Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Care for Dogs

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

DVD of the Week

Let's Go To The Movies

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

Bridge in Paradise

MAIL OPINION

Life in Chiang Mai

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Rectal bleeding

A very nice lady came and saw me at the hospital last week. “I just wanted to thank you for saving my husband’s life,” she said. I was somewhat taken aback at this, but she went on to say she had read one of my articles on rectal bleeding, saw how this described her husband’s situation, and brought him in to see our gastroenterologists, who confirmed her fears. Fortunately it was not too late, and her husband recovered. So, as thanks to the lady and her husband, whose name I do not know, I am repeating the substance of that article.
The rectum is the last portion of the large bowel that ends just before the anus. Bleeding from this area can be a herald sign of a mild or life-threatening importance, which is why all episodes of rectal bleeding must be investigated.
Depending upon how high up in the gastro-intestinal tract is the cause of the bleeding, it may be seen as black, tarry stools, maroon stools; bright red blood on or in the stool, blood on the toilet tissue, or blood staining the water in the toilet bowl bright red. Treatment can range from relief of symptoms and let Mother Nature do the rest, to antibiotics, blood transfusion, or even surgery. It all depends on the cause.
There are many potential causes, including Hemorrhoids (piles) which are swollen rectal veins in the anal and rectal area. They can cause burning, painful discomfort, as well as bleeding. External hemorrhoids are small swellings that are easy to see and quite painful; however, internal hemorrhoids are usually painless. A feeling of incomplete emptying may be noted with bowel movements. Treatment focuses on relieving these symptoms with the use of stool bulking agents and softeners, and if necessary, removal of the bleeding piles.
Rectal fissure is another. This is a tear in the lining of the rectum caused by the passage of hard stools, which can lead to mild rectal bleeding of bright red blood. Exposed nerves and vessels result in moderate to severe pain.
Diverticulosis, those little pockets on the bowel wall, can also bleed. The stools are dark red or maroon. Pain is usually absent but surgery is required in up to 25 percent of these patients.
Bloody diarrhea is often seen in Bacterial dysentery, which we have all had to a greater or lesser degree. Responsible organisms include Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, and Clostridium difficile. A most unsavory bunch! The treatment depends upon the organism, but generally intravenous fluid replacement and an anti-spasmodic and broad spectrum antibiotic will bring this under control.
Another common cause of rectal bleeding is inflammatory bowel disease especially in young adults - typically those younger than 50 years of age. Bleeding occurs in small to moderate amounts of bright red blood in the rectum, usually mixed in with stool and mucus. Associated symptoms include fever and abdominal cramps. This condition generally settles with steroids.
Of course, the one that everyone worries about is bowel cancer. We lump these together under the general heading of Tumors and Polyps. Polyps bulge out from the lining of the colon. Bleeding occurs when large polyps develop. They can be hereditary, and are usually harmless, but some types can be precancerous.
Both benign and malignant tumors are frequently found in the colon and rectum. Those people older than 50 years are most affected; however, tumors can be found in younger people. It should also be noted that less than 20 percent of people with tumor or polyps will have rectal bleeding. However, when bleeding does occur, it is usually slow, chronic, and minimal. Diagnosis requires careful evaluation with colonoscopy.
Rectal bleeding from a traumatic cause is always a critical concern. Rectal damage from a gunshot wound or foreign body insertion can result in extensive infection or rapid and fatal blood loss.
And yes, there’s more! A common source of bleeding is hemorrhage from the stomach or duodenum. This can occur after someone has swallowed a foreign body that causes injury to the stomach lining or bleeding stomach ulcers.
The list does go on, but these conditions are rare. However, the message is that rectal bleeding must always be investigated.

 

Care for Dogs: By Ana Gracey

Dog of the Week

Singtoo needs a loving home

Introducing Singtoo. I have a sad tale to tell…my owner got angry with me one day for no good reason and he hit me so hard that he fractured my head and I lost my right eye.
Though I’m certainly better off in the shelter, after all I’ve been through I think I deserve kind and caring owners for the rest of my life. I am a 3-4 year otherwise healthy sterilised male with lots of love to give to the right people. Please consider me if you want a gentle, calm and appreciative companion for you and your family. Contact Care for Dogs, English (08 47 52 52 55) Thai (08 69 13 87 01) or e-mail: contact @carefordogs.org to make an appointment to visit the shelter and meet Singtoo or any of the many other dogs waiting for you. www.carefordogs.org


