The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Can gluttony be a killer?
I was watching Evan, my four
year old, the other evening. We had gone to a restaurant with some friends
from America who gave him their extra french-fries from their plates. It was
almost as if he had entered a competition to see how many fries he could
pick up with one hand, and then how many of those he could cram into his
mouth at one time. A prime example of gluttony.
In Evan’s case, gluttony might kill as he could have choked to death. Not
that he would have minded. Death by french-fry is probably more acceptable
to a four year old mind than death from gluttony at age 44.
Unfortunately, our diets are far from healthy these days, and that includes
both food and drink, especially the kinds of drinks that come in dark green
or brown bottles. I am sure you know the types.
The problem here is the fact that being overweight puts a strain on the
cardiovascular system, which sends the blood pressure up. That in turn
affects all the organs and systems, and everything goes pear-shaped from
there on, as well as your body shape.
In these situations, the combined effects can be life threatening. We call
it co-morbidity and is also called ‘Syndrome X’ and is also possessed by
around 40 percent of adults over 40. The combination of diabetes and
obesity, for example, can be a disaster waiting. The combination of
diabetes, smoking, obesity, hypertension and high triglycerides (blood fats)
is cardiac dynamite. Your conclusive heart attack is a matter of ‘when’ not
‘if’. The risk factors stemming from all those conditions become not a case
of simple addition, but should be multiplied together.
The problem from your point of view is that most of these factors come on
very slowly, and become part of your daily living. You’ve smoked for years
and never had a smoker’s cough, so why stop now? Every time you get some
trousers made the waistband has to be that little larger. Your belt has been
let out two more holes over the past two years. Your doctor said you had a
“Little bit of blood pressure” three years ago, but you haven’t been back to
check, as you feel quite OK in yourself. Your ‘triglycerides’? “My what?”
Your blood sugar? “It was OK last time it was checked five years ago!”
The big problem is that the “Little bit of blood pressure”, even say
150/100, can produce a very dangerous situation when the person with that BP
has elevated blood sugar as well. Or smokes. It is the multiplication effect
again. Whereas you can (almost) ignore mild elevations like 150/100 if you
have absolutely nothing else wrong, ignoring it when there are other
conditions co-existing brings up that co-morbidity problem again. And the
likelihood of a cardiac calamity at age 44.
Likewise, a “little bit of extra weight” that we all excuse ourselves for
carrying, may (just ‘may’) be fine for someone with no other medical
conditions, but represents an enormous risk factor for someone with the
For those who like figures with their information, here are some chilling
ones. Between 87-100 percent of people with fatal coronary heart disease, or
a non-fatal heart attack had at least one of the following risk factors -
smoking, diabetes, increased blood fats and high blood pressure. Syndrome X
is characterized by having diabetes, increased blood pressure, and raised
blood fats. Can you now see the importance of doing something about weight,
blood fats and blood pressure? I for one would not like to be sitting with a
condition that gives me between 87-100 percent chance of a cardiac problem.
So what is this week’s message? Quite simply, if you have diabetes, do
something about the other risk factors. If you are overweight, do something
about it. Stop smoking and get your BP and blood fats checked. If you don’t
even know what your blood sugar level is, then get a check-up and find about
all of it! Gluttony can kill.
In the meantime, take 100 mg of aspirin each morning. It is known to be
cardio-protective. I do!
Heart to Heart
What is the situation here as far as dowries is concerned. I have been
living with this girl I met in the local bar for a few weeks and I have
been up to her home town to meet her folks, and they seem to be OK sort
of people. Her mother looks after her child from a previous marriage. My
girl is now saying that her parents expect us now to get married and we
must go back to her village for the ceremony, and that I should pay the
dowry for her as well as paying for the monks and the marriage ceremony
and party. I asked her how much did they expect and she tells me around
200,000 baht will cover everything. Honestly Hillary, that is a lot of
money, being a bit short of 4,000 pounds, and I don’t know that I really
want to go through this at that sort of money. I understand this may be
the custom out here, but I want your opinion on it.
