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Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation 

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Beer and More  

Money Matters

Letters from Lek

Your Health & Happiness:  Carnations in a variety of colors

Lilian Tip

Even though the carnation is not everybody’s flower, it still has a general fascination due to the many different shades of colors this flower grows in. Many unusual origins are told for the carnation in the 2,000 years since its cultivation started. Some say, its origins lie in Greece, others say it is Roman and it comes from the word ‘incarnation’ but wherever its origins really lie, a carnation has a special meaning to mankind.

A rather discouraging story comes from Korea, where it is said that carnations can tell the future. If a young girl places three carnations in her hair and if the top flower dies first, her last years of life will be difficult; if it is the middle flower, her earlier years will bring the most grief. But the worst of all, if the bottom flower dies first, the poor girl will be miserable all her life!

Does this mean a carnation only gives you sad news? No, carnations also express love, fascination, and distinction. If you give somebody a bouquet of carnations next time watch out for the secret message it contains. A light red carnation represents admiration, while a dark red one stands for deep love and affection. White carnations indicate pure love and good luck, while a light green carnation is reserved for St. Patrick’s Day.

A purple carnation is a sign of unpredictability, while pink carnations have the most symbolic and historical significance, going back to a Christian legend, when Jesus carried the cross and when the Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus’ plight, carnations sprang up from where her tears fell. Until this day pink carnations became the symbol of a mother’s undying love, and in 1907 carnations were chosen as the emblem of Mother’s Day.

So, when you give carnations away next time, think about what you want to tell the person as the color will give your secret away. Don’t forget that if you want to say no through flowers, send her/him striped carnations, which has the message ‘I am sorry, I must say no’ but if she is the one you always waited for, it’s time for white Carnations.


The Doctor's Consultation: Repairing broken hearts

by Dr. Iain Corness

“Is it possible that Dr. Iain could write an article on the possibilities of ‘reversing’ heart disease? I have inherited a bad heart and have also been abusing my heart. I would like to reverse 60 years of abuse and neglect before I die.”

Well, it’s a big ask, but I’ll try! The first thing to remember, however, is that you do not reverse 60 years of abuse in 60 minutes, 60 hours or even 60 days. I can do something - but it will take anything up to 60 months. OK?

The first step is to find out just how bad is your heart? Unfortunately, many people have no idea of the state of their heart’s health until it is far too late - they will have had their heart attack. Or others think that just because their blood pressure is fine, they have an A1 bill of health. That is like going to the garage and getting your tyre pressures checked, and saying that the engine must then be fine too!

In this man’s case, being 60 years of age, he needs a full check-up to incorporate looking at all cardiac risk factors - weight, BP, blood sugar and blood fats, in fact a complete blood and liver screen is best. There should be an ECG (or EKG if you come from the left hand side of the Atlantic Ocean), and that is just the beginning.

Now don’t despair at this point. Reversal is possible because the human body is a dynamic lump of tissue, as opposed to your motor car. Your body has cells that die and are replaced by new healthy ones. Your motor car cannot do this. Your body also has an ability called homeostasis, by which it will automatically attempt to restore itself to ‘as new’ condition. If only our motor cars were that good!

So how do we (you) go about all this? Well, first off, you have to correct any factors that are out of whack. If any of your blood tests are outside of the normal range, you have to get them back inside. Generally this can be done by modifying lifestyle factors, especially diet. As a quick rule of thumb, go more vegetarian.

If your BP is too high, bring it down. If it is a result of being overweight, it’s back to modifying lifestyle factors. As a quick rule of thumb, go more vegetarian and reduce alcohol consumption.

Of course, the first factor that has to be changed revolves around cigarettes. If you are a smoker, stop immediately. Today. Now.

Another no-no is salt. From today, no salt added by you to your food. What is used in cooking can remain, but that’s all.

That’s about everything you have to stop or reduce, now here are some things you have to start. Firstly, take 100 mgm of aspirin a day. You can buy this as Cardiprin, all nicely packaged (and expensive), or you can be a Cheap Charlie like me and break 500 mgm aspirin tabs into quarters (near enough to 100 mgm).

Next you need to start some exercise. It does not need to be marathon running, but it needs to be something, and regular. A walk round the block every day is better than a run every weekend.

By taking my advice, after two years your arteries will be clear of cholesterol, by three years your lungs will be clean and pink again, and by five years your cardiac condition will be almost normal. Worth it, surely?


