Snap Shots: Batteries not included. Why?
by Harry Flashman
the outside of many boxes that house electrically powered toys is the
warning “Batteries not included.” I used to think this was just
meanness on the part of the manufacturer, but I was wrong. It is actually
a safeguard. How? Read on.
All but the most delinquent photographers know to look
after their cameras. Lens caps are there to be used. Camera bags are
needed to store it. The camera gets wiped dry after being in the rain.
Most cameras these days turn themselves off after a period of time to
conserve their batteries. However, it is those same batteries that can do
untold damage to the electronic innards of today’s cameras.
I was reminded of this the other day, when I was using
my trusty Nikon and it inexplicable failed. Nothing worked! Now, the motor
drive on the older Nikons and the camera bodies themselves sometimes have
a habit of getting condensation between them and you’ll end up getting
nothing. The answer is to unship one from the other, wipe and wriggle as
you reattach and bingo! Away you go. But not this time. Repeating the
procedure did not work, so I was forced to wind on manually, as the light
meter was now working OK, with the motor drive removed.
At the time, there was little more I could do, and in
the manual mode, I was quite sure I was getting the right exposures. What
had not occurred to me at the time was the fact that when I was attached
to the motor drive, there was no power, yet disconnecting the motor and
its eight batteries, I once again had power for the LED’s, light meter
It was the next day before I looked again at the
problem, and then remembered that when the motor drive is disconnected,
the camera uses its own small cadmium battery, but when hooked up to the
motor drive, the camera draws its power from the motor drive battery pack.
So this was why I had light meter facilities, but none when I attached the
I then began to think how long it was since I had
checked the eight batteries in the driver. Possibly a year! Opening up the
battery pack case, I was greeted with a shower of white crystals and a
group of sweating, leaking AA batteries. Six out of the eight were
leaking. Hence no power.
Mentally castigating myself for such errant
carelessness I pulled the motor drive battery compartment apart to see the
extent of the damage. I was very lucky - no corrosion was evident.
However, I did remove the batteries and then immersed the pack case in
very hot water. This removes the crystalline substances that leech out of
the batteries themselves. A gentle blow dry and very careful inspection
showed there had been no lasting damage. The phrase, “Just in time”
kept going through my head!
Also interestingly, the six batteries that had begun to
leak were the least expensive of the two types of battery in the drive.
There is a moral here, isn’t there?
In fact, there are two morals to be learned. The first
is to check batteries every three months, I would suggest, rather than
just waiting for the batteries to fail or become erratic. And secondly,
you get what you pay for - so buy the best you can. It will serve you well
in the end.
This little scenario would have been much worse, if the
battery pack had been internal with the camera works themselves. The
discharging batteries also give off fumes that attack and corrode the
complex electronic circuitry. That little problem can destroy the camera
totally - and that is no joke!
So I escaped this time around. After 200 baht for new batteries, the
motor drive and camera are functioning just perfectly. Till the next time
- unless I make a note in my yearly planner to check every three months.
It will be good insurance. Think about it too. With 2004 on us next week,
make a battery check a good resolution.
Modern Medicine: Are we on borrowed time? Or are you going to die?
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
Another year coming up, with all our hopes and New
Year’s resolutions hanging on it, so perhaps it is time to look again at
our respective futures.
Are you going to die? Undoubtedly yes. Despite all
advances in medical science, the death rate will always be the same - one
per person! Being born is, after all, the very first step in the dying
process. One of the world’s great truisms - you are born, but you will
die. It’s the old death and taxes routine.
Now, I fully realise that there are those of different
faiths who are happy in their belief that there is an after-life, or
reincarnation, or some other way by which we can do it all again, and I am
not at cross purposes with that. I am merely talking about the ‘here and
now’ - the next life can look after itself, in my book!
In our respective lives, there will be those of us who
seem to fly though it all, the veritable ‘butterflies’ who flit from
flower to flower, savouring, tasting and, need I say it, enjoying.
Eventually, they run out of puff and quietly fold up their wings and pass
on. On the other hand there are those of us who stumble like buffalos from
one disaster to the next, one illness to another and eventually succumb -
a victim of some tragedy.
