Your Health & Happiness:
Flowers are a great way to say ‘I care’
Orchids means love and beauty
Not only love, wisdom and beauty are in the meaning of
orchids, it is also the Chinese symbol for fertility while the name
originates from the Greek orchids, (‘testicle’) and its history is one
of lust, greed, and wealth.
beautiful white Phalaenopsis orchid
In ancient history is reported that Greek women tried to
control the sex of their unborn children with orchid roots. If the wife gave
her husband large, new tubers to eat, the baby was supposed to become a boy
but if the mother ate small tubers, she would have a baby girl. The orchid
in the photo belongs to the Phalaenopsis genus, coming from the Greek
‘phalaina’, a moth, and the ending ‘opsis’ indicating resemblance,
alluding to the flowers. At least 50-55 species of epiphytic orchids with
purple-tinged leaves and moth-like flowers with a three lobed lip are known
today, mainly distributed in South.
Orchids were a collector’s item by the 1800’s and by
today, nearly 25,000 different varieties are described. They are still
collector’s items, but more in western countries, as the days of orchids
being the ultimate symbol of social position, wealth, and power have passed.
A pink orchid conveys pure affection; the popular Cattleya orchid denotes
mature charm, so is often used in corsages for Mother’s Day.
The Doctor's Consultation: Syndrome X. A new “X”treme sport?
by Dr. Iain Corness
No, not an “X”treme sport, but rather far from it.
Unfortunately Syndrome X, which is otherwise known as the Metabolic Syndrome,
is a classic example of what we medico’s call ‘co-morbidity’. This is
the situation where one disease process or ailment affects, or
“X”aggerates, another disease process you may have. In these situations,
the combined effects can be life threatening. It is also a syndrome possessed
by around 40 percent of adults over 40.
Now there can be many occasions when you have more than one
ailment at one time. You can have a sore throat and a broken leg all at the
same time, and these conditions have no real bearing on each other. The broken
leg will get better and the sore throat ditto.
However, the combination of diabetes and obesity can be
disaster waiting. The combination of diabetes, smoking, obesity, hypertension
and high triglycerides (blood fats) is cardiac dynamite. Your conclusive heart
attack is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’. The risk factors stemming from
all those conditions become not a case of simple addition, but are multiplied.
The problem from your point of view is that most of these
factors come on very slowly, and become part of your daily living. You’ve
smoked for years and never had a smoker’s cough, so why stop now? Every time
you get some trousers made the waistband has to be that little larger. Your
belt has been let out two more holes over the past two years. Your doctor said
you had a “Little bit of blood pressure” three years ago, but you
haven’t been back to check, as you feel quite OK in yourself. Your
‘triglycerides’? “My what?” Your blood sugar? “It was OK last time
it was checked five years ago!”
The big problem is that the “Little bit of blood
pressure”, even say 150/100, can produce a very dangerous situation when the
person with that BP has elevated blood sugar as well. Or smokes. It is the
multiplication effect again. Whereas you can (almost) ignore mild elevations
like 150/100, if you have nothing else wrong, ignoring it when there are other
conditions co-existing brings up that co-morbidity problem again. And the
likelihood of a cardiac calamity.
Likewise, a “little bit of extra weight” that we all
excuse ourselves for carrying, may (just ‘may’) be fine for someone with
no other medical conditions, but represents an enormous risk factor for
someone with the Metabolic Syndrome.
For those who like figures with their information, here are
some chilling ones. Between 87-100 percent of people with fatal coronary heart
disease, or a non-fatal heart attack had at least one of the following risk
factors - smoking, diabetes, increased blood fats and high blood pressure.
Syndrome X, or the Metabolic Syndrome, is characterized by having Diabetes,
increased blood pressure, and raised blood fats. Can you now see the
importance of doing something about weight, blood fats and blood pressure? I
for one would not like to be sitting with a condition that gives me between
87-100 percent chance of a cardiac problem.
So what is this week’s message? Quite simply, if you have
diabetes, do something about the other risk factors. Stop smoking to start
with and then get your BP and blood fats checked. If you don’t even know
what your blood sugar level is, then get a check-up and find about all of it!
In the meantime, take 100 mgm of aspirin each morning. It
is cardio-protective. I do!
