Family Money: Are
financial advisors just salesmen?
Recently, someone who was introduced to me socially
asked what I do, and when I told him, he bitterly responded, “You
financial advisors are all the same - all you guys want to do is sell me
Perhaps this gentleman had an unfortunate experience in
the past, or met the wrong kind of financial advisors. I don’t know, and
that time and place were not appropriate to further discussion.
It saddened me, however, to think that what to me is a
profession which can genuinely help people should be seen by some people
in this light.
Of course, many financial advisors have brought the
criticism down on their own heads.
They pester clients for a quick sale rather than offer
sound objective advice. They try to knock square pegs into round holes by
recommending inappropriate investment vehicles, either because those are
the ones that pay them the most commission, or because they work for a
firm that has only a limited range of investment products to offer.
But that is by no means the practice of all financial
advisors. Some of us try to espouse ethical principles of professionalism
and offer our clients “best advice” for their individual needs and
While it is true that many people in the insurance
industry are agents of their company, whose primary job is to sell as much
as they are able, and to as many people as possible, that is not the
function of a professional financial advisor, any more than it is the
function of a doctor to sell as many pills as possible - that is the job
of a pharmacist.
I think of a professional financial advisor as being
similar to the family doctor. He will be concerned about the financial
health of his clients and be client-orientated. That is, he will give
advice that is in the best interests of the client, rather than just for
his own benefit or that of the company he works for.
Certainly he will earn money for his services. Don’t
To me, the main difference between a client-orientated
advisor and a sales-orientated one is that the former will recommend to
his clients what they need, whereas the latter will recommend either what
he wants to sell them, or what they think they want - which can often be
very different from what they really need. (Just as a pharmacist will sell
you the pills you ask for over the counter, whereas a doctor will
prescribe the medication which in his professional judgement will do the
best job of curing you.)
‘Wants’ versus ‘Needs’
Most people I meet professionally come along with a
‘want’ or ‘wish’ list. But a considerable number of these people
do not know what they really need before it’s pointed out to them.
An example which springs to mind is that of a client
who, when I was first referred to him many years ago, wanted advice on
making a lump-sum investment of ฃ20,000.
After conducting a detailed analysis of his financial
situation, however, it came to light that he had made no provision for
educating his children through university; and although his company paid
for their secondary education, they would make no contribution towards
tertiary educational costs - which can be frighteningly high these days,
and becoming increasingly more expensive each year.
We discussed how much he could afford to save, and I
then prepared some illustrations for him of the projected costs of his
children’s college education, and recommended an appropriate short-term
savings vehicle for building up a college fund.
The projected figures, quite by coincidence,
corresponded exactly with his savings capacity. As a result, he was able
to start up an affordable savings plan that would take care of his
children’s further education, and was very relieved and grateful that
this need was pointed out to him - which clearly he had given no thought
to before I identified it.
If this ‘need’ hadn’t been addressed, and he
hadn’t started up that educational funding plan, he’d have had to pay
out considerably more than his savings capacity to educate his two sons at
university - both of whom I’m happy to report have now graduated with
And on my next visit, by the way, he also took my
advice for investing the ฃ20,000 which was his only ‘want’ when
I first met him. He has been a valued client ever since.
When a client first comes to see me I feel it is
important to conduct a detailed analysis of his current financial
Some clients feel they already know what they want, and
don’t see the benefit of spending time going through the details of
their financial situation and investment strategy. But only by doing this
am I in a position to offer them best advice pertinent to their individual
needs & circumstances.
All too often, it becomes apparent that a client’s
investments have been bought on whim or fancy, without any clear strategy
or financial planning objectives (other than a general one of making
No financial goals had been set, no analysis had been
done of his retirement planning, his estate planning, his need for saving.
Similarly, no strategy had been thought out for his
capital investments; they all too often comprise a few blue-chip stocks in
his home market, some options in the company he works or worked for, and a
few unit trusts or mutual funds that took his fancy or sounded like a good
bet at the time he bought them. These may have been in place for years,
and never reviewed as to their appropriateness to prevailing market
conditions or his investment objectives (which all too often have been
only vaguely defined.)
The need for protection
In the case of younger clients who have a family, it
often comes to light that the client has little or no life insurance
coverage. If he were to die unexpectedly his family might well find
themselves unable to cope financially.
As a rule of thumb, life insurance coverage should be
equivalent to at least five years’ family income. In the event of the
principal breadwinner’s demise, the coverage provides a cushion against
the family’s cost of living expenditure for an optimum period. By the
end of that time the family should have reorganised itself sufficiently
well to cope.
Of course, an older client will (hopefully) have
amassed some capital, and in the event of his unexpected demise, this may
already be sufficient to provide for the rule-of-thumb 5-year period, if
not longer. In this case, the client doesn’t need to spend money on life
insurance (which is relatively expensive in Thailand).
On the other hand, in the case of spring-autumn
relationships (of which there are a significant number in Pattaya), there
may well be a new second family to consider.
To provide for the education & maintenance of the
young children of this second marriage (not to mention the wife), the need
for additional coverage has to be addressed - unless the client already
has a considerable amount of capital soundly invested.
Insurance for middle-aged people may be expensive, but
the possibility of leaving his new family virtually destitute should he
die should be an important factor in his financial planning.
