The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
The fun that comes with getting older
I celebrated another birthday last week. “Celebrated” is
probably the wrong word at my age. “Cried” would probably have been more
appropriate as one watches the years tick by and you are left wondering just
how many more are left. Despite everything, you cannot live for ever.
Probably a good thing as a world populated by centenarians would be a trifle
daunting and overcrowded too.
As part of the “celebrations” I looked at the statistics
in the hospital as far as in-patients were concerned. Well over 50 percent
of those lying in a bed were over 60 years of age. Would I be next? The down
side of getting older, perhaps? And many of them had brought the problem on
themselves, unfortunately. Unchecked hypertension leading to a stroke is
regrettable. Unchecked blood sugar leading to the amputation of a limb
double ditto. Lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking triple ditto. With
some preventive maintenance in the form of regular check-ups many of these
in-patients could have avoided hospitalization.
However, as we get older we have to learn to accept some
restrictions in our daily living, as well as some unwelcome additions. I
have found that after sitting at my desk for a while and then getting up,
the first few movements are more staggers than steps until the knees start
working again. I remember what a fast runner I was, indeed a schoolboy
champion, but these days I want to ignore that I get breathless after 50
meters and the legs give out, and the pace is certainly not that of a 16
year old athlete.
I have found that I can easily use the stairs to ascend
one floor, but two floors produces painful upper thighs. Physical
restrictions such as these destroy my self delusions that I could easily out-run
my children over 100 meters. It isn’t really fair, is it?
I mentioned additions that aging brings to the lifestyle.
One is having to get up at least once a night to have a pee. Twice if I have
been silly enough to have several drinks before bed. Another is the reading
glasses that I need to read the newspaper, or even the computer monitor. I
have to buy shirts with a pocket, just for carrying spectacles as I am too
vain to wear them on a string around my neck. I don’t really want to
advertise the fact that I am over the age of 40 (and a couple of decades on
top of that as well). It is also necessary to have several pairs, spares in
every office and another for home and another in the car, as like the
American Express advertisement says, “Don’t leave home without them.”
Many years ago, when I was trying to deny I really needed
glasses I took a young lady to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Finding that
the dimmed lighting made reading the menu impossible, I gambled on a
minestrone soup and a scallopini al limone. The waiter looked impressed and
carefully recorded my choices, only to return a couple of minutes later
saying, “The chef would like to know where you saw the minestrone, because
it isn’t on our menu.” My deception was uncovered. My age revealed and my
chagrin made public.
I was out in a car the other night, driven by a friend of
similar age to myself. Before crossing Sukhumvit Road he wound down the
tinted glass driver’s side window. “I find I am having trouble judging
distance and speed of oncoming traffic at night, but it’s better with the
window down.” I commiserated with him as I do exactly the same, signs of
early cataract formation in us both. Getting older isn’t all beer and
However, getting older still beats the alternative! So
what can you do to remain “young”, well as young as possible? Try to avoid
the excesses of life and living. It is indeed the middle way is the best
way. Try to avoid getting overweight, and check your weight on the same set
of scales each week. If you are getting heavier, restrict the intake for a
No secret formula - just the middle way.
Family friendly dog looking for a forever home
Introducing Erin. This sweet young lady is 2 years old and is very
friendly and calm. She gets along well with everyone – people and
dogs. She has a lovely silky black coat and is medium-sized. Just
look at that beautiful face! Contact the shelter English (08 47 52
52 55) or Thai language (08 69 13 87 01)Email: [email protected]
to make an appointment to meet her. Visit the website
Heart to Heart
These women here are strange creatures. Hot as hell
one day and damn icebergs the next and I have absolutely no idea what
brings it on. Had a couple of live-ins and I’ve had to give them both
the door. Is there some way of finding out what these girls are like
before you get too far into the relationship? It doesn’t seem to matter
how much salary you pay them, if they get in a snit, that’s it.
