HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Snap Shots

Modern Medicine

Heart to Heart with Hillary

A Slice of Thai History

Personal Directions

Social Commentary by Khai Khem

Snap Shots: Harry and Howard. The answers to the questions you were too afraid to ask!

by Harry Flashman

A few weeks ago, Howard Greene, a local photographer in Pattaya, asked my opinion on the selection of images for a project he had undertaken in which he had to photograph a number of the staff at the Classroom (Soi Pattayaland 2). The brief was to come up with some flattering artistic images, and two of the ‘outs’ are published here to show what a hard job we had!

I decided that a Question and Answer session might be of interest, so here are some answers from a professional photographer.

Q (Harry): Let’s start with the basics. What type of equipment do you use?

A (Howard): I use a 35 mm Nikon N90s body, plus a 35-70 mm zoom and another 70-210 zoom, so I can shoot anything from landscapes to ‘fill the frame’ portraits. I know that you (Harry) do not like zoom lenses, but one cannot underestimate the quality of a Nikon system. In addition I use a compatible Nikon Speedlight flash, a sturdy Gitzo tripod, a polarizing filter, plus a few other bits and pieces.

Q: Which film do you use?

A: It is my practice to always use the same film, so I know what to expect under similar circumstances. After some experimentation I have settled on Fuji 100, unless the entire shoot will be in a darkened setting such as a nightclub. In those instances I can pick up one stop by using Fuji 200.

Photos by Howard Greene

Q: How do you work with Thai models, when you have a limited knowledge of the language?

A: First of all, I try to put them at their ease. Having one’s photograph taken is not root canal work, so if I am relaxed that should transfer to the models. I show them how I want them to pose and click-click we are finished in less than five minutes. There is never a reason for me to touch any of the models. No Thai model ever posed with an agenda to be difficult. Moreover, the models all go to the movies, watch TV and look at fashion magazines, so they know how to strike a pose.

Q: What makes a shot easy for you?

A: I just follow my instincts when photographing Thai models. When there is no budget for stylists, assistants, hair and nail technicians, ad agency reps and so on, the final photograph is all up to me without seeking consensus from a group of people as to what works best.

Q: What are your views on photo credits and copyright as well as ‘theft’ of intellectual property?

A: Speaking personally, when I see my photographs printed without a photo credit, my consent or reasonable compensation to which I would normally be entitled to, I take it as a compliment so as not to go crazy thinking about it. It is 2004, the Rolling Stones cannot stop their music being downloaded, nor can the Disney company protect the image of Mickey Mouse. I prefer to walk away from these issues rather than seek relief. As the sole creator of a photograph anyone who prints one of my images does not have a license to do so unless I transfer ownership by contract.

Q: What has been the highlight of your taking photographs in Thailand?

A: That is easy to answer. Meeting and photographing Khun Anand Panyarachun, the former PM, who hosts a golf tournament for UNICEF. You know that you are in the presence of a great man, who warmly welcomes everyone he meets. Even me. That is the highlight. There isn’t even a close second.

Q: I know that you have been involved in many charity photography projects, covering differing assignments in Thailand, tell us of the dynamics of these.

A: Sure, I can identify four immediately. Children are the most fun. Models are the most challenging. Golf the most exhausting, and finally, Special Events - you have to get it right as there is no second chance!

Modern Medicine: Long-term therapy - just how long should you take it?

by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant

So you have just been diagnosed as having raised blood pressure. Do you have to take drugs for the rest of your life just to save your life? In actual fact, modification, reduction and even completely stopping medication can be on the cards. However, before you take that last sentence as the excuse you were looking for to stop taking your tablets, read on!

It is a well known medical fact that the need for higher doses of many medications becomes less as we get older. There are many reasons for this, the major ones being a reduction in the efficiency of the kidneys and liver. You see, what happens is that these two organs break down the chemicals in your medicines, and when they work a little slower (like all things as you get older) then there can be a build up of the drugs in the blood, making for a greater concentration than before. The way round this is to reduce the amount of the drugs being taken, so it may be possible to go from 1,000 mg per day to only 500 mg, and still be in the ‘therapeutic blood level’ range.

There is also another factor that can influence just how much of any particular medication that you might need, as time goes by. This is called the pharmacodynamic effect, whereby we find that as you get older there appears to be an increasing sensitivity to certain medications, especially pain killers, anti-epilepsy drugs and antihistamines. Again the end result is that a reduction is not only warranted, but is clinically indicated.

