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Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation 

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Dogs - Man’s best friend

Letters from Lek

Money Matters

Life in the Laugh Lane

Your Health & Happiness:  Traditional Japanese massage paired with Western beauty therapy

Is Shiatsu for you?

Marion Vogt

For a person like me, who is always too busy to spend three hours in a spa, but knowing that there is a need to relax and relieve some tensions in over-contracted muscles in the face Shiatsu seemed to be the perfect solution.

Terry Liew, the ‘Dr. Feel Good’ spa consultant surrounded by the therapists of Baan Saen Doi, and owner Wanphen Sakdatorn.

‘Baan Saen Doi’, one of the popular, sophisticated retreats which prides itself on staying on top as regards training, treatments and novelties, employed famous Singaporean Terry Liew to pass on his skills to their therapists.

Terry Liew, used by the most famous spas such as Chiva Som International, came to Baan Saen Doi to do intensive training for the Japanese Shiatsu therapy. This Japanese Massage is great to relieve aches, pains and certain physiological malfunctions, and is claimed to contribute to the healing process for accident trauma and surgical convalescence.

Whatever, the Japanese facial is just heavenly relaxing. It definitely is ‘anti-stress’, with feather light movements while the skin is cleaned by creams based on 100 percent natural ingredients. Thumb pressure to relieve tension of the neck, followed by slow but light strokes, warm towels, more clean herbal smelling cream and a touch that can not be described but must be experienced.

The Japanese facial massage is a treat for the busy bees, who always try, but never manage, to include spa treatments in the hectic schedule of today’s lifestyle. But with this out-of-body bliss which can be experienced from skilled and well trained therapists at Baan Saen Doi, it will become a regular part of my routine at least.


The Doctor's Consultation: Where there’s life, there’s HOPE

by Dr. Iain Corness

One of the advantages of being around in this (sort of) enlightened age is that the scientific studies that are being undertaken these days are much bigger and more searching than ever before. In fact, one of the major differences between today’s Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and ‘quackery’ lies in the fact that EBM can show very demonstrably whether or not Magic Potion A does work, whereas it is very rare to see the proponents of ‘alternative’ therapies allowing their treatment modalities or medications put to the same rigorous tests.

Again with today’s networking ease, studies can be done through centres throughout the world, and it becomes easier to collect data over a much larger number of patients. Take, for example the HOPE trial (since we medicos love acronyms, HOPE stands for Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation). This study covering 10,000 patients world-wide to investigate the worth of a medication known as an ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) inhibitor was brought to an early closure in 1999, when it was decided that the study showed such a positive result that it was unethical to carry on comparing the outcomes of patients on treatment or on placebo (inactive tablets). The monitoring board felt that they could not justify continuing to give some patients inactive tablets, knowing by that stage that the treatment with the ACE inhibitor gave a much better outcome.

And when I say a much better outcome, that is exactly what the HOPE trial did show. For example a 32 percent reduction in the risk of strokes and a 26 percent reduction in the risk of cardio-vascular deaths. Those are certainly some positive findings from data collected world-wide. Remember too that these findings came from rigorously controlled clinical trials, not just results from a bunch of folk who told “somebody” that they felt a lot better by taking three Mozambique mussels every morning. Personal ‘results’ like this are purely anecdotal, and in no way represent scientific evidence of efficacy.

As well as HOPE, there have been other multi-centre trials such as the SOLVD (Studies Of Left Ventricular Dysfunction) and SAVE (Survival And Ventricular Enlargement) to demonstrate the effects of this ACE inhibitor group of drugs.

So should you be “saving” up in the “hope” that these can produce a better outcome for you? Well, if you have high blood pressure, or are more than 55 years of age with evidence of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, stroke or diabetes and other cerebro-vascular risk factors, then you may indeed benefit from some ACE inhibition.

But here is the ‘real’ problem. You do not necessarily know if you have any of the above conditions (other than being older than 55, as most of us do know our ages)! It requires testing and examination of the type you would call a ‘check-up’ - and when was your last one?

