Vol. XII No. 15
Friday April 9 - April 15 , 2004

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Updated every Friday
by Saichon paewsoongnern

 



COLUMNS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Money matters

Snap Shots

Modern Medicine

Heart to Heart with Hillary

A Slice of Thai History

Personal Directions

Social Commentary by Khai Khem

Money matters: History repeats itself

MBMG International Ltd. is one of the oldest independent financial advisor companies in Thailand. The company provides expertise in a wide range of personal and corporate issues. MBMG operates throughout the region and has clients worldwide. It can offer advice on all types of investment and insurance.

Graham Macdonald has lived on the Eastern Seaboard for the last nine years. He has been the chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (Eastern Seaboard) for the last six years and sits on the main board of the BCCT. He also plays an active part in the Pattaya Panthers Rugby Club and is president of the local Care for Kids charity that the Jesters have been running for the last six years. Graham can be contacted on [email protected]

The idea that history repeats itself and offers valuable lessons for the future is as true in investing as in many other spheres. If we look at the following diagram showing the movement of global assets over the last 55 years, we can perhaps draw some inferences for where we might be going in the future.

If the Kondratieff seasonal pattern is fulfilled then we can look forward to the following lowlights of a very bleak winter season:

- A stock market crash which is only just beginning including a Dow fall of at least 70% from where we are right now

- A collapse in consumer confidence as unemployment skyrockets and bankruptcies and foreclosures reach record levels

- A move from paper assets to tangible assets supporting various commodities including precious metals whose price is driven to extraordinary new highs

- A series of currency crises as interest rates spike up and credit contracts

- The return of deflation

The good news is that if Ian Gordon’s model is right then the worst will be past in 5-10 years time, so long term investors will be able to rebuild the pieces of their shattered portfolios then (as long as they didn’t buy at the top because the other lesson that we should learn from history is that anyone who bought at 1929’s peak and sold 45 years later in 1974 could have held the Dow throughout that time and made a loss on that holding!).

The only comfort is that we’ve always believed that the long term is just a series of consequent short terms and that with the right approach to portfolio allocation returns can be made in all economic conditions, even those implied in this model. But we’re definitely going to be very busy for the next few years!

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article.

For more information please contact Graham Macdonald on graham@mbmg-interna tional.com


Snap Shots: ‘Non-contagious’ Red Eye

by Harry Flashman

There are many causes for ‘red eye’. Ignoring the obvious ones of late nights with excessive alcohol intake and scratchy contact lenses or the highly contagious medical ‘red eye’, photographic ‘red eye’ is a condition often seen with many flash photographs these days. The photographic cause of ‘red eye’ is the flash burst illuminating the back of the eyeball! This is also particularly a problem with most cameras that have their own in-built flash. And that’s about most of them these days.

The reason for this is that the beam of light from the flash is very close to and parallel with the optical axis of the lens, so the lens “looks” directly into the back surface of the eyeball illuminated by the flash beam. Another reason for the prevalence of ‘red eye’ is that in low light situations (and that’s the times when you have to use flash illumination) the subject’s pupils are dilated and it becomes even easier to see into the eye.

Now the observant ones amongst you will have noted that you don’t get ‘red eye’ when you photograph the family dog! You get ‘white eye’ or ‘green eye’. You see, the red color comes from light that reflects off the blood vessels in the retina of our eyes. However, in many animals, including dogs, cats and deer, the retina has a special reflective layer called the Tapetum Lucidum that acts almost like a mirror at the back of their eyes. If you shine a flashlight or headlights into their eyes at night, their eyes shine back at you with bright, white light. The flash burst is reflected in the same way.

The way to get around the problem is actually quite difficult. Pro shooters will use a flash gun mounted to the side of the camera, so the flash burst actually goes across the eyeball at an angle and does not light up the back of the eyeball, where the camera lens is “looking” at. I use an ancient Metz 45 CT1, mainly just for that reason.

However, not everyone wants a large flash gun hanging off their camera, so the camera manufacturers have produced a ‘pre-flash’ mode (sometimes called ‘red eye’ mode).

The clever camera manufacturers have now begun incorporating a “pre-flash” mode before the main flash fires to make the pupil contract, so it is less likely that you will see inside the eyeball. The only problem here is that many people imagine that the “pre-flash” going off means picture taking is over and move away just as the main flash fires. Best to warn the subject that there will be two flashes, with the real one being the last one! So many good shots have been ruined by the subject walking off before the shutter had fired, thinking that the pre-flash was the right one!

