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Heart to Heart with Hillary
Let’s go to the movies
Staying happy in Paradise - the Counseling Corner
MBMG International Ltd.
Nominated for the Lorenzo Natali Prize
Is Small Beautiful?
Hypothetically, if you invest in good, attractive smaller
companies then they should provide you with good long term growth. This is
because the returns are based upon the premise that smaller companies normally
keep a good percentage of the earnings they have made so they can continue to
increase the size of the business. Also, any good small company should be able
to be more flexible and respond quickly as and when opportunities come along
which will enable them to make good profit quickly.
On top of this, if a small company that is actively managed
and well run is operating in a larger marketplace then it should be capable of
continuing to expand its share of that particular sector without annoying any of
the larger players in the same market.
Many people, including fund managers, do not look at small
companies because of all the inherent risks that go with investing in them. This
means that not as much research is done on them as could be. In turn, this
indicates that there is huge potential to buy this sort of investment at very
attractive prices which means that any buyers could make excellent returns on
their money. That is the good news. The bad is that, as indicated above, it is
very possible to lose a lot of money on smaller companies. This is can be seen
by the fact the AltX Index has lost almost 75% in the last couple of years.
So, how do we at MBMG sort the wheat from the chaff? Below,
we will show how we go about looking into smaller companies and what is required
from them in order for us to invest in them.
First of all, why do we want to invest in this type of
company? Well, Scott Campbell and Martin Gray of MitonOptimal Guernsey and MBMG
core partners, advocate that committing to certain small companies will add
value to a portfolio. This is not only due to improved capital growth but also
because it adds diversification.
One of the main problems though is liquidity constraints as
it can take quite a bit of time to add to or get out of the original investment.
This is why we keep on about long term growth and not short term. However, it is
important not to plough in without thinking or doing the proper research into
the company you want to invest it.
It is vital to understand the business methodologies of the
company you are looking at. From this you will be able to gauge the risk factor
and assess whether or not it meets with your risk/reward ratio. Important areas
to look at are such things as: the strategy the company has devised for itself,
the business sector it is trying to get into or how well it is doing once it has
established itself, the risk factors and the long term goals of the company
A lot of the companies you may want to look at will only have
been set up a short while ago and so there will not be a lot of history to look
at to see how well or badly they have been doing. When this happens the investor
must take a very careful look at the board of directors and/or managers of the
company as it is these people who will make or break the company.
Once the assessment of the management team has been done and
the investor is happy with the findings, it is very important to then look at
the actual information they provide on their own company. One of the many
surprising factors we have found is that the management teams of many new
companies are more concerned about what the shares of the company are worth as
opposed to the actual running of the company and seeing how this will be of far
more benefit in the long term.
Whist it is very true that shares can be a means to extra
funding it is much better to look at a company which is well run, tightly
managed and more concerned about the long term goals and growth of the business
rather than tomorrow’s stock prices. It is very rare that the growth in the
value of shares does not follow an increase in profits.
Another important factor for investors is that the management
team of the company that has been invested is in active communication with both
the market place and the individual investor. This should be done when good AND
bad things occur. When the latter happens it is not uncommon for people to be
left in the dark about what is going on and this can lead to catastrophe as it
can bring about loss in confidence and then large scale stock selling. By good
communication this can be avoided especially if the management has continued to
provide up to date reports on its long and short term strategy and goals thus
showing its investors that it should always be in a position to make capital
available for high returns. There is a good argument to say that the old days of
being able to fool the market with earnings per share growth which has been done
by mergers and acquisitions while totally ignoring a good return on invested
capital are now a thing of the past.
Hand in hand with good communication is the way a company
does its reports. It is vital to see how a company actually makes its profits
and also how they report these gains. It is also very important that they do not
change the structure of how this is done. Some companies, big as well as small,
are infamous for changing the way they report almost each and every year. This
makes the accounts difficult to follow and raises questions as to why this has
One final thing which will also please potential investors is
that the directors/management of a small company are in tune with what the
shareholders want. This can be done by having a reasonable amount of shares in
the company as well or by providing good incentive schemes. By doing this,
outside investors will see that those who run the company are also sharing in
the risk and this, at least, should indicate they will be careful with any and
all the money which has been invested in the company.