Agony Column

Dear Hilary (sic),
That was terrible advice to Marty (two weeks ago). You do not know what she is doing in the bar. At this stage she may just be a waitress. Financial necessity will have forced her into the move. At 3 months it may not yet be too late to “save” her as she may not yet have made the transition to full “bar girl” status. The fact that she originallly (sic)worked in a cafe demonstrates her reluctance to take the fatal step. In any event Marty should not be dismissed out of hand and should be encouraged to at least make some enquiries if he is so inclined. Shame on you!
William Bangkok

Dear Billy from Bangers,
The letter in question related to a young fellow who found that a waitress in a cafe where he used to drop in for coffee, bobs up three months later working in a bar. Marty wanted to know if he should try and take her away from the bar. Did you really read my advice to Marty? I wrote, “She has her reasons for working there, and they are probably financial.” You write, “Financial necessity will have forced her into the move.” So you concur with me on that point. Good start, at least we have some points of agreement, my blushing Bill. Marty also said he used to pop in regularly to see her, but she dropped out, did not tell her former work-mates where she was and did not let Marty know either, so she did not put much stock on their relationship, now did she. Marty wanted to know if he should try and get her to leave the bar. There is only one way that would happen, judging by the very tenuous relationship between them - that is by Marty becoming her financial supporter. I counselled that he should not start a relationship based on the girl’s financial need and the presumed ability he had to supply the cash to cover that need. That advice still stands.
By the way, Bill, I don’t like your very judgmental ideas on “saving” her and reluctance to take the “fatal step”. It’s all a bit MCP, Bill. And my name is Hillary, not Hilary, and your spelling of “originally” is very “original” to say the least. Time to spend a few hours brushing up on the spelling and attention to detail, William, instead of trying to take Hillary to task. Shame on you!
Dear Hillary,
The other evening my husband of 20 years called me a bitch with no provocation from me at all, so I decided to teach him a lesson, and made him sleep in the spare room that night. He just laughs and shrugs it off when I ask him about it. This has now been going on for a few weeks. I am really thinking of leaving. What is your opinion, Hillary?
Extremely Annoyed

Dear Extremely Annoyed,
Perhaps if you bark at him again you will get the answer.
Dear Hillary,
Wee Nit (the adorable) has announced that the family water-buffaloes have been breeding like rabbits and, consequently, both she and Ying (the adorable, identical twin sister) are feeling somewhat broody. I wonder, however, if the pursuit of a Babysingha or two is advisable in this climate of rising world lubricant prices?
Mistersingha

Dear Mistersingha,
Do not even contemplate reproduction for one nano-second! The thought that your reneging gene could be continued through your blood-line is an appalling concept. I would also suggest that if the family water buffaloes have been seen hopping up behind each other, it might be a good time to check their bona fides. Do they have furry ears and white cotton tails? They might be the once thought extinct water rabbitoes, a close relative of the Canadian jackalope. Do go and check, there’s a good boy. You have to lie down in the mud, under the rear of the beasts and check on their credentials. Get wee Nit to take the photo. On receipt I will even let you off the hook as far as the undelivered champagne and chocolates are concerned.
Dear Hillary,
After many, many great holidays in your beautiful country I have decided to come and retire there. I think somewhere in the north might suit me as it is not so hot as down the southern end. Could you advise me on the possibilities of purchase of a suitable abode, and how do I get a requisite visas to stay there with you? I always read your column and enjoy the advice given out so succinctly.
Sir Francis

Dear Sir Francis,
Don’t come the ducks and drakes with me Petal. Do you honestly think that Hillary can represent the Thai Immigration office and give you visa advice? And you certainly wouldn’t be staying with me, Sir Franky, no matter what kind of visa you have, so you can get that out of your head for a start. Mind you, if you’re arriving with the Elite card in your wallet, I can certainly help you run it through a couple of ATM’s. Of course you can buy a suitable abode, as you put it, but that is the province of the real estate agents, not agony aunts. Give me a call after you’ve settled in.


Camera Class:  Andy Warhol

by Harry Flashman

Last week I covered the passing of the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson, an artist/photographer remembered for his ability to record the human psyche in all its depth and complexity. By comparison, let us look at another artist/photographer who is remembered for his ability to record the human psyche in all its shallowness (and complexity). This is Andy Warhol (1928-1987), a complex character himself, and probably even deeper than Cartier-Bresson.

David Hockney by Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh USA, the son of Czechoslovakian immigrants. He studied pictorial design and art history, sociology and psychology, and worked initially as a commercial artist for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and the I. Miller shoe company, where he was paid per shoe he drew. Andy did not mind this, as he was able to quickly work out how much he was owed!

