The Doctor's Consultation
by Dr. Iain Corness
Check-ups - what do I need?
After writing about check-ups last week, I have had many
queries as to which particular package was indicated for the people
concerned. Unfortunately, asking “What package should I have,” is almost
like asking “How long is a piece of string?” However, there are some general
guidelines you should follow, and much depends on your age and your personal
and family medical histories. I shall try and unravel the piece of string
for you now.
If you are a non-smoker under 30 years of age, play sport every weekend,
train regularly during the week, have never visited a doctor other than
childhood immunizations and have both sets of grandparents alive and well,
then a very simple general check-up is all that is needed. You are not at
high risk, but it is good to have a baseline to compare against as you get
older, and congratulations on being a far-thinking person! For the Bangkok
Hospital Pattaya, the “Essential” check-up package will provide that good
baseline, and if everything is normal, then a repeat check every two years
will be fine.
If you are under 40 years of age, but by now have given up the regular
training and weekend sport, you are in a somewhat different situation
medically. Your ‘risk’ category is higher and now is the time to really look
at your cardiovascular system in particular. Lipid (blood fats) profile and
a check on your red and white cells and a blood sugar reading will indicate
most major future problem areas. If both sets of your grandparents are still
around to celebrate your birthday, and your check-ups have been normal, then
continue your biennial check-ups, but if the grandparents are dying off,
then step up the frequency of the checks to every year, and ask for the
Deluxe check-up package. There is also the personal question of sexual
history. If you have been in the habit of going to some of the pleasure
palaces specializing in horizontal recreations (and you know what I mean),
then you should add in an AIDS and Hepatitis screen as well. Relax, it is a
simple blood test!
By the time you are in the 40-50 age bracket, physical wear and tear has
become evident. You are also looking very intently at whether you have
become “at risk” from the cardiac point of view. Now is the time you should
be looking at exercise stress tests and vascular screening (called the ABI
or Ankle Brachial Index). This is in the Superior package. Now is also the
time that you have to apply yourself to correct any lifestyle factors which
are going against your general health. Now! Before it is too late. And, by
the way, if you are female then you should throw a Thin Preparation Pap
Smear into the annual equation as well.
But it gets worse! When you pass the magic 50 number, you have reached the
age where you really have to be watchful. From your age factor, if nothing
else, you are considered to be ‘at risk’. If you have become overweight,
smoke cigarettes and get no exercise, then you have a much greater risk! It
is the Superior package again, but if you are a male, then you should add in
your prostate cancer screen, the PSA blood test (as well as the others such
as AIDS/Hepatitis if you are still indulging in nocturnal horizontals).
By the time you pass 60, then it might even be prudent to look at the
Premier check-up package. This checks everything from head to toe. Really!
It even includes a foot massage! It is commensurately more expensive, and
even requires you to spend some time in the hospital ward, but if you are
having some doubts about your health, then it might be worth the indulgence.
Please remember that these recommendations are very general. If you have
been having some symptoms of disease, or have a poor family history, then it
is worthwhile discussing these with the doctor before deciding which
check-up package and add-ons you should have. The important factor is to get
into the habit of regular checks. Your family will thank you.
Heart to Heart
Your column can easily be enlarged to monster size at the expense of
that corny old consultant. Who wants to read about the ins and outs of
sundry organs when you can give us a detailed analysis of the
perishibility factors relating to heavy-duty knicker elastic. I rest my
case and Pater rests his splod. Let us have an unexpurgated Aunty and
not an Aunty caught short willy-nilly!
Talk about the prodigal returning! Just when I thought you had pulled
out your paddle and had paddled off to different climes, here you are
bobbing up again, as large as life and twice as lively! I shall pretend
to ignore the fact that the chocolates and bubbly are still owing, even
though everyone will see through the pretence.
Now, as far as usurping the space put aside for other columnists writing
for this paper is concerned, there is no way I would such a thing. There
is a code of ethics in journalism, which you would not have realized,
since ‘ethics’ does not feature in your life, or vocabulary, I am sure.
