The Doctor's Consultation:
by Dr. Iain Corness
Keeping in contact
A good friend
rang me to ask where he could go to get measured for contact lenses. After
discussing this a little further it turned out that he used to wear the
‘hard’ style contact lens many years ago, but was not conversant with the
newer style of soft, permeable lenses.
However, it isn’t just a case of bunging some in and forget about it. Quite
the reverse. With all our organs that can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, did
you know that eye problems are some of the commonest reasons for a doctor
visit? And for those of you who wear contact lenses (like me) there are even
more eye problems for us to get, despite the common use of contact lenses
What has to be remembered is the fact that a contact lens is a foreign body
in the eye. The “skill” in manufacturing the contact lens is in making it so
smooth that the eyeball doesn’t really realise there is a foreign body there
There are various types of contact lens, the old hard ones were made of a
material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) which is rigid and doesn’t let
oxygen through, but the newer ones have a material called siloxane which is
gas permeable. These hard lenses are the most trouble free, although the
most difficult to look after. Sounds topsy-turvy, I know.
The second type of lens is the soft contact lens, of which there is a
“permanent” style and a disposable type. These are made of
hydroxymethylmethacrylate (HEMA) which contains between 30-60 percent water
and are gas permeable. However, soft disposable lenses give the most
problems, but are the easiest to look after, in direct contrast with the
hard lenses. Again sounds weird, I know.
The commonest problems with all contact lenses is infection, and since the
lens is a foreign body, there is a good reason to get an infection
immediately. For those of you who leave your lenses in overnight, you have
an increased risk of infection by a factor of 10. Take them out every night,
you have been warned!
Infection is not to be thought of as something that just happens and when it
does you just pop in a few eye drops and get better automatically. Bacterial
infection can be sight threatening and the cornea (the clear bit in the
centre that you look through) can be destroyed in 24 to 48 hours. There is
also a parasite that can get into the eye of contact lens users who have
rinsed their lens with contaminated water, or who have worn their lenses
swimming in contaminated water.
One very common problem is “losing” the lens in the eye, both the hard and
soft types. The most important thing to remember is not to panic. The lens
cannot go “behind” the eye. It just rolls itself up under the lid. Try to
avoid rubbing and it will reappear in an hour or so.
The other very common problem is eye irritation. This is caused by material
under the lens or damage to the lens itself, such as splitting or tearing.
If you take out the lens and you find it breaking up, do not put it back in
- you run the risk of damaging the cornea. If you are like me and you wear
your “two week” contacts until they fall apart - remember you are running a
Lens care is the most important feature and you should always wash your
hands before removal or insertion. The lens container should be scrupulously
clean and the storage/cleaning fluid should be fresh, and never use water.
Look after your lenses, take them out at night, change them frequently and
remove them immediately if there is any irritation or redness. “See” you
Heart to Heart
I have a British motorcycle (a Triumph) and I park it in the garage when
I go off shore. I have noticed that when I come back these days, it no
longer leaks oil on the garage floor. I have my suspicions that my wife
has given it to a Thai boyfriend, and the motorcycle is staying at his
place while I’m away. Why she would do this is beyond me as I give her
everything she wants, gold chains and everything. I really cannot think
of any other reason for the garage floor to be so clean. Do you think
the seals have taken up, or what is happening? Is there another logical
Now it’s a motorcycle clinic! No, my Petal, the seals on your Triumph
have not taken up. Good British bikes always leak oil, so there is a
simple answer for you. Have you checked the level of oil in the
crankcase? For a logical answer, I think you will find there is no oil
left. That is the only feasible explanation with your British bike.
Unless it was made in Japan, whereupon it is really a copy bike! Check
the serial numbers, Poppet. And talk to the nice man at the motorcycle
shop, not Hillary. You could of course, try locking it up while you are
away. A good heavy chain, like the gold one your wife wears, with a
strong combination lock, should be enough to keep it in the garage, and
you will see if the drip is from the motorcycle, or perhaps it is you.
