The Doctor's Consultation: And a pox on your chickens!
by Dr. Iain Corness
With Bird Flu from chickens being the medical press buzz
words at present, I felt that this week we should review another chicken
disease. Chicken pox!
Of course, chicken pox (AKA Varicella) is not really caused
by chickens, nor even carried by them. Chicken pox is a common disease caused
by the varicella zoster virus which is a member of the herpes virus family. It
is very contagious and all communities experience epidemics.
A couple of years back there was a real outbreak in
Thailand, with 22,833 patients with the complaint between January and May.
This nasty condition never actually leaves the community, lying quiet for a
while and then attacking in epidemic proportions. Make no mistake about this
one, it is a most aggressive disease that sweeps through schools and
institutions and while generally a disease of children, it can attack adults
too with devastating results.
The varicella zoster virus is known for the characteristic
chickenpox lesions. These come out very quickly after an initial period of
vague symptoms such as fever and aches in muscles and joints. The lesions
(vesicles) are very superficial on the skin and grow like a mini-Vesuvius,
burst and then crust over. That cycle of events takes around four days, but
new crops of vesicles come up in waves in the first three or four days, so you
can have some vesicles growing bigger while earlier ones are drying up and
The vesicles generally come out on the trunk and face
first, but can spread to all over the body and even inside the mouth and on
the tongue. Now while scarring is always a worry for the Mums of this world,
there are far worse effects from this little virus. There is a distinct
possibility of an encephalitis in older children and adults can actually
develop a varicella pneumonia. Pregnant women who get chickenpox also run the
risk of infecting the unborn child, and this can run as high as 10 percent.
Very often, especially if the child scratches the lesions, there can be an
added infection by an opportunistic bacterium on top of the viral lesions, so
you get a double problem.
So what do you do when chickenpox is doing the rounds? The
first thing is to keep away from those who have the disease. It is highly
contagious and is spread by inhalation of micro droplets in the air, or by
direct contact with weeping vesicles. In a family, this means that little
Johnny gets his own towel that no-one else must use and a bed-time kiss is
Calomine lotion does help with itchy and weeping vesicles
and trim the fingernails in young children to lessen the chances of
scratching. With very little ones, I even suggest putting their hands in
socks, just as you do with little babies.
If the temperature is raised (more than 37.5) then a little
paracetamol will help (but not aspirin as this drug should not be used with
children), and if there is the “super-infection” by a bacterium it will be
necessary for your doctor to prescribe an appropriate antibiotic.
The other important duty that you have as a parent is do
not send little Johnny back to school until the very last vesicle has dried
up. This is generally around a week to ten days, but is so important in trying
to stop the epidemic.
The other nasty part of this virus is that it lies dormant
in your system and can strike back many years later as Shingles, or as we
medico’s call it, Herpes Zoster. No, chickenpox is not fun, and to those of
you who are struggling with it right now, you have my sympathies.
However, we do have a varicella vaccine these days, and
vaccination is recommended from about 12 months of age. Like all vaccination
programs, this will radically reduce the impact of epidemics.
Everyone else seems to be having their say about double pricing in
Thailand, so let me have mine, please. I know that the readers letters
section is where most of the complaints go, but I think there is more
sense in your column than in many of the others. People at least read your
stuff, Petal! We all know that double pricing exists all over Thailand,
from national parks, baht busses, tourist attractions etc, and it
doesn’t happen in the UK, but since the tourist can afford it, and it is
still cheaper than similar attractions, or taxis in his home town,
what’s the beef? For sure the local Thai people can’t afford the
higher price, so that’s why there has to be two scales of charges. What
do you think, Hillary? Am I right or not? Or is this too simple for people
to cotton onto?
Dear Double-price Dave,
You have sort of got it right, my Petal. Thai wages are such that many
Thai families could not afford to get into some of Thailand’s
spectacular attractions like the glitzy transvestite shows, for example,
if they had to pay the tourist price. Where everyone has got it wrong is
this thinking that the tourists are having to pay double. They don’t.
