HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Personal Directions:  I Have A Dream...

By Christina Dodd,

Indeed these are words that have had a profound impact on society and history and the way we live our lives today! They are words that belong not only to one or a few, but to everyone who cares to embrace them and touch them with their hearts and their passion.

These words are also yours. They can mean the beginning of a new life ... if you dare to act upon them!

What we achieve in our lives is limited only by our imagination. Our imagination has the ability to inspire and to drive us forward, to pick us up and to allow us to fly, to strengthen our reserve and to instill a stronger will, to give us confidence to carry on in the face of incredible obstacles. It is so powerful we have not even begun to realize our potential.

Just by simply closing your eyes you can use the magnificent ability you have to visualize and imagine. You have at your fingertips a tool that can help you change the way you live your life. By giving yourself the opportunity to utilize this power within you can start the process of realizing your potential and realizing your dreams and, turn your dreams into goals and into reality.

Today I have a passage for you to either read to yourself, or better still and for optimum results, have someone read to you. Through the guided imagery in the passage, you will be able to visualize a wonderful scene in your future and you will basically come to understand that imagining a bright future can help you set inspirational goals!

Take a bit of care and thought, however, when participating in this activity. Try to find a quiet place that has no possibility of disturbance or interruption. Really give 100 percent of your effort to it.

This activity or passage is a great help if you want to perform at your peak; stop procrastinating; envision and work towards achieving your goals; overcome anxiety and the fear of failure. It is also helpful if you want to get through some tough times; fight boredom and lack of direction; motivate and spark your performance. It is not only a tool you can use for yourself alone, but for others around you.

Let’s start: Place yourself in a relaxed position. Breathe easily and if someone is reading this passage to you close your eyes.

Passage: “Breathe easily and clear your mind. I’m going to take you on a journey. Just focus, concentrate on my voice and the feeling of relaxation that’s beginning to grow in your body... keep relaxing...

Around you now is darkness... You’re completely surrounded by darkness... You feel warm and comfortable, relaxed and at ease. Focus on your breathing. Make it slow and easy. Focus on the comforting blackness around you. Off in the distance you see a small, round object. Slowly, gradually, it moves closer to you, until finally it’s about three feet from you, suspended in the blackness, in front of your face. The object is a clock, and both of its hands are on the 12. It’s a plain clock, with plain black hands on a plain... white... face.

You begin to feel that time has completely stopped as you continue to focus on the face of the clock, and its two hands, pointing upwards towards the 12. Now, slowly, the minute hand begins to move clockwise around the dial, very slowly at first, then somewhat faster, and the faster still. In just a few seconds, it’s moved completely around the dial, so that the hour hand is now on the 1. The minute hand continues to move, faster and faster and faster, so the hour hand moves from number to number to number with increasing speed... As the hands continue to whirl around the face of the clock, you feel yourself being pulled... tugged gently into the future... Wisps of air rush against your skin as you move forward through time... until, finally, you begin to slow down... The hands of the clock have finally come to a complete stop, and 10 years have passed.

You look to your left, and off in the distance you see someone in a lighted area. It’s you, in an ideal life/work situation, exactly 10 years from now. Everything is perfect in this setting. Everything is ideal for you. Merge your awareness into the future you and feel the warm, positive feelings of your future self. Now look around you. Who’s with you? What kind of environment do you see? What kind of equipment or furniture is there? Try to concentrate on the sounds. What are people saying? Is there a window? Can you see outside? If so, what do you see? Focus on whatever details you can see or feel or hear, and let yourself experience the fulfillment and pure satisfaction of your future self...

Now you feel yourself being pulled again into the darkness, until, off in the distance, another scene begins to emerge. Up ahead, you see yourself in another lighted area. This time, you’re in an ideal situation at home, exactly 10 years from now. Everything is perfect... everything is ideal... Your body is filled with warm positive feelings... Look around in that lighted area. Who’s with you? What faces do you see. Try to concentrate on the sounds and the voices that you hear. Let the images grow clearer. Focus on whatever details you can see or feel or hear, and let yourself experience the feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment of your future self.

Now the lighted area darkens as you are gently, very gently, pulled into complete darkness again... When I tell you to open your eyes, you’ll be back in the present, and you’ll remember images you saw of your perfect future, and you’ll retain those wonderful feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction... Now gradually, very gradually, open your eyes and return to the present.”

Until next week, dare to dream and dare to act. Open your eyes to the world around you and seize every opportunity... What have you got to lose!

