Your Health & Happiness: Alternative therapies offer relief to people living with HIV/AIDS
The air filling the training room was heavy with the
scent of camphor and kaffir limes. Suchitra knelt down on the floor mats to
demonstrate how the pungent mixture of roots and herbs could be wrapped
tightly in muslin cloth to form a herbal compress, or ‘louk pra kop’.
“The compress can be used after massage to alleviate aches and bodily
pain. Some of the herbs contained in the compress are also very good for
treating skin conditions, often suffered by people living with HIV/AIDS.”
Suchitra, who works as a therapist at Chiang Mai Drug
Dependence Treatment Centre, was joined at this month’s NGO forum by her
colleague Sittichai Piyanarinmat to demonstrate the therapeutic value of
traditional northern Thai herbal medicine and massage.
Massage and herbal medicine are just two of the many
forms of alternative therapy that many people living with HIV/AIDS (PWHA)
are using to help alleviate the symptoms caused by opportunist infections
and attempt to boost their immune systems.
Having chopped and pounded the herbs in advance Sittichai
showed the participants how to mix together the ingredients of the ‘louk
pra kop’, which included kaffir lime, lemon grass, turmeric, tamarind
leaves, camphor and salt. With our squares of cloth and lengths of string we
bound together our own herbal compresses forming large aromatic bulbs. These
were than placed in a steamer to heat before being applied to the body.
Once the compress was ready Suchitra retrieved it from
the steamer and demonstrated how the hot fragrant ‘louk pra kop’ could
be applied to aching muscles and joints. The sensation of the heat and the
aroma of the herbs were certainly very relaxing.
Two of the participants were keen to point out the
psychological value of these therapies. Prasert Dechaboon emphasized that
“to increase the strength of the immune system your environment and mental
condition are vital. Traditional medicine is very important in helping PWHA
lead a balanced and meaningful life.”
Further addressing the psychological well being of PWHA
the third speaker, Inlaeng Vongsouvahn gave us a short demonstration of
Buddhist meditation. Formerly a monk, Inlaeng has many years experience
teaching insight meditation and has worked with PWHA on the Sangha Metta
Inlaeng stressed that religion is not an important part
of meditation but that it should be seen as a form of mental development.
Talking us through both sitting and walking meditation, Inlaeng asked us to
focus on our breathing. He advised us to bring our thoughts back to the rise
and fall of the abdomen, should they begin to wander.
Having brought a state of calm contemplation to the room
Inlaeng explained the specific benefits of meditation to PWHA. “People
often suffer extreme mental stress when they first become aware of their
condition. Meditation can help them to come to terms with this. The body and
mind are inseparable. If our mind is healthy we can achieve physical health.
Insight meditation helps to nurture the mind and therefore our physical
This, it seems, is at the heart of what alternative therapies can offer
to PWHA; a combination of nurturing the body and mind in order to achieve a
balanced and healthy way of living. Surely this is something we all could do
with. The NGO forum takes place on the last Tuesday of every month. For more
information please contact Owen Elias at Health and Development Networks,
O53 418 438 or [email protected]
The Doctor's Consultation: Move over Atkins, here comes Corness!
by Dr. Iain Corness
I hear much from fat people about their “bad
metabolism” and how lucky thin people are to have a “good metabolism”.
Other than in a few spectacularly rare endocrine diseases, “bad
metabolism” is not to blame for the shapes of 99.999 percent of fat people.
However, human metabolism is involved in the fat cycle,
which is the same for all of us. Understand the following equation and you
have now become your own personal dietician:
“Input exactly equals Output, plus or minus what goes
Read it again:
“Input exactly equals Output, plus or minus what goes
It means that the energy source (food and drink) equals the
energy output (physical and mental effort), plus or minus what is stored (or
removed) from your body as fat. This equation is independent of whatever you
call the energy, be that kilojoules or calories or sugarlumps.
In simple terms, if the Input and Output are the same -
then your weight stays the same. If the Input is greater than the Output, you
have an excess that goes into store and you put on weight. If the Input is
less than the Output, then you are in a deficit, the body makes up the energy
levels it needs by burning up fat from the store, so you lose weight.
Honestly, it is that simple.
So here we go, if you really want to lose weight (and you
must do or you would have already gone to the next page), I present the well
tried, proven and effective diet that I have modestly called the Dr. Corness
75 percent diet. (Others do this for their diets, why shouldn’t I do it for
mine?) This diet is guaranteed. It will get the weight off, and keep it off
and you do not have to count one calorie or kilojoule or sugarlump. If by
following this diet you have not lost weight after four weeks, write to me and
I will write back and tell you that you are a liar. Guaranteed!
