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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Tail waggers

Life in the Laugh Lane

Your Health & Happiness: Public health department launches bird flu campaign in honour of HM the Queen

Preeyanoot Jittawong
The Public Health Department organised a campaign to prevent hemorrhagic and bird flu in honour of HM the Queen’s birthday on August 12.
The campaign, which took place on August 9, instructed participants how to minimise the risks from both diseases.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn demonstrates how to minimise the risk of bird flu when cooking chicken.

The campaign was presided over by Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and attended by over a thousand volunteers at Chiang Mai Buddhist Place.
The campaign featured several demonstrations showing how to avoid both diseases. The volunteers were shown what to do if dead winged livestock was discovered and how to safely prepare deep fried chicken eggs for eating.
There was also an exhibition about bird flu and hemorrhagic fever. Volunteers handed out bird flu information leaflets along Thapae, Witchayanon, Charonmuang and Charonpratet roads.
The campaign is a response to growing public and medical concern over the threat of bird flu. Public health officials within Chiang Mai Municipality have followed outbreaks of the disease carefully. Volunteers considered close to their communities attended the event in the hope that they would share what they had learnt with their villages.


The Doctor's Consultation: Get your heart sliced and diced

by Dr. Iain Corness

Technology today is making it such that your doctor can use diagnostic procedures that were unheard of a few years ago. “Slicing and dicing” the heart is one of those, but its correct name is 64-slice CT.
Today, the number of people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, renal disease, stroke, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease has been increasing due to our changed way of life and stress. The latest studies by the World Health Organization have shown that coronary artery disease is a leading cause of death all over the world. One third of the population dies because of this condition, especially in underdeveloped countries, including Thailand.
The main factors in coronary artery disease are the narrowing and blockage of the arteries by atheroma, which consists of cholesterol and calcium. The main risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stress and cigarette smoking, and not necessarily in that order.
To diagnose coronary artery disease, doctors will evaluate patient’s risk factors and perform some tests and then will divide patients suspected to be at risk into two groups; high and low risk. After that, there are two main diagnostic procedures that will usually be performed;
1. Conventional Coronary AngioGraphy, (CAG)
CAG, which accurately assesses the coronary arteries, is currently the diagnostic standard for clinical evaluation of known or suspected coronary artery disease, after which the patients can be immediately treated by Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) or placement of a stent. Although complications rarely happen, the following may occur; hematoma at the site of the arterial puncture, coronary dissection and air embolus because in this procedure, a thin plastic tube is inserted into an artery in the leg and advanced through the body into the coronary arteries. It is also an expensive procedure, and the patient needs to stay in hospital for about 4-6 hours.
2. Cardiovascular examination by 64-Slice-CT.
“Ordinary” computerized X-Rays (16-slice CT) were not as accurate in demonstrating coronary artery problems, because the heart, unlike other structures, is moving and beating inside the chest. However today, with the advent of the most advanced form of this imaging, the multi-slice detectors and high powered computer programs called the 64–Slice CT, in around 4 seconds, we can efficiently get information on the coronary anatomical features in as few beats as possible, with 90 percent accuracy. The CT has various advantages. It helps doctors to make the diagnosis of certain diseases faster, more easily, and potentially more accurately. Furthermore, after this procedure, the patients do not have to stay in hospital. The 64-slice CT is now a well known procedure leading to diagnosis of all diseases related to arteries or vessels.
Those who should have a Cardiovascular checkup include anyone with risk factors for heart disease such as;
- high cholesterol
- Diabetes
- Smoking
- Family history of heart disease
- Suffering from chest pain
- Having an abnormal stress test
Plus those after
- Insertion of stents and
- Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)
There are certain groups who are not suitable for CT scanning using contrast agents as it may cause severe allergy and acute renal failure including;
- Severe asthmatics
- Heart failure
- Renal disease with high creatinine or chronic renal failure
- A history of allergy to sea food and / or contrast agents.
64-Slice CT can also be used for examination of other parts of the body:
To diagnose cardiovascular disease through narrowed vessels
To diagnose blockages in arteries / vessels all over the body such as heart, brain, kidney, extremities, etc.
To diagnose pre-cancerous tumors in intestine and lungs
To examine bone abnormalities
To diagnose abnormality of brain tissue
To diagnose abnormality of abdominal tissue
Others including diagnosis of abnormalities of blood vessels, such as aneurysm, and to measure abdominal fat, which is related to the quantity of calcium in arterial walls (coronary calcification) and to evaluate risk factors in the cardiovascular system.
Slicing and dicing is a worthwhile addition to out diagnostic procedures.


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
(Dear reader, please note that 12 months ago I received this letter) My wife thinks I’m mad, but this is really bugging me. We have visited Pattaya twice in the last 12 months, Spring being the latest, and tonight a friend who has not been to Thailand for at least five years asked us how much a small bottle of Singha beer costs in the beer bars these days. Top of my head I answered, about 70 baht give or take a few baht. Straight off he ridiculed me saying that it should be about 35 baht. My wife, who normally holds the purse strings on our visits, she being arguably the sensible one, agreed with me. Adding that she had seen it in the smaller shops at 30 baht. Now, the two chaps who where sitting opposite us at the time, are frequent visitors to Pattaya, three or so times a year, so I asked them to back me up. Imaging my surprise when they agreed with him saying that they would normally pay 35 baht a bottle in the majority of beer bars. Hillary, I don’t for one instant entertain the thought that you frequent beer bars at the drop of a hat, but if you can’t trust a journalist to point you in the direction of a good watering hole and know the meaning of value for money, then just what in life can you trust? Can we ask you to intercede in this matter as it will be 2006 before my wife and I will be able to return “home” and it will pray on my mind until I find out the truth. If we are proved wrong then I promise that on our next visit we will consume vulgar quantities of the amber nectar (instead of vast amounts), if in the right then I assure you that a bottle of bubbly and some chocs will find it’s way to you on our next visit (will my personal favourites Demi Sec and hand made Belgium suffice?) actually right or wrong you can have the goodies, not only because you are a good read, but also in the vague hope that it might spur the scoundralous Mistersingha into action. As a Scot who is residing in the Channel Islands may I sign off as,
The Gordon Islander

(My reply was) Dear Gordon Islander,
Of course you can get a small bottle of beer for 35 baht in every beer bar, provided you go back in time to around 1985! The average price is now around 50-70 baht, with go-go bars around 120 baht. My authority tells me that if you go to some small beer bars up sois where nobody else would go, you can get the 35 baht bottles still, but you probably wouldn’t want to drink there. It is also definitely not the ‘majority’ of beer bars as your friend is claiming, either. So my Gordon Islander Petal, I look forward to your bottle of bubbles and the hand made choccies in 2006. I can taste their sweetness already and the bubbles foaming around my teeth!
(Then this week I received the following note, attached to chocolates and champagne) Have a nice weekend. Slante.

The Gordon Islander

Dear Gordon Islander,
You are certainly a man of your word. Today the messenger delivered a bottle of French champagne and the Belgian chocolates, complete with a note from you and your wife. Petals! What can I say, other than the fact that it is people like you who give me the faith to carry on. The choccies and the bubbly have gone to a good home, I can assure you. Thanks again, Ms. Hillary!

Dear Hillary,
I am sure I read your column some time back and you said there were books that could be read by newcomers to this country. My son is coming over next month, and I know he won’t listen to anything his father might tell him (he never has), but perhaps he might believe something written in a book. Any suggestions on suitable reading for him, Hillary?
Mike’s Father

Dear Mike’s Father,
Aren’t you a good father! Looking after your son’s interests, even though personally spurned. Or is it just you don’t want grandchildren yet? It is nice that you still want to read your boy a bed time story! There are many books available on the subject of relationships, long and short, between foreigners and local girls. I passed your query on to the book reviewer Lang Reid who suggests that you get Stephen Leather’s book called Private Dancer for your son (and maybe even for yourself).

Dear Hillary,
I am a single young man, so I do spend time in the bars around town. One of the girls I met recently rang me at work and wanted me to come over and see her. I did remember her but was embarrassed as I could be overheard by my workmates when I was talking to her, so I just kind of fobbed her off. How can I tell her it isn’t a good idea to ring me at work in a crowded office? Any suggestions?
Jimbo

Dear Jimbo (or is it Dumbo?)
It’s quite simple, if you don’t want a girl to ring you at work, then don’t give her your phone number!


Camera Class:  Different shots made easy

by Harry Flashman

This week I want to show that you can take your photographs in different ways other than standing still with the camera at eye level. A different camera position can produce very different photographs.
This different camera position really came home the other day when I was taking a photograph of a lady outside a shop. Looking at some way of taking the shot away from the humdrum, I sat on the ground and angled the shot upwards. In this way I could exaggerate the perspective of the shop columns, get all the shop front in and get the lady as well. One of the partners in the business was so taken with me sitting on the ground that he ended up taking photographs of me shooting his shop! “I’ve never seen anyone do that before,” he said. That reminded me just why so many people take the same old boring pictures!
So this week let us look at some different camera view points you can use, with any camera, to get different pictures. The first we have mentioned already. Getting down low, sitting on the ground and shooting upwards will give you a different shot immediately. If you have a wide angle lens or a “landscape” setting (as opposed to “portrait”) you will heighten this effect even further. Buildings will lean in on both sides and even three storey shop-houses will look like towering skyscrapers. Even people can be shot from this viewpoint. The effect may not be flattering, but it will be dramatic.

Shooting from an elevated viewpoint will also give you a different photograph. Stand on a wall or on the top of a ladder and take a picture of a group of friends looking up at you. The resulting photograph will appear to “say” something. Think about how many times you will have seen a picture of a Pop Group done this way – just to give a greater visual effect.
Now let’s look at the “running” position and I am going to give you one of my best secrets on how to take moving subjects. The super pro trick is to be moving yourself while taking the shot of your moving subject. This is the trick used to use to take cover shots of autos for motoring magazines.
Take, for example, the shot of someone on a bicycle. Sit in the passenger seat of a car with the window wound down. Select 1/30th of a second shutter speed (if you have manual control on your camera, if not do not worry) and get your driver to maintain the same speed as the cyclist. A wide angle lens is best because you do not have to be too far away from your subject and just compose and shoot. You will get a great shot of a sharp cyclist with a totally blurred “speed” background.
Taking a car is just the same, but another good position is to sit in a pick-up and shoot the car as it runs behind you. This shot gives you a sharp image of the car and a moving blurred ribbon of road underneath it. A real “action” shot. You can even do this with someone running behind you.
Would it surprise you that to take “action” shots I will often set the shutter speed at 1/30th or even 1/15th of a second? Certainly this allows “blur” to happen, but this does impart the “concept” of speed.
Another of the “pro” tricks is to use flash and a slow shutter speed at the same time. Have a look at the photo with this week’s article. I wanted to show that the flaming pole was being twirled around by the fire dancer. Setting the shutter speed at 15th of a second and setting the flash and the camera aperture at f5.6, I shot off three or four shots. The flash burst “freezes” the movement of the dancer, but the flaming ends of the pole show movement during the 15th of a second that the shutter was left open. Of the shots taken, this one showed the best fire “trails” and thus the best action.
Action photography made simple! Try it this weekend.


Money Matters:  Big is Best? Part 3

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

MBMG International’s Portfolio advisors - Miton-Optimal
Miton-Optimal are currently chosen as MBMG’s portfolio advisors because a wide range of independent analysis indicates that currently they are the best at creating portfolios and ‘sub-contracting’ the work at individual asset level to whoever is best able to do it (if you’re independent you can just go and buy the best expertise, be that UBS or whoever in any particular field - if you’re UBS you have to use UBS in every field). Our only allegiance to Miton-Optimal derives from their stellar risk-adjusted performance. Although we have been using them in this role for the last six years, they only have the job while they remain the best - our loyalties are to clients, not to fund managers, shareholders or anyone else.
We chose our portfolio advisors at Miton Optimal because they are, according to S&P, the pre-eminent specialists in portfolio construction. This should be the requirement for overall portfolio management - it shouldn’t just be left to good equity fund managers to manage the allocation between equities, bonds, property, cash and alternatives.
In “Determinants of Portfolio Performance” (Brinson, Hood and Beebower, 1986, in “Financial Analysts Journal”) it was demonstrated that asset allocation is the single largest driving force behind investment results (accounting for as much as 94% of portfolio return). This then is the key part of the process and failure to apply the appropriate levels of expertise and impartiality will impact upon the ultimate return.

Charges
UBS don’t publicly display their charges for their private banking services (that information was absent from the data provided by UBS); however, the range of UBS’s Absolute Return funds charge up to 1.92% per year. This again is a major disappointment in that one benefit of undertaking everything in house should be a lower level of costs. This is not being passed on to the client. MBMG International’s portfolio management service via Miton Optimal is available for 1.7% per year.

Why an intermediary can be better for you than a bank
Intermediary Bank Use the best Use their own internal resources Unlimited skill set Limited to the bank’s range of skills Totally personalized Generic - offer limited programmes to cover all risk, liquidity and time horizons
All convertible currencies Usually use just major currencies and no discretionary currency management

We believe that a portfolio should
- Aim to deliver what each client individually needs
- Aim to make use of the best skills in each asset class
- Aim to be able to take advantage of every asset class

Comparison
This comparison was undertaken at the request of a client - MBMG will undertake fund analysis and comparisons on behalf of clients and attempt to be totally impartial. That means recognising the strengths and weaknesses of the products that are analysed. MBMG are at liberty to use the services of UBS and, therefore, we do not see them as being competitors but rather as providers whose products and services we can use on their own merits. Historically, MBMG International’s clients have frequently had some level of exposure to the products and services provided by UBS and its associated companies. However, based on our current assessment of their merits, this exposure was much less then 1% of our total client assets as at 30.4.06.
We believe that such comparisons should be as detailed and impartial as possible - where people’s hard-earned money is involved, where small print can play such a large part in arrangements and where all too often clients are misled by small and large financial organizations alike, it’s important to highlight all pluses and minuses. Here we’re dealing with a presentation from a reputable Swiss bank who are recommending a form of investment that we are almost evangelical about - if we’re both in the same corner, you might expect a higher level of endorsement from MBMG of UBS’ approach. After all, we believe that this approach is far better than the vast majority of other options out there. In terms of expected returns and the levels of risk that are taken by these UBS funds and portfolios, we’re actually fairly comfortable. Our only areas of discomfort come from knowing not that this is a bad programme (it isn’t) but that in execution it’s possible to offer so much more - a higher level of expertise, a more personalised approach to portfolio construction and greater choice and flexibility with regard to currencies.
UBS deciding to offer Absolute Return funds and portfolios is such a huge step forward on what they and almost everyone else have been doing and on what most people still do. However, that’s still some way behind what can be done for a company’s clients.
There are differences in approach, research, execution, and there are plusses and minuses in both approaches, but we think that the key difference between ourselves and the likes of UBS is our business philosophy. When our core portfolio manager won the Multi Manager Awards last year, the panel of judges describe them as “… A team that never loses sight of the fact that the money it runs belongs to its clients, and they want to see it rise in value.”
We believe that any organization that wishes to manage money should share this approach. Sadly the vast majority don’t. Despite the activities of New York Attorney General Eliott Spitzer to bring the bad boys of Wall Street to heel, the champagne-popping, bonus-driven attitudes of too much of Wall Street are still more akin to the Solomon Brothers of Bonfire of The Vanities and Liar’s Poker.

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]


Tail waggers: Spaying or neutering - Pros and Cons: part I

by Nienke Parma

As part of the celebrations for the Chiangmai Mail’s 200th Edition, we are delighted to re-introduce guest writer Nienke Parma, who will be providing us with regular information on the care and keeping of dogs. Nienke, who is the owner of “LuckyDogs” Chiang Mai, is a noted dog trainer and rehabilitationist. This week she has the first instalment of a two part series on the subject of spaying or neutering our dogs.

 13-year-old Afghan Hound, Lady Jasmine, has not been spayed but has a responsible owner who ensured she was “kept away from the boys” in her younger days.

Murray Dickson, general manager, Chiangmai Mail.
Spaying or neutering a dog is often advised in order to keep in check the enormous amount of unwanted litters and diseases following the mating, gestation and weaning-period and to solve certain problem behaviours. But is such an operation healthy for the dog itself?
Several studies have indicated that this is not always the case and that one should be careful and critical before making this irreversible decision, especially when the dog has not yet finished growing. Therefore, it is better to manage the female during her heat period, prevent males from roaming unsupervised and provide the dogs with a proper education from puppyhood onwards. This is, of course, difficult, if not impossible, for stray dogs and for dogs whose owners are unwilling to do so. In these cases, removing the reproductive organs seems to be the best solution for now.
Nowadays, it is common to spay or neuter a dog at a young age (6 to 7 months). But by doing so parts of the body are taken away. As every body part has its function/s and is related to other body parts, possible health problems could result.
Reproductive hormones play an important role in the dog’s growth. Studies have shown that removal of the internal reproductive organs before the dog is fully grown can lead to a longer bone-growth period, resulting in longer and thinner bones and an increased chance of bone problems. It can also lead to relatively under-developed external reproductive organs, such as the vulva and the penis, with more chance of infections occurring on the skin around these parts.
Other studies have shown an increased chance of incontinence in females and probably males too. Other studies have indicated that female dogs, spayed before their second heat period, have a decreased chance of mammal gland cancer compared with those spayed at a later age. However, this does not apply to other forms of cancer. Chances of haemangio-sarcoma (a relatively common tumour in heart and spleen) and osteo-sarcoma (bone-cancer) increases in the (early) spayed females.
The thyroid function can also be influenced negatively as researchers and veterinarians have discovered. At the kennel I have come across several health problems due to hypo-thyroidism (i.e. a low working thyroid), in spayed females. Examples are: skin problems (hair loss and blackening of the skin), arthritis and calcification of joints, incontinence, obesity (obesity is not always a result of a lowered metabolism due to altering; it can also be caused by hypo-thyroidism), epilepsy and behavioural changes such as lethargy or fearfulness. Spaying and neutering can have its influence on the behavioural level as well, as will be explained in my next article.
For more information on pet health, dog and cat boarding, dog-training and behaviour modification counselling, please visit www.luckydogs.info or contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78 146.


