Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Start With Why

May 30, 2013 Leave a comment

One thing my dad keeps telling me is to put a question mark. Many times when he does something a certain way or has something set up, he’ll ask me why I think he did it that way. His goal is to get me to exercise my brain more since there is always a logical answer. One question he asked me was if you look underneath any bathroom or kitchen sink, you will notice the shape of the pipes are curved like this:

Intuitively it makes more sense if the pipe just went vertically through (simpler pipe design and minimizes the amount of material required) so why are these pipes curved? Even though knowing the answer to the plumbing question may have little significance, I’ve found the habit of asking why has helped a lot with my everyday life.


The primary reason I ask why is to better understand how people think. Many times I am much more interested in why people behave the way they do than what they do. For example if I told you I was going into the office to get some work done on a Saturday morning, that doesn’t say much about myself as a person unless you know the reason. The reason could be I want to boast about finishing my project before my coworker who I dislike or I didn’t manage my time well the previous week or my boss asked me a favour and I want to improve the company’s welfare. Depending on the reason, you would have a different, but more accurate impression of me. When you take the time to understand the people around you, you will be able to practice compassion and make their lives better, which in turn increases your sense of well-being.

Solving Problems

Asking why helps you solve problems because you get to the root cause of them. My friend recently lamented chewing gum while cutting onions didn’t prevent tears. In short, when you cut an onion, you damage its cells causing chemicals that were initially separate from one another to react and produce propanethiol S-oxide, a gaseous compound. The gas diffuses in the air and irritates your eyes, causing you to tear up in the body’s attempt to remove the compound. Once you understand why cutting onions causes one to tear up, you will see it is ridiculous to think chewing gum will solve that problem. Therefore possible solutions include freezing the onion (slows down the reaction rate) or cutting it underwater since both minimizes the amount of gas released or wearing goggles (not contacts) to prevent the gas from reaching your eyes.

*Btw cutting onions underwater solves the problem for the same reason why bathroom and kitchen pipes are curved in the earlier plumbing question.

Giving Meaning

I believe one should always be aware of the reason why he or she pursues a certain behaviour or goal. It gives your life meaning, a purpose. One of my goals in a personal development workshop I am participating in is to improve my public speaking skills because I value effective communication. Knowing the reason behind the goal motivates me to work towards it because it provides the destination I can envision. It keeps me on the right path so I don’t lose focus or direction. Otherwise my attitude towards the goal would be what’s the point? This applies to more important things such as career choice and relationships too. Life is long and you are going to have to endure through countless things. As a popular Internet saying goes, when you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long.

Here is Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk he gave several years ago (where the title of this blog entry comes from):


He explains why some companies are unsuccessful even when they had all the resources one assume would lead to success and how leaders inspire other people to follow their cause. To summarize his talk in one sentence, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Categories: Life, Personal

Vancouver Ultimate League Summer 2013

May 17, 2013 2 comments

Just wanted to say that I’m excited for this summer’s VUL season :). For the first time, I’m playing two nights a week so I’ll be getting plenty of exercise this summer (the past three seasons I played only once a week).

After the first week of games, I’m feeling pretty good about myself physically. In previous seasons, the first few weeks are tough for me since I’m out of shape from the lack of physical activity during the winter and spring and it takes a while for me to regain the same level of conditioning that I’m accustomed to playing at. However last spring, I played ultimate in a hat league so I’m already in shape for the summer.

This is also the first time since I was introduced to ultimate that I’m playing with new people (it’ll probably be the last time too). We played two games and won both of them by one point so that’s a good start to the season. We had good team chemistry even though most of us hadn’t played together before and everyone received the disc several times which was great since I was afraid some of the new players weren’t going to receive the disc at all during the game.

There are two things that I’ll be working on this summer:

1. Watching my language
Yup I’m serious about this. Whenever I make a bad pass or fail to catch the disc, I usually let out an expletive or two. This detracts from the spirit of the game. Last week, our team got only a 6.7/10 for our spirit score. I’m not sure why, but I’ll assume that part of the reason was due to my swearing.

