Vol. VI No. 24 - Tuesday
August 7, - August 13, 2007



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Life in the laugh lane

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Will I fracture my hip?

One of the greatest problems affecting us all as we get older is falling and fracturing a hip. Despite all the advances in surgical techniques, anybody with a fractured neck of the femur (the thigh bone where it fits into the hip joint) will end up with a prosthetic ball and socket joint. Even with minimally invasive surgery, it is still a major operation, and as such has “risks” and a prolonged post-operative phase, complete with rehabilitation and training on how to walk again.
The reason that the elderly have this problem is through the bone becoming less dense, and therefore more brittle. This condition is called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, which causes the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
There are many people who are ‘at risk’ of osteoporosis, including:
Post-menopausal women and not taking estrogen.
A personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
Post-menopausal woman who are tall (over 1.7 meters) or very thin.
Males with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
Anyone taking medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
People with type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease or a family history of osteoporosis.
People with thyroid conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or parathyroid condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
Those who have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
People with X-Ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis.
That list above seems to cover just about everyone, so how can you find out whether you have already experienced calcium loss and osteoporosis? This can be demonstrated very simply by Bone Density Scanning.
Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy X-Ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of X-Ray technology that is used to measure bone density loss. DEXA is today’s established standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD).
To attempt to prove to myself that I am still a strapping young lad, I had the procedure carried out this week at a local hospital, on their new DEXA scanner. Like all X-Ray based procedures, it is painless and non-invasive, and should be thought of as having a ‘mini’ X-Ray as the amount of radiation used is extremely small - less than one-tenth the dose of a standard chest X-Ray.
The procedure involves wearing a gown, in place of your normal outer clothing, and lying on a clinical examination table that has an arm over you to receive the X-Rays generated under the table. The arm moves with a whirring noise, just to let you know that something is happening. The technicians will also position your legs, so that they can get the best X-Ray exposure of the lumbar spine and hips. The whole procedure takes around 10 minutes and then it is just a case of waiting for the results.
So what can you do to attempt to prevent osteoporosis? According to one researcher’s findings and published in the Medical Journal of Australia, lifestyle approaches, such as increasing calcium intake and weight-bearing exercise, as well as avoidance of excess alcohol and tobacco use, are recommended, even though the evidence for anti-fracture efficacy of each, or a combination of these approaches, is lacking. Vitamin D deficiency is common in elderly people who are housebound or institutionalized, and vitamin D replacement should be considered in these individuals. Hip protectors should be considered in elderly people at risk of falls, but adherence to wearing these is very limited.
However, if the result shows that you already do have osteoporosis, and are therefore “at risk”, what then? Well, there are treatments that are available, and most of them are expensive. It is not a simple matter of drinking two bottles of high calcium milk, I am afraid. Calcium metabolism is very complex, and getting it from the belly to the bones is not easy.
For post-menopausal women, consider estrogen as a preventive. For everyone, exercise should be continued as it helps build up bone mass. And if you want to know if you are at risk, consider a DEXA scan.

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I felt sorry for the guy who wrote in that his office was being remodeled or whatever. It’s been terrible here at home, with a new house being built next door. Excavators, jack hammers, trucks and dust. The kids have all got the sniffles, we can’t dry the clothes outside and we have to keep all the doors and windows shut in the daytime. We don’t have air-conditioning only in the bedrooms and so it’s terribly hot as well. We’ve asked them to try and keep the noise down as the baby can’t sleep in the daytime either, but no good. I just want them to finish the excavations and the concrete trucks and maybe we can get some peace again. Got any suggestions?
Harassed Householder
Dear HH,
You’re stuck, my Petal. All that I can suggest is find out from the builders how long they think this phase is going to take and then go away on holidays. If you can’t do that, do you have any friends you can bunk in with for a few weeks? You have my sympathies. As a last resort, think about paying the workers a little extra as a sweetener if they can finish in one week. But don’t pay until the week is over!

