Vol. VIII No. 1 - Tuesday
January 6 - January 12, 2009



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Updated every Tuesday
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

Don’t Miss

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

It’s that time of year again

Well, you survived Xmas and New Year. Excess parties, pies and pints for many of us. The waistline has swelled, anti-flatulents have been purchased, following which, New Year’s resolutions have been made regarding weight loss. But are there good reasons for the resolutions?
Unfortunately the answer is a very resounding ‘yes’!
Take the risk of developing diabetes; it’s a nasty condition that affects just so many organs and makes you more likely to develop everything from cataracts to cardiac arrest. Diabetes UK warns that excessive food and drink consumption over the festive period will increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Over-indulgence in too many calorific treats such as mince pies (around 200 calories each), Christmas cake (approximately 250 calories per slice) and mulled wine (about 250 calories in a glass) can leave us all struggling to buckle our belts in the New Year. Having a large waist has been shown to mean that you are up to eleven times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and being overweight or obese is one of the strongest risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. And it’s a little late to start sucking in your stomach as you read this article!
‘At risk’ waist measurements are 80cm or more for women, 94cm or more for men and 90cm or more for South Asian males. As well as having a large waist, people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight, over the age of 40, of South Asian origin, or have a family history of Type 2 diabetes. If you have two or more of these risk factors you really should have a fasting blood sugar test.
Interestingly, recent research found most people perceive themselves to be slimmer than they really are. When 500 people were asked to estimate their waist size, most under-estimated by an average of 6.7 cm. Men were the most deluded and underestimated their waist size by a significant 7.9 cm, whilst the estimates of South Asian women were generally the most accurate. Another plus for our local ladies.
Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation. There are 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK but shockingly more than half a million people have this Type 2 diabetes but do not know it.
To reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes UK, which keeps some very comprehensive statistics, recommends you should eat a healthy balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. Even a moderate degree of physical activity can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 64 percent. Similarly, if you reduce your weight by between 5-10 percent you reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
Diabetes UK Chief Executive Douglas Smallwood said, “The Type 2 diabetes epidemic is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today. Watching our waistlines at this time of year is vital as we all need to do our best to reduce our chances of developing this often preventable condition. It is important to remember that around 80 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight at diagnosis.”
“There are around half a million people in the UK unaware they have Type 2 diabetes. The condition can be undiagnosed for up to 12 years and 50 percent of people who have it show signs of complications at diagnosis. The sooner Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and becomes well managed, the better your long-term health is protected and the lower your risk of developing devastating complications.”
Now while that is a quotation from the UK Diabetes group, the recommendations are just the same for all of us, even though we are a numerically smaller group, and the overall percentage of overweight people is less.
However, that percentage always increases after the Xmas-New Year blowout, so my first message for 2009 is to step on the scales, put the tape measure around the waist, and do something about it - before it is too late!

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I hope this gets to you before the New Year, but all the very best to you and the staff at the paper for 52 weeks of smiles. The Paper of Smiles in the Land of Smiles. I look forward to coming to Thailand once a year and reading you each week.
Jim from Vancouver
Dear Jim from Vancouver,
Thank you, Petal, and we all wish the very best for 2009 for all our readers (not just the lovely folk from Vancouver who are currently freezing and wishing they were in tropical Thailand).