Does the first group have a charmed life and the second
are only living on borrowed time, or was it written in the stars? Being
personally of the ilk that does not believe in prophecy, until one of the
seers round the place predicts the winning lottery numbers for himself, I
shall disregard the ‘prophecy’ concept.
Let us look at the butterflies and the buffalos. As far
as ‘borrowed time’ is concerned, both are in the same situation. Our
lives are fleeting visits to planet earth, and that’s all. Like going on
holidays, you try to make the most of your two weeks on the Costa Plenty,
so also you should make the most of your six months in Pattaya.
“Six months!” I hear you shout. “Is that all
I’ve got?” In a way, yes.
You see, it is difficult to look ahead much further
than that in the medical sense. So much can happen. Six months is enough
time for a fulminating infection to carry you off, or to develop an
aggressive cancer that will do the same.
So if we are looking at six months worth of future, how
can we make it such that it is not this coming six months, but six months
way in the future?
The answer is a simple medical check-up. This will
predict your future life for you, much better than the Indian
fortuneteller with a turban and a well-thumbed set of Tarot cards. Advance
notice of when the Bank of Life is going to foreclose comes from your
medical records, not the soothsayers.
But what is the difference between the butterflies and the buffaloes?
Nothing really. Both are on “borrowed” time. It is merely different
attitudes to life and living. You can complain about only having a handful
of rice, or be thankful that you’ve got something to eat; many do not.
The butterflies have it right. They remain carefree and enjoy life,
no-matter how short, while the buffalo carries the world on its shoulders
to its grave. The choice is yours.
Horsin’ Around Horse trekking in Thailand
by Willi Netzer
An enjoyable, successful trail ride certainly depends
on more than a few things. When hiring a horse from a yet unknown trail
ride operator, even the most experienced rider will ask himself what kind
of horse will it be. Would it look perhaps like some of those street dogs?
I can assure you, this is not the case. On the other hand, it is rather
challenging for stable owners in Thailand to keep a horse well rounded and
with a shiny coat, certainly during the wet season.
are plenty of opportunities for trail riding in the area.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to do a bit of
research on how the local riding establishments are operated. Some stables
add pellets to the customary grass diet and their horses are worked on a
regular basis, assuring a quiet ride.
Most trail riders love to see the countryside, watch
the farmers in the fields, smell the soil, the grass, the forest. If you
add beautiful scenery, with a sky full of changing colors or perhaps a
sunset over the sea, you will certainly appreciate having taken a camera
terrain and spectacular views are on tap for the more adventurous.
In any case, it is recommendable to place a call first.
You shouldn’t be so wrong if you can find a person that can answer your
So what is on offer for the potential horse trekker or
trail rider in Thailand? Bangkok, for instance, is surrounded by swamp. It
will start getting interesting after a hundred kilometers or so in any
direction. As for other destinations:
Cha Am (on the beach)
This is the oldest and most traditional place to ride,
although certainly not the best. It is a place for city people to sit on a
horse for the first time and be led. For more than this, it is unsuitable,
and the horses are small and neglected.
There are quite a number of riding stables north of Kao
Yai National Park close to Muaklek and Pakchong. You could call it the
Wild West of Thailand. Most of them are ranch style setups. They are
popular among Bangkok people, who ride there during the weekends. They are
not very closely supervised. Anybody can more or less ride how or where
they want. It is advisable to take some protective gear along.
Pattaya has 4 stables for hacking outdoors. Two are in
Jomtien and are mostly frequented on weekends. Space for trail riding is
rather limited. The two remaining, the Horseshoe Point and the Outdoor
Stables are comparable to international standards.
The Horseshoe Point well satisfies a more demanding customer, with all
kinds of facilities. If you want to go for an enjoyable, successful trail
ride, the Outdoor Stables could be another choice.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I keep on getting offensive emails from companies I have never contacted before
and I find it annoying to say the least. Every day I will get at least a dozen
or so. Is there nothing we ordinary people can do to stop this kind of thing?
90% of them seem to be pornographic material sites and yet when you go to the
site to try and register a complaint or stop emails from them in the future,
the email address never seems to work. Each one will have an address to contact
if you want your name removed, but it does not seem to be connected. What do
you suggest, Hillary?
