Personal Directions: Old habits die hard …
By Christina Dodd,
What are your bad habits? … Smoking? Talking too much?
We’ve all got some, all or more of them … or, even
others that we just don’t want to mention!(?) All of us - either
consciously or otherwise – display our bad, irritating and just plain
down annoying habits during our day-to-day lives.
We live with our habits and they live with our personas
So, whether it’s a perpetual pile of clothes in the
corner you’re waiting to someday turn into gold, a self proclaimed
disability which renders you unable to refrain from interrupting, or, a
knack for timing your exit just so, so that someone else is continually
left to pick up the dishes, now’s the time to extinguish these habits
before they turn into next year’s resolutions.
This week I have based my article on some short points
made in a coaching circular that I received from British Life Coach Sean
McPhee. Sean says basically that there are 5 simple reasons for
breaking a bad habit. And, best of all, not only do they all make sense,
but, they are all relatively simple goals that we can all easily achieve
and by doing so make improvements not only to our own lives but also to
the lives of those with who we interact and surround us!
All of his reasons are based on his strong belief in
the over-riding principle of:
“If it ain’t broke, break it, and if it won’t
break, bend it!”
1. It’s not fair to others
Do you want others to be kind and considerate to you?
Then start putting the considerate, kind vibes out there and pick up your
clothes, your dishes, and stop interrupting or whatever it is you or a
collective “others” define as a bad habit.
One of the great universal laws ruling our wonderful
planet says that you get back what you put out there. Take a look at the
Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.
Have a good think about it and put it into your new personal game plan.
2. It’s not fair to you
I’m sure you’re a nice person, and you pride
yourself on having generous, warmhearted traits.
So, it’s not fair to you either that this simple,
little, annoying thing you do can wield the power that it now, or will
soon have. These tiny culprits have been known to ruin marriages,
friendships or careers and cause the downfall of many a mighty person.
Plus you’ll feel better about yourself.
3. Your success depends on it
Bad habits have a funny way of scope and context creep.
First they only happen in certain situations, and the
next thing you know, you’re at a business function swirling your fingers
through the chip dip. Put an end to it now before situations that require
your utmost polish become tarnished by these terribly annoying little
4. You probably don’t like it when others do the same
Think about it. If someone did the same thing to you,
would it bother you? Be honest.
It now seems time to go back to that modern variation
on the Golden Rule: “What goes around comes around”.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple exercise in empathy
to find the motivation to quit whatever it is we could benefit from
5. List your own reasons
But be sincere … Calculate just what is it costing
you to perpetuate these habits?
Whether it’s a moment of peace, seemingly perpetual
nagging, or simple anxiety resulting from anticipation of the next blow-up
or negative comment, you owe it to yourself to commit to your ongoing
personal development, and to the elimination of any behavior whose costs
far outweigh the benefits.
So how does one begin?
Just like breaking a smoking habit, bad habits have a
way of creeping up on us and slowly over time becoming somewhat akin to an
appendage - i.e. they’re hard to get rid of.
Here are some tips for breaking these bad habits:
While it might not be reasonable to expect that you can
just stop whatever you’re doing overnight, identify what might
constitute as a small step in the right direction.
Write down what that step is and carry it out over the
next 21 days.
For example, if you are smoking 40 a day, cut that down
to 20 for the next 21 days. Make that behaviour a habit before you cut
that down to 15 for the next 21 days and then 10 and so on.
Promise yourself you’ll make this shift, and if
reinforcement and punishment works - use it!
Figure out how you might reward yourself for making the
change. Or, figure out how you might penalize yourself if you don’t.
For instance, in our smoking example:
Put the money you would have spent on the cigarettes in
a jar and at the end of the 21 days add it all up and buy yourself a
treat. You’ll be surprised at your savings! ... and benefit from better
health as well!
Also, write two lists, one, of the reasons why you are
doing this and a list of the things that you will miss out on if you keep
on doing your bad habit.
What are some alternatives to the behavior you are
demonstrating? Is there a quick fix or solution that might help provide an
alternative - e.g. put a laundry basket by the bedside (one to match with
the d้cor) so that you don’t end up with a pile on the floor?
Ask someone to help keep you accountable. If they’ve
been victims of this bad habit, they’ll most likely be thrilled you
asked! If your problems are more severe and are taking over your life seek
help either through a Life Coach or other professionals.
Ask for feedback:
Because human nature dictates that we will only
complain when you offend, rather than amend, ask for feedback frequently.
