Snippet Thursday: David Chang & Momofuku

For those of you who don’t know about David Chang, he’s a Korean-American chef and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group in New York City. Chang started in the restaurant business only 9 years ago making delicious pork buns and Japanese ramen. But since then, he’s developed a unique style of modern cuisine, combining traditional Asian food with European cooking techniques. Among his many accolades include being named in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People as well as having his restaurant deemed #1 in Bon Apetit Magazine’s Most Important Restaurants in America. By revolutionizing Asian cuisine in America, David Chang has become an inspiration for many, including the Asian-American community. So if you’re ever in New York, be sure to check out one of his 5 Momofuku restaurants. Also, enjoy the following clip from his appearance on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain:

DWA: Drinking While Asian (The Unrealized Dangers of Asian Glow)

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During the summer, it’s common for us interns to have a few drinks here or there during happy hours or on weekends. And many of Asians out there, alcohol usually comes with a side of Asian glow. Unbeknowst to many, this condition can be a serious health issue. And as it turns out, simply taking Pepcid AC won’t solve this issue.


According to studies published by the Public Library of Science, people who drink but suffer from Asian glow (They can be non-Asians too!) have a far greater risk of getting cancer. Esophageal cancer, in particular, is 10x more likely for those who turn red from drinking.

For those of you unfamiliar with this glowing problem (no pun intended), what happens is that, after having one or two drinks, many Asians begin to turn red in the face. This redness can also spread to the body down to the hands and legs. A feeling of dizziness and headache as well as a faster heartbeat also arises. Doctors say that this glow is caused by a genetic deficiency that is very common among the East Asian population (around 40%). When alcohol enters your body, it is first metabolized into acetaldehyde, which is actually a carcinogen that can cause DNA damage and other cancer-promoting effects. An enzyme in the liver, called ALDH2, then turns acetaldehyde into a harmless substance called acetate, which is then further digested. But for those of you suffering from Asian blush, your body is actually lacking the ALDH2 enzyme, and acetaldehyde can actually build up in your body every time you drink!

Along with the usual health risks of alcohol, including short-term incapacitation and long-term heart risks, many AAPIs now have the added privilege of a 10-fold likelihood of developing one of the deadliest forms of cancer known to man! Now I’m not arguing for anything extreme, like prohibition. There’s nothing wrong with a few drinks occasionally. But even a steady habit as seemingly harmless as 2 drinks a day can trigger the extreme susceptibility of cancer down the line for many Asians.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa  “Should I have another?”

So if you have Asian glow, the next time you have a drink, keep this hopefully helpful lesson in the back of your mind. It’ll be an extra disincentive for you not to drink yourself into a stupor that night. Plus it’s also an additional reason for you to not develop a drinking habit/problem.

‘Till Next Week,

Dan

Snippet Thursday: Crabs!

Located on the Southwest waterfront directly under I-395, the Maine Avenue Fish Market, known simply to locals as “The Wharf”, is the oldest continuously running fish market in the United States. Fresh and/or live seafood is sold on floating barges that line the pier on Water Street. Not only is The Wharf an historical landmark, but it’s also one of the best places to get great seafood for outstanding prices.

During the summer, live blue crabs are sold for less than a dollar each! And to top that off, the fishermen give you the option of having your live crabs steamed and seasoned with generous heapings of Old Bay Spices on the spot. Apart from crabs, fresh fishes, shrimp, oysters, mussels, lobsters, etc are all sold here for great prices and are freshly caught. The Maine Avenue Fish Market is a must-see destination for both tourists and locals, and YOU should definitely check it out during the summer!

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How to Dress for Success: Internship Tips for Guys

When I was on summer break after my sophomore year of high school, I was preparing for my first internship/summer program. It was a medical program designed for high school students, and the information brochure mentioned something about a “business casual” dress code for orientation. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but when you’re 15, the word “casual” means basketball shorts, a t-shirt, and sneakers. So that’s exactly what I wore on my first day. Words alone cannot describe how embarrassing it was to be the only person in a group of 20 mistaken for someone’s lost child in the middle of orientation. And I’ll just let you all imagine how funny a 15 year old might have looked wearing oversized basketball shorts and a Nike tee under a giant lab coat in a group of 20 others wearing suits.

