Welcome to the Femail page! Another week of disaster and desperation
ends with the certain knowledge that tens of thousands more people
have lost their lives, this time in China, although at least the
Chinese government is allowing aid and aid workers in from the rest
of the world. Our first thought was that they would be needing all
their supplies for their own people - leaving none for the Burmese
victims. A terrible decision to have to make. Spending most of the
week online researching the developing situations in both Burma and
China has been difficult and depressing, but one thing became very
clear: we should be so proud of the Chiang Mai citizens of all
nationalities who have been working so hard to collect and send aid,
often by devious means, into the worst hit areas in Burma. It’s said
that tragedy brings out the best in human beings - this is so true
On a more cheerful note, we were lucky enough to be invited to try
out a new health spa in Chiang Mai with the unusual name of Soqi.
Located on Soi 15, Nimmanhaeminda Road, this is a very unusual
establishment offering detox, health restoration, and well-being
through a combination of a “Chi Machine”, infra-red treatments, a
body cell energiser machine, and enzymes. Bet you’re thinking what I
was - heard it all before. You’d be wrong, and so was I! The
treatments really, truly, do work. Next week’s Femail will have an
explanatory interview with Soqi’s charming MD, Reidar Ostensen,
which will tell all! Including the anti-ageing effects of regular
treatments…If you’d like to find out more before then, the telephone
number is 053 217 057.
Women’s group in Phrao starts its own village bank
Women in Baan Pa Thuum Hong, Phrao district,
celebrate the opening of their own village bank.
With the economic health of their community in mind, a women’s group in
Phrao has decided to open its own village bank. Supported by the Common
Interest Foundation, the Improving Life Women’s Group of Baan Pa Thuum Hong
has established a local alternative to help them expand their small
businesses and farms.
This innovative scheme operates as a simplified credit union. Women from a
village form a group, choose leaders and make their own rules. They then
agree to save together on a monthly basis. The money is then immediately
re-lent to its members at rates considerably lower than in the commercial
sector, and all decisions, collections and records are made and documented
by local members. The Common Interest Foundation assists by providing
training, record-keeping materials and also by providing additional funds to
groups who have a proven track record.
Besides the financial benefits of lower interest rates, Village banks
promote co-operation and independence in rural communities - especially
amongst women. In some villages, women have been so successful that their
village bank has been able to begin to provide life and medical insurance
free of charge.
The concept of village banking, or micro-credit as it is often called, is
about providing small loans to poorer people to support their income
generating activities. Rather than creating dependence on handouts,
micro-loans promote entrepreneurship and hard work. Since 2005, the Common
Interest Foundation has been working in many rural villages throughout
Northern Thailand promoting micro-credit. Nearly all of its 600+ members are
women and many are from ethnic hill-tribe villages. For more information
More on Abs and Core Strength
Last week I wrote about the basic principles of abdominal muscle
development; a reminder might well be a good idea. First exercise - Lie flat
on your back and, whilst breathing out, press the small of your back against
the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds, relax, and repeat. Second exercise - Same
as above, but once you feel your entire spine flat against the floor, draw
your knees up to your chest, rolling your hips slightly, hold, then slowly
straighten your legs end extend back to the flat position.
Repeat at least 8 times; slowly increase the repetitions to 25 as your core
strength increases. If at any time you can’t keep your back against the
floor, relax, then try again. Third exercise (advanced stuff!) - Second
exercise again but when your knees are drawn up to your chest, extend your
legs upwards at 90 degrees to the floor. Now the good bit - keeping your
back against the floor, lower your straightened legs slowly until you feel
your spine beginning to lift away from the floor. Raise your legs to 90
degrees again, press your spine back against the floor, bring your knees to
your chest, then extend and lie flat. Relax, breathe in and repeat.
Important points to remember are keeping your spine pressed against the
floor, and not holding your breath whilst you are doing the exercise.
Of course, the abs are not the only muscles in the “core strength” area.
There is an entire matrix of muscles between the ribcage and the pelvis,
many of which are connected to the spine, which give you stability and
assist in bending, stretching, twisting, etc. As your weight piles on and
you become less active, these muscles become weaker, your posture and your
ability to manoeuvre deteriorate, you burn fewer calories, and the downward
spiral begins! Unfortunately, once your core strength has been reduced or
lost, it’s a long haul back to regain it, but it does become easier as you
lose weight. Your attempt to regain that strength begins with abs work; you
should initially focus on the above exercises. I will return to the subject
of core strength at a later date.
In the meantime, please, please, remember that it is regular exercise which
works best; the fitter your muscles the more calories you burn during any
given activity, and the more weight you lose. Don’t worry, there is no way
you are going to develop a visible “six-pack”; you wouldn’t want one anyway!
What you do want is to feel your abs working for you in right way, even if
they are under a “slight” layer of tummy fat…The above exercises may, at
first, be slightly uncomfortable and frustrating, but, please, (again!)
don’t give up, you will get used to the rhythm and effort quickly if you
persevere. At that point you will truly feel the exercises doing you good!
A useful and helpful technique used in many gyms is to alternate abs work
with upper body work, either seated or standing. The trick here is to
maintain good posture all the time, and then continue to do so in everyday
tasks like sweeping the floor, carrying shopping, and even walking. More
next week on upper body exercises, diet and motivation, (yes, it’s that word
Bureaucracy runs riot!
A letter sent to a UK cabinet minister prompts the comment,
“And we think we have problems here!”
I’m in the process of renewing my passport but am at a total loss to
understand, or believe, the hoops I am being asked to jump through.
How is it that Bert Smith of T.V. Rentals has my address and telephone
number and knows that I bought a satellite dish from them back in 1994, and
yet, the Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date?
How come that nice West African immigrant chappy who comes round every
Thursday night with his DVD rentals van can tell me every film or video I
have had out since he started his business up eleven years ago, yet you
still want me to remind you of my last three jobs, two of which were with
contractors working for the government?
How come the T.V. detector van can tell if my T.V. is on, what channel I am
watching and whether I have paid my licence or not, and yet if I win the
government’s lottery they have no idea I have won or where I am and will
keep the money to themselves if I fail to claim in good time? Do you people
do this by hand?
You have my birth date on numerous files you hold on me, including the one
with all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 30 years. It’s on my
health insurance card, my driver’s licence, on my last four passports, on
all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being
allowed off the planes and boats over the last 30 years, and all those
insufferable census forms that are done every ten years and the electoral
registration forms I have to complete, by law, every time our lords and
masters are up for re-election.
Would somebody please take note, once and for all, I was born in Staines on
the 9th of April 1959, my mother’s name is Alice, her maiden name was
Greenhalgh, my father’s name is Michael, and I’d be absolutely astounded if
that ever changed between now and the day I die!
I apologise, Minister. I’m obviously not myself this morning. But between
you and me, I have simply had enough! You mail the application to my house,
then you ask me for my address. What is going on? Do you have a gang of
Neanderthals working there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin
Laden? I don’t want to activate the Fifth Reich - I just want to go and park
my weary backside on a sunny, sandy beach for a couple of week’s well-earned
rest away from all this crap.
Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to back to Salisbury and get
another copy of my birth certificate because you lost the last one. AND
you’ll charge me to the tune of 60 quid! What a racket THAT is!! Would it be
so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the
issuance of a new passport the same day? But nooooo, that’d be too damn easy
and maybe make sense. You’d rather have us running all over the place like
chickens with our heads cut off, then find some idiot to confirm that it’s
really me on the goddamn picture - you know... the one where we’re not
allowed to smile in case we look as if we are enjoying the process!
Hey, you know why we can’t smile? ‘Cause we’re totally jacked off! I served
in the armed forces for more than 25 years including over ten years at the
Ministry of Defence in London. I have had security clearances which allowed
me to sit in the Cabinet Office, five seats away from the Prime Minister
while he was being briefed on the first Gulf War and I have been doing
volunteer work for the British Red Cross ever since I left the Services.
However, I have to get someone ‘important’ to verify who I am - you know,
someone like my doctor…who, before he got his medical degree 6 months ago
WAS LIVING IN PAKISTAN.
An Irate British Citizen