Somdet Phra Theppharatratsuda Chao Fa Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Ratthasimakhunakonpiyachat Sayamborommaratchakumari

AKA Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Thailand’s Princess Royal, came to our university to open my faculty’s new building today (Official title: The Local Knowledge Learning Center). Pretty much every Thai staff member/teacher wears an official white uniform to these ceremonies, so it was fun being the only person in a black pinstriped suit (those not wearing dress whites wore white or black suits, but nobody else had pinstripes – I’m so happy I had this one made all those years ago because it’s BOSS). There was much discussion leading up to today’s event about where the best place to enter the campus and park would be, with some teachers coming in hours before the ceremony started, but I snuck in through an unguarded back gate on my scooter and talked my way past three roadblocks five minutes before assembly time. Then I sweated through the next three hours, happy I had an undershirt and a folding fan. It was glorious.

Reposted from my Facebook account

I’m having an eventful birthday. After dropping off Max and Mina at school, Nam and I drove by an accident on the side of the road. I saw my co-worker Bruce lying on the asphalt, so I told Nam to pull over and ran out to help. A middle aged woman riding a small motorbike with a little girl on back had hit Bruce’s mountain bike from behind. Judging from the damage, she had been going pretty fast.

There were already several people gathered around watching and talking bullshit, but typically, nobody was really helping. The woman was lying down, motionless, in a pool of blood leaking from her head, so I made sure she wouldn’t drown in it and left her alone, then helped Bruce who was down and in pain but seemed to not be seriously injured. Nam picked up the little girl so she wouldn’t get hit by a passing rubbernecker. The girl seemed totally unhurt.

The reason I am writing about this here instead of my blog is that my Facebook page has much more local exposure, and I would like to publicly shame someone – Nam saw a doctor that we know (who works at the university clinic just up the street) standing there, just watching with the rest of the crowd. She called his name and motioned him to come over to help as we couldn’t even hear sirens yet, and HE REFUSED. Instead, he just stood there and continued to watch for another few minutes until the ambulances arrived.

So I would just like to take a few minutes to publicly address this cowardly asshole: HEY ASSHOLE, your job is to HELP people! It’s NOT to inspect enough ears and throats to buy a big house, or to prescribe enough drugs to buy a new Camry every two years. When you see people injured on the side of the road, it’s YOUR JOB (and it’s actually the law) to GO HELP THEM AND STOP WATCHING LIKE IT’S A FUCKING MOVIE.

Anyway. Nam rode in the ambulance with the little girl, Bruce was followed in a second ambulance, and I drove our car there. The woman was hurt in a bad way. Her family eventually showed up and claimed the little girl, didn’t say thank you to Nam, were only concerned with the money the woman had been carrying (and apparently kind of accused Nam of stealing it!). So hey, fuck them, too.

Then I was in the ER with Bruce, explaining his condition to the nurses and doctors, when a baby was brought on to the next bed with bad burns. The nurses said it had been doused with boiling water and started taking photos for evidence. The baby was screaming at first, and then just crying, and it took about half an hour for it to get exhausted enough to fall asleep as they cleaned the burns and applied some kind of cream…. it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to see. But the worst part about it was that the young mother was more concerned about herself than about her baby. She kept looking at me and Nam and the nurses as if to say, “forgive me!” I could only shake my head in disgust and Nam actually admonished her, “take care of your child, he needs you!”

There is a lesson in here somewhere. I’m just trying to figure out what  it might be.

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I’m in the middle of editing a particularly confusing English translation of an academic paper for publication. I usually decline work like this, but the client agreed to a generous hourly wage (it makes more sense than charging per page), so here I am, slogging it out all weekend. I hate doing work like this when the kids are home, because all I want to do is play with them and there are constant distractions.

