The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Coronary Conclusion in 2010?
Those who are avid health (or
sickness) watchers will know I really mean “Coronary Occlusion”, but it was
too much temptation to use Mrs. Malaprop and end up with “Coronary
Conclusion”. Because quite simply, that is what it can turn out to be - your
The sad part of coronary conclusions (otherwise known as heart attacks) is
that nine times out of ten you can actually avoid it.
Before launching into the real life factors in the situation, a little
understanding of what constitutes a heart attack is in order. I think
everyone understands that you have both red blood cells and white blood
cells. The function of the red ones is simply to carry oxygen to the
tissues, so that the tissues can survive. The heart muscle is no exception
to this rule. This hollow muscular pump needs oxygen just like all the other
organs you keep inside you - spleen, kidneys, lungs, bowel and so forth.
Take my tip - keep them inside you if you possibly can!
However, the inside lining of the heart (muscle) is smooth and impermeable
to the oxygen tied to the red cells. You see, the heart does not get its
nutrition from the blood it pumps through it. In fact, the oxygenated blood
supply to the heart is through some specialized arteries called the
“Coronary” arteries. These run along the outer surface of the heart muscle
and then split up into smaller tributaries which dip into the heart muscle
to supply it with oxygen.
Now if we are to consider that the heart muscle is probably the most
important muscle in the human body (well, physiologically it outranks the
other much more highly publicized muscle in males!) then it become important
that this heart muscle gets a good supply of blood. And the quickest way
that the supply can get altered is by blocking off the coronary arteries.
This is most usually done via a slow process by which a small obstruction in
the artery slowly gets bigger and bigger until eventually it totally blocks
off the blood supply and the heart muscle “starves” of oxygen and that
section of the heart muscle, supplied by that artery, just dies. We have a
name for that death of heart muscle too, and it is called a “myocardial
This event of blocking is called a Coronary Occlusion, which may end up as a
coronary ‘conclusion’ if the section of dead muscle is large enough! The
actual death of the muscle resulting in this myocardial infarction is often
shortened to the simple M.I. (The heart muscle is called the myocardium.)
But of course, the simpler name is ‘Heart Attack’.
In short, cardiac health is mainly involved in keeping the coronary arteries
clean and clear. This is where our old friend Cholesterol comes in. You see,
the deposits inside the artery are generally made up of this chemical and
other blood fats. This makes a “sticky” patch in the artery and some blood
cells get stuck there. This causes a clot to form and you have all the
precursors needed to block the artery, with the occlusion leading to the
infarction, and leading to your family claiming early on your life insurance
To be able to keep your arteries clear you need to have a nice low
cholesterol, which can be done by diet plus medication if required. But
first you need to know what your cholesterol level is. This requires a blood
test, which can be done at my favorite hospital.
The most likely candidates for a heart attack are overweight, hypertensive
smokers, with high cholesterol. If this is you, do something about it today.
Well, perhaps that’s being a little bit too melodramatic, but you are
certainly one of the cardiac high risk people in the population.
As I wrote at the start of this article, whether or not you have a coronary
conclusion can be under your control. Stop smoking, lose weight, keep your
blood pressure in the normal range and keep the cholesterol low.
You can drive your own destiny. Start today. Don’t let 2010 be your last
year on the planet!
Care for Dogs:
By Ana Gracey, Care for Dogs
Dog of the Week – Judy Black
is Judy Black – a real celebrity at Care for Dogs. She will actually
hold your hand in hers and place her other paw on top like a
gazing at you with great understanding, alongside a compassion that
almost borders on pity – so unfortunate for you that you are not a
dog! She loves to trot around in the woods with her fellows but care
must be taken not to let her off the lead for even a moment, as
every chicken in the area will agree…sadly her compassion doesn’t
stretch that far! She would make a wonderful addition to any home
with or without children as long as they have a very secure garden
or yard and have time to take her for regular walks and give her
lots of attention. She’s currently the Care for Dogs mascot and
often accompanies us on educational trips into schools. To say the
least, the kids love her and so will you…call the shelter for an
appointment and we’ll see if we can fit you into her busy
schedule…If you think Judy Black could be a good match for you or
anyone you know, then contact Care for Dogs, English (08 47 52 52
55) Thai (08 69 13 87 01) or e-mail: [email protected] carefordogs .org to
make an appointment to meet her at the shelter. www.carefordogs.org
Heart to Heart
Hope you got enough champers over Xmas and New Year so you won’t be
trying to get people to bring you some each week! The same goes for the
chocolates. I think you should just stick to looking after the poor
people who write in each week with problems that they bring on
themselves. They don’t deserve sympathy, old girl. The need a damn good
kick up the posterior, so why don’t you start the New Year by telling
them how the real world works?
