Archive | December, 2008

The Secret to Consistent Success – Part 1: Not Knowing How To Succeed


At the elementary school Gifted program I attended for four years, one of the most important and time-consuming activities every year was the Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP consisted of picking any topic of interest, and using all of the Bloom’s Taxonomy cognitive objectives as guidelines for understanding, thinking, and communicating about the topic in more depth than we would normally do so in the traditional school system. These cognitive objectives included, in order from simplest to most difficult: knowledge (e.g. facts), comprehension (e.g. understanding of ideas), application (e.g. applying known facts/ideas to solve new problems), analysis (e.g. analyzing relationships between ideas), synthesis (e.g. using known ideas to create something new), and evaluation (e.g. making judgments about ideas).

In terms of the ISP, we would be graded on how well we met each of these objectives (if at all). During your first year of doing an ISP, in Grade 5, students weren’t expected to have met the synthesis or evaluation objectives. However, it was the hope of the teachers that students would be meeting all of the objectives in their ISP’s by the end of Grade 8. In case you were wondering, my project topics from first to last were the Brain and Nervous System, Flying Machines, Genetic Engineering, and Stem Cell Research – so I guess it’s previous obvious that since early on I have been interested in science, but particularly topics dealing with ethical issues.

Admittedly, before I was even identified as gifted, I already had a bit of insider knowledge about the ISP because my brother had already been in the gifted program for two years. Not only was I aware of my brother’s projects, but I also attended the annual ISP showcase and got to see the different projects and how the students already in the program approached meeting the six objectives for the ISP. This information would prove invaluable later on when I started doing my own ISP’s.

Not Knowing How to Succeed

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Well it’s Christmas Eve, and I want to wish everyone who reads this blog (and your friends and families) a Merry Christmas (or just happy holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas)!

I’m usually way more excited about winter break, but considering I’ve been on break since November 6, you can’t really blame me for not being as excited. Nonetheless, it’s still my favourite holiday, so I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible anyhow =)

Because of my recent interest in learning to play, my family decided to get me a new guitar this Christmas. So yesterday my father, brother and I went to Long & McQuade to check their guitars out.

I’m going to be flat out honest here. I hate shopping. Nothing bores me more than random store browsing. I’m the kind of guy where I’ll buy something only when I need something. In addition, I’m really indifferent to the exact product I buy. If I needed to buy a couch, I would just pick anything decent I saw in the first five minutes. I just really don’t care what I use as long as the product works. I am really hoping the girl of my dreams is someone who likes to shop way more than I do or else our home will probably be very empty of furniture, or just look really awful inside.

One of the reasons I don’t like shopping is that I don’t like change, and usually, shopping for something new means replacing something old. So that’s why I don’t choose to shop unless I really absolutely have to. As an example to how lazy I am to change, I have had my mom’s old cell phone for probably four years now. My brother recently got a new cell phone and gave me his old one, which is still newer and significantly better than my current cell phone – but I’m too lazy to just transfer the SIM card over. As long as my current phone works, I really don’t care to change it.

Why am I telling you all this? Well suffice to say, my family was a bit irritated with me when we went to the music store because I honestly didn’t care what we bought. To me a guitar is a guitar, and anything newer than what we have at home (which is probably like 20 years old or something) is going to be a significant upgrade. Some people are going to think I’m an idiot or whatever, but I just personally don’t know enough about guitars (or care enough) to really “want” a specific type.

In the end, I just decided to go with a guitar that my dad seemed to like: the Epiphone John Lennon EJ-160E. It’s an electric acoustic guitar which supposedly produces a Lennon-type sound. I’ve played it a fair bit since yesterday, and like the sound a lot more than the old guitar, so I’m really happy. I’m finally able to play barre chords, since the neck seems a bit narrower and the strings are much closer to it, which is a big plus.

It doesn’t look like the strike at York University will be over by the first week of January, so I doubt I’ll be back in school till mid-January at the earliest. I’m a little bit concerned about how this will affect my medical school applications, but I’m not going to bother worrying too much unless my entire school year is canceled, which I feel is very unlikely to happen.

I’m not going anywhere particular this winter break, but in general, my family doesn’t ever travel much at this time of the year. So I’m just looking forward to continuing to have a nice and relaxing break.

Anyways, what are you doing this winter break? Let me know!