This diet works by decreasing your input by 25 percent. In
other words you can have 75 percent of what you would normally eat and drink
every day. If you have four cream buns a day, you can have three! If you eat a
pound of beef every night, you can have three quarters of a pound. That’s
right, you don’t need to deny yourself anything! However, you do need to be
honest with yourself.
Write down everything you eat for a week, work out the real
75 percents and then stick to it. By decreasing the input by 25 percent, you
make the Input less than the Output, so the body needs to drag the deficit out
of the store, which is the fat that is deposited under the skin and around all
Of course, if you want to really ensure there is a deficit,
you can always increase the Output at the same time. A daily walk that you
didn’t do before, walking to someone’s office in your building, rather
than lifting the telephone, also uses up energy. Use the stairs, rather than
The only downside to this diet is that you will not see
instant results, and you will feel hungry for a few days. The reason for this
is that the storage fat has to change into ‘energy’ fat before it can make
up the deficit, and this takes two weeks. Your body will not chemically do
this either, until you are in the deficit situation. Happy slimming!
Dear old Pater has decided to pay myself and the adorable wee Malteser
queens (Nit and Ying) a visit and is hoping to indulge in some amenable
recreations. Pater has always shown a dedicated interest in pheasant
plucking and wonders if gamebirds are available locally.
Again you pointedly ignore the fact that you have not come across with the
promised goodies to my goodself. (For any new readers, this Mistersingha
person promised buckets of chocolates and oceans of champagne for my
services a couple of years back. I am still a lady in waiting.) Why should
I do anything for you at this juncture. As the old Indian proverb goes,
“He who cheats me once - shame on him. He who cheats me twice - shame on
me.” As far as your father is concerned and his penchant for gamebirds,
he will have no problems as long as his shooter has a silver inlaid
I would like to publicise an experience I had recently, in the hope that
is will serve as a warning to all farangs like myself who live in this
country and are accustomed to enjoying the pleasures it offers. This is
one of the dangers it offers.
I would like to explain that as an English teacher, I was well aware of
those students who were studious and bright yet could not progress to
further education since their family background was poor. I often wished
there could have been some miracle to allow these students to follow those
from more fortunate backgrounds.
Earlier this month I was returning to my condo when I noticed a young girl
waiting in the corridor. I began talking to her and she explained that she
had come to see a farang but as he had not turned up, she had a problem. I
suggested she come into my room to discuss her problem. Although young,
she struck me as well brought up and politely spoken. It transpired that
she was a student at Ramkhamhaeng University. The problem was that this
farang was due to give her some money. Her sister had paid 1,500 baht to
the university as her fees outstanding for last term and she needed a
further 3,000 baht in fees due for the coming term. She had to send 4,500
baht to her sister as soon as possible. She gave me her sister’s phone
number and said she would be able to repay me on the 20th of the month
when her sister got her salary. I was sure that this girl needed to
continue her university education. I was also impressed that she did not
want to take money without assuring me that it would be repaid. She
thanked me politely and left.
A few days later, the same young girl came again. This time she informed
me that she had lost her ID card. “The fine for lost ID card is 3,500
baht. I will pay you back, of course,” she said.
Another day or two passes and on the morning of the 19th she knocks at my
door again. “Hello, you are early!” I remark naively. She does not
reply but marches straight into the room and sits on the sofa. “By the
way, I have to tell you something, I want 3,000 baht, now.” When I
replied in the negative she said, “You pay me 3,000 baht. You pay now.
You not pay, you big problem. I know policeman - not ordinary policeman -
big policeman. You not pay, he take you. He put you in monkey house!”
Not having the presence of mind either to ask for her ID card or take a
photo of her, I escort her from my room. I then went to seek the wisdom of
a Thai friend who said, “Get out. Go to Bangkok for three weeks. You
must not be there when they come and open the door to them.”
She tells me that in Thailand some people are very dangerous, just like in
other countries. I could be hand-cuffed and led away or I could be beaten
senseless by a couple of heavies.
To you my fellow papas, if you see a young girl, however, innocent,
polite, cleanly turned out, she may appear to be, avoid her like the
plague. Remember, she has been PLANTED there by an army of highly
unpleasant and corrupt people! This is a game little girls play in
Dear Jomtien Hotpapa,
There was too much in your letter to publish in its entirety, but you do
highlight the dangers of being too trusting, not just in Thailand, I must
add. Would you invite young girls to your room in your own country, and
then lend them money? “Nice” young university students do not hang
around condominium buildings waiting for foreigners to seek “loans”,
now do they? It has been pointed out many times in this column that if you
want to give money to sweet young things, then consider it a donation. It
never is a ‘loan’. While I sympathize with you in many ways, you did
leave yourself open to being taken advantage of. As you correctly point
out, “(it is a) warning to all farangs like myself who live in this
country and are accustomed to enjoying the pleasures it offers.”
