Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Dogs - Man’s best friend

Money Matters

Life in the Laugh Lane

Your Health & Happiness: Sex education to be more effective for the young

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

The Ministry of Education has decided to provide activities to prevent and help to solve the AIDS problem. For quite some time now teachers have been encouraged to help students in education institutes and communities with sex education.

Participants with their certificates after the seminar at Wanliya Resort in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai Province.

Nevertheless, some difficulties occur, especially to make teenagers and university students from 15-24 years understand the necessity for protection. This is also partly due to social mores that presumes that the discussion of sex to be unacceptable, which is put forward as one of the reasons which led to the ongoing AIDS problem.

Finally the Ministry of Education has realized the necessity to get Thai youths to take sex education seriously and learn that AIDS can be prevented. New curricula, visual aids, and training are now in the process of improvement to give youngsters knowledge to prevent the problem.

The Education Service Center in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai decided to start activities to reach the target group in the far north. A training course was held at the new Wanliya Resort in Mae Sai near the border of Burma and the participants went home proudly carrying their certificates. Hopefully the knowledge will stick.


The Doctor's Consultation: Mammograms and BSE

by Dr. Iain Corness

Screening for breast cancer is still a subject that seems to be controversial, though honestly, I do not know why. The sensationalist press feeds on fear, and by instilling fear into women about breast cancer will always sell a few more papers. It is not so long ago that one of the international news magazines had a front cover story on breast cancer screening, with the inference being that it was probably all a waste of time. Despite mammograms and suchlike, there were cases that escaped detection until it was too late and other such negative predictions. Was it all then a waste of resources and money?

Ladies, let me assure you that it is none of those. Unfortunately, the cancer detection story is one that suffers from a problem which can be associated with an inexact science. Since we can put men on the moon, clone sheep (and even rabbits in Chonburi, apparently) and other incredible facts, we should then be able to diagnose human conditions with pin-point accuracy. Unfortunately wrong!

Diagnosis and detection are “real time” arts, not sciences, even though we would like them to be. Sure, we use “science” as a tool, but that is all it is. A tool to help us see the problem. Just like we can use a telescope to see things at a distance - even if we can’t see the object, that doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t there. The telescope was facing the wrong way; the object was behind not in front.

There has been a bit of that thinking with mammograms of late. A lady has three annual clear mammograms and then finds she has advanced breast cancer during year number four. Was the testing useless?

Again I ask you to look at the “real time” situation. So today cancer was found. When did it “start” to grow? This week, this month, this year? The answer depends upon the type of the cancer. Some fast growing cancers would be impossible to pick up, even if the person had monthly mammograms. The slow growing variety can be picked up years ahead. Unfortunately mammography cannot be a 100 percent indicator - we are not that good - yet. But it is still one of the best diagnostic procedures we have. And it is better than nothing.

Likewise, Breast Self Examination (BSE) has its detractors as well as its proponents. Sure, a lot depends upon how well the woman carries out this self testing, but again, surely it is better to look than to carry on in blissful innocence?

I do not believe the doomsayers who would tell you that the outcome is just the same. Breast cancer is like all cancers - the sooner you find it, the sooner you can deal with it and the earlier treatment is administered, the better the outcome. In fact, did you know that studies from the American National Cancer Institute show that 96 percent of women whose breast cancer is detected early live 5 or more years after treatment? This is called a 96 percent five year survival rate, one of the ways we measure the severity of life threatening cancers. If it were a 10 percent figure - in other words, after 5 years only 10 percent of the people were still alive, then I would probably also feel that predictive testing was not all that worthwhile. But it is not that bleak an outcome - 96 percent are still alive and many go on for many, many years.

Ladies, talk with your doctor regarding breast screening, and ignore sensationalism in the popular press!


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I’ve been reading your articles for a couple of years. I like they way you handle all these stupid people that came up with stupid questions. You did give them the right answers the same as I thought. I am a musician performing seven days a week in Bangkok. I am a French citizen of Asian origin. We are all living in Thailand and making our living here. What I would like to say is that anybody who is not happy living in Thailand or complains too much about Thai people, they can leave the country. Go back to their country, lock themselves in the room and watch TV alone. I speak Thai as good as my mother tongue. Please print this in your column to let all these idiots to know. I am not rich but one day I promise you I will send you the French Champagne and the chocolates that you like. Hillary, you are a lovely lady. I love you.
Johnny

