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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: Just say Oop!

TYAP’s new condom brand aims to prevent spread of HIV amongst nation’s youth

Owen Elias

This month Thai Youth Action Programs (TYAP) mark their 10th birthday, and what better way for an organization focused on youth empowerment and AIDS education to celebrate than to join in the launch of a new condom brand, Oop!

Following a funky promotional video illustrating their work with young people TYAP introduced some of the games they play in their youth outreach programmes.

The Oop! condom brand was developed by the National Youth Network on HIV/AIDS, following the XV International AIDS Conference and the realization that the government was not taking their recommendations seriously. TYAP is one of the organizations assisting in the promotion of Oop!, lending their significant experience and networks to the launch of the brand.

Thousands of young people across Northern Thailand and beyond have benefited from TYAP’s youth friendly peer education programs over the last decade. Youth are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, with the highest rates of new infection among people between 15 and 24 years of age. TYAP speaks to these young people in a language they can understand, empowering them with knowledge, skills and responsibility to protect themselves and to lead the fight against HIV/AIDS.

This month’s NGO forum, themed on “Youth and Condoms,” provided the perfect opportunity to bring their work to a wider audience and promote the launch of the Oop! condom brand.

Following a funky promotional video illustrating their work with young people TYAP introduced some of the games they play in their youth outreach programs. From Musical Condoms to Condoms Meet Oranges these activities are designed to be entertaining as well as educational, with forfeits including demonstrating the correct way to put a condom on (a cucumber).

Having tossed around inflated condoms and crammed them full of fruit TYAP sat down to craft condom badges/pins with the Oop! logo boldly emblazoned.

“Do you know why we have launched this new condom brand?” asked Yammy (Sarinya Singthongwan) an experienced trainer with TYAP. “The budget for condoms has been slashed. You can’t just get them free from the hospital anymore”. The scarcity of free condoms is not the only problem young people face. Youth are embarrassed to ask for condoms and fear they might be criticized by adults for being sexually active.

The logo comes in a colorful pink

Oop! condoms, produced under the auspices of the Condoms Protect Society project and promoted by TYAP, will not be sold in convenience stores but will be sold directly to youth by youth. Priced at only 10 baht for two and marketed specifically for youth it is hoped they will be quickly accepted by young people.

With financial support from organizations such as UNICEF, Path, Ansell and the Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS, Oop! condoms will be launched in November with a road show in collaboration with MTV Thailand.

The NGO forum takes place on the last Tuesday of every month at the HIV/AIDS Action Center. For more information please contact Owen Elias at Health and Development Networks, 0 5341 8438 or [email protected]


The Doctor's Consultation: Dengue Fever - again and again and again!

by Dr. Iain Corness

Despite my pleas, (and those of the Public Health Department), Dengue Fever and its potentially fatal variant, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is still with us. The latest figures have now prompted me to repeat my advice on this subject. If you remember reading about it before, I apologize, but the subject matter is very important. This is an important ailment, that can be avoided.

However, first you should understand a little more about Dengue. It was first described in 1780 by a Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia (so it didn’t start here), when the name Break Bone Fever was applied, with the symptoms of pain in the bones and rise in temperature. The name “Dengue” came in 1828 during an epidemic in Cuba. The new name was a Spanish attempt at a Swahili phrase “ki denga pepo” which describes a sudden cramping seizure caused by an evil spirit! Let me assure you that the local brand of Dengue Fever owes nothing to spirits, evil, bottled or otherwise.

Like Malaria, the virus is carried by mosquitoes, this time by one called Aedes aegypti. The virus itself is related to Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and Yellow fever, and there are four “serotypes” or subgroups of it.

The mosquito lays its eggs in water containers, preferring the clean water found in water tanks and pots, in the saucers under pot plants and even under the pet’s food dish. Inside discarded car tyres are another favourite spot. These mosquitoes are not of the adventurous type and feed during the day and spend their time within 200 metres of their hatchery. Consequently, the eradication of any local breeding areas becomes very important towards maintaining your own health, as you can see. Keep your home free from lying water for a radius of 200 metres and you’re looking good!