Aren’t you the bringer of peace and joy to the neighborhood, my Petal.
First you try and cut off my bubbly at the source, then throw out the
chocs, and tell everyone with a problem they brought it on themselves,
so bad luck, old chum.
I’m sorry to deflate your self-opinionated balloon, Joey, but there are
many genuine people in the world who, through no real fault of their
own, find themselves in a problem situation. Human emotions do not quite
follow the laws of simple physics or mathematics. One and one can often
make three, if you can follow my gist, and it’s not outside your narrow
viewpoint. The ‘real world’ as you call it, Joey, is the world in which
we find ourselves. It may not be the ideal world, especially your
ideals, but it is the one we live in. Mine needs champagne to uncork my
bubbles and chocolates to sweeten me up. You, on the other hand, are a
miserable lost cause. And that’s how the “real world works.”
You won’t remember me, but you did give me such good advice last year. I
was the guy with the GF here, but I was only here on holidays, for one
month a year. I took your advice and looked a bit more realistically at
the relationship and realized I didn’t have a relationship. I was just
sending money to some bar girl who most likely had others doing the
same. I had asked you how would I find out if she was back working at
the bar or not, and you made me see sense. I stopped sending money, and
the loving emails stopped as well. I just want to tell other guys in the
same situation that if your GF speaks in broken English, and her emails
are perfect, then she’s not writing them, is she?
Dear (ex)Doubting Thomas,
So nice to know that our little column here has been of great help. When
I get letters like the one at the top of the page from people like Joey
(hand delivered with no return address), it makes me quite sad, but then
when I got your email, it really helped sparkle up my day, and I was
very happy to reply, as well as print it in the column. Now that you are
an “ex” Doubting Thomas, you will find you can make lots of lasting,
good relationships from now on. Congratulations on ‘coming of age’.
Thank you for your nice reply to my letter. I thought I should tell you
I think I have got to the bottom of the deteriorating toilet roll saga.
Yesterday I bought a packet of my favorite envelopes, I have purchased
the same ones for the last four years. Guess what? They were half the
thickness of the previous packs I had bought!
So putting two and two together I presume it’s the companies helping
save the world by using less and less paper. Or could it be giving us
less but charging the same? No, that’s not a nice thing to say at this
festive time of year is it?
Hillary on a more sober note, Linda, an English lady living in the same
Mansion as myself decided she would not send Christmas cards or send her
family gifts this Christmas. Instead she wanted to visit the local blind
school here in Chiang Mai. We went together and both came away in tears,
promising to get the school two 56 kilo bags of rice which they needed.
Those of us who can see are so lucky, this is not a pedestrian friendly
city Hillary and for blind people as you would know, impossible to walk
I wished I could speak perfect Thai to speak with the children, as I’m
sure some would love to learn English. If there’s any foreigners here in
Chiang Mai who can speak Thai they would be so welcome at the blind
school, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] Thanks
again for your column, Hillary.
PS. I liken that new toilet tissue to be on a par with what is called
‘Ultra Fine’ in sandpaper terms.
Love and Good Wishes to You All.
Aren’t you the sweetest thing, but it is so heartening to hear of people
actually ‘giving’ of themselves and their time during the festive
season, which is supposed to be the time of goodwill. Having
corresponded with Delboy for many years, I can vouch for his good
intentions, and blind children anywhere deserve the best we can give
them, to compensate for the loss of their sight.
by Harry Flashman
Did you retire at the end of 2009?
you retire at the end of 2009 and find you are bored already?