2. Hucking
Throwing is my weakest area. I’ll be playing handler a lot more this summer since one of the teams I’m on has more inexperienced players. This will give me more opportunities to practice hucking the disc (those who have seen me play will realize that I’m not much of a threat to huck the disc when I have it).

I’m hoping to win the keg of beer at the end of summer. I’ve never been close to winning it, but I’m expecting great things this summer >:)

Categories: Personal, Sports

What I Learned From Ultimate

March 25, 2013 Leave a comment

It all started in the summer of 2008 when my friends and I casually tossed the frisbee after our organic chem lectures. To make a long story short (after all I did spend a lot of time learning about the wonders of Grignard additions and Claisen condensations), I enjoyed that activity so I signed up with my friend’s ultimate team when he invited me to join the following fall semester. Four years later, ultimate has become my favourite sport and I’ve learned a lot from playing it:


Being able to compete at a high level against other players is a huge confidence booster since I realized that my height isn’t that big of a detriment as I had initially thought. My biggest highlight is when I caught a callahan (ie intercept the disc in the opponent’s endzone) when my check was a 6’0 200+ lbs man. Also I’ve had to mark a 7′ player once during a game which was an interesting experience…What I lack in height I make up in speed and awareness so many times I can beat my check to any spot on the field to receive a pass from a teammate.


As mentioned earlier, I have good field awareness meaning I know where the other thirteen players on the field are and what they are doing. On offence, I have to look for open space then make a cut to that space without getting in my teammates’ way if they are making their own cuts. On defense (especially for zone), I have to keep an eye on the disc, shift my position accordingly to how the cup moves and intercept any passes thrown within ~15 ft of me. This has helped me outside of ultimate too since I’m generally aware of my surroundings. For example when I’m out with friends, I’m usually the one mentioning to the group if we are disrupting other people or causing them any inconveniences. More on that on a future entry…

Put the team first

The team’s interest collectively takes priority over one’s own personal interests. Our team had a game one weekend, but couldn’t field enough healthy people. Many guys were injured (minor though, nothing serious) and I was gimpy too from an injured knee. We didn’t cancel our game in time and therefore were expected to show up so my injured teammates and I still had to come and play ultimate. It was one of the strangest sights since our team was down one player and all three guys were limping around the field :P. Btw our team still ended up winning that game (and by a respectable margin) 😀

Women are the MVPs of every game

A co-ed game requires three males, three females and one more person of either gender. Due to this, whether games are played or not depends mostly if a team can field enough women since there are much more men than women playing the sport. I have played countless games where my female teammates had to play the entire game without subs or only one sub and they still play just as hard as the guys. This applies to most other teams too. I’ve also noticed that differences in skill levels among males don’t have as large an impact as differences in skill levels among females. Many times the team that wins an ultimate game is the one with the more-skilled women.

Categories: Personal, Sports, UBC

A Simple Memory

January 27, 2013 Leave a comment

My dad is always reminding me of the little things I did when I was a child, some of it I still remember, some I have forgotten. He cherishes those memories because they make him happy and proud as a father. Even though the memories centered around me (many of them didn’t even involve my dad), I considered those specific events during my childhood to be trivial. I never understood how a simple memory could have a strong emotional impact on a person such as my dad until recently when I took the time to reflect on a broken friendship (by recent I mean a few months ago, I am pretty slow with updates…).

There is one moment I won’t forget though. I was at a house party and someone brought a bag of cherries for the group. I noticed no one was eating the cherries because they weren’t washed yet. Therefore I decided to wash the cherries myself since other people probably wanted to eat the cherries. Shortly after I begun washing them, my (then) friend came to help me. So for the next five minutes or so, we washed all the cherries, throwing away the ones that weren’t edible and cutting off the damaged parts. While we were washing the cherries, she told me how her mom always yells at her when she washes fruits at home for only herself and not her whole family. We served the cherries to the group afterwards and all of us finished them pretty quickly.

