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

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Itchy bottoms and itchy scalps

“Daddy, I’ve got an itchy bottom,” said Miss Five. “Me too,” said Mister Four. And the reason? Enterobius vermicularis. This was a week after “Itchy head Daddy,” which was Pediculosis Capitis.
Let’s look into the itchy bottom first. There are some people with strong maternal urges, but other than from a card carrying masochist, I doubt very much that anyone would be stepping forward as the maternal volunteer of Enterobius! That being the case, you have to pity poor old Enterobius vermicularis, otherwise known as the pinworm. This little fellow comes out of its egg and lives for six weeks only, and at the end of its time, releases 10,000 - 15,000 eggs and dies, its life’s work over.
So why should this little worm be of interest to us? Quite simply - you’ve either got it, or you’ve had it. That’s the statistics. Virtually all children will have been infected by the time they reach high school, and at any one time, 50 percent of all children in the 5-10 year age groups will be harbouring the little worms. Another good reason to stay away from small children!
So how do you know if your children are currently harbouring a host of pinworms? There are various tests that can be done, from microscopic stool examinations to the simple sticky tape test around the anus which picks up eggs and the occasional wriggling worm itself. However, just as we routinely “worm” the family cat and dog, you can routinely “worm” the children. Single shot mebendazole works well, but you have to repeat the “worming” two to three weeks later to pick up the newly hatched eggs, since the eggs themselves are not affected by the drug.
There are also many other worms that like us. They all have wonderfully exotic sounding names, for some very much non-exotic creatures. There is Ascaris lumbricoides, the human roundworm and Ancylostoma duodenale, the hookworms. There is also Ancylostoma braziliense, a cat and dog worm whose larvae can penetrate human skin and grow slowly under the top layer producing cutaneous larva migrans, a creeping skin rash. This one is often seen in beach volleyball players known colloquially as “sandworms”. And you thought beach volleyball was a safe sport!
Then there’s my favourite - Strongyloides stercoralis, the human threadworm! “Step this way and see the amazing Strongyloides bring a grown man to his knees!” Yes, a super-infection of Strongyloides can be fatal as the worms invade all the tissues of the body producing meningitis, pneumonia and septicaemia.
It doesn’t stop there either, as there is Taenia saginata and Taenia solium, the tapeworms, to be considered too, and their baby brother Hymenolepsis nana, the dwarf tapeworm.
There’s many a peril underfoot, as that is the way that many of these worms get into our bodies - through walking on larval forms with bare feet. And you thought that crossing the street was dangerous.
The other classical way is to ingest the egg forms which can be on vegetables that have been fertilized with infected faeces. Hence the warnings about eating salads at the side of the road. Cooked is OK, but beware the unwashed vegetables.
So if you have been having some intestinal pain, some diarrhoea and itching around the anus, it just might be a worm infestation. How do you check - see your doctor, there are tests that can be done directly and sometimes via the blood, but you won’t diagnose this one by yourself, unless you meet the worm face to face.
And oh yes, worms are very common in tropical climates, though unless they are good swimmers, they’ve probably drowned in our current wet season by now!
Compared to that lot, the just as common head lice (Pediculosis Capitis) are not romantic in any way whatsoever. The lice thrive in the scalp and then lay their eggs along the shaft of the hairs. A simple anti-head lice shampoo gets rid of the live ones, and then you repeat the process a week later to get rid of the hatchlings. In the meantime, iron your pillow slips!


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I have a local bar that I frequent and like many expat bars in Thailand, there appears to be an endless supply of young ladies to keep one company. During a rainstorm the other evening, one young thing told me that her apartment roof leaked so I took pity on her and gave her some dry shelter for the evening. Now when I drop in for a chat and a gargle on a coldie, all the girls rush off and get Miss Lasnite Leekiroof, and I seem to be stuck with her. She is a nice enough sort of girl, but this cramps my style, and not what I want in my local bar, where I want to be footloose and fancy free. How do I get to play the field again, Miss Hillary?