Medical science, despite being inexact, is advancing every day. The research that is being done is not just into the life threatening diseases such as HIV/AIDS, but into the more common problems as well. This can produce a new way of treating an old ailment - stomach ulcers being a classic example, where we used to give patients bottles of bismuth, then we changed that to antacid tablets, and then to proton pump inhibitors and then to looking for a little bug called Helicobacter pylori. Different medications in each case.

Finally, there comes the (vexed) question as to whether it is appropriate to reduce or stop medication or not. My own personal philosophy has always been that all drugs are ‘poisons’, but in small doses will not kill you. But back to the problem in hand - are you on medications for life? I believe that even if the pharmaceutical ‘poisons’ are ‘safe’ perhaps we should review the situation regularly to see if you still need it. After all, why take it if you can do without it? Do I hear a ‘Hooray’ out there? But do not stop taking the medication yet! Keep reading!

If you were prescribed a drug, there was a good (medical) reason for it. If we are to withdraw that drug, then there has to be a very good medical review of the situation. That situation is dynamic - and all reductions must be done under medical supervision and strictly controlled. With anti-hypertensives, for example, you would begin by halving the dosage and monitoring the BP regularly. If the BP has not gone up, then it is reasonable to halve the dose again, and eventually you may be able to stop all treatment. However, it does not mean that monitoring stops as well.

That is the key to all this - constant monitoring and reviews. Do not neglect this side of medication reduction!

Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
An apology from Santa for the non-delivery of your choccy bars. Apparently, ruddy-nosed Rudolph got stuck into them, there being a shortage of suitable tundra in Thailand for the hungry, horny-headed beast. But now for the good news! Santa is thinning out his herd and is offering you first pick for your delight.

Dear Mistersingha,
How nice to see that you made it through the New Year celebrations, my Petal. I was a trifle worried that you might have tried your smooth talking ways on people not as forgiving as Hillary, and come to a disastrous end. There is always retribution, even for those with a seemingly limitless stock of excuses such as yourself, you should realise. These days I neither believe in Santa, nor in your protestations of having sent the many times promised chocolates and champagne. Mistersingha, it is time to put up, or shut up.
Chere Hillary,
Further to your not being able to find the anti-SPAM K9 program I advised you to try, I apologize. The program is called K9 but the website for it is Googling “K9” will get you the relevant site also. FYI, I use Pegasus Mail and the SMTP service that my ISP provides. Sorry I couldn’t be more humorous, but that is your field, not mine. However, I put the phrase “googling” K9 in to provide you with more fodder. Or should that be dog food?

Dear Sugarloafer,
You are forgiven, as opposed to the Mistersingha above, who is not. But FYI, I am not into acronyms. They disrupt my SMTP something chronic, so that my ISP goes into RS mode, I revert to drinking cheap champagne and getting done for DIC.
Dear Hillary,
Valentines Day is coming up soon and I would like to show my affection for a certain Thai lady I have met. She works in a department store and is always very pleasant when I meet her, but I’ve been going slow as I don’t want her to think that I am like all the other ‘kiss me quick’ foreigners. Do Thais celebrate Valentines Day? I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity, but at the same time, I want to try to continue to do things the “right way”.
Valentine Vic

Dear Valentine Vic,
There beats a romantic heart in the men in this town still! Of course Thai women celebrate Valentine’s Day, Petal. However, you still have to tread slowly. Your problem is that your lady may not even know of your dreams, she may just be being polite. Valentine’s Day cards are also traditionally unsigned, so you run the risk of her thinking it came from your arch rival Police Constable Pisinurai. But be brave, a faint heart ne’er won a fair lady (or even a dusky one). Put your mobile phone number in the card and see if you really ring her bell. Lots of luck!
Dear Hillary,
I have not been here very long, but have now got a steady girlfriend. She comes from Udorn and her family still lives up there. She wants me to go up there to meet the family, so I think she is pretty serious, and must like me. She wants me to hire a car to go up there because she says her village is a little ways out of town, so the bus isn’t any good and anyways we will have some household items to take up for her folks. She says that we will stay with her mother in her mother’s house, but I should bring some money up with me as I will have to pay for my stay there. Since we are only planning on a couple of days, I thought this a bit strange, but since I don’t know Thai customs, I have just said yes, particularly since I’ve only known her for two weeks. Now she is talking about buying a TV set for the folks, but I get the feeling it is me who is going to buy this. Am I being played as a sucker? Advice please, Hillary.

