The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
I have just finished recording
some radio spots for the hospital, and when I listened to them, one fact
came out loud and strong. When listing ‘risk factors’ for conditions such as
heart attacks, cancer, strokes, blood clots, diabetes, and the list goes on,
“smoking” was coming up every time.
When you think about it, rolling up dried plant leaves and sticking them in
your mouth and setting fire to the end of it sounds like a pretty silly
proposal, particularly when you know it is dangerous. Honestly, you may as
well stick lighted firecrackers up your anal canal. At least you’ll get a
bang out of it!
Unfortunately, when you start smoking, it becomes very difficult to stop
smoking. This is because smoking is not just a habit like chewing on a
pencil when concentrating. Smoking is an addiction. What you have to realize
is that Nicotine is more addictive than heroin. I know that’s probably hard
to believe, but that really is the crux of the matter. You take Nicotine
into all of your metabolic pathways until you “need” to have Nicotine to be
able to function. Nicotine becomes part of your metabolic chemical chains,
and they don’t work properly without it. Now you can see just why you feel
so dreadful when you go without cigarettes (nicotine) for any period of
To give up cigarettes there are many, many ways, ranging from acupuncture,
hypnosis, the I Ching, acupressure, Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT),
chewing gum, patches, nasal spray and many others all the way through to
Cold Turkey. Hop onto the internet and you are besieged with offers, all of
which will make it ‘easy’ for you to stop smoking, and all of which will
cost you money!
Interestingly, all of the above methods need the smoker to become committed
to ceasing cigarettes. The success rate really hangs on that commitment.
Leaving aside hypnosis and acupuncture, about which I know very little, but
the good books tell me do not enjoy high success rates, let’s look at the
other methods. The majority rely on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). All
the gums and sprays do is to make Nicotine available for you in measured
doses - much like cigarettes do. You get the craving, you chew the gum. You
get the craving, you squirt the spray.
Patches are slightly different. They deliver the Nicotine slowly over a 12
or 24 hour period and are supposed to stop the craving before it happens.
But often do not.
After stabilizing on the NRT it is time to bring the dosage down, which is
the next hurdle at which many fall. The end result can be cigarette smoking
plus NRT - a potentially fatal combination. In fact, I strongly believe that
NRT should only be done under close medical supervision. Too much nicotine
can kill too!
So what is the best way? It’s called Cold Turkey. The proof is in the
numbers. There has been enough research done and the prime factor is that
the quitter has to be committed to the concept of becoming a non-smoker.
Doing it (quitting) for somebody else, because you lost a bet, because you
are being nagged into it by your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend is doomed to
failure, I am afraid. This is something which requires your total
commitment. 100 percent all the way. When I gave up smoking (yes, in my
teenage years nobody thought that smoking was bad for you. Smoking was being
cool and ‘adult’) and I thought it would be a bad scene for a couple of
days, and then found that it was a couple of weeks of torture. Here I am
almost three decades later and I could begin smoking again tomorrow. It
requires dedication and commitment. Yours! No one else’s!
So, I admit that those who go Cold Turkey may go through a rough time with
withdrawals initially, but the majority are still non-smokers after one
year. The same cannot be said for the others. The “hard” way is ultimately
the best way.
You have to make the decision to quit. You set the day. You tell all your
friends that you are now a non-smoker - and you stick to it!
Become a non-smoker today!
Heart to Heart
By gosh your column is a load of ****, with specific reference to the
boofhead who was full of anguish due to some guy he had never seen
apparently beating a dog. Here’s some more dribble for people to suck
in. Across from where I live in Chiang Mai, I have identified a zen-dog,
a black and white scruffy collie that creeps around his little yard and
hides in the corner, unseen, until people walk by. Then he suddenly
barks very loud, just once, and they get a big shock (kids, men
returning from work, anyone). Some laugh, some give out a little scream
(kids), some find a rock to throw, some shout some Thai expletive, and
others react with a jerky movement. After he barks, he jumps around a
bit like he’s doing a little dance, and appears to be smiling. He’s
protected by a fence so no one can get to him. Oh and by the way
everybody, life means nothing (but only if you know it means nothing) so
laugh at it.