Dear Hillary,
I am very confused. Last night in the bar I met the most beautiful girl. She is not like the other girls I have met in bars here. I have seen quite a few as I have been in Thailand for two weeks. I have never seen anyone as gorgeous as this girl, she is tall even taller than me with long black hair and a super figure. She can speak quite good English but whispers in my ear rather than talking out loud in the noisy bar. She tells me she comes from Bangkok and she’s not like the girls from Esarn, but honestly she doesn’t really want to talk much, but is happy just smooching up to me. Hillary, I am worried because she seems so reluctant to talk that she may have something wrong with her throat. Could laryngitis be a symptom of some other disease, even AIDS perhaps? I feel I have to know before I go any further in this relationship. I would hate to find that I would have to be a nurse-maid to her or lose her to some terminal illness. Can you tell me how to check? Quickly please as she said she will wait for me and not go with anyone else.
Ear, Nose and Throat
Dear Ear, Nose and Throat,
Before you rush off to the Ear, Nose and Throat department, I think you would be better off checking with the Gender Reassignment department. Tall gorgeous creatures with husky voices are more than likely to be the same sex as yourself I’m afraid. And you say you have been here two weeks and now you are rushing headlong into any relationship far too soon. It has been said many times that the best looking girls in Thailand are always guys! You have been warned. Slow down, and stick to girls smaller than yourself, who don’t talk in whispers. It is much safer.
Dear Hillary,
Is it coincidence, or just plain stupidity, but almost all the letters you seem to get come from farang males who are in trouble with their Thai ladies. This relates to the fact that their ‘lady’ is one they have picked up in a bar. Surely everyone has heard the saying, “you can take a girl out of the bar, but you can’t take the bar out of the girl.” I have been married to my Thai wife for four years now and there has never been a “bad moment” in all that time. She is beautiful, intelligent (a qualified accountant) and caring. I do not have to change the locks on my doors or worry that my suits will be cut up. She does not need cables of gold to hold her in the marriage, or motorcycles, or houses. There is no family buffalo on its last legs, and we are not over-run with relatives from Nakorn Nowhere who want to stay. We have a partnership and mutual trust. Why don’t some of these men look for the “good” girls? Mind you she has developed a taste for chocolates and cheese!
No Bars For Me
Dear No Bars For Me,
Are you sure your wife is Thai? She is certainly a paragon of femininity. However, there may be lots of reasons that my main correspondents are farang men, with problems with their good time girls from the bar. One may be that the number of “good” girls as opposed to “good time” girls is much smaller than the demand, so the single males end up with the bar girls, of which there is a more than adequate supply. Look after your wonderful wife and buy her plenty of chocolates (you can send the champagne and cheese to me) and continue to build on your mutual trust. Bar scene farangs are generally not looking past the end of their noses - it is some other part of the anatomy.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Going Glam

What is the most popular photographic subject of all time? Hands up all of you who said “girls”. Correct again! And that includes you, doesn’t it! Actually there have been more books written about “How to Photograph Girls” than any other photographic texts. What’s more, photographers have been snapping girls since we first managed to record blurry images on Daguerre’s sensitized glass plates.
However, unless you are careful, you will end up with shots that are far from glamorous, and are disappointing for both the subject and the cameraman. The answer lies in following some simple rules which will make your lady look glam, and you will want enlargements of the very ‘professional’ result.
Let’s start with the basic pose. The first rule with all amateur models is to get your subject to relax. (Note I refer in this article to amateur models. Professional ones know which poses to adopt, and which poses make them look the best. That is why professional models are professionals - and expensive!)
Now, if your favorite lady is standing rigidly to attention in front of the camera, I can guarantee that the end result will not be pleasing. When photographing Thai people in particular, it is even more important to get them relaxed and happy, as they tend to “stand to attention” with arms held straight at their sides, looking as if they are on army parade. The other favorite position is to place thumb and forefinger under the chin, which does not look glamorous, but rather looks faintly ridiculous, and the reason for this escapes me.
I have found that it helps to have an album of different poses cut from magazines, adverts etc and show this to your subject. When the sitter knows what “look” you are trying to achieve, it makes it easier all round.
The pose to avoid at all costs is the subject straight on to the camera. This is unfortunately the commonest pose - but it is the worst as far as looking attractive is concerned.
Here’s what to do to get over this problem. Simply. Sit your lady in a chair, and then turn it 45 degrees away from the straight ahead position. Now ask her to slowly turn her head and look at the end of your camera’s lens. Now you look through your viewfinder - see? It looks better already, doesn’t it!
Now ask her to gently raise the shoulder closest to the camera and smile. Guess what? You are starting to get a glamorous image.
Now get her to slightly bend the neck to move her chin down towards the body, so that she has to look slightly upwards with her eyes at the camera. This makes the eyes look large and enticing.
That basic pose can be modified by turning to the left as well as to the right, shoulders up or down, open mouthed smile or shy grin. Each shot will have a different look.
For these sort of portraits you do need to make the subject’s head fill the viewfinder. Keep the top of the hair just inside the top edge of the viewing area and the lower edge should just keep the shoulders in the frame. In other words, walk in close. The best lens for this is around 135 mm, if you have a choice. This focal length is even known as a ‘portrait’ lens.
Lighting is the next important factor in producing that romantic glamor portrait. The trick here is to use gentle, soft lighting to avoid harsh and unflattering shadows. One super little trick to take shadows away from under the chin, nose and eyes is to open out a newspaper and place it in the sitter’s lap. The reflected light will gently lessen the dark shadows.
Another trick used by the professional glamour photographers is to “back light” the subject and then reflect light back into the face with gold foil reflectors. The gold imparts a very “warm” and flattering color to the skin. The reflector will also be picked up as small highlights in the eyes, which gives sparkle and an “alive” feeling to the portrait.


