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

Bridge in Paradise


The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Why Muay Thai fighters wear boxer shorts

Our lives are dominated by statistics. Organizations exist which are dedicated to applying statistical research to everything that we do. Even the shape of the bottle that soft drinks come in is fully researched until the majority prefer one particular design and that is then adopted by the manufacturer, and promoted to the public.

Now, statistics is that great pseudo-science where you can “prove” so much by use of applied mathematics. For example, did you know that every child is born within six months of its mother’s birthday? Or even more fantastic, the date of your death will be within six months of your own birthday! That has to be another good reason to stop having birthdays after the age of 50!

Now while that sounds interesting, if you look a little harder you will see that this is just a mathematical ‘truism’ and nothing to do with biology or astrology. If you take any reference birth date, let’s use June 30th for example, then any child born between Jan 1 to June 29 is within six months of its mother’s birthday, as are any children born between July 1 to December 31. In one case it is looking forwards, and in the other it is looking backwards.

If you think that is an abuse of mathematical science, then what about the fact that 99 percent of all people who died traumatic deaths in London last year were all wearing shoes. Does this prove that shoes are the greatest killers of mankind? An absurdity - of course not! Again, this is ‘bending’ the parameters of science. Since about 99 percent of all people in London wear shoes, you can safely predict that 99 percent of those who get skittled on the roads will still be wearing their footwear. (If you wish to statistically look at Bangkok, then substitute flip-flops for shoes.)

Getting closer to home, I read of a study in Thailand on varicose veins, and how tight underpants were dangerous (as opposed to Muay Thai boxer shorts, I presume) because this study showed that something like 30 percent of varicose vein sufferers were wearing jockey style underdaks. What was not stated in the report (in the popular press, so it may have been selectively reported) was the choice of underpants of those who did not have varicose veins, nor what percentage of men wearing jockeys did not get varicose veins. Without these other figures, the rest is hocus-pocus. Always remember lies, damned lies and statistics!

Pseudo-science also works the other way too. Classic examples of this are when people will pronounce, with great authority, that cigarette smoking does not bring about your early demise. The ‘proof’ of this is their great uncle Charlie who lived to be 112 and smoked two packs of cigarettes every day for 85 years. This great case study of one shows nothing, other than the fact that this shows that great uncle Edward had a wonderful constitution. Nothing else, sorry.

If two of the three people in your office get the flu, this does not mean that 66.6 percent of the city is going down with Swine Flu. All that can be assumed is that 66.6 percent of your office has a problem. Nothing else.

There is a branch of medical science called Epidemiology, which is a study of the incidence of diseases in large populations, and epidemiological research requires the researcher to look at thousands of cases before coming to conclusions. Great uncle Charlie alone is not enough. The data we get from thousands upon thousands of cases, looking at smokers and non-smokers, is now enough for us to say, quite categorically, that smoking does put you at a very much greater risk of dying from cancer - that is ALL cancers, by the way, not just lung cancer. And you can add heart disease to that as well.

Forget the great uncle, give up now, before you too are a statistic. And I am sorry, I don’t accept the “it’s my choice” theory. If you saw someone choosing to run under a train, you would try and stop them too. That’s like me with cigarette smokers, sorry.


Care for Dogs:

Tiny doggie!

Tiny is a little dog looking for a lap snuggle

Tiny is absolutely adorable! He’s not fluffy and high maintenance like most little dogs but will still nicely in your lap and adores attention. Take him for a walk and he’ll trot along happily with you – he’s the perfect little companion and is sterilized, vaccinated and perfectly healthy. Come and get him! Contact Care For Dogs, English (08 47 52 52 55) Thai (08 69 13 87 01) or e-mail: [email protected] to make an appointment to visit the shelter & meet him or any of the many other dogs waiting for you. www.

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,

I enjoy your column and I wonder if you can help me. My question may be a little out of your area of expertise however, since I am not really interested in the local women, or indeed any women for that matter (no offense).

What is it with Thai-manufactured pop-up toasters? I have been through three in eighteen months. Different shops, different brands, the result is always the same.

Am I missing something here? Is this some sort of cultural thing? Thailand produces wonderful doctors and dentists after all, why not a decent toaster?

All right, the locally assembled cars and motorcycles are designed elsewhere, but they work perfectly well. Could this be some sort of subtle Thai plot to get at foreigners for appearing too wealthy? I hope not. Perhaps you or one of your readers can enlighten me.