Dear Newbie,
You certainly did come down in the last shower, didn’t you, my Petal. You are talking about meeting the parents of your long-time Thai girlfriend of two whole weeks! Three by the time you get the answer to your letter! This lovely young thing is telling you to rent a car, buy a TV, pay for sleeping on the board floor at Mum’s and goodness knows what else. Newbie, I want you to stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself and go, Mooo! You are looking at someone otherwise known as a cash cow, Newbie, nothing more, nothing less. Thai ladies do not bring foreigners home after two weeks of sweaty evenings and say, “Look what I’ve brought home, Mum.” This is your first trip to Thailand too, isn’t it, Newbie? You are following a classic pattern that makes you out to be one big sucker. While buying the TV set, why don’t you just give her the credit card and tell her to empty the account. This way you don’t have to waste money on a rental car or accommodation on the floor. If you can, start running now!

A Slice of Thai History: Chartchai Chionoi: Thailand’s Second World Boxing Champion

by Duncan steam

On 28 September 1965, Chartchai began his march to the world title by outpointing Michel Lamora over 10 rounds in Bangkok. In January 1966, he knocked out Pornchai Poppraingram in the first round of their bout in Bangkok and then, a month later, scored one of the most important victories of his career. Fighting Salvatore Burruni, the man who had beaten Pone Kingpetch to take the Flyweight title and who had already made a successful defence of the crown, Chartchai scored a points win over 10 rounds in a non-title bout. The victory over the world titleholder almost guaranteed Chartchai a shot at the crown in the near future.

In March, Chartchai outpointed Ernesto Miranda over 10 rounds in Bangkok. Miranda had defeated Chartchai back in mid-1962. The Thai then reeled off four successive knockout victories, in rounds four, three, one and six respectively, and all on his home turf in Bangkok.

In the meantime, Salvatore Burruni had lost his title to the Englishman Walter McGowan in June. McGowan chose to make his first defence of the title in Bangkok, against Chartchai Chionoi on 30 December.

Before 16,000 fans and the King of Thailand, Chartchai stopped McGowan (who had a severe cut on his nose) in the ninth round, thus bringing the Flyweight title back to Thailand for the second time. It was also the 24-year-old’s ninth consecutive win. Chartchai had fought 57 times for 44 wins, 11 losses and two draws, 29 of his victories coming inside the distance, a solid 66 percent record. He was a much heavier and harder puncher than Pone Kingpetch.

The new world champion began 1967 by winning two non-title bouts, one in four rounds and the other on points. On 26 July, he defended his title for the first time against Puntip Keosuriya, winning by KO in just three rounds.

In September, Chartchai travelled outside of Asia for the first time, going to London, England for a re-match with Walter McGowan. This time the Thai champion knocked out McGowan in seven rounds. McGowan was to retire in 1969 as the winner of 32 of his 40 bouts.

Back in Bangkok in early December, Chartchai knocked out Mimoun Ben Ali in four rounds in a non-title contest and then, in January 1968, he made his second trip out of Asia, going to Mexico City to fight Efren Torres in a 15-round bout for the Flyweight crown.

In a tough contest, Chartchai finished strongly and knocked out Torres in the 13th round to retain his title. He had now won his last 15 consecutive contests to take his record to 50 wins in 63 bouts, 34 (or 68 percent) of them by the short route.

Personal Directions: See further by standing upon the shoulders of giants

by Christina Dodd

IFor those of you out there who have read any self-help and inspirational literature, you will no doubt recognize the name W. Clement Stone. Indeed you will also know two other names, that of William James and Napoleon Hill. All three gentlemen were extraordinary seekers of the secrets of success and believers in the amazing power of a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). I thought it might be an idea to give you a little information about them and their tremendous involvement in this field of study and way of life. Hopefully you will be inspired to read some of their work.

These “giants of men” (and many others) contributed over the years to the development and refinement of the PMA concept. William James (1842-1910), a Harvard Medical School graduate who stayed at the university to teach anatomy, physiology, psychology, and philosophy, helped to develop a system of thought called pragmatism. According to the ideas of pragmatism, results are what count. Thought is a guide to action. If a thought does not result in practical actions, it is not useful. James wrote, “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will create the fact.”

