HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Money matters

Snap Shots

Modern Medicine

Heart to Heart with Hillary

Learn to Live to Learn

Doc English, the Language Doctor

Let’s go to the movies

tech tips with Mr.Tech Savvy

Money matters:   Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.

Why people are worried, part 2

Four years ago, MBMG was a minority dissenting voice - we believed that deflation and recession were both inevitable and that by tinkering with economic nature in the way that he did, Mr. Greenspan and his colleagues merely served to delay the inevitable, making it many times worse when it finally would happen. Supporters of his actions state that the economy has grown well, deflation and inflation have been avoided and that unemployment is at acceptable levels. However, all of this has contributed further froth and actually created, or at least heightened, the problems we are now seeing in the housing and sub prime markets. Robert Eisenbeis, who was a research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, has concluded the Fed overreacted to the potential problems of deflation and so kept rates low for too long. Because of this, it “over stimulated the housing market, and now we’re dealing with the consequences.”
Another person to back this stance is Edward Gramlich who was a Fed governor up until a couple of years ago. He has confessed that he failed to comprehend that the low rates were making it very easy for lenders to get clients via sub prime mortgages with low introductory rates. He now says the Fed and other regulatory bodies should have cautioned against what was happening with active supervision of the lenders. He went on, “We didn’t have that, and we’re paying for it now.”
In the middle of 2004, the Fed started to put up the short-term target rate. It went up to 5.25% where it stayed for a year or so. It has just recently dropped to 4.75%. However, such an increase more often than not means that the long term interest rates will go up as well. This is noteworthy as it will affect normal mortgages and many bonds. This time, it didn’t. Two year ago, Mr. Greenspan warned about this and was worried that investors were prepared to accept low returns for taking on risk. “What they perceive as newly abundant liquidity can readily disappear,” he said six months before he retired. “History has not dealt kindly with the aftermath of protracted periods of low risk premiums.” In other words, what goes up must indeed come down and vice versa.
Recently he backed this up by saying, “We tried in 2004 to move long-term rates higher in order to get mortgage interest rates up and take some of the fizz out of the housing market. But we failed.” This was not entirely the fault of the Fed, one main item that nobody considered was the amount of money flowing into America at the time.
The background to what happened can be found in Thailand. In 1997, it devalued (or floated, depending on who you listen to) the baht. This led to other countries in the region devaluing their own currencies and even meant that some defaulted on loans. When the Japanese yen started to fall the Chinese began to worry and “let it be known ... that if things kept going this way they’d have no choice but to devalue.” At the time, the Chinese currency was pegged to the US dollar. So, the US Treasury, worried that such an action would start another surge of yet more devaluations, asked the Chinese to stay firm and hold the peg. They actually praised them when they did so. However, times changed. Due to recessions and undervalued currencies imports were low but exports to the West were on a continual increase. So, in the end, these countries got trade surpluses that fully replenished their foreign-exchange reserves. For example, the Thai reserves which basically ran out ten years ago are now at a very healthy $73,000,000,000. These countries also decided that they would never again be dictated to, as they perceived it, in such a humiliating way by the IMF. So, they have maintained these policies and want to continue with them.
Over the last few years the economic fundamentals show that the Chinese currency should appreciate against the US dollar. However, China has let it rise gradually and certainly not at the pace the US would like to see. The Chinese have done this because they want to maintain their export drive and increase the foreign reserves they have. Already these stand at over $1 trillion.
This has rung some very loud alarm bells in America and a while ago the US asked the Chinese to float their currency. China was very quick to remind the Treasury of how it helped to stabilize the world currency crisis in the late nineties by putting a lot of its spare cash into US Treasuries. By doing this it helped to keep down the long term interest rates in America. The Chinese government has also, indirectly, paid $3,000,000,000 into U.S. private-equity firm Blackstone.
Property loans for everybody
If you speak to any number of small bank owners in the US, they will no doubt echo the words of the owner of a small Colorado mortgage bank called Boulder West Inc. This company has been selling mortgages for the past thirty years. For the first twenty years the person taking out the loan had to file full details of his assets and earnings. Things started to change about ten years ago when lenders eased back on the information they wanted but this was only to people borrowing 70% Loan To Value (LTV). Then things changed a few years ago. The man from Boulder West described how Wall Street investment banks and other major players laid down the law and wanted more mortgages even if this meant giving to those who would not have met the requirements even five years ago. These are the so called ‘sub prime’ clientele.
The owner of Boulder West went on to say, “All of us felt the suction from Wall Street. One day you would get an email saying, ‘We will buy no-doc loans at 95% loan-to-value,’ and an old-timer like me had never seen one, it wasn’t long before the no-doc emails said 100%.”
To be continued

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 [email protected]

Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman

Get a ‘wizziwig’ today

Photo courtesy of Tania Mouraud.

