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: Honors bestowed on a CMU doctor

Dedicated her life’s work to AIDS and malaria victims in Africa

Saksit Meesubkwang

CMU lecturers and students pictured with Dr. Klitsana Kraisin (front row, fourth from right).

Dr. Klitsana Kraisin, an alumnus of CMU, who has dedicated her life to research and to produce medicine for AIDS and malaria victims in Africa has been presented with a Doctorate in Pharmacy.

Better known to the foreign media for her work with AIDS and malaria victims in Africa, she disclosed to journalists that she had lived in Africa for more than four years, to help people there who lacked both food and medicine. Her duties sometimes took her to remote areas, without water for bathing, and eating the same meals as her patients every day, but this was necessary to bring help those people. Her knowledge of pharmacy enabled her to make natural remedies to ease her patient’s suffering and in doing so incurred the enmity of the big pharmaceutical companies because they lost many clients through her efforts. Her notoriety was such that if she entered countries like Ethiopia, she could only do so with a police escort.

Dr. Klitsana Kraisin’s academic achievements include a Pharmacy bachelor degree from CMU in 1975 and a Ph.D (Pharmaceutical analysis) Bath University, U.K in 1981 and M.Sc (Pharmaceutical analysis) Strathcyde University, UK.

She used to work for a German charitable organization producing medicine for use against AIDS and malaria in 2002-2005and worked for a major pharmaceutical company in 1983-2002, besides which, she is an acknowledged expert of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization of Thailand. She has received many prizes for her work, including the International Red Award 2005 and the Berlin, Germany and Global Scientific Award, Letten Foundation, Norway in 2004.

She told reporters that many members of the media of Europe and America interviewed her to broadcast and publish stories about her work to almost 60 million people and this has been made into a feature movie that will be released to the public in April 2006 in New York, USA. She said that she would continue to serve those AIDS and malaria victims until she draws her last breath and after receiving her pharmacy doctorate degree from CMU, she intended to lecture in Bangladesh before returning to Africa.


The Doctor's Consultation: Diverticulitis – A wayside inn of ill repute?

The term diverticular disease comes from the Latin word “diverticulum” which apparently means a “small diversion from the normal path”, however, my anatomy professor many years ago claimed that “diverticulum” was Latin for “a wayside inn of ill repute”, which sounds much more romantic (and kept the interest of young medical students)!

The colon, or large intestine, is involved in water absorption, which is why the fluid contents of the stomach end up as semi-solid “poo” (lovely medical word) after the water has been removed. If this fluid absorption is upset, as in the case of rampant diarrhoea, the person can become dehydrated very quickly. This is why diarrhoea in infants can be life threatening.

Now like all organs, the colon needs a blood supply. The small vessels which supply blood to the large intestine do so by penetrating the muscle coat of the colon thereby producing a small defect through which the inner lining of the bowel can
protrude or herniate out. These small protrusions are called diverticulae (La-tin plural).

Diverticulae are more common in industrialized countries than in third world countries. The reason given for this is the lack of bulk present in the diet of industrialized countries allowing muscle contractions to create localized areas of high pressure
popping the diverticulae through the bowel wall. The pressure created by muscle contractions of the left side of the colon are considerably greater than those of the right side. This fact explains why diverti-culae are more common on the left than right side of the colon. The prevalence of diverticulae also increases with age. While fairly uncommon during the first 4 decades of life they reach a frequency of 50 percent in people greater than 65 years old.

So we get more diver-ticulae as we get older, but where does “diverticulitis” come from? What happens is that they can become inflamed, so consequently, the bowel does not work properly. This is then called “diverticulitis” (“itis” referring to inflammation). The colon can swell so much that your stomach becomes like a drum, and it is almost impossible to do up ones trousers, and even sitting down is uncomfortable. The diverticulae can also rupture and bleed, both internally and externally (into the lumen of the bowel).

The first time I had these symptoms I was around 45 years old and I rang my favorite gastroenterologist and relayed the symptoms. “You’ve got diverticulitis” was his reply. “I can’t have” said I, “I’m too young for that.” “No you’re not,” said he, “because I’ve got it too, and I’m younger than you!”

So if the gastro boys can get it, what can you do to try and avoid it? Well, eat plenty of “roughage” – vegetables - and lay off peanuts. Some bran on your morning cereal is also a good plan.

