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Family Money: Brits & the Tax Man (Part 2)

By Leslie Wright

Last week we started looking at how living overseas can mitigate but not eliminate British expatriates’ liability to UK tax.

Many British expats will have taken out single-premium offshore insurance bonds (OIBs), since these are more tax-efficient than offshore unit trusts should the capital be drawn down onshore.

One method the UK Internal Revenue Department (IRD) uses to calculate the tax liability on these investments is called ‘top-slicing’.

Top-Slicing

Top-slicing is applied only to sums drawn down from OIBs that have been “bed-&-breakfasted” onshore. That is, been brought onshore by selling the offshore bond and consolidating the capital gain into a new bond with the provider’s onshore sister company.

This is usually a no-cost exercise, but must be done at least one day before you land to take up permanent UK residence again.

The way top-slicing works is shown in the following example:

A client invests a lump-sum investment into an offshore insurance bond (OIB). After some years he returns to UK, and substitutes the offshore bond for an onshore one.

Effectively, all offshore tax-free growth is converted into a ‘new’ onshore bond.

The onshore bond invests into onshore funds, which have tax deducted at source. The Inland Revenue then regards base-rate tax to have been paid on the onshore bond, and relieves the holder of this liability. When after some further years’ growth the holder draws down his accumulated capital, the Inland Revenue decides whether any further tax should be paid, depending on the holder’s income in the year of draw down, combined with the bond’s onshore growth divided by the number of years onshore it has been held.

Example A:

Let us assume that, upon substitution onshore, the bond’s value was ฃ20,000. After a further 5 years’ growth, it is now worth ฃ32,500.

The averaged annual growth is therefore ฃ12,500 ๗ 5 = ฃ2,500 p.a.

If the bondholder now wishes to redeem the full value of the bond, this figure is added to the current year’s income, and if the total is below the marginal threshold (currently ฃ29,400), then no further tax will be due.

Example B:

On the other hand, if the bondholder’s current-year’s income already equals or exceeds this marginal threshold, and he still wishes to redeem the full value of his onshore bond, he will have a tax liability of 18% of the full growth value - this being the difference between his marginal tax-rate (40%) and base-rate (22%), since the Inland Revenue will regard the base-rate tax to have been paid in full at source.

This amounts to 18% of ฃ3,100 = ฃ558.

Example C:

The third scenario is when the bondholder’s current-year’s income is marginally below the threshold - say, ฃ28,150.

Adding to this figure the averaged annual growth of the bond in our example will take him above the (current) ฃ29,400 threshold.

However, half of that growth - ฃ1,250 - will be below the threshold, and half above it.

So, for tax calculation purposes, the Inland Revenue will apply the differential marginal rate (18%) to the 50% of the growth above the threshold, and the bondholder will be relieved of liability on the other 50% which falls below the threshold.

In our example, therefore, our bondholder will have to pay tax @ 18% on only 50% (the “top slice”) of ฃ12,500 = ฃ1,125.

Obviously, a bondholder who intends to draw down all of his capital should plan to do so in a year of relatively low income.

Tax Deferment

The tax situation becomes a little more complex for onshore bondholders who plan to draw down regular or irregular amounts.

Under current legislation you are allowed to draw down 5% of the original capital (i.e., the substituted value - which in our example would be 5% of ฃ20,000 = ฃ1,000) per annum with tax deferred for 20 years or until drawn down in full (when it would be anticipated that tax thresholds would be higher, and therefore may escape tax altogether - but may not, and in addition, may leave a nasty liability to your estate should you die within that period). This allowance may be carried forward if no drawdowns are taken.

A rather complex formula is applied by the Inland Revenue to amounts in excess of 5% (which we needn’t concern ourselves with here) to determine the tax liability on such withdrawals.

Bear in mind that offshore unit trusts can neither be bed-&-breakfasted nor have top-slicing applied to them; they are therefore not tax-efficient in the way that an offshore insurance bond potentially is. Indeed, an onshore resident is liable to CGT on the full capital gain.

However, it must also be borne in mind that once an offshore bond has been ‘bed-&-breakfasted’ onshore, the underlying funds will be taxed at source (and therefore enjoy less growth than if the bond had remained offshore); and further, it can never be re-substituted offshore again.

Also, there is no guarantee that the current favourable tax treatment of onshore insurance bonds will continue indefinitely.

Thus, if an investor has held an offshore bond for only a relatively short period (and thus accumulated comparatively little growth), or is unsure whether he will remain in UK permanently after returning onshore, he may well be better off in the long run keeping the bond offshore, and paying income tax (which would be applicable at the full marginal rate) on the draw downs as he takes them onshore, while continuing to enjoy tax-free growth on the offshore bond - or, should he return abroad, draw down the capital and/or growth in a low-tax regime.

Common Questions

Q: The 5% tax deferred withdrawal facility runs for 20 years. When do the 20 years start - from policy inception or the first withdrawal date?

A: Inception.

Q: If one takes, say 8% in one year, having taken the full 5% in previous years, is the tax charge on the full 8% or the 3% over the 5%?

A: 3% over the 5%. The 5% is cumulative as is the withdrawal. So if your bond is in its 4th year and you have withdrawn 5% + 5% + 8% (which totals 18% of the premiums), then in year 3 you will have been taxed on 3% and in year 4, 5% is available.

Q: Are you able to ‘roll-over’ the 5%’s if you don’t take them - and if so, how far can you roll? Is it just over the next year or can the roll-overs go on indefinitely if you don’t take them?

A: They accumulate indefinitely. But remember the relief is only a temporary (deferred) relief: on final encashment or death the whole thing unwinds.

Q: Why are OIBs issued as a cluster of 10 or 20 sub-policies rather than just one?

A: Because the full encashment of a sub-policy is given preferential treatment by the IRD compared with the partial encashment of a whole policy, which has to go through the tax-assessment exercises discussed earlier. This is most clearly demonstrated by way of the following example:

Example 1a

Fred sets up an offshore insurance bond (OIB) with ฃ50,000, clustered into 10 sub-policies.

Two years later his policy is worth ฃ55,000, but he needs ฃ11,000 towards a house purchase. He therefore encashes two of his sub-policies, each worth (happily) ฃ5,500. His taxable gain is ฃ11,000 (proceeds) minus ฃ10,000 (allocated premium) = ฃ1,000.

Example 1b

Joe sets up a similar ฃ50,000 OIB, which is not clustered.

Two years later his policy is also worth ฃ55,000, from which he withdraws ฃ11,000 towards a similar house purchase.

Joe can apply his 5% p.a. allowances to reduce his tax liability, so 5% of ฃ50,000 = ฃ2,500 x 2 (two policy years) = ฃ5,000 allowance against ฃ11,000 withdrawal = ฃ6,000 of taxable income.

Thus although the two cases are identical in all respects other than the clustered structuring of the respective bonds, the potential tax liability differs greatly: Joe has a potential tax liability on ฃ6,000 vs. Fred’s potential liability on only ฃ1,000.

Q: Does the 5% allowance run on policy years or tax years?