You are certainly all heart, aren’t you. Pay “them” a salary and you
think you own the woman and how she feels. What sort of relationship is
that, me Petal? Your “live-ins” are merely “rented wives” (mia chow) and
they have no compulsion in leaving, generally by being non-communicative,
after which you will have to “buy” them out so they will leave. Mike,
you’ve met your match, and you are getting what you deserve. Maids get
salaries, partners are not maids, and it is time men like you realized
the difference. Any woman who is willing to be your live-in is not
trying to impress you. It is a straight out financial arrangement, and
the contract can be broken by either side - but if you say it’s over,
then you will pay again! Get out of the financial arena and find some
nice genuine Thai women who would like to share their lives with you.
I met a beautiful tall girl in a bar whose family buffalo was very well,
her brother doesn’t ride motorbikes and her mother is in A1 health. What
should I look out for as the next step?
Check the Adam’s apple.
It hurts me to think of you at Xmas, all alone with no chocolates or
champers. These people who knock you should remember all the fun you
give us each year. I won’t be back till the New Year, but I’ll bring you
back something for sure.
It makes it all worthwhile to find that there are some really nice men
out there who appreciate what I do for them. Advice and few smiles can
change the day for you. Champagne and chocolates changes my day and puts
the smiles on my face!
I have been going out with a wonderful Thai girl, a proper young “lady”
not a bar girl, and we have become quite serious and I am now looking
into the future. Everything seemed to be going along very well, although
we did have some problems, just caused by communication problems (as I
can’t speak Thai). The other night she dropped the bombshell. “My mother
tell me I must marry Thai man.” Just like that! Hillary, is this a
common thing in Thai families? Does her mother have that much power that
she can dictate what her daughter does, and even the choice of husband
for her? Surely in this 21st century Thai girls are not stuck with
arranged marriages, and if they are, what can a farang do in this
Does her mother have that sort of authority? Yes, Dave, in a traditional
Thai family she certainly does. It may be the 21st century for you, Dave,
but in Thailand it is the 26th century and despite the extra 500 years,
the traditional ways are still very strong. Thai people believe in the
need for family members to look after each other and her mother is
merely looking after her daughter in the traditional way. You are from
an alien culture, Petal, and even if your Thai lady is well versed in
the ways of the modern international world, the traditional values will
still be held by the family. Have you stopped to consider that perhaps
the Thai man may have already paid a dowry to the family? In the case of
a well educated girl this could go as high as two million baht. What can
you do? You can either keep in there and hope, or call it quits now
before you get in too deep. However, you should sit down with your girl
and discuss it first.
Have you seen all the pedestrian traffic lights on Beach Road? There are
16 of them and nobody paid a blind bit of notice to them, so now they
have chaps with flags complete with a whistle who jump out in front of
the speeding minibuses. I have checked the flag material and it is
plastic and no match for the vehicles. Pedestrian crossings are all very
fine, but 16 on Beach Road?
When they first went up outside the office, I thought they had done it
just for me and I was thrilled. Then I found they were everywhere!
Unfortunately James, my column is not going to take your case very far.
Being threatened by a baht bus belting through the red lights really
isn’t the stuff of heartbroken lovers, but I do understand your
annoyance. Instead of protecting the tourists, who will imagine that the
traffic will stop, it puts them more in danger. Send your letter to City
Hall, my Petal.
by Harry Flashman
Photography for Retirees
older has some down sides, I think everyone would agree, but to
make the twilight years more fun, is most important. That is
what keeps you young. After all, look at Grandma Moses, who in
her 70’s took up painting and became a world celebrity. You can
do the same with photography, and you don’t have to wash out the
Photography is actually an excellent pastime for the
senior members of your family. They have the time to indulge themselves,
they have endless grandchildren to photograph growing up, and it gives
them something to keep themselves active. A most important part of
Photography is something that can be picked up and
put down at will, it is not too physically demanding, and modern cameras
can assist in some areas where age has taken some toll. And the end
result is something that can give them great joy, be that award winning
sunsets or just pictures of the grandchildren.
So what camera should Granny get? The first pre-requisite
is autofocus (AF). There are many reasons for this, but since sharp
focus is necessary for a good final print, why not let the camera do it
for you, when sharpness in vision is something that becomes very
problematical as you get older. Since most people need reading glasses
by the time they are 45, and at least half the population has mild
cataracts by the time they are 60, AF is the way to go! Provided you can
point the camera in the right direction, the camera will do the rest.