Another trick is to turn on all the room lights, if you are photographing indoors. If the ambient light levels are quite high, this again causes the pupil to constrict. It is the dilated pupil that lets just so much light into the back of the eye, which also explains why photographs of people at parties have even more ‘red eye’. (Alcohol dilates the pupil!)

Of course, if you still end up with ‘red eye’, there are other ways of now correcting the situation. All these involve the use of digitizing the image (scanning or using a digital camera) and then using an image manipulating programme.

One of the simplest is to use Paint Brush, put it on a nice green, lower the opacity, and paint over the red using your zoom tool. Green, for these purposes, is opposite red on the colour wheel, so it’s the complementary colour, and they will cancel each other out. This method will work for any version. You will just have to vary the opacity, depending on how red the eye is. The other digital method is to use Paint Shop Pro version 7 which has Choose Effects, Enhance Photo, and then click on Red-eye Removal.


Modern Medicine: Dengue Fever - the latest wave!

by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant

I was reliably informed that there were five patients admitted recently to my local hospital, all suffering from Dengue fever. The last wave of this recurrent epidemic was just over six months ago, so my warning is worth repeating.

Perusal of the news all over Thailand shows that Dengue fever is again on the up and up. In fact, in the North, the incidence of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever has tripled compared to last year. Even on our tourist islands this has become a problem, and on some of the surrounding islands as well. With the water that will be wasted over Songkran, this will just exacerbate the situation.

However, first you should understand a little more about Dengue. This is a nasty viral condition that has been coming round in epidemic waves for many years. It is also a fairly wide spread virus with 2.5 billion people living in Dengue endemic areas. We, in Thailand, belong to that group.

Like Malaria, the virus is carried by mosquitoes, this time by one called Aedes aegypti. The virus itself is related to Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and yellow fever, and there are four “serotypes” or subgroups of it.

The mosquito lays its eggs in water containers, preferring the clean water found in water tanks and pots, in the saucers under pot plants and even under the pet’s food dish. Inside discarded car tyres are another favourite spot. These mosquitoes are not of the adventurous type and feed during the day and spend their time within 200 metres of their hatchery. Consequently, the eradication of any local breeding areas becomes very important towards maintaining your own health, as you can see. Keep your home free from lying water for a radius of 200 metres and you’re looking good!

Simple Dengue (if you can call it that) has an incubation period of around 4 to 7 days and then the full blown symptoms of high fever and headache begin. The headache is usually behind the eyes and is made worse by eye movement. From there the pains progress to the limbs with acute muscle pains, which gave it the old name “Break Bone Fever”. Interestingly, some patients complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. (Please don’t ask - I have no idea why!)

With our ability to treat the viral ailments being very limited, the defence against the Dengue virus lies in Health and Hygiene initiatives, if you get mosquitoes in the house during the day. For example, do you regularly change the water in containers the Aedes aegypti mosquito might call home? Do you have mosquito screens? Does baby sleep under a mosquito net? If the answer to these questions is “no”, then perhaps it is time to look critically at your own Dengue prevention plan. Let me assure you, it is not a disease you want! And the Haemorrhagic form in particular.

The other precautions are to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts, especially at sun up and sun down, when the mosquito is at its most ravenous. The other factor to remember is “D” for Dengue and “D” for DEET. DEET is the magic ingredient in mosquito repellents, so when you go to buy some, check the label - if it has DEET, then get it. And then remember to use it!

So to avoid falling prey to Aedes aegypti, empty free standing water around the home, use screens and mosquito nets if necessary and apply repellent containing DEET. Best of luck!


Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I am about to start a new, enterprising business that will rid Pattaya of much of its traffic thus reducing accidents. Petrol consumption, noise and air pollution will also be drastically reduced, and the local scout movement will benefit with their fund raising efforts. I have employed a troupe of boy scouts. They will use a fleet of garden wheelbarrows to replace baht buses. Each barrow has a pumped up tyre ensuring a smooth ride for customers. No drivers license is required, they can park anywhere, use footpaths, cannot be defected by police, don’t require insurance, don’t need lights and are exempt from road rules. The scouts are currently undergoing weight training to ensure they possess the necessary stamina to transport the largest beer bellies to and from various drinking holes. What do you think is a reasonable fee to charge for this service?
Mighty Mouse
Dear Mighty Mouse,
What a resourceful little mouse you have turned out to be, but I do not think you have really researched the situation properly, little Mouse. You say that your garden wheelbarrows will not require a drivers license, can park anywhere, can use footpaths, cannot be defected by police, don’t require insurance, don’t need lights and are exempt from road rules. What is so different between your proposed wheelbarrows and the vehicular situation as we know it today? Drivers don’t have licenses, lights are never turned on, they use the footpaths, aren’t insured and the road rules are not followed, so all your much vaunted advantages already exist. All that your proposal will do is to introduce sweaty boy scouts into the local drinking scene, and suggesting these poor innocents be used to getting beer bellies out of local drinking establishments is against the law, unless your boy scouts are over 21 years old, whereupon they are no longer innocent in the eyes of the Ministry of the Interior. I am sorry I am pouring cold water on your idea, Precious, but it may as well come from someone who knows and loves you, rather than from some idiot farang during Songkran!
Dear Hillary,
I love your column, always find it Interesting and Amusing. This is the first time I’ve ever felt moved to write a letter of this sort, so be gentle! It will be bulky so I don’t expect it will make it into your column but please feel free to glean from it anything of use. It’s in response to some of those lonely souls I picture out there who write in. Perhaps some encouragement. My wife (Thai) and I have been married for five years and have been together about seven. I find it amusing that I chose a professional lady (I hate the word prostitute, it’s so demeaning) that even in what appears to be very wrong, very right things can and do happen. My wife did all the usual scams for money (sick buffalo) etc., and I expected this knowing that I was just another trick so to speak but believing in time she would see my genuineness which proved to be true. We both took drugs and partied so neither of us are perfect and far from being role models. Yet it is all panning out to be the best decision of my life. It seems to me that for a man to find himself a partner he must first make sure he has a good heart and then he must see clearly the nature of people and their character. I lived for two years in Pattaya, and my wife and I have since been living in Australia and even here I know of many men who complain about their wives who leave them (“after all they have done for them”). After getting to know them, I can see why! We are happily married and as strong as ever, Drug free 99 percent of the time (what can I say!). Good things will come to those with Good Hearts.
An Honest Man
Dear Honest Man,
Firstly, thank you for your wonderfully frank and open letter. As you know, I always urge caution to those men who take up with one of the professional ladies of the night, but you have shown that if the man has ‘jai dee’ (a good heart) this can sometimes bring out the same in the lady. The important fact to remember is what you described as “for a man to find himself a partner he must first make sure he has a good heart and then he must see clearly the nature of people and their character”. The problem that occurs here is that the young western man becomes so totally blinded by the vision of loveliness that he has found at a chrome pole paradise, that he is unable to “see clearly” as you wrote. He will not see the fact that his vision of loveliness is not interested in his health, only the healthiness of his wallet. He will not see the “nature of the people and their character” so ends up weeping into his beer and asking Hillary what went wrong. I am glad it has gone well for you, and I hope you will enjoy each other’s company for many years. For interest’s sake - how is the buffalo these days?


A Slice of Thai History: Escape from Bangkok 1945

Part Two: Shot Down and Rescued (continued...)

by Duncan steam

To recap last week, a group of Allied airmen, British and American, were shot down by the Japanese over Thailand on the morning of 29 May 1945. Survivors escaped into the jungle, but within 15 minutes, sympathetic Thais took the downed airmen and hid them in their small village.

The following morning, the airmen “were startled by a commotion outside. On glancing through the bamboo screens around us we spotted what looked like a Military Patrol on horseback approaching the village ... What really scared us for awhile was the leader who looked so much like a Japanese officer.”

The troops were in fact Thai military police that had been dispatched from Bangkok to find the airmen and take them back to the capital. They were told that they were to move immediately from the village and, “Hidden near the bank of a river until nightfall. The reason for this move was that a Japanese army patrol was already searching for us. We later learned that the Japs were ambushed by the police and villagers and all were killed and buried.”

The Allied airmen were taken on a night ride by bullock cart and then transferred to a sampan to traverse a river before eventually arriving at the home of the police captain in charge of Nakhon Sawan a couple of days later.

Nervous, tired and hungry they, “Were given a really good welcome by the police captain’s family [who] gave us a good meal...” Despite their precarious position they slept soundly, especially Smith, Pugh, Woods, Roe, Parsons and Copley as they had only completed their longest mission the day before. That flight had been to, “Singapore where four Australians were disrupting the Japanese from a hideout in the mountains. The mission covered 3000 miles and took 23 hours and 50 minutes.”

The next step of their journey to Bangkok was also fraught with the possibility of discovery by the Japanese. The group was moved from the house, across an open field to the edge of the railway line where Japanese troops stood guard at a rail bridge just 100 metres away. Managing to escape detection, they went aboard a Thai police motor launch. “The boat we were loaded aboard was about 25 ft. in length with a beam of only about 3 ft. I believe it had a wooden and metal covering over the so-called deck with the usual type of bamboo roll-up side screens. The screens were kept down most of the time to keep us hidden from passing craft - sometimes Japanese patrols - as the river we were on was one of the main waterways to Bangkok.”


