Phuket Weekly 2022 #2 (8-14 January)

This really was a weary week. In fact, very little of note happened as I adjusted to the routine and pitfalls of teaching online and trying to be even more vigilant now that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is running rampant round the island. Very few people that I know have NOT contracted the virus and I think it is only a matter of time before I succumb as well. From all accounts, it is much milder than the Delta variant and the only real difference for infected teachers is that they can teach from home while under quarantine.

For me, I trudge to my school every morning between 7:15 and 7:30 to confront the mosquitoes that invade our office. There are no screens on the windows and the wooden shutters are in poor repair. In fact, we also have a bit of a feline problem as a local tom cat has been entering during the night and marking his territory. So far, my books and other supplies have not been affected but our furry fiend has sprayed the center of the floor several times now.

Most days, my first lesson starts at 8:40 and it is then that I will find out if the Internet will behave or not. This past week, it was fairly reliable during the morning hours but would often cut out during my afternoon lessons. I had 25 cuts during one hour which is a new record for the room. Part of the problem is that there is no direct line-of-sight with any cell tower in this part of the school and I don’t think there is a router anywhere in the building. Just outside is a tall abandoned hotel which plays havoc with our connections, particularly on windy or rainy days.

My desk area is quite warm and poorly ventilated so I usually direct a couple of fans towards the rear of my tablet whenever I am teaching. Still, LINE shuts down at least a couple of times each afternoon due to the tablet overheating. This only seems to happen when using LINE which is the app we are stuck using. I mentioned wanting to try Google Meet or ZOOM at the end of a lesson last week and was met with such outcry that I have not brought it up again. Yet, these same resistant parents seemed fine using ZOOM during the Children’s Day activities.

Still, the Internet outages and overheating issues were much less numerous than during the previous week. A few times this Thursday and Friday, I just switched to my phone when a problem arose on the tablet. I don’t think most of the children noticed any difference other than I stopped sharing my screen. I want to mention again how awesome the kids in all of my classes have been throughout these past two weeks of online learning; I have not had any horseplay at all (one of the other teachers in our office seems to be constantly yelling at his students for one transgression or another) and they are extremely polite and attentive. The quality of their homework has also been uniformly pleasing to see.

My evenings continued to be quite boring as I did not want to spend anytime online after spending the days teaching. Sometimes, I listened to music on Spotify as the quiet began driving me nuts and I often fell asleep before eight or nine pm. My only other entertainment, other than reading, was watching YouTube videos.

However, as our monthly payday approached I started browsing through the Lazada app looking for a new laptop. I hadn’t heard from the guy I took my old Lenovo to and figured it was beyond help. I found a number of decent used/refurbished laptops and decided on an older model HP ProBook. I ordered it Wednesday morning and the new computer was delivered just before six o’clock Friday evening.

This arrived with 8 GB of RAM, a 320 GB HDD (which I plan to replace with at an M.2 SSD and probably add a SATA SSD as well next month), and Windows 10 Pro installed. It also has Office 2016 but I will replace that with my Microsoft Office 365 subscription. The boot-time is slow but is comparable with how my Lenovo behaved before things went south. I am quite pleased with my purchase and it was much, much less expensive than a new machine. Now that I have it, I can be productive again! Perhaps, someday, I can even get my Acer all-in-one repaired….

You may remember that our school was to close to onsite teaching from 4-14 January. We got word on Thursday that this has been extended to the end of January (or until further notice). Thailand really is overreacting, once again, to this fifth wave and Phuket is particularly hard hit but still open to tourism. All of this no longer really bothers me; my only hope is that one day I can travel somewhere and enjoy some new scenery.

Cheers until next week….

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