The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Stop Smoking - when you’re ready!
World No Tobacco day has just
passed, with the World Health Organization exhorting everyone to stop
smoking. If only it were that easy. Cigarette smoking is so much part of our
societies, it is difficult to imagine life without tobacco.
However, when you think about it, rolling up dried plant
leaves and sticking them in your mouth and setting fire to the end of it
sounds like a pretty silly proposal, particularly when you know it is
dangerous (and let me assure you, it is). Remember that the ‘Marlboro man’
died of lung cancer!
Unfortunately, when you start smoking, it becomes very
difficult to stop smoking. This is because smoking is not just a habit like
chewing on a pencil when concentrating. Smoking is an addiction. What you
have to realize is that nicotine is more addictive than heroin. I know
that’s probably hard to believe, but that really is the crux of the matter.
You take nicotine into all of your metabolic pathways until you “need” to
have nicotine to be able to function. Nicotine becomes part of your
metabolic chemical chains, and they don’t work properly without it. Now you
can see just why you feel so dreadful when you go without cigarettes (nicotine)
for any period of time.
To give up cigarettes there are many, many ways, ranging
from acupuncture, hypnosis, the I Ching, acupressure, Nicotine Replacement
Therapies (NRT), chewing gum, patches, nasal spray and many others all the
way through to Cold Turkey. Hop onto the internet and you are besieged with
offers, all of which will make it ‘easy’ for you to stop smoking, and all of
which will cost you money!
Interestingly, all of the above methods need the smoker
to become committed to ceasing cigarettes. The success rate really hangs on
that commitment. Leaving aside hypnosis and acupuncture, about which I know
very little, but the good books tell me do not enjoy high success rates,
let’s look at the other methods. The majority rely on Nicotine Replacement
Therapy (NRT). All the gums do is to make nicotine available for you in
measured doses - much like cigarettes do. You get the craving, you chew the
gum. Patches are slightly different. They deliver the nicotine slowly over a
12 or 24 hour period and are supposed to stop the craving before it happens.
But often do not.
After stabilizing on the NRT it is time to bring the
dosage down, which is the next hurdle at which many fall. The end result can
be cigarette smoking plus NRT - a potentially fatal combination. I strongly
believe that NRT should only be done under close medical supervision. Too
much nicotine can kill too!
So what is the best way? It’s called Cold Turkey. The
proof is in the numbers. There has been enough research done and the prime
factor is that the quitter has to be committed to the concept of becoming a
non-smoker. Doing it (quitting) for somebody else, because you lost a bet,
because you are being nagged into it by your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend is
doomed to failure, I am afraid. This is something which requires your total
commitment. 100 percent all the way.
It also isn’t easy as your body cries out for nicotine
and your brain tells you to “Go on, one won’t hurt you!” The acute
withdrawals will last two weeks, and those are the make or break two weeks
if you are to become a non-smoker. It is worth it. Smokers have a much
higher incidence of all cancers - not just lung cancer.
I admit that those who go Cold Turkey may go through a
rough time with withdrawals initially, but 90 percent are still non-smokers
after one year. The same cannot be said for the others. The “hard” way is
ultimately the best way.
You have to make the decision to quit. You set the day.
You tell all your friends that you are now a non-smoker - and you stick to
it! After two years your lungs are pink and clean again. It is worth it.
Meet Tic and Tac
Hi – My name is Tic and I have 2 siblings – Tac and Toe. Toe has
already found a home but I and my sister Tac are still available for
adoption. We are around 18 months old and have lived at the shelter
since we were puppies. Because of this we are very healthy with all
the necessary shots etc. but would love a chance to experience life
outside of Care For Dogs. We can be adopted together or separately
and you can rename us as you like. Please give us the chance to show
you our love and how much we would appreciate a forever home. If you
think either Tic or Tac could be the perfect companion for you or
your family contact Care For Dogs: English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai
language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment to meet them.
Heart to Heart
I read in a Thai website that all that Thai women are
interested in is money, money, money. Is this really the case? I am in a
long time relationship with a Thai woman, but she is a lot younger than
me. Is she interested in me, or money? If it’s money she hides it pretty
well. Who should I believe?
No, my Petal, Thai women are not just interested
in money. For example, I am also interested in Belgian chocolates and
French champagne. Women, and not just Thai women, are interested in
finding a mate who can support them and their children (and the family
in Thailand), and that includes financial as well as physical support.
Why should any woman be interested in marrying a pauper? Would you?
There are not too many couples you could call Romeo and Juliette in the
world, but there are thousands of successful marriages, which exist for
the mutual benefit of both parties. I am not saying that ‘romance’ is
dead, but likewise a union based on an unreal expectation is also headed
for the scrap heap. If you and your lady are happy as you are, with the
money you have or haven’t got, then just enjoy life and don’t spend time
worrying about what other people write into websites.
I don’t have a relationship problem, I have a
wardrobe problem. I’m a very happy single man, I’m well off, get my pick
of the ladies any time I want, so why am I writing to you? My only
problem is that after a couple of nights, the ladies all want to move in
with me. Some of them bring over not just a change of clothes, but a
whole wardrobe full. I have no intention of settling down - and why
should I? Like I say, I get my pick, so why spoil it. You must have
heard the saying ‘why buy a book when you can join a library?’