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I can’t believe it’s 2010 already. It seems like it’s just 2001, because that’s when I met my sweetheart, and even though you don’t like it, I found her in a bar and we’re still together nine years later. We got married after a couple of years of living together, because I wanted her to get anything here after I die. I’ve taken everything out of the UK, where my first family lives. They’ve never done anything for me over the years, so I’m quite sure I’m not leaving them anything now. My Thai wife looks after me so well, it’s the least I can do is to look after her. Before I go to sleep she makes sure I’ve got water, gives me a back massage and sits there till I fall asleep. In the morning she’s already got the breakfast going before I get up. What western woman would do all that? None. I know there’s a risk with girls from the bar business, but I’ve got no complaints with mine. She wasn’t the best looking one, but inside she’s a little diamond.
Horace

Dear Horace,
I am so glad you are a Happy Horace, and you are correct in that there are some little diamonds that can be found behind the bar. Unfortunately there’s a few cubic zirconias as well, so you have to be careful, which you were, waiting a couple of years before you got married. I cannot really comment on your family in the UK, Petal. They probably felt that you deserted them, while you think they’ve done nothing for you. Might be six of one and half a dozen of the other, I think. Whatever, they are still your family and you should keep in touch if nothing else. Enjoy your new life with your new wife, and do thank the spirits for the lucky choice.


Dear Hillary,
Most days I walk up from my office for lunch and go to the 7-Eleven and I pass a couple of little dress shops on the way. There’s a girl in one of them that I have been speaking to, and she seems always happy to talk. I would like to see if this can go any further, but I don’t know what you should do with a Thai girl, especially one who isn’t from the bars. What’s the next move, Hillary?
Shy Sam

Dear Shy Sam,
You really are a wimpy willy aren’t you? You work in an office, she works in the dress shop and you’re on chatting terms. And you have to ask me what’s next? I’ll tell you what’s next you shrinking violet. You say, “I’m going to get some lunch, would you like me to bring you back a sandwich?” If she says yes, then you go and bring her back a sandwich - and use your own money, that’s a good little Petal, don’t ask her for the 22 baht. OK? After a few days like that, you ask her if she’d like to have a meal with you when she finishes work. Be prepared for the fact that dress shops can stay open fairly late, which could be past your bedtime. Do you get the message now? Or do I have to order your sandwiches as well? (What is wrong with the young men of today? No wonder I can get crabby some days.)


Dear Hillary,
Two years ago I met a bar girl who was from Esarn. She was intelligent and very proud of her family - did not like her work - but as many do, did it for survival reasons. We got along well together, and even though I had to go back home, we discussed her leaving the bar if I helped her family financially. She went back to her village two months after I met her and has now her pride back and works in a simple family business and earns less than 150 baht a day. I send her help every month and visit her village three times a year - and when I visit I am treated like a family member by all her family. We intend to get married in a year’s time and yes you have got to provide for the one you love no matter where you live in the world, but the rewards in Thailand are well worth it.
Bill from UK

Dear Bill from UK,
Hillary does print these success stories, but I have to wait till people send them in, but the successful ones are people who are happy in their relationship and do not need advice from an ‘agony aunt’ column like this one, so this is why you do not read them so often. Your point is well taken and should be understood by everyone who is contemplating entering a relationship anywhere in the world. Love (alone) does not pay the bills. There is an obligation to provide and I am very pleased to see that you have accepted that, and that it is working out for you, but remember too that one couple is not every couple, as you will have found if you read this column each week.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Giving the Golden Glow to your portraits

Photographs taken in the late afternoon are notable for the warm golden glow that the afternoon light gives to the subjects. People are positively ‘glowing’ with health and vitality. Sickeningly brimming full of goodness, and golden hues just radiating from their every pore. Well, I am sorry to tell you, but like so many things in photography, it is a fraud! A photographic ‘trick’ but one that you can use to your own advantage. A trick that will cost you about 100 baht for the equipment and three minutes to master! Interested?
However, all photographic tricks still have to conform to the basic rules of physics, in particular the rules of light. Light travels in straight lines and will bounce off any non-translucent object. And that, quite simply, is the scientific basis to this trick.

Commercial gold reflector.

