Thailand University Teacher Extraordinaire

The trials and tribulations of a young English teacher

The Twitter Experiment: Thoughts, Feelings and Occasional Ramblings

It’s been roughly a month since I joined up to the Twitter experience, and so far it has been an interesting emprise. At the beginning of my little experiment, I envisaged that I would perhaps log on to the site three or four times in the first two weeks before abandoning my account, never to return. I’m surprised and pleased that this hasn’t been the case.

More often than not, I find that when I log into my account, at least one of the dozen or so people I’m following has posted a link to an article or news story that I genuinely find to be interesting. Had I not signed up to the Twitter service, it’s extremely unlikely that I would have stumbled over many of these intriguing expositions myself. This has been most unexpected.

Before the experiment began, I suspected that less would very much be more, and for the most part that has been the case. Some members go overboard and churn out dozens of tweets a day. The result is that I tend to quickly scroll past their musings, which is a shame. There’s sometimes interesting content in one or two of their posts, but because it’s surrounded by so much dross, it’s easily overlooked.

A quick glance of my account reveals that I am currently following 18 people. Excluding the three fine people on Twitter that I know in real life, here are the members whose posts I enjoy the most.

Stephen Mangan @Stephen Mangan

Stephen Mangan is a comedian and actor that regularly appears on British television. Most of his tweets are one-liners or sarcastic comments that usually always raise a smile.

Dwayne Johnson @TheRock

I was a semi regular wrestling fan in my teenage years, and I thought it would be interesting to see what wrestler turned actor turned wrestler again The Rock tweets about. Often I see pictures of him with fans. The most moving photo I’ve seen is The Rock posing with a young boy that obviously has a dehabilitating disability and his family. The boy had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his face, and I thought that it was very cool for The Rock to not only pose for the photo but to reply to the boy’s message on Twitter thanking him.

Stephen Fry @StephenFry

I reluctantly decided to follow comedian and self confessed Apple lover Stephen Fry a month ago, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the dearth of Apple related tweets and the abundance of thoughtful and humorous tweets.

And here are the dullards that haven’t been interesting to follow.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers @ChiliPeppers

They are my favourite band, but it appears that the vast majority of their posts are written by their music company. This DVD is out now – check it out, Pittsburgh show now sold out. Fascinating.

The Economist @TheEconomist

Far too many tweets every day mean that finding interesting content is a real chore. I’d much rather navigate their website and read the stories I’m interested in than read through their countless tweets. Sorry @TheEconomist, it’s not me, it’s you.

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Introducing The One Month Twitter Experiment

I’ve never been a fan of Twitter. Since I became aware of its inception, I’ve had an image of it being a place where people broadcast their every thought in text speak. I’ve seen the service constantly praised and lauded by news networks like the BBC and CNN, and I’ve grown sick of and disillusioned with the site without having experienced it myself.

I’m a person that doesn’t react well to constant hype about a product or service. If I’m constantly being told how amazing something is, my reaction is to go to great lengths to avoid it to prevent disappointment. The Harry Potter novels are probably the best example of this. I suspect that had I discovered the series myself, or had a single friend recommended the first volume to me, I would have had countless hours of enjoyment and lost hours of sleep over several nights as I convinced myself to read just one more chapter. Alas, it wasn’t to be. People from all walks of life seem to take great glee in selfishly revealing every major plot twist or revelation. I’m afraid I’ve reached the point where there are no surprises left, and the enjoyment I will get from the series will be a shadow of what it would have been had I discovered the books myself.

As well as excessive hype, I get irritated by empty buzzwords, which seem designed to ‘sex up’ something that is mediocre or pointless. When I hear one of these magical words, it’s almost as if a signal is sent to my brain telling it to shut down or brace for impact – there’s a huge dose of verbal diarrhea heading this way. Words like ‘tweets’ and ‘trending’ and ‘hash tags’ are usually mentioned in the same breath as Twitter, and they have so far added to my reluctance to join the site.

