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There really isn't much new news to report apart from my experiences as a beginning TEFL teacher.  The move to the new house has gone nicely although there remains quite a bit to be done.  My computer is working but I'm still without an Internet connection at home.  And we're all preparing to celebrate Thai New Year and Tim's birthday this coming weekend.

I've already written quite a bit about my first few days teaching.  Our normal daily routine is that my wife drops me off at my school each morning around 8:10 on her way to taking Alex to school.  She then picks me up after 3:30 on her way home from retrieving our son.  Lunch at school is free; it's always Thai food and most of it isn't very good.  I liken it to prison meals and this is reinforced by the tin cups they give us for water.  There is a nice restaurant just off the campus and most of the teachers end up there, particularly if we have a longer-than-usual lunch (sometimes the Sports or Thai periods are immediately before or after the meal hour).  I usually buy a soda when I go over with Timmy or Evan but I did have a ham and cheese sandwich with fries one day and an ice cream cone on another.

I'm still a bit lost at Kajonkietsuksa (and I won't be able to "catch up" this week since I'm subbing at Kajonkietpattana).  I still don't have a username/password for the school computers and photocopier so I need to get that arranged as soon as possible when I return.  The farang teachers are required to wai the Thai teachers when we encounter them around the school but I often mistake Filopinas for Thais.  We're also supposed to line the kids up and escort them downstairs (our classroom is on the third floor) for breaks and lunch.  Timmy didn't know this even though he'd been at the school for three weeks already; we finally brought our kids down properly on Friday (for a magic show).

Since all of the lesson plans for the summer course were written before the term began, I haven't had to do much evening preparation for the classes.  I do spend a lot of free time flipping through my various volumes in the Cambridge Handbooks For Language Teachers series looking for ideas.  My favorite titles include Lessons From Nothing, Five-Minute Activities, and Games For Language Learning.

Dtim and I finished cleaning out our old house this past Saturday.  I called our landlord, Jon, and we did the walk-through and I returned all of the keys.  He seemed pleased with the amount of cleaning we did and I pointed out a few problem areas (the ink on the sofa and various-colored paint on the patio, both courtesy of Alex).  He also needs to replace the mattress in the master bedroom (a year of wear-and-tear doesn't do good things to cheap Thai mattresses).  Jon will call us later in the week so we can collect what remains of our 36,000-baht deposit (I'm thinking around 25,000 baht).

We still need to buy curtains for the master bedroom balcony window at the new house but we hung (light blue) miniblinds on window overlooking my desk.  That turned out to be a major process on Sunday.  My wife and her friends Dtim and La told me they wanted to do this for me and assured me they could use the drills, etc.  After a half-hour or so, Franz and I went upstairs to check on the girls and found a some odd holes in the concrete wall and strange measurements written in ink which would have made the blinds sit at an incline.  Anyway, Franz took over and soon had the situation under control.  The blinds definitely make the room feel cooler (although I'm still missing the air-conditioner) and I don't have to worry about that Thai man in the neighboring shophouse staring at us through the window any longer.

After a week operating my laptop solely on Ubuntu (and purchasing The Official Ubuntu Book at B2S for 1,275 baht so I'd know what the heck I was doing), I finally broke down and purchased the Windows Vista operating system.  In America, I'm used to every Wal-Mart or Office Depot type of store selling software but it's different here on Phuket.  Your choices for software are either to buy cheapo pirated copies from a street vendor in Patong or at an open-air market or to purchase a genuine sealed-package from one of very few authorized distributors in Phuket Town.

I didn't fancy driving around that part of the island (Dtim and I tend to get lost downtown with it's numerous confusing streets) blinding looking for computer software distributors so Friday after school I directed my wife to IT City on Thepkassatree Road.  I'd glimpsed the sign months ago early one morning when returning to town on the Bangkok bus and thought this would be our best bet for finding Windows software; if they didn't carry it I figured they could tell us where we could go next.  We managed to find the store okay and lo-and-behold they actually had software.  At that point, I was still planning to buy a new XP disc but they were out-of-stock.  They could order it for me and it would arrive on Wednesday with a cost of 3,790 baht.  I decided to place the order (I wasn't certain if my laptop met the minimum requirements for Vista).

Before going home, we stopped off at B2S in Central Festival so I could browse through some books about Vista.  I found out that, yes, my computer could run the new system and I ended up purchasing Master Visually Microsoft Windows Vista (1,150 baht).  Saturday afternoon, after our walk-through at the old house, we returned to IT City and I bought my new OS.  Vista was a breeze to install and now my laptop works very well.  There are a still a few problem areas such as a DVD I tried to burn last night took a couple of hours before I gave up (this might be a problem with too little RAM) and needing to download some updated drivers for various other components.  I'm still waiting on TOT to come and install my ADSL (they told my wife "sometime next week") but I can go to an Internet cafe to check email and try to get caught up on other online activities.

Dtim's mobile phone stopped working this past weekend so I've decided to buy her a new one as a birthday present — probably one of the Motorola Razr models because I know these last longer than the cheapo LG and Nokia phones that are sold all over the place here.  In fact, this will be my wife's fifth phone in a year!  I also plan to give her some extra money so she can buy herself something nice as well.  Since her birthday falls on Songkran day (Friday), we won't be able to have her party until sometime next week.  She wants to have a booth selling water and beer in Patong for the celebrations on Friday and I plan to buy giant water cannons for both Alex and myself to participate in the all-day water battles.