Sunday Summary #1

Welcome to Sunday Summary. This is a meme in which I attempt to summarize the week that came before. It replaces previous series such as Sunday Salon, Daily Phuket and Phuket Weekly.

Following a long period of relative inactivity, I find myself wanting to write more and more. While I maintained a private journal during much of my “quiet time”, my online presence was minimal. Now, I have more of a desire to share my activities with friends, family, and other curious individuals.


Monday is yellow shirt day at Thai schools. Buddhism designates different colors for each day of the week.

I believe that is a direct result of working more and the greater financial security that brings. Nearly three years of very little income due to pandemic panic has depleted my savings and I still have a long hill to climb to achieve the level I was once at. That movement, hopefully, will continue in an upward direction rather than sliding back into the abyss we were in as little as one month ago.

After months of waiting around on “guarantees” that I would return to a full-time Primary-level schedule in the General English Program (GEP) of my favorite local school, I now find myself on a half-day schedule teaching in the Kindergarten of the same school. At least it is steady income and the months of hoping other instructors would become ill so that I could substitute in their classes are over for now. The half-day schedule does allow time for me to fill-in for sick teachers in the afternoon, something that occurred almost every day during my first week back to school.

I enjoy teaching Kindergarten — the kids are fresh and (most of them) haven’t developed the bad habits and animosity towards teachers that one begins to see at around the Grade 4 level. However, this is the first Kindergarten (and I have substitute taught at a lot of them over the years) in which the curriculum is not the usual alphabet, colors, and objects subject matter. Nor are we allowed to give the children worksheets or let them color (the Thai teachers take care of all of that fun stuff!). We are to give them vocabulary on topics determined by someone who has obviously never taught at this level and to explain to them whatever we can on that particular theme.

Young and cute. Ready to have fun or learn a serious topic?

Some of the topics cover material that I would be hesitant to teach IEP Mathyom students (high schoolers in the Intensive English Program). The curriculum that we are following simply gives a title and the foreign teachers are left to interpret what exactly that means. Usually, we end up asking a Thai teacher for insight on what exactly the topic is. For example, for my first week in the Kindergarten (I started on August 8th), the curriculum said “Andaman Pearl”. My girlfriend said that it sounded like the name of a stripper! The Thai teachers told us we were to teach about places in Phuket. Easy enough. I didn’t have any flashcards for the first day or two but I have lived here long enough that I could draw a map of the island on the whiteboard and certain other local attractions. In one classroom, we could see Big Buddha perched atop Nakkard Hill so I had the kids gather at the window.

Most of my classes are on the fourth floor of the Kindergarten building. At least it’s bright up there!

This week was much more difficult — “Conservative/Traditional” — which we found meant to teach the children about Thai culture along with “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for tourists. My students are K2 level which is just out of pre-school and their English comprehension skills are generally very minimal. I would much rather be teaching them ways to say “Hello” and “Goodbye” rather than explaining the three government-mandated forms of the wai (Thai greeting, explained in my recent blog on the subject matter). It wasn’t until Thursday that I hit upon the idea of attempting to explain the meaning of the three colors on the Thai flag (the red stands for the people, white for religion, blue for the monarchy) and show that these correspond to the three types of wai.

Serious-looking flashcards for a difficult topic. At least I can use these for older grade levels, too.

Both of us really struggled to make this week’s lessons interesting with varying degrees of success. I think, apart from the waiing, the kids generally responded the best to my demonstrations (and their participation) of Thai traditional dance and images of Thai food (which included one of the fried insects often encountered in local markets to which the children invariably responded with “Yucky!”). Another popular flashcard was one of a very attractive couple wearing Thai traditional clothing; in two of the classes, many kids exclaimed “Mama” and “Papa” when they saw this image. I also showed them a photo of myself wearing a traditional outfit (a pre-wedding photoshoot prior to my first marriage back in 2006). Most of the students recognized me right away and that card became “Teacher”.

Next week’s topic is “I am Thai”. I am interpreting that as an opportunity to teach countries and nationalities so I prepared a series of cards showing clipart kids in traditional native dress from different countries accompanied by a national flag. I added the name of the country and a sentence stating “I am__________.” We can practice positive “to be” and, in each classes second lesson, the negative “I’m not” can be introduced. I will also probably teach the question “Are you ________?” and the appropriate “Yes” or “No” response. I have a number of nationality cards that I made several years ago that I can use for an activity separate from the flashcards I made yesterday, plus a bunch of national flags that I can also use if need be.

Next week’s flashcards look a bit more fun than last week’s. But it’s an odd mix as I couldn’t find decent unwatermarked clipart for nations such as France or Australia. We also need to focus on ASEAN countries.

