Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Dogs - Man’s best friend

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

The Doctor's Consultation:Counting your calories

by Dr. Iain Corness

There are those readers who religiously count their calories, anxiously scanning the supermarket shelves for items that are low in calories, as they fight the never ending battle of the bulge.

However, as I found out the other day, counting calories is not all that easy, and in some ways downright confusing. I was led into this wonderful world of confusion by a visitor to the hospital who took me over to a nutrition display and insisted I read the calories that each portion contained. He had noticed that the calorific value was expressed in “kilocalories” and suggested that if this were the case, the small fish containing 145 “kilocalories” was really delivering 145,000 “calories”, enough for a small army of people for several meals. I began to think that perhaps the old parable of the loaves and the fishes had a certain ring of truth to it.

Deciding in all innocence, that the nutritionist must have meant “kilojoules” I made a trip to the display the next day to speak to the young lady. She listened to me, smiled sweetly, and told me that it was “kilocalories” and not “kilojoules” and was firmly defending her position.

It was time for me to regroup and reconsider. Was my previous medical advice, that used to revolve around 1,500 calories a day for weight loss, using the wrong parameters? It was time to consult a senior colleague, Dr. Google!

One quick Google consultation was enough to show me just how ‘inexact’ some of our scientific measurements and nomenclature really are. A calorie it appears, is the energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. A kilocalorie was the energy needed to raise the temperature of one kg of water by the same one degree Celsius. A kilocalories was then 1000 calories, as you would expect by the name. After all, 1000 meters is a kilometer, is it not?

So far, it looked like I was going to be able to take the high moral ground, since food labeling always has “calories” per portion, which is generally around 100 calories. However, I was too hasty. It turns out that in Europe, manufacturers of pre-packaged food must state the nutritional energy of their products in “kilocalories” (kcal) and “kilojoules” (kJ), where one kcal is equivalent to 4.2 kJ. (I hope you have been following this closely, as I might ask questions at the end of this column!)

To really confuse the average weight watcher, the USA mandatory labeling has the nutritional labeling in “calories” instead of kcal. And to really complicate matters, the “calories” have the same numerical values as the “kilocalories” of Europe. My portion of fish was 145 kcal in Europe, but only 145 cal in America! This was verging on the more than faintly ridiculous. This fish had 145,000 “calories” in Europe but only 145 “calories” in America. With those sorts of values, how can Americans be so obese as a nation, consuming one thousandth of the energy values of the Europeans?

Further Googling brought out the fact that in food packaging “calories” and “kilocalories” are considered equivalent to each other and are used interchangeably. So my poor old fish has both an energy value of 145 “kilocalories” and 145 “calories”, making a mockery of the entire scientific system of measurement.

Mr. Google assured me hardly any confusion arises in practice, as even in Europe, which uses the kcal symbol, they will just refer to these as “calories”.

I am glad Mr. Google is so clear on this, as I am certainly not. However, in the meantime, if you must count “calories”, pick the small numbers and feel immeasurably thinner!


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I see in today’s Heart to Heart you had to sensor cr*p in the letter from Mike because this is a family newspaper. I don’t understand why this was necessary. In this same issue, Howie Reed in his Square Ring column, on filling seats at a boxing match, quotes, “Toney can sell tickets, can fight and can put ass’s in the seats.”
I am sure all families the (sic) read the Chiangmai Mail are familiar with the words crap and ass’s, so why should crap be censored? We all know crap comes from ass’s.
Charlie Brown

Dear Charlie,
Thank you for the physiology lesson, but if I wish to censor coarse vocabulary in this column, I will continue to do so. What Howie Read writes is of no concern of mine. I do not go to displays of pugilism, even if it does put long eared quadrupeds of the horse family in the seats (Pocket Oxford definition of ass). I hope they enjoy the fights.