Anyway, I had a sudden need to hear Mariah’s first album in all its Vision of Lovingestlyish glory, so I fired up the music transmogrifier and the tunes instantly flowed from my PC’s speakers… Took me back to listening to the Carpenters in my dad’s VW beetle decades ago, and I realized that there is a similar gap between musical generations – Mariah’s first album was released 24 years ago!!! Holy shit, I am old.

And now, back to the grindstone.

UPDATE #1: Let me be very specific. I keep playing one specific loop from a single song, to chase the bad English away. This one:

UPDATE #2: Note to self – Future mashup:
“All In Your Technicolor, Blurring the Mind” by White Carey

UPDATE #3: Now I got myself stuck listening to Astrocreep 2000 while editing bad English and it’s not going so well..

Falling down I am a psychoholic
Erratic and sure I cannot fail
Replay slow smooth and automatic
Go easy riding danger
Yeah – two guns west I ride an instamatic
Polaroid rat crucifixion nail
Antenna down cruising in the deep red
Mouth of a demon angel


English camp at Lampao Dam


Taro came to visit, so I brought him along on an overnight English camp to the reservoir at Lampao Dam in Kalasin. Usually this point is so crowded with people going to the “beach,” I can’t wait to leave, but because off the cold weather it’s just our group here today. At sundown, even the souvenir vendors had already left… and getting here this morning in my Crown was one of the best drives I’ve had in a long time. She is queen of the road.

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what’s going on

So I took the fam on a trip with my coworkers from the English program last week. We went to Hua Hin, which I had passed through but not enjoyed since our honeymoon. We saw the resort we had stayed at (Nern Chalet) and the massage parlor my dad got groped at, and the kids had a great time at the beach. Max learned how to stay underwater at the hotel pool, and was very proud of himself. Mina could put her face in the water, but is still scared to put her ears in, I think.

I have many photos, but alas, the start of the new term is imminent, and I have a textbook to write and several orientations to attend/help with.

Teaching with Google Plus

I’ve now fully implemented my improved ad-hoc Google+ system for my weekend classes and have found the greatest barrier for entry to be that some students cannot use the net except for clicking on virtual cows and Like buttons.

After having them sign up for Gmail and Google Plus and showing them how I want work to be done for the first couple of classes, I now have a couple of active “Communities” where I post assignments and class announcements, and students ask questions and check their grades. It seems to be working smoothly. I’ve had some inquiries from people who saw my workshop at the conference last month, so it’s been good to experiment with new ideas and functions for this system.


Finals week has come and gone, leaving me with a sore throat and plenty of grading to get through. One last push with a huge synchronized test for combined classes this afternoon and it will be done. In this time of paper flurries and worried sophomore ministration, only one thing can snap me back to my happy place at any given time:

Thai TESOL Conference – After Action Report

My workshop went pretty well, I was told. One of the participants told me it was the most useful thing she saw at the conference, which was very nice to hear. The biggest problem I faced was that the provided wifi was very unreliable, which made it very difficult for the audience to interact in real-time, but it eventually worked out when the network stabilized halfway through.

One attendee asked if I knew about Edmodo and asked why he should use my system instead of it. I told him that I’d like to show him why at the end of the workshop, and then he disappeared and missed out on the very parts I had promised to show, only to reappear later in the men’s room and claim that I hadn’t addressed his question… I briefly went over what I’d just covered in the workshop and gave him my card, but had basically given up on any serious discourse by then. It pleases me to note that situations that would have ended with me saying, “whatever,” and walking away in the past now end with me handing the person my business card, saying, “e-mail me,” and walking away.


Overall, the conference was interesting. There were some interesting talks, and it was nice meeting new people. The venue was not very good, though. The workshop rooms were very small, the internet access was horrible (for a conference on E-learning, they really should have tried harder than setting up two weak access points for 600 attendees), the food, even for presenters, was some of the worst Thai food I’ve had in a long time (and definitely the worst I’ve had in a self-proclaimed 5-star hotel). Basically, the Pullman Khon Kaen Raja Orchid is a shadow of what is was when it was the Sofitel – old and in need of renovation – which is really a shame, because I met at least six of my students interning there for work experience during the conference. Perhaps the newcomer to the top-end hotel game here, the Centara Khon Kaen, can offer better service  when they finally finish it (they actually opened for business before construction was finished!)

There were people I met who were interested in attending my workshop, but were leaving on the plane for Bangkok at noon, so couldn’t make it. I’m uploading my workshop handout to Google Drive for them, and anyone else who is interested. I do not cover details about the full capabilities of my system in the worksheet – those were covered in the workshop – but I’m happy to discuss them with anybody. E-mail me!

Link to my Thai TESOL handout

UPDATE: I forgot to mention what I covered in the end. Basically it was a series of functions I described/demonstrated including 10-party video chat with Google Hangouts, multilingual test-to-speech and Romanization capabilities of Google translate, automatic OCR scanning of graphics with Google Drive (I demonstrated this by taking a photo with my smartphone, uploading it via the Google Drive app, then opening the converted file on my PC on the projector screen – in my haste to get it uploaded with the crappy wifi connection, I accidentally tilted my phone so it took the photo in Landscape orientation so the OCR wasn’t very good, but it got the point across.).

I was also able to get in a long rant about Facebook, which always makes me happy. Now that I think about it, I started answering somebody’s question about FB privacy compared to Google+ privacy, but I got distracted and couldn’t wait for the Google+ TOS screen to load… If that gentleman happens to read this post, here are the links:

Facebook Terms of Service

Google Terms of Service

Google Plus Pages Additional Terms of Service

Thailand TESOL International Conference 2013

I’ll be running a 45-minute workshop tomorrow at this year’s Thai TESOL Conference entitled, “Using Technology to Aid in Teaching Oversized ESL Classes.” This is the first time I’m attending the conference, and I decided if I was going to pay the stiff entry fee, I was at least going to have some fun with it. I talked to a few people today who have been repeatedly turned down as presenters, so I guess I was lucky to be accepted. Wish me luck!

Welcome home

I was greeted with the following exchange upon returning home to bring my sick kids (who choose to play hooky in unison) lunch:

MAX: Daddy, are you going to work again?
DADDY: Hello, Max. I brought you some noodles.
MAX: I want you to go make a lot of money! GO TO WORK AGAIN, PLEASE, DADDY!

The monsters have grown too powerful to control.

One Tablet PC Per Child Tablet PC aka “iPad10”

I got to test out a number of Tablet PCs at one of the education projects I’m helping out. My opinion is that they are complete crap and even worse than I expected at the 81 USD price mark, for several reasons:

  • Of 6 units I tested, 2 were obviously defective (one would not charge past 12% and one constantly emitted a high-pitch squeal)
  • Overall build quality is poor
  • Devices show deep scratches, bubbles under the protective film, and other physical damage as delivered
  • Most of the cases I saw (I only checked a dozen or so out of 40 units delivered) were black or white, with some hot pink thrown in. This is a horrible thing for distributing to a group of kids.
  • Battery life is the worst I’ve ever heard of for any tablet PC – under 30 minutes of normal use
  • The touch screen is unresponsive and frustrating (removing the protective film made it a bit better, but resulted in really bad smudging)
  • Even though the battery capacity is so limited, charging time from near empty is around 80 minutes
  • Even the power adapters are crap; they get very hot and the cords are too short
  • This tablet is the second slowest I’ve ever used – the first being a very similar Chinese unit I tested two years ago
  • This tablet features perhaps the only graphical user interface I’ve ever used that doesn’t support drag and drop
  • The Android OS loads so slow, it has time to show off 3 boot screens/loading sequences

On the positive side:

  • The accessories for the tablets are good. The case, USB keyboard, and USB/ethernet dongle work just fine.
  • The product markings make for a fine conversation piece (iPad5, iPad6, iPad10, 4G, 64GB)


Software info: