HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in the Laugh Lane

Your Health & Happiness: Art and HIV/AIDS

Jutatip Chaisakul, HDN

“Human beings can imagine infinity… People say that there are as many stories as leafs in the forest. Tales are created by imagination and lead us to imagination.”

The above message was part of a short talk about Art and HIV/AIDS given at a special event which combined December’s NGO Forum with the World AIDS Day’s activities.

The opening presentation was given by Sawing Tan-ud and was about Art and HIV/AIDS in relation to development issues in Thailand. There was also an art exhibition of children’s paintings from the Kids Ark Foundation and Baan Sabaii, and a mini concert featuring music from Khun Daeng - Prasert Dechaboon and ’Leaf’, a local folk group.

Talking to the audience in an informal style, Sawing explained why he gives precedence to art and life style, “Now, our learning is too focused on logic and not feelings. At school, teachers teach students to understand logic and reason. In fact, the human brain has two sides; logic and imagination. Memory and logic is not enough. For example, in HIV/AIDS campaigns in the past, AIDS patients were presented in promotional materials but no awareness was created. We worked to create ‘knowledge’ but not ‘awareness’,” he concluded.

Following on from Sawing’s short talk, Nittaya Inpirut and Nittaya Tuitiem, representatives from the Kids Ark Foundation, told us about their organization. Kids Ark Foundation helps orphan children to stay with their relatives, provides scholarships to children affected by HIV in the north of Thailand, and provides vocational training for villagers. The colorful paintings which filled the Action Centre were evidence of how they use art as a medium for child development.

We closed with a mini concert that communicated experiences, ideas, and feelings through song. The singers included Daeng - Prasert and friends and ‘Leaf’, the winner of the student folksong contest on ‘Communication to promote safe-sex and responsibility’, which was part of the World AIDS Day activities, organized by Maejo University.

This coming together of artists and musicians created a very positive and hopeful feeling to mark World AIDS Day, which is a great note to end the year on. Many thanks go to all our partners and the participants who contributed to the NGO Forum this year. The next NGO Forum will be held in January 2006. We look forward to seeing you then.

The NGO forum takes place on the last Tuesday of every month at the HIV/AIDS Action Centre. For more information or suggestions of topics, please contact Jutatip Chaisakul at Health and Development Networks,
053 418 438 or [email protected], [email protected]

The Doctor's Consultation: Christmas Disease

Christmas Disease has nothing to do with Santa, but everything to do with Stephen. Stephen Christmas, that is. Stephen, a young British lad, was the first patient with a bleeding tendency recognized to have a different form from “classical” haemo-philia (or hemophilia if you come from the left hand side of the Atlantic Ocean).

His condition was studied by researchers Biggs, Douglas, and Macfarlane in 1952, who discovered that young Stephen was missing a different coagulation factor than the more usual one, (which is known as Factor VIII). They named Stephen’s missing factor as Factor IX, and his condition became known as Christmas Disease.

Just to confuse the issue, we also call Christmas Disease by other names, including Factor IX defi- ciency, haemophilia II, haemophilia B, haemophi-loid state C, hereditary plasma thromboplastin component deficiency, plasma thromboplastin component deficiency, and plasma thromboplastin factor-B deficiency. There’s probably more, but Christmas Disease has a much nicer “ring” to it. (Probably “Jingle Bells” at this time of year!)

From the diagnostic viewpoint, it is very difficult to differentiate
between classical haemophilia (I come from the right hand side of the Atlantic, so it is spelled with “ae”) and Christmas Disease. The symptoms are the same, with excessive bleeding seen by recurrent nosebleeds, bruising, spontan- eous bleeding, bleeding into joints and associated pain and swelling, gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract haemorrhage producing blood in the urine or stool, prolonged bleeding from cuts, tooth extraction, and surgery and excessive bleeding following circumcision.

Christmas Disease covers around one in seven cases of the total haemophilia incidence and is around 1/30,000 in the general population. This disease is also male dominated, being called a sex-linked recessive trait passed on by female carriers. This means the bleeding disorder is carried on the X chromosome. Males being of XY make-up will have the disease if the X they inherit has the gene. Females, who have XX chromosomes, are only carriers if either X has the bleeding gene.

Haemophilia has been noted in history for many years, and Jewish texts of the second century A.D. refer to boys who bled to death after circumcision (not an ideal way to go), and the Arab physician Albucasis (1013-1106) also described males in one family dying after minor injuries.

