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

Testing, testing, testing

At this time of year many people are taking advantage of the reduced prices on check-up packages which are on offer. These packages list the tests which can be done, with most having an item called “complete blood count”. However, when the patients later ask, “What were my AIDS results?” or “What is my blood group?” or similar. In most instances I have to disappoint them, because unless the specific test for HIV antibodies, or blood group, was requested, there will be no record of it, even though the initial test was called a “complete blood count”.
The sad part is a “complete blood count” is actually very far from complete!
The reason for this is simple. There are so many tests that can be done, that testing would go on for weeks if you wanted “everything” checked. For example, the Australian Royal College of Pathologist’s Manual of Use and Interpretation of Pathology Tests that sits on my desk lists 150 pages of tests that can be carried out. These include such items as a Reptilase Time, something I have never requested in 40 years of practice, or a red cell Galactokinase; ditto.
In check-up packages we are just casting a ‘wide net’ to see what abnormalities we can turn up to use to find the definitive diagnosis. One of the commonest tests is called the “Complete Blood Count” (CBC), or in some countries called the Full Blood Count (FBC).
The CBC does provide important information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC can help us evaluate symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, or bruising and even directly diagnose conditions such as anemia, infection, and many other disorders.
The CBC test usually includes the white blood cell (WBC) count as these cells protect the body against infection. If an infection develops, white blood cells attack and destroy the bacteria, virus, or other organism causing it. White blood cells are bigger than red blood cells and normally fewer in number. When a person has a bacterial infection, the number of white cells can increase dramatically. There are five major kinds of white blood cells: neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. The numbers of each one of these types of white blood cells give important information about the immune system. An increase or decrease in the numbers of the different types of white blood cells can help identify infection, an allergic or toxic reaction to certain medications or chemicals, and many conditions (such as leukemia).
The red blood cell (RBC) count is also part of the CBC. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. They also help carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs. If the RBC count is low, the body may not be getting the oxygen it needs. If the count is too high (a condition called polycythemia), there is a risk that the red blood cells will clump together and block blood vessels (thrombosis).
Another test is Hematocrit. This test measures the amount of space (volume) the red blood cells occupy in the blood. The value is given as a percentage of red blood cells in a volume of blood. For example, a hematocrit of 38 means that 38 percent of the blood’s volume is composed of red cells.
Hemoglobin (Hb) is the substance in a red blood cell that carries the oxygen. The hemoglobin level is a good indication of the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.
There is also the platelet (thrombocyte) count, which is an important part of the CBC. Platelets are the smallest type of blood cell and play a major role in blood clotting. If there are too few platelets, uncontrolled bleeding may be a problem, such as occurs in Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.
So even though the CBC does test for many factors, there are still another 149 pages of tests that can be done! If you want to know your blood group, or your HIV status, you have to ask!


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

I am a friend of Dr Iain and as I enjoy his medical column I read the PM, most weeks. I always read your column and Graham Macdonald’s and am amused and entertained by your column; it has a ‘style’ of its own.
Can I tell you about a friend of mine. The story is almost 180 degrees from your tales of boy meets girl, boy gives girl car and house, girl dumps boy and takes car, house and contents of bank account, boy complains to Hillary.
My friend, mid forties, good career and prospects met an incredible Thai lady. She is from a wealthy old family, she graduated from a Thai university in BKK, then grad school in UK, now number three in huge family business, but really the driving force. Tall, beautiful, elegant, family wealth, independent wealth, a real class act.
They met thru work, lunched together for a year, dated for about a year, are now a ‘couple’. So touching to be with them, their love for each other is palpable.
He has never met her parents and they say they never will meet him. They do not go to prominent places together, never hold hands or show any affection in public. Her sister (who he knows well) recently married, he was not invited to the wedding. They go out together, in a large group, but rarely as a twosome. Their joy is holidays out of Thailand where they can relax and be a loving couple.
He is totally unacceptable as a husband for her, even tho at 37 she would have problems finding a Thai husband.
As I say, it is ironic because it is diametrically opposed to the situations that you often document. At the lower end of the socio-economic scale the ex-pat is a pot of gold at the higher levels he is a bucket of clay.