Happy Holidays! =)

The Meaning of Life vs. a Meaningful Life


I don’t claim to know the meaning of life because I don’t know whether such a thing exists, and even if it does, I don’t know how one could discover it. Every type of opinion on the meaning of life is essentially a belief – an idea that you might live your life around but not necessarily have concrete evidence to prove that it is true.

What can I say? I am a scientist by nature. I believe in logic. I like rational arguments. I like having reasons for things.

And for those reasons, I find it hard to believe that we could ever find a true meaning of life: Why are we here? What is our purpose?

To believe that there is a true meaning of life implies that this meaning must be universal and applicable to everyone – yet how could we ever find such a thing?


Some people believe in fate or destiny – the idea that everything that is going to happen was meant to be.

I don’t like to believe in fate because it implies that I really don’t have free will. It implies that I am not really making decisions because it was already pre-determined that I was going to take those actions.

If you believe in fate, how could you ever blame someone? A criminal could argue that it was fate for him to commit a crime, and since all of this was pre-determined, it’s technically not his fault. Yes it would be fair to jail him since he is a danger to society, but if you believe in fate, how could you justify blame?

If you believe that everyone on this earth was born with a set purpose, does this not suggest at least some aspect of pre-determined events? Then again, I guess you could argue that we may all have a purpose but we don’t necessarily all complete our “life mission”.

If you were to vanish right now, would your life have mattered?

I am content knowing that I will never know what the true meaning of life is, if there even is one. What I do know is that if you choose to, you can lead a meaningful life.

It seems by nature that humans are social creatures. So to me, we have the most meaning by impacting the lives of others. And in that sense, it’s hard to lead a meaningful life if you live a solitary life.

If you were all alone on an island, with no contact with other humans, how could you ever impact someone’s life? To the rest of humanity, you essentially never existed.

Thus, you can’t lead a meaningful life if you live a solitary one. That being said, at least for humanity’s sake, leading a meaningful life is not necessarily better than leading a solitary one.

Positive Impact

It’s true that many of history’s tyrants have led meaningful lives, though their actions are not things I would personally encourage. And although it would be wrong to downplay the impact of their lives on humanity, it doesn’t mean they led lives we should aspire to.

Personally, I want to live a positively meaningful life. I want to impact people in a way that makes them happy and improves their lives. If I am ever remembered for something, I would want to be remembered for doing something positive.

I think deep down everyone wants their life to matter. Not necessarily that they existed for a reason, but that their existence mattered.

And if you choose to positively impact those around you, then your life definitely matters.

It’s Okay to Look Like an Idiot


When I was in Grade 4, I was identified as “gifted” by my school board. As a result of that, I started going to a separate gifted program at another school for one day a week from Grades 5 to 8. It was a great program that allowed me to explore many neat things not really provided in the regular school setting, such as creative group projects, puzzles, logic games, independent-study projects, etc.

When school boards administer these tests to identify students as gifted, it affects students emotionally and mentally. The main reason for this is because it creates labels, and subsequently, it creates an imaginary divide between students: “gifted” and “non-gifted”. A lot of people seem to associate the term gifted with intelligent, and so to some students, it’s almost as if you are saying that they are not intelligent because they are in the “non-gifted” group. Conversely, students in the gifted group are often expected to do well in school because people now assume they are “intelligent” – so anything less than academic excellence is a disappointment.

I don’t really want to go into a whole discussion of intelligence because that’s not what I want to focus this article on. What I will say is that I am personally a believer in a form of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I believe that everyone has a distinct combination of different types of intelligence, which is why humanity has been able to produce and do so many different and amazing things.

The test that my school board used to identify gifted students largely rested on analyzing only a student’s logical-mathematical and verbal-linguistic intelligences– and not surprisingly, these are the types of skills that help students do well in traditional school subjects. It’s nice that school boards help develop these particular skills for students highly gifted in those areas, but at the same time, it could also be argued that students who excel in other intelligence areas aren’t receiving equal treatment.

Unfair Expectations From Other Students

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Interview with Youth in Motion

Two months ago, a friend of mine and fellow TD Scholar Jasmeet Sidhu asked if she could interview me for the 2009 Winter Youth in Motion Newsletter. Youth in Motion (YIM) is a non-profit organization that runs numerous career and mentorship programs, including their renowned Top 20 Under 20 national awards program. I was a recipient of the Top 20 Under 20 award in 2005. Jasmeet herself was a recipient in 2007, and now sits on YIM’s Board of Directors.

