Vol. XII No. 20
Friday May 14 - May 20 , 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

The Message in The Moon

Money matters: What goes around, comes around

Graham Macdonald
MBMG International Ltd.

U.S. investors are pouring money into stock mutual funds at the fastest rate since equity markets peaked in early 2000, according to Strategic Insight. The New York-based firm estimates almost $134 billion has flowed into stock and balanced funds so far this year, approaching the record reached in the first three months of 2000.

Some investors have recently pulled money because of concern about the terrorist bombings in Madrid, but this has been a loss of momentum and there’s no sign of a reversal yet in this trend. Investors seem to have bought into the idea of a sustainable recovery in 2004. Last year’s 26 percent advance by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index led to a net $153 billion of stock fund inflows over the whole year. The buying continues this year even as the markets stagnate. The S&P 500 is up 0.9 percent and the NASDAQ Composite Index is down 2 percent.

To us this is definitely the return of Mr. Greenspan’s much vaunted, “irrational exuberance”. The S&P 500 has climbed 44 percent since falling to a five-year low in October 2002. Investors have been buying equity funds this year, against a background of state and federal regulators expand their probe of improper trading practices in the $7.5 trillion fund industry and consumer confidence declines.

U.S. consumer sentiment fell in March for a second month, reflecting a rise in pessimism about the job market, a survey by the University of Michigan found. The economy has created fewer jobs at this stage of the expansion that began in November 2001 than in any economic recovery since World War II. Concern about terrorism also is increasing after 202 people were killed and about 1,500 were injured in train bombings in Madrid on March 11. Following that attack , investors withdrew about $1.5 billion from equity funds, according to estimates from TrimTabs Investment Research in Santa Rosa, California, the first week of withdrawals since July last year.

We have recommended selective selling of equities since the turn of the year. That sounded like stupid advice until now. With individual investors pouring these near-record amounts into mutual funds during January and February it looked and at times felt like a big bull market.

However looks can be deceptive. The S&P500 was up only 4% YTD at its February 11, 2004 peak. It has now surrendered all those gains. The NASDAQ was up 7.5% at its January 26, 2004 peak. It is now in negative territory. Most stock indexes and industry groups have had a similar performance. The point is that they didn’t actually go up that much on big buying and have now given up those slender gains. There is a danger that individual investors could find themselves sucked into another bubble right at the top.

The official line is that the US economy is thriving (although you have to question their critical faculties if they’re taking this on trust in election year - especially as Greenspan himself continues to dissent from this by pointing out the lack of job creation at each Fed meeting) and a year of slid gains had brought the feel good factor back to financial markets.

Even excluding the balanced funds, total US equity fund inflows have been around $75 billion so far in 2004. That works out to $1.4 billion/day. About 70% of inflows go to domestic funds, so about $1 billion of buying a day (on average) has produced a minus 1.5% return on the US stock indices.

The markets are going down despite big buying? There’s one for the record books. Now that most major stock indices are down on the year, the inflow is starting to waver. The markets could be on the verge of a day (or make that a year or 3 - using Kondratieff.

One forecaster believes that the markets will decline from now until the bottom in 2007 – the year of reckoning. If $1 billion/day of buying produced a net decline in the indices then what could $1-2 billion per day of net public selling produce? More and more people believe a return to the bear market lows.

Another forecaster points out that many stock indexes are turning down from their declining 200 week averages (S&P500, NASDAQ, OEX, SOX, IBEX, SMI, etc.). That the 200 week average is declining implies the long term trend is down. Therefore, stock indexes are turning down from their declining 200 week averages. This implies a return to the bear market lows and possibly beyond. In other words there could be a big decline coming and it might just have started. If they regain previous lows then we’ve only seen a fraction of the potential fall - maybe as little as 10% of the full extent. If they go beyond that, then it could get really ugly.

Looking at the fundamental economics we believe that the Bush administration has taken one of the biggest gambles in history and so far there is no indication that it’s paying off. Admittedly it might, but if it doesn’t, brace yourself for an extremely bumpy ride and possibly the worst crash and global recession since the 1920s and 1930s.

At times like this it’s important to ensure that your portfolio is positioned not to get caught up in the carnage, but to exploit the upside that might occur. Sounds idealistic? Not really - just a matter of making the most of the opportunities that are out there.