Dear Mike,
Thank you for the nice words about the column, and I shall pass on your messages to Dr. Iain and Graham Macdonald. I am sure they will be delighted to know someone has praised their prose.
However, I don’t really agree with your summation of the situation. Generalizations are always dangerous (even this one). There are many, many examples of mixed marriages in Thailand, including those from which the children have risen to positions such as senators in the Thai parliament.
The situation as you describe it with this couple is not as dire as you are presenting. Their relationship is one that they have worked out as being commensurate and suitable with her position, in an obviously prejudiced household. She is, as you have said, independently wealthy - so why don’t they just elope, if they are so much in love? Let me answer that, Petal. Because she is tied to her family by her own culture and she does not wish to break that bond, even though racial prejudice is present in her parents. Racial prejudice is not something that Thai society invented either. It is present in many, many cultures, as I am sure you would have to agree. I would also not agree with your statement that at 37 she would have problems finding a Thai husband. Being from a rich family with a huge family business, there would be plenty of potential husbands taken from other rich Thai families.
No Mike, my Petal, your friend and his lady are where they are, because it works for them, even though it does not fit with your culture or societal mores. Certainly in the poorer socio-economic area the foreigner does represent a pot of gold, even without a rainbow, but not all foreign husbands married to a Thai lady from the impecunious end of town end up needing to complain to Hillary.
However, you do sound like a nice man, with good intentions. I am attracted to men such as that, especially after a year of weekly champagne (French, darling) and chocolates. (Please make sure you underline “For Hillary” on the package(s), or otherwise the wretched delivery boy will snitch it.)

Dear Hillary,
Why do the Thai girls all wear those molded plastic and rubber bras that look like two dumplings attached to the front of their chests? It is obvious that the lumps don’t belong to them, but come from their bra manufacturer. I’m like a lot of guys and like a nice pair on a girl, but real ones, not rubber ones, please.
Tim the T-man

Dear Tim the T-man,
I presume you mean Tim the Toyman, you naughty little Petal! I must admit that I have never heard the girls in the lingerie shops asking if madam would like one lump or two, as I have heard in some five star restaurants over coffee. Perhaps something swinging is going on behind the kitchen swinging doors, that Hillary is unaware of. Dearie me! Since Thai girls were standing behind the door when the chests were given out (the Russian ladies made it to the front row), we have to do something to catch the eye of Toymen like you, Tim. So you have discovered our secret. Don’t tell everyone, that’s a good boy.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

The world’s best portrait photographer?

Since portraits of people represent around 90 percent of all photographs, there have been more than just a few portrait photographers, both amateur and professional. Names like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon come immediately to mind. Many portraitists, especially as photo technology improved, have produced spectacular portraits with dramatic flash strobe lighting, or have used amazing props to give the photo just that little something extra, but was that really needed? I would suggest No!
Look at this week’s photograph, that of the eminent historian Thomas Carlyle. It was taken in 1867 and is ranked as one of the most powerful portraits in the history of photography. I have written about this before, but it stands repetition. This is photography with a capital P!
Now look again - technically it is imperfect. There is blurring of the image, but when you realise that the shutter was open for probably around three minutes, then you can see why. The sitter could not possibly remain motionless for that period of time.
The dynamics of this shot come from the very first principles of photography - painting with light. It is not the subject - it is the way you light the subject. The light is falling on the sitter almost from the side and slightly above. One eye is partially lit and the other in shadow. The hair and beard show up strongly. The photo is totally confrontational.
Analyse further. If the face had been front lit, and both eyes, the nose and the mouth were all clearly visible then there would be no air of mystery. The dark shadow areas of the photograph have made you look further into it. You begin to imagine what the features were like. You also begin to imagine what the person was like. You have just experienced the “perfect” portrait.
The shot was taken by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) a British lady who had been raised in India, in the days of the British Raj. Surrounded by servants, she had never had to do anything for herself, and yet, in her late forties she took up the new fangled notion of photography. This was not the age of the point and shoot simplicity we enjoy today. This was the age of making your own photographic plates by painting a mixture of chemicals all over it - chemicals you mixed yourself - exposing the plate in a wooden box camera and then fixing the negative in more chemicals and finally making a print.
It was the 29th of January 1864 when Mrs. Cameron finally produced her first usable print. She had made the exposure at 1 p.m. and in her diary recorded the fact that by 8 p.m. she had made and framed the final print. (And you think you are doing it tough if you have to wait two hours, instead of one!)
However, she would not have managed to photograph so many of the notables of the era had it not been for her next door neighbour, the Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson. After Tennyson saw his portrait he persuaded his eminent friends to sit for her as well. Most of these portraits were different from the Thomas Carlyle photograph in that they were taken in profile. Mrs. Cameron felt that the innate intelligence could be more easily seen in the profile and this may have been the result of the influence of the quasi-science of Phrenology, whereby your cranial bumps showed your true talents, which was all the rage at that time!
Julia Margaret Cameron contributed to photography by showing that it is the eye of the photographer that dictates the photograph, not the “smartness” of the equipment.
So you can stop reading the photographic magazines to see if you should buy the latest offering with 300 megapixels and one zillionth of a second shutter speed and dedicated flash power for up to three kilometers and just go out and take photographs with what you have got. Look at what is in front of you and “make” your own photographs “work” for you. Thus endeth the inspirational lesson. Thank you Mrs. Cameron. Class dismissed!