In addition to the Monday through Friday morning schedule at school, I also have a few small group lessons at my agency’s office. I teach a boy and a girl (nine years old each) who have a one-hour lesson each Friday evening, two thirteen year-old girls for an hour each Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and three girls (9- and 10-years old) who learn for two hours every Saturday afternoon. I made it through almost the entire week this week without any cancellations. It would have been the first week in month without any cancellations at all (many were due to various COVID-19 outbreaks and there were also a number of public holidays with the resultant closures). However, I was just walking out of the door of my apartment to begin the 5-minute walk to our agency when I received a phone call saying my Sunday students had both cancelled (probably due to the heavy rain). We don’t get paid if the class is cancelled in advance but I can opt to take the hour upon such short notice. On this occasion, I requested that hour’s pay.


It was nine days ago that I decided to try and do something with my blogs. I had not published anything since the beginning of May which, I believe, might be my longest hiatus in at least a decade. My motivation this time was largely financial. I had been paying for domain hosting every month since buying the domain Philatelic in late 2019. The annual registration fee is due for renewal soon. While I love what I did with the site and it was my primary blogging focus throughout the long lockdown periods of 2020 and 2021, I found that my interest in it waned once I could no longer purchase any of the stamps I had been promoting (I certainly did not want to become a “digital-only” collector!).

I stopped updating the site at the end of April and as I had fallen completely behind, I felt I had no hope of restoring my previous levels of commitment. I felt that I would, at some point, want to blog about stamps again but felt it would be better to do so in a much reduced fashion. It was an easy decision to cancel my hosting and put an end to those monthly bills. I performed a complete backup of Philatelic Pursuits so it isn’t gone forever.

I don’t plan on covering New Issues the way I did at its peak but have recently decided that I will soon try to update my Google calendar which lists all of the upcoming stamps for the year. To make THAT easy to find, I have created a dedicated New Issues page here on Mark Joseph In addition to the calendar, it contains a feed which will list any blog posts that I make on upcoming stamp releases.

Old header for Asian Meanderings

My other two blogs — A Stamp A Day and Postcards To Phuket — are free WordPress sites (as is this one) so I have no plans to remove them at this time. Any future content will PROBABLY be exclusive to this site (the former Asian Meanderings blog). This is also a free WordPress plan but I recently got an upgrade that includes a personalized domain name, free for the first year after which the registration renewal is much less expensive than my previous host for Philatelic Pursuits. It’s nice to have my own name as the site name as I can use that in several different ways, even though I doubt most of my readers know how to pronounce my surname (it’s /Yoʊ-kəm/ phonetically, or you might say Yō kŭm).

Inspired by the week’s topic of Thai Culture in my Kindergarten lessons, I began my “Thainess” series and have published three articles so far:

    This will be an ongoing series with Part 3 to cover the Thai Monarchy and National Pride. I may combine it with a look at Thailand’s prominent religion of Theravada Buddhism and how one treats religious objects. Future installments include a sampler on Thai superstitions (there are A LOT of these), Family Dynamics, Appropriate Attire, Bathroom Basics, the attitude of “Mai Bpen Rai“, and an examination of the Thai Smile (there are 13 of them!). I hope to publish two or three of these each week.

    I also published my first stamp-related article since May 1st covering the U.S. Christmas stamps for 2022, the first of which will be issued the middle of next month. It just seems too early to be thinking about Holiday Elves already!

    Over the years, both on Asian Meanderings and Philatelic Pursuits, I believe I have covered Christmas stamps more than any other topical. In both 2013 and 2014, I wrote a series of articles on this blog for “The 12 Days of Christmas Stamps” as well as an entry covering the thematic’s history. In 2013, one of my first Muang Phuket Local Post releases was a set covering “Christmas in Thailand.” I believe it was an interest in seeing as many of the holiday stamps released around the world that spurred the extensive New Issues coverage on Philatelic Pursuits beginning in October 2019.

    As for the article on the 2022 U.S. Christmas stamps, it is fairly bare-boned compared to what I was doing on the Philatelic Pursuits website. There, I tried to have as many images of the stamps and associated products (full sheets, pictorial postmarks, first day covers, etc.) as I could find along with extensive technical details and background information. Some were easier than others and it led to the blog consuming my life as I tried to track down information and images. For this article, I just included a bit of information cut-and-pasted from the official USPS press releases.


    Another of my hobbies that took a definite hit in recent months is my daily reading. I developed a love of reading around the same time I became interested in stamps. Science fiction was my initial love and I still read the occasional sci-fi novel (one or two per year, on average). History and mystery novels as well as the occasional fantasy have never left my side. For more than 12 years, I maintained a daily reading streak and was very proud of that. My teaching career in Thailand began with three years as a reading teacher at a large international school.

    Since May of this year, most days I have had little to no desire to read a book. In 2020, I finished 50 books. Last year, that total was 46. So far in 2022, I have finished only 12. Most days/nights, I just couldn’t coax myself to sit down and read. Usually, I felt too tired or I found something else to do. This distressed me more than the lack of stamp or postcard collecting.