Money Matters:  Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.

Portfolio Construction - Part 5

IOver the past century and a quarter the real earnings of companies in the S&P index have grown at only 1.5 percent a year, which is less than the economy as a whole. This is because it is always underweight in new and dynamic companies. Over the past twenty five years real earnings have grown at an annual rate of 3 percent. Even more recently, it has gone up to an annual growth of 25 percent. This is since the most recent trough and will not last.
On past experience, it is far more likely to turn negative. If we have to gaze into our crystal ball so as to figure out when that may happen, we have to recognise that the buoyancy of corporate profitability is just one of several extraordinary features of the world economy.
Here are a few others: dynamic and now widely shared growth; low real interest rates on risk-free securities; low inflation-risk and credit-risk premiums and so low nominal interest rates; huge current account “imbalances”; and low inflation, in spite of big rises in prices of commodities, especially oil.
This combination explains many of the phenomena in financial markets. Borrowing by private equity funds to buy corporate assets is just one. Some of what we see is also surprising. This is particularly true of the association of rapid global economic growth and high profitability with low real interest rates and little concern about inflation. A world such as this is one in which one would have expected high real interest rates and worries about inflation, not the opposite.
So what is going on? Several answers emerge: monetary policy credibility, the great achievement of central banks over the past quarter of a century; globalisation of world markets in goods, services and capital; the incorporation of China into the world economy; the almost fixed Chinese exchange rate and consequent downward pressure on US Dollar prices of manufacturers; the shift of world income to two groups of high savers - the east Asians and, more recently, the oil exporters, and the consequent emergence of a huge savings surplus in these countries; the role of governments as accumulators of US dollar liabilities, especially treasury bonds; the role of the US as borrower and spender of last resort; and the rapid growth of US productivity. All this together has generated the conditions for stable economic growth. But how long will the happy times last? The dangers ahead look big:
* One is that markets will overreach themselves, so generating a destabilising correction.
* Another is a reduction in excess savings outside the US and a tightening of world interest rates.
* Another is a slowdown in US productivity growth. Yet another is a shift in global monetary conditions that threatens the soaring profitability of the US financial sector.
* But the biggest risk is that the end of the US property boom will persuade US households to tighten their belts at last, thereby ending the US role as the world’s big spender before the big savers are prepared to spend in turn.
The bottom line is that we can be confident that profit growth will not continue at recent rates. Sometimes people get perplexed: if the (US) economy has slowed so much through to Q1 2007, why are corporate earnings still so strong? This is because although real GDP growth has slowed down quite significantly over the last twelve months, the major equity markets, such as the S&P 500, continue to register strong growth in company revenues and earnings.
This is down to how things are measured and shows that there are fundamental issues that are also at work. To begin with, GDP is normally measured in real (volume) terms, but economy-wide headline inflation of near 3% must be added to calculate revenue growth. Secondly, the S&P 500 has a different industry mix that has seen higher growth than the economy as a whole. Third, revenues from US companies’ international operations have been growing rapidly, but these are excluded from GDP.
For the moment, the out-performance of S&P revenues versus economic growth should continue, even after adjusting for inflation. However, we believe that the industry mix of US growth could become less favourable for the equity market over the next few months. Nevertheless, a continued strong global growth environment and a weakening US dollar should help international sales to remain robust and offset a less friendly composition of US growth.
It is vital to have access to all investable asset classes within your portfolio. The equity ‘obsessives’ meanwhile will no doubt be spending their time and energy trying to come up with new measures to justify whatever prices stocks trade for ahead of the big looming fall (who else remembers the attempt to supplant P/E ratios with peg ratios around the turn of the millennium in an attempt to take the focus from how expensive shares had become?).
I can’t stress enough that the way forward is alpha management through the five asset classes (six if you include commodities), allocation, equity protected funds, intelligent stock-picking - we’re ready for the worst that could happen, what probably should happen and the best possible outcomes too. Every portfolio ought to be.
Goldilocks is alive and well in the minds of those analysts who view weak growth numbers as forward indicators that inflation is under control and similarly see signs of inflation as confirmation that growth will remain strong. This seems to be a deliberately perverse way of avoiding the very real dangers that:
1) The inflation genie is now inescapably out of the bottle due to fundamental structuring changes in the global economy (China now has sufficient wealth to generate domestic inflation which means that it can no longer offer deflation as one of its main exports)
2) The debt burden in economies like the US, UK, Spain, Ireland and Australia will choke any potential ability for growth and lead to slowdown/recession for these economies and the global economy as a whole.
To be continued…