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

A man’s home is his castle, part 2

The London Telegraph recently reported, “Rising unemployment and a failure of mortgage lenders to offer cheap home loans will mean property will stay unaffordable for too many consumers, forcing prices down in a second wave of house price falls.”
Capital Economics is forecasting that the price of housing in the UK will fall by ten percent in 2010 and another five percent the year after that. If they are right then prices will fall back below the recent low of six months ago. Some think they are being too pessimistic but, even if there is a recovery quicker than everyone thinks then it will be accompanied by a rise in interest rates which will put extra, unwanted pressure for lower house prices. If people believe Capital Economics is being overly gloomy then it is just as well they did not see the recent Fitch report which is predicting a 17% drop.
Whilst it is true there has been a recovery in the price of housing over the last three months, this is only because owners will not sell at a lower price than they think they should. They can hold out for a price they want because of the chronic housing shortage in the UK.
Capital Economics do not think this is sustainable as there is every chance of large scale redundancies occurring in the public sector in the near future. This will help to push the unemployment total through the three million mark which will force tens of thousands of people to see their houses.
Apart from the last three months, any expat still holding property back in the UK will have experienced more than just a sense of loss in the last 18 months. While it is clear that there are regional variations between markets in the UK, overall there has been very real degradation of value throughout the whole property market. Anyone with a large mortgage will be feeling the pain even more, as their hard-earned assets fall, while their debt to the bank feels increasingly like a millstone around their neck.
And while some welcome the reduction in mortgage interest rates through the Bank of England easing its base rates to historical lows, a significant increase in mortgage lending from banks has so far failed to materialise, leaving the property market languishing, and overall heading lower.
From a distance, it’s hard to know what to do. Sell now and crystallize any losses, exit the market, and hope you don’t miss any bounce back? But sell to whom? Or grit your teeth and wait the slump out…as long as your bank manager will let you. Sadly for those who have chosen to hold their ‘bolt hole’ back in the UK in the hope it recovers in value, 2008 was a very tough year. In the 12 months to December 2008, the UK Property 350 Index slid almost 54% from a high of 3875 and, as indicated above, it is a brave man who can say with confidence the worst is over.
As we have seen already, to make matters worse, many respected analysts are predicting this is just the first year in a prolonged downturn in the property market, and the ‘good times’ are still many years off.
Yet in all this doom and gloom there is a product that provides ‘peace of mind’ to UK property owners worried about their asset values sliding further. It is called “UK Property Protector”. This helps UK property owners protect themselves against further falls in the value of their homes. What it does essentially is insure your property against further losses of value. This is done by signing up for a derivative option known as a CFD or Contract for Difference that retains its value against the UK Property 350 Index. You simply pay a one off ‘premium payment’ equal to 5% of the estimated property value and in return get a hedge, based on the UK Property 350 Index against further falls in the value of UK properties. The hedge is not protected (i.e. it reduces in value and ultimately lapses if the value of the property increases) but it is open ended and can be realised at any time that suits the plans of the home owner.
To illustrate the point, let us imagine a fictional Mr. Smith who owns a property which was estimated to be worth GBP200,000 at the end of 2007 with an outstanding mortgage of GBP80,000 and therefore equity of GBP120,000. He has seen the market slip in the last 12 months and the reality is that even in that area it’s likely to be worth anything between GBP170,000 and GBP180,000 if he can find a buyer today.
Mr. Smith is now really worried it could slip further as unemployment increases, industry slows, exports and international trade drop and it is looking like it will take some time for the market to recover. He’s also concerned about his own position if he is due to repatriate back to head office.
Luckily Mr. Smith made a one-off payment of GBP10,000 to buy a Property-Protector premium in December of 2007 to protect the value of his property against any further falls in the market. By the end of last year the value of that insurance was over GBP96,809 (See chart).
Although Mr. Smith is concerned that the value might fall further and that normally he might just leave the policy in place and continue to use it to insure the property value, he took the opportunity at the end of last year to redeem his policy, pay off the mortgage and use the spare proceeds to reinsure the value of his property at current levels, paying a new open-ended premium of GBP9,000.
The good news for Mr. Smith is that he is now mortgage free, and his financial position has improved by GBP66,809 despite a GBP20,000 fall in the value of his property.
In fact, the very good news for Mr. Smith is that since that point the 350 Property Index is down by a further 12.6% - Mr. Smith’s second Property Protector that he bought would now be worth over GBP20,000 already!