The people of James’s day respected his theories, and he attracted many followers. He was convinced that life is a battle between pessimism and optimism. James vehemently opposed negative thinking; “It fills people with failure and doubt,” he said. The universe, according to James, was full of possibilities. People could vastly improve themselves if only they opened their eyes and looked for the mind power they had within them. James believed that each of us decides what our future will be and that, “We become what we think about most of the time. The greatest revolution in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) was another who carried the PMA baton. Hill made it his life work to interview immensely successful people, deriving seventeen principles from this study that he wove into the first practical philosophy of personal achievement. Hill enumerated these principles in various books including The Law of Success, Think and Grow Rich, and many other self-help books. Hill always found that the men he studied shared a Positive Mental Attitude. He noted about one, Andrew Carnegie, who had an obsession. He believed that anything in life worth having was worth working for. Carnegie said, “I believe that anything in life worth having and working for is worth paying for. What price are you willing to pay for your dreams?”

W. Clement Stone, born in 1902, who only recently passed away, made his millions in the insurance industry in the USA. The chairman emeritus of Aon Insurance Companies, he made it his business to use PMA in every possible way, not only in business but in his personal and family life, and in his charitable works. An outstanding contemporary author and a man who accumulated his great wealth by using and mastering the principles set down by Hill, made a profound discovery while co-authoring (with Napoleon Hill) the book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude.

The essence of his discovery was this: The basic principles of success are effective in achieving worthwhile goals only to the extent that they are constantly reinforced and replenished by a Positive Mental Attitude. That principle became the cornerstone of Stone’s philosophy and the theme that unified his writings. The stage was set, and PMA dominated the spotlight. Stone put to work Hill’s ten-step formula for developing and maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude and the rest his history!

Napoleon Hill’s ten steps are briefly explained here, and in some of them I have made reference to the words of Clement Stone.

Step One: Take possession of your own mind with conviction

Stone said of this, “I have long been an advocate of selecting thoughts and sayings that can be immediately summoned into the conscious mind to counter the negative influences we all encounter in everyday life … Since I was a teenager I deliberately trained myself to neutralize negative suggestions from others. If someone said to me, “It can’t be done,” or “You can’t do that,” my subconscious mind would instantly flash a message to my conscious mind the positive translation: “He can’t, but I can. I practiced it so often that it became an automatic, instantaneous response.”

Step Two: Keep your mind on the things you want and off the things you don’t want

Every time you meet a setback, by staying in control of your mental attitude, it’s like being able to do that extra push-up. You are training your mind to do more than it has ever done before and just as your muscles become strong and resilient through exercise and constant use, so does your mind.

Step Three: Live the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – it is that simple!

Step Four: Eliminate all negative thoughts by self-inspection

Stone’s introduction to the insurance business that would bring him success was not easy. The first day of business he sold just two policies out of countless attempts. Although he improved steadily, he found that he had to examine his ways thoroughly and daily and had to overcome his fears. One of his greatest fears was that of knocking on doors. But after some thinking he reasoned, “Success is achieved by those who try. And where there is nothing to lose by trying, and a great deal to be gained if successful, by all means, try!”

Step Five: Be happy! Make others happy!

Step Six: Form a habit of tolerance

Step Seven: Give yourself positive suggestions

Step Eight: Use your power of prayer

Step Nine: Set goals

Step Ten: Study, think and plan daily

These ten steps are worth thinking about and worth embracing if you are considering changing your life!

There are so many excellent books out there and available for you to find some inspiration. But something Clement Stone said is worth remembering. He said, “The difference between a novel and a self-help book is this: In a novel, the author writes the conclusion; in a self-help book, the reader writes the conclusion by the action he takes.”

Until next time, have an inspiring week!

If you would like a presentation or more information on our personal training or coaching services, or any of our business and corporate skills programs, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

Social Commentary by Khai Khem:  Conscience has not become obsolete

Is the old-fashioned sense of right and wrong disappearing in our society? Some of Thailand’s present social problems - drug abuse, greed, crime and corruption, lack of pity and self abortion seem to be permanent afflictions of modern day life. SEEM to be. In fact, they are part of the human condition and the antidote to the negative aspects of social interaction is in part, a sense of conscience, which must be constantly renewed with each generation.