We have been here for six months and I suppose we are considered very well
off. I have a problem though, and I don’t know if it is related to the
fact that we have money. I have an increasing attraction for our new young
maid. She is very beautiful and charming and appears to be interested in
me too. We have not spoken about this, but I will hold her hand when we
are in the street and she does not pull away. I know my husband would not
approve of this so I have not said anything to him either. Should I tell
him? Should I tell her? I am unsure of what to do.
You are certainly new here, aren’t you, Petal. Holding hands with
another woman is perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour here in
Thailand. It does not indicate a romantic relationship beyond a simple
friendship, and certainly not the one you are implying. What you should do
is sit down and think about why you are looking to have any sort of an
‘affair’. Has the relationship with your husband lost its sparkle?
Start holding his hand, instead of the maid’s.
Discovered Rambling Sid Rumpo the other day in an anatomy classroom. He
was, as usual, nadgering his artefacts but took time off to write a quick
verse in the cunning old Celtic tradition.
“Whilst thinking of Hillary
I burst a capillary,
Is she a butterfly,
Like a fritillary?”
You are the one starting to ramble, my reneging Petal. And even if like
Rambling Sid, your nurglers are irritated and you have numutization of
your third sensory strunod (thank you Neddy Seagoon, 1952) you also have
no concept of rhythm and rhyme. Allow me to pen a couple of lines myself.
“Mistersingha, you’re a pain,
You’re reneging again,
You promised some goodies,
Some chocolate foodies
And Miss Hillary’s bottled champagne.”
When I receive the promised gifts I will take you off my black list (the
immigration police are not the only ones with such lists!)
My aunt came to Thailand last month for a visit. I was excited, as I had
not seen her or my uncle for some years. Imagine how I felt when my aunt
arrived without my uncle, but she had a man from Bangkok in tow. She said
my uncle did not feel like travelling at his age (in his eighties but my
aunt is much younger) but she didn’t want to disappoint me by not
coming. She didn’t say anything about the ‘boy’ she was with, but I
know they stayed in the same hotel room, but I didn’t ask about the
sleeping arrangements. (I only have a very small studio so they couldn’t
stay with me.) She did not explain anything, but didn’t hide anything
either. Honestly, Hillary, should I tell my uncle or should I tell my aunt
she is not welcome here again? I am so confused. Please help.
Confused of Chonburi.
What exactly are you confused about, Petal? That your aunt should have a
rent-a-boy in tow? That your uncle didn’t come? Do you really know the
whole story? After all, as you say, you didn’t ask and I’m sure you
also didn’t ask what was the relationship between your aunt and your
uncle. For all you know, they could be the leaders of the local swingers
group, or into ‘open marriage’. The problem is just the fact that you
did not find out what really was the situation. My advice would be to live
and let live. Your aunt would not have been so open if she was hiding
anything. From your point of view I would not say anything unless your
uncle asks. After that, the truth is always best, but I think the
arrangement was probably one that your aunt and uncle were OK with, and so
I used to be very friendly with a girl in a local cafe and often used to
just pop in for a coffee and to say hello, as her English was not very
good. About three months ago she disappeared and the new waitress could
not tell me where she had gone. I bumped into her in a shopping centre the
other day and her English was much better, so I decided to ask her out for
dinner. She told me she couldn’t go as she was working in a bar, but I
could see her there. I was just so disappointed. How could a sweet young
girl from a restaurant turn into yet another bar girl? I still like her a
lot. Should I try to get her to leave?
In a word, No! There’s an old saying - You can take a girl out of a bar
but you can’t take the bar out of the girl! If that’s what your sweet
young thing wants to do, you have to accept it. She has her reasons for
working there, and they are probably financial. You do not need to start a
relationship based on financial need and your presumed ability to supply
the cash to cover that need. Beware, young Marty. Beware!
Camera Class: How give black and white some sparkle
by Harry Flashman
The first commercially available film was black and white,
and the older readers will remember those days. It is in fact only relatively
recently that colour became the norm for amateur photography.
After you got your snaps back in bright colour, nobody wanted
to shoot in black and white (B&W) anymore, other than a hard core band of
photographers who could appreciate the stark contrasts that B&W could give,
without the distractions produced by colour. Anyone who has seen Ansel Adam’s
prints will attest to that.
had a query sent to me recently about shooting in B&W, I dug deep in the
archives. Pauline, this is for you! And anyone else who would like to
However, like all things that seem easy, there can be traps
for the unwary. The concept hinges on a condition called ‘reflectance’,
which determines the degree of ‘grey’ depicted in a black and white print.