There’s not much you can do, Petal. We all get these emails. Every day I get
never to be repeated offers to easily enlarge my breasts and how to enlarge, or
lengthen my penis (I think that’s what they call the untidy dangly bit). They
obviously don’t know me all that well, now do they (unless they think I am
katoey - Oh, dearie me)! If it isn’t enlargement offers, it’s how to order
any prescription items I want by email. They again obviously are unaware you
can get just about anything over the counter in Thailand. Ignore the offers and
just delete them as they come off the server.
We all read your column and are amazed that you know so much about so many
subjects. Where did you learn all this, and are you Thai or Farang?
Don’t be amazed, my Petal. It’s simple. This is Amazing Thailand, isn’t
it? However, I will treat your enquiry in good faith. What you are forgetting
is that I have one or two weeks to research my answers. A good encyclopaedia
helps. Now, Thai or farang? They’re not mutually exclusive, you know. Think
We are new in Thailand and I am not sure what to do about our maid and her
attendance. She came with the house and the previous employer gave her a good
reference, so we decided to keep her. The problem is the number of days off
that she seems to have. It is not that she does not come to work, it is that
she tells me that she has to see her mother, or it is a special day for Chinese
people so she will not be here on some day next week. Is this the usual for
Thai maids, or am I being made use of?
No, I don’t think you are being overly used. Maids do tend to be a little
erratic in attending work, so it’s not unusual (as Tom Jones might say). What
is unusual is to be given a week’s notice. That is the rare part. At this
stage I’d put up with it, but if she has too many days off, start to cut her
salary for each day she is missing. That is usually the way to see just how
‘special’ is that special day for Chinese people.
My boyfriend is football mad. In fact, if there is a match on TV he will get
out of our bed just to watch it. Am I being selfish by pretending to be asleep
when he gets back to bed? I feel I have to teach him a lesson.
Not a Footy Fan
Dear Not a Footy Fan,
You are a very gentle girl. I would hit him over the head if he woke me up just
because he wanted to watch footy and then want a little nooky on coming back to
bed again. Tell him you are not interested in football, but it’s fine if he
wants to watch quietly on his own, but there’s no ball games after the ball
game’s over, if you get my message. A girl needs her beauty sleep, my Petal.
I have become very attracted to one of my mate’s wife. She is Thai and very
beautiful and I think she has been making it obvious that she would be up for
it too. I get told by some of our other mates she has been seeing other guys
while her husband is offshore. Should I pay her for her time, or would it be
better to say it’s from the heart and not commercial?
Hey Jude (or should that be Judas?),
Do you honestly think anyone would condone your actions? You are a snake and
should slither off somewhere else. Don’t write again.
One of my girlfriends wants to have her bust enlarged, while the other wants
hers reduced. Are these operations safe? Are there any risks involved? I am
worried that they might do something they will regret later.
Just who is having these operations done? You or them? They would have
researched the subject fully before they said they intend to have the
operations done. If it is worrying them, then tell them to swap bras for a
couple of weeks and see if they still want to go ahead. Dolly Parton and Pamela
Anderson seem to have done alright out of it.
A Slice of Thai History: The fall of Ayutthaya 1767
by Duncan steam
In the annals of British history, the year 1759 has
become known as Annus Mirabilis: the year of miracles. It was the third
year of what is known to history as the Seven Years’ War, and for
Britain, it marked victories over the French in Canada, India, and Europe
as well as at sea. For Thailand, 1759 denoted the beginning of the end of
the magnificent dynasty based around Ayutthaya.
The 45-year-old Burmese ruler Alaungpaya, the founder
of Rangoon and the Konbaung Dynasty, occupied Moulmein, Tavoy and
Tenasserim and then invaded Thailand late in 1759. After taking Petchaburi
and Ratburi, Alaungpaya’s army arrived in front of Ayutthaya in April
1760. The Burmese plundered the trading post of the Dutch East India
Company (VOC), located outside the city walls.