I hadn’t asked for any help nor had I expected any since it was an easy task that wouldn’t even take me ten minutes to do. However I still appreciated the gesture. I’m sure if it was someone else washing the cherries, she would still help that person too.

Fast forward to the present…she and I aren’t friends anymore, but that’s ok. I still don’t fully understand how, but this memory, albeit a simple one, is a big reason why I’m not angry at her for how she has treated me since then. I know she’s still angry every time she sees me. Perhaps the first step to soothing her conscience would be to find her own happy memory involving her and me…

Categories: Personal

A Different Kind of Dislocated Shoulder Story

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

I went to laser tag with several friends last Saturday. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that I’m good at sneaking up on people and surprising them when they try to sneak up on me >:D

Afterwards some of us went rock climbing. Unfortunately Dom accidentally dislocated his shoulder while trying to go up the walls. I was busy climbing up my own wall so I didn’t realize it until five minutes after when I saw him sitting on the ground just ten feet from where I landed. Looking back at the incident, I realized I didn’t take the best course of action which was to make sure Dom left ASAP to the Emergency Department (ED).

This is what should have happened: Dom alerts everyone else the moment he realizes he dislocated his shoulder and finds a chair to rest on as quickly as possible. During that time one person asks a worker for the address to the nearest ED while another rounds up everyone else in the group to figure out who could drive Dom in his car to the ED. The two of them leave immediately after receiving directions while the rest of us gather our stuff/finish our activities then proceed to the ED. As such he should have been in his car on the way to the ED within ten minutes of dislocating his shoulder.

This is what actually happened: Dom alerted others the moment he realized he dislocated his shoulder. I got him to move to a chair immediately after I saw him on the ground so he’d be in a more comfortable position and could rest his arm. Someone went to ask for directions to the nearest ED. After that, we walked around asking others one by one whether they could drive Dom’s car to the hospital (our group was mingling around at the time). Then we decided how to organize the remaining rides (ten people in two cars). Finally our group of twelve left Laserdome and traveled together as a caravan to the ED. Some people were having their own conversations, waiting for the whole group to leave and a couple didn’t even realize about the incident until five minutes before we left. It was almost thirty minutes between the time Dom dislocated his shoulder and when he finally left for the ED.

In the aftermath, Dom got to the ED safely and saw a physician within thirty minutes of arriving. However the nurses had to sedate him since his shoulder was dislocated for a lengthy period of a time that popping it back in would be too painful. The procedure went smoothly and Dom is fine now although what troubles me is he woke up a few minutes after being sedated when it was supposed to leave him unconscious for hours…

Having worked in the ED for a year (I summarized my findings here) I should have recalled even a five minute delay in getting to the ED could mean a thirty minute longer wait time before being seen by a physician. Those who have read my previous entries know the biggest problem I have with myself is many times I stop thinking. I wasn’t thinking much during the incident and didn’t act with any urgency at all. Even though it wasn’t life-threatening, I wasn’t thinking the priority was still to find someone to drive Dom to the ED while the rest of us could take our time to reorganize ourselves. Even though there were twelve people in our group, I don’t consider anyone else at fault, but myself for the delay.

Perhaps if he had arrived earlier, he wouldn’t need to be sedated and thus avoid the inconvenience of being knocked out for several hours (I consider it sheer luck he woke up shortly after), but going over the what ifs isn’t the point. Although we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome, I am disappointed with myself how I didn’t take initiative and come up with a better way for our group to handle the situation even if it only meant getting Dom to the ED just twenty minutes earlier.

Yup…I just turned a story centered around an injured friend into one about myself… 😀

Categories: Personal

Personal Mission Statement Draft

January 1, 2013 Leave a comment

This is an initial draft of my personal mission statement. I wanted this entry up asap and will go into further detail later…

I will think before speaking and acting.

I will not procrastinate.

I will be reliable.

I will be humble.

I will solve problems with careful consideration and thought, not with emotions.

I will fix my mistakes and learn from them.

I will not be afraid to try new things and go out of my comfort zone.