Dowries are still expected in some regions of Thailand, but 200,000 baht
is a bit steep for a blushing bride you met in a bar, who has been
married before and already has one child being looked after by her
mother. Are there any others hiding round the corner? Any contract of
marriage should not be entered into when there are doubts, and you are
certainly showing more than a few doubts (not that I blame you). You do
not say how long you have been in Thailand, but I get the feeling you
are a newcomer. A ‘real’ marriage, which is recognized in both Thai law
and the UK, is not the one in the village, but is done at the local
amphur office. You asked for my opinion, Petal, and here it is - run!
I would like to invite one of the girls from my work to go to dinner,
but I am unsure of the way to go about it in Thailand. She is very
reserved, and I am told she comes from a “good” family. Should I offer
to have someone as a chaperone? Or is this not necessary these days?
Goodness me! There are some old-style gentlemen left in this world!
Honestly, my Petal, most educated Thai women are quite emancipated these
days, but if you want to be very politically correct, I would suggest
you just ask her if she would have dinner with you next Thursday night,
and if she would like to bring a friend, that is quite alright by you.
If she turns you down, I will keep Thursday night free, as long as there
is French champagne on the menu!
The young Thai women all seem so fashion conscious around here, plenty
of designer label stuff, but why do they still wear those silly platform
sole shoes that went out 20 years ago. Up to the very minute on top and
20 years behind on the bottom. Can you tell me why, Hillary?
I have been asked this question before, but it is really very simple to
understand. How far is it from a motorcycle seat to the ground? About an
average Thai lady’s leg plus 5 cm. So that they don’t fall over at
traffic lights, they need the extra boost for the length of their legs
to reach the ground. Simple, my Petal. Most things in Thailand are, when
you stop to think about the reasons behind anything which appears
strange to you.
Some time ago, you were asked some advice by a worried Mum. I am also a
worried Mum. Our daughter is aged 15 (going on 35) and is becoming a
real handful. She is a smarty, answers back to me (especially when her
father is not around) and exceptionally willful. She is also bigger than
me, so I cannot really give her a well placed clip behind the ear as I
was once able to! Her standard of behavior is just not acceptable as far
as I am concerned and her school work seems to be slipping as well. Is
there anything that can be done, or that I should be doing?
Worried Mum (II)
Dear Worried Mum (II),
It is certainly a trying time, with young teenagers. Since the school
work is slipping, I would suggest a timely and private visit to the
school counselor is in order as well as asking around the other mothers
as to how they see your daughter’s attitude. It might just be an
attention seeking form of behavior, or on the other hand, you might just
have a five star brat. Is there any suggestion of drug taking? You
really do need some professional help here, and this column is not the
place for that. Contact your local ladies’ clubs as some of them have
the name of a trained psychologist on their books. And best of luck. It
might be a case of grinning and bearing for a while, I’m afraid, but do
arrange professional help.
by Harry Flashman
The three-legged race is on
There are some items all photographers should have in addition
to their camera - and that is a polarizing filter and a tripod.
That one polarizer can do so much to enhance your shots, you
will begin to wonder why you don’t leave it screwed on the end
of the lens for ever! (But, ambiguously, there are many times
when it is not needed!)
the Peg (Rolf Harris).
However, a tripod can do much more than just enhance your shots.
This three legged device will open up completely new avenues in
photography and let you produce new and different images that
are otherwise way beyond your reach.
So what can you do with the tripod that you can’t do without?
The first and most obvious is time exposure shots. The whole
secret of time exposure is to keep the camera still, and you
won’t do that by holding your breath, leaning against a tree and
gripping the camera tightly, let me assure you. As much as you
Twilight photography and night photography opens up a whole new
range of pictures and effects. Just the simple expedient of
being able to keep the camera steady while you shoot 30 seconds
or longer exposures will result in some great photographs. Try
taking a shot just after sunset, for example. Set the camera on
f11 and give it 30 seconds. You will be very pleased with the
Did you know that the very best landscapes during daylight hours
are also best taken on a tripod? To get the huge range of depth
of field necessary for these shots, you will end up with slow
shutter speeds. The tripod ensures there’s no blurring. Those
flowing milky, misty waterfalls are also best taken with a
tripod as again a slow shutter speed is required to capture that
Even nature shots are done best with this piece of equipment.