Alaungpaya, according to one source, ‘contracted a
swelling in the hidden parts’ and after just six days in front of
Ayutthaya, raised the siege and retired. Another source claims the king
was hit by shrapnel. Whatever the truth, Alaungpaya died a few days later.
In 1763, the Burmese were back again, this time under
the expansionist monarch Hsinbyushin. His army invaded northern Thailand
and laid siege to Chiang Mai. It, and Lamphun, fell six months later.
The following year, a 30,000-strong Burmese army led by
Thihapatei launched a two-pronged invasion of northern Thailand, taking
Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and most of the upper Mekong valley, including the
Lao city of Vientiane.
In July 1765, Thihapatei’s northern Burmese army
advanced from Lampang and occupied Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai,
Phitsanulok and Nakhon Sawan. Two months later, a southern Burmese army
under Mahanawrahta left Tavoy and invaded Thailand, taking Chumphon,
Phetburi, Ratchaburi and Suphanburi.
By February 1766, the northern and southern Burmese
invasion forces, claimed by the Thais to have numbered around 200,000 men,
had effected a juncture and began the siege of Ayutthaya. One report
claimed the Burmese army numbered over one million men and 6,000
elephants. The reality is that these figures are grossly inflated.
Three months later, the Burmese defeated a relief
column near Prachinburi and later overwhelmed a defensive position at Bang
Rajan. In August, Bangkok fell and this prompted the Dutch East India
Company director to evacuate the company’s personnel.
Disaster befell the defenders when, in January 1767, a
major fire broke out in Ayutthaya, destroying over 10,000 houses.
Ayutthaya finally fell on 7 April 1767. After a
14-month siege the Burmese, as they had 198 years earlier, occupied
Ayutthaya. The city was systematically looted and burned. Phrya Taksin,
one of the leading Thai commanders, had managed to escape before the fall
with around 500 men.
The flames engulfing the old city marked the end of the
417-year-old Ayutthayan Dynasty.
It has been said the Burmese king was ‘so appalled at
the terrible destruction committed by his invading troops, that he wept in
sadness and had a temple built in an act of sorrow and forgiveness.’
Considering Hsinbyushin’s reputation, this seems extremely doubtful and
it is said the Burmese ‘did not let their piety stop them from hacking
gold plate off images of the Buddha.’
Thousands Ayutthaya residents were carried off into
slavery to work in Burma and Thai chronicles claimed that the Burmese king
waged war ‘like a robber’. Although some sources claim King Ekkathat
escaped with Phrya Taksin, it appears more likely the Burmese captured
him. He certainly died, probably of starvation, less than two weeks after
the fall of his capital.
Within a few weeks, the Burmese army had been largely
withdrawn from Thailand to meet the threat of the Chinese in northern
Burma. China, annoyed at Burmese incursions into its territory, had
invaded Burma with a large force. The Burmese avoided engaging the Chinese
in open battle and chose to wage a guerrilla war against the invaders that
lasted until 1769.
It’s interesting to reflect that in the year Ayutthaya fell, John
Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, respectively the sixth and seventh
Presidents of the future United States, were born; Joseph Priestley
developed carbonated water; the Political Register was the first to
feature cartoons; Mozart completed his Symphony No. 6 and the Jesuits were
expelled from Spain, Parma and Sicily.
Personal Directions: Put your life in front of you
As every year comes to a close we always ask ourselves
the same question, “What have I achieved this year apart from growing one year
older!” It is the question we feel compelled to answer. Maybe some of you have
done a great many things and feel satisfied with yourself. But I know that a lot
of us are looking back with a feeling of regret that we didn’t do this or
didn’t do that and as a result we didn’t do very much or anything at all.
Sure a lot of things may have happened in our lives, but did we seize
opportunity, did we take a proactive stance, did we give our all to move ahead
in life or have we taken ten steps backwards instead of forwards?
by Christina Dodd
It is strange how we can always see things more clearly and
know what decisions we should have made when we look back on events. Why is this
so? Sometimes we have to disassociate ourselves from ourselves so we can focus.
Does this make sense to you?
So how are you going to approach next year to ensure that the
things you lost out on this year have a chance to be completed? It is essential
to begin to plan and to begin to work towards completing tasks and goals as
opposed to giving up on them simply because you got nowhere with them this year.
