Personal Directions: What are we doing here? ... living
By Christina Dodd,
Having just spent some time in Australia attending to personal
and family matters, I can still hear voices saying to me and asking me why
it is that I continue to “stay away” and live elsewhere. This is a
regular activity and I’m sure I am not alone in this as many of you have
no doubt experienced the same thing; the same set of questions and the
same bewildered faces as they continue to not understand why you and I
have made the choices and decisions we have, as to where we live.
I don’t know whether it is only me, or whether you
also feel this way, but whenever it is time to leave Australia and return
to Thailand, I am over the moon! I sometimes can’t wait to get on that
plane and rev the engines up and take off! It is not that I am ungrateful
or uncaring about the place I have just been or the people with whom I
have shared some very valuable time, but I am so relieved to get back to
my world. Yes, my world where I can feel first and foremost the warmth of
the people around me shine through. It is a very real thing; it is a very
true thing to say that where you and I live is an extremely pleasant place
Sure there are problems that confront us. There are
problems that will confront us no matter where we live. And there will
always be places where everything works better than in Thailand. Seems
like this is a criticism shared by many. But hey, do things always work
better somewhere else like in the UK or the US or in Australia? And look
at how much less it costs you to live here and to enjoy a lifestyle that
would cost a fortune in most of our home countries.
This trip away opened my eyes even more so to the fact
that you and I are guests in a country where, from my own personal
experience, the people seem much more accepting and more open than in most
other places. You may differ in your opinions, that is your right, but I
can’t help feeling that we are living in a very special place (for many
other reasons too) and I am so glad that my life and its experiences have
led me here and to where I am.
How about you? Are you happy to be here? Do you feel
the same way? I’m sure that a lot of you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be
here would you? And now that you are here, may I ask what it is that you
are doing here? What do you do to fill your day? You are in a wonderful
country and some of you are perhaps retired, so what do you do in your
Quite often I meet couples or single men and women who
have had the opportunity to retire here, or visit for three or six months
of the year. And I wonder whether they are really feeling fulfilled and
living each day as opposed to existing each day! Just because you have
retired doesn’t mean that you stop planning and thinking about what you
should do each day. Maybe you might think otherwise, but to my mind a day
still needs to have an agenda, no matter whether you are working or not
working. And there needs to be a certain level of achievement to what you
do in the day. Sure you are in paradise, but it is easy to lose sight of
the necessities of life when we are so consumed.
Please don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that
you should stop playing your game of golf every day or should stop sitting
by the pool. You have most likely worked hard and long to reach the stage
where you can choose precisely what you yourself want to do regardless of
what anyone else thinks. But despite the fact that you truly deserve to do
as you please, it is so very important to continue to enrich your life and
bring home a sense of satisfaction that you have made some kind of
contribution to what is going on around you.
There are times when we need to take stock at intervals
as we grow and develop to put a clearer picture in place as to where we
are actually going. Would you ride around in a taxi all day aimlessly
without going anywhere specific? It would end up costing you a fortune,
the driver probably wouldn’t mind in the beginning but then later on
he’d get a bit annoyed because he always has a point to reach - a
destination - and to just go around in circles could send him up the wall.
You would probably get cranky as well because you know from your own sense
of things that we all need focus to what we do.
If in your retirement you are occupied and have a sense
of focus and direction in your life - that is tremendous. If you are also
active and actually going out and doing things that can help others in
their lives, then that is a great achievement. I take my hat off to those
of you who seize the opportunity to excel in life and to pursue new and
exciting life adventures, especially when retired. To tell you the truth,
I really do think the word retirement should never be used. To most it is
more like a sentence than a life. I will never retire as I am having too
much fun doing what I am doing and there are just so many more areas in my
world that I have to cover. I’ll retire at the end of the day and have
some sleep - but that’s as far as it goes. And my world is here, in this
place that I dream of coming home to, the instant I have left.
If you would like to contact me about Personal Life
Planning or indeed any of our personal or business skills programs, then
please email me at [email protected] trainingassociates.com
Until next time, seize every moment and live it to the
The Doctor's Consultation: Problems with the packaging
by Dr. Iain Corness
Our skin is our outer protective packaging. Just like the
parcels that say ‘fragile’ and ‘this way up’, our skins similarly
should have warnings placed on our protective coats. “Avoid exposure to the
sun” would be the first label. In fact, any repetitive exposure to chemicals
could be included in that group. Including dishwashing liquid (which is why I
avoid washing up as much as possible!).