And what to do when you get a bad attack? Well, first you have to make sure it really is just diverticulitis. Acute diverticulitis can often be diagnosed by a typical history and a physical exam showing impressive tenderness over the sigmoid colon which is located in the left lower part of the abdomen. If fever and a high white blood cell count are present this is confirmatory. A barium enema or a lower GI X-Ray are not useful helpful because a ruptured diverticulum is not seen on the X-Ray. A CT scan or ultrasound of the lower abdomen can be very helpful in showing an inflammatory mass over the sigmoid colon.

The treatment includes plenty of fluids and appropriate antibiotics for a few days. But do check first! OK?


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I work in a large office block and there is a young girl who gets off on my floor who always smiles at me and says hello. I have been smiling back OK but by the time I want to say something to her the doors are open and there’s lots of people everywhere. I don’t want to embarrass her or make her loose face or something, but I would like to get to know her a bit more. I know it is different between the girls in the bars and the girls working in the office, but I’m not really sure of how to go here. I’m 27 and single and out here on a two year contract and I’ve only been here for one month.
George

Dear George,
How nice it is to find a farang male who does understand there is a difference between professional ladies of the night and the hard working professionals of the day, of which Hillary is a shining example. Now then, my shrinking Petal, what is wrong with you? Here you are, 27 years old, still in the first bloom of youth (it seems), with a young lady giving you the eye, and you don’t know what to do. However, the hormones are obviously working, even if the brain is not sure on how to drive them. George, George, Valentine’s Day is coming, it is time for you to formulate (there’s a nice word) your plan of action. I am sure you have a secretary or an office girl. You have to get her to find out the young lady’s name and who she works for. If she gets off at the same floor as yourself then there’s a limited number of companies she can work for. Thai women are good at this kind of detective work and you will soon have her name and details. On the 14
th of February have some roses and a card with “From your admirer in the lift” delivered to her office (use a motorcycle taxi driver to add to the intrigue) but add your mobile phone number. If she wants to continue further, then she’ll give you a call. Best of luck (but knowing the Thai grapevine, she’ll know everything about you already)!
Dear Hillary,
Hi my chocolate, just want to tell you how much I enjoy your column, I have been reading for a few years now. Just want to say that sometimes there is a silver lining to some things. I have been coming to Thailand for about nine years now, at first single to do the wild things, then five years ago I met a bar girl in Pattaya (won’t say which bar). Saw her the first night of my arrival. Did not speak to her, but felt something there, went back the next night and introduced myself. To make a long story short, we have been married five years have a beautiful son three years old, and this woman has been the best thing that has happen in my life. I work in the Middle East and my family is with me here. We have a home in Pattaya and I plan to retire there. (Also not once have we ever had a cross word between us.)
Thanks, one happy American, not fat or bald either, nor a millionaire.
Dear OHANFOBENA millionaire,
I am so pleased that you have managed to find the girl of your dreams, and it does show that silver linings still exist. Just keep it well polished and make sure it doesn’t tarnish, that’s a good chap. Whilst there are many failures in relationships from the bar scene, it should never be forgotten that the ladies of the night are thinking, breathing human beings with all the emotions that everyone has. When you find a good one, look after her and she will look after you too.

Dear Hillary,
I see all these old farangs being helped into the song taews by some young Thai bird and you have to wonder. Don’t they realize they’re going to get ripped off, if not tonight, then in the morning? No girl in her right mind would want to spend the night with these geezers. It’s an old joke, calling them ATM’s, and they sure are old jokes all right. I used to have a Thai girlfriend, but when I saw her getting on a bus with an old guy, I knew she wasn’t the one I would want to be with for a lifetime. I may only be 23, but I could see where it was heading.
Not an ATM

Dear Not an ATM,
I am so happy for you, Petal, you think you know it all and have the incisive eye that can see through these young girls with the older men. Keep going with all your prejudices. Or do I detect a hint of jealousy? Here you are all young and virile and your girlfriend chooses an older man instead. Dear Oh Dear! Perhaps she didn’t want to stay with you because the “lifetime” would be too long. Remember there’s no pockets in shrouds, so let the senior citizens spend it before they go, and if it is company they want to buy, then they are just as entitled to do it as you, young man.