And this is just the second week in 2010! It’s going to be a
long year as one of the quickest ways to get old is to retire
and have nothing to do. There is a limit to how many times you
can sit on the beach, or play golf. No matter how much of a
beach fanatic you are, or an avid golfer, there can certainly be
too much of a good thing. This is why I ask you to consider
As one gets older, physical activity is important - just getting
out of the house or condo is an enjoyment in itself. This is
where photography is so good. Give yourself a small photo
project and out you go and illustrate it.
Photography is also an ideal pastime for our seniors, because it
is something that can be picked up and put down at will, it is
not too physically demanding, and modern cameras can assist in
the areas where age has taken some toll. And the end result is
something that can give you great joy, be that award winning
sunsets or just pictures of the grandchildren.
To play golf you need golf clubs. To play photography you need a
camera. Get one with autofocus (AF). There are many reasons for
this, but since sharp focus is necessary for a good final print,
let the camera do it for you, when sharpness in vision is
something that becomes very problematical as you get older.
Provided you can point the camera in the right direction, the
camera will do the rest.
Most AF ones are a little more expensive, and work by moving the
lens in and out electronically to focus on the subject in the
middle of the viewfinder, just as if you were doing it yourself.
They do this quickly and accurately and will usually give an
audible ‘beep’, or a green light in the viewfinder to let you
know the focus has been set. Do not be afraid to try the new
advanced cameras, they make life easier, so just use them to
Another problem often associated with aging is stiffening of the
fingers. This would make it difficult to thread the film into
the take-up spool. Forget that old technology! A digital camera
does away with film and any of the problems associated with it.
Nothing could be simpler or more fool proof.
Zoom lenses also save you having to go the distance. Is it just
too much of a hassle these days to walk up to distant objects to
get close-up details? Then a zoom lens will do it for you. With
a zoom lens it is no problem at all to get a close-up, a wide
angle and a distant shot from the same camera position. Maybe an
autofocus digital compact camera with an inbuilt zoom lens is
just the camera for you. Just push a button to make the zoom
bring the subject closer or farther away.
As we get older, we are also more prone to the shakes. Today’s
digital cameras can even compensate for the tremor, with
anti-shake technology. This makes photography for seniors even
Today’s camera manufacturers have taken the fears out of flash
too. Most new cameras have their own in-built flash which comes
on when the light levels are too low, will set their own flash
power and give you perfectly lit indoor night shots every time.
So there you have it, retirees. There are cameras available now
which can get you into photography! If you once had the
‘photographic eye’, then that ability is still there. All you
have to do is get the equipment to let you use and enjoy it
again. Look for suitable AF digital compacts with built in zoom,
anti-shake technology and auto flash.
Pricewise you are looking at spending something around B.
10,000. There are plenty of choices in the marketplace.
Something from the major brands such as Nikon, Canon, Olympus. A
hint to the family around birthday should suffice.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.
The New East or the Old West?
Some readers have asked me for
my thoughts on equities for next year and how things will pan out. Without
reverting to my usual realism of caution, caution, caution, it is an interesting
question. To use the dictum of Scott Campbell and Martin Gray at Miton Asset
Management, the most important thing is the allocation of assets is a lot more
important than the fund you have selected (see graph 1).
However, where to start? Emerging Markets or Developed Markets? Naturally, I am
not just talking about Asia here but also South America and elsewhere. Likewise,
Japan is with the old, developed countries when doing any comparison like this.
Which will do better than the other and when will we start to see the
Let’s look at the recent
history of both. Over the last ten years the Emerging Markets have done well.
This is especially true if you compare 2008 and 2009 until the end of October.
If you had invested in the Emerging Markets then you would be in profit. If you
had invested in the S&P 500 you would be still carrying a double digit loss.
As one UBS strategist, Jon Andersen, put it recently, “Not even the worst
economic crisis in the postwar era has been able to derail [the emerging
As anyone who wants to cover their backside will tell you, past performance does
not mean future gain. However, it does at least give an indication of how funds
should perform and what the fund manager is looking for when it comes to
selecting what he wants. As well as the very practical ideas of Miton, the first
thing a good manager will do is look at a company balance sheet. Speaking
basically, this will immediately show what is owned and what is owed. It gives a
good indication of what the finances of a company look like.