Forget digital versus film. Forget zoom lenses versus prime lenses. The answer to better photographs is ‘wizziwig’. If you haven’t got the principle of ‘wizziwig’ yet, then you should.
I am a great believer in ‘wizziwig’, usually written as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)! Unlike looking for a lady, full of disappointment when the make-up (or the alcohol) wears off, WYSIWYG works with photography. It just needs one thing - you have to train your eye to apply WYSIWYG and look critically through the viewfinder.
We all tend to ‘imagine’ what is in front of us, rather than ‘seeing’ what is really there. Look at drawings of houses done by young children. Inevitably, there will be more than two walls. Children know that houses have more than two walls, so draw houses accordingly. However, when you look at any house, from any angle, you can only see a maximum of two walls at one time. Small children do not use WYSIWYG.
Unfortunately, neither do we. Especially photographers. Hands up all readers who have received prints back from the photo-processors and been disappointed? All of you, if you are telling the truth - and that includes me!
What was wrong with those photos? Were there trees growing out of people’s heads, giving them strange reindeer ‘antlers’? Did some have such harsh shadows across the person’s face that you could not see the eyes, and in fact, the face looked grotesque? Did some have the person so small in the picture that you cannot tell who they are? Shall I continue, or since you have probably ticked the box for “all of the above”, let’s not prolong the agony, but get down to what we have to do to fix the problem.
The answer is very simply WYSIWYG, but you have to train yourself to ‘really’ see. We all know what we want to see in this once in a lifetime photo, but ignore the fact that what we are seeing in the viewfinder is not actually what we want. It’s the child and the house with three sides again.
You have to train yourself to look critically at what is in the viewfinder/LCD before going ‘click’. This is actually harder than it seems. You have to look to see if there are trees growing out of people’s heads. You have to look at the faces and see if shadows are ugly. You have to be prepared to put the camera down and recompose the shot before clicking that shutter, remembering at all times that what the camera ‘sees’ is not necessarily what you might be seeing with the naked eye.
That may sound a little weird, but it isn’t really. What the camera sees depends upon the lens you are using. The “standard” (50-55 mm) lens gives a field of view coverage approximately the same as the human eye, but the “wide angle” lenses (24 mm and 28 mm) give a distorted viewpoint compared to that seen by you. Likewise, the “long” lenses give a very narrow viewpoint compared to what you see with your own eyes.
This is probably one of the best arguments for the use of SLR cameras, because when you look through the viewfinder, you are actually looking through the lens that is screwed on the front of the camera. The compact cameras where you are not looking through the camera’s lens often have a compensation for this, but it is a poor substitute.
99 percent of serious photographers use SLR’s, and the main reason is WYSIWYG. Which brings me to the next important item. The Preview Button. Do you use it? Do you actually know where it is and how to use it? This is ‘real time’ WYSIWYG. Did you realize that when you look through the viewfinder, you are looking through the lens with the aperture wide open? But your shot may be recorded at f16. The preview button allows you to see at f16 exactly what will be on the final print. Use it! What you see is really going to be what you get! Order your ‘wizziwig’ today!