The ‘golden glow’ that comes from the subject in the photo is really just reflected golden light, bounced back on to the subject. Portrait shots benefit from this warm healthy look and when you use the technique properly, the subjects will look many years younger because you can get rid of saggy chins quicker than a plastic surgeon can say, “Get your wallet out!”
Now in the photographic sense, the natural golden glow comes in the late afternoon, with the sun getting low on the horizon, as I mentioned at the outset. There are good scientific reasons why this is so, but here is not the place to discuss them. Just accept the fact that late afternoon sun is the “warm” time. Take pictures at this time of day and you will get that golden glow - but our photographic trick will allow you to get that warm golden glow at any time of day - and control it as well, something you cannot do so easily with the sun as your light source!
What you have to do is build a light reflector that reflects that warm color. Go to the newsagent and get some gold foil paper. The sort of wrapping paper you use for wedding gifts. It may be embossed or patterned, and in fact it is better if it is, but must be gold in color. Glue the gold paper on to a sheet of cardboard or polystyrene sheet approximately one meter square. You do not have to be deathly accurate or neat. If the surface gets a little ‘scrunched up’ that is fine too. Your capital outlay is probably around 50-100 baht. Not bad, so far!
Now you have a reflector, which if you play with it near a window for example, will shine “gold” on to any subject. You are now ready to impart that golden glow.
The best photos for this exercise are people shots taken outdoors, with the sun behind the subject. This we call ‘back lit’. You will find that the subject’s hair becomes very bright around the edges, almost like a ‘halo’ effect.
Now for the addition of the golden glow. To do this, you position your reflector to shine some sunlight back towards the subject. Prop the reflector in the best position to give the degree of golden glow you want (I generally just prop it up with the camera bag, or you can get an assistant to hold it for you) and look through the viewfinder. See what a difference this makes? The ugly chin shadow has gone as the light is coming upwards, and the subject now looks brilliantly glowing and healthy. The one meter square reflector will also impart catchlights to eyes to make them sparkle as well. The end photo has shiny hair, bright eyes and a golden complexion radiating warmth. A fabulous picture.
Now, the downside! It is more difficult to get the correct exposure setting in the backlit situation. If your camera has a Backlight button, then use it. If not, walk in close to the subject so that the persons face fills the frame, and take your exposure reading from there. Use the exposure lock, or just memorize the readings and put them in on manual mode. It is worth it. Try bracketing if you are still unsure.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

It’s a lot of old Bull…

If you look from afar things do not look too bad when it comes to equities. The Dow Jones 30 (DJ) has gone from the nadir of 6,500 earlier this year in March to over 10,000. People are saying the worst is over and 2010 will be a much better year. However, if you look more closely then things are not as rosy as they seem.
As we all know, nothing goes up or down forever. In a normal series of events when the equity markets are in the early stages of an upward surge then there is a good range and variety of stocks that lead the way. These are usually led by companies which investors hope will be first to respond to any positive trends.
In fairness, this is exactly what happened a few months ago. However, if you look at the companies which were the first to respond then you will see that these gainers are not surging ahead as they did before. This is definitely a sign that says the present bull market is getting old, especially when some of these large companies are energy and financials.
Even though the S&P and DJ have kept on an upward trend (at the time of writing in mid-December), the indices which govern SME companies, such as the Russell 5000, have not managed to do this and so remain below the highs of October. It is not just energy and financials but also things like technology that are not doing as well as they did.
Equities that rely on good, strong economic growth are not as popular as before and potential investors now look to healthcare and telecommunications as they are thought to be less volatile. This, in itself, is a visible sign that the confidence of earlier this year no longer abounds. Proof of this lies in the fact that since mid-October over USD14 billion has been taken out of American stocks and funds.
It is not just individuals who are worried, a lot of the American pension funds are easing themselves out of equities. This does then beg the question as to what is keeping the DJ etc so high. Well the easy answer, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out recently is, “Fast-money investors such as hedge funds and proprietary trading desks of big brokerage firms.” Despite this though the volume of trading has dropped quite dramatically which indicates people are not as interested in equities as they used to be. If you look at the trading on the New York Stock Exchange it can be seen the average has been over 5.5 billion a day. This has now dropped to about 4.7 billion.
The Dow Jones has gone up by nearly 60% since early March but these recent figures show the markets are not as attractive as they once were. Now this could be because it is following the statement of above, i.e., nothing goes up or down forever. However, this is ignoring a more fundamental situation. People have been investing like crazy since the markets turned in the hope there would be a real improvement in the world economy next year. As 1st January approached, these investors were doubting if business can actually bring in the forecasts being given at the moment. Miller Tabak analyst, Phil Roth says, “If people are disappointed, the market could get blasted.”
The real test was in late December and early January. If the money taken out recently comes back in then this is a good indication there is still life in the old Bull yet. For example, Ned Davis Research (NDR) is still recommending to its clients they invest 70% in equities and the remainder in bonds and cash. What is interesting though is that it is no longer advising people to buy SMEs. This is always an early sign of caution. Even more eye catching is that the company has also told its customers to take hedges “such as option contracts” which can provide a cushion against any quick drops in market values.
One analyst from NDR, Ed Clissold, opined, “The tailwinds from the economic bottom are still blowing fairly hard…we are going to be on alert. We could still get a stiff correction or even a bear market.”
Without doubt, NDR is worried about the number of shares now in the marketplace. The older a bull market gets, the more smaller stocks start to go down. Inevitably larger ones then follow. Concept Capital agrees there is a problem. This company uses a system which tracks the percentage of S&P500 stocks that go up quicker than the index itself. This is usually high when the market is going well. However, it slows down when it is not. It is not nearly as fast now as it was earlier this year.
There is one small curve ball in all of this - the US Federal Reserve. The real question that needs answering is how much longer is it going to keep printing money 24/7? As long as it continues to keep buying bonds and maintaining low interest rates then some of this money will find its way into stocks and so drive them higher. This is basically keeping the markets higher than they should be.
As Miller Tabak’s Roth points out, “The data tell you that we are late in the bull market.” Unfortunately, all of this points to a massive correction in the world markets and stock markets taking a dive. This is not the end of the world if you have positioned your portfolio properly and have diversified your investments across all asset classes. In fact you could end up taking advantage of a large downturn…and that is not a load of old bull.

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]


DVD of the Week: By Mark Whitman

Lorna’s Silence (2009)

Lorna is waiting for a divorce from her drug addicted husband (or his murder) in order to marry a Russian as part of a marriage for immigration scam. With the money she will receive she hopes to open a coffee bar and escape the drudgery of her job and life. But events seemingly conspire to undermine her plans.
The arrival of a new film from Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (invariably premiered at the May Cannes Film Festival) is cause for celebration. Their works are
compassionate, rigorously made and grow in the mind long after any actual viewing. They have the rare and enviable distinction of having received the main prize at Cannes – the Palme d’Or – on two consecutive years and this new film won the “Best Screenplay’ prize for 2009.These are awards which reflect the best films of any year: not to be confused with hyped and paid for (indirectly, through promotion and massive advertising with dire results) ‘wins’ at such events as the Golden Globes or Oscars.
This, the sixteenth collaboration by the Belgian brothers, is one of their most assured works, though the impact is less immediate than that of earlier masterworks such as The Son, Rosetta, The Child and The Promise. Like those it is a film where small incidents and events pile one upon the other like pieces of a jigsaw. The final effect as the last piece is put into place is devastating. The film plays like a thriller, tense, full of twists and mysteries and then brought to a conclusion.
The central theme of a young woman sucked into a whirlpool of destruction by external forces - financial, emotional, criminal – echoes two of Bresson’s masterpieces, Mouchette and L’Argent where the innocent protagonists are unable, perhaps unwilling, to resist the evil surrounding them. And yet the final moments that we observe are the result of freedom and independence. At this point the film makers use music for the first time – Beethoven played by Brendel – to magically signify the escape made, with an echo of the effect of the Monteverdi at the climax of Mouchette.
Lorna’s affection for her dependent husband, the mundane work she does sap her will as does the man she thinks she loves and contemplates marrying after the scam is complete. She is at the mercy of others, with only attractiveness and strength of character to sustain her. The Dardenne’ brothers are the least bombastic of current directors. They conform to Bresson’s dictum; ‘Not beautiful images but necessary ones’. (Eat your heart out James Cameron)
Their films head towards an inexorable and sometimes shattering, yet always positive, conclusions.
All are beautifully shot, albeit within modest settings. The acting is controlled and every character lovingly cast, though Arta Dobroshi as Lorna dominates the action. If you enjoy films which touch both heart and mind and enrich your understanding of the human condition then this (and their earlier films) is for you. M.W.
Available to buy commercially (720 baht via Amazon) or from the DVD Movie and Music shop, 289 Suthep Road – opposite CMU Arts Centre. Open daily from 9a.m. Tel: 053 808 084.


