Your Health & Happiness:
Poll points to growing stress among young people
Young people are becoming increasing
stressed by a range of behavioral and lifestyle problems including alcohol
abuse, violent arguments and uncontrollable spending, according to a poll
published on January 23.
The survey, released at a seminar by Prof. Srisak
Jamornman, director of the ABAC Poll Research Institute, shows that 71
percent of the 4,645 respondents interviewed across the country last year
reported problems in their daily lives.
Topping the list was alcohol, reported by 32.7 percent,
followed by violent arguments, uncontrollable spending, going out to
nightspots and sexual relationships. Prof. Srisak noted that such problems
had an inevitable impact on mental health and educational results.
The poll also found that 39.3 percent of young people
were concerned about their studies, while 32.9 percent were concerned about
money and spending, 26.9 percent were concerned about their future, 6.7
percent were concerned about family problems and 5.1 percent were concerned
about their relationships with friends. A significant 55.5 percent of those
surveyed claimed to be experiencing more than one of these problems.
One in six also reported personal ‘flaws’, whether in
terms of family status, physical appearance, knowledge and abilities, or
acceptance among friends.
And while 49.6 percent admitted to having a boyfriend or
girlfriend, 66 percent of this group reported regular arguments. The average
age of first sexual relations was found to be 17.2, but some people reported
having their first sexual relationships as young as 10 years old. A high
proportion of those questioned - 47.5 percent - said that sexual
relationships among young people were not to be condemned.
Interestingly, 45.6 percent admitted to being
occasionally so angry with someone that they were unable to control their
own emotions, while 32.7 percent said that they were sometimes so desperate
to get something that they would do almost anything in order to get it.
Family arguments were also shown to be common, with 37.6
percent of respondents admitting to arguing with their parents, while 32.7
percent said that they had argued with their teachers and 31.5 percent
reported arguing with people of the same age.
Worryingly, 8.5 percent said that they had considered
suicide due to ennui, loss of hope, confusion, family problems and
Montree Sinthawichai, better known as ‘Khru Yun’, who
chairs the Senate committee on women, children and young people, blamed
these problems on social changes engineered by adults.
With more places offering vice than places offering
constructive opportunities, children had nowhere to turn, he said. Calling
for a concerted effort to solve these problems, he said that polls would
always emerge with similar findings until adults themselves acknowledged the
need to change their thinking. (TNA)
The Doctor's Consultation: Tics and Tourette’s syndrome - what the “F’s” that?
by Dr. Iain Corness
One of my favorite jokes involves a parrot that was prone
to ‘bad’ language, and consistently used the “F” word. After
threatening the talkative bird with dire consequences, its owner put it in the
freezer chest for five minutes. After being retrieved, the parrot was asked if
it would now behave. “Yes,” said the shivering parrot, “I won’t say
the “F” word again, but what did the effing chicken say?”
Tourette’s syndrome can also be related to the magic
“F” word, and is usually seen in children (not parrots) around the age of
5-7 years. Boys outnumber girls three to one!
So is this just a case of little Johnny parroting off
(sorry about that, couldn’t help myself) dirty words he has heard at home?
Actually no. This is a developmental problem that comes under the general
heading of ‘Tics’ (as opposed to ‘ticks’ that are parasitic problems).
Tic disorders can affect up to almost 20 percent of
children at some stage of their development. At one end of the spectrum are
children with brief episodes of single tics, whereas at the other are children
with chronic multiple tics, including our friend Tourette’s syndrome.
Tics are abrupt and recurrent involuntary motor or vocal
actions. Motor tics include eye blinking, grimacing, nose twitching, lip
pouting, shoulder shrugging, arm jerking, head jerking, kicking, finger
movements, jaw snapping, tooth clicking, frowning, tensing parts of the body,
and rapid jerking of any part of the body are simple tics. More complex ones
include hopping, clapping, touching, throwing, arranging, gyrating, bending,
biting the mouth, the lip, or the arm, head-banging, picking scabs, writhing
movements, rolling eyes upwards or side-to-side, making funny expressions,
sticking out the tongue, kissing, pinching, writing the same letter or word
over and over, and tearing paper or books.
