A Time to Remember

Max went to study for a few months in Washington state in spring of 2019. Nam took him there and came back. It was hard to watch him go and be away from him because we were such a close family – we ate almost every meal together since the kids were born (and they were almost all great meals). Well, three months turned into four and then six, and then pretty soon he wanted to be there for a whole year. We agreed to the extensions every time since he seemed to be having such a great time. And then the pandemic came.

We watched in horror as one of the first infection zones was discovered at an elderly care facility in Seattle, just a couple hours from where Max was, at my sister’s house. I knew I had a short period to go and pick him up and get him out of there before borders started closing. But. He was graduating elementary school the week I chose to get him, so I decided to let him attend that and not deprive him of saying goodbye to friends he had made over the past year. And so, the borders closed everywhere, and the window to get Max back was closed, for years.

Meanwhile, we endured living life without our boy here. It was lonely and we got used to that, and getting used to it also sucked. But guess what? Max got used to living in the states, and we had to deal with that. It turns out he got into a very progressive Project Based Learning middle school, was earning high school credits, and was even on track to receive a scholarship for college! Mina became interested in Max’s school. And so, we started making plans to apply for Nam’s green card and try living in the states for a while. Our plan was to get the green card sometime next year (there are no time guarantees and the various government agencies are all backlogged) and move over there in some fashion – a huge move, but it still gave us some time to prepare for everything.

So of course, everything got moved up. We found out that Mina had a chance to get into Max’s school that wouldn’t last very long, so we jumped at it.

Mina is unsure about going.

Mina wants to go.

Mina is going.

I will take Mina there and come back. Mina and Max will be together in the states until Nam gets her green card, and then we will follow after settling accounts here in Thailand.

The last three years have been hard without one child here.

The next year will be even harder without both here.

Minecraft’s Six Principles of Game-based Learning

  • The failure dynamic, fail early, fail often. Teach students to take risks in a safe environment- a game.
  • The flexibility dynamic. Provide multiple paths to success. Old school video games had one way to win. Newer “sandbox” games are more open.
  • The construction dynamic. Build something that matters. Students want to create things with a purpose. Minecraft lets them create something difficult and worthwhile.
  • The situated meaning. Learn new ideas by experiencing them. Students learn vocabulary in real-time, as it pertains to playing with others in the game; or learn math as they understand construction.
  • Systems thinking. Learn how all pieces can fit or be fitted. Games help players see how their actions fit into the bigger picture, not just the individual.
  • Build empathy. Bring players together to learn a common goal. By communicating and working together, players build empathy through their avatars by raising awareness of local or global goals.

(via Minecraft: Education Edition: Teacher Academy)

I’m brushing up on my Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite skills because I’ll be teaching in each of these soon. I went down this path a few years ago to each at our learning center, but then COVID came and shifted everything online. It’s taken too long for me to get back on track with this.

Windows Store Error Fix for Missing “wuauserv”

Today, I encountered serious Windows Update problems that started as a Windows store problems, namely, I couldn’t install anything from the Windows Store or any Minecraft programs at all – a big problem because I’m brushing up on MC, Roblox, and Scratch teaching skills.

The guided walkthrough from Microsoft didn’t help, so I tried manually resetting the Windows Update Service:

Open administrative Command Prompt and type following commands one-by-one followed by Enter key.
net stop wuauserv
net stop cryptSvc
net stop bits
net stop msiserver
Ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old
Ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 Catroot2.old
net start wuauserv
net start cryptSvc
net start bits
net start msiserver
Close Command Prompt and see if Windows Updates works then.

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/window-10-update-is-stuck-on-checking-for-updates/d4833fef-620e-445b-9b99-997c03b9a1f8

However, the “net start wuauserv” command returned an error:

The Windows Update service is starting
The Windows Update service could not be started
A system error has occurred.
System error 2 has occurred.
The system cannot find the file specified.

To make a long story short, I must have deleted this key from the registry at some point, and the fix that worked for me was re-adding the key via cut and paste from this article: Windows Update service missing 0x80070424 , Windows 10 Pro x64 1803 [Solved] / Error code 0x80070006 or 0x8008005

So far, I have a bunch of Windows Updates queued and will proceed with Microsoft Store and Minecraft installations after that, but it looks like everything is working properly again.

Highway rest stops in Thailand

Coming from Japan to Thailand 15 years ago, the state of the roads here was lamentable, and many of the streets/rural highways in the Issan region and around our city weren’t even paved – or had big enough holes to break wheels and axles, a common sight back then.

I used to go on university trips every term and we would often take the uni bus or minivans on long road trips, ostensibly for work, but more just to get out and travel. This was always a nice perk for government university work, because we could often take the whole family, as well. It also made me very aware of the lack of highway rest stops in Thailand.

Actually, the default highway rest stop in Thailand is fulfilled by large gas station facilities, most notably those run by the PTT group. PTT stations come in all sizes, from a few pumps and a convenience store to larger mini mall-type complexes. However, on the toll roads around Bangkok and central Thailand, there are a few privately run rest stops, most notably the huge one between Bangkok and Chonburi located here: ศูนย์บริการทางหลวง กรุงเทพ-ชลบุรี มอเตอร์เวย์ ขาออก. That ones been around as long as I can remember, and it’s huge (long, actually) and chaotic. It’s also got the most foreign food shops of any highway rest stop in Thailand, with a lot of western fast food joints like BK, McD’s, KFC (maybe even 2 branches IIRC), Indian food, pho, dim sum, sushi, etc. As a side note, it’s also very easy to miss the turnoff if you are speeding along the toll road there.