Dear Hillary,
With each new online issue of Chiangmai Mail, I click your column first. I am variously amazed, shocked, saddened, amused, entertained or simply delighted by the questions/situations that are sent to you. I think you handle each question with integrity, sincerity and humour. I have learnt much from your column and believe I have a better appreciation of the Thai/Farang lifestyle because of your replies. My sincere thanks.
Grateful
P.S. Mon Cheri, I will be in Chiang Mai on the 28 December. Would a fine Australian sparkling Pinot Noir, (the French won’t allow us to call it champagne anymore - especially because it tastes better) and boxed chocolates be a suitable reward for your teachings?
Dear Grateful,
Thank you! Let me assure you that Hillary does not have one xenophobic taste-bud that would preclude her enjoying a good old Aussie sparkler coming under the generic heading of Methode Champenoise. And the choccies to go with it! Who said that Australians were just a bunch of convicts? Convicts with ‘class’ it seems! There is only one little problem, my Petal, Hillary will be away for the New Year celebrations, but if you would like to leave your ‘donation’ at the office, suitably addressed to Hillary, I will think of you fondly on my return. After the requisite chilling and hearing that satisfying noise of the cork going ‘pop’ I shall certainly raise a glass to your good health. Thank you again, it is always so nice to meet a gentleman.

Dear Hillary,
Why is it that my Thai girlfriend shouts into the phone when she is talking to her Thai friends, but when she speaks to our native English speaking friends her voice drops several degrees, so much so that all my friends complain they can hardly here (sic) her whispers? My friends say that their Thai ladies are the same, bellow into the phone until a foreigner comes on the line and then things go quiet. Any ideas, Hillary?
Deaf Don

Dear Deaf Don,
This is an easy one to explain. You are forgetting that your Thai ladies have to speak a foreign language when they speak in English. Being Thais, they do not want to show ignorance or poor pronunciation, so to disguise their shyness in speaking the language, they speak very softly. When they are talking to other Thais, they want to make sure that the other party has heard and understood, so they do speak louder than normal. Think about this, how do you go when you speak Thai? Do you boom it out, or tentatively say the words? Just accept that this is the way in Thailand. Do not try and change it – or do so at your own risk. Hillary has warned you.

Dear Hillary,
We are fairly new to living in Asia and I am not sure what to do with our maid. She came with the apartment as the previous tenant recommended her, and seems to be a very nice person. The work is not hard and she whips through the place in a few hours, as there is only the two of us (husband and me). My problem comes with the number of days off that she seems to have. It is not that she does not come to work, it is that she tells me that she has to see her mother, or it is a special day for Chinese, or another Buddha Day, so she will not be here on some day next week. Is this the usual for Thai maids, or am I being made use of?
Helen

Dear Helen,
There are many reasons that Thai maids will take time off. Family pressures, family needs, too hard, too boring, no ‘sanuk’ (fun), the list is endless and most you will not understand anyway. Provided she keeps up with the chores expected of her and is giving you sufficient notice, then I believe you are stuck with the current situation. However, have you sat down with her and explained what you expect of a maid. You may need a Thai friend to help you with this, as it is easy for a communication breakdown to occur, with unsatisfactory results for everyone.


Camera Class: Digital distress

by Harry Flashman

After almost 100 years of producing film cameras, the manufacturers seem to have production of the ‘bullet-proof’ camera down pat. It is very rare to hear of these types of cameras having a problem affecting a large number of a particular model, particularly when you look at the more ‘manual’ cameras such as the Nikon FM2. However, the same cannot be said of the new ranges of digital cameras.

Since digitals are by their very nature all electronic, you are in a new and exciting area, but you are also in a new and frustrating area. Just as we have come to accept that our PC’s will malfunction because of their electronics, our digital cameras will as well. A brief time spent on the internet will soon unearth dozens of distressed owners with identical complaints. With the rapid pace of progress, and the manufacturer’s need to produce bigger and brighter models in as short a time frame as possible, quality glitches often do not show up until that particular model has been in the marketplace for a few months.

For example, Canon found a problem with one of their digitals in high temperatures and high humidities. Apparently in the extreme temperature conditions, parts of the wiring come loose and the camera stops recording images or records distorted images. Canon Asia is directing customers to their service centers in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Cameras found to be suffering from the problem will be fixed free of charge, regardless of warranty status, the company said.