In a future article we will explain how market neutral, delta-hedged and long/short equity funds manage to capture the market upside without exposure to the downside. Over time these methodologies deliver slightly superior returns to traditional funds, but in a much more consistent way.

In the US, the rules formulated by the SEC in the 1920s only permit the rich guy to avail himself of these kinds of strategies. Luckily, that particular dinosaur has no jurisdiction in the offshore world. If Eliot Spitzer really understood what he was doing, he would channel his well-intentioned energies against the SEC (rather than the institutions and his current spat with the OCC).

Nobody has done New York state investors such harm as the SEC, and when so many companies have been found guilty of taking advantage of an outdated system, you can’t help but wonder if the system shouldn’t be shouldering rather more of the blame? Meanwhile if the sentiment pendulum is now beginning the long swing from unfounded optimism to deepest despair, we’re ready.

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable; however, neither MBMG nor its officers can accept any liability for an errors or omissions in the above article nor bear 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 about the above please don’t hesitate to contact MBMG International Limited, No.2Z, 2nd Floor, Somkid Place, No. 6 Soi Somkid, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330 - Thailand, Telephone: + 662 650 3123/4. Facsimile: + 662 650 3125 e-mail: info @mbmg-international. com Website: www.mbmg-international.com


Snap Shots: Grandma Moses and photography for ‘phailing’ eyes

by Harry Flashman

As we get older, there are some pursuits that begin to be restricted to the young. Septuagenarian motorcycle racers would be fairly rare; however, photography is a pursuit that can be followed by just about everyone, irrespective of age. In fact, much of photography is actually more suited to the elderly than the young.

Let’s face it, who is able to get up early for those classic early morning sunrises, or has the patience to wait for the late afternoon sunsets? Only retirees who have their time freed from the daily grind.

It is thought, in the general community, that to be a good photographer you need 20/20 vision. Not any longer! Just because you have to wear glasses shouldn’t stop you, because modern technology is here to help you. Today’s cameras can solve this problem. Provided you can point the camera in the right direction, the camera will do the rest. Welcome to the wonderful world of Auto Focus (AF). AF cameras work by moving the lens in and out electronically to focus on the subject in the middle of the viewfinder, just as if you were doing it yourself. They do this quickly and accurately and some cameras will even give an audible ‘beep’ to let you know the focus has been set.

Another problem often associated with aging is stiffening of the fingers. Today’s cameras take care of this as well. Technology has developed the easy load system for you. Just drop the film cassette into the camera, pull the film across a couple of inches (about 50 new fangled millimeters) and close the camera back. The camera will automatically wind the film on and stop ready at frame number 1. It will even indicate if the take up is not successful, and will not operate until the film is in correctly. Nothing could be simpler or more fool proof.

While still on stiffening fingers that don’t like fiddly little jobs - remember those dreadful fiddly pull up handles to rewind the film? The tiny button under the camera you had to push at the same time? Try using those with arthritic fingers. Now you don’t have to, with Auto Rewind as well. When the last shot has been taken, the film automatically rewinds into the cassette. This is just getting too easy.

Is it just too much of a hassle these days to walk up to distant objects to get close-up details? Zoom lenses save you having to go the distance. The zoom lens will do it for you. With a zoom lens it is no problem at all to get a close-up, a wide angle and a distant shot from the same camera position. Maybe an autofocus compact camera with a zoom lens is just the camera for you. Just push a button to make the zoom bring the subject closer or farther away.

Flash without being arrested. These days forget struggling with flash guns and working out complicated guide numbers and all that scientific tommy twaddle. Today’s camera manufacturers have taken the tears out of using the flash too. Most new cameras have their own in-built flash which comes on when the light levels are too low, will set their own flash power and give you perfectly lit indoor night shots every time. You don’t have to worry about doing anything. The camera’s brain does it all.

So there you have it, Grey Power. There are cameras available now which can get you back into photography again. If you once had the ‘photographic eye’, then that ability is still there. All you have to do is get the equipment to let you use and enjoy it again. All the camera stores these days will stock cameras with all the features mentioned above. An autofocus compact with built in zoom, auto load and auto flash will set you back less than 6,000 baht.

Remember the famous Grandma Moses who began her painting career very late in life. You can start your photographic one.