Anyways, I stumbled across the newsletter today and thought Jasmeet did a really good job with the article. If anyone’s interested, you can read it here.

For the entire newsletter, you can check it out here.

The Power of Marketing: Because Perception is Reality


“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

This is a famous quote from the character Morpheus of one of my favourite movies of all time, The Matrix. In this part of the movie, Morpheus is helping Neo to realize that the world he once believed to be his reality was no more than a computer simulation. Yet for everyone else stuck in the “matrix”, this simulation was as real as anything.

After watching The Matrix for the first time, I remember randomly asking myself: How do I know this world I’m in is real? I know I can hear my own thoughts, but how can I know for sure that everything around me is real? My family and friends seem real, but without being able to hear their thoughts, how can I know for sure?

But because I can perceive all of the world around me, I believe it to be real. Because I can smell roses, I believe them to be real. Because I can hear my brother speak, I believe he is real. In order to live in my reality, I have to rely on the notion that my perceptions are interpreting a true reality.

Marketing: Delivering a Perception You Want Customers to Adopt

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Tips for Multiple Choice Tests


I love multiple choice tests more than any other type of tests. They’re great because you don’t even have to know the answer to have a shot at getting a question right!

Especially when it comes to courses where you are expected to know a lot of information (e.g. biology), it helps when you only need to recognize details instead of having to come up with them yourself. When you’re cramming so much information in your head the night before, it’s really useful to have possible answers right in front of you to jog your memory.

When all you have is a question and blank space, it is really easy to sometimes blank out. For example, I would find it much easier to identify the three tenets of cell theory than to write them out myself (and also have to make sure you write them in an acceptable way). Moreover, with multiple choice tests, you can’t lose marks due spelling, grammar, subjectivity, etc.

That being said, multiple choice tests can often be tricky and difficult. At the core of it, multiple choice tests rely on logic and deduction. There must always be reasons why a certain answer should be singled out among the available choices.

If you want to ace multiple choice tests, there are some things you need to know.

Understand the Question

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Theory on Friendship

Many people would agree that an essence of being human is our need to form meaningful relationships with others. We are born into a close knit group known as a family, consisting of very strong relationships of many types. Spouses depend on each other for love and support, and sometimes, to work collaboratively as parents in raising children. Often similar in age and growing up in the same conditions, siblings form a very strong bond and sense of understanding that they can’t share with anyone else.

When we leave the family for a second and enter the rest of the world, we form many new relationship types. Doctor and patient. Teacher and student. Coach and player. With these new relationships come new roles, experiences, and types of understanding.

One of the most important, and seemingly necessary, type of relationship between human beings is friendship. But what is the purpose of friendship and what is necessary for genuine friendships to form?

Common Interest Theory

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Managing Risk

Some people have a poor understanding of risk. Much of the public tends to look at risk only in an absolute sense. They call certain activities “risky” and other activities “not risky”. As such, people tend to completely avoid “risky” activities at all costs while preferring activities they consider “safe”.

According to many sources, such as, risk can be formally defined as, “exposure to the chance of injury or loss”. People don’t like risk because they fear loss. The actual probability of loss is often irrelevant – any hint of a potential loss, and some people just run for the hills.

The problem with this mindset is that it demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of risk, and in doing so, prevents individuals from maximizing their opportunities for success.

Risk is Inherent to Most Activities

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Where Should I Go for University?

masters of nursing

A lot of students have asked me why I chose to go to York University to study undergraduate biology. I get this question a lot, and the reason for this is quite obvious – a lot of people have the impression that York University’s reputation in science and engineering is not as strong as other universities, and so they wonder why I would go there, especially since I’m interested in applying to medical schools.

However, making a decision on where to go for university is much more complicated than that. There are numerous factors to consider, and we must be critical of the information we acquire when considering those factors.

I can’t tell where you should go for university, because everyone is different and only you can make the “right” decision for yourself. But what I can do is go through many of the questions I thought about while going through the decision making process myself, and how my answers to those questions eventually led me to York University.

Hopefully, going through my thought process will help provide some perspective and insight into some important things to consider when making your own selection.

Should I Even Go to University?

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