It is so easy just to give up. How do we know this? Because we all do it!
I know I have written on the subject of setting goals many
times before and forgive me if I may sound slightly repetitious to some of you,
but the fact is that setting goals and setting out to achieve them are two very
important driving forces in our lives if we want to have lives with meaning and
fulfilment. Don’t turn your mind away from this for a moment for if you do,
you will have to be prepared to suffer the consequences.
So, give yourself a special New Year’s Gift for the year
2004. Only do this if you really feel you want to. You have time to prepare it
as there are a few days left in this year. I realize you have parties and
friends to visit, but take some time to think about you for a moment. And this
may also be something that your children may wish to be involved in as well.
Firstly take note of the following areas in your life and
write them on a sheet of paper so you can refer to them as you proceed: Physical
health, personal characteristics and well-being and the things you want to
improve upon, family relationships, things you want to possess, things you want
to achieve professionally, your financial aspirations and your ambitions in
terms of your contribution to society.
Now, find as many magazines as you can and begin to look
through them noting pictures and images of all sorts of things in the subject
areas that we have just talked about and that appeal to you and seem to
“fit” you. These pictures can be anything from scenes of children playing
and laughing, to a fabulous interior design to a very trim and fit body or to
someone secure in their job. The number of pictures and the kind of pictures
they are, are only limited by you and the things that you want to achieve and
have in your life. The sky is the limit here so sharpen your scissors and start
You may even want to include some photos that you feel are
important to you in this exercise so go ahead and do it, if you wish. Get them
out of the cupboard where they have been hiding and add them to the magazine
cuttings. The idea here with this activity is to put together a collage of
images that represents the goals you wish to achieve in your life. The pictures
should be vivid and in full colour and inspiring to you.
Once you have all your pictures, proceed to place them on a
large sheet of heavy card so it could possibly be put up on a wall. Perhaps you
may need a very large sheet and this is up to you. You are preparing a “Life
Plan” so go ahead and make it big and strong enough to support your pictures.
Place (and glue) the pictures in groupings of like goals and leave enough space
under or around them to allow you to write details about them. The details
should include everything about that goal. A simple example is a house, so write
down details like the price, the location, the materials used to build it, the
land size and so on and most important of all - the date you will have the
house! This is crucial and should be written with a bright and bold pen so it is
Do this with all your goals so there are not only images, but
thought out details and planning. And then, once you have completed your
masterpiece - your Life Plan - find a place in your home where it can be
displayed comfortably by you. This is entirely up to you but the reason for this
is so that it serves as a reminder to you of the things that are important to
you. If it is there for you to easily see then you will more likely be inspired
and to act on achieving your goals. If you complete this task and then fold up
the card and put it in a drawer - what does that say to you? What do you think
is the likely outcome? If you go in to a travel agent you usually can see
wonderful and inviting scenes of exciting destinations. Why are those pictures
there for you to see? Imagine if there were no pictures and the walls were bare
and drab. Would you feel inspired?
Your life is your life. And the goals you wish to achieve in
your life are worth every bit of effort to achieve. With this activity I hope
you have realized how necessary it is for every man, woman and child to have
direction and to set meaningful and realistic goals. This activity is a simple
and at the same time “fun” exercise but one that can help both you and your
family take some very important steps towards happiness and success in the year
2004 and the many following years.
If you would like a presentation on our training or life
coaching services, or any of our other professional and life skills programs,
then please contact me at Christina.dodd @asiatrainingassociates.com
I really look forward to hearing from you and my sincerest
wishes and thoughts for a wonderful life ahead go out to you all. I look forward
to catching up with you in 2004!
And as always ... have an extraordinary week!
Social Commentary by Khai Khem:
It’s time to clean house
According to recent statements made by one of
our leading city advisors, Pattaya is a mess and physically unattractive. It was
cited that 80 percent of our new projects must be redone because they’ve been
poorly planned, left unfinished, or deteriorating due to mismanagement and
shoddy workmanship. Pattaya is not just having a “bad hair” day. After more
than a year of demented construction that enveloped most of the region, our push
for beautification has left us looking pretty scruffy.
