The Doctor's Consultation: Hack, cough, splutter!
by Dr. Iain Corness
There has been quite an epidemic of coughs and colds
recently, so if you haven’t got a cough consider yourself to be lucky. There
are many reasons for epidemics such as these, and many occur with the change
of seasons, hot to cold, cold to wet and so forth, but with the vast
majority, the common carrier of the bug is the human race.
Yes, we are the ones who go to work and spread our germs to the office,
exploding an aerosol of potentially debilitating diseases into the air,
every time we cough. This is the commonest way of transferring the bugs, by
what we call droplet infection. Every droplet capable of carrying thousands
of microbes, each one looking for another human to infect. You. Or even me.
The latest bout has been a form of Tracheitis. This is inflammation of the
trachea, that part of your breathing tube to the lungs before it splits to
become the right and left bronchus. The clue is in the ending – “itis” which
generally means inflammation and / or infection. Thus you can get
Appendicitis (inflammation of the Appendix) and Pharyngitis (inflammation of
the pharynx), Laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx) etc etc, you get the
Infection and irritation of the breathing tubes is, as we said in the
beginning, very common. The most usual cause is however, our old friend
cigarette smoking! If you don’t believe that cigarette smoke is irritating,
try letting it waft into your eyes and see how they will sting and water.
Your Trachea and Bronchi do just the same! Once the irritation begins, the
mucosa becomes swollen, and it becomes easier for the germs to take a hold.
With Tracheitis, it generally begins as a slight irritation deep in the back
of your throat. There can be some soreness as well, even on swallowing.
Unchecked this develops into a ‘productive’ cough, with loads of gunk being
coughed up, which we refer to as ‘sputum’.
One of the signs and symptoms your doctor will want to know is “What color
is your sputum?” This gives us a chance to see if your cough is from an
irritation or infection. If you are bringing up large lumps of yellow or
green glue then you have an infection, but if the mucous is clear then you
probably do not harbor a nasty little bug in your throat. If however, the
sputum is red and bloodstained then you may have burst a little blood vessel
in the throat – or of course, this could be an early sign of lung cancer but
don’t panic yet!
If the sputum you are coughing up is thick, green and gooey, this is fairly
suspicious of a bacterial infection, and sometimes we will attempt to “grow”
the bug to identify it. No, this is not for germ warfare, it is just so that
we can feed the tracheal bug some different antibiotics to see which ones
exterminate the bug best. This is a much more accurate way of choosing the
correct antibiotic, than selecting ones by the pretty color they are on the
If you have gone over a week and your cough is showing no sign of letting up
then it really is time to line up with all the other coughers at the
outpatients department. Just make sure you can describe the color of your
I should have mentioned that if you are a smoker, the chances of the cough
lasting longer are much higher, as well as being more likely to catch the
cough from someone else.
(Hillary is on holidays this week, so
we have re-run one of her previous columns)
I keep on getting offensive emails from people I have never met and I
find it annoying to say the least. Is there nothing we ordinary people
can do to stop this kind of thing? 90 percent of them seem to be
pornographic material sites and yet when you go to the site to try and
register a complaint, nothing happens. What do you suggest, Hillary?
I’m confused, Petal! Are you really trying to go to the sites suggested
to complain or to check them out? I suppose you buy Penthouse magazine
for the words too. With the vast majority of unsolicited emails, spam,
whether pornographic or not, it is obvious from the subject line they
are junk mail. There is usually no need to open them before you trash
them. Also most servers have a ‘block sender’ facility where you can
stop that particular pest or porn purveyor from ever reaching your in
box again. And stop going there for a little peek.
One of the girls in my regular bar was reading a letter from a farang
and asked me to translate a couple of sections for her. It was the usual
boyfriend to girlfriend letter and in it he said he was looking forward
to coming back next month. When I asked her who he was, she said she
didn’t remember! Hillary, why do these girls act like this? Surely they
must remember, or was she just stringing me along?
She wasn’t playing with you – you’re playing with you! That is their
job, or didn’t you know. They are usually looking for marriage and
future security material, and obviously the fond pen pal hadn’t made as
much of an impression as he thought he had.
Recently I find I have become very attracted to one of my workmate’s
wife. She is Thai and very beautiful and she has been making it obvious
that she would not be averse to something going on either. I know she
has been seeing other guys while her husband is offshore. My question
is, should I pay her for her time, or should it be more from the heart?
