2001: A Curious Mind – Reason alongside Passion

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for reading some of my last 2,000 entries as I still can’t believe I am writing my 2,001 blog entry after started my blog on July 29th, 2006.

Some of these 2,000 blog entries were short and quick to write while some were more in-depth and took a lot of time to research, prepare, film, edit, interview, produce, and write.

As I wrote previously, this blog is my humble attempt to try to enrich the lives of those who read my work, and enriching my own life at the same time. Now, writing a blog is quite different from making 2001: A Space Odyssey but I am still very proud of my small accomplishment.

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Introduction

In this rather personal entry, I am going to write a lot about myself but I will also share with you two things,

  • a secret in living forever, and
  • a tool that I sometimes use to pierce into the souls of some people.

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Training of a Curious Mind

As I am reading and reviewing Warren Buffet‘s biography “The Snowball“, I want to take this moment to take stock of my own education and training.

***

Early Education: Was I that lazy?

I was an excellent student in grade 1. In fact, I ranked third in a class of thirty or so boys (I attended an all boys school). The unfortunate part was that grade 1 was also the high point of my earlier educations. For some reasons (was it my laziness?), my grades just kept sliding lower and lower for the years from grade 1 to grade 9.

With my grade 9 scores so bad, and studying under the Hong Kong education system, meant that I was forced to study the so-called “Arts” subjects like history and economics in grade 10 (the smarter boys were all studying “Sciences“).

Now, studying subjects that I hated didn’t help improve my grades at all. The sad chapters of my early education concluded with me failing almost every subjects in my grade 12 class.

Fortunately, my early educational nightmares ended when my loving parents sent me to Toronto for my grade 13 education. Essentially giving me a fresh start. It is worth pointing out that the public high school tuition fees for foreign student at the time was probably higher than University tuition.

Now, I will always be grateful to my teachers and the flexibility at Forest Hill CI in allowing me to practically take any subjects that I like as long as I feel I can handle them. And handled them I did. I took grade 13 physics and aced it. I took all three of the most advanced grade 13 mathematics courses and aced them also. I ended up with an over 90% average and got accepted to University of Toronto on a scholarship to study Commerce.

University, Work, University

Undergraduate University Computer Science Education

Now, I am going to jump into warp speed and be brief so that you (and I) won’t be bored to death with my long-winded history. (big smile)

If I have to pick one quality of mine that has served me well, I will have to say it is my curiosity. And I applied that to the fullest in my first year of undergraduate education at U of T. I took different interesting courses that allowed me to specialize in Commerce, Psychology, Mathematics, Computer Science, and even Economics (if I wanted to). At the end, my instinct and love of Computer Science won out and I pursued a computer science degree at Toronto and graduated with high distinction.

And I am still proud to have been taught by some great U of T professors including,

  • Computer Science professor Stephen Cook who took time to answer real or/and naive questions from me (like some people, I thought I had a way to solve NP=P).
  • Economics professor Michael J. Hare in ECO100.
  • Computer Science professor Songnian Zhou in CSC468 Operating Systems (who later founded Platform Computing).
  • In particular, I want to give a special thank to a very kind math professor (Prof. Abe Igelfeld) who took time and patient in allowing me, a high school student at the time, to audit his Calculus class for the whole summer before I actually started my formal University education. I enjoyed the short walk after class to chat mathematics with him. [Feb 17th, 2010 Update: Just called up Prof. Igelfeld and had a great chat with him. He is still the fun to talk to professor that I remember from years ago.]

10 years of working in software

I then worked in the software industry for 10 years and in two of the largest safety & mission critical software projects in Canada. And I have learned many important lessons from these projects. More about these projects in background & cv.

Graduate Business Education (yes, I have an MBA)

I took this time to learn some new and important skills for management consulting and to be an entrepreneur. Although the assigned work were extensive and time consuming, at the end, I fully enjoyed the learning experiences and still keep in touch with some good friends from that time.

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Trying & Learning to be an “ideas Revolutionary”

In the last few years since I received my MBA, I have worked on various business consulting engagements, blogged extensively (2,000 of them), made a film festival screened and Library & Archives Canada collected documentary, created and posted various online content (including interviews with a wide range of people from business leaders, young entrepreneurs, to up and coming artists and established filmmakers). And I am proud of all these work and consider them very important to the skills and knowledge that I bring to a consulting engagement and to a business opportunity.