Another problem often associated with aging is
stiffening of the fingers. This can make it difficult to operate the
small buttons on some of the very small pocket compacts. Before settling
on any particular camera, you should make sure that the senior in your
household can operate the equipment.
Now I have never been a great advocate of zoom lenses,
but they do have their place, and especially with senior photography.
Zoom lenses save you having to go the distance. Is it just too much of a
hassle these days to walk up to distant objects to get close-up details?
Then a zoom lens will do it for you. With a zoom lens it is no problem
at all to get a close-up, a wide angle and a distant shot from the same
camera position. Maybe an autofocus digital compact camera with an
inbuilt zoom lens is just the camera for you. Just push a button to make
the zoom bring the subject closer or farther away.
As we get older, we are also more prone to the
shakes. Today’s digital cameras can even compensate for the tremor, with
anti-shake technology. I do recommend that you look for this feature
when making your choice. This feature, often called Optical Image
Stabilization makes photography for seniors even easier.
Today’s camera manufacturers have taken the tears out
of flash too. Almost all new cameras have their own in-built flash which
comes on when the light levels are too low, will set their own flash
power and give you perfectly lit indoor night shots every time. You can
even use the in-built flash during the day to give your photos just a
little extra sparkle.
So which camera should you choose? Look for suitable
AF digital compacts with built in zoom, anti-shake technology and auto
flash and a large LCD panel so you can review the images. I would look
at a camera from the major manufacturers, both photographic and
electronic. We purchased a Samsung the other day, compact with 12 MP and
all the rest of the electronic features we look for today. It was under
Pricewise you are looking at spending something
around 10,000 baht. Avoid the overly expensive ones. The main features
you are looking for are as above, but the most important is whether it
feels good in your hands. The choice is yours.
So there you have it, Grey Power. There are cameras available now
which can get you into photography! If you once had the ‘photographic
eye’, then that ability is still there. Enjoy!
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
Gold - why it should be part of your portfolio
Gold went through USD1,300 in September as poor US economic
data led to a mini panic and people fleeing to safer havens as the fear of
deflation reared its ugly head again as it looks as though the Fed will revert
to that wonderful phrase of Quantitative Easing, a.k.a. printing money like it
has gone out of fashion.
The yellow metal was also helped by the fact that the
consumer is not a happy chappie at the moment and is the unhappiest he/she has
been for over a year. This is good for gold as unhappy people look for what they
deem to be a safe haven.
In its latest report, HSBC states that, “Currency
intervention … by the Bank of Japan, political pressure on China from US to
allow more exchange-rate flexibility, declines in consumer sentiment, and data
showing significant wealth destruction make a powerful cocktail of reasons for
gold to go higher. Prices may correct, we believe, if the 21 September Fed
meeting does not usher in QE, but we see no reversal of the long running gold
There are other reasons to look to gold. As I inferred in the
first paragraph, the West has taken on huge amounts of debt to try and keep
their economies afloat. This problem has not gone away, as can be seen by what
has happened in America. It has spent trillions of dollars in trying to
stimulate the economy and the job market is getting no better.
We should also take into account central banks. They are not
selling at the moment but buying it in ever increasing amounts. India bought 200
metric tons from the International Monetary Fund at the end of last year which
is only a start apparently.
Ten years ago, China had less than 400 metric tons of gold.
It now has over 1,000. This is a percentage increase of over 160% in ten years.
It is head and shoulders above most countries when it comes to importing gold.
Last year China was said to have gold reserves of nearly 34 million troy ounces.
This may seem a lot but the Chinese are still at a very small 1.7% of the entire
foreign exchange reserves. To put this into perspective, if China wants a gold
reserve of say ten percent then it would have to buy well over 6,000 tons of
gold or almost two and a half times the total worldwide annual productions of
the precious metal. It has to import because if it just relied on its domestic
mining facilities then it would take two decades to achieve.
On top of this, the Chinese government has actively
encouraged people to invest in gold directly. Over the last year, the demand for
gold was over 530 tons. This is not just due to demand by jewelers but, more
importantly, investment. Compare this with what happened just a couple of years
ago when only 17 tons were purchased.