You can set up the camera and then leave it, so that the birds,
etc., can get used to its presence, and then with a cable or
remote shutter release you can get the nature photos of a
Another type of shot that needs a tripod is the panorama. A
compilation of images which when placed together form a wide
angle view of any scene. This can only be done exactly with the
use of a tripod.
Even when shooting still life images, the use of a tripod makes
these shots a breeze. You can set up the shot and then make
minute adjustments while looking through the viewfinder. Again
you can use a slow shutter speed to be able to use very small
apertures (around f22) to get the very fine detail into the
So what should you look for and what should you spend? There are
several items in the specifications that you should ensure is on
any tripod you buy. The first is that it is heavy with strong
legs when extended fully. The “locks” on the legs must also be
secure. Another item is that the actual swivel head incorporates
a spirit level, so that you can ensure the top swivels in a true
horizontal arc. The tripod head should also have calibrations,
so you can swing it a definite number of degrees. A removable
“shoe” is also a good item, as you can then position the camera
on the tripod, but also remove the camera to take other shots
but then replace it in exactly the same position. The legs
should be able to be spread out widely so that you can get the
camera very close to the ground, and finally if you can get one,
see if the tripod shaft can be removed and turned upside down,
as this can get your camera completely at ground level and also
immediately above an object placed on the ground.
How much will this cost? Expect to spend a minimum of 6,000
baht. My own Manfrotto cost a lot more than that, let me assure
you, but with now more than 20 years of faithful service, it has
been a bargain!
Money Matters: Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.
Light at the end of the Tunnel? Part 1
Some people think the world
financial system is now over the worst of it and is getting better by the day.
Well, let’s look at this in more depth. Fullermoney recently did some
interesting analysis. Going from January 2008 to late September 2009, it
compared write offs and credit losses with capital raised. The implications are
there for all to see: (table right)
All Financial Loss ($ bn)
Capital Raised ($ bn)
Worldwide 1623.2 1340.8
Banks / Brokers
Worldwide 1137.5 1085.3
Citigroup 112.2 109.4
Wachovia 101.9 11.0
Bank of America 69.6 99.3
Merrill Lynch 55.9 29.9
Worldwide 247.8 137.3
Freddie Mac 119.6 57.7
Fannie Mae 118.3 60.5
(Source: Bloomberg LLP, as at 21.9.2009)
What is inferred is obvious.
Even if we accept that the above is right, it does not mean that there is no
more to come. There is still a lot of debt out there and it is not all going to
be paid off. Also, it does not help that the US government allowed its banks to
re-value toxic assets in other ways so the books don’t look so bad.
Let’s go back a bit further so we can take this in. In October 2007, the total
capital value of the world’s stock markets stood at USD62.5 trillion. In October
2008, this figure was USD36.6 trillion. In just twelve months, almost USD26
trillion was lost. Does anyone really believe we are in the process of getting
most of this back? Not in a month of Sundays. There is only one way of making
things look better than they are and that is to re-evaluate things. As the old
quote goes, there are “lies, damn lies and statistics”.
We can retreat into history a bit more. From a low of about 2% of disposable
income in 1945, US debt service rose to almost fifteen percent a couple of
years ago. In terms of total debt/GDP, the ratio was only about 150% in
1945, but that was with public debt from the war years at 120% of GDP. By
1950, the war debt had been cut down to about 70% of GDP, with private debt
still at about 35%. At the height of the bubble years - 2005 to 2007 - total
debt in America hit 360% of GDP, only 60% of it owed by the federal
Then we were hit with the bottom falling out of the stock markets as well as
other assets such as property. In Q1 of 2009, the Americans were told that
they had not seen such real values in stocks for over forty years. As
intimated above, the price of housing was on the way down too. By early
summer this year, twenty five percent of US home owners had a mortgage that
was more than the actual value of the property owned - negative equity had
come to America. The only thing on the way up was…debt.