Don’t assume no news is good news, but be sure to get praise when praise
If you would like more information about our services
in either Life Coaching or Management / Personal Development Training,
then please send an email to Christina [email protected] gas so ciates.com
Until next time … Have a great week!
The Doctor's Consultation: Dengue Fever - the latest wave!
by Dr. Iain Corness
I was reliably informed that there were five patients
admitted recently to my local hospital, all suffering from Dengue fever. The
last wave of this recurrent epidemic was just over six months ago, so my
warning is worth repeating.
Perusal of the news all over Thailand shows that Dengue
fever is again on the up and up. In fact, in the North, the incidence of
Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever has tripled compared to last year. Even on our
tourist islands this has become a problem, and on some of the surrounding
islands as well. With the water that will be wasted over Songkran, this will
just exacerbate the situation.
However, first you should understand a little more about
Dengue. This is a nasty viral condition that has been coming round in epidemic
waves for many years. It is also a fairly wide spread virus with 2.5 billion
people living in Dengue endemic areas. We, in Thailand, belong to that group.
Like Malaria, the virus is carried by mosquitoes, this time
by one called Aedes aegypti. The virus itself is related to Japanese
encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and yellow fever, and there are four
“serotypes” or subgroups of it.
The mosquito lays its eggs in water containers, preferring
the clean water found in water tanks and pots, in the saucers under pot plants
and even under the pet’s food dish. Inside discarded car tyres are another
favourite spot. These mosquitoes are not of the adventurous type and feed
during the day and spend their time within 200 metres of their hatchery.
Consequently, the eradication of any local breeding areas becomes very
important towards maintaining your own health, as you can see. Keep your home
free from lying water for a radius of 200 metres and you’re looking good!
Simple Dengue (if you can call it that) has an incubation
period of around 4 to 7 days and then the full blown symptoms of high fever
and headache begin. The headache is usually behind the eyes and is made worse
by eye movement. From there the pains progress to the limbs with acute muscle
pains, which gave it the old name “Break Bone Fever”. Interestingly, some
patients complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. (Please don’t ask - I
have no idea why!)
With our ability to treat the viral ailments being very
limited, the defence against the Dengue virus lies in Health and Hygiene
initiatives, if you get mosquitoes in the house during the day. For example,
do you regularly change the water in containers the Aedes aegypti mosquito
might call home? Do you have mosquito screens? Does baby sleep under a
mosquito net? If the answer to these questions is “no”, then perhaps it is
time to look critically at your own Dengue prevention plan. Let me assure you,
it is not a disease you want! And the Haemorrhagic form in particular.
The other precautions are to wear long trousers and long
sleeved shirts, especially at sun up and sun down, when the mosquito is at its
most ravenous. The other factor to remember is “D” for Dengue and “D”
for DEET. DEET is the magic ingredient in mosquito repellents, so when you go
to buy some, check the label - if it has DEET, then get it. And then remember
to use it!
So to avoid falling prey to Aedes aegypti, empty free
standing water around the home, use screens and mosquito nets if necessary and
apply repellent containing DEET. Best of luck!
I am about to start a new, enterprising business that will rid Chiang Mai
of much of its traffic thus reducing accidents. Petrol consumption, noise
and air pollution will also be drastically reduced, and the local scout
movement will benefit with their fund raising efforts. I have employed a
troupe of boy scouts. They will use a fleet of garden wheelbarrows to
replace red buses. Each barrow has a pumped up tyre ensuring a smooth ride
for customers. No drivers license is required, they can park anywhere, use
footpaths, cannot be defected by police, don’t require insurance,
don’t need lights and are exempt from road rules. The scouts are
currently undergoing weight training to ensure they possess the necessary
stamina to transport the largest beer bellies to and from various drinking
holes. What do you think is a reasonable fee to charge for this service?
Dear Mighty Mouse,
What a resourceful little mouse you have turned out to be, but I do not
think you have really researched the situation properly, little Mouse. You
say that your garden wheelbarrows will not require a drivers license, can
park anywhere, can use footpaths, cannot be defected by police, don’t
require insurance, don’t need lights and are exempt from road rules.
What is so different between your proposed wheelbarrows and the vehicular
situation as we know it today? Drivers don’t have licenses, lights are
never turned on, they use the footpaths, aren’t insured and the road
rules are not followed, so all your much vaunted advantages already exist.