Look at it this way, for a moment. The tourists are actually paying the
“standard” price, whilst the Thais are enjoying a 50 percent discount.
I think that if the price structure were plainly stated as that, nobody
would object. Having said that, I am in complete disagreement with the
sneaky way used by some entrepreneurs to advertise their “Thai” prices
by using Thai numbers, hoping that the foreigners cannot understand the
notice. A little honesty would quickly defuse the situation, and the
resultant anger, brought on by “double” pricing. I do not believe that
you can use the same principle that Thais when they travel to the UK for
example, pay the same “standard” price as the locals, therefore
visitors here should pay the same as locals. Thais who travel to the UK
are not the Thais who go to national parks here with their children for
the weekend. Those Thais could never afford an overseas trip, like the
foreign tourists who come here.
You really must take care when accepting gifts of chocolate and champagne
from Antipodean types. A “decent bubbly” will probably be a well
shaken ice-cold tinny and a box of soft-centres may have been gathered
from the rear end of a koala!
I am so glad to see that the medications must have started to kick in, and
you have recovered your powers of rational thought, and in English too!
What a bonus, my Petal. However, I do think you have to be careful when
you (especially you) point the finger at anyone. Your concept of a
“decent bubbly” which you dropped off was Californian “champagne”
and was called “extra dry” with a warning on the label that it
contains “Sulfites”. This is hardly a bottle of Krug or Veuve Cliquot,
is it now? Your box of ‘soft centers’ was a 10 baht packet of
Rocklets. Choclatey enough, but hardly soft centers, are they? I have
never tried koala droppings as you apparently have, so cannot comment on
the Rocklet versus koala poo comparison.
It is quite a while since I last contacted you. In fact I think it was
when I dropped off your Champagne and Belgium chocs. A lot has happened
since then; I have bought a house in Thailand, and a car. I gave up
looking for an honest car dealer as when I returned to a couple of dealers
to look over a car I fancied, to find they had disappeared, no cars just
an empty lot. I landed up buying one from an English guy who was selling
up and going home. I hope you did not get too wet over the Songkran
Man Looking for an Honest Car Dealer
Dear Man LHCD,
Thank you again for the champers and chocs. You are really a proper
gentleman, and I’m sorry that a nice man such as yourself had a needless
problem buying a car here. Mind you, it is the same all over the world.
Used car salesmen do not enjoy a reputation for honest dealing, do they.
Yes, I stayed dry over Songkran, other than on the last day, when I went
out and got white pasted and wet with the rest of my street. Being based
in the outlying suburbs, we were spared the loutish and aggressive
behavior exhibited by many of the tourists in the touristy areas.
Accidents and injuries result from much of this and it is all so
inappropriate to use Songkran as the excuse. It was always a peaceful
Your other query (not printed because of space problems) I have referred
directly to the man in charge, as I know nothing, or even slightly less
about electronic media transmissions. That’s why I drive an automatic
car, Petal. I am glad you are enjoying life over here.
Camera Class: Help! I’ve been framed!
by Harry Flashman
Imagine if you had one or more of your photographs framed and
hanging in an art gallery somewhere. You would probably think you had “made
it” as a photographer, and could sit back with justifiable pride. However, you
do not need to have your work accepted by some exclusive gallery somewhere to
get that warm inner glow. You can do the same from the comfort of your lounge
There is a certain type of photo which is suitable for
framing and hanging and I like to call these kinds of photographs “wall
art”. This is something any photographer can achieve, without any special
equipment or even special training (other than reading this article, I suppose).
The secret is in thinking color as well as the subject, taking your time to
compose and then sitting back and letting your local photo-shop do the rest.