In 1962 he produced his silkscreen prints on canvas of dollar notes, Campbell’s Soup tins, and Marilyn Monroe (copies of which can be still seen in any copy artist’s studio in Thailand). The 32 soup cans were a deliberate attempt by Warhol to produce ‘legitimate’ art, trying to show that the human mind was attracted by the ‘sameness’, and it was the continuous exposure to those kind of images that produced a sense of security in the viewer. It was a conundrum of producing ‘art’ from something that was almost the antithesis of art.

From there he branched out into photography as well, but rather than take carefully arranged photographs, Andy Warhol went the other way, using a Polaroid camera to record ‘instant’ photographs, again in the anti-art genre. There are no well lit, carefully posed, complementary background photographs from his Polaroid era. Look at the one of artist David Hockney shown here. I have cropped it a little, but the dreadfully cluttered background still shows. And Andy Warhol could not have cared less.

In fact, as he then began to move in the Hi-So circles, Warhol would go out every night and capture the people on film. “You want to go out every night because you’re afraid if you stay home you might miss something,” wrote Warhol many years ago.

He had discovered that the life in America was like his Campbell’s Soup tins. Everyone wanted to be exposed to the public, the more times the better. The more recognizable, the more ‘famous’ you had become, and Warhol was the man who would be there. The ‘ultimate’ street photographer. Just as Cartier-Bresson photographed the ordinary people, Andy Warhol photographed the out of the ordinary people. His relentless shots taken in Studio 54, the ‘in place’ disco are albums of freaks, hangers-on, minor celebrities, aging movie stars, starlets eager for any publicity, drunks, transvestites, designers, people with designs on being designers, the whole superfluous and superficial crowd. And Andy got them all, and in some ways recorded an era for posterity.

I think that from originally being a voyeur, Warhol eventually began to believe his own press and his florid behaviour became even more outlandish. He made movies of incredible length - Sleep, a six hour epic and Empire even two hours longer. But of course the world was ready for someone like this. The post war liberalization was breeding people who would symbolize the extremes that the new freedoms had brought.

Warhol continued with his entourage around him who I believe were needed to keep his empire going, as Warhol himself was too distracted to be able to keep track of what was happening. He was having showings and exhibitions all over the world, and was treating them all and the viewers with artistic contempt, his way of shielding himself from the world or revealing his true introspective nature.

As the world moved into the 80’s, America changed, and the attitudes changed with it. There were fewer places for people like Andy Warhol to feel secure in. Reality was returning after the excesses of the 60’s and 70’s, and the Warhol star was on the wane.

He died from a post-operative complication in 1987, but left us a record of a time in history that will never be repeated.


Beer and More: Vitamins and alcohol in beer

by Karl Eichhorn, Chiangmai Malting product manager

Karl Eichhorn

Alcohol is an important item for the taste of beer and the main provider of its energy content. The latter ranges from 400 kcal to 430 kcal per liter beer, equivalent to wine made from apples, milk of low fat content and unsweetened fruit juices. Red and white wine, in comparison, provide 600 kcal to 800 kcal per liter, while spirits like vodka, whisky, cherry-brandy or calvados supply 2000 kcal to 3500 kcal per liter.

When consumed, 95 percent of the alcohol content of beer is utilized as energy. The remaining 5 percent is excreted from the body as urine and through perspiration and respiration. The alcohol is mainly metabolized by the liver at a rate of 0.1 gm alcohol per kg of body weight. Of all alcoholic beverages, beer has actually the lowest alcohol content. Wine and champagne contain twice as much alcohol as beer, and spirits 6-8 times as much.

Vitamins

Little is usually said about the vitamin content of beer. As a matter of fact, beer contains a significant amount of vitamins, compared to wine or spirits. Actually, as much as 15 percent to 20 percent of the human’s daily requirements can be met by the consumption of beer (why does my wife never believe me)?

Vitamins are synthesized by barley sprouts developing during the malting process. As a result, the content of vitamins is considerably higher in malt than in barley itself. Many of these vitamins are heat resistant and endure the brewing technique well. Since the human body is unable to synthesize vitamins, they have to be administered regularly in small quantities. In connection with beer, the water soluble B vitamins are predominant in the list that includes niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, cobalamin, folic acid, thiamin, and biotin. All of them have different, but important functions to fulfill.

Let me close this lecture with the Drinking Wisdom of Dave Barry who once said, “In the Bowling Alley of Tomorrow, there will even be machines that wear rental shoes and throw the ball for you. Your sole function will be to drink beer.”


Money Matters:  Scott Campbell’s views on Thailand 

written at the start of May 2004

Graham Macdonald
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 equities – the party’s over.