And by the way, many thanks to those readers who have expressed interest in the coming Destination Success Program. Full details will be published shortly and keep those emails coming to Christina .dodd @ asia trainingassociates .com

The Doctor's Consultation:  Antibiotic Resistance - a danger with bird flu?

by Dr. Iain Corness

Right from the outset, let’s get one thing straight. Antibiotics are not the preferred (or correct) treatment for viral conditions, and indiscriminate use of antibiotics in these situations is dangerous. Why? Because this leads to the development of what I call ‘superbugs’.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning that the incidence of drug resistant strains of bacteria is on the increase. This has produced problems for the treatment of TB, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. All of these are ailments we do not want, and to think that we might end up with nothing to fight them with, is more than worrying - it is a world-wide problem!

The WHO goes so far as to say that if governments do not make greater efforts to control disease and stem the spread of resistance there will be a return to the pre-antibiotic era and entire populations could be wiped out by ‘superbugs’ for which no treatment exists. The director general of the WHO said that, “The world risks losing these valuable drugs and our opportunity to eventually control many infectious diseases because of increasing antibiotic resistance.”

You only have to look at the penicillin group to see what happens. When penicillin first arrived, it was going to be the saviour of the human race, courtesy of Alexander Fleming’s work in 1928. Unfortunately, the bugs became resistant, so we invented “super” penicillin, which we called Amoxycillin. We were back on top again, throwing Amoxycillin around like confetti at weddings, and so resistance to this drug appeared. Nothing daunted, we produced a combination of Amoxycillin with Clavulanic Acid (known best by the trade name Augmentin). This was going to stop the bugs - and it did - for a while. But by now, the bugs are on the ascendancy - the now Augmentin resistant bugs are on the march again!

The interesting fact that emerges from the research into this problem is that there are two main reasons for the emerging drug resistance - underuse and overuse. The first is seen mainly in underdeveloped countries and is through failure to complete the full course of the antibiotic treatment. When the patient feels much better and so then stops treatment to save money for further drugs, colonies of the organisms are still alive, and these subsequent colonies grow up and replicate as now drug resistant strains. That bug strain when passed on to a new “host” will produce the ailment (pneumonia, for example) but the bug will not respond to the usual course of treatment. In this way we produce such bug creatures as the MRSA, or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (sometimes called “multiple” resistant). Of course, sometimes we do not complete the course of antibiotics because we just forget, or can’t be bothered when we are obviously getting better.

In the affluent countries, through patient demand (or expectations), there is overprescribing of antibiotics and so the bugs become “used” to the presence of the drugs, and once again, subsequent colonies develop as drug resistant strains. You only have to look at the self-medication with the ‘wonder’ drug “Cipro” and you can see what I mean.

So what can you do? Well, firstly it is better to let the doctor prescribe courses of antibiotics, rather than grab a handful from the chemist, and secondly, go right to the end of the course. Finally, remember that antibiotic therapy has no place in the treatment of viral infections! Bird Flu or no Bird Flu!

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
Your ascerbic (sic) comments when replying to people with lesser spelling ability than your own are always amusing, if sometimes somewhat unkind. However, when setting oneself up as an arbiter of standards it is important not to make errors of an elementary basis. Sam Goldwyn did not say “Count me out”, he said “Include me out”, much more worthy of repeating in an august column such as your own. Choccies will be delivered in May or June.

Dear A,
Thank you for attempting to impale me upon my own poison pen, and I do stand corrected. The only excuse I might offer is that my blood chocolate level was low that day. However, my little pedantic Petal, it is “acerbic” not “ascerbic”, so perhaps it is a case of the “biter bit”? Or put another way, if I can quote a friend of mine called, let us say A, “when setting oneself up as an arbiter of standards it is important not to make errors of an elementary basis.” You will be forgiven your indiscretion when I receive the promised chocolates. The alternative is Hara-Kiri with a biro pen.
Dear Hillary,
First off I would like to say I love reading your column. I do not have promises of Champagne or Chocolates and I am sorry for that. I do have a question for you though. Do all girls in Pattaya flirt with all tourists or am I just a walking sign board that says here I am come take advantage of me? Well I don’t really know who is taking advantage of who but at times I feel that there really is a spark, a kind of connection. Am I dreaming this or is it possible?
Dreaming in Dakota

PS North Dakota is a really nice place with very friendly people, lots of farm land and very little to do. It’s the world’s number one producer of barley as well which is used to make that wonderful beverage beer.
Dear Dreaming in Dakota,
First off, thank you for the brief promo for North Dakota, and I am sure all the beer drinkers out there will be pleased to know that North Dakota makes it all possible. As a friend of mine said, if you get your barley over there, you can get your oats over here! However, I note that you do say that the folks there have very little to do. This I suppose explains your letter, my under-worked Petal. Lots of time on your hands, eh? Now to your specific questions - do all girls in Pattaya flirt? No, all girls do not. A percentage do, and that percentage increases exponentially as you approach the bar areas, until after you have passed through the “Welcome! Sit down please,” threshold, the percentage is nigh on 100 percent. Is there a spark, a kind of connection, as you so eloquently put it? Of course there is! That connection is called “money”. Not necessarily Thai baht, but American dollars are fine, or any other currency accepted by the banks in Thailand (so Dirhams are doubtful). Don’t worry about the exchange rate, the young ladies will know already.
Dear Hillary,
I have been coming to Chiang Mai for a few years on my holidays, and while I do enjoy the sceneries and the like, I also like to sit back in the evenings and enjoy a few drinks with some of the lovely ladies of the Rose of the North. I have gotten close to some of these, and although I know they are in what you might call the nightlife area, I wonder if it is possible to have a good relationship with one of these ladies. I just think that they are either very good actors, or perhaps there is a spark of genuine emotion in there. Tell me Hillary, is there?
Minnesota Fats

