Family Money: Hedging
Your Investment Bets
Last week we discussed how currency movements can
affect the value of your international investments.
Holding a globally-diversified portfolio is a scenario
which can be especially confusing for investors who think in terms of a
third currency such as Sterling, Deutschmarks, or Swiss Francs. What
effect does currency fluctuation have on your investments?
If you’re living in Thailand, maybe working here on
contract and having a substantial part of your earning paid in US Dollars,
spending Baht, and holding hard-currency deposits “back home” in
Sterling, Deutschmarks or Swiss Francs, it can all get very confusing.
To get a clearer understanding of how currency
movements might affect your international portfolio, let’s look at a
couple of examples.
Sterling investors holding Dollar-denominated assets
A Sterling-orientated investor is holding a
Dollar-denominated portfolio. If he bought those assets with Sterling and
their Dollar value is the same now as when he bought them (perhaps because
the market went down in the meantime, and has only recently come back up
to where it was when he first bought those assets) but the Pound has
weakened in the meantime against the Dollar, his Dollar-denominated
portfolio will be worth more Pounds if he encashes his holdings now.
He’d have made a windfall profit in Sterling terms.
However, if that portfolio happened to be invested
entirely in the UK, the Dollar value of those assets would have lessened
in line with the currency movement, but are worth virtually the same in
Sterling terms as before any currency movements.
As an analogy, imagine you’ve bought a house worth
ฃ100,000 in the UK. If you had paid for this in cash with offshore
earnings in US Dollars when the Dollar stood at 1.52 to the Pound, you
would have paid US$152,000 for the house.
For simplicity let’s assume that the house is still
valued at ฃ100,000.
Now that Sterling has weakened against the Dollar, that
ฃ100,000 house is worth roughly US$141,000 in Dollar terms. If you
sold it now you’d have made a loss of US$11,000 just on the currency
movement - if you’re a Dollar-orientated investor. But if you’re a
Sterling-orientated investor, you’d still get back ฃ100,000, so it
wouldn’t really matter what the currency movements had been in the
Movements of other currencies have the same effect
This same analogy holds true for any other currency. If
your base currency - the currency in which you think - is the same as the
currency in which the assets are held, relative currency movements have no
effect on your assets’ value.
If, however, your base currency is a different one from
that in which the assets are valued, the value of those assets in your
base currency will rise or fall inversely proportionately to movements of
the valuation currency against your base currency.
You could make a windfall profit - or you might suffer
an exchange-rate loss if you encash those assets when the valuation
currency is weak against your base currency.
This factor has to be borne in mind when investing
internationally, or thinking of encashing your investments.
The situation becomes more complicated when an investor
constructs a portfolio which comprises several items, each of which is
denominated in a different currency.
Each part has to be considered separately - but in
combination can provide a “safety net” or hedge against currency
A globally diversified portfolio will inherently be
holding assets spread all over the world. Of course, these individual
assets will be bought and sold in the currency of the country where
they’re located and traded. Shares in a Swiss chocolate factory will be
quoted in Switzerland in Swiss Francs; shares of a Korean steel mill will
be quoted in Won in Seoul; shares in a Colombian emerald mine will be
quoted in Pesos in Bogota; a French pharmaceutical firm’s in French
Francs (or Euros) on the Paris Bourse, and so on round the world.
If an international institution managing a globally
diversified fund feels it would be advantageous to its investors to hold
those particular assets I’ve listed (plus of course a lot more), it will
have to quote a single price to potential buyers of the fund’s units
which these investors can understand and relate to.
Such a global fund might therefore be denominated in US
Dollars - or it could equally well be denominated in any other major
international currency such as Sterling, Deutschmarks or Swiss Francs. Up
to a point it’s rather arbitrary, in fact, because of the diversity of
the underlying assets in this type of fund.
Fund managers hedge their bets
The managers of the fund will, however, look at
relative strengths or weaknesses of currencies when making decisions as to
buying or selling any particular underlying assets.
If the currency in which the fund is denominated is
particularly weak or likely to be devalued, they may protect their
investors’ interests by holding very few or no assets valued in that
weak currency in their fund.
For example, in 1992 when Sterling was about to be
devalued, wise managers of Sterling-denominated globally diversified (or
‘managed’) funds hedged their funds’ assets into Dollars, holding
few if any assets in the UK. Thus, when Sterling devalued by some 25%
against the Dollar, the price in Sterling of most of these funds shot up
(because the Sterling value of internationally held assets increased
inversely proportionately to the currency movement, as discussed earlier),
and the ‘international’ value of their Sterling-denominated funds in
Dollars, Swiss Francs or Deutschmarks was virtually the same as before
As a result, Sterling-orientated investors made a
windfall profit, whilst international investors were almost unaffected by
the fall in Sterling relative to their base currencies.
Sometimes an institution offers two or more global
funds denominated in different currencies. The objective of the fund
managers is to optimise gains in each fund’s denominated currency, so
the underlying portfolio of what otherwise would be identical funds might
be slightly different in, for example, that institution’s
Dollar-denominated global fund from their Sterling-denominated global
fund, to reflect the managers’ views on currency movements which would
affect the fund’s value in that denominated base currency.
The shrewd move, then, is to spread your investments
through several markets and across several asset classes to protect
yourself against potential currency movements, and to have faith in the
abilities of professional fund managers, part of whose job it is to
protect international investors like you and me against currency movements
by ‘hedging’ their funds.