In more recent history, Queen Victoria of Britain’s son Leopold had hemophilia, and two of her daughters, Alice and Beatrice, were carriers of the gene. Through them, hemophilia was passed on to the royal families in Spain and Russia, including Tsar Nicholas II’s only son Alekei.

Initially the medical profession thought that the bleeding tendency was caused by a structural defect in the blood vessels, but in 1937, a substance was found that could produce clotting in the blood of haemophiliacs. This was called AHG, or ‘anti-hemophilic globulin’.

However, in 1944 researchers found a remarkable case where blood from two different hemophiliacs was mixed, both were able to clot. Nobody could explain this until 1952, until the researchers in England working with Stephen Christmas documented there were two types of hemophilia. They called his version Christmas disease. So it became obvious that there were two factors at work and when the different bloods were mixed, they supplied for each other, the missing AHG’s.

The actual names were assigned to these AHG’s by an international committee in 1962. Factor VIII deficiency became known as Haemophilia A, and Factor IX deficiency as Haemophilia B or Christmas Disease.

A Merry Christmas to you all.
Dr. Iain.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I wish you all the best but I find many stories in your column very funny. Sorry to tell you but I not find Thailand very different from other countries in the world. The people in Thailand wish a good life for themselves and their families. Same as everywhere in the world. The problems for Farang coming here starts when they think they can buy anything for money. You can never buy a people’s heart with money but what you can do is the following : If you meet a nice Thai woman and you take very good care of her then she can start take you a little bit into her heart but it is up to you. If you treat people no good then people will treat you no good back. Same as everywhere in the world. If you are coming here and you are in the middle age, hairless with big stomach - then I suppose you have a mirror in your home? Now, go to your mirror and take a look and you will have the answer. And I don’t think you will find your self very sexy.
If you are coming here and looking for a good life - you can have it, but you have to find the right woman for you same as in Europe. You must also look at her mother because here is a hierarchy which means that the mother is the boss in the family. If the mother is good then you can have a very good chance to have a good relationship with your lady. If you wish to give somebody money or other stuff, then you should give from your heart and not ask for something back. If you not can give from your heart then I recommend you not to give. And remember you are the boss of your wallet. In Thailand I have meet many fantastic people but like any other countries in the world you can also find bad people here. I will recommend the farrangs to act as follows : You must remember nobody asked you to come to Thailand - you come of your own free will. You are a guest in this country and you act like a guest. You also act as you do in your homeland and I am sure you will not have any problems in Thailand whatsoever. To all farrangs : I wish you good luck in this fantastic land. Best regards.

Dear David,
Thank you for your letter, obviously written from the heart (and not in your native tongue, so forgive my rewriting a couple of passages, Petal), and from someone who seems to have found his way to happiness in this country. The message of ‘Do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you’ works very well in all societies, European or Asian. There is no difference. You put down Thai ladies at your own risk. This is their country. You will never win. Remember that as well as David’s tips. So every time you walk down Loy Kroh Road and a bevy of beauties call out, “Hello sexy man!” have a think about David’s description “middle age, hairless with big stomach” and say to yourself whether you honestly really are a ‘sexy man’, or whether you are being conned. When the relationship begins with a falsehood, it won’t get any better. It’s as good as it gets. Beware, my Petals!

Dear Hillary,
I posted some Belgian chocolates to you today as promised, unlike that stingy Mr.Singha, I did keep my word. I hope they arrive safe and sound, the boxes are wrapped in foil so I hope they will be okay. Thanks for printing my letters to you. I’m Derrick, an Australian made in England, but who’s heart is 100 percent Thai. Thanks for your great column Hillary and I wish you and all at Chiangmai Mail a very Happy and Healthy Farrang New Year. Lotsaluv.

Dear Delboy,
Thank you so much. I hope they arrive safe and sound too. Wrapped in foil sounds good, though I hope the post office doesn’t blow them up, thinking they are some sort of bomb. I will also alert our messenger at the office that if the said choccies are not delivered immediately to my office, I will tear his left leg off and beat him to death with the soggy end (in a gentle ladylike manner of course). I am glad you enjoy the column, Petal, and look forward to helping you again in the New Year, and all the best to you, down in Australia.

