HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Mrs. DoLittle’s Corner

Personal Directions: Put your life in front of you

By Christina Dodd,

As every year comes to a close we always ask ourselves the same question, “What have I achieved this year apart from growing one year older!” It is the question we feel compelled to answer. Maybe some of you have done a great many things and feel satisfied with yourself. But I know that a lot of us are looking back with a feeling of regret that we didn’t do this or didn’t do that and as a result we didn’t do very much or anything at all. Sure a lot of things may have happened in our lives, but did we seize opportunity, did we take a proactive stance, did we give our all to move ahead in life or have we taken ten steps backwards instead of forwards?

It is strange how we can always see things more clearly and know what decisions we should have made when we look back on events. Why is this so? Sometimes we have to disassociate ourselves from ourselves so we can focus. Does this make sense to you?

So how are you going to approach next year to ensure that the things you lost out on this year have a chance to be completed? It is essential to begin to plan and to begin to work towards completing tasks and goals as opposed to giving up on them simply because you got nowhere with them this year. It is so easy just to give up. How do we know this? Because we all do it!

I know I have written on the subject of setting goals many times before and forgive me if I may sound slightly repetitious to some of you, but the fact is that setting goals and setting out to achieve them are two very important driving forces in our lives if we want to have lives with meaning and fulfilment. Don’t turn your mind away from this for a moment for if you do, you will have to be prepared to suffer the consequences.

So, give yourself a special New Year’s Gift for the year 2004. Only do this if you really feel you want to. You have time to prepare it as there are a few days left in this year. I realize you have parties and friends to visit, but take some time to think about you for a moment. And this may also be something that your children may wish to be involved in as well.

Firstly take note of the following areas in your life and write them on a sheet of paper so you can refer to them as you proceed: Physical health, personal characteristics and well-being and the things you want to improve upon, family relationships, things you want to possess, things you want to achieve professionally, your financial aspirations and your ambitions in terms of your contribution to society.

Now, find as many magazines as you can and begin to look through them noting pictures and images of all sorts of things in the subject areas that we have just talked about and that appeal to you and seem to “fit” you. These pictures can be anything from scenes of children playing and laughing, to a fabulous interior design to a very trim and fit body or to someone secure in their job. The number of pictures and the kind of pictures they are, are only limited by you and the things that you want to achieve and have in your life. The sky is the limit here so sharpen your scissors and start cutting!

You may even want to include some photos that you feel are important to you in this exercise so go ahead and do it, if you wish. Get them out of the cupboard where they have been hiding and add them to the magazine cuttings. The idea here with this activity is to put together a collage of images that represents the goals you wish to achieve in your life. The pictures should be vivid and in full colour and inspiring to you.

Once you have all your pictures, proceed to place them on a large sheet of heavy card so it could possibly be put up on a wall. Perhaps you may need a very large sheet and this is up to you. You are preparing a “Life Plan” so go ahead and make it big and strong enough to support your pictures. Place (and glue) the pictures in groupings of like goals and leave enough space under or around them to allow you to write details about them. The details should include everything about that goal. A simple example is a house, so write down details like the price, the location, the materials used to build it, the land size and so on and most important of all - the date you will have the house! This is crucial and should be written with a bright and bold pen so it is highlighted!

Do this with all your goals so there are not only images, but thought out details and planning. And then, once you have completed your masterpiece - your Life Plan - find a place in your home where it can be displayed comfortably by you. This is entirely up to you but the reason for this is so that it serves as a reminder to you of the things that are important to you. If it is there for you to easily see then you will more likely be inspired and to act on achieving your goals. If you complete this task and then fold up the card and put it in a drawer - what does that say to you? What do you think is the likely outcome? If you go in to a travel agent you usually can see wonderful and inviting scenes of exciting destinations. Why are those pictures there for you to see? Imagine if there were no pictures and the walls were bare and drab. Would you feel inspired?

Your life is your life. And the goals you wish to achieve in your life are worth every bit of effort to achieve. With this activity I hope you have realized how necessary it is for every man, woman and child to have direction and to set meaningful and realistic goals. This activity is a simple and at the same time “fun” exercise but one that can help both you and your family take some very important steps towards happiness and success in the year 2004 and the many following years.