Ask yourself the question: “What would happen to my
family if I were to die tomorrow?” The objective answer might come as a
Thus almost everyone with dependants has a potential
need for life insurance, and thus there is a need for life-insurance
salesmen. Just as there is the need for pharmacists who sell pills.
However, just as not all doctors perform heart surgery,
not all financial advisors sell life insurance. (My firm doesn’t; and
when the need arises we refer the client to reputable insurance agents,
with advice on what the client needs, as opposed to what an insurance
agent might like to sell him.)
So just as there are many areas of personal health
which only a qualified and experienced doctor can address - as opposed to
the pharmacist who will sell you the pills you want with no responsibility
attached to curing your ailment - there are many aspects of personal
financial planning which a client-orientated professional advisor will be
able to address, which may have nothing to do with life insurance.
Snap Shots: The
pin-up story - continued
by Harry Flashman
The era between WWI and WWII saw further development of
the pin-up industry, and even though the word “pin-up” had still not
come into common usage, pictures of near naked ladies were in demand.
Those looking for the photographic eyeful had to
recourse to “art” magazines which would show unclothed young ladies in
non anatomical poses, with publication titles such as “Artists and
Models” or “Art Inspirations” and were ostensibly, for the outside
world, for “serious” study by painters and the like. However, there
were more copies of the magazines purchased each week than there were
paint brushes and artists’ oil and water colours.
Since the pin-up industry was still really an
underground pursuit, the standard of models and the photographic skill of
the photographers were on a par - poor! However, Europe was not labouring
under the same heavy censorship laws as the UK or America, and
“continental” style magazines such as “Gay Paree”, “Paris
Nights” or “French Follies” began to filter through the newsstands.
Burlesque shows were also getting racier, with some
naked bosoms appearing at the Ziegfeld Follies and then some even more
revealing strippers were making their way on to the stages. In their wake,
pin-ups of the performers were sold at the intermission, but again they
were very unrevealing. If you thought that these burlesque shows were just
a minor part of life in those days, think again. As many as 15,000
applicants each year would come and parade before Florenz Ziegfeld hoping
to become a part of the Ziegfeld Follies.
Times were a changing, as the song goes, and the world
fairs produced their own little bits of public nudity, or apparent nudity.
Similar to Little Egypt, forty years previously, the famous Sally Rand and
her Fan Dance, excited the visitors to the 1933 Chicago Exposition, and
she was very much photographed, but even those with a magnifying glass
were foiled by her multitude of ostrich feathers. And as before, the shows
brought the wrath of the clerics from their pure as driven snow pulpits.
But it became more apparent that pin-up photography was
going to be big business. The demand was there, the models were there, and
the photographers were there by the thousand.
By the mid ’30s the movie industry was in full swing
with thousands of hopeful starlets, each ready to display a little more
for the camera lens, in order to catch the eye of a producer. But even
these pin-up shots were still undergoing censorship. Theda Bara, one of
the stars of the day was photographed covered in pearls - but had no belly
button! Navels were taboo. The burlesque girls even wore little umbilicus
protectors, as well as nipple pasties and G-strings. In case you think
this is stretching the long bow, Harry remembers his city’s newspaper in
the early ’60s which had an art department to paint out the navels on
beach girls in two piece costumes! (For interest’s sake, they also
painted out the penises on dogs!)
By the immediate pre-war stage, the major film studios
were already producing pin-up shots of their stars which were sent out as
pre-film release publicity teasers. These were not amateurish snapshots
taken in front of a Romanesque pillar, swathed in chiffon, but highly
stylised shots, produced with multiple lights used to highlight hair,
legs, bosom, background and clothes. The term “glamour” photography
came into play, and the resultant photographs were the results from not
only the photographer, but the stylist, the make-up artist and the skilled
photo re-toucher. Any resemblance to the model in real life was purely
At this stage in the development of the archetypal
pin-up photograph, there was still more satin than skin, with the figure
hugging satin gowns and silk negligees being the props de rigueur. Look at
the photo of the famous film star Carole Lombard for a classic example of
this type of glamour shot.
And then the war came and changed not only the face of
the world, but the direction of pin-up photography. I shall continue this
series another week.
Modern Medicine: How
would you like 15,000 kids and be dead within 6 weeks?
by Dr Iain Corness, Consultant
Other than from a card-carrying masochist, the answer
to the question would be a resounding No! That being the case, pity the
poor old Enterobius vermicularis, otherwise known as the pinworm. This
little fellow comes out of its egg and lives for 6 weeks only, and at the
end of its time, releases 10,000 - 15,000 eggs and dies, its life’s work
So why should this little worm be of interest to us?
Quite simply - you’ve either got it, or you’ve had it. That’s the
statistics. Virtually all children will have been infected by the time
they reach high school, and at any one time, 50% of all children in the
5-10 year age groups will be harbouring the little worms.
So how do you know if your children are currently
harbouring a host of pinworms? There are various tests that can be done,
from microscopic stool examinations to the simple sticky tape test around
the anus which picks up eggs and the occasional worm itself. However, just
as we routinely “worm” the family cat and dog, you can routinely
“worm” the children. Single shot mebendazole works well, but you have
to repeat the “worming” two to three weeks later to pick up the newly
hatched eggs, since the eggs themselves are not affected by the drug.