Modern Medicine: by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant

The ‘fix’ for high Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure is usually written as BP and is essential for good health. If your BP is zero - you are dead. However, if your BP is too high, this can lead to strokes, coronary heart disease, kidney disease, heart failure and back to death again. So it is an important condition.
Unfortunately you do not know if your blood pressure is up, as it does not give you any warning symptoms until it is ready to blow the top of your head off. That being the case, I do suggest that rather than wait for that catastrophic event, it is a better idea to get your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
Now here comes the first problem - blood pressure is a dynamic measurement, and it goes up from many factors, including when you last had coffee or a cigarette, or even sex (with or without ‘viagorous’ assistance).
So what is your “normal” or “usual” blood pressure? That figure can only be estimated after several readings. A high reading this morning is not necessarily the same this afternoon. A high reading today is not necessarily a high reading next week. Even the medical fraternity is in disarray over this, with for example the Australian Heart Foundation suggesting that the pressure should not be taken within two hours of a cigarette, because it “produces acute increases in blood pressure.” Considering a one pack a day smoker never goes two hours without a cigarette - when do you measure his pressure that is not within two hours? When he is asleep perhaps? So what really is his “usual” pressure? For me, the “usual” pressure is the pressure at which the person runs under most of the day, and for the smoker, that is the one under the influence of nicotine in my book!
So what is “high” blood pressure? BP is given as Systolic pressure over Diastolic pressure. As a very rough rule of thumb, anything over 140 mm Hg (mercury) systolic is too much, as is anything more than 90 diastolic. This BP is written as 140/90.
Let us now imagine that your BP has been found, over several random measurements, to be greater than 140/90. (I disagree with colleagues who will label you as having “Hypertension” after one reading.) What should be done? The answer is the mnemonic SNAP. That stands for Smoking, Nutrition, Alcohol and Physical activity.
Here then is how to deal with high blood pressure. First off, stop smoking. As I pointed out above, if you smoke anything more than eight cigarettes a day your BP is being continuously elevated. End of story. By the way, note that smokers have three to four times the risk of heart attacks and strokes than non-smokers. Also end of their story!
Nutrition. If you are overweight, it is time to reduce. You are overweight if your Body Mass Index (BMI - we medicos love acronyms) is greater than 25. To find out your BMI, divide your weight in kg by the square of your height in metres. (I weigh 78 kg and my height is 1.8 metres. My BMI is 78 divided by (1.8 x 1.8) giving 24.) For every kg of weight loss you can expect a 2 mm fall in BP. That’s worth striving for!
While still in the Nutrition area, increase the vegetarian section of your diet, and even go totally vegetarian if you like. Thai food is high in plant-based foods and very plentiful in this country! And don’t add salt to your food. You’ll get used to being without it.
Alcohol. You don’t have to become a teetotaler but limit your drinking to two drinks a day and give yourself one alcohol free day (AFD) each week.
Physical Activity. Regular physical exercise protects the heart, as well as lowering BP. 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is all that is needed - walking, swimming, cycling or gentle aerobics. Half an hour a day - even you can find that time!
A simple story with a simple fix. Over to you!

Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I have come over here on holiday from the UK and I am shocked by what I see here, going on night and day. I can put up with the endless beer bars with young women trying to get people to sit down and drink. I can put up with the fact there are gogo bars with women displaying their bodies as some sort of tourist attraction, but I cannot put up with the way old foreign men walk around with barely teenage Thai girls hanging on to their arm. They all have such smug looks on their faces with a ‘Look at me, aren’t I clever’ expression. Don’t they know, or doesn’t anybody tell them that they are just being taken for a ride? They’re not clever. It’s disgusting.
Mona from Manchester
Dear Mona from Manchester,
When you say “They all have such smug looks on their faces with a ‘Look at me, aren’t I clever’ expression” are you referring to the old foreign men, or the barely teenage girls, Petal? Honestly Mona, this can be applied to both of them. They are smiling because they have found themselves in a situation which is good for both of them. The young girls have found a financial ‘sponsor’, whilst the old foreign men have found themselves a gorgeous young companion who will take care of their every need (until the money runs out). They know what the name of the game is, Petal. So what is so wrong with it? It is a win-win situation, so no need to be shocked. Can a ‘man from Manchester’ get a deal like that back home in the UK? No, he’s more likely to get a moaner.

Dear Hillary,
I come over every year to worship at the feet of the dancing maidens but this year I notice there seems to be many more Russians walking around Walking Street than before, but they have all brought their own women with them, rather than sample the local wares (oops, almost spelled that as “whores”). What do you think is the reason for this, Hillary? You must have noticed this too. Or don’t you get out much these days, what with your arthuritis (sic) and being cooped up in the office all day.
Dear Gregorovich,
Thank you for asking about my health, and it does get pretty stifling cooped up in the garret above the editor’s head; however, I do manage to make it down to street level once a week (but I hasten to add I don’t get down to the level of the gutter!). You are correct, there has been a none too subtle change recently. Our Russian visitors have decided that this is a fun place after all, and why not bring Olga along to share the fun? I think this is called being “faithful”, a concept totally foreign to many residents. Then of course, perhaps Olga is into a little bit of what you fancy as well. I’m afraid I haven’t asked, as they are all so much taller than me, and also rather better endowed in certain areas. By the way, I am told by our local resident medical authority that it is spelled “arthritis”, unless your name is Arthur.

