Vol. V No. 20 - Saturday May 13, - May 19, 2006
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by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 

 


Columns
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: CMU professor on summer skin care

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Asst. Prof. Dr. Chartchai Kwangsukhasatit, skin disease expert of the Faculty of Medicine at Chiang Mai University warns people to protect themselves against summer sun, especially at the beach where everyone has to inevitably face direct sunlight.
Sunlight is not totally bad for us. There are many advantages of sunlight; such as source of energy and heat, producing Vitamin D strengthening bones, it can cure some diseases, and can even kill germs.
However, there are some negative effects of sunlight - Ultraviolet A and B severely affect our skin. If people are exposed to these kinds of sunlight for too long, our skin will get burnt. Eventually, our skin will become freckled, dried, marked, wrinkled, and the worst outcome can be skin cancer.
Another form of sunlight which is dangerous to human skin is ultraviolet C. This kind of sunlight can easily cause skin cancer. Luckily, most Asians have pigmented skin which is less prone to cancer than European skin.
The way to protect our skin from dangerous sunlight is to cover our skin as much as we can; such as wearing hat or using umbrella, and avoid being exposed to direct sunlight during 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Another way is choosing high-quality sun block cream which contains high HPF that can protect our skin from both ultraviolet A and B. Use creams that do not wash off in water, and we should apply it every 2-3 hours. These methods can protect our skin from dangerous sunlight.


The Doctor's Consultation: A Stent in Time Part 2

by Dr. Iain Corness

Last week I dealt with Coronary Angioplasty, and mentioned the fact that the use of Stents has become more common, and often associated with Balloon Angioplasty.
Angioplasty was first performed in 1977, and more than 1 million procedures are done worldwide each year, according to the latest figures at my disposal.
Some stents are being designed with clot-busting medication (called ‘drug eluting’ stents), or with radiation, because studies show that both may be effective in preventing arteries from narrowing a second time.
In approximately one-third of all cases, the blockages may return and the artery becomes narrow again. Re-stenosis can happen within six months of the procedure, and its causes are not entirely understood. It may be linked to newly formed plaque deposits, clot formation caused by the rough, irregular opening created by the original angioplasty, scar tissue from insertion of a stent, or thickening of the arterial wall in response to the stretching of the artery.
Although re-stenosis is not uncommon, it does not affect every patient, and the prognosis for many angioplasty patients is excellent. Studies have shown nearly identical survival rates for bypass and angioplasty patients over five years following the original procedure, and of course, insertion of a stent is much less traumatic than open heart surgery.
How do they do this technique? First a special dye is injected into the bloodstream. Then a thin catheter with a guideline is fed into your arterial system through the femoral artery in your leg, near the groin, or an artery in your arm. Using X-rays that detect the flow of dye, the cardiologist feeds the catheter through the circulatory system, up to the heart, and into the blocked part of the coronary artery. The doctor then replaces the guide catheter with a balloon-tipped catheter. The balloon is inflated, and the plaque is compressed against the arterial wall.
When a stent is then used, it is placed over the catheter and inserted after the artery has been cleared using balloon angioplasty. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands and stays permanently in the artery, and the lining of the artery will eventually grow over the surface of the metallic stent, to make the inside very smooth.
All surgical techniques have a degree of “risk” attached to them, but advancements in treatment have resulted in angioplasty success rates of 96 to 99 percent. The biggest risk is collapse of the artery, which can trigger a heart attack and requires emergency coronary bypass surgery.
The chance of having a heart attack is between 1 and 3 percent, and the risk of dying during angioplasty is less than 1.5 percent. Emergency coronary bypass surgery rates for angioplasty patients range between 0.2 and 3 percent, but those are fairly pessimistic figures, in my experience.
Depending on the severity of the blockage and the number of blockages, the procedure can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours to complete.
This procedure is generally done under local anesthesia, though you may be given a sedative to help you to relax, while your cardiologist does all the work!
Of course, sometimes this whole procedure can be avoided. While some of the causes (age, gender, family history) of coronary artery disease are out of your control, there are lifestyle choices that often contribute to blockages. Important factors are obesity, smoking and physical inactivity. While these factors can contribute to coronary artery disease, they can be modified. Receiving appropriate treatment for cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol will reduce the likelihood of developing severe coronary blockages.
Smoking I will deal with next week. As an important cause of disease cannot be overstated. And that is not just lung disease. Smokers should not miss next week’s column.