    Luckily, I think I am coming back to it. Several nights this week, I found myself reading several chapters of The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James which I started back on July 5th. Although it is a good mystery and the second I have read by the same author (the first being The Sun Down Motel last year), I made scant progress with it last month. But I am now about 75 percent through and hope to finish the book sometime in the coming week.

    Around the middle of last week, I stumbled across a free download of Stamping American Memory: Collectors, Citizens, and the Post by Sheila Brennan. It’s described as “the first scholarly examination of stamp collecting culture and how stamps enabled citizens to engage their federal government in conversations about national life in early twentieth-century America” which sounds quite dry but I am finding it rather interesting. It’s very rare to find something about the history of the hobby itself from the aspect of “normal” collectors instead of those wealthy and prominent philatelists who long dominated the field of stamp collecting. This work also examines how the United States Post Office Department eventually used stamps as a form of propaganda to give the public an “acceptable” version of U.S. history and culture up until the 1940s.


    Through the lean months, I have continued to take numerous photographs although my subject matter has changed a bit. Now that I am dating, many of my photos are of my girlfriend or the activities we do together. These include long walks on the beach and a whole lot of eating. I usually come home with extensive coverage of our food and of us eating said food! She lives on the West Coast of the island while my home is in the center so it is always a special occasion when we can get together between her work load and my recent increase in scheduled hours.

    I am happy whenever my girlfriend sends a selfie while she is away. They make the separation a bit easier to bear.
    My nickname for my girlfriend is LL (“lovely lady”) while her actual initials are KK. Here, she looks ready to conduct some serious business.

    Over the past several months, LL has had to make two lengthy trip up-country to her home province in order to oversee repairs to the roof of her mother’s house. As the youngest child of the family, she will inherit the house and the land (much of it prime rice farmland) and I believe the papers executing this transfer are now signed. The plan is to eventually remove the second floor of the house although it will probably be easier to just raze the entire thing and build a new home altogether. She is there now; she was ill most of the last ten days and is planning to return to Phuket just as soon as she feels fit to fly.

    My other chief photography subject has been shots of school activities. In Kindergarten, I am usually too busy to take photographs of the students (when I was allowed to have them color, this was always the prime photo time) but can manage a few snaps when I am greeting kids in the morning at the main gate or during the flag ceremony before lessons begin.

    Arrival in the rain
    Flashcards for next week
    Arrival under overcast skies.
    Pigtails gone wild!
    Four braids!
    Are you ready to dance!? The Kindergarteners do a daily exercise/dance routine that goes on for at least 20 minutes (unless, of course, it is raining). The teachers lead the kids and I always end up totally exhausted!

    In future installments of “Sunday Summary”, I may choose a favorite photo of the week to feature.


    I am trying to stretch my baht until payday (September 12th is the next one!) so most days, I have been bringing home food from school. I take two plastic containers — one for rice and other dry items such as the occasional omelet and the other for curry or soup. Last week, the food took a definite downturn in quality; either that, or I am getting tired of the sameness of it. The few times there have been meat (chicken or fish), the morsels have been sparsely clinging to weird bones. I often wonder how the kids don’t choke on the many bones more often than they do.

    Typical school lunch: rice and a mix of meat and veggies with a few mysterious items mixed in. This was one of the better meals as there were no bones to worry about!

    I used to order deliveries several times per week using the Food Panda app as detailed in a post at the end of April. For now, I am limiting such “splurges” to once every week or two. My most recent of these was last Sunday when I ordered fish and chips, spaghetti and garlic bread. It all came to just over 200 baht (USD $5.60) and tasted really great!

    My plan is to buy a few groceries on Fridays so I have something for the weekend but I went without buying anything this week. The nearby Tops and 7-Eleven were out of bread and bologna when I checked Friday afternoon and yesterday and I couldn’t bring myself to order a delivery last night. Since it’s been raining pretty heavily all day today, I may just wait until lunch at school tomorrow.


    Rainy and hot. Almost every day has seen periods of rolling squalls. Most have been very heavy, accompanied by strong winds.

    Rain is never far away in August.

    Mail Bag

    It is a rare day indeed when I receive mail anymore. The three items included here were received sometime within the past month. I didn’t record exactly when they arrived and still have not taken the time to scan them as I usually do. All travelled long distances to arrive in Phuket.

    First we have an envelope mailed in Lviv, Ukraine, on 12 March — just two weeks after the invasion by Russia. It contained a sheet of stamps issued on 23 January to commemorate the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. The cover is franked with three of those stamps as well four previous years’ stamps in the Municipal Arms definitive series. It arrived sometime in late July after a four-month journey.