There are also many other worms that like us. They all
have wonderfully exotic sounding names, for some very much non-exotic
creatures. There is Ascaris lumbricoides, the human roundworm and
Ancylostoma duodenale, the hookworms. There is also Ancylostoma
braziliense, a cat and dog worm whose larvae can penetrate human skin and
grow slowly under the top layer producing cutaneous larva migrans, a
creeping skin rash. This one is seen in beach volleyball players known
colloquially as “sandworm”.
Then there’s my favourite - Strongyloides stercoralis,
the human threadworm! “Step this way and see the amazing Strongyloides
bring a grown man to his knees!” Yes, a super-infection of Strongyloides
can be fatal as the worms invade all the tissues of the body producing
meningitis, pneumonia and septicaemia.
It doesn’t stop there either, as there is Taenia
saginata and Taenia solium, the Tapeworms, to be considered too, and their
baby brother Hymenolepsis nana, the dwarf tapeworm.
And you thought that crossing the street was dangerous.
There’s many a peril underfoot, as that is the way that many of these
worms get into our bodies - through walking on larval forms with bare
feet. The other classical way is to ingest the egg forms which can be on
vegetables that have been fertilized with infected faeces. Hence the
warnings about eating salads at the side of the road. Cooked is OK, but
beware the unwashed vegetables.
So if you have been having some intestinal pain, some
diarrhoea and itching around the anus, it just might be a worm
infestation. How do you check? See your doctor, there are tests that can
be done directly and sometimes via the blood, but you won’t diagnose
this one by yourself.
And oh yes, worms are very common in tropical climates,
though unless they are good swimmers, they’ve probably drowned by now!
Dear Handrail Hilary (sic),
I hope I can lean on you in my hour of need. I am aware
that coveting my neighbours wife is one of the ten commandments and I hope
I don’t go to hell. For over a year now I have been having an affair
with my best friends spouse which has caused me a great deal of guilt and
personal distress. In an attempt to banish my carnal desires for XXXXX to
the back of my mind I decided to head for Pattaya and exercise my labido
(sic). On returning home I was free of any thoughts for XXXXX,
unfortunately the opposite was true in her case and she barged her way
through the door of my house when I got home and “forced herself” upon
me. So although I enjoyed my trip it seems not to have the desired effect.
Another unfortunate side effect of my visit is a painful green discharge
from my penis, which since the sex with XXXXX was unprotected I fear I may
have passed onto her. I dearly love my friend. I want XXXXX to leave me
alone and am scared about telling anyone of my symptoms... Can you help?
Guilt Ridden Garfield
Dear Guilt Ridden Garfield,
Of course you can lean on me in your hour of need -
just don’t touch me, that’s all. I am amazed that you are “scared
about telling anyone of my symptoms”, because you just told the world,
my precious little poppet. Hillary is sorely tempted to say that with
friends like you, who needs enemies, but rather than be judgemental, let
us look at your various problems one at a time. You are worried that you
might go to hell. It seems to me that you are there already - nervously
looking over your shoulder in case your cuckolded best friend comes for
you with a sharp knife, and at the same time worrying in case Willie the
diseased wonder wand drops off. Another of your problems is that you
cannot spell. Hillary has two “ells” and “labido” is written
“libido”. If you are going to use the big words, at least learn to
spell them correctly, that’s a good little boy. Thirdly, this XXXXX lady
is one strong woman. Knocks down the door of your house and forces herself
upon you. What sort of a defenceless little soul are you, Garfield? Time
to buy a stronger door and better locks, isn’t it? I do note that you
follow the noble advice that it is better to give than receive, so I’m
sure that XXXXX will understand and appreciate this when she goes to visit
her gynaecologist. Which brings me to the last piece of advice - go and
take your little pop gun to the doctor, my Petal, before it gets so bad
that you have to sit down to pee. Now run along and play.
Our 16 year old daughter, who is in boarding school in
the UK, will be coming to Thailand for the Christmas holidays. We have
read about the current crack-down on a drug problem which is apparently
happening all over Thailand, and we are a little worried that she may be
exposed to drugs or the drug culture while she is over here. Obviously at
her age we cannot keep her locked indoors. Do you have any words of advice
about this subject?
Dear Worried Mum,
All parents are unfortunately in the position of having
to worry about drugs and their teenage children. Heroin, cocaine,
marijuana, amphetamines (“yaba”) and “designer drugs” like ecstasy
are all available in Thailand. Does this make Thailand more of a risk for
teenagers? Not really, as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and
“designer drugs” are all available in America, the UK, Canada,
Australia, Europe and South Africa. It is a world-wide problem. It is a
problem that all parents should discuss openly with their children, and if
you suspect that your child may have a problem because of alteration of
the child’s attitude or personality, or a sudden decrease in academic
performance, then you, and your child need to see skilled counsellors.
Hillary believes that your daughter is no more likely to be exposed here
than she would be in the UK, but a careful maternal eye should be kept.
Personally I would be more worried about her in school in the UK.
I am new to Pattaya and do not have a car just yet. So
I take the baht busses everywhere. What I am lost over is the fares
involved. Inside the baht bus there is a red sign which is supposed to
show the maximum fares that should be paid, but I find it too confusing to
read. Can you advise me on how much I should pay around town?
Baht bus Bertha
Dear Baht bus Bertha,
You have my sympathies, you are not the first to be
confused by it all. The “correct” fare for a short hop is 5 baht. From
there you go to 10 baht for say South Pattaya to North Pattaya. To go over
the hill to Jomtien look at paying around 20 baht, or the same to Naklua
central from South Pattaya. One other problem is that the baht bus drivers
never have change for a large note - ever! So keep a purse full of change
at all times. At night, there is a problem in that the drivers will want
to barter if you want to go to Jomtien. Be prepared to pay between 50-100
baht. Whilst this can be thought of as “extortion” it is still a lot
cheaper than you would pay in your own country.
to change the rules
Availability of work permits for farangs is moving
in opposite directions at the same time. On the one hand, permits for
farangs operating Pattaya bars and niteries are no longer almost
impossible to obtain. Provided you make a couple of million baht
investment, employ several Thai staff and use a lawyer who knows what
he or she is doing, all should be well. The problem arises if you are
a businessman who isn’t based in one location. For example, a
Pattaya based farang we know wants to operate a specialist web site
service to clients all over the world. The host computer is based in
US and his Thai staff work from their homes in Chonburi Province. He
is happy to pay Thai taxes but does not have an office or service
center. He is running into enormous difficulties because virtually all
work permits tie you into a predetermined work location. Yet he
operates mainly through his mobile phone and laptop computer. The work
permit rules no longer reflect the hi tech world in which we live,
especially for small farang entrepreneurs whom the kingdom claims to
want here. It’s time to reshuffle the bureaucracy.
Wherever we live, it’s obvious that we are all
going to have to live with terrorism. A transit passenger at Amsterdam
airport fancied steak and chips in the terminal restaurant. The meal
on arrival was accompanied by a plastic knife and fork for security
reasons, but the thoughtful kitchen staff offered to cut up the meat
into lump size pieces. Great. In flight to Bangkok some hours later,
he was somewhat nonplussed that the business class bacon and egg
breakfast came with a metal knife and fork. Meanwhile, American
Express has been embarrassed by their staff sending out promotional
material to Swedish customers which included artificial snowflakes.
Rather worse, a man flying from Israel to Chicago alarmed a flight
attendant when he drew a plastic knife from his food tray across his
neck, as if indicating he might slit her throat. Arrested, he said
that he had been using the knife to scratch his neck. Finally,
hundreds of people in Britain received a mailshot that included a
small plastic bag containing fine particles. In the ensuing panic, it
turned out that the substance was grains of sand from a travel company
advertising winter holidays.
High season blues
Pattaya’s hotel and nitery owners are putting on
a brave face, but the reality is probably that many farangs are going
to delay their winter holidays this year. It’s not that Thailand is
a threat destination from the terrorism angle, but more that Europeans
and Americans in particular are nervous of being trapped abroad. An
overreaction maybe, but the reasoning is that another hijack or
whatever could send insurance cover, mandatory at airports, through
the stratosphere. British airports were warning last month they could
even close without massive cash injections. Rumors of more airlines
going bankrupt have left potential ticket holders wondering where they
would stand in a collapse. Admittedly, transcontinental flights still
look full but the real question is whether flights are being cut back
or merged between two carriers. For the first time since 1945, many
farangs don’t feel safe in their daily lives. And then there’s
anthrax. It’s going to take some time before we all come to terms
with the new order of things. Reality is only what people perceive.
KP, who sounds a bit of a nutter, asks who he can
sue after falling off his rented motorbike following an unfortunate
encounter with a huge hole in Soi 17. Well, KP, your problem is that
you are in the Eastern Seaboard not East Croydon. Don’t rent a
motorbike here unless you are mentally and financially prepared for
any kind of disaster... FJ asks why his nightly sojourns in Sunee
Plaza are being ruined by police raids in the bars. You are referring
to CHS (Chonburi Hit Squad) who have been ordered by their superiors
to enforce the 1966 entertainment act and to discourage drugs and
child prostitution. By all means debate the issues in our Readers’
Letters page, but remember these guys in fatigues are just carrying
out orders from on high... HG goes on the question whether it’s safe
to drink alcohol in his hotel bar after 2 a.m. That’s up to your
hotel management as they are taking the risk, if any. Alternatively,
please everyone and raid your room mini bar as you watch the Pattaya
Mail Channel’s latest features.
More church notices
The senior choir invites any member of the
congregation who enjoys sinning to join in.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other
items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Low esteem support group will meet Thursday. Please
use the back door.
The Message In The Moon
Sun in Gemini/Moon in Sagittarius - The Soldier of
Brilliant and inspired, but also na๏ve and
impulsive, like the Fool in the Tarot deck, this sign either discovers and
explores brave new worlds or falls over the precipice into a big black hole.
Maybe these individuals weren’t born yesterday, but there are times when
they get up in the morning and see the world as though it were for the first
time. That perennial optimism which is so inherent in this combination has
already dispatched yesterday’s mishap or catastrophe from a very short
The good news is that the Gemini-Sag has fantastic scope
of vision. All that intellect and enthusiasm is enough to keep ten or twelve
people busy for a lifetime. The bad news is, no matter how brilliant he or
she may be, it will take everything they can muster just to keep themselves
together. Impulsiveness, impatience, senseless rebellion, and extravagance
are the traits that so often undermine their work and dreams. Not only is
their memory short, their attention span is also short; mainly by choice.
Freedom loving, natives of this combination despise any
form of restrictions. They simply cannot stand to be told what to do. The
‘voice of authority’ for them is the equivalent of a prison sentence.