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

Saving Lives

George Orwell, a better essayist than novelist, remarked many times on the ‘character’ of his nation: (as, for example, Inside the Whale, ‘A family with the wrong members in control- that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase’). He also considered that the dominant trait of the English was hypocrisy, which may be true, though I doubt whether we have a monopoly on falsely pretending to be virtuous or sincere.
In Thailand, for example, there are glaring examples of hypocrisy which costs lives whilst giving the appearance of being socially and culturally correct. As most people are aware it is impossible, legally, to buy alcohol before 11.00 and between 14.00 and 17.00 in the afternoon. This is a sop to the anti-drinking lobby and ostensibly to protect children from the temptation of buying booze on the way to and from school or college.
Now let’s not pretend that alcohol abuse is not a problem here as in most other countries, contributing to domestic violence, road deaths, other accidents and loss of working hours and so on. But inhibiting the sale of alcohol, rather than education and sensible strictures (a demand for I.D., for example, to prove age), is not an answer to the problem. The reluctance to face up to drug abuse is far more of a threat to young people.
The attitude to smoking also shows a willingness to paper over cracks, rather than attack the structural problem. This disgusting and harmful habit is not really discouraged by a restriction on displaying packets, nor does it fool anyone when a t.v. screen is partly blocked out when a hand is seen holding a cigarette or cigar and an outline is clearly visible behind the fuzz. Such nonsense is hypocritical pandering to people who are seemingly concerned about health problems. Raising the tax dramatically and spending money on education and anti-smoking campaigns would be more constructive.
Meanwhile back on the roads, there is another law supposedly in force which is also designed to protect people, especially youngsters and this is virtually ignored by the authorities at a vast cost to human lives, and, if you wish to be mercenary, to the economy. Technically riders are meant to wear crash helmets (and I assume drivers to wear seat belts) but well over 50 per cent of riders flout this law. Is the non insistence on helmets a refusal to ‘intrude’ in peoples’ lives or is it a money raising scheme? By which I mean the setting of a fine at some 200 baht, which suggests that many people are able to pay the amount and find it inconvenient but not sufficient enough amount to be a deterrent. Ipso facto the money continues to be collected at the road blocks which are part of our everyday lives and incidentally waste resources.
If the authorities were really serious about saving lives then they would follow Vietnam or Italy when faced with the same problem and large number of fatalities and make a determined effort to improve road safety in this and other areas. As it is, farangs can ignore the ruling since 200 baht hardly concerns them, nor indeed many well off Thais. The hard working minorities pay more and suffer by having motorcycles impounded. But nothing new there.
So here we are just four months away from the cull or slaughter and maiming which characterises Songkran and there is no determined effort to save the hundreds of lives which will be lost between now and around April 15. A serious publicity campaign, the police being able to stop people individually rather than in planned ambushes, a large fine for repeat offenders, the possible confiscation of a vehicle and a deadline( an apt word if ever I coined one) on determined action would be some way to an answer.
The above ‘laws’ are all worthy of concern, with only the silliness of the licensing laws being impractical ( booze can be got any time, including official holidays by anyone in the know). But either enforce them or not. Show you are against something or cease to pretend. Lip service never saved a life except in the case of mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Thinking of Orwell, whose best work, in my opinion, comes in the novel Burmese Days, and the essays Inside the Whale and Shooting an Elephant, I was led on to recall other writers’ comments about England. George Mikes, who came from Hungary ‘for a fortnight’ and never left the U.K. wrote amusingly about his adopted country in such books as How to be an Alien. He wrote in How to be Inimitable ‘The one class you do NOT belong to and are not proud of is the lower middle class. No one ever describes himself as belonging to the lower middle class’. Absolutely true, of the most class conscious nation on earth.
Not being English, he was nicer than those born there, but that acute observer of English life and foibles, Alan Bennett, was also accurate on many occasions including in his play The Old Country: ‘They are the most embarrassed people in the world, The English. Not able to look each other in the face. Is there anyone not embarrassed in England? The Queen perhaps’. His observations were acute about so many things, though. Among his gems I cherish is: ‘One of the few lessons I have learned in life is that there is invariably something odd about women who wear ankle socks’.
Bennett is often quite gently mocking about life and the English, but another (finer) playwright had stricter views on them and wrote some of the most savage and violent plays in the language, including Saved, Lear and Narrow Road to the Deep South. In the last he observed caustically (and finally for this week’s column): ‘The English sent all their bores abroad, and acquired the empire as a punishment’.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Cirque du Freak is now scheduled for January 7.
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Couples Retreat:
US, Comedy – A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation.  One of the couples is there to work on their marriage, and the others fail to realize that participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not optional.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  At Airport Plaza only.
Yam Yasothon 2 / Hello Yasothorn 2:
Thai, Comedy – Thai down-country comedy with popular comedian Mum Jokmok, a couple of his off-spring, and a bevy of the usual TV comedians, all in colorful costumes engaged in rustic humor.  A sequel to 2005’s popular country comedy.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol:
US, Animation/ Drama/ Family/ Fantasy – It’s still the best thing in town, in my opinion.  I think it’s brilliant!  Please, if you at all like animation, don’t miss it.  Not all of it is warm and comforting as you might expect in a Disney film – large portions of the early parts are instead dark and grim.  It’s a faithful recreation of the Charles Dickens classic – one of literature’s most haunting tales.  Set in the impoverished gloom of Victorian England, it’s both a ghost story and a morality play — and as such, it’s meant to scare the daylights out of us.  Before Scrooge can shed his money-grubbing ways, he must stare death and damnation in the face and have a full-on conversion experience: heavy stuff for PG.  Only mixed or average reviews, but I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Shown in 3D, which in this case is a marvel, and only at Airport Plaza.  (There are higher prices for this film because of the 3D.)
The director and screenwriter behind the film is Robert Zemeckis, who’s now made three films running with the performance-capture technique.  His first was Polar Express, his last was Beowulf, and next up is a remake of Yellow Submarine, the classic Beatles animated film.
Ninja Assassin:
US/ Germany, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – Seems to me essentially a blood-soaked combination of physical stunts and digital trickery, featuring the shyly expressive Korean pop star Rain, one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” in 2007.  Not recommended, unless you’re easily delighted by ultraviolence for its own sake.  Otherwise, this thinly plotted movie with low-grade thrills about a young ninja’s revenge against his cruel trainers will disappoint.  I found the shadowy action too often incomprehensible, and you end up with nothing but a ceaseless muddle of sliced-off appendages, jets of blood splashing artfully on walls, gurgling screams, and flashing swords.  But, to be honest, I guess there’s a cathartic value to all the bloodletting.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language. 18+ in Thailand.  Review scores have dropped - now “generally unfavorable” reviews.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon:
US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – This led at the movie box office for the second weekend in a row, but narrowly.  As expected it dropped considerably in ticket sales, after a first weekend of out-and-out fan frenzy.  Running on the sheer momentum of its massive opening, New Moon soared past the $200 million mark on its eighth day of release and, in the process, eclipsed its predecessor Twilight, which had a final haul of $192.8 million.  That, of course, also made it the biggest vampire movie on record.
Yes, it’s a phenomenon, all right, but it’s not for me; I was bored.  It’s for teenaged girls with raging hormones who want romance, not sex – very safe romance, with just the vaguest threat of titillating danger.  Remember, vast numbers of people like this movie.  It’s really just a matter of taste.
If you’re a teenaged girl with raging hormones, you’ll love it!  Mixed or average reviews.  Vista has only a Thai-dubbed version.
The third movie in the series, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, is already completed, and is scheduled to arrive here June 30 of next year, or just seven months from now.  Can’t you just hardly wait?
US/ Canada, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – The end of (almost) the whole world, as only Director Roland Emmerich can show it, and very well done indeed.  The director’s had lots of practice.  A Thai-dubbed version is available at both locations.
Scheduled for December 10
Pai in Love:
Thai, Romance/ Comedy – Thai romantic comedy directed by Tanit Jitnukul, who directed the marvelous film Samchuk released earlier this year; I was very impressed by that film, and am very fond of it.  Here we have a love story about a group of friends who all happen to take a winter vacation to the same place – Pai.  Somehow, in that small province, they all find the true meaning of love.  Well, why not?  In the cast is the Thai-award-winning actor, Ray MacDonald, who though Thai has some Scottish ancestry, and has a string of Thai movies to his credit.