A: Policy years to the policy anniversary.

Q: Is the sole onus on the client to report withdrawals to the IRD?

A: Basically, yes. However, all UK insurance companies (both onshore and offshore) are required to report to the IRD any withdrawals over ฃ500 taken by an onshore resident (assumed from the mailing address the provider has on record). They will send you a copy of the reporting form, which you use to complete your end-of-year tax assessment form.

Next week: Inheritance tax

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. If you have any comments or queries on this article, or about other topics concerning investment matters, contact Leslie directly by fax on (038) 232522 or e-mail [email protected] Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firm’s website on www.westminsterthailand.com

Editor’s note: Leslie sometimes receives e-mails to which he is unable to respond due to the sender’s automatic return address being incorrect. If you have sent him an e-mail to which you have not received a reply, this may be why. To ensure his prompt response to your enquiry, please include your complete return e-mail address, or a contact phone/fax number.

Successfully Yours: Ron Hall

By Mirin MacCarthy

Quietly spoken, affable Englishman, Ron Hall, one of the partners in the Pig and Whistle Pub, is the definition of a self-made, forward thinking businessman. He staked his future by being one of the first people to realize the future potential of microwave ovens in the commercial market back in the late 60’s.

Ron was born in London to a family of four sisters and brothers; he never really knew his father who died when Ron was two. “I was just five years old when war broke out. We were war time babies and spent the time running from house to house as we were bombed out,” Ron reminisced. “Funnily enough as kids we thought it was exciting, especially when the school was bombed and we thought we wouldn’t have to go.”

A good student, Ron went to grammar school where he excelled at maths and English and had wanted to become a journalist. “It was a closed profession in those days though, you only got in if you knew someone.” So what did he do? “I’ve only ever had three jobs in my life. The first was a junior clerk with H.J. Heinz for two years that gave me a background on running an office. I joined the forces at 18 because then there was National Service and you were paid 28 shillings a week or ten shillings more if you joined the colours. I signed on for three years and four years as a reserve.”

When he left the forces Ron worked for a company in the radio and TV trade. He became a tape recorder and video engineer and got into designing. In 1963 he started his own company, but it was in the late 60’s when Ron read one or two technical articles on experimental Phillips microwaves and realized their potential. “I became interested mainly because of my technical background. It was exciting to learn things about a product that could cook food in a fraction of the time and cost less to run. I was one of the first people to experiment with commercial microwaves in the U.K.”

Ron even taught himself to cook to better understand the new technology. In 1978, experiments completed, he changed his company name and direction to RJ Hall Microwave Company, manufacturing, distributing and exporting all types of commercial catering equipment. They manufactured their own range of commercial microwaves under the brand name Maestrowave in 1982 and first displayed it to the general public the following year. Ron’s U.K. company, which is still operating very successfully (now being run by his son), sells more commercial microwaves than any other company in the U.K. One of his fastest selling models is actually manufactured in Thailand.

So how does this microwave man come across Thailand? Ron’s first visit was twenty years ago when he won an incentive trip from a Japanese electronic company. He fell in love with Thailand then and came back several times a year afterwards. He was married with two children but when his wife died six years ago began spending more time out here. He met his Thai wife Yuwadee in 1997 and two years ago retired here, built a beautiful house in Jomtien and passed the business over to his son in the U.K.

Ron is not all work and no play though, he played football on a semi pro basis until he was 48. He was a county champion darts player and won many trophies for clay pigeon shooting.

He was looking for an interest over here and heard that Bob Adams was looking for a partner in the Pig and Whistle. “It is a proper English Pub with a great atmosphere and good, plentiful British grub. I thought it could benefit by business and accounts management; it turned out very well. The three partners like each other and it’s very sociable.”

Success to Ron means, “When you can turn round and say I enjoyed my life and can look to the future and can continue to enjoy it. It is important to look back and realize that nothing was ever that bad, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. Being able to look at yourself and say I like myself, that is important, except if you have bad judgement,” he laughed.

Ron considers honesty to be the most important personal value. “I really believe honesty in dealing with people is tops and honesty with yourself as well, which is not so easy. Over the years I learned and now I try to take it easy, not to over-react.”

His advice to farang would-be bar owners over here reflects this, “Don’t put down any money or make any commitments until you have been over here at least a year. Write down your impressions every month and review them every three months. When they stop changing it may be the time to go ahead. You really need experience in the hospitality trade in addition to experience in dealing with the Thai people and the legalities of buying and leasing.”

Ron’s plans for the future are, “To enjoy my life out here and make some contribution to Thailand.” As part of that, he was a member of a service organization in the UK for fifteen years, so heading in a similar direction, he has taken on the job of membership secretary of the “U.K Club of Pattaya” formed with the aim of providing accurate information on living and working in Thailand to U.K citizens. As he himself said, he is looking to the future and continuing to enjoy it.

Ron Hall’s microwaves are still buzzing away merrily, there’s no doubt about that!

Snap Shots: Why photojournalists have battered old cameras

by Harry Flashman

Go into the darkroom in any national daily newspaper overseas and you will find an old photographer with an equally old camera. It will be scratched and battered, and so will he. The camera will be stuffed full of outdated technology and will have manual focussing. It will be tossed into an old camera bag, apparently carelessly, yet it will produce black and white prints that are as sharp as a tack.

Harry Flashman’s introduction to this school of photography came when he was offered the contract to write some photography columns for one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers. Part of the deal was free use of the darkroom.

At that stage in Harry’s career, the camera of choice had been Hasselblad medium format, but it soon became evident that everything in the darkroom was set up for the usual 35 mm film, so enquiries were made around the pro photography suppliers for a new 35 mm camera. One of these outlets had just received the latest in auto-focus, super electronic 35 mm cameras and left it for a month for appraisal.

Initially it seemed wonderful. It had programmes on programmes to cover every conceivable photographic situation. It had a “brain” that was supposed to understand that you were attempting to shoot a moving train and would work out the best split second to fire off the shutter as it follow-focussed. It could automatically “bracket” the exposures to give one slightly underexposed and another slightly overexposed compared to the auto exposure setting. It could even remember what settings had been used to produce the picture.

This piece of gear should have impressed everyone. It didn’t. The pictures weren’t sharp. Reasoning that it had to be poor technique, for the next week the camera was mounted on a tripod and lo and behold - the results were still “soft.” Hard bitten press photographers with outdated equipment were producing the goods, and the very latest bit of electronic whizzbangery was producing something which at best could be described as “average.” I was in despair. Here I was, the “outside” hot-shot, brought in to write columns on photography and my photos were fuzzy.

I confided in the pictorial editor who threw me an old Nikon FM2 which had probably seen more rolls of film through it than you’ve had hot dinners. It was well worn. “Try this for a week” was his reply. So I took the “old” camera away and shot a multitude of photos. Off to the darkroom and guess what? Every one as sharp as a tack. The super electronic marvel was returned and Harry purchased some second hand Nikon equipment, and has never regretted it since. In fact, old Nikons are still part of my camera equipment.

So what was the difference? Well, the end result will always rely on super sharp optics in the lens department. If they are not spot on, neither will your photos be. The actual exposures are close enough for just about any camera these days, so the other differences now will come down to ease of use, or user friendliness as they say these days. I’m sorry, but simple mechanical cameras, like the FM2, have simple operations too. These new beasts with their “menus” and other flow chart type operations I do not consider to be user friendly. It is easier to push a lever, surely. However, perhaps it might just be that Harry is resistant to change!

The important lesson from all that is that to get good results you need a camera that has good optics. There are plenty on the market these days, and although the Nikon brand may be my favourite, there are other manufacturers which have equally as good sharp glass at the front. Unfortunately, the results from these great cameras can become poor if you put a cheap “after market” lens on it. Good lenses are expensive, but the end result is worth it.

Modern Medicine: To be or not to be - Insured!

by Dr Iain Corness Consultant

One of my friends dropped in the other day with an amusing piece about the benefits of getting older. It had such gems as, “In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first” and “Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.” That led me to thinking about health insurance.

At the outset, I must say I have never been one out of whom insurance agents grow fat. It has always been my feeling that there was something unbalanced about my attendant hangers on (AKA children) getting rich at my expense when I meet my final demise. When you really analyse it, you don’t even get to enjoy your own wake! No, if anyone is going to benefit from my paying life insurance premiums every year, it is going to be me!

I have also been very lucky with my choice of careers. Being a medico does have advantages. If I couldn’t fix my skin rash or whatever, I could always ring a classmate who could (or should) be able to. Medications and drugs? Again no worries, just a quick raid of the samples cupboard in my surgery and I had everything I needed.

What about hospital insurance? I passed on that one too. After all, the only foreseeable problems that could stop me working were massive trauma following a road accident or suchlike, or a heart attack. In either case you don’t care where you are as long as there are wall to wall running doctors and plenty of painkillers. In Australia, the “free” public hospital system is fine for that.

So I blithely carried on through life insuranceless. I did spend one night in hospital with a broken leg in 56 years, so as regards personal medical costs versus proposed insurance premiums, I was miles in front.

And then I came to Thailand. Still I blithely carried on; after all, I am ten foot tall and bullet proof. Then a friend had a stroke and required hospitalisation. Said friend was four years younger than me and I was forced to review the ten foot bullet proof situation to find I was only five foot eleven and my supply of kryptonite had expired. Thailand was a new ballgame.

Enquiries as to hospital and medical costs showed that they were considerably less than the equivalent in Oz, but, and here’s the big but, there’s no government system or sickness benefits to fall back on. Suddenly you are walking the tightrope and there’s no safety net to stop you hitting terra firma.

So after 56 years I took out medical insurance. Still it was no gold plated cover. But it was enough to look after me if I needed hospitalisation, and that came sooner than I imagined. I had always subscribed to the “major trauma” theory, but two days of the galloping gutrot had me flat on my back with the IV tube being my only lifeline. We are only mortal - even us medicos.

Do you have medical insurance? Perhaps it is time to chat to a reputable insurance agent!

Dear Hillary,

I read with interest an article in PM 30 March (Vol IX No. 13) headed “Good Old Days”. It contained an extract from a home economics textbook printed in the 60’s “The Good Wife Guide”. I was hoping that you could use your considerable persuasive talents, Hillary, to talk your boss into having the text translated into Thai and reprinting it in a future Pattaya Mail. My motives are entirely honorable. I merely intend to have the Thai transcript of the guide enlarged into poster size and hung up on my wall so that my Thai wife can read it every time she forgets the reason she was put on this planet. Thanks Hillary,

Honorable Neil

PS. I think the Thai poster version would sell like hot cakes!

Dear Honorable Neil,

At long last! A real MCP, otherwise known as a Male Chauvinist Pig! Neil, my precious poppet, you don’t honestly think Hillary is going to support this cause, do you? I will ignore the reference to “my boss” as Hillary is a self determining young lady, and as such, doesn’t have a “boss”. But really, do you expect your Thai wife to spend the finale for the day planning your breakfast needs? Come on, Neil. However, if your wife is not giving a “small moan ... to indicate enjoyment” during the act of “congress” then perhaps it’s your technique that is lacking. Perhaps an instruction book in English, rather than your poster in Thai might be a better plan.

Dear Hillary,

One of the men in my office has a problem with body odour. He does not seem to realise this, but it is now getting to the stage that nobody wants to sit downwind from him. Have you any suggestions Hillary that can help us through this difficult problem. The man in question is also higher in the company than we are, so there is another problem, as you can imagine.

“Nosey”

Dear Nosey,

Tread very softly my Petal. This is a very difficult situation. Whichever course of action you take, you could end up in a confrontation situation very easily. Begin by getting everyone in the office to have a small incense burner going on their desk. When he is the only person without one, he might ask you why, which is the time when you have to wriggle around a little and tell him that someone in the office has bad body odour, but nobody is sure who it is, so you are masking the smell. Then retire stage left gracefully. Hope you still have a job on Monday.

Dear Hillary,

My wife tells me every night that she is going to divorce me. The reasons are far too great in number to bore you with, but my problem is not the thought of impending divorce, it is the fact that she never gets any further than saying it is going to happen. How can I get her to either stop the threats, or just go ahead and do it? There must be other things that husbands and wives talk about, not just threatening divorce. Or is this “martial” bliss after all? What is your advice, wise Hillary?

Roger

Dear Roger,

Last week one writer was asking about communication and I wrote that for some people they think that the art of good communication is to shout louder. I think one of you needs to shout louder as there is something awry here. Have you thought that it is time to talk? Perhaps you could try that so next time when she threatens divorce, shout louder and tell her to either get on with it or give up talking about it. If that doesn’t work, you can always get divorce papers drawn up and when she threatens divorce, whip out the papers and say, “Sign here!” Lots of luck Roger, I think you’re going to need it.

Dear Hillary,

My maid has told me today that she is pregnant and she will be going back to her village up country in a few months. This news has just shattered me. I have spent the past six months training her and now, just when she has become very good she will be leaving me in the lurch. What can I do about this? How do I find a replacement? I went through three maids before I got this one. Why do these girls take a job if they know they are wishing to start a family? What should I do Hillary? What should I do?

Jasmine

Dear Jasmine,

I think you could keep Hillary going for a week, Petal, with all your questions, but let’s take this situation and look at it realistically. So your maid has become pregnant. As you know, this may or may not have been planned, but you should be supportive of this girl at this time, not saying “Why?” If you help this girl, then she will help you. It’s always a two way street, Jasmine. If you are the sort of person your maid would recommend as an employer, she will find her own replacement and help train her too. Get excited about this pregnancy and stop thinking only about yourself. You are going to be a grandmother soon! Lighten up and relax!

GRAPEVINE

Dining Out: Royal India - a right royal experience

by Miss Terry Diner

Some lovers of Indian cuisine may have noticed a new Indian restaurant on Pattaya Second Road, in front of the Grand Sole Hotel (and just round the corner from the Pattaya Mail offices). With the Dining Out Team’s ease of finding some Indian members of the Pattaya Mail staff as culinary ‘guides’, it was decided we should descend on the new establishment.

The restaurant is under the direction of Jay Singh Kalra, the second son of Amrik Singh Kalra, the leader of the Sikh community here in Pattaya and proprietor of Taj Mahal Tailors. However, unlike his siblings, Jay has not made tailoring his career.

The restaurant is clean and the extensive mirrors make it airy in feel, with an air-conditioned interior section and a pavement dining area outside. There is also a banquet area upstairs. Indian paintings adorn the walls, the floors are tiled, and the chairs are heavy wood as are the tables, which are topped with raffia place mats.

Mention should be made of the staff, with two lovely young ladies in traditional Indian garb, plus Maitre’s d’ Asish (the quiet one) and “Bob” (the laughing one with matching black turban and beard pictured below). We also noticed that everyone in the restaurant was Indian, and Miss Terry and Madame felt out of place without a Sari. Musical background is instrumental musical themes from Bollywood movies, and to complete the ethnic picture, the two chefs are from Dharamsala, which I am assured is 250 km from the capital of Punjab, for the collectors of trivia.

The 116 item menu begins with twelve appetizers (65-180 baht), including Papadums, Samosas, Kababs and Pakoras. After this there are three salads and then five soups (generally Shorbas and Dal around 70 baht).

Next up are the seventeen Tandoori clay oven items (140-380 baht), with the various Tikkas and Kababs, including four dedicated vegetarian items. Seven chicken curries are next at around 170 baht, including a Vindaloo for those who like this fiery dish. The curries continue with seven lamb varieties (around 200 baht) and then there are six seafood dishes, again around 200 baht.

The next section has nine vegetarian dishes around 120 baht, with assorted Dals and Aloo gobi for example. Next are the Paneer (cheese) specialities (around 170 baht) followed by a dozen breads (Roti, Nan, Paratha, Kulcha) and eight rice dishes. This menu just keeps going! There are Indian sweets and a special section with “Chinese” Indian noodle, rice, and spring roll items. Finally there are eight Thai dishes, for significant ‘others’ if they won’t eat Indian food! By the way, the menu also suggests you state your preference as to mild, medium, hot or extra hot!

While waiting I ordered my usual Singha Gold, while Madame indulged in a margarita from Royal India’s cocktail bar.

We began the dinner with two Samosas, one being vegetarian, and they were both flavoursome - and come on a bed of spicy vegetables which you eat with the Samosas, “Bob” informed me. This was followed by a fish Tikka, large cubes of fish meat which really just fell apart and a lamb Seekh Kabab which was very ‘more-ish’ and not at all spicy.

We next had some Tandoori chicken on a searing hotplate with the Chat Masala curry powder. This dish was moist and succulent and not at all dried out as we have experienced elsewhere. For me this was the dish of the evening.

We finished with a selection of curries brought out in the copper pots and the Dal was magnificent, and I unashamedly mopped up the last drop with my garlic Nan bread. The different tastes and spices had been superb and this had been a very pleasant evening. With the ready assistance of “Bob”, it is possible for even the most timid or inexperienced diner to choose suitable items from the large menu. Put some time aside and make a night of it! Highly recommended.

Royal India Restaurant, 370/3 Second Road, North Pattaya, telephone 414 170, open seven days 11 am - 1 am.

Animal Crackers: Breeding Birds (Part 1)

by Mirin MacCarthy

Breeding birds is not all beer and skittles and can be rather impractical in Thailand for a variety of reasons. Breeding protected Asian birds is illegal; and there is little avian veterinary support here. Urgent avian help will not be accessible unless you are an experienced bird breeder and even then there will be losses.

Most people are unaware when pet birds are breeding they change their affectionate natures into possessive savage parents. Take a reality check first, bird breeding takes commitment, energy, money, work, and responsibility, also vacations, even days off are just not part of the lifestyle. Do your homework first, read: research and identify the type of bird you plan to devote years to. Investigate its temperament and requirements. Learn about basic genetics and how breeding closely related birds leads to sad inherited deformities. Most importantly determine how you will house, care for, and sell the babies.

The bird for you?

I will discuss cockatiel breeding as a basis, as they are small semi-tropical, delightful birds, readily available here. Cockatiels are native to Australia where they fly swiftly in small flocks over open grasslands. In appearance they are like streamlined miniature cockatoos, only 300 mm in length, half of which is tail, and without the noisy shrieks or incessant chewing of their larger cousins.

Cockatiels make the most endearing, affectionate, responsive and easily tamed birds around. They are great mimics that can be taught to talk or whistle. Be aware, though, single pet cockatiels often become needy and demanding. They have a life span of 20 to 25 years, are inexpensive and love being the centre of attention.

How to choose

Originally grey and white with yellow heads, yellow and grey crests and orange cheek spots, the cockatiel has now been bred in a variety of colours. (A popular favourite is the Lutino, a mainly white bird with yellow face and crest & orange cheek spots.) Choose any colour you fancy but it is really important to observe, i.e. look, look and look again to see if the bird is healthy. The specimens you see here are often scruffy and sick. It may take several trips to Bangkok to the Chatuchak weekend market to find a bright-eyed, clean, healthy bird.

Best buys for pets are young birds seven to eight weeks old, fully feathered and just left the nest but feeding themselves. Never buy or sell an unweaned, not fully feathered bird. Mature two-year-old unrelated, healthy pairs are best for cockatiel breeders.

Housing

Space is always going to be a huge consideration, as there is never enough of it. Breeding birds is not suitable for condo living. Consult other family members; pressure from family is often a reason why bird breeders give up. Remember, cockatiels are fast, long distance flyers and ten times bigger than finches and twice as large as budgies, so do not imprison them.

Breeding birds need to be able to fly lengthwise within their cage; exercise is just as important as correct diet. Birds fly horizontally, not up and down like helicopters, so adequate length is more important than height. A good size cage for each breeding pair is one metre high x one and a half metres long x by three quarters of a metre wide.

Extra cages are needed for babies, including brooders and smaller hospital cages (heated and enclosed on three sides) and much larger flight cages or aviaries for parents when they are not breeding.

Hang a wooden nest box in the breeding cage so the progress of the babies can be observed once they hatch. Nest boxes are approximately 300 mm high x 400 mm long x 300 mm wide, with an entrance hole and a hinged top or side for inspection. They are available at pet shops or disposable ones can be made out of four-litre cardboard wine casks, with large pine shavings used to line them.

Next week; Feeding, Breeding and Chicks

Social Commentary by Khai Khem

America’s Murderous Children

America! The envy of the world! Is it really? When murder in the schoolyard hits the headlines, as it does with increasing frequency, the whole a world asks; “What is it about this society which produces children who shoot each other?”

Some nations with strict gun control laws blame it on the gun culture which is so prevalent in the USA. Get rid of the guns and the nation’s children will be safe. Maybe. But like drugs, and alcohol during Prohibition, black-market contraband always provides a means to acquire whatever is the forbidden fruit of the moment. Children don’t shoot people simply because there is a gun within easy reach. These kids are full of rage, and nobody notices until it’s too late.