The open road is a lot more tempting to these natives than the drudgery or a
routine job or the confinement of the classroom. To them, life is something
to be experienced and enjoyed and they want to find out what it is all about
on their own - never mind the lessons learned from their predecessors.
A true rebel without a cause, the Gemini-Sagittarius will
object to anything that hints of conformity or orthodoxy. Impulsive to the
point of foolhardiness, these natives will abandon something in which they
were completely immersed just to follow the call of something else which
seems more exciting and exotic. Sometimes they will simply drop a project
without notice, even when what they were working on had every chance of real
Controlling that streak of restlessness, organising their
goals, and developing the discipline and concentration to follow through on
them are the lessons these people must learn. If they don’t, they have my
permission to go ahead and have fun, but don’t blame the astrologer! At
the end of the line, all they may have is a head full of adventurous mishaps
to tell their grandchildren about. And perhaps that is just the way they
Very romantic and sensual, all Gemini-Sags like variety
in their love life, and this may be why they seem to have a ‘love them and
leave them’ reputation. Fixing their attentions on one person is about as
difficult for them is focusing their goals and ambitions in life. They do
have high standards of loyalty and honour, but the truth is, they are
usually the first to betray them.
Women’s World: Breathe
by Lesley Warner
Lets take a look at what our ancestors were wearing in
the name of fashion. I have to say that I commend the ladies that could
squeeze into this underwear. It makes you wonder though, if you squeeze a
balloon in the middle, think what happens to it?
The advert shown proves that the media was at work, even
in times gone by. Although I’m reluctant to believe that it was successful
with a name like ‘Armorside’ for a corset? I tried a modern version once
(which is no where near as restricting) and found it very hard to sit in a
restaurant and consume a meal. Every time I laughed politely at someone’s
witty comment I was nearly impaled on a bone. I can’t imagine that these
ladies ever enjoyed their fancy balls, imagine all that bending and skipping
in those elaborate dances?
[Lord & Taylor, Sept.22, 1881] “With the
continuance of Basques, fitting with armor-like exactness, not only in the
waist but also over the hips, the extra fit of the corset should be a matter
of the greatest care. A badly fitting corset destroys the effect of the most
elegant toilet. Corsets are quite short and quite long to suit the fancy of
the wearer. There is scarcely any more tendency to the return of elaborate
bustles than last year. It is the custom of most well dressed ladies to wear
a small bustle, more to support their skirts than to add fullness to the
original French knickers
These white cotton split drawers (knickers) from the
mid-19th century (1850-60s) are typical of the underwear that ladies wore
for several years. They didn’t really start getting shorter until
relatively recent years. All of the clothes were hand sewn with beautifully
finished seams and incredibly small stitches. When you consider the lights
they had to work by it’s amazing, a seamstress would sit up all night to
get a dress finished that her customer might need for a special ball. If you
have ever seen any of these items and studied them you will know the
intricacy of the designs, especially the many tiny pleats they used to use
and gorgeous lace. Somehow these days no matter how elaborate the lace is,
it just doesn’t compare to the beautiful designs of the past.
These days our underwear, especially pants, are miniscule
in comparison. I wonder what will happen next? Will we go backwards? Lets
hope not if it’s into bone and steel!
Animal Crackers: What
is a Goanna?
by Mirin MacCarthy
When the first white settlers arrived on the Australian
Coast they thought the large lizards they saw were a type of iguana; over
the years this has been corrupted to the popular name Goanna. In reality
Goannas are monitor lizards and Australia is home to 20 of the thirty
species found worldwide. One of the most common is the sand goanna.
All types of goannas are similar, with long heads and
long saggy necks, long flattened bodies, and heavy tails ready to strike at
enemies. They are well supported with stout limbs and long sharp clawed
digits and are supplemented by flickering forked tongues, which sample the
air like snakes. Likewise the entire head and body are covered with small
Goannas range in size from the 18 cm short tailed midget
to the inland giant, the perentie that can reach up to 2.4 m long. Most
encountered in national parks and picnic places are a meter to a meter and a
half long. No match in size for their formidable Indonesian cousins the
Komodo dragons. Komodo’s are the largest of all monitors reaching up to 3
meters long and tipping the scales at 135 kg. The heaviest goanna Australia
boasts is the tree goanna which is a mere stripling at 22 kg.
The sand goanna and the black goannas claim the land
speed record, being clocked at over 40 km per hour. Even the longest
perentie is able to outpace man running at top speed over a hundred-meter
dash. Fortunately they don’t chase or eat humans but some goannas have
mistaken a man for a tree in their frantic dash to safety, inflicting severe
scratches on occasion.
Hunting and Defence
Not people shy, goannas in suburban parks, picnic areas
and college grounds saunter around ponderously in search of food scraps.
They eat carrion and small mammals including rabbits, relish eggs and
nesting birds and have even been known to down the odd fox cub or unwary
kitten or two.
Goannas use a sideswipe with their heavy tail as their
main weapon of defence and have been known to break the leg of a pursuing
dog. As a last resort when cornered they will bite hard with their sharp
curving teeth, but are not venomous. In spite of misconceptions or
outrageous ‘yarns’ (tall stories told by Aussies) to the contrary,
goannas are not savage creatures and will not attack man.
All the young are hatched from eggs, which may be
deposited in a variety of places depending on the species. Sand goannas dig
nesting borrows in the ground. Tree goannas lay in all kinds of places from
termite mounds to tree hollows or holes dug in the earth. Approximately six
eggs are laid and the female guards these. Incubation, depending on
temperature, can take up to nine months.
