Monkey Holding Peach Brand

Monkey Holding Peach Brand Co., Ltd., or alternatively, White Monkey Holding Peach Brand, are the manufacturers of the original “Tiger Balm” type ointment. This is the OG shit right here. They deserve your respect just for having the coolest brand and company name… If I ever have the chance to work with them, I’ll do it just so I can write it on my CV.


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:

Study level: Bad Asian

Me: Your speaking topic is about something you would like to own. Please speak about this for one minute.

Student: I would like to own my hair.


Student: My hair.


Student: I want to color it red.

Me: Well, I guess you should own your hair first before you dye it.