Simple Dengue (if you can call it that) has an incubation period of around four to seven days and then the full blown symptoms of high fever and headache begin. The headache is usually behind the eyes and is made worse by eye movement. From there the pains progress to the limbs with acute muscle pains, which gave it the old name “Break Bone Fever”. Interestingly, some patients complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. (Please don’t ask - I have no idea why!)

On the other hand, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever can certainly be fatal! It appears that Serotype 2 may be the culprit here, but does not usually produce DHF unless you have been previously bitten by types 1, 3 or 4. In addition to the symptoms of Classical Dengue the skin begins to bruise very easily as the blood haemorrhages into the skin. Children are also more susceptible to this than adults. This also becomes much more of an emergency and is best treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of your favourite hospital.

With our ability to treat the viral ailments being very limited, the defence against the Dengue virus lies in the preventive measures. The other precautions are to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts, especially at sun up and sun down, when the mosquito is at its most ravenous. The other factor to remember is “D” for Dengue and “D” for DEET. DEET is the magic ingredient in mosquito repellents, so when you go to buy some, check the label - if it has DEET, then get it. And then remember to use it!


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
My maid has made it clear that I can be her 17 year old daughter’s Sugar Daddy. The price would be to keep her in goodies, clothes, shopping trips etc. I am very tempted, but with the possibility that things can go sour and I’m charged with molestation, can the situation be legalized with parental consent? Marriage is not an option.
Tempted

Dear Tempted,
There are several ways of looking at this. Being charitable, perhaps the maid does not want to see her daughter clean up after someone, the way she has to do. To become a Mia Noi would mean that the young girl avoids this fate.However, no matter what you call it, your maid is pimping her 17 year old daughter. Can you now really trust this maid? She is a pimp, and willing to live off the earnings of her daughter, because undoubtedly, a large percentage of any moneys and redeemable items will end up in the maid’s pocket. How much value can you put on this parent’s consent? Not much, Petal, not much. I also note there is no mention of the father’s consent either. You are the one who has to live with your decisions, not me. You are the one who has to decide if your plan of action is honorable, not me. However, my advice is to sack the maid immediately and change all the locks in the house. Inform your lawyer and you will be able to sleep soundly at night. There must be some vestiges of honor still within you. Quite frankly, I am appalled that your question is merely to cover your own backside, without any thought for the young girl.

Dear Hillary,
While it appears that everyone enjoys your column (except perhaps those writers who cannot spell, I notice), do they honestly think they are going to get “professional” advice by writing in, or are they just in it for the laugh too? What do you think? It has intrigued me for some time and I really do want to see what you think of it from your side of the fence.
The Thinker

Dear Thinker,
What an interesting character you are, my Petal. From my side of the fence, indeed! Just where do you think I am when I write my replies? In some sort of zoo, perhaps? And are you on the outside looking in - or are you on the inside looking out? Any advice column such as this has writers who try their best to honestly and sincerely answer the queries as they are presented. If the tone of the letter is serious, then it gets answered in the same way. If, however, it is flippant, then it gets replied to like the way this one was! By the way, The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, was originally meant to be Dante in front of the Gates of Hell, pondering his great poem. And who said that this column is all froth and bubbles?

Dear Hillary,
This is a real problem. I am in love with two beautiful Thai girls. Both of them work in the same bar, so it is difficult for me to favor one over the other, and I really cannot make up my mind just which one I should settle on. Even taking either one out of the bar without the other knowing would be hard. Have you any tips for a young man in my situation? I am serious and want this relationship to last (with the right one). But how do I find which one it is. What tests can I do? By the way, I am a well-endowed and energetic man, so I need to have a “stayer” if you can understand me. I really need your assistance, Ms. Hillary.
Choices

Dear Choices,
There’s lots you can do. For a start, you can take both out for the evening together and let them scratch each other’s eyes out. Select the one who can still see at the end. She is the one with tenacity. Or alternatively, you can get them to weigh all their gold chains and necklaces. The one with the most gold is obviously smarter than the other, but do not worry overly so, my Petal. Both of them are obviously smarter than you, my well-endowed little Petal. However, the endowment does not stretch as far as the brain, it seems. Pity that. If it did, you wouldn’t be wasting Hillary’s time with self-serving fatuous letters such as yours. So you also need the chosen one to be a “stayer”! Have you thought about doing a poll of their previous boyfriends, perhaps personal endorsements would be enough to swing your preference towards one or other of the ladies. The choices are out there. In every bar there would have to be at least three or four who would be willing to line up at the barrier. If you look long and hard, there must be some intellectually challenged ladies who would be very happy to settle down with you and look after your long and hard!