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
A couple of months ago my husband of 20 years called me a bitch with no provocation from me at all. I decided to teach him a lesson, and slept in the spare room that night. He has not spoken to me since then and I continue to sleep in the spare room and now I am thinking of leaving him. He just laughs and shrugs it off when I challenge him about it. What is your opinion, Hillary?
Extremely Annoyed
Dear Extremely Annoyed,
Perhaps if you bark at him again you will get the answer. However, don’t worry too much, both of you can’t remain in the dog-house for ever!
Dear Hillary,
When we go to the beach every Sunday, our day is spoiled by the never ending stream of beach vendors all trying to sell bolts of material, food, sunglasses, inflatable toys, model airplanes, candy floss, massages or nail polish. What can be done about them? Surely the person in charge of the area could tell them to go, but it doesn’t seem to stop them. Isn’t this against the law or something? Have you the answer to this problem?
Browned Off on the Beach
Dear Browned Off on the Beach,
Yes, I do have the answer, my Petal. Go to a less populous beach! The vendors are only there because there are so many people. There are still many beaches along Thailand’s coastline that are deserted. Be a little more adventurous and stay away from the well known beaches, drive further along the coast and enjoy some untroubled sunbathing.
Dear Hillary,
I am beginning to think the lyrics in the old song “If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life, Never Make a Pretty Woman Your Wife” are right on the money. On one hand, I am the luckiest guy in the world to have such a caring, intelligent, and incredibly gorgeous girlfriend. I mean she is a complete knock-out - a perfect 10. But, on the other hand, that is causing me many headaches living here in Chiang Mai. As you know, most men come here with one thing on their mind. And, no matter where we go in this town, there are always a slew of pot-bellied, follically-challenged middle-aged swine completely and unabashedly leering and ogling at my girlfriend. Their lecherous eyes stare at her as if she were a piece of meat on sale at the Chiang Mai Market, and some go so far as to say lewd comments or use their worst pick-up lines on her. The worst part is their complete lack of respect and tact. They act as if I am not even there. I would never think of staring at a woman the way they do to her, especially if I see she has a boyfriend or husband. I think they feel that since there are lots of bar-girls around town they can treat any woman like that here. I have to do everything I can to restrain myself from punching their lights out. I wish I could go to their country and stare at their poor wives and girlfriends that they have left back home for their trip of adulterous debauchery here in Chiang Mai with the same sort of lust in my eyes as they have when gaping at my girlfriend. I wonder what their reaction would be? Probably they have as much respect for their wives and girlfriends back home as they have for the women here. What do you suggest? Should I just do my best to ignore these neanderthals, or should I start learning Muay Thai and give them a good kick in the ass?
The Boxer
Dear Boxer,
I do feel for you. There are unfortunately too many of these people who come to our shores. Whilst their lack of breeding shows them up as what they really are, it still doesn’t fix your problem, does it Petal? Probably what you have to do is to start avoiding the haunts where these creatures hang out. I have said many times that if you don’t want to be part of the ‘beer bar’ scene, then don’t hang around beer bars. You have a lovely lady who is “caring, intelligent, and incredibly gorgeous”, so why are you spending time in the ‘meat market’? Mind you, I am a little worried that your “caring, intelligent, and incredibly gorgeous girlfriend” has not yet managed to curb some of your aggression. Kicking ass and punching out lights is decidedly anti-social behavior, I am afraid. Physical violence will not fix your problems, my Petal. Changing your social circle is the answer. There are plenty of places you can go in Chiang Mai where the males do not indulge themselves in loutish behavior (so you should not either)! I note as well that you wrote, “I would never think of staring at a woman the way they do to her, especially if I see she has a boyfriend or husband.” Boxer, you should not be staring at any woman in a disrespectful way, with or without a boyfriend or husband. Take your nice girl to nice places and life will turn for the better.


Camera Class:  Be Prepared – and you don’t have to be a Boy Scout

by Harry Flashman

One of the advantages of digital photography is that you will not run out of film, so in theory you are always ready to get that shot of a lifetime. However, even the digital buffs can find themselves out on location and have left the memory stick at home! (True story that happened to a friend of mine last year.)
Another true story is that you can make money with your camera if you are in the situation of doing some industrial espionage. But again, you have to Be Prepared.
Here is a true tale of such espionage. While driving along, I spotted a totally unfamiliar looking car. Slowing down to allow the car to go by it was noticed that it had no name badges or stickers and was being closely followed by another vehicle full of monitoring equipment. Smelling that I was on to something, I gave chase.
And a chase it was. Let me assure you that these guys when they’re testing vehicles “under cover” do not want photographers along for the ride. I pursued them for around 50 kilometers till eventually I ran them into a dead end street, where I blocked them off and approached with camera in hand. Out sprang all the Japanese occupants, “No photo! No Photo!” was their cry. “Solly, solly,” I replied. “Takee plentee picture!”
I shot off a complete roll and quickly had them processed and faxed one picture to a magazine editor in the capital. He immediately arranged for courier service (this was before the days of having scanners and emails and such) to pick them up and the photographs ended up on the front cover of Japan Auto, as well as being published in the US, Australia and the UK. I had discovered a new diesel powered car on test that was scheduled for release in two years time. That 50 km chase and one roll of film was time and money spent wisely. The end result was several hundred dollars in my bank account.
So how can you be ready to score your scoop and get your hands on some ready cash? Well the first thing you have to do is keep your eyes and ears open. If you know an event is going to take place, you are several jumps ahead of all the photographers who do not know about it, aren’t you?
There is a second thing you must also be diligent about. You must have the camera ready to go. In other words, it has film and battery, or memory stick in it and is ready to take pictures. You cannot ask the man about to jump off the bridge if he’ll wait till you nick into the Kodak shop and get some film first. In this business, opportunity only knocks once, and many times, damn quietly too.
As part of this being ready concept, I recommend that you screw a wide angle lens on your waiting camera too. In my case it is a 24 mm f 2.8 “fast” lens. Why? Because the wide angle lens gives you a much greater depth of field (than when using a longer lens), and you are much more likely to get the subject in focus than you are otherwise, as the depth of field is much deeper – particularly if you are doing a “grab” shot. The other aspect in using the wide angle is that when you rush in close you end up getting a much more dramatic shot than otherwise (another old newspaper photographer trick). But you do have to rush in close!
The final part of the being ready bit is to make sure your camera is well protected while you tote it around with you while waiting for the shot of a lifetime to bob up in front of you. Use a good, thickly padded camera bag. The leather carrying case doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid.


Money Matters:  The Strong Baht

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

As Chiangmai Mail readers will have read recently there has been worry in many quarters about the strength of the Thai Baht (THB). This is coming from people who bring in income from overseas on a regular basis, to Thai exporters and many other people are starting to get worried as well.
Despite mixed economic indicators the baht continues to get stronger against the major western currencies. In fact, recently, it has appreciated 8% against the US Dollar whilst other regional currencies have not done nearly as well; for example the Japanese Yen has only risen by 2% over the same time period. So, why is this happening? One train of thought is speculation. If this is the case then the Bank of Thailand needs to step in before the baht gets too strong and the country then fails to meet its economic targets.
Another reason given is that the US Dollar has got considerably weaker. Also, the Bank of Thailand is blaming capital inflows into Asian countries. Really, the problem lies in a combination of all of the above. Basically, at the moment, Japan and Asia are seen as being stronger than the West, therefore the interest rate differential will reduce over the short term as interest rates in this part of the world will continue to rise. This is a valid theme - will Thailand be a full play on this? Thailand’s main concern is to avoid across the board baht strength. US Dollar-China Remimbi-Thai Baht is the key relationship here.
As all but those who have been visiting Mars recently will know, the controversy thrown up over the sale of Shin Corp has been massive. The impact of this on the baht was exacerbated by the further sale of a major steel company and this could encourage yet more speculation and other acquisitions would re-enforce this trend by raising the possibility of Japanese, Koreans, Singaporeans and others coming over on a buying spree.
With regards to the UK, during the last quarter of last year, the baht strengthened very slightly against GB Pound (GBP) dropping from THB77 to THB75 per GBP1.00. Since the anti-Thaksin movement gained momentum, it has strengthened weekly until is now in the 65 point something range on ATM rates - or around a 16% gain in strength compared to 4 months ago. When Thaksin made his statement concerning the sale of Shin Corp, that he would not explain it and all would become clear in due time, what has now become clear is that the massive baht buying in Singapore has contributed to strengthening the currency. What may take time to become clear is whether the increased baht purchase power allows another currency to be bought cheaply, which in turn would devalue the baht ... there aren’t huge daily traded volumes in the baht market and therefore a transaction the size of the sale of Shin Corp. can have a huge effect.
Also, the resolution of the recent political situation has now created increased confidence amongst foreign institutions about investing here. Following his “not stand as PM again” statement, it may have spurred them to invest the funds they’ve been holding back due to uncertainty. Remember that the annual average rate of foreign-funded BOI sponsored investments, under Thaksin, has been only 10% of those under Chuan. Forget the cash total - look at the number of projects if you want a clearer picture. Small investors cannot negotiate the preferential terms that the big boys could demand of the government.
There are plenty of conspiracy theorists who believe that everything reeks of manipulation and trawl over every detail of movements in the Shin Corp. share price before and during the sale, even drawing parallels with George Soros shorting and almost destroying the Burmese economy in 1999 with USD1.4 trillion.
Many would argue that the problems are being caused by foreign money coming into the country. Not necessarily so; that money was coming in at much higher rates some months ago. The actual inflow of foreign money is drying up.
Others would say that the present strength of the baht is due to offshore trading, pointing to what happens when the local markets close and the US markets open - the baht on many occasions has gained another 10 satang, the next day another 10 satang ... they believe that somebody is manipulating this strengthening - and as we keep saying it doesn’t take too much to influence a currency traded in such small volumes.
Anyway, this is the view of a cynic and we all know what Oscar Wilde said about cynics, they “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
As regular readers of this column will know, I am an optimist when it comes to finances - providing you know when and where to be optimistic. The Finance Ministry’s spokesman, Somchai Sajjapong said the continued strengthening of the baht to 38 to the dollar stemmed from an inflow of foreign funds and cited the listed steel company acquisition. However, he believed the appreciation of the local currency would proceed in the short run. The Bank of Thailand is closely monitoring the baht movement. Should the baht strengthen for long due to an improvement in the economic fundamentals, he said, the ministry would consider how the appreciation would have an impact on the country’s exports. Despite the country’s exporters complaining, he thought that exports had not yet been adversely affected at current because purchase orders are normally placed around 2-3 months in advance.
What he really means is that he hopes things settle down and things revert to normal which is a long term gradual decline in the value of baht which means that you will end up getting more for your money. Everyone agrees on this. The only questions they are not united on is “When” and “against what”?
Timing is extremely difficult with currencies and most asset classes but the second question may be easier to answer - over the next eighteen months expect euro, Swiss franc and yen to be stronger than baht, US$ to be weaker and AUD and sterling to be somewhere in between.

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: American is NOT English

by Scott Jones

We gots a whole new langwudge down he-ah in Georgia! Y’all jes hep ur sef!

I used to think I knew English before living in Asia with Brits, Kiwis, Aussies, Canadians and Germans that speak better English than I. My first clue that I only spoke American was in London while trying to get a computer on the phone to accept my credit card when Ms. Voice-Activated asks, “Please state your card number.” I do so over and over, but she/it cannot understand my pronunciation of the number 3. “Three! Thry? Throy? Tarie! Thahry! Throw-oy! Two plus one! Seven minus four! We Three Kings, damn it! Is there an American computer in the office?” 33 strikes and y’er out. I gave up.
Another American and I were evaluating an English teacher-trainee learning to teach English to a Thai class. She asks the students, “What’s the silent letter in the word ‘work’?” We Yankees look at each other, simultaneously thinking: There are no silent letters in “work.” In English, it seems, there is — the “r”. She removes the “r” from the whiteboard and instructs the students how to say “wok” which they all have at home in their kitchens. She also says “Herb” which was my uncle’s name, not a spicy plant. She failed American. I failed English.
Spellings are not the same. “The two-metre neighbour with the cosy flat fantasised about a jewellery licence, flavourful haggis and coloured cheques whilst snogging his missis.” Try that through an American spell-checker. Meanings aren’t the same, especially around cars. The “boot” is the trunk, the “bonnet” is the hood and “petrol” is certainly not gas, which my “mates” who are not forgiving friends, have reminded me six million times. “You’ve got gas? Was it the spicy curry? Fancy some bicarbonate or a cork?”
When I began to write for Chiangmai Mail, then run locally by two Germans, edited by an Australian and read by the international community, it got very confusing. My English dictionaries and spell-checkers don’t always agree, since there are 500 dialects per square whatever they use over there. Instead of miles, it’s kilometers in Thailand, which is spelled kilometres. The temperature is Celsius, not Fahrenheit, unless it’s 40 below when they’re the same, but that never happens in Thailand; it’s not dollars, it’s pounds, or quid, or squid or baht, or what, the question mark or the comma goes outside the quotation marks, or is it the inside, or AAUGHHH! I want my Mom!
On of my recent columns ended with the word “entrIe” which I carefully checked since it’s a French word colonized by England and smuggled into America. One spell-checker said, “entree” with no marks above it. My recently-published, British English dictionary had the same squiggle that another spell-check program automatically entered. Bingo! (A religious word, coined in American churches.) Two to one! I went with a double “e” and the squiggle. I got an e-mail back from the editor, whose prolific writing I admire, saying (I think), “My program says ‘entre’ so we’re going with it.” When I look up “entre” in my spell-checker it says, “commonly misspelled entry for entree” with no squiggles. It finally appeared in the newspaper as “entrIee” with three e’s and one squiggle, apparently trying to please aliens from space.
While working at a design firm in Minneapolis, I was the Grammar Police, not because I knew everything, but I had our Official Word Bibles in my office: Chicago Manual of Style for some reason like Chicago is bigger than Minneapolis, a dictionary the size of a Volkswagon and a special manual to translate signs and language from the South, y’all, gimme sum grits. These books have been in boxes back in America for six months waiting to be picked up by a shipping company that has my money but appears to be somewhere secretly spending it.
Hence, my nearly-completed book “Life in the Laugh Lane” is written in Jonesish, an international collection of cross-bred American and English rules and regulations, because I no longer have any idea why which is right for who living where or what. Hep-ur-sef.



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