A rum drinky for you. “Red Smarties yum, yum, red Barons no good,” says
Your cryptic note arrived at the office attached to a bottle of Bacardi
Orange Breezer and a triple pack of Smarties. I almost fainted when the
messenger brought it upstairs! I thought you were dead (or perhaps it
was only wishful thinking on my part). I immediately checked the expiry
dates, and none of it was old stock you had got cheaply. The tax label
was still attached to the Breezer, so it hadn’t been tampered with
either! It certainly isn’t French champagne and Belgian chocolates, but
it’s a start, Mistersingha, it’s a start. How the Red Baron Manfred von
Richthofen got involved with your Smarties, I do not know, or understand
from your note. But then again, there is lots that I do not understand
about you. As is often said in this country, “The more you know, the
less you understand!” (For anyone new to this column, this chap has been
promising me all sorts of goodies for the past few years, none of which
This is briefly speekin, yer Nairod wiv Ingerlish elp from me mucker
Dorian. Whilst sojourning in one temporary residence (scrubland off
Naklua) one was idly perusing a discarded, ketchup stained copy of one’s
favourite journal when one’s attention was drawn to a brief mention of
one’s name, legible through the ketchup as, “that (something) Nairod,
which kept one guessing as to how one was being portrayed to one’s
public in the wake of one’s recent castigation. Did it read, perhaps
“that charmer Nairod’s endearing correspondence is sadly missed,” or
“that wonderful Nairod, lonely and unattached should remain so while
leaping off Jomtien tower,” or “that darling Nairod, my one sweet Romeo
whom I offer my troth, even though he’s not fit to eat from one,” or
“that sweet Nairod living rough in the Naklua region is hopefully
getting bitten thereabouts,” or “that poetical Nairod penned passion
will forever light up my column and my sweet replies will light up his,
and vulgarity such as Mr Singha’s be edited to extinction.” Still
So that you don’t lie awake at night in your rough shelter made from
discarded cigarette packets and bottles of M150, I will let you know
what was printed in the Mail (before ketchup). It was my response to
Mistersingha which was, “You’re still alive then! What a shame. Have you
thought of teaming up with the dreadful Nairod creature? You deserve
each other.” So no more guessing. Now it’s the awful truth (and not
As far as offering you my troth, I wouldn’t offer you a trough, though
with your stated standard of accommodation, it would probably fit in
with the rest of the décor.
As you will have seen, the letter above yours this week has come from
Mistersingha, wrapped around some Smarties and a small bottle of Bacardi
Breezer, and that was why I decided to print it, totally against my
better judgment. And having stooped so low, I may as well continue and
print yours as well, even though there were no Smarties, Bacardi Breezer
or anything else edible, though I suppose I should consider myself
lucky. It could have been a ketchup stained back copy of the Mail (and
don’t even think about it, Nairod). Fare thee well, sweet Nairod. Fare
Camera Class: by
Learning to master ‘manual’
is still, despite the digital revolution, all about handling the
variables involved in producing an image. And by handling all
the variables yourself, you have total control over how that
image turns out. And that entails mastering the M or Manual
Now there are people who say that this is not necessary. Today’s
cameras are smarter than we are, etc etc etc. You can twirl a
knob, or select from a pull-down menu, the “portrait” mode or
the “action” mode, and let the camera do the rest. That is all
very fine, but you will get the portrait, or the action, that
the camera ‘thinks’ is right. Not what you necessarily want, and
there’s a big difference.
Improving your photography is not really all that difficult, and
you don’t even need to go to school. There are many world class
famous photographers who never had a lesson in their lives. But
they did read, and they did experiment, and they did learn from
their own work.
There are really only two main variables, and after you
understand them and what they do to your photograph it becomes
The first thing to remember is that the correct exposure is
merely a function of how large is the opening of the lens and
how much time the shutter is left open to let the light strike
the film. That’s almost it - that is photography in a nutshell.
No gimmicks or fancy numbers - a straight out relationship - how
open and for how long - this is known as the “Exposure”.
Now I will presume, for the sake of this exercise that you have
an SLR and use it in the automatic, or “Programme” mode. Let’s
go straight to the “mode” menu and look up “A” or “Aperture
Priority”. In this mode it means that you can choose the
aperture yourself, and the camera will work out the shutter
speed that corresponds to the correct exposure. Simple.
So let’s play with this facility to give you some better
pictures. Select “A” and then look at the lens barrel and you
will see the Aperture numbers, generally between 2.8 and 22. To
give you a subject with sharp focus in the foreground and a
gently blurred background, you need to select an aperture around
f2.8 to f4. Hey! It was that simple. To get those “professional”
portrait shots, with the model’s face clear and the background
all wishy washy, just use the A mode and select an Aperture
around f4 to f 2.8.