Take a look at the photograph with this week’s article, and
you will soon see that this could have easily been taken by you. No tricky
exposure details either. Whilst I usually run my camera in ‘Manual’ mode,
for this exercise I let my Mr. Nikon do the work instead, sticking it on Auto
mode, just to see what would come out. If you can view this page in color, you
will see that it worked fine. (Go to the web version of the paper and it’s in
This photo was taken of a Halloween pumpkin that was sitting
on the bar at a pub. By getting up close, the candle light of the pumpkin was
enough for the photo, so the flash was not used, which in turn gives it that
predominantly orange color. The end result is an eye-catching orange object on a
black background. There is a red candle in there too, but orange is what hits
Since the object of the exercise is to end up with a
photograph you can hang on the wall, get as close as possible to the subject –
make it fill the frame! The pumpkin almost does that, doesn’t it?
However, make sure that you are not too close for the camera
to be able to focus. With compact point and shooters you may have to do some
rough estimations of how close you really are. With SLR’s you can directly see
if you are in focus. It is always safer to be a little further away, but still
in focus, than too close and ‘soft’ and blurred.
The secret is to very much decide just what is the ‘hero’
in the image and get close enough to ensure the ‘hero’ is not swamped with
annoying and distracting other details.
The next job for the budding wall artist is to select the
best image (be that print or digital, it makes no difference) and return to your
local friendly photoshop and ask for an enlargement. While 10x8 (inches) is
easily done, called an 8R in the trade, for wall art I think you should look at
11x14 or even larger, if the image is sharp enough. Size does matter, don’t
let them tell you anything different! With the larger prints you will have to
wait a couple of days to get the print back.
Remember too that is you have not been able to get close
enough at the time of capturing the image, you can get the photoshop to crop, to
make the central image dominant. However, you will lose some sharpness by this
Now there is the (not so) simple matter of the frame. Do not
fall into the trap of trying to make your art look larger and more imposing by
having a larger frame. All this does is take away from the subject matter. Those
awful gold, ornate frames are definitely the worst. Go into any of the art
galleries around and see what the artists have done. The vast majority will
display their work in very simple frames (or even no frame at all, just the
Since the photo I have chosen here is orange on black, I would frame this
with a narrow orange matte and a thin black frame around it. In this way you are
accentuating the orange on black of the image. Great wall art!
Dogs - Man’s best friend: General Health Care: mental and physical stimulation
Adequate and proper exercise is as necessary for our dogs’ and cats’
well-being as is food and water. Through exercise, muscles develop, being
extremely important for a strong support of the skeleton, toxins will be
removed from all tissues in the body more rapidly as they become more
oxygenated, the digestive system glands secrete their fluids better, and the
bowels move more easily. And as mental needs will be fulfilled, the animal
is less likely to develop problem behavior due to boredom, such as excessive
barking, destructive behavior (e.g. digging or chewing), or compulsive
behavior (e.g. self-mutilation by excessive grooming or licking or tail
chasing). In other words, regular exercise helps preventing physical as well
as mental diseases. Therefore, it’s important that the animal can put its
energy in activities like play, walking, (free) running and/or swimming.
Swimming strengthens the body in the same way as running
and is highly recommended for dogs with hip and joint problems. Cats love to
chase moving objects. Free roaming cats will find plenty of exercise outside
For healthy full-grown dogs, at least 30 minutes (two
times 15 minutes) a day of aerobic exercise is necessary, whether that’s
play with other dogs or with their owner. Playing with other dogs does not
only stimulate physically and mentally, it’s also enormously benefits the
communication skills of the animal. Popular games to play with the dog are
fetch, retrieve, search and tug-of-war games. On leash walks build a bond
between owner and dog, it can build manners and it gives some physical and
mental stimulation. Free running builds stamina, strength and gives lots of
mental stimulation. Jogging or running with the bicycle builds stamina
though gives hardly any mental stimulation, resulting in a dog that needs
more and more exercise before it gets tired. Mental stimulation, such as
search games, is more tiring to a dog than physical exercise. Another
downside of dogs accompanying a jogger or bicycle rider is that when running
at one speed they can easily over-strain themselves owing a potential for
concussive damage to bones and joints. Often they won’t indicate when
their point of exhaustion has been reached but keep on following their
Growing puppies are even more susceptible to serious
injuries to bones and joints by improper activity. Therefore, puppies should
not be expected to exercise rigorously until they are approximately one year
for small dogs and one and a half years for big dogs. Jumping over obstacles
or when catching a ball or other object can tear ligaments, damage joints or
backs, as puppies don’t have yet the strength and coordination of an adult
dog. Exercise on soft surfaces is preferred over hard surfaces, and tiles or
other slippery surfaces as play grounds are considered no-no’s. Short to
moderate leash walk, fetch games where the ball rolls over the ground,
search games or play with other same-sized puppies are ideal.