Dear Johnny,
What can I say? Protestations of love from talented French musicians! You wouldn’t be Charles Aznavour, would you? Pity, I would imagine he’s worth a few baht these days (if he’s not dead). Hillary is flattered, and will probably have to rush off to the rest room and refresh my lippy and powder my nose, just in case you op by! Thank you, Petal. Thank you! And I agree with you as far as foreigners are concerned. If you don’t like it here, then quietly go back to where you came from, and leave all the others to enjoy this country in peace. The initial mistake is this - many foreigners believe that Thais want to change things and are (silently) asking the interlopers what they would do under the circumstances, when in fact, the Thais have not asked at all. This country has got to where it is without foreigners showing them “better” ways of doing things. If Thailand changed to be like the UK, Europe or other western countries, then the foreigner would complain that life here is too restrictive. You are welcome to come here and live quietly. When Thailand wants to draw on your undoubted experience, Thailand will give you a call. In the meantime, don’t sit by the phone is what Johnny is telling you (and his new girlfriend Hillary).
Dear Hillary,
I am an attractive Caucasian girl with my fair share of rich male boyfriends. I am taken out to expensive restaurants where I am wined and dined. At the end of the evening my partner always gives me a gift. My problem is that I am sick and tired of receiving the usual diamond bracelets, gold watches or precious stoned pendants. I would die for a box of chocolates or a bottle of champagne. Hillary, I am aware that you are able to procure these simple gifts from your many male admirers. I need to know how you do it. I was hoping that we girls could get together one night, frock up in our best evening attire and strut our stuff one night. Are you willing?
Minnie Mouse

Dear Minnie,
Hello again Minnie, and I am glad to see you are starting to let us all into the secrets of your life. And what a spoiled little coquette you really are. The reason you don’t get chockies and champers is quite simply because you are too easy with your favours. Hillary could get cartloads of Cartiers and diamonds from De Beers too, if she were to let her standards slip. No, young girl, keep them at arms length, don’t be an easy mark or lay, down too quickly. Tell them firmly that it’s chocolates and champagne at best, nothing else. I am sorry too, that I can’t get together with you, but the night air is not good for me these days, and all the champagne makes my head spin. By the way, why don’t you try and meet up with Mighty Mouse, you would be able to send each other into a mindless vacuum. Finally, remember Eric Althwaite? Interests were local rain gauges and shovels. He seems an exciting individual these days.
Dear Hillary
My work colleagues have all decided that I am gay because I don’t live with anyone, while they all are living with a succession of local girls. Every week I hear another tale of woe and how they have been cleaned out. Every week I thank my lucky stars that this is them not me. They just go straight back into another relationship, which ends up just like the previous ones - a disaster. They seem to think that I have something against women, while I don’t, but they keep on saying, “Got a feller yet?” I haven’t got anything against gays either, it’s just that I’m not one. How do I get them to understand at work?
Getting Annoyed

Dear Getting Annoyed,
Jai yen yen! Maintain a cool heart! They are only keeping this up because you continue to rise up (to the bait). When they get no reaction from you, they will stop. It may seem hard, but just ignoring them will produce the desired result. By the way, don’t comment on their relationships and they will give up commenting on your lack of relationships too.


Camera Class: Could you make it as a pro photographer?

by Harry Flashman

I have written about this a few times over the years, and I was reminded of this the other day when one of the readers sent in a couple of his photographs, asking if there might be a market for them. I believe just about every semi-serious photographer dreams about getting paid for his pictures. And it does happen. Pattaya coin collector Jan Olav Aamlid went up the Pattaya Park Tower with a bunch of loonies called BASE jumpers who jumped off the parapet and floated to earth via parachute. Jan Olav got some photographs that ended up being published in Norway and he got paid handsomely. Jan Olav, in fact, couldn’t believe just how much!

When Harry Flashman became a “Pro” do you know what my best piece of equipment was? No, it wasn’t his camera. No, it wasn’t the flash lighting gear. No, it wasn’t the tripod. It was a book!

That book was written by a Canadian Professional Photographer, Richard Sharabura, and was called “Shooting your way to a $-Million”. Now well out of print (it was published in 1981) it is still the best book I have ever read as far as being a handbook for budding professional photographers. I still have my copy, and still refer to it every so often. The advice is just as pertinent today as it was twenty four years ago. Anyone who has ever contemplated any form of “pay me for my pictures” should read this book. Previously when I wrote about this book, local amateur Ernie Kuehnelt went looking and managed to locate a second hand copy through Amazon Dot Com, so it is still possible to find copies.

The opening paragraphs state, “No other profession spawns more eager hopefuls. No other profession calls so many and chooses so few.” Sharabura goes on “... Practically every photographer has a preconceived notion about what he (or she) will shoot or not shoot. This is probably one of the most common stumbling blocks to financial success.”

Sharabura believes in being a generalist. In other words, you should be able to shoot anything. And I mean everything. It is no good saying to a potential customer, “Sorry, but I only shoot camels in mid-summer!” You have no idea of the number of photographic jobs that can come from one initial request to shoot one particular subject. I began with a shot of a concrete truck, which expanded into a glamour calendar, then an engagement shot and a wedding - all from the same corporate executive. Be versatile is the answer!