However, I’m going to give it a try. If I can be choosy with the users I follow and avoid turning my account into one big vanity project, it just might become a useful tool that I can get a lot of use and enjoyment from. On day one, I’ve decided to follow 15 accounts, which include…

Derren Brown – Psychologist and magician extraordinaire
Tim Harford – Economist and writer
Michael Moore – Film maker and activist
Richard Branson – Entrepreneur and explorer
Stephen Fry – Actor, author, groan, and Apple advocate
Eddie Izzard – Comedian and actor
Nottingham Forest Football Club – The biggest source of pain in my life

I’m going to avoid actively seeking out followers of my own, though people are free to follow me if they desire. I don’t foresee many meaningful tweets coming from my account though. You can find me here

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The Pants Retro Blog: White Noise – Turn on a Light Idiot

White noise – turn a light on idiot!

1/21/2005 12:40:35 AM

Well hello there, hope you’re all having as much fun as me. I’m searching for information for my workshop tomorrow. The fun at university just doesn’t stop!

Well yesterday was a fairly fun night, Exeter finally bowed out of the cup, there were gale force winds in Nottingham…….and i saw white noise at the cinema with Jen.

What a bizzare film, I’ve read quite a few reviews of the film after I got back and feel most of them are pretty unfair. The acting in my humble opinion was top knotch and there were genuinly scary bits at times, which I dont say very often about films! The ending was a bit of a disapointment although Jen wouldn’t agree! But for me the most annoying feature of the film was just general lack of common sense from the lead character. Walking round at house scared to death without lights on, i mean come on! And driving out to an isolated country road in the middle of the night without a torch?? I was literally struggling to keep my mouth shut to stop myself shouting at the screen! Worryingly a girl several rows further back to me and Jen couldn’t stop laughing through a character being killed. Maybe thats just a plymouth thing? All in all I’d give the film 3/5, worth watching!

I’ve finally decided to bother with one of my new years resolutions people will be amazed to learn. Im bowing to great external pressure and sending a valentines day card  But to who??? My lips are sealed

Random fact of the day: The squirrel sleeps an average of 14.9 hours a day

 

 

Meanwhile in 2011…

This post was written during the January doldrums at university and made for dull reading almost 7 years on.

White Noise – I have no recollection of the film. A glimpse at Rotten Tomatoes says that 44% of the audience liked it. It was widely panned by the critics though as a rule I ignore their reviews.

Far too many exclamation marks! Again! I’m glad I’ve grown out of that!

Valentine’s Day 2005. I wonder if that was the year I sent a dozen mystery Valentine’s Day cards to all the single people I knew – male and female – to cheer them up with the thought that they were being admired from afar. I’m sure the” great external pressure” must have been my Mum.

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The 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge: It’s All Come to an End

Sadly, because of the looming deadline I’ve set myself for my Master’s degree applications, I’m bringing an end to this cycle of the 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge. I managed to write for five consecutive days for this challenge although I ultimately only published three entries (Goodbye MSN Spaces being the first).

Even though I vowed to publish whatever I came up with every day, I decided that I wasn’t happy sharing something that appeared to be visibly broken and that’s why two entries will forever remain hidden in the ether. That being said, I’m much more comfortable sharing my writing with anyone who’s willing to read it after attempting this challenge. I’ll give this another try in January.

In other news, I love my job at the moment. The recent floods in Bangkok have delayed the start of the second semester of Thai program courses. This means that my schedule for the last six weeks has been unusually light. I had time to spend a week in Kunming, China with my girlfriend, which has brought the smile back to my face.

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The Pants Retro Blog: Thank God for the Weekend

Thank god for the weekend

1/14/2005 11:17:34 PM

Hi there friends and neighbours, what a week its been here in Plymouth.

They said it couldn’t be done, I disagreed and was successful. That’s right I managed to complete a hefty 3 pieces of coursework in 1 night. As proud of this fantastic record I was Jen soon kicked me into touch by becoming the queen of laziness herself. She did a formidable 4 pieces in 1 night. Redefing the true meaning of the words last minute.