It’s pretty obvious to say that after that experience, I learned the importance of dressing well for any job/internship. And luckily for all of you, that’s my topic for today: work clothes for guys & general workplace etiquette.


The first tip I have for eager interns is to overdress for any interview and/or first day. When you don’t know what the office’s dress code is, play it safe by wearing dress pants, a dress shirt, at tie, and a jacket. Whenever you wear a suit, you’ll never be underdressed. But if you end up being overdressed, others will still think that you’re taking your first day seriously, which is a good first impression. During your first day, however, it’s important to make note of what your coworkers wear so that you get a feel for the office environment and come back more appropriately dressed the second day if not everyone wears a suit.

Workspace attire for men can generally be divided into 3 different categories: business, business casual, and casual.


Business is what I’ve already mentioned, dressing in a suit. This is usually for more conservative and professional jobs, such as banking, consulting, government, law firms, etc.

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Typical components of businesswear

Don’t forget to iron your pants and shirts, buy a nice belt, and always dry-clean your jackets. And for those of you who really need to dress to impress, invest in a pair of cufflinks, polish your shoes, and find a pocket square. Dark suits are always preferred, unless you want to go through all that effort just to look like Colonel Sanders or The Riddler. Remember, you’re only an intern. So dress to impress, and don’t dress like an idiot unless you’re in upper management and can’t get fired by anyone.


Business casual is what I wear every day. Although I’m in a government agency, I noticed that no one on my floor really wears a jacket or tie. But I wouldn’t say that my case is always true in other federal agencies. Business casual is more of the norm in technology industries and more laid-back workplaces, but it’s quickly becoming more widespread in other business professions. What it means is simply that you wear nice pants and a dress shirt. Your pants can either be dark and ironed dress pants or sometimes even khakis. There’s also more room for variety when it comes to shirts. You can go for the classic fit or buy slim fitting shirts that don’t require ironing. Jackets and ties are optional, but nice shoes, socks, and a belt are still all required. Basically, think of business casual as how a banker or lawyer dresses when s/he is relaxing.

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Classy, yet casual


A casual dress code is something that, as interns, you normally don’t find unless you’re working in research for engineering, biology, chemistry, etc. In other industries where you’re required to work with your hands and sometimes get messy, you also wouldn’t wear a suit. But casual attire can mean really anything from wearing jeans to shorts and a t-shirt. Again, if you’re not doing scientific research, I would advise against dressing casually, even on Fridays, because an important aspect of any job is meeting and networking with other people. In business, you’ll have a hard time doing any of this if you don’t look professional or even presentable.

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Might be appropriate for working in a lab, but not much else

The point is, if you’re working in business, make sure to at least have dress shoes, shirts, and pants. Wearing a jacket and tie depends on the occasion/industry, but it’s always a good idea to play it safe on the first day. It’s pretty easy for guys. Just use common sense and don’t stand out from the crowd by being underdressed or just poorly dressed.

 ‘Till Next Week,

Daniel

 

‘Sheed Wallace Thursdays

In sports, there are very few players who can be as influential as Rasheed Wallace. For starters, the four-time All-Star and one-time NBA Champion is an extremely talented Power Forward who can shoot, post-up, pass, and rebout effectively. But what really makes him memorable is his incredible knack for getting technical fouls, holding the NBA record for most in a season with 41 (the second place holder, by the way, has only 23). His true dedication to unsportsmanship is uncanny, and no one will forget his career moment in 2001, when he was ejected from a crucial playoff game for staring at a referee for too long. Throughout his illustrious 18-year career in the league, Wallace has also successfully coined the phrase “Ball don’t lie”, which he shouts in protest to the ref after a player from the opposing team is fouled by him and misses a free-throw. Fans throughout the country were saddened this year when Wallace decided to forever call it quits. But on today, July 4, while everyone else celebrates our nation’s independence, I would like to pay tribute to the way Rasheed Wallace courageously and selflessly played the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5L_QkUZ-3s

The Bamboo Ceiling: What it is & How We Can Break it

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As a child, I was raised with the belief that if I respected my teachers/elders, worked hard every day,  and behaved well in school, then I would go on to a good college and ultimately a well-paying job in the future. And honestly, I could say the same about the upbringings of my Asian friends. This is not a coincidence, as I’m sure most of you AAPI readers here would agree as well. Respect and adherence to authority are very important tenants of Asian culture, and I was raised on these principals because that’s the way my parents were taught when they grew up in China. These are very important lessons to learn at a young age, and I can say that because of my upbringing, I was able to stay out of trouble in school, stay focused in academics, and ultimately succeed by going to a good college.