    One of my philatelic interests is stamps and covers from the polar regions so I was quite pleased to receive this cover bearing postmarks and a cachet promoting the Korean Arctic & Antarctic Research Station. Posted in Seoul on 20 June, the special pictorial cancellations were retired just six days later having been in usage since the beginning of 2005.

    Since the early 2000s, South Korea’s interest in the Arctic has gradually grown in parallel with the acceleration of the melting of the Arctic sea ice. This interest peaked on May 15, 2013, when South Korea obtained observer status in the Arctic Council. Afterward, the headlines of newspapers were full of rosy depictions of the enormous benefits that such status would bring to South Korea.

    Established in 2004, the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) is the lead agency for South Korea’s national polar program, sitting within the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. KOPRI researchers and support staff operate on the icebreaker Araon, on campus at the Korea University of Science and Technology and in the country’s three research stations — King Sejong and Jang Bogo in Antarctica, and Dasan at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard.

    The last cover bears three stamps issued by Canada on 7 July in support of Ukraine. Bearing a face value of “P” (Canada $0.92 on the date of issue), they also have a 10-cent surcharge which goes to benefit charities aiding victims of the invasion. This was mailed in Toronto on 15 July and contained a single mint stamp, still on the backing lining from the full booklet it was sold in.

    Inti and the Sun

    For this “Sunday Summary” series, I have chosen the ancient Incan sun god Inti as a sort of mascot. Revered as the national patron of the Inca state, the Inca divided his identity according to the stages of the sun. Inti and his sister, Mama Quilla, the Moon goddess were generally considered benevolent deities. He also married his older sister, Mama Killa. She then conceived and bore him two children. Their court is served by the Rainbow, the Pleiades, Venus, and others.

    Manco Cápac, the founding Inca ancestor, was thought to have been the son of Inti. According to myth, Inti taught Manco Cápac and his daughter Mama Ocllo the arts of civilization. However, another legend identifies Manco Cápac as the son of Viracocha. In a different myth, Inti is the son of the Earth goddess Pachamama and the sky god. Inti also becomes the second husband of Pachamama.

    Inti Raymi (“sun festival”) honors the sun god and was originally meant to celebrate the start of a new planting season. It was the celebration of the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset – and the Inca New Year, when the hours of light would begin to lengthen again. In territories south of the equator, the Gregorian months of June and July are winter months. It is now held on June 24 and attracts many tourists each year to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire.

    The sun can be seen in culture across the Andean culture even before the Incan empire dominated the land. This connection to the sun could be due to the heavy importance of agriculture in these societies, as without consistent sunlight, most crops do not fare well. Many Incan buildings made use of sun symbolism and that has continued to the present day.

    The best known representation of the sun in the region is called the Sun of May which represents Inti and also refers to the May Revolution which took place from May 12-25, 1810, marking the beginning of the independence from the Spanish Empire for the countries that were then part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. A legend claims that as the new government was proclaimed, the sun broke through the clouds, which was seen as a good omen.

    8 Reales, Argentina, 1813, displayed at Bode-Museum, Berlin, Germany

    The Sun of May was portrayed on the first Argentine coin, approved in 1813 by the Constituent Assembly, with a value of eight escudos (one Spanish dollar). This version is seen on the flag of Argentina as a radiant golden yellow sun bearing the human face and thirty-two rays that alternate between sixteen straight and sixteen wavy. This depiction of Inti was also used in 1820 on a navy blue field during Peru’s struggle for independence when British-born General William Miller in Tacna hoisted the first flag that represented the emerging country.

    In 1822, José Bernardo de Tagle y Portocarrero, 4th Marquis of Torre Tagle, was appointed provisional president by , when the latter went to meet Simón Bolivar in Guayaquil. During his tenure, the Peruvian flag, which had been established by San Martín, was changed due to its complex design. The new flag model proposed by Torre Tagle was composed of a horizontal triband with red outer bands and a single white middle band with a sun in the center. This was soon changed due to the resemblance with the Spanish flag, especially from far away, which made the distinction between the armies difficult. The horizontal triband was changed to vertical. One of these designs was similar to the Son of May depicted on the Argentine flag while the other was similar to the design seen here:

    José Bernardo de Tagle’s Sun of May

    I knew none of this before I ventured to find a decent image of the sun to use as a featured logo for “Sunday Summary” this morning. What I discovered ties together so many of my interests that I simply had to share what I learnt. I have long been interested in vexillology (the study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags or, by extension, any interest in flags in general) as well all things related to the Inca civilization and Spanish colonialization of the Americas. I suppose I am also enamored of stylized images of the sun and can recall being intrigued by representations I found in Kansas, New Mexico, Mexico, and elsewhere.

    You will see the sun a lot more on this blog in the future and I may endeavor to use a different version of Inti each week as I prepare a new “Sunday Summary”. I hope you enjoyed this initial installment. Have a great week!

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