Dear Will,
You must have heard that where there’s a ‘will’ there’s a way. Your problem is very easy to fix. You have to show that you are a strong independent player. So you want to get back to playing the field. Easy! All you need to do next time you pop down for a quick cold beer is to tell Miss Lasnite Leekiroof, when the other girls push her in your direction, that you would actually like to talk to her sister Miss Neksnite Leekiroof, and here’s a 100 baht if she will bring her over to you and make the introduction. I think you will find that 100 baht introduction fee should be enough to mend her broken heart, or to stuff into the cracks in the leaking roof.

Dear Hillary,
I feel I am joining the band of women who are complaining about their maids. At any functions I go to, the discussions are all the same, what the maid has done this week! I will admit that I do not speak very much Thai and my maid speaks even less English, but surely if she wants to be a maid for English speaking people, should I not get someone who can communicate? I did not choose the maid as she was supplied by my husband’s company and this is my first experience with domestic staff.
I could go on for hours about the way she refuses to use hot water for the dishes, will wash everything in the same sink, will use the dish cloth to wipe the floor. I am sure you have heard it all before. She also does weird things like leaving clothes out in the lounge room for a day, rather than putting them away. Why? Is this some special Thai ‘sign’ to tell me something? Routine cleaning and dusting seems to be beyond her and I have to tell her to do these simple tasks every time. She also tries to leave before 6 p.m. and always comes in late in the mornings, after 8 a.m. What can I do, Hillary?
Dora Despair

Dear Despairing Dora,
You know the problem, right from the start when you say that you do not speak Thai and your maid does not speak English. No communication! Could your husband get what he wants done if his secretary only speaks Urdu and he speaks Farsi? Speak to your husband, if his company has supplied the poor woman. She probably goes home and talks to her friends, all of whom are complaining about their mistresses. However, how much does your maid get paid, my Petal? If you are only paying a low salary, you cannot expect a household whiz who is also multilingual. If she were that good she would be working as your husband’s secretary, not as your 10 hours a day slave. If it all becomes too much, you can always do the work yourself, as you did back home. Finally, as I have to remind many foreigners, this is Thai-land and the inhabitants speak Thai. How many maids in the English speaking world are multi-lingual?

Dear Hillary,
Why can nobody here spell? I have read your column for some months and notice that you get angry, like I do, when people spell words incorrectly. This goes particularly for place names and street signs, which are official signs, placed by the municipality. There is no excuse for this as there are plenty of Thai-English dictionaries in the shops. Should I send one to someone in authority to make sure?
Spelling Bee

Dear Bee,
I’m sorry, my Petal, but I am not on your side. Sure I get annoyed at the poor spellings, but that is for incorrect English spellings written by native English speakers. They should know better and it is they that should have a dictionary. Now getting back to street names, I am sure you must realize by now that the English language has 26 letters, but Thai has 44 and a clutch of vowels. In other words, you cannot take letters from one alphabet and put them exactly into the other. When a Thai place name is written in English, it is a guesstimate of how it will sound, when spoken by a native English speaker. This is why you will see Chomthian, Jomthien or Jomtien. All of them are “correct”.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Passing of a local photographer

I lost one of my photographic friends last week. Ernie Kuehnelt died after a short battle with cancer. Ernie was one of those quiet people who stand in the background, not wishing to force their opinions or themselves upon others. Ernie was a gentleman, in a world where gentlemen are becoming rare. Now there is one less.

