Your Health & Happiness: AIDS control amongst hill tribes
The Planned Parenthood Association has run an "AIDS
prevention" project for the past six months, checking blood and giving
advice to hill tribes. Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Akha and Tai tribes have been
checked at 11 tambons in 7 districts, Chiang Dao, Fang, Mae Ai, Mae Wang, Hang
Dong, Samoeng and Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai. 220 married couples and 265 tribesmen
were checked. Seven infected persons were found.
Srimongkol, director of northern AIDS prevention project, Planned Parenthood
Association of Thailand.
Tassanee Srimongkol, director of Planned Parenthood
Association of Thailand’s northern AIDS prevention project, said that the
association has realized the importance of teaching northern hill tribes about
HIV and AIDS since 1988.
They’ve found that most hill tribes people do not
understand much about AIDS and still maintain some risky practices; therefore
the association has concentrated on these people who live far from other
communities - to improve their lives and reduce the risk.
Members of the association have been cooperating with the
Public Health Office, Royal Project Foundation, districts and tambon and TAO
Health Centers, and the Hmong Association. So far, it has proven to be a
successful project and a model of cooperation between government and private
"Many people don’t accept blood testing because they
are afraid the information will be disclosed. Young people are seldom found in
the villages although they might be the at-risk group. However, the association
will continue to survey and research the disease in hill tribes," she
The association discovered that Hmong women and Karen men preferred
sterilizations, while Karen women prefer birth control by injection and young
people by using condoms and oral contraceptive pills.
The Doctor's Consultation: What kind of test
do you want?
by Dr. Iain Corness
I once saw an advertisement for a going business for sale.
It was for a health food shop and the reason for sale was illness of the
owner! That is not the only reason why I am slightly skeptical of ‘over the
counter’ health food supplements, but another reason is the fact that some
‘health supplements’ can affect blood tests. Of course the patient does
not tell the doctor that these things are being taken, because they are ‘health’
additives, which most people seem to think means "natural". They are
no more "natural" than aspirin, which came from the bark of willow
trees, if I remember correctly, or digitalis which came from the foxglove
flower. Both are potent chemicals, and can affect blood test results.
One of the common questions that doctors get asked, after a
patient has had a blood test, is "What was my blood group?" or even,
"What was my AIDS result?" It may come as a surprise, but neither
blood groups or HIV testing are ‘routine’ examinations.
The tests we order are designed to assist us to work out
the "Definitive" diagnosis from the initial or
"provisional" diagnoses. Unhappily for the doctor and the patient,
this can sometimes be a complex and expensive detective story.
Take someone who presents with unexplained bleeding.
Haemophilia? Sure, it might be - Factor VIII, Factor XI, Factor XII or even
Factor XIII. Unfortunately the cause might also be from metastatic carcinoma,
drug ingestion, poisons, kidney failure, systemic lupus erythematosis, von
Willebrand’s disease or even something called the Bernard Soulier Syndrome,
about which I could write all I know on the back of a matchbox and still leave
room for the national anthem (long version).
Tests are requested to identify, or exclude, the diseases
that the doctor feels are ‘possibles’ after the initial clinical
impression. If the ‘most likely’ causes turn up negative in the initial
batch of tests, then the doctor has to rack his or her brains a little more
and start going into the ‘less likely’ ailments and testing for those.
This is why you may need more than one round of tests to come up with the
definitive diagnosis. And then after that you will need repeats of the tests
to see if you are in fact getting better.
Another poorly understood concept is that of the
"Normal Range". Just how or where do we get this "Normal
Range"? Actually it is relatively simple. We examine the blood of 1000
people, take off the bottom 25 low results and the top 25 high results, and we
keep the 95 percent in the middle. That now gives you the Normal range, but
this does not mean that it is the "healthy" range!
Take cholesterol as an example. If you live in a Western
community that has a diet high in cholesterol, the majority (the 95 percent in
the middle) will have higher levels than a similar community living in the
East that has a diet low in saturated fats. So the "normal range"
can be different between communities (and even between laboratories). So what
may be considered within the guidelines for one group, may be outside the 95
percentile limits for another. So if you just "scraped in" under the
top level for the Normal range, I wouldn’t bee too complacent about it!
No, interpretation of tests is a veritable minefield out
there - that’s why we have specialist Pathologists to lead us through it!
Now getting back to your blood group - if you want to know you will have to
ask doctor to add it in.