Unfortunately, after our external packaging has been
exposed to chemicals and irritants for many years, it begins to show the
ravages of time. And while none of us like getting older - it still beats the
alternative! One of those ravages comes under the general heading of
Now the very word ‘Tumours’ strikes fear in the hearts
of many, but this is purely a term to describe growths on the skin, which may
or may not be ‘malignant’. In fact, most skin tumours are not malignant
(called ‘benign’), and even with the malignant ones, the majority are not
going to kill you. Having said that, it does not mean that you should ignore
skin growths. While most will not kill you, they can make the last few years
very unpleasant if left untreated.
Looking first at the benign tumours, probably the most
common are Seborrhoeic Keratoses. These are the dry slightly raised
“warty” lesions that look as if they have been stuck on to the skin. In
fact, many people “flake” them off with a well applied finger nail. They
come in all colours, and a very simple way to remove them is with liquid
nitrogen freezing. This leaves you with a smooth white spot where you had a
rough coloured one before. (Ask to see mine!)
Another interesting lesion is the Acrochordon. These are
little skin tags that hang off the skin and are often considered to be
unsightly by the owner, and can be removed with one suture and one snip.
Another benign lesion is the Keratoacanthoma. These grow
fairly rapidly and have a smooth outline. We usually cut them out, because
they are actually quite difficult to differentiate from SCC’s (Squamous Cell
Now we are into the malignant lesions and the three main
types are the SCC, the BCC (Basal Cell Carcinomas) and the Melanoma. These
develop over a period of time and exposure to the sun’s UV light is the main
culprit. Hence our call to all parents to make sure their children are well
protected by a Factor 15+ sunscreen. In 60 years time your children will
appreciate you, but you’ll probably be dead by then. It’s always the case,
SCC’s are nearly always on sun damaged skin, and fair
skinned people are the most prone. There is often a reddened area around a
central scaly patch, and with long-standing ones the centre can ulcerate.
Again, it is surgical excision or nitrogen freezing.
The BCC’s on the other hand are much more aggressive than
the SCC’s. They have a scaly surface and a raised “pearly” edge. Known
as “Rodent Ulcers” because they gnaw away at healthy tissues, they can
invade and erode cartilage and even bone. Surgical excision is still the
mainstay of treatment.
Finally, the Melanomas. These are dark pigmented skin
lesions with irregular borders and invade the deeper tissues and can spring up
as secondary lesions as well. These tumours can kill you. Wide and deep
surgical excision is the treatment of choice.
Skin tumours should not be ignored. If you have some, take
them to your doctor for diagnosis today!
I always read your colomb (sic) with greatest pleasure. Not every letter
from the sender-in. Only the letters from the desperate men. I always have
a lot of laughs about the “farang” being in doubt about the
truthfulness of his “girlfriend”. For me it’s almost unbelievable!
You give those desperate men always a good advise. I must say that you put
it in a harsh and straight way. Those men come with questions that can
easily be answered by their own “common sense”. Why are so many people
so bad in the judgement of the person they deal with? If they could only
take a minute, letting the blood go to their brains, you would not have to
answer all those obvious questions. I like the people giving it straight
to me. Keep up the good work Hillary!!!
Thank you for your letter, and indeed you are correct when you write of
‘common sense’. Unfortunately it’s not too ‘common’ in certain
areas. Your spelling interests me. Are you perhaps Colombian, or just a
poor speller, my Petal? Your suggestion of men taking a minute to let the
blood go to their brains is an excellent one, however, it has been said
before that men were given a brain and a penis, but unfortunately only
have enough blood to drive one at a time. You have to pity the poor dears,
I am a Californian guy living here and I have been very happy with my
beautiful Thai girlfriend who has been living with me for just over a
year. As a teacher I don’t make a fortune but there is enough for the
two of us to get by. The problem began two months ago when Noi asked to
borrow 50,000 baht from me to send to her younger sister up-country who is
pregnant. Although that amount is substantial to me I agreed to lend it to
her provided she would pay me back. My girl has a good job as a waitress
and she agreed to pay me back but now three months later, there is no sign
of the money. If I keep on mentioning it she gets annoyed, but 50,000 baht
is a substantial amount on my salary. Have you any suggestions Hillary?
Yes Dexter, I suggest that in future you do not lend money to your
girlfriends. Any money you have loaned so far consider a gift, and if the
requests come too often, or are too high in the stakes, then look for
another girlfriend. As you say, your salary as a teacher will not be high.
Don’t become an ATM, Petal.
I am sixteen, and last month I caught my younger brother dressing up in my
clothes. He is 13 years old. He wears my make up and shoes too and I have
to say that he looks kinda OK. I told him that I wouldn’t tell Mum if he
just does it at home, but I have found out that he is sneaking out at
night in my clothes. Do you think I should go with him to make sure he
stays out of trouble, or just tell Mum?
Dear Big Sister,
This is not the sort of problem that 16-year-old girls should have to
meet. It is hard enough for you to handle what is happening to you,
without looking after your 13-year-old brother as well. Tell your brother
that if he doesn’t stop sneaking out you will tell Mum. That way you are
giving him a chance. But one chance only.
My girlfriend is absolutely gorgeous. Long dark hair, sweet nature, never
complains and a wonderful lover. There is a problem that has been getting
worse recently. A few months ago she began asking for money. First time it
was to send her younger brother to university. I was happy enough to help
out the first time, but now she wants money every month for some other
relative in need. It is amazing just how many relatives one person can
have. She wants around 10,000 baht every month and honestly I am having
trouble saving this amount out of the housekeeping money each month. My
husband of six years is starting to think I am wasting the money on
drinking, gambling or on men. What should I do?
You are a little one, aren’t you? Heaven forbid that you should be
spending the housekeeping money on a man! How could he possibly think that
way? Sounds to me as if your husband does not really know who he married
all those years ago. Or have you changed over the years? As far as what to
do - I think you should read the reply to Dexter and think about your
relationship with this woman very dispassionately. It sounds to me as if
passion has obscured the dispassionate view. There are plenty of other
“long dark hair, sweet nature, never complains and a wonderful lover,”
around. Next time just make sure she is an orphan.
Camera Class: Pushing the envelope - with a steady hand
by Harry Flashman
is a dynamic hobby. Whether you are photographing people or houses, there are
always different ways of doing it. Different lighting techniques, different
lenses, filters, exposures, situations and colours. To be perfectly honest, I
have never found picture taking to be dull in any way. There was always
something to experiment with or just ‘give it a go’ and see what comes back
from the photoprocessor.
What I have been trying recently are insanely long, basically
hand-held, exposures. What prompted this was looking for ‘atmospheric’
photographs of places at night. When you use the flash you get that ‘startled
rabbit’ look on the people and the buildings all look cold and unattractive.
However, if use the available light, be that streetlights, car headlights or
whatever, you will get a very different ‘look’ to the photograph.
Now I do not believe in too much brainpower when taking
personal photographs, so the suggestions are all done in the Auto mode (or the
Aperture mode if you have one). Set the aperture as wide as you can get - f 1.4
or f 2.8 works well and then see what shutter speed the camera is going to use,
and you will find these are in the range of 1/15th to 1/2 second. Not hand-held
numbers, but rather tripod requirements.
However, forget about the tripod (I never carry mine unless
it is for specific ‘commercial’ reasons). If the exposure indicated is
1/15th of a second, hold the camera firmly and just lean on a tree, against the
wall to steady yourself and fire off a couple of exposures. At least one will be
sharp, and decidedly different with the ambient light being the source of
Now if the suggested exposure is even longer, say 1/8th or
1/4 second, what I do is put the camera on a table, or on top of a wall, squint
through the viewfinder and again fire off a couple of shots. The majority of
these work out OK too. Now I know that a small tabletop tripod would do all
this, but who has a small tabletop tripod in their back pocket?
So after the ‘hand-held’ time exposures, let’s look at
exposures covering many seconds. You are going to need the tripod this time!
However, the technical details are not difficult at all. What do you need for
Time Exposure photography? A tripod and a camera with a T or a B exposure
setting. (Use “B” for time exposures up to a minute and “T” for longer
ones mainly because your finger will go numb holding the button down for 20
Film stock? The new 400 ASA is fine but you can use anything
(I generally just use the standard 200 ASA film). Now you may have read about
“reciprocity failure” with long exposures. Give up reading! It’s photo
industry techo-speak and won’t stop you getting good pictures, it just changes
the colours a bit.
The important point to grasp is that all Time Exposure
photography is “hit and miss”. There’s no real way anyone can tell you
exactly “f8 and 24 seconds”. There are too many variables, but all you have
to do is to take the same scene or picture with several different exposure times
- one of them will be right. Believe me!
Here’s the rough guide. In all of these the aperture (f
stop) is set on f8. Now to take a street scene at night, try 2 seconds, 4
seconds and 8 seconds. For the interior of a room, lit with ordinary light
bulbs, try 5 seconds, 10 seconds and 20 seconds. To take a picture just before
dawn try 5, 10 and 20 seconds. Now, for a completely dark, night landscape (or
seascape) try 30 seconds, 1 minute and 2 minutes.
Make a note of the order your time exposures were shot in, and jot down the
“best” result after you get your films back. Sure, the colours will be
strangely different - but if you wanted a “normal” shot you’d have taken
it in daylight, wouldn’t you? Try pushing the envelope this weekend.