The hunters and the hunted
Aboriginal women of the inland regions are very adept at
catching goannas. They read the signs of where their burrows are hidden in
the sand and quickly and expertly dig them out. Their necks are broken;
they’re carried back to camp to be roasted over the fire and are
considered a prized delicacy.
A Slice of Thai History:
Prince Bira, Thailand’s greatest sportsman
by Duncan Stearn
Part Three, Back behind the wheel: 1948-1985
In May 1948, Prince Bira competed in a controversial
non-championship Swedish Grand Prix. The race saw the advent of an unknown
make of car called a Ferrari, driven by a veteran named Clemente Biondetti
There were no racetracks in Sweden at the time and the
race was staged on an airfield about 10 kilometres south of Stockholm in
front of around 36,000 spectators.
Unfortunately, as the cars were on the grid it was found
that both Prince Bira’s and his teammate’s vehicles hadn’t been
fuelled up. Mechanics quickly rectified the error but then Prince Bira’s
car wouldn’t start. His team came onto the tarmac, and, assisted by
Sweden’s Prince Bertil (a close friend of Prince Bira’s) they managed to
roll-start the car, crossing the start line just before the flag fell.
Bira was left well behind but it soon became apparent he
had the fastest car in the race. Contemporary reports referred to him as
“the little Oriental” and he was soon battling for the lead. After
taking control, Prince Bira went on to defeat Biondetti by three minutes.
However, Biondetti protested that the start was against
the rules of motor racing and officials disqualified Bira, giving Ferrari
its first ever Grand Prix victory.
Nonetheless, the incident didn’t end there. Prince Bira
disputed the ruling and after nearly a year of the case being put before
various motor sport governing bodies, the Swedish officials were ordered to
pay first prize money to the Thai driver as well as Biondetti.
Despite the Swedish Grand Prix, Prince Bira is officially
credited with having competed in just 19 Formula One races in the period
between May 1950 and October 1954. He was forced to retire in nine of those
In 1950, he contested four events and finished a
creditable eighth in the World Driver’s Championship. In 1951, he raced
just once. In 1952 and 1953 he competed in four races each year and in 1954
he started six times and finished 17th in the World Driver’s Championship.
In 1954, he won the Ulster Trophy and then the Grand Prix
des Frontieres on the Chimay road circuit in Belgium before finishing fourth
in the French Grand Prix.
Bira raced to the end of the 1954 season when he married
for the second time and scored his final victory in the 1955
non-championship New Zealand Grand Prix (in which future triple world
champion Jack Brabham finished fourth) before retiring.
Prince Bira returned to live in Thailand, although he
kept a three-masted schooner berthed at Cannes and a home at Mandelieu in
Concentrating his sporting efforts on the water, Prince
Bira’s sailing abilities led to him being part of the Thai team to compete
in the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympic Games. He was also on the Thai
team for the 1972 Munich Olympics, even though he was then 58 years old.
In 1969, Bira contested his last major motor sport event
when he took part in
the Vientiane (Laos) to Singapore Rally. In 1970, he competed in, and won,
the inaugural Firebird Trophy, a long-distance sailing race for a small
racing vessel known as the Fireball and held in the waters off Pattaya Bay.
The Prince sculpted the perpetual trophy, a massive 200-kilogram piece cast
Prince Bira died on December 23, 1985 at the age of 71
after suffering a heart attack on a London underground train station.
Shaman’s Rattle: Brain
fade, is there hope?
Alzheimer’s disease, its memory loss and brain
dysfunction, is something that no one wants to harbour thoughts of. All
creatures do need a memory for basic functioning and survival. Hope is at
hand in the form of the well documented herb Ginkgo biloba,“ reports
French doctor and pharmacist Georges Halpern in his amazing book, Ginkgo a
Practical Guide (ISBN 0-89529-812-0).
Dr Halpern explains, The brain is our central computer
and vital to our functioning. The greatly feared Alzheimer’s disease is
responsible for seventy five percent of cases of dementia in people over the
age of sixty-five. It is rare before the age of sixty but affects more than
thirty percent of people over the age of eighty-five. Ginkgo biloba (a herb
which has been used for centuries in China) improves circulation, helps
combat aging and treats organic brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s. In
fact taking Ginkgo in the earliest stages of the disease gives the greatest
chances of reversing its effect.
What the brain needs to function
The brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen and glucose
(blood sugar) which is carried to it by blood flowing in the arteries. This
means that the brain tissue and blood vessels must all be in peak condition.
The herb Ginkgo Biloba is a great aid in this.
Ginkgo biloba extract benefits by its ability to improve
circulation to every area of the body, including the brain. Ginkgo helps
keep the blood vessels supple and elastic, and research has shown that it is
effective in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and strokes. By
improving blood flow, Ginkgo enhances the ability to heal disorders with a
circulatory basis, ranging from ringing in the ears, cerebral insufficiency,
to numbness in the toes. Ginkgo stabilizes cell membranes, it scavenges free
radicals, and inhibits oedema (swelling) due to damage of the cells of the
nervous system. If it is taken early, it is the only treatment known that
works for cerebral insufficiency. Ginkgo biloba has an astonishing variety
of positive effects on many different aspects of health. It has been
clinically shown to improve memory, enhance concentration, increase
circulation, help reverse impotence, gradually restore equilibrium
(balance), improve asthma and slow macular degeneration of the eyesight.