Dear Hillary,
My friend Nairod is back you’ll be thrilled to know, and after reading your remarks about him in a back issue, has asked me, Dorian, my Ingerlish being a little better than his, to enquire about the said remark? His “alter ego”? Does this mean you think he’s some kind of conceited vicar? And your seeing his name being mine in some strange rearrangement is just imagination, he insists, he being the exiled crown prince of Remrafia, an oil rich state which his family are on the verge of reclaiming. In the meantime (since 1947 in fact), Nairod having been granted political asylum in Britain, and asylums being few and far between these days, has begrudgingly accepted using taxpayer’s money to be accommodated in other government institutions, similar to Thailand in having many ‘bars’, in which he has made many pals with whom he soon hopes to retake his stinkingly rich kingdom. You too, Hillary, being such a fan of his, have been invited to be part of the retake by placing a cheque for one million dollars (Sterling buys nothing these days), made out to me, Dorian, because he wasted the last donation by purchasing a battle-ship which was of little use, Remrafia being landlocked 500 miles from the sea. Your reward, Hillary, he promises, that once reinstated, he’ll deliver 50 barrels of the best crude to your office every Thursday, an offer we both know you’ll find hard to decline. A possible vacancy in his 300 strong harem has also been mentioned, so you never know?
Nairod and Dorian
Dear Nairod and Dorian,
I have perused your lengthy letter and have to say that the offers I have received just today alone have been astounding. The first was a very nice lady from Zimbabwe who offered me 10 percent of her father’s six million dollars he had salted away for a rainy day just before he had an accident with a machete, followed by a nice gentleman from a bank who offered me 40 percent of ten million dollars if I just claim to be related to some very dead chap with nobody to claim the money. And now, 50 barrels of the best crude! Each week, no more no less, and a chance of wearing 17 veils and dancing in the sand with the other 299 maidens in the harem. Such a bewildering choice. Good fortune is really smiling upon me. Mind you, I have heard that there’s plenty of crude available at some of the seedier bars, not that I’ve ever been, of course. But back to reality, Dorian, I will be happy to give both you and Nairod a cheque for one million dollars each, as soon as the nice lady in Zimbabwe sends me my cut (not machete) and the bank chappie send me my 40 percent. Just as soon as the money’s in, it’s yours, boys! In the meantime, tell the exiled clown prince to just stay on the battleship I bought him last time, but watch out for Somali pirates. Beware of swarthy chaps with wooden legs and a parrot.

Dear Hillary,
You might think this is a trivial problem, but it isn’t for me. About a year ago I set up home with a Thai girl. Her family comes from the north east and I have been up there and met them, and they seemed nice enough farming folks. They accepted me quite readily, but I always felt a little left out at the family gatherings as they can only speak Thai and my girl had to translate all the time. For this reason, and because I am busy at work, I have not been back up there, though my girl does go up frequently. Is this the usual way in this country? If it is, I will say nothing, but she will often go back for a week or so, the last being the end of Buddhist Lent. Have I anything to worry about?
Confused
Dear Confused,
You may have lots to worry about, or nothing at all. Are you worrying because you think she is not going back to the family rice paddy? I am having to try and read between the lines too much here. It is very usual for daughters to go home and pay respects to their family, and often contribute financially as well. Does your lady have children there that are being looked after by her Mama? Honestly, Petal, it sounds very normal to me. Talk to your friends who have been married to a Thai girl for some time. Caring and following the family principles will carry over to you as well, if you allow her to follow her traditions. In the meantime you can always employ a private investigator!


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Getting up close for effect and other tips