I call this phase of my life – Trying & Learning to be an “ideas Revolutionary. Of course, this is not the end of my “trying & learning” but is it perhaps the end of the beginning.

From this day forward, I feel I am confident to call myself “chief ideas Revolutionary” while I promise to keep trying and learning.

*****

Reason alongside Passion

My “Reason alongside Passion” is of course inspired by Pierre Elliott Trudeau‘s “Reason before Passion (La Raison Avant la Passion)“. To me, in this new age of “open source, creative commons, community production, social networking, digital democracy, …”, reason can no longer be permitted to have an unfair advantage over passion.

I submit we need to have “Reason alongside Passion“. Yes, we need “Reason” together with “Passion” in equal parts and weights to guide us to a better tomorrow. We have to see and utilize the strength and power of reason together with passion.

*****

a secret in living forever

We don’t physically live on forever. We will all die some day. The secret to living forever is to try to have our good work and good deeds live in the minds and hearts of others who we have touched positively during our limited time on this earth.

For me, knowing I’ve tried to make the world a better place to live is my secret to living forever.

*****

Piercing into the souls of some people

Well, I sometimes accidentally or deliberately show my idiotic self to people. While I run the risk of being branded as an idiot, I also gained a valuable opportunity to see how some people will do or say. To me, it is a quick and cheap way to see people for who they really are. To me, good people will try to treat you kindly and with respect even in your moment of weakness or when you acted like you were a total idiot/ass.

Warning: Using this tool may turn you into an idiot in the eyes of some people (potentially forever).

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8 Responses to 2001: A Curious Mind – Reason alongside Passion

  1. Sue Bowers says:

    Thank you for the unbiased Wikipedia update on Steve Cheung. He is a remarkable person and I wish I could understand why he felt it necessary to make money illegally when he was so good at it legally. He and his wife, Linda, were good friends of mine. I have spent a lot of time with them in Seattle and in Hong Kong while he was at the University of Hong Kong.

    I miss them.

  2. kempton says:

    Thank you Sue for your kind remark re our edits of Steve Cheung’s Wikipedia entry. I think he is a smart, fun and creative person.

    To be honest, when we first looked at the Wikipedia entry, it was filled with Steve’s legal troubles and less on his economics. To keep our views unbiased, we did not touch the negative comments as they seemed reasonably sourced and referenced. What we did was to expand and explain his economics contributions and his influence better.

    Adding factual and concrete positive contributions and praises to the Wikipedia entry were the least we could do to add balance. Whitewash was not our objective thus all the negatives remain in the entry untouched.

    I don’t know if you read much Chinese, but from his frequently updated Chinese blog entries he is enjoying his life in China. And respected by Chinese students and scholars.

    Here is a link to some online videos of Steve’s 70th Birthday event where Steve and Linda were present
    http://you.video.sina.com.cn/a/1524798-1199839991.html

    Best Regards,
    Kempton

  3. andreaskluth says:

    So, am I right that you are originally from Hong Kong and moved to Canada when young?

    Do you still have links with Hong Kong?

    • kempton says:

      You are right Andreas, I am originally from Hong Kong and came to finish my high school and university educations in Canada. And I still have links to HK and do read “Apple Daily” (one of the largest Chinese newspapers in HK) to keep up on HK news.

      I am your man if and when The Economist is looking for a freelance writer to write about some random things in Canada or Hong Kong. :)

  4. andreaskluth says:

    Apple Daily: I remember meeting Jimmy Lai, the founder. Colorful character.

    Loved Hong Kong myself.

    • kempton says:

      Jimmy Lai is one cool and colourful character to meet. Lucky you.

      To me, Apple Daily’s willingness to defend and promote democracy in Hong Kong & China is only equaled by its willingness to make money from sex and lowbrow gossips.

      Hong Kong is quite an interesting place to visit and have some fun.

  5. […] I’ve written quite a bit about myself in my 2,001st post in Oct 2008, so I don’t want to repeat […]

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