Dear Mr Magoo,
I don’t know that I really agree with your calling one of the people who
wrote in “boofhead”. He was showing a great deal of compassion for the
unfortunate animal, and was wondering what he could do to make the
situation better for the dog, Petal. Your concept of life is more Zen
than the antics of the dog you describe, who is just being a dog, and
obviously happy with his lot. So are you happy with yours? I think not,
having to write to me and criticize others who have written in. Perhaps
I should call you “woofhead”? Or even more apt, would be “McBarker”
Quincy Magoo’s dog.
McBarker and Mr Magoo
Forgive poor English, but I write any way because we tired to hear
foreigner complain all time about Thai girl. Him want good fun, him want
keep house, him want go butterfly but want Thai girl stay home not go
bar see friends. Him stingy all the time and complain. Him get
everything, go butterfly and Thai girl get nothing. Not fair.
Dear Thai Girl,
Thank you for writing and it might show some of the people who write to
this column just how they are thought of by the group of people they
complain about. In any relationship it is a two way street, and if one
party feels that the other is not being honest in it, then of course it
breaks down, and each party grabs as much as they can from the wreckage.
However, just as I tell the foreigners not to look for life’s partner in
the bar, the girls who work in the bars should understand that most of
the foreigners who go there are not looking for long term commitment.
You are always telling your readers to meet ‘good’ Thai women if they
want to be happy in marriage, but since the divorce rates seem to be the
same all over the world, does it really make any difference? If you find
a woman that wants to look after you, does it matter where she came
from, beer bar or wherever? They’re still good women. I say may as well
enjoy it all now, rather than waiting around for the Miss Right ‘good’
woman who might never appear anyway, and leave you after a few years
after you’ve bought her everything. There’s plenty of partners out
there. Just don’t give them too much.
Living it Now
Dear Living it Now,
You do have a (very small) point, but if we were all to live only for
today, then we would be in a right proper mess by now, my Petal. Much of
what we do today is geared towards giving us a better tomorrow. Why do
you go to school? Why do you go on to train for a profession? Because
you want a better tomorrow.
I can see that your concept as far as a life’s partner is concerned,
does not correspond to my ideas or ideals. Your “If you find a woman
that wants to look after you” makes me think that you are not after a
“partner” to share life together, but that you are really just selfishly
looking for a woman to take over from where your mother left off, but
this time you can order her around as well. Your phrase “enjoy it all
now” is for your own personal (and I’m afraid selfish) enjoyment. As you
so gallantly write “Just don’t give them too much.” What a wonderful
basis for any relationship. I feel sorry for you, Living it Now, because
you will never experience the true joy of living life to the full with
an equal partner. For many this seems an elusive Utopian dream, but you
should look for it to really grow up and truly enjoy your position as an
adult in this world, but you will be very lucky to find it in a beer
by Harry Flashman
Reflect and absorb
it would be nice to think that people reflect on these columns
and then absorb the contents, that is not what I am on about
this week. I want to show you how some very simple reflectors
and absorbers can be used to give your photos some sparkle and
Remembering that all of photography is really just “painting
with light”, let us look at manipulating the available light
using very simple reflectors and absorbers, and both cost next
to nothing! Yet the difference these can make to your photos is
I was given a silver and a gold reflector, very natty, fold
away, store easily, carry easily reflectors. These particular
ones even come in their own little zip-up bags to keep them warm
and dry. They unfold to make a one and a half metre diameter
circular reflector. Both are white on one side, but on the
other, one is gold and the other is silver. However, they are
very simple to make.
But first, why do you need a reflector? If they are so damn
good, why aren’t we all rushing around with silver and gold
reflectors tucked under our arms? The simple answer is that we
get too complacent and we end up saying that the results we get
are “good enough”, or we were just taking snapshots anyway.
However, if you really want photos that leap off the page, think
The first thing a gold reflector can do for your photographs is
to give skin tones that “golden glow” that just makes portraits
look that much more pleasing.