Obviously, if a company has a lot of assets and does not owe much then it should
be able to withstand any economic downturns better than one that does not own
much and carries much debt. Most of all if a company needs to borrow then it
should be avoided if at all possible. As Martin Whitman has said, “Even the
strongest, best-quality issuers can be brought down, or almost brought down, if
they continually have to refinance.” Many people came croppers last year having
invested in companies who were in exactly this position. What has all of this to
do with developed and developing markets? Well, a balance sheet is also
important when it comes to looking at a country’s finances.
Believe it or not, the health of a nation’s balance sheet is more than a tad
important too. If a country is in the pooh with regards to debt then it usually
does not grow as much or as reliably as one with a healthy balance sheet.
Anderson has actually designed a graph that shows this. If a country has high
debt levels and deficits then it will earn a high ‘stress’ index score. Having
done this he then plotted the index (inverted) against GDP growth which is a
rough measure of economic growth.
Unsurprisingly, there is a close connection between the two (see graph 2):
What this implies is that if the emerging market countries have good, strong
balance sheets then they grow at a better rate than when they have weak ones.
The last time the emerging market sector had such a good, steady long run was
way back in the sixties and seventies when they all grew at over 5% per annum.
It is not a coincidence that their balance sheets were also in good nick.
Because of this the emerging markets were reasonably healthy enough to survive
the oil crisis of the mid-seventies without too much trouble and investors in
this sector did rather well whereas those who had anything in the developed
world were hit with the deep depression of the time.
According to Anderson, “Between 1965-1980 the dollar-adjusted return on nascent
equity markets in Mexico, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brazil, South Africa and other
lower-income nations ran into the hundreds of percent - while indexes in the US
and Europe were essentially flat over the same 15-year period.”
It must be emphasized though, like all cyclical events, all of these things go
up and down like a lift. Just look what happened to the emerging markets after
the recession of the early 1980’s. Many countries had inflation over one hundred
percent and some of the currencies had their value cut in half. Also, as you can
see from the graph, the balance sheets did not do too well either.
Investing into many of the Emerging Markets did not bring in massive returns in
the last decade either. Obviously some countries did better than others.
However, if you had invested USD100 in a general emerging market fund in 1990
then you would have got USD100 back at the turn of the century. It is only since
then that the Emerging Markets have got their act together, cleared the massive
debts and have been on an upward swing ever since. Needless to say, this will
not last but, for the moment, Emerging Markets are doing well and should
continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Anderson has figured out that, “All the preconditions are in place for a
protracted period of strong economic growth.” He believes this will be at least
5%+ which knock the growth rates of the western world into a cocked hat.
Actually, the growth rates of the Emerging Markets are already there for
everyone to see. This graph shows the industrial production of emerging Asia
compared to the United States (see graph 3).
Despite what happened last year it looks as though Asia is doing well. From a
production point of view, it dispels any theories about Asia not being able to
de-couple from the western power-houses.
The chief economist at Nomura Research, Richard Koo, has it right when he says
that the western world economies are suffering from a “balance sheet recession”.
Basically, they have too much debt which means that they have to concentrate on
paying this off rather than make an actual profit. This repayment is going to
take years, if not decades, to pay off and, in a domino type effect, will
inhibit growth and production.
Therefore, if I had to look at one point of the compass, I would counter the
words of Horace Greeley and John Soule and say, “Go East, young man”
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 Sam Oglesby
Chiang Mai, Then and Now
(This week’s column is by an
American writer whose memoir, “Postcards from the Past - Portraits of People
and Places” contains a chapter on Thailand.)
