Update #2019-10

Greetings, readers! I’m (almost) back to “regular” blogging.

No, I didn’t fall off the edge of the Earth. I am just trying to recover from what was simple exhaustion. My 53-year-old body essentially rebelled against my unrelenting schedule.

For weeks, I had been looking forward to taking a bit of a vacation/holiday break at the end of the school year. That came at the end of the first week of March. However, on Wednesday of that week I was asked to plan for and run a two-week Summer Camp due to start the following week at a Buddhist temple school on the opposite side of the island. While we are normally given much more advanced notice for even the one- or three-day camps, I told my boss, “Sure, no problem!”

The Summer Camp was held each morning between 11 and 22 March 2019 at Wat Kitti Sangkharam in Kata Municipality on the west side of Phuket island, Thailand.

The camp turned out to be a very difficult undertaking due to the astounding lack of support from all parties involved. Temple schools in Thailand tend to be where the poorest of the poor kids are sent so that their parents (or guardians) can try to work at a regular job. It is not a place to teach and the kids I had were extremely unruly. Their home environment is not the greatest. That in itself would not have been a problem (I have worked with “fringe-of-society” people on numerous occasions here) but for the fact that it was just myself and a Chinese teacher present with a large number of (very) young children. . In more than five years of participating in English camps in Thailand, this was the first time where there was not a single Thai teacher or staff assistant with us. We were completely alone in the school other than a few stray dogs and a Burmese cleaner or two. Many of the children had never learnt any English before (or Chinese) and were not interested in doing so. They just wanted to run around and fight. We did what we could to prevent items from being broken and kids getting injured. In that regard, I think we succeeded.

Final day of the Summer Camp was a certificate presentation at the Municipality Offices. This group photo includes myself and the kids who participated in the camp, the governor of Phuket Province, the mayor of Kata Municipality and a whole lot of people I never saw before that day. They certainly weren’t helping at the camp! The Chinese teacher is not in this photo.

It wore me out, however. The constant task of trying to observe each kid (we had a total of 30) for every minute of four very long hours and breaking up the frequent fights took a definite toll. Couple that with the extreme heat (Thailand is in the midst of the worst heat wave in years) as well as having to wake up at the crack of dawn to take a lengthy journey across twisting and hilly roads on an ancient and dilapidated local bus each morning (and return each afternoon). Before the end of even the first week, my body was starting to scream at me, “Enough!” I got through it. I survived.

For the past week, I have been ill as my body has tried to recover from the heat, the running around, the lack of sleep and so much more.

My late hours each night had been due to continuing to maintain my A Stamp A Day blog each evening upon returning home from the camp. I was bound and determined not to take a break until I’d reached post number 1,000 (which I did last Sunday). I put together a one thousand and first entry the following night all about “Going on Vacation!” so Tuesday was the first day since July 1, 2016, on which I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to write about! That blog will remain “on hold” at least until the middle of April.

<em>Malicious virus attack. My best solution was to start fresh….

As this week began, I had no desire to do anything. I could feel the beginning indications of an impending summer cold — a slight tickle in the back of my throat, sinuses beginning to clog, a light but persistent headache in the back of my skull — but paid it little heed. On Wednesday, I experienced some computer problems which included an external hard drive becoming corrupted. This happened to be my main storage drive for all of my photos, scans (I spent several years scanning each item in my extensive collections of stamps and postcards), research, work-related files, and so much more. I did not sleep at all that night and most of the next as I attempted repairs and data recovery (I still have a significant road ahead of me on the latter).

Last night, I had no physical or mental energy at all. I had difficulty even walking around my home and forcing myself to visit the local market. My vision was blurred, the intermittent headaches had become a constant migraine, the cough sounded like I had emphysema and my sinuses were completely stuffed-up. I wasn’t certain whether my high body temperature was due to illness or the heat. It took all my concentration simply to walk a short distance and purchase some dinner and a bit of medicine. Upon finishing my meal, I returned home and collapsed into bed. I slept for nearly 10 hours and feel much better this morning. I will take it easy for a few more days. I do have a class late this afternoon — my first since last Saturday — but that one is “local” meaning I can walk to it and the actual lesson is mostly conversation.

Since I am feeling better today, I thought a brief update to all of my blogs would be in order. I was also planning to explain about the lack of photos and video from the two-week Summer Camp.

Receiving my certificate from the camp from either the Phuket governor or the Kata mayor (not sure who was who). They gave me the wrong certificate at first with some random name in Thai (not my name). The corrected certificate states that I was the “English lecturer for the Youth & Recreation Programme for the Kata Subdistrict of the Karon Municipality”.

Ironically, I had backed-up all of these images from my laptop to an external drive just a few hours before the back-up partition on that drive became corrupted somehow. I only found two or three recovery programs that could even READ the bad partition on the hard drive. Only one of these seemed like it would work in recovering my files. However, the free version limits the user to just 500 MB of recovered files and the full (unlimited) version is quite expensive so it will be a couple of weeks before my budget will allow me to purchase it. There is more than 900 GB of data on that partition so it is very time-consuming to scan and attempt recovery. Based on the scans I have done, all of my files seem to be intact and, for that, I am extremely grateful.

Upon writing that last paragraph, I realized that I shared most (if not all) of the photos and video to my Facebook account during the course of the camp. In checking for those, I found that they were all still sitting in the Gallery app on my phone. Usually, I delete those as soon as I’ve copied them to my laptop. That rare break in my routine is the only reason I am sharing images in this article today.

Some notes on the video slideshow:  It is fairly bare-boned as all of my frames and branding logos are on the broken hard drive. Since I had one video uploaded to YouTube banned recently and was warned about the music soundtrack on a couple of others, I decided to (quickly) record an audio commentary track. Basically, I hit “play” on the video after dumping all of the photos and video clips into my software and then hit “record” in a different piece of software. I just spoke about whatever I saw on my screen.  One long take for a little over 13 minutes. I then placed the resultant audio file onto the video soundtrack watched it once to make sure it worked. It’s okay but falls out of sync around the halfway point; there are a few areas where the audio has a few glitches. At this point, I am just too lazy to go back and fix any errors. I am happy to put all of this behind me and move forward…

Without schools and students to write about and take photos and video of, I will need to get creative in future editions of “The Week That Was”. I am still “on vacation” until the new school year begins during the second week of May (pushed back a week due to the impending Coronation of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun). While I do have a couple of evening classes each week as well as a Saturday afternoon lesson, my days are completely open at the moment. I am already feeling better (having significantly more energy than the past couple of days, for example). I hope to do a bit of traveling around the island next week in the hopes that I will have some interesting images (and adventures?) to share.

Please stay tuned….

I accidentally uploaded the first video to the wrong YouTube channel as a result being logged-in to a different account on Firefox. I am sure I am missing the “delete this video” button but my solution was to add a short title-card to the video and re-upload to the correct channel (the one that actually has a few subscribers!). Something I learned with YouTube — you CANNOT upload the same video to two different channels even if it is something you created yourself. This will receive a copyright strike against your channel and if you get three of those within a set period of time you are “out”. However, even a slight edit to a video such as adding a title or end-credits is enough to make that particular video unique. Thus, a slightly less bare-bones production than originally. The audio is still slightly out-of-sync but that is okay with me….

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