So what else does a reflector do for your photographs? Well it
allows you to photograph “contre jour” as they say in the
classics. That is having the light behind your subject
(generally the sun) and then you can throw some reflected light
back into the subject’s face. If you do not do this, the usual
result is something closer to a silhouette than a portrait - a
bright halo around the subject which then becomes so dark in the
face that you cannot distinguish the features. But with the
reflector, you can push the light back in and pick up the
So that was the gold reflector - what about the silver one?
Well, if you want “clean” and bright light on a subject
anywhere, the silver reflector will do that for you. Use this
type of reflector when photographing silver jewellery or even
motor cars, for example. Mind you, if you are photographing gold
jewellery you must use a gold reflector or otherwise the gold
necklaces look silver on film.
Now, here’s how you make your own. Get some “foamcore” - that
lightweight plastic material that is often used to make signs
(any sign makers will have some). Around one meter square is OK.
Now go to the newsagents and buy some gold wrapping paper and
some silver wrapping paper. Cover one side of the “foamcore”
with silver and the other side with the gold paper and you have
lightweight, portable (you can fold them in half easily) silver
and gold reflectors. And it has cost you less than a couple of
Now “absorbers”. To give your shots some shadow, or even an air
of mystery, it is good to manipulate the amount of shadow in
your portraits. You do this by placing something on the side of
the subject away from the light source, to absorb (and not let
light be reflected back into the subject) and allow a natural
fall-off of light. The best absorber is black velvet. You bring
the black velvet absorber as close as you can to the subject,
without it coming into the viewfinder. It is that simple.
To make this absorber, use another one meter square sheet of
foamcore and cover one side with black velvet material. You pin
or clip the material to it and that is it.
You will really be amazed by the way the use of a reflector and
absorber can put a different atmosphere into your photographs -
especially portraits. Try taking the same shot using different
reflectors and note the difference for future use.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.
Learning from Japan, part 2
The USA is still regarded as the
financial powerhouse of the world so what happens there is even more important
than Japan. However, the massive debt which built up in the US was not created
by non-financial business but by individual families and the financial sector.
The total debt of the latter went up from 22% of GDP in 1981 to 117% in Q3 of
last year. The debt of the non-financials only went up from 53% to 76% of GDP
over the same time period. So, the requirements of the finance companies to
reduce balance sheets could be seen as one of the main reasons for the recession
in America. The problem is in even sharper focus when it is the banks which are
bankrupt - i.e. it is the lenders who actually need to borrow.
So, how can we apply what happened in Japan to the problems of today? Well, the
asset price bubbles are not as big in America and the Federal Reserve has done a
good job in reducing interest rates to practically zero. This is to be
commended. Unfortunately, the fiscal policy in the US is still being discussed
and nobody seems to know what to do. It must be emphasised that if a country has
almost zero interest rates and a balance sheet deflation then fiscal policy is
all that can be used. The real problem is that the government may attempt to
close the fiscal deficit too quickly. This could cause real problems.
The powers that be in the US do not seem to have a clue. The ideas they have put
forward for a public/private partnership to buy certain toxic assets are worse
than useless. Also, it is unlikely that they will raise the prices of the bad
assets in a way that will recapitalise any damaged institution. However, it may
well take time for people to realise this.
Bailing out the banks is going to increase the debt spiral and finally cause the
destruction of the world’s biggest economy, says Jim Rogers. “It’s astonishing,
they’re ruining the US economy, they’re ruining the US government, they’re
ruining the US central bank and they’re ruining the US dollar. You are watching
something in front of our eyes, very historically, which is basically the
destruction of New York as a financial centre and the destruction of America as
the world’s most powerful country. Japan’s economic lost decade was caused by
trying to bail out the banks, and the West risks running out of money if it
doesn’t let the bad banks fail now. Systemic risk is going to be the same in 10
months, 5 years or 10 years if the fundamental problem is not solved. The idea
that you have too much debt, too much borrowing and too much consumption and
you’re going to solve that problem with debt, more consumption and more
There is much worse to consider. So far we have only talked about Japan and
America. The fact is that this present crisis is worldwide and everyone is
suffering. Japan was helped greatly by the fact that it could sell its exports
to a vibrant global economy. This no longer exists. At least half the economies
in the world have been affected directly by purchasing what were to become toxic
assets. Needless to say, those not directly involved are still indirectly
concerned as the reduction in demand for their products has also affected them.