Personal Directions:  Old habits die hard …

by Christina Dodd

What are your bad habits? … Smoking? Talking too much? Drinking? Untidiness?

We’ve all got some, all or more of them … or, even others that we just don’t want to mention!(?) All of us - either consciously or otherwise – display our bad, irritating and just plain down annoying habits during our day-to-day lives.

We live with our habits and they live with our personas and reputations.

So, whether it’s a perpetual pile of clothes in the corner you’re waiting to someday turn into gold, a self proclaimed disability which renders you unable to refrain from interrupting, or, a knack for timing your exit just so, so that someone else is continually left to pick up the dishes, now’s the time to extinguish these habits before they turn into next year’s resolutions.

This week I have based my article on some short points made in a coaching circular that I received from British Life Coach Sean McPhee. Sean says basically that there are 5 simple reasons for breaking a bad habit. And, best of all, not only do they all make sense, but, they are all relatively simple goals that we can all easily achieve and by doing so make improvements not only to our own lives but also to the lives of those with who we interact and surround us!

All of his reasons are based on his strong belief in the over-riding principle of:

“If it ain’t broke, break it, and if it won’t break, bend it!”

Why?

1. It’s not fair to others

Do you want others to be kind and considerate to you? Then start putting the considerate, kind vibes out there and pick up your clothes, your dishes, and stop interrupting or whatever it is you or a collective “others” define as a bad habit.

One of the great universal laws ruling our wonderful planet says that you get back what you put out there. Take a look at the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. Have a good think about it and put it into your new personal game plan.

2. It’s not fair to you

I’m sure you’re a nice person, and you pride yourself on having generous, warmhearted traits.

So, it’s not fair to you either that this simple, little, annoying thing you do can wield the power that it now, or will soon have. These tiny culprits have been known to ruin marriages, friendships or careers and cause the downfall of many a mighty person. Plus you’ll feel better about yourself.

3. Your success depends on it

Bad habits have a funny way of scope and context creep.

First they only happen in certain situations, and the next thing you know, you’re at a business function swirling your fingers through the chip dip. Put an end to it now before situations that require your utmost polish become tarnished by these terribly annoying little critters.

4. You probably don’t like it when others do the same thing

Think about it. If someone did the same thing to you, would it bother you? Be honest.

It now seems time to go back to that modern variation on the Golden Rule: “What goes around comes around”.

Sometimes all it takes is a simple exercise in empathy to find the motivation to quit whatever it is we could benefit from stopping.

5. List your own reasons

But be sincere … Calculate just what is it costing you to perpetuate these habits?

Whether it’s a moment of peace, seemingly perpetual nagging, or simple anxiety resulting from anticipation of the next blow-up or negative comment, you owe it to yourself to commit to your ongoing personal development, and to the elimination of any behavior whose costs far outweigh the benefits.

So how does one begin?

Just like breaking a smoking habit, bad habits have a way of creeping up on us and slowly over time becoming somewhat akin to an appendage - i.e. they’re hard to get rid of.

Here are some tips for breaking these bad habits:

Start small:

While it might not be reasonable to expect that you can just stop whatever you’re doing overnight, identify what might constitute as a small step in the right direction.

Write down what that step is and carry it out over the next 21 days.

For example, if you are smoking 40 a day, cut that down to 20 for the next 21 days. Make that behaviour a habit before you cut that down to 15 for the next 21 days and then 10 and so on.

Commit:

Promise yourself you’ll make this shift, and if reinforcement and punishment works - use it!

Figure out how you might reward yourself for making the change. Or, figure out how you might penalize yourself if you don’t.

For instance, in our smoking example:

Put the money you would have spent on the cigarettes in a jar and at the end of the 21 days add it all up and buy yourself a treat. You’ll be surprised at your savings! ... and benefit from better health as well!

Also, write two lists, one, of the reasons why you are doing this and a list of the things that you will miss out on if you keep on doing your bad habit.

Identify alternatives:

What are some alternatives to the behavior you are demonstrating? Is there a quick fix or solution that might help provide an alternative - e.g. put a laundry basket by the bedside (one to match with the d้cor) so that you don’t end up with a pile on the floor?

Get help:

Ask someone to help keep you accountable. If they’ve been victims of this bad habit, they’ll most likely be thrilled you asked! If your problems are more severe and are taking over your life seek help either through a Life Coach or other professionals.

Ask for feedback:

Because human nature dictates that we will only complain when you offend, rather than amend, ask for feedback frequently. Don’t assume no news is good news, but be sure to get praise when praise is due.

Good luck!

If you would like more information about our services in either Life Coaching or Management / Personal Development Training, then please send an email to Christina.dodd @asiatrainingassociates.com

Until next time … Have a great week!


Social Commentary by Khai Khem:  It’s gonna be a long, hot summer

There are dark clouds on the horizon, but unfortunately they are not carrying rain. This Year of the Monkey may be more of a prankster than a good luck omen as the Thai New Year begins and the summer heat rises. Lucky charm or monkey-shines? Will this ape year be a chimpanzee on a terror or an obedient ring-tail trained to harvest coconuts? Will we be reduced to fighting over the last banana if Poor-planning, Ruthless Waste and Mother Nature band together to leave us high and dry?

In case nobody noticed, Thailand is close to suffering a power shortage as drought engulfs the nation, thereby affecting the electricity generating capacity of major dams. The situation could worsen as consumption rises in line with economic expansion and by the lack of enough supply from power plants.

I really hate to be such a scold, but aren’t we always counting our chickens before they’re hatched? Speaking of chickens (were we speaking of chickens)? Blimey! That’s probably not such a great topic to bring up at the moment. Actually, I was thinking how problems always seem to come in clusters, not one at a time so we can rationally sort them out.

We’ve managed to stumble from one crisis to another, and never seem to have enough time, money and skilled people to fix what’s ‘broken’ before we are bombarded with the next emergency. As the Yanks would say, “We’re always a day late and a dollar short,” and the French, “C’est la vie.”

Speaking of shortages, we are currently being asked to do our bit to save on energy and water, and it is a reasonable request. A few days ago I noticed that Pattaya’s geeky automatic sprinkler system along Sukhumvit Highway and other public roads was turned off and the backward boys in the water trucks had made a comeback. That kind of flexibility is a good example of what we as a community should be doing.

Not all foreign tourists will be clued in to the fact that Thailand is going through a drought, but we residents can help out with self-sacrifice and the little tricks Thais know about when it comes to saving water and power. After all, we USED to be a Third World country. (Does anyone use that term anymore?)

Quit your job and go home. Once you get there, turn off the air-conditioners and siesta on the cool tile floors from 1:00-4:30 in the afternoon. If you have a garden, that’s all the better. A shady palm and a hammock has always been a tropical delight. Yes, I know, most of you thought it was a decorative cocktail served at the hotel poolside buffets.

Re-use water during the day, store it in buckets or bins and use it to water your garden at night. For those of you who are too young to store your teeth in a glass, here is a tip. Brush your teeth with water from a glass, not in the sink with the tap open. Don’t rinse. Swallow the toothpaste. Your kisses will be sweeter for those nubile lovelies of both sexes that everyone goes crackers over. And who knows, maybe you can fool all the breathalyzers the traffic cops are using now.

Which reminds me - don’t DRINK the water. That’s what booze and the sidewalk Pattaya beer bars are for - the really sleazy, low-tech ones that don’t use much energy; the ones they want to close down.

For all you leering lechers, a severe drought and eventual brown-outs, load-shedding and power failures could prove a bonanza. When it hits 40 C.-plus, authorities may realize the advantage of dancing nude on stage in a goggling den. It’s definitely cooler for the tropics. Modern Western apparel is designed in countries where it snows.

Gee, I hate to date myself, but I remember Bali when the women wore Balinese national dress: a sarong tied at the waist and bare-breasts. Tourists shamed them with their stares and cameras, and all too soon they had to ask friends to bring brassieres from shops in Jakarta. If we are to return to Thai traditional values, let’s not do it by halves. Why sell the family buffalo for a John Deer, when the price of a liter of gasoline will soon be more than a bottle of fine French wine?

If you are presently overweight, and it’s too hot for the mass aerobics craze (or you’re wearing a pacemaker) this would be a good time to go on a slimming diet since the prices of food and basic necessities are skyrocketing, and our food supply has been under scrutiny. Even dog food was recently pulled from the shelves to protect the family pooch. Too bad. Now that we have labeling laws, it seems the dog food had more nutrition in it than most of us are getting in our own daily diets.

Songkran festivities include paying homage to the precious gift of water, then rejoicing with indulgence. We are Thais, not Spartans. Enjoy and smile. We sometimes do win the lottery - especially when they don’t rig it - or to paraphrase that blindly optimistic Dickens’ character, “Something will turn up.”




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