Ernie Kuehnelt
I met Ernie a few years ago and he, very hesitantly, showed me some of his photographs. It was obvious that this was a man who had the ‘photographer’s eye’, and although untrained, was producing good photographs. We discussed composition and selective cropping, and it was not long before Ernie arrived back in my office with some more shots. This time the composition was better and some cropping had been done. Ernie was now at that talented amateur level, whose photographs could hold their own at any camera club level.
Ernie loved animals, and some of his cat pictures I have featured before in this column, but he produced many fine photographs of cats and even fish. Subjects that, for me at least, are just too frustrating. But Ernie, being retired, had the time and the patience, and taught me the trick of rattling a box of matches to make a dog’s ears stand up.
Ernie made the transition from film to digital before I did, and even loaned me his camera for me to try the ‘new’ technology. We even did back to back comparisons between my film Nikon and his digital one.
It was Ernie who advised me to keep a plastic shower cap in my camera bag. Takes up no space and can protect the camera in the rain.
As a tribute to my photographic friend who has gone to the great darkroom in the sky, I have reprinted some of Ernie’s photographs.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Will there be a slow grind back to normality? Part 2

What about

According to Scott Campbell, director of Midas Capital and a regular speaker to AustCham on his visits through Bangkok in recent years finding the “New Normal” may be some time off.
“The US dollar has been a great indicator of risk sentiment and risk trades lately. Risk appetite in the US dollar disappeared from 2002 until mid last year and was reflected by a prolonged weakening trend in the index. Then, from mid 2008, with leverage and borrowed dollars needing to be repaid, the US$ index snapped back from 72 levels to 90 - a 25% move up. However, since mid-March the US$ index has retraced half these gains back to current 80 levels.
“The high yield currencies and high beta emerging market/resource dominated currencies have been a key driver of the recent ‘return of risk’ and this has not been fully expressed in the US$ index as it is dominated, with the exception of the Canadian dollar, by the major cross rates of the euro/yen and GBP. Weakness in these high yield or high beta currencies must be watched closely for profit taking opportunities in other asset class trades,” Scott added.
This implies that the USD may be due for a short term rally with the AUD, NZD and Canadian dollar set to fall. Longer term, Asian currencies such as the Thai baht look more promising. It has to be said that many analysts don’t share Scott’s view, believing that commodity-based economies and currencies will strengthen as they are seen to be the necessary building blocks of a global recovery. However, back in November 2007, Scott was also in the minority forecasting correctly that oil would double to over US$80 per barrel. Later in June 2008, when Goldman Sachs predicted oil could reach US$200 per barrel, Scott’s view was to sell at US$130. The price of oil subsequently plunged below US$50.
Again in June 2008, at an AustCham seminar, Scott predicted that the US$, which he considered hugely oversold at the time, was due for a rebound. Subsequently the Greenback moved up over 35% against the Australian currency. As a result, Scott’s views should be taken rather more seriously than most forecasts which tend to end up disappointingly wide of the mark.
How will it
all pan out?
A fundamental debate taking place in the financial sector is whether the global economy will see the emergence of deflation or runaway inflation in the near future. However, according to one multi strategy hedge fund, Arrowglass Capital Partners, the whole debate is worthless as they believe there is a good chance that both scenarios are wrong. In a recent newsletter the fund said, “Whilst the faster reaction of western authorities in undertaking aggressive easing of both monetary and fiscal policy has headed off the worst of deflation, experiences in Japan and the Depression have shown the creation of central bank money does not necessarily lead to inflation until many years down the track. A long sub-par recovery is the most likely outcome with loose monetary policy and zero inflation.”
The immediate issue, though, is how and when governments will exit stimulus commitments and packages and what will happen when they do. In the same way that Nicole Kidman has often outshone many illustrious names in Hollywood, it seems that the Australian Government may take the spotlight in this drama.
Perhaps the final word should be left to Scott Campbell, who at the start of September, summed up the situation this way, “They don’t call it the lucky country for nothing, and not only has Australia dodged a technical recession by posting first quarter growth, its second quarter number - a positive 0.6% expansion of the economy - is double most estimates. Aussie GDP growth has been rising 2-4% pa since 2004 and inflation muted at less than 3% over the same time frame. Unemployment has risen from 4% to 6% over the past couple of years, which is slightly alarming but nothing compared to the US and UK levels currently being experienced.
“The lucky country is most likely to be one of the first to show how (or how not) to unwind the fiscal stimulus of the past year. Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan bluntly told markets that without government stimulus the economy would definitely be in recession and then stated, or warned, that the government would begin to remove the support in the fourth quarter. Action on this point in the US or Europe is some way off so Mr Swan will be somewhat of a guinea pig for the rest of the west to watch and see… Ominously, the stronger the economic data, the closer the withdrawal of the stimulus punch bowl gets and this is enough to unsettle most investors.”

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

Local matters

And a few reminders for your November diary

In much of the western world seven is a lucky number, despite the ‘seven year itch’. Some people like three others slightly perversely go for 13 (myself included). A nonsense I suppose but many take it seriously, especially the Chinese. Over here nine is much favoured. Last week it was ‘lucky’ seven for the Chiang Mai Mail as it notched up seven years in business, meaning in personal terms that it has been around the city for a year plus more than yours truly. I can’t remember when I first wrote for it – some two or three years ago, I think.
To me, then, it has always been a part of the city’s life and it surprises me when people say they have never read it nor, for that matter, any of the many other journals which appear here throughout the month. Such people tend to be those who complain that nothing goes on in Chiang Mai, when in fact there is so much social and cultural activity that no one could possibly keep up with half of it.
I am no doubt prejudiced in favour of local newspapers having begun my working life on one in London. That was at various local offices which were part of a very profitable group, spread throughout the south and west of London. The style was for much of the paper to comprise general news, features, reviews, various columnists and diaries, sport and broader based news stories bought in from big agencies. As you can tell, nothing much has changed over the decades in local journalism. I guess it is a case of if it is not broken, don’t try to fix it.
The real change is in the value ascribed to ‘print’ journalism both local and national. It is so little in demand that not only is it difficult to make a profit, but people are losing the habit of reading. Television, the still popular radio, the internet and so on have made not only newspapers, but even book publishing, a hazardous business. Books seem the province only of the elderly and the traveller. A sad state of affairs, I feel.
But who is to say it is wrong: a fact is a fact is a fact, as Ms. Stein might have said but surely did not. Each generation looks back on their past with some regret and nostalgia for its ‘passing’. We think that was the ‘last of the good times’. In the case of newspapers it is, however, true and this is one of the reasons why I have been happy to ‘return’ to local writing, as well as continue in ‘retirement’ to write for The Guardian back ‘home’.
In my youth, Britain boasted the largest number of national newspapers, with the largest number of readers
anywhere. Families took a huge number of journals. A daily ‘paper, a choice – in London – of three successful evening ‘papers (Star, News ‘n’ Standard as the sellers used to shout) and often two on Sundays. Plus countless magazines and ‘comics’ and of course the local weekly newspaper.
The last was an invaluable source of information. It told you what had happened (sometimes to the neighbours!) or what was planned. It reported from the courts, the local council, schools, businesses and other organizations. Plus the movies and other local events, theatre and sport, which were so important before the advent of the goggle box. In short, they were part of the community, reflecting and enhancing it. Today in the U.K., as elsewhere, they struggle to survive. High production costs and competition once never dreamed of have made life as difficult for The Clapham Observer (my starting place) as for The Chiang Mai Mail.
So here am I, preaching to the converted (unless you are a first time reader) about support for such an anachronism as a local printed journal. Something which has to be located, paid for and actually read. Just like in the old days. It might seem odd -should I care to think about it – to have come full circle all these hundreds of thousands (possibly even millions) of words later. But just because times have changed, I see no reason not to believe in the value of a local newspaper or magazine to the community. Without it would we be the poorer: so here’s to another seven years……
Meanwhile this November
You should not need too much of a reminder of the EU Film Festival (the 17th I believe) which opens this week at the Vista Cinema complex (Central, Kad Suan Kaew) and not, as was briefly announced, at Airport Major. My film colleague has the listings and information. From experience I have found it rewarding with some exceptional movies on show and very few duds over the years. The price of admission is so small that it is easy to ‘take a chance’. Given the parlous state of what we are offered in the commercial cinema in the City, I’m sure that every one of the films in the Festival will be better than 90 per cent of what we normally see.
Also in November there are two very contrasting musical events. On Thursday 12th November at La Vie en Rose (next to Krit’s restaurant, just across from Hillside 4 on Huay Kaew Road) there will be an evening of ‘Swinging Jazz Songs’. The singers and other musicians are all well known to Chiang Mai audiences and this should be a really fun and lively evening, with two drinks included in the admission of 300 baht. It starts at 8p.m. and you can get further information from Krit on 083 517 1477. If you are interested in live music and the compositions of the likes of Gershwin and Cole Porter and Sondheim then this is for you.
