Your Health & Happiness:
BUPA donates £100,000 and launches staff fundraising campaign for tsunami disaster
International health and care group BUPA
has given £100,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee and launched an
internal fundraising campaign to support the relief of the hundreds of
thousands of people affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.
Chief executive Val Gooding said that the fundraising
campaign would involve the company’s 40,000 staff worldwide. She said,
“Our deepest sympathies go out to all those suffering from the impact of
the past week’s events. We have a business in Thailand and 11,000 BUPA
members in the region, with customers in each of the countries affected.
Also, many of our people have families and friends in the region, many of
whom are anxious to hear news of loved ones. We will be offering them all
our assistance and support at this very distressing time.”
BUPA, which provides private health cover to two million
people through local operations in Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong and Saudi
Arabia, as well as to expatriates, is covering members needing medical
attention and making sure they get home from the affected countries,
regardless of what level of policy they have.
The Doctor's Consultation: DNR - is it the end?
by Dr. Iain Corness
A few years ago, a consultant in a hospital in the UK was
reported to have hung a sign over a patient’s bed that had only three
letters - DNR. They stood for “Do Not Resuscitate”! Needless to say there
was a great furore over this, with much heated argument on all sides.
There were those who looked at the resuscitation matter as
a bean-counter would. If the patient was not a member of the productive
community, then this patient was a drain upon community resources. What was to
be gained by resuscitating non-producers? This approach always amazed me, to
be quite frank. Do bean-counters not have mothers and fathers?
Then there was the all human life is sacred group and
everything possible must be done to keep the patient alive, no matter how
horrendous those procedures. Quality of Life was not under consideration for
Eventually some reason returned and it was decided that the
correct way was for the treating physician to discuss all the options with the
patient, and let the patient decide regarding resuscitation.
However, there was still the vexed question as to what
happens when the patient is incapable of making such informed decisions
through conditions such as Dementia, for example.
Further ethical argument and discussion ensued, and it is
the consensus these days that ‘resuscitation’ only refers to
Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In other words, the resuscitation that
would be done following a cardio-pulmonary arrest. The question of DNR does
not refer to other treatments such as antibiotics, transfusions, dialysis,
ventilator support or even care in an ICU.
This to me looks like a reasoned approach and the American
Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs issued an eight
point guideline to be used. The first is the most important, and the rest hang
upon that. Point 1 stated that “Efforts should be made to resuscitate
patients who suffer cardiac or respiratory arrest, except when CPR would be
futile, or not in accordance with the desires or best interests of the
The efforts would be considered futile if they could not be
expected to restore cardiac or respiratory function. This is the situation
where you already have a seriously ill and dying patient, and even if you
could get the heart started again, the damage to the heart would be such that
the patient would become a coronary ‘cripple’, on top of all his or her
other problems. And that gets us back to the Quality of Life.
In my mind, unless we (as treating physicians) can offer
the patient a better quality of life, are we treating the patient ethically by
embarking on a course of treatment or therapy that leaves the patient with a
poorer quality of life?
I had a friend who developed stomach cancer. By the time he
consulted a doctor after months of symptoms, it was really too late. He had
been continuing to work in his small business, but he could continue to
function. Unfortunately, he consulted a surgeon who could only see the fact
that the man had stomach cancer and he operated. The operation was hazardous,
the cancer could not be totally excised, he never recovered and spent his last
three months in hospital with tubes out of every orifice, begging to die.
As medical practitioners we must never forget the Quality
of Life, and as patients you owe it to yourselves to always inquire as to what
the Quality of Life will be after any proposed course of action. It may be the
most important decision you will ever make.
I left my mobile phone in a hotel lobby and someone appears to have stolen
it. I had it “locked” thinking that that would stop any would be
thieves. Should I just forget about it or what do you suggest?
Dear Foneless Freda,
Locking and unlocking phones is done very easily, and even if you had done
something very tricky, the local helpful mobile phone shop that asks no
questions and gets no lies would soon have it working. If the worst came
to the worst, a new SIM card only costs a few hundred baht. You should go
down to the shop where you bought it and tell them. You will also have to
get a form from the police. If the phone is not registered in your name,
you will have to take the person whose name it is in with you. It is one
gigantic pain, my Petal. The answer is to keep the phone on your person at
all times, or securely attached to your handbag. Mind you, will you be
writing in next week to say you’ve left your handbag in the lobby?
It seems impossible to buy furniture here that is not in “kit” form.