Modern Medicine: Osteoporosis and how to avoid it!

by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant

Rule Number One - be a man! Yes, ladies, this is one of those conditions like breast cancer, where it’s not all that much fun being a woman. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose their density and thus become very much easier to fracture. This is particularly prevalent in later life, and the statistics would indicate that 30 percent of women reaching 90 years old will suffer from a hip fracture by that age, as the result of osteoporosis.

Now this does not mean that older men don’t get fractures, but the majority to suffer in this way are women, because bone density is very much related to female hormones, amongst other factors.

So let’s look at which factors are involved in winding up with low density (and weaker) bones. Begin with advancing years! This is an increasing problem throughout the civilized world (I include Thailand, despite misgivings at times) as modern medicine is getting people to live much longer. Long enough to fall over and break something! Or even just getting compression fractures of the bones in the spine with 25 percent of all women over 70 showing this problem.

Another major factor is inactivity, or lack of exercise. Immobilization after a fracture, or bed rest after major surgery, can cause more fractures through the decrease in bone density caused by the bed rest. Lying in bed can be dangerous, as many young ladies have found out!

Another important factor is calcium. This element has a major role in building and maintaining bones. An adequate intake of calcium is necessary to build up the strength of the bones during the growing phases in childhood, and then to maintain that strength during adult life. The daily intake should be between 800-1,500 mg, which is best taken in the normal diet. Dairy foods are also the best source of easily absorbed calcium and items such as 35 gm of cheese, 250 ml of milk or 200 gm tub of yoghurt will supply between 200-400 mg of calcium. If you aren’t into dairy foods then tinned sardines, salmon, mussels, oysters, almonds and tofu have good quantities of calcium as well.

Now here’s where being a woman has its downside. Oestrogen levels need to be kept high, as this hormone plays an important part in producing new bone. When oestrogen levels decrease after the menopause (or following surgery to remove the ovaries) then women become at risk. This is one of the ‘good’ arguments behind hormone replacement therapy. Other causes of decrease in oestrogen levels can be through anorexia or even very intense exercise, such as occurs with female marathon runners, for example. Lactating mothers also lose their calcium, as it goes preferentially to the milk supply for baby.

Another factor towards giving you less dense bones is my old friend - smoking. Really, with so many ill effects caused by smoking, I find it difficult to understand why any intelligent person continues. I can fully understand the addiction process, but not the continuation in the face of all the evidence process - but then I suppose some people just like their family to be able to claim early on the life insurance policy.

Excess alcohol on a regular basis also weakens the bones, as well as other weakenings, such as Brewer’s Droop.

So do you have weak bones? The way to find out is via Bone Densitometry, a non-invasive screening process. Ask your doctor about it next time - especially if you are a post-menopausal lady!


Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I am at my wits end. How do you get hold of a tradesman here, or even an “odd job” man, such as you can get in the UK? They can’t speak English and the workmanship is terrible. Where do I go to find someone? It’s not as if I want them to build the Taj Mahal or anything like that. Even just putting in a new light in the kitchen seems to be an impossible ask.
Home Improvements Henrietta

Dear Home Improvements Henrietta,
Your problem is a very common one, I am afraid, but does relate in part to the language situation. As you correctly point out, “they can’t speak English” but you should not forget, my Petal, that you are living in Thai-land and the language the people speak here is called Thai! It is unreasonable to expect tradesmen to accommodate your lack of local language. There is a way around the problem, however. If you scan the Classified sections of the paper, you will find that English speaking tradesmen do advertise, and if you ask around in any of the local ex-pat organizations, they will be able to give you the names of some reliable people. But you should always remember that in any country, even English speaking ones, getting a good tradesman that can do everything is like rocking horse poo. Very difficult to find.
Dear Hillary,
My father (a 70 year old widower) is coming over to Thailand to see my husband and I next month. He gets along very well with my husband and already hubby is making noises about taking Dad out to some of the places that he wouldn’t see at home and that he wouldn’t take me to, for example. How do I convince my husband that these places are not suitable for my father, and he should be more discreet with where he takes him? As I have a busy schedule with organisations and charity work, I cannot be with both of them all the time as a chaperone.
Dutiful daughter

Dear Dutiful daughter,
It is a father’s role to look after his daughter during her growing up, not the other way around after she has grown up, my Petal. Particularly when Dad is now 70! Sure, help look after his needs, but that is all. I am sure that if you leave your two boys together they will be able to get by some evenings, complete with discretion. Is that the important factor? Being discreet? By this stage, I would imagine that your father understands your position fairly well with the organizations and charity work and will not embarrass you. He doesn’t need a chaperone. Let him enjoy his twilight years. Hubby has the best ideas. Dad will soon say if he is enjoying himself or otherwise.
Dear Hillary,
This is a real estate problem, but I am hoping you can help me. Last summer I rented a small apartment for six months, from a Thai lady I met socially. She asked me for a deposit equal to two month’s rent, which I paid, because I think that’s a standard thing and she said I would get it back at the end of the contract. When it was time for me to go back to the UK she would not give me the deposit back because she said she was waiting for the bill for the electricity and water and telephone and had to deduct those amounts first. I wrote to her from the UK and asked for the remainder from the holding deposit, but she never replied. When I came this time I went looking for her, but nobody seems to know where she has gone. This has really annoyed me and I was wondering how I can stop this happening again? Have you any suggestions, Hillary?
Roger the Lodger

Dear Roger,
Unfortunately my Petal, you went into the rental contract with your eyes shut and your brain in neutral. You might have been the lodger, but now she’s the dodger! This is not the UK. There are no agencies over here to help people get their unwisely spent money back. Just learn from the experience and next time rent through a reputable real estate office, which will hold the deposit in trust and credit your account after all the bills are paid. As for last year, put it down to experience. It’s not the end of the world!
Dear Hillary,
My friends wanta (sic) know how old you is reely (sic) and would you come out with us one night? There are four of us who go regular to the bars and we said it would be fun to have you come along with us. Are you game enough for four young guys? Or are you just a stay at home and tell people what to do type of person?
Jerry

Dear Jerry,
Oh you young boys with the excess circulating hormone problems! You’re all too young for me, pretty Petals. When you’ve grown up send me another letter. In the meantime learn to spell. After that I’ll tell you what to do, but you would probably wouldn’t take my advice anyway.


A Slice of Thai History: Dr. John Crawfurd and the Mission to Thailand, 1822

by Duncan steam

Although Europeans had been trading and travelling through south-east Asia for well over 200 years, the British mission headed by the dour and sardonic Dr. John Crawfurd to the court of King Rama II was virtually the first official visit to one of the most powerful nations in the region.

Born on an island off the west coast of Scotland in August 1783, John Crawfurd followed his father into medicine, studying at Edinburgh and completing his medical degree in 1803.

From the cold climes of Scotland he joined the medical section of the British East India Company and spent the next five years in the northwest provinces of India. In 1808 the 25-year-old was transferred to the island of Penang where he began the study of the Malay language.

In August 1811 he, along with Stamford Raffles (later the founder of Singapore), travelled with Lord Minto’s expedition to Java. The British took control of the Indonesian island from the Netherlands, which had been incorporated into Napoleon’s French Empire. Crawfurd was later appointed resident at the court of Yogyakarta.

Raffles, the lieutenant governor of Java, and Crawfurd fell out over the issue of land reform on the island. Java was restored to the Dutch in 1816 and Crawfurd returned to England where he published History of the Indian Archipelago in three volumes in 1820.

After returning to India, Crawfurd’s knowledge and expertise was put to good use by Lord Hastings, the governor-general, who sent him on a mission to Thailand and Cochin-China late in 1821 and early 1822. The British were especially interested in learning more about Thai foreign policy with regard to the northern Malay states.

The missions were of limited obvious success, although in the case of Thailand it did pave the way for closer relations with Britain, partially leading to King Rama II allying his country with the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826). This in turn helped Captain Henry Burney conclude a treaty of commerce with Thailand in June 1826.

Crawfurd’s account of his mission was published under the title Journal of an Embassy to the Courts of Siam and Cochin-China, Exhibiting a View of the actual State of these Kingdoms in 1828.

When Crawfurd called in at Singapore in November 1823 he met with Raffles and declared his missions a failure. Raffles pointed out that it was of no great consequence as merchants in both Thailand and Cochin-China were being drawn to trade in Singapore, a free port, thereby circumventing the royal monopolies that existed in their own countries.

That same year, Crawfurd was appointed British Resident of Singapore, a post he held until 1826, ironically, the year of Raffles’ death. In 1827, Lord Amherst, the governor-general of India, sent Crawfurd on a mission to Burma. As with his previous diplomatic missions, it was only partially successful and after its completion the 44-year-old returned to England. His Journal of an Embassy to the Court of Ava in 1827 was published in 1829.

He failed to enter parliament during the 1830s and spent the remaining years of his life writing books and papers about south-east Asia and the Indian sub-continent. Included in these were Grammar and Dictionary of the Malay Language (1852) and A Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands & Adjacent Countries (1856). In the latter book, Crawfurd claimed Raffles was not ‘an original thinker’ but one who ‘adopted the notions of others - not always with adequate discrimination’, although he did concede he was an ‘intrepid innovator’.

In 1861 he was elected president of the Ethnological Society and 1868, Crawfurd was appointed as the first president of the Straits Settlements Association. He died in May that same year in South Kensington, London, at the age of 84.


Personal Directions: There’s a lot to building a Positive Personality …

by Christina Dodd

Following on from last week, here are a few more guidelines (from Shiv Khera) to building a positive personality that we all seem to know about, but from time to time need reminding of.

Step 4: Don’t criticize and complain

“When I talk of criticism I refer to negative criticism. Why should we not criticize? When a person is criticized, he becomes defensive. Does that mean we should never criticize, or can we give positive criticism?

A critic is like a back-seat driver who drives the driver mad.

Positive criticism What is constructive criticism? Criticize with a spirit of helpfulness rather than as a put-down. Offer solutions in your criticism. Criticize the behavior, not the person, because when we criticize the person, we hurt their self-esteem. The right to criticize comes with the desire to help. As long as the act of criticizing does not give pleasure to the giver, it is okay. When giving criticism becomes a pleasure, it is time to stop.

Receiving criticism There are many times when we are criticized, justly or unjustly. The greatest people in the world have been criticized. Justified criticism can be very helpful and should be taken positively as feedback. Unjustified criticism is really a compliment in disguise. Average people hate winners. When people are not successful, critics have nothing to talk about.

The only way you will never be criticized is if you do nothing, say nothing or have nothing. You will end up being a big nothing. An inability to accept constructive criticism is a sign of poor self-esteem. A person with high self-esteem accepts positive criticism and becomes better, not bitter.

Complaints Some people are chronic complainers. If it is hot, it is too hot. If it is cold, it is too cold. Every day is a bad day. They complain even if everything goes right. Why is it not a good idea to complain? Because 50% of the people don’t care if you have got a problem and the other 50% are happy that you have got a problem. What is the point of complaining? Nothing comes out of it. It becomes a personality trait. Does that mean we should never complain or invite complaints? Not at all. Just like criticism, if it is done in a positive way, complaints can be very useful.

Step 5: Put positive interpretation on other people’s behavior

In the absence of sufficient facts, people instinctively put a negative interpretation on others’ actions or inactions. Some people suffer from “paranoia”; they think the world is out to get them. That is not true. By starting on a positive note, we have a better chance of building a pleasing personality resulting in good relationships.

For example, how often have we put through a call and not gotten a reply from the other party for two days and the first thought that comes to our mind is, “They never cared to return my call” or “They ignored me.” That is negative. Maybe:

* They tried, but couldn’t get through

* They left a message we didn’t get

* They had an emergency

* They never got the message

There could be many reasons. It is worth giving the benefit of doubt to the other person and starting on a positive note.

Step 6: Be a good listener

Ask yourself these questions. How does it make you feel when you wanted somebody to listen to you and

* They did more talking than listening

* They disagreed with the first thing you said

* They interrupted you at every step

* They were impatient and completed every sentence you started

* They were physically present but mentally absent

* You had to repeat the same thing three times because the other person wasn’t listening

* They came to conclusions unrelated to the facts

* They asked questions on unrelated topics

* They were fidgety and distracted

* They were obviously not listening or paying attention

All these things show disinterest in the person or the topic and a total lack of courtesy. And the following words perhaps best describe the feeling of not being listened to:

Neglected, rejected, dejected, let down, unimportant, small, ignored, belittled, annoyed, stupid, worthless, embarrassed, disheartened.

Now let’s reverse the scenario. How does it make you feel when you want someone to listen to you and they

* Make you feel comfortable

* Give you their undivided attention

* Ask appropriate and relevant questions

* Show interest in your subject

Do the following words describe the feeling of being listened to?

Important, good, satisfied, worthwhile, cared for, pleased, happy, appreciated, encouraged, inspired.

Listening shows caring. When you show a caring attitude toward another person, that person feels important. When he feels important, what happens? He is more motivated and more receptive to your ideas.