Imagine a red boat against a blue background. If both have the same degree of
reflectance, then the B&W film will produce two very similar shades of grey.
In colour, you have a vivid contrast, but in B&W you have a grey boat
against a grey background. No contrast at all.
The answer to this lies upon being able to alter the relative
reflectances of the different colours in the scene. If you could make the red
stand out more, as far as the film in the camera was concerned, then you would
get a different shade of grey between the boat and the background. Fortunately,
this is not all that difficult.
The trick requires filters. Not the crossed star, soft focus
or centre spot type filters, but coloured filters, with the usual ones being
red, yellow and green. What these coloured filters do is to let the light
reflected from its own colour to pass freely through the filter, but other
colours are ‘held back’ to various degrees. In this way, for example, using
the red filter, the light from the red boat passes through more easily, while
the blue background is held back. The final effect is a light grey boat against
a dark grey background.
Even more simply, the more light that gets through, the
lighter the shade of grey. Use of a green filter when taking a landscape also
produces a stronger variation of the greys resulting from the different green
shades. To increase the effect even further, add a polarizer to the coloured
filter and you will really get some contrasting shades in the final B&W
The next step is difficult to predict because many factors
that may alter the reflectance, but prior experimentation will take away some of
the guesswork. As in all things, practice makes perfect.
Now while so far it sounds as if all you have to do is to
screw on a couple of coloured filters and you become the 21st century’s answer
to Ansel Adams, there is another factor to consider. All these coloured filters
require an increase in exposure times to get enough light on to the film
emulsion. A deep red could require 2 times the usual exposure (called 2
‘stops’), denoted by a 4X. At this stage just believe me that you halve the
“X” factor to get the number of stops!
The upshot of all this is that you can end up with a shutter
speed of around 1/8th of a second or even slower, particularly if you are
shooting with a tiny aperture of say f22 to get good depth of field. This is far
too slow to hand hold the camera. The fix? It’s called a tripod. Ansel Adams
used one, and so should you if you want those pin sharp black and white images
worthy of archiving.
So that’s the story of B&W. Use ‘contrast’ coloured filters, use a
tripod and get great B&W prints. Remember that you can get B&W films now
that can be processed in C41 colour chemistry, so you can get your pictures done
at your favourite photo processing outlet.
Dogs - Man’s best friend: From wolf to dog
The wolf as the hunter or the scavenger?
The first skeletal remains of wolves with clear dog-like
characteristics were found in Europe and are about 16,000 years old.
However, recent DNA research shows the wolf must have been domesticated
earlier, and not in Europe but in the Middle East and Asia.
is not certain whether the wolf was tamed by human beings or even whether it
domesticated itself. It is assumed that in the beginning wolves and humans
avoided each other, but as they were both after the same prey they must have
met during the hunt.
During their cultural development humans became more
inventive and hunting techniques improved. This was at the expense of the
wolf as much of their prey was taken. However, humans tended to leave
leftovers at their campsites. The wolves, also scavengers, took advantage of
this easy food source. And once it became regular, the wolves came more
For the human beings, the presence of these scavengers
with a predictable behavior was an advantage. They prevented outbreaks of
disease caused through rotting material. They also kept other predators away
from the human campsites.
At some point the humans must have acknowledged their
usefulness and were tolerating them as long as they did not behave
aggressively towards the humans. In fact they were rewarding the friendly
ones and chasing away the aggressive ones. In such a way a selection took
place over generations in a natural and friendly manner resulting in wolves
becoming less shy and aggressive.
It also must have been inevitable that the humans have
taken care of wolf cubs. As the brain structures of the young cubs are still
‘open’ they would have, through imprinting, become submissive towards
the humans who took care of them, and as a result look to them as being
For more information on dog issues, boarding or training contact
LuckyDogs 09 99 78 146 or [email protected]
Beer and More: Beer in modern times
The peculiar Bavarian beer test
by Karl Eichhorn,
Chiangmai Malting product manager
With the start of the 19th century and the industrial
development, important technological changes took place, and breweries were no
exception. Milestones in this advancement include the invention of the steam
engine, cooling equipment (1876 by Carl von Linde), the discoveries of Louis
Pasteur (pasteurization of beverages); and the isolation of individual cells of
yeast, being the basis for the growing of cultured yeasts.
peculiarly designed bottle of Thai’s Singha beer.