I have reduced exposure to emerging markets, convertible bonds and any remaining Western Hemisphere equities at the start of this week. Whilst we only had 35% equity exposure, a large number of the indicators we follow have turned negative. The espoused rhetoric from equity participants is that the market which is due a pull back after the past 12 month rally, is more than likely to be wrong and that reality will be that the bear market has resumed. We retain significant Japanese and resource/commodity equity exposure only.

Dow Theory sees a bear. Russell’s Primary Trend Index (PTI) has turned negative for the first time since March last year whilst traditional Dow confirmation theory of Industrial v Transportation also points to a top. Technical analysts saw 1122 on the S&P500 as an important resistance and this has now been decisively broken. The Belkin report, a closely followed analysis by US hedge funds has turned bearish; in fact the long short equity hedge funds themselves have turned more bearish than bullish according to Van Hedge Fund Consultants. Importantly the VIX was at very complacent levels and is now rising rapidly as the option traders start to get busy and even some of the mainstream banks we monitor have turned bearish. It is important to remember that the Japanese market of the 1990’s had 3 of these 50% entrancement rallies!

The irony is that Corporate America is in pretty good shape. However the valuations are stretched. According to James Montier at Dresdner Kleinwort in London, the main rationale for these valuations is that of low interest rates. However, Montier points out, “Here the fallacy of low rates being good for equities is clearly exposed. Your best chance of high real returns is buying when interest rates are high, not low”. His research showed that, for the 10 years following a low interest rate environment, returns were negative. The reason is simple, the best chance of multiple (P/E) ratio expansion is when interest rates are high and when rates are low you face a very high risk of contraction or stagnation. P/E contraction from 20-30 times will be the major issue over the next cycle as earnings have now stabilised.

On top of this important point, the US consumer and Bush government have not repaired their balance sheets in the same manner and the big picture will more than likely dominate for the foreseeable future. We evaluate the first of these two below.

US consumer confidence

One of the most important big picture issues for 2004 will be US consumer confidence. Despite massive US GDP growth late in 2003, 45 year low interest rates and rising property/stock values, the US consumer is becoming less confident.

The US jobs picture is interesting. Firstly, investors have become infatuated with the much watched non-farm payroll numbers and job outsourcing. Business Week tells us that only 11% of the total jobs lost over the past 3 years have been to outsourcing, however it makes up 90% of the Democratic presidential candidates daily rhetoric??? Perhaps the actual numbers are immaterial really when compared to the subconscious effect on Mr Average Punter!

The Michigan Consumer Confidence index is not without its flaws but is probably the most influential indicator of what the US consumer is saying. The March number fell back fractionally from 94.4 to 94.1 with the consensus expecting 94.5, after a big fall in February. The index was consistently above 100 between 1997 and 2001 but then the US economy was creating 300,000 new jobs per month. ABN Amro argue that this number is meaningless and we should concentrate on what the consumer is doing, not saying? Our view is that the subconscious effect of no jobs is slowly affecting confidence and will eventually flow into retail sales, savings rates and household debt ratios, so saying results in doing eventually.

With regard to doing, retail sales in the US continue to be relatively strong and the tax cuts over the next couple of months will no doubt help. But strength six months out with the political rhetoric getting louder and budgets getting tighter, remains to be seen.

Another indicator, the ABS News/Money Magazine consumer comfort index (not struggling for a sponsor I see) fell by 7 points to a 12 week low of -13 early in March. This was the biggest one week drop in 18 years, with this sort of decline only occurring twice before, in Jan 2001 and Feb 1990. In both cases a recession followed the plunge in confidence numbers.

US consumers have held this so called economic revival together and their resilience will be sorely tested over the next 6 to 12 months, especially with such high debt levels.

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]


Letters from Lek

Hi Kids!

I decided to write about art works today. I’m sure many of you have gone to a gallery or to a classical music concert with your parents here in Chiang Mai. Maybe some of you didn’t know that whether you are looking at a picture or listening to some music, all of this is considered art.

We usually use the word art when we are drawing pictures and coloring. But not only drawing pictures and coloring are art works, but also composing music, writing poems or carving.

Everybody can be an artist, just use your imagination and do what seems great to you. But please do not give up if the things you did are not beautiful enough or sound bad.

Every artist, even the most talented, has to go through similar situations.

(I’d like it if you all sit down, draw me a picture and send them in to me at [email protected] chiangmai-mail.com)

Stay cool, see you next week!
Lek

Joke of the week

A monster landed on earth and the first thing it saw was a sparrow.
“Can you direct me to a hotel?” the monster asked.
“Cheep, cheep.” the sparrow replied.
“Should be,” the monster said.
“It cost me a fortune to get here!”