On our recent trip to Hua Hin, we happened along another private rest stop in Samut Sakhon called Porto Go. It was not as big as the rest stop mentioned above, but it was newer and cleaner (there’s also one in Ayutthaya, apparently). These new rest stops with clean facilities make road trips a lot more convenient than they used to be!

Tong Peng

At the beginning of our trip to Hua Hin last week, we boarded a plane for the first time since the pandemic started, and flew into Don Mueang. Nam’s older sister picked us up and we went to see a van we would pick up on the back end of our trip and have lunch. She took us to Tong Peng, a family-oriented Chinese restaurant in the Chok Chai area of Bangkok, south of Lad Prao.

As a sidenote, it feels good to blog about travels again – it’s been too long.

I’m always a sucker for roast ducks and meats on display.

So, no screwing around – the roast duck on rice was good but not great. The sauce/gravy was too sweet and… fruity.

Shu mai, yes! Delicious!

Pork + quail eggs + shiitake = Yes, I ate both.

Included to document the Saran-wrapped chopsticks that were legit a pain to unwrap.

The crispy pork was a visual disaster with the same fruity sauce. It tasted, again, disappointingly good, and not great.

“Tong Peng”

Included for future ordering purposes – we will be here again, but for something else, maybe a family dinner.

Google Maps link: Tong Peng ภัตตาคารตงเพ้ง

Loi Angkarn – Scattering of Ashes at Sea

We just got back from a weeklong trip to the Hua Hin area. We thoroughly enjoyed being at the beach for the first time in a few years, and always love HH, but were there mainly to spread Nam’s grandmother’s ashes and a great uncle’s ashes on the water. This is known in Thai as loi angkarn (ลอยอังคาร ณ ปราณบุรี).

In a weird twist of fate, it was arranged to do this at the very harbor in Pranburi/Pak Nam Pran where we set off on a honeymoon cruise with family and friends who came from overseas to our wedding in Thailand 15 years ago.

I wish to cover this more thoroughly and post pics in upcoming posts, but for now I’ll leave the video that just finished processing (our Osmo Pocket finally got some use since the start of the pandemic).

Linkdump AF 2022

Across the Multiverse: A four chapter story with an epic revelation at the end.

I did not get that far, but I got a lot of chill.


Technicolor Tokyo: Screenshots from CyberPunk or real photos?


Phra Rahu: This week I learned of Rahu worship in Thailand, which is extremely interesting and apparently widespread, and although I’ve seen images and statues of Rahu before, I never really knew his story – it’s interesting!

The Story of Phra Rahu
There are many variations of the story of Rahu, which stem mainly from Hindu, Buddhist, Tamil legend. The most common legend is the Hindu one which describes Rahu as an Asura (demon deity) who was transformed into Rahu after drinking an elixir which would assure his immortality. The legend goes on to say that Rahu stole the elixir from the Hindu Deities, but he was seen by Chandra (the moon god) and Surya (the sun god). Chandra and Surya informed Mohini (the female avatar of Vishnu) who promptly chopped off the Asura’s head.
A small amount of elixir had already been sipped by the Asura before Mohini could chop off his head, so his head and upper body had already attained a state of immortality and became Rahu.
Rahu takes his revenge upon Chandra and Surya by swallowing the moon and the sun every time he sees them, thus causing an eclipse.

https://www.pattayaunlimited.com/thailand-deities-phra-rahu/

Pocket full of shells

We had to take our Mazda 2 Elegance (TH only sedan model) into the new dealer down the highway to fix the most annoying vibration in the world (which will require removing the dash so I’m totally not doing it myself). Anyway, someone cut me off on the way home just as this came up on screen in the windblown (windows open because it’s nice) Kujira:

It was oh so aggro.

~ best RATM cover, evah! ~

Jeff Goldblum – The Future is on LSIs (Rohm)

When I started out as a copywriter in a medium-sized translation office in Miyakojima, Osaka, I had more translation and technical writing jobs than anything very creative… but in that first year, a huge job landed on my desk, unbeknownst to me. The job was simple, the client wanted a rewrite and “native check” from a random gaijin on staff – me. The original headline was a single sentence, roughly worded. Something like, “We can see the future on this LSI.” Of course, nobody knew (and to this day, nobody knows) what an LSI was, so: “Large-scale integration (LSI) is the process of integrating or embedding thousands of transistors on a single silicon semiconductor microchip.” In semiconductor manufacturing circles, it refers to a specific kind of microchip.

I tried to convince the client to replace “LSI” with “microchip” for a few hours, but to no avail – the nomenclature was set in stone. So I suggested “The Future is on LSIs,” and promptly moved onto the next job. I was used to knocking out several quick jobs a day, so I didn’t really give it a second thought. Until I was watching TV one day half a year later and saw Jeff Goldblum, in the desert, with a spiky haircut, speaking words I had written:

It was my proudest day as a copywriter.

Later in my career, I would work with advertising legends like Leo Burnett on hot accounts like Sony Vaio, Virgin Records, and the Honda Insight, but I would always be drawn back to that hot day in the translation office in Osaka.