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 [email protected]


Life in Chiang Mai: by Mark Whitman

By the time this appears I trust that I will be back in Chiang Mai, no doubt feeling rather warmer than in our very cool summer in the U.K. and whatever the amount of rain in Thailand it can hardly be wetter than in parts of England, where new records are being broken every day. Not just the wettest June on record but now July and as much rain in a few hours as is normal for the whole month, with massive flooding and damage to homes and businesses.
The British have a knack of responding in two ways. First they are seldom ready for any ‘problem’ that arises, be it snow, heavy rains, a heatwave or any other quite normal phenomenon. In Copenhagen when it snows heavily the machinery is ready and waiting, the snow is piled up and then collected. Life goes on as normal after two or three hours. We cancel trains and work is disrupted, accidents abound and there is a call for an enquiry. Nothing is done, rather as will be the case when smog hits Chiang Mai next March!
The second response is an invocation of the wartime spirit. How the British love to live in the past and recall what is still fondly remembered as our ‘finest hour’. People rally round and hold parties in one of the few habitable homes, looked after their neighbours, inflate rubber dinghies that appear mysteriously from the attic and soldier on. It’s all very cosy but does somehow smack of a by-gone era that is recalled through rose tinted spectacles.
The opening line to the best English novel I know, The Go Between, by L.P. Hartley reads: The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. It is a great opening line to a masterpiece, a book rooted in a long ago era. But I always take it very literally and wish to forget the past, preferring to think of now (and sometimes the future, what there is of it).
Hartley’s novel, written over 50 years ago, is like most of his short stories and other books, very simple in its prose and all the better for it. But I came across an article in The Independent this week that relished words that were far from simple. A clever book shop owner, Christopher Foyle, has spent decades collecting wonderful words which most of us have never even heard, let alone understand. Tens of thousands of words at our disposal and apparently most of us use around 500 hundred different ones each day, probably the same 500 the next day too, in a slightly different order and context.
Like most people, I hate affected English, jargon, politically correct phrases that are meant to avoid offence – I can’t help wondering if you refer to someone as vertically challenged rather than not very tall or even short whether it makes them feel better.
And difficult words for their own sake are of course pointless. Lovely words that denote the subject such as buzz, frolic, and groan are all fine and it has to be said that many of Foyle’s collection are useless in everyday conversation. Saying that someone is in a stormy relationship sits easier on the tongue than stating that the relationship is procellous (stormy, as the sea), I feel. But there were dozens that are marvellous in the way that they suggest a meaning by their sound, not so much onomatopoeic as in sinuous.
Here are just a mouthful:
A slubberdegullion which means a slovenly oaf. The same guy might be a yaffle because he eats and drinks noisily. Or a galoot because he is clumsy. On the other hand you might be attracted to someone and wish to suaviate them (kiss). You might be attracted to them because of their height (procerity) or their shapely buttocks which are thus described as callipygian. And finally if your young male servant (gossoon) suffers from aprosexia (is unable to pay attention) then you might give him a jobation (a reproof) when you are carnaptious (irritable). All of which might lead him to swikedom (treachery) or to call you a perjink (a fusspot) or even to batterfang you (attack with his fists). Better then not to start anything since dealing with a rantipole (a wild young person) might prove dangerous. Far better for us all is resipiscence. Namely a recognition of our past mistakes and desire to do better in future. Yes, that will do nicely as our thought for the week. Resipiscence.
Editor’s note: Welcome back Mark!
Res‘i*pis”cence, noun from resipiscere, to recover one’s senses. Wisdom derived from severe experience; hence, repentance or having to spell check all these words.


