlife than on a three week cruise up the Amazon.
Top of my list was the Quetzal. I’ve known about this fabulous bird since my schooldays. That was why we choose to spend three days at Dantica Lodge. We got up at 4.45am and were on the road at 5.50am with our brilliant guide Carlos. Dashing up and down the valley we, and about thirty other ‘twitchers’, were lucky enough to catch a ten minute sighting.