|Virtual reality sex
It had to happen. Casanovas can now practice their seduction skills on a computer screen when an electronic playmate like a real woman goes on selective sale. The Adult Tamagotchi is charming and passionate but she can also be capricious. For example, she wont do a striptease if offered cheap chocolates or withered flowers. The Italian manufacturers say the amazing product will be on sale first in countries where men find it difficult to date the local women because of cultural taboos or shyness. Pattaya does not appear on the first two thousand planned destination outlets.
Have a break
A local man has met his Creator sooner than expected after a furious argument with his wife. She had been seeing other males on the side to improve her meagre standard of living, but her husband became suspicious after friends reported she had been leaving a tip at European steak houses. The husband then accosted his wife, struck her with the butt of a hunting rifle which then blew his head off.
New TV channels
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I am happily married with a three-year-old daughter and Ive just discovered Im expecting another baby. I am thrilled, but my problem is my brother and his wife has been trying for a baby for years. Theyve been having fertility treatment and are due back at the hospital for another consultation soon. Do I wait and hope the treatment is successful before writing them my news? Or would it be worse if the treatment doesnt work I have to tell then? I want everyone to be happy for me, but instead Ive started feeling guilty about the whole thing.
Dear Caring Sister,
Infertility is a terrible blow for some couples, but just like any other blow in life, it has to be faced. Somehow your sister in law has to come to terms with your news. If she cant, Im afraid thats her loss, not yours. Obviously it would be very insensitive to make a song and dance about it, but I dont think you should wait any longer before making your announcement. Write your brother and his wife a note explaining how anxious you feel for them and how you hate to rub salt in the wound. Say you hope they can be happy for you, then leave it at that. Theres really no reason for you to feel guilty.
When I was 16 I had a crush on a boy at my school back home. I hadnt seen or spoken to him until I met him recently at a party of the company my husband works for. I was quite shocked to see him again and more that he also lives in Thailand now. Now, I just cant stop thinking about him. He is also married and lives in Bangkok but the chance of running into him again, is there. Why do I keep dreaming about this man? My old crush has returned and I cant understand it. I AM happily married; I DO love my husband and shouldnt be feeling that way.
Dear Old Crush,
Life would be so simple if we just fell in love, got married and never had a moment yearning for anyone else. Unfortunately, human nature isnt like that - I suspect there are few happily married people who could claim never to have been tempted by fantasies about someone else. It isnt a sin to be tempted - but youre only heading for trouble if you try to act on your temptations. Concentrate on your marriage. Remind yourself how lucky you are. Your longings will fade again in time - theyre no threat to your happiness unless you allow them to be.
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Modern Medicine: Stitches
Presented by Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital
by Dr. Iain Corness
There are very few people in the world who have not had a cut which required suturing (the fancy medical name for "stitches"). If you have had an operation then undoubtedly you have been "sewn up" as well.
It was many years ago, in the era of "barber surgeons", that the medical fraternity found that cuts healed better if the edges were held together for a number of days. In the days when cutlass wounds were common, this was an astounding breakthrough! The materials used were just simple cotton and sail makers needles, and though rough and ready, did the job.
The next major step forward was the invention of anaesthetics. This truly revolutionized surgery. Up till then the best surgeon was the quickest surgeon! There was a famous Dr Pott who could remove an injured foot and seal off the main arteries (by immersing the stump in boiling pitch) in under 15 seconds! If you had to have your foot amputated you called for Dr Pott - after all, you only had to bite on the bullet for 15 seconds! Dr Pott also lent his name to a particular fracture of the ankle so he lives on in history with "Potts Fracture".
But back to sewing people up. With anaesthetics becoming available (and need I say it, very popular!) it was possible for the doctors to spend some time to get the wound edges together. This, then, became the object of the exercise, rather than getting in as many cobbly stitches as you could before the patient sat up and hit you!
The suture materials became more sophisticated as well, with absorbable sutures being used in deeper layers and artificial threads coming into vogue for external suturing.
The next major step was to produce suture materials which were joined on to the needles - no longer did the poor old surgeon have to thread impossibly small needles with very fine monofilament nylon, for example.
In the last few years has come the next step - adhesives. These were initially adhesive strips used to pull the skin edges together, but now there is even "instant" glue available to try to bring the wound together without any "foreign body" stitches being used at all.
However, when you have got a nice gaping bloody wound, dont try the "Araldite" but cover the wound with cloth, apply pressure and elevate if possible, then go and see your friendly doctor who can decide which method should be used to treat your injury!
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Family Money: A Pension Revisited
By Leslie Wright
Neil was upset with his financial advisor. "He should have helped me plan my pension better," he told me. "Now Im going to have to rethink my retirement planning all over again!"
The reason why Neil was so upset is because he feels he had been lulled into a false sense of security by that advisor, whom he had trusted to give him the best advice, and which he now feels he didnt receive.
"He just sold me a savings plan," he complained. "He never told me what I really needed."
This is what transpired, and a story I hear all too often.
Wants versus Needs
When Neil reached his fortieth birthday, he realised he was about halfway through his working life, but hadnt made any arrangements for funding his retirement. So he went to a local financial services firm for advice on setting up a pension plan.
They asked him what he could comfortably afford, and recommended a savings plan for him at that figure, which he signed up for. That was five years ago.
This so-called offshore pension plan will mature on his sixtieth birthday, so has another 15 years to run.
Then some months ago Neil read the article in this column on retirement planning, and that started him wondering whether the scheme he had bought some years earlier would in fact be adequate to provide for his familys comfortable retirement.
He considered contacting me, "just to set my mind at ease," as he later told me, but was too busy at the time transferring his business from Bangkok to Pattaya, so this idea got put on the back burner and later slipped his mind.
Recently, however, the subject of pension planning came up in the course of conversation with a friend, who was enthusiastically describing how I had helped him plan for his retirement by using a sophisticated computer program to work out just how much he needed to put aside to build a pension fund.
This friend told Neil that "the figure came as a bit of a shock, and more than I can really afford right now, but I couldnt argue with the numbers because clearly thats what I need to save if Im going to have enough to retire on comfortably."
On hearing this Neil decided hed better contact me to see whether the offshore pension plan hed bought five years ago was sufficient, or not.
"Better to get the bad news out of the way now, while I can still do something about it, than leave it till Im due to retire, when itll be too late!" he told me when we met a few days later.
The Factors List
As I told Neil, in order to plan for your retirement properly, several factors have to be taken into account.
First, at what age do you plan to retire? Then, in which country do you plan to live, and what is the likely long-term inflation figure in that country?
Third, how much in todays money will you need each month to maintain your lifestyle in your chosen location? Then, how long are you likely to live? Also, if you have a much younger wife, will consideration have to be given to supporting your family for a lengthy period after you die; and if so, for how long?
The remaining factor (other than expected growth of the underlying investments) is how old you are now, and is in fact the only one about which no assumptions have to be made. All the others are more or less guesswork.
Living in Pattaya is considerably cheaper than living in Sydney, London or San Francisco. However, the long-term inflation figure in Thailand has been and will probably continue to be considerably higher than in Australia, the U.K. or the United States.
People are living longer now than they did in our grandparents generation, and it is likely that Neil will see his 80th birthday, and possibly later ones, according to the latest actuarial figures. His parents are both still alive, and in their seventies; his grandparents also lived into their 70s, but all died before reaching 80.
His wife is Thai, 10 years younger than he is, and she may see her 80th birthday as well. (In general, women tend to live longer than men, although the average life expectancy of Thais is less than that of most Europeans.)
Neil thinks he will remain in Thailand after he stops working, and wants to ensure his retirement fund will provide for his wife until she is 80.
In todays terms, Neil thinks his family can live comfortably on the equivalent of US$1,000 a month, and he considers 10% as a reasonable long-term inflation figure for Thailand.
"The Government admits its been at least that for a number of years, and I dont see it coming down to much less than that figure," he told me.
Moment of Truth
Now we had all the pertinent data based on reasonable assumptions, we could feed these numbers into the computer and see approximately how much Neil will need to save over the next 15 years to provide for his family over the following 30 years (bearing in mind that his wife is now only 35, that Neil wants to retire in 15 years time at age 60, and although he expects to live for another 20 years, he also wants to provide for his wife until shes 80.)
To provide for 30 years income of $1,000 a month in todays money from only 15 years contributions and indexing this against 10% inflation, it would be extremely na´ve to expect to have to contribute less than $1,000 a month into his retirement fund - but that is of course what had happened.
Neil (and many others Ive met over the years) have somehow imagined that putting two or three hundred dollars a month into offshore funds for a few years would miraculously produce them "a pension" of almost unlimited scope, forgetting that the average long-term growth of a medium-risk portfolio of offshore funds is about 10% per annum in US$ terms.