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
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.
Snap Shots: Red
Eyes without tears
by Harry Flashman
There are a few causes for “red eye”. Ignoring the
obvious ones of late nights with excessive alcohol intake and scratchy
contact lenses, “red eye” is a condition often seen with many flash
photographs these days. The photographic cause of “red eye” is the
flash burst illuminating the back of the eyeball! This is particularly a
problem with cameras that have their own in-built flash.
The reason for this is that the beam of light from the
flash is very close to and parallel with the lens axis, so the lens
“looks” directly into the back surface of the eyeball as well as the
flash beam. Another reason for the prevalence of “red eye” is that in
low light situations (and that’s the times when you have to use flash
illumination) the subject’s pupils are dilated and it becomes even
easier to see into the eye.
by Michael Busselle
Now, to get around this problem, professional
photographers will often use a flashgun mounted off to the side of the
camera. In this way the flash actually comes across the subject’s eyes
at an angle and “red eye” is less likely to be apparent.
The clever camera manufacturers have now begun
incorporating a “pre-flash” mode before the main flash fires to make
the pupil contract, so it is less likely that you will see inside the
eyeball. The only problem here is that many people imagine that the
“pre-flash” going off means picture taking is over and move away just
as the main flash fires. Best to warn the subject that there will be two
flashes, with the real one being the last one!
How fast is your film?
The “speed rating” of film is generally given by an
ASA number. The higher the number, the faster and more sensitive the film.
The most “usual” film speed is about 100 ASA, however, it makes a lot
of sense to go for some different film speeds.
The trick is to adapt your film use to the kind of
picture you want to take. Confused? Don’t be. The rationale behind film
speed is simple. The faster the film (the higher the ASA number) the
better it is in lower light levels. To put it simply, if you want to take
shots in the evening without using a flash then select a film with ASA
number up around 1600 or even higher. That film is five times more
sensitive to light than your usual 100 ASA film. Or put another way, it
will satisfactorily expose film at one fifth of the amount of light that
the “normal” film needs.
All this super sensitivity comes at a price, though.
And that is “sharpness” and clarity. The faster the film, the more
“fuzzy” it gets.
Sometimes you may want to get that “soft” romantic
look in a portrait. Again this is where you use the fast film and enlarge
for the portrait. That “grainy” look is now at your command! Good for
“glamour” portraits too.
At the other end of the scale, the lower (and slower)
ASA numbers need a lot more light for proper exposure, but the film
emulsion gives pin sharp clearly defined images. Pro shooters will often
use 50 ASA film to get that crisp picture that will withstand big
If you have a camera with DX de-coding, then the camera
will automatically adjust for the different films used. However, if your
camera has manual adjustment for film speed, remember to set the new ASA
rating or you will have wasted a complete roll. And also remember to
re-set the film speed when you go back to your usual film again.
In answer to your question, what does Harry Flashman
use for everyday? Try 200 ASA for a good all-rounder, and I use a mixture
of Konica (nice and cheap too) and Kodak, if I can’t get the former
brand. No matter what film you use, though, keep it cool in its canister.
Nothing ruins film quicker than heat.
Modern Medicine: Twinkle,
twinkle little star
by Dr Iain Corness, Consultant
How I wonder what you are
I really do love that euphemism for having a pee -
having a twinkle! It is actually quite amazing just how many words are
used by the average Anglo-Saxon family to describe one of nature’s most
basic and instinctual acts. From pee-pee, to passing water, to Number
Ones, to doing a “wet” - the list is endless. When about to ask a
young child about its bladder habits I would always speak to the parents
first and say, “What do you call it in your house?”
And that roundabout beginning leads us to Urinary Tract
Infections, otherwise known as UTI’s in the med bizz. This is a
condition which can result in another really pesky condition and very
common in women, called Cystitis. This is an inflammation of the bladder
and the body responds by sending you messages that you have to quickly go
to pass water, but when you get there it is a burning and scalding
teaspoonful and half an hour later it is a repeat performance, all over
It is said, and probably with some correctness too,
that the short Urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside world) is
the reason for this, while the male, with the longer Urethra does not have
the problem. One wonders if this was the start of the so-called “penis
The usual symptoms of a UTI begin with the burning and
scalding and frequency (going to the toilet many times a day) and
sometimes there is blood in the urine as well. If the infection is coming
from the kidneys there can also be pain in the loin region and the patient
can be quite ill, with fevers and rigors (uncontrollable shaking).
The usual method of attack from the doctor’s point of
view is to examine the urine, and the best way is a Mid-Stream Urine (MSU).
In fact, if you are going to see the doctor you can cut out a bit of waste
time by taking along your MSU in a clean bottle at the time of
consultation. The MSU is obtained by passing water into the toilet, then
passing some into the container and then finishing in the toilet bowl
The doctor may elect to have the urine examined and
cultured for the micro-organism involved, or it may be just a simple
dipstick test, with the doctor quite sure of the diagnosis.
The end result is generally some antibiotics and
something to make the urine more alkaline if there is a lot of pain on
urination, but one of the cornerstones of all UTI treatments is for the
patient to really drink lots and lots and lots and lots of water. Really
flush the urinary tract through, taking the bugs away and out of the body.
Of course, if the UTI’s are recurrent, then it will
be necessary to investigate further and see why this is so. Sometimes the
Ureters (the tubes from the kidneys to the bladder) are malformed, or
there can be stones in the kidney which may predispose the patient towards
this condition. Generally we would begin with an ultrasound and work on
through from there - but the majority of UTI’s are a simple infection.
I have met a Thai girl last year, since then I have
been coming to Thailand every 3-4 months, solely to see her. I have even
split my holiday evenly in regular intervals to see her frequently - that
how much I like her. We have exchanged the phone numbers and the e-mails
and we have been in contact with each other from time to time. However, I
seem cannot enlighten her with the meaning of “about” or “around”.
You see, she is always eager to know when I will be arriving to Thailand
next time and when I reply to her “in about 3 months”, she takes it
literally to be 90 days, because when I call her the next time - for
instance in 2 weeks - she starts enquiring me with my arrival date and
when I reply to her in about 3 months, somehow she gets upset as in her
mind I have changed the date and should be arriving in two and a half
months and not three. Hillary, you know how is the situation working as a
professional for a leading company, you cannot be sure when you will get
your next leave, it depends on your boss mode, it easily could be 1-2
weeks postponed. Please help me in finding correct words to convey her
what I mean when I say “about”. I even tried “approximate” but
that even confuse her.
I take it from your letter that English isn’t your
mother tongue either, so you already know some of the problems your
girlfriend is having in trying to communicate in another language. You
have also found the answer yourself when you say in your letter that it
could be 1-2 weeks postponed - in other words, you are saying that it will
be in “about” one to two weeks. When you want to say you will be
coming back in “about three months” then what you have to say is
“coming back in 3-4 months” and your Thai girlfriend will know that
this means “about”. Remember too, that one reason why she will want to
tie down the dates is that she has to organize and arrange her life too,
please don’t forget that.
About ‘Baz’ the wartman, I once had some warts on
nether regions, luckily my wife is a nurse and I went to the hospital and
the doctor gave her some ‘Posafalin’ (not sure if this is the correct
spelling). It was in a liquid form, it got rid of the little devils. You
have to get this on prescription in the UK. I also know that they have
this in cream form. I suggest ‘Baz’ contacts the ‘one and only’
Doc Iain for correct spelling and to see if its available here. Sorry no
chocs or wine this time Hill’s.
Is there anyone left who has not become involved in
Baz’s warts? Perhaps we should do blow up photographs as a centrepiece
in next week’s Pattaya Mail? By the way, the correct spelling, according
to the good Doctor Iain, is “Posalfilin”, but he also says it is
contra-indicated for the sort of virus that Baz has on his Willie the
wonder wand. I repeat, Baz is better off returning to the skin doctors.
People are getting worried in Pattaya about the exposure his warts are
getting in this column and may stop reading just in case they are exposed
and catch them too. To be safe, here in the office, we even burn his
emails after they have been read. And be warned, neither Norton 2000 nor
McAfee will detect or destroy this virus.
I have lived in Pattaya quite some time now and for the
past two years have parked my car in the same area in South Pattaya with
no problem. Recently, somebody has been placing nails and even screws
under my tyres. The air has been let out on number of occasions over the
past few months. Generally I park my car near a motorcycle taxi stand and
I suspect that they are the ones committing the malicious attack on my
vehicle, but there is no proof. The simple solution would be to park my
car elsewhere but this would inconvenient for me. What should I do?
This is a job for a super sleuth Private Investigator,
one who will lie in hiding and get video evidence to convict your terror
of the tyres. However, this could be expensive, so it might be better to
just get the help of our friendly police force, but this will also be
expensive in the long run. Then again, have you stopped to consider just
why the taxi motorcycles have begun to dislike you? You have been parking
there for two years you say and suddenly they have turned on you. What did
you do to them? It is important to remember too, that just because you may
be paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you! Park
somewhere else, Petal. It’s easier. Simplest is always best.
Last week’s comment on owning land has led to
requests for a bit more info, so here we go. In Thailand, foreign
nationals can own a unit(s) in a registered condominium or even a
building as distinct from the land it is built on. It is also possible
to hold a registered leasehold of up to thirty years for all types of
titled land or buildings. Appropriate extension clauses can make this
period even longer. Typically, farangs ‘buying’ a house for thirty
years establish a Thai company with themselves as minority
shareholders. There are taxes to pay at the point of buying and of
selling as well as (in theory) levies on any rental income.
But foreigners may not own in their own right
freehold land, nor may they own more than 49% of the shares in a Thai
company. The only partial exception are US nationals because, since
the 1970s, they have benefited from the so called ‘amity treaty’
which allows for a Thai company under certain conditions to have
special rights of company ownership which can extend to one hundred
percent American ownership. However, the legal process is complicated
and such companies as have been established do not own freehold land
40 million or bust
In 1999 there was indeed a change in the law to
allow a foreigner in his own right to purchase one rai of land on
which to build a house provided that he or she had invested 40 million
baht and kept it in Thailand for three years. However, no such houses
have yet been built as the detail has not been finalized by the
Ministry of Finance. One unclear aspect is whether you could build a
house out of the 40 million baht or whether the investment is
separate. Also no one seems to know if the investment can be cash or
bonds or equities or a combination, or even a large capital injection
into an existing business venture.