Even if you have been found to have some of the problems mentioned earlier in this article, it is not a case of popping into your favourite pharmacy and buying some tablets over the counter (always a dangerous practice anyway), but is something that should be prescribed and monitored by a physician or cardiologist.

There are hundreds of dedicated medical scientists out there who spend their lives trying to make your lives better. I would sincerely encourage any of you in your 50’s and above to consider having regular check-ups. It is worthwhile, and may even increase your own quality of life. Take the advancements that modern science can offer you!


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I disagree with you regarding Anti-smoking Aunty, October 9 issue. Unless it is a restaurant or somewhere like that, the smoker has just as much rights as anybody else and can smoke wherever he likes. Just because somebody else doesn’t like smoking doesn’t mean they should force their will on smokers either. I think your advice is just typical of a non-smoker wanting to stop smokers enjoying themselves.
Smoking Uncle

Dear Smoking Uncle,
You appear to have missed the point of the previous reader’s enquiry. The problem was smokers who say, “Do you mind if I smoke?” and then just go ahead without waiting to see if anybody does mind. I suggested the reader should immediately say, “Actually I do mind.” At that point the two people can either take sides, square off to one another, pour beers all over each other, set fire to each other, or some other amicable agreement. Nobody was discussing whether or not smokers had rights or otherwise. Non-smokers have rights too, Petal.
Dear Miss Hillary,
How can you even begin to give “Worried Mum” advice about her six year old child and her tantrums, when you are very proudly unmarried, always insisting that you be called Miss Hillary, not Mrs. Hillary?
A Real Mum

Dear Real Mum,
You were absent for the birds and the bees lessons at school, weren’t you? This might even explain why you have children. I don’t know why you think women have to be married before they can have offspring. The ability to have children does not hang on a marriage certificate. As they say, the first pregnancy takes any time at all. The following ones all take nine months! By the way, Real Mum, I have never asked to be called Miss Hillary, I have always insisted on Ms. Hillary, a title that does not imply being married or otherwise, just as the title Mr. does not show marital status either. OK?
Dear Hillary,
Seems like the Viagra vigilantes are on your tail, Hillary old girl. Better watch out they don’t try and give you a stiff arm tackle one night when you’re out shopping for chocolates and champers. Some of these guys think they’re Prince Valiant when they’re high on the Big V.
Don’t Need It

Dear Don’t Need It,
Thanks for the advice, Petal, but Hillary does not go shopping alone for chocolates and champagne. I always have a man with me to carry the groceries and pay the nice lady at the checkout. On Hillary’s salary a tube of Polo mints once a month and a small bottle of wine cooler is about it.
Dear Hillary,
My Thai girlfriend is wonderful - except for one thing. Time does not seem to matter to her. She will arrange to meet me at 2 in the afternoon and rolls up at 3 saying “Sorry I’m a little late.” I don’t consider one hour to be a “little late”, sorry or not. She has been even more late than that, but every time it is the same, “Sorry I’m a little late”. Have you any ideas that I could try to get this girl to be on time?
Punctual Pete

Dear Punctual Pete,
Have you tried buying her a watch, my poor punctual Petal? But then you still have another problem - the Thai way of telling the time is quite different from yours, and they have several ways as well. There is the military style 24 hour clock system as well as the traditional system that divides the 24 hours into four 6 hour sections. Suggest you buy her a digital watch, or else it will be endless descriptions of “When the little hand is at two and the big hand is at twelve...” You could also buy her a mobile phone and ring her up quarter of an hour before the appointment to remind her. Then you could also get her a motorbike, so that she doesn’t have to waste time looking for a song taew. To keep the motorcycle serviceable, it should be kept under cover, so while you’re shelling out the shekels, you may as well buy her a little house. With that kind of investment you may as well marry the girl, so that next time you write to Hillary you can begin with “My Thai wife is wonderful - except for one thing. Time does not seem to matter to her.”
Dear Hillary,
When I make a date to meet any Thai ladies I find that they have gone to the wrong shop to meet me, or the wrong Post Office, or the wrong movie theatre, so we never connect up. This has happened a few times now, and when I see them in the bar later they just say they are sorry but they waited for me and I never showed up. How can I make sure they know the right meeting place?
Confused

Dear Confused,
This one is easy to fix, Petal. Just suggest they meet you at the gold shop on the corner closest to their bar. Not only will they be there, but they’ll be there early!