At one time, Americans were considered by other nationalities as friendly, generous, happy, outgoing and big-hearted. Now they seem to be snappy, paranoid, stingy, hyper and completely stressed out. The USA is a diverse and complicated nation, run by a system which can be, even in the best of times, an overwhelming headache to deal with. America is not your typical war-zone like Chad or Algeria. But anyone who lives there will tell you that life in America is not always filled with peace and serenity. That’s the myth they hand out to immigrants from El Salvador. There are Americans who make a quarter of a million dollars a year who can’t afford a house, and insurance for their car is more expensive than their home mortgage payment. Americans are high achievers. This can put a lot of strain on family life.

American society is a pressure-cooker. The most materialistic nation in the world, it is driven by greed and ambition. Some parents no longer spend any time raising their children in the traditional way. The latest statistics show that the divorce rate now for American couples is about 65% and the average marriage lasts 2 years. Most young couples don’t bother to marry legally anymore. Single parents in the USA are so common that state educational agencies have produced special textbooks which have re-engineered the references to the family so that a father and a mother don’t necessarily make a normal family unit. Parents don’t even have to be of the opposite sex. Two mothers and a sperm donor will qualify.

Even when there are actually two parents in the home, most have fulltime jobs. There simply is not much time left over to spend raising their children as effectively as they would wish. Living with harried and hostile adults, American children are bold, contentious, and many have little respect for authority. Teenagers all over the world can be a handful to deal with. But little children who are so filled with anger and fury that they commit cold-blooded murder are not the products of a healthy upbringing. Modern American culture does not provide the nurturing environment that young people need to feel happy and secure. Many Americans are so driven with the need to procure material goods and money they have lost the human empathy it takes to devote to child rearing. Don’t forget, in this country, the family dog probably has a therapist.

So what would happen if Americans just decided to spend more time with their children? My American friends asked me WHERE and HOW would they find the time? Acquiring more time for one thing, means saying no to something else. American culture somehow teaches that more is better and no matter how much one has, it is never enough. Learning to be content with less material goods could be a way to find more time for interacting productively with their children. As it is now, Americans appear to know more about where their coffee beans come from (Sumatran or Bolivian) than what their kids are doing when they are out of sight. Changing the mentality of a nation towards its youngsters is a monumental task. Spend less, eat less, covet less. A simple lifestyle in the USA is not admired, it is scorned. When frenetic greed becomes entrenched in a culture, it is not so easily stamped out. People simply develop a thick skin and learn to live with it, much like the Israelis and residents in Northern Ireland learn to live with bombs exploding in pubic places. American merchandisers will simply introduce flack-jackets in the kiddies’ clothing departments.

The American family is under siege. But by whom? The government? The ‘system’? Who knows? In fact, most children in the USA DO NOT shoot people. These incidents are tragic aberrations. Whether or not this is a symptom of a society which needs to re-think its attitude on gun control, that is a political football which will not be resolved in the near future. There are no simple answers, for the questions are complicated far beyond simple family values.

The Computer Doctor

by Richard Bunch

Storm, Tempest, Viruses and Vanishing Data!

It is a sad fact that power and telephone lines are still not we would like, even though there have been some quite significant improvements of late. Also, some viruses now seek and destroy data and sometimes wipe all hard disks including network drives. The end result is that there is a real risk of data loss. So the question you should be asking is - how secure is your data? What system do you use for backups? Do you have backups offsite?

The chances are most large companies will have an IT Department who will take care of this aspect and have regular backups in place, including offsite storage and an emergency plan should disaster strike. But for smaller companies and private individuals, this is often something that is overlooked and continually put on a ‘back burner’ as more important issues keep cropping up. This is all well and good, but backup and contingency is a bit like insurance, you never need it until you need to claim. But if you have no backup and disaster strikes can your business continue or are you effectively wiped out? If the latter, then effective backups should be brought to the forefront as a matter of priority.

One reason backups tend to be forgotten until it is too late is that it is often time consuming and awkward and thus put on the too hard pile. However, this really is a lame excuse now that relatively inexpensive and quick means are here in the form of CDRW’s and Zip/Jazz Drives. Of course, on a day-to-day basis, backup to another Hard Disk is probably the cheapest and quickest but least reliable in as much as it is media that can be written to and hence wiped, it also needs to be stored offsite, which normally means installing a rack system and in order to change these as most are not ‘hot swap’ the PC in which it is mounted has to be closed and restarted.

We also need to identify what data and settings need to be backed up, as well as what is commonly termed data, this should include things like e-mail, e-mail account settings, address books, various .ini files for programs, password files, favorites, etc.

Backups really do not have to be that onerous and once the system is put in place they will run largely without the need for human intervention. One of the neatest programs I have come across to back up data excluding striping and mirroring available on Windows NT is called Second Copy 2000, which allows profiles to be created largely using a drag and drop principle. These can then be run as desired, either scheduled or manually. One method to backup and allow easy offsite storage and use of Second Copy is the Iomega Zip 250 USB disks. These are convenient as the computer doesn’t need to be opened or closed and restarted to recognize it, they are also acceptably fast and the storage capacity is also quite reasonable. Another plus is that Windows 2000 supports them without the need for a driver disk. Of course you could use an EIDE Zip drive but they really aren’t as convenient as their USB counterpart. Zip drives really are only effective as backup for small amounts of data from say workstations or personal PC’s, for servers then the price goes up as the most effective means really is still the DAT.

It cannot really be stressed strongly enough that data should be stored offsite, this means that if the premises burn down or are flooded then the data stored offsite should allow a reasonably slick restoration in conjunction with your disaster recovery plan.

The bottom line is that there is a solution available to everyone that is within their budget and gives a degree of protection commensurate with individual risk assessment.

Don’t delay, act today!

Send your questions or comments to the Pattaya Mail at 370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, 20260 or fax to 038 427 596 or e-mail to [email protected]

The views and comments expressed within this column are not necessarily those of the writer or Pattaya Mail Publishing.

Richard Bunch is managing director of Action Computer Technologies Co., Ltd. providing professional services which include custom database and application development, website design, promotion and hosting, computer and peripheral sales service and repairs, pro audio solutions, networks (LAN & WAN) and IT consulting. For further information, please e-mail [email protected] or telephone/fax 038 716 816 or see our website www.act.co.th

Forgotten Classics : Mott - Mott the Hoople

by Mott the Dog
e-mail: [email protected]

**** 4 Star Rating

‘Mott’ was Mott the Hoople’s seminal album released just after they had cut the safety belts from David Bowie’s writing and arranging.

Opening with “All The Way From Memphis”, it is a ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ chronicle of the fraught and fragmented journey to Memphis that culminated in Mott the Hoople’s triumphant end of tour gig and their subsequent assault on Elvis Presley’s Gracelands mansion. (For more details of this please read Ian Hunter’s “Diary of a Rock ‘N’ Roll star”.) When this dog first heard the opening line of “Memphis”, “Forgot my six string razor and hit the sky”, it taught him a whole new way to growl.