At my age there is not all that much I ask from life, but I do enjoy breakfast.

Perplexed of Chiang Mai

Dear Perplexed of Chiang Mai,

No need to apologize because the local women don’t do much for you, but it seems that the local toasters don’t do much for you either! I think, however, that you are using strange parameters when looking at this toaster problem. Thailand can produce good cars and motorcycles (but “designed elsewhere”, you say), and “wonderful doctors and dentists” but no opinion given as to whether they were “designed elsewhere”, but for the sake of the exercise we will assume they are all 100 percent Thai. So what are you doing with these pop-up toasters? Are you using them correctly, and in the manner for which they were designed? (Are you sure you don’t need a woman in the kitchen at least, Petal?) Considering the automatic pop-up toaster, which ejects the toast after toasting it, was first patented by Charles Strite in 1919, surely after 91 years we should know how to make the darned thing work for you. Or you to work with it!

I am thinking that you may have a systems failure at the beginning of the toast cycle. Is the toaster plugged in to an electrical socket that works - this is often the problem in Thailand. Do you put the bread into the slots on the top of the machine or are you putting the bread in from the bottom (no offense)? The toasters you have bought - are they the new hi-tech models? In 1990 Simon Hackett and John Romkey created The Internet Toaster, a toaster which could be controlled from the Internet. With the broadband speed being at a crawl in Northern Thailand, perhaps the signal is dropping out before the bread gets brown. In 2001 Robin Southgate from Brunel University in England created a toaster that could toast a graphic of the weather prediction (limited to sunny or cloudy) onto a piece of bread. The toaster dials a pre-coded phone number to get the weather forecast. Have you got one of these? I have it on good authority that it does not work when the weather report is ‘smoke haze’, which we get 24 hours a day at this time of year.

My only real suggestion is to buy a toasting fork and hold the bread slices over the gas ring - but do remember to light it first.

Dear Hillary,

Can you help please? Do all Thai people ask you the most personal questions? Things like “How much money you make? You married yet? Why not? You got girlfriend? You want me to go with you?” Apart from the fact that this is considered a very rude way of starting a relationship in the UK, I also find it very embarrassing when I am over here. How do I get these people to stop doing this? You seem to have the answers for everyone else, so I hope you have some for me too.

Shy and Retiring

Dear Shy and Retiring,

Or is that Shy and Retired? You have to look at where are these women who ask such direct questions. My bet is in a bar somewhere. They are not in the habit of issuing a gilt edged invitation to dinner, hand inscribed in Ye Olde English. Be real and be thankful that ‘these people’ as you call them are interested enough in you to even ask questions. There’s only one thing worse than being a wall-flower at parties, and that’s not being asked at all. In actual fact, my turtledove, those inquiries are very cleverly designed “standard” bar girl questions to see if you are worthwhile bothering with at all. If you have no money all interest will be lost immediately. Likewise if you are married they will want to know if “You marry Thai?” or whether your partner is waiting faithfully for you back home in the UK, while you contemplate the unfaithful ideas. Lighten up and when you are asked next time just say, “No money. Wife take all money to boy bar,” and then laugh a lot. They’ll get the message and you will be left happily lonely, then you can write me letters asking why does nobody talk to you!

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Experiment with photo filters - cheaply

Are all your shots looking the same these days? Have you become a ‘record shot’ photographer? You know the kind of snapshots - the kids at the beach, wife in the pool. The usual “Nung, song, sam, yim mak” and there you have it. Next shot please.

This week I want you to look at the final photographs as something more than a collection of ‘record’ shots. Here’s a simple (and cheap) way to put some art into your photography by using filters, without having to buy expensive filter kits. Filters can be used with any camera, film, digital, compact or SLR, but digital will certainly give you an instant result. I also believe in not spending too much on filters, and when I say cheap, the first one costs 1 baht (and is recoverable) and gives you a center-spot soft focus filter. It will enhance portraits, particularly of women, giving a soft dreamy look to the photo. Using this filter this just means the center is in focus and the edges are nicely soft and blurred. This effect is used by portrait and wedding photographers all over the world to produce that wonderful “romantic” photograph.

You will need one can of hairspray, a one baht coin and a clear piece of glass or plastic (perspex) around 7.5 cm square. This piece of perspex needs to be as thin as possible to keep it optically correct. One supply source can be hardware shops, glaziers and even picture framers.