For a lot of Asian Americans, however, this style of upbringing omits key lessons that are necessary in the real world. Although AAPIs are typically seen as hard workers who succeed academically and go on to great colleges and prestigious jobs, they are also viewed as introverted and lacking leadership potential and communication skills.  This is especially bad in the workplace, as charisma and gregariousness are important traits when companies look to promote workers to managerial positions.

(Image Source: Asia Society)

What’s becoming increasingly apparent is the fact that Asian Americans are being left out of managerial positions even though their academic qualifications meet and exceed company expectations.  Although Asian Americans graduate from college at double the national average, we only see a 0.3% representation of AAPIs in corporate management. And industry-specific statistics show that, for example in the technology industry, Asian Americans make up 1/3 of all software engineers but only 5% of all board members. Statistics from other industries all show the same result that Asian Americans make up a good portion of the workforce but do not make nearly quite a mark in management. Hence the term “bamboo ceiling” which represents the barrier from high positions that AAPIs face.

But what causes this problem? Well, it goes back to the childhood story I mentioned earlier. Many Asian Americans currently in the workforce say that they were taught from an early age to be self-effacing, reticent, and deferential towards authority. In the American workplace, these traits can cause others to perceive Asian Americans as aloof, introverted, weak, and passive. As a result, AAPIs are less likely to have many of the qualities that appeal to employers, such as charisma, leadership, creativity, courage, and risk-taking. Compared to co-workers, they are seen as less likely to network and interact with others, and speak-up when faced with concerns. And therefore, this can cause some to be passed-over for promotions in spite of great job performance.

What can be done to solve this issue? Sure, there are a lot of misconceptions about Asian Americans in general that can result in unfair stereotypes. But if you were a hiring manager who needed the best-possible candidate to make your company profitable (so that you can keep your own job), you would not base your decision purely on unproven stereotypes. Instead, you would look at how a candidate truly interacts in the workplace passing judgment on whether those stereotypes are even applicable in the first place. What I’m trying to say is that stereotypes alone are not enough to make or break your future. It wouldn’t be sufficient to blame the entire bamboo ceiling phenomenon on stereotypes that exist through no fault of our own. We have to change ourselves because the problem isn’t that employers merely get the impression from of stereotypes that we lack creativity and leadership skills. It’s because a lot of us actually do. And we have to make an effort so that our own performance can break any negative preconceived notions that others have of us.

How can we disprove these stereotypes? One big source is in upbringing. Sure, because of our parents we are good in school and never get in trouble. But being too authoritative on children can also discourage creativity, risk-taking, and speaking-out. These are traits that we, as the next generation of AAPI parents, have to be cautious not to stifle. Overall, I feel that a few small changes, especially for kids early on, can go a big way in breaking the bamboo ceiling. But for whatever other solution people come up with, it is important to remember that this is an issue that Asian Americans must take responsibility for and not only something that we can solely blame on the misconceptions of others.

Daniel

Bored in the Office?

Have no fear, JaVale McGee is here! For those of you who are unfamiliar, he is arguably the funniest basketball player in the NBA. JaVale is a 7’2 center for the Denver Nuggets who is actually very gifted athletically. But for every great play he makes, he also provides memorable bloopers. On the court, he tends to not think things through all the way, and his mental lapses are a great source of laughter for any bored intern on a weekday afternoon. Enjoy.

Dude, Where’s My Car? – Transportation Around the Washington Metropolitan Area

To be honest, I’d rather enjoy a dental appointment morethan the ever-so fascinating subject of public transportation in D.C..But this is still an important topic for those of us living on tight schedules or budgets. Here are some tips to help you get around in the capital.