Next up is “Whizz Kid”, with Ian Hunter’s reflections on a certain persistent groupie, a lovely slab of Glam Rock.

The pivotal song on ‘Mott’ is “Hymn For The Dudes”, with Ian Hunter directing his lyrics at his young and enthusiastic audience, whilst warning his contemporaries about the pedestal they were setting themselves upon:

High above the waves
Go write your time, go sing it on the street
Go tell the world, but you go brave
You ain’t the nazz...
Some kinda temporary...”

Eleven months after the release of “All The Young Dudes”, which was written by David Bowie, Mott the Hoople unleashed “Honaloochie Boogie”. This was a smash hit and a perfect piece of writing that was to establish Ian Hunter’s pop credentials.

Ian Hunter showed that he was capable of astonishing flashes of percipience and with “Violence” he brilliantly foretold the coming and the mood of the Punk generation. This song culminated with insane violin and a fight scene in a blazing fadeout.

“Drivin’ Sister” with its hard, raunchy riffs and lyrics due to Mott the Hoople’s fascination with fast cars was the perfect opener for their live set at the time.

“The Ballad of Mott the Hoople” referred to the time when the band temporarily split in disillusionment, before their triumphant return after linking up with David Bowie.

“I’m A Cadillac / El Camino Dolo Roso” is the chink in Mott’s armour. Although Mick Ralph’s guitar playing is exemplary throughout this album, his singing and song writing do not live up to that of Ian Hunter at this time. This song was included to placate egos, which is a shame as they had already recorded two Hunter written songs, “Rose” and “Roll Away The Stone”, either of which would of strengthened this collection.

The songs conclude with “I Wish I Was Your Mother”, which is a heavily Dylan-flavoured piece addressing the matter of heavy jealousy and this brings the album to a fine close.

Mott went top 10 in the U.K. & top 40 in the U.S. Notably, however, it was voted ‘Album of the Year’ in U.S. magazines “Rolling Stone” & “Cream”.

Surprisingly, this album and band were not named after Mott the Dog but Willard Manus’s excellent novel “Mott the Hoople”.

Motts on this album:

Ian Hunter / Vocals, Piano, & Guitar
Mick Ralphs / Guitar, Organ & Vocals
Overend Walls / Bass
Buffin / Drums
Auxiliary Motts
Andy Mackay / Saxophone
Paul Buckmaster / Electric Cello
Graham Preskitt / Manic Violin
The Lovely Thunderthighs / Backing Vocals

Women’s World : Premature wrinkles!

by Lesley Warner

I have researched this subject for myself as well as for the column, because, since living in Thailand, I have developed the bad habit of smoking. Even though I know the risks and it makes me feel unhealthy, I am having difficulty in quitting.

For women, there are unique risks. Women over 35 who smoke and use “the pill” (oral contraceptives) are in a high-risk group for heart attack, stroke, and blood clots of the legs.

Why do people smoke? For myself I suppose I would be classed as a social smoker, mainly in the evenings with a drink, although if stressed, I have to admit to grabbing a packet of cigarettes, almost like a lifeline (what a pun, when it’s exactly the opposite!) I don’t think many smokers realize that nicotine is an addictive drug that the body becomes physically as well as psychologically dependent on. Nicotine produces pleasurable feelings that make the smoker want to smoke more and also acts as a depressant by interfering with the flow of information between nerve cells. As the nervous system adapts to nicotine, smokers tend to increase the number of cigarettes they smoke, and hence the amount of nicotine in their blood. After a while, the smoker develops a tolerance to the drug, which leads to an increase in smoking. Eventually, the smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and then smokes to maintain this level of nicotine.

When smoke is inhaled, nicotine is carried deep into the lungs where it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and carried to the heart, brain, liver, and spleen. Nicotine affects many parts of the body, including the heart and blood vessels, the hormonal system, body metabolism, and the brain. Now I know the problems I’m having with my brain are due to smoking!

When smokers try to cut back or quit, the absence of nicotine leads to withdrawal. Withdrawal is both physical and psychological: physically, the body is reacting to the absence of the drug nicotine. Psychologically, the smoker is faced with giving up a habit; both must be dealt with if quitting is to be successful.

Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following: depression, feelings of frustration and anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, headache, tiredness, and increased appetite. If a person has smoked regularly for a few weeks or longer and abruptly stops using tobacco or significantly reduces the amount smoked, withdrawal symptoms will occur, usually within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about 48 to 72 hours later. Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks.

Most people quit for health reasons. Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but it is also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias. Smokers have twice the risk of dying of heart attacks as do non-smokers.

Smoking also causes premature wrinkling of the skin, bad breath, clothes and hair to smell bad, and nails to turn yellow.

People who quit smoking live longer than those who continue to smoke. If you are unable to quit without help, the most effective time to start nicotine replacement is at the beginning of an attempt to quit. There are many organizations that can help with different methods to help you quit. (Check with your doctor.) My brother went to one such place in London and they made him smoke for 8 hours while watching a film about what it did to his insides! After 15 years off cigarettes, the risk of death for ex-smokers returns to nearly the level of persons who have never smoked.

I know that the lady smokers reading this may immediately think of their weight. Yes, it’s true that many smokers do gain some weight when they quit. Even without special attempts at diet and exercise, however, the gain is usually less than 10 pounds. Women tend to gain slightly more weight than men. It is suggested that there is evidence that smokers can gain weight after they quit even if they do not eat more.

For some, a concern about weight gain can lead to a decision not to quit. But the weight gain that follows quitting smoking is generally very small. It is much more dangerous to continue smoking than it is to gain a small amount of weight.

Nightmarch

The Taxing...er...sorry...the Thaksin Government has recently taken a leaf out of the books of most Western administrations and taken the soft option on raising revenue by increasing taxes on booze and cigarettes.

I well remember the ‘good old days’ in Australia come budget time, as every newspaper in the country would trot out the battered headline, ‘Beer and Ciggies Up’ year in and year out. Basically, the headline never changed because the government, of whatever political hue, always saw booze and smokes as easy targets for increasing monetary return.

Basically, governments across the planet always put the tax up on life’s little luxuries, it’s their way of letting us know we are not forgotten.

The affect of these tax increases on Fun Town are obvious already with a lot of beer boozers, ogling dens, dine and dash establishments and munching houses raising their prices for alcoholic beverages.

In theory, soft drink prices should remain unaffected and it will be interesting to see how many places put up their lolly water tariff, especially those who were already charging a premium.

The name of the game here in Pattaya, whether you are in the ogling den, beer boozer, dine and dash or noshery trade, is to get bums on seats on a regular and consistent basis. By bums, I mean in the posterior, not the derelict sense.

The vast majority of punters here in Fun Town like their booze, but so many joints, especially ogling dens, want to penalise those who would rather sip the soft stuff. Surely, a bum on a seat, whether drinking the hard gear or the soft stuff, is better than an empty piece of vinyl. After all, we all know that any place that has a few punters imbibing usually leads to others to join them. An empty play palace, of whatever style, is a sorry sight after all.

