Category Archives: Lifehack

Where do your review cycles run?

I’m currently taking the second year of the Chinese curriculum here at MIT, and as anyone learning another language knows, there’s a lot to remember. It can be easy to focus on the short term and review just the most recent vocabulary and characters we’ve learned, but the class is cumulative; I am often asked to read or recall anything we’ve learned in the first year as well.

Naturally, this means that I need to regularly review the old material on a semi-regular basis, using Quizlet flashcards created by one of my classmates that match up with the text. But the exact mechanics of how I do so are not as important as the fact that I’m reviewing at all. In fact, after I took one year of Chinese, I decided to try to take a break and gauge whether I’d be able to keep it up long-term. After a year of doing so, I was satisfied with how much I was able to retain that I decided to go for one more year.

Languages like this are rather conspicuous examples; if you don’t use them, you lose them. I’m already (sadly) planning on allowing the German I learned in middle school and high school to fade gracefully, rather than latching onto the few German-speaking peers and starting conversations with them just to keep it up.

But it’s helpful to think in terms of review cycles in many other areas, too, especially those where we need to make intentional effort to do or be something.

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Five More Things Millennials Need to Kill

I’m a millennial, and I like to read about what’s unique about my generation, even if it’s just a lazy analysis of market trends that might as well be noise. But the one consistent thing I keep reading is that Millennials are Killing Everything. At least, that’s what the Miami Herald says, offering 27 examples. Business Insider claims that ‘Psychologically Scarred’ Millennials are killing countless industries, but I can count, and they only have 19 in their list. Even BuzzFeed seems to mock their own style of headline: Here Are 28 Things Millennials Are Killing In Cold Blood. Not to be outdone, Mashable offers 70 things millennials have killed.

Since this seems to be our generational superpower (apparently always alongside avocado toast), I have a few more things that I’d like to see us use it on.

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“Like Magic”: Five Google Spreadsheet hacks to save you time and money

I am a big fan of Google spreadsheets, and I’ve used them for a wide variety of responsibilities over the last decade or so. They’re quick, intuitive, and most importantly, easily shareable. But it’s taken me years to discover some of their most valuable features, features that have quickly become second nature for me.

Chances are, you’ve probably created a spreadsheet or two before, perhaps to manage signups for a potluck or rides to a retreat. With experience and knowledge of a few hacks, you can do so much more with them. Recently, I turned to a Google spreadsheet to display and update the schedule and standings for the church softball league I’ve been a part of, which might be able to save hundreds of dollars that we would have spent on equivalent software. Whatever your use case, there is likely something you can take away from the hacks I have to share.

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Stop Ignoring Impact Multipliers

I love to play board games, especially in this golden age we’re in. Every once in a while, I learn a new way of thinking from a board game. In this post, I’d like to share one general lesson that I learned from one of my favorite strategic board games, Navegador. This lesson actually succinctly encapsulates key messages from several of my recent blog posts, among other thoughts I’ve had recently.

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Why I Got Into Cooking

Last Thursday, I had the fortunate coincidence of being visited by two of my best friends from college, Timothy Johnson and Peter Ngo. They had both been to Boston back in June 2016 to serve as groomsmen in my wedding, but I hadn’t seen them since. Their trips were independent, but happened to overlap on Thursday, which also happened to be the best day for them to visit me and Grace.

With both of them visiting, along with Tim’s girlfriend Xiao, Grace and I decided to host them at our apartment and make a whole feast of Indian food. We had just recently learned how to make Chicken Tikka Masala, Palak Paneer, Aloo Gobi, and Chicken Tandoori, and we decided to serve all four to them, employing all three of them in the kitchen chopping vegetables and measuring spices.

John Shen, another college friend of ours (and Peter’s host) joined us as well, and he remarked after dinner that he was somewhat surprised that I had gotten excited about cooking. Reflecting, I realized that in the moment, cooking four dishes of Indian food, while more than usual, seemed like just a natural extension of the habits Grace and I had built up over the course of a year. We would actually go on to cook Pad Thai and bake bread for our board game group on Saturday and then turn around and make enchiladas for some of the Et Spiritus journal club team on Sunday. Cooking for three different groups of friends in four nights was certainly beyond our usual pace (and not exactly sustainable), but not by much. It’s worlds from where I was at the beginning of grad school.

So how did we get to this point? Let me walk through some of the factors and explain a bit of our philosophy behind cooking and hosting.

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