Vol. VII No. 48 - Tuesday
November 25 - December 1, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Chiang Mai FeMail 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Dental appointment? Consider yourself lucky

Through a rapist’s eyes

Eternal youth – is this the breakthrough?

Anyone for ballroom dancing: an afternoon of nostalgia and fun?

Farang Lady’s songthaew sagas

 

Dental appointment? Consider yourself lucky

Those of us with the all-too common “dental phobia”, should, perhaps, give the following a miss.
A rare book written by an 18th century dentist, containing excruciating information on dental techniques of the period, is due to be sold at auction in the UK. Its author, Thomas Berdmore, was considered to be the leading dentist in England (the rest were at best, barber-surgeons and travelling charlatans) and he was renowned for treating King George the third, who, it is reputed, went mad at a fairly early age. Hopefully there was no connection.
Treatments outlined in Berdmore’s book, entitled, ‘A Treatise on the Deformities and Disorders of the Teeth And Gums’, include, if an early version of braces for uneven teeth proved unsuccessful, breaking the teeth into order by means of a “strong pair of crooked pliers.”
The book, the earliest known work in the English language on the art of dentistry, also includes gruesome descriptions of botched attempts by barber-surgeons which Berdmore was often called upon to repair. We should remember, of course, that the only anesthetic available at the time was half a bottle of brandy or its cheaper equivalent … Ouch!
For toothache, it recommends “astringent liquors rendered slightly acid by the addition of lemon juice or vinegar” and remarks on the effect of rotting teeth, noting, “the smell imparted to the breath by dirty rotting teeth is generally disagreeable to the patients themselves, and sometimes extremely offensive to others in close conversation.” Right.
Interestingly though, Berdmore was the first dentist to warn that sugar, as popular then as it is today, could be bad for the teeth, and he was well ahead of his time in stating that, “I am inclined to think that smoking is hurtful to the teeth.” Right, again!

 

Through a rapist’s eyes

The possibility of rape may not worry us as much here in Chiang Mai as it did in our home countries, although, as many of us travel to Thailand’s beach resorts or back home for brief holidays or family visits, this particularly reprehensible crime may be more of a cause for concern whilst there. The advice below was gathered from interviews with rapists and date rapists in prison in the USA, and provides not only an insight into the minds of rapists, but some sensible advice on how to avoid becoming a victim
The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets. The second indicator is clothing; a rapist will choose a victim whose clothing is easy and quick to remove. Many such men carry scissors specifically to cut clothing.
Women using cell phones, searching through a handbag, or involved in activities whilst walking are off guard and can be easily overpowered. The hours women are most at risk from rape are in the early morning, between 5:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
The favourite places for men to attack or abduct women are parking lots, particularly outside supermarkets, offices or workplace parking lots or garages, and, oddly enough, public restrooms. Rapists are usually looking to grab their victim and move her quickly to another more remote location, where they are unlikely to be interrupted.
Only a very small percentage of rapists admitted to carrying a weapon, as they were fully aware that, if caught, a longer sentence would result than if they were not armed.
Many of the rapists interviewed stated that if a potential victim fought back, they were discouraged as subduing their victim would take time. Also, women carrying umbrellas, or other objects that could be used in their defence without getting close to their attacker were avoided. The moral of that seems to be that despite official advice, women should make a fight of it.
Defence mechanisms used if danger is suspected include looking the person right in the face and asking them a question such as “what time is it?” or making small talk.
The theory behind this rather scary practice is that a rapist will realise that, if he is caught after he has committed the act, you will be able to easily identify him by memory of both his face and his voice. As a result, you lose appeal as a potential victim. If someone is coming toward you, you should hold out your hands in front of you and yell STOP! or STAY BACK! Most rapists, when asked, said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, these men are looking for an EASY target.
Carrying pepper spray is highly recommended as a deterrent, and letting your assailant know that you have it by yelling, “I have pepper spay” and holding it out in front of you. With luck you won’t even have to use it.
If you have the misfortune to actually be grabbed by a man, remember that you cannot beat his strength, but you can outsmart him with a few tricks. The underside of the arms and the inside of the thighs are very vulnerable, a strong pinch is very painful. The next place to go for is obvious - the groin. Fingernails can be useful in this, especially if they are long. Remember, rapists look for easy targets. Don’t give them one. Another good trick is to grab the first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible.
Always be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. Don’t go alone unless you have to, and, above all, go with your instincts! If something looks wrong - it probably is.
Some helpful hints to remember if you’re really in danger will follow in next week’s Femail. You may think you’ll never need them, but we live in an uncomfortable world these days.


Eternal youth – is this the breakthrough?

Recent experiments with mice have shown that an enzyme, telomerase, could hold the secret of staying young, as it protects the tiny bundles of DNA at the end of our chromosomes. According to a researcher, “the enzyme is capable of turning a normal, mortal cell into an immortal cell.”
Animals used in the research lived up to 50% longer, had less fat, better coordination, and were better at processing sugars. The optimism is supported by US experiments which found that boosting telomerase levels in white blood cells makes them better at fighting disease.
The enzyme is extracted from the Astragalus plant, often used in Chinese medicines with no known adverse effects. However, there are safety concerns about its usage, because cancer cells are known to produce telomerase at higher than normal rates.
“With anything that boosts telomerase, you may have unwanted cell growth similar to that in cancers,” according to an immunologist at University College in London. Nevertheless, whilst an elixir of life may be far in the future, the prospect of boosting telomerase to fight disease, including age-related diseases, may be much closer.


Anyone for ballroom dancing: an afternoon of nostalgia and fun?

Elena Edwards
In the old days, in our home countries, a great way to spend an afternoon was at the ever-popular “tea dances” held in almost every town. Those of us without two left feet can now indulge in total nostalgia here in Chiang Mai – and at the Shangri-La, no less.
From last Saturday, November 22, the hotel (the proud possessor of a new imported dance floor) will hold their version of the tea dance every week from 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Don’t worry if the waltz and the quickstep don’t figure amongst your major talents as teachers from Chiang Mai’s own Ballet Academy, run by Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat, will be there to help.
At the opening event, an accomplished and very professional display of Latin Dance was given by a pair of dancers who have won many national and international prizes in the category. Dancing, as we all know (and many of us don’t want to admit) is great exercise and a lot of fun - so come along, enjoy a delicious tea, find a dishy partner (if you don’t have one already) and dance! Even if you just sit and watch, it’ll be fun.
Dress code is casual, and the charge for this unusual afternoon is 240 baht, which includes tea, ballroom dancing lessons and a prize draw. Places are limited to 70 per session. Please contact the Shangri La for booking or further info on 053 253 888


Farang Lady’s songthaew sagas

Six of us were elegantly dressed the other night on our way to a restaurant to celebrate a birthday. As the wind whipped in the window of the songthaew, one of my friends yelled over the clatter of the broken muffler, “Who would have thought I’d spend my golden years riding around in the back of a truck?”
Murphy’s Law is alive and well when riding in a songthaew. If you are not in a hurry, you go directly to your destination so fast you don’t have enough time to get your money out. If you are in SORT of a hurry, the driver picks up two other people, but still heads in the right direction, eventually.
If you are in a HUGE, BIG, GIGANTIC hurry, and you are almost late for your appointment, the following happens:
You enter at the back and sit down. Along the way, the driver slows down and honks his horn for anyone who is standing within 20 feet of the curb. He picks up 5 other people, and by that time, you don’t know where you are. One by one the customers depart the truck. This is after you have cruised the Suan Dok Hospital complex (one of the passengers was in labor) and then made a stop at the Chang Puak bus station to let off the guy with 100 pounds of produce and ten bunches of ant infested flowers.
Finally, you are the last Mohican in the back. You have hope. The truck stops and suddenly you realize that all along there has been a microscopic lady sitting up front, in the passenger seat. She is 120 years old. She is well dressed with a huge shopping bag, and a tight permanent. She begins searching for her fare. Three zippers later she counts out baht, one by one. She can’t get the door open, the driver leans over and helps. She slowly exits the cab. As your songthaew departs, you see her ringing the bell on an elaborate gate, the size of a billboard, in front of a mansion. She undoubtedly is a member of a dynasty. Then why didn’t she take a limo!!
Finally you arrive, hot, tired, and stuck to the plastic bench. It is then you know you have had an official “LONGteaw” ride.
Sometimes riding on a songthaew, lost in thought, I suddenly wonder where I am. I KNOW I have never seen this neighborhood. I KNOW I have never ridden down this street. I panic. What did the driver think I said? I’m sure I am miles from my destination. The driver stops, he turns around and looks at me, pointing to the right. I realize … I am at my destination. He was not lost, and he thinks I’m demented.
You can have intriguing conversations in the back of a songthaew. A really fast talker can tell you their life story in the time it takes to ride from Taphae Gate to Kad Suan Kaew. You learn where they are from, and where they are going. You hear about their bout of diarrhea, prickly heat, and their recent near death experience on a motor scooter, complete with a graphic exhibit of scars. If they have a tragic story, it pours out rapidly. They got robbed on Kao San Road, fell in love, fell out of love, got lost, got conned, and took the overnight bus ride from hell. They came to Thailand, bought a house, and their partner left them for a 17 year old, a motorcycle, or a katoey (that was a heart-wrencher).
My better half often walks in the door and remarks, “Oh, ya know, I met this guy in the back of the songthaew today who…..” So yes, we are spending our golden years riding in the back of a truck. Would the folks back home believe that, at times, it’s the most interesting adventure of the day?



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