Among those who have already been compelled to raise tariffs is the Spicy Girls ogling den (Pattayaland Soi 1). However, even with the new set of prices, they remain one of the better-value ogling establishments and lady drinks have stayed at just 70 baht.

Songkran saviour: Last year during the madness that is Songkran, Pat’s Pies and Deli (Third Road) decided to pull down the shutters for a few days. This year however, for those who get withdrawal symptoms without a steady diet of Yorkshire Puddings, Cornish Pasties and other English delicacies (I’m waiting for the day when Pat has Spotted Dick on the menu), Pat’s Pies is offering their usual delivery service to anywhere in Siege Town. Just telephone (038) 723 598 and place an order.

And the winner is: Put a medical practitioner, an ex-jockey, a pest control expert and a former professional gambler together on the same program and what have you got? The start of a bad joke? Yes and No.

What if I said they all happened to have originally emanated from the Land Down Under? Of course, you exclaim, they were the judges (and I use the term loosely) in the recent Miss Songkran contest, conducted in the Planet Rock ogling den and late-night boogie barn (Pattayaland Soi 2).

Ad a pimp, a politician and a member of the legal profession and the whole job lot could have formed the cast for a television series called, ‘Pets Behaving Badly’. Instead, the Australian mafia was bolstered by the addition of an English tourist named Rob.

The competing dancing maidens offered all sorts of inducements to the various judges, myself excluded of course, as they recognised I was above temptation, or they thought I was gay. These inducements ranged from invitations to inspect the upstairs jacuzzi rooms and gain first-hand experience of the joys of scented, foamy water to a more mundane “I buy you som-tam and a beer”.

Whether these inducements worked or not I cannot tell, except to say that all four of my colleagues smelt like they had bathed in eau de cologne for a week before the contest began.

The show was a great success with the original 14 contestants being whittled down to five finalists before a packed house. The winner was a lovely dancing maiden who works in the Lipstick ogling den while the runner-up was batting for the Bubbles chrome pole palace.

I’m now available as a judge for such things as the Miss Thailand, Miss World and Miss Universe contests and I’ll bet the inducements in those hallowed events don’t just include a plate of som tam.

Come up and see my etchings: Gordon, the head honcho of the Baywatch munching den (Beach Road, around the corner from Pattayaland Soi 1), recently had a heart bypass performed by local surgeons. Apart from actually finding he had a heart - just kidding - they said he also had large arteries, indicating longevity. His new pickup line for the local maidens is, “Fancy a quick peek at my operation scar?”

My e-mail address is: [email protected]

Coins of the Realm: Thai medals sold in Singapore

by Jan Olav Aamlid - President - House of the Golden Coin
http://www.thaicoins.com

Singapore Coin Auction No. 32 took place one day before the Asia Money Fair opened the doors at the Raffles City Convention Centre.

Collectors and dealers from all over the world met, and it was interesting to see several collectors and dealers from overseas competing for material from South East Asia. The most expensive Thai medal did not return to Thailand, but was bought by someone from overseas for about 133,000 baht. This silver medal was struck to commemorate the Coronation of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V.

The medal is considered to be the forth non-monetary medal in the History of Thailand and was struck in 1873. King Chulalongkorn ascended the Throne in 1868 at the age of 15, but at the age of 20, when the King came of age, a second Coronation took place on the 16th of October 1873.

On the obverse of the medal is the monogram of King Chulalongkorn with the Thai inscription: Coronation of King Chulalongkorn, Year of the Cock, Fifth Year of the Decade, CS 1235. The reverse shows the State coat of arms.

The price paid for this important coronation medal does not seem high. The condition was very nice, extremely fine, and some years back I saw this beautiful medal being sold for more than 200,000 baht.

In 1686 King Louis XVI of France received Thai ambassadors. The mint in Paris made a medal to commemorate this important occasion. The obverse of the medal shows the portrait of King Louis XIV and the reverse shows the Thai ambassadors showing their respect during the audience with the King. At the Singapore auction there were two of these medals, but both only showing the reverse.

One of the medals was in bronze and had been pieced. It was estimated at 50,000 to 60,000 baht, but did not find a buyer at the minimum price of 40,000 baht.

The other medal was struck in white metal, estimated at 25,000 to 30,000 baht, and this was sold for the minimum price, which was 18,000 baht. This seems to be reasonable. The silver medal for this occasion has been sold for about 400,000 baht and in bronze for about 200,000 baht. I believe the buyers were reluctant since the medals in the auction were only struck on one side, missing the portrait of King Louis XIV on the obverse.

Decorations were also sold in the Singapore sale. For about 4,500 baht a collector bought two decorations said to be from the time of King Chulalongkorn. They were from the Order of the White Elephant, Fourth Class with ribbon and rosette and a miniature of the Order of the Crown. Even if decorations like these are sold in auctions, the buyer does not have the permission to wear them. Decorations sold like this are only for collector purposes.

The most expensive Thai object offered in the auction was a 400-Ticals banknote printed in Germany in 1892. The note was estimated between 1,350,000 and 1,500,000 baht, but no bids were given when the note was offered at the minimum price of 1,150,000 baht. The reason for no bids might be that this banknote was never legal tender and never put into circulation.

The Message In The Moon: Sun in Aries/Moon in Cancer - The Cowardly Lion

by Anchalee Kaewmanee

The searing, fiery drive and enthusiasm of Aries are coupled with the emotional depth and shrewdness of Cancer in this Sun/Moon sign. Most of this energy will be focused upon the pursuit of financial, domestic and emotional security. Money and a secure family situation are very important to these subjects.

Aries is a fire sign, Cancer a water sign, so this duet is at odds. The Aries nature is restless and impulsive. It is also courageous. But the Cancer pull towards caution will hinder a complete expression of the rash side of the Aries impulse. Vacillating and insecure, the watery crab does not crave challenge and excitement, so the emotional side of this duo demands a solid base of operations from which to plan. When that is accomplished, the Aries ego can take over and make waves, seek adventure, and generally be as impulsive as it wishes, as long as there is enough money socked away for a rainy day or daring escapades.

Aries-Cancer Sun and Moon signs hold much promise, but only after they have reconciled their inherent duality. Self acceptance is the key. If they begin to value their own talents and appreciate themselves for who they are, rather than constantly berating themselves for what they are not, they can succeed in whatever fields they may choose. Perhaps a pre-occupation with security began in childhood. With the Sun and Moon in conflict, it is likely the home environment was either downright unhappy, disrupted in some way, or perhaps only too chaotic for such a sensitive emotional make-up. Thus in later life these individuals often feel compelled to establish the domestic harmony that may have been lacking in the formative years. In this day and age, that is certainly an admirable goal. A happy home life and satisfactory relationship with a mate is vital to these individuals. However, they can become obsessive in their pursuit of domestic bliss and evoke over-compensation which is interpreted as tyranny on those around them.