In this column, we have looked at alternatives to the US dollar before. It
is interesting to note that Kuwait has asked for a brief postponement of a
united Arab currency and other ideas are also on hold. However, this will
not last and it will not help the US either. “Looking forward, there will
increasingly be other options to the dollar,” says World Bank president,
Robert B Zoelick.
Asia is raising enough money to cover any losses but the rest of the world
is really struggling. Those companies which have not managed to tempt inward
investment via either bond markets or government bailouts are going to have
to try the right issues way. If this does not work then the stock markets
are going to suffer yet more problems.
To be continued…
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
Life in Chiang Mai:
by Mark Whitman
Lanna- Japan Festival and other events.
Last week I, a Thai friend and two visitors from the U.K. went out to the
‘newly’ opened Dok Mai Gardens, a few kilometres outside the City and a most
enjoyable trip it proved to be. It was only formally opened at the beginning
of the year and already boasts over 800 different species of plants, shrubs
and trees, many of them rare and many familiar to Thailand.
Anyone looking for a not too strenuous half-plus day outside town should put
this on their itinerary. And the extra bonus to the trip is the drinks and
food menu available, served in the shady garden, after the ‘trek’.
It is worth joining one of the small guided tours. This will normally be led
by the botanist–owner Eric, a Swede with a passion for his subject and for
the environment which he and his wife are gradually creating. You could
dispense with the informally led tour on any subsequent visit (they offer
V.I.P. tickets for those who wish to return at different seasons) since all
of the plants etc. are well described in English, Thai and Japanese.
Our quartet and two friendly, farm-owning Australians enjoyed the walk
around the extensive grounds (they provide umbrellas but a hat is also a
good idea). We began exploring at around 11 in the morning, returning to the
main house and offices in time for a late lunch. The tour is both
illuminating and enjoyable, designed to interest enthusiasts and the casual
observer. You might think of it as educational in the best sense, since it
is engaging and informative without being preachy.
For all that, I must agree that we were happy to be faced by the menu and
the excellent choice of drinks, which include wines and beers and a
delicious choice of fruit and other home made cordials and juices. The menu
is sensibly limited to about a dozen (Thai) choices and wearing my other hat
(Dining Out) I can recommend the place for that alone.
We tried, among other dishes, the fried mimosa, picked on the grounds, and
some equally delicious morning glory. My friends declared the ‘panang moo’
exceptionally tasty and we all agreed the drinks were exceptional. Two of us
had the blackcurrant style drink, another one with a caramel overlay and the
third was pineapple based. After lunch we were tempted by the air
conditioned shop with its books, cards, artifacts, clothing and handbags,
among other goodies.
We found getting to Dokmai (this translates as flower which might be
something of a misnomer) Gardens easy by car. Heading up Huay Kaew Road and
turning left at Canal Road it is only a few minutes drive along this easy
road and is well sign posted. A hire car or taxi would not be expensive from
Chiang Mai. Further information can be found on their website, including
maps and the menu. (www.dokmaigarden.co.th). or phone: 089 433 9045 for more
First a correction: the jazz evening at that spacious and elegant
bar, La Vie en Rose, has been moved from November 12 (so as not to clash
with the Dutch Swing Band dinner event on that night at the Mercure Hotel to
which I am also looking forward) and is now scheduled for 8p.m. on Monday
November 16. This promises to be a fun evening and although I am prejudiced
by knowing the highly professional performers and their work, I can heartily
recommend the show. Further information from Krit on 083 517 1477. Should
you not know La Vie en Rose, you will find it along from West’s and next
door to Krit’s Nimman Kitchen just off Huay Kaew Road, opposite Hillside
4.Admission is free.
The Japanese Concert on November 21 is announced as part of the 5th
Lanna-Japan Festival and begins at 7:30 that Saturday evening. The Japanese
music will be augmented by a performance of the enormously popular Piano
Concerto by Grieg, so a tuneful and cool Norwegian work will contrast with
the more exotic eastern sounds. The pianist is Arsuko Seta and the concert
will be conducted by Chaipruk Mekara.
And if you enjoy the classical guitar as much as I do then three forthcoming
events should go into your diary. All of them are scheduled at the AUA
auditorium on Ratchadamnoern Road (better known, I guess, as walking street)
opposite Thapae Gate. The first is by a celebrated Russian virtuoso, Grigory
Novikov, and begins at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday November 14.
On Friday, November 20 and the following week (27th) that fine guitarist,
Alessio Monti, well known for his teaching and performances in Chiang Mai
and for his many recordings, will be giving two concerts with friends. These
begin at 7:30 p.m. and promise a wide variety of performers and music.
Further details I hope will be found in the Chiang Mai Mail pages and guide
to local events. Seems like this month will be an extra busy one for music
And ditto of course for film fans (why not film lovers? Odd that!) thanks to
the EU Film Festival at Central. Now, this is well under way, but I am going
to make a completely unfounded prediction and suggest to you that if music
be not your food of love, then you should head to Cinema 7 at Vista,
especially at 7:30 p.m. on the 14th where you will find a movie from Belgium
on show. Called “Ben” it is directed by Nic Balthazar. And my prediction? It
will be one of the (possibly THE) most interesting works in the Festival.
Only time will tell. You read it here.
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang
Michael Jackson’s “This Is It”: Brilliant! Don’t miss it! A
performance film, drawn from rehearsal footage for the show Michael was
working on at the time of his death. It’s being shown here in
high-definition Digital format. 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 it’s way
better than that, and I highly recommend you see it. At Major
Surrogates: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I really enjoyed this; it’s
ingenious and entertaining. Set in a futuristic world where humans live in
isolation and interact through surrogate robots. Only mixed or average
reviews, but nevertheless, I recommend it highly. In Thailand, 13+.
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea: Japan, Animation/ Adventure/ Family – An
animated adventure by Hayao Miyazaki centered on the 5-year-old boy Sosuke,
who lives on a cliff, and his relationship with Ponyo, a baby goldfish/
mermaid princess who longs to become human. Despite what theater staff may
tell you, or what the listings may lead you to believe, this is the original
Japanese version of Ponyo, shown with its original Japanese
soundtrack, with the original marvelous music. Despite what I was told at
the boxoffice, it has both English and Thai subtitles. That’s the way I
like my non-English films presented. This is the same version shown in
Chiang Mai earlier this year (April 4) at Film Space. There’s a newer
version in the US recently, dubbed with a sterling English-Language cast,
reading a rewritten script; please be clear, this is not it.
About this version, the original film, nothing but good things to say! It’s
a visually stunning fairy tale that’s a sweetly poetic treat for children of
all ages. I was enthralled! At Airport Plaza only.
Land of the Lost: US, Adventure/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – Only loosely based on
the original TV series, this is decidedly less kid-friendly and feels more
like a series of inconsistent sketches than a cohesive adventure comedy.
Amazingly, this artistically bankrupt comic fantasy cost something in the
neighborhood of $100 million to make! Not worth it! For members of the
Will Farrell fan club only. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Haunted University / Mahalai Sayongkwan: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – Based
on various horror and ghost tales current in universities. I am not
enthusiastic about this film; I found it generally a run-of-the-mill
exercise in Thai horror, with nothing to distinguish itself. It’s more
illogical than most such films; in fact, a movie without thought at all. I
must admit there were a lot of giggles in the audience during the most comic
of the four stories, about a hapless dental student afraid of corpses who
has to stand duty in a morgue. But mostly I thought the acting amateurish,
the direction unmotivated and nonsensical, the whole more silly and childish
than scary. In Thailand, 18+.