Camera Class: Take your camera on holiday (every day)

by Harry Flashman

Most people do remember to throw the camera in the bag when traveling overseas, but do you remember to take it into town? Remember that you are living in a city that tourists save for 11 months just to be able to get here. They find endless subjects to photograph here and so should you. So this week, let’s look at a few specific examples of “how to” when you are looking to record those “once in a lifetime” images.

Every city, town or village anywhere has its parades. And there are plenty of them here. Now, have you ever tried to record the parade? It is actually very difficult. The naked eye sees a long procession of musicians, marchers and the like as they pass by, but the camera sees only one slice of the action about 1/60th of a second long!

There is only one secret word for parades, and that’s Height. You have to get a high viewpoint to successfully record the action, and preferably use a long lens. By shooting down the oncoming procession you will get several squads of musicians, marchers etc all on the one frame of film. By using the telephoto lens you “compress” the action and get more in the one photographic frame. Honestly, if you can’t get up high don’t take parades. You will be disappointed with all ground level shots.

All tourist towns have their nightlife, and we have the odd nocturnal events and places. Lots of lights, neon signs and flood-lit fountains are the norm for this type of photograph. The secret here is a Wide angle lens with an aperture down around f 1.8 and some “fast” film. This is the time to get some 800 ASA film, or 400 ASA at least. The other secret is not to use your flash. Now I fully realize that this is photography after dark, but the whole concept is to let the attractions provide the illumination, rather than blasting it with your flash burst. If you try and take neon light using flash you will totally wash out the neon and again get very disappointing results.

One of the more challenging travel situations is the summer beach holiday. It is very difficult to photograph the beach and not end up with a washed out look in the final photographs. The secret here is a Polarizing filter and the time of day you shoot. This is where the Polarizer works so well, especially with the glare from the sand. The Polarizer will also give you a blue sky to contrast the yellow sand. The time of day is also just as important. Shoot early morning or late afternoon when the sun’s rays are skimming across the beach and the tracks and ridges in the sand will show up as shadows.

Some of you will be exponents of the wilderness type holiday, trekking and camping and taking in the vast grandeur of breathtaking natural wonders. The secret here is a wide angle lens, look for low viewpoints and use slow film, plus a tripod if you can. The idea here is to use the lens at around f16 or f22 to maximize the depth of field. This in turn and the slow film, will require longer exposures - hence the tripod. Shooting in this way will give you maximum detail in the shot, maximum content and visual theatre. Finally, shoot early morning or late afternoon as well to get the dramatic shadow effects and really give the impact to the Grand Canyon! With charging elephants however, do not wait to see the whites of their eyes.

The shots taken for this week were on Koh Si Chang, off SriRacha, still an unspoiled fishing island, that the run-of-the-mill tourists have not yet discovered.

So you can see, whilst you can get holiday “snaps” with the trusty point and shooter, to really get the really great holiday photographs you will need a choice of lenses, a choice of film and a tripod. You can still get good shots with the cheaper compact cameras, but great shots need great cameras. Like all things in life, you get what you pay for.


Dogs - Man’s best friend: General health care – the diet

Nienke Parma

Your pet’s diet impacts longevity, a strong immune system, behavior and temperament, the ability to cope with stress and successful reproduction. A low quality diet leads to poor health and, in the long term, chronic diseases.

A good nutritious diet should consist of easily digestible, high quality ingredients and free from additives such as chemical anti-oxidants, and artificial colors, flavors and odors. It should also be free of bone-meal and fatty acids derived from questionable sources. The animal should be able to obtain the correct amount and ratio of nutrients according its needs, which can differ from time to time. The nutrients can be divided into two categories: a) macro-nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, fiber and fatty acids; and b) micro-nutrients, including vitamins, macro- and micro-minerals.