This group must also be careful that their intense wishes for security do not interfere with their natural leadership abilities and talent for initiating new projects, ideas and enterprises. If they never allow themselves to feel fully satisfied with what they have attained, it is possible for these Sun-Moon signs to resort to various forms of self-destructive escapes such as drugs and alcohol, or even obesity through over-eating.

If, on the other hand, the Aries-Cancer person succeeds in establishing a sound emotional foundation, then the full potential of this person begins to unfold. Dynamic Aries likes and needs to win and lead. Cancer also has nothing against winning, and deep down, under the depths of all that modesty, he likes to lead as well. Aries frantically seeks acceptance, but rash and thoughtless actions can bring them up short on occasion. If opposites do attract, it is often because two halves make a whole. In this combination, opposition can be harnessed and a brilliant compromise will emerge. Cancer’s wise perception can modify tendencies toward dangerous impulses without dulling the bright ideas which are a hallmark of this Sun-Moon sign. A strong, creative personality can only be enhanced when wisdom and careful thought come into play.

Emotional and sentimental to a fault, these individuals are subject to quick and dramatic mood changes. They can be charming humorists one moment, and headstrong, frustrated and bad-tempered dictators the next. People of this combination often hold in their anger and resentment for long periods of time. Then they blow in a display of passion and temper.

In relationships, as in all things, all Aries-Cancer moon signs will seek a lasting situation with a mate who will offer them security and self-esteem. Once they have found that person, they are capable of outstanding loyalty and will sacrifice anything for the one they love. Still Aires-Cancer is basically self centred. Concern for their own prestige and status rules them first and foremost. If this sometimes is not in the best interest of their mate or family, they must learn more respect for the needs of others if they want the partnership to endure. The worst thing that can happen to this combination is the dissolution of an established relationship. This always ignites an underlying insecurity. Better to adapt to compromise than to instigate domestic upheaval.

Guide to buying a large dog: Samoyed

by C. Schloemer

Good points: beautiful appearance, devoted to owner, obedient, intelligent, very hardy, good show dog

Take heed: slightly independent, that white coat sheds

The Samoyed, or Sammy as it is often fondly referred to, is a beautiful, somewhat independent breed that should, according to its standard, show marked affection to all people. These dogs adore the snow and are happiest in the wide open spaces. But having said that, there are many loving happily in semi-detached houses with loving families.

Thailand is full of Samoyeds, which usually live in air-conditioned comfort due to the heat. It is a beautiful dog which does well in the ring. This breed is highly intelligent and therefore easy to train. It has an obedient nature, although slightly independent, so a firm but loving hand from the start will reward the owner’s patience. This breed loves people and is faithful and loyal. His hardy constitution makes him an ideal choice for those who live in colder climates. The Samoyed is a snow dog and loves the outdoors. A life in the country is what he was bred for.

Children love this dog and he loves them back. The Samoyed makes a good family pet and is a wonderful choice for those who have time to make sure this dog gets plenty of exercise and lots of affection.

Size: Height at the shoulder: dog, 51-56 cm, bitch, 46.5 cm. Weight should be proportionate to size.

Exercise: The Samoyed needs a liberal amount of exercise and if possible, some obedience work, even if this is just a weekly class at the local dog training club or school. This is a good idea for all working breeds.

Grooming: Regular brushing and combing, and a good towelling after getting wet is recommended. The undercoat sheds once a year. During these times, it is best to comb out as much surplus hair as one can. Bathing helps, as this tends to loosen the hair during the shedding season.

Origin and history: The Samoyed is Spitz-type which takes its name from the Siberian tribe of the Samoyeds. It is used as a sled dog in its native country, as a guard dog, and herder of reindeer. Some Sammies were used by the explorer Nansen on his journey to the North Pole. The breed came to Britain in 1889, and much of the present day stock can be traced to the original pair. British stock has done much to popularise the Samoyed in other countries of the world.

Sea Worlds: The Red Sea

This steep sided sea flows like a meeting place between the two continents of Africa and Asia. On a map, this desert sea is shaped like a giant insect; the space between its two antennae forms the great Sinai, and slits of water on either side of this desert form the Gulf of Suez, and the Gulf of Aqaba. To the east lie the nations of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Egypt is located on its western shores, as is the Sudan, and the mountainous terrain of Eritea. This narrow strip of water became a crucial highway in 1869 when the Suez Canal connected European powers with their Asian colonies.

Sea fan coral growing on a reef’s wall

Relatively young, as seas go, the Red Sea was born as a crack in the desert floor 25 million years ago. According to scientific surveys, the sea floor continues to widen by about one inch per year. No rivers flow into this sea, which is barely connected with other waters by the coral reefs, and by the Strait of Bab al Mandab. Like a mammoth aquarium, this sea sits between the barren lands of the African deserts and the lifeless shores of Islamic Asia. But the sea itself is brimming with life, and some species of the marine abundance which is unique to the Red Sea, is found nowhere else in the world.

In the northern regions, divers swim in the shallows amongst coral reefs built in wedding cake tiers. Like an eclectic modern painting, the water is veiled with orange anthias. Picasso trigger fish, with wedge shaped heads, and mouths like vacuum cleaners, suck in their food as they go. In animated corners of the coral, unicorn fish perform mating ballets, silver pipe fish with the oval eyes found on a Dali’s canvas lurk in the shadows of deep, deep blue. Further south, the waters warm, and lose their blue perfection which one sees in the north. Forests of algae grow like poplar trees from a reef off Jabal Zuqar Island. Occasionally one sees butterfly fish, although they are mere visitors from the still distant Indian Ocean.

Long nose hawk fish swimming in black coral

Off the shores of Port Sudan lies the great Protector Reef. Vigilant surgeon fish patrol the waters, despite the surf breaking in the shallow waters, which can be as little as a foot deep. A section of this reef is covered in the algae which is endemic to this sea. Here divers find the Fridman fish, which is named for the naturalist David Fridman, who discovered it. Blue spotted stingrays feed by snuffling over the sea floor to excavate worms and mollusks.

With designs beyond imagination, nature has painted the reef fishes with an ever shifting kaleidoscope of shapes, colors and behavior. When mature, a juvenile emperor angelfish will jealously guard its feeding ground. The coral grouper opens its cavernous maw as it attacks, creating suction to draw in the hapless victim. Flat bodied yellow butterfly fish usually travel in pairs.

Fridman fish named for the naturalist who discovered it

In an endless variety of configurations, corals serve as castles and condominiums for the fish who live on a reef. For example, the pink and orange profusion of a soft coral’s waving in flowing waters provide an ideal habitat for small goby and shrimps. Filigreed branches of gargonian coral which is found at Daedalus Reef, nearly mid-way from the shores of both the Arabian Peninsula and the rocky cliffs of Eritea, grow free on the coral reef wall, protected from the disruptive currents a hundred feet above on the surface. These magnificent sea fan corals are perfectly situated to catch plankton as it descends during the daylight and rises during the night, while their forest of growth also provides nurseries for other plankton feeding species of fish, such as the long nose hawk fish, and baby anthias. Although the Red Sea is situated in isolation between desolate shores, it is a place which seems to protect life, even to enshrine it.

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