Having cut out your square, put the coin in the center of the perspex and then gently wave the hairspray over the lot. Let it dry and gently flick the coin off and you have your first special effects filter - the center spot soft focus.

Now set your camera lens on the largest aperture you can (around f4 is fine). Focus on your subject, keeping the face in the center of the screen. Bring up your magic FX filter and place it over the lens and what do you see? The face is in focus and the edges are all blurred! You’ve got it. Shoot! Take a few shots, especially ones with the light behind your subject. Try altering the f stop as well, as this changes the apparent size of the clear spot in the middle. Simple, cheap and easy art.

Here is another, the Super Sunset Filter. This one will give you that wonderfully warm “tropical sunset” which will make people envious that they aren’t over here to enjoy such spectacular endings to the day. To produce the warm glow, just take off your sunglasses and place one side over the lens. It’s that simple! Just look at the difference yourself, with and without the sunnies. The camera will see it the same way.

Soft romantic effects can be produced super inexpensively as well. The first is to gently breathe on the end of the lens just before you take the shot. Your warm breath will impart a “mist” to produce a wonderfully misty portrait, or that early morning mist look for landscapes. Remember that the “misting” only lasts a few seconds, so make sure you have the camera pre-focussed and ready to shoot. If you have control over the aperture, try around f4 as well.

Here’s another. Use a piece of stocking (pantyhose) material. Stretch it over the lens and tie it on with a rubber band. Cut a small hole in the middle and go ahead and shoot romantic portraits.

There are also other ways of bending, refracting or just generally fooling the camera’s lens system. This you do by holding transparent materials in front of the lens when taking your photographs. I suggest you get small pieces of glass or perspex (around 10 cm by 10 cm) and use these as the final filter. You can even use semi-transparent material like shower screen glass. The concept is just to produce a “different” effect, one that the camera will pick up. It is very difficult to predict the outcomes in these situations, but you can be pleasantly amazed at some of the results. The main idea is to give it a try!

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

The Real Estate Market is just not real, part 2

Many people in the know believe that the banks are, at best, storing up or, at worst, hiding big losses. The Financial Times recently quoted CBRE, who believe there over USD130 billion of poor quality property loans in Britain alone. This is over twenty five percent of the UK’s sector debt. It is also a fact that 40% of the USD130 billion are in default of the original agreement. This has doubled in just six months.

Andrew Haldane, a director at the Bank of England, is worried: “Let me not pretend that it is not something we are looking at closely. It represents a risk. We recognize that loans with LTVs of over 100% will not be refinanced. The hope would be that new sources of finance will come to the market before the refinancing dates.”

Basically, he is stating what has been known for a long time. Things are only going to get worse as those who have taken loans have to repay what they have borrowed but are now in negative equity. They want to renegotiate the loan but the finance companies cannot afford for them to do this. This is Dubai but on a much, much smaller basis; but there are millions of people in this situation which then makes the potential situation huge.

A lot of the debt came from the easy finance available in the early to mid-2000s. Money made available to those wanting to borrow went up, on average, by nearly 40% per annum in America and almost 25% in Europe. This cheap debt is meant to have been responsible for over ninety percent of the USD1,400 billion of deals done.

Not only does this show the greed of the real estate market but also the insatiable appetite of the banking sector wanting to get in and have a piece of the action. They were so desperate to have a slice of the market they turned a blind eye to what people were really earning and just signed them up anyway. The idea was to show a paper profit and then sell it on before there could be any comeback.

Banks and others who were not in on the initial deal began to feel left out and this also showed on the profit sheets (theoretically). To get a foot on the ladder they were prepared to pay a higher price and bought a block of these loans and then passed it on for a profit at a later time and so the pyramid began. At the height of this farce it was almost impossible not to find a buyer. However, these people had forgotten the basics of how property is valued - actual price, potential income and cost of replacement.

The madness escalated when the banks decided this was the new kid on the block and had to be a part of it and so actually started to give speculators money as well as debt. On many an occasion, this was done on structured terms only using a small part of their own equity even though it guaranteed returns for investors. The real risk was with the banks. It all sounded too good to be true and it was.

In Britain, the leaders in this sector of the market were Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS. These two banks alone accounted for nearly 50% of the outstanding debt which was well over GBP220 billion. Those poor things at Lloyds, railroaded by the present government into taking over HBOS, are still having to take commercial property write-offs. As the Financial Times wrote recently, “Impairment charges of GBP22.1 billion since the end of last year (2008) were related substantially to HBOS’s real estate spree.”