Dear Minnesota Fats,
A difficult question, as I have never met a Thai girl called Rose, working in the North (or was that the Top North)? I want you to read the reply to Dreaming in Dakota, and where it says “Pattaya” insert the word “Chiangmai” (or “Amsterdam” or “London” or “Moscow” or even “Minnesota”). Of course you can have a relationship with one of these ladies, but it is a commercial relationship, Petal. That is why they are there. They are not there as representatives of the TAT to ensure that visitors enjoy themselves on their holidays, just the same way as the ladies who frequent the red light areas in Minnesota are not placed there by the Minnesota City fathers. They are there because after Eve ate your apple, you men have been suckers for any pretty face thereafter that might offer you a little bit of core, any sort of core, soft or hard. However your Eve (or Toy or Wilhelmina or Jane or Olga or Billie-Jo) will only sell you that apple core, not give it away. It is a commercial transaction. There are rules and regulations and stiff problems for those who forget payments on time, there being no time payments, other than short or long. In short, there is emotion. It’s called avarice.

Camera Class:  Daylight Robbery!

by Harry Flashman

INo, this is not an item about processing charges, it is an article about getting robbed. Or should I say, about avoiding getting robbed! This was prompted by a reader who had unfortunately seen all his camera equipment disappear, and wondered what I did these days to protect my investments - the reader remembering that I had written about being robbed, from a personal viewpoint a few years ago.

Bank robber Ronnie Biggs

One problem with the theft of cameras is that they are easy items to carry. Nobody looks twice at someone walking down the street with a camera over one shoulder, while someone carrying a fridge would definitely be remembered! Cameras are also easy for the thief to exchange for money. There are several pawnshops near you that would only be too happy to give you a 1,000 baht for a 30,000 baht Nikon system. No questions asked!

Having accepted the fact that cameras, and photo gear generally, are good currency, you have only two avenues that you can follow. One is insurance, and the other is safeguarding.

After my cameras were stolen I went through a stage of total paranoia with the replacements. I would carry them everywhere with me, never leaving them at home if the house was empty. I developed muscles in my right arm from carting two bodies, three lenses, a Metz 45 CT-1 flash, several filters and a small table-top tripod. This was crazy! Instead of safeguarding my gear, I was inviting any half skilled car door opener to take it.

It was time to look at my house again. Bars on the windows were fine, but the miscreants had come through the roof. 50,000 baht spent on polyurethane spray to the inside of the roof lowered the temperature in summer, lowered my electricity bill for cooling/heating, and virtually seals off the likely ingress for the local kamoys. It has been money well spent, and an investment that will be recouped with time. It has also helped lower the paranoia level. I also admit that I put the camera bag with its contents in with all the other empty suitcases on top of the wardrobe. The other option would be to install a safe and put the cameras in there, but I work on the principle that if a safe can be carried into the house by human beings, it can be carried out too!

When all else fails, read the instruction manual, is one of my favourite jokes, but in this instance, when all else fails it is time to make sure you have insurance. There is much misinformation about insurance that is really related to smoke and mirrors, but if you talk to a reputable agent that handles reputable insurance companies (there are some) then the smoke can be cleared.

You can decide to cover your photo gear against theft from your home. The usual provisos would be that there must be signs of forced entry, police reports and the like, but it is possible to insure. The premiums are something over two percent, plus statutory fees, VAT and take away the number you first thought of and multiply by your birthday.

A more expensive option is an “all risks” policy which covers your cameras and the like at all times. This is the one that I have taken out, and covers my photo-gear away from the house as well as being left in my abode. This is more expensive (naturally) and in my case works out at around five percent of the agreed value of the equipment. There is nothing to be gained by overstating the value (they will check if you claim) and nothing to be gained by underestimating either. Again naturally, there are exclusions including terrorism and acts of war, declared or otherwise. Damage from moths, mildew or vermin is also not covered, so if the rats eat the case of your Canon EOS, tough luck Charlie. Likewise if the fungus begins to grow across the expensive AF zoom lens you just bought.

So there you are, that’s what I do to protect my equipment. I suggest you do the same!