This years been a strange one, spectacularly boring lectures, ridiculous work loads this second year has had it all. Footballing injuries, being arrested (all be it for 5 minutes) obsessive san andreas playing the list goes on. And people say the students life is a dull one!

After the spectacularly gruelling week I’ve had i’ve decided it’s time for no more mr nice guy. Yep you guessed it, this weekend I’ll be spending most of my time…………in bed. With the aid of the local takeaway and a whopping stack of dvds I plan on not showing my face to the outside world for the entire 48 hours.

And on that note I’m off, to where I do not know. When will I return? I do not know, does talking like this make me sound a fool? Yes it does. Adios amigos.

 

Meanwhile in 2011…

Another all nighter pulled; three pieces of coursework this time. Stupid, very stupid. I wish I had waited a year before I went to university so that I could have been a bit more grown up and a lot more responsible.

I have no recollection of being arrested, so I wonder what that was all about.

It’s interesting to see that my style of writing back then wasn’t as impressive as I first though. I remembered reading back my blog posts a few weeks after they were written and being pleased with the light and breezy tone. I can’t say I’m impressed now. Perhaps that’s the English teacher inside talking.

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The Pants Retro Blog: I’m Winning the Battle

Im winning the battle

1/9/2005 1:16:02 AM

Thats right I’m gaining the upper hand with this flu and fighting back. I still haven’t done any of this coursework though, if im not careful im going to be up a certain creek without a paddle for the 3rd time this year.

The rest of the girls get back here tomorrow (Emma’s back already, i’m not accusing myself of being a girl) so I get to tidy the whole house too. The fun just doesn’t stop. It’ll be nice to see them all again though. Its strange to wake up to silence and not the sound of Jen’s singing in the morning, it really isn’t the same!

Forest made it through to the 4th round of the fa cup after winning 3-0 away from home yesterday. Nottingham! But Plymouth are out dashing my hopes of seeing Forest – Plymouth down here. Ah well, im still making my mind up whether or not to go to footy training at noon. Im ill and its been xmas which gives me an excuse if I play badly, and I really fancy a game after watching 2 matches earlier. But can I be bothered to walk to the union and freeze my bum off for 3 hours or so? I’ll see when I wake up.

I cant wait to go see Rammstein in Feb, they’re playing back in Notts so I get to go home for a weekend. Must finish this coursework before letting myself get excited though.

I made an important life decision earlier and have applied for a brochure to work abroad for 6 months or longer after I finish uni. Im still trying to decide between Canada or Australia but i’ve still got another year and a half to decide so no rush. Anyhow i’m out of things to say tonight so good night folks.
Meanwhile in 2011…

It’s interesting to read about an important life decision that didn’t actually materialize. The 6 months abroad in either Canada or Australia became 6 weeks backpacking in Thailand. Looking back, I made the right decision.

Nottingham Forest – probably the biggest source of pain in my life.

Sharing a house with 4 women for 2 years – I don’t miss it. 

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The 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge: Day Two

I like to think that I’m a brave and adventurous person. When I was 18, I left home and moved 300 miles to attend university, when it would have been much easier and cheaper to study in my hometown.  I moved to Thailand when I was 23 and started a career in teaching. But there’s one thing that I dread. It leaves an unpleasant feeling in my stomach, and I curse its inevitability. I can’t stand going for a haircut.

As I detest visiting the hairdresser, I like to put it off as long as possible. What begins as a short hairstyle rapidly expands and grows into an untidy afro-like mess which refuses to be tamed by shower or comb. Eventually the day comes when I can no longer ignore stares from colleagues and flattering comments from students. Yesterday was one such day.

The haircut experience at my choice of salon is a thoroughly miserable one. The moment I walk through the door with a smile on my face and a polite greeting, I’m met with silence and stares from the pouting ladies behind a desk. A reluctant flick of the hand indicates that a bored looking colleague will now wash my hair.