Camera Class: Another one bites the dust! Farewell Richard Avedon

by Harry Flashman

Another of the world’s finest photographers has just died - Richard Avedon. The 81 year old was still photographing professionally when he died suddenly on location following a brain haemorrhage. His work is known by generations, and he was one of the photographers who set new standards for those who have followed. He was voted one of the ten greatest photographers in the world by Popular Photography magazine, and in 1989 received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London. He was one of the masters.

Richard Avedon could produce wonderful glamorous fashion photographs, but was not the kind of portrait photographer to spend time producing ‘flattering’ lighting for his other subjects, or to use a soft focus filter on those whom the bloom of youth had since perished. His portraits were, often as not, harsh, harshly lit and most unflattering. Yet people lined up to be photographically slaughtered.

I have always contended that photography is “lying with a camera”, so I found it interesting to read a quote from Avedon which was, “All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”

Richard Avedon was born in New York in 1923 of immigrant parents and dropped out of high school to join the US Navy which put him in its photographic section.

After returning to America after WW II, he found a job as a photographer in a department store. Within two years he was working for the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, after his tutor at the New York New School for Social Research, Alexey Brodovitch, noticed his talent. Brodovitch was also the art director at Harpers!

After 20 years with Harper’s Bazaar, he moved on to Vogue magazine and others, as his ‘different’ style became popular. He became very attached to his studio because it was only there that he felt he could totally control the lighting. His technique was faultless and his images pin sharp.

He was in some ways a technocrat, but did not rely on new and sophisticated technology to record his images. Many of his most famous portraits were done on a 10x8 inch Deardorff large format camera, and after he was happy with the lighting, he would stand beside the camera and fix his subject with a direct gaze, direct and shoot. That direction could allow movement or spontaneity, but it was always controlled by Avedon.

Amongst the celebrities who stood before the Deardorff were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (shown here), Buster Keaton, Gloria Vanderbilt, Pablo Picasso, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mae West, Jimmy Durante, Brigitte Bardot, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacques Cousteau, Andy Warhol, and Lena Horne. Between the 70’s and 80’s, while working for Vogue magazine, he took some of the most important portraits of the famous people of those days.

Avedon enjoyed his portrait photography, but photographed far more than just the A List celebrities. In 1959 he shot a series of images of patients in mental hospitals. Again taken with brutal reality, some of these images are quite shocking. He also has left a huge body of work covering the ‘ordinary’ working class people and ‘drifters’, again pin sharp portraits of hopelessness in some cases. There was never any attempt at glossing over these people’s plight.

He collaborated with others to produce many books, such as “Nothing Personal” (1974) with his friend James Baldwin, a man that he worked with for more than 30 years. Another book was simply entitled “Portraits” and published in 1976.

He seemed to have an endless enthusiasm, and in 1992 he became the first staff photographer for the “New Yorker”, and two years later when he was 71 years old, the Whitney Museum brought together fifty years of his work in the retrospective, “Richard Avedon: Evidence”.

Another decade later and Richard Avedon was still working, a tribute to not just his energy, but to his art. He was one of the world’s great portrait artists.

Avedon died on October 1st, 2004.


Dogs - Man’s best friend: Who’s a pretty dog then? Woof, woof, bark, bark

Consequences of breeding according to standards

Nienke Parma

Before the Industrial Revolution dogs were still bred for their behavior, but for breeding according the specific breed standards, the emphasis has shifted towards the appearance of the dog.

A beautiful Afghan

Many purebreds are still paying a huge price as this system favors rigid anatomical conformity and immaculate grooming above the personality and a sound body of the dogs, with many physical and mental defects as a result.

In America a team of micro-biologists have been researching K9 genetic disorders. By means of bio-technological tools they have been able to locate and identify at least 350 genetic disorders that afflict many purebred dogs!

At least 40 of those are genetic skeletal diseases such as hip dysplasia (afflicting over 100 breeds), elbow dysplasia, patellar sub-luxation (dislocation of the knee affecting many small breeds) or a disease, involving the spinal cord with complications in the lower back. Many breeds are prone to agonizing skin-problems such as atopy (Sharpei, Westi Highland White Terrier, Golden retriever, Boxer), allergic contact dermatitis (German shepherd, Yellow Labrador), auto-immune skin diseases (German shepherd, Siberian husky). Then there are the hormonal and metabolic disorders. Pugs, Shih Tsu’s, Pekinese, Bull-dogs and other short-nosed breeds have such short muzzles producing impaired breathing and teeth cramped in too small jaws. The Bulldog’s head is so big it can’t go through the birth canal and, as a result, most puppies have to be delivered by Caesarian section. And then I have not even made a note of the several eye, ear, urinary, nervous, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, immune system and mental disorders.

There is almost no purebred free from hereditary diseases, although DNA tests have proved that their wild dog brothers like the New Guinea Singing Dog are generally free of them. Also, in some local breeds the original complete genetic qualities are still there. Due to their isolation at certain parts of the world for years, no dilution by random mixing with other breeds has occurred. The Thai Ridgeback Dog is such an example. Although not 100 percent free from hereditary diseases, this breed is still one of the healthiest and strongest under the purebreds. (To be continued…)

For more information on dog-issues, -boarding or -training please contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78 146 or [email protected]


Letters from Lek

Hi Kids!

This week’s game is called Mini Bowling.

You don’t need much equipment to play this game.

You only need eight crayons, which you have to number (write 1 on the first one, two on the second and so on).

For this game you could have not more than five children, because it wouldn’t be fair if there are more.

Each child has to have a marble to be able to play the game.

First you have to stand up the crayons in a row or in a big circle and stand about 5-10 meters away from them.

Then, standing in a row, you have to throw your marble at the crayons and try to hit one so that it falls. If it worked you have to go pick it up. If more than one crayon fell you have to pick up the first one which you hit and which fell and stand up those which fell afterwards. Everyone has only one try and the one who gets the crayon with the highest number wins. Try it… Good luck!

Jokes
What do you give a seasick dinosaur?
- Much, much space…
…and what do you do with a green dino?
- You wait until he is ripe!

Stay cool and have fun!
Lek


Money Matters: How Low Can it Go?

Graham Macdonald
MBMG International Ltd.

According to Michael Belkin’s recent report, most stock indices are now down modestly on the year (NASDAQ -6%, S&P500 -1%, DAX -3%, FTSE -3%), but he forecasts that they will be down a lot more by the end of the year. So far, indices have had a slow-motion deterioration amidst a downgrade in over-optimistic economic and earnings expectations, but Belkin points out that some leading groups have fallen much more than indexes (US semiconductors - 19% and securities brokers - 13%). “The 200 day moving average is often a dividing line between bull and bear markets. Major market tops usually have a first peak, an initial decline to the 200 day average vicinity, a bounce, then a renewed drop below the 200 day average that becomes a serious decline.”

We’ve described that pattern all year, but most indexes have had two bounces off the 200 day average this time instead of just one (early April and late-May to June). The July decline has taken most indexes back down to their 200 day averages again (for the third time).

He adds that some key sectors and groups have already broken decisively below their 200 day averages and classifies indices into three categories: 1) On or near 200 day average. (S&P500, DJIA, CAC 40). 2) Recently broke below 200 day average. (NASDAQ, FTSE, DAX, SMI, AEX S&P500 financial and consumer discretionary sectors, Stoxx banks and industrial goods & services groups). 3) Already fallen way below 200 day average to new 2004 lows. (S&P500 tech sector, SOX semiconductor index, XBD securities brokers index, Stoxx Tech.).

