RIP Ken Block

Just learned that Ken Block of Gymkhana fame passed away due to a snow mobile accident last January 2. I first encountered him when I watched Gymkhana 3 at a DC Shoes in Eastwood a long time ago. I stopped watching after Gymkhana 4 but he and his driving panache definitely left a lasting impression.


One of the good things that came out of this pandemic is an increased awareness of mental health. One of the few things I picked up on during this time is the concept of gaslighting.

Gaslighting is when one person unintentionally or intentionally misleads another, creating a false narrative and making them question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, even uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability. 

No two people remember an event in exactly the same way. Everyone may have different memories of the same event. Gaslighting can happen when you challenge, question, or discredit another’s memories based solely on your perspective, on your say so. 

This can happen between parents and kids. The parent has a view of what happened, the kid has a different story. The parent would insist that their version is the way it happened. And because of the parent/authority relationship, the kid ends up believing it even if it really wasn’t so. Unfortunately, this is very damaging to the child’s mental health. 

To avoid unintentionally gaslighting, you should not insist on your perspective of an event if there is no empirical evidence or record of how it transpired. Rather, respect each others’ perspectives, agree to disagree, or at least give it the benefit of the doubt. Even if, or especially if, you’re talking to a child. 

Lolo Mike

Earlier my wife had an impulse to visit her mom. Which prompted me to share about a friend recently losing her mom. It was also my way of supporting and encouraging her to visit. Life is short. My wife then asked our youngest if she wanted to come along. She was reluctant so, to encourage her, I told her about my grandfather who passed away when I was in Grade 2, same as she is now.

His name was Lolo Mike. He was one of the most interesting people I know. He was a guerrilla who fought against the Japanese in World War 2. He told us how he had a grenade after the war that he had to bury because my dad was asking what the cacao-like thing is on the shelf. He was a photographer and had a studio. He was musically inclined, he played the violin and tried to teach my brother and I the ukulele and guitar. He was also a craftsman, he tried to teach us how to craft nets. He taught us chess and I still play chess. He read us books and that was one of the reasons why I love reading. But above these, he had a lot of knowledge and wisdom that he imparted to us grandkids.

As I ended my story, I hoped I was able to impress on our daughter the joy of grandparents and valuing the precious time to be with them. As for me, it was a reminder that remembering them, they are with us.

How to Pass the Scrum.Org Professional Scrum Master Certification Exam In One Week

There are many Scrum certifications available but the two most popular certifications are’s Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Scrum Alliance’s Certified Scrum Master (CSM). Both organizations’ Scrum Master certification have 3 levels. Below are their differences.

Course Cost$500-1000 depending on providernot required
Certification Cost2 attempts included in course cost
$25 for every additional attempt
$150 per attempt
Exam stylemultiple choice, 50 itemsmultiple choice, 80 items
Time limit60 minutes60 minutes
Passing Score74%85%
Validity2 years, $100 to renewLifetime

Based on these factors, I decided on PSM. I’ve been applying Agile and Scrum principles for years now so I don’t feel I need to go through a 2-day course. Plus PSM makes more sense from a long-term cost perspective. However, it is harder with a shorter time limit and a higher passing score.

With that difficulty level in mind, here’s what I did to prepare (and pass) the certification exam. Depending on how much time you have available, this should take a total of about a week or two:

  1. Read THE Scrum Guide. I did this [almost] every day. This is very important as Scrum in practice has quite a few variations but PSM I focuses on the official definition of Scrum as authored by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. You may actually need to unlearn some things. I used the PDF version so I could highlight key terms and concepts. In addition, I wrote down the terms and concepts into a separate note.
  2. Read’s Scrum Glossary. To further familiarize with the terminology.
  3. Go through’s Scrum Master Learning Path resources. For PSM I, you only need to focus on the Understanding and Applying Scrum section.
  4. Go through Kelly O’Connell’s Scrum-related courses at LinkedIn Learning. These require a subscription but is optional as they cover basically the same stuff as above.
  5. Go through’s Scrum Tapas videos. The audio is awful but it does a good job of summarizing things. This is an alternative to Kelley O’Connell’s courses.
  6. Take’s Scrum Open assessment. I did this at the end of every day. Take note that the Scrum Open is a smaller subset of the topics and questions. It does not completely represent the certification exam. However, it is an adequate simulation of the exam experience. Once I consistently got 100% in the Scrum Open, I decided I was ready.

The next step is purchasing the assessment voucher and then taking the exam.

Good luck!