Welcome to Sunday Summary, the meme in which I attempt to summarize the week that came before. This mid-November week brought more rain, more flooding, to Phuket despite Rainy Season “officially” ending last month. In Kata, I settled more into the routine of the new school term — teaching every day and spending my evenings braving the highway to get food or watching yet another episode of my new favorite series. I also found myself doing a bit of philatelic blogging almost every day — making some progress writing about this year’s Christmas stamps from different countries and finally finishing an article which I envisioned last August and started writing early in October.
I spend my weeks between two homes at the moment, saving on travel headaches and expenses. My weekends are spent in my dingy and crumbling apartment in a very quiet neighborhood in Phuket Town close to where I teach small group lessons on Friday evenings and in the afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays. I have lived in the building for more than 11 years now and it is quite simply falling apart. I live on the fourth floor and the near-constant rain of the past few months has produced leaks in the ceiling over the bathroom and part of my “office” area.
My weekdays are spent in Kata Beach, in the southwest portion of the island, a few minutes’ walk from the kindergarten where I teach Mondays through Fridays. The apartment is quite small but much more modern than the Phuket Town room as well as a lot cleaner. I have slowly been moving things over including most of my comfortable clothes (both work and casual) as well as my printer and scanner. The bed and a dressing table remain the only furniture in the Kata apartment but I am planning to transport at least one bookshelf next week and, hopefully, my desk the week after.
Last Sunday, I returned to Kata early enough (and the weather held long enough) for me to (finally!) walk to the beach. It’s a pleasant walk along a quiet road that meanders up and over the hills on the southern portion of town and takes roughly 30 minutes. I enjoy looking at the various rental bungalows and larger houses along the way, many of which seem like they would be within my budget. Perhaps I will look for a more permanent home after the High Season ends in a couple of months.
A large part of my life at the moment is spent at school and I really like this new one. They seem to like me too so I believe I may continue to work here next school year as well. Hopefully, I am not getting ahead of myself as we are just now entering the fourth week of Term 2. I am really enjoying preparing materials for my classes and start preparing for the following week as early as Wednesday. That involves taking a look at the curriculum for each level and determining what I need in the way of flashcards or other visual aids. I then do Google searches for suitable images to use for cards and apply those to my template after a bit of editing, if needed. This week, I was far enough along that I printed my cards and started laminating them Thursday evening at home, did some more laminating in Kata on Friday morning and finished up in Phuket Town Saturday before my afternoon lesson (I had to buy more plastic sleeves).
Due to the fact that the lessons are just 30 minutes in length, I have not found the time to take photos inside any of my classrooms yet. Several of the Thai teachers, however, do take photographs so I could perhaps ask for copies. They like to see the variety of “oddball” teaching methods I sometimes use. For example, I had to teach a few “Getting Ready” phrases in the K2 lessons this week — “take off your shoes”, “put on your hat”, “zip up your jacket”, and “put your umbrella in your bag”. I had made flashcards illustrating each of these (as well as cards for the clothing vocabulary) but in the last two lessons of the week, I brought shoes, a hat, my rain jacket, an umbrella, and my backpack to demonstrate each action. The kids got a kick out of it (especially the jacket) as did the teachers. I think one video-recorded the entire demo. I would love to see the footage of the kids copying “put on your hat” (very animated) and “zip up your jacket” (I zipped mine too high and mimed choking as I lowered the zipper to much amusement).
During the week, there were two funerals in the temple — one was a cremation so we just saw mourners outside but when we arrived Friday morning there was a coffin sitting just inside the hall which serves as the entrance to the kindergarten (as well as the lunchroom). Given the local superstitions regarding ghosts, none of the Thai teachers wanted to enter. The children had no such qualms; few realized what was inside the “fancy box”. It did disrupt lunchtime as the children were kept upstairs and boxed meals were delivered. Most of the parents would not come inside to retrieve the kids so we escorted downstairs one by one. The monks were chanting every time I reached the ground floor and a few of the mourners were just wailing. The deceased was a fairly young woman.
Most of the children are very well-behaved but there is one class where the majority of the boys act as feral monkeys at all times. One child is particularly ill-mannered and the Chinese teacher and myself refer to the class not by the number but by this child’s nickname (“Oh, my. I have to go see [name] again tomorrow. Do you teach [name] today?” The class’s Thai teacher is quite young and even she cannot control the students (resorting to “the stick” quite often); often, the Sports teacher or one of the older women will come in and try to put the fear of Buddha into the kids. Nothing seems to work. They even misbehave at morning assembly or when going to the toilet. One of the girl students is French but speaks excellent English and often asks me if she can sit at the front next to me as she is afraid of the other kids. Hopefully, they calm down soon — I have yet to yell at them but none of my other classroom management “techniques” has yet worked. It is frustrating to waste so much time when the class is only 30 minutes long. I get to see this wonderful class three times a week so I did manage to teach all of the material I needed to last week by cutting out a couple of games.
There aren’t any problems in any of the other classes — the “Hello Song” chant and dance seems to dissipate any energy the kids might have at the start of my lesson — and I am even finding the two Nursery lessons to be quite enjoyable. The super-small kids in the latter classes never stop moving and the half-hour periods are taken up mostly by different songs involving movement. I have to watch my materials constantly as the tiny hands love to grab hole of everything. This was the first week since I started that not a single kid peed, pooped or vomited while I was inside their classrooms! A victory as far as I am concerned…
I blogged every day this week except for Friday. My schedule is such that I can start an article upon arriving at the school; I have an hour of quiet time before I need to go downstairs for Gate Duty. Each of my blogs this week were philatelic in nature, most concerning new stamp issues (one in the 2023 Europa theme and the others were Christmas stamps released this year).