However the tic can also be vocal, with simple ones being
coughing, spitting, screeching, barking, grunting, gurgling, clacking,
whistling, hissing, sucking sounds, and syllable sounds such as “uh, uh,”
“eee,” and “bu.” The complex vocal tics can involve complete phrases
such as, “Oh boy,” “you know,” “shut up,” “you’re fat,”
“all right,” and “what’s that.” Take that a little further and you
get repetitive bad language (which we medicos call Coprolalia, because we love
big words) and that is the best known example of Tourette’s syndrome.
Children who have these tics can be looked upon as fools by
their peers, and there is a no more predatory group than other children.
Parents also can feel helpless in these situations. Form the medical point of
view, one has to treat the entire family, not just little Johnny with the foul
Most children with tics can lead normal lives, and the tics
themselves usually slow down in teenage years. Parents should be encouraged to
get support for themselves from various organizations such as the Tourette
Syndrome Association ([email protected]). With a good understanding of tics
and related problems, including acceptance from teachers and education of the
child’s peers, most children with tics do not need regular medical follow
Parents and children need to understand that although all
these symptoms relate to an underlying brain disorder, breaking the cycle may
be extremely simple - for example, just allowing the child to have a short
“tic break” in a long school lesson may be enough.
Drug treatment can be used, though there are differences in
opinion on the efficacy, with some researchers claiming only 30 percent can be
helped; however, tic severity and frequency can be reduced. Studies of
risperidone in Tourette’s syndrome have shown that it is efficacious too.
I don’t know if this topic has been discussed before but I’m curious
to know if all foreigners marry bar girls? I was told this is true
according to other ex-pats and Thais. “This is especially true if there
is a big age difference who smokes, drinks, tattooed and ill mannered,”
as one ex-pat puts it. Is this true or are they blowing off hot air?
GH from UK
Dear GH from UK,
No, all foreigners do not marry bar girls, but as your expat source of
information put it so succinctly, older foreigners who do come under the
heading of “who smokes, drinks, tattooed and ill mannered” do marry
bar girls. The answer is fairly obvious. Who else wants these sorts of
people? Who else would put up with them? Only the bar girls - and it’s
at a price, Petal. At a price! Then these men have the brass neck to write
to Ms. Hillary and complain. And before I get a rash of complaints, not
all older men who smoke, drink and have tattoos are exactly as described
above. The important adjective is the “ill mannered” aspect. Those are
the people will write in and complain, won’t you all, my ill mannered
I would like to react on last week letter (22nd of January) mailed to you
by Mighty Mouse. For me it is unbelievable that Mighty Mouse is
complaining that much. If Mighty Mouse is not happy with the situation he
mentioned I would like to advice him to stay away from Partya (sic).
My suggestion is to move for Pyongyang so he will be sure he can walk one
straight line to his goals (besides a few military check points). People
move to Partya (sic) for a living or a vacation for some reason.
Some people start complaining or doing this all the time. Stop complaining
and concentrate for more important things in life. It will make you live
Gert from the Netherlands
Dear Gert from the Netherlands,
Thank you for your letter and trying so hard with the English language (it
is difficult tongue to manage, but you should have been able to spell
Pattaya, Petal). The little Mighty Mouse was not really being very
serious, and I think he wrote his letter after a wine and cheese party,
overindulging as little mice will do when the cat’s away! However, I
agree with you that everyone (and not just Mighty Mouse) should stop
complaining about their lot in life. There are more important (and
happier) things in life (especially when all choclatey and washed down
with champagne!). (Thank you again, my wonderful Man Looking for an Honest
Car Dealer, who left Hillary some Guylian chocs and a very nice bottle of
Thanks to your regular promotion of chocolates and champagne as being on
every girl’s wish list, I am currently fitting out a shop in preparation
for selling a great variety of the world’s best chocolates together with
a vast selection of French champagne.