Whilst many large fund managers have now run to the large
caps for safety, there are still lots of opportunities for investing in good,
small companies that have the right structures in place. Small businesses should
outperform over a period of time. However, one does have to be careful in
selecting which to go with and which to avoid. A company that knows its business
and concentrates on what it does well will nearly always be able to look after
its shareholders and this is what MBMG and its strategic partners MitonOptimal
are constantly looking out for.
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@example.com
Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman
With the advent of color photography, the emphasis on lighting became
(apparently) less. Photographers spent much time looking for blue doors
to use for a model in a yellow dress. Eye-catching, colorful and
powerful images were the new mantra.
B&W beach shot using shadow
However, with the advent of digital photography, and
the ability to instantly review what you had taken, there became a shift
back to looking at lighting.
The true “definition” of photography has often been
said as “painting with light” and quite honestly, this concept of
painting with light is one of the more exciting aspects of photography.
It is also something that even the weekend photographer can experiment
with and produce photographs that will amaze not just you, but also
those who view them, with their ability to leap off the paper.
The secret of painting with light is to remember that
all photographs should have a mixture of light, and its opposite, called
shadow. Blasting the subject with a sea of light produces flat,
wishy-washy photographs. This is why I am not in favor of the in-camera
flash that pumps out enough light power to illuminate the moon. To
produce shots with depth requires shadow. Just as when you look at a
house, the sun casts a shadow which gives the house depth, as well as
height and width. Depth is the third dimension, and without it you only
have a two dimensional flat image. For the impression of 3D, you need
Now getting back to the job of taking photographs and
painting with a bit of light. The usual light source is the one I like
to call the Great Celestial Light Technician. This is more commonly
referred to as the sun. Now the sun will supply enough light to
illuminate half the world at one sitting, so there’s plenty of power for
your subject and then some.
However, that sunlight is not all that suitable for
most of the day, because when the sun is directly overhead, you do not
get nice shadows. In the early mornings or late afternoons, when the sun
is closer to the horizon, the shadows are longer, more visible and give
more depth. So as well as being a more flattering light in the golden
glow afternoons, the sun is at a better angle to give good shadows. So
to improve your daytime shots only shoot between sunrise and 9 a.m. and
4 p.m. till sunset.
Do not be afraid to let shadow into the shot.
Position your subject so that they are not square on to the sun, but let
the light come from about 45 degrees across the subject. Shadow adds
mystery. Shadow adds that extra something. Use it!
Now let’s look at when you provide the principal
source of light, after the sun has disappeared. There are actually many
sources of light after dark - there is the electronic flash, both the
“on camera” type and the off camera type, there are tungsten studio
lights, there are tungsten spotlights (like the garden varieties), there
are street lights, neon lights and even car headlights. All these light
sources are at you beck and call, and all (other than the on camera
flash) can work for you to produce great shots. Just look at where the
Many of you have a small flash unit that slips on to
the “shoe” on the top of your camera. Do not use it there! Go and invest
in a remote shoe. This comes with some electric cord that plugs into the
camera body and has a shoe plate at the end of it that slips over the
foot of your flash. You can buy extension cords too, and I would advise
getting one about three meters long. Now you can position your subject
anywhere you like and let the flash come down upon the subject at 45
degrees and you will get a much better photograph than the flash on top
of camera straight on shot. Try it.
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
Dupuytren’s Contracture - The ‘Viking Disease’
The early Vikings colonized much of Europe over 1,000 years
ago but the longboats carried more than just warriors. They carried a
remarkable genetic disease producing contracture of the fingers on either
hand, and which was later called Dupuytren’s Contracture after Baron
Dupuytren’s contracture generally affects the fourth and
fifth fingers of the hands and slowly flexes the fingers towards the palm of
the hand. Eventually the fingers cannot be straightened out and the sufferer
cannot put his hand in his pocket without catching the finger(s) and it also
becomes difficult to shake hands, as the flexed fingers make it difficult to
open the hand. The amount of flexure is stated in degrees - up to 60 degrees
covers mild to moderate cases, whilst more than 60 degrees is considered
It is a relatively common condition, with a global
prevalence of 3-6 percent with the highest percentage being in Scandinavian
countries. Countries that have seen a high level of immigration from
Northern Europe see a notably higher rate of occurrence. In Australia for
example, it is estimated that 30 percent of people over the age of 60 are
It is considered to be an inherited, genetic disorder.
One study examined 832 relatives of 50 people with Dupuytren’s contracture
and found that 68 percent of the relatives were affected by the condition.
Because of this, it is not a condition that is accepted by insurance
companies in many countries. Males outweigh females in the ratio of at least
3:1 and the vast majority of cases are also older than 50 years. The peak
incidence is around 60-70 years in women and 50 years in men. If you have
this condition, you shared it with Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher, but it
is not a guarantee of becoming the leader of a country.
In common with many people whose antecedents came from
the UK, I too have the Viking disease, given to me by a longboat man from
Denmark or Norway on one of his R&P (rape and pillage) visits some one
thousand years ago. He did not leave his name. And in keeping with the
genetic component, my mother has the condition as well!
The usual treatment to correct this condition is surgery,
but requires the skill of a specialist in hand surgery. It is also not an
easy procedure, as the thickened and contracted tissues (called the
aponeurosis) in the palm of the hand have to de dissected out from the
nerves and arteries which can be caught up in the thickened tissue. Not only
is surgery difficult, but the recurrence is also very high, with recurrence
rate figures estimated to be in the range of 20-40 percent after five years.
However, there is another surgical technique, known as
Needle Aponeurotomy (NA), which does not call for surgical dissection, but
is carried out under local anesthesia and involves partially cutting the
thickened tissue with the side of a needle. Following this, forced extension
of the affected fingers results in the snapping of the aponeurosis, allowing
the finger(s) to straighten out once more.
NA procedures are not without problems either, but the
incidence of side effects appears to be less than surgery. The drawback is
the recurrence rate, which seems to be around 50 percent after a few years,
but on the plus side, NA can be repeated. NA is also not a common procedure,
with many hand surgeons preferring to continue with the ‘tried and true’
Now, back to my own condition. Over the past 15 years the
flexion deformity in my little finger of my right hand has progressed to the
stage of around 60 degrees. I was unable to push a door open with my palm
and shaking hands was difficult with the finger being unable to extend.
People began to think I was giving them a secret handshake!
I discussed this with my hospital’s hand surgeon Dr.
Suradej and between us agreed to give NA a trial. That was two weeks ago,
and my deformity is now only 10 degrees. We are now watching carefully. I
will let you know how it is progressing, but so far it looks very hopeful.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I am a German and I am reading the Pattaya Mail since
ever and just because of your column. I do not live in Pattaya and I am thinking
some of your advices should be printed in a small brochure and to be handed over
to passengers whilst final approach on Suvarnabhumi. Your answers always give me
a good laugh Fridays.
Anyhow, now living here permanently since many years, this
letter to you is just in ref. to the German fellow named Helmut, who wrote about
missing mail from Germany.
You are absolutely right that someone should put the
banknotes between some other folded papers but he should also in any case mail
the letter as registered mail. Sending registered letters from Germany means
that in case of loss the sender is able to claim the loss in fulfilling a
certain formula. Be sure that a registered letter can be followed up to the
final point and be sure that there is a certain department at the Post
Headquarters in Bangkok and they are damn serious in that cases. What ever the
result will be, the sender will receive his money back in meaning of the fees
only. It is on his risk to send money.
So I just had two losses. In one case an ambush and robbery
on such a van in Germany. In the other case it has been stolen from the safe
inside the Post-Office in Thailand, which has been open and not been over
watched just for a very short period. Not only did I get the money back, but I
had to prepare a letter to be sent to the Headquarter in Bangkok describing that
I forgive the man in charge who made it possible that the thief could grab the
letter, which I have done.
If the sender is using bi-lingual address labels there will
be less problems. Handwritten address and not in capital block letters can be a
problem and will cause delays for sure.
I am receiving registered small parcels from Germany
regularly and the valuable content of it is mentioned outside on the tax
declaration. I have never lost such a parcel. So due to my experience there are
more stolen letters within Germany itself. Special the letters containing credit
cards like Amex which are coming by normal Mail from Brighton U.K. and any idiot
knows what’s inside. I have cancelled my membership after 25 years for that
reason even if the cards are worthless for the thief due to security things.
