Your Health & Happiness:
Is chocolate only for lovers?
Valentine’s Day is all about the heart, and
appreciating those we love… The good news is that one of the most
enjoyable gifts we share on Valentine’s Day is good for the heart in more
ways than one.
Each Valentine’s Day, many people give their loved
one’s chocolate as a symbol of love and appreciation because they know
that these gifts warm the hearts emotionally, and your cardiologist may tell
you that chocolate is also good for the physical heart.
chocolate fountain, not just for lovers!
But not just any chocolate will do. To get the
heart-healthy benefits, it needs to be deep, rich, dark chocolate. The
reason is that dark chocolate is chock-full of special flavonoids — called
epicatechins — that act as antioxidants and modulators of hormone-like
compounds in the body. These large, complex molecules are not commonly found
in other foods. That’s why some researchers believe that chocolate
provides even more health benefits than red wine or green tea.
Furthermore, dark chocolate contains a wonderful supply
of oleic acid, a fatty acid that promotes normal cholesterol levels. All
these things make chocolate a heart-healthy food (in moderation, of course).
The Darker the Better.
Chocolate has a light and dark side—literally. White
and milk chocolate, for example, have none of the benefits I just mentioned.
They’re just pure sugar and fat, or empty calories. What you need to look
for are high-quality semi-sweet or bittersweet bars or pure cocoa powder.
My favorites are undoubtedly premium Belgian chocolate
because these products have a high cocoa content, but their “strong
dark” bar with 70 percent cocoa provides the best balance between taste
and health benefits in my opinion. And their “rich dark” with 65 percent
cocoa is excellent too. With this type of rich, dark chocolate a little goes
a long way.
It’s no coincidence that on Valentine’s Day, we give
chocolates to the ones we love. Chocolate, especially when given with an
open heart, can help confer some of the immense benefits that only love
brings to our lives.
Remember to sample free Belgian chocolates in a real chocolate fountain
during the Chiangmai Classics Concerts which will be held on February 25 and
March 12, 2005 at the Kad Suan Kaew theatre.
The Doctor's Consultation: Why western doctors don’t want to do house calls any more
by Dr. Iain Corness
Part of the job of being a GP is to service the patients in
their homes. While GP’s would prefer the patients to come to the clinics,
there are times when the patient is just too sick to come, or too old or
infirm. House calls (or ‘hotel’ calls) will always be necessary. However,
house calls are probably the most dangerous part of being a medico.
In Australia, one of the authoritative medical publications
has just run a survey to see how dangerous home visits can be. 21 percent of
GPs said they or their staff have to deal with violent patients every week.
One GP in 12 has been physically attacked, and 14 percent have been directly
threatened with physical violence.
The usual causes for the aggression towards the doctors
include refusal to prescribe a requested drug (mentioned by 68 percent of
doctors), the patient being affected by drugs or alcohol (53 percent) and long
waiting times (51 percent).
So is Australia the haven for drunken, drug addicted
patients with a short fuse? The answer is not totally, but this problem is the
same all over the western world. I can remember 35 years ago having to do a
weekly house call to a very disturbed individual in the UK. This person,
according to local knowledge, had murdered the previous doctor I was standing
in for, but the police did not have enough evidence. I used to wave my
stethoscope around the door while calling out “It’s the doctor,” while
being ready to run!
The article mentioned a Sydney GP who had been chased by a
machete wielding patient. Frightening, but undoubtedly true. Once again, I
have had my fair share of these undeserving patients. One Xmas Day I was
called to a local factory, where a patient, sporting a machete, was walking
around threatening to kill the plant manager. Rather than call the police,
they called me, because he was my patient! I managed to settle the chap, get
his machete, and then called the police!
From the patient’s point of view, there are many problems
too. If the sick person has no regular GP, he or she may find that most GP’s
will refuse to come. From the doctor’s point of view, it is enough of a risk
with the ‘regular’ patients, but to go to places you don’t know to see
people you don’t know is certainly putting your head in the lion’s mouth.
What has happened is that the GP’s would rather contract
another doctor, or group of doctors, to do these dangerous house calls for
them. This makes sense in many ways. The doctor you get at 3 a.m. has been
asleep all day and is (reasonably) alert, while your own GP, who has been
seeing patients all day is (certainly) not at his best.
Many doctors team up with others in the practice, or
neighborhood, to do the house calls on a rotational basis. This was how my
practice handled the after hours work, but each year the after hours duties
became more dangerous.
As the problems began to escalate, I began to take my
(then) medical student son with me on house calls. The fact that he was
6’6" tall was definitely comforting. He enjoyed the additional medical
experience he was receiving and being with his father, and when we were asked
to make a house call to the local house of ill repute, he learned some other
lessons about ‘life’ as well.
House calls can sometimes be fun too!
I’m now thinking I’m going to quit my job in Japan and start running a
go-go bar in Pattaya. But, the problem is that I don’t know how to hire
good-looking girl there. The girl in the page of August 2005 in the
calender (sic) of Super-baby a go-go is my favorite. How can I meet her?
I think the first step would be to write to the Immigration Police in
Pattaya and let them know of your intending business venture, and they
will help you with the currency exchange and paperwork and put you in
touch with the right person in the Labor Department in Chonburi. After
that, you should hire a reputable Private Investigator to find the August
2005 calendar girl, as she may already be in Japan working as a waitress,
or similar position, and may not wish to return to the chrome pole
paradise of Pattaya. It would be such a shame to spend all that money on
air fares, just for nothing. What are you going to call your go-go bar,
Petal? Nippon or Nip Off a-go-go? Pattaya is waiting with bated breath. If
there’s one business that Pattaya is really short of, it’s a go-go
My girlfriend is a closet exhibitionist and I was wondering if there would
be any problems if we came to Thailand and did a little photography
session? We would use a raincoat and then get our pictures and run. Any
ideas where we should go, Hillary?
The Kinky Closet Couple
Dear Kinky Closet Couple,
I am not sure I totally understand you. Just what is it that you are doing
in this closet? Are you going to be bringing the closet over with you, or
do you think you can pick one up here? Won’t it be dark inside the
closet, and maybe even a little hot and sweaty in a raincoat? It gets very
hot over here, even in the evenings. Where should you run to, Petals? I
really don’t know. Legging it is an Olympic sport in Thailand, but
generally after road accidents. I haven’t heard of closet leggers, so I
really can’t advise you, I’m afraid.
Why do you continue to print letters from the Mistersingha person? He’s
not really looking for advice, he just wants to see his name in print I
reckon, and half of the stuff he writes in is nonsense. I reckon he makes
everything up, as well as his stupid name.
There have been times, Petal, many times, that I have considered slashing
the editorial red pen right through the middle of it all, but then I have
to think that if he continues writing in, I must be filling some sort of
deep down psychological need. And that is what is needed of a confidential
counselor like myself. That is why so many of my clients use pseudonyms
(that’s a big word for ‘pen name’ Mistersingha), so that they can
receive the advice publicly, without having to reveal themselves in
public. In Mistersingha’s case, it also means he gets free advice, that
otherwise he would have to pay for. I am sure he is strapped for cash, the
poor lad. The reason he never sends the promised champagne and chocolates
is that he can’t afford to buy them. In some ways he’s just like me. I
can’t afford to buy them either!
I have been going out with a wonderful Thai girl, a proper young
“lady” not a bar girl, and we have become quite serious and I am now
looking into the future. Everything seemed to be going along very well,
although we did have some problems, just caused by communication problems
(as I can’t speak Thai). The other night she dropped the bombshell.
“My mother tell me I must marry Thai man.” Just like that! Hillary, is
this a common thing in Thai families? Does her mother have that much power
that she can dictate what her daughter does, and even the choice of
husband for her? Surely in this 21st century Thai girls are not stuck with
arranged marriages, and if they are, what can a farang do in this
Does her mother have that sort of authority? In a traditional Thai family
she certainly does. It may be the 21st century for you, Dave, but in
Thailand it is the 26th century and despite the extra 500 years, the
traditional ways are still very strong. Thai people believe in the need
for family members to look after each other and her mother is merely
looking after her daughter in the traditional way. You are from an alien
culture, Petal, and even if your Thai lady is well versed in the ways of
the modern international world, the traditional values will still be held
by the family. Have you stopped to consider that perhaps the Thai man may
have already paid a dowry to the family? In the case of a well educated
girl this could go as high as two million baht. What can you do? You can
either keep in there and hope, or call it quits now before you get in too
deep. However, you should sit down with your girl and discuss it first.
Camera Class: Shadow shows shape!
by Harry Flashman
Coming out of the shadows is important in photography,
however, there is a tendency for many photographers to try and eliminate shadows
from their photos entirely. They do this by turning their photographic subjects
so they directly face the sun, or turn on their on-camera flash if the sun is
not blazing down as the celestial light super source. Unfortunately, this is
Undoubtedly the subject will now be well lit, but you have
also removed shape and form from the photograph. You see, the way to convey
shape is by showing the shadow the object casts. No shadow and it looks flat.
Incorporate shadow and “Hey Presto!” you have invented 3D.
Shadow has another benefit - it gives an air of mystery to
any picture. Dark shadows allow the viewer to imagine what is being hidden. Your
photograph “hints” at something and the viewer’s mind does the rest from
Here is an exercise for this weekend. Let’s put some
shadows into your photographs. Let’s do a portrait to incorporate shadow. And
let’s do this indoors and without flash guns or any fancy equipment, and get a
‘professional’ look to the final print.
Find the largest window in your house or condominium and put
a chair about one metre away from it. The chair should be parallel to the
window, not facing it.
Place your sitter in the chair and position another chair
facing the sitter. This one is yours, as you will take the photo sitting down.
Reason? This way you keep the camera at the same level as your subject’s face
and you will get a more pleasing portrait. If you photograph from a position
below the subject you tend to give them “piggy” nostrils and it shortens the
look of the nose. In a country where ‘big noses’ are considered desirable,
this is not the effect wanted.
Now, make sure that your auto flash is turned off. This is
important with point and shooters that can fire off as soon as light levels are
lower than usual. Look through the viewfinder and position yourself so that the
sitters face is almost filling the frame. Notice that the side of the face away
from the window light source is now in shadow. If you have the ability to meter
from the lit side of the face, then do so. But if not, just blast off a couple
of frames on auto and let the camera do the worrying.
Now here is a super trick to do if you have an SLR. Turn the
film speed dial from the ASA of the film you are using to the next highest film
speed. For example, if you are shooting 100 ASA go to 200 ASA. If you have used
200 ASA then bump it up to 400 ASA. What you are doing is effectively reducing
the amount of light falling on to the film by 50 percent. This way you should
“fool” the camera’s meter and make sure you get some good shadows.
You should also slightly angle the sitters chair so that one
shoulder is closer to the camera and get the subject to turn their head to face
the camera again. Try angling in both directions so you will get a choice of
Another variation to try is to place a thin voile net over
the window, or draw any transparent curtains. This will soften the light and is
particularly effective when taking shots of women. Again go through the
variations, including the change of ASA rate.
For a portrait study such as this it is worth using a
complete roll of film. Remember that you are not doing 36 identical shots - you
are making variations in pose, lighting and exposure. There are also facial
expressions to change - laughing, smiling, serious or sad. It is very easy to
end up with 36 different shots.
By the time you add up the costs of film and processing you
will have spent around 400 baht. That is a very cheap “professional”
portrait! Try it.
Life in the Laugh Lane: Election Daze
by Scott Jones
I majored in Political Science. “Thanks,
Mom and Dad, for spending my inheritance on college but there were no ads in
the classified section stating ‘Political Scientist Needed’ so I decided to
be a comedian.” Similar professions. We crave the media, wear funny hats
while shaking hands with folks we’ve just met as if they’ve been our
lifelong friends, and tell both true and fabricated stories so the public never
knows which is which.
POLITICIANS is officially the acronym for People Of Low
Intelligence Talking In Circles, Improbabilities And Non Sequiturs. Difference?
When comedians have a successful evening they say, “We killed ‘em!”
Politicians actually do it.
As I write this column, it’s Sunday the 6th,
Election Day. I can’t vote. I don’t care who wins. I can’t read Thai but
it’s been fun to look at the pictures. I’m glad the election frenzy will
soon be over. I prefer Thailand when I can see lovely trees, lampposts and
buildings rather than a million stern faces looking back at me.
Not understanding the names or slogans on the posters, I had
to guess the candidates’ personalities and professions solely by their
photos. Bangkok’s were definitely more diverse. There were a couple of young
airline stewardesses or UPS delivery girls, one woman who had just awakened
from a frontal lobotomy procedure, a person halfway through a sex change
operation but he (or she) is not sure where she (or he) started or where he,
she or it is going, a deceased man with make-up done by a mortician, one
severely-smiling dude with way too many gums showing, and several hundred
friends of the Prime Minister, standing straight and motionless next to him,
dressed in multi-colored uniforms, hand-made from cement.
My personal Political Creativity and Truth in Advertising
Award goes to Mr. Whoever in the three posters shown here. What is a politician
without his mouth? This one puts his mouth right where his money is. Did he
come campaigning and complaining at your house? Did you crack the door to see a
snarl? Mouth Poster 1, “Vote for me or else.” Mouth Poster 2, “What do
you mean you’re not voting for me?” The Punchline Poster 3 when you opened
the door or he and his friends opened it for you, “Meet the head of my
campaign. He has a very hard head. How’s yours?” Someone told me he’s the
brother of a large massage concern. You’ll never forget this man’s massage,
no matter how hard you try.
It’s just like being in America. When I left my home state
of Minnesota, the governor was professional wrestler Jesse “The Body”
Ventura. Popular slogan, “My governor can beat up your governor.”