If you would like a presentation on our training or life coaching services, or any of our other professional and life skills programs, then please contact me at Christina.dodd

I really look forward to hearing from you and my sincerest wishes and thoughts for a wonderful life ahead go out to you all. I look forward to catching up with you in 2004!

And as always ... have an extraordinary week!

The Doctor's Consultation:  Are we on borrowed time? Or are you going to die?

by Dr. Iain Corness

Another year coming up, with all our hopes and New Year’s resolutions hanging on it, so perhaps it is time to look again at our respective futures.

Are you going to die? Undoubtedly yes. Despite all advances in medical science, the death rate will always be the same - one per person! Being born is, after all, the very first step in the dying process. One of the world’s great truisms - you are born, but you will die. It’s the old death and taxes routine.

Now, I fully realise that there are those of different faiths who are happy in their belief that there is an after-life, or reincarnation, or some other way by which we can do it all again, and I am not at cross purposes with that. I am merely talking about the ‘here and now’ - the next life can look after itself, in my book!

In our respective lives, there will be those of us who seem to fly though it all, the veritable ‘butterflies’ who flit from flower to flower, savouring, tasting and, need I say it, enjoying. Eventually, they run out of puff and quietly fold up their wings and pass on. On the other hand there are those of us who stumble like buffalos from one disaster to the next, one illness to another and eventually succumb - a victim of some tragedy.

Does the first group have a charmed life and the second are only living on borrowed time, or was it written in the stars? Being personally of the ilk that does not believe in prophecy, until one of the seers round the place predicts the winning lottery numbers for himself, I shall disregard the ‘prophecy’ concept.

Let us look at the butterflies and the buffalos. As far as ‘borrowed time’ is concerned, both are in the same situation. Our lives are fleeting visits to planet earth, and that’s all. Like going on holidays, you try to make the most of your two weeks on the Costa Plenty, so also you should make the most of your six months in Pattaya.

“Six months!” I hear you shout. “Is that all I’ve got?” In a way, yes.

You see, it is difficult to look ahead much further than that in the medical sense. So much can happen. Six months is enough time for a fulminating infection to carry you off, or to develop an aggressive cancer that will do the same.

So if we are looking at six months worth of future, how can we make it such that it is not this coming six months, but six months way in the future?

The answer is a simple medical check-up. This will predict your future life for you, much better than the Indian fortuneteller with a turban and a well-thumbed set of Tarot cards. Advance notice of when the Bank of Life is going to foreclose comes from your medical records, not the soothsayers.

But what is the difference between the butterflies and the buffaloes? Nothing really. Both are on “borrowed” time. It is merely different attitudes to life and living. You can complain about only having a handful of rice, or be thankful that you’ve got something to eat; many do not. The butterflies have it right. They remain carefree and enjoy life, no-matter how short, while the buffalo carries the world on its shoulders to its grave. The choice is yours.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I keep on getting offensive emails from companies I have never contacted before and I find it annoying to say the least. Every day I will get at least a dozen or so. Is there nothing we ordinary people can do to stop this kind of thing? 90% of them seem to be pornographic material sites and yet when you go to the site to try and register a complaint or stop emails from them in the future, the email address never seems to work. Each one will have an address to contact if you want your name removed, but it does not seem to be connected. What do you suggest, Hillary?

Dear Angry,
There’s not much you can do, Petal. We all get these emails. Every day I get never to be repeated offers to easily enlarge my breasts and how to enlarge, or lengthen my penis (I think that’s what they call the untidy dangly bit). They obviously don’t know me all that well, now do they (unless they think I am katoey - Oh, dearie me)! If it isn’t enlargement offers, it’s how to order any prescription items I want by email. They again obviously are unaware you can get just about anything over the counter in Thailand. Ignore the offers and just delete them as they come off the server.
Dear Hillary,
We all read your column and are amazed that you know so much about so many subjects. Where did you learn all this, and are you Thai or Farang?