Overheard in Soi Seven
1st man. I’m looking for the most disreputable
bar in this street. Which side is it on?
2nd man. It certainly won’t be on yours mate.
The property future
For most farangs then, the situation remains
basically as it has been for the past ten years. If you prefer not to
be a renter, either buy a condo unit or establish a Thai company with
the property or house leased back to you. Alternatively, you can put
the ownership in the name of a Thai you can trust, or think you can
anyway. In all cases, purchase only through a well established real
estate agent with a proven track record you have checked out. And the
golden rule is to put your money only into a dwelling which is the
love of your life. It’s nice to think property prices in Pattaya
will rise in real terms, but nobody knows for sure. Remember that
houses in England fell in value for a hundred years after the battle
of Waterloo (1815). Pattaya’s present success on the property front
owes much to the government’s generous immigration policy which has
spurred the numbers of retirees and farang investors on long stay
visas. Who knows if the policy will be the same in five or ten years?
KH asks if a Thai citizen entering Thailand on a
foreign passport need only show his or her Thai ID to stay up to one
year. According to immigration, a Thai using a foreign passport needs
a visa to enter the country just like a national of the foreign
country which has been adopted... FY wants to know if any foreigners
are covered by the government’s thirty baht health insurance scheme.
No, the plan applies only to Thai nationals. Thai spouses who marry a
farang, and their children, are included provided they keep Thai
nationality... DS queries whether he can buy a mobile phone here for
local use when on holiday. You can by purchasing a pre payment card in
advance. But there is likely to be a minimum monthly usage, so you can
easily lose the number when you go back home if regular payments
Even more reasons for not exercising
I like long walks, especially when they are taken
by people who annoy me.
I admit to having flabby thighs, but fortunately my
stomach covers them.
The advantage of exercising every day is that you
If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start
with a small country.
I don’t exercise because it makes the ice jump
right out of my glass.
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
Below the average
Boy! Did Thailand get a bad report card during the last
survey by the Hong Kong based Political Risk Consultancy Ltd.! We ended up
in the corner with dunce caps and at the bottom of the heap with Vietnam,
Indonesia, India and the Philippines. Apparently the only people dumber than
we appear to other countries are the nations of Burma, Cambodia and Laos. Do
we really deserve this spanking? Of course we do.
The survey pointed out a long laundry list of failures
which have not been seriously addressed. These issues hinder Thailand not
only from recovering from the economic catastrophe of 1997, but moving ahead
with political and social reforms. The evaluation of the legal system was
termed ‘multifarious’. Our nation’s national leadership has a history
of ambiguity, and government policies were proclaimed to be inconsistent.
Corruption in this society is a way of life which has never been much of a
secret. And many foreign investors are in a state of permanent confusion as
to exactly where they stand because of the whimsical enforcement of our
legal system. To add to the list of criticisms, our environment is
deteriorating rapidly, and our education levels are a source of alarm. The
whole nation needs to be ‘reprogrammed’. In a nutshell, Thailand is
still seen as backward and politically immature.
Did we get any kudos at all? The survey admitted that all
Thais are not the same. I guess that meant that we are not all barefoot
peasants riding rickshaws. Apparently some Thais have ‘vision’. The
fight against communism was noted. Those who demanded a new Constitution
were applauded for their foresight. The ASEAN Free Trade Area got a mention.
And apparently we all got a gold star for keeping food cheap. When the
subject of vision was debated, I wonder why they didn’t acknowledge all
the millions of overseas Thais living in the rich Western countries.
Certainly they display vision.
After this survey was reported, I found a truly
enlightened message from a Thai citizen posted on an Internet message board.
In this gentleman’s view, reprogramming Thais will never be successful
because the people are all ‘right brain’ users. According to him a
right-brain dominant culture means that arts, music, emotions, earth and
motion rules life inside the society. People who primarily use the right
side of their brain are ‘touchy-feely’ people who’s hearts (and
stomachs) rule their heads. Oddly enough, a few years ago, a Western teacher
in Thailand caused quite a stir in the press when he described Thais as
sweet and charming people who were generous and friendly. He went on to add
that as endearing as the culture and its people were, Thais seemed to be
“all heart and no brains”. The explanation on the Internet seems to be
telling us that no brains is inaccurate. Half a brain would be more to the
The Net message went on to compare right-brain people to
those who think with the left side of their brain. This is the analytical
side of the human brain. This side is the one to use when we want to think
ahead, plan for the future, and work out cause and effect of actions and
consequences. Western education is based on the philosophy that the act of
thinking can be taught as a skill. The Thai who posted this message went on
to add that Thais are mentally in the same category with Malays, Filipinos
and Indonesians. They have no thought for tomorrow and only focus on the
now, and this will never change until Thailand’s whole educational system
is dismantled and replaced with a new one.
Left brain, right brain, no brains. Poor Thailand. We do
seem to be all in a muddle here. Personally, I think it would be nice if we
all could make greater use of both sides of the brain. Science says that the
human race only uses perhaps 20% of our inherent capacity. Stroke patients
learn to use new areas of the brain for speech, memory and motor skills, and
are taught with special techniques to bypass the damaged sectors. I do,
however, shudder at the thought of all Thai teachers being replaced with
left-brain instructors. The idea sounds a little Orwellian to me. Look what
happened to Singapore.