Dear Hillary,
Just a quickie. I want to send a little girl some money for Xmas/New Year, but I’ve been told that it’s not too safe sending by post. As I won’t be back in Thailand till around March/April, it is a bit late to bring it over myself. What’s your suggestion?

Dear Ralf,
That is nice of you, but your little lady friend will soon tell you the best way, if you haven’t worked it out before Santa comes down the chimney. You don’t post it, you transfer it to her bank account, and she will have one, believe me! Posting is a no-no!

Camera Class:  Digital Tips

by Harry Flashman

With seemingly everyone now having a digital camera, and more of you getting one for Xmas, it is time for some tips on how to maximize your investment. Many (in fact most) of these tips also refer to film cameras, especially the point and shoot varieties. This is because compacts have the same problems, whether digital or otherwise, and SLR’s have the same advantages, whether digital or otherwise!

It’s all downhill from here!

The first tip is one that I give to everyone at least once a year. “Walk several meters closer”! More good shots are ruined by having the subject as small dots in some huge background. Make the subject the hero. If the subject(s) are people, then use the telephoto setting and still walk in closer. Fill the frame with the subject and you do not need to worry about the backgrounds. Ever! And remember when taking pictures of a group, get them to really cuddle up together, and don’t be afraid to get them to angle their heads in towards the center. The happy giggling faces will make a good photo.

Another easy procedure is to use filters to warm up the scene, or polarize and add some intense color to the photo. “But my point and shoot digital doesn’t take filters,” I hear you say. Sure, but the lens is physically so small, it is easy to place something before it. Various colored sunglasses can both polarize and add warmth to the shot. You may want to put the camera on a tripod, while you hold the sunglasses directly over the lens. You do not need a one meter high tripod for this either. There are small ‘mini’ tripods you can use, which retail for around B. 200 and do the job admirable. You can set the camera on a table, or the roof of the car.

By the way, the polarizing effect is most noticeable when you are shooting “with” the light, rather than into it.

When taking portraits outdoors, turn the flash on as well. The camera will have set itself to expose the brightest part of the scene, so the flash then brightens up the foreground subject.

Another trick to outdoors portraiture is to take some shots with the sun behind the subject to ‘rim light’ the hair with the halo effect. With the sun behind the subject, you also stop the screwed up eyes from the sun’s glare, which is never very photogenic.

You should also explore your camera’s capabilities. After all, you are not wasting expensive film, are you? Try different setting and see what the end result can be, but remember what the settings were if you want to repeat the effect!

One setting that most digital cameras possess is a ‘macro’ mode. Use this to discover new and exciting details in your garden. The macro mode is usually depicted as a flower in your on-screen menu. Remember that to get the best macro shots, look carefully at which part of the subject will be in focus. The depth of field in macro is very shallow, so note where the camera magic eye is indicating the focus point is, relative to the subject, before slowly pressing the shutter release.

Another very simple tip, but one that seems to be forgotten is the placement of the horizon line, which should be one third down from the top of the LCD screen, or one third up from the bottom of the screen. The horizon line (as the name suggests) should also be horizontal!

Another tip is to buy another memory card. The one you will get with the camera is too small. You will then try and put the camera in a mode which lets you take more shots, but this is done at the expense of sharpness. Buy a 512 MB card and use the highest resolution you can. This way, if you do have a great shot, you can have it enlarged, and still be sharp. Another advantage of having two cards is you never end up with a full card and
another great shot to be taken.

It should be remembered that when you bought this new camera because it had plenty of megapixels, unless you run the camera at its highest resolution, all the expense of the additional megapixel capability has been wasted. You got a 4 megapixel camera, rather than an old 2 megapixel for that reason! So enjoy your camera, this festive season.

Money Matters:  How to learn from History

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

Having spent the last weeks sending out our dissertation on the history of the stock markets, it’s time to move to the present tense. In the current economic situation “tense” could turn out to be particularly apposite.

For most people investments are largely synonymous with equities. Even though the bond and commodity markets, as we discovered in our history of the VOC, pre-date the equity markets and are larger, equities are still where most people expect to see most of their capital invested for most of their lives. Until recently the paradigm was that:

equity investment = growth

bonds (or high dividend equities) = income

Sadly those assumptions haven’t always been borne out by events.

If we look at the returns generated by equity investment (using the Dow Jones as a proxy) and the level of risk (using standard deviation from the mean return) the level of risk seems at various times to be higher than the actual returns would have compensated:

The figures look quite shocking but it’s only when you start to think about what they mean in real terms and not as statistics that it really hits home.