However, please do not let me stand in the way of your scientific
breakthrough regarding knicker elastic. And thank you for worrying as to
whether I have been “caught short willy-nilly”. This does not happen as
willies do not come into my equation.
Thank you for brightening up everyone’s days. Yours is the first page of
the paper that I open every week, just to kick start a good weekend. I
do have a question. Do you know how to erase porn off your computer? I
use a work comp and don’t want the IT department to see that I do the
occasional trawl around some of the more raunchy web sites. Any ideas,
Dear Porno Pete,
Don’t “Petal” me, young Pete with the excess hormones, but thank you for
the nice words. Keeps this old crone going, really. Now, when you ask
about “any ideas”, do you mean do I know any more web sites for you to
drop your line in and go trawling, or how to furtively look for the
salacious sites without being discovered? You can always erect a screen
around the monitor, I suppose. Or there is the other alternative. You
could do a proper day’s work, instead of ‘trawling’, so you would have
nothing to worry about. Leave trawling to the fishermen, I say, they
have a hard enough time of it already.
I suppose you’ve been asked before, but I’ll do it again then. Who
writes all these dopey letters? Do you, or are their (sic) people at the
Pattaya Mail that do it for you. I can’t believe the numbers.
Have you ever heard of your namesake, the abacchus (usually spelt
abacus)? Once you know how to work one of those, you can really begin to
“believe the numbers”. But for the record, all kinds of dopey people
write in with their “dopey letters”, and you can add yourself to that
list! Satisfied now? You might also spend a little while learning the
difference between “their” and “there”.
My husband’s mother and father are coming out for a holiday next month.
This will be their first trip to Thailand and I am wondering where we
should take them. They are both in their 60’s, so we must be careful of
What have you to be careful of, my Petal? Will Pa-in-law become an
aggressive drunk and molest the waitress, or Ma-in-law shoulder the
girls out of the way at the chrome pole paradise? Honestly, what is the
world coming to? Stop worrying! Pattaya has more amazing things to do
and go to than just about anywhere in the world. You should put the
following on the agenda, one of the lavish on stage transvestite shows
such as Tiffany’s, a visit to some of the restaurants out over the water
on Walking Street like King Sea Food, take them to the tourist
entertainment outlets like Nong Nooch gardens, zoos and other similar
venues, enjoy relaxed BBQ’s with music at the Captain’s Corner for
example, a bit of Elvis on Thursday and Fridays at Jomtien Boathouse,
food and dancing at the Hard Rock Cafe and even take them to a go-go
bar. After all, they are here and someone will ask them on their return
what they were like. Grab one of the “bar hopping” guides which will
show you the kinds of places you might like to take the in-laws. Relax
and enjoy their being here. They’re old enough to tell you what they
I think your advice is daft. What right have you got to tell people what
to do? Why don’t you go back to your dog-house or wherever you came
To be perfectly frank, which I’m not since I’m a Hillary, I have as much
right as you have, my Petal. And, since you are the one with a bone to
pick, perhaps it is you that should be living in the kennel? Woof! Woof!
Camera Class by
The hand-held exposure meter is now officially dead
The hand-held exposure meter is now officially dead. Those of
you hoarding your old light meter should take the batteries out, clean it, place
it in a cabinet with some silica gel, and make a card with “Old fashioned light
meter” written on it, and start your own photographic museum.
Now the reason I say that is not because light meters are not useful in
photography - they are! However, the light meters inside today’s cameras are so
good, you don’t need to check them with a bulky, hand-held piece of extra
photographic equipment. Sometimes technology can work in your favor.
meters, both external and internal work on something called 18 percent
grey. All photographers who want to understand photography a little more
should become acquainted with the colour known as 18 percent grey. Why?
Because after you understand 18 percent grey, you have complete control
over blacks and whites in your photographs - and by that, I mean in
colour photography, not just the B&W kind.