Women’s World: A
different type of challenge
by Lesley Warner
I decided to take another look at some of our famous
ladies of the past. Have you ever thought about some of these ladies in our
history and wondered how they found themselves in such awful situations? If
we think that the challenges and goals we set ourselves these days are
difficult, how about some of those past goals? Let’s look at what they
achieved. Take Joan of Arc - how on earth did a young country girl from a
poor family end up leading a war in partnership with her King?
Back in Joan’s time (1412-1431) a female had a role in
the house. Up to the time she was considered old enough to marry, which
could be anytime after 13 or 14 years old, she would help her mother in the
house or father on the land. It was no different for Joan. She was born the
third of five children to a farmer, Jacques Darc and his wife Isabelle de
Vouthon in the town of Domremy on the border of provinces of Champagne and
Lorraine. She tended cows for her father and learned housekeeping skills and
religion from her mother.
When Joan was about 12 years old, she began hearing the
“voices” of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret believing them
to have been sent by God. These voices told her that it was her divine
mission to free her country from the English and help the dauphin gain the
French throne. Quite a daunting task, one would have thought, for a grown
man let alone a 12-year-old girl. They told her to cut her hair, dress in a
man’s uniform and to pick up the arms. I know that to us, these days, she
just sounds crazy but think what a courageous and determined young lady she
must have been to reach her goal.
Joan convinced the captain of the dauphin’s forces, and
then the dauphin himself of her calling. After passing an examination by a
board of theologians, she was given troops to command and the rank of
At the battle of Orleans in May 1429, Joan led the troops
to a miraculous victory over the English.
Charles VII was crowned king of France on July 17, 1429
in Reims Cathedral. At the coronation, Joan was given a place of honor next
to the king. So from tending the cows she found herself standing next to her
king; what a triumph!
In May 1430 the Burgundians, who were allies of the
enemy, captured her and they sold her to the English. Neither King Charles
nor the French did anything to save her. After months of imprisonment, the
English handed her over to the ecclesiastical court at Rouen. She was tried
for witchcraft and heresy by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter
Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to
become archbishop. She was told that to wear men’s clothes was a crime
against God but she continued to wear them and this was classed as defiance
and finally sealed her fate. Can you imagine being put to death because you
On May 30, 1431 she was executed in the most ghastly way,
she was burned at the stake in the Rouen marketplace. Imagine she was only
nineteen years old but look at what she had accomplished. Charles VII made
no attempt to come to her rescue so she died alone after fourteen months of
In 1456 a second trial was held and she was pronounced
innocent of the charges against her, a bit late for Joan. She was beatified
in 1909 and canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
Animal Crackers: The
Praying Mantis or is that the “preying” mantis?
by Mirin MacCarthy
than the Sacred Scarab it is difficult to think of an insect that has
stirred human imagination more than the Praying Mantis.
Take these facts from all over the world - The word
“mantis” comes from ancient Greece and means “diviner” or
“prophet”, and many cultures have credited the mantid with a variety of
French peasants - If a child is lost, the mantids
praying-stance points the way home.
Turks and Arabs - The mantid always prays toward Mecca.
Southern U.S. - The brown saliva of the mantid will make
a man go blind or kill a horse.
China - Roasted mantid egg cases will cure bed wetting.
Africa - If a mantid lands on a person it brings them
good luck and it can also bring the dead back to life.
European Middle-ages - The mantis was a great worshipper
of God due to its time spent in prayer.
The mantis is also famous for its almost human mating
habits - when the male and female have finished mating, the female eats the
Mantis is the common name for a long, slender, winged
insect common in warm temperate and tropical regions throughout the world.
Also called praying mantis, they have received this name for sitting back on
their rear legs and holding their stout front pair of legs together in an
attitude reminiscent of prayer. While that is what it may look like, the
green and brown insects are actually waiting for insects that constitute
The common European mantis reaches a maximum length of
about 6.3 cm. This species was introduced into the United States to help
control injurious insects. It is now widespread in the north-eastern part of
the United States. The common mantis of the southern United States, the
Carolina mantis, is a native species about 7.6 cm long, which is also known
in the South as the Rearhorse or Mule Killer.
The Praying Mantis has a short life span of less than one
year. Mantis babies usually hatch from their frothy egg-masses in late April
or May, or whenever the weather begins to warm up, depending on the region.
Mantis babies are wingless, but otherwise resemble the adults. By August,
mantises that have survived are adult, and by September or October, most of
Mantises are the only insects that can turn their heads
from side to side, and this is done to best focus and use their
multi-faceted eyes. Their front legs are equipped with sharp spines that
enable the insects to grasp and hold their prey. Once held, the mantis bites
the neck to stop the animal struggling and devours its dinner at leisure.
Oh yes, the Praying Mantis really is the “preying”
Mantis and is a carnivore, eating other insects, other Mantises, its own
young, small reptiles, frogs and even birds.
One interesting feature of the Praying Mantis is the
“radar” detector which it possesses. In the bodies of some species of
mantis there is a hollow chamber. A fairly recent discovery is that these
chambers provide the mantis with a means for detecting bats. Apparently, the
mantis in flight will drastically change its flight pattern (often hurling
directly to the ground in a crazy spiral) when certain frequencies of sound
are ‘heard’ by the mantis. The sounds emitted by bats when looking for
their dinner, such as Praying Mantises!