Dear Hillary,
Happy New Year and I want to wish all your readers a Happy New Year as well, though I’m a bit late. Just want to tell you that me and my fan Nok have celebrated our 15th year together, and they’ve been the best 15 years I’ve ever had. Not every Thai woman from a beer bar is out to get you as so many of your writers seem to think. When I look at my mates from the old country, stuck with the reality that they are never going to find any woman as a partner, unless it is a ‘grab a granny night’ at the local pub, I just remember how lucky I have been. Sure we have our arguments from time to time, but it isn’t over who is top dog in the house, and “I’m more clever than you” or “bring in more money than you”, or “what are you smiling at?” No, it is much more of a partnership based on trusting each other, and it has worked well for me and Nok.
Happy Camper
Dear Happy Camper,
I am very pleased to see that you and Nok are happy and you are still together after 15 years. However, you have to also accept the fact that 50 percent of marriages both in Thailand and overseas don’t make it past five years, so you are one of the lucky ones. I must also point out that you have been doubly lucky with your Nok. The bar environment does seem to teach some of our ladies to be rather grasping and one-sided at times, if not just simply two faced! There are always exceptions to the rules, and yours seems to be one of them. I just hope that the readers who are still looking for a partner also realize that your case is the exception and not the rule. Thank you for the New Year’s greeting, and my best wishes to you and Nok.