As we said before, America is very much at the centre of the world trade and the
global economy is not ready for decoupling.
The balance sheet deflation we face now is not as deep as it was in Japan but it
does reach all over the world. This is why we have to aim for a return to global
growth as quickly as possible. However, the problem is that no-one knows where
the demand will come from to kick-start things on the way to recovery. Most
western consumers are already up to their eyeballs in debt. It is equally
unlikely that the emerging market consumer will come riding to the rescue
There is a hope that fiscal expansion will help but in reality it is not strong
enough as only China and America seem to be doing anything. Euro-land is not
doing anything and the rest of the emerging markets cannot take a gamble on
anything too adventurous. 2007 was the last year of things looking as though
they were okay. If we are not careful we are about to enter into a decade of
what happened in Japan. In fact the bigger concern is that the West’s ‘lost
decade’ will be more painful and severe than the 1990s were in Japan.
As Martin Gray, award winning manager from Miton Asset Management, said at a
recent MBMG seminar, “I very much doubt we will see Western equity or property
markets achieve their previous highs during my professional lifetime … and I
have no plans to retire in the foreseeable future.”
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
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang
Slumdog Millionaire: US/UK, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – I saw this
for a second time at Vista, and was reduced to tears at the end. It gets
even better on repeated viewings. Powerful stuff indeed! And you really owe
it to yourself to see this movie in a regular cinema, with a big screen and
a good and powerful sound system – like Vista. It’s the only place to fully
appreciate the fantastic images, sounds, and music of this spectacular film.
And seeing it another time will allow you to appreciate more fully the
photography, the scripting, and the score. To be sure, some horrible things
happen to the characters in the film, but most people think that’s all made
up for by the various skills of those who fashioned this excellent film.
It’s a breathless, exciting, heartbreaking, exhilarating story about a
Mumbai orphan who rises from rags to riches on the strength of his lively
intelligence. This gem of a film won Oscars for best: picture, director,
adapted screenplay, original score, film editing, original song, sound
mixing, and cinematography. Rated R in the US for some violence, disturbing
images, and language. Reviews: Universal acclaim. For sure, a must-see film!
At Vista only, and many thanks to them for bringing it to Chiang Mai.
Only two times daily now: 7:15 and 9:30 pm. See it (again) while you
A Frozen Flower: Korea, Drama/ History/ Romance – A visually stunning
and stirring historical movie set during the last days of Korea’s Goryeo
Dynasty (late 14th Century), detailing the long homosexual love relationship
between the king and his chief bodyguard. Definitely not for everyone, as in
addition to much beautiful costuming, there is a lot of uncostumed sex,
mostly heterosexual – and I mean a lot of it! By my count,
demonstrates all but two of the 64 commonly accepted Kama Sutra positions,
and that includes the one in a library using military tactics texts. In
Korean, with English and Thai subtitles. Beautifully done in all respects.
Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins: US/ UK, Action/ Sci-Fi – With
Christian Bale, Moon Bloodgood, and Common; directed by McG. In this new
installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic
2018, Christian Bale stars as a man fated to lead the human resistance
against Skynet and its army of Terminators. If you’ve seen any of the other
three installments of this series, you know what to expect: Plenty of
chases, explosions, and great effects. Mixed or average reviews.
Night at the Museum 2: Escape From the Smithsonian: USA/ Canada,
Action/ Comedy – If you liked the first adventure, you’re sure to like this
one even more – bigger, better, and with fantastic special effects. After a
wacky night at the New York Museum of Natural History, the perpetually
hapless Larry (Ben Stiller) must infiltrate the Smithsonian after some of
his resurrected friends were shipped to Washington for storage. He finds
himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the museum’s most
noteworthy historical figures. Mixed or average reviews.