There is also an enormous swing towards the very small digitals such as the Canon Ixus, now offering 5 megapixels and an optical zoom lens. Smaller than a pack of cigarettes, these will fit in a pocket or handbag very easily, and the marketplace is flooded with
them from the competing brands.

I had the opportunity to test several of these in the last month, and the ease of use varied enormously. Some do not have any focusing light, so night photography is total hit and miss. Mostly miss. Others, in their quest for miniaturization, make it such that when holding the camera your fingers obscure the in-camera flash. As always, it is ‘caveat emptor’ (let the buyer beware), so try before you buy is needed here.

Another aspect of photography that is lost when going from a standard SLR to the new ‘mini’ digitals is the loss of the ability to use selective focus (a blurred or out of focus background is used to dramatize a sharply focused foreground and thereby accentuate the subject, especially useful in portraiture) due to the very short focal lengths of fixed digital camera lenses. Depth of field (how far the range of focus extends in front of and behind the focus point on the main subject) depends on the focal length of the lens, and to a lesser degree the aperture setting. The shorter the focal length of the lens the further the plane of sharp focus extends. Digital camera lenses (both zooms and prime lenses) have very short focal lengths which create great depth of field even at wide apertures and long telephoto settings, the usual settings to produce a shallow depth of field in normal ‘film’ cameras. This means that when trying to take portraits, you do not get a nice soft blurred background. Unfortunately, if you want to take good portraits, you will need a digital SLR, not one of the mini point and shoot digitals. However, you can still take a reasonable portrait by using the longest telephoto setting and then walking in close and making the head and shoulders fill the frame as much as possible, thus losing the background as much as possible.

Another problem with the miniaturization possible with digitals is that because of the small physical size, the flash ends up very close to the lens of the camera. This will mean that the likelihood of ‘red eye’ is very much greater than with other cameras. Some have ‘pre-flash’ to try and help stop this, but if you like to shoot portraits and you don’t want your subjects showing red-eye, the definitive answer is really an SLR with its own tele lenses.


Dogs - Man’s best friend: General Health Care: Vaccination

Nienke Parma

A most cute looking Golden

Proper health care of our dogs or cats includes vaccinating them against infectious diseases.

There are eight core vaccines, four for dogs and four for cats, which are: Canine distemper (CDV), Canine parvovirus-2 (CPV-2), Canine adenovirus (CAV-2), Feline panleukopenia or parvovirus (FPV), Feline herpesvirus-1
or viral rhinotracheitis (FHV-1), Feline calicivirus (FCV) and Rabies both for dogs
and cats.

These vaccines are absolutely necessary, according to Dr. Ron Shultz, a respected veterinary immunologist, as they will protect against these highly infectious
diseases with a high mortality rate. In these diseases it can be dangerous to leave it up to the natural immunization or exposure, especially in areas where these
diseases are still very common.

Although, vaccination is a popular and strongly supported method it is not as widely and unquestionable accepted today as it was in the past. Many veterinarians, both regular and holistic, are questioning the effectiveness of several vaccines and the validity of the annual revaccination. It has resulted in the US that, not too long ago, the immunization protocol for cats and dogs has changed, following the suggestions made by Dr. Jean Dodd, a celebrity in this field. The new protocol is as follows: vaccinations should start at the age of not less than eight weeks due to antibodies puppies and kittens receive through their mother’s milk which lasts 8 to 14 weeks. The vaccine will be neutralized by this maternal immunization producing little or no protection. Vaccination at six weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccines should be administered one at the time and given three to four weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Vaccinations given two weeks apart suppress rather than stimulate the immune system, according to Dr. Dodd. Another vaccination series is given sometime after six months of age, but usually one year after the first series. Most vaccines give many years of cover.

There is no scientific proof available to back up the claim that dogs and cats need booster vaccinations every year. On the other hand, however, there is scientific documentation of several long-lasting health problems caused by annual vaccination. But as this information presents an ethical and economical challenge to veterinarians, in America they have come up with a compromise suggesting vaccinations every three years. One exception is the rabies vaccination as in many countries, such as Thailand, this vaccine has to be administered annually by law.

For more information on your pets’ health, and on dog and cat boarding, dog training and behavior please
visit www.luckydogs.info or contact LuckyDogs: 0 9997 8146.


Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

by Dr Byte, Citec Asia

In the last column, we had a look at ways to protect ourselves from the increasing threat of spyware and malware. As we head into the last couple of days before Christmas, I want to answer a couple more questions and also pass on a fun look at internet addiction which has a ring of truth.

You know you are addicted to the Internet when...

* Your bookmark takes 15 minutes to scroll from top to bottom.

* Your eyeglasses have a web site burned in on them.

* All of your friends have an @ in their names.

* You’ve already visited all the links at Yahoo and you’re halfway through Lycos. or [C]ontinue?

* You can’t call your mother...she doesn’t have a modem.

* You check your mail. It says “no new messages.” So you check it again.

* You wake up at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom and stop and check your e-mail on the way back to bed.

* You start tilting your head sideways to smile.

* You begin to wonder how on earth your service provider was allowed to call 200 hours per month “unlimited.”

* You start using smileys in your snail mail.

..and now for some readers questions and answers. Joanne, Saraphee, asked about attaching digital photos to a report she has to send by e-mail. “The recipient said that on XP there’s a way to compress photos if you right click on them, but I can’t find it.”

A: I think they were referring to the “Send to” facility, which works in this fashion. You can right click on an image file in a folder, using something like Windows Explorer, and choose “Send to” from the right-click menu and then select “Mail recipient”. At this point, XP offers an option to “make all my pictures smaller”. This will help if your main task is to send the images via email. However, a fully featured image-editing or graphics suite (ACDC is a good starting point or Photo Shop for the pro) will help more in the long run. Spend a little time learning the resize and crop features and this will give you more control over the look and quality of your images and allow you to resize images for importing into document files and presentations.

Kirk, Chiang Mai Gate, says that he is running Microsoft Outlook and deleted a message that he now wishes to retrieve. “My version does not have the tools that allow you to retrieve a deleted message. It must be an older version. Is there any other way that I can access these deleted messages?”

A: Retrieving deleted messages was never done from the Tools menu. Deleted messages are moved to a folder called Trash or Deleted Items, depending on your version of Outlook. Just open this folder and you will find all the deleted messages. Then just move your message back to in Inbox folder by right-clicking on the message and selecting “Move to Folder”. BUT if you have deleted it from the Deleted Items folder and you are a home user, then for all practical purposes it is irretrievably gone. If you are in an office running Microsoft Exchange Server, the administrator may be able to retrieve it as the deleted mail can reside on the server for a week or more.

Khun Pongh, Phra Singh, says that somebody reduced the number of icons displayed on the left-hand side of the taskbar. “From 10 to three. I can expand the display but this only holds until the next time I boot the computer. How can I extend the number of icons displayed permanently?”

A: Right-click on the taskbar (the bar alongside the Click Here to Start Button), and ensure that Lock the Taskbar is not ticked. Then just extend it. If you want to lock the bar to prevent accidental changes again, go back and tick the Lock the Taskbar item.

Sam, near Wat Umong, says that he bought the “DU meter” software after reading about it. “It’s a good tool but it shows me that data is still being uploaded and downloaded even when I’ve logged off from my ISP connection (data stops when I remove the cable from the cable modem). My ISP tells me this is normal, the DU meter people tell me that they haven’t heard of this before. Can you give me your thoughts, please?

A: I use a couple of different tools to monitor the internet and local network traffic and tested DU meter some time ago. It is a good product and shows this constant background traffic when the computer is idle. Recently I have been able to capture and analyze every byte that comes from and to my computer over a period of time that has no computer activity. The results show that there was nothing sinister happening. All the data that was being sent was from by the office server and Router polling (looking) for computers on the network.

In the next column, I have a few more Questions and Answers to share with you. Don’t forget to keep your preferred Anti-virus and Spy sweepers up to date. Do a full hard disc scan and sweep at least once a week. Don’t open e-mails with funny attachments if you are not expecting them and last but not least, make sure your Firewall is on. Dr Byte appears in Chiang Mai Mail every 2 weeks and if you have any questions or suggestions you would like to make, you can contact me at Dr Byte, Chiangmai Mail.