Learn to Live to Learn: with Andrew Watson

Back to Basics

What is an International school?
Whilst there exist unifying groups of schools such as United World Colleges who seek to maintain standards and educational philosophy across their member schools, and authorisation and accreditation bodies (such as the IBO and CIS respectively), the endorsement of whom represents a kite mark for quality, the extraordinary diversity of international schools preclude a universal definition. However, research has suggested defining characteristics which, depending on the host country, culture and environment, one might expect to find to a greater or lesser degree in an international school.
Hayden, (1998) and Richards (1998, in Ezra, 2003) produce criteria which include: promotion of international understanding, a balanced multi-national student body and faculty, preparation for global destinations for higher education and standards aligned with American or European schools.
In my view, diversity and Diaspora are central to the idea of an international school. The celebration of diversity, through the ‘planned interaction’ (Walker, 2000 in Hayden & Thompson, 2000) of students from different backgrounds, Diaspora, (Willis et al, 1994 in Shaw, 2001) where a significant number of the school community is displaced from their original surroundings and are internationally mobile. (Ezra, 2003) The Diaspora might also be expected to include ‘third culture kids’ (Pollock and Ven Reken, 1999) or global nomads (Useem, 1976 in Ezra 2003).
Whilst acknowledging that the celebration of diversity is by no means limited to international schools (multi-cultural inner city schools often enjoy the same diversity), in suggesting that the idea of celebrating and valuing diversity is central to what defines an international school, it follows that effective leadership should keep the central tenet of diversity at the centre of school practice. It should be pervasive, from mission statement to classroom practice. Hayden & Thompson (2000) speak of an ‘international attitude’ arising from the natural diversity of nationalities, language, cultures and religious beliefs.
International schools have a crucial role in shaping a future that can be safer, cleaner and healthier, politically, economically, socially and spiritually. As the single most important figure in a school, the leader of an international school has a pivotal role in translating vision into reality, turning pedagogy into practice. “The importance of the Headteacher’s leadership is one of the clearest of messages from school effectiveness research,” (Gray, 1990 in Hayden & Thompson, 2000).
Jameson (1991, in Morrison, 1998) characterises today’s global society as “postmodernism in partnership with late capitalism”. The boundaries between schools and business and industry are blurred. Morrison (1998) maintains that there is a traditional antipathy between education and business. Shaw (1996) alludes to the lack of research between the two. Nonetheless, it can be forcibly argued that best organisational practice is equally applicable and relevant to both business and education. What Morrison (1998) refers to as a “celebration of disparateness and chaos” in postmodernism, can be compared with the awareness and celebration of diversity in education. In both, change and uncertainty are omnipresent.
Welton (2001), in recognizing that international schools are heterogeneous in type and origin, makes a crucial point regarding the link between international schools and their choice of leader. “Their approach to planning and management reflects the origins of their founders and the professional socialisation of their current managers.” It is the nature of a school which determines the kind of leader.
According to Hawley (1995), leadership in international schools is something that does not last very long. For a wide variety of reasons, longevity of Headships is an average of 2.8 years. Whilst acknowledging that this research is almost ten years old and based on a particular type of international school (American), this figure serves to illustrate how precarious the leader’s position can be.
Attributes are characteristic traits (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1995). Characteristics traits can be seen as a combined and evolving result of education and experience, which in turn are composed of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Knowledge, skills and attitudes can be seen as an interdependent group of attributes with ever changing emphasis. Categorising their characteristics should not diminish their essentially interdependent nature. In identifying the attributes required for effective leadership, it is important to consider that it is by no means certain that a person will have arrived at the position of leader by demonstrating the required knowledge, skills and attitudes. “I fear that most heads who have been deputies arrive at their first board meeting with no relevant experience at all,” (Walker, 2004).
In the ‘Wild West’ of international schools, where prevailing uncertainty, complexity and chaos reflect global reality, there are many reasons for Headteachers arriving at the top of the pile. Some seem to resemble the educational equivalent of gun slingers who have ‘faced down’ their rivals. “Heads who control all the decisions, who obstruct initiative, who choose blame before praise, who see only problems where others see possibilities, are heads who create discouraged and dispirited teachers,” (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1992).
Morrison (1998) suggests that leaders need not be heroes or geniuses but leadership, I would argue, requires the capacity for heroic work and the potential for genius. Leaders must first know what is necessary in order that they can do the ‘right thing’. In education, there are many such defining moments. Mandela (1993) maintains that, “The terms of the struggle are dictated by the oppressor, not the oppressed,” a view which combines knowledge of the reality of people’s condition with their civil and human rights and legitimate aspirations. The following is an example from personal experience:
During the Al-Asqua Intifada in Jerusalem in 2001, our school became a haven for reconciliation and a model for the indigenous populations to follow. Fearless but compassionate, the leader of the school brought the community together. This required the capacity for understanding a situation with intuition, initiative, intelligence, courage and a sense of shared humanity and the same kind of genius as leaders like Mandela and Ghandi. Consistent with Morrison (1998), the leader demonstrated panoramic vision and was regarded as a visionary himself. He was able to “identify and maintain the special character, symbolize to the outside world exactly what the company is, set challenging but manageable standards of performance, motivate all employees, be a positive role model” and in so doing, he epitomised the characteristics of hero-leadership identified by Clarke (1994, in Morrison, 1998). His choice of appropriate response was what Redin (1991, in Law & Glover, 2000) refers to as “style flexibility”.
Next week: Can transformational leadership be learned?

Doc English, the Language Doctor: Lost For Words?