Step 7: Be enthusiastic

Enthusiasm and success go hand in hand, but enthusiasm comes first. Enthusiasm inspires confidence, raises morale, builds loyalty, and is priceless. Enthusiasm is contagious. You can feel enthusiasm by the way a person talks, walks, or shakes hands. Enthusiasm is a habit that one can acquire and practice.

Live while you are alive. Don’t die before you are dead. Enthusiasm and desire are what change mediocrity to excellence. Water turns into steam with a difference of only one degree in temperature and steam can move some of the biggest engines in the world. That is what enthusiasm helps us to do in our lives.”

If you would like to write to me or contact me further about any of our personal or business skills programs, then please email me at Christina.dodd @ asiatrainingassociates.com I’d be very happy to hear from you.

Until next time, have a wonderful week!


Social Commentary by Khai Khem:  Hello! Is anyone out there?

My TOT and TT&T telephone lines were in perfect order during Songkran holidays - not before, and not now. The ‘big Songkran push’ is over and now that all the tourists have left, I’m stuck with such noise on my TOT line that I cannot stay connected to the Internet because it is connecting at between 16-36 Kbps AGAIN.

What is going on? My guess is the massive real estate and building boom - old equipment, too many new properties, too little money, lack of planning, and not enough lines and skilled employees have left us all caught short. Am I close? The problem with guessing is that most ordinary people guess wrong.

Thank goodness for letter-writer Ron Martin and his kind effort in sharing his problems with us. We are definitely not alone. TT&T and TOT do need to get their house in order. How can a region of this size and population survive without the most basic telephone services? I feel like a neglected car, running on only half its cylinders. We are all limping at ‘half speed’.

Such unreliability is annoying but if the companies would respond to our questions in a professional way, customers could be reassured with more information and know that upgrades are in progress. If the news is gloomy at least we would know what is going on and perhaps adjust accordingly and temper our impatience.

The good news is that when my field technicians do come, it is because the complaints operator bothers to write out their work orders, otherwise the men in the field do not know which addresses are having problems.

Today I got a woman on the 1177038 complaints number who actually spoke English but told me to wait so she could speak to someone else. That tells me she has little authority to give a direct order, and the ‘backroom’ employees that communicate with field technicians are not telling anyone, not filing the paperwork, or whatever! To be fair, maybe they are just so busy running from address to address because the telephones all over this area going ‘kaput’. Who’s minding the store here? Do they need to bring cable, computers, switching gear boxes, whatever from Chonburi; Bangkok? Are we suffering a spate of new hook-ups, waiting for more modern equipment? Who knows? It is imperative that this situation is corrected as soon as possible.

Mr. Martin is right; the office workers and complaints operators are not technical people. However, the field technicians are quite capable of eventually tracking down the problem which is often outside and involves a lot of complicated trouble-shooting - IF and WHEN they get the tools and cooperation they need.

I’m not sure about Mr. Martin’s “freelance technicians”. I assumed the field technicians in the Mabprachan area were TOT and TT&T employees and have credentials to come into my home to check my equipment and are accredited to check public phone lines, outside cables, and report faults with the aim of finding where the fault lies and submitting the reports.

So far each and every technician who has been coming to my home for more than 8 years has finally either found the problem on my property, or diagnosed the problem down the line to my eventual satisfaction. Yes, some problems took longer than others to solve, but I’ve had my same TOT number and line for almost 8 years, and although the reliability has hit bumpy patches, I still own the line and use it.

I’ve been told by TOT branch offices over the years that one department doesn’t speak to the other. These telephone companies cover all of Thailand but have no system to exchange info (or working mentality prevents it and I believe this to be true). Interaction throughout departments must improve information exchange and co-ordinate their areas more effectively.

I’ve had some wild rides with telephones in Pattaya but not all of them ended badly. In the past I spent 5 months getting my original TOT line to work. I had no dial tone for months and when I did, it didn’t last more than a day or so. The manager at the time from the S. Pattaya office drove to my house in his business suit to direct technicians and show good will. Turned out all the switching gear boxes from BKK were defective - a whole factory order made by a European company. This does happen sometimes when Quality Control has been overlooked. TOT bought the equipment in good faith. It was eventually replaced when the error was discovered.

During this time I hired my own telecommunications experts out of Mabtaput to go and sort it out. As far as I could understand, each telephone number has its own switch box. Noise on the line, dead line (no dial tone), and continual engaged signal can all be traced to switching gear or fault on property line or main cables on roads, etc. This is complicated, frustrating and most of us do not have time or inclination to take a course in modern telecommunications. Trouble- shooting on modern telecommunications is difficult under the best circumstances. Even very advanced nations go through this at one time or another.

If some of my information is either incorrect or outdated, please consult with an expert on this subject. I’m also confused. I can only relate to some of this from personal past experience and what I hear from other users, plus what my field technicians have shared with me. Truthfully, it is over my head.

On a lighter note; I will probably miss my deadline to my Editor today. Sorry Ed. Dead line on TOT.


The Massage In The Moon: Sun in Sagittarius/Moon in Libra

The philosopher

by Anchalee Kaewmanee

In this combination, the broad-minded, philosophical Sagittarius is joined with the sociable, sensitive and imaginative Libra. These natives are charismatic, popular, and make friends easily. First appearances lead people to think they are somewhat na๏ve and perhaps overly optimistic. That smooth Libra charm and easy-going nature can be misleading. There is a serious side to these individuals. In truth, they are deep thinkers who possess amazing insight and acute wisdom.

All are stubbornly independent, which is probably due to their undaunted faith in themselves. Like all confident people, the Sag-Libra will set far-reaching goals and work tirelessly to achieve them. Magnetic charm and high spirits work to their advantage, as does their ability to learn quickly. Natives born into this sign usually achieve success and recognition early in life. They are blessed with great intelligence which is revealed at a young age. As youngsters, they excel in school studies, where they first get a chance to use their scholarly talents. All have vivid imaginations and a thirst for knowledge, particularly abstract knowledge.

These individuals prefer to deal with large concepts, and focus on the big picture. Picky details often confuse them. They are much more intrigued by the wonders of the universe and the nature of mankind than the mundane drudgery of balancing a checkbook or domestic chores. The Sag-Libra often comes off as the absent-minded professor who turns up at the office (or research lab) with mismatched socks or one brown shoe and one black one.

Libras are snappy dressers and will probably spend more on clothes and accessories, a lavishly appointed home and an expensive car because they are very fond of beautiful things. But the Sagittarius has his or her eye on grander visions and the pettiness of details are often scorned. Our Sag is blessed with good luck and can afford to drift afield without getting into too much trouble. Their true domain is the abstract, science and spiritual. They drift back to ‘terra firma’ eventually.

Although there may be Sagittarians out there who are talented athletes, I’ve found most are physically clumsy. In my experience, they are inattentive drivers, and always seem to be bruised from running into doors and furniture. I swear - if there is a hair on the carpet, your Sag friend will trip over it. Remember, they are looking at life’s ‘big picture’ and trying to figure out how the universe works. Their heads are in the clouds and their eyes are on the stars.

These individuals have dynamic personalities, a great sense of humor and the ability to laugh at themselves, which makes them so endearing. The inner workings of their minds may be profound and serious, but they are also fun-loving, adventurous and generous. People find them easy to get along with because so much of their character is made up of childlike wonder and a sense of joy at just being alive. Their fresh appeal is contagious and they will always be surrounded by admirers and involved in an active social life.

Career choices for the Sag-Libra are unlimited. They are endowed with so many talents and learn so quickly that success comes easily for them. Libras do have a reputation for being slightly lazy. What is often perceived by others as a lazy streak can be deceiving. They just make hard work LOOK easy.

This combo will do well in any field which involves human relations. They make fine teachers, lawyers, politicians, psychologists and good managers in companies which specialize in public and product image. They will not do well in a boring back-room job hammering out details and shuffling paper. The Sag-Libra needs human contact and freedom to explore. There is a restless streak in this Sun-Moon sign and travel to far off places often satisfies that insatiable curiosity and free will.

All are incurable romantics and will search for a soul-mate who shares their lofty dreams and idealistic view of the world. Passionate, inventive and attractive to the opposite sex, many natives of this sign have a hard time settling down. Life is just too exciting to commit a lifetime to one mate. Many Sag-Libras marry more than once and some marry very late in life. The lure of adventure is too tempting to resist and fidelity in romance is not their strong point. This quirk does not enter into their standards of morality. They are neither cruel nor selfish toward their partners. Philosophically, human relationships are merely part of the process of exploration.




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