Larry the Librarian
You certainly have got tickets on yourself,
haven’t you Petal. But I suppose you’ve got good reason to be as you
are. I mean, just how lucky are you? You get to wake up with the most
adorable man in the world, in your opinion - yourself. Time to change
your name to Narcissus, though I would suggest you take all the mirrors
down in your bathroom, or you might find yourself falling in love just
like the long departed Narcissus. Poor Narcissus saw his reflection and
fell in love with it, and could not be away from it, and pined to death
looking into the pool. Meanwhile the nymph Echo who fell in love with
Narcissus also pined away, just like your ‘lucky’ ladies who try and
leave their clothes in your wardrobe. However, I am certainly glad I
haven’t been picked as this week’s ‘lucky winner’!
After saving hard for the last three years, I have
been on an extended holiday here in Thailand for the past six weeks. I
have enjoyed your beautiful country very much, but I will be going back
to my own country in two weeks time. What made it even better was I had
a beautiful guide and non-complaining companion up-country girl who I
found in a bar here who has been with me for all that time. I know all
the stuff about bar girls, but she has been constantly with me for the
six weeks, and she has been great. I have looked after her well in
return including a weekly allowance of 15,000 baht for her to spend on
anything she wants. I don’t ask. It’s hers for services rendered, if you
know what I mean. I would like to give her something when I leave for
her to remember me by, and can you suggest something that she will like.
Please keep the suggestions within a reasonable budget. I am not a Cheap
Charlie but it is the end of my holidays.
What do you really expect me to say, my Petal? Are
you mad? Or have you been drinking too much local brew? You want her to
remember you, so why not buy her a house, a car, a motorcycle and a
year’s free veterinary treatment for the family buffalo? You’ll be able
to get all that for under five million. And since you don’t want to
appear as a Cheap Charlie, throw in a house for Mamma and Papa as well.
That’s another 800,000 baht as houses are cheap up-country. Chris, come
down from the clouds, you have had the services of what we call a ‘mia
chow’ (rented wife) for the past six weeks, for which you have already
paid 90,000 baht for the six weeks which is well above the going market
price. She will remember you by whatever you have bought her until it
has been converted into folding currency (“He was the nice farang man
who bought me this gold chain which I am now taking to the pawn shop”).
Enjoy what is left of your holiday and spend your money on yourself.
by Harry Flashman
Shapes, patterns and contrasts
the commonest or simplest items can produce eye-catching
photographs. No difficult shots, no special effects, no exotic
lenses, just great shots by the simple technique of keeping
one’s eyes open.
The secret to all this is to remember repetitive
shapes, contrasting shapes, contrasting colors and shadows. In other
words, these types of images rely totally on vision and composition.
Remembering that the ‘rules’ of composition are
merely there to be broken, and very often a dramatic shot comes from
trying something different.
The secret of great photography is not just in
correct exposure and placement in the frame. You will get plenty of dull
photographs that are perfectly exposed and with the subject at the
intersection of thirds. You need to remember contrast!
Contrast in photographic composition is an effective
means of directing the viewer’s attention to the center of interest.
When I speak of contrast, I am referring to both tonal contrast, as in
black-and-white photography, and color contrast as it relates to color
In B&W photography, contrast is the difference in
subject tones from white-to-gray-to-black or from the lightest tone to
the darkest tone. In color photography different colors create the
Tonal contrast is generally expressed as high
contrast which has extreme black and whites, or low contrast which has
nothing but graduated greys. The photograph used this week is an example
of very high contrast, so much so that detail is blown out, but this is
not designed to be a portrait, this was designed to be a photograph that
hits you between the eyes.
Now you can wander around all day looking for a girl
in a white swimsuit on a white sandy beach, or you can manipulate a
photograph to produce that image. If you have an advanced digital camera,
you can program it to record black and white only and then go from there,
but if not, no fear, your software will allow you to do this post
camera. First convert the color shot to grey scale, then play with the
brightness and contrast, and you will very quickly produce a shot like
the one used here.
Now high contrast should not be confused with high
key. A high key black and white shot is one where the photo shows mostly
light tones. Conversely, a low key shot is one that has mainly dark
tones. Low key and high key pictures convey mood and atmosphere. Low key
suggests seriousness and mystery and is wonderful for Halloween
photographs. However, high key creates a feeling of delicacy and
lightness. A portrait of a blonde in white against a white background is
an example of high key.
High contrast gives very black blacks and very white
whites, and usually with nothing in between. Low contrast, on the other
hand, still has blacks and whites, but everything is predominantly grey,
giving a flat scene which still has tones, but in which highlights and
shadows have very little difference in densities. In other words, all
tones within the scene are very similar in appearance. However, remember
that if you are shooting in automatic mode, the camera will be set to
deliver 18 percent grey, and not black.
Now to contrast in color. This is where an artist’s
color wheel comes in handy. By picking colors from opposite sides on the
wheel, you immediately have stunning contrasts. Blue and yellow is a
classic example. Another is bright red against a luminescent green
Cold colors (bluish) and warm colors (reddish) almost
always contrast. Cold colors recede, while warm colors advance. Light
colors contrast against dark ones, and a bold color offsets a weak
Color contrast is an effective compositional element
in color photography, just as tone is in black-and-white photography.
Colors with opposite characteristics contrast strongly when placed
together. Each color accentuates the qualities of the other and makes
the color images stand out dramatically. Color contrast is enhanced when
you create the contrast of detail against mass. An example is a single,
bright, red flower in a clear, glass vase photographed against a bright,
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
If Tolstoy were an investment manager…
In meetings with colleagues, clients or suppliers you’ve
probably never stopped to wonder - are they hedgehogs or foxes. That’s unless
you’ve ever read Isaiah Berlin’s tongue-in-cheek literary essay, “The Hedgehog
and the Fox”. But this could make a big difference to the eventual outcome of
discussions if you understand which kind of animal you’re dealing with.
Berlin was moved to write the essay by realizing that, unlike
most people, Leo Tolstoy didn’t fall into one of the two categories identified
by ancient Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog
knows one big thing.”
This doesn’t pre-suppose that wide-ranging knowledge is
better than concentrated knowledge. After all, it may be that the fox, for all
his agility, is defeated by the hedgehog’s simple solitary defence of rolling
into a spiky ball. Hedgehogs see the world through a single defining idea. They
include Plato, Dante, Hegel, Nietzsche and Proust. Foxes’ views are shaped by a
wide variety of experiences. Foxes include Aristotle, Shakespeare, Goethe,
Balzac and Joyce.
Tolstoy, however, was different. Superficially he didn’t fit
either group. Berlin believes Tolstoy had the skills of a fox but was
constrained by his belief in the need to behave like a hedgehog.
George Washington was an archetypal hedgehog - the one big
thing he knew was that America’s future lay to the West, in its development of a
continental empire. It may be that the key quality of successful political
leaders is singularity of purpose.
Over the past 10 years or so economists have developed the
single-mindedness theory or SMT. This states that those most able to focus on
the smallest number of issues gain greatest political power. Hitler, Reagan,
Thatcher, Stalin and De Gaulle (in fact just about any politician that has an -ism
named after them) all stand out as hedgehogs. The ultimate 20th
century hedgehog was probably Albert Einstein whose pioneering work on
relativity was the result of an obsessive focus, but be careful not to confuse
hedgehogs with one-trick ponies.
Build the clock
Tactical and reactive
Visionary, strategic and proactive
Move quickly, opportunistic
Cautious, longer term
Seeking out individual strands Seek
The best three US CEOs also make compelling reading:
1 - Revolutionary automotive pioneer, Henry Ford - Hedge/Fox
2 - Leading financier, J Pierpont Morgan - Hedge/Fox
3 - Wal-Mart’s co-founder Sam Walton - Hedge/Fox
The early success of ‘Chainsaw Al Dunlap’ at Scott Paper, who
streamlined operations through widespread cuts and layoffs to improve
shareholder value and ultimately sold the firm to Kimberley-Clark, may have
given the impression of a hedgehog. However, his total inability to understand
and adapt the use of this blunt instrument failed dismally when he took over at
Sunbeam. Dunlap was both ignominiously fired and sued by shareholders with whom
he eventually had to settle for $15 million. Dunlap is now banned from serving
as an officer of a public company again and last year was voted the CNBC 6th
worst CEO of all time.
Interestingly, the worst three were all examples of vulpine
success catapulting foxy rainmakers or wheeler-dealers to the peak of
organizations where their lack of a strategic perspective caused catastrophic
1st - Unrepentant ex-Lehman boss, Dick Fuld, who today still
doesn’t understand the big picture - Fox
2nd - Countrywide Financial’s obsessive debt-buyer, Angelo
Mozilo, who totally failed to appreciate big picture risk - Fox
3rd - Disgraced Enron CEO, Ken Lay, successful as a foxy deal
maker who fell apart when more strategic big picture vision was needed - Fox
Foxiness or hedginess has nothing to do with the relative
quality of ideas; it concerns how they are applied, their timeframe, breadth of
data and specific role.
Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great classes Walton
and Ford as hedgehogs because, like Morgan also, each had a very clear strategic
view of what their customer wanted and painstakingly tried to meet those needs.
But that ignores the plethora of small, successful innovations, changes and
developments that these three leaders were constantly absorbed by. Maybe the
reason that they are regarded the best of all time - by CNBC at any rate - is
because they are essentially the business equivalents of Tolstoy, not obviously
in one camp or the other. Perhaps the key to their success lies in their
combination of skills and perspectives. While Lay, Mozilo and Fuld staggered
around blindly, Walton, Morgan and Ford implemented domestic supply-chain
management, business reorganization and automated manufacturing, at the same
time as mastering rapidly changing technologies, demands and situations.
Few are able to emulate Tolstoy by adding hedgepiggyness to
their innate foxiness or vice versa and such scarcity makes for an exceptionally
valuable commodity. In our industry, the best long-term strategic investment
managers are the giant hedgehogs such as Mark Mobius - whose great awareness was
the inevitable outperformance of emerging markets - and the best short-term
equity managers are active bottom-up foxes like Peter Lynch - who by his own
admission had no big picture economic understanding but found attractive equity
opportunities like a talented pig hunting truffles.
