Author archive: Keith Loo

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Remembering Robin: how a man I didn’t know changed my life

Robin Williams - teacher Robin Williams – the funniest man I’ve never met

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” ~ Good Will Hunting

Robin was the single most important and influential actor and comedian in my life. There never has been another person who made me laugh and cry as much as he has. I could go on for days talking about my favorite of his movies and his stand up acts – about how awesome each of them were, but for me, the Robin that will always be in my heart of hearts, is the teacher from Dead Poets Society.

Robin Williams - Dead Poets Society Robin Williams – Dead Poets Society

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” ~ Dead Poets Society

Although I was born and raised in Canada, English was always a second language for me. So much so, that I had to take ESL courses while in school. And thus language was never a focus for me – but the maths, and specifically engineering, I believed were my life’s calling. It was not until I was 17, and in my Wrtier’s Craft course when I studied deeply, Dead Poets Society, had I learned the power of words and poetry. And that it was OK to read, to write – in fact, it could even be beautiful. And it was!

“And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” ~ Dead Poets Society

And Robin’s performance solely won my heart. It was after watching this movie, at least 10 times that year, that I started embracing both writing and reading.

Life takes some interesting turns. Although I studied Engineering at the University of Waterloo, I had quickly discovered that although I was adept at the maths and sciences, my heart just wasn’t in it. And when the tough time came for a young Asian kid to decide to leave Engineering to pursue the Arts, it was Robin’s words that stayed with me. And ironically, and perhaps unsurprisingly in retrospect, I continued and finished my studies in Writing.

The quote above was on my resume footer for many years, and was also in my email signature for many more.

Robin has always been there for me. He was there for me when I wasn’t sure of which direction I was heading in life. He was there for me through sorrow and depression. He was certainly there through rolling all over the floor laughing bouts. And he will always be.

“To live would be an awfully big adventure.” ~ Hook

Last night, upon hearing about Robin’s passing, I stayed up watching some of his stand-up shows – and fighting through jetlag and sleep deprivation while laughing and crying myself awake.

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Robin Williams – nor the privilege of attending any of his shows. I always thought I could just catch him live the next time he hits town. Sadly, I’ll have to relive his wonderful moments forever through digital media. I never thought a celebrity’s passing would affect me so deeply – but today has been a very difficult day. I’ve lost a teacher, a friend, and a grandpa/grandma ;) – all in one day.

“It’s a dream baby, it’s a beautiful one, but you know dreams…” ~ What Dreams May Come

There are not enough words to bid Robin farewell. Do I lead with “Oh Captain, My Captain?” or “Good Morning, Vietnam!”? … I think his daughter, Zelda, does it best by not bidding adieu, but instead, always looking up…

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.’ I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up.” ~ Zelda Williams paying tribute to her father, quoting Antoine De Saint Exupery

Cheers to you, Genie, you’re free.

Disney Tribute to Robin Disney Tribute: The Genie is free

K

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Published on:
August 12, 2014 1:21 pm
Author:
Keith Loo
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About KLoo
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Feeling new

Amazing, ain’t it? How time flies by.

Another year. Another slew of accomplishments, of wonderful beginnings, and of bittersweet endings.

Someone recently asked me if I feel old, because, as she wonderfully put it “you are essentially at the middle of your life – are you experiencing a mid-life crisis”?

(Yes, I’m older than I look, younger than I sound, and just where I wanna be.)

What an interesting way of putting my age in perspective. Now, although she was mathematically correct (statistically speaking), I really held a different view on things.

If anything, I feel incredibly new.

Yes, new.

I’ve only had what I feel is a very limited amount of experiences of what this wonderful world has to offer – and everything is new. New people, new places, new perspectives, and new insights. All the world is new – and I love it.

As John Glenn, the oldest person to board a U.S. Space Shuttle at 77, said “Too many people, when they get old, think that they have to live by the calendar.” I couldn’t possibly agree more.

Yes I still wear Transformers, Super Mario, The Avengers, Affliction, and Bathing Ape T-shirts, play all kinds of video games, and host S&M Nights (Scotch & Magic: The Gathering) at my place on a regular basis. I may frequent King West venues from time to time, do random roadtrips with random friends, and have a boatload of stickers on my laptops. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

But what I would change – is time with loved ones.

This past year I lost a good friend of mine. I had known him since high school and our group of friends all grew up together. And although we had spent less time together over the years, he and the rest of the boys always will mean a lot to me. And when he passed this year, it made me realize that it’s not age that we should focus on – but time. I am embarrassed that it took a friend’s passing for me to realize this, but what he taught me was that time is of the essence – really. Spend it wisely … and with friends and family.

Time with friends (even though I wasn't in the photo) Time with friends (even though I wasn’t in the photo) – circa 1997

Every moment someone spends with you is the biggest compliment they can possibly give you.

Because time is the most precious resource we have.

So, the next time someone asks you for a coffee, takes you on a date, plays video games with you, goes walking/skiing/biking/tennis/bowling/squash/underwaterbasketweaving with you, or just comes over to hang out – thank them, truly.

Thank you for the birthday wishes and I look forward to spending more time with you.

Cheers,

K

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Published on:
March 7, 2014 1:18 pm
Author:
Keith Loo
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About KLoo
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Yes I’m scared of roller coasters and I jumped off a plane


There’s a reason I don’t do theme parks

And that’s because every time I hit a roller coaster, I throw up – violently.

I’m afraid of The Bat, The Great Canadian Ball Buster, Top Gun, and all the other crazy roller coasters out there. And yet last month, I jumped off a plane at 14,000 feet above Cookstown, Ontario. Let me tell you why.

One of my closest and most awesome friends recently asked me if I would join her in crossing something off her bucket list – skydiving before her 30th birthday. Now, I don’t make it a habit of doing any life-threatening stunt just because someone asked; but there was good reason. She had made a promise to her mother to not live in fear, but instead to conquer the things she feared most. Her mother had raised her kids almost completely on her own and never really had the chance to do all the things she wanted to do before she passed. And so to me, a promise to her mother is one I intend to help her keep.

And so, on August 27th, Nancy, Adam, and I got on a plane and did something I never thought I’d do – and let me tell you, it was life changing.

About the experience

  • I was truly nervous about jumping – all the way until I did it. I wasn’t afraid of dying so much as I was afraid of puking or shitting my pants. No, really. I had paid for the photo and video option, and the last thing I wanted was to be immortalized online with videos of me yacking for 14,000 feet.
  • A total of 9 people vomited that day – including the 2 ladies who jumped before us – they were completely covered in their breakfasts and the previous night’s dinners.
  • While Nancy and Adam got some pretty good training on the way up, my tandem instructor did not tell me a single thing. In fact, I had no clue what to do with my equipment until I was boarding the plane.
  • The team had voluntold me to jump first. And if you watch the video you’ll see that I was shaking my head in disbelief to the very end.
  • I was not strapped in until about 12,500 feet – and I SAT BESIDE THE DOOR without even a seatbelt! The door was opened at 6,000 feet to let someone off – and believe me, I nearly peed my pants.
  • And then the moment came when we jumped off – and that’s when I stopped being scared.

Skydiving is like falling for a very long time.

The scary part about falling is not actually the act of falling but really what comes after it: the realization that you’ll inevitably hit something hard and fast. And so, after falling for about a second (albeit at over 100mph and about 14,000 feet high), you realize that you’re not going to hit anything anytime soon. So instead, you just enjoy the scenery.

So it turned out that my instructor was fucking with me as I had told him I’m very scared and get nauseated easily – so he played on my fear while we were going up. The jump and the ride down was actually very fun, pleasant, and safe.

Some other interesting tidbits

Skydiving is very safe. I definitely felt it and saw it first hand. I’m certain that if there was any trouble that one of the other jumpers would have been able to save me. These guys were absolute pros and were able to fly up close and touch us while falling at 120mph!

– The freefall lasts about 45-50 seconds and you generally hit terminal velocity at 120mph. The parachute ride lasts about 4-5 minutes.

– I wish someone had reminded me to not open my mouth while falling at high speeds (gee, if only I had some training).

The most difficult (read: painful) part is when the parachute opens, because you suddenly drop from 120mph to what felt like 0mph and all the weight is bore by your shoulders and your groin area (I’ll leave this at that).

So there you have it. As much as this jump was about me conquering one of my fears and just doing something batshit crazy; this jump was more about fulfilling a promise to a loved one. And I’m proud to have been there for this special moment.

Until next time (and yes, I’m down for a next time).

Me at 14,000 feet above Toronto

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Keith Loo
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This is the healthy-me remix

Thumbs up! Feeling great after doing the Insanity Workout Challenge

I do not deny it, I have lived a very privileged life.

I am fortunate to have a family who has always provided me with anything I needed. My family has had a very difficult history and never wanted my brother and I to go through the same struggles they endured.

I have also lived a gluttonous life. That is, I always got what I wanted, irrespective of the cost. Neither time nor effort is of much concern to me – both I felt I could always spend freely; and I have worked hard to live the lifestyle I lead. However, a downside to this gluttony, as glaringly obvious as it may seem, is that I’ve not always taken care of my health.

I have lived an almost sedentary lifestyle, I hardly slept, and I have over-indulged in just about every which way possible.

This, incidentally, has led me to my current (large) shape.

And it’s not that I didn’t care for a healthy lifestyle, but it just never occurred to me to take care of things now. As I said, I’ve always felt that I’m time and effort-rich.

Cue the wake-up call

When a loved one pointed out to me that I live unhealthily, and that she could not bear watching me live like this – it was truly a smack in the face (or insert other cliche of choice here).

Who could blame her? Looking back, I’m quite disappointed at how I’ve really let things go. For someone who loves life so much, it saddens me that I didn’t take the time to take care of my own. And I don’t mean the fact that I’m overweight (that can be fixed). But it’s taking more time to stop and smell the roses, being more active, and spending time with those that matter to me.

That moment was a real paradigm shift. And I don’t mean this in a fad-diet-exercise kinda way. I have taken the time since then to really examine my life – and I have to say, I’m loving what I’ve found, and more importantly, where I am going.

So now, I have a renewed zest for life. Not that I didn’t have one before (those who know me know that I’m just about batshit crazy passionate), but now, I have a renewed love for what’s important – staying healthy.

And let’s be clear on one thing: this isn’t about proving someone wrong or about winning a sick, sick bet – it’s all about doing something that I love for me.

So what does that entail you ask?

#1 Take care of my weight and get back into game shape. That, for me, is not really a long-term issue: I’ve lost over 50 pounds before, so I know how to do that healthily.

#2 Eat healthily. Gone are the days of multiple pounds of wings, ribs, beer, and ice cream. Gotta watch what’s going in the machine!

#3 Live actively. That’s right. I’ve a plethora of activities I’ve begun, will try anything, and will ultimately stick with the ones that I love, including salsa, jogging, swimming, biking, and golf.

#4 Take time to just enjoy those around me. I’m a pretty social guy and perhaps take networking to an extreme. But some relationships deserve more time than others, and they need more of my time including family and close friends.

#5 Do random, fun things on other people’s bucket lists. I’m going to leave this at that for now :)

So how’s it going?

The truth? I’m loving it. It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve had a 360 in my lifestyle, and I don’t think I’m ever going back. The truth is a healthy lifestyle is super rewarding – and I fucking love it. But since you’re probably an accountant, let me tell you the numbers: I’ve lost over 10 pounds and 1.5 inches and have gained some lean mass since I’ve embarked on my new adventure. I’ve spent a lot more time with my close friends and have rekindled old relationships. I’ve started doing things I’d never do, am open to doing anything adventurous, and will likely do something batshit crazy by the end of this month. I’m taking more time for myself, and have started to push back on stresors in my life. But most of all, for the first time ever, I truly, truly feel healthy.

Yeah, but will it last?

Hell yeah. And I’m willing to bet on it. Seriously. No, really, I have. I have made a very large wager with a couple of good friends of mine to ensure that we all stay on our healthy lifestyle fix. The reality is that I’m going to win hands down – I love this too much to not.

So there you have it, the next time you see me, ask me how things are going, and chances are I’m going to tell you: check out the remix.

Biggie, my baby Savannah, resting after my hard day

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Published on:
August 7, 2012 12:43 am
Author:
Keith Loo
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Why you need to vote for the GBC

It’s that time of year again – when the next batch of executives of the Schulich Graduate Business Council are rallying for the votes of the study body. Although many hardly know the names and faces that are on the executive board each year, it is imperative that we, students, vote for the leaders who we think would best represents our needs.

Sure, on the surface, this may appear as any vote for a student-run government. But the reality is that the GBC actually does quite a bit to affect your experience as a student and customer at the Schulich school.

As a director for three years on the GBC council, I have seen my fair share of politics, and it has been my privilege and pleasure to serve along an intelligent, caring, and ultimately, good group of people. Being an executive on the GBC is a thankless job – we have weekly council meetings, executive meetings, portfolio duties, and regular interaction and collaboration with administration, alumni, corporate partners, the community, and students of course.

Best of all, is the amount of time and effort that is put into building a truly fantastic student experience. Throughout the year, the Schulich GBC, along with the school itself, puts together anywhere between 80-100 events, workshops, and academic sessions. From your networking dinners (where we invite a small group of students to a restaurant every other week), to our weekly socials (that range from bar nights to supper clubs), to our community events (that include the likes of the Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay, Habit for Humanity, and Movember), to our signature events (MBA Insights, The Fall Getaway (aka Schulympics), Culture Crawl, the Winter Getaway, The MBA Games, the Graduate Ball, and the Schmooze Cruise) that bring in anywhere between 200-500 students.

Each one of these events takes a significant amount of effort and planning to get going. The old adage, “if you build it, they will come” surely does not apply to events – as anyone who has planned an MBA event can tell you. Between work, (or looking for work), school, family, friends, eating and sleeping, the average MBA simply does not have the time to attend all of these events and workshops. And thus, as event planners, we must give our students value for attending these events (whether it’s learning something new, meeting new people, or simply a good night out). And since GBC events have seen such high participation rates over the past few years, this is a testament to the quality of these events, and perhaps less evidently, the amount of work that has gone into them.

Although the election process can appear as a popularity contest, I can assure you, that that’s not often the case. In the three years that I’ve been involved – I’ve seen my fair share of the ‘underdog’ beating out the cool kid because he/she simply demonstrated the desire to effect change for the better.

Who you vote as your next GBC executive council will ultimately affect your quality of life as an MBA student.

The following are some questions you need to ask yourself when voting:

  • Is this person running for the right reasons? Do they want to improve the Schulich experience or are they looking for a line item on the resume?
  • Does this person have the experience, and if not, willing to put the effort in to get the job done?
  • Does this person know anything about the GBC or are they making empty promises? Often, we see candidates promising everything and a cherry on top. I once heard a candidate promise that he would put laptops in every room. Another promised to put treadmills on the second floor. Many often promise to fix the school’s WIFI. A little research would have shown these candidates that these things are beyond our means.
  • And most importantly – what was this person’s involvement with the GBC prior to running? This, to me, is often a sign of whether or not someone is running for the right reasons. If participating in and improving the student experience is important to this candidate, then they would have done so previously.

Keeping these things in mind in voting will help you choose the right candidate. But, of course, there is no single formula to determining the best leaders.

So why is this important to me? As an alumni-to-be, the Schulich experience is of utmost importance to me. In the past four years, I have put everything I can into the school because I believe in the program and absolutely loved my experience – perhaps to the detriment to my relationships and affairs outside of the program, at times. I have grown tremendously in my time here, and I owe a lot of it to the GBC. Continuing this tradition is very dear to my heart.

We, Schuligans, have the fortunate dilemma of having a large group of people who want to represent and serve the student body. The least you could do, for them, the students, and yourself – is spend the 15 minutes to learn who these candidates are and vote for the right ones. I assure you, it will be worth your time.

Find out more about the Schulich Graduate Business Council at http://gbc.schulich.yorku.ca

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Author:
Keith Loo
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Schulich
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In memory of the love of my life

The love of my life

Last week was my late grandma’s birthday. While I was lighting some incense at her home to wish her a happy birthday, I couldn’t help but smile – because until this day, I still get people asking me all the time: “So, are you married or like a huge LOTR fan?” 

Neither.

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