Proteins are essential to your pet’s health. They are necessary for growth and tissue regeneration. Proteins can be derived from animal sources, such as meat, meat byproducts, poultry, fish, and dairy products, as well as grain sources. Pet food companies don’t distinguish animal from grain proteins, instead labeling them all as crude protein. Protein deficiency can result in a long list of diseases including skin and ear infections, lethargy, aggression, lack of appetite, lack of pigmentation, adrenal gland and reproductive system malfunctions, heart, kidney, liver, bladder, and thyroid problems, and various forms of cancer.

Carbohydrates come from vegetables, fruit and grains and provide energy. Depending whether the grain is more acid or alkaline based it can cause inflammation of kidneys and urinary tract, vomiting, diarrhea, runny eyes, or coughing up phlegm. In dogs allergic reactions to grains are common. Pets with bone problem should not eat grains at all. Vegetables and fruit need to be crushed in a blender before giving it to the pet, as carnivores don’t have the amylase enzyme in their saliva needed to break down the cellulose in plants.

Fibers are obtained from brans, hulls, peanut shells and pulp. They are needed in small amounts for a proper digestion and stool formation.

Fatty acids are derived from fat. They provide energy, are necessary for nutrient absorption and for a healthy coat and skin. They also play an important role in a healthy nervous system and in steroid production. Fat helps regulate body temperature and protects vital organs from trauma and temperature change. Deficiency in fatty acids can include lack of energy, improper growth, dry skin, thickened skin, skin infections, coarse dry hair, cell damage, heart problems, and poor blood clotting.

Vitamins, macro- and micro-minerals come from all food sources and are most crucial nutrients. Deficiencies, excesses and imbalance can lead to numerous physical and mental diseases, including: anemia, blindness, premature aging, tooth decay, hair loss, dull and brittle coat, infertility, impaired bone growth, malfunction of the circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, digestive, immunity and nervous system, and irritability, nervousness and depression.

For more information on doggy matters or on dog and cat boarding, dog training and behavior please visit www.luckydogs.info or contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78 146.


Money Matters: Robert Shiller on the property bubble (part 1)

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

We’ve covered the work of Yale economist Robert Shiller in previous articles. We note that Barrons Online has picked up on his property concerns - “Shiller delivers his forecast for U.S. housing with a scholarly diffidence that only slightly mutes his stark message: The market is in the throes of a bubble of unprecedented proportions that probably will end ugly.”

Not the first time that we’ve visited this theme - or, to be fair, by Barrons either. However, just like last time we visited Shiller’s property doomsday forecasts, no-one has better credentials than he for recognising a bubble. The author’s best seller, Irrational Exuberance, predicted a bear market in U.S. stocks, particularly the tech and dot.com sectors. What made this all the more startling was the happenstance that the work hit the bookstores in March 2000, less than a week before the NASDAQ tumbled from over 5000 to below 1500.

Shiller sees the possibility of a similar real estate slide sparked by “talk” - “The Home-Price Bubble feels like the stock-market mania in the fall of 1999, just before the stock bubble burst in early 2000, with all the hype, herd investing and absolute confidence in the inevitability of continuing price appreciation. My blood ran slightly cold at a cocktail party the other night when a recent Yale Medical School graduate told me that she was buying a condo to live in Boston during her year-long internship, so that she could flip it for a profit next year. Tulipmania reigns.”

Barrons reports that Shiller is still “somewhat coy” about calling how or when the housing bubble will deflate. There is still strong property price momentum, mortgage rates are still low and likely to remain so what will be the catalyst that causes the bubble to burst is far from clear. Barrons compares the US to “the once-red-hot Sydney, Australia, residential market, where real (inflation-adjusted) prices rose 12.8% in 2003 before dropping 2.5% in 2004 and remaining wobbly ever since.”

Property prices tend to be less efficiently measured - there’s no national register of housing prices that trades every single saleable property throughout the working day and composites these at the end of the day into an index for the CNBC-heads to yabber about. So house price downturns often start almost imperceptibly and can proceed slowly and virtually unnoticed for quite a while. The data that is used (average price of transaction is the lead indicator) can be very misleading - if the market slows more in cheaper areas than in more expensive ones then the data becomes skewed and a 10% fall in the more expensive areas can still be reported as an increase in the average price. Unlike a stock, a homeowner can refuse to sell if he doesn’t achieve his asking price. He might think that his home is still worth $500,000 when no-one will pay more than $400,000 and he retains the sanction not to sell and to cling onto the illusion that the property is “really’ still worth $ 500,000.