However, in certain areas of the trade, traditional methods
for beer testing prevailed. The Bavarians, in particular, had a peculiar way of
doing that. If there were doubts, members of the town council and respectable
people with respect to their position, weight and stature, met to check the
strength of the beer. The honorable testing committee, all in typical
‘lederhosen’ (short leather trousers), sat down on the benches of the inn,
but only after some of the brew to be tested had been spilled over the bench.
After a short drinking session the committee arose by
command. Drastic punishment was waiting for the brewer, if his beer did not glue
the investigators to their seats. If on top of this, the beer was found to be
hardly drinkable, the brewer was forced to drink all of his product all by
himself, a real torture.
But there are not only Bavarian beer jokes, witnessed by the fact there are
countless Irish beer jokes such as Q: What’s the difference between an Irish
wedding and an Irish funeral? A: One less drunk.
Money Matters: Scott Campbell’s views on Thailand cont.
(written at the start of May 2004)
MBMG International Ltd.
Continuing our mini-series on the views imparted by Scott
Campbell, the portfolio manager whose ‘Growth Fund’ has been judged by
S&P to be the best in its sector for the last 6 years, during his first
ever visit to Bangkok, last month we turn our attention, once again, to
I have been recommending an underweight position to
global commercial property for some time now and recent research has led to
a further reduce recommendation and sale within our portfolios. There are
two major reasons for this strategy.
The first is the recent and imminent further rise in
global interest rates. Like bonds and equities, rising interest rates off
45-year lows is not bullish for the asset class. Commercial property is
essentially valued on a yield basis and as Government bonds rise, so too do
the expected yield on property investments. By way of example, an office
building with rental income of US$1,000,000 is currently priced at 8%
capitalisation to give a valuation of US$12,500,000. If the expected rate of
return rises with bond yields to say 10%, then the capitalisation of the
building falls to US$10,000,000 or a fall of 20%. Of course, leveraged
commercial property investment vehicles will fall even further with a 50%
gearing example in the example above causing a fall of 32%. A blow out in
interest rates to 12% means a fall to US$8,333,000 or 33% un-geared.
Valuations by directors and independents of commercial property funds are
using historically low capitalisation rates and this is the time to start
reducing rather than increasing exposure. The income yield will be swamped
by the fall in capital value.
The second reason is the behaviour of listed property
funds in recent times. My experience of listed commercial property trusts is
that they tend to lead property unit trusts or other collective vehicles
with physical property assets at director valuations by 6 months. The market
tends to discount the expected moves in interest rates in advance in much
the same way as they do earnings of industrial and financial companies. The
Real Estate Investment Trust Index (REITs) in New York price 200 day moving
average has been broken in April.
The decisive breakout in April on interest rate concerns
is a lead indicator for physical commercial property assets and funds. This
index is obviously US focused but the same concerns and price action is
happening in the entire developed world. Rising interest rates in the
Western world are not indicative of a time to be overexposed to commercial
property there regardless of location, location, location?
Residential Property -
Led by articles in the FT last weekend and various features in the
Economist over the past 18 months, is the housing bubble. Since 1956 UK
house prices have risen, in real terms, at a trend rate of 2.1%pa. This has
made housing an excellent investment but prices have gone through huge
cycles. At their peak in 1973, prices were 43% above trend and in the 1988
peak they were 36% above trend. At the end of last year they were 37% above
it. Tony Dye, of past fame for losing his job at Phillips and Drew for
calling the Tech bubble in 1999, says UK house prices could fall by 30% over
the next five years to bring prices back to trend. The usual argument of
“affordability” dynamics have changed does not wash according to a study
by Andrew Farlow of Oxford University. In Sydney the problem is even worse
and Reuters noted in the weekend that properties have doubled in the past
six years and now only offer yields of 2.5% and it now takes in excess of
30% of family income to service the debt. All this at 45 year low interest
rates and expectations are that rates will only increase over the next 30
year life of the mortgage. The Western world housing market is definitely in
a bubble, you only need to ask Japanese, Hong Kong, and most Emerging Market
property investors about their yields, debt servicing and large falls in
capital value over the past few years.
The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be
reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept
any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any
responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not
taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please
contact Graham Macdonald on [email protected]