Also, in August, China brought in major reforms for the gold
market. Foreign coins can now offer their gold coins at the Shanghai Exchange
and more banks are being allowed to bring in gold from overseas whilst, at the
same time, more domestic gold based investment products are being brought into
the marketplace. Because of all this the demands of Chinese investors will be
felt all over the world.
But it is not just the Chinese and Indians who are buying
gold. The global foreign exchange reserves have increased greatly over the last
few years and, as of a few months ago, were at over USD8 trillion whilst the
gold reserve ratio has gone down significantly over the last thirty years. As
Dr. Martin Murenbeeld, chief economist for Dundee Wealth Economics has pointed
out, “Investment demand in the second quarter of 2010 more than doubled compared
to the same period in 2009, and accounted for more than half of total global
demand. Investors bought the most gold since the first quarter of 2009, at the
depths of the Great Recession.”
The gold bull market has been a slow and steady one and,
therefore, there is no sign of a bubble. Apart from a couple of instances there
have been no massive price spikes that are typical with ‘bubble’ scenarios. Also,
there is a big factor which has not been relevant before and that is we are now
seeing a lot more people in the developing markets being able to actually afford
gold as a middle and affluent class is growing all the time. In the past, people
in these countries have usually reverted to gold to store their wealth.
As regular readers of this column know, I am a great believer
in history and economic cycles. If we go back over the last couple of hundred
years then the shortest gold cycle has been ten years. This present gold bull
market started in 2001.
Another reason for gold increasing in value is that the
world’s mine production is around 2,500 metric tons. This is about twenty five
percent more than it was twenty years ago but the net mine supply is less than
it was in 1990. Poor Research and Development over the last couple of decades
means that supply will continue to be hampered. This is also due to the fact
there has been an increase in scrap supply and lower quality discoveries along
with higher replacement costs. Over the last twelve months the demand for gold
has gone up 36% but supply has increased by only seventeen percent.
The world’s economic and political situation is not helping
either. Gold usually performs well in times of trouble and we certainly have
this now with the euro teetering on the brink of disaster, the US dollar not far
behind. Without doubt it has benefitted from the woes of other countries over
the last few years but it has to be remembered that over USD10 trillion is
expected to be added to the American debt burden over the next ten years and the
country’s trade imbalances are massive. These problems do not do the US dollar
any favours and support the safe haven status of gold over the long term.
Finally, do not forget the continued wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. On top of this you have the possibility of Iran and North Korea
developing their own nuclear weapons.
Gold loves these conditions and people love gold. Make sure
you do too.
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
of Howard Hawks
is the ultimate sophistication’. Leonardo da Vinci.
The Lumiere Bros. premiered the first film, in Paris in
1895. Just months later, Howard Hawks entered the world. He began his career
in the movies in 1917, aged 21 and worked steadily and independently (never
under contract to a studio) until the demise of the Hollywood that had
allowed his genius to flourish. He died aged 81 in 1977.
His apprenticeship was ideal: first as a production
assistant, an occasional writer, second unit director and assistant director
and from the mid –twenties as a director of low budget silent films – his
last being as late as 1929 with Trent’s Last Case, filmed without dialogue
despite the introduction of sound in 1926.
Hawks amassed 22 producer credits, 25 (often
unacknowledged) writing or story credits and 47 as a director. His first
film of note was The Crowd Roars, a racing drama starring James Cagney,
which was also made – as was not unusual at the time – in a French version,
starring Jean Gabin but with another director. This was closely followed by
Scarface, with Paul Muni outstanding as the gangster. Although in thrall of
German expressionism and an example of early sound films, it displays Hawks’
assurance and provocative talent (censorship and studio interference held it
up for almost two years). The brilliant Twentieth Century (1934) confirmed
his talent and this – the second screwball comedy to be made in Hollywood
and arguably the best – led to a long and prosperous career.
It is difficult, perhaps impossible to think of any other
director who excelled at so many genres. Hawks helmed action movies,
comedies, gangster and noirish detective films, dramas (To Have and Have Not),
satire, westerns (Red River) and even an historical epic. To all these he
brought his deceptively simple style, reliant on a mid-shot viewpoint,
seamless editing, brilliant dialogue (he worked on the scripts before
shooting began) and a sense of rhythm and pace that belongs to only the
greatest film makers. He was a story teller (the best ever according to
Quentin Tarantino) and the most agile and artful director (but never arty)
in the business. Jean –Luc Godard described him as the most cinematic of
American film makers (along with Hitchcock, who was, anyway, British).
Wisely he surrounded himself with the finest
collaborators, especially writers, cameramen and actors, some of whom he
treated in the same cavalier manner as Hitchcock notoriously did. Often they
gave their best screen performances under his direction, notably John Wayne,
Rosalind Russell, Lauren Bacall and Muni. Also outstanding were Cary Grant,
in four films, John Barrymore, Katherine Hepburn (who learned comedy on
Bringing Up Baby), Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, Montgomery Clift, Humphrey
Bogart, Richard Barthelmess and the enchanting Carole Lombard who was killed
in a plane crash not so long after the success of Twentieth Century.
Hawks thrived on complex relationships, male-female and
male bonding (Rio Bravo), heroic action (Sergeant York), provocation (Monkey
Business), sexual innuendo (The Big Sleep) and above all ‘a good story’. He
defined a good movie as one ‘having at least three good scenes and no bad
ones’ and would certainly not have agreed with Godard who suggested that
films should have a beginning, a middle and an end – but not necessarily in
His technique was unflashy (I can’t imagine his reaction
for such pseudo nonsense as Inception) and without trickery or special
effects. They adhere to Leonardo’s maxim completely: they are sophisticated
in the true meaning of that misused word, being complex, refined, subtle and
worldly -wise. This is what makes them timeless and gripping and fun, all
the way from Scarface to the later westerns.
There is a mistaken belief that he worked quickly (possibly
because of the breakneck speed of some of the dialogue and his refinement of
overlapping speech) or that he allowed improvisation. True he accepted some
late dialogue changes and even some ‘business’ (Bogart’s hat scene in The
Big Sleep), but improvisation by its nature contradicts cinema: the camera
observes, records and once a final take is registered, nothing can change
that except the crucial process of sound and picture editing, which brings
the captured images to life and meaning. He worked slowly, often to the
annoyance of the money men and with complete control.
Hawks was greatly admired by French film critics and some
British (notably Robin Wood) and by directors including Godard, Eric Rohmer
and Jacques Rivette. Sadly tinsel-town failed to recognise his talent,
although he kept working steadily and along with Cary Grant he only received
an Oscar for his life time achievement, never for an actual film. So much
The films stand up amazingly well (not all of them of
course) and many are available on DVD to buy or to rent from the DVD Film
and Music Shop at 289 Suthep Road, Chiang Mai. Try His Girl Friday or my
personal favourite Only Angels Have Wings and you’ll get hooked. Only Angels
stars Grant in a complex role, more severe than usual, Jean Arthur (who did
not get on with Hawks), Bathelmess and Rita Hayward and the wonderful Thomas
Mitchell. It epitomises Hawks’ style and themes: relationships and romance (fraught),
heroics and derring-do, loss, suppressed emotions, male bonding and action
and redemption – all within a tightly told narrative. Watch it and sigh for
the long-gone heyday of Hollywood and a director at the height of his
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I:
UK/ US, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery – Events caught up with me last column
regarding Harry: I said it was to be shown completely in 3D. Well, as you
know by now, the post-production process to change the 2D film into a
version of 3D did not work out well, and at the very last minute the studio
scrapped the idea for this film – though apparently they are still thinking
of it for the second half of this film scheduled to come out next July. Both
parts are directed by David Yates, who directed the previous two Harry
Potter films. Your average 2D to 3D conversion can turn out very badly
indeed, and I’m glad they kept to some standards in refusing to allow this
noble series to have an ignoble end due to a muck-up in the rendering of 2D
into something approaching 3D. As it stands, the film has some stellar
performances by a grand panoply of British character actors, and the three
leads have matured quite satisfactorily. It feels like a preparation and
build-up to the final earth-shattering conflict between our heroes and the
forces of evil and darkness, to come in the final film, but how could it be
otherwise? It is dark, with a hidden menace pervading everything, but it has
to follow the book – how could it not, at this stage of the game? There is,
all in all, much to enjoy as a film in its own right. I particularly enjoyed
the return of Dobby, and was even quite moved by his story.