Let's Go To The Movies: Mark Gernpy

Ratatouille: US Animation – A superb movie in every way, warm and irresistible, just like Pinocchio and Happy Feet. Don’t miss it. The marvelous visual effects in Ratatouille show the Pixar company stamp, but the sensibility that governs the story is unmistakably that of the writer and director, Brad Bird. A veteran of The Simpsons and a longtime writer for movies and television, he has emerged as an original and provocative voice in American filmmaking. In this movie he demonstrates that a clear, accessible story can in addition be both thoughtful and unpredictable. And the basic moral conflict in the movie between family obligation and individual ambition is handled with unusual subtlety and complexity. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Hairspray: US Musical/Comedy – They say this bursts onto the screen with robust energy, youth, and vigor, and opinions are it is just plain fun. Starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken. This is the third time around for this work, as it started as a 1988 John Waters film, which made Ricki Lake a star, then became a Broadway musical made from the Waters movie and now again as a movie based on the Broadway show. Tradition requires that the important role of Edna be played by a man in drag: Divine in the film, Harvey Fierstein in the musical, and this time, John Travolta, in what looks like, from the previews, a most persuasive, exciting characterization. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: US Adventure/Fantasy – A sleek and exciting movie. Each film in the series seems to get darker – this one begins like a horror movie, and proceeds as a tense and twisty political thriller. A movie to savor, study and try and figure out what is really going on.
Grind House: Death Proof: US Horror/Thriller – Quentin Tarantino’s portion of the original Grindhouse, in an expanded version. This is a slasher flick where the killer pursues his victims with a car rather than a knife.
Grind House: Planet Terror: US Horror/Thriller – Robert Rodriguez’ portion of the original Grindhouse, in an expanded version. Campy and senseless gore and violence.
Transformers: US Action/Sci-Fi – At Kadsuankaew only. A gigantic, spectacular, and funny summer blockbuster, with truly exceptional and unprecedented visual effects. It’s a fun movie.
Die Hard 4.0: US Action/Adventure/Thriller – At Kadsuankaew only. A fascinating story of a conspiracy to take down the entire computer network that holds the US together.
Still one of the most entertaining movies around, all in all. Very exciting, good dialogue, good action, provocative themes. Bruce Willis was born to play the role of police detective John McClane, now in his fourth outing, and he seems to be enjoying himself more than he has in years. If you have any interest in this kind of movie, see this one.
Video Clip/Vdo Clip: Thai Horror/Thriller (English subtitles). This looks like a run-of-the-mill generic Thai horror film, with nothing particular to recommend it.
In Country & Melody/E Som Som Wang: Thai Comedy/Romance. From the previews, I would have to say this is the most disgusting Thai comedy that has come along for some time. The previews, including the human excrement sequence, are so sickening I can’t bring myself to see the movie. You’re on your own. I suggest you don’t see it at all! This sort of thing shouldn’t be encouraged.
Kung Fu Tootsie/Tud Soo Food: Thai Comedy – A very low class Thai comedy with a lot of popular Thai television stars. It’s supposedly a parody of the movie Kung Fu Hustle (2004), itself a parody of the Kung Fu style (wuxia genre), this one is as disgusting as only the Thailand film industry could make it - with plenty of drag queens, cross-dressing, and obnoxious gay slurs.
Scheduled for Thursday, August 9
The Simpsons Movie: US Animation — Apparently this is a must-see for any fan of The Simpsons, or anyone looking for a good laugh. Has received generally favorable reviews. (Additional scenes all through the ending credits.)
The Bourne Ultimatum: US Action/Mystery/Suspense/Thriller – with Matt Damon and Albert Finney. The culminating film of the trilogy begun five years ago with The Bourne Identity reportedly is a 114-minute chase film, dashing through streets and rooftops of any number of international urban sprawls. Reviews: Universal acclaim.


Life in the laugh lane: by Scott Jones

One Thai vs. 150 Norwegians

My 94-year-old stepfather would say, “I still feel like I’m 17, until I look in the mirror in the morning and gasp, ‘Good lord, who the hell is that?’” I experienced this to the core at my recent 40th high school reunion. I remember my classmates the way they were, but when I looked around the room, I’d seen younger faces on cash.
In a moment of insanity, my Thai mate Joom agreed to travel to Fargo, North Dakota to attend this two-day, bizarre ritual of mortality, against the advice of my “friends” who warned, “Are you sure want to hang out with Prehistoric Man?” As we walked across the parking lot to the Mexican Village restaurant, several large, white-haired citizens waved exuberantly from arriving cars bigger than our bungalow in Thailand. Another even larger, whiter woman wearing a flowered dress the size of a king-size bedspread emerged from the building into the brisk wind, although not one hair stirred in her semi-tall, very rigid hairdo, perhaps kept conservatively in place with Super Glue. At 88 pounds dripping wet with clothes on, Joom may have weighed as much as one of her thighs, thankfully concealed under her bedding. We panicked, ran behind a pick-up truck and each smoked a carton of cigarettes before daring to enter the room.
We finally entered the Village of Scandinavian Vikings where people had continued to grow in all directions: older, taller and wider. One friend remarked, “I don’t remember the bra sizes of the senior girls being quite so large.” Several women were taller than I, but Dick Hansen still towered above us all at 6’ 7” and 300 pounds—the former center of our football team and current college president, who undoubtedly has no problem with discipline. I said, “I thought people we’re supposed to shrink as they aged.” He replied, “Only you.” A relatively short Thai, Joom looked like a lost tourist, head back, gazing up at skyscrapers in New York. Though she would have preferred to be invisible, I convinced her to get a nametag, so the blonde giants wouldn’t mistake her for a Mexican waitress. Definitely more difficult than the names Olson or Swenson, “Tewintarapakti” required three separate nametags, but no one tried pronounce it anyway.
Besides being the shortest person in the room by a foot, she was also the youngest by twenty-some years. Her smooth Thai skin and youthful smile fools the camera and my friends had seen photos that took off another twenty.
Meet my family. After talking with three of my cousins’ children with autism and other hereditary mental challenges referred to by odd acronyms, she said, “Now I understand,” unfortunately referring to my psychological eccentricities.
One friend commented, “When we saw photos of you and heard you had two kids, we thought they must be eggs.” She finally said to me, “Stay as long as you want. I’ll just take a cab to the airport and wait for you back in Thailand.”
Although the room looked like the Land of the Giants, we were the last graduating class of Fargo Central High School “Midgets.” Decades before, because the first basketball team was short, all our athletic teams were named “The Midgets.” When we were at Central, since the legacy of the Midgets had been around forever, we never considered the ridiculous nature of our moniker or how it may not have struck terror into our competitors’ hearts. At pep rallies our opponents probably yelled, “Oh, no! The fighting Midgets are coming! Run away! Run away!” as they nearly laughed themselves to death. I’m surprised we ever won a game. “Get out of here, you little Midgets! Gimme that ball! Go to your rooms!”
Upon learning about the Midgets, and that I personally had created and starred as the mascot “Midgetman” in school colors costume—Batmanesque, purple, hooded cape, white shirt with purple “M” on the chest, purple shorts, tights and ugly plastic shoes shaped like deformed feet—my non-Fargo friends would ask, “They don’t still use Midgets, do they?” Answer: “No, our school burned down when I was a junior and the fighting midget firefighters only had squirt guns.” (Although our alumni newspaper reported that (as we watched flames licking the roof of our crumbling school) I ran back to the door and threw my books into the building, the rumor is not true that I had soaked them in kerosene.) Next comment from friends: “Midgets would be so politically incorrect today.” So what? 1000 angry midgets might invade Fargo to protest? “Get out of here, you little midgets! Gimme those signs! Go to your hotel rooms!” If Walt Disney can have Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Fargo could still have the fighting Midgets.
The next night at the banquet, an aging Midgetman appeared, bumping into walls, wearing glasses over his mask and generally making a fool of himself, but secretly pleased he could still fit into the costume and the 17-year-old fool inside was still alive and well and not living in Fargo. (You may continually grow old, but you can stay immature indefinitely.) I’m going to bring the costume back home. The cape may be too hot, but the boys in Thailand will love the purple tights. Size Norwegian Large, they won’t fit Joom.



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