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

The Academy Awards will be shown live on True Visions on Monday, March 8, at 8 am Thai time, on the E! Channel (53).  Silver or Platinum package only.
You can watch a replayed and shortened version on a big screen at the RatiLanna Riverside Spa Resort, at 6:30 pm on March 8 as a benefit for Care for Dogs Foundation.  Welcome cocktails, soft drinks, and a buffet are included in the 750 baht price of the ticket, with all proceeds going to the Foundation.  For information check the foundation’s website.

Now playing in Chiang Mai

The Wolfman:
UK/ US, Horror/ Thriller – An excellent spare, dark, and brooding gothic version of the famous tale, told with great style and much blood.  For those who like gothic straight-up horror and blood, this is a welcome new and classic $85 million remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney movie.  Starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.  Rated R in the US for bloody horror violence and gore.  Vista also has a Thai-dubbed version.  Mixed or average reviews.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief:
Canada/ US, Fantasy/ Comedy – The Mount Olympus gods are not happy:  Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and high school student Percy Jackson is the prime suspect in this sprawling and entertaining teen adventure.  As Percy finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, he and his two close friends embark on an adventure to catch the true lightning thief, and return the lightning to Zeus.  Logan Lerman as Percy is an excellent new teenaged hero like Harry Potter, but for me a lot more interesting and with a lot more charisma; a sequel is already announced for next year.  There’s one short additional scene during the closing credits.  Also in an all-digital version (but not 3D) at Airport Plaza.  Mixed or average reviews.
Confucius / Kong Zi:
China, Biography/ Drama – Set in 6th Century BC, this is the life story of the Chinese thinker and philosopher, from his days as a court official through battles and political intrigues, to his old age as a disillusioned sage.  But China has adopted the Hollywood way of pumping up the romantic and action-related angles of the man, even casting an action hero (Chow Yun-Fat) as the man himself, and portraying him as romantically attracted to a concubine.  Here as in most places in Thailand it’s in a Thai-dubbed version without English subtitles.
From Paris with Love:
France, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – An intelligence operative working in the office of the US Ambassador in France (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) takes on more than he bargained for when he partners with a wisecracking, fast-shooting, high-ranking US agent (a bald John Travolta) who’s been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack.  Stylish, fast-moving, exciting, with a wild performance by Travolta.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence throughout, drug content, pervasive language, and brief sexuality.  Mixed or average reviews.
Valentine’s Day:
US, Comedy/ Romance – Intertwining couples and singles in Los Angeles break-up and make-up based on the pressures and expectations of Valentine’s Day.  With a star-studded cast.  Generally unfavorable reviews.
My Valentine
: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A girl who hates Valentine’s Day meets three young men, each determined to make her his Valentine.  Slightly less than the usual Thai rom/com, with a mixture of cute young Thais and older TV comedians.
Avatar:
US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Nine Oscar nominations, including best picture and director.  The highest grossing film in the world ever, bypassing the director’s own Titanic.  It’s a very good film and a major technological breakthrough, plus it’s exciting and beautiful, and has received near-universal rave reviews from critics and fans.  At Airport Plaza the 2D version has departed, and the 3D version remains, with very few showings.  It’s in English and Na’vi dialogue (the completely new language created by linguists for the natives of the planet Pandora), with Thai subtitles as needed for both languages, but unaccountably no English subtitles for the Na’vi language, only Thai.  No longer showing at Vista.  I imagine that showings will resume when Avatar wins the Oscar. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
 Tai Hong / Die a Violent Death: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – Consists of four short shocking stories of death and horror, exploiting four real news stories, including one tasteless recounting of last year’s deadly blaze at Bangkok’s Santika pub, which is truly shocking – but shock at the incredible insensitivity once again shown by Thai filmmakers. 

Scheduled for February 18

Shutter Island:
US, Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – Director Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, and Max von Sydow in this horror fantasy.  Looks good to me.  It’s 1954, and an up-and-coming US marshal is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient from Boston’s Shutter Island Hospital and before long he wonders whether he hasn’t been brought there as part of a twisted plot by hospital doctors.