All that your proposal will do is to introduce sweaty boy scouts into the
local drinking scene, and suggesting these poor innocents be used to
getting beer bellies out of local drinking establishments is against the
law, unless your boy scouts are over 21 years old, whereupon they are no
longer innocent in the eyes of the Ministry of the Interior. I am sorry I
am pouring cold water on your idea, Precious, but it may as well come from
someone who knows and loves you, rather than from some idiot farang during
I love your column, always find it Interesting and Amusing. This is the
first time I’ve ever felt moved to write a letter of this sort, so be
gentle! It will be bulky so I don’t expect it will make it into your
column but please feel free to glean from it anything of use. It’s in
response to some of those lonely souls I picture out there who write in.
Perhaps some encouragement. My wife (Thai) and I have been married for
five years and have been together about seven. I find it amusing that I
chose a professional lady, (I hate the word prostitute, it’s so
demeaning) that even in what appears to be very wrong, very right things
can and do happen. My wife did all the usual scams for money (sick
Buffalo) etc and I expected this knowing that I was just another trick so
to speak but believing in time she would see my genuineness which proved
to be true. We both took drugs and partied so neither of us are perfect
and far from being role models. Yet it is all panning out to be the best
decision of my life. It seems to me that for a man to find himself a
partner he must first make sure he has a good heart and then he must see
clearly the nature of people and their Character. I lived for two years in
Chiang Mai, and my wife and I have since been living in Australia and even
here I know of many men who complain about their wives who leave them
(“after all they have done for them”). After getting to know them, I
can see why! We are happily married and as strong as ever, Drug free 99
percent of the time (what can I say!). Good things will come to those with
An Honest Man
Dear Honest Man,
Firstly, thank you for your wonderfully frank and open letter. As you
know, I always urge caution to those men who take up with one of the
professional ladies of the night, but you have shown that if the man has
‘Jai Dee’ (a good heart) this can sometimes bring out the same in the
lady. The important fact to remember is what you described as “for a man
to find himself a partner he must first make sure he has a good heart and
then he must see clearly the nature of people and their character”. The
problem that occurs here is that the young western man becomes so totally
blinded by the vision of loveliness that he has found at a chrome pole
paradise, that he is unable to “see clearly” as you wrote. He will not
see the fact that his vision of loveliness is not interested in his
health, only the healthiness of his wallet. He will not see the “nature
of the people and their character” so ends up weeping into his beer and
asking Hillary what went wrong. I am glad it has gone well for you, and I
hope you will enjoy each other’s company for many years. For
interest’s sake - how is the buffalo these days?
Camera Class: ‘Non-contagious’ Red Eye
by Harry Flashman
There are many causes for ‘red eye’. Ignoring the obvious
ones of late nights with excessive alcohol intake and scratchy contact lenses or
the highly contagious medical ‘red eye’, photographic ‘red eye’ is a
condition often seen with many flash photographs these days. The photographic
cause of ‘red eye’ is the flash burst illuminating the back of the eyeball!
This is also particularly a problem with most cameras that have their own
in-built flash. And that’s about most of them these days.
The reason for this is that the beam of light from the flash
is very close to and parallel with the optical axis of the lens, so the lens
“looks” directly into the back surface of the eyeball illuminated by the
flash beam. Another reason for the prevalence of ‘red eye’ is that in low
light situations (and that’s the times when you have to use flash
illumination) the subject’s pupils are dilated and it becomes even easier to
see into the eye.
Now the observant ones amongst you will have noted that you
don’t get ‘red eye’ when you photograph the family dog! You get ‘white
eye’ or ‘green eye’. You see, the red color comes from light that reflects
off the blood vessels in the retina of our eyes. However, in many animals,
including dogs, cats and deer, the retina has a special reflective layer called
the Tapetum Lucidum that acts almost like a mirror at the back of their eyes. If
you shine a flashlight or headlights into their eyes at night, their eyes shine
back at you with bright, white light. The flash burst is reflected in the same
The way to get around the problem is actually quite
difficult. Pro shooters will use a flash gun mounted to the side of the camera,
so the flash burst actually goes across the eyeball at an angle and does not
light up the back of the eyeball, where the camera lens is “looking” at. I
use an ancient Metz 45 CT1, mainly just for that reason.
However, not everyone wants a large flash gun hanging off
their camera, so the camera manufacturers have produced a ‘pre-flash’ mode
(sometimes called ‘red eye’ mode).
The clever camera manufacturers have now begun incorporating
a “pre-flash” mode before the main flash fires to make the pupil contract,
so it is less likely that you will see inside the eyeball. The only problem here
is that many people imagine that the “pre-flash” going off means picture
taking is over and move away just as the main flash fires. Best to warn the
subject that there will be two flashes, with the real one being the last one! So
many good shots have been ruined by the subject walking off before the shutter
had fired, thinking that the pre-flash was the right one!