My chocolates are hand made and comprise of dark and milk chocolate, some
filled with familiar tastes such as caramel and marzipan, and others with
all natural cordial cherries imported from Belgium. Other ingredients
include sweet, creamy, fresh butter, delicious whipping cream, pure cane
sugar, fresh roasted nuts, pure flavourings and the freshest fruit purees.
My champagne stock includes Kraemer Brut Cuvee Close, Grande Annee which
is aged for a minimum of five years, Bollinger and, of course, Dom
Perignon 1985 vintage.
Forget diamonds and pearls, no girl can resist these treats and she will
be putty in any man’s hands should he buy them for her. Perhaps your
luck will change Hillary, and you will become putty in Mistersingha’s
Dear Minnie Mouse,
It would need a crate of Vintage French champagne to turn Ms. Hillary into
putty in that wretched Mistersingha’s hands. A bottle of Bolly from
Mistersingha? A 20 year old bottle of Dom? You’ve got to be joking,
Petal. He can’t even come across with his promised bottle of Babycham,
not even 20 days old!
However, I do agree that your choccy and champers shop sounds absolutely
divine. Tell me where it is, and I’ll spend many hours window shopping.
Send me a free trial sample and I’ll even let you apply my personal
crest above the entrance, with “By Appointment to Ms. Hillary, the Queen
of Chocolates and Champagne.” Oh! I can taste the fizzy bubbles already,
my Petal. Don’t let me down, like that dreadful Mistersingha person!
By the way, have you thought of doing a champagne and cheese night with
your friend Mighty Mouse? Could be an interesting evening.
Bumped into Peasmold Gruntfuttock the other night in the Ganderpoke Bar.
There he was, with tethered nadgers and dinglingiron complaisant,
bemoaning the lack of Biggles impersonators in town. “Try Hillary,”
said Rambling Syd Rumpo, pulling up a bollard. “Loomers on her posset
and the best ‘Chocs away!’ in the business!”
You are starting to worry me. Are you hearing the voices again? Do you
feel you have been specially selected from on high to carry out a mission
for mankind? Start taking the tablets again, Petal. You really need them
Camera Class: Nueng, song, sam. Here comes the digital fuzzies!
by Harry Flashman
There seems to be a common misconception that digital photos
are always sharp, probably because most are viewed in the tiny LCD screen at the
rear of the camera. However, if you go and take your memory stick to the
photoshop to get ‘real’ prints made, you may be very disappointed with what
you get back. Unsharp, fuzzy photos.
The reason is simple. Poor technique. Any digital that offers
something over three megapixels, should be able to produce sharp prints. It is
not the camera’s fault. It is the photographer’s fault.
take any photograph, the camera must be held very still. For us human beings to
hold something still needs us to stabilize our arms, and this is done by bending
the elbows and tucking them in close to the body. The camera in many instances
is also actually stabilized by the forehead, so provided you can stand still (I
often lean against a lamp post or suchlike), the camera is held securely. This
is the best case scenario for cameras where you look through the viewfinder.
However, the new little digitals are a different story. The
fiddly little LCD viewing screen is looked at away from the face, so the arms
are no longer bent with the elbows braced. In fact, take a look at this week’s
photo and you will see that the photographer’s arms are stretched out. Try
standing like that holding an orange at arm’s length. See how quickly you will
get the shakes, trying to hold something unsupported.
What you have to do is to bend the elbows again, and try to
keep the camera as close as you can to the eye. You should be able to focus on
the screen at a distance of less than 300 mm, (or if you are older, use your
I have to also admit that I do not entirely blame the digital
photographer. Even though most have an optical viewfinder as well, it does not
generally show the exact area of coverage. In addition, the optical finder does
not usually look through the lens such as in an SLR camera, while the LCD image
has come through the lens.