Forty years ago I stood on a hill overlooking Chiang Mai. It was late
afternoon and the final glimmers of the setting sun caught the gold on a
wat’s spire in the green, distant valley. A gentle breeze caressed my cheek
and a temple bell tinkled from a nearby monastery. I turned to my companion,
a young farang aid worker who was a colleague, and murmured, “It’s all so
perfect. There’s no place else I’d rather be!” He looked at me, smiled and
shocked me with his reply: “Get out of here before it’s too late!”, he
said. When I asked him to elaborate on this cryptic advice, he shook his
head and laughed, saying “You’ll find out soon enough what I mean!”
In those days I was young and idealistic and Chiang Mai was still a small
town, really a big village. I still remember the most newsworthy event of
that now distant time - the installation of Chiang Mai’s FIRST traffic
light. Progress and growth were in the air and I found it exciting to be a
part of it. I was engaged in a number of projects that bore fruit literally
and figuratively over the years as northern Thailand’s agricultural
productivity increased by leaps and bounds. In retrospect, this was a
simpler time when easy solutions to small-ish problems brought quick results
that made almost everybody happy.
Fast forward four decades to a more complex age. I find myself in Chiang
Mai once again as we enter the second decade of this still new millennium.
This time I’m here not to “do good”, but to have fun. This visit is for
relaxing, not for changing the world. I have mellowed and put a lot of
mileage under my belt but I still reflect on what my colleague said to me on
the mountaintop way back when about “getting out before it’s too late.” I
think what he was trying to tell me was: as foreigners we may come to love
Thailand - most certainly that will happen; we may live here for years and
years; we may become fluent Thai speakers; we may even marry a local person
and feel we have integrated perfectly into Thai society. But we must always
remember that we are guests and that there are “rules” to follow, rules that
mostly have to do with respect. Otherwise, if we ignore these rules, we
foreigners will become victims of frustration and disappointment.
As “culturized” as we may think we are, our outlook will always remain
somewhat foreign. While that might not be a bad thing - fresh perspectives
are often what is needed to solve knotty problems - for our own good and the
benefit of this society which is hosting us, we musty tread lightly
and cautiously, spreading our pearls of wisdom and our endeavors to make
improvements in such a way that takes into account that there is - or should
always be - a Thai way to solve Thai problems.
It is somewhat ironic that many of us come here to the Land of Smiles drawn
by its beauty and charm, its good value for our money and the ease, grace
and efficiency with which things get done and then we often start
complaining about one thing or another. Chalk it up to human nature - once
the bloom is off the rose and the honeymoon has run its course, we no longer
see the glass half full, but start viewing it as half empty. We have several
choices at this juncture: going back to where we came from; grinning and
bearing - and hopefully still continuing to enjoy - the reality that is
Chiang Mai or ? How shall I describe it? Trying to make a difference in a
way that is practical, culturally respectful and, hopefully, innovative.
Having delivered what risks becoming a boring lecture, I will turn to
one problem in Chiang Mai that, to me, cries out for urgent attention: an
out-of-control traffic situation that seems to be teetering on the brink of
disaster. As part of an alarming trend towards environmental degradation
that encompasses a host of problems from agricultural fires to unregulated
burning of trash, the present crisis of vehicular congestion and exhaust
emission must be addressed by creating a reliable, cost effective public
As Thailand’s second largest city, Chiang Mai has NONE of the needed,
reliable elements that are present in Bangkok to move people around. The
capital is served by metered taxis, a sky train, a subway and a
comprehensive, well-run bus system, not to mention river taxis. Chiang Mai,
on the other hand, depends largely on the operation of the red-minivans or
“song teows” whose rapidly increasing number is threatening grid lock and
dangerous pollution. Let’s put our heads together and mobilize the political
will to find a Thai solution to a looming crisis that is becoming an
environmental disaster and an economic millstone, which will in the medium
and long-term discourage development and the all-important growth of
In the not too-distant future, if things continue on their reckless course
on Chiang Mai’s roads, more people will be saying, “Let’s get out before
it’s too late.” We don’t want that to happen to this beautiful, northern
jewel. I am not suggesting that foreign residents of Chiang Mai should take
the lead or even play a major role in this endeavor. I only offer my opinion
as a foreigner who loves Thailand and who knows that a Thai solution will be
found. Sam Oglesby’s new book, “Encounters: A Memoir - Relationship Journeys
from Around the World” will be published in March 2010. It also contains a
chapter on Thailand. His email is: [email protected]
Many thanks to our guest writer, Sam Oglesby. Chiang Mai Mail encourages
residents and tourists alike to submit letters, articles and opinion pieces
relevant to life in Chiang Mai.