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

Avatar

Avatar-3D is the best movie hitherto made. It is exceptionally beautiful, and although the scene is an alien world, it is a realistic illustration of the current biodiversity catastrophe on Earth, and the characters involved. The message of this masterpiece is that we live on a fantastic planet, that idiots destroy it, and that we can make a change. As a former tank commander I do recognise the movie’s cold-hearted colonel from real life, and as an entrepreneur I recognise Avatar’s narrow-minded CEO. As a scientist I was surprised by the extremely careful selection of cultures, life forms and geological formations, seemingly alien, but in fact most of them present on today’s Earth. Ornamental details of African Masai, citations from North-American Indians, and the Yggdrasil tree of Norse religion, the Buddhist worship of all life, sea worms, mushrooms, hornbills, and bioluminescence and Hunanese mountains were present in slightly changed forms.
If you admired what you saw, you also admire Earth, it looks the same, but most people have never seen the few remaining pockets of original nature. As the real decline in biodiversity is gradual, each generation adapts and thinks that today’s crippled world is normal, not understanding the tremendous loss of life forms and beauty. The movie’s solution was a single battle, but in reality ALL environmental problems are due to overpopulation. By battling poverty, superstition and male domination via education, we can reach the admirable situation recently reported from Taiwan and Germany, i.e. an extremely low birth rate. It will take several generations, i.e. a few hundred years, to decrease the human population by 90%, enabling everybody to live like kings in an Avatar world. Until then, gardeners worldwide should create a myriad of Edens, collections of indigenous plants and animals protected from idiots and their pets. A resort garden with its stiff design of man-made plants is in a sense a Matrix program, giving the illusion that a petunia or goldfish is nature, while the reality is that nature, created by a supreme power, is being destroyed by idiots. [email protected]


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Here is a hand from the USA Women’s Trials 2009, as reported by David Greenwood and Andrew Robson. I found it instructive because it illustrates the value of counting your winners. South dealt and EW were vulnerable. Imagine you are sitting South and playing 4S. Here are your hand and dummy: 

          S: AKJ6

          H: AK54

          D: Q86

          C: A8      

S: ?                     S: ?

H: ?                    H: ?

D: ?                    D: ?

C: ?                    C: ?

          S: 1098742

          H: Q

          D: 107

          C: 10974  

West led the nine of diamonds to East’s jack. East continued with the king of diamonds and West shows out. East now leads the ace of diamonds. What do you play from hand? At the table, declarer ruffed with the spade ten, hoping that East had the queen. West overruffed with the queen and led the queen of clubs. Declarer won the ace, pulled trumps and cashed high hearts. However, this still only came to nine tricks, five trumps, three hearts and the ace of clubs. Declarer had to lose a club at the end for down one. So what did you play from hand on the third diamond? The full deal is shown below.

           S: AKJ6

           H: AK54

           D: Q86

           C: A8     

S: Q5                  S: 3

H: J1087632    H: 9

D: 9                    D: AKJ5432

C: QJ3               C: K652

           S: 1098742

           H: Q

           D: 107

           C: 10974   

If declarer counts winners, the contract can be made easily. She has six trump tricks, provided only that West is not void in trumps, three top hearts and the ace of clubs. The important thing is not to throw away one of these trump tricks by being over ruffed. So what do you play at trick three? The answer is to throw a losing club from hand. The defence is now helpless. You win any return (if East continues a fourth round of diamonds you ruff on board), pull trumps, cash the queen of hearts, lead a low trump to get to board and throw your remaining clubs on dummy’s two top hearts. You have your ten winners and game.
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]


MAIL OPINION : by Shana Kongmun, Managing Editor

From the Editor

On a recent train trip South I noticed burning along the side of the train tracks, and, from the smell, more than a fair bit of rubbish included in the pile. It’s difficult to determine if this was private land, public land or something to do with the train but it seemed to be very unnecessary burning since it was a simple low burn, obviously meant only to clear away scrub brush. While not the usual seasonal burning of fields that afflicts the North it is just one more woe to add to the pollution issues the area faces.
Slash and burn agriculture has been around for millennium, with the burn off fertilizing the fields. However, the effects on air quality and people’s health must come into consideration by agriculturists. There have been numerous studies to alternatives to this type of agriculture with suggestions of community forestry management, jungle rubber plantations, shade coffee and farming on degraded grasslands.
However, not only does the seasonal burning continue but the idea of burning as method of land clearing and getting rid of rubbish persists. It’s time, I think, for the local government to start one of the regular education campaigns for which Thailand is so well known. Previous successful education campaigns advocated use of birth control to control the population and, later, the use of condoms to help prevent HIV/AIDS. Perhaps it is time to teach people the dangers of burning in these days of drought, global warming and pollution. To teach people that plastic does not go away by burning it, to start a program to limit plastic bags, to promote the use of biodegradable packaging. It is time that those at the municipal and provincial levels realise this issue needs to be addressed in a serious and proactive manner.
The burning that goes on in the North is a perennial problem and one that the government fails to address year after year. Meanwhile, the problem persists, the pollution gets worse, and our fair city earns a reputation of being smoke filled, smog filled and a place to avoid for months at a time.


Life in Chiang Mai: By Colin Jarvis

The Scariness of the Long Distance Driver

When I first started driving in Thailand I was very scared. If there were rules of the road I could not divine them from the behaviour of the motorists. Traffic lights seemed to be more advisory than compulsory, lane discipline nonexistent and even driving on the left hand side of the road could be disregarded if it was inconvenient.
I remember driving from Chiang Mai to Lampang and taking the on ramp onto a raised expressway. Half way up I was astonished to see an ice cream vendor with his motorcycle and sidecar descending in the opposite direction. I was concerned as I now thought it was possible that I was about to enter the expressway heading in the wrong direction.
At 11 o’clock one morning, near the University, I saw a car turn right out of a side road and speed the wrong way along a dual carriageway and zigzag through a U-turn gap in order to head in the direction he wished to go. He could have turned left and turned back at the next U-turn but this would have meant travelling an extra 100 meters.
Whenever vehicles need to turn into another road they seemed determined to do it in the most dangerous manner. If turning left, the rule appeared to be that there was no need to look out for oncoming traffic as the oncoming traffic would be expecting them. This is probably why, in dual carriageways, everyone seems to drive in the right-hand lane. If turning right the habit was to check the brakes of any vehicles that might be approaching the junction by cutting the corner as tightly as possible.
No entry signs were an invitation rather than an injunction. One way streets were two-way most of the time.
Red traffic lights seemed simply to be warnings that other traffic might be crossing, not an order to stop. This was particularly the case at night when the practice was to ignore the lights completely providing the driver was travelling fast enough.
At night, the other major danger was the number of vehicles without lights. One could often see an unlighted motorcycle ridden by someone wearing black clothing. If the motorcycle did have lights and also a basket in the front, commonly there were so many things in the basket that the headlight was obscured.
Other vehicles that caused me concern were the pickup trucks. The yellow or maroon buses that swerved across the road in order to pick up a passenger. The overloaded vehicle, swaying from side to side, sometimes with a man perched on top, four meters in the air, clinging to the string that held the whole load in place. The happy family sitting in the back of the pickup, surrounded by heavy items such as motorcycles and washing machines, oblivious to the danger of being squashed should the vehicle brake suddenly.
Another horrifying sight was the small motorcycle carrying two adults, three children, a dog and a wardrobe. None of them wearing helmets!
I began to feel that driving in Thailand would be too stressful for me.
If you have driven in Thailand for a while I am sure you have noticed similar scary things. Now that I have become more used to driving in Thailand such things no longer cause me concern. In fact, I think, I prefer to drive in Thailand than in the UK.
The reason is that I believe that most Thai drivers are at least thinking about what they are doing and making judgements about risk. In the UK, drivers are so regimented that they no longer think. U.K. drivers assume it is safe to cross a traffic light if it is green. In Thailand most drivers assume that something might be coming and are ready to take evasive action.
In the UK, late at night, it is not uncommon to find a number of cars waiting at the red light on a pedestrian crossing, even though there is no pedestrian in sight. Surely the sensible thing would be to keep the traffic flow moving and for them to ignore the red light. It would not happen in Thailand.
Drivers in Europe tend to be more aggressive and selfish whilst drivers in Thailand seem to be very cooperative and look out for each other. Whilst it is true that many drivers are foolish and take risks that could easily be avoided, I find that now I am used to driving in Thailand, I prefer the relative freedom on the road rather than the mindless regimentation of the UK. Now that I am aware of the Thai driving style, it no longer scares me, I simply expect the unexpected. Colin Jarvis.