There’s no gain without pain, my Petal.
Camera Class: Cameras for the seniors
by Harry Flashman
is a great tendency for families (and individuals) to write off granny or
granddad just because they have reached the age of retiral. This is very wrong,
as many of our senior citizens need something to keep them stimulated, to stop
them growing old too soon. Photography is an ideal pastime for our seniors, as
it is something that can be picked up and put down at will, it is not too
physically demanding, and modern cameras can assist in some areas where age has
taken some toll. And the end result is something that can give them great joy,
be that award winning sunsets or just pictures of the grandchildren.
So what camera should granny get? The first pre-requisite is
autofocus (AF). There are many reasons for this, but since sharp focus is
necessary for a good final print, why not let the camera do it for you, when
sharpness in vision is something that becomes very problematical as you get
older. Since most people need reading glasses by the time they are 45, and at
least half the population has mild cataracts by the time they are 60, AF is the
way to go! Provided you can point the camera in the right direction, the camera
will do the rest.
Actually there are two types of camera which can do this.
They are called Auto Focus (AF) or Fixed Focus. The AF ones are the more
expensive, and work by moving the lens in and out electronically to focus on the
subject in the middle of the viewfinder, just as if you were doing it yourself.
They do this quickly and accurately and will even give an audible ‘beep’ to
let you know the focus has been set.
The Fixed Focus types are generally satisfactory for all but
close-up shots. They rely on the lens design to keep the entire picture in
focus. Their zone of sharpness extends from about two meters away to infinity;
however, do not be afraid to try the new advanced cameras, they make life
easier, just use them to your advantage.
Another problem often associated with aging is stiffening of
the fingers. Today’s cameras take care of this as well. Technology has
developed the easy load system for you. Just drop the film cassette into the
camera, pull the film across about five centimetres and close the camera back.
The camera will automatically wind the film on and stop ready at frame number 1.
It will indicate if the take up is not successful, and will not operate until
the film is in correctly. Nothing could be simpler or more fool proof.
Remember those dreadful fiddly pull up handles to rewind the
film? The tiny button under the camera you had to push at the same time? Try
using those with arthritic fingers. Now you don’t have to, with Auto Rewind as
well. When the last shot has been taken, the film automatically rewinds itself
into the cassette.
Zoom lenses save you having to go the distance. Is it just
too much of a hassle these days to walk up to distant objects to get close-up
details? Then a zoom lens will do it for you. With a zoom lens it is no problem
at all to get a close-up, a wide angle and a distant shot from the same camera
position. Maybe an autofocus compact camera with an inbuilt zoom lens is just
the camera for you. Just push a button to make the zoom bring the subject closer
or farther away.
Today’s camera manufacturers have taken the tears out of
flash too. Most new cameras have their own in-built flash which comes on when
the light levels are too low, will set their own flash power and give you
perfectly lit indoor night shots every time.
So there you have it, Grey Power. There are cameras available now which can
get you into photography! If you once had the ‘photographic eye’, then that
ability is still there. All you have to do is get the equipment to let you use
and enjoy it again. Look for suitable AF compacts with built in zoom, auto load
and auto flash.
Dogs - Man’s best friend: Dachshunds –
Breed group nr. 4
As the title indicates, this group consists purely of
Dachshunds. Germany, the country of origin, recognizes nine different breeds
in three forms, the Standard Dwarf and Miniature, and three varieties,
namely smooth-haired, long-haired and rough-haired. Due to their utilitarian
role as Germany’s most effective earth dogs, many Kennel Clubs have these
breeds aptly classified with the other earth dogs—the terrier group. The
FCI, however, classifies the Dachshunds as a separate group and knows only
two forms; the Standard and the Miniature. To which form a Dachshund belongs
is determined by the circumference of the chest.
Similar to many terrier breeds the Dachshund was bred for
hunting below ground. The standard version specialized in flushing badgers
(Dachshund in German means badger in English) from their burrows and foxes
from their dens. The Dwarf was used for hunting weasels and polecats and,
later, the miniature was bred for hunting rabbits.
All Dachshunds are of hound origin, with the rough-haired
originating through cross-breeding with the rough-haired German Pinscher and
the Schnauzer. For the long-haired ones they used the Setter and the Cocker
Spaniel. This resulted in quite some character differences between the
breeds. Nevertheless, in general, the following applies to this group: due
to its original task, the Dachshund is pretty independent, very active and
has great perseverance. As a result, the Dachshund needs lots of exercise
and mental stimulation. The group is known for its self-will, which
doesn’t imply it can’t learn anything. Indeed it learns easily and
However, when proper training is lacking, these dogs,
once loose, may follow their nose rather than their owner. In order to train
this breed to obey its owner, the owner needs to find out what motivates it
best. Not always an easy task.
A well-trained and socialized Dachshund is a friendly and
cheerful dog. Most are not too fond of children unless they have grown up
with them from puppy-hood on. Also, when properly socialized, most act
neutral towards other dogs, although there may be some that will test their
strength, especially when they are challenged.
Most Dachshunds will defend their territory
enthusiastically by loud barking. When this dog has learned to be alone it
can be so perfectly for a while. But if not, it may show its anxiety by
soiling, destruction or excessive barking.
Unfortunately, sometimes due to improper breeding and/or
lack of socialization, these breeds can show undesired behavior such as
being too confident, fearfulness, shyness or nervousness, resulting in
growling or, worse, biting. And due to their original task, the Dachshund
has a natural tendency to bark a lot. Today most Dachshunds are kept as
family pets, though in Germany they’re still used in their old role.
To be continued …
For more information on general dog-issues, boarding,
training or behavior modification please contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78 146 or
Money Matters: Financial Market
MBMG International Ltd.
We’ve already seen that the need for current account
adjustment has applied upwards pressure on interest rates (and possibly
already some minor consequent decline in stock prices) to prevent the
stimulus from net exports from pushing GDP much above potential. This is
taking place against a backdrop of softening domestic investment and
consumption. Admittedly, it is possible for that to take place in an orderly
fashion. Increases in interest rates and a weakening of domestic spending
have not always implied a disorderly correction. That’s essentially what
the Fed research manages to establish even with their various inappropriate
historic comparisons. What it doesn’t address is how the frothy US asset
bubble can avoid declines in asset prices of a magnitude that would do
something rather worse than merely stabilizing GDP. Even the researchers
agree that there is a level of reduction in US asset values that would
result in significant economic contraction.
What they also fail to take into account is the
possibility of an economic slowdown and/or asset price contraction as a
catalyst for further currency falls which then creates a vicious spiral of
further slowdown and further disinvestment and asset value falls. In other
words, there is more than one potential cause under which the disorderly
correction scenario is plausible, but the researchers tend to limit their
focus to a very narrow view of causality.
Any analysis of cause and effect needs to look at the
impact of the economy on the currency as well as vice versa. We don’t
dispute the historical data that a run on the Greenback by itself is not
sufficient to cause markets to become “disorderly” in that technical
sense of the word - the dollar declines in the mid-1980s and since 2002 have
not been associated with any discernable degree of market malfunction. We
do, however, dispute the implied contention that this means that there is a
historic precedent to assume that this will be how the current deficit is
worked out. The dissimilarity of the historic comparisons does not offer any
comfort that the present deficit can correct without problems.
One example is that complete absence of any critical
comparison of stock prices, in terms of p/e ratios or any other historic
basis of stock price evaluation. Actually we have a problem in relying on
simple p/e ratios as a guide to realistic stock values – stocks are a
claim to a future stream of free cash flows, i.e. the cash that can
actually be delivered to shareholders over time after all other obligations
have been satisfied, including the provision for future growth.
Price/earnings ratios based on operating earnings are
inherently misleading, since that “earnings” figure does not deduct
interest owed to bondholders nor taxes owed to the government. The
price/operating earnings ratio therefore makes high debt companies look
Since the debt burden of U.S. corporations has increased
substantially in recent years, this also means that current price/operating
earnings ratios are not comparable to historical ones. However, a properly
critical analysis such as this should, at the very least, pay lip service by
comparing the relative levels of stocks at the onset of current account
If critically adjusted stock levels are below, at or
close to historic norms, there should be no expectation that their
performance will be comparable to that of markets where indices are, on an
adjusted basis, stratospheric.
In terms of P/E ratios, it’s important for the “E”
chosen by an investor to have a reasonably stable relationship to what
matters, which is the long-term stream of free cash flows. The long-term
earnings growth for the S&P 500 has been 6% annually.
This is true regardless of whether one looks back 10, 20,
50 or 100 years. Given that the average historical price/peak earnings ratio
for the S&P 500 is 14 - with the bulk of that history represented by
periods of lower inflation and lower interest rates than currently exist -
and that the median ratio is 11, it is fairly simple to combine this
information to produce adjusted long-term expectations for stock returns
and, importantly for a critical evaluation such as this, to formulate
meaningfully adjusted relative valuation assumptions.