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
A very weird and scary thing happened
as I was watching Paranormal Activity! About 16 minutes after
the movie started on opening day last Thursday, the film caught fire! A
section of the film just burned up, very quickly, and the lights immediately
came up in the cinema. I thought for a brief moment that it was a part of
the show, to make us all think that demons were at work even here, even as
we watch the film. But I was assured that no, it was not planned to burn a
hole in the film at each showing.
Nevertheless, it was quite unsettling, especially since I have heard that
spooky things have happened to people who watch the film (like what happened
to Director Steven Spielberg – see below).
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Paranormal Activity: US, Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – A gfound
footageh film, in the line of The Blair Witch Project. In other
words, grealh film footage foundafter those who shot it are no
longer around to explain it. Here, a suburban couple films some nighttime
phenomena that are frightening them to death – some demonic presence in
their home is not pleased. Opinions are all over the lot on this one, but
it averages out to ggenerally favorable.h Rated R in the US for
language. I thought it truly creepy and scary.
Maybe therefs more to it than that. Maybe there truly is some paranormal
activity somehow embedded in the film. Steven Spielberg apparently thought
so. Rumor has it that after hearing the acclaim about the 2006 original,
Spielberg took a copy of the film home to see for himself, and while viewing
it his bedroom door locked itself from the inside; he needed a locksmith to
open it! The experience supposedly jarred him so much that he returned the
film to the studio in a garbage bag.
Audiences have been reported to walk out of test screenings claiming it was
too scary to finish watching. So Ifd better say, see it at your own risk!
Bodyguards and Assassins: China, Action/ Drama/ History – A group of
martial artists attempt to protect Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the gFather of Modern
China,h from an assassination attempt at the beginning of the 20th
century. A meticulously-crafted historical movie with careful attention to
detail, and apparently a last hour that is all gut-spilling action. But,
shown here only at Vista in a Thai-dubbed version with no English subtitles.
Avatar: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – From writer/director James
Cameron, a major achievement and a technological breakthrough. Itfs a film
of universal appeal that just about everyone who goes to the movies will
want to see. In English and Na’vi dialogue, with English and Thai subtitles
as needed in the 2D version, but no English subtitles for Nafvi in the 3D
version. The Vista version is 2D and Thai-dubbed only. Reviews: Universal
Sherlock Holmes: US/ UK/ Australia, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – A new take
on the Holmes canon. Ifd say that once you get over the shock of seeing
Sherlock played as an action figure, it isnft all that bad. A bit of the
old Holmes shows through. However, purists will not be amused. Mixed or
As It Happens: Thai, Drama/ Romance – A romantic comedy about a young
man and woman who keep running into each other in various far-off places
around the world. At Airport Plaza only, in Thai only.
The Treasure Hunter: Taiwan, Romance/ Sci-Fi – A story about
time-traveling lovers who end up in Genghis Khan’s Mongolia to search for an
ancient treasure, with Korean pop-star-turned-actor Jay Chou. Fairly
devastating reviews. Thai dubbed only, with no English subtitles.
Did You Hear About the Morgans?: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – Hugh Grant
and Sarah Jessica Parker play an estranged New York couple whisked into the
witness protection program and sent to Wyoming. Nothing much happens.
Generally unfavorable reviews.
The Storm Warriors: Hong Kong, Action/ Fantasy – A martial arts film by
the twins Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang. Style is truly great; substance
is questionable. Unfortunately, in a Thai-dubbed version only, no English
subtitles. But I loved the visuals, and the fantasy.
32 Tan-Wah: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Yet another Thai grom/com, h this
one taking place on the 32nd of December. A young man with amnesia has
forgotten which of his three girlfriends he truly loves.