In their scientific classification, Mantises make up the
order Mantodea. The common European mantis is classified as Mantis religiosa,
while the Carolina mantis is classified as Stagmonantis carolina.
The computer doctor
by Richard Brunch
From George Powers, USA:
Dear Doc. I am planning to move to Thailand soon, and I have acquired a
large amount of IT equipment in the U.S. These include computers, monitors
(21”) which I love, servers, printers and more. My question is, can I
convert them to 220 volt 50 cycles, or should I toss them out and start all
over. I have over $25,000 U.S. invested.
Computer Doctor replies: George, many people come to
Thailand from the US and have the same dilemma. In essence, to convert
individual pieces of equipment to run on local electricity would be
prohibitively expensive, a more economical solution is to purchase a
transformer here that will have sufficient capacity to run all your
equipment, which I imagine you will locate in the same place. I consider you
will need to spend in the region of 2,500 – 5,000 baht. Also, bear in mind
that you may have customs duty to pay and this is applied in a casual
manner, so beware!
From Oscar Norman, Burton on Trent: Firstly, let me
say I love your column and the Pattaya Mail which I read avidly on
the Internet. I have a Pentium III 350 MHz PC with 256Mb SDRAM and a 20Gb
Hard Disk (ATA 66). I enjoy installing and tinkering with programs, like the
free ones you get on PC magazines. I particularly like graphics programs.
Although, after a quick try I often find the newly installed program to be
either inappropriate or useless so uninstall. The problem is that my PC is
becoming slower and slower and although I am a tinkerer, I am by no means an
expert and frankly would throw my arms up in horror if I had to reinstall
the system from scratch. I think I’d have to trust to a shop but the
labour rates are fairly high and as I am on a pension this would have to be
a last resort. Any advice that you can give me would be appreciated.
Computer Doctor replies: The danger with installing
many programs and then uninstalling is that some residuals often remain
behind. If you have been installing a lot of graphics programs it is quite
likely that they installed a multitude of fonts, excessive fonts being one
of the quickest ways to degrade system performance. You also need to be
aware that most programs install fonts by default. In any event, as a rule
you should not exceed 250 – 300 installed fonts on your system, if you
have more than this and I suspect you have then you will need to uninstall
some using Control Panel > Fonts. It is wise to copy the entire fonts
folder to another directory before commencing this chore as if you need to
reinstall one, it will be readily to hand. Be particularly careful when
uninstalling that you do not uninstall any of the standard Windows Fonts or
those installed by applications like Office as if you do then you will see
some rather strange behaviour on your screen.
Another thing to bear in mind is that if programs are
installed and uninstalled regularly then the hard disk will rapidly become
fragmented, so it is a good idea to defragment the drive. Use either the
Defragmenter included with Windows or a third party utility like Executive
Software’s Diskeeper which provides a better alternative and allows for
‘smart scheduling’ so that once set you don’t have to worry about
having a fragmented hard drive.
If neither of these solutions improve things for you then
it is likely that the system has become damaged and realistically the best
solution would be to do a clean install, of course making sure that you
backup any data and configuration settings that you may require. If it
really does come down to a clean install, providing you have protected your
data and time is not an issue, do try to do a reinstall yourself, after all
it will save you money but if you come to grief then you can resort to your
local shop at that point.
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.
For further information, please telephone 01 782 4829, fax 038 716 816,
e-mail: [email protected] or see our
A Slice of Thai History:
Franco-Thai War 1940-1941
by Duncan Stearn
Part One: Background
If it is correct that one of the first casualties of war
is truth, then certain previously accepted ‘facts’ about the Franco-Thai
War of 1940-1941 need to be re-examined with greater scrutiny.
The Thai accounts of that brief war and the French
versions tend to differ, sometimes by degrees and occasionally quite
markedly. This is particularly so with regard to the causes of the war and
especially the naval battle of Koh Chang.
France and Thailand had been on the verge of war on a
number of occasions from the mid-19th Century onwards, as the French sought
(successfully) to extend their empire in Indo-China and the Thais struggled
in vain to hold on to the vestiges of control they exerted over their
ostensible vassals of Laos and Cambodia.
King Rama V (1868-1910) - like the Meiji emperors in
Japan - recognised the need to modernise, especially militarily. The pace of
this modernisation was slow and, unable to seriously oppose French
expansionism, the Thais lost control of Laos and Cambodia and were only
saved from further humiliation by the intervention of the British. Lodged
firmly in Burma and the Malay Peninsula, Britain came to an agreement with
France to maintain Thailand as an independent buffer state between their
Following the First World War (1914-1918), Thailand hired
German advisers to help build and train a Thai army. By 1935 Thailand had a
modern army of some 50,000 troops and it was in this year that yet another
border incident took place between the Thais and the French.
A Thai-run logging company, owned by Khun Inta
Bangcongcit, would purchase logs in French-controlled Laos and float them
down the Mekong River to Thailand. However, the French allegedly broke the
logging agreement, causing Khun Inta to lodge a complaint with the French
authorities. They responded by arresting and beating Khun Inta and allegedly
raping his wife. This prompted Thailand to make an official complaint to the
League of Nations. France was ordered to pay compensation to Khun Inta and
his wife, but the French failed to comply with the order.