Another trick is to turn on all the room lights, if you are
photographing indoors. If the ambient light levels are quite high, this again
causes the pupil to constrict. It is the dilated pupil that lets just so much
light into the back of the eye, which also explains why photographs of people at
parties have even more ‘red eye’. (Alcohol dilates the pupil!)
Of course, if you still end up with ‘red eye’, there are
other ways of now correcting the situation. All these involve the use of
digitizing the image (scanning or using a digital camera) and then using an
image manipulating programme.
One of the simplest is to use Paint Brush, put it on a nice green, lower the
opacity, and paint over the red using your zoom tool. Green, for these purposes,
is opposite red on the colour wheel, so it’s the complementary colour, and
they will cancel each other out. This method will work for any version. You will
just have to vary the opacity, depending on how red the eye is. The other
digital method is to use Paint Shop Pro version 7 which has Choose Effects,
Enhance Photo, and then click on Red-eye Removal.
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums:
Alta Vista and AlltheWeb R-I-P
It seems that the Search Engine minefield is about to be
moved again, not just the goal posts but the whole football field.
Yahoo! who own Alta Vista, AlltheWebb, Inktomi and
Overture will end the development of Alta Vista and AlltheWeb search
engines, but will keep the sites. One of the reasons given by Yahoo! is that
Yahoo! found that searchers preferred regular search engine results to hand
picked directory listings. Regular search results at the Yahoo! sites were
therefore delivered by Google. As a long term strategy it does not make
sense to rely on your main competitor in this way.
Yahoo! clearly needed an alternative and bought these
search engines. However, three different development teams developing three
different search engines were an expensive and costly exercise. It makes
sense to try to merge the competencies acquired, even if there were cultural
differences and geographical distances (for example the AlltheWeb team is in
Overture had already started integrating the development
teams of old timer AltaVista and the Norwegian AlltheWeb search engine. It
is now clear that Yahoo! decided to go one step further, and replace the old
search engines with a brand new one: the Yahoo! search engine. In February
Yahoo! replaced Google with the new search engine at their own Yahoo! portal
<http://www.yahoo.com/>. The new search engine showed great
similarities with the old Inktomi search engine, as many of the listings
where the same.
The search engine algorithm - i.e. the process that
decide the order of search results - was new, however, and the fact that
Yahoo! sent out a new search engine robot crawling the Net for sites and
pages proved that Yahoo! was indeed building a new search engine.
Yahoo! has been criticized for sticking to Google for too
long. It now appears that they had been biding their time, testing the new
search technology. It would have been suicide for Yahoo! to launch a search
service that did not deliver the quality their users have come to expect.
Google has proved, once and for all, that the quality and relevance of
search results is essential for success in this market.
So what will happen to the old search engines? We have
had our doubts about the quality of the Inktomi search engine. By all means,
it could deliver decent results, but has been plagued by spam and irrelevant
listings. AltaVista, once the king of the hill, continues to deliver good
results, even if the database is a bit small. AlltheWeb, on the other hand,
has proved itself worthy as Google’s match, both as regards relevance and
It is therefore with a certain sadness that I have to
announce that the AltaVista and AlltheWeb search engines are going to die.
In the near future Yahoo! will replace these unique search engines with data
from the new Yahoo! search engine.
That said, I can hear you ask what is Yahoo! going to do
with the names. The answer is that Yahoo! will keep the two sites as
experimental portals. There will be differences as regards the support for
advanced searching etc., but the core technology will be new. The Inktomi
search engine never had its own portal. It now delivers data to sites like
MSN and HotBot. Whether it also will be replaced by Yahoo! search is unclear
at the moment, but most likely.
Was this really necessary and did Yahoo! really need
three search engines in order to develop a new one?
I think probably not and I guess the original plan was to
develop Inktomi into the new “Google killer”. But Yahoo! soon realized
that they also needed a third service, in addition to the old Yahoo!
directory and the new Yahoo! search engine - a service that could bring in
They therefore bought Overture, the most important
pay-per-click text ad search engine in the world. As an added bonus they got
AlltheWeb and AltaVista and a lot of clever search programmers and
By doing so, they also stopped MSN from buying these
technologies, thus forcing Bill Gates & Co. to develop a brand new
search engine from scratch.
So there you have it. Farewell to one of the earliest and
most successful search engines.
Dr Byte appears in Chiangmai Mail every 2 weeks and if
you have any questions or suggestions you would like to make, you can
contact me at Dr Byte, Chiangmai Mail.