Sunday Salon for 12th June 2011 (#49)

Sunday Salon at Phuket BookwormAs you’ve probably noticed, I’ve broken free of the writer’s block that plagued me throughout May and even as far back as mid-April. My inspiration comes largely from my adoption of the open-source Zoundy Raven as my blog editor of choice (until Windows Live Writer comes up with a workable portable apps version). Either that, or I just have plenty to say these days. Indeed the part I find the most difficult about blogging right now is finding a suitable image to accompany most of my articles!

As far as my personal life and the never-ending job search, this was an extremely inactive week. However, I did make some forward progress online as I accumulated a ton of information about schools and other opportunities not only in Penang but also Hat Yai/Songkla and Bangkok. The more I think about it the more I feel it is time to set off for greener pastures. As much as I love Phuket I feel the change of venue would do me a world of good.

I’m going to focus on Hat Yai for the time being and plan to visit some schools as soon as I can accumulate a bit of cash for the trip (now regretting not staying over at least a day or so following my recent visa run). While not exactly an attractive city, it’s one that seems to have many opportunities for English teachers and it certainly has the ammenities I’ve grown used to here in Phuket (I’m talking about the availability of McDonald’s and other Western eateries). And it’s a quick jump over to places such as Songkhla (which sounds like a dream town to me) and Malaysia, making visa runs a very quick process. I’d much rather live in Penang, of course, but the schools there are now on holiday until August and I feel I need more savings before attempting relocation to another country. The thought of trying to move even half of my accumulated stuff down south is daunting to say the least but I think can be managed with a bit of planning.

However, I still dream of living in the center of Phuket Town. I did find an apartment in a really great location (although it would have been impossible to get there during the annual Vegetarian Festival as it’s practically at ground-zero for those festivities) but felt that moving there without a source of income would be rather stupid. Although I’ve applied at all of the downtown schools that have English programs (and one or two that don’t), there are still several shophouse-oriented language schools that I have yet to hit. Perhaps I can journey over at the beginning of next week (I’ve found that the MD’s of the language schools are rarely on-site during the weekends although classes are usually held both Saturdays and Sundays). With the recent improvements on public transportation in the area, getting around would be much easier than it is from my current apartment!

I do have a number of ideas for future articles for this blog. Many of those deal with Phuket’s history and off-the-beaten path attractions. Getting out to these sites in order to do research and take some photos has always been a problem for me and I keep hearing of places I want to visit but never seem to be able to. I’d love to do a series on local museums as there are a ton of them that very few people seem to know about or discover when they are looking for something else. This is how I found the Philatelic Museum about five years ago — my wife and I got lost while looking for the main post office (it’s right next door) — which was a natural for me as I was a stamp collector for many years. I probably never would have made it up to the Tin Mininng Museum if I hadn’t been on a school field trip and others have been found only by careful perusal of maps (I’m still looking for the Rocks & Gems Museum, supposedly near SuperCheap north of Phuket Town). And just last month I learned of the construction of a Sea Gypsy Museum on Koh Siray in the east. I’d like to bring a few of these ideas to fruition before leaving the island for good (making my desire to find a good job here even more pressing).

Although I was quite satisfied with the look of the blog over the past six months or so, using the Panorama theme, i’ve decided that a change is in order. A couple of months ago, I installed my own web server on my notebook and have used it to run two “sandbox” blogs, one of which is a mirror of Phuket Bookworm (useful for checking how certain articles will look when published). I’ve been using the highly customizable Suffusion theme on the “other” blog (which I call “The Crash Course”) but never could get it to work on the mirror. Indeed, I spent hours working on it initially receiving a ton of error messages — I tried to create a brand new WordPress database but the installation script kept telling me that PHP was turned off (it wasn’t). Anyway, I finally got it to work by copying elements of several different installations back and forth and then upgrading the whole lot. It was a down-and-dirty workaround but the end result was pleasing. I then spent another few hours tweaking every bit of the theme that I could — there are dozens of pages in Suffusion’s section of the dashboard. Every time I made some small adjustment, I would refresh my blog pages in the browser to see how the change affected readability and design. I’m very happy with how it’s looking now and I hope to be able to implement these changes in the online version today or tomorrow (the internet cafe has been closed the last two days). I hope you will enjoy the new look as much as I do.


And, finally, we reach the bit about books: I’ve only just finished my first book of the month (Jason Schoonover’s Thai Gold). I am way off of my pace but I suppose research and writing are decent enough excuses for this dearth of reading. I really do need to pick up the pace somewhat if I hope to complete the 100+ Reading Challenge this year. To that end, I’m going to concentrate on a few authors that I tend to read very quickly. I started reading Janet Evanovich’s Two For The Dough a couple of nights ago as this fits the bill perfectly. I’ve read perhaps a half-dozen of her novels in the past couple of months — a friend just emailed me Kindle versions of the titles I was missing (which I’ve converted to ePub format so that I can read them, not having a Kindle or any other portable device other than the laptop). I’ll read a few of those and then perhaps a couple by Lemony Snicket and see what else looks good to boost my book total a bit. Then I can delve back into something that requires a bit more concentration…

In fact, reading is my only real goal for this Sunday. Which means it will probably be a beautiful day outside (it’s been dreary and rainy for quite some time). I’m caught up on most of my other at-home projects so I’ll be able to read without a guilty conscience for a change. But, first, I need some sleep — it’s already 6:30 in the morning and I haven’t been to bed yet! Off to slumberland…

The Phuket Bookworm

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