Hello and welcome! Last week we talked about using dialogues to help you and your child practice English on a daily basis. It’s good to start every lesson with a bit of dialogue, so here’s a new one to try. Play the Shopping Game with 2 or more people. The more people you have, the more fun it is. It is a useful game to help build vocabulary and also practice speaking using past tense.
Below I have demonstrated how to play with a group of four people. If you want to make the game easier, you could use picture flash cards to represent shopping items. If you don’t have flash cards, you can always cut out pictures of household objects or food from magazines to use instead. You can also use real items (called ‘realia’) instead of pictures. Your child should know the names of some of the items before the game, but you can introduce a few new ones if you like.
The Shopping Game
Arrange the children and adults in a circle. The ‘teacher’ (T) starts and the Students (S) follow:
T. Yesterday I went shopping and I bought a doll.
S1. Yesterday I went shopping and I bought a doll and a car.
S2 Yesterday I went shopping and I bought a doll, a car and a kite.
S3 Yesterday I went shopping and I bought a doll, a car, a kite and a game.
T1 Yesterday I went shopping and I bought a doll, a car, a kite, a game.
And so on around the circle…
Repeat around the circle and watch the shopping list grow. If the children make a mistake, give them time to self-correct and provide a few hints. The winner is the one who remembers everything on the shopping list of course!
I hope you enjoy the Shopping Game. I’ll provide you with another game next week. If you know a good one you can send it to me at: [email protected] .com and I’ll include it in this column.
Learning Styles
Although some learners have a tendency towards a certain style of learning, the fact is that most of us do not use each style in isolation when we encounter a new word. We tend to use a combination of these different styles. It’s important therefore, for you to cater for all learning styles when you are teaching your child. For example, if you are teaching the words ‘green’ and ‘apple’, first show the apple (visual), let your child touch it, take a bite (kinaesthetic). Show them a flash card with the word written on it and say the word a few times (auditory). Get your child to notice the shape of the word, the sound it starts with, the sound in the middle and the sound at the end. Finally, encourage your child to say the words and write them down.
Show another object to contrast with the first object and to clear any confusion they might have. Show a ‘red apple’ and repeat the process. Put the objects behind your back and encourage them to say what you might have in your left or right hand ‘green apple’ or ‘red apple’. Introduce a few more items and put them in a bag, encourage your child to feel the item in the bag and practice saying the names for the objects in order to guess the name of the item. Finally, show how to write the words and encourage your child to draw a picture of the items and write the names underneath.
Sadly, that’s all we have time for this week. Remember, you can send your questions or suggestions to me via email at docenglishpattaya Don’t forget to find out which learning style you and your child have, there are many tests on the internet to help you find out!
Next week: Teaching Vocabulary

Let’s go to the movies: by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Pattaya
Cloverfield: US Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller - This film has been swathed in mystery from the beginning, with not even its title revealed for many months – just that startling image of the Statue of Liberty without a head in front of a smoldering New York City. Now we know it revolves around a monster attack as told from the point of view of a small group of people, filming it with their hand-held video cameras. The movie’s publicity people have been inundating the internet recently with fake news stories about early monster attacks, like on an oil rig off the Atlantic coast of the US, all leading up to the super-big attack you will see in this film.
Hitman 47: US Action/Thriller - This movie is based on a video game, which is an entirely different medium than film, and basically non-dramatic. Its roots show: we simply see one meaningless violent encounter after another. I must add that the first few minutes (under the opening credits) are terrific, as boys are shown being programmed to become assassins by what looks like a combination of the Roman Catholic Church and organized crime, all to the accompaniment of “Ave Maria.”
And now I find out that those fine opening moments didn’t come from the filmmakers at all, but was footage “borrowed “ from a TV series, and that the “boy” who grew up to be “47” is actually a girl. Can you trust anyone?
Anyway, the “boy” grows up to be Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant), a killing machine who obeys instructions announced to him, “Mission: Impossible”-style, via a computer. Overall, I think it’s an unfortunate combination of excessive violence, incoherent plot, and inane dialogue. Hilariously, there are several instances of a naked woman’s breasts pixilated by the Thai censors.
This is one of the very few movies rated NC17 in Thailand, meaning, supposedly, that anyone 17 or under is not allowed to see it under any circumstances. Things have to be pretty bad and bloody to get this rating here, where blood on the screen is par for the course. And it’s rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity. Generally negative reviews.
Mum Deaw: Thai Comedy – A gentle, sweet, and sentimental story. Unmarried Mum, played by Thai superstar Mum Jokmok, leaves his easy going, relaxed life in the quiet village of Yasothorn to head for Bangkok where he stays at a vacant house owned by one of his relatives. Something strange happens on the day he moves in: a young boy named Deaw approaches him and says, “Hi, I’m Deaw, and I’m your future son.” He explains that, in the universe postulated in this film, if Mum does not make love to Deaw’s future mother very soon, Deaw will be born as a puppy to the dog next door. Depending on your tastes, you will find this film either nicely sentimental, or excessively maudlin.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem: US Action/Horror/Sci-Fi – Just what you would expect it to be, a comic book brought to life, loudly. I found it an exciting, confusing, mindless blood bath and gore fest, with an excess of bodily fluids – blood from the humans and lord knows what translucent slime from the non-humans. This is also, along with Hitman, one of the few movies rated NC17 in Thailand. Rated R in the US for violence, gore, and language. Generally negative reviews.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets: US Action/Adventure – The movie is absolutely preposterous and utterly implausible, but I thought it a lot of fun – but then I like very much Nicholas Cage’s persona and sense of humor. If you liked the first film, I think you will enjoy this one, also. Helen Mirren is a pure delight! Mixed or average reviews.
Konbai The Movie: Thai Romance/Comedy – Usual low-class Thai comedy with the usual stars, mostly from television.
Yen Pe Le Semakute (Three Cripples): Thai Low Comedy/Action – Just an ordinary very low-class Thai comedy with well-known television and movie stars.
…and looking forward to Thu. Jan. 31
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: US Thriller/Drama – with Johnny Depp in the Stephen Sondheim musical, directed by Tim Burton. This film, which I am greatly looking forward to seeing, has been postponed from Jan. 3 to Jan. 31.
“What you will see is as dark as the grave. What you will hear is some of the finest stage music of the past 40 years.”
As the New York Times long-time movie critic says: Mr. Burton’s film adaptation of Mr. Sondheim’s musical is as dark and terrifying as any motion picture in recent memory. Indeed, “Sweeney” is as much a horror film as a musical: It is cruel in its effects and radical in its misanthropy, expressing a breathtakingly, rigorously pessimistic view of human nature.
Reviews: Universal acclaim. I can’t wait!

Explore your Keyboard – the time saver!

Wonder how you could speed up your day-to-day work on your computer and rest your eyes and save time for your family and friends? To get started, I have here, simple tips for office people who want to shorten their time in getting tasks done.
We all are experts at multi-tasking when sitting on a computer. Ever been in a situation where you find yourself having a whole lot of programs open at a time? And at some point, you wanted to get rid of everything that’s blocking the view of your Desktop icons like My Computer, My Documents or just files on the Desktop. Many of us do that by clicking on the “Show Desktop” button next to the “Start” button on your taskbar. Try the easier way just by pressing and holding the Windows key (between Ctrl and Alt keys) and press “M”. Done with Desktop? Press and hold the Windows key, Shift key and “M” and you should find all of those open or “maximized” programs back on your screen. What a life saver!
Try some more shortcuts below:

Getting started…

Alt + Tab Toggles between open programs
Use this when 2 or more programs are open and you want to switch from one to another
Ctrl + Tab Toggles between open documents in the same program
Different from Alt+Tab, use this when 2 or more documents are open within the same program and you want to switch from one document to another
Alt + F4 Quits any open program – works for shutting down Windows too!
Exactly like the “X” button on the top-right corner of every Windows program, use this to close any program
Ctrl + F4 Closes only the current document
Use this when you want to close only the current open document and not the program altogether

While editing text…

Ctrl + C* Copy
Ctrl + X*Cut
Ctrl + V*Paste
Ctrl + BBold
Ctrl + IItalic
Ctrl + UUnderline
Ctrl + Z*Undo
Ctrl + A*Select All
Ctrl + PPrint
Ctrl + Left or Right Arrow Move the blinking cursor left or right skipping one word at a time
Shift + Left or Right Arrow Make text selection one word at a time

* Can be used while dealing with files and folders as well

While dealing with files and folders…

F2 Rename a file
F3 Open Find tool to search for files or folders in your computer

While surfing the web…

F5 Refreshes the current webpage
Alt + Left Arrow*
or just Backspace
Go back to previous page
Alt + Right Arrow*Go forward one page
Esc (Escape Button) Stops the page immediately from loading
Alt + HomeGo to your Homepage
Home Go back to the top of a webpage
End Go directly to the bottom of a webpage
Ctrl + N Open a new browser window
Ctrl + EnterAutomatically put the preceding “http://www.” and succeeding “.com” when typing a website address in the Address Bar
Shift + Click on a linkOpen the link in a new browser window
Ctrl + D Add or bookmarks the current webpage to your Favorites

* Works well while dealing with files and folders too

Want more? Get your hands on the whole list at

Getting used to these shortcuts can really make life easier, giving back to you all that time you needed to catch a movie with your family!

Does the word computer seem like “100110110” to you? Ask Mr. Tech Savvy for help. Or if you impress the ladies with your computer skills, suggest a tip and find it featured here next week!

Go ahead, send them to [email protected]. Till then… Alt+F4!

Just for Geeks
Don’t like small text size while surfing the web? While on a website, roll your mouse wheel upward while holding the Ctrl key and see what happens!