As CAPAL interns, we are paid a fixed stipend to work 8 hours a day for two months. This is pretty common for most summer interns across the country. But this also means that, for every extra minute that we either spend working or commuting, we are not compensated.

This might not seem like a big deal at first, but consider the following example. If I spend an extra half and hour per day getting to work, or 2.5 hours every week, I’d be spending a total of 20 extra hours unpaid after 2 months. Personally, I find no enjoyment from riding in the Metro, driving my car in traffic, or walking to work every day. And if there were a quicker, more efficient way to get to work every morning, I could find much better ways to use that extra time I’ve saved. If we assume that my free time is slightly more valuable than, say, the minimum wage, then i’d incur an opportunity cost of roughly $160. For anyone living on a budget, this is a pretty decent sum. And for those of you interns who drive, cutting time also saves you gas, which is even more extra money.

Again, $160 might not seem like a lot of savings for 2 months, but it’s actually about the price of 2 weeks worth of groceries, 3 round-trip tickets to New York City, a new work outfit,  or 320 Reese’s Cups. And 20 extra hours is basically an extra day of summer vacation. For college students living on their own for the first time, finding simple ways to save, in general, goes a long way. Cutting small things here or there adds up to a significant sum over the course of 2 months, and one of the most obvious and easy ways to do so is by cutting daily commutes.


Metro: For those of you who live in DC (excluding Northern Virginia residents), buy a SmarTrip Card either online or at any nearby grocery or convenience store. SmarTrip Cards save $1 per trip on MetroRail and $0.20 on MetroBus. Traffic is very easy to predict, as WMATA reports arrival times and any delays very accurately to the exact minute. During rush hour, the tunnels for MetroRail do get crowded, and some people get left off of a train and have to wait for the next one due to congestion. However, trains arrive very frequently for most stops, and the worst that can really happen is a 10 minute delay.

MetroRail stations are very accessible and chances are that there are many, if not only one, stations located within reasonable walking distance from where you live. For smartphone users, the app iTrans DC is an interactive map that shows all MetroRail stops and lines. The app also provides live updates for delays and construction. You can also plan your trip with the app, and it will give you a good estimation of your arrival time. Sometimes, there are many different Metro lines that will get you to the same destination. Use Google Maps, which factors in Metro and walking time, to determine which route saves the most time. Also, some routes that take more time and require more walking might actually save you money.

Driving: Taking a car to work in DC is not so predictable. Traffic varies depending on construction work, weather, and accidents. And because the roads of DC are very narrow, bumpy, and filled with seemingly random stoplights and stopsigns, rush hour is very congested. Drivers are very aggressive, and many bikers swerve in and out of driving lanes. If your commuting route is strictly located in DC, I would advise against driving. Because of the heavy traffic and small streets, driving will actually take more time. Adding in the cost of gas and the high prices of urban parking, using the Metro is a more cost-efficient method as well.

Bike riding is also another viable option in DC. There are plenty of biking lanes and trails throughout the entire city. However, aggressive car drivers and traffic along with confusing roads might make this a less safe option. And especially in the summer, heat and humidity will ruin your clothes after bikerides.

For interns living in Northern Virginia, the answer is less clear. The Metro does extend to certain areas in Arlington and Alexandria, but if you live anywhere else, you would have to walk a good amount or take a busline and transfer to the nearest MetroRail station. Take my case for example. I live midway between Alexandria and Arlington. If I were to use public transit, I would have to first take the 16D busline to the Pentagon Metro station. Then, I would ride 5 stops to arrive at the King Street Metro, which is near my work at NCUA. This would take 1 hour (one way) and cost a total of around $5 per day. However, driving only takes 15 minutes, and parking is provided. The amount of gas I would need costs around $2.50 per day. So by driving rather than taking the Metro, I would save $2.50 per day and 1.5 hours of driving. In other words, I’d save around $14.50 per day! So if you live close to a Metroline in Northern VA, I would still go with that. But otherwise, driving will save lots of time and money.

‘Till Next Week,

Dan