Angels & Demons: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery – A tight, taut thriller. The
team behind the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code returns as Tom
Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once
again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing,
even murder, to advance their goals. Mixed or average reviews.
Star Trek (2009): US/ Germany, Sci-Fi/ Adventure/ Action – All new! And
I think it’s a great deal of fun, and a superb action film. It’s for fans of
the series, and also for those who are not. It’s a reboot of the series,
going back to the series’ ’60s roots by depicting the formative experiences
of the legendary heroes Kirk and Spock, and their young, new crew. It’s very
well done, and I found it engrossing. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Scheduled for June 4
Drag Me to Hell: US, Horror/ Thriller – Director Sam Raimi
started out making perversely entertaining horror fare like the Evil Dead
movies before helming blockbusters like Spider-Man. Well he’s back,
and in outstanding B-movie form. Alison Lohman stars as a loan officer who
becomes the victim of a curse, with evil spirits on her trail and certain
damnation in her future – unless she can break the spell. Drag Me to Hell
is a wickedly good time: blood-curdlingly scary and ghoulishly funny, it’s
also taut and timely. It’s the best-reviewed horror film in years. Reviews:
Blood: The Last Vampire: Hong Kong/ Japan, Action/ Horror – A remake of
the 2000 movie of the same name. A vampire who is part of a covert
government agency that hunts and destroys demons in a post-WWII Japan, is
inserted into a military school to discover which one of her classmates is a
demon is disguise. Rated R in the US for strong bloody stylized
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: Stuart Rodger
The Most Famous Garden
in the World, Part 3
When you have finished
enjoying the calm tranquillity of Sissinghurst’s white garden, probably the
most magical of Vita and Harold’s creations, you have a choice of three
exits. The first leads through the yew hedge into a narrow walkway between
two more hedges. After supper at the 16th century cottage adjacent to the
white garden which the couple used as a kitchen, Harold would often complain
about having to walk in the cold night to the other cottage which contained
their separate bedrooms. Possibly, this is why he enclosed the narrow
walkway with yew hedges which would provide shelter from the elements! The
hedges also served a double purpose, creating an enclosed, rectangular
garden on the south side of the main tower, dividing it from the wild,
natural orchard which had covered the site of the original castle’s
courtyard, and giving direct access to the orchard itself.
Taking this route, you will find one of Vita’s inspirational discoveries—an
old-fashioned Gallica rose which she found and rescued whiles clearing the
grounds. This rose is truly a survivor from Tudor days, no doubt an unknown
variety unique to Sissinghurst, which has managed to survive centuries of
neglect by means of its strong, underground-suckering stems. Her discovery
nurtured her love of old-fashioned and ancient rose varieties—as a result,
she decided to devote one large section of that garden to a collection of
her favourite roses, enhanced by suitable herbaceous companions in the style
recommended by the great Victorian, William Robinson. During her lifetime,
she gathered many neglected and unpopular roses and tried her best to
encourage interest in them through her weekly gardening column in the
Guardian newspaper. The only enthusiast who collected more varieties than
Vita was Graham Stuart Thomas who, on his death, donated his life’s work to
the National Trust, having created a walled kitchen garden at Mottisfont
Abbey to house his collection. Thanks to Vita and Graham, these precious old
rose varieties are still available and have enjoyed a revival in popularity,
with David Austen copying their appearance in his new hybrids, ‘English
Roses’, which flower perpetually.