There is no secret to becoming versatile. Just as the tennis pros play lots of tennis to get to the top, so do the photographic pros shoot lots of film to get to the top.

A good exercise is to pretend you are now the ace photographer for this newspaper! Just take a look at the different pictures in any newspaper and see what I mean about being versatile. There are photos of visiting celebrities, holes in the road, funerals, schools, construction sites, sporting tournaments, floods and even babies.

Each weekend give yourself an assignment and go out and cover it pictorially. Here’s a few for you to try: public transport, road chaos, motorcycle helmets, your local temple.

Go out and illustrate your topic, as if the editor had told you to cover it. Make your shots describe the action, scene or activity. Think about how you are going to do it and how you are going to show it. Make the subject the “hero” and the main item of interest in all the shots.

Do all that and you are already thinking like a “pro”. Do it enough times and you will take shots like a “pro”. Do that enough times and people will pay you like a “pro”.

The same can happen for you - just keep on shooting film and eventually someone will pay you for your hobby! And being paid for something you like doing is a real buzz! But remember that like all things - practice makes perfect!


Dogs - Man’s best friend:General Health Care - an introduction

Nienke Parma

Dental Care: dirty teeth are a source of infection

Healthy and happy animals aren’t only a feast for the eyes, they’re also more likely to reach old age and less likely to show behavior problems. For keeping them in good health a few things are essential.

The basis for a good health is a varied diet containing all the necessary nutrients according to the individuals needs, with fresh drinking water available at all times. Regular exercise, and of course, love and attention contributes considerably. Further, the animal should be properly vaccinated against infectious diseases and de-wormed on a regular basis. Although, intestinal worms in small amounts won’t do harm to your animal, in large amounts they can be harmful and to puppies and kittens it even can be fatal. It’s also advisable to have, at least once a year, the dog’s blood tested for possible blood-parasites, such as the heartworm larvae and the E.canis. Heartworm larvae live in the blood-stream, while the adult worms live in the right side of the heart which can be fatal to dogs. Treatment is expensive and not without danger. Therefore, prevention is better than the cure! Ehrlichiosis Canis is another blood-borne disease endangering the lives of many dogs (see the article on this subject in the Chiangmai Mail Vol III No 31).

Skin and coat care: a necessity

There are several things you can check yourself. Begin with the appearance, eyes, ears, nose and coat. Does the dog get up, lie down and walk in a flexible manner or are there signs of stiffness or pain? Is the coat soft, shiny and vigorous looking or are there bald patches, continuous hair-loss, rough and broken-off hair? Is the dog too skinny (ribs visible) or too fat (square-look)? Are the eyes moist, bright and look alert? Any signs of redness, third eyelid, spots on the eye-ball or inconsistent coloring of the cornea are signs of illness. Are the ears free from unpleasant smell, discharge or itch and held alert, moving with the direction of sound in a flexible way?

Looking further at the skin: is it smooth, clean and elastic and free from redness, soreness, lesions, scales, bald patches or parasites. The color may vary from grayish-pink to light brown, or it may be pigmented. And how’s the skin of the feet and the nails?

Dirty teeth can be a source of bacterial infection in the mouth as well as in the rest of the animal’s body. Therefore, clean teeth are of high importance for your pet’s well-being. Healthy gums are pink or pigmented.

Dogs and cats usually have a bowel movement after each meal. The feces should be firm, not too hard, with a brown color. Normal dog stool doesn’t smell too much, which you can’t always say of cat stool. Loose stool or diarrhea sometimes with signs of mucus and/or blood are all bad news.

Male animals usually urinate several times a day, while females tend to empty their bladder in one time, three to four times a day. Normal urine is clear, with a light yellow color and hardly any smell. Although, the urine of healthy male cats can have a very strong, penetrating smell. For more information on this subject or on dog and cat boarding, dog training and behavior please visit www.luckydogs. info or contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78 146.


Money Matters: A short history of the only real currency (part 2)

What does the Market have to say?

Gold traditionally has strong support near the 65 week moving average, currently near $418.5, which is fast approaching. Also, note the positive divergence via the MACD histogram (graph 1) that is currently forming. This tells me that a bottom in gold metal may be near. Judging by the commercial trader’s data, it could happen very soon, possibly within the next week or so.

GRAPH 1

Also take notice how the time frame between each subsequent pullback to the 65 week moving average has been decreasing, i.e. 16.5 months, 13 months, 9 months, 4 months, and recently just less than two months. What does this mean? It means that the range is getting tighter and tighter and that a large price movement is in store for gold in the near future.

GRAPH 2

The commercial traders appear to be adept at timing major tops and bottoms in gold metal. As you can see from graph 2, the commercial traders typically have a net short position of 50K or less during major bottoms. During major tops, the commercial traders typically have a net short position of 150K and above.

GRAPH 3

The net short position recently topped out at 166K, and as a result, gold metal pulled back from the 440s to the low 420s.

GRAPH 4

The current net short position as of July 19th is 84K. This is good news because it indicates that a major bottom may be close, possibly within the next week or so. Remember, we want to see the commercial net short position fall to 60K or below for a major bottom.

While many newsletter writers and financial websites are now super bearish on gold stocks, they are starting to look interesting to me. Gold stocks are outperforming relative to the metal, which is bullish. You can see that a downtrend line has been broken on the HUI/Gold ratio chart (graph 3).

The chart (graph 3) is my original long-term HUI/Gold ratio chart, along with major buy/sell signals as noted via green/red arrows. The system is as follows:

Major buy signals are generated when downtrend lines are broken. The 50 MA is then used as a support level to keep an investor/trader in the major run up. After the buy signal is generated, as long as the ratio chart stays above the 50 MA, investors should hold their gold stocks. Major sell signals are finally produced when the ratio subsequently falls below the 50 MA support.

It appears that a trader/investor can ride the majority of an uptrend and be out during the big consolidations and pullbacks by employing this simple method.

I noticed that Alexander Hamilton of Zeal published an article on a HUI/Gold ratio trading system recently. Alexander Hamilton writes a great weekly newsletter.

A short-term chart of the HUI/Gold ratio (GRAPH 4) shows that the broken downtrend line is now acting as support. This is a good sign.For more information please contact Alan Hall on [email protected] national.com

Gold is never mentioned in polite Central Banker company.
Continued next week…

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 [email protected]


Life in the Laugh Lane: Just Plane Tired

by Scott Jones

I don’t love Chiang Mai as much as I used to. Now I love it more. Absence and America makes the heart grow fonder. I’m on a 6 week tour of the USA to raise money for orphans and needy children in northern Thailand: seven Give and Live Benefit concerts in six states including the states of shock and confusion.

It’s one of the most challenging undertakings I’ve ever undertaken and I’ll probably need an undertaker when I’m done. Two months of dawn-till-dusk or dusk-till-dawn days of preparation just about finished me before I started. On departure day my friends poured me into an airport chair with a half-hour to spare for a special Mocha Teste, my last taste of Chiang Mai.

My carry-on bags are filled with computer, disk drives, LCD projector, back-up CDs, all the essential concert gear I don’t dare let out of my sight and a toothbrush. Each bag weighs as much as me and both my shoulders are now about two inches lower than when I left. My check luggage: musical equipment in a metal case as compact and heavy as an anvil plus Thai exports and toothpaste in a suitcase large enough to sleep in. The extra weight charge in Chiang Mai was 2,400 baht but the 1-2 Go Airlines check-in woman was very apologetic, visibly uncomfortable and gave me a reduced rate. The extra charge in Bangkok was 5,500 baht with no apologies, no reduction, just brisk rubber-stamping of everything in her general area. The extraordinary extra charge in San Francisco was, gasp, 8,000 baht demanded by a female (I think?), severely hefty (Rotund? Corpulent? Can you say “mammoth?”) Ticket Nazi with a red (Bloodshot? Inflamed? Baboon Butt?), pock-marked (Goalie for a dart team, perhaps?) face hanging loosely on a head that looked like it may explode any second when her stress level hit Volcanic. She spit out the words, “Overweight. Can’t take it.” I thought, “You have no right to use the word ‘overweight.’ I dare you to get on this scale.” With three hundred impatient passengers in line behind me, it wasn’t the time to plead a charity case or request a manager. Several kilos of instrument manuals and Karen silver removed took the weight below the 100 pound limit and Porky let me pass.

Once you step on a foreign airplane, Thailand is gone. In my semi-conscious state I babbled in Thai to the Chinese flight attendants until I realized there was no sawatdee, no kahp kuhn krap, no wai gesture and only marginal respect. I missed Thailand and I hadn’t even left yet. I missed the sweet language and the gentle people. And, oh, did I, do I miss the food? The plane food was plain at best. My rice hot dish thing was the temperature of the sun featuring bleached broccoli baked in hell and miscellaneous chicken parts with the flavor and texture of rubber bands. At least Thai Airways allows a couple of Pad Thai stands in the back of the plane, uses jet engines manufactured by Tuk-tuk and have squat toilets with handrails and hoses. America does have some good food that isn’t the McDonald’s salt-packed, fat-maxed, chemical-ridden, fast-food variety, but it’s incredibly expensive. (Steep? Sky-high without the airplane? Can you say “extortionate”?) In a Seven-11-type petrol/grocery store I saw one lonely banana labeled “Wow! 70 cents!” (30 baht.) I sighed, “Wow, 70 cents” and dreamed of the 10 baht, big bunch of bananas back at my bungalow. So far, no more Mocha Testes. One wasn’t enough. I need another one.