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: By Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden

So many Citrus!

Any cooking recipe demands the correct ingredients. If you have your own collection of kitchen plants, you won’t need to hesitate. But if you don’t, how can you obtain them? In Thai plant markets there are numerous Citrus all with differing names. Many sellers mix up the names “Lime” and “Lemon”. When you explain what a Lemon looks like, they may give you a Citron. To further confuse the situation, “Citron” means “Lemon” in several European languages. Therefore, you have to identify the plant yourself. Since fruits and flowers may not be present at the market, and since the plants are sprayed with insecticides I wouldn’t recommend tasting them. So, I focus on the leaf, which has a leafstalk with or without outgrowths called “wings”: on the C. hystrix (Makrut lime, Makrut): the wings are as big as the leaf. The C. maxima (Pomelo, Somo) has large leaves with pronounced wings that resemble a heart. C. x aurantiifolia (Lime, Manao) has tiny flat wing about 2 mm broad while the C. reticulata (Mandarin, Som khiao wan) has a leafstalk with thickened margins. C. x limon (Lemon, Manao thet) has no wing and a  jointed leafstalk and theC. medica (Citron, Som ma ngua) has a blunt leaf and short stalk without characteristics. A recent DNA study shows that the Pomelo, Citron, Mandarin and Makrut lime are natural species. The common Orange/Som kliang (C. x aurantium Sweet Orange Group), which I have never seen grown in Chiang Mai, is a cross between the Mandarin and the Pomelo. The Lemon is a cross between an Orange and Citron while the Grapefruit (C. x aurantium Grapefruit Group) is a cross between an Orange and Pomelo. The Lime is a cross between Citron and Makrut lime. Within a species or hybrid, there can be hundreds of named varieties.
Back in your garden, don’t over water or water on the leaves. Use bone meal which is rich in phosphorus, and avoid nitrogen. Keep the Lemon in a pot, since the roots have problems with tropical rains. My favourite Citrus is Pomelo, which is a hardy Southeast Asian species. It has sensually scented flowers and noble varieties have delicious fruits. It is a host plant for many butterflies, so don’t spray! [email protected]

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Here is another bidding challenge. West deals with no one vulnerable. Imagine you are sitting South. The bidding starts as shown below—what do you bid now? 

                          S: A1095

                          H: Q52

                          D: 3

                          C: AKJ54     

S: K6                                       S: 432

H: AJ84                                  H: K1063

D: AQJ1098                           D: K62

C: 7                                          C: 1083

                          S: QJ87

                          H: 97

                          D: 754

                          C: Q962          

West    North     East        South

1D        Dbl          1H           ? 

Your partner doubles for takeout, asking you to bid a suit. If East had passed, then you would have had to bid something. Since East bid, you are off the hook and can pass. You have a fairly poor five point hand. Do you bid or do you pass?
Assume you pass. West likes his hand (with a fit for East’s hearts, good long diamonds and a singleton club) and goes straight to four hearts. The contract makes, provided declarer finesses North for the queen of trumps, which is indicated because it was North who did the bidding. EW take four hearts and six diamonds, losing only two spade tricks and a club. Ten tricks made for 420 against you.
Now assume you bid one spade, since your partner should have four spades for the takeout double. West still bids four hearts but North can now overcall four spades since he knows you have something in the suit. You finesse successfully for the king of spades and lose only two hearts and one diamond. You take four spade tricks, five clubs and a diamond ruff on board. Again ten tricks made but this time for 420 your way, a swing of 840.
This is one of those deals, surprisingly common, where both sides can make game. The moral of the story is that, if you want to be on the side making game rather than conceding it, then you need to bid, particularly if you think you have a fit with partner, and (within limits) no matter how bad your hand is!
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]