The Week That Was #2019-11

It has been a fairly uneventful week-and-a-bit during which I have been going to work in a semi-holiday state of mind. April is definitely the slow period as far as education in Thailand is concerned as it is the summer vacation between school years. As the Thai New Year — Songkran — comes mid-month, most businesses close up shop as the entire country attempts to relax. I still have a few lessons each week with individual students as well as a business course on Saturdays but it is a very relaxing atmosphere at the moment.  My agency will actually close down completely from this Saturday (April 13 is “official” Songkran Day) and will reopen next Wednesday. My student has already cancelled his Friday evening lesson (which happens to coincide with our payday), so I will start holiday festivities early. I do have some tentative plans for the long weekend but I will report on those in next week’s update, hopefully with some photos and video.

Cunard polo shirt from RMS Queen Mary 2

A very thoughtful Christmas present in April….

The only real break from the go to work/come home/eat/read/sleep daily routine since my last update was a trip to the post office last week for the issuance of some new stamps for Thai Heritage Conservation Day.  I covered that event in an entry on my Philatelic Pursuits blog which you are welcome to take a look at if interested.

Probably the best thing that happened was the arrival at the beginning of the month of a Christmas present from my sister.  Before you think, “Oh, man — the mail from the States to Thailand is SLOW!” let me mention this was a very special gift as it involved a cruise aboard the Cunard Line’s RMS Queen Mary 2, a portion of her annual World Cruise as a matter of fact — a leg that included a transit of the Suez Canal and a port-of-call at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where the QM2‘s elder sister, the Queen Elizabeth 2, has recently opened as a hotel and museum on the waterfront. The gift included a very nice polo shirt, one that I will treasure for years to come.

Since it is the school break and my lessons are relatively easy, I have been spending most of my at-work time creating new sections for my business course books and accompanying worksheets. I really enjoy the creative process from idea to illustrations to explanations and finally being able to print the final product. Keeping busy on such projects allows me to spend much of my time in my office which is somewhat separated from the areas occupied by the branch manager (Thai, recently returned from a lengthy trip to Canada) and the brand-new head teacher (British, started work on the first of April). It is a quiet work environment, allowing me to concentrate away from the rising stress levels that the impending start of a new school year always brings. I believe I am the most calm person in the agency at the moment and I intend to remain that way for as long as I can!

With my stamp activities currently on an “as I feel like it” status (not having to put together a daily column for my currently on-hiatus A Stamp A Day blog is a huge weight off of my shoulders), I have found that I am reading a lot more lately. I always try to read for at least an hour each day but over the past week or two, I have been reading around two or three hours per day. Hopefully, I can maintain this and put a bit of a dent in my TBR (to be read) pile. That is more of a file folder on my computer as the majority of non-work books that I read nowadays are e-books.  I try to keep track of new books by favorite authors and there are one or two new releases sites that I visit on a semi-regular basis. As soon as I find an upcoming book that interests me, I add it to my calendar and obtain a digital copy as soon as I can.

Mark Joseph Jochim at Phuket Philatelic Museum, April 2019

Outside of the newly-remodeled Phuket Philatelic Museum in Phuket Town, Thailand.

Earlier today, I read a review on Shelf Awareness about the debut novel by Lydia Fitzpatrick — a combination mystery and coming-of-age story about a Russian exchange student living with a host family in Louisiana called Lights All Night Long — that intrigued me enough that I downloaded a copy even before I finished reading the review! I have already read the first paragraph and I am looking forward to spending a lot more time with this book once I go home this evening. I am trying to find an ePub or .mobi copy of Anne Hillerman’s latest Leaphorn and Chee novel, The Tale Teller, as my Kindle no longer works.  I became a fan of her father’s novels while living in New Mexico and was thrilled when she continued Tony’s series. The latest is the fifth of hers (somehow I missed numbers 3 and 4).

I am also currently reading a Lee Child novel that I had missed the first time around, Dan Parry’s Moonshot in anticipation of the Apollo 11 50th anniversary this July, and yet another history of the beginnings of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War. I have been tracking my reading since 2009 and maintained a daily reading streak from July 17, 2010, to October 12, 2016. That one lasted some 2,279 days. My current streak is in its 408th day so I have a ways to go in order to better the earlier stretch. Since the beginning of 2010, I have finished a total of 537 books. I would like to reach 600 books by the end of next year (2020).

Songkran mayhem in Thailand

Looking forward to Songkran.

As for my Songkran plans, today happens to be payday so I will do some shopping in advance of the weekend during which if one ventures outside, one will get drenched by well-wishers  One of my planned purchases includes a colorful flowered shirt — traditional Thai New Year garb — and perhaps a small water pail (I rarely defend myself with Super-Soaker water cannons as I just do not like having to carry one around). I will go out-and-about on at least Saturday; last year, I remained in the Phuket Town area but this year I would like to go to one of the tourist towns along the west coast of Phuket island for a bit of variety. I will simply go to the area of the downtown market where the local buses line the road and hop on the first one departing. I will give a full report (with photos and, I hope, video) next week….

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