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Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation 

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Personal Directions:  The same methods will produce the same results

By Christina Dodd,

How has your week been? Is there anything to report or better still – to celebrate? One thing I know this week has been for sure is “hot”! I can’t remember it being this sticky and uncomfortable. A lot of people tell me the same thing but I am reassured that this is not the hottest it has been! All I can say is that when at 6:30 a.m. you are working up a sweat just walking down the drive – we’re in for a “yucky” day.

Soaring temperatures and oppressive humidity do tend to make us crazy and get a little more bothered over something than we would if the weather were more pleasant. It seems a normal kind of reaction. I remember when I was living in Vietnam – Hanoi to be specific – and experiencing endless power failures. Every day of the week was not without two or three hours down time in terms of electricity. And in the more humid months of the year it was very incapacitating. When the failures appeared you would hear a communal groan and moan coming from the streets and houses. The Vietnamese hated these situations just as we did and we all knew that if the power wasn’t back on in at least a couple of hours (we had become somehow conditioned to two hour blackouts) then tempers would rise and fights would break out, arguments would become the norm and the atmosphere would be rather unpleasant! We all breathed deep sighs of relief when the air-conditioners and all things electrical started up again … we could get back to normal!

Just a tiny moment in time from my years in Vietnam but one I remember vividly whilst observing how behaviors can change. Talking about changing behaviors, I have been reading some literature by Sean McPheat, his best seller “Being A Success”, and would like to point out something he has said about acquiring success. He says,

“The results of your methods to acquire success to date can be found in your bank balance, your attitude towards life and the things around you.”

I mean basically we all know this – but the way it is so clearly put by Sean really sends a direct message. What he goes on to say further is,

“If you continue to use the same methods (to acquire success) you will get the same results.”

Both of these statements are so true and we should sit up and take notice if our lives right now are not as we wished, dreamed and hoped for them to be. If things aren’t how you want them to be, if you are not happy or if you are not achieving the things you desire or becoming the person you want to be - then read the above two statements again, and again. Repeat them and even say them aloud to yourself for it to sink in!

We all want better results in our lives, most of us do, but what do most of us continue to do? We continue to go about getting the things we want by using the same old ways and methods. The penny hasn’t dropped with many people that to achieve different results, you have to do things differently. If you want to bake a cake that has more raisins and sultanas in it – then you do something different – you add more raisins and sultanas. The taste of the cake will not change until you do this! A simple analogy but it is very true of the way we go about living our lives and striving for achievement and success.

Some people might say, sure we know this but how – tell us how – do we make those changes?

From my own experience I am not afraid to tell you that it can be really tough to make those changes. It takes a lot of effort and self-testing. It takes planning and it takes you telling yourself – hey – I deserve better than this and if I don’t get off my backside and do something about it my life is going to be delivering the same old heartache, unhappiness, failure and misery until the day I die! I am going to be in the same situation and never have the things I want – I’ll never be able to be independent and secure and live a happy life.

Once you recognize that you have to do something then you have to make a commitment that you are actually going to do it. Not only do you have to “say what you mean” but you have to “mean what you say”. Not taking action after fully acknowledging that you must do something – is only lying to yourself and there are only so many times that you will be allowed to do this before you fall into the abyss.

Recognize that you have to make changes then make a commitment that you will.

Then start to look at some other factors, for example, whether you are afraid to come out of your comfort zone and whether you have limiting beliefs about yourself. Both of these will stop you in your tracks. They have probably been holding you back for years from changing the way you do things and you didn’t even realize it. Take yourself to a quiet place where you can have complete privacy and begin to explore these areas of yourself. It takes time believe me to sit down and look at these because they make up a very important part of you and the way you behave.

Comfort zones are exactly what they imply – places of comfort and who wants to leave a nice, cosy and comfy place? Sometimes it is like suffering an illness - being attached to our comfort zones. They have such power over us that we immediately retreat there he going gets tough. But – hey – unless you want to live in hell and devote yourself to a life of misery, it is time to take that step and leap out of your comfort zone.

Make up your mind – where do you want to be? Ask yourself this question TEN times and then answer it.

For more details about how we can help you along in your life or how our business programs can assist you and your company, please e-mail me at [email protected]

Until next time – make your week happen!

The Doctor's Consultation:  Enter the PSA - Is it the end of the DRE?

by Dr. Iain Corness

A friend asked me repeat my article on PSA and prostate cancer. Since it is timely, here we are again. We just love acronyms in medicine! CXR is a Chest X-Ray, LFT’s are Liver Function Tests and even the History we take is written as Hx. So where is PSA and DRE?

PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. Please re-read that - it is Prostate, and not “prostrate”. The Prostate is a gland at the base of the bladder, while “prostrate” is how you get after a good night on the turps! Big difference!

Now, DRE stands for Digital Rectal Examination, which means exactly what it says. This is examination of the Prostate gland, done by the medical digit, via the rectum. A form of examination that many patients shrink from, and medico’s themselves have much hesitation in suggesting. However, we were all taught as undergraduates, “If you don’t put your finger in it, you may put your foot in it.”

Prostate cancer is the big worry. Sure, only us males get this particularly nasty cancer (women don’t have a prostate) but it is one you do not want to get! And it is nasty. Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that is very aggressive, eating into bone and spreading through the entire body and is a very painful way to end one’s days, and not to be recommended.

So, like many medical problems, we should try and get an early warning system up and operating for us, much as we used to do screening CXR’s for TB many years ago. So what did the medical fraternity offer males over 50? Annual DRE’s, something which had decided buyer resistance in some quarters.

However, in 1986 the male world was heartened to be told there was now a blood test which had been developed to detect prostate cancer, called the PSA. Overnight the medical labs were being bombarded by males over 50 wanting the blood test, rather than the digit test. Alas, the real picture was not as cut and dried.

While PSA appeared to be a reasonable indicator - that’s where it started and finished. It was a “reasonable indicator” and that was all. A low PSA did not guarantee freedom from cancer and a high PSA did not necessarily mean you were ready for the open coffin routine at the local temple. It was found that some benign conditions, such as benign prostatic hypertrophy (non cancerous prostate enlargement) also increased the PSA levels in some males, and prostatitis (inflammation) and even sexual intercourse could alter the levels too. So while the PSA did relate to prostate function, it could only be called an “imperfect” test.

However, the boffins in the back room continued to refine the PSA test and we then came up with something called a “PSA velocity” figure. This measured the rate of increase in the PSA result over a given period of time. The faster the increase, the “more likely” it was that there was a cancer down there. But it still wasn’t absolute.

So where does that leave us (males)? The bad news is, back with the DRE, plus serial PSA estimations. DRE and PSA continue to be our best bet, and if either or both of those tests are a little doubtful, then the next definitive step is a prostatic needle biopsy.

Think about a check-up today! It could mean you get a lot more trouble free “todays”.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I like to leave the noise of the discos and bars behind me and return to the quietness of my home for a good night’s sleep. This is why I chose to live in a soi where the only disturbances are the crowing of the neighbourhood’s randy rooster and the occasional cat and dog fight. Unfortunately, the peace that I once enjoyed has come to an abrupt end. My next door neighbours have a new baby daughter. The father is a European expat and immediately following the birth his house was full of his raucous, inebriated, freeloading mates, all taking advantage of the head wetting tradition as an excuse to further exacerbate their bad habits by guzzling free flowing booze and puffing on handout cigars. Sleep was impossible as these alcoholic misfits repeatedly sang ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ well into the early hours of the morning. The mother is a demure Thai lady with many girlfriends, all of whom seem to visit at the same time. Again, trying to sleep with the constant “oohs” and “aahs” coming from her friends as they take turns to nurse the baby, is a waste of time. I’m now expected to tolerate the baby screaming for attention at all hours of the night, the din from rattling baby toys, as well as the sound of drying nappies flapping in the breeze. Don’t get me wrong, I love baby girls, particularly those born about 22 years ago, but I need my sleep. What can you suggest?
Mighty Mouse.

Dear Mighty Mouse,
You are really going to have to take some more gripe water, aren’t you. You are full of gripes this time around. Just because I didn’t like your wheelbarrow toting boy scouts idea the other week, doesn’t mean that you should now have a down on the world. What can I suggest? Well, it probably really is time your next door neighbours joined the 21st century. Nappies flapping in the breeze? Really, Mighty Mouseketeer! Buy them some disposable nappies and half the problem’s solved already. The alcoholic misfits will all have moved on to the next head wetting, so that’s no longer a problem either. As far as the wife’s friends are concerned, sounds like a fair few of them will be around the 22 years of age you are looking for, so perhaps you could pop next door and help them find a few more “oohs” and “aahs” if you play your cards right. I don’t think you have any real problems this time, but you’ve got a few good things for Saturday night!
Dear Hillary,
My husband is looking for an old car to restore, but we live in a condo and have no place to work on anything like that. Totally impractical as always. Thank goodness we live on the 10th floor, or he might be tempted to bring bits of it up to work on. Why do grown men still have to construct things? I thought they were supposed to outgrow Lego before they got to their teens, or is mine just a trifle retarded? When I say what does he want to do if he finds some junky old jalopy, he just smiles and says that men need some men things to do.
Mrs. Lego

Dear Mrs. Lego,
I don’t know where you got the information that the men folk grow out of these building tendencies. All the ones I know all want to get their hands dirty, and they’re 30 years on from their teens at least. The best idea is to help him find a small shed somewhere so he can go off there and do his ‘secret men’s business’ while you go out with your girlfriends for some secret women’s business.
Dear Hillary,
I have heard about golfing widows, but at least golf is played in the daytime, so the golfing husbands are home in the evenings. My problem is that I am turning into a football widow. Football matches seem to be played at any time of the day (or night) and he is always off to some pub or other to watch the game. I am not interested in football, or else I’d go with him, but I am getting lonely left at home. What should I do? Tell him it is football or me? (I’m afraid he might go for the football.)
Footy Widow

Dear Footy Widow,
If you make life difficult for your football mad mate, then he will go for the football and it will be an ‘away’ game every night. Men will always take the easy way out, when pushed into a corner. They have no real goals in life, you see. Before you get right cross and relegated to Left Right Out, I would ask around to see if any of his football watching mate’s wives would like to come over for a hen session. Even if you are not interested, a night out at the pub might also be fun. Let him watch while you gossip with the other women there. That is much better for everyone, rather than sitting fuming at home, while plotting how to give your man a red card.

Camera Class:  Looking through a glass darkly

by Harry Flashman

Photographically speaking there is an enormous difference between sharp and soft. Those terms are the ones reserved for describing whether the final print is well focused. We speak about ‘sharp’ focus and ‘soft’ focus and everyone knows what is meant.

While ‘soft’ focus is not all that difficult to end up with, ‘sharp’ focus is a lot more difficult to attain, so I thought it might be worthwhile looking at what you have to do to get pin-sharp photographs.

Forgetting all about Auto-Focus (AF) problems and camera shake for the moment, the deciding factor on whether or not you get sharp pictures will depend upon the quality of the optics in the lenses you use. Unfortunately quality costs money - like most consumer items. “You get what you pay for” works in photography just the same as it does in the red light areas!

I came across this fundamental truth when I was becoming despondent with the sharpness of my final prints many years ago. Even putting the camera on a tripod had not helped. Asking around in my photographer acquaintances led to my being loaned a very battered and well used Nikon FM2N, with Nikon lens.

I took the “old” camera away and shot a multitude of photos. Off to the darkroom and guess what? Every one as sharp as a tack. I had learned an important lesson and went and purchased some second hand Nikon equipment, and have never regretted it since. In fact, old FM2N Nikons are still part of my camera equipment.

So what was the difference? Well, the end result will always rely on super sharp optics in the lens department. If they are not spot on, neither will your photos be spot on. The actual exposures are close enough for just about any camera these days with the latitude in the films being so wide, so the other differences now will come down to ease of use, or user friendliness. Simple mechanical cameras, like the FM2, have simple operations too. These new electronic cameras with their “menus” and other operations I do not consider to be user friendly. It is easier to push a lever, surely. However, perhaps it might just be that I am resistant to change!

The important lesson from all that is that to get good results you need a camera that has good optics. There are plenty on the market these days, and although the Nikon brand may be my favourite, there are other manufacturers which have equally as good quality glass at the front. Unfortunately, the results from these great cameras can become poor if you put a cheap “after market” lens on it. Good lenses are expensive, but the end result is always worth it.

Having mentioned AF problems earlier, a few words on this again. While AF is now almost 100 percent universal, it still is not 100 percent foolproof. One of the reasons for this is quite simple. The camera’s magic eye doesn’t know exactly what subject(s) you want to be in focus and picked the wrong one! The focussing area for the AF system is a small circle or square in the middle of the viewfinder, so if you are taking a picture of two people two metres away, the camera may just focus on the trees in the far distance that it can see between your two subjects. Those trees are two km away, so you get back a print with the background sharp and the two people in the foreground as soft fuzzy blobs. The fix is to focus on one person, use the ‘focus lock’ and recompose the picture.

Finally - camera shake. Cameras are supposed to be operated with two hands, not one. The practice of holding the camera in one hand and raising one, two and three fingers on the other can only lead to camera shake. Don’t do it. If you must tell your subjects that you are about to trip the shutter, do it by saying the words “one, two, three” - not by waving your fingers in the air.