The Week That Was #2019-01

At long last, the silence has been broken! Honestly, I start too many entries in a similar fashion on this blog. The last period of activity stretched from the end of July 2018 until i posted my New Year’s Eve shaky-cam video earlier this week. I haven’t checked but I believe it to have been the longest gap in the history of Asian Meanderings and perhaps going back as far as ‘Burque Blog. Does anybody remember that incarnation?

As the end of 2018 approached, I thought that the best way to rejuvenate what was once my one and only blog was by taking a look at the year that was. I began sorting through photos taken and journal entries written each day in attempts to find something interesting to highlight. There were quite a few blog-worthy happenings throughout the year but I quickly bored of trying to find them and put them into a form that people would actually enjoy reading! I got as far as mid-March before I abandoned the project.

At the same time I was thinking about how to resume regular posts to Asian Meanderings, I was also trying to come up with a solution to the behemoth that my A Stamp A Day blog has become. Gaps in posting over there have never been a problem — I have published at least one entry on it for 923 consecutive times. Many of those articles are quite lengthy and require research and images and a lot of time to put together. Time I could be spending working on my other blogs. Such as this one!

My solution for A Stamp A Day is to switch to a once-per-week publishing format (with a name change, of course). Before I start publishing less, I aim to reach Post #1000. That will occur in late March of this year. In the meantime, I am trying to write shorter articles but brevity has never been my forte.

The idea to write just a weekly article is an attractive one, something that I think I can use for this blog as well. It may take a few weeks (articles) of experimentation to see what works best but, for the meantime, I will simply try to summarize the previous seven days with a mix of images and commentary along with mentions of what I’ve been reading, watching, teaching, learning, or whatever.  I really want to work on my video shooting and editing skills so that I can post some “around town” video clips. I think those would be more entertaining than my words could ever be.

With the intro and mission statement out of the way, let’s get to the week that was.

Currently, I teach each of two high school levels (M1/2 — ages from 12 to 14 — and M3/2 — in which most of the students are 15 or 16 with one 14-year-old) once per day four days a week in a huge school operated by the local government. I took over these classes about two weeks ago when their previous teacher quit; I think I am their fourth or fifth teacher since the beginning of November. While there were officially just two days off for the New Year holiday (Monday and Tuesday of this week), the Fridays of last week and this one have had classes cancelled for various events. With Mid-Term exams starting tomorrow, there hasn’t been a lot of review time. I hope the students’ grades don’t suffer as a result.

I didn’t do much during my holiday other than reading a bit and working on A Stamp A Day. On New Year’s Day, I took a walk through the neighborhood which is basically the heart of Phuket Town’s tourist area. I was surprised at the large number of tourists walking around the Old Town snapping photos and buying ice cream or fruit shakes Tuesday afternoon. In fact, the sidewalks have been packed each day this week as I’ve walked to and from the school. On New Year’s Day, the majority were Chinese and Australians while on Thursday and Friday I heard many French and Russian accents and there were a more-than-usual number of children as well. I spent some time that day choosing a new theme for the Asian Meanderings blog

On Wednesday, I was stopped by security on the pedestrian bridge between two shopping centers near my agency and I could see traffic cops in their fanciest uniforms trying to stop all cars going north and south. Soon, a half-dozen Highway Patrol cars zoomed down the highway, followed by a fleet of mini-vans (one of which looked a bit different), and several accompanying ambulances. This was a Royal motorcade, something that was once a common occurrence in parts of Phuket but which hasn’t been seen for a couple of years of so. At least on this scale. Somebody said it was the King but it wasn’t grand enough for him (they usually give everybody in sight Thai and yellow Royal flags when he passes by). It was probably one of the princesses.

I walked to the post office after I finished teaching on Thursday. I’d planned to buy the new Year of the Pig stamps which had been issued on New Year’s Day and ended up purchasing several other recent issues as well. I had to do this in the huge main post office as the original one next door (housing the Phuket Philatelic Museum) is still undergoing repairs following last year’s roof collapse. The pleasant and efficient clerk informed me that the museum (and its excellent shop) would re-open on February 23. I think that coincides with this year’s Old Town Festival which is my favorite of the local celebrations.

On Christmas Day, I began reading John Grisham’s 2011 novel The Litigators after finishing a fascinating history of the construction of the Eiffel Tower which also detailed the World’s Fair it was built for as well as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, and Thomas Edison. I finished the novel yesterday, my first of the year, and began reading a history of the progressive rock genre (in addition to a lifetime spent following mainstream rock and roll, I’ve been a longtime fan of early Genesis and Peter Gabriel and newer prog such as Marillion and Porcupine Tree).

I haven’t listened to much music other than a 1984 Bruce Springsteen concert from his Archives series on New Year’s Eve (his version of “Drift Away” was playing when the fireworks began at midnight. I’ve gotten a little behind on these releases and have vowed not to purchase another until I’ve caught up on what I haven’t listened to yet. I have a backlog of non-Springsteen music as well: still working through last fall’s boxed sets by Kate Bush, David Bowie, and The Beatles just to name the B’s. Last night, I listened to the first album by Emerson, Lake and Palmer as well as a Jethro Tull compilation. Today, I’m in a Billy Joel mood.

I haven’t made any formal New Years Resolutions other than a pledge to continue with last year’s sole goal — to maintain a positive mood no matter what and find happiness in each and every day. I think I mostly succeeded with that in 2018 (even when I “complain” about things, I don’t let them make me angry or upset). While not really a resolution per se, I would like to increase the number of books I finish in 2019 (2018’s total of 33 books finished was way up from 2017’s 25 but still far, far below the 130 I finished in 2010). And, I suppose, write more blog entries for Asian Meanderings. With only five articles published last year, with this article I’m almost halfway to reaching that goal!

Finally, I just want to mention how proud I am of the Kansas City Chiefs and their win over the Oakland Raiders this past Monday. I have been a Chiefs fan since shortly after my family and I moved from Nashville to northeast Kansas (Shawnee Mission and Johnson County, to be specific) in August 1977. My favorite sweatshirt during college was a fan-made “Raiders Hater” design with an arrowhead shot through the offending team’s helmet. With Monday’s victory (listened to on live radio in the wee hours of the morning), the team became the champions of the American Football Conference West Division and clinched the number one seed in the Playoffs. That means they will have home-field advantage for each game (which, I don’t think matters that much as they won on the road this season as much as at Arrowhead Stadium). Like any Chiefs fan, I know they have a long history of losing Playoff games but I can feel it in my bones that we will make it all the way to the Super Bowl this year. They don’t need to win the whole thing, but getting into the biggest game of the year will be the best placing they’ve done since 1970. All fingers crossed for the next month. — their next game is against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, July 12 (which means I’ll be listening in Thailand starting around 3:30 Sunday morning local time).

And so it ends: the first installment of what I hope will be a weekly series chronicling my life, my interests, and anything else I care to include. This one is a bit long at 1561 words; future entries won’t need the background this week’s includes.

See you next week….

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