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
Money Matters: Why you should invest in commodities
MBMG International Ltd.
Considering that people depend on
commodities every day of the week it is somewhat surprising that so few
actually invest in them. Whilst most will contemplate putting money into
equities and property hardly anyone will think about foodstuffs, metals,
energy products or things for making clothes – basically everything you
need to survive on this planet. Long term readers of this column will know
that we have been bullish on commodities, and especially gold, for quite a
Every so often though, commodities force their way to the
fore. When raw materials are in great demand and supplies are not what they
should or could be then prices go up through the roof.
As anyone who takes a look at the Financial Times
commodity page can see, commodities have done rather well over recent times
and it is safe to say that the bull market is going to be with us for quite
a while. The really good news is that when a commodity bull market appears
then it is with us for quite a while. Over the last two hundred years there
have been five bull markets, the shortest of which lasted fifteen years.
This one, if you look at when commodities last bottomed out, started in
2001. Just out of interest, the longest one continued for over 40 years.
So, whilst it may be tempting to cut back on exposure to
commodities the opposite is true. Joanne Baynham, the head of fundamental
research at Miton Optimal says that the commodity “cycle has still much
further to go”.
The reason that commodity bull markets last much longer
than those driven by direct money is the old A-Level Economics conundrum of
supply and demand. When demand is on the up then supply lags behind because
there has been no recent investment in research, maintenance or purchasing
new equipment. It takes years for supply to catch up as it cannot be
Taking up Joanne again, she stated in a recent article
that “investors will increasingly shift their focus on the supply side of
the equation in 2006”. We would definitely expect to see a surge in merger
& acquisition activity as the big miners buy out smaller exploration
companies. This is a good short term answer but does not solve the longer
term fundamentals whereby the fact is that there are only a finite number of
smaller companies out there and someone, sometime soon is going to have to
bite the bullet and invest in exploration themselves. But the important
thing here is that the longer they hold out for short term profit and ignore
long term gains then the longer the commodity cycle will go on.
Also, the mining companies have to look at the short term
returns for their own shareholders. BHP Billiton has gone on record and
said, “Industry wide, the supply side response to continued strong global
demand for new materials remains constrained by a shortage of people,
equipment and supplies.” This has led to tight labour markets and
difficulty in sourcing construction and drilling plant and machinery, which
in turn has led to rising input costs. Credit Suisse First Boston states
that to justify a return in investment on a new copper mine, the long term
copper price needs to be around USD1.50 per pound compared with current
industry thinking of USD0.90 per pound. There is a similar thinking for
nickel, zinc and platinum. However, despite all of this, people need all of
the above in ever greater quantities at the moment and this is why they will
do more than hold their own in the markets over the next few years,
especially when companies like Caterpillar come out and say in the Financial
Times, “mining equipment is sold out through 2007 and that the cycle has
legs and looks stronger than the upturns in the 1980’s and 1990’s”.
Currency strength against the US Dollar is also adding
further pressure. With the onset of a weak US Dollar in 2002, commodity
currencies began to grow stronger and strengthened even more when physical
commodity prices started to go up in 2004. Currencies such as the Rand,
Chilean Peso and Australian Dollar have appreciated by between 25% and 50%
We can also look at oil. Just think that one billion
people live in the developed world and, out of the remaining five billion,
over two billion live in two countries – India and China. These two
nations are playing catch up with the West and need as many commodities as
they can get their hands on – especially oil. However, the problem here
lies in two factors. Firstly, there are not enough refineries in the world
to process what we are producing at the moment. Even when there are, then
the demand curve will have increased even more. Also, the lack of
development in new large oil fields has been very obvious over since the
early 1980s. This means that even if one is found tomorrow then it will take
years to get everything necessary in place. So, unless there is a large
investment in the basic infrastructure of oil and all that goes with it then
the world will be continuing to play catch up for many years to come.
To be 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: Just Say No to Bugs
by Scott Jones
I ate a worm for charity. One. Small. Fried.
Grey. If there is indeed a taste for the color grey, it tasted grey. (I’m not
really sure how it tasted since I downed it as fast as possible while trying to
imagine there wasn’t a worm on my tongue and then drank several beers to
forget the entire event.) It needed more garlic. At least 15 cloves, a wok full
of vegetables, a vat of rice and a thick layer of chili sauce, which is the way
you eat worms everyday when you don’t know they’re there.
Three darts cost 100 baht = $2.50. Missing the bulls-eye, I
had to choose Door Number One, Two or Three: eat a fried worm, grasshopper or
chicken foot. The grasshopper had long brittle legs, crispy wings and fried
eyes. Door Number Two was locked and bolted. I’d watched other losers
stuffing chicken feet in their mouths, trying to chew the rubber between the
toes while trying not to be scratched in the gums by the toenails as I pictured
the Formerly Alive And Walking Foot squishing through chicken poop, marinating
itself with mutating strains of Asian bird flu. Door Number Three led to the
Vomitarium. Door Number Worm had no face or feet and required no chewing, only
swallowing. I don’t remember what I’d have won with a bulls-eye. Perhaps an
actual fried bulls-eye? Maybe a seven-course meal at a lavish Bug Buffet laden
with mole or house crickets, termites, blackened scorpions, giant water bug pat่,
grasshoppers the size of mice, baby bee omelets, fresh red ant eggs to sprinkle
on your salad, plus worms of every shape, size and sexual preference?
So why are shrimp and lobster delectable? They’re
insects’ kissing cousins with a bunch more legs. Do we think they’re clean
and sweet because they’re constantly bathing in the sea compared to filthy
bugs digging in the dirt? During grade school in America, I had a clear plastic
ant farm. Their ANTics enchANTed me for hours: washing themselves, each other
and their eggs, standing around beads of water with tiny towels, bars of soap
and underleg deodorANT. I ordered the chocolate-covered ants advertised in the
back of a comic book. If you didn’t read the wrapper, you’d have thought it
was a Crunch Bar, which you know in your heart contains other crunchy things
besides rice. We ate a bit but saved most of it to terrorize girls on the
I have since become an anteater in Asia, intentionally and
unintentionally. Engrossed in a book while relaxing on the guest house deck
over a jungle river, I take a swig from my Coke can on the table. Ahh, the
carbonated fizz is refreshing, like ants dancing on my tongue. AAURGH!!! ANTS
ARE DANCING ON MY TONGUE!!!! They’re all over my hand and already down the
hatch! Hopefully they won’t build a farm in my stomach. Intentionally? A
whole barbequed chicken from the market waits in the microwave in my outdoor
kitchen, not freezing in the fridge, not attracting critters on the counter.
The sun sets. I’m starving. The chicken is served. It’s swarming with ants.
Okay, fine. I’m too tired to be American, but it’s not too late to be
Asian. I scrape it off, microwave the Antsy Poulet Du Jour, turn out the
lights, dine in the dark and pretend it’s battered, not bANTered.
I doubt if there’s anything that was once alive that
isn’t eaten in Asia. Don’t complain in a restaurant if you find a cockroach
in your food. You’ll probably just be charged extra. Stepping off a bus in
Laos, a friend was proffered a platter stacked with deep fried tarantulas. Very
large with hairy legs, all organs and genitalia intact. Crunchy on the outside
with a warm, chewy center. Mmm, fried spider hair to tickle your taste buds.
The famous nursery rhyme, Thai-style:
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
Becoming her third entr้ee.