Anyone who invested in 1930 would have seen their investment fall by an average of 5.64% every year for 10 years until the US entered WWII. Anyone who invested in the Dow in 1960 would have gotten back their capital plus an annual return of just over one third of one percent - 0.33% - for each year that they invested when they cashed out again TWENTY years later. Anyone who bought the Dow at its 1929 peak would have shown a LOSS if they’d sold 44 years later. If they’d held on for another 11 years after that, they would have just about broken even.

55 years and the DJ exhibited no growth. Yet we all still believe that stocks do grow in value. Perhaps that’s because in more recent history we’ve seen the DJ move from below 1000 points in 1983 to its current level of around 10.5 times that. If you’d only lived through the last 20 years you’d expect that to be the norm - stocks to increase 10 fold every 20 years and you’d invest every cent that you had into the Dow (or the NASDAQ whose growth was even more dramatic during the 1990s but which only dates back some 34 years), but if you lived from 1929 to 1975 you’d be equally convinced that over time stock markets just fluctuated and never actually went up!

However, we live in 2005 and we know that both of these states can exist. We also know that methodologies exist that will make certain types of equity investment suitable at some times and other types suitable at different times. The key to successful equity investing is to appreciate the possibilities of what might happen going forwards in the market and what methodologies are suitable or unsuitable for those possibilities.

The important lesson is that an inflexible dogmatic approach to equity investing will end in tears whatever it may be. A stock bull who invests long in all the stocks in the index would have been suffering pain from 1929 to 1983. A market bear who constantly shorts the market would have been wiped out by the 1050% increase between 1983-1999. Both would have been bamboozled by the Dow’s gyrations down from just over 11,500 to just below 7,500 and back up to 10,500 in the 6 years since then.

However, by adopting various approaches to equity investing that are suitable to prevailing market conditions, you could have made good returns throughout.

We’ll talk more about that 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: A Chiang Mai Christmas

by Scott Jones

I’m very merry to be in Thailand during Christmas where it’s just one of the many multi-cultural, multi-religious holidays on the menu. Every year at this time, in America, the main religion seems to be Commercialism as it is immersed in a frantic shopping spree, a feeding frenzy of epic proportions where people pay through the nose for gifts they can get half-price the day after Christmas, the second biggest shopping day in the USA. Department stores have entire banks of Santas under a banner that says: 12 Santas! No waiting! There are Express Santas on the end for kids who want 10 toys or less.

Christmas carols have been blaring in stores, at the office, on the phone and in the streets since Halloween in October. By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, you crave a Silent Night after you’ve heard a gazillion versions of it by Mr. Muzak and the Elevator Sisters. Here are a few of your old favorites with words altered to fit the season here in Thailand. Gather the family, warm up some Chang beer, thrown another bamboo log on the fire, sing yourself silly and have a Merry Mai Pen Rai Christmas!

Crickets roasting on an open grill
Sunburned skin flakes off your nose
Yuletide karaoke guaranteed to make you ill
Some trekkers smoking mistletoe
Everybody’s eating everything that walks or flies
You’ve gotta try the fresh hot toads and frogs
A family of seven rides by on one motor bike
Dad, Mom, the kids, grandma, two dogs
We know they’re tourists on their way
Bringing lot of katoys and good girls take home pay
And even Mrs. Claus is gonna spy
To see if Santa falls in love with a Thai
You’d better watch out
You’d better not cry
You’d better not pout
There’s no mai pen rai
The minister is coming to town.

(Episcopal? No. Methodist? No. Presbyterian? No.)
He’s made a big list
Of every Farang
You think you’ve done right
But he’s got it wrong
The minister is coming to town.

(Lutheran? No. Baptist? No. Prime? You got it.)
He sees you when you’re leaping
Through hoops for your visa
And now he’s got to see 10,000 baht
Or you’ll be stuck in Burma
Frosty the Snowman
Came to Chiang Mai Christmas Day
He was fine at nine
Half-dead at ten
By noon he melted away.

Do you hear what I hear?
Said the shepherd boy to his sleeping beau
Do you hear what I hear?
Crunching on the bed clothes below
Termites! Termites!
Munching on the bed
Let’s get up and eat them instead!
Call the neighbors. They’ll expect to be fed.