Life in the Laugh Lane: Don’t Move

by Scott Jones

“I want the neighbors to know I made the big time.”

On my last trip to the USA I eased my culture shock by landing in San Francisco, home to a million or so normal-sized Asians, my favorite cousin who showers with her exotic birds, and my daughter. However, when my 25-year-old daughter, for the first time in her and my life, paid for our dinner with her credit card, I almost fell out of my chair. I had lost a daughter but gained an adult.
Next stop, Salt Lake City, Utah, home to millions of Mormons, often confused with Morons - intensely religious folks, some of whom live in tiny rural towns with fifteen wives and home-school their children so they don’t learn it’s illegal, immoral and fattening to have fifteen wives as servants. Though I personally don’t care how large a person is, it’s strange to be surrounded by masses of massive men and women. As I walked from the gate, I counted overweight folks floating by on their moving walkway - 89 out of 100 - like huge muffins on a conveyer belt coming out of an oven. Marveling at one particularly obese specimen, I imagined that if he ate one more potato chip, his pants might rip apart. Headlines read: “Thin traveler injured by projectile belt buckle as bulging man explodes in the airport.”
Their standard diet of fast, fried, fat-filled food continually expands their waistlines, but the real culprit is the consumption of vast quantities of LSD (Labor Saving Devices) that I found advertised in a Sky Mall catalogue on the airplane. The current American Dream seems to be: “Do absolutely nothing while you sit in front of the television and watch other people live your life for you.” To add to your collection of TV/stereo/radio remotes, programmable coffee makers that grind beans and brew a pot at exactly 8:27 a.m., electric pencil sharpeners and teeth cleaners, you can also purchase the “Electric-eye Trash Can” that opens itself, the “Advanced Robotic Floor Vacuum … cleans for two hours without human intervention,” the “Whole House Lighting Control System … imagine pressing one button and turning off all the lights in your house,” and, gasp, the “ACM Wallet … retrieve your credit, membership and ID cards with just the touch of a button!” (Oh, the exertion on all your fingers of flipping through a plain, old wallet!) It goes on and on. For only 6,000 baht, get the “Remote Motorized Patio Umbrella Controller” so you don’t have to stand up and move your arms.
If the potatoes venture from the couch, they can bring their 10,000 baht “Trailer Hitch Stand” hammocks mounted on their truck so they only have to walk four steps before sitting down again (Caution: Weight Limit 125 kg). If they can coerce someone to carry them to the pool, they can slip into the 7,000 baht “Motorized Pool Lounger … with independent joysticks giving total steering control and built-in drink holders to deliver ultimate comfort.” Just to make sure they can eat constantly without moving more than a finger muscle, they’ll want the companion 3,000 baht “Motorized Snack Float … no need to paddle around or get out of the water for a cold drink or snack - make ‘em come to you! The motorized tip-proof float operates by remote control - just press a button and it zips right back to you.” (But how do you get the food from the float to your mouth?)
Finally, one I don’t quite understand: “World’s Largest Big Ben LED Wall Clock … you’ll easily be able to see the correct time from over a city block away.” What’s the rationale here? Mount a huge clock on your roof? “I don’t even have to lift my arm to look at my watch”; “I’m the world’s largest man and I need the world’s largest clock”; “I want the neighbors to know I made the big time.”
Sky Mall missed a mastication marketing scheme with the 3,000 baht “PowerTie Motorized Tie Rack … view 72 ties in 9 inches of space in 20 whisper-quiet seconds.” I’m sure you could rig up this baby to hold packs of snacks, strips of beef jerky and candy bars.