Many market participants only watch the S&P500 and DJIA (on 200 day averages) and aren’t noticing the greater deterioration in tech, financials and European cyclicals. Belkin compares that to “ignoring the symptoms of an acute disease” and sees an overall picture of a market rotting from within, without much recognition by the average investor.

He believes that such complacency makes equities vulnerable to a downside shock, as earnings expectations careen from giddy optimism to gloom, and that such an adjustment should take place over the remainder of the year, adding that “Major indexes like the S&P500 and DJIA will probably soon follow the tech sector and break decisively below their 200 day averages, sending a wake-up call to those oblivious of the sector deterioration. Once major indexes break 200 day averages decisively (and market upside is capped), the next logical question becomes how low can the market go? That question has an easy answer - in a long term bear market (below declining 200 week average) - downside risk in intermediate term declines is back to the lows (at least). That is minus 41% for the NASDAQ, minus 29% for the S&P500 and down 43% for the DAX.”

Therefore, he recommends the most defensive equity market exposure possible (alternatives, cash and bonds, overweight low beta groups, underweight high beta groups, increase short positions, sell brief rallies). Currently, the energy and utility sectors have the strongest model outperform forecast (US and Europe), while the sectors with the weakest model forecast are tech and consumer discretionary (US) and tech, financials and cyclicals (Eurozone).

His view is that stock investors should look to avoid being flattened in the forecast decline back to the lows - and then to have the wherewithal to step back in on the long side for another bear market rally when the decline has run its course. On balance we’re not a million miles away from that view ourselves.

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]


Life in the Laugh Lane: Same Same but Same

by Scott Jones

Once upon a time, long ago, a sole banana seller set up shop on the street. His neighbor saw him and said, “I can do what he’s doing” and set up shop next to him. The neighbor’s cousin saw them and said, “I can do what they’re doing” and set up a third shop. The rest of the neighborhood did the same, with the same fresh bananas, selling them for the same price, stacking them in the same piles. Now they all have piles from sitting there everyday trying to sell exactly the same thing as their neighbors.

Bananas

Asia is famous for and good at copying anything and everything, but I don’t understand the marketing strategy here. Do they think people go out shopping only for bananas? (“Honey, we’ve got plenty of everything except bananas. Get over to Banana Row right away!”) Do they think their stalls are in the fresh banana addict neighborhood? (“I’ve got to have a bunch of bananas right now or I’ll go bananas!”) Doesn’t anyone consider selling anything else? (“I’ll sell ice cream for banana splits! Or I’ll sell something that goes well with bananas like condoms!”)

On the highway from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai, it’s the same situation. You pass Corn on the Cob Country with 10 identical stalls on both sides of the road, 50 meters apart: same price, same produce stacked the same, same color umbrellas. Then the Bamboo Shoot Strip. The Sugar Cane Area. The Fresh Strawberry and Fruit Wine So Sweet It Makes Your Teeth Vibrate Department.

What are they thinking besides “I can do what they’re doing”?

“I want to get ‘em first from the south.”

“I want to get ‘em first from the north.”

“I want to get ‘em after they’ve seen the first but can’t stop until the second.”

“I want to get ‘em after the car that tries to stop at the first is hit by the car that tries to stop for the second and both crash into the third.”

“I want the ones that buy some at the first, eat all of them and need more in 200 meters. I only have three working brain cells.”

“Because.”

If you were in America, you’d take the middle stand and install big neon signs saying: “The Best Bananas in the World!” “Buy Now And Save!” “Installment Plans Available!” And, of course, “Topless Banana Bar!” Instead of 5 baht, you’d sell them for 4 baht and 99 satang. You’d hire relatives to fling banana peels into the road by the end stands so cars couldn’t stop until the middle. You’d need lawyers, accountants, middle managers, assistant assistants, strict schedules, timeline analysis, contingency plans and semi-quarterly budget reviews.

That’s why I moved to Thailand.