I have templates for the “featured image” for several categories so my first task is customizing that image for whatever article I plan to write. For the stamp articles, I will have already sought out good-quality images to use which I edit so that there is a transparent background (I like the appearance of the perforations on the black of my site). I usually choose issues for which the postal administration has a wealth of information already on its website or in a press release. For most of the recent articles, I just cut-and-paste the details and upload the images so it is a fairly quick process. I can usually have most of an article finished by the time I start my school duties at 7:30.
Following the flag ceremony and morning assembly, I have roughly 40 minutes to finish anything I need to for an article — tagging, proofreading or whatever. Then I hit “Publish”. I really like the routine of completing an article before I start teaching as it frees up having to worry about it in the afternoons or evenings when I have no desire to sit at the computer writing. I do school-related work during the lunch- and naptimes and my evenings are more relaxing now.
On Fridays, I have six lessons so I do a bit of prep and have decided this to be a non-blogging day (this week, I laminated flashcards before Gate Duty). I will try to motivate myself to work on “harder” blog articles on Saturdays when I am in Phuket Town. This week, I finished the long article for My Collections about my Interphil ’76 philatelic passport. I had scanned each page back in August and decided that, one day, I would write-up each stamp inside as a first step towards celebrating the U.S. Semiquincentennial in 2026 (I began collecting during the Bicentennial Era so this will bring everything full circle). I started this task early last month and pushed to finish it yesterday. I learned a lot during the research (particularly about Crown Agents and a few events of the American Revolution I wasn’t yet aware of).
Latest Posts on My Collections:
I have let the My Collections blog fall a bit to the back burner during November but hope to write-up a few more items in the coming weeks. I have already scanned quite a few items (many of them non-philatelic) so it’s just a matter of making a few decisions and doing a bit of research.
Latest Posts on Mark Joseph Jochim.com:
In the coming week, I would really like to try and post something to A Stamp A Day. We’ll see about that as that would involve a lot more research than most of the Christmas stamp articles. I also need to revamp my postcards blog in the near future (the sidebar content has not been updated since 2018!) as I think a new design might motivate me to post to it more often. At one time, ALL of my sites used the same Canard theme but now only ASAD and Postcards to Phuket remain (this blog uses a theme called Hemingway Rewritten which I like a lot). I think my first step as far as the postcards blog goes is to update my maps of “Cards Received” (after I remember how I made those in the first place!).
Wow! I finished a book this week!! Sarah Pinborough’s Insomnia was quite the twisty thriller! I also spent some time working on Stamping American Memory by Sheila A. Brennan and started The Burglar Who Met Frederic Brown, the latest in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series by my favorite mystery writer Lawrence Block. I have a few non-fiction works at the top of my TBR pile including The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte, Wild New World: The Epic Story of Animals and People in America by Dan Flores, and I still want to read a biography of Queen Elizabeth II before too much time passes.
My soundtrack for most of the week was Bruce Springsteen — yet another spin of his new covers album, Only the Strong Survive, and plays of his latest Live Archives releases (Atlanta 10/1/78, Rome 10/10/2006, and Asbury Park 11/26/96). This weekend, I have been listening to the entire discography of Norah Jones from her First Sessions EP of 2001 on up to last year’s Christmas album.
I spent my evenings all week watching Season 4 and starting Season 5 of Yellowstone. It just keeps getting better and better and I am constantly amazed at how great the dialogue is — endless great lines. Last night, I delved into my first episode of the Yellowstone prequel series, 1883, and found it just as great.
Even my meals have become fairly routine. For most of the week while I am in Kata, I stick with microwaved meals from 7-Eleven as the local cheapo Thai restaurants never seem to be open whenever I am hungry. There is a nearby steak restaurant that looks pretty good but it, too, is rarely open in the evenings and — if it is — is overly crowded. Thursday afternoon once again found me enjoying a Jalapeño Cheeseburger with Fries at New York Burger and, once again, it was awesome! Over the weekend, in Phuket Town, I ordered a few items that I cannot get delivered in Kata — spaghetti bolognaise with garlic bread and onion rings, a Vietnamese bánh mì with ham and grilled pork with Sri Racha sauce, and a Whopper with tater tots from Burger King. I need to get back onto a diet as I can feel myself becoming fatter with these types of dinners.
My lovely Kan is back in Buriram taking care of her elderly mother after getting stuck in Pattaya where she ended up when areas were evacuated due to one of the typhoons this fall. Mom went to the hospital for a checkup early in the week and received a clean bill of health. Wish I could say the same for the house (signed-over from mother to daughter before the storms) as it received significant damage from being submerged so long. However, LL’s rice fields seemed to have benefited from the dunking as they are out there today getting ready for harvest. Kan sent me a video just as I sat down to write this week’s entry; the rice looks high enough to begin hiring workers to cut it.
Photo of the Week
And that is my Sunday Summary for November 13-19, 2022. I hope the week to come is just how you want it to be. Cheers!