The old Gallica roses, originally from France, and the damask roses that the
Romans grew in order to use their petals for decoration at their banquets,
only flower in June. Damask roses are still grown in the strong sunlight of
Turkey, to be used in the manufacture of rose water, used in perfume and to
flavour the ever-popular Turkish Delight. Much earlier, the Romans had
discovered a mutant variety which flowered twice-yearly, thus giving more
petals. This variety was brought to England to be grown in sheltered
gardens, and was much more glamorous and scented than the traditional Dog
Rose. It wasn’t until the 4 great standard Chinese roses were imported from
Asia in the 18th century that England could enjoy perpetually flowering
roses. A never-ending cross-breeding of these varieties began, and
transformed the English garden with its extended colour range. This
development peaked with the startling varieties such as the vivid orange
Superstar; but there is nothing more suitable against old, crumbling Tudor
red brick walls than the original old-world varieties favoured and cherished
Men’s favourite colour tends to be erotic red; predictably, the first garden
at Sissinghurst around the cottage used for bedrooms was created in
startling, vivid, hot colours, much to Harold’s delight! After Vita’s death,
the old man would be found every morning sitting on his oak seat at the
cottage door, absorbing the warmth of the morning sun and drinking in the
comforting colours of the garden. However, his heart and mind was bereft of
his lifelong companion and he survived her by only 6 years. Behind his seat,
clothing the wall of the cottage, was the climbing rose, ‘Madame Alfred
Carriere’, in white, the same rose as Vita used in the white garden in her
first plantings. The rose must have represented Vita’s presence to her
husband after her death; the one colour concession in a garden which
displayed his own colour choice.
Tip of the week
When planting roses, don’t be boring by placing them over a
perpetual compost heap! Do as William Robinson suggested all those
years ago—under-plant them with pretty ground-cover plants in
complimentary colours and space them out enough to allow tall spikes
of flowers to be grown in contrast with the round, ball-shaped rose
bushes. The classic colour choice is pink and purple—apart from
albino white, all the old varieties were only these colours.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
This deal was played recently in Chiang Mai, with John Bucher, Kit Salisbury
and Chris Hedges. All vulnerable and North dealt. The bidding had some
challenges for both sides. How would you bid each of the hands?
S: QJ106 S: 8
H: 4 H:
D: 1098 D: J7652
C: QJ764 C: 8
This was the actual bidding
at the table:
North East South West
1S 2S P 2N
3D P 3N All
East made a Michaels cue bid
– bidding North’s suit to show at least five hearts and five of a minor.
South stayed quiet, knowing he would have another chance to bid (West would
not pass and leave East in 2S!). West bid 2N, a conventional bid to ask East
which minor suit he had. North bid diamonds, leaving East with a dilemma.
Diamonds was his minor, so what to do now? Double? Or pass, hoping that N-S
might end up in three diamonds? East chose to pass. Now South had a choice
between spades and no trump. With his good hand, it had to be at a game
level. The bidding showed a lot of distribution, and therefore he reasoned
that spades would probably split badly. With good stoppers in East’s
presumed suits, hearts and clubs, he chose 3N. What would you bid?
Now you are in game, how do you play it? West, thinking his partner had
clubs, led his fourth highest, taken by the ten on board. Declarer, hoping
that West might have two clubs, led to his ace, but was disappointed to see
East throw a heart. Declarer reasoned that, since East had only one club, he
should have two spades to go with his ten red cards. If spades split he
could count four spade tricks to go with three club and three diamond
tricks, for an overtrick. So he led a round of spades, ducked on board and
won by East. By now, East only had red cards left, so he took a high heart
and then led a low diamond to declarer’s ace. Declarer now took the king of
clubs and the ace and king of spades, finding out about the bad spade split
and ending on board. East had to throw away three more cards. He chose two
more hearts and a low diamond. Now, declarer took the king and queen of
diamonds, raising his total number of tricks to eight (three clubs, three
high diamonds and two high spades) and giving him a complete count on the
cards in East’s hand. Next, declarer led a diamond to East’s jack. East,
down to the ace and jack of hearts, was endplayed and forced to give
declarer the queen of hearts as his ninth trick. Somewhat messy play, but
three no trumps bid and made. Note that the alternative contract, 4S, goes
down, losing two spades and two hearts. What game did you choose?
Chiang Mai now has an official bridge club – the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai.
We welcome new players. For information on the Club please contact Chris
Hedges at: [email protected] If you have bridge questions, or
to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: