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Hong Kong's Hidden Gems #2 -- Hong Kong Jockey Club Central Stanley Street Shop

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The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) owns all government approved sports betting and lottery stations in Hong Kong.  These establishments normally offer few reasons for me to visit.  But I recently ventured into one HKJC venue.  This Stanley Street branch in busy Central has won the title of the luckiest (or most unlucky if you are the HKJC) betting site in recent years.  Quite a few have won the grand prize in lottery, known locally as Mark Six, from this premise.  The shop has recently undergone a major facelift.  It now houses two restaurants, various horse racing and lottery artefacts, along with fun facts showcases.  Upon entry, there is an unexpected caravan setting that provides a homey feel for visitors.   A real lottery ball drum machine is also on display.  Opposite it is a historical wall detailing the evolution of Mark 6 over the years.  Did you know that the lottery went from thirty-six numbers in 1976 to forty-nine in 2002?  This made your already low odds of winning much w

Book Review: The Magic of Thinking Big

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I recently finished a self-help book called  The Magic of Thinking Big ,  by David Schwartz.  The title caught my attention as I have had first-hand experience on the topic.  My expectation from the book was to see if there are consistent means to induce big thinking and in turn, derive its benefits.  It turned out there is no magic pill on how to think big. Instead Dr Schwartz provided a few lifehacks that resonated with me:  Believe you can and so you can. Self belief is key to success.  If you believe you are good enough, then you are on the right track to attaining results.  This message reminded me of Morpheus telling Neo in the Matrix , "Don't think you are. Know you are." This has been my mantra for some time so the chapter served as a good reinforcement on self belief. On the flip side, if you believe you cannot, that is equally self-fulfilling    There is no excuse for mediocrity.  Whether it is health, intelligence or the age-old "age" (pun intended),

Hong Kong's Hidden Gems #1 - Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre

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COVID-19 has certainly taken much lustre out of Hong Kong's star on the world stage.  Travelers into the city still require a 3-day compulsory hotel quarantine at the time of writing, leaving many holding off on a trip to the Asian hub.  Shame! In view of this, I have decided to use this blog to occasionally showcase Hong Kong to the world.  Feel free to use these posts as a guide to plan your future travel here.  Even if you don't have plans to come, my hope is the introduction of these sights will offer unique perspectives on the buzzing city.   To start us off, we have a boutique but interesting information centre in Hong Kong's Central Bank.  The Hong Kong Monetary Authority ( HKMA ) Information Centre is one of a kind.  It is located in Two IFC , arguably the most iconic skyscrapper in town.  That said, it is certainly off the beaten path and not very well known to even the locals. Visitors information can be found here . This gallery can probably be explored within a

Quote of the Day

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The surefire formula to succeed in anything:  Talent + Perspiration + Belief => Success  - PTS

An Unusual Perspective and Strategy on Wordle

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You must have heard of (and maybe for some, forgotten about) Wordle .  This 5-letter word guessing game took the world by storm earlier this year.  Despite losing some of its shine by now, many are still considering it their daily routine.  I know people who eagerly anticipate the stroke of midnight so they can be the first ones to crack the daily puzzle.  This New York Times darling actually reminds me of the long running TV show Wheel of Fortune  especially its bonus round. Pat Sajak's reciting of the gimme letters  R, S, T, L, N, E still seems like a memory from yesterday.  If I seem to know too much about this show, this is because I watch it on Netflix when feeling the need for an extra challenge in life.  This post was written to commemorate the 100-day anniversary of my playing the game.  For full disclosure, I do not play every day especially when the schedule gets tough.  My record is not too shabby however, as I win in three or less tries 50% of the time.  It has continue

Book Review: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

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I have always prided myself on leading a meaningful life.  Neither a Nobel laureate nor celebrity, but there is a sense of "balance" that makes my days mostly enjoyable.  A strong career, adequate finances, a loving family and fun hobbies all contribute to the experience.  Though not by design, I have perhaps a become a "generalist" in life.  I finished the book,  Range , a couple months ago and enjoyed it immensely.  David Epstein did a superb job highlighting the importance of generalists in today's world. Here are my key takeaways:  The book started by comparing two schools of thoughts on raising successful athletes.  Tiger Woods vs Roger Federer , two undisputed all-time greats in their respective genres. What is more, Woods represented the deliberate training camp while Federer was exposed to a range of sports both from a young age.  This clever comparison intrigued me to find out whether range can prevail over focused deliberate training. Epstein believes

Quarantine Life

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My business trip to Singapore last month led to a mini-hiatus from blogging.  I am now going through a 7-day quarantine in Hong Kong.  A similar experience last year turned out to be a blast.  Although quarantines are not something most people look forward to, they are appealing to me in a number of ways.  Last year, I experienced what life was like living in a hotel room 24/7  where you eat, sleep, exercise, do HITT/yoga and go to the toilet in a small, confined space.  I gained more appreciation for people who choose to live in tiny bachelor units.  Then there was the lack of face-to-face contact with anyone for days.  Having less communication with my family and social circle can be a blessing in disguise.  The new found quietness put my mind at ease.  It helped me venture beyond the daily routine and reflect on life.  The extra me-time allowed me to get in touch with my inner self.  At times, I felt like a monk full of zen.  With less external distraction, even the 9-5 became more

What is Genius? Part V - Environmental Circumstances and Conclusion

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My previous posts explored internal contributors to genius, but one external factor cannot be overlooked.  Environmental circumstances are essential to genius.  Being at the right place at the right time, having the right family, teacher (or mentor) are keys to one's success.  Some say this is luck, but I say it is more.  The stars essentially have to align for a genius to become a genius. Take Terence Tao for instance, widely recognized as one of the best minds in mathematics today.  He was born in Australia to Chinese parents who emigrated from Hong Kong.  Winner of the Fields medal at 31, Tao was a child prodigy.  His father was a doctor; his mother a math and physics teacher.  Hence the brains.  Early on, Tao's parents encouraged their  son to learn at his own (fast) pace and his elementary school tailored a specialized gifted program for him.  Tao surely has intelligence, creativity (in order to win the Nobel equivalent in math), and a lot of grit as he often humbly empha

What is Genius? Part IV - Grit

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Thomas Edison once said "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." He is best known for the invention of the electric lightbulb, and had more than a thousand patents under his belt.  Edison wanted to convey that hard work and perseverance, more than anything, are needed for greatness.  These days I think of "perspiration" as grit.  Angela Duckworth, a best selling author and speaker, defines grit as  passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement.  It is not just hard work, but   toiling relentlessly on a passion you stay loyal to despite ups and downs.  Especially the downs. It was generally believed that grit is somewhat genetic, but we now know it is mostly an acquired trait.  Just like IQ tests, Duckworth created a grit scale , which computes a subject's passion and perseverance ratings before yielding a final grit score.  It is often easy to overlook the role of passion in shaping grit. Passion is what

What is Genius? Part III - Creativity

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Creativity is an elusive concept. Googling the word returns a dozen definitions that seem correct at first glance, but none effectively captures its full essence.  I tend to favor simplicity and subscribe to  this portrayal: creativity is the ability to create new ideas or things.  In some ways, creativity is more complex than intelligence.  First it is harder to identify because there are no standardized creativity tests today.  While intelligence quotient (IQ) is a household term, there is yet to be a creativity quotient (CQ). That said, answering aye to most of the following questions is a good tell that you may be creative:  Do you have a curious mind? Are you open to new experiences?  Do you like to take risks?  Do you like to daydream?  Do you have a rebellious spirit?  Are you highly sensitive to the world around you?  Do you catch yourself wondering "what if"?  Is your workplace messy?  Creativity is also less concrete than intelligence because its manifestation canno

What is Genius? Part II - Intelligence

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Needless to say, intelligence has traditionally been a key component to the genius label.  But do we really know what it means? In simplest terms, intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. It is not exactly smarts however, because smarts can be earned through learning while intelligence is innate. How can we measure intelligence? Well, you must have heard of IQ tests. IQ stands for intelligence quotient, which is essentially a score for measuring how intelligent you are.  There are many so-called tests on the Internet, but only two are internationally recognized: WAIS-IV and SB5.  The one I took in 2021 was the WAIS-IV, placing me in the high end of the IQ spectrum.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, these tests are more than just gauges of logical reasoning.  The WAIS-IV has four components, which spans perceptual reasoning, verbal comprehension, working memory and processing speed.  See here  for an understanding of scores from commonly accepted tests.  No

What is Genius? Part I - Introduction

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The word  genius  carries a uniquely satisfying connotation.  There are probably many definitions of the term, with most narrowly focusing on people with extremely high intelligence.  To me, a more encompassing definition is preferred:  A genius is someone who is exceptionally talented in his/her field(s) and creates meteoric contributions to the world.     Einstein fits the bill but so do Michelangelo, Mozart and Kasparov.  Debates have gone for centuries on what makes a genius a genius.  Recent studies have shown that it is not all about brains.  Nature vs nurture debates have ensued, but I will settle on these four essentials:  Intelligence - yes, brains Creativity - also brains  Grit - persevering through highs and lows  Environmental circumstances  - being at the right place at the right time with the right people Let's spend the next few weeks to deep dive on each characteristic that help to shape a genius. - PTS

Rubik's, Solved!

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I tried my hands on a Rubik's Cube in elementary school, only to be met with frustration.  I remembered thinking this was a game only for geniuses.  A second chance came late last year when my 9-5 ordered hundreds of cubes as souvenirs for local marketing events.  After 2 hours of practice over the weekend and with the help of some YouTube hacks, I finally did it! Not Max Park yet, but it made my day.   -PTS

Book Review: The First 20 Hours - How to Learn Anything Fast

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Continuous learning has been a cornerstone of my life.   Being an efficient learner is therefore important to me.  I often wonder about the best way to learn and end up "learning about learning" every so often.  No wonder I was naturally drawn to this book by best selling author, Josh Kaufman, given its catchy title. Kaufman first clears the air that devoting 20 hours of your life to something does not make your an expert in the field.  However, it allows you to become good enough and be confident in applying the skill being acquired.  He then distils his learning process into 10 steps: Identify a skill(s) that matters to you If multiple skills are desired, focus your energy on one skill at a time  Define a target level on "what is good enough" Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills  Ensure the right tools are available for learning Remove barriers to practice Make time to practice for at least 20 hours, preferably in regular intervals   Create fast feedback loops Pr

Happy 2022!

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Happy New Year! With the arrival of 2022, it is time to put my resolutions to work:  Improve my golf game with a sub-30 handicap (yes, I am that bad) Remaster my butterfly stroke in the pool  Become an advanced chess player by scoring 1500+ on  Chess.com   Write more blog posts by finding a focus topic(s).   No world peace this time, but each goal carries with it a deeper meaning for me -- hence the excitement.  Let's get started! - PTS