Since I do not know which end of a screwdriver to use (and my husband is
just as technically challenged) what should I do? Any suggestions? I am
afraid to buy and we do need some wardrobes.
Dear Screw Loose,
You’ve got the wrong end of the pineapple here, Petal, or maybe that’s
the wrong end of the screwdriver. You don’t need to be a handyman or
handywoman, the shop where you are buying the furniture will come out,
assemble and install and even take the cardboard containers away too. Give
them a little tip when they’ve finished they’ll put the wardrobes in
place for you as well. They will appreciate it, and you don’t have to
take screwdriver lessons.
This sounds silly, but how do you get a girl to leave you alone in this
town? I have had a couple of “liaisons” and the next day the girl
returns and starts bringing in her clothes and other personal gear! Two
suitcases with the last one. Is this “normal” here? I should add that
I am 24 years old, very well built and handsome and earn very good money.
Some people do have all the problems! However, I do not believe that your
overnight personality is the draw card, nor is it because you are such a
well built hunk, but more likely because your wallet is well filled. Be
warned, a girl with whom you so delicately put it, who is willing to have
a “liaison” is interested in what she can extract from the liaison in
the financial sense. She is not interested in joining the gym with you. If
you are going to invite professional ladies home, never give any girl a
key. Never admit any girl who has more luggage than one small handbag,
even (and especially) if she is crying with some very plausible tale of
woe (this is sick buffalo season at present). Stop flashing lots of cash
around. Keep your wallet and credit cards under lock and key at all times.
Read the scores of books that describe the relationship between you (the
sucker) and her (the money sucker!). Stephen Leather’s Private Dancer
can be downloaded free from the internet and will save you money. Read it!
Why is it that whenever you go to a Thai restaurant and order a Thai meal
the waitress will always ask you if you want rice to go with it? I mean,
this is Thai food we are talking about here and everyone knows it is only
eaten with rice, right? Just to test what would happen I asked the stupid
waitress the other night to bring ‘mun farung’ (potatoes) instead. Her
jaw dropped and she gave me a look I couldn’t interpret. Why do they
continue with this asking, when you know and they know, you’re going to
get rice whether you like it or not?
Dear Edgar (Rice Burroughs?),
Some people certainly try hard to make their life here more difficult than
it needs to be, Petal, and you sure are one of them. Have you ever stopped
to consider that the waitress was actually thinking about you? They are
not stupid. They know that many farangs are not as fond of rice as the
Thai people, so by asking they are making sure that the rice (which is an
important commodity) is not wasted. You should try and be as nice to the
waitresses as they are being to you. And by the way, not all Thai dishes
are eaten with rice, and there are also several styles of rice. Rice is
also a very healthy dish that no budding Tarzan would be without. (Look up
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Petal, I know you’re probably not into reading
much, but they do have picture books these days. They’d probably suit
Camera Class: The Digital Debate continues!
by Harry Flashman
Three weeks back I mentioned the swing to digital
photography, and after many years of saying “Hang back, hang back,” I said
that perhaps now was the time to look at changing - but I qualified that
What I wrote was, “The photographic print is the final
factor as far as I am concerned. Despite digital owners showing you tiny images
on the viewing screen at the back of the camera, this is less than satisfactory.
You need a physical print you can put in the baby’s photo album. This was an
area where print film cameras were way ahead of their digital brothers, but no
more. The better ones, such as the Cyber-shot, have a ‘memory stick’. This
you can take to the ‘digital’ photo shops which can download the images and
give you prints for around the same price as print film photographs!
you want ‘compact camera point and shoot’ ability only, I would now suggest
that it is time to go digital.”
So digital for point and shooters (and that does make up the
bulk of the weekend photographers); however, what about the SLR, semi-serious
In response to that question, my photographic friend Ernie
Kuehnelt brought in an article to my attention, published a week after mine,
which was written by Don Sambandaraksa, who was described as an “open source
I have to admit ignorance, I do not know what an “open
source advocate” really is, but when I read the article I warmed to Don
Sambandaraksa. Not because of the technical detail (and there was plenty of it),
but because when he detailed in the article the camera he personally uses, this
showed me that he was a true enthusiast. Don does not use the latest Nikon F5,
or a Canon EOS, but a 1981 Pentax Super-A, fitted with a 1976 50 mm, f1.4 lens
which he bought in a second hand shop for 7,500 baht. His flash gun was also
second hand, for which he paid round about 1,000 baht on ebay.