The Royal Bank of Scotland was no less greedy than HBOS and also gave out structured products. The bank will now enter almost GBP40 billion of property loans into the UK government’s Asset Protection Scheme (APS) where loans are either on a high risk list or managed by its own people. The APS is vital to keeping these loans alive. Without this direct government intervention, the real estate sector would have suffered a lot more than it has. Some think that this would not have been a bad thing.

To be continued…

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Paul Gambles on [email protected]

DVD of the Week:

The White (2009)

Plot: Winter/Spring: 1913-1914. A ‘feudal’ village in northern Germany, dominated by a land-owning Baron, who employs half the local population, suffers a series of cruel and mysterious happenings. It is the period leading up to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Sarajevo – and the outbreak of WW I.

There is a scene in this masterly film of such heart stopping emotion that one might – seeing it in isolation- assume the director to be someone other than the incomparable Michael Haneke. The same response could be made to the film’s sub plot involving the narrator-teacher and his young bride-to –be, a relationship surveyed with tenderness and compassion.

Possibly for the first time in his powerful body of work, Haneke acknowledges such possibilities. It is clear, however, that such delicacy and innocence struggles against the yoke of social repression, mistrust, cruelty, poverty, hypocrisy and, above all in the period and place depicted, an unyielding work ethic and the bigotry of joyless north German Protestantism.

The scene referred to takes place between an adult and his diminutive son, who comes to his Pastor-father’s study and gravely presents him with a caged bird, which he has long nursed, having found it injured. It is, he explains, to replace his father’s pet. “Because you are so sad without Peeskie.”

For a moment the granite faced disciplinarian is moved, the exterior fa็ade almost giving way to tears (it would be like watching a Mt. Rushmore President crumbling before our eyes) but all he does is to formally accept the gift and allow the still innocent child to leave.

We know two things. That one day in the future the boy will be forced to wear a white ribbon to remind him constantly of that innocence (even though all the adults around him are far from pure). Secondly that the father’s caged bird has died at the hands of another of his children, a daughter who finally defies her father – even at communion. She has left the creature open winged on his desk in the form of a cross.

The father refuses to acknowledge what has happened, just as he does when the teacher presents him with details of the horrors that are being perpetrated – probably by children – in the claustrophobic village. The origins of fascism are seen in this denial of evil.

Not that the film is simply about (German or Protestant) guilt: a refusal to accept what is going on around them and what such denial might lead to. Still one has the nagging knowledge that these village of the damned children (the ‘villains’ of the piece, visited by the sins of the father) are of an age, five to fifteen, to become adults during the 1930s. Haneke is interested in painting a broader portrait than that, one devoid of sensationalism.

He evokes an entire period and a complex though stifled community through a story crammed with character and incident, in the manner of a politicized thriller, not totally removed from his superb film Hidden. He also displays more confidently than ever before – in what is surely his finest and most accessible work – the gift of a true film artist as written about by the actress Louise Brooks: ‘The great art of film does not consist of descriptive movement of face and body but in the movements of thought and soul, transmitted in a kind of intense isolation’.

In this respect he evokes echoes of other – greater – directors and specific films. There are moments here of Fritz Lang’s M, of Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence and Maurice Pialat’s L’Enfance Nue and above all something of the austere beauty of Carl Dreyer’s Ordet in the wonderful images. The dialogue seems on occasion not to have been written but branded white hot on to the pages: the confrontation between the village doctor and his mistress, the Pastor and his pubescent son, the Baron and his intellectual, dissatisfied wife recall the interrogation of Joan and her accusers in Bresson’s The Trial of Joan of Arc, redolent with the political context so crucial to the physical and emotional drama shown.

What marks this film out from other recent works (and accounts no doubt for the rave reviews and the awards which began with the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last May) is not just the magnificence of Christian Berger’s cinematography or the faultless casting and acting, but Haneke’s rigorous single minded depiction – one might say dissection – of this place and time.

One is sucked into a world so completely that at the end of the film I realized that on occasion I had seemingly forgotten to breathe – so intense is the dialogue, so riven is the action. The surface is calm but underneath is volcanic heat. Its success may in part be the result of a return to his native language. He is Austrian by birth but has worked often in France and once disastrously in the U.S.A., remaking Funny Games.