Now, if on the other hand you want everything to be nice and
sharp, all the way from the front to the back, like in a
landscape picture, then again select A and set the lens barrel
aperture on f16 to f22. The camera will again do the rest for
you. Again - it’s that easy!
Flushed with creative success, let’s carry on. The next mode to
try is the “S” setting. In this one, you set the shutter speed
and the camera automatically selects the correct aperture to
suit. Take a look at the shutter speed dial or indicator and you
will see a series of numbers that represent fractions of a
First, let’s “stop the action” by using a fast shutter speed.
For most action shots, select S and set the shutter speed on
around 1/500th to 1/1000th and you will get a shot where you
have stopped the runner in mid stride, or the car half way
through the corner or the person bungee jumping. Yes, it’s that
So this week you have learned that to get a good portrait shot
use the A mode and set the aperture on f4 to f2.8 and forget
about the rest of the technical stuff. Just compose a nice
photograph and go from there. (Do remember to walk in close
however!) To get a great landscape shot, again use the A mode
and set the aperture at f16 to f22.
Finally, to stop the action, choose the S mode and around
1/500th of a second and you won’t get blurry action shots ever
Certainly there are other aspects to good photography, but
master the A and S modes and you will produce better pictures.
Money Matters: Graham
Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
UK Inheritance Tax
With the new regulations it is vital for people to understand that when a
beneficiary passes away the trust fund will no longer form part of an estate
for IHT. This means that some people will be actually better off. Despite
this, there will be people who wish to avoid the new rules. This may be
- they wish to invest a lot more that the NRB and do not want to receive a
20% entry charge
- they do not want, for whatever reason, periodic and exit charges
- the most important things are reduction in taxes with access thereby
showing that flexibility over beneficiaries is not the most important thing
- they want to keep things easily understandable
If any of the above applies then the way to go could well be the bare trust
versions of the main plans. The main advantages are:
- No chargeable transfer
- No requirement to complete IHT100
- No periodic/exit charges
- Will not affect taxation of any flexible trusts that have been created
- Chargeable events on a beneficiary who is over 18 years old
The main disadvantage of all this is that when you have chosen who the
beneficiaries are then you cannot change them at any time in the future.
However, it has to be said that most people do not mind this. The plans can
prevent beneficiaries winding up the policies and thereby stopping what the
settlors' want whilst they are still alive.
So, it can be seen that it is better to do something than do nothing and the
main benefits of insured schemes, i.e. estate reduction with access to
capital, are still available. Also, clients have options. They can either
have flexibility over beneficiaries and pay some tax or no flexibility and
potentially pay no tax.
Without doubt, the planning of IHT has got a lot more complicated. It
requires advice for qualified advisors with a complete understanding of a
client's gifting history, requirements and how it will impact any future
More than anything, the most important thing to do is to write a Last Will &
Testament (LWT). The new Finance Act 2006 could have serious implications
for those who ignore the possible implications of the new regulations.
Some LWTs will need only a few changes, many will require no changes at all.
However, there will be plenty that need massive re-planning. This especially
applies to expats. So, how have things changed? The basics of it all is
that, in future, most trusts - whether made by LWT or a lifetime transfer
into a trust - will now be subject to the same IHT rules that have applied
to discretionary trusts for years.
There is now the potential for a charge to inheritance tax when:
- the trust is created
- every ten years of its lifetime
- when the assets leave the trust
The whole point of this was to plug the loopholes and prevent any legitimate
and legal tax avoidance. It is a must that LWTs need to be reviewed if they
contain gifts to children or create what are known as Interest in Possession
trusts where there is an income beneficiary. It must be emphasized though
that the changes will not affect the actual provisions of the LWT, only the
way they are taxed. So, the only real difference is that the heirs could
receive a substantially smaller amount than had been originally intended
because it has fallen within the reach of HMRC.
To be continued…
|Example of IHT Planning
|A settlor creates a Discounted Gift Trust
for GBP500,000 at 65, and takes a series of interests at 5% per annum.