So finally in case that Mr. Helmut was sending a registered
letter, he can claim it as lost. It is free of charges and he will get his
postage fee back for sure and he will find out if the girl was lying. A
registered letter has to be signed on receipt, so the girl can’t lie without
having problems (she would have for sure if I would be the postman).
For me it seems that Mr. Helmut is not so much in love based
on the amount he did send to his bar-girl. Hard times for the water-buffalos are
Looking forward in reading more of your advices to the
inexperienced rookies my best regards and all good wishes to you.
Ronald from Rayong
Dear Ronald from Rayong,
Thank you very much for all your advice, Petal (but I did have to shorten you
letter a little, sorry). However, with electronic transfer of funds these days,
the easiest way is to do a bank transfer from your (German or wherever) account,
to an ATM based account here. Of course, as you say, if you are running a ‘funny
money’ account, then you have to be careful! Put a ceiling on the amount that
can be withdrawn as a daily amount too.
Re the chap trying to transfer money to his lady friend and wondering if she is
telling lies that she didn’t get the money, it is guineas to gooseberries that
this is a con. These girls are past masters at it, and even any girl fresh from
the rice farm picks up the method in a week, from the excellent teachers at the
bar. Any foreigner who transfers money to Thailand for a girl he met in a bar on
a two week holiday deserves to be ripped off (and he definitely will). There’s
enough books written on the subject. But I wonder if some of these people can
Dear UK Jeff,
You have pointed out some well documented problems, but I wonder from the tone
of your letter, whether you might be a little bitter? Did you get ripped off at
some time in the past, Jeff? It is very easy to get suckered in, trying to make
the holiday romance feeling continue from thousands of kilometers away, while
sitting in the cold and wet and remembering the warm summer nights in Thailand.
I have advised so many over the years, to have the holiday fling, enjoy the warm
ways of the professional ladies from the bars, but to always remember, that is
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Pattaya
Salt: US, Action/ Thriller –
Bombastic, complicated, old-school spy thriller in a modern-style action
flick, starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Angelina is a marvel to watch as she plays a CIA officer on the run,
using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to
elude capture and prove her innocence. Directed by Phillip Noyce
(Clear and Present Danger, Rabbit-Proof Fence). Generally favorable
The Last Airbender: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/
Fantasy – Generally unfavorable reviews. A shame, because the source
material is so brilliant and powerful and hugely popular. I saw this
film again at the first showing last week (but in 2D, not 3D) and yes
it’s incomprehensible, most especially for those who have not seen the
series. I can’t image such viewers would have the slightest idea of what
is going on. I did appreciate the art direction: the sets and the
visuals were quite enthralling, and there were some fine vistas of
considerable grandeur. However, reports state that the 3D color is
considerably less vivid, and overall quite dark. Most reports that
compare the 2D and 3D say that the 2D experience is superior. Both 2D
and 3D are available at Pattaya Beach, 2D elsewhere, and the Big C
version is Thai-dubbed. Reviews are right on the verge of “Overwhelming
I did enjoy most of the special effects taken
individually, but they didn’t cohere for me. In fact the whole of the
film seemed inchoate. I am disappointed because I am really fond of the
61-episode animated television series on which the film is based. That
series has just concluded an extended run here on Thai TV, and I watched
it, and am hooked on it. Buy the series and see that instead of this
Inception: US/ UK, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi/
Thriller – I’ve seen this film a third time now, and it’s making more
sense all the time. It’s an action flick, with car chases and gunfights,
and you can enjoy it on that level without worrying about the puzzles.
However, it is chock full of puzzles and mazes, and extraordinarily
challenging on that level. It has garnered a raft of ecstatic reviews
from those attuned to Christopher Nolan’s brand of mind games, such as
his memorable Memento, and for his fans this is certainly a
not-to-be-missed event. Already there are huge discussions online about
just how much of the film is actually a dream, and wild arguments about
whose dream it might be. Or if various different people are dreaming
different sections. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio in another in his string
of outstanding state-of-the-art acting jobs. It’s written, directed, and
produced by Christopher Nolan, and he was given all the money he needed,
so it’s just what he wants it to be. That in itself is remarkable in
this day and age. Highly recommended. Generally favorable reviews.