Camera Class:  Forget the Pixels, look at the glass!

by Harry Flashman

A good shot through good glass

Having written last week that film is dead (at the 35 mm range at least), this has brought up much discussion amongst local camera buffs, and interested amateurs. I stick by my thoughts that this is true, provided you are only using 35 mm cameras. If you require 5x4 or 10x8, then it’s film transparencies all the way. However, if you are using 35 mm and are not trying to blow the pic up to be the size of a barn door, the results you will get from a digital SLR will be better than those from a film SLR.

There are many reasons for this, including the digital’s ability in low light situations and the ease in finding image detail in shadows, let alone the ability to instantly check to see if you really have got the shot you wanted. I have written before about Polaroid film checks being the insurance used by professional shooters. In 35 mm you can forget about Polaroid as well. Consign it to the industrial skip in your garden for collecting hooks for fastening button-up boots, 8 track stereo players and 78 RPM LP records (especially the ones with the large central hole).

One man who does know much more than I as far as digital imaging is concerned is Don Sambandaraksa, who writes the occasional column in the Bangkok Post. In one of his recent articles he explored the entire “pixel” postulation and was brave enough to point out that pixel and perfection may both start with the letter P, but it is not the whole story on image quality. In this column last week I finished by saying, “Remember too, that the ultimate factor in print sharpness comes down to the lens you use. A good quality prime lens from the camera body manufacturer will give you good quality final prints, be that from film or directly digital.” Don S (I can’t type his whole name again), backs this up when he writes “In the real world of meetings and seminars with less than perfect lighting, the limiting factor is the lens, not the number of megapixels.”

However, it should be noted that both Don and myself are referring to SLR cameras. While the mini-compacts are packing in 8 megapixels, more than most digital SLRs, the results are not as good as an SLR, and much of this comes down to the lens. The friendly chap in the photo store (who is trying to earn his commission) will tell you that it has a Zeiss lens or whatever, but just step back for a second and look at the sheer physical size of an SLR lens, compared to the fiddly little protuberance on the front of the compact. There is no comparison. Comparing a compact with an SLR is attempting to compare apples and oranges. Both are fruits. Both are quite different. End of story. Compacts and SLRs are both cameras. Both are quite different. End of story.

Unfortunately, with the sheer ease of using a digital compact, there is a tendency to make that the ultimate yardstick. However, the yardstick in photography has to be image quality, or we may as well all go back to Kodak box Brownie’s. Five years ago, I wrote, “No matter how fancy the electrogizmos inside, if there is a rotten piece of glass up front, you will get lousy quality photographs. The good quality lenses come from the good quality manufacturers. If you’ve never heard of the camera and it’s very cheap, then there’s every chance its got a cheap and nasty lens too. Like everything, you get what you pay for!”

It must also be remembered that everything is a trade-off one way or another. If you want to slip your camera in your trouser pocket, you have to be prepared to sacrifice image quality for miniscule size. If you are striving for sharpness, you have to sacrifice the ease of carting around on the altar of image quality.

You see, whether you are using digital or film, the image gets there via the lens. Pixels have nothing to do with the light coming through the piece of glass up front. Nothing!


Dogs - Man’s best friend: General Health Care: General Health Care: Parasites, External – part II

Nienke Parma

Symptoms of a flea infestation are scratching and biting, especially under the chin, behind ears and at the base of the spine, as a result of the itching. Shedding and bald spots may occur, sometimes with scabs. Detection of fleas with the naked eye is often difficult. Their presence shows also by their excretions, i.e. small black sand-like dots in the coat. Some animals develop a flea allergy, causing severe itch after only one bite. The affected dog or cat continues scratching and biting, especially around the base of the spine, and secondary bacterial skin infection can develop resulting in bald patches and a damaged or thickened and blackened skin. Heavy flea infestations can cause anemia (low red blood cell count) and fleas can transmit tapeworm which can sap much of their host’s energy.

Lice cause intense itching and bald spots may develop where the hair is rubbed off due to scratching and biting. The blood-sucking lice not only cause severe itch but also anemia and loss of condition. The presence of lice, and their eggs attached to the hair, can be seen with the naked eye.

Ticks are horrible in the sense that they can transmit several blood diseases,
including Erhliciosis canis. Some dogs develop an allergy to the tick’s salivation, similar to that of a flea allergy. Heavy infestations can result in severe blood loss and subsequent anemia. Other symptoms of the tick diseases are loss of appetite, eye and nasal discharge, high fever, bleeding tendencies, enlargement of the spleen and liver, swelling of the limbs joints and muscle pains, paralysis, changes in the blood chemistry due to interference with the bone marrow and liver function, seizures and finally death.

Sarcoptic mites cause severe itching. Initially only some red points in the skin are noticeable or a moth-eaten coat on the edges of the ear flap. Later raw skin and hair loss due to severe scratching, biting, rubbing and licking can occur with an increasing risk on secondary bacterial infection on the affected places.

Symptoms of Demodectic mange appear as hairless patches often starting around the eye, lips, corners of the mouth and on the front legs, giving it a moth-eaten appearance. Generallythere is very little itching. In severe infestations numerous patches appear on the head, legs and trunk which can coalesce to form large areas of hair loss. The skin breaks down and sores, crusts and draining sinus tracts are formed – presenting a most severe and disabling condition. It is a very common disease in dogs. Dogs can be carriers without showing any symptoms.

When a healthy coat shows one or more small circular bald gray crusty patches, it indicates Ringworm. There are usually no signs of itching or irritation. This fungus cannot be seen with the naked eye, but their presence can be shown under the microscope, or with a Wood’s lamp.

To be continued …

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


Money Matters:  Early winter is here (Part 5)

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

Last week we looked at America’s inability to service its debts and the likely ensuing major devaluation of the US$ and promised that today we’d look at another factor that would make this likely.

The world’s second richest man, Warren Buffet, no longer has any confidence in the dollar as an investment vehicle and for the first time has hedged against the dollar - a move which he delayed because he regarded it as unpatriotic, or at least unhelpful to American interests until he felt that he had no choice but to do so.

He finally took this action because the United States is running a huge trade deficit (i.e. it is importing far more foreign goods and services than it is selling American goods and services overseas) which is causing income to flow out of the country at such a rapid rate that it will soon become unsustainable.

In a letter to shareholders in his investment com-pany, Berkshire Hathaway he warned that the US trade deficit risks creating a “share-cropper’s society”. What concerns him is that long term American assets are being transferred overseas in return for imports of consumable items. Last year Buffett’s short positions against the US dollar nearly doubled to over $20 Bn. More than two full pages of the annual Berkshire Hathaway report were devoted to his warnings about the US trade deficit and the need to finance it with foreign investment.

Buffett is far from being a voice in the wilderness (although even if he were, you’d have to listen to the Sage of Omaha based on his track record alone). Former ECB head Wim Duisen-berg was quoted by Spanish Newspaper El Pais as saying, “A dollar devaluation seems inevitable due to the tremendous US Current Account deficit.” Similar views have been expressed by Duisen-berg’s successor as European Central Bank president, Jean-Claude Trichet, the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

At $US 57.0 billion, April’s trade deficit was up 18 percent from one year ago. Annualising the April trade deficit gives an annual deficit of $US 684 billion. US goods imports were up 15 percent from April 2004 to $US 136.8 billion. US exports were up 13 percent to $US 74.5 billion. US May import prices were up 5.7 percent from one year ago. That hits right at the everyday American’s standard of living, unless his or her earnings (less taxes) have also climbed by 5.7 percent.

It also hits businesses in the US if they have to acquire imports in order to complete their final products. Unless they can raise their selling prices to cover for this cost increase, they will take the hit right on their bottom line.

The US trade deficit with Japan narrowed to $US 7.2 billion from $US 7.8 billion. The deficit with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries widened to $US 7.1 billion from $US 6.6 billion. The deficit with Canada, the largest US trading partner, widened to $US 9.8 billion from $US 9.3 billion. The gap with Mexico widened to $US 4.4 billion from $US 4.3 billion. The US deficit with Europe increased to $US 11.8 billion from $US 10.9 billion.

The real geo-political issue that arises here is why is China’s trade surplus with the US such a huge problem? After all, the US has a GLOBAL trade deficit. The US trade deficit reached $US 228.7 billion over the first four months of 2005. The equivalent in 2004 was $US 187.3 billion. Over 2004 as a whole, the US trade gap reached a new record of $US 617.6 billion. The first four months of 2005 annua-lised comes to almost $US 700 billion. The OECD has predicted a $US 900 billion trade deficit for 2006. We are looking at a totally out-of-control situation. Its cause is straightforward. It is the immense generation of credit in the US; new additional credit issued through loans and then spilling over into external trade as purchases with the money which has been borrowed internally.

Alan Greenspan himself has made it clear that US policy for reducing the trade deficit is based around a planned devaluation of the Greenback - although he no doubt hopes that this debacle can be delayed until after Jan 1st next year when he retires. The trade deficit mushroomed to an all-time high of $617.7 billion in 2004 (almost hand in glove with the budget deficit).

Also, America is printing money at an unprecedented rate - while this can reduce debt, it devalues your currency (if there are twice as many dollars in circulation tomorrow backed by the same value of assets as today, each one is really only worth half of what today’s dollars are worth).

Over the week to May 27, US M3 money supply jumped $US 23.8 billion to $US 9.622 TRILLION. In one week, the US credit money machine created an additional US $23.8 billion out of thin air. Those new US dollars are now in full circulation.

If the US Federal Reserve keeps this weekly rate of money creation up for a year it will have added an additional $US 1 trillion 237 billion to the already outstanding stock of money in the US monetary system. The wider US M3 money supply has grown from $US 7.3 trillion at the start of 2001 to $US 9.622 trillion through May 2005. Over the mere four and one-half years from the start of 2001, the US money machine has decanted this additional $US 2 trillion 322 billion on top of the pre-existing $US 7.3 trillion, which is an increase in the total stock of money in the USA of 31.8 percent in that time! That alone should have weakened the dollar by almost one third (depending upon M3 data for other currencies).

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: Taken by Rome

by Scott Jones

Last week’s column ended with me scampering about madly trying to extinguish 23 small fires created after I had gathered all the keys, coins and strike-anywhere kitchen matches in my pocket which had ignited in my hand causing me to fling them throughout my hotel room. I soaked my burned hand in vinegar for an hour until it had the consistency of a prune. (A weird but effective family remedy, try it when this happens to you.) It was my first day in my first foreign country and I was excited to meet the fiery Italian women I’d seen in the movies that appeared far more exotic those in my home state of North Dakota: large, blond, freckled, Lutheran, Scandinavian girls who were very good with farm machinery. I hoped my young college studliness would distract them from a bandaged hand that smelled like a dill pickle.

On the streets, the young women were indeed attractive, thin and stylish, wearing high-heeled, pointed shoes that looked very comfortable if you only had one toe. The older women were portly and rotund, exactly like Mama Lasagna on the pasta packages at home. I bought some fruit from a wrinkled mama and, not yet grasping the exchange rate, held out a fistful of money and let her take the correct amount. I later learned those fruit cost me about $17 which, in 1970, would have been enough to buy a small grocery store. I wished I had performed my recent match trick there and set fire to her fruit stand.

My buddy and I had no luck with the aloof Italian beauties until one evening after a day of sampling every kind of wine in Rome. As we tried to find our hotel while trying to remain on the sidewalk and avoid lamp posts, a nice man invited us to a club where there were “wine and women.” The lost boys now had direction and perhaps might discover a variety of wine they’d missed. Immediately upon sitting down at the bar, two beautiful women saddled up next to us, but of course, after that much wine, any mammal that may have been female would have been attractive.

We began an animated conversation using our extensive Italian vocabulary consisting of pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, rigatoni, manicotti, Leonardo Da Vinci and innuendo, which I thought might be an Italian suppository. Their English was limited to Hollywood, New York, Frank Sinatra, and “Darling, buy me champagne”. Our girlfriends disappeared as we got the bill: $120, enough money to buy two cases of champagne. We complained vigorously and demanded to see the manager. A stocky gorilla dressed in an immaculate, shiny, silk suit gleaming like polished steel materialized in front of us. Had he worn a name tag, it would have said “Guido”. The quintessential Mafia thug from every gangster movie said nothing. I have an innate fear of anyone whose neck is considerably wider than his head and whose arms are larger than my thighs. He was shorter than us, but so is a water buffalo. My pudgy, pasty buddy slurred quietly, “We can take theesh guysh”. That worried me further since there was only one guy, though my tag team partner was seeing two or more. I imagined his first knife wound would actually bleed red wine. As I cheerfully paid the tab and poured my partner into a cab, I was thankful I hadn’t performed my new match trick, singeing Guido’s slick threads and slicker hair, causing us to spend the night wearing concrete shoes at the bottom of the canal or be taken back to our hotel in a plastic bag thrown into a FIAT: Foreigner In A Trunk.

Alive with our limbs and fingers intact, it was great
to return to North Dakota where we only have to deal with the Scandinavian Farm Mafia whose presence was discovered when the sheriff found two guys in a deserted barn with their heads tied together, shot through the hands.