However, an investment portfolio is analogous to a business -
it needs a leader who understands both the big picture and all the smaller, more
complex ones. The specialized skill set of asset allocation is the province of
that endangered species, the foxy hedgehog. If you see one, do your utmost to
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 Brian Baxter
Mouchette, directed by Robert Bresson
think this simplicity is a sign of meagre invention’: Racine.
This is not only the best film I have written about in
these columns but also the most ‘modern’ and original. That said it is also
probably the most accessible of all this great director’s films, along with
the much earlier A Man Escaped. I wrote briefly about his works of
‘cinematography’ (his term) last week and if anyone is interested in
following that list of his 13 features, this film – inspired by the
eponymous novel by Georges Bernanos- is a good starting place. Bernanos
incidentally was the author of a book also made by Bresson, The Diary of a
The central character in Mouchette is a 14 year old
peasant girl and she also appears in another novel, filmed by Maurice Pialat
called Under Satan’s Sun, where she is played by Sandrine Bonnaire. Here a
young girl named Nadine Nortier takes the role most affectingly. Bresson
stopped using professional actors altogether with his fourth film and uses
people he finds suited to the roles he creates. He refers to them as
‘models’ and does not expect them to act but to ‘be’. As he himself wrote,
‘Model has become automatic, protected against any thought’.
Nortier has an extraordinary presence as the young victim
of poverty and circumstance, growing up and surrounded by a drunken father,
unfriendly schoolmates who ridicule her poor clothes and clogs and, above
all, trying to be a nurse to the baby in the family and her dying mother.
Like many Bresson characters, she begins to withdraw from
life. And we follow this ‘withdrawal’ and a need for peace during a period
of barely 24 hours. We see that she is a victim of a harsh, materialist
society and one which centres on petty rivalries and relationships within a
terribly restricted society. The story is told without a hint of
sentimentality but infinite compassion and the ending is one of the most
devastating and profoundly moving in the history of cinema. Such astonishing
endings are a characteristic of Bresson’s films and certainly they are
incomplete until the very last image. Unlike most movies where the last
moments or minutes are ‘round up time’, in his films they are the true
Mouchette is only about 85 minutes long. Most of his
films are short, some like The Trial of Joan of Arc barely seventy minutes
and most less than 90. They are all works of enormous compression. No shot
is wasted, or superfluous. There is a rigour and seeming simplicity to the
surface. In Mouchette there is no background music, except for a few seconds
in a pre-credit sequence and again at the very end (Monteverdi). This is
common to all of his later films which dispense with all ‘background’ music.
Dialogue is sparse – Bresson does not waste words and for
much of the time the editing is unostentatious. Oddly though, for this
director there are a couple of sequences where the cutting is much faster
than his norm. Something which also occurs in the jousting scene in Lancelot
du Lac and in the final murder scene in L’Argent, his final masterpiece.
Bresson was one of the great masters of ‘editing’ in cinema history, stating
that only after shooting a film did it come into being. For him cinema was a
process of elimination and compression – of necessary images not ‘beautiful’
ones, of cutting anything that would detract attention from what matters in
the film. Like the work of other great directors, his films only make
complete sense when seen complete. He introduces characters in Mouchette
without extraneous detail, as in all his films. His films are the complete
opposite of theatre, people do not make entrances, they do not emote, they
simply ‘are’. He understood above all that film – like all the great arts,
especially music, has to have a sense of rhythm, of cadence. He wrote once,
‘The omnipotence of rhythms. Nothing is durable but what is caught up in
rhythms. Bend content to form and sense to rhythms’. His words might be seen
as an echo of those by the poet Ezra Pound, ‘Rhythm is a form cut into
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
The Ghost Writer: What did I say about going out on a
limb listing this as “scheduled” for today? I should know better, given how
much I’ve been burned lately, but I thought this one was fairly well
assured. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, as I want to see it so badly.
From all I read it has Polanski returning to the top of his form, like on
the level of Rosemary’s Baby, and Chinatown. And this despite
the fact that he did the editing from a Swiss jail. I complained to Major
Cineplex about this no-show; maybe you should do the same.
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Sex and the City 2: US, Comedy/
Drama/ Romance – One that I am not wildly looking forward to, but it was a
hugely successful series in some circles, so maybe you are. The girls this
time take off to and take on the United Arab Emirates – one of your favorite
locales, right? Well, it’s not even shot there; they used Morocco instead.
Critics have generally given it scathingly unfavorable reviews. Rated R in
the US for some strong sexual content and language; 15+ in Thailand. Airport
Killers: US, Action/ Comedy/ Romance/ Thriller –
Starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck. A vacationing woman
meets her ideal man, leading to a swift marriage. Back at home, however,
their idyllic life is upset when they discover their neighbors could be
assassins who have been contracted to kill them. No press screenings, too
new for reviews yet, at this point no one knows much about it. Airport Plaza
Shrek Forever After - 3D: US, Animation/ Comedy/
Family – The further adventures of the giant green ogre living in the land
of Far, Far Away, this time in 3D (at Airport Plaza). Still a fun movie for
the family – at least I was solidly amused throughout. The story: Now
domesticated and bored, Shrek makes a pact with deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin
to get the real ogre feeling once again, but is duped and sent to a twisted
version of Far, Far Away. With the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz,
Antonio Banderas, and Eddie Murphy. 2D and Thai-dubbed only at Vista. Mixed
or average reviews.
Robin Hood: US, Action/ Drama – Robin Hood as
gladiator, brought to life by director Ridley Scott, and starring Russell
Crowe, all grunting and scowling. It does have impressive visuals and some
great sweeping battle scenes, and strong performances, by Russell Crowe,
Cate Blanchet, William Hurt, Max van Sydow, and Mark Strong. But it took me
a long while to get interested in the main characters during the back-story,
and the 1199 AD events of King Richard on his last crusade. But after the
story got going, I did get involved. It’s loud, noisy, and confusing in the
modern way of showing battles, where clarity is sacrificed for jittery,
jumpy editing, and you are left with visual impressions, not information.
Mixed or average reviews.
Iron Man 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Starring
Robert Downey Jr. It isn’t quite the breath of fresh air that “Iron Man” was,
but this sequel comes close, with solid performances and an action-packed
plot. I was particularly impressed with the work of Mickey Rourke. If you
enjoy action movies, you should like this one; it has the requisite sound,
fury, and flash. Major Cineplex only. Mixed or average reviews.
Poh Tak: Thai, Comedy – Directed by popular comedian-turned-director,
Mum Jokmok, this is a comedy parody that explores lives in front of and
behind the cameras of the Thai film industry. Features many of the regulars
on Mum’s very popular TV show.
Sam Yan: Thai, Comedy – Usual regurgitation of Thai
slapstick comedy. A dead passenger on a bus returns to haunt the driver, and
two other tales. Rated 18+ in Thailand. In Thai only.
The Losers: US, Action/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – An
action tale of betrayal and revenge. After being betrayed and left for dead,
members of an elite Special Forces black ops team root out those who
targeted them for assassination. Loud, fast, and unrelentingly violent.
Mixed or average reviews. At Vista only.
Scheduled for June 10
Prince of Persia: (Here we go
again, out on a limb!) US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Romance –
“Scheduled” for June 10, but this one seems a lot more sure, as they’ve
actually been selling tickets to it for the past week! If this doesn’t show
up, I’ll ... what? I don’t know. The film is based on a video game, which
I’ve played and am now playing again, and enjoying – even though I’m not
very good at it. It’s a sort of old-style Arabian Nights story, set in
medieval Persia when a nefarious nobleman covets the Sands of Time, a
legendary dagger that allows its possessor to turn back time. Starring Jake
Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley. Mixed or average reviews.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
This deal was played by Jim Jacoby in the world team
championship (the Bermuda Bowl) in Stockholm in 1983. Jim Jacoby was a very
successful player and the son of Oswald Jacoby, who gave his name to
numerous bridge conventions, including the well known Jacoby transfer. See
if you can do as well, even after seeing all the hands. West dealt and
everyone was vulnerable.
Jacoby was playing for the US against New Zealand. At
Jacoby’s table, West dealt and opened 2C, natural in the methods East-West
were playing and showing an opening hand with good clubs. This was passed
round to Jacoby who bid 3S, raised to 4S by his partner. At the other table,
the New Zealand declarer was also in 4S. At both tables, West cashed two
high clubs and switched to a heart. Declarer won this in hand, pulled trumps
ending on board, cashed the heart king and then ruffed a heart in hand. Now
came the critical decision. The New Zealand declarer took a straightforward
line, playing a diamond to the ace and then another to the queen, hoping
East held the king. It was not to be—he lost two diamonds (king and jack) to
go with the two clubs, for one down.
So, can you see how Jacoby played it? In view of the
bidding and play so far, Jacoby suspected West had the diamond king. So he
crossed to board with a third round of trumps and led the eight of diamonds.
East went up with the jack. Jacoby paused to consider and decided that, in
order for East to go up and cover the eight, he probably had both the jack
and ten. Consequently, Jacoby ducked. East held the trick, but the defence
was finished. If he led a heart or a club, Jacoby would trump in hand and
throw the losing diamond from dummy. If he led a low diamond, Jacoby would
duck again. West would be forced to play the king to prevent dummy winning
cheaply with the nine. Then Jacoby would score his queen to make the
contract. If East led the ten of diamonds, Jacoby would cover. Again, West
would have to play the king and dummy would take two tricks with the ace and
nine. A beautiful reading of the cards by Jacoby. Was that your plan? If so,
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For
information on the Club go to the web site www.bridgewebs.com/chiangmai. If
you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please
contact me at: [email protected]
MAIL OPINION : By Shana Kongmun
The end of the curfew!
It was with a great sigh of relief that
Chiang Mai greeted the end of the curfew. And the nightlife sprang back into
life, as it were. The North Gate Jazz Co-Op, famous for its Open Mike nights
on Tuesday is as busy as ever (certainly not high season numbers but then
nobody expects that, but still, respectable).
The Box over on Nimmanhaemin Soi 5 is also featuring
live music, with local favorite Richie Castro putting in a performance
there last Tuesday as well. The Riva continues to showcase great music
and I know many in Chiang Mai who are looking forward to Ana Gracey’s
return to the newly refurbished The Gallery over on the river. Several
of the Thai music clubs have booked acts as well, with the Warm Up Café
scheduling the Thai indie band Scrub for later in the month.
The Saengdee Gallery is putting on a charity benefit
for the Lampang Elephant hospital, CMU has a new art show coming up,
Friends of the Chiang Mai Music Festival have happily restarted some
wonderful classical music performances, and the sports minded can check
out the World Cup.
Its great to see the town jump back into life, albeit
with a seriously lower number of people around. Also, many longer term
expats head home this time of year, as it is now summertime and there is
a hope that it will at least not snow. Although the British can always
look forward to a nice, rainy and cool summer. Quite a relief, I would
think, after the tremendous heat wave Chiang Mai has been experiencing
A few shows were cancelled during the curfew (a
friend of mine was looking forward to seeing some Academy Fantasia
performer out on Huay Kaew Road, but alas, the curfew put paid to that).
A few networking events were cancelled as well as a few parties put on
hold. Yours truly birthday was one of those that got postponed, if not
cancelled. I can’t say that I will consider rescheduling, it all seems a
bit late for that now, but I do hope that other organizers aren’t so
Chiang Mai has so much to offer, musically and
artistically that residents and tourists shouldn’t find themselves bored
in anyway. Turn the page to page 8 and check out the listings, you are
sure to find something you like somewhere.
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden
time of the year, the early rainy season, you may see some handsome beetles
with long horns or antennae. One beetle is black and yellow, with tufts of
black hair on the antennae. This is Aristobia approximator (Cerambycidae).
Another one is brownish with white spots and covered with spines. It has
black tufts of hair on the antennae too. This is Aristobia horridula.
These two beetles may look handsome, and visitors to Dokmai garden often
kneel to take good pictures, but beware! These beetles like to lay their
eggs in young trees, about 2-6 meters tall (age 2-4 years). The hungry
larvae eat the wood inside the tree, and may either kill a limb, or the
To prevent attacks of these larvae, you can buy any
permethrin insecticide. You need to look for this name on the label of the
insecticide yourself, do not ask the retailer because he usually knows
nothing. “Jaleed 10” is one Thai brand. Permethrin is a pyrethroid, i.e. an
artificial form of the natural insecticide pyrethrum which originally comes
from special Tanacetum plants (previosuly known as Chrysanthemum).
You mix the insecticide with water according to the directions, and then you
spray it on the bark of a precious young tree. The insecticide will not kill
the beetle, but it will make the female spit and fly somewhere else, maybe
high up in an already established tree. You may have to apply permethrin
every 6-8 weeks throughout the rainy season, because luckily this compund
degrades within a reasonable time. Inspect your trees frequently now in the
early rainy season, look for heaps of wood dust and holes in the bark.
What if you already have an attack, and you want to kill
the larva before the attack gets out of hand? Simply buy a metal wire and
kill the larva by plunging your flexible weapon into the cave of the borer.
Wood peckers may help you too. www. dokmaigarden.co.th. www.
Life in Chiang Mai:
By Mark Whitman
Thai movie wins the prestigious Palme’d’Or at Cannes
Amongst all the recent gloom and doom of recent weeks,
there was at least one positive piece of good news when the Cannes Film
Festival awarded its top prize to Thai director Apichatpong Weerasthakul (hereafter
referred to as ‘Joe’) for his latest feature Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall
His Past Lives (Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chat).
Winner of the Palme D’Or, director Apichatpong
Weerasethakul poses after the awards ceremony at the 63rd international film
festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt
This is the cinema world’s most prestigious award and
means that the film will sell and be seen internationally, including at
other non competitive festivals. It also provokes interest in the earlier
films made by the recipient. The film has already been snapped up for
distribution in France by Pyramide and by New Wave distributors in the U.K.
Sales are firm for Spain, Italy and other European countries, as well as
Canada and parts of Asia. So far no news of its fate in Thailand.
It is not unusual for an artist to be neglected in his
own country, in comparison with his or her reputation abroad. France – the
country most supportive of cinema, especially the role of the director – has
long helped the reputation of many film makers and ‘Joe’ is no exception.
His feature Blissfully Yours (Sud Sanaeka) was also shown
at Cannes and took the Un Certain Regard prize. That was in 2002 and four
years later his most widely seen film Tropical Malady (Sud Pralad) was
awarded the Jury Prize in the main section. Now the latest nine person jury,
headed by American director Tim Burton, has awarded him the main accolade.
His most controversial work, Syndromes and a Century
(Sang Sattawat) was released in 2006 and premiered at the Venice Film
Festival. Three years later it was selected as ‘Best Film of the past
Decade’ by a distinguished group of over 60 critics, festival directors,
curators and film programmers at the Toronto Film Festival.