Traditional societies in underdeveloped countries are no more immune to creeping moral decay than their more sophisticated cousins in rich, developed nations. But the sense of loss of innocence is perhaps harder to accept because of the long held myth that somehow the simple farmer, weaver, or ‘noble savage’ has managed to keep his or her soul in tact and unpolluted through isolation from the depravity and negative influences of the ‘outside world’. Of course the idea of the ‘outside world’ is merely another myth. So how do we keep faith and good conscience in a world that is sending us a message that “anything goes” and blurs the lines between good and evil, right and wrong?

Or is “conscience” even a useful word anymore, aside from its role in folksy adages and expressions of disapproval and criticism?

This may be cold comfort to some, but I’ve been doing some reading up on what modern writers and ethicists have to say about what conscience is presently perceived to be in today’s modern world. I wanted to know if conscience is out of vogue or still an important ingredient in fashioning a successful society.

Douglas Langston thinks it is. He is a professor of philosophy and religion at New College of Florida and the author of “Conscience and Other Virtues,” a 2001 book that attempts to restore the word’s place in the public dialogue.

Langston says, “Conscience has been ignored. Not in the sense that we fail to use conscience to guide our actions. Not in the sense that we do not discuss freedom of conscience. But in the last 25 years, little has been written about conscience as a useful analytical concept.”

Langston explains that conscience became identified as a distinct “emotional buzzer” in the brain - an infallible judge of right and wrong, and that if we’d only listen, would guide us all down the same righteous path. Aha! The old saw comes to mind: “Let your conscience be your guide”.

The author reminds us that in the past, writers saw conscience as “upright and stainless” (Dante) “thoroughly well-bred” (Samuel Butler) and “nagging, badgering, fault-finding and execrable” (Mark Twain). But by the mid-1900s, philosophers and psychologists “didn’t take that idea seriously anymore. They started favoring other terms to discuss the reasoning process that helps us get in touch with the general ‘moral culture’ and our individual ‘moral center’.”

After a few days of reading this academic ‘double-talk’ I figured that what we really need to do is bring back the old fashion word conscience, (which I am sure will has it’s equivalent in any of the world’s languages) because it is still the best term for the habit of critical reflection that, ideally, guides us to figure out what we should do in any given circumstance. It doesn’t take book learning to acquire a conscience, and although guidance helps, there are always going to be moral invalids who just can’t develop one.

So how do we apply this to our everyday lives? Let’s take the idea of conscience out of the ivory towers of philosophers and drop it down to street level. How about our rising street crime rate that doesn’t include the rich and powerful? Vicious and violent gangs, youthful monsters who would kill for a few baht and sly sneaks who prey on the weak and innocent, are often without conscience. We have somehow managed to grow another crop in agricultural Thailand - a human crop of sociopaths who owe allegiance to nothing and no one. Without conscience.

Nature? Nurture? How do we account for our social misfits? Family support and unity are immensely important. Can we teach conscience in the family and in the schools? We can try. Conscience encompasses everything. You can lack empathy or remorse about certain things, but that would be just a gap in your conscience. Psychopaths are all gap - no conscience. They do things simply without worrying about their impact on other people.

I researched some statistics on various government websites in the USA which offer information on this subject. Psychopaths make up 1 percent of the general population and 15 percent of the prison population. Psychologists and sociologists describe them as egocentric, grandiose, shallow, and manipulative. In a word, they are clueless. They have absolutely no idea what the rest of us are feeling. The ‘human’ parts of them are missing. This group contains our senseless killers and slaughterers. Lock them up and throw away the key.

So how do we deal with our youthful (and often part-time) hoodlums who are not ‘throwaway people’ but can still be reached because they do feel remorse and have conscience? We nurture that embryonic sense of right and wrong with education and attention.

There have been some sniggers directed at what is termed the “Family values brigade” which smugly imply that love and tenderness are somehow invalid and morbidly sentimental in our advanced world of technological advances and therefore a useless waste of emotional overkill. It’s true that honorable intentions are often ‘hijacked’ for selfish and vested interests. It is often difficult to determine just exactly when good ideas turn bad and often ordinary people do not have total control over their lives. That’s when we need to let our conscience be our guide.