Scheduled for January 14
Mulan: US/ China, Adventure/ Drama/ Romance – Based on the
Chinese folk heroine Hua Mulan. When her country is threatened by invaders,
a young girl defends her father by sneaking away from home and dressing up
as a man to join an all-male army where she eventually assumes a
historically critical role in defending her nation in a time of war.
Kru Bann-Nok / To Sir With Love: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – The life of a
volunteer teacher determined to teach children in the back-country.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: By Eric Danell, Dok mai Garden
My article on the Mexican
sunflower, which can be read on Chiang Mai Mail’s website (No 51, 2009),
sparked four readers to send me comments. In my column I explained that the
obliteration of a subtle Thai ecosystem composed of 2200 species, has been
transformed into a tourist attraction. Innocent tourists are transported to
mountainsides in Mae Hong Son where the mighty forest was once situated, now
covered by the yellow weed called Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia,
bua tong). One reader remarked that this has happened in England too, where
today’s innocent citizens and tourists admire unproductive moorlands, which
once were covered by forests. A reader also explained that uneducated
politicians and people in Queensland (Australia) used to refer to their
rainforests as “scrublands”, in order to cash in money for clear cuts.
Fortunately this primitive behaviour has been changed. Not only did it save
biodiversity, but also increased Queensland’s annual tourism income, much
more than a single clear cut. As a result of visiting tourists, local people
learned to appreciate their forests, even feeling pride that tourists cross
the oceans to come and see their unique forests. Local people replaced the
word “scrub” with “rainforest”. People with “rainforest” on their properties
increased the value.
Unique original landscapes are much more economically valuable than resort
style gardens which anybody can make. Two readers suggest that we should try
to promote the same pride here in Chiang Mai. Properties holding “Monsoon
forest” should become the most valuable properties. Here we need the help of
the real-estate dealers. It might be hard to define a monsoon forest, but a
5 rai property encompassing at least 10 species of indigenous trees is a
good start. People frequently ask me how they can promote birds, butterflies
and other wildlife, and the best answer is “diversity of indigenous plants”
and “shrub”, in contrast to a “tidy” garden with no leaves on the ground or
hiding places for lizards and birds. Everybody can help in restoring
Thailand to its former glory! [email protected]
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
Here is a hand from the 2009 Gold Cup semifinal in Scotland, as reported by
Andrew Robson. This was a team contest, using IMP scoring, so the important
thing is to make your contract. Overtricks are of little importance. I found
it instructive because it illustrates the value of keeping your options open
when planning the play of a hand. South dealt and NS were vulnerable.
10 S: J876
K1052 H: Q3
AQ83 D: J7542
10854 C: K3
South West North East
2S P 4S All
South opened with a weak two spade bid,
which North raised to four. Imagine you are sitting South. At both tables,
West led a club to dummy’s jack and East’s king, followed by a club
continuation to dummy’s ace. Without looking at the EW hands, decide what
you would play from dummy for the next trick.
At one table, declarer decided to pull trumps and started off by playing the
ace and queen of spades. When neither trumps nor clubs split, the contract
was doomed, losing two clubs (the king and ten), a trump and the ace of
diamonds. Poor splits seem rather likely in view of South’s distributional
hand and thus the declarer at the second table decided on a more flexible
plan, keeping open the possibility of running dummy’s long suit, hearts, or
making the contract with a cross-ruff. He played the ace of hearts and
ruffed a heart, noting the fall of the queen. This was followed by a trump
to the ace and a third heart, ruffed low while East discarded a diamond.
Next came declarer’s singleton diamond. West played the ace and led back
another diamond. Dummy won the king and led a fourth heart, ruffed low since
declarer knew West had to follow. Declarer had scored seven of the nine
tricks played so far, and the last four cards in each hand were as below,
with the lead in declarer’s hand.
- S: J87
- H: -
Q8 D: J
108 C: -
East now has more trumps than declarer,
but is helpless to stop declarer scoring three more tricks (and making the
contract) with a cross-ruff. Declarer led a club and ruffed it on board,
then led a diamond back to ruff with the nine of spades. Finally he scored
the spade king. Flexibility won—a premature drawing of trumps would have
restricted the options to only losing ones!
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: