The Doctor's Consultation: Cosmetic Surgery. Are you a candidate?
by Dr. Iain Corness
The other evening, in the middle of the pouring rain I ran
to my car, flung the door open and quickly jumped in. That statement is,
however, not quite accurate. The correct sequence was more like this - I ran
to my car, quickly jumped in and opened the door. The end result of my
collision with my car was a laceration to my forehead and my blood spilt on
the ground. After the epithet, I then wondered if I should contact my favorite
cosmetic surgeon and get him to remove a few wrinkles during the suturing. I
then wondered if I should go the whole hog! The facelift.
So what does a real facelift entail, not just simple repair of lacerations
caused by clumsily getting into one’s motor vehicle? The medical terminology
for a facelift is a Rhytidectomy Procedure, which is designed to improve
sagging facial skin and jowls, and loose neck skin by removing excess fat,
tightening muscles, and re-draping the skin.
By standing in front of the mirror and placing your hands just in front of
your ears and drawing back, you will suddenly see how you used to look some
years ago (and you’ve done it many times, haven’t you). That is what the
facelift procedure is designed to do, but note that it is not just a simple
case of cutting away sagging skin, but excess fat (in the wrong places) is
removed, and the muscles tightened as well. Tightening the skin alone will not
last, as older skin has lost its elasticity and will soon sag again. This is
why a full face lift requires a skilled (experienced) cosmetic surgeon, and
also why the operation takes several hours.
Being a major procedure, in cosmetic surgery terms, the anaesthetic is usually
a general one, though it can be carried out under local anaesthetic. You would
have to talk to your surgeon about this, but if you have some chronic medical
conditions (as well as an aging face) it may be better to look at local,
rather than general anaesthesia.
Some centers will carry out this procedure as an out-patient, but I honestly
believe that something as major as this deserves an inpatient stay, and
probably for a couple of days at least. Those who have had this done, do say
that the first two days are the worst, and the bruising is fairly extensive,
as well as the swelling. It often looks as if you have done 10 rounds with
Mike Tyson (and lost every one of them).
The good books mention the following side effects and risks to be considered
before being subjected to the cosmetic surgeon’s knife. There can be
temporary bruising, swelling, numbness and tenderness of skin; a tight
feeling, and dry skin. For men, there may be a permanent need to shave behind
ears, where beard-growing skin is repositioned. The risks include injury to
the nerves that control facial muscles or feeling (usually temporary but may
be permanent), infection, bleeding, poor healing, excessive scarring,
asymmetry or change in the hairline.
Recovery time as far as return to work is concerned (or being able to be seen
in public) is generally 10-14 days. The good book also suggests that more
strenuous activity should be postponed for at least a couple of weeks. The
bruising should have all settled by three weeks, and it is also recommended
that you stay out of the sun for several months.
There is also a further downside, in the fact that the aging of the skin will
still continue. A facelift does not stop natural aging taking place.
Consequently, your surgery will probably need to be redone in five to ten
However, many of the world-famous glamour faces have had this done, more than
once, and those who I have met who have had it done are delighted with the
result. After all, who doesn’t want to look several years younger?
Now all that is stopping me having my facelift is the time needed, the thought
of pain, and the money!
I’m Sean Bunzick, an American who’s been coming to Chiang Mai for
18 years now and when I’m financially trapped here in the States, I love
reading your column. Jason Schoonover’s books are my favorites and I’m
happy to say he liked my first two novels as well. While I think Private
Dancer would be a better choice, I have to agree with Jason on A Woman Of
Bangkok - it’s a great history lesson about falling in love with a
bargirl in Thailand.
I have a copy published by DK Book House that I bought 18 years ago in
Suriwong Books that I’d be more than happy to loan to Lang Reid so he
can read it and review it; you could do the same if you’d so like. All I
ask is (1) the book is returned to me in Chiang Mai after you two are done
with it and (2) I’d appreciate it if Lang could read and review my
novels, Missing In Aisa (sic) and Air Thermae. They are both available at
Bookazine in CM and my third novel, Dangerous Junk For Sail, should be in
that same store within the next month or so. The cover of the third book
has thumbs-up for the first two novels by both Jason and Chris Moore so
hopefully Lang will enjoy them!
Aisa? Where is Aisa? I know Americans can’t spell, but Aisa? Shame on
you, young man! And you also include an open offer of corruption. Don’t
you know that Thailand is now corruption free, ever since our Dear Leader
Thwak Sin stamped it out and fixed all our problems including drugs and
BKK traffic? Here you are offering Lang Reid a book, on the proviso he
reviews your novels! Goodness me, I know he would be offended! (But if you
send me some chocolates and champers, I’ll sweet talk him into doing
it!) Of course I will deny all this in any court of law, and say it was my
gardener. And by the way, I just hope Jason Schoonover appreciates what a
great job I am doing as his publicist and rewards me adequately! Life is
difficult enough as it is, my Petal, without all this extra aggravation!
Though I do commend you on keeping the original spelling of Sean, and not
that awful bastardization “Shawn”. It is after all a very important
Irish name, as never forget that St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of
Ireland, whereupon they went to America and became policemen!
I read somewhere that 90 percent of all marriages between foreigners
and Thais end up as being between Thai bar girls and foreign sex-tourists
and/or sex-pats. Looking around the bars I go to, this seems not just
correct, but maybe a bit on the low side. All of my male friends and
acquaintances are married to bar girls and only one that I personally know
about who married a non-bar girl married someone considered to be a
low-class Thai girl. It looks to me as if the 90 percent thing is about
right. Do you agree? It certainly explains the way bar girls are all over
you one minute, until they get hold of your wallet.
Dear Mathematical Mike,
It is often said that there are lies, damned lies and statistics, and
I’m trying very hard to place your letter in the right category, Petal.
Look at all your sweeping statements, without any real figures to back
them up, especially your 90 percents. All of your friends and
acquaintances, bar one, are married to bar girls. So what you are saying
is that 90 percent (minus one) of your married friends are either foreign
sex-tourists or sex-pats. Really? It’s time you changed your bars, my
little turtle dove! 90 percent of my male friends are not married to bar
girls, are not foreign sex-tourists or sex-pats, so we obviously do not
share water holes (isn’t that a relief, she cried)! So in answer to your
proposition that 90 percent of all foreigners marry bar girls the answer
has to be a No! You would probably be able to say, with a fair chance of
being correct, that almost all foreigners marry girls. That is, providing
they are male foreigners. But I doubt if the percentage is even as high as
90 percent. We are living in a changing world! However, the fact of the
matter is that men marry women they meet and socialize with, be that at
work or after work. Managers marry secretaries, doctors marry nurses,
trapeze artists marry circus ladies, ice skaters marry other ice skaters
and so forth. If your male friends only frequent the bars, the only girls
they will meet and marry are from the bars, but do not take it that this
is the norm for expats and Thai girls. The danger with statistics is that
you can make them show almost anything you like. For example, 99 percent
of all people who died last year in Thailand wore shoes. Therefore, shoes
are the greatest killer and we should all go barefoot. Obviously nonsense.
But taking your bar-fly male friends as the true statistics is just as
silly. Broaden your horizons Mathematical Mike, before quoting percentages
and statistical information.
Camera Class: Landscapes
by Harry Flashman
Are you going somewhere spectacular for your vacation? And
want to make sure you get stunning landscapes to make everyone envious? Then
here is how to do it.
This subject was brought to my attention by someone wishing to photograph a
famous red rock in the center of Australia called Ayer’s Rock, or Uluru, in
the native language. The reader asked what filters should he use to make sure
the sky would be blue and the rock would be red. This was actually a very
reasonable request, as the travel shots always show the rock to be a deep red
color, against a deep blue sky. The reader obviously felt that this was probably
done with trick filters. Actually no.
Before taking a landscape picture, it is time to remember
some basics. The first aspect to master is just sheer composition. The golden
rule is to include some foreground interest as well as all the other items in
the shot. Sharp foreground items like fence posts, bushes or even old farm
equipment will give depth and scale to the photograph. Preferably coming from
the left of the picture, as the human eye reads from left to right. This item
will help draw the eye into the picture.
It is always best to avoid putting the horizon line slap bang in the center of
the photograph, so move the camera to only have about one third of the picture
sky, and even experiment by making the sky two thirds of the picture you see in
the viewfinder. This is called “The Rule of Thirds”.
Another very interesting variant in landscape shots is to turn your camera 90
degrees and take the landscape in the “portrait” (vertical) mode. Of course,
the rule about where to place the horizon still stands!
Landscapes should also be very sharp, right the way through from the foreground
to the very back of the scene. The way to ensure this is to use a wide angle
lens and run as small an aperture as you can. f16 to f22 will be perfect with a
24 mm lens, for example.
Now this will give you slow shutter speeds, especially in lower light
situations, so this is one time where you really need your tripod. The slow
shutter speed will also give you that flowing look to moving water, such as
streams or rivers. Additionally it gives you an interesting and different
representation of waves, again imparting a sense of movement.
Time of day is particularly important for landscapes. Early morning for that
cold blue light and late afternoon for the warm glow. Get those into a landscape
and you are starting to put together a good photograph.
Another little trick is not to pack up and go home as soon as the sun
disappears. There is often enough light to catch some stunningly colored
different kinds of shots after sundown.
Even bad weather should not put you off having a go at some landscapes. On a
completely foul day try putting some black and white film in the camera and see
what you get. You may be very surprised with the end result. Another little
wriggle is to use the flash when taking shots in the rain. You can stop the rain
drops as bright splashes of light in an otherwise grey shot.
Now back to filters and such. First off, there is no blue sky, red rock filter.
You should put a Skyline 1A on the end of any lens, which does help sky color,
but more importantly protects the expensive glass bit. To get the best blue sky
and reddest red of Ayers Rock, use the wide angle lens and take the photo in the
late afternoon (warm light). Consequently, the rock in the late afternoon will
appear more red. Don’t be tempted to use the telephoto to bring the rock
closer. You go closer and use the wide angle! The technical reason behind the
sky appearing more blue is that the wide angle lens packs more sky into the
frame than other lenses.
If all that doesn’t work, buy some slides at the souvenir shop!
Money Matters: What makes Miton mighty? Part 1
MBMG International Ltd.
Mark Dampier, a well-known investment
research analyst and financial columnist recently wrote an article in which
he commented, “I consider the vast majority of managed funds, particularly
those run by insurance companies, as being especially poor.”
This despite the fact that he recognised that, “Inherently, a managed fund
should make a lot of sense for most investors.”
His disenchantment was based on his perception that the vast majority of
managed funds simply act as an All share tracker, being managed to a
benchmark which is far more to do with business risk that absolute risk.
Dampier embarked on a journey of discovery - driven by the recognition that
portfolio management for the majority of clients presents an opportunity
which, in the main part, isn’t being seized upon due to mediocrity of the
majority of fund management.
As regular readers of this column will know, we have been reciting this for
a fair while now. Years ago, we were driven by the feeling that there must,
surely, be organizations out there that were committed to doing better than
simply saying that a managed fund should be a proxy tracker of an average of
the world’s stock-markets. We spent ages interviewing fund managers so as
to try and identify those who were prepared to break this mould.
Perhaps first, we should look at the reasons why we’d become disenchanted
with the tracker approach - which might suit some clients better than others
but cannot get the optimal rewards of active management. Like much that is
good and bad in today’s world, the tracker mentality was born in the US in
the second half of the last century. There had been a major sea-change in
personal investment in the US in the 1960s with the emergence of star fund
equity managers who capitalised on the boom markets during the age of peace
and love by creating more focused stock market funds for the masses.
These mainly focused on the Kidder-Peabody ‘nifty fifty’ largest,
best-known, most traded US stocks. These, in general, performed very well
from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. However, the stock market crashes
that were partly brought about by the 1970s version of oil crises hit these
stocks hardest and most funds were made to suffer as well.
The erstwhile star managers were suddenly pilloried, investors felt cheated
and John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, seized on the opportunity that was
created by the widespread drawing of the wrong conclusions in the aftermath
of this debacle to popularize the idea of index tracker funds.
Thirty years later we have the luxury of a more considered reflection than
was possible at the time as well as the benefits of hindsight. The problem
with most portfolios in the early 1970s is that they had become too focused
on a particular group of stocks that had already performed extremely well
for a significant period and were unlikely to continue performing that way
Indeed, the US and most Western stock markets had enjoyed a purple patch. As
part of the normal cycle we can, at this removed distance, see that a major
correction was pretty well inevitable and that the oil crisis was more of a
catalyst than an underlying cause. The smart money, in places like
Connecticut (far enough away from the hurly-burly of a crashing Wall Street
to allow quiet reflection) realized that the problems had been caused by
portfolios becoming too concentrated in terms of geography, asset class and
Geographic diversification became easy to understand - spread your risk by
diversifying across all the world’s stock-markets. Unfortunately, this may
be the easiest lesson to understand but in some ways it’s not the most
valuable lesson - the effect of what we call unitary correlation (in simple
terms when one market goes bad the rest get jitters and the ripples go
around the world’s stock-markets like a giant game of financial dominoes)
tends to mean that geographical diversification might only serve to take the
edge off some nasty losses in really bad times.
Asset class diversification was also easy enough to understand - stocks were
plummeting but commodities, driven by oil and gold were sky rocketing in the
1970s - however, the system, presided over in the US by the SEC to protect
investors, made it far easier for you to buy the stocks that were plunging
in value than the commodities that were soaring.