The situation that we now face is 2005’s situation
where the twin deficits look increasingly unmanageable in the context of an
enormously leveraged economy, in which that leverage has sustained
unprecedented increases in asset prices. This taints the whole analysis with
a fatal flaw.
The second fatal flaw in the research is the stated
opinion of the researchers of a reduced likelihood of US asset disposals
following a currency fall “in a world of rational expectations, such a
scenario would be unlikely: as the dollar declined, investors would judge
that the dollar had less far to go to reach its equilibrium value, and this
decline in expectations of depreciation would buoy stock and bond prices.”
Have these people never lived through a crash? The more
stocks fell in 1987, the keener investors were to sell. For some investors
this is a rational decision based on increasing uncertainty changing the
investment landscape, for others it may well be a matter of no choice if
they are leveraged or their financial positions are suddenly changed in a
contracting economy. For many, periods of uncertainty breed fear and lead to
irrational selling even beyond the point where fair value has been passed.
The researchers’ idea that further currency falls and a
slowing economy could each take place independent of U.S. stock and bond
markets is highly unlikely. We fail to see how the appetites of both foreign
and domestic investors would not be reduced voluntarily or as a matter of
compulsion, deliberately and irrationally in such a situation. This is how
The third weakness stems from the failure to recognise
one of the most significant differences in the present situation when they
are working through the process of how historic corrections have occurred.
The issue about the current account deficit is that when it has to be paid,
the contractionary pressures on the economy as a whole increase as more and
more GDP goes to service the debt burden and less gets spent or growth.
Next week, part 3…
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 No-Joking Zone (Part
2 of 2)
by Scott Jones
(Read the start of this story in last week’s issue,
online at http://www.chiangmai-mail.com/129/columns .shtml#hd13. Basically I
told airline security there was an exploding scarf in my bag and the place went
bonkers. The Bomb Squad frantically deposited my luggage on an unused runway
and ran away.)
From a safe distance, we watched my bags not blow up for
about a half hour. (You can’t imagine how many things I didn’t say.) Then
the very brave and bold Mr. Bomb in his chartreuse jumpsuit that was perfectly
color coordinated with his truck took me out to examine my luggage. We
approached the trailer cautiously. He looked on from some distance as I sifted
through the contents. (I wanted to warn him about the bazooka shaped like a
toothbrush in my shaving kit, but ...) Everyone seemed rather disappointed when
nothing exploded. All the potential heroes went back to their respective
paper-shuffling positions and glared at me resentfully as I was led out of the
Detective drove me to the police station to meet Mr. FBI who informed me I was
facing a felony charge with $1000 bail for a Bomb Threat. At that point, I lost
several years of my life and messed up a nice pair of designer jeans. So far no
one had even mentioned I was under arrest. Cardiac arrest now seemed imminent.
Luckily, it was just his duty to shock me first and then reduce the charge to
disorderly conduct. I was relieved but somewhat satisfied ... this experience
was worth the fine.
A burly patrolman, the Incredible Hulk’s twin brother,
took my mug shots. (I wanted to ask him if his neck had always been larger than
his head, if he jogged on those arms, and if he had posed for the picture next
to the definition of “the missing link” in my anthropology book, but I
didn’t.) He instructed me to roll up my sleeves for the fingerprinting. The
rolling exposed a severe case of poison ivy welts on my forearms. Mr. Hulk
recoiled in horror and yelled out the doorway, “Sarge, he’s got some
disease all over his arms!” (Translation: “Mom, I’m scared.”) Mr.
Sergeant consoled him and told him not to touch my arms. He nervously picked up
each finger by the very tip, inked it clumsily and tried to press it on the
paper ... an untidy task since ten massive links of salami were doing service
as fingers on his huge hulk hands. All of our fingers and hands were blackened
in the process. My prints were a cross between a Rorschach Test and
Thirty dollars poorer but a free man again, I returned to the scene of the
crime. Mr. Manager and the Uniforms stared stone-faced as I exchanged my old
ticket for a new one and headed for the gate. I was in internal hysterics, but
kept very, very quiet as Mrs. Blue Hair checked my dangerous bag once again.
All watched intently, hoping I might explode. Six hours late, I was greeted by
my father and friends who’d made a party of the occasion in the airport
lounge. He put his arm around me and dramatically announced: “Some fathers
can say, ‘My son ... the lawyer.’ Some get to say, ‘My son ... the
doctor.’ I’m proud to introduce my disorderly son ... the comedian.”