And yet it is an appalling fact that this film has hardly
been seen in Thailand and when shown in Bangkok it was heavily censored with
four sequences omitted one of over five minutes duration. The director took
the unusual step of inserting blank film in the sections to protest against
(You may be interested to know that three of his features
are available in Thailand with English sub titles- certainly at the Film and
Music DVD shop at Suthep Road).
“Joe’ turns 40 this coming July. So still young for an
important director. He has completed six features, beginning with Mysterious
Object at Noon (Dokfa nai Meumen) in 2000. He made his first experimental
short, Bullet in 1993. He was born in Bangkok (his parents were doctors) and
went to University in Khon Kaen, studying architecture. He completed his
studies in Chicago, U.S.A. He has a total of 20 film credits, including
short fiction, documentaries, segments in multi directed features and his
own feature films. Last year many of his films were shown in a retrospective
in New York.
Sadly he has to rely on finance from abroad in order to
work steadily. In Thailand, it seems, that he has not achieved the
breakthrough in terms of recognition that he deserves. Possibly the new film
will rectify that. I have not seen the new film, of course, since it has
only been shown at Cannes and privately, nor indeed the short made last year
called “A Letter to Uncle Boonmee”. And I must confess that I found the
hypnotically beautiful Tropical Malady difficult to understand, as it breaks
into two sections and – perhaps to a non Thai – their relationship is
obscure. Other features, especially Blissfully Yours, are more direct.
What we now need in Thailand and especially in Chiang Mai
is for an enterprising organisation, perhaps CMU or Alliance Francaise or
the Goethe Institute to mount a retrospective of some of his films with
‘Joe’ in attendance. We also need the new censorship board to overturn the
mistakes made by its predecessors under the then military regime and allow
the release of the complete Syndromes and a Century. That would be further
good news for Thailand. And at present Thailand can do with all the respect
and regard it can muster from the outside world.
By Heather Allen
Mae Chaem, hidden valley in the mountains
Mae Chaem is one of those little places that, while not
necessarily off the beaten path, somehow still manages to get bypassed.
Thailand is filled with these little gems, usually on the way to somewhere
more famous, like Pai, they get missed and for the missing we are much the
When I was a child, my father delighted in going for
drives, nowhere in particular, just going where the whim and the roads took
us. While you do have to be careful you don’t wind up in Myanmar if you take
too many twists and turns, you can also find some really lovely places in
and around Chiang Mai if you do so. I have friends with great big
motorcycles who love the open road. And while I see the appeal, I don’t
quite see myself on one of those.
But back to Mae Chaem, it is about two and a half hours
outside Chiang Mai and is the main junction for those wishing to go further
on to Pai, Mae Sariang and Doi Inthanon. I would say it’s a bit far for
someone on a scooter but as one intrepid traveler wrote of his travels
around North Eastern Thailand on a Honda Dream, I can only say, that may not
be applicable for the brave of heart and sturdy of bodies.
Mae Chaem is filled with scenic views of rice farming,
old temples and is home of the unique Pha Sin Teen Jok, a decorative woven
style found on the hems of women’s sarongs. The area is a unique mix of
cultures, with the Khon Muang local people and hill tribes of Lua, Pakakayor,
Hmong and Lisu all living there. This leads to unique and beautiful
handicrafts and more.
Mae Chaem is also well known for its temples, many of
which come clustered together, but it’s the unique temple on a pond that
makes Mae Chaem stand out. Wat Phuttha Eoen (Buddha-En on the sign) was
built in 1868 and features a nam, or ubosot, that sits on wooden
posts in a lotus pond. The teak serpents (nak) along the sides are very
beautiful and the setting is serene.
There are hot springs in the area around Mae Chaem should
you wish to make more than a day of it, halfway to the somehow appropriately
named village of Hot. I have grabbed some photos from TAT as my camera sadly
died on the way! (Photos courtesy of TAT: www.tatnews.org)
Staying happy in Paradise - the Counseling Corner
by Richard L. Fellner
Stuck in the Blues
You feel drained for a long time. You can’t really enjoy
everyday life, or you retreat from others? If you are in such a state for
more than two weeks, you probably belong to the millions of people suffering
Unfortunately due to its usually slow development,
and out of feelings of shame, it often takes long and valuable time
before affected persons look for assistance.
So quite frequently, secondary complications such as
chronic pain, sleep disorders, sexual disorders, psychosomatic diseases
or alcohol abuse start to cause additional burden, and the body becomes
more sensitive to pain and infections.
Depression is usually caused by a combination of
genetic predisposition, triggering environmental conditions and previous
However, the feelings of dejection and hopelessness
can be treated: as a psychotherapist, I am pleased whenever people tell
me how surprised they are about how much better they feel after just a
few counseling sessions. What’s striking about depression is that
prospects for an improvement are hardly noticeable for sufferers anymore
- even if these prospects would wait ‘round the corner’. Often enough it
takes a good friend who encourages to seek help.
Richard L. Fellner is heading Counseling Center
Pattaya in Soi Kopai and offers consultations in English and German
languages after making appointments at 0854 370 470.
Bird Watching for Pleasure By Mike Gilman
Slow boat to the Surin Isles and a waterspout
Brahminy Kite looking for dinner.
(Photo by Mike Gilman)
Was it prudent planning, or just the lure of the
sea, which said that there would be more rewarding bird-life
sightings on Thailand’s west coast in April, than being boiled alive
in steaming Chiang Mai? A wiser choice we could not have made, the
more temperate Andaman proved an ideal sojourn. John Masefield
describes the same salty passion in his poem, ‘Sea Fever’, whose
famed second verse begins, “I must go down to the seas again, for
the call of the running tide”.
From our first day Brahminy Kites and White
Bellied Sea Eagles displayed their thermal circling, swooping and
fish catching talents. Their talons ever-ready to pluck unsuspecting,
silver scaled delicacies from the choppy sea. At the other end of
the size scale, the graceful, colourful, Chestnut Headed Bee-Eaters
and Vernal Hanging Parrots were also a joy to watch. Quite often our
pursuit is likened to the phrase, “being in the right place at the
right time”. This saying was most apt one day as we walked alongside
an ebbing tide. Looking down, large flat shells, ‘sand-dollars’ were
lying on the sand, so unusual in shape and etching, as if produced
from a master modeller’s mould. We studied this sea-urchin family
species, and then momentarily glanced around, blinked twice,
checking that what we were seeing was not an illusion. There they
were, at 100 m distance, a group of seven Eurasian Curlews, some
standing alert amid the running tide. There were rich pickings to be
had; their long curved bills were ultra busy probing for
crustaceans. These 57cm long migratory birds are normally seen in
Europe and around the English countryside, so to see them in Ranong
was a genuine treat. Dodging the tide they fished around for more
than ten minutes, then took-off seaward, not to be seen again. On
that same beach late one hot afternoon we were returning from a
Black Kite search at a local mangrove when thunder, lightning and
black clouds began to fill the air. As if watching a theatrical act
unfold, a dark elongated shape like an elephant’s trunk extended
from the cloud base and down to the sea. The sea in that area began
to boil, and water was clearly seen being sucked back up within the
gyrating trunk and into the main cloud. The ten minute awe-inspiring
phenomenon was a waterspout.
Lunching one day at an outdoor shaded restaurant,
we sat with binoculars at the ready. Dead leaves carpeted adjacent
ground, and as if by request, three unusual birds appeared within an
hour. The 18cm long Pied Fantail is aptly named, it’s tail display
likened to the movements of a flamenco dancer’s fan.( it’s strange,
but the following day we bought a bird bath, and sited it near to
our residence, this species bathed there every day, utterly amazing).
A slightly bigger Fantail is the White Throated, a restless, ‘ants
in your pants’ species, easily distinguished from the previous bird
by its white throat patch. The 18cm long Forest Wagtail was slim and
elegant. It’s brown, black and white feather colours disguised it
perfectly as it ground-walked amongst the dead leaf foliage. We
lunched at the same place several more times, only seeing the Pied
Fantail. How lucky we were that day.
From our beach-side residence the small island of
Koh Phayam, famed for its cashew nut farming and rubber tree
production, could be seen. Local people said that Hornbills and
other unusual birds could be seen there. We duly summoned a
fisherman to take us, and in due course waded out to his boat.
Approaching the island we saw brown-backed Bridled Terns, then
passed by sea encompassed Sao Tong, a tower-like rock formation,
before dropping anchor in rock strewn becalmed waters. Wading waist
deep ashore the 3km long crescent shaped beach was a typical
brochure scene. The roar of the surf was heard around the clock, and
wind-blown, spume-topped waves were a surfer’s paradise. Nature’s
awe. Only Common Sandpipers were seen on the ‘point’ rocks, but
inland proved more rewarding. Just after dawn Oriental Pied
Hornbills were atop Casuarinas trees, their raucous chatter welcomed
the new day. Further inland dead trees were dotted about, then,
flashes of gold sped before our eyes and clung on to the demised
forms. They were four, 30cm long Golden Backed Woodpeckers, who
spiralled ever upwards in their breakfast search for invertebrates.
Two days later we wandered in the same area when a maroon, dart-like
bird flashed by, to perch on a low branch. The striking red bill of
the Rufous Backed Kingfisher could have come from Picasso’s palette.
This small, 14cm long beauty, was for us, ‘the icing on the cake’.
Within reason, latitude 14-60N, 103-60E, pinpoint
the Surin Isles, where the almost globally extinct Nicobar Pigeon
and Beach Thick-knee had been reputably seen. By choice we took the
slow boat from Khura Buri and waded ashore in warm turquoise waters.
The ‘nature trail’ was steep, jungle based, and not for the unfit or
foolhardy. We saw no-one after two hours toil, and then came to a
clearing. Two large white rumped birds ahead, flew from branch to
branch, as if saying, “welcome, you’ve found us”. Seeing and
photographing the unmistakable, 40cm long Nicobar Pigeon, whose
unique long neck feathers gave away its identity, was beyond our
expectations, and certainly worth the sweat-drenched trek. Alas, our
search for the 51cm long Beach Thick-knee proved fruitless. Perhaps
next time? Enjoy the gifts of nature.