Dear Amazed,
Don’t be amazed, my Petal. It’s simple. This is Amazing Thailand, isn’t it? However, I will treat your enquiry in good faith. What you are forgetting is that I have one or two weeks to research my answers. A good encyclopaedia helps. Now, Thai or farang? They’re not mutually exclusive, you know. Think about it.
Dear Hillary,
We are new in Thailand and I am not sure what to do about our maid and her attendance. She came with the house and the previous employer gave her a good reference, so we decided to keep her. The problem is the number of days off that she seems to have. It is not that she does not come to work, it is that she tells me that she has to see her mother, or it is a special day for Chinese people so she will not be here on some day next week. Is this the usual for Thai maids, or am I being made use of?

Dear Newbie,
No, I don’t think you are being overly used. Maids do tend to be a little erratic in attending work, so it’s not unusual (as Tom Jones might say). What is unusual is to be given a week’s notice. That is the rare part. At this stage I’d put up with it, but if she has too many days off, start to cut her salary for each day she is missing. That is usually the way to see just how ‘special’ is that special day for Chinese people.
Dear Hillary,
My boyfriend is football mad. In fact, if there is a match on TV he will get out of our bed just to watch it. Am I being selfish by pretending to be asleep when he gets back to bed? I feel I have to teach him a lesson.
Not a Footy Fan

Dear Not a Footy Fan,
You are a very gentle girl. I would hit him over the head if he woke me up just because he wanted to watch footy and then want a little nooky on coming back to bed again. Tell him you are not interested in football, but it’s fine if he wants to watch quietly on his own, but there’s no ball games after the ball game’s over, if you get my message. A girl needs her beauty sleep, my Petal.
Dear Hillary,
I have become very attracted to one of my mate’s wife. She is Thai and very beautiful and I think she has been making it obvious that she would be up for it too. I get told by some of our other mates she has been seeing other guys while her husband is offshore. Should I pay her for her time, or would it be better to say it’s from the heart and not commercial?

Hey Jude (or should that be Judas?),
Do you honestly think anyone would condone your actions? You are a snake and should slither off somewhere else. Don’t write again.
Dear Hillary,
One of my girlfriends wants to have her bust enlarged, while the other wants hers reduced. Are these operations safe? Are there any risks involved? I am worried that they might do something they will regret later.

Dear Concerned,
Just who is having these operations done? You or them? They would have researched the subject fully before they said they intend to have the operations done. If it is worrying them, then tell them to swap bras for a couple of weeks and see if they still want to go ahead. Dolly Parton and Pamela Anderson seem to have done alright out of it.

Camera Class: Batteries not included. Why?

by Harry Flashman

On the outside of many boxes that house electrically powered toys is the warning “Batteries not included.” I used to think this was just meanness on the part of the manufacturer, but I was wrong. It is actually a safeguard. How? Read on.

All but the most delinquent photographers know to look after their cameras. Lens caps are there to be used. Camera bags are needed to store it. The camera gets wiped dry after being in the rain. Most cameras these days turn themselves off after a period of time to conserve their batteries. However, it is those same batteries that can do untold damage to the electronic innards of today’s cameras.

I was reminded of this the other day, when I was using my trusty Nikon and it inexplicable failed. Nothing worked! Now, the motor drive on the older Nikons and the camera bodies themselves sometimes have a habit of getting condensation between them and you’ll end up getting nothing. The answer is to unship one from the other, wipe and wriggle as you reattach and bingo! Away you go. But not this time. Repeating the procedure did not work, so I was forced to wind on manually, as the light meter was now working OK, with the motor drive removed.

At the time, there was little more I could do, and in the manual mode, I was quite sure I was getting the right exposures. What had not occurred to me at the time was the fact that when I was attached to the motor drive, there was no power, yet disconnecting the motor and its eight batteries, I once again had power for the LED’s, light meter and such.

It was the next day before I looked again at the problem, and then remembered that when the motor drive is disconnected, the camera uses its own small cadmium battery, but when hooked up to the motor drive, the camera draws its power from the motor drive battery pack. So this was why I had light meter facilities, but none when I attached the motor drive.

I then began to think how long it was since I had checked the eight batteries in the driver. Possibly a year! Opening up the battery pack case, I was greeted with a shower of white crystals and a group of sweating, leaking AA batteries. Six out of the eight were leaking. Hence no power.

Mentally castigating myself for such errant carelessness I pulled the motor drive battery compartment apart to see the extent of the damage. I was very lucky - no corrosion was evident. However, I did remove the batteries and then immersed the pack case in very hot water. This removes the crystalline substances that leech out of the batteries themselves. A gentle blow dry and very careful inspection showed there had been no lasting damage. The phrase, “Just in time” kept going through my head!

Also interestingly, the six batteries that had begun to leak were the least expensive of the two types of battery in the drive. There is a moral here, isn’t there?

In fact, there are two morals to be learned. The first is to check batteries every three months, I would suggest, rather than just waiting for the batteries to fail or become erratic. And secondly, you get what you pay for - so buy the best you can. It will serve you well in the end.

This little scenario would have been much worse, if the battery pack had been internal with the camera works themselves. The discharging batteries also give off fumes that attack and corrode the complex electronic circuitry. That little problem can destroy the camera totally - and that is no joke!

So I escaped this time around. After 200 baht for new batteries, the motor drive and camera are functioning just perfectly. Till the next time - unless I make a note in my yearly planner to check every three months. It will be good insurance. Think about it too. With 2004 on us next week, make a battery check a good resolution.

Mrs. DoLittle’s Corner: Your rewards in life are the seeds you sow yourself

Bongo had a bad start in life, as most Dobermans do that are bought in anticipation of being fierce guard dogs, but actually they are just like any other dogs, in need of affection, in order to protect their owners.

Bongo the Doberman will attack, unless you happen to be a pussycat!

When he disappointed his owner because he was too nice to the neighbors, he was beaten repeatedly, in the hope that he would serve his purpose and become mean towards intruders on the owner’s property. At first he took the beatings, but the more he cringed, the angrier the owner became and the harder he was hit, until one day, he bit his cruel master’s hand. This infuriated the man, who then used a piece of wood to beat the dog’s hind legs till he collapsed and finally dropped unconscious. Watched by the neighbors, the owner packed his bags and left the house, abandoning the dog tied under the house.

For many days he had no nourishment, until someone took pity on his plight and started to bring him food. But by this time no one could get near him. They had to throw the food to him. But obviously he was also in pain and in need of medical attention and of course a new home. But who would want to take him on, this battered, snarling, angry creature, except perhaps that crazy ‘farang’ woman, Mrs. DoLittle, who was known to embrace even mangy, smelly street mutts with fleas.

Say no more, the vet was called, the dog was darted, put in a cage and off he went to Love Animal Sanctuary. Mrs. DoLittle had to admit she was faced with a challenge. Although she had wrestled with lions and hugged bears, she was not about to open this cage door with all those big teeth glaring at her. You couldn’t even look at the dog without it going into attack mode. What to do? We had to feed it and it couldn’t stay in that tiny cage forever.

There was no other option, so Mrs. DoLittle had to use plan D: When all else fails, use reasoning! “Okay, Mr. Doberman, so you don’t like people looking at you, well then, I won’t! I’ll just put on this blindfold here and slowly open the door; just enough to get this food bowl in and please don’t eat my hand! There you go....” GROWL munches GROWL munches...

For about ten days I fed the guy blindfolded, until one day there were no growls, just munch, munch, munch. Time for step number two, to get a collar on him, so he could go for a walk. Talk about groping in the dark. I crawled on all four into the cage, blindfolded and lay very still. Then he started sniffing me. I got goose bumps down my spine. Slowly I started stroking his front legs, then his chest and neck, clutching the collar. Without even a snarl he let me put it on him. Then I attached the leash and started backing out the door, hanging on tight. Well let me tell you, as soon as he knew that door was open, he tore out of there on three legs so fast I thought my arm had been pulled out of its socket.

The leash wrapped around my arm, he dragged me up the dirt road. By the time I got the blindfold off, I had two scraped knees, but he was still going. Three kilometers later he stopped and turned to look at me for the first time, a panting mess, heaving for air. At that point I didn’t care if he ate me. I looked him straight in the eyes. Then something wonderful happened. He nudged my hand! We were friends. Although my body was in a lot of pain, my heart couldn’t have been happier. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I sat down and he licked my face dry.

Now a year later, his body is strong and his leg has healed. But in his mind he is still afraid of men. Only Mrs. DoLittle and two female staff can go into his compound without him attacking. Oh, and I must not forget, Som Tam the pussycat, his best friend.

The morale of this story is: Your rewards in life are the seeds you sow yourself!