Back to our man Shiller - he’s identified that property has become so overheated in so many areas of the U.S. that once a decline starts it could continue to spiral for two to three years, bridging the economic downturn and placing speculative buyers with scant equity but hefty debt into a real bind. Lending has been effervescent of late with high multiples and low down payments - this inflates the bubble on the way up but creates disaster on the way back down. This is why Shiller sees the possibility of a real price decline of as much as 50% in American residential property values over the next decade. In fairness this isn’t as severe as our forecasts of outright unadjusted falls of up to 40% in the UK and Australian markets over the next 3-4 years. Shiller’s numbers are, on the other hand, adjusted for inflation - meaning that he only foresees a 20% to 25% cumulative decline in nominal prices (around -2% CAR over the decade).

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: He who laughs, lasts

by Scott Jones

In the beginning, Jones was the very first name. Adam Jones married Eve Smith. My mother’s maiden name was Jones: Darlene Jones married Ken Jones. Keeping up with the Joneses was a major challenge for both sides of the family. They claimed they weren’t cousins, but my friends never believed it. When I was seven, they got divorced. A vicious court case ensued because neither of them wanted me.

My father remarried within 12 seconds of the divorce, for 12 harried years during which he was home for a total of 12 days. I felt like Scooterella, living with a wicked stepmother who blamed me for my father’s absence, my stepsister’s shortcomings and the Cold War. Late at night I’d sit at the top of the stairs listening to their liquored tongue-lashings, wishing my fairy godmother would turn her into a pumpkin. Her eyes were lifeless like a dead fish lying on the shore. Her teeth were like a white picket fence that needed painting. Once I finished high school, I exercised my stepson prerogative and stepped out.

About that time, my mother married Dr. Griffin from a small town in Wisconsin, the Dairy State, where native “Cheeseheads” subsist entirely on cheese, beer and bovine humor. What’s a seven-course meal in Wisconsin? A cheese stick and a six-pack. What’s the state slogan? Come smell our Dairy Air. What do you call a cow that’s had an abortion? Decaffeinated. A cow with no legs? Ground beef. How can you tell if a cow thinks your jokes are funny? Milk comes out of its nose.

An industrious, hyperactive fellow, Griff was continuously running off to the hospital to deliver babies, save lives and deal with daily ambulances delivering accident victims labeled “Some Assembly Required.” At age 55, he still tackled major household projects, built new clinics and hospitals, skied everywhere and hunted anything anywhere. At work or play, he always had a joke. At home: “The nurse called today and said, ‘There’s a patient here who thinks he’s invisible.’ I said, ‘Tell him I can’t see him right now.’” In his clinic before removing a hundred wood slivers from my hand: “A strong man like you doesn’t need pain killer, right?” I agreed meekly. Surgical tool in one hand and my hand in his other, he looked me in the eye and said grimly, “This is going to hurt you a lot more than it’s going to hurt me.” Out for dinner: “I’ll have my steak very rare. Just put a saddle on it and ride it in.” While lifting their shirts or lowering their pants to reveal some ancient scar, people would approach our table saying, “Hi, Doc. Remember me?” He brought most of the county into the world . “I delivered your whole family and was the first to slap you. You were such an ugly baby I slapped your parents, too.”

Today at 93, he’s living alone; sipping brandy and sniffing bottled oxygen 24/7, but still always has a joke, though it may be the same one from the day before. On the phone before I arrive: How are you, Griff? “Ugly as ever.” Discussing Thailand: It’s right next to Laos. “Are they nice people or lousy people?” Regarding the photo on his fridge: I see your son Steve’s been fishing. “It’s a big fish. I can tell which one is the human because he’s wearing the hat.” During visits for the past 20 years, I’ve always thought it may be the last time I see him, but he’s outlived my mother and most of his friends. If this one’s the last time, I’ll probably be the one to die. Some folks say: “He who laughs last, laughs best.” Griff still teaches me: “He who laughs, lasts.”