How many of you received a digital camera for Xmas? Quite a few I would imagine. The principal advantage of digital photography is the ability to review a photo immediately after you have taken it. However, this does not mean that all photographs taken digitally are top pictures. Here are some tips to give you better results.
The first tip is one that I give to everyone at least once a year, even in camera clubs. It is, “Walk several meters closer”! More good shots are ruined by having the subject as small dots in some huge background. Make the subject the hero. Take a look at these two shots, which one has more impact? The one taken closer to the water lilies!
If the subject(s) are people, then use the telephoto setting and still walk in closer. Fill the frame with the subject and you do not need to worry about the backgrounds. Ever! And remember, when taking pictures of a group, get them to really cuddle up together, and don’t be afraid to get them to angle their heads in towards the center. The happy giggling faces will make a good photo, as opposed to the rigid ‘soldiers on parade’ that happens so often.
When taking portraits outdoors, turn the flash on as well. The camera will have set itself to expose the brightest part of the scene, so the flash then brightens up the foreground subject.
Another trick to outdoors portraiture is to take some shots with the sun behind the subject to ‘rim light’ the hair with the halo effect. With the sun behind the subject, you also stop the screwed up eyes from the sun’s glare, which is never very photogenic.
Another very simple tip, but one that seems to be forgotten is the placement of the horizon line, which should be one third down from the top of the LCD screen, or one third up from the bottom of the screen. The horizon line (as the name suggests) should also be horizontal! Some cameras will give you a grid template in the viewfinder. If your new camera has this capability, use it. Drunken horizons are no more.
Another tip is to buy another memory card. The one you will get with the camera is too small. You will then try and put the camera in a mode which lets you take more shots, but this is done at the expense of sharpness. Buy a 512 MB (or even larger capacity) card as a back-up for your 1 MB main card and use the highest resolution you can. This way, if you do have a great shot, you can have it enlarged, and it will still be sharp. Another advantage of having two cards is you never end up with a full card and another great shot to be taken.
It should be remembered that when you bought this new camera just because it had plenty of megapixels, unless you run the camera at its highest resolution, all the expense of the additional megapixel capability has been wasted. You end up with a 4 megapixel camera, rather than the expensive 12 megapixel you selected.
Finally, look very carefully through the viewfinder and note what you have got, not what in your mind you think you are going to get! I know the review LCD screen is not large, but you will soon see whether the subject fills the screen or otherwise.
The messages this week are ‘closer’, ‘flash on portraits’, focusing ‘grid’ and use your megapixels.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Finance is the art of passing money from hand to hand until it finally disappears – Robert Sarnoff

If this is true then we are all in trouble. However, a good fund manager should not be worried by this statement. Supposing, as we have been concerned about all along, the current meltdown is the closest thing to the Great Depression that anyone living has ever seen. Then last year, when equity markets made small gains, comes somewhere between 1928 (the last boom year) and 1929 - the year of ‘The Crash’.
That means that this year straddles the losses accumulated in 1929-30. Many people forget that 1931 was the worst year for stock markets since the formation of the modern markets and, with this kind of thinking, we would have that prospect still to face over the next 18 months.
The years of 1932, 1934 and 1937 were also times that saw significant falls in the markets, although the intervening years saw healthy gains. Looking at history this way probably is bunk but at least it gives some kind of context.
The worst may very well not be over for the equity markets. There is a decent chance that 2009 could be the worst year ever recorded for equity markets and that the following year will also be negative. We are not doctrinaire about this and we are basing our decisions on what is happening now and what we see happening in the future rather than what happened eighty years ago. However, as we are just about the only people in recent years who have mentioned the possibility of a DJIA back below 5,000, we like to think that at least we are aware of the dangers and that this awareness carries through to the performance that we deliver to our clients.
Our results for the year are quite respectable despite the recent setbacks caused by the extremely challenging market conditions:
- Equity markets are typically down by between 40-50% YTD
- Property investments are down over 30% YTD (that’s the average between individual residential property averages and listed property vehicles)
- Hedge funds are down around 15% YTD (per HFRI)
- Sovereign bonds are generally flat
- Corporate and high yield bonds have been decimated in value in many cases as badly or worse than the equity markets
- Banks have been going out of business left right and centre
- Commodities such as oil have recently lost more than half of their value
We continue to believe in diversification and asset allocation but long term asset correlations have completely broken down and, in a perfect storm, almost all assets have lost value. While a typical portfolio (as represented by the PCI indices of private banking portfolio performance) would have lost around twenty five percent of its value to the end of Q3 and has probably fallen a whole lot more since then, we would not want any kind of comparisons done because we are leaving bench-marking to the likes of Standard & Poors, etc.
Similarly any comment about equity markets being down the best part of 50% is also not relevant because we are multi-asset class allocators and we cannot compare what we do to a single asset class. Even in the context of what was happening during this time, it was actually possible to still make good money. For example, the Man AHL Diversified (AUD) Fund figures are:

Year

Jan  Feb 

Mar

 Apr   

May    Jun Jul   Aug  Sep   Oct    Year To Date
2008 5.78% 2.77% 4.29% 1.07% 3.19% 1.22% -5.71% -3.69% 0.02% 16.4% 26.5%

Fortunately, our portfolios have held Man in various currencies and this is reflected in the performance of our portfolios. As long term readers know, we have long believed in the philosophies of diversification as espoused by the managers of Midas Capital. However, we are certainly not resting on our laurels - conserving capital in times like this, making as much as you can and limiting losses where you can is important for two reasons:
1) You may remember the tagline that the Multi Manager Awards Panel of independent judges used when describing Midas Capital, “...a team that never loses sight of the fact that the money it runs belongs to its clients, and they want to see it rise in value.”
2) Looking forward, it is far easier to generate meaningful long term returns if we can avoid losing in the short term.
Basically, anyone who’s down 50% in the current environment needs a bounce back of 100% just to get back to where they started. If you are already ahead of the game then anything else from here on in is a pure and simple gain, you double your money with no catching up needed. This can be done by investing in good Venture Capital funds which are incredibly high risk down to good solid Fixed Interest ones. Naturally, the former can bring returns like the early stage investors in Focus Media (NASDAQ :FMCN) achieved when their initial investment was returned by than 100 times just over three years later when the company was listed. The latter will take a lot longer to achieve these sorts of gains but at least it will not cause you too much anxiety.
There are a lot of people out there who must be hurting right now and although this has been a difficult period, we believe that certain fund managers have really risen to the challenge and our partners at Midas and Man are now able to go and exploit the opportunities that are presently arising - it must be emphasized these are not necessarily equity market opportunities. A good portfolio will have done half of the job by keeping capital intact through these turbulent times - now it should finish the job by exploiting opportunities as they arise.
Despite, and partly because of, the volatility that we expect to see in equity markets, there has never been a better time than now to make money by diversification of investment assets. It may be a bumpy ride to start with but the potential rewards are there for the taking.

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 Paul Gambles on [email protected]


Life in Chiang Mai: by Mark Whitman

Australia

To my regret, I never wrote for the American show-biz bible, Variety, although I gleaned much from its dense pages and idiosyncratic style, including the use of the verb ‘to ankle’.  In normal parlance this means to leave, to walk out, and is applied especially to exiting cinemas well before the end credits.
People don’t ankle movies that readily; they have made a choice, taken trouble to get there and paid (presumably) for a seat - ever hopeful.  Yet sometimes there comes a moment when one must weigh the tedium of a terrible film against the inherent loss of face in having made a bad choice.  Put bluntly, it’s Mamma Mia against finding yourself in the street 50 minutes early for your dinner date.
Well, I still say the hell with it.  No one deserves pain.  Certainly not that provided by Pierce Brosnan singing or Julie Walters reprising her well known ‘turn’.  Better to window shop for half an hour and head for the restaurant early and grab an extra martini, than endure muddy photography, cinematic incompetence and acting which seems to have found its inspiration during an end-of-the-pier revival of ‘No Sex Please, We’re British’.
This need for action applies equally to the other arts (though ankling from a live show demands a wait until the interval, simply on grounds of good manners).  But books?  I’ve heard people say that they are reading something so boring they can’t wait to finish it.  Sorrrry?  Put it in a jumble sale, return it to the library, pass it on to a friend you don’t really like.  Move on.  This applies more widely.  Holiday postcards, a Bruckner symphony, washing up, (indeed anything domestic), card indexing, eating, board games, even sex.  If something is not engaging you, give up and start again if and when your mood changes.
There are exceptions to this.  Skiing downhill would be one.  Swimming back to shore is another.  Walking out of a wedding ceremony, especially if you are the bride or groom, might well be a third.  In the main, though, it is better to retreat unvanquished by ennui or nausea rather than endure the outcome of something you have grown to despise.  Noel Coward’s mantra was ‘evade boredom’.  Amen to that.
All of which brings me to Australia.  The all new Baz Lurhmann film (except that it isn’t really - all new, that is).  A work that has been mentioned in the same breath as Gone with the Wind, not least by Baz and his publicists, this tale, mainly set on a vast cattle station, is conceived as an ‘epic’ about the country to which Britain infamously sent its convicts in olden days.  More latterly, after WW2, we colluded with the Aussie authorities in dispatching orphaned kids there, whether they liked it or not (many didn’t and later sued!).  The same authorities also encouraged Brits, during the same direly austere period, to follow their 19th century ancestors for a ten pound fare (strictly one way only) in search of a better life, which happily many found.
Let’s not be churlish: Australia seeks to be a big movie as befits the country and the period depicted (1939).  One readily accepts the title (indeed it was used previously by Belgian director Jean-Jacques Andrien in a magnificent film starring Fanny Ardent and Jeremy Irons) without any problem.
Imagine though, if you will, a more talented and famous antipodean director, Peter Jackson, making a movie about his native land and calling it simply New Zealand.  We accept without demur, ‘Australia – from the director of Moulin Rouge’.  Try ‘New Zealand - from the director of King Kong’, or ‘Once Upon a Time in America’.  Yes.  ‘Once Upon a Time in Switzerland’?  Not really.  You get the point.  What’s in a name?  A lot.  Even Shakespeare got it wrong sometimes.
Anyway, back down under, if we must.  A country which, despite Britain’s best efforts, does not boast a large population, nor a long history in ‘Western’ terms.  Unfair, then, to pose the question beloved of pub quiz nights, ‘Can you name six famous Belgians?’  Unfair yes, but then who said life was fair … So let’s hear it for famous Australians.  Name six.  And remember Mel Gibson is not Australian.
There’s outlaw Ned Kelly, novelist Patrick White, composer Percy Grainger, painter Sidney Nolan and er ….yes Nicole Kidman and Nearly There Hugh Jackman (he wasn’t baptized ‘nearly there’ but I think it kind of suits him don’t you.  It’s how one thinks of him), and, of course, Baz.  Eureka!  Six and a half without mentioning the late lamented Chips Rafferty, who is, of necessity, about the only ancient Aussie actor not guesting in this monument to rep.
Nicole - she’s famous.  Especially for having been married to the diminutive Tom for just under a decade (before the pre-nup agreement hit the really big bucks).  Also for starring with hubby in arguably the most pretentious film of all time (the clue was in the title), Eyes Wide Shut.
Jackman: he’s almost famous, especially down under, (I refer to his birthplace).  And he might be more so when he hones his acting skills, rather than pumps up his pecs.  Somehow I doubt it.  Simply no spark.  Mention one of his movies and people will say, was he in that?  I remember Tommy Lee Jones but…
And Baz: despite the silly name he became quite famous as a director, especially for one who has made only four movies and the third over seven years ago.  He will always be revered for putting a campy shine on Romeo and Juliet and regenerating the career of the dazzling Leonardo.  Like his stars, Baz is famous by association.
And will ‘Australia’, at vast cost and 166 minutes, add to their combined lustre?  It offers wide open spaces, wide open skies.  The camera swoops and sweeps, seeking true grandeur but finds… you guessed it, just space.
David Denby, one of the New Yorker’s two fine movie critics described it as “excruciating”, then proceeded to dissect it like a surgeon cutting through a cadaver (an apt comparison if ever I made one).  He finally, in a gesture of defiance, cut off the head, remarking that the lumpen Hawaii (1966) pitted against the new movie was “a model of narrative rectitude.”
His review made the movie sound so dire that it became essential viewing.  After all, what could be worse than Far and Away or The Hours (not to forget Eyes Wide Shut, however hard one tries), amongst other Nicole duds?  So, despite the imposition of a new happy ending in which Hugh the Drover lives to love and herd another day, one is tempted to go against advice.  Much less than a baht a minute represents some kind of value, doesn’t it?
No, it doesn’t.  In fact I never got to see whether beefy Hugh survives.  Life is too short to endure the porcelain features of Nicole, sanguine against the magnificent Aussie landscapes and grappling with clunking dialogue (in the midst of a Japanese air attack she assures the wonderful Aboriginal child that he should wait for her, “I’ll be back whatever it takes”, as though she is Arnie reincarnated), and the sweaty embraces of Hugh.
It was all too much.  And I can’t blame Denby and the others for not alerting me to the dangers.  Excruciating, yes.  And I offer the movie a new title in memory of another chunk of empty pictorial splendour and mannered acting, ‘Ankling Out of Australia’.


Let's Go To The Movies: : Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Bedtime Stories:
US Comedy/ Fantasy – Starring Adam Sandler.  A surprisingly pleasant and amusing family-friendly movie about a hotel handyman whose life is changed forever when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to mysteriously come true.  The director is Adam Shankman (Hairspray).
Australia: 
Australia Drama/ Adventure – Baz Luhrmann returns to the screen to direct his first feature film since 2001’s Moulin Rouge, and I think he does so in grand style.  Set against the backdrop of World War II, it’s the epic, sweeping tale of an English woman (Nicole Kidman) who inherits a sizable cattle ranch “down under.”  With the bombing of the city of Darwin on the horizon, she teams with a cattle driver (Hugh Jackman) to save the ranch.  Brandon Walters, the child who narrates the film and whose story forms the spine of the plot, is a delight to watch.  Mixed or average reviews.  Vista is showing it in a Thai-dubbed version only.
4 Romances:
Thai Romance – Four love stories directed by four Thai filmmakers.  Pretty much of a bore and not nearly as entertaining as Super Hap.  The most enjoyable section was the last, featuring the band “August” and singer “Pitch” – that had a few nice surprises, and the kids are great.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa:
US Animation/ Family – A delightful animated picture, with the animals of the original Madagascar in new adventures and breath-taking exploits.  I had a lot of fun with it, but then I like cartoons.  In the vast plains of Africa, the members of the Central Park Zoo-raised crew encounter species of their own kind for the very first time.  Generally favorable reviews.
 Super Hap: Thai Comedy/ Musical – An enjoyable Thai teen-oriented musical comedy, in which two guys try to break into the music industry by forming a Korean-style boy band.  But the one who looks cute and can dance can’t sing, and the other can sing but doesn’t look the part.  The answer lies in lip-syncing.  There are some quite entertaining bits and though it seemed to lose its way in sentimentality toward the end, it’s still one of the better Thai comedies.
Happy Birthday:
Thai Drama/ Romance – Starring Ananda Everingham. A weepy love story, and almost incomprehensible to anyone without a deep understanding of Thai social behavior.  Ananda is a travel photographer who travels around Thailand with his guide/girlfriend, until she has a car accident and ends up in a hospital in a coma, while Ananda waits endlessly at her bedside for her to wake up.  Maddeningly tedious to most farangs, I’m afraid.  Beautiful location photography.
Transporter 3:
France Action/ Crime – It’s an action movie all right – a lot of explosions, car crashes, and men being violent and assertive.  All quite brilliantly done, and seasoned with just the slightest bit of plot and humor.  If that’s what you like, this is for you.  It stars Jason Statham as a former British Special Forces soldier turned mercenary, whose specialty is delivering risky items in a timely fashion.  Mixed or average reviews.
Scheduled for Jan 8
Yes Man:
US Comedy – Jim Carrey as a man who signs up for a self-help program based on one simple principle: say “yes” to everything … and anything for an entire year.  At first, unleashing the power of “yes” transforms Carl’s life in amazing and unexpected ways, but he soon discovers that opening up his life to endless possibilities can have its drawbacks. Mixed or average reviews.
Quarantine:
US Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the US government after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.  It has the single hand-held camera style of such recent movies as Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project.  Some people find the “one actual camera” trick leads to heightened reality; others find that the constant jiggling of the picture and rough-shod editing gives them a headache.  If you think you can put up with it, you will find this to be a quite frightening movie, as I did, once the introductory first 20 boring minutes are over.  Rated R in the US for bloody violent and disturbing content, terror, and language.  Mixed or average reviews.
The Happiness of Kati:
Thai Family/ Drama – Based on a novel by Ngarmpun “Jane” Jejjajiva and the winner of the 2006 S.E.A Write Award, and a bestseller with two hundred thousand copies sold.  It’s one of the most beloved and well-known contemporary children’s books in Thailand, and has been translated into nine languages.  The mother of nine-year-old Kati is suffering from an incurable illness, and Kati must go through steps of happiness and sorrow, bonding and separation, having her hopes fulfilled and losing something she loves in order to learn the lessons of life and grow up with the courage to live on.


Don’t Misss

Michael Davies
The years just fly by, and next weekend it is Children’s Day in Thailand. This means it is the 5th Annual Charity Rooftop Party at Hillside 4 on Huay Kaew Road. Money raised goes to School for the Blind, Samsara and Freedom House. This annual event has become one of the most successful of all the charity events in Chiang Mai, and therefore ‘not to be missed’.
The organisers have kept the same price per ticket; 800 baht includes 2 complimentary drinks, buffet and a door prize courtesy of the Chedi Hotel. The entertainment promises to be the best yet, organised free of charge by JOE Media and Consulting.
As usual there will be both silent and live auctions and a raffle, with grand prizes donated by very generous local businesses. The Chiang Mai Mail has offered a ‘free advert’ in the silent auction and also 5 Annual Subscriptions for the raffle.
Tickets are available at Hillside 4 and Amari Rincome reception desks, The Pub on Huay Kaew Road, BTS Travel on Sridonchai Road, and Nerve Touch Massage 25-29 Ratchadamnoen Road (Sunday Walking Street Road). Any further info contact [email protected]


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Opening with a weak two bid, showing a six card suit and (depending on partnership agreement) about 5-11 points, is a useful way to make it difficult for the other side to bid and find the correct contract.  This is particularly true if you open two spades, forcing the opponents to the three level.  However, weak two bids have the disadvantage of revealing the distribution.  Sometimes this can make it easier for declarer during the play.  Consider the deal below and imagine you are sitting South.  With neither side vulnerable and East dealing, this was the bidding:

East            South       West       North

2H               P               P              Dbl

P                  3S             P              6S

All pass                                      

The full deal is shown below:

                           S: KJ982

                           H: A85

                           D: AK

                           C: AK8  

S: 753                                 S: 4

H: 3                                    H: KQJ1094

D: 9765                              D: 10843

C: J10942                           C: Q7

                           S: AQ106

                           H: 762

                           D: QJ2

                           C: 653    

East opened a weak two hearts.  This was passed around to North, who made a takeout double.  South showed his good spade holding by bidding 3S.  North, with his strong hand, raised to six.  West led the three of hearts.  Now you are stuck with playing 6S!  You have 11 easy tricks - five spades, one heart, three top diamonds and two top clubs.  What is your plan for making one more trick and taking the contract?  It is not easy, but the clue is in the bidding.
You have a potential club loser and a potential heart loser (you can throw one heart from dummy on your queen of diamonds).  You know that East has six hearts and therefore West only has one.  So you win the ace of hearts.  Then, if you can eventually arrange to lose the lead (in clubs) to West, he will not be able to lead a heart.  If you take out trumps and the minor suit winners first, before losing the lead, West will be forced to lead a club or a diamond and allow you a ruff and a sluff for your twelfth trick.  This is the situation after you win three rounds of spades, one heart, three diamonds and two clubs:



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