You bowl me over. Truly are you are thinking of betraying one of your
workmates and wondering about the acceptability of either offering to
his wife payment or love for services rendered? The choice is yours but
either way you may get more than you bargained for. I hope he’s 2.2
meters tall and a Muay Thai champion. You deserve it, Roger the Lodger!
My boyfriend is football mad. In fact, if there is a match on TV he will
get out of our bed, just to watch it. Am I being selfish to pretend to
be asleep when he gets back to bed? I feel I have to teach him a lesson.
No Footy Fan.
Dear No Footy Fan,
Not at all selfish, my Petal. However, by discussing how much you feel
this practise annoys and insults you may be more effective. Just
remember to mention it sweetly when there are no football matches on.
There’s ball games and ball games, he should know! If all else fails buy
another TV set.
My maid drives me completely insane. She speaks little English and I am
not fluent in Thai; however, we usually get by with a few words and
miming. She frequently does things which horrify me such as put all the
dishes and glasses and pans together in the sink and attempt to wash
them with cold running water. Or she will wipe the floor with a
dishcloth. I patiently explain and demonstrate the way I want it done,
and it is fine for a while then she will go back to the old ways. Most
times she will put clothes away in the approximate right place but
sometimes for no apparent reason will leave them on the lounge room
chair or dresser. Most of the time she does an average to below average
job infuriatingly slowly, though sometimes she will do something bizarre
such as leaving drying washing in kitchen. If I want something in
particular done which should just be routine surely, like dusting the
furniture or defrosting the fridge I have to ask her every single time.
I truly do not know how to make her more efficient. Do you have any
For a start you will have to lower your own standards. To preserve your
sanity simply do not watch her doing the housework. Go out have fun,
change your focus and adopt a “mai pen rai” attitude. If you cannot
simply learn to put up and shut up then pay more, approximately double,
and hire an English speaking trained housemaid. The other alternative is
to do it all yourself. Welcome to the “dishpan hands” club.
Camera Class: Forget the “A”, develop the “I”
by Harry Flashman
With today’s cameras, be they film or digital, it is very
hard to get a poorly exposed photograph. Set the auto-exposure on “A” and let
the camera do the rest. 99 times out of 100, the end result will be a print that
is perfectly exposed. However, that does not mean that you get 99 great shots
out of every 100 exposures! Far from it. In fact, it may surprise you to know
that most pro photographers work on a 6 in 36 ratio. Six good shots in a roll of
36. Mind you, those are six ‘commercially viable’ shots!
different view of a band.
For the non-commercial photographer, there is still an acceptable standard
to head towards. But if the magic “A” mode is so good, why do you not get 99
good shots out of 100? The reason is that you have not set the “I” mode. By
the way, you can stop looking at the menu in your camera, you won’t find the
“I” mode. This mode is under your control, not the camera’s electronics. It
is your “eye” I am referring to when I made up the “I” mode terminology.
What we are talking about here is photographic composition. Understanding
photographic composition is the key to getting great photographs. What
differentiates a “good” photo from a “bad” or “ordinary” one is simply
composition. Now the photographer’s “I” is something that you may or may not
be blessed with, but there are some easy hints which will improve the
composition and final effect of any of your photographs.
The first rule of composition is to Look for a Different Viewpoint. While
the standard, Put the Subject in the Middle of the Viewfinder idea will at
least ensure that you do get a picture of the subject, it will also ensure
that your photograph will be dull and boring! If nothing else, take two
shots, one in the “usual” horizontal format and the second one in a vertical
In attempting to get that different viewpoint also try to take some shots
not from the standard eye-level position. Squat down, lie down, stand in the
back of a pick-up, climb a ladder – anything! Just don’t get stuck with
standard eye-level views.
The next way to add interest to your photographs is to make sure the subject
is one third in from either edge of the viewfinder. Just by placing your
subject off-centre immediately drags your shot out of the “ordinary” basket.
The technocrats call this the “Rule of Thirds”, but you don’t need to know
the name for it – just try putting the subjects off-centre. While still on
the Rule of Thirds, don’t have the horizon slap bang in the centre of the
picture either. Put it one third from the top or one third from the bottom.