Not at Big C.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Directed by Jon
Turteltaub (National Treasure 1 & 2). You remember: A sorcerer
leaves his workshop in the hands of his apprentice, who gets into
trouble when the broomstick he’s tasked to do his chores for him somehow
develops a mind of its own. That’s the plot of the segment in Walt
Disney’s Fantasia which is the origin of this movie. Apparently
the idea was Nicolas Cage’s, who wanted to make a feature length movie
based upon the Fantasia segment. The cast consists of Cage as
Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer and computer simulation expert, based on the
magician Yen Sid portrayed in Fantasia; Jay Baruchel as an
average college student who becomes Blake’s apprentice – he is based on
the character played by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia; and Alfred
Molina as an evil magician. Mixed or average reviews. In Thai only at
8E88 / Fan Lala: Thai, Comedy – On the eve of his
wedding, a groom is arrested as the assassin of a politician. He claims
to be innocent, but is taken to the dreaded “Zone 8E88” where he will be
induced to tell the truth. A prison comedy, if that’s your thing.
Major Cineplex only, and in Thai only.
Tukky: Thai, Comedy, Romance – Thai fantasy tale
of an ugly princess in a magical land. In Thai only at Big C, English
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: US, Fantasy/ Romance/
Thriller – The pack is back again! In this episode, Bella is forced to
choose between her love for Edward (heartthrob Robert Pattinson, a
vampire) and her friendship with Jacob (heartthrob Taylor Lautner,
member of the Quileute Wolfpack) – knowing that her decision has the
potential to ignite the struggle between vampire and wolfpack, and a
tissy fit between fans of each. Mixed or average reviews. At Major only,
if still here.
Despicable Me (2D): US, Animation/ Family – I
found this a completely delightful animation – a pleasant surprise with
a voice all its own. Generally favorable reviews. Now only in 2D. Not at
Major, and Thai-dubbed elsewhere.
Predators: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller
– I did enjoy this! I thought it a quite superior film of the
action-adventure type. What really impressed me was the fun the actors
seemed to be having with their characters. The photography was striking,
the mood nicely tense and forbidding, and the music fascinating! I’m not
a particular fan of this sort of film, but I found it quite
entertaining. Mixed or average reviews. Not at Big C. May have departed.
The Karate Kid: US/ China, Action/ Drama/ Family/
Sport – Even worse than I had imagined. Filmed in Beijing
emphasizing tourism sites, which the Chinese required; turns out that’s
the best part. Generally favorable reviews. Not at Big C.
Staying happy in Paradise - the Counseling Corner
Sleepless in Pattaya
Richard L. Fellner
“Pattaya - the city that never sleeps!” To many of
the people living here, this marketing slogan will only give a sour
smile: often, they suffer from chronic problems after not being able to
find a good night’s sleep. The consequences of insomnia, however, are
often tiredness during the day, a weakened immune system, susceptibility
to depression, lack of concentration and higher risks for diabetes and
Unfortunately, insomnia is often treated
inadequately: with medication only, no matter what causes it. Doing
that, however, ignores and suppresses the message of our body that
something is wrong. Physical complications can occur, and due to
psychological dependence, falling asleep without taking a pill might
feel harder than ever before.
Few people know that sleep disorders can almost
always improve greatly by identifying and then eliminating the causes
robbing one’s sleep. The most common of these causes are usually
relatively easy to get to grips with: avoid coffee and cigarettes in the
evening, light, heat and noise during nights. For chronic insomnia (if
the sleep disorder lasts more than three weeks), a medical checkup for
diseases of the heart, the circulatory, digestive and the urinary tract
and metabolic disorders is advisable to test for physical causes. If no
physical causes can be identified, a brief series of solution-focused
therapeutic counseling can almost always achieve a long-term improvement
of your sleep abilities.
Live the happy life you planned!
Richard L. Fellner is head of the Counseling Center Pattaya
in Soi Kopai and offers consultations in English and German
languages after making an appointment at 0854 370 470.
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