As a result this lesson became distorted. The managed fund was born but
instead of being a thoroughbred of the 5 asset classes - Equities, Bonds,
Property, Cash, Alternatives - it became more of an illegitimate son of
a compromise between the SEC’s two favoured markets: stocks and bonds.
In recognition of the fact that a holding of bonds would have vastly reduced
the stock losses of 1974 and in anticipation of the new bond market activity
spawned by Paul Volcker’s modernising of the Fed’s management of the US
economy, bonds became more interesting.
The marketing departments of the big fund management houses went back to
their wound-licking clients with a diluted version of what they’d offered
previously - either invest entirely in stocks again but instead of the
‘nifty-fifty’, focus on those stocks that most suit YOUR outlook (growth
= potential for higher returns/losses, whereas value waters down both sides
of the equation) and with some global diversification, i.e. maybe 5% of your
stocks might be non-US stocks or have the choice of a balanced fund
(balanced somehow apparently means that 70% of your money is invested into
stocks and 30% into T-bills.)
However, if only lip-service was paid to geographical and asset class
diversification, then style diversification fared even worse. The idea that
short selling and options could be used to protect stock portfolios was
well-known at this stage. Alfred Jones’ successful experiments with
long/short funds (buying the stocks most likely to increase in value but
short selling those most liable to correct) were extremely well-publicised
by the early 1960s and there had been academic work on the subject since the
1930s. Even so, this still fell outside the narrow definitions of what the
SEC deemed suitable for most investors. Thus style diversification on Wall
Street completely ignored what approach to take to particular asset classes
and instead focused on the allocations within asset classes (i.e. the growth
versus value issues highlighted earlier).
Wall Street was happy - it had somehow re-invested itself and was able to
offer basically the same services and products as before but had managed to
distance itself from all that ugly business where people had lost fortunes
while it had been caught napping when it should have been on sentry duty.
John Bogle, opening First Index Investment Trust (now known as Vanguard) was
happy because, for those investors who still harboured a grudge, he was able
to make Wall Street a scapegoat. “Hadn’t we all trusted these start
names who were supposed to be so smart? Hadn’t they let us down? Hadn’t
the broader markets done a lot better than the ‘nifty-fifty’ when it all
went ugly? Hadn’t the broad market been smarter than the superstar
managers? Weren’t we better trusting to the broad market and its inherent
diversification rather than paying a fortune to these parasites who’d made
millions from our misery?”
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]
Tail waggers: Pets and their influence on a child’s development
by Nienke Parma
The more I read about the enormous impact dogs and other pets can have on our
mental development and health, the more I respect and admire them, as they all
do it unconditionally.
Did you, for example, know that in the States children from the ages of 3 to 6
report that 61% of their dreams feature an animal and, of the first 50 words
an American child uses, 7 of them are words for animals, with ‘dog’ and
‘cat’ ranking right up there with ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’? Small
children also tend to hold and follow around animals much more than they do
Pet animals also provide fantastic learning opportunities for our children in
a way that can’t be replaced by anything. Scientific studies have found that
very young children from pet owning families scored higher in cognitive,
social, and motor development. Other studies showed that pets help to boost
both IQ scores and reading ages. Children as young as 3ฝ years can
already show maternal care towards pets. As a result they score higher on
nurturing and are better at reading body language and empathising.
Further, basic needs such as emotional security, contact comfort, warmth and
unending ‘superabundant’ love are provided by pets. As a result, many
children share their deepest feelings and secrets with their pet, believing
that the animal is really listening and understanding without being
judgmental. In this way pets help develop a positive sense of self in our
children making them feel recognised, accepted and admired. More scientific
studies, conducted in America, support this view. It has been found, for
instance, that children as young as 3 believe that their love for their pet is
reciprocal. Elementary school-age children ranked pets as their most
significant relationships, 3rdgraders
considered the animals more comforting when they are scared or ill than a best
friend and teenagers who share secrets with their pets are more likely to have
greater empathy with their own age group.
Animals can do a lot for children. The only thing we have to do in return is
to respect them for what they are and fulfil their mental and physical basic
needs. That is not too much ask, is it?!
To be continued…
For more information on pets’ health, dog- and cat-boarding, dog-training
and behavior modification counseling, please, visit www. luckydogs.info or
contact LuckyDogs: 08 9997 8146.
Life in the Laugh Lane: Re: evolution
by Scott Jones
On September 19, I wake in Thailand to the
usual, unusual events. Stepping onto my porch, I almost fall down while
stumbling out of my sandal, which sticks in the rat poison that has dripped on
the floor from the roof. (My newest roommates are some crossbreed with rat
heads, combo-bodies and squirrel tails, perhaps called “squats.” After
seeing the happy couple cavorting on the ceiling beams, and hearing their
scratching, giggling reproductive activities in the walls at night, I whined to
my landlord who then brought a plate filled with a gruesome concoction of
poison, bacon bits, rubber cement and unidentifiable goo that would supposedly
trap them in a toxic bog. In two weeks, it only trapped one gecko, one fly and
As I search under the sink for industrial-strength cleaners, gasoline or a
chain saw to remove my sandal from the deck, a renegade spider - a tad smaller
than the neighbor’s dog but much faster - scampers away with her sack of
10,000 microscopic babies in an apparent plot to deposit them everywhere, usurp
my bungalow and enshroud me in a web prison. While sweeping an unauthorized ant
convocation out of the kitchen, I find a plastic bag, which has become,
overnight, the home of a genial toad. He enjoys riding around on my hand,
creeps curiously toward the camera to give me its best side, and then sits on
the seat of my wooden toy motorcycle for a couple of hours wishing its front
legs could reach the handlebars.
I check email to find a barrage of messages from American friends, the gist
being “What the #%*@ is going on?!” The internet informs me there has been
a military coup, tanks are rolling, and, by the way, it’s a public holiday!
Peacefully with no resistance, using military-strength cleaning agents, the
government has been purified. I don my yellow polo shirt adorned with the royal
emblem - one of millions purchased by the masses to honor His Majesty the King,
the longest-reigning monarch in the world, during this celebration of his 60th
year on the thrown. I ride into Chiang Mai, exchanging thumbs-up signs with
casual soldiers hanging around intersections and playing with their shiny metal
toys, wrapped with yellow bands. “Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the ol’
Uzi…” Traffic is light; kids are out of school and everyone’s in a pretty
good mood. The national TV news crews are subtly cheery and blatantly wearing
yellow shirts, yellow jackets and yellow ties while broadcasting footage of
citizens bringing flowers and food to soldiers on the streets. It feels like
Thailand has taken a big sigh of relief. The pill wasn’t too hard to swallow
even though it was administered by the army.
In America and the West in general, “Prime Minister Overthrown in Military
Coup” does not sound good. “Coup” and “overthrown” sounds bad,
and “military” sounds very bad. (Okay, “military” is a revered word in
America, but only when the United States armed forces have taken control. God
forbid, a foreign country works it out for itself.) A “general” in
temporary control sounds even worse, and the single photo that many of the news
reports chose to show portrayed General Sondhi as a snarling creature rather
than the calm gentleman we see here on Thai television. In reality, the
cooperation of a Buddhist king and a Muslim general should ease tensions in the
“Scrapping the constitution” may sound rash, but here, laws seem to
be seasonal things anyway. Today you have a tourist visa; tomorrow you do not;
next week you do. Next month? Whatever. A most important and influential word
in Thailand is “king” but in America, the last king we had, besides Elvis,
was George, who annoyed us until we brewed his tea in the sea and started our
own country. Unless you’ve been here, experienced the feelings of the
respect, and are aware of the decades of HM King Bhumibol’s service for and
with the people, it’s hard to comprehend the situation. I personally doubt if
he wants to govern, since he has a much loftier role - the heart and soul of
the people and the country.
Most folks do not have a clue about Thailand. “Where? You’re from Taiwan?
Isn’t that the capital of communist China?” Rulers around the world, who
seem to want every country to behave exactly like theirs, have taken a
holier-than-thou stance, condemning events in Thailand for “destroying
democracy.” Well, there appears to be a plethora of positive democratic news
here. The preparations for a clean election should open up the field to more
candidates. With their planned input from experts, students and common
citizens, the creation of a new constitution should build on what has almost
worked in the past. (Sometimes you just cannot repair the old truck; you have
to get a new one.) The classic “checks and balances” in a democracy have
different names in Thailand, a name that means “Land of the Free.” In
America, congress makes the laws, the Supreme Court judges them and the
president, in charge of the military, enforces them. Here there is a
parliament, a prime minister with his cabinet, a constitutional court and a
seasoned, revered judge with 60 years of experience and a loyal army devoted to
A week later, it is pretty much business as usual in Chiang Mai. Soldiers sleep
peacefully by the moat while cradling guns with yellow ribbons. Expats try in
vain to decipher the latest visa laws. I attempt to quell the ant revolution,
locate 10,000 guerrilla spiders and chop my sandal off the porch. My bungalow
is governed by an amicable confederacy of toads, which has learned to drive my
motorcycle. Fortunately, toads eat ants and spiders. With a little cooperation,
they should be able to take care of the rats.