As a rough rule of thumb, if the sky is interesting put more of it in the
picture, but if it is featureless blue or grey include less of it. Simple!
Now what else can you do to improve those shots of yours? One good little
trick is to include some details in the foreground of a shot to lead your
eye towards the main subject. Look for lines, roads, telephone wires,
fences, etc., with strong lines to include in the shot. Arrange the picture
so that the lines “point” towards your main subject. A few foreground
details also help add interest to any photograph.
One foreground detail to always look for is the possibility of producing a
“frame” around the main subject. We call this the Frame within a Frame
technique. It is a very successful way to convert an ordinary shot into one
with a lot of visual appeal. And this is indeed a successful ploy. You will
find that many prize winning photographs use that technique.
Perhaps the last tip in making your shots more interesting is to include
people in them where possible. That shot of sweeping rolling hills always
looks better if you can put some human interest into it as well. A girl on a
horse, a couple on a seat or a jogger all help to elevate a landscape above
Money Matters: The Fed
MBMG International Ltd.
We recently looked at the tenure of Alan
Greenspan of the office of Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, but what
exactly is the Fed and what does it do?
The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States,
comprised of the Federal Reserve Board, the 12 Federal Reserve Banks, and
the national and state member banks. Its primary purpose is to regulate the
flow of money and credit in the country.
The Board of Governors is made up of 7 members that are appointed to 14-year
terms, while appointments to the roles of chairman and vice chairman are for
four years, by the President and approved by the Senate. The terms of
Federal Reserve governors are as long as they are (second only to lifetime
appointments of federal judges) to insulate the members from political
pressures and foster independent decisions.
Almost all U.S. banks are a part of the Federal Reserve System, which
requires that those banks maintain a certain percentage of their assets
deposited with the regional Federal Reserve Bank. It was founded by Congress
in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, stronger and more
stable monetary, banking and financial system, or to quote from the act that
called it into being, “To provide for the establishment of Federal reserve
banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting
commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in
the United States, and for other purposes.”
Over the years, its role in banking and the economy has expanded. Today, the
Federal Reserve’s duties fall into four general areas: conducting the
nation’s monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions
in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate
long-term interest rates supervising and regulating banking institutions to
ensure the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking and financial system
and to protect the credit rights of consumers maintaining the stability of
the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in
financial markets providing financial services to depository institutions,
the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a
major role in operating the nation’s payments system.
Before the establishment of the Federal Reserve System, banks maintained the
reserves required to be held against their deposits partly in the form of
cash in their vaults and partly in the form of deposits held with other
banks. In general, banks in smaller cities and rural regions tended to
maintain the bulk of their reserve balances with banks in larger cities. A
very large volume of these reserve balances was maintained in New York City
and Chicago. These two cities and St. Louis were designated as central
reserve cities, and National banks there had to maintain all their legal
reserves in the form of cash in their own vaults.
When banks across the country needed to draw down their reserve balances,
this resulted in a concentration of this activity on the few National banks
situated in the financial centres. Ordinarily, the situation was manageable
- while some country banks would be drawing down their balances, others
would be building theirs up.
Occasionally, the demand became widespread and intense and banks all over
the country would call on the Chicago and New York banks for currency, which
the city banks were obliged to supply and charge to the reserve balances of
the country banks. Meeting this demand could be difficult for the city banks
because the currency constituted their own reserves and there was no source
on which they could rely for additional reserve funds.
The efforts of these banks to protect their reserves frequently involved the
sale of securities and the refusal to make loans and renewals, with the
result that securities prices would fall, interest rates would rise,
borrowing would become difficult, and loans would have to be liquidated.
Panics and crises like this were apt to occur every few years, and in 1907
there was one of unusual severity. Congress appointed a National Monetary
Commission shortly thereafter for the purpose of determining what should be
done. There was active and thorough consideration of the question for
several years, and though Congress greatly modified the plan recommended by
the Commission, it eventually adopted legislation embodying the results of
the study both by the Commission and other authorities inside and outside of
The resulting legislation created The Federal Reserve on December 23, 1913,
with the signing of the Federal Reserve Act by President Woodrow Wilson. The
act had been drafted as House Resolution 7837 by Representative Carter Glass
(D-VA), incoming chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee.
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]