Dr Halpern in his book recommends taking Ginkgo biloba
early between the age of seventeen and twenty five, for those who want to
live longer and more active lives. Consult your doctor if under treatment
and you might test the following system. Take 120 milligrams to 240
milligrams of Ginkgo biloba extract daily for three months. Record how you
feel, together you can decide if Ginkgo is beneficial to you. No significant
side effects of Ginkgo biloba have been reported even in megadoses. Consider
taking Ginkgo biloba now to boost your mental performance and as a
preventative medicine to fight the breakdown of skin and retina cells caused
by ultra violet rays.
Next week: Dr Cabot on Alzheimer’s
The computer doctor
by Richard Bunch
Following on from last week’s look at Windows XP; here
are a few other nice things to complement it. I guess one of the best is
from Microsoft itself, the Tweak UI utility. Although used extensively in
previous incarnations of Windows, as before this one is not officially
supported, so use at your own risk is the watchword. Unlike previously
though, Tweak UI is not a stand alone application; it is part of PowerToys
for Windows XP and is available for download from
There are several really useful things, 11 in total, but
here are the ones I really like. The ability to add Administrator to the
Welcome screen and not show other Users; to be able to stop auto running of
CD’s and removable media in a content specific and total manner; addition
of the “Open Command Window Here” to Explorer which means that it is
much easier to ‘drop out’ to a specific directory without having to type
a long string. Similarly, the Resize Pictures PowerToy adds a resize option
to the context menu when you click an image. This resize feature is what
XP’s built-in image-resizing option the tool lets you custom-size an image
or resize the original without creating a copy.
Others to have a look at are: a Super Fast User
Switcher, with this you only have to hold the Windows key and then press the
Q key to cycle through available users. An enhanced calculator that supports
to graph and evaluate functions as well as performing many different types
of conversions. A Task Switcher which provides a thumbnail preview of active
applications. A CD Slide Show Generator. A Virtual Desktop Manager that
allows up to 4 Desktops to be managed with different applications, themes,
etc., on each. A Taskbar Magnifier that allows you to magnify part of the
screen from the taskbar. An HTML Slide Show Wizard that helps to create a
digital slide show which can then be readily used on the web, and finally a
Webcam Timershot that allows you to take pictures from one of the webcams
connected to your computer at specified time intervals. All in all a nice
utility bundle from Microsoft.
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@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
or see the firm’s website www.act.co.th
Social Commentary by
Readers of both sexes will surely agree that the lady’s
handbag is a peculiar phenomenon of modern times. The minuscule evening bag
which holds nothing but a compact mirror and a pot of lip gloss holds no
more mystery than a gentleman’s front shirt pocket. I am talking about
those massive satchels which the female of the species schleps around
containing everything but the kitchen sink. The contents of these bags vary
of course. The variation I have discovered is approximately on the same
level as DNA, and for the truly brave inquisitor, much more interesting.
A friend mentioned that he recently took his 8 year old
daughter to buy her first backpack for school. Why not? Every kid has a
backpack these days. (I have often thought I should have invested in a
backpack manufacturing company years ago.) Unlike this man’s older sons,
whose backpacks are designed only to carry a few schoolbooks, the young girl
chose one large enough to need a brace, and when filled, it will surely
weigh more than she does. So what is she planning to carry in this
pack...bricks? Actually, for the next few years that may be exactly what she
does carry. After all, she knows she needs to prepare for adulthood, to
strengthen her young body against the day when, as an adult, she will carry
a handbag that will weigh proportionately as much as today’s backpack
does, along with a briefcase and at least two pieces of luggage. Provided
that in the meantime, while still in training, she doesn’t slip a disc.
That got me to thinking about handbags. My sister
recently bought another new handbag. Not that she needed another one...she
collects handbags like Emelda Marcos collected shoes. But this one Sis
actually likes. It has more pockets than a herd of kangaroos and more
zippers than half a dozen motorcycle jackets. She can now carry everything
that is pertinent to her life in this little gem. The only thing it
doesn’t have is wheels. Problem is that Sis only weights 48 kilos, and
whenever we go places together, I always get stuck holding her handbag while
she does other things. Shopping with Sis is Hell at the best of times. She
needs both hands to feel, taste and squeeze the merchandise. No online
shopping over the Internet for this lady. And since I am always the one
‘left holding the bag’ so to speak, she expects me to search for things
she needs which are tucked away in all of those pockets and creases.
Husbands and boyfriends particularly hate this scenario.
All women seem to have this oddity in common. They load up a handbag till it
weighs more than the family dog, then get someone else to hold it or search
through it while they go about doing something much more interesting.
Trouble is, most men do not understand ladies’ handbags and can never seem
to find the house keys, car keys, small change, or ringing cell phone on
command. I know husbands who absolutely refuse to carry, search through,
peer into, or even touch that leathery abyss. Turning a deaf ear in this
case is a forgivable offence.
Even the old lechers in South Pattaya beer bars who would
drink Mekong out of a young filly’s navel will absolutely go on strike
when asked to rummage around in her handbag for the 20 baht to pay a taxi
driver. I think it is definitely a ‘gender thing’. They don’t want to
know what magic potions and tools of the trade lurk in these caverns made
from dead animal skins. Men are simple minded that way. They have pockets.