They die after eight years and the capital remains in trust for their
son who then passes away in year 12. Assuming the fund is worth
GBP640,000 at this time and the beneficiary’s other assets exceed the
NRB, the total IHT would be as follows:
- IHT on initial transfer and
during trust period = Nil
- On death of the of the Beneficiary:GBP640,000 x 40% = GBP256,000
Assumes NRB increases by 2.5% per annum and
the value at 10 years =GBP610,000. Therefore:IHT
on initial transfer = Nil as the discountedvalue of the transfer is
below the NRB
Ten Year Charge = GBP14,712 Exit Charge
assuming trust wound up on the death of the son = GBP2,848
|So, under the new regulations the total
IHT bill for the family is reduced by GBP238,440
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 Graham Macdonald on firstname.lastname@example.org
Language Matters: by Peter McKenzie-Brown
Confucius and the Language Institute
Chiang Mai University recently opened its new Language Institute building
with a traditional Thai blessing. A clutch of ochre-clad monks blessed the
building with Pali and Thai chants and other rituals. (Much as Latin is the
classical language of Catholicism, Pali is the classical language of
Theravada Buddhism, to which almost all Thai Buddhists subscribe.)
When the Buddhist celebration was over, there was a brief but dignified
secular ceremony to open the ultra-modern, 60-million baht complex. Among
the small number of dignitaries were university president Dr. Pongsak
Angkasith and Dr. Tanun Anumanrajadhon, chairman of the institute’s board.
The ceremony was well organized, brief and pleasant. The voices of choice
were English and Thai.
In addition to 35 air-conditioned classrooms, Chiang Mai University’s
Language Institute has a 200-seat theatre, two 100-seat lecture halls and
two other large lecture halls with 60 seats each. The complex has a
specialized language library, two language labs and a self-access learning
Confucius Institute: Then it was time for the opening of the Confucius
Institute, an affiliated organization. Confucius Institutes are China’s
answer to the British Council, Alliance Française and Germany’s Goethe
Institutes. Their purpose is to spread the study of Mandarin and Chinese
culture. The main sponsor of Chiang Mai’s Confucius Institute is the
government of China. Other participants include Yunnan Normal University and
China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.
So far there are few of these institutes. The first was established in
Uzbekistan in 2004. A year ago, according to a published report, there were
25, located in the United States, Europe and Asia. Today, there are more
123, and they are in 49 countries and regions on every populated continent.
In 2006, China set one up every three and a half days, on average.
The Confucius Institute pulled out all the stops for this event. The Chinese
ambassador to Thailand, Zhang Jiuhuan, spoke at length about the purposes of
the Institute, and a mandarin from Beijing - Zhao Guocheng, elaborated. Then
the chairman of Yunnan Normal’s academic committee talked warmly about his
university’s partnership with CMU.
To make a point, perhaps, the only languages spoken were Mandarin and Thai.
The ironic exception occurred when the ambassador ended his speech with an
unaccented, perfectly nuanced “Thank you very much,” in English; a slip of
the tongue. When the talking was over, curtains fell away and a traditional
dragon dance began.
Great Power: One could not help but be impressed with the energy, drive and
determination the Chinese applied to this official opening - qualities
available in abundance in that emerging superpower. The Confucius Institutes
are clearly an important part of Chinese policy, and the country is using
its extraordinary ability to get things done to push these organizations as
far and as quickly as they can.
I saw the importance the Chinese placed on the opening of this start-up
educational organization as emblematic of a Chinese challenge to the
dominance of English as the global language. As that country transforms
itself into the world’s second economic superpower, it seems to want to
develop the linguistic infrastructure that befits a great power.
According to one observer, Michael Vatikiotis, “China’s national office for
teaching Chinese as a foreign language, which runs the Confucius Institutes,
will provide textbooks for schools in Southeast Asia with the catchy title
‘Happy Chinese.’” That same national office believes there will be 100
million people worldwide learning Chinese as a foreign language by the year
Vatikiotis adds, “All of this is a sign of expanding Chinese soft power. But
what are the implications of the spread of Chinese language and culture?
It’s a more important question in a region like Southeast Asia where as many
as half the people living in urban areas like Bangkok are of Chinese
It is an important question indeed. In a way, it epitomizes the struggles
within and among languages that are taking place around the world, and which
this blog has discussed in some detail elsewhere.
For Chiang Mai University, the official celebrations helped open a building.
For China, they helped open the world.