Poor camera holding technique is not just seen with digitals,
I have to point out. With today’s Point and Shooters which are so small that
they practically fit in one hand, the tendency is to do just that - one handed
photography! Let me assure you that while one handed picture taking may look
sharp, the end result photograph won’t be.
How many times have you seen a photographer holding the
camera in one hand, raising the fingers on the other hand, as he says,
“ning-song-sam” (or even “one-two-three”)! The answer is many, many
times. And each one of the resulting photographs is not as sharp as it should
The simple fact of the matter is that to get sharp
photographs, the camera must be held still while the shutter is held open. Now,
in most daylight situations if the camera is set on “auto” it will select a
shutter speed of around 1/125th of a second, and while that sounds “fast” it
really isn’t. You will still get noticeable “softness” in the final print
if the hand holding the camera has allowed any movement.
The secret really is in the grip. And it is a two handed one.
You will not see any professional photographer taking shots with one hand free.
I also recommend that you take a short breath in and then hold it while gently
squeezing off the shutter. Many cameras will also have two “hand/finger”
impressions on either side of the camera body. They are not there for
decoration. Use them!
And for the digital people holding your camera away from
yourself, try looping the camera strap around your neck to tether the camera
just a little more firmly, and as already mentioned, try to keep the camera as
close to your eye as you can.
Life in the Laugh Lane:
by Scott Jones
The chicken is one of the few things you
can eat before it’s alive and after it’s dead. Fried egg. Fried leg.
There’s probably some live eating here in Asia but I don’t want to know
My first childhood memory of a live chicken was just before
its death. The farmer had begun preparing it for dinner with an axe. Henrietta
quietly ran around with her head cut off, careening into walls and her buddies.
Quite enthralling then, but rather morbid now, though it gives me insight into
the style of many motor bikers in Chiang Mai.
chicken for breakfast, anyone
USA chickens are normally pretty generic - bright white
body, flaming crimson head - like a red-haired American just arriving in
Thailand in February. My bungalow is surrounded by striking Thai chickens with
Rasta heads tarred in a multi-colored flurry of feathers – like the same
American gone native a few weeks later. They are members of my Natural Food
Disposal Corps composed of local dogs, cats, rats, mice, toads, geckos,
unidentified flying insects the size of bats, seven trillion ants, Gao the
horse, and my landlady’s 200-some birds, turkeys, ducks, geese with honks
louder than trucks, and two swans that try to kill each other mud-wrestling in
the river. Unfortunately their efficient disposal often includes any food left
for a few moments on the table in my outdoor kitchen. With that many creature
categories, it seems like they could just feed on each other.
The roosters are roving, vocally-proficient, time-challenged
alarm cocks. Every night I hear of the impending sunrise when they begin their
doodle-dooing several hours before the sun is near this side of the world. A
passing bike headlight can send them into a doodling frenzy which sets off our
neighbor’s cocks which sets off his neighbor’s cocks, and so on, all the
way to Bangkok. It’s not uncommon for one to be outside my bedroom window at
2 a.m., 1.5 meters from my ears. I expect to open my eyes and see it on the
bed, comb, head and beak resting on the pillow next to me. “Goodoodle
morning. The sunrise will be in four hours. Can I get you a fresh egg from one
of my ladies. (My next snooze alarm will be a hatchet and grilled,
semi-boneless breast for breakfast.)
I read about a “gun” developed by NASA to launch dead
chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle,
all traveling at maximum velocity, in order to simulate collisions with
airborne fowl and test the strength of the windshields. British engineers
tested it on a new high speed train. When the gun was fired, the chicken shot
through the shatterproof shield and control console, snapped the engineer’s
backrest in two and stuck in the back wall of the cabin. After reviewing the
disastrous results and experiment procedure, NASA’s response was just three
words: “Thaw the chicken.”
I want this machine so at 2 a.m. I can launch a few roosters into the next
village or through my landlady’s bedroom window.