This complaint was also the catalyst that led to Thailand
re-negotiating a series of treaties regarding navigation, commerce and
extraterritoriality with some 13 nations, including Britain, France, the
United States and Japan.
In 1938, Thailand approached France and asked to
renegotiate their common boundaries to prevent future incidents similar to
those of Khun Inta occurring. The French refused to enter into any form of
Guide to buying a large
dog : St Bernard
by C. Schloemer
Good points: friendly, loyal adores children, easy to
train, supremely intelligent.
Take heed: hindquarters prone to weakness, needs
plenty of space, not renown for longevity.
St Bernard is a gentleman. He is powerful, but easy-going. This dog makes a
most loveable family pet because he is so good with children. The tots can
pull his ears or tail and he understands. Because this breed is so
intelligent, the St Bernard is easy to train.
Eager to please, his happy nature makes him a devoted
companion for the owner who has the space this breed needs and deserves.
Like all working dogs, the St Bernard is happiest with a job to do. A farm
or country home is an ideal environment for this dog, since they are often
found performing herding and drafting tasks.
This breed has natural path finding abilities, rescue and
herding instincts. Families with small children who are proud owners of St
Bernards have wonderful anecdotes of how the family pet tends to herd the
toddlers away from open gates, busy streets, and swimming pools.
Size: the taller the better, provided that symmetry
is maintained. Good proportions and substance are the hallmark of a fine St
Exercise: do not give the young St Bernard too much
exercise or start his working task at too early an age. Short, regular walks
for the first few months are recommended. Long exercise routines and
exhausting walks will prevent this breed from acquiring its full strength
and endurance. After the first year, the St Bernard has developed
sufficiently to be put to work.
Grooming: that magnificent coat is easily maintained
with daily brushing.
Origin and history: shrouded in legend and the mists
of time, the origin of this breed is subject to many theories. It is most
generally accepted that the St Bernard is a descendant of the Roman
Molossian dogs. But it is named for the St. Bernard Hospice in the Swiss
Alps, to which it was introduced between 1660-1670, where it became famous
for rescuing climbers in the Alpine mountains, particularly the St. Bernard
It is likely that large dogs were first introduced into
this region as watchdogs and companions for the monks during the long winter
months when the hospice was fairly isolated. The lonely monks took the dogs
along with them on their trips of mercy, and soon discovered the breed’s
highly developed sense of smell in locating people lost during storms.
During the 300 years that the St Bernard has been used in
rescue work, it is estimated they have been responsible for saving literally
thousands of lives. They have an uncanny instinct which warns them of
approaching avalanches. There have been reports where this dog will change
direction or position for no apparent reason, seconds before an avalanche of
ice and snow come hurtling down a mountainside.
Down The Iron Road: ‘TGV’
- The French High Speed Train
by John D. Blyth,
P.O. Box 97, Pattaya City 20260
This article is to mark the completion of the French high
speed rail link between Paris the Mediterranean port of Marseille and the
introduction of a new time-table, from 10th June this year which achieves a
time of just three hours by rail between the capital and the port; this by
no less than 16 trains per day, at an average speed of 155 mph (241 km/hr).
Development of high speed by rail
Although high speeds on test by such curious machines as
the German Krukenberg railcar, propeller driven like an old aircraft, and
the records of ‘Mallard’ (see an earlier ‘Down the Iron Road’) and
other freak steam efforts were well recorded, the high-speed era began after
W.W.2, and in mountainous and densely populated Japan, where the narrow
gauge and steam-operated line from Tokyo to Osaka had become hopelessly
insufficient, and the decision was made to build a high speed (European)
gauge electric line to connect these two cities. Gestation time for such a
railway is not short, and it was some years before, in October 1963, the
line was to the open to the public. Someone panicked on maximum speeds and
decreed the maximum to be 125 mph, and not the planned 155 mph, but this was
adjusted during test running. Signalling was not on the line-side in
accordance with tradition but driver’s cab; this has been followed for the
French TGV - (Train a Grande Vitesse’ - simply ‘High speed Train’).
next train to Bordeaux - an impression of the TGV Atlantique prototype
It is worth mentioning that one of the original
‘bullet-nosed’ power cars has been presented to the National Railway
Museum at York, and will soon be on show; also as a point of pride, no
passenger has been killed on this ‘Shinkansen’ Line - not one passenger
has lost his life in an accident. The Japanese word simply means ‘New Main
Line’. We do not need to comment that the first line was a huge success,
and that ‘Shinkansen’ lines have been built all over Japan the over the
The French ‘TGV’ Network
To reach Marseille from Paris on ‘TGV’ lines has
taken almost 20 years. This is a question of pure finance, and the provision
of best service with the money available. ‘TGV’ trains can run freely
over the lines used by ‘other’ trains, only providing that the current
supply is compatible, and although the standard for the TGV lines is 25 kV
50 cycles, some of the connecting lines still remain at the earlier 3000 V
DC. The French have for years run their electric locomotives on to the lines
in neighboring countries, and are by now past masters at multi-voltage
operation. The French government and rail administration were of course most
interested in the possibility after 100 years of procrastination, in the
likelihood of a tunnel being built under the English Channel, but the
British government raised many difficulties, at one stage undecided whether
it ought not to be a road, rather that a rail tunnel (or both?); there were
very strong objections within the ruling Tory Party led by Mrs Thatcher
against the provision of any public money for the project.
‘TGV’ Meditertanee leaves one of the massive viaducts on the approach o
Marseille, near the Aix-en-Provence station.
All was finally raised from private sources, although
lack of funds almost stopped work more than once. None of this pleased the
French at all, as the next area into which they wished to introduce TGV
working was the busy industrial area in the northeast, all of it not too far
from the vicinity of Calais, near the site of the tunnel’s French portal.
To keep TGV development on the go, they had therefore to
start on another and less profitable area, the southwest, and so the TGV
Atlantique was born. Intended destinations are, at least at first, Rennes
and Bordeaux: my map and the text which came with it do agree as to how far
they are advanced on each line, but I suspect the TGV Bretagne has reached
Le Mans, and the TGV Aquitaine is at Tours. And at last some kind of
agreement was set out for the boring of the Channel Tunnel itself, with
little doubt the biggest single engineering project of the 20th century.
This is no place to tell the story, even were I able.
Into the tunnel
of ‘TGV’ routes, present and proposed. Lines shown ‘dotted have TGV
services but running at more conventional speeds. ‘Dark’ areas at top
show Belgium and Switzerland; lighter area between shows part of Germany and
Luxembourg. Part of Spain, with Barcelona, is at the bottom left.
I have mentioned more than once the difference in
‘loading gauge’ (height and width) limits between the railways of
Britain and those of neighboring countries. The early intention that trains
for Paris, Brussels, and maybe other continental places should not all start
from London, but should run through from major British cities as well. This
compelled the British trains to fit British conditions, and although all
have been built to do so, some trains were designated as ‘North of
London’ and were in some respects slightly different from the standard. An
interim scheme when the new terminal at London’s Waterloo station was
opened, was to run a number of connection services from main centres direct
to Waterloo at a connecting facility; it was found to be so poorly
patronised that the whole question of ‘North of London’ trains even now
may be dead. Another ‘dead duck’ was the concept of sleeping car trains
between London and Paris (and maybe Brussels, which I seem to have ignored -
sorry) - but the Tunnel is full of freight traffic at night and the presence
of such quick-transit trains for short sleeping times was plainly a nonsense
- but seen so at the time!
The plan, then, is a regular service via Lille, to both
Paris and Brussels: it is now working well, but to keep the record straight,
it is not just the British who got things wrong - there was bad delay in
getting planning permission for the building of the TGV line in Belgium, and
a ‘slow’ time table had to be used for a time.
To be continued...
Antiques, are they
genuine?: Boston and Philadelphia Fakes
by Apichart Panyadee
In the 1920’s, when collecting and interest in American
antique furniture began in earnest, a number of fakers in Boston were busy
making pieces from old parts. Creating rare butterfly tables from plain
tavern tables, block front bureaux from straight front ones, veneering over
solid fronts, adding inlaid eagles, fans and bellflowers to plain tables,
clocks and chests, they managed to turn out a considerable inventory of
these items. They were also recreating some fine Federal pieces such as
Hepplewhite and Sheraton sewing tables, tambour desks, card tables and
block and shell Connecticut secretary c. mid-1800
At the same time, in nearby Philadelphia, dishonest
cabinetmakers were making elaborately carved scrolled top highboys and
chests-on-chests from plain flat top ones. These enterprising deceivers
carved pedestals and legs of plain tripod tea tables, added English mahogany
trays as tops, and made more valuable piecrust tea tables, or made similar
tables by using the bases of fine pole screens and adding birdcage supports
and piecrust tops. Very clever, indeed.
A good example of an improvement, but not necessarily a
downright fake (unless it is sold as an original), is a block and shell
Connecticut secretary which appeared in an auction flyer for an estate sale
held on site, and off the beaten track. It was basically original with the
exception of the brasses and feet which were added in the 19th
century. The same secretary as it appeared after ‘improving’ had the
feet removed and replaced with more sophisticated ogee bracket feet which
had to be set back from the mouldings to cover the marks left by the turned
feet. The brasses, with the exception of the side handles were replaced.
secretary as it appeared for sale after ‘improvements’
The primitive bonnet with original finials was removed
and the tops of the doors were reshaped to accommodate the new, more
sophisticated arched bonnet top. The escutcheons on the doors had not been
repositioned and were too high and close to the tops of the doors. Finally,
the finials and Corinthian capitals from the original item were later used
on another ‘improved’ piece. Today, experienced collectors would not be
fooled by such abundance of re-crafting, and poorly proportioned changes to
an antiquity. However, these practices were directed toward the beginner, or
amateur collector, and to those individuals who were more interested in
finding a bargain than doing research on the genuine articles.
American cabinet makers were no more principled than
their English counterparts. In 1845, an article appeared in the Portland,
Maine Transcript, concerning the faking of Mayflower furniture, the
faker describes how he is going to cut down an overly large bed to one that
is more of a saleable size. “He says we have no idea of the enlightened
interest which the ladies have taken in everything antique, and he feels
quite certain that he could sell it (the bed) at a very handsome price,
especially if he adds a little carving to one corner and breaks off the top
of one of the posts.”
Updated every Friday
Copyright 2001 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]
Chinnaporn Sungwanlek, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.
E-Mail: [email protected]