(It is worth considering, incidentally, that this compares very favourably with growth in US$ bank deposits at around 5-6% and U.S. inflation at around 3%.)
But with inflation at 10%, average long-term growth of such a portfolio of offshore funds is only just keeping pace with inflation.
(Critics may therefore say that it would be better to keep their money in Thai Baht deposits earning up to 17% in some local banks, and I shant bother to explain for the 17th time that the currency risk has to be taken into consideration, which offsets this enticing interest rate by a disproportionate amount. Risk has to be weighed against return, and a number of clients now regret not having followed this advice last year...)
The computer told us that if Neil wants to retire at 60, he will need to have built up the substantial capital sum of $1,440,000 by 2013 to provide a pension equivalent to only $1,000 a month in 1998 money for himself and his wife until she reaches 80.
It is somewhat horrifying to note that if inflation were to continue compounding at 10% p.a., when Neil retires in 2013 his required monthly pension of $1,000 in 1998 money will have inflated to $4,177 and by the time his wife reaches her 80th birthday in the year 2042 this figure will have grown to $66,264! I know this sounds ridiculous, but thats the harsh and very real effect of inflation, folks. (Or the miracle of compounding growth, depending on your point of view.)
To build this capital using one of the better long-term offshore savings plans on the market today (which permits escalating contributions each year to offset inflation and keep pace with increasing income), Neil would have to contribute just under US$2,100 a month to start with, and increase this by 10% each year over the next 15 years, assuming the underlying investment funds grow at an average annual growth of 10% p.a.
(In practice, of course, in some years offshore investment funds do much better than that, and in some years worse, but 10% is a reasonable and provable long-term figure for a medium-risk portfolio. Also, even in the bad years, Neil will be benefiting from the principle of dollar-cost averaging whereby hes acquiring a lot more cheap units in poor-performing years, and less expensive ones in the better years, meaning he ends up paying an average price for his units, and his plan will do a good job for him in the long term no matter what the markets do in the short term.)
Neil would have contributed a total of just under $800,000 into his pension fund over the next 15 years, from which he and his wife would draw down a total of over $8 million in the course of the following 30 years. A very good return, I think.
Sacrifice now or later
Neils first reaction was, "This is horrible! I cant afford to save this much each month!"
I fully expected this, because it comes as a shock to most people when faced for the first time with just how much capital is really required to provide for a comfortable retirement.
And few financial advisors will take the risk of telling them, for fear of losing the client.
The answer I gave Neil was that now we know how much medicine is required to make you better, we can start you off on the number of pills you can afford, and increase the dosage as time goes by.
Yes, it may be a bitter pill you have to swallow. Yes, some sacrifices will be called for. But at least we now have a diagnosis of the problem, and a prescription for the future. You have the choice between making some changes now, to enable you to build a meaningful retirement fund, or making even more painful sacrifices when you retire with not enough capital to live comfortably for the rest of your lives.
After hed studied the figures carefully, Neil muttered, "I wish my other advisor had shown me these figures five years ago instead of just signing me up for the figure I wanted to save then."
He was absolutely right. Hed have had an extra five years in which to make some small sacrifices which would have paid off immensely in the long run.
As an academic exercise, I ran the program again, just to see what the difference would have been had we met 5 years earlier.
Making the same assumptions, Neil would have had to contribute only $1,560 a month at the start (instead of $2,100), and would have contributed a total over 20 years of just over $1 million into his pension fund, from which he and his wife would draw down a massive $13.2 million during their retirement years.
More for less
But in fact even this was misleading, because the drawdown figure 5 years ago would not have been $1,000 (taking 10% inflation into account going backwards as well as forwards), but only $683.
We therefore ran the program again, using this corrected figure.
The result was that had Neil started a properly structured retirement funding program five years ago, based on his requiring a pension of $683 a month in 1993 money to live on, hed have needed to contribute only $1,070 a month into the program to start with - less than half what he now needs to contribute to achieve the same result.
This brings home the cost of delay in harsh and no uncertain terms.
Over the 20 years between 1993 and 2012 he would have contributed a total of only $735,000 (as opposed to nearly $800,000 as he now will have to feed into the same plan.) From this he could have expected to draw down a total of just over $9 million, compared with a bit more than $8 million from the plan he is starting now, five years late. He would have got far more for far less if his retirement planning had been done better, earlier.
And this is why he was so upset when he first came to see me. At least now he is content that he has made proper provision for his familys long-term financial security. Have you?
If you have any comments or queries on this article, or about other topics concerning investment matters, write to Leslie Wright, c/o Family Money, Pattaya Mail, or fax him directly on (038) 232522 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firms website on www.westminsterthailand.com.
Leslie Wright is Managing Director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd., a firm of independent financial advisors providing advice to expatriate residents of the Eastern Seaboard on personal financial planning and international investments.
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Health & Nutrition Facts: Food Additives
by Laura Zubrod,
When people hear the term "food additives" they tend to think of complex chemical compounds that are harmful to eat. Food additives play an important role in todays food supply. Additives are used to increase nutritional value, to maintain the freshness and safety of food, in food preparation and processing, and for enhancing the flavor and appeal of foods. Food additives keep bread from molding, prevent salad dressing and peanut butter from separating, keep cured meats safe to eat, give margarine its yellow color, and improve the nutritional value of biscuits, pasta, flour, and cereals.
Although you probably would not consider them additives, sugar, salt, and corn syrup are among the most common. By definition, a food additive is a component added to food to affect its characteristics. Food additives are not something new. Our ancestors used salt to preserve meats and fish, herbs and spices to improve flavor, sugar to preserve fruit, and vinegar to pickle foods. With improved technology, we have increased the use of food additives. Today more than 2,800 substances are used as food additives.
Food additives in the United States and Europe are extensively tested and regulated. As with all foods in your diet, moderation is the key to enjoying a safe and healthful diet. Some additives could be potentially harmful in excess. Saccharine can cause cancer in laboratory rats and salt has been linked to high blood pressure. Typically the more processing a food undergoes, the more additives it contains. Eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, lean meat and poultry, and low-fat dairy foods is a nutritious diet that is low in fat, sodium, and sugar, and high in fiber. This type of diet allows you to enjoy the benefits of food additives. Some individuals may be sensitive to certain additives and need to avoid them. Such additives may include aspartame, MSG, sulfites, and food colorings.
Additives used to increase the nutritional value of food include fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The word "enriched" on food labels means nutrients that were lost during processing are added back in. "Fortified" means nutrients not present in the food are added to enhance the nutritional quality. Enriched or fortified foods include bread, cereal, flour, margarine, milk, pasta, rice, and salt. Due to enrichment and fortification practices in the last 75 years, nutritional deficiency diseases are no longer common.
Food additives, called preservatives, slow the process of spoilage and keep foods fresh and safe to eat. Tocopererols (vitamin E) are found in vegetable oils and salad dressings to prevent them from becoming rancid. Calcium propionate is produced naturally in Swiss cheese and is used to keep bread and other baked foods from getting moldy. Sodium nitrite is used to preserve processed meats such as ham, sausages, and luncheon meats. It also contributes to the flavor and pink color of processed meats.
Many additives are used in food processing to maintain quality. We find emulsifiers that keep peanut butter from separating. Thickeners and stabilizers such as pectin and gelatin give food a uniform texture-they keep ice cream smooth and creamy. Many fat- or calorie-reduced foods have vegetable gums: xanthan gum guar, locust bean, and carrageenan. Vegetable gums improve texture, viscosity, or stability. Anti-caking agents such as calcium silicate keep baking powder, salt, sugar, and seasonings from clumping. Baking soda, baking powder, and yeast are additives used to make dough rise.
Colorings, flavorings, flavor enhancers, and sweeteners are added to foods to enhance eating enjoyment. Food colors can restore foods to their original color, ensure a uniform color, help protect flavor and light-sensitive vitamins, and give an attractive appearance. Salt and MSG are added to canned foods, processed meats, sauces, soups, and many other foods to enhance the natural flavors of the food. Sweeteners like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, and sorbitol add a sweet flavor, add to texture and mouth feel, work as browning agents, and may be used as preservatives.
Modern methods of agriculture, food processing, biotechnology, and transportation work together to bring us fresh and safe food. Knowing about additives is important but the focus should be on the foods themselves. Choosing the best foods to fuel your body means low-fat, high-fiber, whole-grain, vitamin-rich and a balance between fresh and processed foods.
Readers may write Laura care of the Pattaya Mail with questions or special topics they would like to see addressed.
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