The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Ken McCallum

July 27, 2016

Ken McCallum | UncommonGoods Ken McCallum – UncommonGoods Data Scientist, Analytics

My Hometown…
Wheaton, IL. It’s about 25 miles west of Chicago. Fun fact: The wardrobe that belonged to C.S. Lewis and which helped inspire the Narnia books is on display in Wheaton at the college of the same name.

I’m inspired by…
Euclid wrote “The Elements” 2300 years ago. Just about everything else we thought we knew back then, about physics, astronomy, biology, turned out to be wrong. But the mathematics that was done then is still relevant and is still used more than two millenia later. I’m really inspired by the way mathematical discoveries remain true and useful long after everything else is replaced.

An uncommon fact about me…
A doctor once told me I have unusually long arms. Apparently most people have an arm span that matches their height, but my arms are a few centimeters longer.

The word or phrase that best describes me…

When I was little I dreamed of…
I wanted to be an archeologist. The idea that we could find out how people lived thousands of years in the past by digging up things that had been lost and buried fascinated me.

I relax by…
Walking with no particular destination in mind. Doing something that has no particular purpose or goal is a great way to get rid of stress.

The most challenging thing I’ve ever done is…
When I was a child I was terribly afraid of heights. For some reason, this didn’t stop me from signing up for rock climbing classes at the YMCA. On the first day, everyone had a turn trying to climb the indoor wall. I was last to go, and froze about three quarters of the way up, completely terrified and unable to move an inch.

The instructor tried for several minutes to coach me through it before finally saying that I could just be lowered back down if I didn’t want to go all the way up. I don’t know if it was the fact that I would have been the only one who didn’t make it to the top or if it was just my contrarian nature, but that sort of shattered the mental barrier and I bolted for the top. I’m still sometimes surprised that I made it up there.

The best gift I’ve ever given is…
UNICEF has this program called Inspired Gifts where you can make a donation in someone else’s name for a specific item. My mother is a librarian and one year UNICEF had an option to buy books for children. I bought her that and I told her it was so other parents could read to their children the same way she read to me and my brothers when we were growing up.

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