Lying uncomfortably, with my head pulled back into the sink, my first thought is usually questioning whether ice has been added to the water. As my head is repeatedly pulled, grabbed and tugged at, while shampoo is applied and rinsed, I silently curse myself for lacking the courage to visit a rival salon. A wayward spray of water running down my back signals that the hair washing is complete.

Next I am led to one of many chairs facing a mirror and then promptly abandoned. Minutes later, a scowling middle aged lady carrying a pair of scissors in her hand ties a sheet around my neck and then abruptly begins chopping at my locks. Fumbling through my wallet, I request that my hair be styled like my university id card. When no reaction is forthcoming from the stylist, I silently begin to question my sanity.

After five minutes of tense and awkward silence, the first words out of the hairdresser’s mouth are that I have damaged hair with a sprinkling of dandruff. This can be mended with serum if I’m willing to pay. It’s going to cost more than four times the price of a standard haircut. No thank you.

My refusal results in an angry expression followed by a swift transition from the nippy pair of scissors in her hand to what the professionals perhaps refer to as the root rippers. An excruciating three minutes of frantic chopping and pulling begin before the hairdresser abruptly departs without a word.

A smiling young woman in her early twenties then appears with a hairdryer. It’s taken half an hour into this ordeal to see a smile. A quick drying and styling follows before I’m sent back to a frosty reception at the front desk. I quickly hand over the 280 baht my haircut has cost, and I flee the salon, happy to escape with my life.

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The 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge: Day One

I haven’t been happy with what I write recently. I struggle to express my feelings and opinions, and the words that eventually spill out onto the page are tepid and uninspiring. I once had great enthusiasm for writing. Somehow over time, that passion has begun to fade. To try to remedy this, I’ve decided to set myself a challenge.

Over the next 30 days, I’m going to sit in front of my computer and write for a minimum of 30 minutes. I’m free to write on any topic. The only restrictions I’m going to set are that I have an absolute maximum of one hour and that I have to publish whatever I end up with on this blog.

I hope that getting back into the habit of writing every day will shake free much of the rust that has settled on the creative region of my brain. I miss the pleasure that writing articles and stories can bring.

Writing is an art rather than a science, so I expect that there will be good days, where I’ll be delighted with the words I write, and bad days, like this one, where each word has to be coaxed from the keyboard. Persistence, I suspect, is going to be everything.

To anyone out there reading this, I’d like to invite you to try attempting your own 30 day 30 minute challenge. Should you accept this invitation, feel free to leave a comment with a link. I would be very interested to read what you write.

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The Pants Retro Blog: Another Week Goes By

Another week goes by

12/12/2004 6:54:02 PM

What a bizzare week this has turned out to have been. I’ve finally sorted out my train ticket home, which I’m excited about. I haven’t been home in more than 3 months now so I’m more than ready to go back. I can’t wait to see my friends and family again, and I can’t wait for it to be Christmas which is one of my favourite times of year. Before I can go home I’ve still got 2 essays to do and an exam to sit, so i’m not breaking open the champagne (or fosters in my case) just yet.

On tuesday I went for a meal with Vicki (a friend from my course) after our workshop, though I must point out it wasn’t a date. We ate at Weatherspoons where the food was absolutly amazing. We also had an amazing alcoholic chocolatey cocktail with cream on top, which I reccomend to absolutly everyone!

After the meal I went to the union with Jen (where she works) to keep her company for the comedy night. I had a great time, I got to see 3 very different comedians. The 1st guy was Mark Olver who was impressive and managed to get a great reaction from the audience. The next guy Gary Delaney was okay, he told wayyy too many one liners though. They saved the best for last though, when I heard the guy’s name was Earl Okin I was expecting a middle aged accountant lookalike and thats exactly who we got! When he brought a guitar out with him on stage I feared the worst. But he was absolutly fantastic. He sang a great rendition of teenage dirtbag along with some of his own blues material. If you ever get the chance to see him play GO! You wont be disapointed!!!

Much to the obvious disapointment of the University football teams reserves I’m still injured and unable to make it to practice. I managed to hurt my neck quite near the begining of term in a way I’m not too proud of. It was the end of a cracking night out and everyone else stumbled off home. I was adament I wanted chips however, and realising there was only ten minutes till everywhere closed I dashed off on my own to one of the few trustworthy takeaways in Plymouth. I was running full speed (which is quite impressive considering I was thoroughly drunk) when It happened. Out of nowhere a tree branch appeared and I unwittingly went straight into it. I was travelling at quite a speed and hitting the branch took me completly off my feet and put me on my back. Thankfully because of the alcohol I had consumed I didn’t feel a thing and made my way to the takeaway to find it was shut. The next morning I was in quite a lot of pain as you can imagine!

I’m slowly fighting back against insommnia and managing sleep at reasonable hours these days. I just wish I wasn’t having so many vivid and strange dreams. Well you cant have everything!

Meanwhile, in 2011…

This is an interesting post to analyse several years on. Was it or wasn’t it a date with Vicki? I was adamant in this post that it wasn’t, but I think I was hoping it was at the time. A few months went by, and she ended up seeing someone else, who she is still with to this day. A missed opportunity for my younger self.

It’s strange to read that food at Weatherspoons was “absolutely amazing”. I doubt anyone would say that now.

There are far too many exclamation marks in this entry. I’m glad I learned to phase them out of my writing.

This post gives a good example of my legendary clumsiness. My housemates forced me to see a doctor, who diagnosed whiplash. It took more than six months for my neck to recover, and I still very occasionally get neck pain. Ah, to be young and stupid again…

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The Pants Retro Blog: My Week

My week

12/3/2004 9:23:57 PM

Hello there anyone foolish enough to be reading this, well here we go, without any further ado this has been my week.

In case you dont know me, which is quite likely let me introduce myself. I’m Eric, I’m 20 and i’m a uni student. I’m originally from Nottingham but am living in Plymouth while i’m here at uni (just in case you didn’t realise). I’m the only bloke in my house, and i live with 4 weird and wonderful girlys. They’re Jen, Ellie, Emma and Lianne and like me they’re all completely mad.

Okay well this week hasn’t been one of my best weeks down here for reasons I’m about to explain. I study Psychology at uni and wednesday was yet another deadline day. Meaning my entire Monday and Tuesday were taken up doing ridiculously dull coursework. Thankfully I managed to finish at a not unreasonable 3:30am wednesday morning. Because I have issues waking up in the morning (im lazy) I decided to stay up all night and go to bed after I handed everything in, do i regret doing this? You bet I do!

Im stuck in a bizzare sleeping pattern now, while everyone else sleeps I’m up and about. This is far from ideal let me tell you! Im ashamed to admit I woke up at 3:30pm today, though in my defence I did go to bed at 5:30am!

Moving swiftly on to something not quite so dull, I’m currently being treated to the singing talents of Jen my housemate. She’s had mumps for a week and is now back to her best. Everyone’s celebrating this by getting standing up lying down drunk tonight. Well everyone except me, I’m staying in as part of my alcohol free week. I’m a bit tempted myself to go out I must admit as I’m enjoying all the benefits of the single life at the moment. But for my liver’s sake I’m resisting the urge.

I’m looking forward to next week, It wont be long before I can go home for the christmas hols. I seriously cant wait, I’ve been in Plymouth since the 9th of September, It seems a very very long time to be away from home! So yes will be nice to see all my reliable trustworthy Notts friends. Most of the people I know down here can be good friends, but many I trust them as far as I can throw them!

I’ve written quite a lot so signing off till next friday, be well

Eric

Meanwhile in 2011…

That’s madness! Staying up all night in order to reach a deadline the next day. If I did it all over again, I’d start the assignment much sooner and avoid having to hand it in at the very last minute. Ah the wisdom experience brings…

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