The film shows enormous care in every aspect. Not just the diamond sharp and sometimes shadowy images, or the magnificent performances (especially Burghart Klaussman as the Pastor), but in every aspect of the production, costumes, locations, the entire mise en scene.

Haneke may lack the genius of most of those directors mentioned above (he is closest to Bergman in talent, though he admires Bresson, Pialat and Hitchcock above all others) but he shares their sense of commitment to his art.

It’s important to note, and hopefully the review indicates the fact that this is a ‘dark’ movie, for all the moments of tenderness. These are juxtaposed with many of cruelty and harshness: not shown explicitly but unflinchingly. One scene is directly reminiscent of the infamous Bulger case in England, where two young boys kidnapped a younger one in broad daylight and brutally murdered him.

Here the action is not completed and is the result of a spontaneous jealous act. The youngsters might simply be considered chips off their oppressive elders, who are capable of infinitely more devastating acts. Haneke never moralises and may be for some a little too critical, even though objective. But I promise that you will not come away from this film unmoved or without these beautiful images seared in your mind, just as the sometimes painful dialogue remains. The DVD (we are unlikely to see the film in Thailand even if it wins the Oscar as best foreign film, over The Prophet) is available from the DVD Film and Music shop at 289 Suthep Road. Open from 9a.m. until late. Tel: 053 808 084.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

3D note: I think some clarification should be made in the advertisements and promotion for “3D” in Cinema 3 at Airport Plaza. (Cinema 3 is the only Chiang Mai cinema capable of showing 3D at the present time.)  Particularly since Major Cineplex is charging premium (i.e., expensive) prices. The recent showing True Legend, though at the premium price of 240 baht for a regular seat, had only 18 minutes of 3D footage, and even that was chopped up into small segments, and you were told by an icon on the screen to put on or take off your 3D glasses.  By all reports, it wasn’t worth it – when you did see the 3D it was not sharp and was in general eye-ache-inducing.

Avatar was shot using 3D digital devices (not technically “cameras”) and director James Cameron invented cutting-edge techniques to create a truly three dimensional experience for his viewers.  Alice in Wonderland, however, though also advertised as 3D, was in fact not shot with 3D devices but with regular 2D cameras, with the 3D effect added during post-film processing.  Not the same thing at all, though I wonder how many patrons are aware of the fact.  Certainly, the Cineplex does nothing to clarify things for the viewer.  I think they should.

Sound quality note: Cinema 7 is again having sound problems – the sound wavers, as though the film is not being fed through the projector at a constant speed.  Particularly noticeable and intensely aggravating in music with sustained notes.

Now playing in Chiang Mai

Dear John: US, Drama/ Romance/ War – Out of nowhere and without warning, Major Cineplex brings us this rather dull piece.  It’s a romantic drama about a soldier who falls for a conservative college student while he’s home on leave.  Intensely weepy, if you’re a 12-year-old girl.  Starring Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, and Henry Thomas.  Mixed or average reviews.

Daybreakers: Australia/ US, Action/ Drama/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – In the year 2019, a plague has transformed most every human into vampires.  Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vampires on a way to save humankind.  Directed by gore specialists, the Australian twins Michael and Peter Spierig, who, and this I find mind-blowing, were born on the same day and the same year as the twin directors of The Book of Eli, Albert and Allen Hughes, a film also playing this week.  Daybreakers stars Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, language, and brief nudity.  Mixed or average reviews.

The Book of Eli: US, Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ Thriller/ Western – Not for everyone, but I found it thoroughly engrossing.  The story revolves around a lone warrior (Denzel Washington) who must fight to bring society the knowledge that could be the key to its survival.  Gary Oldman is great as the despot of a small town who’s determined to take possession of the book Eli’s guarding.  Directed by the Hughes twins (Albert and Allen), who also happen to be born on the exact same day as the Spierig twins, directors of Daybreakers: April 1, 1972.  I find that fact amazing and spooky.  These twins inject some fresh stylish fun into their post-apocalyptic wasteland.  And Denzel is terrific!  Rated R in the US for some brutal violence and language.  Mixed or average reviews.

Who Are You?: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – About a mother whose son has withdrawn from social life and locked himself away in his room for five years.  The only way she can communicate with her son is to write on a piece of paper and slip it under the door.  This thriller comes from writer Eakasit Thairatana, who wrote the terrific 13 Beloved, and director Pakphum Wonjinda (VDO Clip).  No English subtitles, which is really a shame, as it looks intriguing.

Kong Phan / Gong-pan: Plot: You’re in the Army now!  Ain’t it fun?!  It’s been called a “gays in the military romp.” Studio synopsis: “Jiwon, a young lad, is enlisted to the army where he meets his new and unusual friends.”  Uh-huh!

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: Canada/ US, Fantasy/ Comedy – Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and high school student Percy Jackson is the prime suspect in this sprawling and entertaining teen adventure.  Logan Lerman as Percy is an excellent new teenaged hero.  Mixed or average reviews.

True Legend / Su Qi-Er: China, Action/ Drama/ History – A wealthy man living during the Qing Dynasty loses his fortune and reputation as a result of a conspiracy against him.  After being forced out onto the streets, he dedicates his life to martial arts and reemerges as a patriotic hero.  With Jay Chou and Michelle Yeoh, and a cameo by the late David Carradine.  In Thai only, and only at Vista (2D version).

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Sometimes you get a chance to be a hero at the bridge table, which is good. However, if you fail the test, that is definitely bad. I got my chance recently on board 20 from the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai pairs game on February 24th and muffed it! Both sides were vulnerable, West dealt and the hands and bidding were as shown below. 

                              S: K

                              H: Q9

                              D: AKQJ9863

                              C: AK               

S: 842                                              S: J10765

H: AK104                                       H: J8752

D: 72                                                D: 4

C: Q1087                                        C: 95

                              S: AQ93

                              H: 63

                              D: 105

                              C: J6432            

West              North           East            South

P                     2C                P                  2S

P                     3D                P                  3N

P                     4N                P                  5D

P                     6N                P                  P

Dbl                 ?                                         

I was sitting North and picked up a wonderful hand, which I opened 2C. The 2S response by South is artificial—it says nothing about spades but simply tells me that my partner has 7 to 9 high card points. I asked for aces and found that my partner had one ace. I have ten tricks in my hand (eight diamonds and the two high clubs) and 6N looked to be a worthwhile gamble. What would you bid in my place after the double?

When I heard the double, I immediately thought that West must have the ace and king of hearts. I thought about bidding seven diamonds but reasoned that if I went to the seven level we would still lose two tricks and now would go down two instead of going down one in 6N. I was wrong of course—I should have bid the diamond grand slam. This puts East on lead and East does not know which ace West holds. Having slightly better spades than hearts, East would probably lead the jack of spades. I would have won this with my singleton king in hand, pulled trumps in two rounds ending on board and thrown my losing hearts on dummy’s ace and queen of spades. Grand slam bid and made. If only…! Unfortunately, at the table I tamely passed and we went down. Heroism passed me by yet again.

Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at www. If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]


Traffic safety needs some work

Last week a friend and I encountered an awful traffic jam at the end of Huay Kaew Road, it extended down Manee Nopparat to the Icon Computer plaza. Caught completely unawares, we were forced to wait in the slowly moving traffic. Slowly we inched along and finally reached the cause of the blockage; new electric poles being lifted into place all along the side of the road.

Why this needed to be done in the middle of the day, I am unsure, but even more confusing is why there wasn’t any signage to warn people of upcoming construction work, much less signs posted at least a week in advance so that people could use alternate routes if they wanted. Neither were there flagmen (or women) to help direct traffic around the giant trucks as they lifted the poles into place. Fortunately for us, as one of the trucks pulled out into traffic, he caused to look down and stopped in time for us to pass without being decapitated by a giant electric pole.

Then, on Tuesday, while on a back road heading to watch the match between the Chiang Mai media and visiting Polish media, I drove under a giant tree that had been topped and was hanging precipitously over the road. Again, no warning, nobody to stop traffic, just two men, each holding a rope on either side of the tree that was suspended over the road. It was more than a bit frightening as I hadn’t even noticed the tree until I was nearly under it.

It seems to me that not only for convenience but for safety reasons, basic signage should be posted by those doing the work. Had there been a sign posted on Huay Kaew a few blocks ahead, I imagine a lot of people would have turned off onto the Superhighway instead. Had there been signage posted a few days ahead, I imagine that even more would have just avoided the area altogether. Had there been a flagman directing traffic, it might have moved more smoothly, and the crane operators could have operated more efficiently, without fear of injuring passersby.

As the Municipality works hard to push Chiang Mai into the future, and yet still appreciate its past, it seems that they might consider making that push a safe one for all involved.