Later in the month at the large Kad Theatre at Central Plaza, there is to be an evening of Japanese Music featuring the Chiang Mai Philharmonic Orchestra, with a guest pianist starting at 7.30 p.m. So far I have not got news of the programme but as soon as there are further details you should find them in the ‘events’ section of this newspaper. Meanwhile make a note in your diary or on your calendar.
Which reminds me to remind you that this year’s Chiang Mai Charity Calendar needs your support. It is on sale at all Rim Ping Supermarkets as well as at the AUA library and other outlets. The incredibly modest 100 baht charge (it is really beautiful to look at and offers 14 months from December 2009 to January 2011 plus a wealth of information) becomes even greater value when you remember that all (EVERY baht) of the proceeds goes to worthwhile charities. This has to be Chiang Mai’s ‘best buy’.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Michael Jackson’s “This Is It”:
Brilliant! Don’t miss it! This performance film, drawn from 120 hours of rehearsal footage for the show Michael was working on at the time of his death, opened world-wide yesterday, October 28, for two weeks only. It’s being shown here in high-definition Digital format at Major Cineplex - Airport Plaza. Tickets are 150 baht. It’s a spectacular show with Michael at the top of his form, looking great, and moving in a way that is a wonderment. Generally favorable reviews, but I think its way better than that, and I highly recommend you see it.
Kenny Ortega (director of the High School Musical series of films) was both Michael Jackson’s creative partner and the director of the stage show, and he also directed the film. He says, “It will also show Michael as one of the greatest entertainers in the world and one of the industry’s most creative minds…I think the footage will show that the process was something that Michael deeply enjoyed and that it was clear he was on his way to another triumph.”
Indeed, that’s exactly what it shows!
US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I really enjoyed this, and I think you will too. I urge you to see it. Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop (Bruce Willis) investigates the murder of a genius college student whose father invented the surrogates. As the case grows more complicated, the withdrawn detective discovers that in order to actually catch the killer he will have to venture outside the safety of his own home for the first time in many years and enlists the aid of another agent (Radha Mitchell) in tracking his target down. The film is not about robots run amok, but about humans seduced by the easy life; it’s ingenious and entertaining. Only mixed or average reviews, but nevertheless, I recommend it highly. In Thailand, 13+.
Haunted University / Mahalai Sayongkwan:
Thai, Horror/ Thriller – Based on various horror and ghost tales current in universities, the film consists of four loosely joined but solidly scary ghost stories about students who encountered paranormal events in their university days and their fight against their fears. In Thailand, 18+.
Law Abiding Citizen:
US, Drama/ Thriller – After his wife and child are murdered by two criminals, Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is informed that one of the murderers will be sentenced to death but the other one will get off because of his cooperation with the police. Shelton decides to take justice in his own hands, including getting revenge on the murderers as well as those in the system responsible for setting the one murderer free. District Attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), one of those who helped set the murderer free, tries to stop Shelton. Rated R in the US for strong, bloody, brutal violence, and torture, a scene of rape, and pervasive language. In Thailand, rated18+. Generally unfavorable reviews. At Airport Plaza only.
Slice / Cheuan:
Thai, Crime/ Thriller – “Slice” as in “slicing up your victims.” Sure enough, a string of homicides has occurred, and in each case the body of the victim, always male, was sliced into pieces and their genitals cut off and placed somewhere else. The detective on the case, desperately seeking the serial killer, releases from jail a former assassin for help in finding some clues to the killer’s identity. The film has created a stir because its blatant gore and sexuality go way beyond what was permissible before the new movie grading system, going just to the edge of what is now acceptable under an 18+ rating, and sort of testing the limits. 18+.
Bangkok Traffic Love Story / Rot Fai Faa Ma Ha Na Tur (I Ride the Skytrain to See You):
Thai, Romance/ Comedy – A romantic comedy about a 30 year old single woman who is suddenly forced to give up her car and ride the Bangkok public transportation system, where she falls for a maintenance engineer of the BTS system. The top Thai film at the Major Cineplex chain for the past two weeks.
The Ugly Truth:
US, Comedy/ Romance – Despite the best efforts of Gerard Butler and Kathrine Heigl, The Ugly Truth suffers from a weak script that relies on the usual romantic comedy formula, with little charm or comedic payoff. Rated R in the US for sexual content and language; 18+ here. Generally unfavorable reviews. At Airport Plaza only.
Scandal Makers (Speedy Scandal):
Korea, Comedy/ Drama – This film is Korea’s highest-grossing comedy of all time, with 8.2 million admissions. Comedic favorite Cha Tae Hyun (My Sassy Girl) stars in this surprise box-office hit about a former pop idol who enters panic mode when he discovers he may have a teen daughter. (Unfortunately, Thai-dubbed only with no English subtitles.) At Airport Plaza only.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

