Michael He

June 20, 2022

Simple Reckoning

Big moments of reckoning can come from simple things. I was listening to piano and started thinking about life. But unlike the usual contemplation, I started putting numbers on everything. I would not look at life the same again. There are fifty-two weeks each year and seven days each week. That means if I live to 80 years old, I will ...
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June 11, 2022

In This For Life (BTS Proof #1)

Today I am doing something stupid but personally significant. I am writing about BTS. Recommended music: Yet to Come (2022) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kXpOEzNZ8hQ It's impossible to fully capture who BTS is and what they mean to the world, but it doesn't stop "experts" from trying. Many of them fail for obvious reasons: bias, prejud...
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May 19, 2022

People: The Triumph of Happiness

Good music is a painting. You can tell it's good. Great music needs to have a bit more. You know it's good, but you also know there is something you can't quite figure out yet. You get attached to it, think over and over again, until one day you connect the dots and arrive at the epiphany. The truth couldn't be simpler. That is what yo...
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May 5, 2022

Mathematical Growth

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March 16, 2022

Read The Power Broker

The Power Broker is a book that changed my life. Three Aspects of A Great Book I ask three questions about every book I read. Is it enjoyable? Is it repeatedly insightful? Does it move me in a personal way unrelated to the entertainment or learning aspect? The Power Broker easily answers these questions. In fact, I came up with these q...
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March 15, 2022

The Four Stage Narrative

There is a fundamental difference in the narrative structures between East Asian and Western culture. I was listening to BTS's Love Yourself trilogy (Her, Tear, Answer) and noticed two details. The first is the hanja (Chinese character) attached to each album: 承 for Her, 轉 for Tear, and 結 for Answer. The second is the hanja associated ...
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March 13, 2022

Rethink Productivity

I don't like how mainstream culture and media define productivity. It's narrow and somewhat perverse. In my opinion, creating things you enjoy (which doesn't have to be of value to others) is inherently productive. It's not the mere action, which can be passive, but the process of making something new and often profound. Productive is ...
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March 9, 2022

AGUST 29

Min Yoongi (Suga) turned 29 today. I'm just going to write in a stream-of-consciousness style about Yoongi, while listening to all of his produced songs. Holy shit that is a lot of songs! The playlist came out to be 36 songs, around 2 hours. And these are only songs he produced, not written! Essentially, Yoongi produced three albums wo...
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March 7, 2022

The Soft Album Disruption

Things change slowly, but the accumulation of small improvements will eventually reach a point where people can see in hindsight. This soft disruption is happening in the music merchandise world right now. The concept of a music album is going through a complete remake, especially in K-pop. K-pop is redefining the idea of the music alb...
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March 2, 2022

Make Time Or Go Insane

Work is like a blackhole. It will suck every minute of your waking hour, if you let it. It will occupy your headspace ad infinitum, if you let it. Our mind doesn't work like a water faucet, so thoughts and emotions and more emotions burst out the spigot-less mind and drive us nuts. Translate that to day-to-day life (especially since CO...
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February 26, 2022

Back To Fiction

I recently started reading fiction again. That hasn't happened regularly for many years. Mandatory reading in high school certainly destroyed my interests in reading fiction. At the same time, I was not making the best use of my time, even when I had more free time from not reading. The only time I remember reading fiction was during s...
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February 22, 2022

College Math Courses Have Failed Us

I recent read an op-ed "why won't anyone teach me math?" The author Abigail makes salients points I deeply resonate with as a humanities-turned-math major. Given how rare that transition happens, I have thought about it a lot. This is a semi-compendium on the topic. “Unfortunately, it is difficult for students pursuing humanities and s...
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February 21, 2022

Small Moments Are All We Have

Today wasn’t productive by any account, but it felt wonderful. I read a fascinating story in bed to start the day. Then I walked to Trader Joe's to buy flowers for my friend's recital. After the recital, I walked around campus, spoke with someone I haven't seen for two years, ate some fresh chicken tenders, and started writing this pie...
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February 15, 2022

Michael's Life Manual

After taking a long walk, I decided to write down some principles I live by. They are in no particular order. Proactive serendipity is my approach to life. Proactive means we can choose and stay open-minded. Serendipity means to believe in goodness and accept the outcomes even if they don't fit our image. Have a bias for action. If I c...
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February 14, 2022

How to Actually Win in College

Cal Newport's books helped me a lot during high school and college. Now I'm almost done with college, I can finally review his How To Win At College. How do these suggestions hold up? Given its publication date of 2005 and a global pandemic, a lot of the tips don't work anymore. But plenty of them are still helpful! Particularly good a...
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February 12, 2022

Fast And Thoughtful

Can we be fast and thoughtful in terms of writing, making decisions, and so on? It is theoretically possible. Speed and quality are not mutually exclusive. If we draw a 2x2 grid, one corner will say fast and high quality. Of course, we know most things fall under the other three categories in reality: slow and high quality, fast and hi...
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January 31, 2022

Email Woes

Here are some things that make emails suck. It doesn't matter whether I pay for my Gmail or Outlook. It still sucks. Most importantly, spam. I don't narrowly define spam as Nigerian princes or hormonal pill ads. Anything that stops me from using email as a communications tool is spam. Even newsletters count as spam, if I don't want to ...
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January 30, 2022

The Negativity Checking Account

Negativity functions like a checking account. There is a balance and you add to it. You can withdraw, but like a regular checking account the default outcome is to let the principal accumulate. Of course, you want to do the opposite. However, that takes a lot of determination and continuous efforts on your end. If you don't withdraw, t...
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January 22, 2022

Don't Read Everything, Don't Do Everything

I was browsing Pocket's top 2021 articles. Then a thought occurred for the fifth year in a row. Man, there is so much I have to read... Wait for a second! Do I have to read? No. I don't have to read anything if I don't want to. In fact, many people don't read. Then why do I think I have to read? My habit is certainly a cause. There is ...
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December 12, 2021

Build Momentum

If someone asks me for advice, I will only say one thing confidently. Build momentum and don't lose it. Momentum means upward improvement. Don't lose it implies being continuous, sustainable, and long-term. Only continuous improvement brings solid wins in the long run. This applies to many things. In terms of book reading, consistency ...
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December 1, 2021

So Much Time, So Little Time

The sun goes down at 5 PM now. I usually leave that hour open to catch a breath. Now it's necessary to save this time for sunset. As I am enjoying the sunset today, I see people staring at their phones. Usually that doesn't bother me, but this time I somehow have doubts. Doubts about what a neurotic environment like a prestigious colle...
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November 13, 2021

Things I Wish I'd Known

I wrote a long list for my eighteen-year-old self in the summer. It is similar to this college guide but longer and more opinionated. I asked some friends about their favorite pointers, so you can see the (objectively) best ones. Special thanks to Theo, J.J, Alex, Andrew, and Samuel for their help and comments. Samuel contributed signi...
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November 6, 2021

Travel to The Future

Listening to Rick Steves reminds me of why I love traveling. Reading and talking to people are the best ways to learn. Traveling (when done right) is a special combination of both. Instead of reading books, you read and experience the environment, the architecture and scenery, the food, the culture, the atmosphere, and of course, the p...
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October 30, 2021

Tender Lightness

What makes life worth living? Fortunately, some moments are self-evident answers to that question. For example, right now. I'm sitting outside the biology department building, looking at the four-way street intersection. The sun is shining a bit extravagantly but the temperature feels just right. IU's 'Ah Puh' is playing in my ears. I'...
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October 10, 2021

The Trust Battery

Human relationship are difficult to understand, but we can use the trust battery to understand the bigger picture. What is the trust battery? Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke uses this idea to describe work relationships at his company. When two people interact for the first time their trust battery is at 50%, which is a neutral level. The perce...
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October 5, 2021

Do A Time Audit

Something was bugging me and I didn't know why, so I did a time audit. I took out a piece of scratch paper and wrote down how many hours I spent on things over the last week. Now I know why I feel stressed - I'm working too many hours on my temporary gig outside of school. That translates to more anxiety during the day and difficulty t...
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September 25, 2021

The Big Question for A College Senior

Note: the setting of this piece is at a competitive college, so it does not represent all college students. I was eating breakfast recently, when I noticed most students in the cafeteria had their computers open. Some were watching YouTube, but many of them were reading PDF files for class or writing emails. And some students were even...
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September 1, 2021

Basic College First Year Lessons

Many students are starting school this week. Here are some reminders for this exciting yet uncertain time: Wear masks, wash hands, get tested, and get vaccinated. Let's do this much to keep the colleges open and not on Zoom. Don't forget to lock your door at all times. I know people who lost laptops, driver's licenses, and wallets from...
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August 19, 2021

Out of This World - Translation

Below is a letter a 14 year-old girl in China left for her parents, before jumping off a building. Italics are my own edits. May she Rest In Peace. This is not the first tragedy nor the last tragedy parents and society commit against the youth. Hi, It's my pleasure to know you during this journey of life. If there is another life, it'd...
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July 28, 2021

The Never-Ending Writing Quest

Writing is a way to channel the creative energy but improving one's style and taste is a Sisyphean process. You will constantly be aware of the gap between what you know is good and your actual output. It is a lifelong uphill battle. As Steven Pressfield notes in The War of Art, "Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and ...
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