Vanquisher / Suay ... Samurai: Thai, Action/ Thriller – Cleavage-baring
female swordfighters, clad in cat suits. That’s all you need to know. (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 shrewdly crafted
to give single girls everything they want in a movie. The top Thai film for
the past three weeks.
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.
Thai-dubbed only with no English subtitles. At Airport Plaza only.
Scheduled for November 12
2012: US/ Canada, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Director
Roland Emmerich has given movie watchers several apocalyptic films
(Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), and here he offers another
look at the end of the world. This action film stars John Cusack, Chiwetel
Ejiofor, and Amanda Peet. The film offers conclusive proof that the world
will end on December 21, 2012, so let’s hope the studio recoups its
investment before then. It’s the Mayan Long Count calendar that contains
the proof, and folks it’s irrefutable. So get your affairs in order, and
don’t make any plans for Christmas that year. For further information, read
John Major Jenkins’ treatise, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of
the Maya Calendar End-Date (published 1998). You, too, will be
The September Issue: US, Documentary – A documentary chronicling Vogue
frosty editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s preparations for the September 2007
fall-fashion issue of Vogue magazine, which weighed nearly five pounds, and
was the single largest issue of a magazine ever published. A fascinating
look at the legendary editor, and her absolute rule of the world of
fashion. Generally favorable reviews.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
We all get annoyed with our partners now and again (surely he/she knows to
lead a heart—how could they be dumb enough to choose a club?) However the
prize so far for partnership friction surely goes to the Bennetts. They have
held this record for more than seventy years. I got a request to run this
hand again (possibly from someone thinking of breaking that record), so here
goes. On Sept 29, 1929, in Kansas City, Missouri, John and Myrtle Bennett
sat down to play bridge against their neighbours, Charles and Mayme Hoffman.
John dealt the hand below and opened 1S. His wife raised him to 4S.
Unfortunately, he went down. His wife goaded him about his poor play. The
argument escalated to such a point that his wife shot him dead. Not
surprisingly, this created a sensation. Myrtle was tried for murder, but the
jury ruled the killing accidental. It is reported that she continued playing
bridge, but encountered some difficulty finding a partner! Even Ruth might
have a problem with this one. South dealt.
S: Q72 S: 4
H: AJ3 H: Q95
D: AQ1092 D: KJ763
C: J6 C:
South West North East
(John B) (Charles H) (Myrtle B) (Mayme H)
4S All pass
John certainly overbid when he opened
his ace-less 10 points. I like Myrtle’s aggressive 4S call however. West led
the ace of diamonds and shifted to the jack of clubs. South won the king in
hand and led the jack of trumps (to tempt a cover by the queen). When West
did not cover, he went up with the ace and led the spade 10. East showed out
and he won with the king in hand. Next, declarer trumped a diamond in dummy,
played the ace of clubs and then the club nine. East covered with the queen
and declarer trumped with the five of spades. West over ruffed with the
queen and cashed the ace of hearts. At this point, EW had taken three
tricks. So far, NS had taken only five tricks, two top spades, two top clubs
and a diamond ruff and declarer had to take the rest. This was the situation
as West led a low heart:
D: Q109 D:
Declarer won the heart lead with the
king. Unfortunately, he could not get to dummy to cash the good clubs and
throw away his losing hearts. So, he ran his trumps and went down two.
Overall, I like his line of play. He was extremely close to making the
contract. He just made one small error. Can you see what it was?
His error was ruffing the club with the
five. If he had only ruffed with the eight he could have saved his life!
Then, he can lead the five of spades to the six on board and cash the good
clubs. He makes the last five tricks with the king of hearts, two clubs and
two trumps, for a total of ten tricks. I wonder whether he had time to
regret his error.
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new
players. For information on the Club go to the web site at
www.bridgeclubchiangmai .com. If you have bridge questions, or to send me
your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]