Welcome to November! It’s Back-to-School Time in Thailand!

Russian Empire - Scott #92 (1913)
Russian Empire – Scott #92 (1913)

It’s November and, in Thailand, that means the second term of the school year starts tomorrow — at least in the majority of government-operated schools in Phuket. I had a relatively relaxing October, teaching a few business classes on the weekends and a lot of downtime in between (as deputy head teacher for a large language school and teaching agency, I do still have to go to the office six days per week). That, of course, allowed me to pursue my goal of celebrating National Stamp Collecting Month with 23 collecting-themed articles many of which were quite lengthy indeed!

However, the amount of free time that I have available to maintain this blog and my other philatelic endeavors has come to an unexpected end. The start of school terms usually is hectic for everybody but myself. It’s back to school as usual for our teachers and I usually pick up a few highly-motivated in-house students or additional business courses in addition to my administrative duties. This year, my November will be vastly different.

United States - Scott #3445 (2000) first day cover; front of the envelope features the north portal of the White House in Washington, D.C.
United States – Scott #3445 (2000) first day cover; front of the envelope features the north portal of the White House in Washington, D.C.
United States - Scott #3445 (2000) first day cover; opening the envelope flaps on this cover reveals an image ot the south portal of the White House in Washington, D.C.
United States – Scott #3445 (2000) first day cover; opening the envelope flaps on this cover reveals an image ot the south portal of the White House in Washington, D.C.

In one of those “only in Thailand” practices that makes us grumble, Thai government schools pick the mid-year break (just three weeks long) to renew contracts with the various agencies that supply foreign teachers. Experience and longevity (not to mention loyalty, a very foreign concept in Thailand) have no bearing whatsoever on the process. It’s simply a case of the lowest bid wins. In Phuket, other agencies rarely bid against the one I work for as this organization has been around for almost 35 years now and have had a firm grip on the southern portion of the island for quite some time. We weren’t counting on a “sneak attack” by a university based in Bangkok.

We learned just a couple of short weeks ago that we’d lost the contracts for schools affecting a large number of our teachers and in-school managers. Some have managed to get hired by the university now running their old schools. Some have replaced other teachers resigning in the natural order of things (pregnancies, better job offers, tired of Thailand, etc.). Some returned to Phuket this week after traveling abroad for the holiday only to find their jobs had vanished. It’s a mess, to say the least.

United States - Scott #3445 (2000) - A 33-cent stamp issued by the United States Postal Service on October 18, 2000, to mark the bicentennial of the White House in Washington, D.C. It was printed by Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd. using lithography in a quantity of 125,000,000. The self-adhesive stamp has serpentine die-cut perforations in a gauge of 11¾.
United States – Scott #3445 (2000) – A 33-cent stamp issued by the United States Postal Service on October 18, 2000, to mark the bicentennial of the White House in Washington, D.C. It was printed by Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd. using lithography in a quantity of 125,000,000. The self-adhesive stamp has serpentine die-cut perforations in a gauge of 11¾.

However, we did gain one new contract but it is in a different province altogether whose immigration officials are known for raiding the schools as they have nothing better to do! The teachers we use to staff the schools there need to have passports from certain “allowed” countries and have all their paperwork in order (in Phuket, we can usually have teachers working in schools while their visas and work permits are being processed and the officials rarely, if ever, visit the schools at any rate).

Since this new contract is off-island, it is very difficult to staff the schools there. As a result, I have been assigned to begin the sch9ol term “manning” the main school in this particular location (teaching a vast amount of different classes, in other words) until they can finish processing paperwork for several teachers whom we already employ as well as recruit a few others willing to work “in the jungle”. It’s not THAT remote but certainly seems that way when one is accustomed to the hustle and bustle of Phuket. I’m looking forward to it, actually, although I know it will involve a lot of hard, sweaty work.

The biggest drawback to all of this is that I will have to commute around two hours each way every weekday. My boss assures me that it will “only be for two or three weeks” I think one or two months is more likely given the current state of affairs here. I really doubt that I will have the energy in the evenings to spend much time working on this blog (or anything else, for that matter!). I was approached for this assignment this past Saturday and have been overloaded with preparations this week in addition to completing my planned October articles.

New header image for A Stamp A Day blog., November 2018.
New header image for A Stamp A Day blog, November 2018.

Today’s article will (probably) be the last lengthy one until January.

My plan is this:

There WILL BE daily stamps posted, scanned from my collection, as usual, some tied to dated commemorations while others will be “random” picks. Those elements won’t change. However, I will not write much more than a simple one- or two-sentence description of the stamp’s subject matter in addition to information gleaned from the general catalogue listings (I use a 2013 Scott worldwide catalogue; for anything more recent than that, i can usually find the information on Colnect — more often than not, they have Michel numbers if the Scott is unknown). I won’t be doing the amount of research I’ve grown used to (rarely are the articles a simple derivation of a single Wikipedia page as they were in months past). I won’t be spending hours searching for good-quality royalty-free imagery to illustrate the articles, nor will I  seek out maps for anything but new-to-the-blog issuing entities. I still plan to end the articles with a flag used by the issuer at the time the event happened or the time of the stamp’s issuance.

I am sure there will be exceptions. Weekend posts, for example, may fall into the “kitchen sink” variety of articles and I hope I have time to do justice to subjects such as the fall of the Berlin Wall (I was there that night in 1989!) and the end of World War I. My current plan for December is to concentrate on Christmas-themed stamps with a possible time out for Thailand’s December 5 National Day (formerly known as Father’s Day, it was the birthday of the late King Bhumiphol Adulyadej and my birthday as well). With the new month starting, I also created new profile and cover images for the ASAD Facebook page and liked the latter so much that I decided to use it as the blog’s header image. I’d like to change these every 10 days or so, giving a preview of the (probable) upcoming featured stamps.

A Stamp A Day Facebook page profile photo, November 2018
A Stamp A Day Facebook page profile photo, November 2018

Today’s article is a bit of an odd one, admittedly. The featured stamp comes from the Russian Empire, yet most of the images are of a U.S. first day cover commemorating the bicentennial of the White House. I recently received the FDC of United States Scott #3445 and found it amusing how it pictured the north portal of the presidential mansion on the outside of the envelope and south portal on the inside. I wrote a fairly long article about the White House as it was on this day in 1800 that John Adams became the first U.S. president to live in what was then called the Executive Mansion. I had just begun looking for images to illustrate the article when I thought to check what I’d used before. I’d completely forgotten that I covered the exact same topic back in 2016 (albeit without any images). The 2018 version didn’t add anything new so I scrapped it. But the stamp images remain….

On November 1, 1604, William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello” was performed for the first time. His play “The Tempest” received its debut on November 1, 1611. Thus, a biography of Shakespeare appeared on A Stamp A Day on November 1, 2017.

In addition to the above mentioned topics, there were another six that occurred on November 1 going back as far as 1512 for which I have appropriate stamps in my collection. Some days are like that, other’s I struggle to find a anniversary to write about before I resort to the “random” pick (I toss back the “uglies”). In the end, I decided to feature Scott #92 released by the Russian Empire on January 2, 1913. Nicholas II, portrayed on the brown 7-kopeck typographed stamp with perforations of 13½, became the new (and final) Tsar of Russia on November 1, 1894, following the death of his father, Alexander III.

Thank you for your continued support of A Stamp A Day. I hope you enjoy the next two month of very brief posts (similar to the last sentence of the previous paragraph) as much as I’m looking forward to the “break.”

State Flag of the Russian Empire, 1858-1917
Lesser coat of arms of the Russian Empire, 1883-1917

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