The really dedicated photo buffs will recognize 18 percent grey as being
the cornerstone of the “Zone System” and Ansel Adams superb prints are
trotted out with sage mutterings that if you understood the zone system,
then your photos would look like his too. This is, unfortunately, frog
spawn. Ansel Adams spent many hours painstakingly printing his B&W work,
specifically burning in some areas, holding back others and if you think
he didn’t then think again.
here is the “short course” on the Zone System. What you have to remember
at all times is just the simple fact that the meter in your camera knows
intimately what is 18 percent grey, and is programmed to produce as much
18 percent grey as possible. In other words, point the camera at your
subject and the meter will work out a combination of shutter speed and
aperture to give an exposure to get the whole shot as close to 18
percent grey as possible. This is irrespective of whatever name the
camera manufacturer gives to the metering system and how many points it
meters from. The common denominator is 18 percent grey, and that comes
from the settings your meter dictates.
Now this works for the majority of shots - 18 percent grey is close
enough, and the processor at your friendly photoshop can adjust the rest
from there - but it is always a compromise. You do not even realise what
a compromise it really is until you take a photograph of a white car or
a black cat, and see that it has been printed grey.
This is one reason why I keep on saying that if you run the camera in
the fully A for automatic mode, you will only get A for “average”
pictures. What you have to do to get whites or blacks is to run the
camera in the metered manual mode instead. Remember that when you are
photographing the white car the exposure indicated by the camera is the
one that will make the white colour 18 percent grey. To get the colour
back to white it will need more light on the film.
Here’s what you do. Let us imagine that your camera tells you that the
exposure should be f16 @ 1/60th of a second. You need more light to fall
on the emulsion, so make your exposure f 11 @ 1/60th and another at f8 @
1/60th. That gives you both one and two full stops of light more. One of
those two will give you a white car.
Now when photographing a black object, the camera meter will indicate a
shutter speed and an aperture to give you another 18 percent grey
object. There is too much light falling on the film emulsion this time.
What you have to do is cut down on the amount of light getting into the
camera. Again imagine that the indicated exposure is f16 @ 1/60th. You
want to darken things, so take two shots with one at f16 @ 1/125th and
another at f16 @ 1/250th. Again this is one and two stops decrease in
light levels. One of these will give you a black car!
Simply - to produce white, give it more light. To produce black, wind it
Money Matters Graham
Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
Investment Portfolios - Part 2
The dictionary definition of an investment portfolio is:
“An aggregate of investments, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, arts or
even fine wines. What distinguishes an investment portfolio from net worth
is that some asset classes are not considered investments. This is usually
because that will not appreciate in value, or may even depreciate such as
cars, televisions, computer equipment, clothing etc.”
The majority of investment portfolios consist of common stocks in listed
companies and/or government or corporate bonds. These can be acquired
directly by an investor or a portfolio manager, acting on his/her behalf,
who will select individual stocks and shares for purchase. Alternatively,
they can be held through investment funds where the cost of employing an
investment manager to make these decisions is spread over a large number of
investors buying units in a ‘collective’ investment.
Bonds and shares/stocks represent just two of the investable asset classes
that are available - there are also three others:
Property - commercial or residential, whether owned directly or
whether syndicated (i.e. a group of investors combine to buy a single
property) or through the shares/stocks in a traded property company or
through funds, generally knows as Real Estate Investment Trusts - where a
group of investors combine to own a number of properties via collective
investments. The main effective differences between a property company and a
REIT is that a REIT’s value is based directly upon its net asset value and
the income that it generates is set aside as a yield. With a property
company its share price is determined by market supply and demand for its
shares and rental income is a receivable of the company with the company
able to decide how much of its free cash flow can be paid to shareholders as
Cash and Deposits - these can include overnight money market
deposits, fixed term deposits, Certificates of Deposit, promissory notes and
short term bonds as well as collective investments such as money market
funds. These can also be managed to generate currency gains as well as
Alternative Investments - this is basically everything not covered in
the four ‘traditional’ asset classes - derivatives, such as futures and
options, commodities, hedge funds, etc. These can often be used in
conjunction with traditional assets as a source of added diversification.
It has long been our belief that if a financial institution, of whatever
description, designs a portfolio that does not look to exploit the
investment opportunities of all 5 asset classes then it is selling its
investors short of the potential that they could realize. This is what the
majority of private banking portfolios mentioned last week have failed to
do. When you choose a new car, would you randomly exclude 60-80% of the
models available? If you insist on constructing a portfolio from just one or
two asset classes, and not all 5, that is exactly what you’re doing. Also,
as you can see from today’s graph, no single asset class does well all the
time, therefore it is vital to have free access to all of the available
options at any given time.
Five Asset Class Performance Since 1998
For some time now the MitonOptimal Core
Diversified Portfolios have performed exceptionally well because the fund
managers recognise that 90% of return derives from asset allocation, i.e.
making the right big picture calls. Also, to unlock the potential of all of
these asset classes, a fund manager must take both an active and a highly
pragmatic approach to asset selection. MitonOptimal believe that an
investment should perform in absolute terms not just relative terms. In
their opinion, if something is not likely to outperform cash then they
should hold cash. This explains why, during the recent market dislocations,
they were up to 35% invested in cash and deposits within some of their
portfolios. All of this, in no small part, explains why MitonOptimal
continue to garner an impressive array of awards purely for the performance,
especially the risk-adjusted performance, of their core portfolios. From the
MBMG perspective, these core portfolios form around 50% of the holding of
our clients’ portfolios. While the actual proportion varies from client to
client, we tend to regard these as the bedrock for just about every client
because they are, to varying degrees, suitable for just about every client’s
Whilst each client’s portfolio is individually designed to suit the specific
currency, liquidity, risk and security requirements of each individual
client, we couldn’t help but notice, some time ago, that the portfolios of
the vast majority of our clients have around 80% commonality with each other
when adjusted for currency bias - that is to say that 80% of the total
portfolios of most of our clients are broadly the same apart from than the
currency aspect. It’s only the other 20% that gives most portfolios their
specific flavour. This is not that surprising - most investors want
reasonably similar levels of risk and return and liquidity and, in many
cases, personalising a portfolio really involves tweaking our optimum
portfolio to give it either less or more liquidity and/or more or less risk
in return for more or less return. Recognition of this high level of
commonality and overlap has created an opportunity for improved
administration and cost saving within a client’s portfolio.
By aggregating the common elements of client portfolios into a new fund,
based in Guernsey and regulated by the Guernsey FSC, this means that instead
of issuing a sell and a buy instruction in respect of say 1,000 clients
every time that we, when advised by MitonOptimal, wish to change the asset
allocation within a portfolio we would simply issue a single instruction
instead of 1,000 instructions. Please remember that each buy and sell
currently costs GBP 45/USD 85/EUR 66/AUD 112, so reducing from 1,000
instructions to just 1 reduces the cost, in this example, from GBP45,000 to
just GBP 45. That’s a saving of GBP 44.95 for each and every client each
time that a buy and sell is transacted. Pretty quickly, at this rate,
significant savings can be achieved. Furthermore, other economies of scale
within the portfolio can result in additional savings and certain
institutional funds that might normally only be available in minimum amounts
of say US$1 - 5 million can now be bought through the new Guernsey fund and
the benefits enjoyed proportionately by all investors. The concept of the
Personalised Portfolio Bond wrapper is to allow all investors to access the
very best investment opportunities. To a large extent it does this although
it doesn’t allow access to those most exclusive funds with high investment
minima. This problem is now solved by the new approach.
These new funds, which are technically known as a Protected Cell Company,
are available in Sterling, Euro, US Dollar and Australian Dollar. It is
worth noting that the funds will be audited and that the weekly prices will
be published meaning even greater levels of accountability and transparency.
In short, the investment strategy and methodology should be little changed
from any highly successful private client portfolios - the historic
performance of these can be shown via monthly performance fact sheets - but
the implementation of this strategy should be more efficient, cost-effective
For investors these new funds are a major step forwards as it combines the
expertise of companies like MitonOptimal with the personal service of a good
IFA. It also gives even greater institutional buying power and with reduced
costs thus allowing the client the potential to make more money without
further exposure to any greater risk.
One day, all investment portfolios will be managed like this...
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 Graham Macdonald on [email protected]