Take the condition of our sidewalks - even those that line
the newly refurbished roads. Many of the footpaths were poorly constructed and
some sections have already disintegrated. Even the stretches which are still
holding up are full of obstacles such as power poles, trees and numerous great,
green, yawning metal piping ‘things’. By the way, what ARE those things?
Some of the improvements were needed and long overdue, but
the finished products leave much to be desired. It seems that we can identify
the problems - eventually - but we don’t finish the details well enough to
achieve a polished look.
A reader recently asked why we tear up every street and soi
in the city during the peak tourist season, leaving whole areas completely
impassable for months at a time. Good question.
Eventually residents and tourists complain and the
contractors are told to “get cracking.” A flurry of activity begins in order
to get the job done quickly, but the workmanship is shabby, vital details are
missed and safety is completely ignored. For instance, how can a road contractor
with any conscience leave 20 huge drains uncovered for weeks and months putting
pedestrians and vehicles in danger of their lives?
Running a city of this size and diversity is not an easy
task. A handful of dedicated officials and city managers and community leaders
cannot do everything themselves nor can they monitor their subordinates’ every
move. They can, however, get rid of the slackers.
Making decisions and sticking to them is not one of our
fortes. The long list of problems that Pattaya is facing grows because good
ideas are not implemented and those which do come into effect are often
rescinded through endless bickering and renegotiation.
The one-way, two-way street system is a good example. We
can’t make up our minds because we don’t focus on the main problem and its
solution. Our business community would be smart to bear in mind that traffic
gridlock is not good for business. Motorists stuck for hours in traffic snarls
are forced to keep their money in their pockets. Lack of parking also prevents
people from spending their money. Who wants to park miles away from the shop
they plan to patronize? Even pedestrian shoppers avoid areas gridlocked with
traffic congestion because of the noise, pollution and dangerous crossings.
Looking toward the future, it has been voiced that another
main road from Sukhumvit Highway should be built. Perhaps more than one? We will
also have to consider a north-south overhead highway bypass that would allow
traffic not intended for Pattaya to flow unhindered. A landfill project in
Pattaya Bay which could accommodate a ‘marine parade’ such as the one in
Singapore was suggested as a way to eliminate the problems plaguing the 101
businesses in Walking Street and would certainly add a promising visual and
monetary dimension to this area.
Our region lacks a transportation system which can meet the
needs of the future. We need metered taxis, a modern bus system, and someday -
perhaps even a subway or elevated Sky Train which serves the main routes in
Chonburi and Rayong provinces. How about a bullet train that speeds us across
the nation in comfort and reduces road traffic? Sounds far-fetched? Of course it
At the moment we can’t convince the shop house restaurants
to take their tables and chairs off the public thoroughfares. Nor can we enjoy a
drink at a sidewalk cafe without having our valuables stolen from us by youthful
gangs of ‘bash and dash’ hoodlums. Beach vendors stage temper tantrums when
they are fined minuscule amounts for infractions of the law. Public land which
should be accessible to ordinary citizens is commandeered by influential people
and court action to reclaim it drags on for years.
Pattaya has many beautiful areas and facilities of which we
can be proud. But our city is still pockmarked by slums, garbage and pockets of
neglect. Much money and effort has been spent on improving our town’s
reputation and we deserve to reap the rewards.
Pattaya has a great deal to offer and in many ways we are
blessed with an enviable lifestyle. This once sleepy fishing village is a
‘rags-to riches’ story, so we know we can make things happen when we all
pull together. Dedicated leadership and community cooperation must go hand-in
At times we have both, working in unison. This is when we
accomplish our most admirable goals. What we don’t have is consistency. We
have drives, crackdowns, and short, intense campaigns aimed at specific goals.
Then we slack off and lose the ground we’ve fought so hard to gain.
We’re not asking for absolute perfection. Pattaya, with all its warts,
still has a unique atmosphere of fun, tolerance and gracious charm. To retain
that distinctive essence of laid back magnetism, we mustn’t scour it clean
with a Brillo pad and introduce Draconian laws that would destroy our
international appeal. But we do have to clean house once in awhile.