I will keep an open mind, but critically analyze new ideas as I encounter them.

I will give my best effort in everything I do and strive to improve in all areas that I value.

I will follow my values and keep my self-respect.

I will demonstrate compassion and integrity to myself and to others.

I will pay attention and respect the feelings of others.

I will support my family, maintain my relationships and keep communications open.

I will take initiative yet work cooperatively with others.

I will do little things for others without expecting anything in return.

I will give others the benefit of the doubt unless it has been removed.

I will remember favours that others have done for me and seek to return them.

I will share my principles with others and inspire them to become better people.

I will make meaningful contributions to society.

I will be sustainable.

Categories: Life, Personal, Philosophy

How to Save Money in College

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

I decided to write this after reading HackCollege’s article. It’s not going to cover how to make a budget or how to manage one’s finances, but simply go over the little things I do that helped me save money during my time at UBC.

1. Work. I spent my summer growing a lot of green plants in a lab while my associates were working with tobacco hehe.

Ok but seriously, apply for work-study jobs. Many are first-come first-serve or if they fit your schedule.

2. Don’t drink coffee. From my understanding, people drink coffee usually for the energy boost. I have a regular sleeping schedule. As such, I wake up feeling fine since my body is accustomed to being awake and asleep at specific times during the day. It also helps that I eat at regular intervals throughout the day and that food gives me more than enough energy to go through a day without passing out.

3. Borrow textbooks from the library and continually renew them. Previous editions of a textbook are just as good and usually there are many copies of those in the library NOT on reserve. After all the fact that RNA Polymerase initiates transcription when it binds to the promoter in DNA is the same regardless of whether I read that in the 1st, 5th or 9th edition of a textbook.

4. Stay healthy. I don’t know the exact cost of being sick (in terms of money, time, energy, etc…), but I imagine it can get expensive. Remember those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Although this is an incomplete oversimplification, all it takes to be healthy is a balanced diet (you don’t even need to eat organic) and sufficient exercise and sleep. I plan to blog about time management (and possibly health) in the near future…

5. Have a cheap cell phone plan. I have a prepaid plan ($0.25/min and $5/month for 250 outgoing texts) so it totals about $100-150 per year. I see my friends on a regular basis that I don’t need to constantly call/text them. Whatever I have to say to them can wait until I get home (and use skype) or when I see my friends in person. It’s amazing that I have friends who don’t complain if we go through a single day without communicating with one another.

6. Don’t be a brand whore. Enough said.

7. Meet lots of people. Of course the quality of your friendships is important, but you don’t have to be BFFs with everyone you meet. The more people you know, the higher the chance that someone will come to you and say hey I know you’re looking for this item and it’s on sale at Store X right now so you should check it out! I don’t go through Groupon, SocialShopper etc… since I’m not interested in most of the deals. Usually I just check my Facebook newsfeed since I have friends who share the popular discounts/promotions.

8. Don’t eat out. Restaurants are expensive and it adds up if you eat out even only once a week. The cheaper and healthier (see #4) option is to buy ingredients from a supermarket and make a meal that will last you several days. The ability to cook is a sexy skill in anybody. Also your body (and wallet) will thank you for making the effort to wake up one hour earlier to eat breakfast and pack a lunch for school.

9. Register for only the minimum number of courses you need for your degree. UBC clearly states the required courses you need on its website so there should be no reason why one can’t plan ahead and take the right courses. I’ve listened to several students complain that some courses couldn’t be used for credits or they didn’t count their credits correctly and I noticed that the problem could have been avoided if they had set aside thirty minutes to see an adviser (they really are helpful) to double check the requirements and resolve any ambiguities. Don’t know what course to take? Again, meet lots of people (see #7).

10. Take good care of your things so you don’t have to spend money fixing or replacing them. That’s why I never do back-to-school shopping trips. There are lots of things that look new and still function perfectly well, but have actually been around even before I was born. For example, the lamp in my house used the same lightbulb for over 20 years!

Categories: Bulletin, Life, Personal, UBC