I have the answer to the water shortage problem which some provinces of
Thailand are facing. Here in England it rains every day. Simply run a
pipeline from here to Thailand, and hey presto! More water than you’ve
ever seen. However please make the pipeline nice and big so I can fit a
jet ski through thus eliminating the need for costly airline tickets. We
could charge a small entrance fee for others. So it’s Chocolates and
Bubbly for you and some spending money for me. Problem solved!
Alternatively, just move Thailand here, but don’t forget to bring the
sun with you, oh and some nice Thai girls. Or some bad ones, we don’t
David in the UK
Dear David in the UK,
You are a resourceful little Petal, aren’t you! However, with London
having won (?) the Olympic Games for 2012, the stream of traffic in your
pipeline might be going in the wrong direction for you. Problem still not
solved! And as far as getting some nice, or even not so nice, Thai girls
with me, there would still be visa problems at your end. However, I am a
little worried about more promises of chockies and champers. That dreadful
Mistersingha creature has been promising me faithfully for the past three
years, and still nothing, but I suppose you could always say, "It’s
in the pipeline!"
You keep on telling men who write in that there are many what you would
call "nice" girls around, but where do you find them? I have
been looking for some time now, and other than bar girls, there does not
seem to be much choice. You keep on saying that we wouldn’t go taking
out the girls from the local bar back home, but there it is easier as you
can find girls at work, in supermarkets and clubs and get to know them and
then go out on dates with them and their mates and you and your mates. You
don’t get that here. What do you have to say now, o wise one?
You amaze me, my little Petal. Do you go around in blinkers all day and
night? Perhaps if you got yourself a job here then you would meet some
lovely girls at work too, and the last time I strolled down the
supermarkets pricing chocolates there seemed to be plenty of young ladies
that would come under the heading of "nice" too. Have you
thought of joining some clubs here too? There are many, many clubs and
organizations that have lady members. In fact, you can do exactly what you
say you do in your own country to find "nice" ladies. Try it,
you’ll find a nice Thai lady is out there, waiting for you, without your
being told "Welcome! Sit down please. What you drink? You want go
My Thai girlfriend is driving me crazy with her family. Anything they
want, she will give them, even if it is personal items of jewelry that I
have given her. They want money and she will dish it out - only problem is
that it is my money that is going out. And it’s not just a few hundred
baht, it’s thousands. I know in Thailand children look after their
parents, as a matter of duty. I did not know that this covers greediness
by the family. Is this the norm for this country?
Duty to one’s parents is part of Thai culture, but how that is applied
is not quite so clear. Since you are worrying because your finances are
part of all this, you should consider that you also have a duty to your
bank account, and your duty is not to her parents. However, once you give
something to your girlfriend, it is her prerogative as to what she does
with it. Never the less, it is also your prerogative to ignore the
begging, no matter what the good reason is for the asked for hand-out from
her family. There are families in Thailand that are not so avaricious. In
all countries there are cultural differences, you have come across one
extreme. There are others in Thailand not so extreme. The choice is always
With so many of the men writing in with problems, would it be possible for
you to start some kind of dating service so that we would know that the
girls have your recommendation. This would stop a lot of problems and
Dear Me First,
Have you been standing over Gerard while he wrote in his tale of woe? I’m
sorry, Me First, but you are not the first to suggest this as an answer
for all the broken hearts out there. Apart from the fact that Hillary is a
columnist and not an introduction agency, I see many, many problems with
your suggestion. How could I possibly give the girls a ‘recommendation’
as you suggest? Even after an interview, I would still not really know the
full story behind any Thai girl who would want to have an association with
you. The responsibility and care is yours, Petal. Not mine. The words are
Camera Class: Going up in flames
by Harry Flashman
are always spectacular and can make for similarly spectacular photographs.
However, by the same token, flames are difficult to reproduce on film.
There are many reasons for this - flames as you perceive them
are dynamic. You are not really looking at a ‘slice’ of the action in time.
You are looking at the movement of the flames over a period of time.
Understanding this fact is the secret to taking photographs of naked flames (and
by that I do not mean naughty pictures of ladies hanging off chrome poles). This
then encompasses torches, flares, candles, cooking, rockets as well as bonfires
There really is no trick to this, other than a slow shutter
speed, so that you are recording on film the movement in the flames over a
period of time. The longer that period, the more dramatic and strong the image
of the flames.
The shutter speed should be roughly around 1/15th of a second
at the fastest, through to about one second for most "fire"
photographs, because you will find that if you shoot at the usual 1/60th to
1/125th the flames disappear altogether. If at all possible, make the flames the
light source for the photograph, and meter accordingly.