Though not 3D, there is a digital version showing at Airport
plaza. Some people, certainly not all, think digital is better than the
usual film process. Whether it is for you is for you to decide, and if it is
worth the extra price. I think it’s marginally sharper and brighter. There
is in addition a Thai-dubbed version at both locations, though of course you
then give up all the carefully crafted vocal work of the original actors.
Generally favorable reviews.
Neither Fair Game:US, Biography/ Drama/ Thriller, nor
Let Me In:UK/ US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Romance, showed up when
scheduled, though they may come along later. If they do appear, see them.
What did show up was The Social Network:US, Biography/
Drama/ History – By David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,
Zodiac, Panic Room).A terrific film in my opinion, though I think the
main protagonist an ugly, amoral being who I would not want to have anything
to do with. The film is about the founders of the social-networking website,
Facebook, and the main instigator is a person you would not want to be
friends with. Yet he founds a gigantic enterprise based on friendship! Or
maybe fakefriendship! Reviews: Universal acclaim. Certainly in the
running for the next Academy Award. At Airport Plaza only.
Oceans: France/ Switzerland/ Spain, Documentary/ Drama
– Absolutely brilliant and beautiful – a must-see movie if there ever was
one. An ecological drama/documentary, filmed throughout the globe. Part
thriller, part meditation on the vanishing wonders of the sub-aquatic world.
Generally favorable reviews. At Vista only, in French with English and Thai
Unstoppable: US, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – Exciting
thriller starring Denzel Washington taming a runaway train. Seems everybody
is enjoying this one, as though just waiting for another good “runaway train”
movie! Generally favorable reviews.
Skyline: US, Sci-Fi/ Thriller – An eerie light draws
people outside where they suddenly vanish into the air, and it soon becomes
clear that an otherworldly force is swallowing the entire human population.
With a cast of relative unknowns and shot independently, this film is very
much the vision of its two creators, the Brothers Strause (Colin and Greg)
who have provided visual effects for seemingly every big-budget production
released over the past decade or so. And these effects are really superb,
setting a new level of special-effects work. But the dialogue and the
plotting are really bad. I mean, probably the worst I’ve ever experienced.
Generally unfavorable reviews.
Paranormal Activity 2: , Horror/ Thriller – Another
“found amateur film” of “real events” offers some really off-the-wall scary
moments, when you least expect them. And you’ll be asking yourself what did
you really see happen in the last few minutes. Mixed or average reviews.
Dinner for Schmucks: , Comedy – Apparently not as bad
as you would think. A rising executive finds out that his superiors at work
regularly host a dinner celebrating and mocking the idiocy of their invited
guests, and he then runs into a man who would be the perfect guest: An
extraordinarily stupid man who possesses the ability to ruin the life of
anyone who spends more than a few minutes in his company. Starring Steve
Carell and Paul Rudd. Mixed or average reviews.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
This column had printing problems before and the hand
diagram was scrambled, with the result that it was incomprehensible. I hope
that it makes more sense this time around. The deal comes from a Bridge Club
of Chiang Mai coaching session. South dealt and East-West were vulnerable.
The question is how to bid it.
The bidding that actually occurred at the session is shown above. You may
well think that is perfectly reasonable bidding and ask why the deal is of
any interest. One reason is that N-S can make a five diamond game, but
stopped at only the three level. West will probably lead the jack of hearts,
partner’s bid suit. Declarer wins this and pulls one round of trumps, noting
the fall of the queen. This indicates a 4-1 split and means that West has a
natural trump trick. If West ruffs therefore this will cost declarer nothing,
because any ruff will be at the expense at a natural trick. Consequently,
declarer switches to clubs so as to be able to ruff a club on board if
necessary. When West wins the ace of clubs he cannot afford to lead trumps,
because this gives up the natural trick. He will probably lead a spade which
declarer ruffs. Declarer continues playing on clubs, ruffing the fourth
round on board, and now pulls two more rounds of trumps and plays out high
hearts. In total the defence can score no more than one trump and the ace of
Declarer’s game is not the only one that can be made.
East-West can make four spades, played by East, against any likely defence.
South, being void in spades, is unable to lead a trump to cut down on
ruffing on board and will probably lead a high heart or club. The third
round of hearts will be ruffed on board and the defence will likely take
only two hearts and a diamond before declarer’s hand is set up.
So here is a deal where both sides can make game, but not
bid them! I cannot see any reasonable way for North-South to bid their five
diamond game and I certainly cannot see how East-West can find their four
spade game, particularly after North bids spades. So how would you bid the
deal in such a way as to find the available games?
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
HM the King’s Birthday
This year we see HM King Bhumibol
Adulyadej turn 83 and I am sure that all of us here join me in wishing him a
very happy day as he has certainly earned and deserves it. I recall when I
first came to Thailand and watching the evening news and being astonished
that the Royal news was broadcast nightly. A full half an hour filled with
the very busy doings of the King, the Queen and the Royal Family. The good
works the King and the Royal Family do on a daily basis never ceases to
amaze me. The selfless devotion of a King that has spent his entire life in
service of his country and his people is something Thailand is very proud of
and rightly so.
Countless are the Royal Projects around the country
that have been initiated by the King or by a member of the Royal Family
that have benefitted people living there. From the flood control that HM
the King initiated in the South after the massive flooding in Hat Yai
years ago and that saw the flood waters in Hat Yai drain off in a record
manner this time, to the crop substitution programs that have seen
hilltribes villagers replace their illegal opium crops with cash crops
like strawberries, flowers and more and allow them to support themselves
not only in a legal manner but one that is more sustainable as well.
Years ago, I saw a notice in the Bangkok Post for a
sale of Mudmee silk from one of the Queen’s projects. I knew then I had
to get some to take home for my mother. Off I went to the Palace for the
sale to find piles of beautiful handwoven silks on tables inside the
Palace grounds. What a surprise that was for me. I wrestled with a well
dressed and coiffed Thai lady for a lovely piece of brown and blue
Mudmee. I was so proud to take that silk home to my mother and tell her
the story of how it was the Queen’s project, designed to help women in
the North East market their wares without the problems of middlemen
taking all the profit.
Sadly, my mother never had a chance to turn piece of
silk into something beautiful, but, I have it now and will have it made
into something I can wear not only in her memory but in honor of the
Royal Family and all the good works they have done for the Land of
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden
See your garden from space
Google Earth is free software that can be easily
downloaded from earth.google.com. It contains satellite pictures of the
Earth. The resolution is so high you can see your tool shed and your car.
This fantastic program allows you to pinpoint your garden, your favourite
excursion destinations and friends houses abroad. You can save each
destination, so that if you click on one destination, you will fly in from
space, very dramatic. Then, if you click on another saved destination on
another continent, you zoom out, fly over-seas and zoom in again. Each
picture tells you longitude and latitude, the elevation and from what
altitude you observe Earth.
When using the program to find your way around, you do
exactly like the birds. Look for major landmarks such as roads or rivers,
and then you home in. Probably this is how my Red-throated Fly-catcher found
his way back to his corner at Dokmai Garden, after spending the summer in
Unfortunately, the satellite images for Chiang Mai are a
bit fuzzy as compared to crystal clear images of Sweden. Also, the Chiang
Mai terrain looks terrible. The teak plantations cannot be seen as the trees
are leafless, while individual longans can be spotted easily. The reason for
the fuzziness is probably the smog of the hot season. Taking pictures in the
rainy season would not work due to clouds. I guess the best time for taking
fair pictures here would be in November.
So, what can it be used for, apart from being fun
entertainment? You get a fair picture of surrounding terrain, to understand
rain patterns and water ways, which are important to know for a gardener.
The 1:50 000 maps are rare in Chiang Mai, and quite obsolete. This system is
much better (and free). You may also see where the evergreen areas are, in
case you wish to hunt for seeds of special plants. Finally, the program
clearly shows the only environmental problem on earth – overpopulation!
www.dokmaigarden.co.th. www. dokmaidogma.wordpress.com.
Life in Chiang Mai:
By Colin Jarvis
A New Beginning
Well it’s over, Loy Krathong that is. The explosive bangs
have died down, the Moo Baan karaoke singers are silent once more and the
night sky is virtually empty of moving lights. The decorations will remain
until 2011 and soon Thai friends will start wishing us “Have a good Happy
Loy Krathong is the start of the cool season, a season of
blue skies and dust. It is a time of friendly parties and the romantic
floating of Krathongs. Actually, nowadays I find floating Krathongs
terrifying. Someone once told me that when my wife and I float our Krathongs
together they will tell our fortune. If they float towards each other we
will be together for another year but if they float apart we had better
start looking for another partner. Frankly, I don’t want to start looking
for another partner, I am very happy with the one I have got and I was very
relieved that when we floated Krathongs this year they did come together.
Mind you I gave mine a bit of a push.
This year we were extremely fortunate in that we were
offered seats, opposite Panthip Plaza, to watch the big parade through
Chiang Mai. We were on the other side of the road from the judges and so as
each team of dancers came past they performed directly in front of us.
The paper palaces and floats were outstandingly good. So
much effort is put into producing these spectacular constructions that it
seems a shame that they will be destroyed and cannot be put on permanent
display. I felt extremely privileged to be able to sit down and relax and
enjoy this activity instead of having to stand on the pavement, as usual,
and be jostled by the rest of the crowd.
We also spent a wonderful evening with some friends who
run a training establishment in Hang Dong. After a delicious meal we floated
our Krathongs on their lake. The lake is full of catfish and the Krathongs
were made of environmentally friendly bread. The catfish erupted and
although there were some 30 people placing their Krathongs there was never
more than one candle burning at a time. I wonder what the catfish felt about
A friend of mine in America Facebooked me the other day
letting me know that he had finally put up his Christmas decorations. I was
able to send him pictures of our decorative lights and point out to him that
Thailand is far more efficient as these lights will do for Loy Krathong,
Christmas and Western New Year. I might even leave them up for Songkran.
This season of the year, with it’s plethora of
celebrations and parties, is a delight. Virtually non-stop bonhomie for
almost 2 months and the great thing is I don’t feel that Christmas has come
And speaking of Christmas, and do you know what it
celebrates? I have been asking a number of Thai friends and, since they are
not Christian they do not understand the background and they normally state
that, “Christmas is the Festival where you give presents”. I suspect that
this statement works as well in New York and London these days.
The point about these festivals is that, for hundreds of
years they had indicated a change in the seasons. Human beings, throughout
the world, use these periods to refresh themselves and think about a new
start in life. It is a time when all the bad things that have happened in
the previous year may be forgotten and it is a time when we can look forward
to the New Year with optimism. Three times a new beginning in fact.
Day Tripper: A trip to Chiang Dao
By Heather Allen
A friend recently extolled the beauties of the Chiang Dao
area, telling me he often goes there for weekends, exploring off the beaten
path and enjoying the beauty of the forests and caves.
Dao is on the way to Fang only 72 kilometers north of Chiang Mai. The most
famous aspect is the complex of caves that have been said to extend more
than 12 kilometers into the mountain in interconnected caverns. The longest
one open to the public is Tham Mah which is over 7300 meters long with Tham
Phra Nawn and Tham Seua Dao containing Buddha images and so are lit with
electrical lights but others can be viewed with the aid of a guide and some
Wat Tham Pha Plong is at the end of the road that goes
past the caves and is a small temple with a cave that is surrounded by the
lush forests (green at this time of year!). And while there are 500 steps to
reach the top, the view is worth the climb. Wat Tham Pha Plong was the home
of respected monk and teacher Luang Pu Sim Buddhacaro who died in 1992 and
whose relics still remain in the Wat he helped to found.
The area is full of activities, with rock climbing, white
water rafting, and trekking, where one can visit area hilltribes villages.
The town of Chiang Dao offers interesting markets, with the hilltribes
coming into town every Tuesday to sell their wares. Further up the road are
the beautiful waterfalls of Sri Sangwan, about 20 kilometers north.
Chiang Dao Nest is the most well known place to stay but
for those who aren’t afraid to rough it a little, Malee’s next door is also
quite popular. Chiang Dao is accessed from Chiang Mai via Highway 107. You
can make a day trip out of it, or do as my friend, and make it a weekend.