So here we had a pro photographer, who had sold his
photographs of the opening of Asustek Computer Thailand HQ, taken with a 23 year
old camera and a 28 year old lens. It was later revealed in the article that Don
Sambandaraksa is an IT journalist, the sort of man you expect to have two
micro-mobile phones jammed in his ears, a palm PC that rivals NASA for its
computing power and having a watch using IR radiation from the sun for power,
which can also be used as a microwave oven. As someone who has problems with the
remote on my TV set, I stand in awe of the Don Sambandaraksa’s of this world.
However, when the same IT guru uses a 1981 camera when I use
a 1982 FM2 Nikon, we have much in common. And it is more than a love of
‘old’ cameras. It is a love, or desire even, for photographic excellence.
In his very balanced article, he explains why, despite the
new technology, the digital revolution still cannot deliver the goods, in the
way that a good camera system can deliver (which is just a light-tight box that
keeps film flat with an excellent piece of glass that can correctly focus on the
film, which itself is of high quality with small grain size).
He finished his dissertation by writing, “Digital cameras
are expensive, do not let in enough light, are not sensitive to the light they
do let in, have serious problems of noise, lack powerful flashes and are
generally incapable of true wide-angle shots.”
To that list I would also add that of being generally unable
to take rapid action shots. My Nikon allows me to take five frames a second,
while all but the most expensive digital cameras take their time to ‘store’
the image before they can take the next shot.
So although I suggested that if you want to ‘point and shoot’, then go
digital, I continue to say that if you are a ‘real’ photographer, then hang
on to your old cameras, while waiting for the digital technology to truly catch
Dogs - Man’s best friend:
Environmental influence on the dog’s mind
40 percent of a dog’s behavior is genetically
influenced, the other 60 percent is influenced by the environment; that what
a dog learns during its life from its mother, its littermates, other dogs
and animals, environments other than where it lives and us.
dog learns by observing and copying, trial and error and through training.
This learning process starts when still a fetus as it picks up its
mother’s moods. During the first two weeks of the puppy’s life it
won’t do more than eat, sleep, keep warm and defecate (the latter only
possible with the help of its mom!).
However, we can already play a role in the behavior
development by sometimes removing the puppy from the nipple and holding it
gently, though briefly, in our hands. Through the biofeedback process (as
described in the last article: ‘Hormonal influence on the dog’s mind’,
Chiangmai Mail Vol. IV no. 1) this little amount of stress the puppy
experiences will help it cope better with stress situations later in life.
Once the puppy can see, hear and walk, an extremely
important period starts, which is called the socialization period, and runs
basically from 3 to 14 weeks of age. It is so important as it lays the basis
for the dog’s behavior later in life. It is in this period, the dog learns
it is a dog and its social and communication skills are developed: bite
inhibition, displays of dominance and submission, calming and play signals,
interaction with other dogs, animals and human beings, etc. And as curiosity
is contrary to fear it is THE period to habituate the little animal to all
sorts of environmental elements.
Further, through play, experimenting under safe
conditions is permitted, coordination is stimulated, skillfulness and mental
flexibility promoted, inventiveness stimulated and problem solving taught.
Dogs (young and adult) use play to establish their social status, i.e. their
place on the hierarchic ladder. Regular play, socialization and interaction
with other dogs, animal species and environmental elements (also after the
socialization period) builds confidence in the dog, improves its
communications skills and maintains its soft mouth.
Dogs lacking proper socialization and regular play with
other dogs show disturbed behavior: they are clumsy in reading other dogs’
communication signals, are tense, asocial or antisocial and are often scared
in unfamiliar situations. As a consequence, they are at higher risk for
dog-dog aggression as well as fear reactions like flight or fight. For
example, most Rottweilers often will bite in order to bring themselves into
safety, while a poodle probably will run. Or, they direct their normal dog
(play) behavior at humans which is both annoying and potentially dangerous.
For more information on dog-issues, boarding, training or
behavior please contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78 146 or [email protected]
Money Matters: The Long and Short of it (part 1)
MBMG International Ltd.
Of the five asset classes that we have been discussing
recently, you’d be forgiven for thinking that stocks should be avoided at
all costs. However, the recent discussions have focused on the downsides of
investing in stocks in the traditional manner. One way of trying to harness
the upside volatility of stocks while avoiding the risks is to take exposure
to equities via long/short funds.
What are long short funds?