This is especially so if you are shooting at night or indoors
and using a flash. Although the flames look more visible at night, the power of
the flash "kills" the light from the flames and the wonderful
candle-light shot turns harsh and stark white instead of the pale amber glow you
were hoping for. Once again, here is a situation where you do better by turning
the flash off. However, without a tripod, this is often not practical.
Personally, when taking ‘fire at night’ photos, I set my
flash on f 5.6, the camera also on f 5.6 and the shutter speed around 1/15th of
a second. This is enough to show the flames in most circumstances, without
overexposing the rest of the picture. Again this is a situation where you need
to be able (or know how to) over-ride an automatic camera and set the controls
manually. I am fully aware of the fact that I harp on about this a great deal,
but the "lazy" (automatic) way of photography will not give you
spectacular photographs, and only by experimenting will you get the kind of
results that make people sit up.
In the shot of the chef at the flambé table, this was taken
at 1/15th and the flash and the lens aperture pre-set at f 5.6. When taking
these kind of shots, I knew that I was going to get a sudden burst of flames
from the wok, so I also pre-focussed the camera and made sure the flash was
turned on, primed and ready. The flash burst took care of recording the chef’s
image on the negative, and the slow shutter speed of 1/15th took care of getting
Did I use a tripod at this shutter speed? No, this is not
necessary. The flash burst itself stops any movement of the chef, because the
flash has its output for thousandths of a second only, so this is why it remains
a sharp picture, even at slow shutter speeds. However, the movement in the
flames recorded on the film emulsion during the 1/15th of the second helps give
a more solid look to the conflagration. Mind you, there is still a necessity to
keep the camera as still as possible during the exposure. Don’t tempt fate too
much! There is a limit!
Remember, however, if the flames are the only source of light (or the main
one) then you will need a tripod for exposures longer than 1/15th of a second,
because you will not hand-hold steadily enough slower than 1/15th, and this is
one time when you can set the camera on "A" for automatic and let it
work out the exposure for you. But this is the only time! Learn to drive your
own camera, rather than the little (untrustworthy) electronic bits inside!
Money Matters: Asset-Backed Lending
MBMG International Ltd.
Asset-backed lending funds have enjoyed good returns in
recent years, sparking the interest of investors and their advisors in the
process. Over the five-year period from ’96 to 2000, for example, when
most stock indices exhibited bi-polar behaviour with large gains being
followed by sometimes larger gains being followed by sometimes larger falls,
many asset-backed lending funds averaged over 12 percent annually, with few
losing quarters and little market correlation. Not many investors are
familiar with this part of the investment houses. This report introduces the
subject and sets out to provide answers to the following questions:
1. What exactly is asset-backed lending?
2. What are the key risk factors and qualities required for investment
3. What investment performances can we anticipate?
Where does a middle-sized business go when it urgently
requires short-term liquidity? Not to a traditional lender such as a bank if
it has already mortgaged its real estate and pledged its receivables (money
owed by its customers). Traditional lenders typically prefer larger clients,
while other asset classes generally fall below their radar. So the business
approaches a recommended non-traditional lender who in turn will carry out
the following tasks:
1. Major elements of the business will be analysed, its
strengths and weaknesses determined and cash flow projections developed.
2. Each unpledged asset class will be identified, reviewed and
3. Where necessary, industry experts will be consulted to confirm key
If such investigation unearths assets which can provide
ample collateral, the lender will then prepare, negotiate and close a loan
offer secured by the assets. Typically such loans are short-term by design -
about twelve months - coming with relatively high interest rates and
up-front costs and little in the way of prepayment penalties.
In such a deal, both parties stand to benefit. The lender
obtains a good annualised return - more than fully secured by conservatively
valued assets. The business gets quick liquidity, the ability to capitalise
on an opportunity or solve a problem, and the flexibility to re-finance with
a traditional lender or restructure.
Clearly such deals do not make the front pages but they
go on all the time. For example, a software development company was losing
money, needed liquidity, and had a valuable if unconventional asset in the
form of a customer list that included many Fortune 500 firms. The customer
list presented value to its competitors should they acquire the company.
Using the customer list as collateral for a loan, the company had time to
approach competitors and finally negotiate to be acquired.
These can fall into three categories:
Mild: In good economic times it is not unusual for an
asset-backed lender to find it harder to place loans. While not exactly a
risk, funds are not fully deployed.
Short-term: During times of financial crisis there is
typically a capital flight to quality, such as occurred in 1998 after the
problems in Russia. Here, interest rate spreads between ‘safe’ treasury
securities and ‘less safe’ bonds widen. This causes a drop, albeit a
temporary one, in the market value of asset-backed loans.