Down The Iron Road: The
Great Western 4-6-0 Family - Part 1
by John D. Blyth, P.O.
Box 97, Pattaya City 20260
“There are two ways of doing a thing: The Great Western
way, and the wrong way.” (From ‘Duck and the Diesel Engine’, by the
late Revd. Wilburt Awdry.)
Western No. 36, the first English 4-6-0; built Swindon, 1895, and withdrawn
after only ten years
The Great Western Railway of England was a remarkable
phenomenon, as the only railway in Britain to operate under the same title
from its incorporation in 1895 to 1948 when it, but not its spirit,
disappeared into the nationalised monster dictated by politics.
Soon after the turn of the century it became notable on
the locomotive side for the proportion of its trains of all kinds running on
the main lines which were worked by locomotives of the 4-6-0 type - i.e.
four carrying and guiding wheels at the front, six larger wheels, taking
power from the cylinders to drive the engine, all these being coupled by
‘side rods’, to spread the power between them; the ‘cypher’ shows
that there are no carrying wheels at the back end. A ‘tender’ at the
back carried supplies of water and fuel.
Under William Dean, locomotive superintendent, two 4-6-0s
were built in the 1890s: the first, No. 36, was the first of the type in
England, although in Scotland, Davic Jones of the Highland had come first
with his successful ‘Jones Goods’ type. No 36 had been designed to haul
heavy coal trains through the Severn Tunnel; tests seem to have gone well
enough but in regular service it seems to have developed many small faults;
it was therefore put to work locally around the Swindon area where it could
be quickly repaired, and where spares were available. I illustrate this
example of pure Victoriana on which only the wide firebox - another first -
was notable. It worked for about ten years.
Churchward’s first ‘Americanised’ 4-6-0, No. 100, put into traffic
just 99 years ago. It had many faults, some of which could not be corrected.
Dean’s second attempt was no better; it was turned out
from Swindon in 1899; as No 2601, it was surely the ugliest ever, and I will
spare you the sight of it! Other than a very long piston stroke of 28 in.,
not tried again until 1927 - there were also some odd springing
arrangements, and a boiler with a square firebox, a very short barrel, and
(a rare thing at that date) a massive combustion chamber ahead of the
firebox. There was no chance that this lot could be kept steam tight, but
nine more were built to generally the same design. All had short lives, set
aside after a small mileage, and quietly broken up - all but the boilers!
Working at a much lower pressure, they were in use supplying steam to
stationary plants around Swindon works, where then steam was the rule for
almost anything. Just before they were removed, long after the 1948
upheaval, they were photographed by the late A.E. Durrant, and his book
‘Swindon Apprentice’ shows a number of them.
Change of Command
Dean was, by 1900, in poor health, and in 1902 he was
replaced by his deputy, George Jackson Churchward, who emerged as the most
brilliant steam locomotive design engineer seen in Britain. It was emerged
that long before he took charge he was in touch with locomotive engineers in
the U.S.A., Germany and France, although he is not known to have visited any
of these countries. American practice was to the fore in his first big
4-6-0, No 100, of 1901, and its appearance was much criticised by engineers
and the public alike: the big outside cylinders, naked driving wheels,
high-pitched domeless boiler and small, awkwardly-placed cab did not go down
well with recent Victorians! My picture shows it as built, but over the year
it had many boiler changes as improvements were introduced; it was not
possible for the poor design of valve gear to be much improved, without very
expensive modifications which could not at that stage be justified. Yet it
lasted until 1932, and was good enough, if not outstanding.
year later, faults corrected, we had No. 98, later well-named
‘GJC’ was quick to see the faults, not quite as quick
to correct them. Yet his next prototype, a year later, had almost all sorted
out, and No.98, rightly but briefly named ‘Vanguard’, is generally seen
as the biggest step forward in the design of straightforward 2-cylinder
simple locomotives for all kinds of work that the railways of Britain have
seen. Never mind the wheel arrangement, look at the layout and proportions
of a host of 2-cylinder workhorses, right up to the great BR standard
2-l0-0s of the 1950s; and the principles are still there. ‘GJC’s’ next
locomotive, No. 171, was almost the same as No. 98 but had a higher boiler
pressure; neither had superheaters at first, as this feature was just being
developed by Schmidt in Germany. The GWR was early to try one, difficulties
outmatched advantages, also with a ‘Cole’ unit from the U.S.A., and
eventually Swindon developed its own design. The taper boiler, the careful
forming of the inside and outside firebox shells, and the general
arrangement of the inside valve gear, driving valves outside through
rockers, were all plainly American features. ‘GJC’s’ contact with the
Baldwin works at Philadelphia were well-known, but their people were far
behind the ideas of Churchward, and only in recent time have papers found at
Swindon indicated a lead from the Brooks Locomotive Works at Dunkirk, New
The First Frenchman
If the Swindon products of the new era were causing
surprise, ‘GJC’s’ next move was an even greater one: in late 1903 the
Belfort works of the Ste. Alsacienne delivered a 3-3-2 de Glehn compound,
identical in all essentials with those doing, as ‘GJC’ well knew,
sterling work on the heavy trains between Paris, Lille, and the Channel
Ports served by the mainline of the CF du Nord. This is one of the
interlopers, as it is not a 4-6-0, but it is so important that it cannot be
ignored in the progress of steam on the GWR. More, and a picture, next
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
Chinnaporn Sangwanlek, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.