Long/Short Equity funds combine long equity holdings and
the short sale of stocks, along with other instruments to vary their net
exposures depending on their views on the market. The funds tend to increase
their exposures in bull market periods and, decrease them when they feel
that the markets will be in decline. By varying exposures in this fashion,
long/short managers have a valuable tool to control their participation in
directional market movements.
The long side of the portfolios are constructed from
stocks that are expected to outperform the market. These stocks will most
likely have strong fundamentals with a good market position, an attractive
rate of earning growth and offer a high return on equity.
An example of a long trade would be Google, the market
leader in internet search engines. Google was floated on August 18 with a
price of $85 per share after a controversial auction mechanism that set the
flotation price. From a fundamental point of view, the company had a
promising valuation with high margins, strong, 3-digit rates of sales growth
and an above-30% return on equity. At the end of the first day of trading,
Google shares were in the region of $100 per share; indicating that the
market was pricing in their expectations.
A long/short manager, who could not participate in the
IPO, having a bullish view on Google could have invested $500,000 in the
stock on the following day at a price of $100.33 and could have closed his
position October 27 at the historical highest price of $187.56. This would
have been a perfect trade for the manager’s long side of his portfolio,
realising a profit around $434,000. This would constitute a return of nearly
100% in three months.
On the other hand, the short side of a manager’s
portfolio, particularly focuses on the stocks that he maintains a bullish
view on. These short ideas originate from flawed business models, poor
balance sheets, and/or expected/emerging litigation cases acting as negative
The negative exposure obtained through taking short
positions serves two different purposes. First of all, the shorted
individual stocks identified through deteriorating fundamentals create an
opportunity to provide additional returns when the markets maintain their
bullish sentiment. Secondly, when there is a general downturn, these short
positions in their entirety will act as a hedge to offset the losses
incurred by the long side of the portfolio.
Next week: more on how short-selling can earn a profit.
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 Alan Hall on
Life in the Laugh Lane: The Thailight Zone: Where tomorrow never comes
by Scott Jones
If you need anything repaired in America, shops discourage
you immediately. “Well, we’re very busy and we’ll have to order parts
from Mars. It’s cheaper to buy a new one.” “Okay, fine. We’ll take it,
but we can’t even start for five years. How old are you?” “I see. Give
this receipt to your next of kin.” “You need it when? Ha, ha, ha. What’s
the limit on your Visa card?”
changed to protect the guilty.
Here it’s possible they’ll drop everything and fix it
while you watch. Seven minutes later, it’s workable, magically renewed with
bamboo, rubber bands, a plastic bag, parts from a used hairbrush and some
sticky stuff. Or they’ll smile and say, “No problem. It done tomorrow.”
When you come back anytime during the next week to 24 months, you are normally
given three answers: 1) “Finish tomorrow.” 2) “It in Bangkok.” 3) “We
trying to find it.” It’s very important for them not to lose face, which is
doubly important in this situation because you want to rip it off and keep it
until you get your whatever back.
I took my high-tech Kawasaki into a bike shop. At first he
didn’t say tomorrow, but it soon became his only answer: “Finish tomorrow.
I say yesterday, finish tomorrow.” He lived in The Thailight Zone where the
concept of time is very simply - then, now and tomorrow. Whenever I stopped by,
he’d be surrounded by my entire and completely disassembled engine, cleaning
every valve, screw, ligament, carbuncle and contrabulator. My engine used to be
a half meter high and a half meter square. It had become 15 centimetres tall
and a 5 meter polygon. (I didn’t want to upset him because he could just
return the parts in buckets and boxes. I might have been able to make a wind
chime out of them.)
Cleaning accomplished, some assembly was required. A sweet
guy, but this job was beyond him. He had one greasy 19-whenever Honda manual
that, considering his comprehension of English matched mine of Thai, gave him a
few random pictures and numbers. Basically he was now doing a 10,000 piece
jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box. Mountains were smashed on top of
buildings; city folk and antelope were hammered together; any missing landscape
was filled with metal bits and sticky stuff.
It’s like giving George W. Bush the job of president. Personally I would
never let him have my country. (Nor my bike, though I’d prefer him to be a
mechanic in a small shop somewhere.) Half of the USA, or less, give or take
Florida (meaning: Feeble Little Old Retired Idiots Driving Around) where his
brother is governor, handed him the job of commander in chief, which involves
millions of little soldiers, big machines and the red button. Unfortunately
he’s trying to write his own manual. I hear Emperor Bush recently went to
check out the Iraq Conquest, disappeared and was later found aimlessly
wandering around the desert, carrying a piece of sandpaper. He thought it was a