Severe: Here, companies become distressed and pledged
assets are sold to repay associated loans. Should this occur during
recessionary times and asset values drop significantly, losses can be
Successful asset-backed lending requires a strong set of
skills and assets which include:
1. A good brand name or reputation (most businesses seek
out the lender).
2. Good industry experience and analytical skills.
3. Strong negotiating skills (the costs of such loans to business are high,
but typically so are the benefits).
4. Strong risk-management techniques which include:
- diversification of investments by company, industry and region;
- modest use of leverage;
- focus on short-term loans;
- strong collateralisation of loans where pledged assets substantially
exceed the amount of the loan.
In summary, non-traditional lenders go where banks fear
to tread. Those with superior reputations, skills, speed of response and
risk management controls fare the best.
Asset-backed lending is classified as an "event-driven"
investment strategy, as returns in this arena are driven more by the volume
of loans, their pricing and the quality of their collateral than by the
movement of equity prices. Market correlation is very low, although economic
crises do cause a degree of temporary volatility. In recent years, banks and
traditional lenders have moved away from this more complex sector. This
suggests that the future could look even better than a very respectable
past, where asset-backed funds achieved equity-like annual returns with
minimal volatility or market correlation.
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: See you soon, Suckah!
by Scott Jones
My parents named me after toilet paper. At least my name is
known throughout the world. If they wanted a major brand name, they could have
chosen General Electric. (General Jones certainly would have helped any
career.) Jaguar Jones sounds sexy. If they’d named me United, my nickname
could have been "U." (Hey, you!)
With a last
name like Duh, the first name doesn’t really matter.
No, they went with toilet paper, emphasizing an unfortunate
series of rhymes that made elementary school difficult. ("Hey, Scott the
Pot! Scotty going potty?") It’s better here in Thailand where Scott is
associated more with tissue paper for the table since they use hoses, buckets
and whatever in the toilet. (I still don’t quite understand what to do in
there without my namesake.)
Few Thais can pronounce "Scott" correctly since
"sc" together or "t" at the end of a word is tricky. I
become "Suck Ah", which is exactly how successful thieves say
"sucker", so it’s very appropriate when I leave yet another
motorcycle repair shop with an empty wallet on a bike that will run for just
under three hours and they say, "See you soon, Suckah!"
Some think I’m named after the SCUD, a deadly American
missile sold worldwide to rich rogues ruling developing countries armed with
sticks, stones and religious text books. I normally settle for
"Scotch" since it brings a smile to their face, perhaps a glass of
the same to my hand and it’s way better than toilet paper or weapons of mass
Nicknames are easy to remember here since 78 percent of the
people are called "Nam" (water), "Noi" (little) or
"Porn" (bar girl). You can stand in a market, yell "Nam!"
and sixty people come over, half carrying glasses of water and half named Nam.
The full names are a challenge since they’re very, very
long, have a minimum of 27 vowels requiring business cards the size of personal
checks, and don’t sound familiar like John Doe, Dick Smith or Kirby
Turnipseed. (Kirby was a real live person in my home town and his name made me
feel better about the toilet paper thing. I’m surprised he wasn’t killed
during elementary school.)
I have to make elaborate associations to remember some Thai
names. Okay, the waiter is Nopedaam which rhymes with Notre Dame, except it’s
not Notre Dame, nope, it’s Nope-a-Daam. A friend explained this association
concept to his wife who could never remember names. "Just think of
something about the person that reminds you of their name. For instance, my
business colleague Durante’s wife has a huge nose like that old
actor/singer/comedian Jimmy Durante." The next time Mrs. Durante came to
their home, my friend’s wife opened the door and shouted, "Honey, Mrs.
Nose is here!" (They’re divorced now.)
If you’re naming a baby, consider these creative names that are easy to
remember and already familiar in English: Justin Case, Anita Drink, Dee
Liversome, Bud Wiser, Eileen Dover or her brother Ben, Ivan Nitch, Willy Maker,
Betty Wont, the very scholarly Dick Shunary or Ed Ucate, the Irish katoys
Gerald Fitzpatrick and Patrick Fitzgerald, Warren Peace, Skip Pitt, Bill Fold,
Bill Ding or Bill Ian Pounds, Parker N. Lockerup, Ken Tucky, Al Abama, Virginia
Shure (Virgin? Ya, sure.), the infamous Hugh G. Recksun, and if you want to
ruin your kid’s life: Helen Weels, Rusty Faucette, Harry Pitts, Seymour
Bottoms or Liz Ardbreath.