This was board 3 from the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai pairs game on Oct 21st. I chose it to write about because of the variety of contracts reached. East-West were vulnerable and South dealt.  

                          S: 82

                          H: KQJ654

                          D: -

                          C: KQ1085 

S: KQJ1075                           S: A64

H: 9                                        H: 2

D: J842                                  D: AKQ93

C: 97                                      C: A642

                          S: 93

                          H: A10873

                          D: 10765

                          C: J3             

The start of the bidding was probably the same at all tables—South passes and West opens a weak two spades. At one table the contract played by West was three spades, making eleven tricks. It seems rather unadventurous of East, with such a big hand, to allow the bidding to stop short of game. At another table, East-West reached four spades and made twelve tricks (six spades, five diamonds and the ace of clubs). When it came to the table where I was sitting, there was no such quiet bidding—the final contract was a doubled grand slam in hearts by North-South. This is how it went: 

South           West       North         East

P                   2S            4H               6S

7H                P              P                  Dbl

All pass                                          

You can tell there were no bashful bidders at our table. Sheila Bagnall, sitting West, opened a weak two clubs. My hand looked like it had only four losers—two spades and the aces of hearts and clubs. My partner had already passed, so I went straight to 4H, hoping my partner could cover one of these losers. Richie Tierney, sitting East, was having none of this. He looked at his controls (three aces and a singleton) and points and went directly to slam—an excellent bid. Now it was up to John Bucher, sitting South, to take the bit in his teeth. He saw five hearts (and no defence) in his hand and bid grand slam as a non-vulnerable sacrifice. Not surprisingly, this got doubled. Richie led the ace of clubs followed by the ace of diamonds (the ace of spades would have been better, but who would expect a first round diamond ruff!). This was ruffed in hand, trumps pulled and board’s spades were thrown on the good clubs. Twelve tricks made for down only one—a good result thanks to John’s 7H bid. In fact, excellent bidding all round. The overall session was won by Martin Bagnall and Mike Williams by a good margin—a noteworthy performance by a new pairing.
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at www.bridgeclubchiangmai .com or contact Chris Hedges at:  oga [email protected] If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]